Friday, December 15, 2017

Chet Baker and tooth loss

The story goes that in 1966, Chet Baker was beaten up over a drug deal that had gone wrong and had his front teeth kicked out. However, this still from a 1964 Belgian TV special shows Chet clearly with only one front tooth. The story I heard was that he lost the tooth when he was at high school. He never had a bridge or denture fitted. This is why there are all those moody photos of the young Chet Baker not smiling.

It could be that the lack of stability the gap caused made the others more difficult to sustain. Combine that with long term Methadone (a sugar syrup morphine concoction) use and his other front teeth did not stand much of a chance.

The most interesting thing about this is that he managed to play the trumpet to such a high standard with only one front tooth - from the very beginning.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Which is the fastest UK mobile network for 4g data?

I did a quick speed test of three different networks in central Edinburgh and got these results (in Mbit):

Vodafone  7.83 down 17.55 up
EE          53.83 down 25.13 up
3             23.35 down   6.77 up

So, on the face of it EE is faster, but these tests were down outside of peak times.

As a regular user of all three services here are my experiences:

EE seems to carry out some kind of delay on page requests at peak times, or it may just be contention issues. This is particularly noticeable if you connect with a browser like Microsoft Edge that has a short page time out.In general, though, EE is a good service.

I find that 3 is slower, but very stable. I watched streaming videos on the train all the way from London to Edinburgh with only one short drop out of signal. That is impressive performance given the terrain. However, 4g coverage is quite restricted. A lot of the time it is running on HSDPA, but this still gives good enough speeds for streaming.

Vodafone has the best coverage in outlying areas, but it is generally not the fastest and will even revert to Edge for data in some places.

I don't have anything with an o2 connection. I stopped using o2 when there were a few months of service issues a few years ago.

Price wise, 3 is very hard to beat. I am currently paying £18 a month for unlimited calls, unlimited texts and unlimited data plus a 30GB a month wireless hotspot. It looks like they are increasing the prices of unlimited packages, but I never use more than 10GB.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Why I think there are still questions to be answered about the assassination of JFK.

Glasgow Herald, 23rd November, 1963
This front page was printed only 12 hours after the assassination.
Read the full newspaper here.

As we await the latest release of files relating to the assassination of President John F Kennedy I thought I would reflect on how my own thinking on this has changed over the years. At one time I would have been in favour of a grassy knoll shooter, but looking at the physical evidence and having read Gerald Posner's book Case Closed, this seemed to tie up all the loose ends and show Oswald as the sole killer of President Kennedy.

However, since then a number of troubling issues have refused to go away and I think there are a number of questions that are not answered by Posner's account or the official story. These are things that might be hinted at in the documents about to be released.

Conflicting evidence about the number of bullets fired and the location of the shooter

Three bullets were fired from the Texas School Book Depository because there were three shell casings found there. One bullet missed, so all of the wounds had to have been made by the remaining two bullets. There are a number of problems with this IF the autopsy information is correct. See this article for a reasonable discussion of this issue.

Connelly believed he and Kennedy were shot with separate bullets, possibly because he heard the missed shot. If that were the case then there had to be four bullets. Tantalisingly for those who believe in a second shooter, the Zapbruder film may show too big a gap between the two bullets for it to be the same one going through two people (the "magic bullet" theiry), although ballistics trajectory  evidence shows that a single bullet could have done it.

Was there a bullet hole in the windscreen of the president's car? If there was then this is pretty much proof of more than three bullets. Various people claim they saw a bullet hole in the windshield (see this article for this claim) , but photographic evidence could equally suggest a straightforward crack in the glass.

The dictabelt recording gives conflicting information on the number of bullets fired. Some people claim that it records four or more shots, but it may not even be from the same part of the day. In other words, it is not very helpful.

Accoustic issues in Dealey Plaza meant that it was very hard for people standing by the road to tell where the shots were coming from. People generally run away from where they think shooting is coming from so people running up the grassy knoll suggests shots coming from the opposite side of the plaza. Extensive interviews of people on the bridge, on the grassy knoll and behind the picket fence have identified many of the people who were standing in these positions. Very few have claimed to have seen anything suspicious.

Questions about the shots themselves

Why didn't Oswald shoot sooner when he had a better view of the president? It would have been easier to get a shot off as the car was passing under the front of the school book depository, but he waited until he had to get a shot through, or near, the trees.  It could be he was frightened and stalled, or fumbled with the gun, but it could be evidence that the shots came from a neighbouring building that did not have as good a view.

Why did the final bullet explode when the first one did not, and the "magic bullet" certainly didn't? Based on post mortem evidence the last bullet fragmented. It may not have come from the same gun and doesn't seem to have been properly identified. Why was the x-ray technician, Custer, asked to photograph some of the skull bones with bullet fragments artificially attached (long after the post mortem)? On the face of it, photographs of a less fragmented bullet would reduce the evidence of a fragmented or exploding bullet, as found at the original autopsy.

Were there Secret Service agents in Dealey Plaza following the shooting? Officially there weren't but witnesses say men identified themselves as such. If that is true then who were they? Gordon Arnold is one of the people who has claimed this, but he might be wrong:

The similarity of the assassination with previously planned assassinations by US forces. It could be just coincidence due to necessity and opportunity, but it is another indication that something might not be quite right.

How did Malcolm Wallaces fingerprint get on a cardboard box in the snipers nest?
It is intriguing, but inconclusive as the identification of the print is not as clear cut as sometimes suggested.

Questions about Oswald

Was Oswald pro or anti Castro? He seems to have posed as pro or anti Castro at different times. For example, he was apparently one of three men who visited Sylvia Odio looking for money for anti Castro activities, but he handed out pro Castro leaflets in New Orleans and was interviewed on TV about it. He visited the Cuban embassy in Mexico and may have been trying to get a visa to go there.

Was Oswald an intelligence asset? Oswald was working with Guy Bannister in New Orleans. This puts him on the edges of the counter intelligence world. The counter argument to this is he was just hired to do it through an ad.

Why did Oswald try to call John Hurt after his arrest? Maybe he didn't, but why would Hurt's name come up at all in this context? If you were going to make up a name you would pick someone more current in intelligence circles. This is one of the nagging questions about Oswald because nobody would make that up.

It could be that Oswald was involved as a low level scout who got over keen and took a gun into work or they decided to set him up for the shooting when the opportunity for disinformation arose.

The lack of gunpowder residue on Oswald’s face or his fingerprints on the gun point away from him being the shooter. There is an allegation that his fingerprints were added to the gun at the funeral home, probably untrue. His prints are likely on the gun legitimately, but the lack of powder residue is an issue.

Where did the description of the gunman come from when nobody had seen Oswald do the shooting and he was not immediately suspected by those around him? Why was he identified so quickly at this point, and why under the name Hidell rather than Oswald? This might suggest a military intelligence source for the identification as they knew him also under the Hidell name.

Was Edward G Lansdale in Dallas on day of assassination? (As claimed by Fletcher Prouty). Lansdale was involved in anti Castro activities and was an expert on guerrilla warfare. I suspect the answer on balance of probabilities is that he wasn't.

Why did Ruby shoot Oswald?

Possibly Oswald knew something about gun running that Ruby had been involved with and Ruby thought he would get away with shooting Oswald as a “hero”, especially in Texas where laws were laxer than today. This seems the most likely reason. It was nothing to do with the assassination, but Ruby though Oswald would incriminate him on other issues when he was interrogated.

The Russians had a motive to kill Oswald. Regardless of whether they knew him or not, they were likely to be blamed so they had a reason to kill him and tidy things up, but that does not explain Ruby. It certainly was helpful that Oswald was out of the picture so quickly as it prevented a normal investigation.


This is the biggest question:

If  Oswald was a lone nut then why are the files on him secret on the grounds of ‘national security’?

There must be some reason why his files have not been released. My guess is there is something in his past that points to low level involvement in the intelligence community. I think his involvement in anti castro activities in New Orleans and later in Dallas whilst proclaiming to be a Marxist is indicative of some sort of shenanigans. It could just be an unstable personality, but perhaps having been to Russia, the intelligence services did use him as some sort of low level informant or scout.

Here is another question:

If it was a conspiracy how come nobody ever "talked"?

The main claim against the assassination being a conspiracy is that if it  that ‘someone would have talked’ - well several people HAVE talked and have claimed to have been involved. There is also the autopsy staff evidence of changed x-rays etc. These accounts may be untrue, but there are so many of them that there must be some kernel of truth in there which does not sit well with the official story.

Does it matter?

What if there was more than one gunman, would that matter? It wouldn't unless that second gunman's identity linked the shooting back to people who would be embarrassed by it. The only reason to cover up a conspiracy is if the conspirators were linked to people in high places. Anti Castro Cubans or the mafia would not meet that criteria so if there was an embarrassing conspiracy it had to be government related in some way. That is just plain logic really.

However, there is another scenario. Oswald WAS a lone nut who shot the president, but in the aftermath people "made hay while the sun shined" and pushed for greater involvement in Vietnam and laid off the mafia investigations. It could be simple opportunism following the tragic events in Dallas.


These are my rough jottings based on various bits of reading over the years plus a bit of logic. There are probably lots of untrue things here, but overall something just doesn't seem right and that is a good enough reason to keep asking the questions.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Finding an alternative to Starbucks in Edinburgh

After many years, my relationship with Starbucks has faltered. A recent 6% increase in the price of a cappuccino was the last straw. £2.45 was a lot, but £2.60 was a step too far. So I have been trying out other local coffee places. It took a couple of weeks to go through all the options within walking distance of my office, but here is how it went.

Pret-A-Manger £2.25

Very fast service. Accepted my contactless American Express card. Coffee different to Starbucks but of similar quality. Not labelled as Fairtrade so probably isn't.

Greggs £1.80

Very fast service. Did not accept my American Express card, but offered me a cake for 20p extra. Coffee is OK, but not as good as Starbucks. Definitely Fairtrade though.

Costa £2.35

Very fast service, good coffee. Accepted my American Express contactless card. Not clear if Fairtrade.

Social Bite £2.10

Pretty slow service, but the coffee was good. No contactless card option and coffee not Fairtrade as far as I could tell.

I am not sure which one is the best option. The best compromise is probably Costa.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Is on it's way out?

With the recent news that blogs hosted, on a paying basis, at will be able to use plugins I think we may be about to see the demise of

If you look at the recent history of the Blogger platform it seems that it is gradually being abandoned by Google. There have been few updates to it recently, the mobile app was withdrawn and the amount of spam comments getting through the filters is increasing. Blogger is now so far behind the curve it is hard to see how it fits into Google's current strategy.

The key to this for Google will be how much ad revenue pages produce vs the cost of running the service. It may be that policing a free blogging service is just too much hassle.

There are a few possible scenarios for the future of Blogger:

  1. The service gets a major overhaul to bring it into line with what is doing in terms of functionality and usability.
  2. The creation of new blogs gets suspended while old ones continue to be viewable or usable for a while. There will then be an announcement of closure and a campaign to retain all of the content.
  3. Things just continue as they are, but I can't see that happening while so few people are actually using Blogger as a proper blogging platform. Serious bloggers switched to Wordpress a long time ago and Blogger seems full of spammy sites.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Comparative historical prices of Amateur Radio equipment

I quite often hear radio hams complaining about the "rip off" prices charged for amateur radio equipment, but if you look at the historical prices for transceivers then they have never been cheaper. I got my amateur radio licence in 1982. Here is how some prices from around that period compare to todays prices. The comparisons were calculated using the Bank of England inflation calculator.

HF Transceiver

In 1982 the cheapest HF transceiver was the Yaesu FT77 at £459. In today's money this is £1486. Today the Yaesu FT450D is Yaesu's cheapest radio of similar size and costs only £589 - less than half the price.

2m Handheld

In 1981 the Icom IC2E was £159 or £559 in today's money. Today the Yaesu FT-25E is £80 - less than a fifth of the price.

CB Radios

In 1984 I was working in Dixons and we still sold CB radios. The Harrier CB was £49 (£144 in today's money) and the CBX £79 (£233 in today's money). Today a basic CB radio like the Midland-M Mini is £60 - less than half the price.

In 1980 SSB CB radios sold for around £150 (£590 in today's money). Today a Superstar 3900, with very similar features, is £170 - around a third of the 1980 price.

Other consumer electronics

For comparison the cheapest VHS video recorder you could buy in 1984 was £349, or £1029 in today's money. A Sony Betamax machine would have set you back £660, or a massive £2043 in today's money.

The evidence shows that radio prices are cheaper now than they were back in the early eighties which is probably why people change equipment more often.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

How does Christianity spread?

"There is something curious about the Christian impulses! Intellectuality, knowledge, learning appear not to have been present during the spreading of these impulses.One could say that Christianity spread regardless of what people thought for or against it, so much so that it seems to have found its antithesis in modern materialism.

What is it then that spreads? Not Christian ideas, not the science of Christianity.

One could still say that the moral feelings which are planted through Christianity are spread. One has only to observe the rule of morality in these times and one will find much justification for the anger of the representatives of Christianity against real or alleged enemies of Christianity. Also the morals which could reign in the souls of the less educated do not impress us much when we observe to what extent they are Christian.

What is it then which spreads? What is so curious? What is it which marches through the world like a victorious procession? What worked in the people who brought Christianity to the Germanic, to the foreign world? What works in modern natural science, where the teaching is still veiled? What works in all these souls, if it isn't intellectual, not even moral impulses? What is it?

It is Christ himself, who goes from heart to heart, soul to soul, who traverses the world over the centuries, whether or not people understand him!"

Rudolf Steiner, Oslo, October 1st 1913 (GA148)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Cubot Cheetah 2 Review

After nearly two years my Motorola Moto X Play developed a fault, not recognising micro SD cards and draining the battery quickly. Because the SD card had been combined into the system memory this caused a number of issues with apps and other functions so I decided to go looking for a new phone. As my son had had good recent experience with a Cubot Dinosaur I decided to give the Cheetah 2 a go.

Both phones run almost stock Android 6 and I was able to restore from the old phone to the new phone using the Google account transfer function. Here is how they compared over the first four days.

Screen and general appearance

Both phones have 5.5 inch screens that are indistinguishable in quality. The Cubot case is longer than the Motorola because it has physical buttons rather than soft buttons. Both phones are in the same weight range. The Cubot is slightly heavier.


The Cubot has a Samsung 16mp camera on the back and a Sony 4mp on the front. The picture quality is good but nowhere near as good as the Motorola, which shared the same camera as the Google Nexus 6 (which was considered exceptional). The Cubot feels like some of the HTC cameras I have used. Turning off the “facial beauty “ feature does improve the colour and the HDR function also improves things. Where the Cubot beats the Motorola is in close focus shots. The Cubot can focus closely and the focus does not wander. The video camera does not identify HD or SD but the default setting is 1080p and works well.

These are full frame photos from the Cubot Cheetah 2 camera:


Surprisingly the output from the earphone socket on the Cubot is much more powerful than the Motorola, and drives external amplifiers better than the Motorola with less distortion. But the Cubot’s internal speaker is not nearly as good.


The Motorola could run for two days of reasonable use. The Cubot requires daily charge. It does not charge quickly either. This becomes apparent in the car where Spotify, Satnav and Bluetooth is a sufficient drain to stop the phone charging at all from on a good quality charger. In some cases the phone has ended a journey a few percent lower than it started! This was while using the charging lead supplied with the phone and it might be that a better quality lead improves charge rates. I was unable to try this as it is USB type C but I will try another lead when I can get one.

Processor speed

The Cubot loads apps more quickly. In side by side tests it is about 20% faster but I can't tell if this is due to the memory mess my Motorola is in. The Cubot has 3GB RAM for running the apps in compared to the Motorola 2GB.


The Cubot has 32GB compared to the Motorola 16GB. The operating system takes up less room too so I have not needed to fit an SD card. You could add a card and set your videos and photos to store to it if you wished. I synch all my photos on Google Photos and just clear the phone regularly so I don't need lots of memory in the phone.


The Cubot does not display the mobile network name in the status bar. This is standard with Android 6 unless it has been tweaked by the manufacturer, which Cubot haven’t on this phone, but have on the Dinosaur. I am jot sure how you would know which network you were on if you had two SIM cards installed.

The Cubot is dual SIM which could be very handy for foreign travel, especially to places like the Caribbean that are outside most cheap roaming deals.

The fingerprint scanner is as reliable as my wife’s iPhone 7. No worries about failure either as it always presents the PIN option.

The supplied charger is European fitting. The seller supplied a pound shop type  British one. I discarded both and used an existing high capacity charger.


The Motorola cost £270 two years ago. The Cubot was £125. Even so, the Cubot holds up well against the Moto X Play. The screen is particularly good. It's just a pity the battery charging was not faster, but I know from Micro USB charging that the lead can make a big difference and I will be trying a better quality USB-C lead.

If this phone lasts me two years it will have cost £5 per month. With my unlimited data SIM at £16 per month this is a good smart phone set up for less than half the price of most iPhone packages. Longevity is currently unknown and is the gamble, but my son’s Cubot Dinosaur is holding up well so I have similar expectations of the Cheetah 2.

Monday, April 24, 2017

How is it possible to be a Christian and a Socialist? The answer may surprise you.

I have been thinking about writing this article for some time, as I get asked this question a lot. I get it asked both ways round, with scepticism on the part of Christians and Socialists in equal number. For that reason I am going to answer the question twice.

You are a Christian. How can you possibly be a Socialist?

This question gets asked by my evangelical Christian friends because evangelical Christianity in Britain is generally to the right of centre politically. There has been a gradual move over the past thirty years towards making right wing political thinking synonymous with evangelical Christianity. The change in the gospel to a more individualist, self help, one sits easier with the extrinsic values of political Conservatism.

We used to keep moral and political agendas separate, but the influence of American thinking has led us to believe that we can alter the nations morals by political action. You see this with both evangelical and liberal Christian groups trying to influence government policy. There is a general belief that faith on its own is insufficient. It needs the power and influence of the state to bring it into the physical realm.

But it has not always been this way.  There was a time when evangelical Christians thought of faith as a personal matter, not something to be delivered by state education or enforced by theocracy. Christianity was about loving and helping our neighbour and building a society based on intrinsic values of community, peace and justice for all. This is why the early trade union and cooperative movements were full of Christians, especially Methodists. 

It is those basic values that we find in Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) not in Margaret Thatcher's Sermon on the Mound. We also find it in the Baptist tradition of the complete separation of Church and State; the approach to God being as an individual, but being re-born into a family (the church fellowship) as symbolised by baptism.

Where I differ from Liberal Christian Socialists is that I don't think Jesus was a socialist. I do not see anything of what we understand as modern socialism in the life or teachings of Jesus Christ. His earthly ministry was in a world far removed from ours in time and complexity. When he talks about sharing goods or doing things in common he is reflecting how life already was in that pre industrial society, but which was under threat from Roman and other influence. What I see in the teachings of Jesus are principals about love, peace, justice and community that are best reflected in socialist thought and are compatible with left wing politics. Christians who are more individualistic may disagree. They are entitled to, but this is why I am a Socialist.

You are a Socialist. How can you possibly be a Christian?

This is the other side of that question and usually centres on two issues.

Firstly, Marxism sets itself up as a scientifically reasoned explanation of economics and how society can develop. Religion of any kind has no scientific basis and is superstition which will prevent development towards socialism.

Secondly, Lenin argued that Christianity was an agent of imperialism designed, and used, to keep the proletariat from taking power over their own means of production.

The first of these views the world as being entirely material. A purely physical world that we can see and that we can investigate with science. Marxism, and consequently most modern Socialism relies on some version of dialectical materialism. I don't have time here to go into this complex area of philosophy, but I will make one point. For some Christians there is little difference between this materialistic world view and their dualistic view of a  physical world that we can see and investigate and a spiritual world which we can not. This type of Christian are practical materialists. I would argue that the division between spiritual and physical is unnatural and that there is only one world which we live in, are stewards of and are responsible for each other in. For this reason I do not find any personal contradiction between dialectical materialism and the Christian faith, except that it is  normally restricted to a narrow range of subjects where Christianity is all encompassing.

The second of these issues is more easily addressed. Lenin was arguing against the church, not against Christianity. The church of his day, in Russia, was strongly linked to the imperial state and was part of the oppression. This reflects badly on the church, but not on Christianity. I think that Christianity must be separate from the state, be about the individual approaching God in repentance and following the teachings of Jesus as much as is possible. I find this to be quite compatible with Socialism.


I am not sure that this answers my original question as well as I had hoped, but it might help others to understand my puzzling dual philosophies. I don't see any incompatibility, but I am sure American readers will!

Friday, March 17, 2017

The bible is getting more loving as time goes on.

Here is the number of times the word "love" appears in different English translations of the bible along with their publication dates:

1611 Authorised Version (KJV) 310
1963 New American Standard Bible 348
1978 New International Version 551
1989 New Revised Standard Version 538
2002 The Message 585

It seems we are getting more loving as time goes on!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Reply to Louis.... @louiskinsey

In reply to this tweet.

I can't speak for anyone else, but my personal reasons for not going to church are quite complex. I was brought up in the Church of Scotland but joined a Baptist church when I was a Divinity undergraduate at Edinburgh. I was a very active lay preacher and heavily involved in church life, but have not been for some years.

Here are the main reasons:

1. I have suffered from mental health issues in the past and these had been partly driven by what I was hearing in church. There is nothing better at lowering your self esteem than a good dose of "total depravity".

2. I don't get very much out of sitting in rows in a room. Might sound harsh, but I can do that on a bus. It doesn't have any biblical basis either.

3. I don't feel able to contribute. Its a combination of feeling that as a relatively young (49 - still the young end of most churches)  and able person I might get landed with doing things that I don't have the mental capacity to do. Even if I told the church leaders and they understood, others would think I was being lazy or aloof.

4. I may have had just enough church at work to immunise me. I do visit churches, of all denominations, in my work. What I see is universally depressing. At 49 I am, more often than not, the youngest there, and one of the few men. This is the same in small baptist, large Church of Scotland, or the average Catholic Parish.

5. In addition to #1 I was diagnosed with a neurological condition which explains why I have get stressed in social situations and don't really get relationships - including the idea of a relationship with God /worship.

6. I am divorced and remarried. Not a situation that is easily tolerated in Baptist circles. My current wife is a Roman Catholic and not comfortable with Protestant worship.

7. When my kids were still kids and I was a divorced Dad I only got to see them on Sundays which made church attendance difficult. I was picking them up at noon, so you can see the problem.

I told you it was complicated! Too complicated for 140 characters.

I am most comfortable in liturgical churches where there are no surprises, and least comfortable in charismatic churches. But my theology is more towards the happy clappy end of things. That is another problem. I never really feel like I fit in.

I see the "everyone welcome" sign outside most churches and wonder if they really, really mean that. Can they really accept people as they are? I don't know the answer to that.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Why Scotland will not vote for independence in a second referendum

The independence cause is now synonymous with the SNP. To a great degree it always was, but during the last referendum campaign they were joined by the Greens, the Scottish Socialist Party and lots of other organisations representing different sections of Scottish society. But these were always minor players and the aftermath of the 2014 referendum saw most of this rainbow coalition for independence collapse into the SNP. Membership grew to over 100,000. With this sort of movement you would expect support for independence to have increased, but according to the latest opinion polls the Yes vote is currently on about 40%. Even during all the upheaval over Brexit it only got to over 50% in one poll. 

By the time that any second independence referendum takes place the SNP Scottish Government will be deeply unpopular. This is the standard unpopularity of incumbent governments after a time, but that dissatisfaction with the SNP will spill over into the referendum campaign. Add to this continuing depressed oil revenue and the, still unresolved, currency issue and you have a toxic mix. It will be exceedingly difficult to get a majority for Yes second time around. Even now there are a significant group of Yes voters who have switched to No. As many as have switched the other way according to some polling organisations. It is possible that Yes would only achieve around 40% in a referendum rerun. Current polls seem to suggest this.

The problem with discussing this is that everyone seems to have their fingers in their ears while going "la-la-la I am not listening".  When I suggested this scenario on social media I got jumped on by people for whom the independence cause is a religion which cannot be questioned. They are the fundamentalists of the Scottish cause. Strong supporters of the SNP for whom independence is more important than workers rights; more important than environmental protection and, yes, more important than beating the Conservatives. Because their enemy is the Labour Party, particularly "municipal" Labour, with whom they fought many hard local election campaigns. There is no love lost between them and many in the SNP relish killing off labour as much as they do independence itself. Yet as Labour has moved to the left, the SNP has been left as the last guardians of Blairite economics, with a strong focus on private industry and profit as the key to Scotland's future, and content to be better managers of the existing system rather than trying to change it. This is something the independence fundamentalists are unable to recognise. And while the say they want to win a second referendum they are quite happy to cannibalise their own vote by refusing to engage with anyone who is sceptical because they are obviously not "true believers". Exactly the people they need to persuade in order to win a Yes vote.

Of course, this all supposes that the UK government agrees to hold a second referendum on independence. How likely is this? Well, the most likely way I can see this happening would be if the SNP gained enough seats at the next Westminster election to make a coalition with Labour the only way to keep out the Conservatives. Even if that happened would Labour be willing to make a deal? Locked in a fight to the death with the SNP in Scotland, Labour might be willing to sacrifice restricted power in Westminster in order to kill off the independence cause. In other words: don't hold your breath.

Another scenario would be if falling oil revenues stoked demands from back-bench Conservatives for the government to scrap the Barnett formula. If that was combined with greater autonomy for English regions then there may be a section of the conservative party who want to get rid of the Scottish "problem". This would be uncharted territory and might lead to a referendum with a successful Yes vote.

Alternatively, the May Conservative Government might just decide to call a referendum to call the SNP's bluff: dangerous though, given how the Brexit vote went. I can't see them really taking that risk.

The upshot of all this is that with Scottish independence looking very unlikely we need to find other ways to protect worker's rights, the environment, food standards and all the other things that are under threat from the shift to the right in British politics. This is where our energies should be rather than wishing for another referendum.


No - I don't think Scotland is "too wee", "too poor", or "too stupid" to survive on it's own. I just don't think our future should be reliant on a referendum that is unlikely to take place and which is even less likely to be won, even though I voted Yes last time.

As always, this is an opinion piece. Please leave a comment below as I have trouble keeping track of social media.