And you voted no along with these fellow-travellers
You voted for a Labour leader totally at sea when confronted by ordinary Scots
And it could all have been so different.
It's not Rocket Salad
And you voted no along with these fellow-travellers
You voted for a Labour leader totally at sea when confronted by ordinary Scots
And it could all have been so different.
We’ve taken on the Tories
We’ve taken on the BNP
We’ve taken on the Orange Order
We’ve taken on the Labour Party
We’ve taken on the Britannia Party
We’ve taken on the Liberal Democrats
We’ve taken on the National Front
We’ve taken on Ukip
We’ve taken on the BBC, determinedly propagandizing on behalf of the Union
We’ve taken on the luvvies with their enormous egos and holiday homes in Scotland
We’ve taken on the distortions of our views, our desires, our ambitions in the press
We’ve challenged and sang and laughed and chapped on doors in the sun in the rain in howling gales
We’ve spoken at meetings and shrugged off abuse and attack
We’ve turned ordinary Scots into activists
We’ve introduced young people to political participation
We’ve challenged lies and more lies and dirty tricks
We’ve shaken our heads at political posturing and stunts
We’ve shaken our heads at Labour politicians advocating people do not use their democratic vote
We’ve faced up to the whole panoply of aggressive misrepresentation thrown at us by a mischievous media
We’ve used social media to counter media distortions and lies and censorship of our opinions and ideals
We’ve taken on millionaires and billionaires and city folk who aim to buy support
We’ve taken on self-serving corrupt politicians motivated by self-interest who feather their own nests with inflated expense claims paid for by people who are reduced to feeding their families from food banks
We’ve taken on threats and personal attacks from No supporters
We’ve countered the hysterical rantings of fanatical rightwing commentators
We’ve countered the hysterical ranting of Kensington lefties
We’ve grown more confident
We’ve loved being part of a movement that is positive and ambitious to help the majority in our little country of Scotland
We’ve taken the flak and shrugged it off because we’ve been empowered to speak out
Thank you all fellow YESers
It’s been great
A great deal of nonsense has been said and written throughout the Scottish independence campaign by a mostly hostile media.
We were told at the outset it was too long. Well here we are about to vote and interest in it is greater than ever. It certainly has caught the attention of the world media and even, the UK media, and that takes some doing when it comes to Scotland-related matters.
The Guardian is an example of a newspaper purporting to represent the whole of the British Isles when, in fact, it represents possibly a small community around SE England. Pick up a copy any day of any week, outside of the referendum period, and you’ll struggle to see any mention of Scotland whether in the politics section or sport.
The Guardian, therefore, cannot be taken too seriously when it claims to understand the Scottish psyche through this campaign. Curiously it regards itself as sharing with the campaign ‘some of the things that matters most to this newspaper and its readers.’ An eyebrow or two will have been raised around Scotland at this conceit.
You, the Guardian, are part of the problem which has led to the groundswell of support for re-asserting our independence.
You are wrong when you say that national identity is high on anyone’s agenda, certainly not for those of the Yes side. The same may not apply to the No side for they’ve supported the cry of Scots across the UK and even abroad who maintain they should have been given a vote. The Yes side see this referendum as the business of those who live in Scotland, who make their livings here, who raise their families here, irrespective of where they come from originally. It is not a franchise based on national identity at all but of location. You can be from Pakistan, England, Poland, Estonia and you are deemed to be Scottish and so entitled to vote.
‘Ugly nationalism’ has no place in the Yes movement, except as an invention by mistaken or mischievous opponents of the independence movement.
No, the view that this is a campaign of national identity, narrow nationalism or Britishness of the type Gove tried to introduce into England with all the nastiness that involves, is far removed from the pro-independence movement. Only No campaigners have been desperately declaring themselves patriots and passionate about Scotland, not the yessers. It is so misleading to suggest independence here is about narrow nationalism. It is a movement which has emerged from us being overwhelmed by at times a bullying and often indifferent Union partner happy to exploit Scotland’s people (industrially and militarily) and our resources and condescend us by ‘giving us’ a few powers of government so that there is an allusion of semi-autonomy. We are a partner we shouldn’t be ‘given’ powers we should be able to take what we want out of the Union.
The Guardian holds up the views of Charles Kennedy to knock back independence. He has not featured in Scottish politics for long (while still an MP) his voice is now unfamiliar here and he speaks for a discredited party of LibDems whose integrity is in shreds and who will struggle for votes in the future so why the Guardian thought he was someone who could shed light on the movement for change here is risible and another example of how out of touch the Guardian is with Scotland and its Scottish readers.
The newspaper’s editorial is spiteful in its accusation against the millions who support a radical shakeup of life in Scotland and reveals an unhealthy level of intolerance of opinion despite its opening statement about sharing some of our concerns.
No-one I have heard has ever uttered the opinion that they think the Scots superior to anyone else; inclusiveness is the overwhelming view.
I suggest the Guardian ca’s canny when going down the line that the Union better serves oldies relying on a state pension for UK pensioners receive among the worst pensions in Europe and the pension age if being pushed back towards 70 the age it was when pensions were first introduced – when few lived long enough to benefit from them.
Likewise with the NHS there can be few in doubt that privatisation will erode all but a tiny element of the once-great NHS. Only by Scotland getting away from its status as a pocket-money dependency will we have a hope of retaining a well-funded free at the point of access health service; as campaigning medical and nursing staff have argued.
The wealth that is created in Scotland will be used to tackle the obscenity of poverty in the 21st century in an oil-rich state but it can only be done when we rid ourselves of the corrupt back-slapping nepotistic establishment that pulls all the strings in the UK around Westminster and Whitehall.
There is little Scotland, as part of the Union, can do to raise the living standards of people across the UK but there is much it can do to use the massive oil and gas reserves we have along with the rest of our economy to improve life here in Scotland with our small population. The argument that risk shared across populations is manifestly untrue given the evidence that small western nations have the highest standards of living and well-being.
Scots are looking for big constitutional change. Labour says vote for them next year and they’ll reform the House of Lords. We’ve heard that one so often and what do we get? Labour Party MPs queuing up to wrap themselves in ermine, eager to grasp the daily allowance of the totally undemocratic Lords. No Labour we don’t want reform of the Lords we want its eradication.
Until recently most issues of the Guardian along with all other mainstream UK newspapers and BBC largely ignored us or patronised or ridiculed us. Fair enough, carry on doing that but don’t expect us to give you respect or play your games anymore.
Whatever the outcome of the referendum vote Scotland’s people have been reinvigorated and we will not be docile any longer.
Guest blog by Textor
It began in 1916 as a telegram, became a whispering campaign, filled column inches in the local press and finished in 1920 in the Court of Session in Edinburgh. This was the scandal of William M’Kinnon & Co. manufacturing faulty shells for use on the Western Front.
Founded in 1798 William M’Kinnon & Co’s pedigree was a long and proud one of supplying foundry and engineering products locally but by mid 19th century the company had spread its industrial wings becoming part of the web of commerce which was the British Empire. Sugar, tea, coffee, rice and cacao all needed processing before being sold to customers across the globe. This was the market that M’Kinnon entered and so they continued into the last years of the 20th century. Dryers, heaters, graders, sieves, elevators and steam engines were manufactured in the Spring Garden works. In 1914 just weeks before the outbreak of war the firm was awarded a Gold Medal for the excellence of its tropical agricultural equipment.
Imperialist war demanded cannon fodder and cannons. Men left M’Kinnon’s to fight in Europe and in a mirror action, in 1915, the company decided it too would get involved, in munitions manufacturing. Patriotism would have played its part but an added incentive was a guaranteed market and the prospect that a new factory might be fitted-out at Government expense. Premises were purchased adjacent to the existing works at Spring Garden and David Graeme Robertson came back from the Malay States to run the factory. Robertson was part of the imperial commercial web which had benefitted M’Kinnon so well. Having served his time with them he travelled east, in about 1906, establishing his own engineering in Kuala Lumpur and was also involved in a tin mining scheme whose shareholders were mainly from Aberdeen. In 1913 this particular enterprise hit a rocky patch with David Graeme making accusations of “wicked and unscrupulous action” by one of the scheme’s members; this drew a libel action against him but the case was lost and Robertson left with his pocket and reputation intact. Possibly this court experience played a role in subsequent events.
Whatever his reasons for returning to Aberdeen the fact is that he was in overall charge of the factory when it first received an order for 4.5 inch shells and later 6 inch shells: by mid 1916 over 50,000 of the smaller ordnance had been dispatched to the battlefields along with 30,000 of the larger calibre. In this work “Girl operators” who “did not make a perfect job, but they did very good work” were on the machines, overseen by time-served male engineers given the task of ensuring output was maintained. One of the gaffers was a Mr Hunter, a man who’d spent 20 years with the firm; he became a key figure in the ensuing shells scandal.
At the end of 1916 Hunter approached manager Robertson and asked for a rise in wages on grounds of having improved workshop productivity. He was refused and the conversation must have been heated for the outcome was Hunter’s sacking. Unsurprisingly he appears to have left in high dudgeon and when later he met with a Robert Whitelaw, a surgical instrument maker and special constable, he let rip with venom, criticizing the manager in particular. He told Whitelaw that M’Kinnon’s was guilty of fraud, that the war effort was being undermined with their dud shell casings being shipped to the troops at the Front. And this deceit, he declared, was being carried out in a “secret room” in the attic not with “girl operators” but only “skilled” men. Whitelaw had lost a son in the war and the news hit him hard. Appalled at the thought of troops being left vulnerable he immediately drafted a telegram to the Ministry of Munitions informing them that there was a rumour of malpractice at Spring Garden.
This brought a swift response: two inspectors followed by Colonel Stansfield from the Ministry arrived at the works. The premises were searched and in a meeting behind closed doors it was decided the Government should assume control of the factory. The first Aberdonians knew of this was removal of M’Kinnon’s signboard and its replacement by the prosaic “National Shell Factory”.
And there the matter rested until the end of the war. From 1917 to 1918 the nationalised factory operated under the direction of Professor Horne of Robert Gordon’s Technical School but rumours continued to circulate. It was only with the cessation of hostilities that matters came to a head and full public disclosure, as we might now say, was made.
Robert Whitelaw was accused of slander. The company, D G Robertson and Lachlan M’Kinnon sued, seeking damages of £6000 to be apportioned equally between the three pursuers. Whether Robertson’s victory in Kuala Lumpur inspired confidence of a win in this case is unclear what is certain is that he led the trio and sought to vindicate his own reputation as a patriot and an engineer.
Between July 1919 and May 1920 the public were treated to a case which exposed the running of the shell factory and the Government’s priorities during the war.
The court action began before a jury at the Court of Session in March 1920 with Lord Blackburn presiding. The pursuers initially focussed on Whitelaw’s allegation that the company had conspired to make a Government stamp with the intention of fooling local inspectors. However, Lord Blackburn ruled, before the jury sat, that this was a secondary issue and that the central case was the question of the quality of the shells manufactured and the actions of the company between 1915 and 1916.
Evidence was presented by the pursuers, the defendant, an ex-Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Government inspectors and a range of employees from M’Kinnon’s. During proceedings it emerged a secret meeting was held in the Palace Hotel on 14th February 1917, led by Director of Munitions in Scotland, Frederick Lobnitz, with Lord Provost Taggart present. In essence this meeting presented D G Robertson with a fait accompli. Robertson was informed that the evidence collected during the snap inspection in January 1917 meant the factory was to be taken out of the hands of M’Kinnon, that the claims made by Whitelaw “were proved to the hilt” and “that was a crime”. It was declared by the Director of Munitions that the criminal action had been carried out under the orders of Robertson. Lord Provost Taggart, a prominent figure in Aberdeen’s granite industry, agreed with Lobnitz. When Robertson protested and asked for a hearing of his side of the issue he was summarily refused and Lobnitz hit back with, “If this had been done in France you would have been stuck up against a wall and shot”. Even the pursuers’ council admitted that if Whitelaw’s allegations were true his clients would have been traitors, their actions treasonable and would have deserved to be shot.
But David Graeme was not shot. Instead he was removed from the factory, which according to him meant M’Kinnon would lose 95% of its business. From the evidence given at the trial it became clear that the Government objective was to ensure the smooth production of deadly ordinance while at the same time suppressing any disclosures which might undermine morale on the Home Front; and prevent troops on the Front Lines learning that their lives were being placed at risk through “friendly” action of a once reputable engineering firm. Shooting one of the city’s leading businessmen was not really an option so state officials being what they are decided that a gentleman’s agreement of sorts should be adopted: if the company signed the factory over to the state it in turn would not shoot Robertson and further it would keep the whole affair hidden from the public. Frederick Lobnitz said they should “give up their contract, when the whole matter would remain private, and no stigma of blame would attach to the firm”. Sir James Taggart was happy to go along with this as it maintained the reputation of the city.
As the slander case progressed David Robertson’s and Lachlan M’Kinnon’s confidence must have waned. Government inspectors spoke of discovering a snibbed “secret room” in which men worked on some 150 to 200 shells, all in various states of disrepair. They testified to having to force entry to the room, literally a foot in the door. The Ministry’s Colonel Stansfield described the practice as a “deliberate attempt to cheat the Government gauges” (used by inspectors on the factory floor).
Robertson’s memory failed him; he told Lord Blackburn that he could not recall Stansfield accusing the company of fraud. Some of M’Kinnon’s employees claimed the snib on the door was there to keep management out so men could have a quiet smoke, something banned during dayshift. An alternative explanation offered was the room was a place men could dodge the gaffer. However the room contained a quantity of shells, new base plates waiting to be riveted, copper bands for attaching, the means of expanding the diameter of cases and so on; none of which was made known to the official inspectors, neither room nor operations. It was not until January 1917 that the secret room was revealed.
Beyond the walls of the Palace Hotel where David Graeme was offered a deal, or rather an ultimatum, matters looked bleak for Robert Whitelaw. Not unusually for a whistleblower he found himself under threat. The gravity of the charge against M’Kinnon’s ensured the state took decisive action but this did not mean plaudits for Whitelaw; and certainly not any honour which his detractors hinted was the motivation for his action. The problem the state had with him was that he would not shut up. He persisted in speaking to fellow special constables and others about the matter. A Government official contacted Chief Constable Anderson and told him that Whitelaw was making too much of a public fuss, that he should be told to keep his mouth closed. So the special constable found himself before his boss, being warned that there was “an immense amount of talk in Aberdeen” and it had to stop. DORA was the Chief Constable’s answer, no not a close female friend but Defence of The Realm Act, a draconian piece of legislation which was passed in 1914 and gave the Government wide-ranging powers of censorship and control over civilian activities. Whitelaw was warned that his gossip was “Prejudicial to the troops”. Given the prospect of a prison sentence the surgical instrument maker decided to adopt a lower profile and having lost confidence in his boss he resigned as a special constable.
In the end there was general vindication of Whitelaw’s claims. In his summing up Lord Blackburn said that irrespective of David Robertson’s engineering experience and his familiarity with boiler technology he lacked precise knowledge of munitions and explosives which meant that his views on manufacturing techniques were secondary to those of the appointed Government inspectors. Blackburn agreed with Stansfield and also cast doubt on the notion that the attic room was open to any who chose to visit. The jury retired to consider the case and after three hours deliberation returned its verdict. Of the four components of the action, including a counter action by Whitelaw, three were found in the defendant’s favour. The jury agreed that M’Kinnon had on occasion manufactured faulty shells and that these had been sent to a secret room to be rectified, without official permission and with the intention of having the modified shells passed as suitable for shipment to the Front. The only issue which was found in favour of the three pursuers was Robert Whitelaw’s claim that the company had forged a government stamp; this was a false claim (for the engineering minded this was confusion over a knurling tool although being a surgical instrument maker Whitelaw should have known the difference).
How important this single victory by M’Kinnon & Co. was can be judged from the fact that no damages were awarded for this slander. And, equally indicative, when Lord Blackburn came to apportion costs he ruled that the pursuers would pay their own expenses and 3/5 of the defendant’s.
In summing up Blackburn made clear that in his opinion the use of the secret room, repairing of faulty ordinance, and presumably the sidestepping of official inspectors, was an act of foolishness on the part of Robertson. The manager had allowed his judgement as to what was and was not acceptable to override the regulations and the judgement of Government officials. All had been done with the best of intentions. In mitigation Blackburn observed that no evidence had been brought forward which implicated any repaired shells in the deaths of British troops. He concluded “Mr Robertson was not actuated by any personal motives in doing what he did, and that he honestly believed that the shells passed after treatment were in all respects as good shells as those which had not been treated”, and observed that the base motives attributed to Robertson and the company through public gossip were unjustified. Accordingly, he concluded that Robertson could leave the court knowing that this misrepresentation of his character had been dispelled.
And so with the end of the war this small skirmish in Aberdeen was settled. The National Shell Factory at Spring Garden ceased production on the 28th November 1918 with most of the workers being demobilised (presumably mostly girl operators) and on the 26th December machinery, tools and other equipment were auctioned off. As for William M’Kinnon & Co. the business turned again to its traditional market and in 1921 it won an award for the excellence of its machinery. D. G. Robertson died in Montreal in 1926 and Robert Whitelaw died in 1932. Neither death notice in Aberdeen Press and Journal mentioned the scandal.
 Founder William M’Kinnon died in 1873 aged 96. The name can still be found marketing plantation machinery but the business no longer has the local presence it once had.
 Throughout the war years Robert Whitelaw was prominent in fund raising concerts for British troops which probably gives a better sense of his motivations.
See photographs on Flickr – you may have to copy and paste the link to get the images up
Welcome to The Family; the BBC Scotland family aka the Labour Party.
The Family resides in Glasgow and is presided over by Ken McQuarrie.
Ken MacQuarrie’s Head of News at BBC Scotland is John, John Boothman. John is married to Susan, Susan is Susan Deacon. Susan is a former Labour MSP and Health Minister at Holyrood.
Ken’s Head of Online News is Tom, Tom Connor. Tom and John are said to have offered media training to Labour Party wannabe politicians. Tom’s department operates BBC Scotland blogs; infamous for their ban on public comments, unlike any other part of the UK.
Another Tom is Tom McCabe. Tom is a member of the Scottish Labour Party and used to be an MSP. Tom also used to be the partner of Lorraine, Lorraine Davidson. Lorraine’s career has swung between the Labour Party and the BBC. She used to be a spin-doctor – with the Labour Party or was it the BBC? Not too sure on that one. Lorraine became a weel-kent voice on BBC Scotland frequently ushered in to air her views on all the big issues of the day. Lorraine is now married to David. David is David Martin and he’s a Labour Party MEP.
David Martin is friends with Catriona, Catriona Renton. Catriona loves politics which is good because that’s what she covers as a BBC Scotland reporter. Catriona was a Labour councillor in Glasgow with ambitions to become an MSP but sadly didn’t get elected in 2003. Catriona is a friendly sort of lady with Facebook chums the likes of Jackie Baillie ( herself a very friendly lady who is also chums with Gary Robertson and Alan Clements hubby of Kirsty Wark ), Yousuf Hamid, Tom Harris, Mike Dailly, Frank McAvetty, John Robertson, John Park, Steven Purcell, Dave Watson – is there Labour person Catriona isn’t chummy with?
I don’t know if Catriona knows Raymond, Raymond Buchanan that is. Raymond used to work for BBC Scotland until the little matter of his mis-representing what was said by an Irish Minister, Lucinda Creighton, on EU membership of an independent Scotland along with another little matter of a so-called ‘leaked SNP document’ suggesting Scotland’s reliance on English consumers to cover the cost of Scottish energy encouraged Raymond to make a strategic withdrawal. Whichever – Raymond has retreated to the Outer Hebrides from where he loves to tweet about politics and, well you can make up your own mind where Raymond’s heart lies.
Raymond’s brother-in-law is Brian, Brian Wilson (allegedly). Brian used to be a Labour MP, you know the one put in charge of Labour Vote No Campaign in 1979 in the devolution referendum campaign. Brian loves and promotes nuclear power, and why wouldn’t he for he was a non-executive director of Amec Nuclear Holdings. Brian is no stranger to BBC Scotland which likes nothing better than to canvass his views on everything from tweed to nukes.
Then there’s Ken or rather was Ken. Ken Macintosh, like many before and since, has found his career slipped seamlessly between the Labour Party and the BBC. Currently Ken is a Labour MSP with an eye on leadership if only Ed Miliband could remember who he is.
Ed Miliband lives in London where lots of Scots migrate to from wee Scotland to enhance their careers, and why not. You’ll be familiar with Andrew, Andrew Marr. Andrew decided his future lay in London. And one day BBC London noticed North Britain was jumping up and down trying to draw attention to itself. Now BBC London was not in the habit of encouraging such self-promotion but decided some canny handling of independence matters was required. It looked around and spotted the lovely Andrew who despite all evidence to the contrary turned out to be Scottish! Andrew, they realised, was the perfect person to embody Scotland; to go out and explore this backwater in the north and enlighten the good people of Britain why it was the whingeing Scots were whingeing. And Andrew obliged because he’s that kinda guy. He’s also the kinda guy who discovered the Labour Party suited him nicely while a student. And Andrew is married to Jackie. Jackie is a journalist, oh and broadcaster, which takes her into the BBC quite a lot. Jackie is the daughter of the late Jack Ashley. Jack was a Labour MP which might be why Jackie specialises in the Labour Party, according to Wikipedia, though I’m not sure what that means. And she supported Gordon Brown’s government, so it says. Think you might be on your own there Jackie.
Now for all I know Jackie and Andrew might be friends with James, James Naughtie. James or Jim as he’s sometimes known also found himself taking the road south to find fame and fortune. And behold the BBC discovered that Jim is also a Scot and who better to add some gravitas to the wretched Good Morning Scotland and demonstrate how to tackle the issues making the natives restless. And if you’re waiting for an argument from me on that one you will wait a while. I don’t know much about James except he hails from the very lovely Milltown of Rothiemay and my friend Graeme and one-time journalist says he used to think him one of the better reporters. So that’s Jim – cleancut and non-affiliated unless you think his comment of ‘if we win the election’ when interviewing Labour’s Ed Balls during the 2005 General Election suggests anything. But hey, it’s an easy slip to make as many at the BBC will tell you.
Welcome back to Scotland Jim and a warm welcome too to Laura and Sarah. Don’t pay any attention to those harping on about what it’s costing – big bucks (the new Scottish currency I’m told) but just hold on, they’re worth it. Don’t you agree?
Laura is the lovely Laura Kuenssberg, daughter of Nicholas. You know – that Nicholas -one of the donors to Wendy Alexander’s campaign that went so badly wrong. You must remember all those donations of £995 that meant donors could remain anonymous. Got it now? Okay, so Nicholas, father of Laura was one of those people lending support to wee Wendy.
Wendy, once even led Scottish Labour at Holyrood but perhaps her greatest claim to fame is being the sister of Douglas, Douglas Alexander. Douglas is a Labour MP and often asked to appear on political shows, which is as it should be. Douglas is a canny politician knowing not to say too much and he has never been accused of dodgy practice over campaign funding and certainly hasn’t uttered Wendy’s catchphrase of ‘Bring it on’ which only brought on her own downfall which I’m sure Laura’s father Nicholas Kuenssberg would have been sorry to witness.
Wendy is married to Brian, Brian Ashcroft. Brian is Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute. The Fraser of Allander Institute is often cited on BBC Scotland as an independent think-tank which coincidentally issues lots of warnings about the weakness of the Scottish economy. Oh well everyone’s entitled to their opinion – although not all have access to them being aired by the BBC but life’s not fair is it Wendy?
A friend of Wendy’s is Sarah. That is the Honourable Sarah Smith, daughter of the late John, one-time leader of the Labour Party who also found the invitation north impossible to refuse. Sarah had a lovely wedding not so long ago which she shared with her friends the Alexander twins and their father who married Sarah (as minister officiating not, well you know). Other guests included the great and the good (it’s a phrase okay) from the Labour Party. Sarah’s sister is the daughter-in-law of the Right Honourable the Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, GCMG, FRSA, FRSE, PC and of the Labour Party. Do you think he says that every time he answers the phone? Sarah’s political shows on BBC Scotland have not been well-received but that’s no reason for her not to keep trying. Go Sarah go!
Which all proves nothing very much at all other than it’s not what you know that matters as much as who you know.