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Scott Begbie: Stop screaming at each other over IndyRef2 and start talking like grown-ups

Scottish and English flags held up over Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo:  PA / David Cheskin
Scottish and English flags held up over Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: PA / David Cheskin

And we’re off… Nicola Sturgeon has fired the starting pistol on IndyRef2 and first out of the gate are the trolls.

I suppose it was inevitable that one of the most fundamentally important decisions Scotland can make as a nation attracts a level of online debate that is the equivalent of monkeys throwing their own poo at each other.

For pity’s sake, before we go any further can just stop with the vile abuse, name-calling and general idiocy that’s festering on both sides.

This isn’t a discussion that will be helped by infantile catcalls of “CyberNats” or “Yoons”.

It won’t be good for anyone if this national debate descends into a bear pit of blind antagonism.”

And it certainly won’t be good for anyone if this national debate descends into a bear pit of blind antagonism on the run-up to the referendum.

By the way, we will be having one otherwise democracy in this country really is dead.

Now, let’s be clear here. I want an independent Scotland where the decisions made about how we live our lives and shape our future are made by the people who live here and call Scotland home.

As it is, we are at the whim of a UK Parliament where Scotland has no influence whatsoever, no matter how many MPs of whatever political hue we return.

Right now we are being governed by a party that Scotland did not vote for, pursuing policies we rejected. In fact, the last general election where Scotland did vote Tory was in 1955.

Nicola Sturgeon has fired the starting pistol on a second referendum on Scottish independence.

I have lived my entire life in democratic deficit. That is not a good place to be.

Some might argue the 2014 referendum already answered the question on independence, so why are we asking it again? Because we need to. And now is the time.

We were told Scotland had to vote No to stay in Europe. There was a vow Scotland would be a strong partner and be treated as an equal in a union of four nations.  Fast forward to today and let’s just say there’s been a material change in circumstances, shall we?

Then there’s the argument Scotland is dependent on the UK’s handouts because it is too poor to stand alone as a sovereign nation. Oh, the energy-rich, skills-rich, resource-rich Scotland, you mean? If Scotland were truly such a dead weight for the UK, why have we not been cut adrift by now?

 Blind hatred, tribalism, trolling, and sitting in silos screaming at each other achieves nothing but bitterness.”

That, in a nutshell, is why I hold firmly to the beliefs that I do.

You might agree with them, in which case, excellent.

You might not. In which case, also excellent. I don’t understand that point of view, but while I might be mystified, I appreciate and respect that is how you think.

I’d love to change your mind. No doubt you would like to change mine.

It’s how we go about that which is important.

It needs to be with courtesy and respect in a calm and civil exchange of views and facts, to help our nation reach a democratic decision.

This blind hatred, tribalism, trolling, and sitting in separate silos screaming at each other achieves nothing but bitterness and bile.

Let’s show the world we Scots can decide our destiny – whatever that might be – as a dignified, modern, democratic nation of grown-ups.


Fireworks restrictions are welcome – but long overdue

If it wasn’t for the fact they are banned, I’d be letting off fireworks to celebrate Holyrood’s entirely sensible – and long overdue – restrictions on the infernal things.

We are all going to be that bit safer now it’s an offence to have a firework in a public place or sell them to under 18s, as well as limiting when they can be sold and creating a licensing scheme.

It ends the absolute nonsense that any Tom, Dick or Harry could get their hands on what amounts to heavy ordnance, then use them to whatever nefarious means they wish.

There are too many lives lost, people maimed, pets destroyed, and homes razed because fools can get their hands on fireworks.

Fireworks in the sky. Photo: Shutterstock

Twice in my time, I have been on the sharp end of some clown putting lives and property at risk by turning pyrotechnics into dangerous weapons.

The first was when some kids threw a lit Chinese cracker firework into a packed restaurant I was eating in, with the thing ending up tangled in female diners’ hair, to screams of horror.

The other time was when some thugs shoved a rocket through the letter box of my sister’s house. Fortunately said letter box was into a sparse cupboard beside the front door, but the blast rocked the house.

And this is year-round, not just at times like Bonfire Night or New Year.

Explosives shouldn’t be sold to anyone with coin to buy them. They must be kept out of the hands of fools and ne-er-do-wells, only available to trained professionals.

This bill goes a long way towards achieving that while letting people enjoy the spectacle of proper and safe firework displays.


Standing ovation for legend of Aberdeen arts sector

An absolute legend of Aberdeen’s arts and culture sector quietly bowed out last week.

Jane Spiers, now former chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Art, might not be a household name like the stars who have graced His Majesty’s, the Music Hall and Lemon Tree, but she’s the one who helped bring them here.

That’s on top of renovating the Music Hall, creating new festivals, making the arts accessible to more people than ever before and helping put culture at the centre of Aberdeen’s recovery and future.

And she did all this without ever seeking the spotlight. When Jane talked about Aberdeen Performing Arts it was never “I” or “me”, it was always “us” and “we”.

She might not want one, but Jane deserves a standing ovation from all of us. Thank you.


Scott Begbie is entertainment editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express

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