Sittin’ on a beach

Sittin’ on a beach

Don’t panic, readers – I’m not about to make you look at all my holiday snaps. But after Thursday’s “Gone fishin’” post, I was buying milk in the local Co-op and got busted by a reader demanding to know why I wasn’t at the seaside, so this is for him.


On a personal note, one of the best things about the indyref campaign was how the profile of Wings brought me back in touch with people from the past. The old friend I used to climb trees with when I was a wee boy. The chap I hadn’t spoken to since primary school who turned out to have designed all The Shamen’s best record sleeves. The guy I used to trade dodgy Atari ST games with at the Craigshill Computer Centre and who now does something so secret I can’t even mention it.

And an old colleague from my days on a Small Business Organisation course at West Lothian College in the 1980s, who I’d lost contact with when I left Scotland (his personal life, and therefore contact details, were in some turmoil at the time, let’s say) and who, it turns out, has just jacked in a nice safe Civil Service gig and moved to Weston-super-Mare, the nearest seaside town to Bath, to follow his dream of starting a video production company.

So if any more of our unseen army of Wings readers (like the charming Phyllis from Maryhill, who very nicely accosted me on the train coming here, having been in the Bath area for a wedding) should happen to spy us in the bar later, and overhear some conversation about possible future collaborations, I’d just like to assure them that it’s purely coincidental, an inevitable offshoot from catching up about what we’re all up to these days. It’s not a work trip. I am on holiday.

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Source: Wing Over Scotland

David Aitchison: Forward


It’s now been over a week since Scotland chose one of two paths, and rejected the opportunity to become an independent country. If you ask anybody that knows me, it’s not been the best of weeks for me. Most things that could go wrong have done. Even the joy of seeing Hearts defeat Cowdenbeath 5-1 on Saturday afternoon was hit by the sad news that a fellow supporter at the game never returned home.

Despite this I’ve already refound a vigour and determination to go again in making this part of the world somewhere better for people to live. Articles by the excellent David Greig and Zara Kitson, blogs from friends across the world, speeches in Parliament and Facebook posts by friends have all contributed to lifting the mood of gloom that had pervaded for the past week.

We must remember what the referendum was about, which to my mind was providing a vehicle to make people’s lives more fulfilling across these islands. The majority spoke and have chosen to go down another path, hopefully with the same end goal of making this corner of the planet better.

The issues that we rallied around still exist (and this was put over more eloquently by David Greig than I ever could do), and despite not having the full powers to tackle these issues that I was hoping for, we must still do all we can to help alleviate them. Perhaps we have to do this with even more fervour than we would have after a Yes vote, given the limitations to finding solutions due to not having a fully sovereign Parliament that can be more easily held to account on matters from defence to child poverty. There is no time for moping, feeling sorry or waiting for something to happen for us.

The energy that existed within the Yes campaign, and from the people inside it, is still there. Yes, the people may be disheartened, but time does heal. Sure, for some quicker than others, but there is work to be done in improving this country. It’s been overwhelming to see the rising level in support towards all groups that were involved in the campaign – from the SNP, Greens and SSP dramatically increasing their membership, to RIC Edinburgh having to host a meeting outside because the room they’d booked was too small, and to the incredible wave of momentum behind National Collective, from new contributors to engagement on social media. The momentum and desire for change is still there.

As a society, we can’t stop our efforts now – politicians still need to be held to account on their promises (unsurprisingly thinking of one promise in particular). We may have voted against retaining power in Scotland, but we can never afford for our idealism to be crushed. Keep fighting for your ideals, whether that is in ensuring that every family can put food on the table, or to make sure that our society respects people equally no matter their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

Institutionalised fear may have overcome hope on this occasion, but there’s a funny thing about hope – it never vanishes completely. It can’t be defeated so long as we keep going, keep thinking, innovating and imagining better. We all know that this is not as good as things can get – No voters as well as Yes voters don’t want progress to a more equal society to stop here – and once we dust ourselves down, the establishment will know that the thorn in their side hasn’t gone away.

This has been a horrible week, but it’s over. My advice to anyone who is reading this is to keep the faith that you’ve displayed in being able to build a better society. Victory only comes for the establishment when they stop you from believing in change.

But if the Yes campaign taught me anything, it is that that will not happen. The hope in our hearts and minds didn’t end at 5am on the 19th September. It’s time to use it once more, and to keep striving for better. It’s time to move forward once again, and bring about the changes that we yearn for.


David Aitchison
National Collective

Image from Robb Mcrae

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David Aitchison: Forward
National Collective

Oh Scottish Labour, what have you done?


Despite 37% of their own supporters backing independence, Scottish Labour played a central role in a market driven, Tory funded campaign that instilled fear of economic decay into the hearts of the vulnerable to preserve an elitist Union. This week, as the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party’s membership surges and the SNP’s skyrockets beyond imagination, Scottish Labour called on their party to reach out to Yes voters. It is my firm belief that after two years of labelling Yes activists anti-English separatist Nationalist deluded fronts of the SNP, their plea will fall on deaf ears.

I was born into a family with Labour at its very heart. At six years old, I can just recall the 1997 general election. My Mum gave me ice cream for breakfast and hung her red dresses out the windows. I remember a triumphant hopeful energy, which in time faded and diminished, replaced instead with heartbreak, anger and loss. The very last Labour member of my family cancelled their membership recently. They no longer want to be associated with the people and politics of this party, and they are not alone. Scottish Labour has, without apologies, turned their back on their own history, and the most deplorable part is; they simply refuse to see it.

We must ask ourselves why this party is so intent on stagnating meaningful change when the Labour movement that their politics was founded upon – which they still speak of – was mobilized on vision and the reimagining of a society that works for all. Scottish Labour’s role in the independence debate left no space for imagination or inspiration.

It’s my belief that we do not currently have a Scottish Labour Party, but rather a Labour Party in Scotland. As somebody who has never been affiliated to a political party, I desperately wanted to see a Yes vote inspire Scottish Labour to disaffiliate from a Westminster rhetoric and advocate radical change. Instead, they will continue to pander to a London centric, austerity enthusiastic agenda. Ironically, a No vote was the worst possible outcome for the Scottish Labour Party.

The first decision they made on the referendum was to bypass a vote, instinctively supporting the union. The Scottish Green Party voted on it, and despite supporting Yes they maintained that members who supported No could speak freely on the matter. This unhealthy blatant denial of autonomy witnessed the start of the transparent, unashamed ostracizing of Scottish Labour supporters backing the Yes movement. As the Labour for Independence (LFI) movement grew, Scottish Labour denied their existence entirely, casting them aside as an SNP front. At their conference, fake LFI leaflets were handed out to smear their cause, and they were seen openly mocking LFI members.

Scottish Labour actively sought to demonize the Yes movement by labeling everyone involved inward-looking ‘Nationalists’. It was as though they couldn’t possibly conceive that movement was about people, let alone working class people. During panel debates, they would frequently struggle to come to terms with my lack of SNP affiliation. Bill Butler, who described me as “well intentioned but misguided”, told a school audience that if they voted Yes, they would then have to define themselves as ‘Nationalists’. On one memorable occasion, Midlothian MSP David Hamilton repeatedly spoke about sinister Nationalism, whilst waving his hand in my direction. When I pointed out that this would make 37% of his own party ‘Nationalists’ and that Labour’s asylum policy is an example of actual inward looking nationalism, he bellowed, “I bet you’re lined up to join the SNP on September 18th, you’re just another Nat!” They were manic. It was like sitting on panels with irrational children who would have tantrum-like outbursts every time their more popular playground rival was mentioned.

There is no denying it; their behaviour throughout the campaign demonstrated nothing short of tribal-driven bullying. Scottish Labour views the 2011 SNP victory as a temporary bump in the road, and the power of the Yes movement as a result of people being lured in by Salmond’s Nationalist agenda. There remains a blanket denial that the diminishing support for Scottish Labour is in part a result of its passive acceptance of New Labour’s ideology, and its lack of desire to provide an alternative to the dominant orthodoxy that dictates politics in London.

Never was this more glaringly obvious than in the run up to the referendum. Scottish Labour’s role was almost entirely focused around a market liberal agenda for the preservation of a normative framework, unfettered Neoliberalism. The voices that dominated this were not ordinary people but were banks, supermarkets and other massively unethical and morally questionable corporate giants. I even saw a picture of Johann Lamont proudly standing next to an Asda who said that prices would increase post Yes vote. A corporate decision that would hit the vulnerable the hardest was regarded as a cause for celebration. Scottish Labour has forgotten that the economy works for the people, not vice versa.

Yet the more sinister presence in this campaign was that of fear. Backed by a largely compliant media, fear played a central role in the bid to preserve the union. This is far from my bias take on the matter; they referred to themselves as ‘Project Fear’. What I found most unbearable about this was that it did not focus on the affluent sectors of society. No, from pensions to the NHS, this was a campaign strategy that actually targeted the poor and the vulnerable, instead of standing up for them.

Unfortunately for Scottish Labour, the uncomfortable truth of the matter remains, the areas that voted Yes were also those with high levels of depravation and low life expectancy. I was at the Stirling referendum count. Watching areas like the Raploch voting Yes, only to see the likes of Dunblane and Bridge of Allan overwhelmingly say No was like watching the wealthy ignoring the poor’s cries for change. Not only have Scottish Labour played a central role in a campaign against the will of 37% of their own support based, they have also voted against the will of some of the poorest members of our society.

I watched the Labour Party conference. I watched Red Ed advocate a continuation of austerity measures targeting the safety net protecting the very poorest in our society. I was reminded of Scottish Labour’s ‘vote No to protect our NHS’, and was filled with a fresh wave of resentment.

Scottish Labour appears to think that the vote marked the end of discussion, but we are living in a changed Scotland. The traditional, tribal way in which we once perceived politics has been entirely deconstructed and it could not be more refreshing. The Yes movement was just the beginning of something beautiful. The grassroots groups in the Yes movement, from National Collective and Generation Yes to Radical Independence, the Common Weal and Women for Indy, will continue to thrive and act as vehicles for change. There is a very real appetite for an alternative to status quo, one that challenges the dominant economic and political framework of Westminster.

At a time when their popularity was already dwindling, this party played a central role in a market-based campaign that ostracized and encouraged fear without vision against the will of 37% of their own supporters and much of the working class. Realistically, Scottish Labour is in serious danger of a further fall from grace.

Miriam Brett

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Oh Scottish Labour, what have you done?
National Collective

Some rest for the wicked

Right then. I’m now back in Bath, which sadly is not yet technically in a foreign country. To be frank, readers, after the last three years and especially the last two weeks I’m mentally, emotionally and physically done in.

But on the 19th I said that it was “difficult to think of any useful purpose [Wings] can serve” in the aftermath of a No vote, and that’s no longer the case.

So for the next couple of weeks, I’m taking a break. There’ll probably be a short post every day or two just to keep people in the habit of looking at the site, but much less activity than you’ve been used to while I go and get some fresh air, sunshine and much-needed exercise to shed some of the stone-and-a-half of referendum baggage I collected while eating junk food in front of a monitor 16 hours a day, seven days a week for 34 months.

(Special thanks, incidentally, to the absurdly numerous readers who’ve offered me free holidays in all parts of the world from, literally, Mull to Tasmania. I’m going to stay closer to home than that – apart from anything else I don’t currently have a passport – but I’m absolutely gobsmacked and touched by your generosity.)

So if you’re a new commenter it might take a couple of days for your first comment to be approved, and emails may take even longer than usual to get replies. (Facebook messages, as ever, have almost no chance of a response. What part of “Please don’t send us Facebook messages”, written right there on the title page, don’t people get?)

But after that battery recharge, we’re back. Astonishingly, Wings has added an EXTRA 140,000 READERS in a week since the referendum, despite an already-reduced post frequency. Our Twitter following has rocketed from 20,000 to almost 32,000 in the last 18 days. I got home to a flood of donations. And most remarkably of all, the SNP, Greens and SSP have all more than DOUBLED their membership in a week, with the Nats incredibly overtaking the UK Lib Dems for paid-up members.


The independence movement, it seems fair to say, is not going away. Scotland will soon have a new First Minister, and the likely candidate has refused to rule out another referendum should the people deliver a mandate for it. And with the Unionist parties already breaking their promises (both the spirit and the letter) and setting out plans to slash Scotland’s budget (as we told you they would) and drag the UK into another brutal war in the Middle East, we wouldn’t want to bet against that happening.

(And happily, we’ve suddenly magically got lots of oil again.)

We don’t always get stuff right, though. We thought, for example, that it would be Glasgow that dragged down the Yes vote. And we thought that if there were to be a No vote, the independence movement, and the radical left with it, would sink into despair. We were wrong about those.

In reality Glasgow, along with the fine city of Dundee, led the Yes charge. And since the 20th of September (everyone having spent the 19th shrouded in numb horror), the Yes movement has risen with extraordinary resilience, energy and determination.

All manner of exciting projects are afoot, in every kind of field – we hope to bring you news of one of them later today. We expect a period of turmoil in the coming weeks, during which some will fall by the wayside and the strongest will prevail.

But the next three years will be one of the most febrile periods in UK history. A UK election, Scottish election and the very real prospect of an in-out EU referendum all loom on the horizon. In 2017, it’s entirely conceivable (though of course by no means guaranteed) that there could be a Scottish Government with a mandate and a majority to call a snap second independence referendum on the grounds of emergency after Scotland votes to stay in the EU but the rest of the UK votes to leave.

So we’re going to hang around for a while yet. The times are shaping up to be pretty interesting. But right now, right this minute, we’re going to the seaside for a bit.


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Source: Wing Over Scotland

Technology breakthrough boosts North Sea oil future

Technology breakthrough boosts North Sea oil future

north-sea_1855640bA team at Heriott Watt University are celebrating another break-through in North Sea extraction technology. Professor Mehran Sohrabi, at the centre for enhanced oil recovery, has announced progress in gas injection technology and ‘low salinity water injection’. When combined, these new forms of extraction can add decades onto the lives of existing and future North Sea oil and gas fields.

The Professor said, “This is a massive leap forward, especially in an offshore setting. The process is relatively inexpensive, meaning the costs for enhanced oil recovery could fall dramatically while yields could rise.

“It’s also cleaner as you’re removing the need for potentially toxic chemicals.”

This is the latest in a series of positive developments for the North Sea industry.

Business for Scotland previously reported on other technological developments in early July. This was before increased attention to the expansion of the Clair Ridge field West of Shetland. The new operations are set to last decades. Oil and Gas people, Sir Professor Donald Mackay and business group N56 all stated that the industry was in vibrant health for future decades.

The additional income from offshore oil will run into the tens of billions, with some estimating that it will rise to hundreds of billions of pounds. The devolution of offshore revenue will be a crucial part of any proposal on further powers for Scotland.

Join Business for Scotland – Sign the business declaration

This news story has also been covered by major news channels without any contradictory statements:

STV – New technology ‘could extend lifespan of North Sea oil reserves’ 

Tags: ‘featured’

Category: Oil and Gas
Original Source: BusinessForScotland

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