Veterans for Scottish Independence Speaking at Greater Glasgow Group Meeting

Some time ago IndyLive Radio put out a call for a Forces Veteran to talk on their programme. About 40 veterans turned up! Those veterans stayed in touch, formed Veterans for Scottish Independence and the group has progressed from there.

Our Glasgow P4Indy Group was interested in hearing from independence supporters who have been or are members of the UK Armed Forces. We know from speaking to people at our street stall that some No voters are influenced by a sense of loyalty to UK, and its history. Often that loyalty includes a feeling that supporting independence is somehow being disloyal to those Scots men and women, past and present, who serve in our Armed Forces. We have been wondering how we might best talk to people who feel that way. Loyalty is after all a positive value to hold.

So we contacted the Veterans group to ask if someone could come to speak to us and as a result Russ Denny came along to our May meeting. Russ joined up when he was 17 years old because he needed a job, and he served in the Army for 27 years.

Our Glasgow people very much appreciated hearing Russ’ insights from his own military background and his passion for Scottish independence. This is what Jim Stamper, one of our Glasgow Group members writes of what Russ said and the discussion afterwards,

Some general observations from Russ

  • Generally soldiers fight for their comrades not for Queen and Country.
  • There was a pride in local Scottish regiments which largely stopped with the amalgamation into the 1st and 2nd Scottish Infantry Battalions – one of which is based in England.  Personnel are not all Scots but mixed Commonwealth peoples.
  • The UK Forces actively recruit Commonwealth people and are still not managing to recruit enough.  Forces are cut year after year and there are currently about 70,000 troops.
  • Values and standards demanded of Forces include moral courage – to speak out when something is not right.
  • The annual commemoration at the Cenotaph is shown as a great display of veneration by Queen and politicians for the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces.  While the troops are there for four hours the Queen arrives 5 minutes before the cameras start and leaves 5 minutes after they stop. The politicians are maybe there 20 minutes before and leave 20 minutes after.

Some common mistaken views, misinformation and downright lies that we might hear regarding how members of the Armed Forces feel about Scottish independence.

  • It is often stated forces personnel took the Oath of Allegiance so can’t support Scottish Independence.  The Oath of Allegiance is to the Queen, not the country – there are many serving in the British Army from independent Commonwealth countries.
  • Forces personnel are ordinary people, the same variety of people as elsewhere. It is not true that all members of the Forces are against independence.  Media gets away with saying this because forces personnel are not allowed to speak out.
  • The claim that those supporting independence are ‘spitting on the graves of fallen comrades’ makes Forces personnel angry.  Many who died were African, Indian and of other independent nations.
  • There is also the lie that their pensions are at risk with independence.  Fijian soldiers get their pension OK.

Defence needs after independence

  • Scotland contributes about £3 billion / year to UK defence.  Whereas for an effective Scottish North Atlantic defence force – ie one which actually has ships around the Scottish coastline unlike now – the maximum would be £1.6 billion / year. 
  • On becoming independent, Scotland would be due its share of UK military assets. So we wouldn’t be starting from scratch to set up a Scottish defence force.
  • Arguing to keeping Trident for jobs is likened to not curing the plague because it would mean less jobs for body collectors and grave diggers.  Only 350 jobs are directly related to the nuclear weapons.  A high number of workers at Faslane are transient workers from outwith Scotland.

Looking after personnel after they leave the Forces:

  • If someone has served their full term, which is 18 years or reaching 40 years of age, then they get an MOD pension at the point when they leave the Forces.  If they have served a shorter term, then they don’t get their MOD pension until they reach normal retirement age.  They will generally have saved nothing and will have no accommodation. 
  • For many it also like leaving a family. 
  • Many find it very difficult to adjust to civilian life. 
  • These issues need dealt with.  There is an Armed Forces Covenant encapsulating the moral obligation to those who serve, have served, their families and the bereaved. This is intended to ensure they should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services. 
  • If you served 20 years abroad this should be taken to be the equivalent of having worked 20 years in UK when considered for housing, loans, mortgages etc.  If you leave forces with illness related to the work then that should be covered. 
  • Conservative and Labour Governments have largely left it up to local government but without providing sufficient funding to them.  Keith Brown of SNP and others have spoken out about this inadequacy but this has not been picked up by the media.

The Veterans for Independence group run their own street all and their members are often also in other Indy groups.  They go on independence marches and aim to make themselves visible, similar to English Scots for Yes, but are not allowed to wear uniform. After hearing Russ talking, our group think that it would be very helpful to have Veterans for Indy people present at our and other pro-independence groups’ stalls.

The Twitter handle for the Veterans is @SoldierWhy Or click here to go to their Facebook page.

Thank you, Russ, for taking the time to come along to our meeting!

P4Indy at the Hague..

The Netherlands for Scottish Independence March & Rally was held on 25May in the Hague. One of the invited speakers was our own Mary McCabe, a member of the Glasgow Group an co-convenor of our National Group.

As well as showing off our P4Indy T-shirt, Mary told the audience how we are campaigning in Scotland. She also told them the background to setting up the Glasgow P4Indy choir “The Warblers” and did a solo rendition of our Warblers’ song “The Union – A Tragedy”. After all that she regaled the Hague audience with events from three years ago at the Yes Arts Festival – that’s YES as in Yarrow, Ettrick and Selkirk – and a conversation she had with the Duke of Buccleuch who was handing out the prizes, one of which was for Mary’s poem “The Merch o’ the Babyboomers”. She finishes by reciting the poem to much warm applause.

Here is the video of Mary’s spot:

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The Greater Glasgow Unicorn’s Maiden Voyage

Yesterday saw the first of the AUOB marches wend its way through Glasgow. It definitely wasn’t the right time to try exiting the M8 at Charing Cross! Police reckon 35,000 made it Glasgow Green but unofficial tallies put it at nearer 80,000. Either way it was a lot of independence supporters.

Here’s how Mary McCabe, one of our Glasgow P4Indy members and co-convenor of the Nationial P4Indy Group , describes it:

Yesterday was a great success for the pro-Indy movementl. Depending on whom you believe, numbers ranged from 150,000 on the total march to 35,000 actually making it all the way to Glasgow Green. At the Green, there were lots of stalls including our Pensioners for Indy double stall, lots of speeches and live music – with an efficient sound system! Yet at the end the park was so pristine clean that the organisers proudly printed a picture of it on FB.

Our new unicorn Greater Glasgow Pensioners banner shimmered beautifully above all the flags made a great show and was photographed and commented on several times. We didn’t get to all march together as planned; those who arrived early at the meeting point at the Suffragette Tree were moved on to different spots by stewards so that when I arrived with the banner there were only two – Jeannie Campbell and Brian Watson – left. As the march advanced up Kelvin Way the three of us slipped into a natural space in the parade – we genuinely didn’t realise this counted as queue-jumping! Meanwhile the large Edinburgh Pensioners for Indy contingent had to wait for over an hour on a hill in Kelvingrove Park before being allocated a slot and given the go-ahead. Still, and we all got to Glasgow Green in the end.

We had a double stall using both new gazebos. There were half a dozen of us serving and we were all kept busy with queues the whole time. The food and drink flew off the shelves. All 20 of the T-shirts were sold and there’s a waiting list of folk who were too late to get one (I’ll be ordering more this week). Virtually all of Sheena’s jewellery sold too. We were kept busy till after 6.30. The takings haven’t been counted yet but they must amount to several hundred.

Want a T-shirt? Send us a message via the Contact Form from the top of the page and we’ll send you details of how to get one.

The remaining All Under One Banner marches for 2019 are: 

  • Galashiels June 1st
  • Oban 15th June 
  • Ayr 6th July
  • Campbeltown 27th July
  • Aberdeen 17th August
  • Perth 7th September
  • Edinburgh 5th October 

It would be great to have big turnouts of P4Indy. I will be bringing the banner to every rally and several Penioners have said they’re planning to go. If the Waverley is repaired by the end of July it’s a lovely sail down to Campbeltown. The turnout at the smaller towns is likely to be 10,000 to 20,000 and at Edinburgh at least 150,000.  Everyone smiling and singing with the crowds on the pavements waving and smiling back at us. At the end there’s music, speeches and stuff to eat and buy in a park. A great family day out. 

The serious purpose is even more important: when people witness thousands of friendly cheerful folk, some from far afield, demonstrating for independence down their own high streets it gets harder for Unionists and their friends in the media to claim “There’s no appetite for independence. Nobody wants another referendum. Everybody’s bored with politics. Referendums are ugly and divisive.” If anybody feels like going further afield The Netherlands for Scottish Independence rally is on Saturday May 25th at the Hague.  More details here:
Netherlands Scottish Independence Rally. I attended the previous two years and will be going again this year wearing the new unicorn T-shirt and singing our song on the platform. Usually around 200 turn up and there are good speeches and music. No requirement to speak Dutch!

Some more photos, mainly taken by members of our Glasgow group.

Possible New P4Indy Groups in Fife and in the Borders

Over the past few months, our membership secretary has been busy contacting people on our mailing list, telling them how many other people on our mail list are in their area, and asking if they would be interested in getting together to meet locally.

We’ve been speaking to people in Fife, Stirling, Hamilton & Motherwell, and Selkirk.

We know that it can be daunting to set up a new group. But we have people in our Edinburgh & Lothians Group and our Greater Glasgow Group who have acquired enough experience to offer a helping hand. We also have some funds which mean we can help new groups get off the ground with the expenses of hiring a meeting room or setting up a street stall.

And it looks like we will soon have a local group based in Fife!

Kirkcaldy Collage By Kilnburn and Duncan Cumming – Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

It was great to have two Fifers, Craig and Lorna, coming over to our national coordinating group meeting this week. If you’d like to be put in touch with what’s happening in P4Indy Fife, then let us know using the contact form from the top of this page.

After Fife, it’s possibly that the next new group will be in the Borders. We have a meeting set up with supporters in Selkirk.

This graph show where people on our mailing list live. As you can see, there are some areas that have quite a showing of people interested in P4Indy but where there isn’t a local group. If you would like to find others in your area to link up with, use the Contact form at top of the page.

P4Indy Goes Live!!

This is me, Marlene, on IndyLive Radio last week. I was a bit nervous about doing it but Norrie was very good at getting the ball rolling and keeping it rolling! Once I got into my stride, I really enjoyed it. I asked Val Gauld, our Glasgow Twitter person, along as well. As you can see she was tweeting as I was speaking. She joined in the chat, too.

Norrie asked me about how P4Indy got set up. Then I had lots of time to tell his listeners about our AGM, about our push to help new P4Indy groups get off the ground and the funding we have for doing that, about the street stalls we run in and around Scotland, and about the Warblers, our concert party.

I also talked about the low numbers, only about 1 in 4, of over 65s who supported Yes in the 2014 campaign, some of the factors involved in that, and how we might engage with those. It does seem from recent polling done at the end of 2018 that more of our age group are coming round to Yes and it’s more like 1 in 3 support independence. Still some way to go and as I said to Norrie, it’s to help push that figure up that I joined P4Indy.

In the Broomcupboard Studio…

The hardest question Norrie asked me was what song track I wanted to play as we took a wee break from speaking. I’m not much of a pop music fan but I lived through the 60s and 70s so I settled for a Beatles’ track. I suspect Norrie was humouring my very old choice! After that I got to present that week’s community announcements from The National. And I got to announce the “Walloper of the Week Award” which last week went to Labour MP Paul Sweeney for his rather over the top response to ScotGov’s wee video about us being open and welcoming country. He thought it was “smarmy, saccharine, bourgeois tripe”. If you want to find out what else the man said and what responses he got, look here.

They call their studio The Broomcupboard! Aye, it is pretty wee. I liked it but it must be hard for Norrie and Kevin to work there all the time. Kevin showed me a bigger space in the same building that he hoped to be able to move to. And I hear that has now gone ahead. These guys are working on a shoestring when it comes to funding. If you can help them with a few spare pounds, please do. This is their website: IndyLive Radio