Tom Brown, schooled

This article appeared in today’s (July 3rd) Daily Record newspaper under the heading “Independence referendum: Legendary political commentator Tom Brown explains why he fears for his family’s future should Scotland vote Yes“. I had never heard of Mr Brown until today (I don’t know if that says more about my lack of media attention over the past few years or his lack of stature) but what I read today puts me very much in mind of George Galloway’s noxious outpourings such that I feel another dissection coming on.  Tom-Borwn So let us begin. (Edited to add: But before you do, can I also direct you towards the rather more esteemed-than-I journalist that is Derek Bateman, who has also written about TB’s article today. 2nd edit: And the Wee Ginger Dug has weighed in as well. A further edit: Jim Sillars’ piece in the Daily Record today (4th July) where he counter’s TB’s emotional article with a hard-hitting factual one of his own. He pretty much sums up why I am voting for independence.)

OF THE hundreds of thousands of words I have written about politics, these are the most crucial: I fear for my family, my friends and my country.

You and me both.

If independence happens, my grandchildren will become outsiders and friends over decades will become foreigners. To me and many with cross-border connections that is unthinkable.

Keep these sentences in mind for later…

When the needless folly of a referendum was announced, I decided to stay out of it. Let the kneejerk nationalists have their fling; sensible Scots will see us right.

So why is he weighing in now? Is it because Yes are in the ascendency? Ooh, interesting evaluation coming from a political commentator of his stature.

As the mind-numbing, name-calling campaign has dragged on, I was glad to be spared the boredom and exasperation of covering and commenting on it.

Of all political events I have recorded – general elections, party conferences, domestic and international disputes, industrial rundown, destruction of trade unions, nuclear arms, devolution – this so-called debate is the most mediocre, tedious and certainly the nastiest.

This man is a ‘legendary political commentator’ and doesn’t see this independence referendum issue as the single biggest thing to happen in UK  politics for, oooh, the last 307 years? Love it or hate it, whichever side you support in this campaign, this issue should be a political commentator’s wet dream.

The media, especially TV, have become increasingly desperate as they attempt to make it seem as urgent and interesting as it should be.

The TV media has been conspicuous by how little coverage the arguments for or against independence we are getting. All we are given are sound-bites, press releases and propaganda.

BBC Scotland has hit a new low and become Banal Broadcasting for Cretins.

Hey!  I agree with Tom. Maybe I should desist from ripping into him…

At the official start of the campaign, Reporting Scotland said “Scotland is on a roller-coaster”, so the report has to come from an amusement park.

 A report on world leaders intervening in the independence debate starts with film of a beehive – Scottish politics is buzzing, geddit? The Scotland 2014 programme (in case you don’t know where you are and what year it is) covered the house price bubble with some poor soul who had to blow soapy bubbles round the reporter!

In other words, they think we simple-minded viewers have neither the intelligence nor attention-span to absorb straight facts, background and interviews unless they’re they’re dressed up with gimmickry. How patronising.

Again I agree with Tom. This is getting scary, maybe I am changing into a No voter…

Other shows have become a gallery of talking heads. Burbling politicians, the chatterati, the commentariat and pseudo-celebs have all had their say.

The longer it drags on, the less we learn and the more childishly yah-boo the exchanges between politicians and their followers become. No wonder Scots just want it over and done with.

Less we learn? On the contrary, Tom, no that is not the case. People do appear to be taking more of an interest and seeking out information now that the date is looming every closer. I am sure many want it ‘over and done with’ but that is not the same as wanting to go back to the way things were (as you are clearly implying) and, whichever way the result goes, there are now a significant number of people throughout Scotland who have had a political (re)awakening and politics, as we know it in Scotlandshire, is changing.

The vital decision will be made by ordinary, common sense folk. What is lacking is the information they need to make that decision; the facts about simple issues which affect them in their daily lives – important issues like pensions and less important like which TV programmes they will be able to watch after independence.

The information is out there Tom, but I agree it is not right in the forefront for the ‘common (sense) people’ so perhaps, instead of moaning about the fact we are having this referendum, you could add your legendary political insights to publicising the facts? You could challenge both campaigns to come clean on information and help us commoners to see through the rhetoric. Or you could just add more of your own of course… (Anyone who is in search of facts could start by reading this page on my blog which links to many, many sources).

Most important of all is how the divorce will affect families in a broken Britain. As Gordon Brown wrote in his book, serialised in this paper, it is “a debate and a decision that affects children whom I love and people whom I respect”. Ditto for me.

I have seven grandchildren living in England – one is French with his French father’s name, three are half-Italian (Calum has a Scottish name, Mediterranean looks and supports Italy and Scotland); and the other three are a mixture of Anglo-Indian-Chinese-Irish! They are all pleased that they have an extra Scottish identity through mother, father or grandparents.

Damn foreigners, the lot of ‘em! Send them home I say. (Sorry, came over all UKIP there for a moment. Or was it Labour or Conservative? Hard to tell these days.) But can I refer you back to Tom’s early sentences, the one I told you to remember for later;

 “If independence happens, my grandchildren will become outsiders and friends over decades will become foreigners. To me and many with cross-border connections that is unthinkable.”

So Tom has no issue with his grandchildren being of multiple and ethnic origins yet will immediately class them as ‘foreign’ (which I can only conclude is a Bad Thing™) if Scotland becomes independent, despite the fact they appear eligible for Scottish citizenship? So Tom, am I a foreigner to you already seeing as I am eligible for citizenship of a country which is not Britain despite being born here? As to the ‘outsiders’ bit, sorry to tell you this Tom but if your grandchildren will already be viewed as outsiders simply by dint of their appearance of accent, and is true whether they visit you in Scotland or holiday in another part of England. We are, every day of the week, viewed as outsiders by someone, somewhere.

But from March 24 2016, alias “Independence Day’, only those born or living in Scotland would be eligible for Scottish citizenship. My grandchildren and anyone else living south of the border, even with a Scottish parent or grandparent, would have to apply to register to be a Scottish citizen – and provide evidence to back their request.

Oh, you are mixed up, aren’t you Tom. If you are born in Scotland you will automatically become a citizen (though I would imagine you would have to prove it with your birth certificate). If you are living here you will become eligible to register for citizenship (subject to certain rules, I am sure) and if you are not born or living here you may also be eligible to register to be a citizen (subject to similar rules). What exactly is the difference? Obtaining a passport is somewhat different in that we all, born here or otherwise, will have to apply for one. It is not as if on Independence Day we are all going to receive our nice shiny new Scottish passports through the letterbox, whether we asked for one or not. We are all going to have to apply for said document and provide evidence to back-up the application and seeing as this is pretty much a universal procedure throughout the world I am beginning to wonder if Tom actually has a passport and whether he has travelled beyond the borders of the Great British United Kingdom to one of those foreign lands he fears so much.

Like any other grandparent, I am outraged that my grandchildren will be insulted in that way. Not only will they have to plead for recognition, they will be scrutinised and made to jump through official hoops to get the dual UK/Scottish citizenship which is theirs by blood.

So how is this any different from a British born person (such as myself) who, on applying for my first (British) passport, had to ‘jump through official hoops’ in order to gain said document? I recall having to provide my birth certificate, details about my parents (one of whom is, shock horror, a foreigner. Or was, as she now has a British passport but as she still has her New Zealand one is she still a foreigner? Ah me, I am as confused as Tom is now) and other things to prove I really was who I said I was. And what with the use of the words ‘any’, ‘outraged’ and ‘insulted’. Your grandkids are not being insulted by anyone other than you who clearly views them as nearly-foreigners (I mean, I don’t mind foreigners but I wouldn’t actually like my son or daughter to marry one. Oops…) and plenty (I suspect the overwhelming majority) of grandparents suffer no such outrage (if they have even thought about it).

Sensible people have no problem with multiple identities. When asked for mine, my reply is: “I’m a Fifer, a Scot and I’m British – in that order.” A former Record colleague from Yorkshire who settled in Scotland more than 30 years ago, signs himself: “Tyke, English, honorary Scot and British.”

 Two of my four grandchildren in Scotland have a Chinese mother, speak and write Cantonese and are Karate Kids. Asked if he feels Scottish, British or Chinese, Jack,10, pondered, because he is a serious young man, then answered: “I just feel good being everything.”

So if ‘sensible people’, including your own grandson, are comfortable with multiple identities, what on earth is your point? Scotland becoming an independent nation in no way affects the way in which any individual views their identity unless they chose for that to be the case. It will have a legal implication on one’s citizenship and nationality but that is quite separate from one’s sense of identity. I mean, I am legally British yet my identity is mostly Scottish (something with no legal standing meantime) with a large dollop of New Zealander thrown in (and while I am eligible for NZ citizenship I haven’t jumped through the requisite hoops in order to achieve that legal status so my strong identity with that country has no legal bearing whatsoever). And then there are the days I think of myself as British (when I recall my days in the British Army or the British Merchant Navy I feel British as I don’t view those institutions as Scottish) or European or Highlander or Celt or whatever else depending on the circumstances.

Out of the mouth of a ten-year-old, the perfect answer: we are all part of something bigger than narrow-minded nationalism. We don’t need to create more barriers and borders to feel comfortable with our own identity.

Ironically it appears that the British unionists are the ones with the strongest need for defined borders. Eh, Mr Milliband, Mr Farage, Mr Cameron?

The whole business of citizenship, passports and immigration policy would create a chaotic quagmire. My UK passport confirms I am a British citizen and says: “This passport remains the property of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and may be withdrawn at any time.”

On Independence Day, that citizenship would end, so why should the UK government provide diplomatic protection to a citizen of independent Scotland, any more than it does an Irish or Iranian citizen?

Two major glaring fallacies: 1) That UK citizenship WILL NOT end on independence day according to all the messages put out by HM Government so far. 2) The UK Government IS required to provide diplomatic aid and protection to Irish citizens as they are EU citizens. Ireland is also not a ‘foreign country’ under UK law so why would Scotland be?

An independent Scottish government would have to set up its own Passport Office and every citizen might have to apply for new documents.

Oh the terror! We are too wee, too poor, too stupid. All you Yes voters better give up now!

Those Scots renewing ten-year UK passports before 2016 would be wasting their £72.50 if the passports became invalid in two years’ time.

Oh behave. It won’t. The UK government has already put out strong indications that they will not be withdrawing UK citizenship from Scots in the event of independence. But if – IF – it did, is £72.50 not a cheap price to pay for our democratic and social freedom from a regime that would treat us so harshly? It is not as anyone is going to have to lay down their life for their freedom, is it?

Think of the chaos as every Scot scrambles for a new tartan passport even though their UK one may not have expired.

You are having a laugh, aren’t you Tom?

Make no mistake – after independence, the remaining UK will have border controls, even if Scotland says they are not needed.

The wish-list that is the nationalist blueprint for an independent Scotland says: “We will welcome people who want to come to work and live in Scotland.”

What remains of the UK will have even tighter control than now to make sure there is no back-door immigration, so anyone crossing the border – even to return home to England – will be checked.

Yawn. This has been covered in great detail here.

A major foreboding for anyone with a young family must be what kind of Scotland they will inherit. We know the Nats will never give up on their “freedum” fantasy because for them independence is not a policy; it is an emotional spasm.

You are no doubt right seeing as the idea of Scottish freedom has been around for, let’s say, the last 700 plus years. The idea pre-dates the SNP by several hundred years and will likely persist long after they are relegated to political history. What is definitely possible (if not likely) though is that the UK government will enact legislation to ensure we can never go through this democratic process again by removing powers from the Scottish parliament (possible removing the parliament altogether). I fear that if we vote No Scotland will become a less democratic place than it is at the moment (and that is saying something). And I also fear a future where this peaceful, democratic independence movement becomes taken over by a radicalised and violent movement simply because legislation forbids it. I would hate to see the likes of the IRA or ETA forming in a future Scotland but that could happen if the democratic voice of the people, however tiresome it might be for some, is not allowed to be heard. Think how that might impact future generations. As things stand, 40-50% of the population of Scotland are supporters of independence and the UK ignores that voice at its peril.

Whatever the result of the referendum, the bitterness between the two opposing factions will inevitably linger long into the future and poison relationships between Scots.

If this is your view, why not do your utmost to build bridges, dilute the ‘poison’ and make a future Scotland, whether within or without the UK, a better place for your grandchildren rather than dripping more fuel on the fire?

That is why there are no photographs of grandchildren with this article: we would not want to expose them to the attentions of the cyber reptiles.

Were you channelling Kathy Wiles when you wrote this Tom? Are you actually Kathy Wiles?

During the referendum campaign, a nasty, malicious and repulsive trait has become more evident in the Scottish character. Debate has become an exchange of diatribes and insults, invective and ignorance have become the commonplace currency in place of the reasoned argument that used to be the Scottish way.

Which part of Scotland do you live in, Tom? Deepest Utopiashire? As a ‘legendary’ political hack you have to be very aware of the reality of Scottish politics and Scottish sectarianism never mind that many ordinary (sorry, ‘common’) Scots have a tendency to call a spade a f’ing shovel. But I do agree, there is a lack of decency among the political classes so could you, pretty please, ask your unionist pals to stop comparing Yes supporters to Nazis? Ta very much.

After a ‘No’ vote, the resentment of the self-styled ‘patriots’ would rankle and fester.

And after the Yes vote all the rankling and festering will be done by the British (aka ‘proud-Scot-but’) patriots. Rank festering is one of the unpleasantness’s associated with certain parts of the Scottish political sphere and cultural life so I would refer you back to my previous comment about pouring fuel on the fire.

After a Yes vote, we would be a divided nation condemned to years of wrangling over the new-nation problems and difficulties Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and their cohorts have refused to face and provide answers for – a nation that refuses to live in the grown up modern multi-cultural world.

And this is somehow worse than, after a No vote, contending with more austerity under the Tories, the rise of UKIP and far-right organisations, more austerity under Labour, the almost certain EU in-out referendum and likely withdrawal from that organisation (and this is the very definition of political uncertainty) , more austerity under whomever is in power in Westminster, the privatisation of the NHS, more people living in poverty, the renewal of the UK’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, more austerity (sorry, am I repeating myself?), more foreign wars (there is that word again, but in this context I would rather we had foreign wars than civil ones) and so on. Yes, Scotland becoming independent has  risks attached to it and I am sure some things won’t go quite to plan but it is a complete fallacy to think that a No vote means that things will be just fine and we will all go back to how things were before anyone thought of this nasty idea about being an independent country.

Any ten-year-old could tell you that is a childish folly.

I spoke to a ten year old the other day who informed me that if Scotland votes Yes we would lose ‘the NHS’. He looked somewhat stunned when I told him that Scotland had always had its own NHS and I could see him thinking, ‘who should I believe? My mummy and daddy or this guy?’. Ten year old children don’t have a vote for very good reason – they are too easily swayed and manipulated by those around them. But that is not to say that ten year olds, including Tom’s grandson perhaps, don’t or can’t have a remarkable grasp of political issues. I would like to refer readers to the words of a parent of a child used in the recent smearing of the Yes campaign. (The parent’s words appear towards the end of that article, under the black and white picture – posted by the aforementioned Kathy Wiless – of  Nazi Youth raising a swastika.) In the comments following that article, another parent commented and another blogger had this to say about the whole issue of the use of children, as Tom is doing (despite his restraint in posting pictures of the lovely little tykes, something other No campaigners have been unable to resist doing), in this debate. So, Tom, it appears that several ten year olds might challenge your views just as much as I do. Off back to school now Tom.


About Hugh Wallace

Soldier, sailor, policeman, engineer, scientist, democrat, socialist, environmentalist, advocate of Scottish Independence
This entry was posted in independence, politics, propoganda and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Tom Brown, schooled

  1. Kevin meina says:

    Mr brown is sadly out if touch can see why he has been put out too pasture


  2. daviddynamo says:

    A good article, thank you for taking the time to tear apart Mr Brown’s whole crabby, grumpy, fearmongering tract. He was filleted like a fish!

    Eleven weeks to go until the referendum, and we are STILL waiting for the positive case for the union. We get scare stories, threats, lies, insinuations, and name-calling on a daily basis, but nothing positive except for “punching above our weight” militarily (with two white elephant aircraft carriers that don’t have any aircraft…)


  3. alharron says:

    Great work, once again.


  4. Elaine says:

    So Tom Brown is a “legendary” political commentator? Only in his own mind. His article is a blinkered, emotionally stunted, inaccurate shambles and, as Alharron says above, astonishingly out of touch. Please keep taking to task these half-baked “journalists” and their total disinterest in facts. I really worry that there are people out there taken in by this claptrap.


  5. Elaine says:

    Apologies, Alharron and Kevin Meina, I should have attributed the out of touch comment to Kevin Meina.


  6. Ken MacColl says:

    Interesting demolition of the original article. I don’t bother reading the Daily Record but occasionally come across material posted into the blogs.
    I suspect that Tom Brown is only a legend in his own lunchtime so much venom and self-loathing!. We are advised that he is a great admirer of Gordon Brown-probably the least effective holder of the office of UK Prime Minister ever. With political judgement of that calibre the rest logically falls into place.
    I like some foreigners and struggle to emphasise with some Scots-particularly the “Scotsbuts”


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