Big decision time draws nearer – It’s time to be bold!

trident-scotland-422364

The 18th of September and the referendum are only a matter of weeks away. The polls give little cheer to the Yes campaign and Salmond was not at his best in the STV debate with Alistair Darling.

Has the prospect of Scotland regaining its independence withered on the vine of the incessant negativity, mis-truths and exaggerations of the nay-sayers and the Yes campaign’s failure to properly dismiss them?

I think not and I hope not. Salmond did himself few favours when questioned about a Plan B for currency use. But a monetary union with the rUK is the best device for all, so why should he say otherwise?

What he might have stressed more was that the unionists were too scared, malicious and spiteful  to admit that this was the case, that no one can stop us using the pound as other countries successfully peg their currency to the dollar, euro etc and – who is Darling to lecture us anyway?

Darling (remember this was the man who flipped his house TWICE to secure the best possible expenses claims, paid for by you and me) took my breath away when he boasted he’d ‘’saved’’ the banks as Chancellor by bailing them out. Let’s examine the background.

They only needed bailing out because Brown had lessened banking regulation and encouraged the free-for-all that led to the disaster in the first place, knighting Fred Goodwin as a seal on the deal.

The UK was the worst prepared of the developed nations to deal with the crisis. Why? Because the Labour government had embarked on a spending spree, financed by reckless borrowing, to fund a benefits system aimed at creating a client state who would forever vote Labour in gratitude.

Darling was a member of a Government who opened the immigration floodgates to bring in millions, again in the hope they would support Labour in perpetuity as a gesture of thanks. (Source for the two above paragraphs – Peter Mandelson).

This created a drain on our NHS, schools and social services which has brought this country to its knees and created division.

They also created the PFI system, so they as a Labour government could be seen to building schools, hospitals etc while keeping the capital expenditure off the Treasury’s books. The result? To pay back this borrowed money, we will be giving private firms millions of pounds in profits for the next 40 years, impoverishing generations to come. Your children and my children.

And Darling as the nerve to lecture us on economics and a currency union? If we vote yes, and the rUK decline a currency agreement on the grounds of spite and malice, will the businesses of England see things his way when faced with billions of pounds of transaction charges?

I think not, and even Osbourne knows he will face disaster at the ballot box in 2015 if he imposes that on the very people likely to vote Tory.

So there will be a currency union, agreed or not. But first, we have to gather our courage in both hands and rise above the rantings of the Unionists who have purely vested interests in keeping us in the UK (booming oil discoveries, the Crown Estates, renewables, life sciences, whisky, tourism, world-class universities, highly-educated workforces, anyone?).

If the Union has been a good thing and we would be better to remain in it, why has one of the world’s richest nations seen the return of food banks, becoming more and more increasingly used as this Coalition pursues further austerity measures that only punish the already poor?

If that’s what the Union has done for me and mine, then, to use one one of their own slogans, no thanks.

I look forward to seeing the next debate, when hopefully Eck will be back at his best. However, of course, it should be Cameron and not his stand-in taking part. Cameron says he has no part to play in the debate, but if the Yes Campaign are proposing the break-up of the UK, then surely as the Prime Minister of that United Kingdom, he should be at the battle front to defend it?

But the issue at stake in not about TV debates or Alex Salmond. If we secure independence, then who is to say we will even have an SNP government at the next election? Scotland could easily revert to type and vote Labour, or any other left-of-centre party that might emerge – and why not?

But first, we have to get there. I have listened to the arguments and weighed up what’s been said and by whom. My decision has been that I will vote Yes, not purely for myself or for my family, but for the good of Scotland.

I firmly believe that we should take this opportunity to have confidence and make Scotland a fairer, more equal and inclusive society, a country whose resources and wealth will ensure that those who now have not, will have – and those who now can’t, will be able to.  Join me, please.

It’s a cracker, Jack!

jacks-coffee-house

Stand by for superlatives – I’ve just sampled a mouth-watering souvlaki at Jack’s Coffee House (don’t be confused by the name – they’re just as revered for their food as their super foaming stuff) and I enjoyed a meal surpassing anything else Falkirk has to offer.

First, the presentation is excellent and as my old mother used to say your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

souvlaki1

The sharp and appealing aroma is the first thing to tingle your senses. Then your eyes fall on the glistening, herbed, skewered and griddled pork pieces, nestling on a red onion salad, colourful and appealing. This in turn lies on a wonderfully-crisp and tasty flatbread.

The pork was as it should be – beautifully moist and tender. The flowing juices were neatly accommodated by the superb flatbread and this on its own would have made a satisfying, delicious and filling meal. (The red onion salad was superb, incidentally).

souvlaki

However, Jack’s does things in plentitude and the souvlaki was accompanied by a bowl of sumptuous and visually-appealing traditional Greek salad. The vibrant white, green, red and black hues promised the flavours to come.

The voluptuous and brilliantly-scarlet slices of tomato oozed flavour and proved a succulent counterbalance to the salty sharpness of the enticing chunks of feta – no supermarket stuff this.

The cucumber and kalamata olives melded to give satisfying crunch and yielding softness of Mediterranean splendour.

The salad is garnished with Jack’s special dressing, with light touches of oregano and a subtle olive oil, a far cry from the shop-bought and often-overwhelming slatherings you often find elsewhere in a so-called ‘’traditional Greek salad.’’

Boss Derek and new chef George have the cuisine at their command. Jack’s is able to provide high-quality, fresh and enticing dishes to order, to accommodate diners who may have limited time.

But it would be a waste to rush through a meal at Jack’s – make the time to enjoy the wide range on offer, from fine dining to simple coffee, home-made cake and biscuits, in a relaxed atmosphere where the ethos is laid-back and laconic.

You just chill and let the excellent team at Jack’s Coffee House look after you – and enjoy the best food in town.

Exciting times ahead for Steeple Media

islay-view

It’s been a pleasant few weeks for us here. We’ve managed to squeeze in a week’s holiday on the beautiful island of Islay (genealogy followers, please see appropriate blog posting – I went home!) where the scenery was amazing and the weather almost Mediterranean.

We rented a beautiful cottage right on the beach at Bowmore and bang next door to the eponymous distillery.

Jamie and Lexy (our beautiful new Cocker Spaniel puppy) had a wonderful time, spending most of their waking hours in the sea – no cold water here!

I spent much of my time tracing the family tree and watching the World Cup dramas unfold in the lovely village pubs, surrounded by people who had a live interest – Belgians, Dutch, French, Germans and even the odd Brazilian (sorry to bring up private grief!)

Next time up, the Euros and hopefully there might be blue, white and kilts in attendance.

Doing the business….

On the work front, things continue to develop for us. We did a media training day for the pro-independence group, Business for Scotland, which went down really well and we are hopeful of some more work from them before the referendum.

business-for-scotland

I also had a great meeting with a journalistic colleague who introduced me to two ladies who operate a marketing firm. It looks as if there might be the basis here for a good partnership arrangement and the prospect of ongoing film production opportunities.

Great time for GRS Homes…

As you know, I write the blog for my good friends at the luxury house developer firm, GRS Homes of Falkirk. Their star is on the rise and they have now secured two plots which will greatly enhance the housing offer in this area. More to come….

Hitting the road to Jack’s…

I have a networking meeting with another contact coming up and where else would we go to talk but to my client’s thriving venture, Jack’s Coffee House, in the Falkirk Business Hub?  Great food, great coffee and a great atmosphere.

And immediately after that, I have a second meeting of the day with someone who runs a major commercial operation in the town who might be interested in a video for their website. If it all comes off, next year’s holidays are already beckoning!

Getting the bit between my teeth with Keith…

Lastly and by no means least, I have a meeting with my friend Keith of Supaweavers, my colleague and website developer, to plan a possible joint venture well away from the world of media training, film production and PR. Watch this space.

We are on the horns of a dilemma, though – should it be in the Woodside or the Wheatsheaf?

Referendum – It’s YES from me

scottish-referendum

 

That’s it. After many months of indecision, I now know where my vote will go in September.

At first, I was waiting to be persuaded by the arguments of either the Yes Scotland campaign or the Better Together side. But having taken care and time to consider, I will be voting that Scotland reclaims its place as a state in her own right.

This is not a Braveheart call – I’m a passionate Scot and a Tartan Army–minded sort of guy, but that’s not why I want my country to be what it should be, like any of the smaller nations who have emerged from unions in the recent past and have shown they can thrive on their own.

I’ve had enough of Labour people who have taken Scottish voters for granted over the last four decades. I lived in an industrial part of Scotland where the Labour vote was overwhelming and I totally understand why the so-called People’s Party was so commanding.

Tories were regarded as corporate toffs imposing poor conditions on the down-trodden working classes and Labour were allegedly the champions of the working man. We lived in a council house and my parents scraped a living from poorly-paid and physically-demanding occupations – although they would not have described what they did as ‘’occupations’’. In their eyes, they had work – work enough to support their two kids, pay their rent and put barely-sufficient food on the table.

Holidays, cars and savings were for other folk – we barely got by financially and life was a constant struggle for them both, something that was reflected in their ill-health and early deaths. But while we didn’t have financial security, what we didn’t lack was love, support and their ambition for my brother and me to do better.

Mum and Dad were both hugely intelligent and resourceful, but without the opportunity to improve their education – working class people didn’t go to university, but instead went down the pit, like my ancestors, or into factories. There was no minimum wage then and the prospect of buying their own home was outlandish and impossible. And the Labour party was against the very thought – ‘’all property is theft’’ – and prolonged the class war. Private properties – houses – weren’t for the likes of us. Labour did nothing for us and we were told that this was ‘our place’ – a shabby, damp and unmaintained council house – in life.

Our parents’ many sacrifices for us meant them going without, so that we could have – my brother was the first McAllister to go university. That meant our parents worked long and arduous hours to keep us both supported and my brother and I are grateful to this day – their efforts and dedication resulted in us doing things of which they could never have dreamt.

My dad burst into tears when I showed him a house I’d been able to buy – but was typically unwilling to accept that it was his and Mother’s hard work, sacrifice and ambition for us that allowed that to happen.

So consider the issue – the Tories care little for Scotland, and Labour relied on their traditional support to keep them in Parliamentary seats and councils across our country. But the electorate eventually got fed up with their arrogance and it was interesting to see the faces of their candidates at the 2011 election results (I was working on the BBC overnight results programme) as Scots had decided enough was enough.

They might argue that the Nats have pursued purely populist policies since then to ingratiate themselves with the Scottish public. So are free prescriptions, free further education and a council tax freeze bad thing when UK governments have left us in the biggest financial downturn since the war?

Look at what the unionist parties have done in the past and ignore their promises of more powers after a no vote. In the 70s, Labour deliberately silenced a report by the respected Gavin McCrone who said that Scotland could become an immensely wealthy country if we retained the tax benefits from North Sea oil; the unionist parties have said there will be a review of the Barnett Formula (ie, it will be slashed) if we vote no; Johann Lamont has betrayed Labour Party core beliefs over health care (didn’t Bevan, create the NHS so working class, Labour voters would get help free at point of delivery), has called for the end of universal benefits (wasn’t that also a Labour policy)? and has called Scotland a ‘’something for nothing’’ society?

Osborne, Cameron and Clegg have decided we now won’t get our pensions until most people will be too old to get back anything like they paid in (although this is hugely because of the financial maelstrom caused by Brown, Darling, Blair and the rest).

So if you want to have your children educated while incurring huge amounts of debt, want to pay for your medicine, want our oil money to be squandered as it has in the past, want to work until 67, 68 (or could it be more before you get the pension you’ve been paying into for decades)?, want to see London suck the financial lifeblood out of Scotland, want to see your vote in UK elections have little effect on the outcome and not get the government we as a nation voted for, want to continue the democratic deficit, then vote for the status quo.

Me? I know I’m not voting for Alex Salmond, I’m voting for self determination, the right to enjoy a more equal society in a country rich in resources, a country with a sound financial future as recognised by independent agencies and a country where I know my young son can fulfil his potential alongside a proud and independent nation. Join me.

STEEPLE MEDIA AIMING HIGH

It keeps on coming – we’ve been working with several business people this week, including the proprietors of Jack’s Coffee House at the Falkirk Business Hub and serial entrepreneur, investor and inspirational speaker, Russell Dalgleish, who travels the world speaking at seminars and conferences.

Husband and wife team Derek and Suzy at Jack’s are completing their website and we’ll be helping out with the wording. They’ve also had the vision to think of using a professionally shot and edited video as a promotional tool for the business and Steeple Media will be assisting with that too – but hopefully when the weather improves, as the light in Scotland for filming is at its best between June and August. Watch out for it not only on the website, but also on social media platforms, including Youtube.

If you’re in the area, why not drop in? Jack’s Coffee House does simple but classic meals, cooked to perfection. It’s already been well received by locals and is worth supporting. And soon you’ll be able to spend lazy, laid-back Sundays browsing the papers over coffee or a meal, in a relaxed atmosphere, at Jack’s. We’ll keep you posted as to when – and watch this space for a review of Jack’s cuisine!

Russell is one of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs and motivational business speakers, and we filmed him delivering a Masterclass to interested business folk this week. Many said they were inspired by Russell’s advice and said they thought it would help their business grow. You can catch the video on Russell’s site soon. And on ours.

The diversity of this job is amazing – last week we were filming a play written by a student at the Scottish Conservoire in Glasgow. The play is done in conjunction with the Red Cross and looks at the issue of immigration and refugees, at a time when Scotland is to play host to many Commonwealth countries.

The play will be rolled out initially to schools in the Glasgow area and the Red Cross hope it will encourage pupils to ‘’make a welcoming action’’ to people from overseas who might find themselves in difficult situations when coming to Scotland or the rest of the UK.

And we’ve also been busy with our old friends at GRS Homes. They’ve some happy news to announce – they’ve been nominated in the Scottish Home Awards, for the fifth year in a row. They’ve been put forward in no fewer than three categories and we spent time this week writing a media release for the local press and trade mags. Here’s hoping they’ll be celebrating at the awards ceremony in Edinburgh in June. And they also have more exciting news on new developments to announce soon – see their blog for more.

GRS Homes also want their website updated, so my friend Keith from Supaweavers and I are meeting this week to discuss. Hopefully Graham can make it too and we can decide on where the summit should be held – the Wheatsheaf or the Woodside Inn!

STEEPLE MEDIA ON THE RISE…AND ‘FRIENDS’ REUNITED

STEEPLE MEDIA ON THE RISE…AND ‘FRIENDS’ REUNITED

What a (fairly) good week it’s been for us here at Steeple Media.

Glorious, sunny weather and work coming in – can’t be bad at all. (Pity about the old football knee acting up, meaning a day or two on the couch and a return to the fattening steroids, but hey ho…)

A CASE OF BLACK AND WHITE

First, the work – and a day of remarkable coincidence. While passing the new Jack’s Coffee House in Falkirk, my attention was grabbed by the large black and white image of an apparent 1930s Hollywood movie idol, just beside the entrance.

That image has been a familiar one to me for many years, not because of familiarity with any Hollywood star, but because it had a personal significance. What on earth is a picture of Jack Wallace Snr doing here outside a cafe in Falkirk?

Jack Wallace Snr was the father of a close friend and journalistic colleague of mine at a TV company in Glasgow. Jack Jnr had often shown me pictures of his photographer dad over the years. He had had been a WW11 RAF photographer and was later chief photographer on the Scotsman.

But he and his family lived in Glasgow, so why was his picture outside a cafe in Falkirk, attached to the new Business Hub?

JACK’S HIGH!

Intrigued, I walked in and asked – and the next hour was my best of what was to be an enjoyable week. The proprietor is none other than Jack Jnr’s son, who has based the cafe theme on his family’s media links – and a superb cafe it is too, with cracking black and white images taken by his grandad on the walls. It’s well worth a visit.

As soon as I told Derek who I was, he recognised my name immediately and we had a warm chat, reminiscing about his dad and grandad. Then he asked what I was doing these days.

When I told him about Steeple Media, he immediately asked if I could assist him with some wording for his page on the Hub website and bingo – another client!

GETTING DOWN TO THE HUB OF THE MATTER….

In case you haven’t heard, the Falkirk Business Hub is a new business centre right at the heart of the town, offering a new service unique to the community. It has breathed life in to the wonderful building which used to house the Post Office but which had lain empty for some years.

Its website says : ‘’We provide a high quality range of business office and meeting room options to suit all needs. This includes offices on easy in-easy out flexible licence terms, virtual offices, an ultra modern co-working environment, and prestigious meeting suites and Boardroom.’’

As well as all that and Jack’s, there is also a Wellness centre, so it has everything any embryonic business could wish for.

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY……

So to recap this week’s work, I’ve spent time writing copy for Jack’s website page, updated the blog for GRS Homes, set up a few Google accounts (time consuming and no easy task!), consulted with my good friend Keith at Supaweavers Website Design on additions to my own site and others (admittedly we did this in the Woodside – media work is always convivial), drew up a filming schedule for a corporate video job coming up soon, met several existing clients with suggestions as to how video can help promote their business, set up meetings with prospective media training clients and finally wrote an article – on blogging – for the May edition of the Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce monthly magazine. And that’s not all…..

WHAT’S ON OFFER AT STEEPLE MEDIA

As a member of the Chamber, I was included in their weekly email as the company making the offer of the week to associated firms.

Steeple Media is offering a 20% discount on three services; the production of professional HD company profile videos for websites or YouTube channels; 20% discount on ‘How to get your voice heard in the media’ training courses; and the same discount on internal company media training sessions for senior personnel. Full details can be found www.steeplemedia.co.uk or contact Tom on 07764 355078 or tmcallister55@gmail.com

SUNNY SIDE UP

And seeing as I’m in a good mood because of the sunny weather, I’m happy to extend those offers to ANY company contacting me before the end of April.

I’m also taking on more blogging work at the request of a few companies, so if you feel you haven’t the time to write one, or you’re not confident in your own writing skills in these days of text-speak, give me a call.

As I say, it’s been a busy week but I even found time – on the nicest day so far, Good Friday –for a day at the Musselburgh races. Between the three of us, we had three winners, which paid for the punting, entrance and even a few beers – not bad at all.

This week? Not entirely sure yet, but it promises to be a busy, varied and hopefully profitable one. Fingers crossed!

Roots Mon

Roots Mon……..A Scot’s journey to his beginnings.

I’ve always been curious about where we came from – our family beginnings, I mean, rather than the familiar surroundings of my birthplace. I’m from Lanarkshire, once an industrious, prosperous place to live, but now a sad and battered testament to a financially distraught Scotland, where drink and drugs have destroyed the lives of many and those who struggle to survive do so in jobless towns strewn with closed-down pubs and shops.

But where do I really come from? Family folklore is that we are from the islands, but I’ve been unable to prove it. Like many people, I have begun a family tree and discovered stories of hard and careworn lives, some of perceived disgrace and others of quiet compassion and even heroism. And tragedy – we all have at least some tragedy in our stories.

But I still can’t trace my family back to anywhere beyond the 19th century coalfields of central Scotland, which has come – so far – as a crushing disappointment to my romantic dreams of gnarled old great, great somethings, sitting by a harbour mending nets, toiling in fields, or laboriously digging peats in harsh and unforgiving environments. But I knew, instinctively, somehow, that we have always been poor.

Like most of these journeys, mine began as a young man with a few late-night, semi-sober inquiries of my father, who seemed reluctant to go into detail and would only mutter that if I dug too deep, I ‘would be disappointed.’

It was only after my father died – how much opportunity I had wasted – that I seriously began to look into the family background. A trip to Edinburgh to look through the registers soon unveiled the reason why my father thought I would feel let down. A look at his father’s – my grampa’s – birth certificate showed that Grampa had been born illegitimate. That fact was starkly marked on his document – a cruelty that was to affect him for the rest of his life.

I soon unearthed that his mother, great granny Janet, not only had one illegitimate child by 1880, but two. This puzzled me somewhat, and there are various explanations, one being that she found it difficult to keep her bloomers on. Or was she a forward thinking carefree spirit, who despised the sexual hypocrisy of Victorian Britain and was keen to exercise free love? Another, and the most probable explanation, is that she was an illiterate and impoverished young woman who took her fun where she could find it and was ignorant of structured contraception, or unable to afford it.

Either way, GG Janet did not name the father of either of her two children, and therefore they grew up with her own name and not the dads’ – whoever they may be. So my surname comes from down the female side of the family – not that it matters to me.

But let’s think of her situation for a moment. There she was, in 19th century Scotland, with two young children and neither father to be seen (although their middle names, which don’t seem to be traditional family ones, might give us a clue). Surely this must have been perceived as a disgrace in a society in which sex was regarded as taboo and was a matter for behind closed bedroom doors ?

Yet in a world without a social services system, she had her support networks, nevertheless. The 1891 census shows she and her two children were living with her parents and several brothers in a mining cottage of just two rooms. It also showed Janet was able to contribute to the no-doubt impoverished family finances – there were 10 people living there – as she is listed a farm servant.

Illegitimacy, it turns out, was to be a family trait and therefore perhaps not the disgrace I fear it might have been. The census also shows that her younger sister too was an unmarried mother and also living in the parental home with her baby son. She was also a farm servant, but at that time unemployed. Was this because she had been thrown out by the farmer because she had to cease work due to her pregnancy, or indeed because he would not tolerate an unmarried mother on his land? (Or was HE the dad and didn’t want his wife to find out)?

When trying to find out more about all this, I asked an elderly maiden aunt, but she was too embarrassed to discuss it – although she did add rather acidly that in Janet’s case ‘we thought it was farmer who was the dad, but he wouldn’t put his hands up to it’. So GG Janet was taken advantage of – twice!

Janet mysteriously vanishes from the family home in 1881, according to the census, before reappearing 10 years later with her two children. I have been unable to trace her during that period – perhaps she had moved away for work. Perhaps – and how dreadful, if true – she might have ended up in the poorhouse. Whatever she did, it wasn’t a career that required literacy – she was unable to write, and her mark – X – appeared on her sons’ birth certificates.

How bleak her circumstances seemed to be in the 1880s– unmarried, with two illegitimate children, living with her parents and six others in cramped, damp and over-crowded conditions, with no running water, electricity or toilet. The sanitary facilities were outside, an ash pit in the middle of the street.

The street itself was a collection of semi-derelict houses, rented by mine owners to their employers. In many cases, her family working down the pit might have been paid not in cash but in tokens – which could only be spent, guess where, at shops owned by the mine’s proprietors. Miners were seen as little more than serfs or slaves in Victorian Scotland.

But Janet was nothing if not resilient and was to overcome her difficulties to make a decent if unglamorous life for herself, my grandfather and great uncle, even if the means she used were…..somewhat sly.

She was to marry, settle down and raise another family – and incidentally, learn to read and write.

But how? Find out next week.

The art of blogging…..

Another week and more work comes in for Steeple Media.

I’ve been asked to write a blog for a house builder client, GRS Homes,
for whom I’ve also made a video showcasing their developments – and
really posh they are too.

Some people question the need for company blogs, or the time spent on
writing them, but not only are they a way of keeping people informed
as to what you’re up to, they also help heighten your online profile
and drive more traffic to your website..

If they’re interesting or humorous, readers come back for more and
while they’re at it, they’re likely to look at the rest of your
website and maybe even become interested in your product or service.
So blogs can help attract business and income, which makes the effort
of writing them worthwhile.

But don’t be tempted to use your blog for a direct sales pitch -
they’re meant to be light and conversational in tone, otherwise people
turn off.

Many folk, however, aren’t confident enough in their own writing
skills in an age where text language in in everyday use. I even get
emails – business emails – in which people say things like ”business
not gr8 but I’m hoping it will get better soon, lol”.

That might be acceptable in a short text message, but never in
business communication and let’s face it, communication is the name of
the game for companies nowadays, especially in this digital age. If
you can’t communicate clearly what your organisation does, then people
will be reluctant to become involved with you.

And if your website is full of grammatical errors and misspellings, it
demeans your firm. The website is often the first contact people have
with your business and although it’s a cliché, you really only get one
chance to make a first impression.

So I’m looking forward to writing this week’s blog for GRS Homes and
hopefully you’ll enjoy it too!

Cheers till next week.

The editor’s indecision is final

Like most Scots, I’m thrilled that our country will soon have the
chance to make a decision that could impact hugely on our lives.

And while I’m thoroughly enjoying the overall debate that rages around
the subject, I’m just a bit weary of the backbiting and name-calling
that has emerged.

But there are many questions I would like answered before I cast my vote.

Firstly, David Cameron says he will not take part in a TV debate with
the First Minister as he will not have a vote in the referendum. But
if we vote yes, it will lead to the break-up of the UK and surely as
UK Prime Minister, he does have a huge contribution to make to the
argument?

And Cameron must surely be on the horns of a dilemma when he tells us
we are all better together. He knows that if we separate, Scotland
will not send a huge number of Labour MPs to Westminster as we do
every general election. If there is not a mass Scottish contingent of
the People’s Party, then his Conservatives could be in power for a
long, long time, as England largely votes Tory.

So why, then, is he making so much noise about keeping the UK as it
is? Call me a cynic, but is it because of oil, whisky, tourism,
renewables and other Scottish contributions to the UK economy? There
must be something we’re not being told.

Also the question of our EU membership is puzzling. The Yes campaign
say we would retain our membership but the BT campaign say we won’t.
But if Cameron is pledging an in/out referendum, then even if we vote
yes and retain our EU status, the rest of the UK might not.

The pound? I think Salmond should have a plan B but I see his point
when he says that a monetary union would be beneficial to both sides.
If Osborne refuses, he is condemning companies in the rump of the UK
to paying massive cross-border transaction costs. In whose interest is
that?

Anyway, as far as I understand it (and I’m not an economist) the pound
isn’t his to ”keep”. We could still use the pound informally, such
as other countries peg their own currencies to the US dollar. But if
it does happen, I’d rather it was done with agreement, rather than be
grudged.

Salmond also pledges that he will keep the retirement age to 65, while
it seems to rise in increments under the Coalition. The No parties
have also said that the Barnett formula will be ”reviewed” – in
other words, scrapped – after the next General Election. Salmond
maintains that the formula returns less than we pay to Westminster
from oil revenue – but who do you believe?

There will be many twists and turns before the 18th of September and
both sides have much to win or lose. But won’t it be ironic if the
biggest decision this country is likely to make will be in the hands
of those who at they moment say they Don’t Know?