Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Hello, Goodbye and Hello

‘Hello’ to everyone within Sign for Scotland and the wider ‘Yes Scotland’ movement. Hello to the Scottish National Party who put forward the independence vote, hello to the Scottish Green party who backed it, hello to Labour, Liberals and Conservatives for Independence who realised that this issue went beyond party politics. Hello, too, to the smaller parties currently outside the Scottish parliament but who offer a wealth of choice to future governments.

The biggest hello goes to those of no political party. Those hardy souls who stood for hours collecting signatures in all kinds of weather for these past two years, who gave whatever funds they could afford towards our noble cause and who never allowed themselves to give up.

Most people will not be recognised for their efforts, for they number so many, yet they will have something much more precious. When they are old and grey, they will be able to tell their grandchildren the part they played in winning Scotland’s sovereignty. They’ll say ‘this was when we took responsibility for ourselves and returned to the family of nations’.

It’s an especially poignant moment when I think back on all those people who believed in an independent Scotland and yet couldn’t see this day. Ever since we lost our sovereignty there have been those who have tried to win it back and now we have the chance to make their struggle and sacrifice worthwhile.

Amongst all these ‘hellos’ we need to say a few ‘goodbyes’. ‘Goodbye’ to the divisive and poisoned Westminster politics who could never put Scotland first. Goodbye to warmongering, and constant fighting overseas. Goodbye to ‘business as usual’ and the sense of entitlement Scotland’s MPs too often suffered from.  And finally, we say goodbye to helplessness. No more will we be reduced to a faint voice far from the centre of power. We will become the architects of our future. The ultimate power in Scotland above all others will once more be her people, the way it should always have been.

A ‘Yes’ vote means saying another ‘Hello’. This hello is to a move diverse, inclusive politics, a hello that welcomes reform and change and the possibility of a better tomorrow.

The referendum on Scottish Independence is only a few days away and this will be my final entry before that historic vote. Soon, we will know if the destiny of Scotland lies with her people or not.  We will know if our efforts to secure a ‘Yes’ vote have been successful or not. We will know if we are a nation or not. Please, it might not seem like there is much more that can be done, but make sure to vote ‘Yes’ and to tell others that you support independence. Make sure that over these last few days that you do one more positive act for the campaign. And after the result comes in, make sure that you are ready for the early days of a better nation.

Let’s say ‘hello, goodbye and hello’, together.
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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Not in the News - Referendum Special

Normally on our Not in the News segments, we poke fun at the main stream media (and in particular the British state broadcaster) for examples of bias and mis-information. That would have been tricky this week, as nearly everything the BBC, Sky News and the newspapers have done falls into this category, so instead we're going to offer our favourite moments from the referendum campaign.
Here is the Yes Scotland campaign from our perspective.
Favourite image
Our favourite image had to come from Bella Caledonia's poster competition. Our pick was one of the 20 finalists and we feel it summed up Independence perfectly. Vote YES and the Scottish butterfly can catch up with all our friends:

Other images include 'Scotland's future in Scotland's hands' by Yes Scotland, '142 countries have chosen independence' by Indy Poster Boy and 'Love Scotland, Be Yourself, Vote Yes', by Brave Many.
Favourite photo we've taken
This one was really tough because we have meet so many wonderful people and seen such fantastic sights beyond anything we were expecting. But we had to pick 1 and we decided that this image of Sign for Scotland with Mark Coburn, Indy Cyclist, was our favourite. Mark has done a great job not just for Yes Scotland, but also for Maryhill Foodbank and he's definitely one of our heroes:
Other images include at the 2013 Independence March and Rally, at the Scrap Trident Rally in Glasgow and wee Mo meeting Yes Scotland board member Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh:
Favourite photo we've seen
The British state broadcaster has been at the heart of the no campaign and our favourite photo from online comes from one of the BBC bias demonstrations. This has become even more poignant following the outburst by senior BBC political correspondent Nick Robinson.
Other images include Kirsty from Yes Scotland, the Radical Independence take-over of Glasgow and the Yes Scotland message to our friends from across the EU.
Favourite video
We've seen so many great videos during this campaign, but for us at Sign for Scotland, we find ourselves returning to this rendition of our national anthem by the ladies of 'Signed Songs R Us'.
Other videos include messages from Pink Indy Lassies, 'The morning after' by Lady Alba and the Independence Live broadcast of Veterans for Independence (which featured a live BSL signer).
Favourite blog post
Now this will be tricky! There have been so many great features that we have read during the campaign and so many more that we haven't that this is going to be just a very incomplete list, but the one that made the strongest connection with the Sign for Scotland team came from Wee Ginger Dug; 'Proud like a Yes swan'.
Other memorable reads include 'The McCrone Legacy' by Dale Ross on Wings over Scotland
And Derek Batemans fantastic slapdown of the Editor of the Scotsman in 'To the Editor'
Favourite resource
There are lots to choose from the Yes side of the campaign and because of that we've going to stick to the most prominent (although a special mention for Peter Bell's Referendum 2014 has to be made as he has been a great friend to Sign for Scotland and his comments to stories are always thought-provoking and based on reason).
The number 1 resource has to be the Wee Blue Book. Get it, share it, download it, send it to everyone you know and send it to everyone you don't know. The more people who read it, the more who will vote Yes.
The Scottish Government's White Paper on Independence (the summary of which can be viewed in multiple languages, including BSL), Business for Scotland, and Newsnet Scotland are all well deserving of praise.
Friends we've lost
I'm certain that everyone will know someone they have lost who would have wanted to see an independent Scotland, so this space is for them. RIP Margo MacDonald.
Friends we've gained
We've seen so many people campaigning for a better Scotland and we consider each of them a friend. So many thanks to Labour for Independence, Women for Independence, Scots Asians for Yes, the different political parties who back a Yes vote, Scottish CND, the Sunday Herald, Blair Jenkins, Dennis Canavan and everyone else at Yes Scotland.
Shameless plug
And finally, here are our 3 most popular videos from the campaign: I'm voting Yes, Reasons for Independence and Journey to Yes.
All that is left to say is 'thank you' to the 1,700+ people who have given us a 'like' on Facebook, the 2,000+ people who follow us on Twitter, those who contributed to our blog reaching over 70,000 hits and those who have added to the 5,000+ views we've had on our YouTube channel.
We are so close to regaining the powers we need to make a better Scotland. A more representative democracy, an end to paying for Westminster's waste and folly, a more peaceful foreign policy, a constitution written by us which will guarantee our rights, a cleaner environment, a more competitive economy and the breakup of media monopolies is the prize on offer. Let's take it with both hands and Vote YES!
Drew (and everyone else at Sign for Scotland HQ)

Thursday, 11 September 2014

A story with a cast of 5.3 million

No, this isn’t about a lost Cecil B Demille movie, this is about Scotland.
The population of our country is at an all time high and we’re part of a diverse and fluid mix of different cultures that are being blended together to form our identity.  A Scot isn’t just someone who is born here, or whose parents were born here, a Scot is someone who calls this country home.

Picture taken from Sign for Scotland HQ
Sometimes it might seem that we in the Signing community and other minorities are on the outside looking in, but it’s just not true.  We’re as much a part of Scotland as everyone else and we need to make sure that things are better after independence than devolution allowed.  With our government closer to us, we can have greater influence.  We can get rid of the sense of entitlement that too many Westminster MPs feel and have a more diverse and accountable politics.  We can push for reforms, for the fact that we will be independent will prove that the people are strong, and can enforce change.  We can make sure that no-one is left behind, and that everyone has a say.
The draft constitution produced by the Scottish Government shows consideration for all of Scotland's domestic languages. There is a determination from different Yes groups, emboldened by the possibilities of independence, to challenge gender and wealth inequality. And we will empower a more democratic and representative form of governance, which is more responsive and reflective of our values and wishes.
Sign for Scotland
Westminster isn't working, but if we work together, we can create a better society
The cast may be of millions, but a single person can make a real difference.  Please get involved and help out.  It might not seem like much, but a lot of people doing a little each will go a long way to securing a ‘Yes’ vote next week.
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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Not in the News - 6th of September Edition

Welcome to another edition of our weekly series looking back at the stories which the main stream media in Scotland didn't offer much attention to, and comparing them to those that hit the front pages. Our last edition can be found here.
Do you hate your children? You must be a Yes voter!
The No campaign, which had previously claimed that "the key factor (in determining how to vote) is the love of our families", made what is quite possibily the most ridiculous campaign poster since Mayor Quimby's disasterous "he'd vote for you" promise. "We love our kids. We're voting no thanks" (the obvious conclusion being that everyone voting Yes does hate their kids, even the ones who don't have kids!).
#Hamatime, #PatronisingBTLady and now #ilovemyfamily. The No campaign has been nothing but entertaining (really, they have been nothing!). We can confirm that this trend will continue, as we have seen a preview of their next poster campaign:
Taking it to the Max
Max Keiser, star of the internationally renowed Keiser Report and On the Edge, has previously stated his support for Scottish Independence. He confirmed that again with his website adding the following post: "YES! An independent Scotland would have the highest GDP per capita in the world. A 'No' vote is asinine".
No wonder he and his partner Stacy Herbert are considered the most dangerous people to the establishment in the financial media. Well done Max and keep up the great work you do!
Checking your purse before they check your pulse
The UK Government confirmed that the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (also known as TTIP) will affect the NHS. The details can be found in these articles by Unite the union and International Business Times.

Independent EU nations have the right to safeguard their health services if there is an existing state monopoly (i.e. if privatisation is not already taking place). Scotland can only have this protection if we vote Yes on the 18th.
The Pot and the Singing Kettle
Yes supporters in Scotland were buoyed by the latest figures from polling agency YouGov. Whether or not you believe the initial figures isn't very important (or even the notion of polling altogether) the evidence that the movement is towards independence is very encouraging.

And we know this is important because the BBC (that bastian of impartiality [sarcasm]) considered the massive jump in support for Yes as being less news worthy than the music group the singing kettle announcing that they will stop touring in 2015. Maybe they could have squeezed them both in by dropping the 'New Paranormal Festival for Scotland' story...nah [sarcasm, extreme sarcasm].
The reason why this is important is because belief regarding how most other people will be voting is a consideration made by a very large proportion of the electorate at every election. If our fellow Scots believe that Yes can win, then this will translate into more votes. It shouldn't be this way (and with independence we will gain a representative parliament where every vote carries the same value - unlike Westminster) but it is a reality we should recognise.
Heartless Vandals!
Evidence has emerge of terrible acts of vandalism against 'no' campaign signs! First Minister Alex Salmond has had to deny personal involvement! Additional statement which hints at, but doesn't make a specific allegation which would need to be justified or could be subject to scrutiny, the Yes campaign being evil and bad!

Have these cows fully appreciated the choice facing Scotland?
Scotland has value (something the 'no' campaign doesn't appreciate)
We wrote a while ago in our blog 'Nobody wants you so please stay with us' how the primary tactic of those opposed to independence is to portray Scotland as a land which has no intrinsic value. Westminster wouldn't want to treat us as equals because we have no value. The EU won't try to keep us in the club because we have no value. And then NATO would expel us because we have no value. Just follow the links to see why each of these arguments are nonsense.

In each case we have shown that this just isn't true, and today we had more evidence of this as a former UK ambassador to NATO, Mariot Leslie, stated her intention to vote Yes and her confidence in Scotland being warmly welcomed within the military alliance.
And on a little side story which Russia Today mentioned: a country can be a member of the EU and use the currency of another. Luxembourg, which was a founding member of the EU, continued to use Belgian Francs until 2002. Of course, to the 'no' campaign, Luxembourg has value but Scotland does not. There are only obstacles and problems facing us and no-one will do anything to make things easy or fair.
I'm not ready for my closeup, Mr Ponsonby
David Cameron spent Prime Minister's Questions accusing STV of chickening out of hosting a debate between himself and undecided viewers. His exact words were: "On the television programme, I offered them [STV] a date and indeed a format but they seemed to run away themselves which is a great pity."
No questions from a journalist
No representatives from the Yes Campaign (which STV would have agreed to)
And only 'genuine' floating voters, which Downing Street would arrange (ie, Dave's team would pick the audience)
Despite attempts to put pressure on the channel by claiming that this 'debate' would take place on Sky News or the BBC (Mr Cameron has so far taken part in nothing), STV refused to surrender editorial control.
The offer for Mr Cameron to speak to undecided voters on STV is still available, but we suspect he won't be ready for 'genuine' scrutiny any time soon...
Every little hinders
The no campaign used a frankly bizarre claim in their literature recently that the cost of food in supermarkets would increase following a Yes vote. This doesn't make sense for a number of reasons (most of which are explained here and here) but the interesting part is the use of Tesco. The image below was taken from a no campaign leaflet and clearly shows that the supermarket will increase every price by 16%.
"I can confirm that this [16% higher prices] is not true as we've got a great business in Scotland and our job is to create the best offer for customers whatever the outcome of the referendum." Sue Whitaker, Tesco Customer Service
The problem for the no campaign was that someone asked Tesco, and they confirmed that this story was a lie. So, the no campaign have been caught making up nonsense (again) and hiding their scares behind someone else. I guess in their world, every little hinders.
This fake story, which has been introduced whilst votes are being cast, is clearly against election rules. But fear not! Below is a photograph which shows all the work we have seen that the Electoral Commission, who describe their own objective as achieving "well-run elections", is doing to ensure a free and fair contest:
Strategically positioned paperwork jobs
This map below, which was shared by the Wings over Scotland's twitter account, shows where civilian jobs for the UK military are based.

Civilian jobs within the military are very important but they can by and large be located anywhere. Why do these jobs (and remember that a population share of their associated costs are attributed to Scotland despite the obvious shortfall in jobs being based here) have to be concentrated in the south of England? Does this map look fair to you?
It reminds me of this article by Business for Scotland. The maps there don't look very fair either.
Eh...mass canvas?
We at Sign for Scotland do not share links to the Scotsman newspaper (see our blog 'I read it in the paper' for the main reason why), but even they were highlighting how hopelessly unsuccessful Johann Lamont's mass canvassing attempt in Govan was on Friday.

"But despite an army of Labour supporters knocking doors, only three residents engaged in conversation with her - while several even came outside to return the leaflets pushed through their letter boxes." Scotsman Newspaper
Ouch! The reason why senior Labour politicians are finding such a hard response from people in Govan and other predominately working class areas is because they are campaigning to keep a Tory government in Westminster in power over Scotland. The argument that we should 'vote no and then hope people in England vote Labour next year, (just ignore our commitment to matching every Tory public service spending cut)' is not as strong or as reliable as 'vote Yes and the people will always get the government they vote for'.
We can even save a fortune by not paying for what we don't need!
But if you are an undecided Labour voter, then please compare any speech by Johann Lamont to the words of Jeane Freeman and decide which one more accurately reflects the founding principles of the Labour Party. What future would you rather have?
Join us again on Sunday for our final look at what's 'not in the news' before the referendum!
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Thursday, 4 September 2014

Illogical logic

Illogical logic, or more accurately ‘logical fallacy’, is when an argument is presented as being based in logic when it is in fact devoid of reason.  This is something which voters in Scotland are being subjected to in our referendum campaign.  But how can we tell what is self evident and what is self interest?  We at Sign for Scotland have made a basic guide.

Step one: write down all the arguments you come across.  This applies to both the Yes and no campaigns.  Step two: check through the list below and remove the arguments which fail.  Step three: weigh the options of what remains.
The football term would be ‘playing the man and not the ball’.  This is when you are asked not to believe something because of who said it. 
2) Tradition
Just because something has ‘always’ been a certain way doesn’t mean that it is right.  It is traditional in many countries for women to be paid less than men for the same job however few would suggest that ‘tradition’ makes this valid. 
3) I don’t like the idea of that
This fallacy is to refuse to believe something simply because you dislike the conclusions.  An example would be refusing to believe that successive UK Governments actively hid the value of North Sea Oil for generations.
4) But what if they…
This is when someone is threatened to support a point of view. This can be explicate (we’ll bomb your airports) or implied (wouldn’t it be terrible if none of us bought products from your country anymore).
5) Big Lie 
This is when a lie, slogan or deceptive half-truth is repeated over and over again until people believe it without evidence.
Believing an idea because that is what your favourite party, politician, celebrity or individual believes isn’t logical. Logic is coming to your own conclusions, not blindly accepting the conclusions of others.
"Can you prove that the moon isn't made of cheese?  There's too much uncertainty..."
7) Equivocation
Using words in a specific way to suggest something without actually lying. For example, suggesting that Scotland wouldn't be allowed to use the pound without stating how that's possible.
8) It's just like...
Comparing one thing to something very different in order to draw a false conclusion. An example would be saying that ‘Scotland would have been like Greece if we have been independent', when our economies are different.
9) Statistics, damn statistics and lies
Using numbers to prove unrelated claims. An example would be asking people in Scotland whether the UK should have a nuclear deterrent and then claiming that those who support the notion automatically support keeping Trident at Faslane.
Claiming that all information needs to be presented before a conclusion can be made is an example of logical fallacy. This is because it is impossible to have 'all' information on a given subject (especially on something as complicated as how a future government that is yet to be determined will run a nation).
Arguing purely on emotion isn't logical. An example would be saying 'think about our shared history'. History won't change based on where political decisions are made.
12) A rose by any other name
Using a different term to give a positive or negative spin to a story. If a celebrity were to say 'I'm pretty sure an independent Scotland would be successful', then a negative spin would be 'celebrity has doubts as to how successful a separate Scotland would be'. The statement isn't untrue, but changes to the wording or context give a different impression from that intended.
13) Red Herring
Bringing up another topic to distract away from the issue at hand.
14) Shifting the Burden of Proof
In the referendum debate, both sides need to state the case for their viewpoints. Stating 'the other side has questions to answer' but offereing no answers from their perspective, is an example of logical fallacy.
15) You can't say that!
Saying that certain viewpoints or topics cannot be discussed is a type of logical fallacy. This includes banning discussions in public forums.
Both sides have used some if not all of these tricks, but that doesn’t mean that they are as bad as each other.  It is up to you to do your own research and to come to your own conclusions.
It is said that truth is one but wisdom is many.  I believe that to be a good place to start when critically evaluating opposing viewpoints.  It is easily possible for two seemingly incompatible opinions to be party or wholly truthful.  And it is possible for people to be honest, even when they slip one of the above fallacies into their statements.

There are many reasons to vote Yes which don't rely on logical fallacies, including a written constitution which will safeguard our rights, a more representative democracy and the removal of nuclear weapons from Scottish territory.
So before you vote in 2014, remember to check whether the arguments you come across fall into one of the categories above.  Ignoring the ones that do is the only logical choice.
And if that doesn’t convince you, I have a muffin cannon.
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