August 22, 2011 § Leave a Comment
For those unable to place hands on a copy of the West Highland Free Press (although little excuse given you can subscribe online) there is a new website collating and archiving the weekly column of its former editor and current columnist Brian Wilson.
A canny look at national and international issues, often through a local lens, the lack of hype and hyperbole and consistently solid writing make it a refreshing change from the usual diatribes of Hari, Fisk and um…Burnie etc. There’s also a healthy dose of sideswipes at the Murdochs and Salmonds of the world for added amusement.
Just so long as he sticks to current affairs, if he starts blogging about Harris Tweed I’ll probably have to throw in the towel.
May 14, 2011 § 1 Comment
Simon Hoggart in today’s Guardian pontificating on why Independence will be good for England.
As well as some silly statements about “repatriating” the Bank of Scotland and RBS along with all their debts, as if either is a Scottish bank in anything other than name, he claims…
“We won’t have the BBC desperately trying to keep the union going by pretending that anyone south of Carlisle is interested in football matches watched by fewer people than go into the average Sainsbury’s in half an hour. Nor will they spend loads of our money making unwatched documentaries about standing stones near Stornoway.”
Poor but predictable Mr H.
May 9, 2011 § 1 Comment
I’ve been given permission to reveal the true identity of The Nippy Sweetie a new blogger riffing on Scottish politics with a musical bent…
It’s Ms The Croft!
So if a smarter view on Scottish issues you seek, go forth and click.
May 6, 2011 § Leave a Comment
For some reason I found myself singing this in the shower this morning. Fleek knows why, I haven’t heard it in years.
Maybe it was the all the SNP victory celebrations on the news or somesuch.
Anyway, loathed as I am to confess my Runrig past (I have some semblance of a reputation to uphold here in Glasgow’s community of hipsters and music snobs), this song always takes me back.
It’s about, generally, having military bases on the islands, foisted on them by a London based government. The biggest drama that goes on at Stornoway Airport nowadays is an over zealous body search but once upon a time it was home to an RAF unit whose purpose during the Cold War was classified…
Anyway, probably an appropriate number for many islanders the morning after polling day…
An deid thu leam a ribhinn og
Gu tir mo gràidh sitheil sona
‘S chi thu saighdearan a’ ruith
Am measg nan lusan bèagh ‘sa mhonadh
Ho ro horain O
Failte gu tir an airm
Ho ro horain O
A’ Coimhead a mach air maduinn chiuin
Air ball mor cruinn os cionn na beinne
‘S bhon is ciuin na tonnan gorm
Tha ceol ru aig ceol na mara
‘S an deid thu leam gu tir mo ghraidh
Seall na h-eoin Dhorchas Dhona
Treabhadh speuran as ar cionn
Deanamh air Steornabhagh le cabhaig
Nis leugh t-eachdraich, fosgail suil
Anns gach linn mu dhoigh an Airnm
Stampadh air na croitean seagail
‘S beathannan og aig gillean Uibhist
Cha deid mise gu an righ
Cha deid mise an corr a shabaid
O lunnain mheallt, a Bhreatuinn fhoilleil
Cha seas mi ach ‘son sith nan eilean
May 4, 2011 § 5 Comments
If only every prospective politician would have someone write as eloquent and honest an appraisal of their merits as Donald Crichton recieved from his brother, journalist and our cove in Westminster, Torcuil.
January 12, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In furtherance of previous posts regarding anti-gaelic sentiment and the furore over BBC Alba’s move to Freeview (to the detriment of some radio channels) I thought I’d flag up the An-Diugh documentary recently shown on the channel as a prime example as to why wider access to the information, culture and content of their programming is so vital to Scotland, its people and politics as a whole.
The program Midweek – An-Diugh provides an amazing opportunity to see how the BBC’s Midweek series reported on the West Highland Free Press and the 7:84 theatre company in 1974, and how both have fared since then. The West Highland Free Press sections in particular highlight just how radical a publication it was (is) and how important a contribution it made to the futures of the people of the western Highlands and Islands
Vital viewing and very inspiring from a personal point of view and if nothing else the interviews with lairds and landlords of thirty years ago show just how far things have come in many respects.
(I’d also like to note some satisfaction taken in the fact Brian Wilson and co were as scruffy and hirsute in their youth as I. Although I suppose being mid 20s in the 1970′s gives them more of an excuse.)
July 5, 2010 § Leave a Comment
The Scottish Crofting Federation have greeted the Crofting Reform Bill, voted through Parliament last week, as ‘a double edged sword’ but are confident that crofting will continue despite it.
The bill, finally passed at Holyrood aims to tackle the threats to crofting communities posed by land speculation, neglect and absenteesim, completing a process which began almost a decade ago.There will be stronger powers and a legal duty to tackle these issues for a new crofting commission, which will have six of its nine commissioners directly elected by registered crofters. This will replace the previously appointed Crofters Commission.
Marina Dennis, convenor of the SCF crofting reform working group, said “We are pleased that the Bill has been voted through as parts of the existing legislation are not fit for purpose. Getting the Bill through means it can always be re-visited, but it is a double-edged sword. For example, we have always pressed for a map-based crofting register which has been voted through but the methods proposed by the government to implement this – the controversial compulsory ‘trigger’ system and the associated costs to crofters could have the effect of stagnating any movement of crofts. The government claim that this Bill is designed to free up crofts but this poorly thought out procedure could actually cause exactly the opposite. However, the SCF are working on a crofting community planning programme to help crofting communities to map their assets in a practical and empowering way. This will proceed despite the government’s intentions.”
The Crofting Reform Bill was debated in the Scottish Parliament yesterday with some 230 amendments voted on. Most were carried by a few votes by the SNP government supported by the Conservatives and the Greens. The Bill itself was then voted through at Decision Time, again by a narrow margin voting ‘yes’.
Patrick Krause, the SCF’s Chief Executive, added “It was a great shame that some very practical and helpful amendments were rejected by such a small margin, but we thank those MSPs that lodged them. It is widely recognised that this new Act will not be the panacea for crofting – it attempts to make the legislation more effective but can not make crofting viable. The entire way we look at food production and land management has to fundamentally change. Crofters are producing good food, naturally, using methods that enhance the environment and are sustainable. This protects the landscape that a recent survey showed as the number one reason tourists come to Scotland. Crofters also manage Europe’s largest peat-lands which capture and lock up huge amounts of carbon. Crofters should be rewarded for the benefits and public goods they provide.”
January 14, 2010 § 12 Comments
September 15, 2009 § 3 Comments
Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy broke the news this afternoon to workers at the Ministry of Defence range on Benbecula that plans to cut jobs at a missile range and its associated sites on the Western Isles have been abandoned.
Fantastic news and all down to the professionalism, resolve and drive of with the Range Task Force led by Comhairle and Vice-Convener Angus Campbell.
More work is now needed to diversify the island’s economy and seek to expand the ranges role in future technologies such as UAVs.
August 19, 2009 § 5 Comments
Alistair Maclean Darling, born 28 November 1953, is a British politician and Chancellor of the Exchequer since 28 June 2007. He is Labour Party Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South West in Scotland.
Mr Darling’s mother, Anna, grew up in Stornoway and he still returns to vacation regularly at their croft on Great Bernera. The croft has been in the family for many years, dating back to the Chancellor’s great-great-grandfather in the 1850s. Mr Darling even restored the traditional blackhouse faithfully, although he opted for a more modern covering than the original turf roof. It was from here he gave a rather controversial interview to The Guardian.
His parents met in Stornoway in the 1940s when his father, who was a civil engineer, came to Lewis to work on a Herring Processing Factory and the rest as they say is history. With his father’s work, they moved around a lot and Alistair even attended the Nicolson Institute for a time – an experience his mother believes is the key to his great success.
A spokeswoman for Darling said: “It’s where he’s happiest in the world. When he’s sitting in the Treasury and thinks about the island it gives him solace. Every summer other members of the family will want to go to other places but Alistair will use every means he can to get them there.”
Darling is likely to spend some of his time fishing for mackerel in his dinghy, a pursuit he has enjoyed in the past with his cousin Andy Maciver, who is also the island’s most senior Tory.
Describing his earliest island memories he said: “I probably first came up here in about 1954 – we used to come up every July for a month – we would come up through Mallaig and I remember you could smell the peat smoke as you approached the islands. Coming up here was a really big deal, we were living in England at the time and it would take two or three days to get here.”
In a nostalgic mood, he recalls a perilous moment in his childhood in Stornoway which could have had, depending on your point of view, tragic consequences.
“I remember falling into the pier at Stornoway Harbour when I was fishing for cuddies. It was pretty dirty in those days and I was covered in oil and fish. I remember my friend just watching on and my auntie thought I was a gonner but I managed to get out.”
Still up to his neck in murky business, after the 10p Tax debacle and presiding over the worst financial crises in decades, he is currently dismissing calls to reign in excessive pay and bank bonuses stating it was not the government’s role to interfere in wage negotiations. Currently a worker on minimum wage would have to work for about 226 years to receive the same annual pay as a FTSE 100 boss.