Saturday, 27 September 2014

Lessons for Catalonia - Update

Catalonia plans an independence referendum on the 9th November 2014. What are the lessons from Scotland? (Thanks to my friend Ramon Colell for his comments for this update.)

Better together

The campaign for independence in Scotland, Yes Scotland, brought together disparate groups and then created yet more disparate groups to get the widest consensus possible for a Yes. They managed to glue together the Scottish National Party (SNP) with the Scottish Socialist Party (the former, accepting of the monarchy, the latter fully republican), and the Scottish Green Party in one alliance for Yes. They spawned a huge range of special interest groups ranging from the substantial and highly organised Radical Independence Campaign and Women for Independence, groups built around Scotland's many communities (Poles for Yes or Asians for Yes), professional groups (Academics for Yes) and including the funny fringe (Wheelie Bins for Yes, Dogs for Yes and Midges for Yes...)

This was not a single issue campaign, even if the voters' choice was a stark Yes or No. There were multiple issues - from the A-bomb to the monarchy - but there was enough common interest and trust to create a solid campaign together.

The Catalans have much of this already because the principal drivers (Assemblea Nacional Catalana ANC and Òmnium Cultural, with the Canditadura d'Unitat Popular CUP in parliament) are popular campaigns and include people from a wide range of political positions. In Catalonia it was the people who pushed the politicians. But the Catalan campaign too will face divisive issues. To maximise the vote it would have to allow special interest groups to grow and flower.


Following a long period of consultation and research the Scottish Government produced a 600 page document (Scotland's Future) which laid out a clear and positive vision of an independent Scotland. This document gave the big picture as well as the detail on a huge range of topics. As an example it covers in detail how the Scottish regiments of the current British army would retain their traditions.

We did not all agree with all of the vision. But having a clear vision gave people direction and simplified debate on the doorstep; canvassers could answer almost all the questions they were asked thanks to a single clear and detailed document.

The President of the Generalitat set up the Consell Assessor per a la Transició Nacional to provide detailed guidance on a future Catalonia. It has produced 18 reports detailing how the new country would function. It is time now to combine these to form one clear vision.

Positive message

The gap between the two campaigns in Scotland was dramatic. In the right corner 'Better Together' ran a campaign that insiders called Project Fear. Based on scaring voters into submission it resorted to final-week tactics such as persuading retailers to announce that prices would rise under independence (a situation that shopkeepers with even the most perfect crystal balls could not predict.) The campaign lost voters continuously as well as sparking an industry of satirists, many making spoof editions of the campaign's terrible #PatronisingBTLady video.

In the left corner was Yes Scotland, or rather Yes Scotland backed by the strategists at the SNP. The campaign was relentlessly positive (you will search in vain for words like 'change' or 'but' in the official campaign material.) The language was deliberately and always positive and this positive messaging gained voters throughout the campaign. SNP insiders were quoted in the press as saying that a positive campaign always wins votes.

The language of the Catalan campaign has, to date, been more negative that positive, claiming rights and protesting against Madrid rather than drawing a positive vision of how an independent Catalonia could be. These are subtle differences, and Catalonia is not Scotland, so it is conceivable that this might work with the Catalans. But I have my doubts.


The SNP was successful in attracting high value donors, with the Weir family giving upwards of £1m in a total fundraising of an estimated £4m (we have to await the report of the Electoral Commission to see the detailed figures). Better Together did similarly well with the Harry Potter author JK Rowling donating £1m.

They needed all of this cash. Both campaigns used newspaper, TV, poster and online advertising, as well as direct mail and telephone. Both produced promotional items from pens to stickers. And both ran expensive press conferences and photo-calls to reach the media. In total the SNP team was small - fewer than 30 people were working in their Edinburgh HQ in the week before the Referendum - but there would still have been a substantial salary bill to pay.

ANC and CUP will have to get a significant fundraising program going very fast if they are too have the resources they must need to mount an effective campaign.

Be afraid, very afraid

The No campaign was known to its staff as Project Fear. Pensioners were a key target, and the No campaign told them that they would lose their pension with independence. Immigrants were another, and a Polish family told me on the doorstep that they had been told by No campaigner that the SNP was like the BNP (an extreme right marginal group) and that Polish people would be forced out of the country on independence.

As became clear in the final week of the campaign, Better Together's objective was to frighten voters so that they chose the status quo. In that final week, 10 Downing Street encouraged the biggest employers in the financial sector to say that they would move their offices out of Scotland if there were a Yes vote, persuaded brand-name retailers to announce that there would be price rises with independence, and even got the mobile phone companies to talk about higher 'roaming' tariffs if there were a border. By the time the third of these stories emerged there was an industry in parodies from the Yes camp.

These stories were amplified by a complaisant press.

Catalonia must prepare itself for a similar deluge of fear. Prepare itself by winning over large employers who can talk about more jobs, more secure jobs, after independence, and be ready to answer a battery of other fear-filled stories.

Don't blame the media. Be the media.

The fear stories were amplified by the media. The role of the print and broadcast media has been much discussed. While the Yes campaign dominated the social media the No campaign was supported by every national newspaper bar one, and by the broadcasters.

Like in Scotland, Catalonia  has just two newspapers, El Punt Avui and Ara that clearly support independence. The most widely read paper, La Vanguardia, is still sitting on the fence. But newspapers readership is much lower in Catalonia than in Scotland so it is possible that this may have less impact on voters.

Demos are not enough

The Scots cheered the 11 September demo in Barcelona, when an estimated 1.8 million people made a vast red and yellow V in Barcelona. 

V for Votes and Victory...

The Catalan independence campaign had a similar success a year ago with the extraordinary linking of hands along 400km of coastline.

Catalans excel at demos.

But demos are not enough. The Yes campaign had an army of volunteers talking to people on the doorstep; it was they, not the demos, that persuaded people to come over to Yes. Because people are worried about change. They see something on the TV and that creates a worry - an objection - in their minds. Only a one-to-one, neighbour-to-neighbour talk can hear that objection, answer it and move that voter to Yes. The people that I walked with in Edinburgh had been chapping (knocking on) doors each week for three years.

The Catalan campaign has started down this road and are aiming to put 100,000 volunteers onto the streets to persuade voters door to door. The lesson from Scotland is that this is a strategy that works.

Chapping the right doors - data gets votes

By the final week, the campaigners were only knocking on the doors of people known to be undecided. They were able to do this because they had good data. In the months before the vote they had knocked on every door and asked every voter the same question: 'on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is a definite No and 10 is a definite Yes, where are you?' The data on each voter's answer was recorded centrally, and street campaigners were directed at people scoring in the middle of the scale (for example, between 4 and 7.) This focused the hard work onto the swing vote.

Yes had also gathered street by street information on voters' concerns so that it could target specific messages at communities.

I'm not aware of any similar data gathering in Catalonia and there is now precious little time to mount such a programme here before 9th November. But it points to the same strategic direction; the Catalan independence campaign needs to spend time talking and listening to people on their doorsteps.

Losing is winning

The extraordinary outcome of the Scottish Referendum was that the side that lost, won.

Project Fear became itself so fearful of a Yes vote that it bounced the leaders of the three main Westminster parties to sign a 'Vow' on the front page of the Daily Record two days before the vote, pledging substantial new powers to Scotland if we voted No.

...and V is for Vow

These powers were to include tax and spending as well as control over the National Health Service. It appeared that Scotland was to win substantially more devolution of powers ('Devo max') even if it voted No.

The Catalan Parliament already has significant powers, but it is at least possible that a fear of losing Catalonia may encourage Madrid to offer more. The Catalan ballot allows for this with a double question: 

Do you want Catalonia to be a State? 
And if yes, independent?

This implies that voters could chose by answering "Yes" then "No" to opt for a similar Devo Max formula here.

There is so little time

The lessons from the Yes campaign in Scotland are about preparation, listening to and talking to individual voters, messaging and the mechanics - data and money.

We do not have time to build all of this in the few short weeks before 9th November. For ANC and Òmnium Cultural the focus must be on the street-by-street, home-by-home campaign. 

It is people, one by one, who will vote. So it is to them that we must bring a positive message.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Making the tea for the SNP

I am the luckiest of men. 

Through a personal connection I was able to spend seven extraordinary days leading up to the Referendum as a volunteer in the office of the Scottish National Party in Edinburgh. These have been some of the best days of my life.

It was the people, of course. 

A tiny group of people backed by almost half a nation. They made me welcome, laughed with me, involved me in their decisions and drank the tea I made. It is that style of place; no horrible formalities of hierarchy, an open-plan office and a boss who is as willing to find the stapler as he is to discuss voter demographics.

It seems extraordinary to say it of a political party in an era when we are so cynical about politicians, but the SNP works inside what it preaches out. People of all classes are there, all ages, women and men working side by side with sexism stamped on should it ever raise its head (it did, once.) The politicians - their fame multiplied during the Referendum media crush - become normal men and women in the office. There is frantic activity but few raised voices and only the occasional swear-word (this IS Scotland.)

And at the centre, intense concentration, and calm. The calm radiates from a clear-eyed, round faced man squeezed into a desk between two others. He always smiles - with his mouth and his eyes, so you know that he means it - he never shouts, and he simply keeps everyone focused on the one job.

This is the SNP's Chief Executive. A leader unlike any I have ever met - intellectual, clear-headed, and focused on just one simple goal, one clear message. Always ready to listen, ready to leap up to find you a seat or a pen if that would help you get us to the goal. Dragging staff away from the television screens to refocus them on real people, real doors to knock, real work to get out to vote.

There is calm but there is also speed and productivity. This was at its most obvious in the media room known as 'The Bubble' but was true all around the office as people phoned in to check on their voter registration, or as my desk neighbour organised flights for a First Minister caught in Scotland's fickle fog. It was like sailing with a good crew. Everyone knew what she or he was doing in a ship whose course had been set months before.

Which is not to write a hagiography of the SNP. These are human beings making human decisions and dealing with human issues, and historians will no doubt find errors in their strategies or plans. I overheard phone calls from irate voters swearing down the line at SNP staff. The fleet of 170 people carriers that were to ferry people to the polling stations caused a couple of headaches and a resigned laugh when one had its door comprehensively ripped off in an accident two days before polling.

But the crew knew what to do. And that made working there a complete pleasure. Their confidence helped me to be confident, their smiles made me smile.

My immediate boss embodied the new Scotland. A straight-speaking woman who had served as an MSP, she had the armour plating of a politician but the heart - you could see her heart through her eyes - of a lover of people, real people. She spoke economically - no hot air - and directly. In a taxi on the way back from a press conference I heard the politician in her as she gave the driver a clear run of the main arguments for Yes. Her voice took on a tougher timbre as she did so, and I imagined her on the stump at a public meeting, drilling supporters on what to say and how to say it.

And then there are the others - the cast of a dramatic, funny, gritty play by a modern Shakespeare. The Aberdonian, despairing at her neighbours' greater interest in handbags than in politics, the data team, working all hours to squeeze the most from the voters, the senior staffer phoning editors to tell them, one more time, that their reporters had a story wrong....

But my strongest impression will be of a positive, determined calm. This tiny crew of men and women fuelled on a diet of haggis wraps and chocolate were determined, together, to make Scotland better for its people, for the ordinary people whom they all knew. And so long as I was working to the same goal, I was welcome, and here's a desk, and here's a phone and here's a team mate who'll help you, and now let's just do this.

And then there was the result. The party's after-party, which bounced out of its seat for Glasgow and Dundee, but which spent most of that teary Thursday night subdued and quiet. I went back to the office around midday on Friday to thank the team for taking me into their lives; just three people were there, unslept and a bit sad, but composed and ready for the next step. 

They will pick themselves up, they will be cheered by the 10,000 people who have joined the party since the vote and, because these are people who think about people, they will do good.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Political Agents

The journalists have left Edinburgh and the cameras have focused back onto Syria or Obama or Ebola in Sierra Leone. The politicians are now back in the news, leaving the woman in the Muirhouse estate or the man in the crummy, crumbling block of flats to stew in their low income households.

The Scottish Referendum has exposed the brittle connection between us the people and our agents of change, the Westminster politicians. They, the politicians, seem to have almost no understanding of the lives and concerns of their most disadvantaged electors. But this makes no sense. Surely MPs must be bombarded with letters from constituents describing their problems, fears, concerns? How can it be that the politicians believe that a walk through Glasgow's city centre ( can be enough to demonstrate their concern for our most abandoned compatriots?

Perhaps MPs live in a bubble, whirling around Westminster hearing Westminster news and producing only Westminster-speak. Influenced more by a dinner with a leading banker than by a visit to a run-down housing scheme.

Because as agents of change they are horribly ineffectual. At least as agents of positive, widespread, fair changes that improve the lives of our least favoured people. The sort of change that the British Labour Party should favour (they don't).

We can change agents. Remove the small-c conservative rump of the British Labour Party from Scotland (as suggested by the Wee Ginger Dug  and replace it with people who talk to people on the streets and in the neglected housing schemes.

The referendum has shown us that we can do more. So has Catalonia. The Catalans have built a community with one aim (independence) and have painted the streets of Barcelona with a 1.8 million person Senyera ( Their politicians have had to run to keep up with the demands of the voting public.

This is how we should work with our agents of change in Scotland. Keep the momentum of the huge public movement that won 1.6 million voters, and drag the agents of change along behind us.

Friday, 19 September 2014


Yes, Scotland.

1,617,989 of your people voted for the most radical change that you can have without a war. Voted to create a new country, with a constitution, with a socially inclusive programme that would at last include the poor, with a decent free education system and without the awful nuclear weapons that are the Sword of Damocles over Glasgow.

These brave but too few voted Yes against the will of the three main Westminster parties. These brave few voted Yes against the will and the might of all bar one of the printed media and all of the broadcast media. They did so against the interests and the statements of major employers such as Standard Life.

Why? There will be months of analyses by people far more expert than me. But I heard a clue yesterday, on a run down housing estate in NW Edinburgh. I had joined a rally of about 100 people, most women and children, led by a piper. We walked through streets lined with broken fencing, past houses that needed repair, with children whom, I knew from the statistics, would live seven and a half years less than people from my wealthy middle class background ( The woman walking next to me said, simply, "This is our time."

She is why I have worked for a Yes for the last year. She, and the 742,200 others ( who live in Scotland's poorest areas, is the fuel beneath the fire that burned so brightly for Yes. And now she, her children and their children must swallow yet another defeat in a society in which all the cards are stacked against them.

This is not anger at the 2 million who said No. This is a democracy - the least worst form of government - and I knew the risks before I started to dedicate time and energy to this debate. I, and the 1,617,989 who voted Yes, knew we were taking the risky road to major change. The fall from the heights of yesterday afternoon, when we were whooping around Edinburgh in a Landrover decked in Chinese lanterns and Scottish and Catalan flags, was always going to be a long one. But by goodness it was worth it, to reawaken Scotland to its possibilities.

And although I don't believe a word of politicians' promises, just maybe we have tripped a change in the UK. Enough of a shout of pain and disillusion from Scotland that Britain will alter course, one degree to the left. Just enough to drag some of the goodies from the shopping bags of London's wealth. Just enough to give Scotland power to look after all of the people who live in this beautiful country.

If the efforts of all of us in Yes have been enough to save one life from the gaol of deprivation then they have been worth every sweated, tearful, joyful hour. To paraphrase Lesley Riddoch ( we have shown that there is love for people you never knew you knew, and that is the seed that will blossom in Scotland.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

On the street

On the street it all makes sense.

I spent three hours tonight walking the streets of north west Edinburgh with the canvassers of Yes Scotland.

We walked along a cross section of Scottish society. At first the houses were single houses with wee gardens. The gardens, beautifully kept, neatly edged, ornamented with tiny statues. Well pruned roses in clear-wedded beds. Then as we headed north the houses became multiple flats in three or four storey blocks, each with a 'close', a communal stairwell. The stairwells had hand-written notices reminding tenants to keep the stairs clean and to do their cleaning according to the rota.

My canvassing buddy explained that these were all council houses sold off to private landlords under Mrs Thatcher's Right to Buy scheme. Now the private landlords don't bother with maintenance, so the houses gradually decay.

Further north still and the closes became increasingly decrepit, strewn with rubbish, smelling bad and looking broken. Many of the people in these poorer homes were first generation immigrants. Others were people with what the professionals would call 'multiple social challenges.' People with problems in work (the fifty year old man from Tarragona, whose poor English meant that the only work he could get was as a free magazine distributor, on a daily contact.) Or with addictions (the young, havering couple, him bone skinny, her too big.) This is poverty, in prosperous Edinburgh, where the well heeled bosses of the big banks have tried to scare us into voting No by threatening job losses.

On the way to the canvass, in central Edinburgh, I passed three men sitting on pieces of cardboard, on the street. Surviving on the street in Edinburgh, and especially as winter comes in, must be hard. Each of the men looked rough, uncared for, unkempt.

This is wrong. A rich society should not have people living in poverty like this. These are our people.

It is for all these people of Scotland, our people, that we are voting Yes on Thursday.

On the streets, Yes makes sense.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Get yer Grannie on the Yes bus

Ye got tae get yer grannie tae a Yes
Oh ye got tae get yer grannie tae a Yes
Ye got tae get yer grannie
Cause she's yer mammie's mammie
Ye got tae get yer grannie tae a Yes

Ye can shove yer ither grannie tae a Yes
Ye can shove yer ither grannie tae a Yes
Ye can shove yer ither grannie
Cause then ye’ll have baith grannies
Ye can shove yer ither grannie tae a Yes

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

More, more powers

If 'more powers' is good for Scotland [source: Gordon Brown]

Then more, more powers is better.

But why settle for second place?

Because 'all the powers' is best for Scotland.

Yes, Gordon

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Dear N

Dear N

In your email yesterday you said you were 'totally confused' about the choice in Scotland next Thursday.

You are a clever, insightful, worldly woman with years of management experience. Perhaps you are looking for complexity?

Actually it's simple.

I focus on just one issue; poverty. How can we make the lives of poor people in Scotland better?

From this one issue flows almost all the arguments.

We can't make poor people's lives better because Westminster keeps on making them worse. The latest in a long line of examples is the iniquitous Bedroom Tax, imposed on poor families a twelvemonth after wealthy MPs were found to be claiming expenses on  second homes with third, fourth or fifth bedrooms.

We need the power to stop Westminster wrecking the lives of poor people. Follow that one line of argument and you have a case for a Yes vote.

But I can see that you are not yet convinced. So, take defence. Nothing to do with the poor? Or everything. Because Westminster runs a massive military spending machine in order to retain the aura of its old Empire. This includes Trident, the aging nuclear bombs parked 25 miles upwind of Glasgow. The A-bomb gets Britain its seat on the UN Security Council. And an "all-party" committee in Westminster has recently decided that Trident should be renewed. At an estimate cost of £4 billion. Each year. For 20 years. That 'estimated' £80bn budget represents about £8bn from Scotland, proportionately.

How many poor people could you help, dear N, with £8bn?

To help its poor, Scotland needs control over defence.

Since Mrs Thatcher invented the phrase, British politicians have believed that wealth will 'trickle down' to the poor. Cut back on government and cut taxes, allow the rich to get very wealthy and some of the gold dust will land in the poor woman's lap. All three main Westminster parties now subscribe, in one or other form, to this 'neo-liberal' philosophy. They do so despite the evidence. Because as the OECD has repeatedly shown, the wealth gap in the UK has widened continuously since Mrs Thatcher entered Downing Street. The rich get richer as the poor get relatively poorer. Wealth does not 'trickle down.' It floats up.

And yet, together, we are stuck with this three-party-no-choice. Scotland's politics has long been different - further left and, to date, remarkably untainted by the neo-liberals. Perhaps Scotland comes, as some writers have argued, from an older tradition of how to do right by society. Even my Dad is an old-fashioned decent Conservative. However we got here we are yoked to the neo-liberal policies of Westminster. While those policies exist we cannot help our poor people.

To unlock is poor people from no-choice Westminster, Scotland needs to govern itself.

Scotland's poor people are stuck in structural poverty. Too many are trapped in the poverty that their parents and grandparents also suffered. Some are stuck in poverty because of a disability. This is a human rights issue. The poor need the power to tackle governments, to secure rights over property or food or education. But England has no written constitution, so rights can be easily removed. (For evidence, look at Mr Cameron's new 'anti-terror' legislation.) As you know from your work with women in the Global South, poor, powerless people need strong protection from a state that is constitutionally required to protect their rights.

To help its poor, Scotland needs a written constitution.

Scotland's health record is a heart attack car-crash. Too many of us eat a poor diet, smoke, drink and don't exercise. Too few women breastfeed their weans. These are conditions of, and conditional on, poverty. The result is that Scots die younger than their English equivalents. Scotland needs to create its own solution to its terrible health record. We need to pull ourselves up by the straps of our exercise boots. Westminster MPs, with a couple of notable exceptions, are not interested. Their focus is on the slim, attractive, prosperous, joggers of London. Because London is where the power and the money are (which is why so many of us, me, and maybe you too? left Scotland to seek our fortunes in London.) Westminster's focus on London blinds it to the unhealthy northern hinterland.

To allow its poor people to help themselves into a better lifestyle, Scotland needs to break the London lock. By governing itself.

We need the power to stop Westminster taxing the poor. We need control over defence and the awful £80bn A-bomb, in order to release those funds for the poor. We need to break away from the neo-liberals. We need a written constitution to guarantee the rights of our least powerful citizens. And we need to look after ourselves.

It is in the end a simple question with a simple three-letter answer, on a slip of paper, next Thursday:

Can we make the lives of poor people in Scotland better?


Monday, 8 September 2014

George's Crystal Balls

The Financial Times has an excellent article about Philip Tetlock and the business of predicting the future (-- How to see into the future - Tetlock is a Canadian psychologist whose devastating analysis of professional forecasters ("Expert Political Judgement", published 2005) showed just how wrong the experts can be. He is now leading a new project to establish how to make better predictions.

The article suggests that working together in teams, and simple training to identify and avoid personal biais,  improves or ability to predict accurately.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne works in a team (the Cabinet) with access at the Treasury to the best data. So it must be personal biais that is clouding his crystal ball.

Because he has made two bad calls this year. The first came in February 2014 when he  'ruled out' a currency union with Scotland. That the Scottish Government proposed a union of currencies was not new; the independence 'white paper', "Scotland's Future" had announced this intention in 2013. The idea of the currency union had been selected by a commission of leading economists as the best option for Scotland. But Osborne has a severe personal biais that favours London and the City. His 'no currency union' speech was clouded by that biais.  Despite (one hopes) risk assessments from the Treasury and the Bank of England he has continued to nail himself to this sinking ship, repeating on Sunday that Scotland could not have the pound.

As a direct consequence of his inability to predict the future, the pound is now falling. Dealers and investors have seen through the fog and are looking at a country with a £1.3 trillion debt that is at risk of losing the asset that props up that debt and that makes it payable: Scottish North Sea oil. They have worked out what the Chancellor could not; a union works for both Scotland and England. It allows England to say 'our currency is backed a solid asset' and it allows the new nation of Scotland to continue business as usual with its largest trading partner.

But Mr Osborne's vision was blinded by biais. And now he is playing a really dangerous game, for the pound is sliding downhill. How far can he let it slide before he takes up Nicola Sturgeon's invitation, issued on Sunday, to sit down for a sensible discussion about the currency union? I guess that if the pound falls below $1.45 (a 10% devaluation) he'll be forced to back-track and to admit that 'in certain circumstances' a currency union would work. And when he does that, perhaps two or the days before the poll, the last thin pit-prop in the 'Better Together' hole in the ground will collapse.

The second bad call came on Sunday during the Andrew Marr show. Mr Osborne said that within a couple of days new powers on tax and welfare would be announced for the Scottish Government. This is rash, late, political panic, and it again illustrates poor future judgment. By saying that Scotland could have these powers he's effectively admitting that Scotland needs these powers. And if Scotland needs them, why not have the whole show? Why not have independence?

And we get these undefined extra powers by voting No?


Here again Mr Osborne shows biais, but this time it's a nastier one; he appears to think that we are all stoopit, as stoopit as the #PatronisingBTlady. Because you'd have to be pretty stoopit to miss the lack of logic in this statement. The only chance of getting extra powers is to vote Yes, because a strong Yes just might persuade Westminster to legislate. Voting 'No' allows politicians off the hook: just like the last full Referendum in 1979 there will be no new powers if we vote No.

In the same interview on Sunday Mr Osborne said that there would be no resignations if Scotland voted Yes.

This could be his third and final bad call.

Because if I were a backbench Conservative MP I would be braying for Osborne's (crystal) balls.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Be Ready, Scotland

Be ready Scotland for the plea from the Queen to stay in the Union

Be ready Scotland, for Cameron’s love bombs

Be ready Scotland, for MI5 to pull down one of our leading politicians*

Be ready Scotland, for a “terrorist incident” designed to scare us into the arms of the Union

Be ready Scotland, for a sterling crisis that will be blamed on you

Be ready, Scotland. 

The next few days are going to be a bumpy ride.

Be ready, Scotland, to stand fast by Yes.

* Still not convinced? Read Jim Sillars' letter to the cybernats - "agent provocateurs, special branch and MI5"

The Lion of Scotland Roars Yes

I was reading the Catalan Lunar Calendar (the French original is at with a friend this morning (it’s about gardening and astrology, for those who don’t follow such things).

We checked the 18th and 19th September.

The day of the vote is propitious for flowers – the Flower of Scotland, obviously. At midnight, we enter Leo. 

On the day that the results of the Scottish Referendum are announced we enter the time of the Lion.

The Lion of Scotland, who roars Yes.

I will shortly be checking my tea leaves, kissing toads and touching wood.