Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Flying of St Andrew Saltire at Nairn cricket pitch

(Please see UPDATES at end)

I have earlier this evening written a message to the Highland Council (whose website is here) on the above-mentioned subject. I repeat the text below:

I have noticed for the past few years that a St Andrew Saltire flag has been flown permanently from a flagpole at the southern side of Nairn cricket pitch. By my recollection this practice started [only] a few years ago, during the period an SNP councillor was briefly Provost of Nairn, until “ousted” from this role by "Independent" colleagues; my home overlooks this venue, so I have been observing it closely for many years. Again by my recollection, prior to this time, no flag was flown over the cricket pitch except during the weeks immediately prior to the Nairn Highland Games (held during mid-Agusut), when it was a Union Flag. Please clarify why this policy has changed in very recent years?

In the run up to the referendum on Scottish "independence"/separation from the rest of the UK, to be held on 18th September 2014, I am sure that Highland Council would wish to appear strictly non-partisan in this important decision affecting all our futures. Or am I wrong? Is Highland Council strictly non-Partisan?

Or is it some other body that has authorised this change of flag-flying practice at Nairn cricket pitch in very recent years? Who might that be? I think I and some other Nairn residents would be interested to know.

(Note: as a proud Scot, I like to see our St Andrew Saltire flying from time to time and if year-round raising of this flag had been the normal practice at Nairn cricket pitch over the past several decades I probably would not have even remarked on it, but the fact is that its year-round flying is a very recent change.)

I am not even going to pretend I am neutral on this topic; I want Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK for short), but probably even now would not raise a query had the new practice of flying a St Andrew Saltire year-round been restricted only to the immediate weeks around the Nairn Highland Games. But it is obvious that this recent change of practice represents something different; why is our national flag the Union flag not also being flown?

I am posting this message simultaneously in my personal weblog: (i.e. this blog)

I shall be interested to observe what response I may receive, if any; naturally I will report on this here.

UPDATE (Wednesday 30JUL14 14.30 BST) I just had an email acknowledgement of my query, from Highland Council, allocating a case reference number and advising "We aim to deal with this case within 10 working days". Developments awaited.

2nd UPDATE (Monday 18AUG14 12.30 BST) As I have not heard further from Highland Council within the 10 days they mentioned in their acknowledgement to me, I have today emailed them asking them to expedite their response.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

A Malaysian Airlines 'plane has been shot out of the sky over Ukraine!

On Thursday evening we had the shocking news that a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, carrying 298 passengers and crew had crashed over the Donetsk area of eastern Ukraine. It was suggested that the aircraft had in fact been shot out of the sky, possibly either by a ground-to-air missile or by a jet fighter and today Barack Obama, President of the United States, announced that in all probability it was the result of the former, which he suggested originated in the pro-Russian rebel held eastern part of Ukraine. However, it appears that the Russian Government (or those perhaps acting on its behalf) have taken issue with certain aspects of how this outrage is being reported, by 'editing' the dedicated Wikipedia page for this incident, according to an article in the Telegraph. It may therefore be that establishing a widely-accepted analysis of what occurred will be very political as well as technical. The fact, however, that a British journalist working for the Russian government-funded RT television channel decided today to resign from her job because of what she alleges is political manipulation in the way this story is being reported is perhaps an indication that the Russian government has its "dirty hands" (e&oe) all over this! This Guardian report indicates that Ukraine rebel forces, thought to be responsible for this atrocity, are hastily covering up traces of their actions, whilst denying international access to key evidence which might establish the truth.

The Malaysian Airlines flight (MH17) was on a regular route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur; for around 100 of those passengers this was apparently to be merely a transit point for an onward flight to Australia where they were scheduled to attend an AIDS conference. Latest information is that around 200 of the passengers were of Dutch nationality, with nine or ten other nationalities represented, including Australian, British, Canadian and American. Apparently there were 10 British nationals aboard, according to the latest information I have seen.

It may be recalled that another Malaysian Airlines flight (MH370), flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing (edited on Monday 11th August 2014 - I had originally and erroneously mentioned this was a flight originating in Bangkok, I've no idea why I made this elementary mistake), disappeared some months ago, so far without trace, so the reason for its disappearance remains a mystery. This later incident is quite different in nature, but it seems that this may nevertheless be factored into potential future passengers' willingness to fly with this airline, to the extent that it is being suggested that it may not survive, given that it has apparently been loss-making for some years; many national or quasi-national airlines are loss-making, so Malaysian Airlines is not particularly unusual in this respect, but when potential customers begin to lose confidence in their likelihood of surviving a flight with it, the game is just perhaps up! Harsh undoubtedly, but understandable.

Finally, and distressingly (at a personal level), I had an exchange yesterday with a regular Twitter correspondent based locally (in Nairn) in the course of which he seemed to assume automatically that this whole tragedy was in fact a plot by the US and it was somehow responsible for it - a more deluded load of tosh I find it difficult to imagine! You can examine this whole exchange in my Twitter timeline if you have the inclination and stomach for it. I am under no illusions about the faults of US (specially under the last if not the current) administrations, but even the baleful Presidency of former President G W Bush had slightly more credibility than that of former KGB operative and current Russian President Vladimir Putin; I do occasionally watch the RT television 'propaganda' channel, but apart from sometimes interesting nature programmes, I place little credence in anything I see there. But those of a left-wing persuasion in the UK and US and some other western countries seem to be unusually gullible when it comes to the propaganda pumped out by the gangster regime which governs Russia. The resignation today of a British journalist at that channel is not the first time a western journalist working for it has found it impossible to continue to acquiesce in the lying propaganda it specialises in; only a few months ago another western journalist (of US origin on that occasion) reached her limit and decided she could no longer work for this outfit. Useful idiots have been a regular feature of those reporting or working for the former USSR and now the Russian Federation over many decades - it may not be the total "evil empire" alluded to by former US Presdient Ronald Reagan in a whimsical not-for-broadcast aside which was perhaps inadvertently spoken into a live microphone, but I am nevertheless amazed and appalled at the credulity of some left-leaning westerners who seem prepared to place credence in the most absurd notions concocted by the USSR/Russian propaganda machine, specially when it gives an opportunity to attribute the most base motives to their own [western] governments - I am not saying that western governments don't indulge in their own misinformation propaganda of course, I'm sure they do this regularly when it suits them, but is it too much to expect these left-wing stooges to apply a bit of critical analysis to the propaganda regularly pumped out by RT? I'm torn between disgust, despair and incredulity at the credulity of some of these people!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Two months tomorrow, Scotland will vote to remain in the UK!

.. or at least such is my fervent hope and, if one is to believe the regularly-published opinion polls, this is indeed likely to be the outcome of the referendum on Scotland's continuance as a component part of the United Kingdom to be held on 18th September 2014.

But it would be very unwise to be complacent. Everyone who is eligible to vote should do so, whichever way you choose to vote. The higher the percentage of eligible voters who exercise their right to vote the more accurate and credible will be the result.

I am very clear where I stand on this issue; I want Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom, so I shall be voting "no" in the referendum. I am British and I wish to remain British. Obviously I am also Scottish, but I see no conflict (whatsoever) between being British and Scottish - they are almost if not entirely the same - I expect most of my English, Welsh and Northern Irish co-citizens feel more or less the same. Hopefully on 19th September we can all of us look forward to a continuing future as British citizens.