Holidays are coming!


By Alex Robertson

Somehow it feels like we have all been toiling over a hot stove in a sauna for months now.

Referendum debate has raced ahead, fevered at times, and it seemed like every man and woman had to muster to the banner to repel the barrage of spin and scare stories emerging from Westminster and their cohorts marching under the ‘NO’ banner.

We are all, I suspect, reeling from the disclosures seeping out over the banking scandal.  I watched Bob Diamond answering questions from the Select Committee last Wednesday, giving a masterclass on how to handle hostile questioning, and was appalled at the floundering failure of the MPs, with one or two rare exceptions, to get to the truth about Barclays, let alone other banks.

The point is that one bank alone cannot fix a rate – it takes more banks to collude and collaborate.  It was a pity that there seemed to be no lawyers on the committee, used to asking relentless clear and deadly questions.  Instead we were treated to MPs caring more for the sound of their own voices, playing to some imagined gallery, seeking the sound bite to make the evening news headlines.

Very largely Bob Diamond emerged untouched.  It is now crystal clear that a proper judge-led enquiry is the only way we will find out what went so disastrously wrong.  Mr Milliband made an offer to Mr Cameron of a two stage enquiry, the first stage to enable legislation to be introduced according to the Chancellor’s own timetable.

David Cameron batted it aside, but I predict that before very long he will have to do a U-turn on that as he has done so many times already.

Then we got the BBC yet again failing to resist the temptation to pass off comment and opinion as news in Nicholas Witchell’s piece trying to rubbish the First Minister’s statement that the Queen would be quite content to remain as sovereign of Scotland if an independent Scotland emerges from the referendum.

A small thing, but it does demonstrate rather neatly how biased the public service broadcaster is, the state owned TV and radio channel, hopelessly failing to be objective.  No doubt their card is being marked for how things are to be regulated after we gain independence.  The silly season is upon us, and it is a good time to stand back and take a break from it all.

I am off to mainland Europe to explore how the small nations on the continent are tackling their quest to gain sovereignty.  What is becoming very clear is just how difficult it is for small nations to break the 19th century model of bundling people together into states, armed and disciplined to expand territory and secure domination in a permanent battle of wills to dominate continental Europe.

These days are long gone, but the old model is still clung to like some comfort blanket.  Scotland is leading the way in a peaceful and democratic quest to regain control over its own decisions and choices, and I want to see how others are going about things.

I will start in Flemish Belgium, where the movement is very strong, but I hope to get a flavour for the other nations engaged in seeking sovereignty, like Bavaria.  I will keep you updated as my journey progresses.  Seeing Scotland’s campaign through the eyes of mainland Europeans is going to be a fascinating experience.