Mike Vickers' Blog

July 28, 2013

Good to get people back into the Highlands

Filed under: Business Development, economics, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 7:39 pm

Alf Young in his recent article on a visit to Kilmartin Glen in the Scotsman decries the situation where the only visitors on a hot summer day were a few Europeans and a solitary Scot.  Kilmartin Glen is one of the richest glens archeologically in Scotland with cist graves dating back to 2000 BC.


He also makes the point that the region is slowly depopulated – particularly the young.  Scotland as a whole is slowly growing but not the west, See


Andy Wightman in contrast decries that fact that the Scottish Highlands are owned by just a few landlords whose ancestors have in the nineteenth century acquired the land as one acquires works of art – and the land now needs to be made available to the Nation in some form.

These two factors are in apparent contradiction.  No point in the Nation taking over the Highlands if there is no one wanting to live there.

It’s like the US and the British overthrowing Saddam Hussein with no idea what to do with Iraq once he’s gone.

I therefore suggest that the priority is first to give reason to the people to want to re-populate the Highlands.

Comrie is a good example of a Community Development which has got to grips with itself


But it is unique.

If we are to take Kilmartin Glen as an example of the Western Highlands then there needs to be modern amenities.  Alf Young points out that Internet is poor and there is no mobile comms – now considered fundamental to young people.

What possible opportunities are there for Kilmartin?  There has to be tourism – 4000 years of archaeology and my own experience there is no lack of facilities for the tourist to explore the archaeology.  But clearly this is not enough.  It can’t be agriculture; the glen is not suitable for modern agriculture.  What about high tech businesses? – small transport costs – lovely setting far from the crowded expensive cities – I remember a guy who used to build fish farm feeders on Skye, another who was technical director for a word processor company in the US.  But these do need the Internet and the Scottish Government has plans, but most of all the Scottish Government needs to go out and sell the opportunities not only to the Scots but to the English and even in London and High Tech Europe.  It needs to bring the venture capitalists on board.

Given the demand for land for development there will be a way to wrest it from the landowners.  As a start the law already gives Communities the first call on the right to buy when landowners seek to sell.

July 25, 2013

No price to put on passion

Filed under: History in the making, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 8:05 am


In his article in the Scotsman of yesterday Kevin Toolis in yesterday’s Scotsman


makes the point that nationalism is all embracing.   He makes the point in relationship to Irish nationalism where the IRA members did not care about economics at all. Rather they had nationalism in their blood. This meant that should they go to the polls they would automatically vote for a United Ireland.

Toolis relates his experience of talking to Irish nationalists to the Scottish Nationalists situation. Nationalists will vote on passion not economics and will turn out on the voting day.

If I do a simple calculation based on 33% of Scots being nationalist and all going out to the polls; in contrast to only 50% of the No voters going to the polls then the Independence result is a tie.

I find this interesting; small variations in these figures could certainly bring in Independence for Scotland.  In practice it does not matter what the turnout is, the figures are the same.

July 7, 2013

East Neuk – The Johns, Lister-Kaye and Adams

Filed under: Literature, Music — derryvickers @ 7:09 am

The East Neuk Festival – that’s at the east end of Fife.

It’s a weeklong event but to yesterday Sunday – probably the hottest day this summer (and likely to stay that way)

Held at Cambo  a late Victorian estate.  Just three events: the first a nature literary talk by a famous guy who I admit I had never heard of till today –John Lister-Kaye.  A great reader – many from his own work but non-the worse for that.  His thesis is that there are few literary writers in the UK – a genre mainly taken over by the Americans (he did not mention but I can’t help giving a plug for Stephen Jay Gould).  I not in a position to dispute this – the only one I am familiar with is Gilbert White – the History of Selborne – a classic of its time  – some odd bits when White assumed the conventional wisdom that swallows hibernate over winter here. Giving his thoughts  Lister-Kaye was passionate that we are part of nature – not outside of it and he railed against ‘Growth’.

The second event was percussion music by John Adams –- Inuksuit – held in the magnificent walled garden – the players (25 in all) were distributed with their percussion instruments throughout the garden

The final was again John Adams – songbirdsongs – just two flutes and 3 percussions – again distributed around a large barn – and again only a few seats for the elderly and the rest of us just strolled around the players as we felt like it – just watching them play – interesting to read thie scores – just scraps of notes and notes on what Adams expects.

You either like Adams or you don’t – we do – it grows on you.


Waiting to play PICT0108med

July 3, 2013

Scotland and Trident

Filed under: economics, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 11:51 am

An Independent Scotland will not automatically be admitted to NATO –I’m sure many of the Yes supporters will welcome this news and hope that Scotland never will be.

However, more seriously, there are doubts from two think tanks that the SNP have not got their Defence Policy right and this may be true as far as I know, then I read the main editorial in today’s Scotsman which kicks off by tackling the same point but quickly sinks into discussing Trident, Faslane and Coulport.

Why are Trident, Faslane and Coulport taken as synonymous with Scotland’s defence?  There is far more to defence than these nuclear aspects; the UK had all this out with Greenham Common 30 years ago (time passes).  Just a few examples: coastal protection, protection of Scotland’s fishing grounds, fighting terrorism (Scotland is no more likely to be immune than rUK), policing as a last resort to law and order, providing forces to help in world trouble stops (it could be that Scotland decides not to – but I can’t believe if Salmond is still around that it won’t), providing a helicopter search and rescue service.  None of these are aided in any way by Trident or nuclear weapons.

In any case many of the non-aligned Yes/ Noers consider that a Trident replacement cannot be afforded by the UK and sooner or later the Westminster Government will come out over night with such a statement; even the Heads of the Defence Forces are questioning the value of Trident and more particularly the fact that a replacement will suck all the available capital away from their direct empires.

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