Lift up your hearts this Easter Sunday morning to the glorious words of John Wesley.
Top picking greets you this morning with top dobro player, Rob Ickes, with Andy Leftwich on mandolin.
Angeline the Baker Rob Ickes
My fingers are sore just thinking about what’s involved in this.
I’ve read so many trashy anti-independence articles but I’ve just come across one which is off the scale. Graeme Archer writes, I exaggerate his skills, in tonight’s online Telegraph here.
In the article, Archer describes himself as a commentator and in his profile as a professional statistician. Stick to statistics, Graeme. Any commentator who claims as you do that,
is either ignorant or deliberately telling lies.
Which is it, Graeme? Do tell us but not in another article: that would be too much.
You use “nationalist” pejoratively. That’s standard practice for those who favour the retention of the union but you’re a nationalist too, just for a different country. Your nation is the UK. From your ‘writing’ you feel as strongly about your nation as Alex Salmond, and I use him only because you do, does for his.
I have no problem with your being a UK nationalist but I do have a problem that you don’t accept that you are a nationalist. It’s strange that, isn’t it Graeme, that those who favour the union don’t see themselves as nationalists.
You’re such a strong UK nationalist that you fear independence because,
You really are a poor wee soul, Graeme.
You’re a nationalist and won’t admit it.
You are either ignorant or you lie.
You are a commentator who can’t commentate.
Stick to the statistics, Graeme. I’m sure you’re better off there. Statistics don’t understand nationality either.
‘I’ve never understood’ [Ruth Davidson, Good Morning Scotland, 16/4/14: from 01:08:34 in]
Thanks, Ruth! How refreshing to hear an honest politician! I know it’s hard to believe, especially so of a Tory, but it’s true. Perhaps soon we’ll see honesty become a political virtue but I won’t hold my breath.
Ruth was talking about the disparity in school performance - getting 3As or more at Highers - between pupils from homes in the top and bottom income bands. In Edinburgh, for example, the poorest 20% were 20 times less likely to achieve 3As than the richest 20%; in Dundee 10 times and in Glasgow 5 times. With no evidence she blame comprehensive education suggesting that we should be open to initiatives from outside Scotland including these practised by the UK’s Tory government.
I wonder who or what she blames for the difference in life expectancy, health, unemployment?
But what had Ruth never understood?
I've never understood why local authorities are in charge of schools. I've never understood that the body that takes out our bins – councils – are in charge of teaching our children.
Let me explain, Ruth.
It’s not the same people. The binmen don’t teach and the teachers don’t empty bins. Different departments have authority for bins and teaching. It’s a bit like the UK government although our local authorities, despite lapses, have more compassion. You know that nutter, Michael Gove? Well, he’s responsible for the education in England and a fine mess he’s making of it too. But it’s a different nutter who’s in charge of the Department of Work and Pensions and a massive mess been made there too. See, Ruth. Same government but different nutters. It’s yet another different nutter from the same government who’s in charge of health in England.
Have you got it? Do you understand?
Another day I might explain poverty. I guess you’ve never understood that either.
I hope your probably awake because you are about to be blasted with fabulous organ music. Peter van de Velde plays ‘Mattheus-Final’ from Charles-Marie Widor’s ‘Bach’s Memento’.
Are you ready? [Note: Music starts 38secs in]
Mattheus-Final (Bach’s Memento) Peter Van de Velde
I’m still ’wowing’ at this although I’ve heard it about 10 times in only a couple of days.
Britain’s Got Talent greets you this fine morning. On this year’s first audition show – on TV only 4 days ago – were Collabro, a group of 5 young men who had only been together as a group for about 1 month. But I make no apology for bringing them to you.
[Note: the video id 6min 40sec but the song finishes at about 3m 35s, the rest is taken up with applause, judges’ comments and votes.]
Enjoy Collabro as they sing ‘Stars’ from Les Miserables.
Whatever else they do (or don’t do) in their career they have given us a wonderful performance.
This morning welcomes you with music of the night …. but what music!
‘Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid - Opus 30 No. 6 (G. 324)’ (Night Music of the Streets of Madrid) was written in 1780 (abt) for stringed quintet - 2 violins, cello and two violoncellos - but much more than this the piece is 12 minutes plus of gloriously wonderful music.
There are seven short movements whose descriptions (thank you, Wiki) and timings are,
[Apologies for using a pic above. Livewriter wouldn’t give a properly aligned table]
Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid Luigi Boccherini
This was much longer than I normally use bit I hope you felt it worth the effort.
As has been widely reported on the web (pro-independence sites, at least), Polly Toynbee made comments which have created a stir [See WoS and ‘No Jocks Please, We’re British’]. I asked her to clarify, an opportunity which she didn’t take.
What caused the original ruckus?
On Sunday Politics London, Toynbee said,
‘….. After we have the Scottish referendum it's quite clear that Scotland, one way or another, will be moving further away. I don't think you could have ….. a leader of a national party being a Scot. ….’
After Andrew Neil interjected she continued,
‘…. I think a Scottish constituency as a leader of a national party would now be too difficult or indeed to hold a lot of the great offices of state.’
I can understand, but don’t agree with, the logic which I believe lies behind her comments and so I gave her a chance to clarify her views. In a short exchange of emails she wrote 5 sentences in total in reply to my two quite lengthy messages. I’ve put my emails at the end and Toynbee’s replies are below,
‘Yes, an MP for a Scottish constituency can certainly be Foreign or Defence secretary or DWP or any non-devolved role. But not say, health or education, or universities or care etc. So I think being leader, but not with a credible role in those key areas would be difficult. I suspect Brown will be the last.‘
‘Well, it does concern me. Just as the West Lothian question does too. These may not be resolvable in an altogether logical way and we shall just muddle along. Douglas Alexander will be a fine Foreign Sec – [sic]‘
The opportunity was there to give us some insight into her thoughts but, unfortunately, she decided not to go there AND she ignored almost all my questions, one of which was asked twice.
She is concerned ….. but about what I do not know.
My original email (sent 23.48 13 April)
I'm interested in your comments, made on Sunday Politics London on 13 April, about it being too difficult for an MP from a Scottish constituency to lead one of the UK national parties or to hold some of the great offices of state.
You said (my best attempt at transcribing your words),
As for Danny Alexander you'll not possibly have a Scot ..... After the ….. After we have the Scottish referendum it's quite clear that Scotland, one way or another, will be moving further away. I don't think you could have the leader of a national, do you think so, a leader of a national party being a Scot. I don't mean we'll be sending them home.
After Andrew Neil interjected you continued,
Oh, indeed, absolutely. I don't think a Scottish constituency as a leader of a national party would now be too difficult or indeed to hold a lot of the great offices of state.
I'm interested in why you believe this.
In what way would "Scotland ..... be moving further away"?
What particular offices of state should be beyond Scottish constituency MPs?
What you suggest seems to go way beyond, in the opposite direction, the unfairness of Scottish constituency MPs being able to vote on rUK matters which are devolved to Scotland. I understand it is Scottish MPs from the UK national parties who vote on such matters, the SNP MPs abstaining.
After a No vote in the independence referendum, Scotland would still be in the Union, would have its devolved administration and UK national parties would operate in Scotland. This is the situation which has pertained since the Scottish Parliament re-opened in 1999.
Why then should there be the two restrictions you suggest?
Even if Scotland were 'moving further away', why should this prevent a Scottish constituency MP from leading his/her national party?
Would you see it possible for a Scottish constituency MP to hold office for a UK department whose responsibilities were not devolved to the Scottish Parliament?
I hope you are able to reply in which case please accept my thanks. If it was inappropriate to contact you then please accept my apologies.
My second email (sent 10.49 14 April)
Thank you for your very prompt reply - you must be very busy - but if I may ask five more short questions.
In what way would "Scotland ..... be moving further away" in the event of a No vote?
I understand the logic of your position but, as always, it is the implications and perceptions which play loudest.
Following through on your views, is it not the case that the leader of a UK national party and, therefore the Prime Minister, must be an English constituency MP, given that there are devolved administrations in the other 3 countries?
Does it concern you that one country, albeit by far the largest, would have a 'lock down' on these roles?
Does it concern you that a Scottish constituency MP with ambitions for high office would have to move to England?
The perception, I suspect, amongst many will be that Scottish constituency MPs are second tier politicians because there is now a 'glass ceiling' separating them from their (possible) ambitions. Does this concern you?
Before the throne of God above
Before the Throne of God Above Lou Fellingham
One with Himself I cannot die
So writes Matthew Engel in today’s FT (or here if you can’t access FT site) in one of the better articles about independence, not perfect but far removed from the normal MSM output. It’s worth a read.
The clip above is Engel’s final paragraph but the second last resonates too. Engel writes of Sandy Weddell, minister of Easterhouse Baptist Church, who was IDS’s guide when he (IDS) visited Easterhouse,
Whatever the short-term difficulties which independence brings I have no doubt that my grandchildren (probably several years away from conception) will live in a successful and independent Scotland.
Something that almost felt like hope
Who? Another unknown suddenly appears from 250 years (or more) ago.
May this Baroque piece lift your morning beyond the mundane.
Fortunato Chelleri Sinfonia for strings & basso continuo in C major
I was lifted!
It should be difficult for Alex Salmond and George Robertson (Lord, or is it Lard?) but this afternoon the Telegraph has achieved the impossible.
But is this incompetence or a deliberate act?
Their Scottish News page has this incompatible headline and strap,
The headline clearly refers to George Robertson’s manic talk of earlier this week but the strap is to the SNP conference.
Clicking on the link on the page takes us to this,
Deliberate? But why?
Will put down to sheer incompetence because that fits with the rest of the No campaign.
Just as I was finishing this I decided to check back and the mistake has been corrected.
Therefore, I was right.
We step away from my normal offerings. Welcome Amy.
My preferred video had better video quality but embedding was disallowed but the performance is the same.
That Beat (Keeps Disturbing My Sleep) Amy LaVere
My first version of this post started,
The Scotsman is well-known for its anti-independence stance and its twisting of ‘stories’ to suit its agenda, eg see here, but today it has surpassed itself with a non-story. They have been scraping around in the bottom of the barrel for so long that there is no barrel left. They’re in the gutter.
Today they carry this headline,
There is no doubt in this headline: a question mark at the end would have left the position open but, no, the Scotsman is claiming that there is definitely an SNP plan linking Trident to the pound. But the Scotsman gives no evidence of such. There are no sources indicating a plan exists. There is nothing other than some quotes from Dr Phillips O’Brien, director of the Centre for War Studies at Glasgow University, which give little basis for the Scotsman’s claim.
The article is short and so you can read all of it below.
It was clear to me that the Scotsman had whipped up a controversy out of very little and I was going to continue to write in that vein but then I thought, ‘Why not ask Dr O’Brien?’. When I wrote extensively about Trafigura in 2011 and 2012 I contacted the interested parties. Why not do that now?
And so this afternoon I emailed Dr O’Brien as follows,
Dear Dr O'Brien
I hope it's OK to contact you.
Today's Scotsman carries an article - Scottish independence: SNP Trident for pound plan - which is built around comments you are reported to have made. Unfortunately, the Scotsman has a reputation for over-stating the difficulties of independence, for slanting stories to the negative and for producing stories with misleading headlines and statements.
Today's story could fall into these categories and so I ask if the story accurately reflects your views. For example, the headline 'Scottish independence: SNP Trident for pound plan' and first paragraph, 'The SNP government is ready to allow the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons to remain on the Clyde after independence in exchange for keeping the pound, according to a leading defence expert.' allow for no doubt. There is a plan.
The quotes attributed to you - "have to make deals", "What we see on Faslane and on defence issues and security is an attempt to say, ‘Look we will be more reasonable on this than we seem to have been in the past publicly’.", and “Reading the white paper, they’re saying, ‘we can host these weapons for the long run’.” - don't carry that strength.
I watched a BBC interview of yours from the 27th September last year and I was struck by your straightforwardness: I couldn't judge whether you were pro- or anti- independence. This is unusual to see. I note that in that interview you said it was reasonable to expect Scotland to retain Trident for between 5 and 15 years simply to allow rUK to determine what it wanted to do with nuclear weapons and to make the necessary physical arrangements to house them should it (rUK) itself decide to retain nuclear weapons.
Therefore, I ask if the article is an accurate reflection of your views and of what you told the Scotsman and if not in which ways. Do you believe there is a definite plan? Do you think there is enough wiggle room for the Scottish Government (SG) to retain Trident in return for the pound? Are there any other comments you wish to make about the article or about deals the SG might make regarding Trident. (sic)
I look forward to hearing from you but if my contact is inappropriate please accept my apologies.
[The emphasis above is mine for clarity and was not in the original email.]
Dr O’Brien replied within 1 hour. I had wanted to publish his reply in its entirety provided this was acceptable to him. Perhaps, understandably, he would rather I did not quote him verbatim but was happy that I summarise his views, provided I stated that this was my summary.
Calum’s Summary of Dr Phillips O’Brien Reply
The first point of interest was about the tone of emails he has received. Whilst he thanked me because my email was respectful he said that others he had received today were not. This is disappointing because, as I said in reply, ‘respect …. costs little but is worth much.’ We do ourselves no favours by being disrespectful. I made more of this in a previous post about Barrhead Travel.
The next point is that he says the article goes a little far and he qualifies this by saying that the White Paper does not rule out Trident remaining in Scotland for a considerable period. In his BBC interview he thought it reasonable that Scotland could host Trident for between 5 to 15 years to allow rUK to make its decisions and any physical arrangements to house them. He states that the White Paper gives no guarantees or deadlines but rather only gives a view that Trident should be removed by the end of the first parliament.
Thirdly he says, in terms of an independent Scotland’s anti-nuclear policy, that the Scottish Government only state that they will not maintain nuclear weapons and say nothing about other NATO countries bringing nuclear weapons into Scottish waters. In his BBC interview he goes slightly further by saying that were Scotland to ban any ship with nuclear weapons from its waters, as New Zealand has done, then Scotland would not be allowed to join NATO.
Fourthly, he believes that Scotland is in a weak negotiating position in that it wants much, quick Nato entry, easy EU membership and a currency union but has little to bargain with other than Trident. Dr O’Brien doesn’t state the following explicitly but I think he believes that, because of its weak negotiating position, Scotland may have to do a deal it would otherwise not want to do.
Finally I don’t know what Dr O’Brien’s views are on Scottish independence. He says that he is not anti-independence but that doesn’t mean he favours independence.
Scotsman Story and Dr O’Brien’s Views
I go much further than does Dr O’Brien. He says that the article goes a little too far. I say the Scotsman has gone way beyond what Dr O’Brien has stated.
The Scotsman says there is a plan, and the SNP government is ready to do a deal, to retain Trident for a currency union. The Scotsman leaves no place for doubt in these statements.
Dr O’Brien makes no mention of a plan but says only that the White Paper leaves options open. He may think that Scotland will end up having to do a deal about Trident but even this is far from what the Scotsman alleges.
I believe there was the potential for an interesting and important article had the Scotsman been straightforward in how it reported Dr O’Brien’s views but the Scotsman is only straightforward in its absolute negativity towards independence and in its desire to advance the cause of unionism at every opportunity even when no cause exists.
Finally I thank Dr O’Brien for his openness.
I first heard of Domenico Cimarosa last night but I’ll not forget him. This morning we have the first movement of his Oboe Concerto in C major. Originally the four movements were keyboard sonatas and in 1949 Arthur Benjamin ‘combined them into the larger concerto form. He rewrote the pieces, scoring them for oboe and string orchestra, keeping most of the melody in the solo voice.’ [source: allmusic.com]
Oboe Concerto in C Major Mvt I Domenico Cimarosa
Two of England’s best folk singers, Maddy Prior and June Tabor, bring you Cyril Tawney’s story of life in the Royal Navy (nicknamed ‘Grey Funnel Line’ because of their grey livery).
Sounds boring? No! Beautiful and evocative.
Why do I call Maddy and June ‘Silly Sisters’? In the mid-70s they recorded a couple of albums, at least, as the Silly Sisters. I’ve still got the albums stacked somewhere in the mess which is my basement!
[Note: The song ends about 1 min from the end of the video]
Grey Funnel Line Maddy Prior and June Tabor