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    October 2014
    S M T W T F S
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    “Scotland can still emerge as the real winner”…


    Failte gu Alba Welcome to Scotland panel © 2012 Scotiana

    One week ago, on Wednesday 17 September, Scotland was about to live one of its greatest pages of history with most of the Scottish people feeling like on the eve of a battle.  Indeed, the Scottish independence referendum WAS a battle, a peaceful battle but with big consequences, a battle  between two camps of passionate opponents.  Scotland would never be the same after the referendum though everybody hoped that it would be remembered as an exemplary exercice of democracy. For once, Scotland made the headlines all over the world.

    On the eve of the referendum the vote was too close to call, so they were saying in the polls…

    Two days after, early in the morning,  the results fell: the NO side had won… nearly half of the population,  and among them many young people carrying the Scottish flag, burst into tears…

    But days are passing, people are debating and many people are still wondering… who is the real winner of the Scottish independence referendum?

    Alex Salmond, the very popular leader of the YES-Scotland who first admitted his defeat is the best placed to ask questions if there is something to be questioned…

    Let us read a few important extracts of the moving speech he made to  announce his unexpected resignation…

    His speech ends: “Scotland can still emerge as the real winner”.


    Alex Salmond announces his resignation at Bute House, Edinburgh (Scottish Government-PA)

    Alex Salmond announces his resignation at Bute House, Edinburgh (Scottish Government-PA)

    “I am immensely proud of the campaign which Yes Scotland fought and of the 1.6 million voters who rallied to that cause by backing an independent Scotland.

    “I am also proud of the 85 per cent turnout in the referendum and the remarkable response of all of the people of Scotland who participated in this great constitutional debate and the manner in which they conducted themselves.

    “We now have the opportunity to hold Westminster’s feet to the fire on the ‘vow’ that they have made to devolve further meaningful power to Scotland. This places Scotland in a very strong position. (…)

    “But today the point is this. The real guardians of progress are not the politicians at Westminster, or even at Holyrood, but the energised activism of tens of thousands of people who I predict will refuse meekly to go back into the political shadows. (…)

    “It has been the privilege of my life to serve Scotland as first minister. But as I said often during the referendum campaign this is not about me or the SNP. It is much more important than that.

    “The position is this. We lost the referendum vote but can still carry the political initiative. More importantly Scotland can still emerge as the real winner.”


    First let us look at the following map and figures to try and understand the facts.

    Scottish referendum YES NO vote map

    Scottish referendum YES NO vote map


    Here’s a map illustrating the results of the referendum, a pink and red map with minute patches of blue…

    At first sight, the NO victory seems to be overwhelming!

    And the YES side appears to be limited to very small areas:

    Dundee : 57.35 %

    Glasgow : 53.49 %

    West Dumbartonshire : 53.96 %

    North Lanarkshire : 51.07 %


    Inverclyde : 49.920 %…

    But is not this map insidiously misleading and rather unfair?

    Le us have a look at the results themselves, keeping in mind that about one million of Scottish people living abroad could not vote and that 400,000 residents in Scotland, all nationalities taken together, could vote.


    Scotland decides No-Yes figures Source BBC Scotland

    Scotland decides No-Yes figures Source BBC Scotland



    With a  difference of only 383,937 votes separating the NO and YES sides the result of the referendum expresses a ‘NO BUT’  rather than a clear “NO”, all the more since the NO-vote figure includes a number of people who had been very close to vote YES… and even people who regret to have voted NO!

    Who in the pro-independency camp could have dreamt of such a result a few months ago? Once, it even seemed to have the lead in the polls,  which immediately rocked the United Kingdom to its foundations. Indeed, would the Westminster government have taken the risk of allowing such a referendum  in Scotland  if they had knew the results would be so close ?

    A young girl carrying the Scottish flag

    A young girl carrying the Scottish flag

    The old Scottish dream is NOT dead. How could it be after such an extraordinary cross-generational, cross-party campaign which  gave rise to a huge wave of enthusiasm all over the country and even abroad, leading to the polls so many people usually indifferent to politics. The extraordinary turnout at the polls (about 85%) must be underlined! It is a victory in itself! In France we dream of such a figure at the polls !

    Alex Salmond and the old woman Source Telegraph 10 september 2014

    Alex Salmond and the old woman Source Telegraph 10 september 2014

    “Thursday 18 September 2014″ will remain a historical date in Scotland and we sincerely hope that the old Scottish dream of becoming independent, as the country was a long time ago, will come to be true one day…

    Alex Salmond and Sean Connery BBC News

    Alex Salmond and Sean Connery BBC News

    …many influent people think it will and wear the white little rose on their lapel ;-)

    Articles of Union 1707 Wikipedia

    ..O would, or I had seen the day
    That Treason thus could sell us,
    My auld grey head had lien in clay,
    Wi’ Bruce and loyal Wallace!
    But pith and power, till my last hour,
    I’ll mak this declaration;
    We’re bought and sold for English gold-
    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

    (Robert Burns)

    Though its origins have often been questioned, the United Kingdom is a powerful  political entity, born more than 300 years ago and it is quite understandable that its leaders should be ready to do anything to defend it.  There are big political, geo-political,  economical and financial interests at stake, and we must not forget that many British people are deeply attached to the union. But now that the golden age of the British empire and of the industrial era (as illustrated in the London Olympic Games opening ceremony) has gone,  the old values of those who had made the system flourish are crumbling.

    Most people,  all parties taken together,  admit that the YES campaign has been the best one. The  NO campaign repeatedly tried to frighten people,  focusing day after day on the dangers of becoming independent.  The NO campaign even turned to a show when David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, the main UK party leaders,  decided to visit Scotland to campaign against independence, ahead of the referendum. It was easy to guess the political calculations hiding behind the tearful speeches and last-minute promises. Why dit the UK leaders and their promises come so late and just after a reversal of the tendency in the polls had been suddendly announced in the news causing political turmoil in London and  a dramatic  fall of the shares at the London Stock Exchange.



    Alex and Moira Salmond going home after the referendum

    Alex and Moira Salmond going home after the referendum


    When Alex Salmond, the Scottish PM and charismatic SNP leader announced that he would resign in November from his functions as Prime Minister and SNP it came as a shock for many people in Scotland and abroad. Alex Salmond is certainly one the best politicians of his generation and nobody could have embodied  as well as he did the old Scottish dream of independence … but if  the facts were to confirm his most recent declarations that the Westminster government may have tricked his people, by making false promises, he  would certainly not be the last one to react and nobody could reproach him to denounce the plot and take action…

    Now, voices can be heard all over the country,  expressing new hopes, opening roads…

    Personally, I  never miss Mandy Haggith’s newsletter (“Cybercrofter”). In the article published on 21 September  she mentions three online  ‘fora’ (forums).  It aroused my curiosity and I’ve begun to read them. They seem to express perfectly what we love so much  in Scotland, the spirit of Caledonia…

    So, I let the last word to Mandy and the three online magazines…

    Bonne lecture !

    A bientôt.


    Mandy Haggith outside with a book - Suilven close - Photo from Mandy's website

    Mandy Haggith outside with a book – Suilven close – Photo from Mandy’s website


    Remember Northings? I think it’s time to get it working again.

    Chewing over the post-referendum bitterness, spitting out the pips and trying to find something that feels like a way forward, I find myself coming back to the things that make me angry. There’s energy there.

    One of the things that most infuriates me is that there is virtually no main-stream media willing to come out on the side of independence for Scotland. We have, apparently, 37 national newspapers, and only the Herald is pro-independence. The BBC is structurally biased in favour of the establishment. Even the Guardian thinks self-determination is a good thing for Palestinians, but not for Scots.

    It is clear therefore that we need to create new Scottish media platforms that have an editorial openness to all opinions about the future of this country, in order to balance the space available for the views, opinions, news, ideas and knowledge of all people and communities, not just unionists.

    One of the most distinctive things about Scotland is the cultural sphere, which is completely different from that south of the border. Up here in the Highlands, I perceive it as a Gaelic-rooted culture that relates strongly to the land and sea, that wears emotion openly and honestly and is laced with a quiet, wry self-deprecating humour. One of the things I love about living here, and why I will never live anywhere else, is because I feel surrounded by a great intensity of creative people – artists, craft makers, writers, musicians, story-tellers…

    We used to have an online magazine that celebrated this creative intensity. It was called Northings. It was set up as an online community, to enable us to talk to each other, highlight news and upcoming events, review performances and exhibitions, delve deeply into the creative work of individuals, discuss movements and trends. It was great. I loved it. But when HI-Arts was killed off last year, it was mothballed. The creative voices of the north were silenced. I blogged about it here. It was a travesty.

    Perhaps this is the time to find a way to revive Northings, and claim back our voice. Perhaps Northings could embrace the hopeful visions that the referendum has stirred up, and continue to showcase the depth and breadth of the culture that makes this part of Scotland so special. Perhaps the National Collective could use it as a platform. Perhaps it could also provide a space for views, news and opinions about our culture in the widest sense, including politics. We need to find ways to continue the conversation about the future in all parts of the country.

    There are some excellent independent online fora, like Bella Caledonia, Newsnet Scotland, Wings Over Scotland (there must be more, please tell me!) but cultural stuff doesn’t get much coverage, and anyway, we need at least 37 of them, for balance. If, like me, you think Northings has a valuable legacy that could be the springboard for an ongoing conversation, get in touch. If enough of us want to do it, we’ll find a way.


    From Bella Caledonia : a short extract from a moving article  by Serge Marti, published on 22 September 2014  in the aftermath of the YES defeat

    The beautiful and very expressive  logo of  Bella Caledonia, one of the online forums (fora) quoted by Mandy in her newsletter is taken from  an Alasdair’s Gray painting and if you want to know what particular link it has with Alexander Salmond just read on the full article of the BBC ;-)

    “Bella Caledonia is a painting from an image in Gray’s ceiling mural at Glasgow’s Oran Mor venue.”

    “Bella Caledonia is an iconic work by this artist. She appears to be an enigmatic figure, but Bella Caledonia is an independent, free-spirited woman with an enquiring mind and a strong sense of social justice and Alasdair has captured all of these qualities in this painting.”



    Bella Caledonia logo after an Alasdair's Gray painting

    ‘Thoughts for the Pheonix’

    On Friday the 19th of September, we were in mourning for the loss of our dream. A progressive independent Scotland. A beacon of hope in a grey world to counter the gathering clouds of hopelessness.

    Peoples eyes were cast down. A few of us exchanged glances, more exchanged hugs. The tears flowed, and the anger too. Friends shouted into the void – ‘ Why did you do this! Why did we do this!?’. Most of all there was greyness, silence, bar jackdaws squawking from someplace in the haar. We knew that in the face of the unified onslaught of the mainstream media, the corporate imperial state, and their puppet masters in global finance, we lost.

    Yet if we have lost, why do so many of us feel that our determination has grown? If we have lost, why are the ideas already flowing thick and fast from the National Collective, Women for Independence, Labour for Independence, Common Weal and many others?


    From Wings Over Scotland
    An extract of the very beautiful article posted on September 18, 2014 by Rev. Stuart Campbell, the very day of the referendum

    Wings Over Scotland logo

     ”Us, now, or never”

    We have fifteen hours.

    The next fifteen hours mark the only ones in the entire history of time in which the fate of Scotland has rested democratically in the hands of its people. In 1707 the country was sold from under its people’s feet by a tiny handful of “nobles”. Before that it was won or lost in blood and sorrow. Today, the will of the people – every man and woman with one equal vote, regardless of wealth or property – shall decide.

    Voting Yes won’t magically solve our problems overnight. But they’ll be ours to own and solve for ourselves. We need not do things in the way they’ve “always been done”. We can take Scotland – a nation at once both proudly ancient and reborn afresh – and shape it in whatever form we choose.

    It will be a land not inherited from our predecessors – for they never owned it to give – but lent to us by our children, to build into a place they can prosper and flourish, not be forced to leave in search of opportunity. For those already driven away, a home worth returning to. And for those who’ve never been, a welcoming beacon of hope.

    All those Scotlands, shared by all of us. Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. You know the rest.

    Our enemies are not the good people of England. They, like us and much of the rest of the world, suffer the injustices and indignities imposed by a ruling class which has no nation but power and no language but money.

    A new feudalism grips the planet, a reversal of much of the progress of the 20th century. Workers have seen their rights diminished, and ever-greater toil yields an ever-smaller share of the rewards, which are greedily hoarded by the wealthy on a scale not seen since medieval times. Our children are placed under a yoke of enormous debt before their working lives even begin, our elderly pushed ever closer to the grave before they can rest. (…)

     From News Net Scotland

    newsnetscotland logo

    Newsnet Scotland was launched on March 2010 to address a perceived imbalance in the reporting of Scottish News and current affairs.  We believe that a nation without a balanced media is the poorer for it. Staffed by volunteers Newsnet is the fastest growing news outlet in Scotland, each month we enjoy double digit readership growth.


    The tide goes out

    by Paul Kavanagh

    We stand on the shore of the sea loch, and watch the tide go out. Now is the time to shelter the flame of hope from the howling gale.

    No has won through fear and threats of loss. But the dream is not dead, the dream still lives within the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands who refused to be bowed by fear, who refused to succumb to the one sided stories of the self-interested. It is not a dream that will be forgotten. The flame of hope still burns within.

    I’ve already lost this year. I’ve already had to grieve. But I will not grieve for Scotland, because Scotland still lives and hope still lives within me. I do not feel ashamed for the shame of others. Now is a time for building, for defending what we have built, for ensuring that the politicians keep their worthless words.

    We achieved so much with so little, we learned how to organise ourselves, and we must use those skills to maintain the pressure for change. I didn’t come this far only to give up now. It is only if you slink away that they will have won. We cannot go back into the shortbread tin. We have outgrown it.

    It was always a big ask, to break through generations of apathy at the first attempt, to leap the prison walls of cynicism in a single bound. In the end we could not overcome the weight of a media almost uniformly opposed to change, and because of that a million minds remained closed and out of reach.


    Uig-Tarbert Caledonian MacBrayne ferry © 2003 Scotiana

    Uig-Tarbert Caledonian MacBrayne ferry © 2003 Scotiana


    The tide goes out. The tide will return.

    Stand on the shore undaunted and unafraid, building for the future, and waiting the tide’s return.

    The high tide will come again. But we have work to do.

    (Paul Kavanagh)


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    YES or NO That’s the BIG question in Scotland today…


    The Saltire and Union flags on Arthur's Seat photo Carol McCabe in The Telegraph

    The Saltire and Union flags on Arthur’s Seat photo Carol McCabe in The Telegraph

    YES or NO to become independent from the United Kingdom, that is the big question to be answered in Scotland today! A historical day indeed !

    The above photo of the  Saltire and the Union flags being raised on Arthur’s Seat with a view of Edinburgh Castle and the hills in the background is absolutely WON-DER-FUL.  The two flags symbolizing the YES and NO sides and carried with equal pride in front of a mythical landscape looks like a painting with its misty atmosphere suggesting uncertainties and the sun which is still veiled but  shining ;-) BRAVO to Carol McCabe, the very inspired photographer who did catch this very special mood! Her photo was published only a few hours ago in The Telegraph. It’s one of my favourite pictures about the historical events which are taking place in Scotland presently.  But I’ve found  many many other ones, illustrating the enthusiasm and hopes of hundreds of people proudly wearing the Scottish Saltire.

    Coming back to the  article of The Telegraph, published yesterday, on 17 September 2014,  where I’ve found this magnificent picture Keith Perry writes :

    ‘Scotland will reject independence – but only by a whisker, according to the biggest referendum poll carried out so far.’

    Most polls forecast a slight lead of the NO camp but who knows… all hopes are still open.  Anyway, and whatever the result will be (we probably won’t know it before tomorrow morning)  Scotland already appears as the winner of this long and hard campaign very successfully led by Alex Salmond, the charismatic champion of the independence cause who has managed to arouse political interest, especially among the young generation.

    Aberdeen a child carrying the Scottish Saltire

    Aberdeen a child carrying the Scottish Saltire in the street

    We’ve always been impressed by the interest of the children for Scottish history during our visits of castles and museums in Scotland.

    Scottish children and Scottish Saltire Source MailOnline © Getty images

    Scottish children with Scottish Saltire on their face Source MailOnline © Getty images

    Contrary to what it has been repeatedly said in the media many people in France are in favour of Scottish Independence as it is also the case  in Quebec and we can easily guess why. Scotland and  France have always been united by friendly relationships, close  historical links.  Let us just remember that Mary Queen of Scots was also Queen of France and that there used to be the possiblity of double nationality in both countries. The Auld Alliance is still well remembered, as best  illustrated in Aubigny-sur-Nère,  the French City of the Stuarts. I’m no expert in Scottish history as I’ve already underlined but I try to learn.

    Dogs wearing a union flag and Scottish Saltire Photo Russell Cheyne Reuters

    Dogs wearing a union flag and Scottish Saltire Photo Russell Cheyne Reuters

    Even the dogs have their word to say ;-)

    Edinburgh taxi with Scottish Saltire © 2012 Scotiana

    Edinburgh taxi with Scottish Saltire © 2012 Scotiana

    If many Scots want to be free from the United Kingdom today it is because they are not happy within the  union formed with England more than 300 years ago. Indeed, not all Scots did agree with this union when it was signed in 1707, far from it, but that’s another question.

    What has led me to choose between the YES  and NO sides is not only what I’ve learned in books but also what we’ve learned in Scotland during our seven trips there, discussing and sharing life with Scottish people, visiting many places of interest and memory ( monuments, castles and museums, libraries), also following historical trails (the Clearances Trail in the North starting from Bettyhill – Glencoe – The Murder of Appin Trail – Flodden and Culloden battlefield, to mention only a few of them). In France several trips to Aubigny-sur-Nère, the French City of the Stuarts in Berry,  revived our interest about the  Auld Alliance and the Hundred Years War which opposed France to England, a common enemy then.

    French SNP Christian Allard  saying OUI to independence

    French SNP Christian Allard saying OUI to independence

    “This is a historic day, not only for independence supporters but for everyone in Scotland.

    (French SNP member ;-) in Holyrood – North-east SNP MSP)

    A historic day, whatever the result will be,  with Alex Salmond emerging as the winner of the day, even in the case of the NO victory. He has led a great campaign and it was not an easy task given the aggressiveness of the leaders of the other side.

    I’ve learned quite a number of things about the UK and Scotland in a very interesting debate organized by France Culture for its radio programme “Du grain à moudre”. The three guests who came to  expose their  different views about the referendum and its consequences were Richard Davis, Mark McNaught and Keith Dixon.

    The independence referendum was a very good opportunity to make Scotland more visible abroad and  indeed many people seem to discover Scotland because of the political turmoil created  around this referendum. The world’s attention is turned towards Scotland,  in Europe and all over the world where millions of Scots or descendants of Scots are disseminated  in what is called ‘The Scottish Diaspora’, following the religious, economical and political immigration which led them towards the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, to mention only a few countries where they settled ).

    It is not new that the Scots feel very different from the English but maybe this is going more and more true today because of the decline of the Labour Party in the UK and the Westminster neo-liberal policy which is not in keeping with their own ideas. Maybe a number of English people would like England become more Scottish sometimes! There are big economic interests at stake too.

    In my last post I’ve quoted Kenneth White, one of the greatest  Scottish-French contemporary authors. Today I’d like to make you share the point of view of Mandy Haggith.

    Mandy Haggith outside with a book - Suilven close - Photo from Mandy's website

    Why I am voting Yes for an Independent Scotland

    Posted: 11 Sep 2014 11:55 AM PDT

    I am voting yes because I’ve concluded it’s the ethical choice. I have long been ashamed of the role that the United Kingdom plays in the world. We consume far more than our share of natural resources, both individually and through corporations that base themselves and finance themselves in this country and carry out policies of resource appropriation and economic pillage in other countries poorer than ours. We condone and take part in unacceptable military interventions in other parts of the world, and we pose a nuclear threat.I hope that Scotland, as a new, small, peace-loving country will be able to behave better than the UK currently does. I hope we can live both here and abroad, in more socially equitable and environmentally gentle ways.I have considered hard the fact that the UK is a large, powerful, rich nation, with a seat in the Security Council at the UN, with a powerful position in the EU, etc. Scotland will be a small country, with much less power. Is it an abdication of responsibility to give up on the UK, rather than to try to stay within it, and change it to be a better country? I have worried about this, but all my life I seem to have been going on marches, demonstrating, petitioning, voting and writing to my elected representatives and over and over again I have seen the powers that be, in Westminster and in the City of London, ignoring us and acting with aggression and greed and without a proper mandate from the people. The political and economic system in the UK is riddled by class inequality and corruption. The electoral system is geared to reinforce rule by the powerful few over the powerless many. The City of London is over-protected and unaccountable, the military is cowed by America, an upper-class English elite has control over our government, the judiciary and the media.I know I am not the only individual in Scotland to conclude that we have no legal, non-violent way to influence the behaviour of the UK. It is not an abdication of responsibility to turn away from the UK, and seek a new country in which we can have some, meaningful influence.It will be difficult to change our society, but after listening to many debates and talking to many people I conclude that there is a real will in Scotland to make this a better country. I have worked in the Scottish Parliament and I know it is a more civilised and consensus-based parliament than Westminster, so I have faith that we can operate a different kind of politics. Our climate change targets and legislation is far stronger already than the UK’s as a whole. Our welfare system, to the extent that we can change it from Holyrood, is already fairer than the UK’s. I believe that an Independent Scotland will create foreign policy and financial regulation that will be more ethical than the UK’s.I believe that we have the brains, the resources, the creativity and the social consciences that we will need. I believe that we will be able to work with other small, peaceful nations, in the UN, in Europe, within the world’s financial system, even if necessary within NATO, to push for global reforms to rein in the excesses of countries like the UK. We will not have so much power, but we will have moral authority. We will be only modestly just, but that’s better than being powerfully wrong. It’s a choice between might and right.I’m choosing right.I’m voting Yes.


    Salmond and Deputy PM Nicolas Sturgeon Source Wikipedia

    Scottish PM Alex Salmond and Deputy PM Nicolas Sturgeon Source Wikipedia

    Alea Jacta Est…  would have said Julius Caesar, the old enemy of Caledonia. Yes the die is cast, or nearly…


    A bientôt.


    Glasgow blue taxi That's the way aha aha JC © 2007 Scotiana

    Glasgow blue taxi That’s the way aha aha JC © 2007 Scotiana

    Books, Books, Books !

    On my reading list presently :

    T. M. Devine The Scottish Nation A Modern History Penguin 2012

    T. M. Devine The Scottish Nation A Modern History Penguin 2012

    I’ve downloaded T.M. Devine’s book on my kindle… not easy reading for a French reader but very interesting all the same ;-)

    The Real Patriots of Early Scottish Independence Alan Young and George Cumming Birlinn 2014

    The Real Patriots of Early Scottish Independence Alan Young and George Cumming Birlinn 2014



    The Real Patriots of Early Scottish Independence has just been offered to me as a birthday present by my children ;-) . I will tell you more about it as soon as I’ve read it !





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    A strong wind of change is blowing in Scotland…


    North Berwick Scottish flags © 2007 Scotiana

    Dear readers,

    It has escaped nobody that a strong wind of change is blowing in Scotland these days, a wind murmuring echoes of the old Scottish dream of independence, a dream which is not shared by all, far from it. In a very few days [...]

    On Drumossie Moor the sad echoes of Culloden battle…


    Culloden battlefield Scottish side © 2012 Scotiana


    They used to call it Drumossie Moor – a bleak stretch of boggy, heather-clad upland moor above Culloden House, south-east of Inverness, overlooking the broad waters of the Moray Firth. This was where the last pitched battle on British soil was fought, on 16 April [...]

    Edinburgh Airport break records!

    Since it is not everyday that great events are spread amongst the news broadcasting networks, I’m happy to share a great moment in time here on Scotiana’s blog, in case you missed it when it came out.

    Edinburgh Airport is now the first Scottish airport to handle more than 10 [...]