Harry Giles (Poet): Aye But

Aye, but hit’s no as if Scotland wis a nation foondit on onything ither than imperialism n conquest.

Aye, but hit’s no as if gin ye stamp oot the thistles onything ither will growe in thair steid.

Aye, but hit’s no as if aw this wurds n leids for “Scotland” are orbitin onything ither than a gapin black hole, n the anely thing gaun for that singularity is that hit haesna spewit oot as muckle sharn as “Britain” yet.

Aye, but Yes Scotland have gat a haund haudin a bonsai tree on thair website n that gies me the teemin bowk.

Aye, but a resistans foondit on nationalism is an alienatit resistans (cheers Tom).

Aye, but nationalism is empie.

Aye, but patriotism is for scoundrels.

Aye, but for aw that n aw that (facepaum) votin for a different state daesna equal votin for self-determination

Aye but independens is no the reid peel.


Aye, but Holyrood isna that mair local tae ma hame than Westminster.

Aye, but mair states daesna necessarly equal mair localism, n hit certainly daesna equal ony sort o direck democracy.

Aye, but Scotland haes gat wan o the maist unequal paitrens o laund awnin in Europe (cheers Andy) n hit’s no as if Holyrood’s duin muckle tae cheenge that noo n are thay really gaun tae be ony less in the pootches o lairds n that efter thay’ve gotten thair border A mean we’re gaun tae haud ontae the Queen for God’s sakes.

Aye, but hit’s no as if we’re gaun tae gat oor toon cooncils back noo, is it?

Aye, but a state is a state is a state.


Aye, but the Nats are no a progressive alternative.

Aye, but thay’re wantin tae cut corporation tax by the wey.

Aye, but thay’re fully supportin the expansion o the ile industry wi deepwatter drillin n aw.

Aye, but the decision-makkin pouer o the Scottish state will still be subjeck tae the vagaries o global capital (cheers Mike).

Aye but Trump, but Murdoch, but suspeck creashie haundshaks ower laden tables.

Aye, but the Nats are the girnin howdies tae neoliberalism.

Aye, but thay’re gaun tae cut us.

Aye, but thay’re gaun tae cut us.

Aye, but thay’re gaun tae cut us.

Aye, but fuck, NATO.


Aye, but if this is the best we can do for social justice then we’re fairly shentit.

Aye, but if makkin it a wee bit better up here is foondit on makkin it waur dounby thair (n A ken hit michtna but ye’ve got tae ask) then hit cadna iver be wirth it n if makkin it a wee bit better up here is foondit on dividin a muivement n makkin it hairder tae organise (an A ken it michtna but yev’e got tae ask n mair importantly ye’ve gat tae mak shuir hit daesna happen that wey) then hit wid hae tae be opposit.

Aye, but if aw we’re daein for social justice is puttin aw oor virr intae drawin a dottit line on a map then the heidyins are snirtin thay’re road up a moond o weel-willy corpse wi petitions stecht in thair mooths n compack-fluorescent litebulbs rammit up thair sphincters.

Aye, but if the best we can dae for liberation is a campain to mak a new state then A, A, A dae ken, really. A dae ken.


N aye, but is this the best debate we can hae?

Aye, but is YES or NO no the borinest quaisten ye can possibly ask?

Aye, but are oor whappin, scunnersome campains no daein mair to close doun the debate (cheers Darcy) then awbdy else?

Aye, but hae we no gat tae open up the debate?

Aye, but hae we no goat tae ask mair aboot whit Scotland is an whit Scotland’s for than just YES or NO?

Aye, but can we no speir aboot Scotland in a pub wioot askin each ither hou we’re gaun tae vote as if hit wis the maist important thing cos hit’s no really hit’s really no.

Aye, but can we not use this chance tae hae a big bluidy stishie anent whaur we’re gaun n then claucht each ither close aw desperate A mean like luvers really n mak hit happen, mak hit happen wioot a cross in a box?


N aw that an aw that, but still, but still, but still aye, still aye cos aw the threapins fer the U (ha!) K (ha!) is even wair, n British history maks me want tae birn things.

Aye, cos brakkin an Empire is a guid thing tae dae.

Aye, cos if thair’s ony chance o ditchin Trident,

aye, cos if thair’s ony chance o maintainin freer health an freer schuils,

if thair’s a shot at that then hit’s wirth a scrappie merk on a clarty bit o paper.


Sae aye,





Harry Giles
National Collective 

Print Friendly

There are 9 comments

  1. Ian Chisholm

    Ye micht question wi’ the same passion, every other Nation…/ They answered lang syne speirin geis me mine…./ Wull oor neebors, Norske an’ Dane, be dancin’ angels on a peen?…./fur fear o’ waur fur their ane?…./ Wull they fret an’ fash fur German cash? …./ Ah dinnae think they ivver huv…./ acause theyre no feart o’ future strife, but hae voted AYE, fur a better life!

    1. Bandages_For_Konjic

      We sit and watch,
      as she comes running
      down the garden,
      chasing the cat
      into the long grass.

      And we say nothing,
      for we’ve given her
      all our words, to learn them
      one by one and make them
      into new thoughts,
      new ways of saying
      all the old things.

      But we still look at one another,
      in a way that wonders –
      “How did we do this?
      By what conspiracy, what magic,
      did we create this life?”

      She’ll go out into the world
      one day, and fill herself
      with books and people
      and plant her flag
      on top of a mountain of possibilities
      and she will make us proud.

      Our love, our life, our bonnie Jo,
      our child, independence.

  2. pugs

    moving trident isn’t getting rid of it. all the reasons for not supporting nationalism are there except the simple fact that it is evil to divide people by race or arbitrary divisions of land mass, so I just don’t see how you still end up with an “aye”. Maybe there’s something in the dialect I didn’t follow

    1. Matt

      “it is evil to divide people by race or arbitrary divisions of land mass”

      Do you contend then that there should never be more than one state on any landmass? Because it sounds like that is what you are saying. “The Supreme Government of Eurasia-Africa”. Sound good to you?

      In any case, in what way are people being divided? People will still have families all over the British Isles, they will still be free to cross the border at will, and businesses will still operate and trade across the border.

      As for divisions of race, race has got nothing whatsoever to do with the movement for Scottish Independence. The SNP contains members whose backgrounds are Scottish, English, Pakistani, Italian, French, and no doubt others. In fact, I can name at least two SNP MSPs who weren’t even born or brought up in the UK. How can you possibly think this is about ethnicity?

      If anything, we will be taking a step to ensure that minorities are not persecuted in Scotland, even as UKIP and the EDL gain popularity in England and begin to have an influence on Westminster Labservative policy.

  3. pugs

    Hi Matt, thanks for your comment. Perhaps I can explain my thoughts a little further and see where we disagree. Firstly I am actually a bit sceptical about the idea of a supreme state, on any scale, as I suspect from his article Harry Giles is as well. However I wasn’t really thinking about dividing in a physical sense, I was thinking of it in a moral sense, as in this group of people (the Scots) have a greater moral claim on our attention than that group of people (the others). I’m sorry but that is the essence of what nationalism says. Now how you allocate people to these different groups may be by race, may be by where they are born , where they live, who their parents were, what books they read or music they like – you tell me what for you defines the “Scottish people” you want independence for – but I would contend that all these distinctions are morally arbitrary and making moral decisions (and a lot of politics is exactly about that) based on arbitrary non-moral considerations is either evil (if you are a Kantian like me) or leads to evil (if you are a utilitarian).
    What’s on offer is not a state based on a common set of ideals, as you can argue the USA originally was, but a state based on either a romantic sense of who the Scottish people are (if you don’t like the word “race”) or an arbitrary historic border. I don’t want truck with a morality based on either.

    1. Matt

      So in your view, it is “evil” for Scotland to have a separate taxation regime, but not for Scotland to have a separate education system?

      It is “evil” for Scotland to have its own distinct foreign policy, but not for Scotland to have its own distinct legal system?

      It is “evil” for Scotland to have control over its own welfare policies, but not for Scotland to have control over its own health service?

      “Evil” is a very strong word, but if we must use it, then I would say that the bedroom tax is evil. I would say that forcing people with terminal illnesses to attend regular assessments to see if they are fit to work, is evil. I would say that forcing the poor to pay for the mistakes of the rich, even as those rich continue to send money earned off the backs of British workers, to their tax havens around the world, is evil.

      You seem to think the idea of different people in different parts of the world living in different states, is evil. Me, I can’t imagine the world any other way.

      In your first post you mentioned that moving Trident is not getting rid of it. Well, in 2005 we banned smoking in enclosed public spaces. It wasn’t getting rid of smoking, but it just made it that more inconvenient for people to smoke. As a result, many people have quit smoking, and many who might have started smoking have not done so.

      I say that if we remove Trident from the Clyde then we make it very difficult for Westminster to keep it. Maybe they will scrap it altogether, but if not then at least we did everything that was in our power. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but someone had to lay the first brick.

      Now as for your stuff about one group of people having a moral claim on our attention, this is all very abstract stuff and I am sure that you know a lot more of moral philosphy than I do, however I cannot see how your description fits in with what we are actually talking about. You ask me how I would define the “Scottish people” – I would define them as the people who live in Scotland. These are the people who pay taxes in Scotland, and the people who use public services in Scotland. They should be the people who elect the government which controls these taxes and services. How is that immoral?

      As I say, I don’t know that much of moral philosophy but I would say I’m probably a utilitarian. You say that by the utilitarian view dividing one state into two leads to evil*. Well in 1905 the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway separated to become the Kingdom of Sweden and the Kingdom of Norway. They are now two of the fairest, most socially healthy countries in the world. They both score much higher than the UK in the Human Development Index – and I would say that that is a pretty good way to measure “utility” across a whole society. So tell me, what evil was caused by their separation into two states?

      * To be fair, this is not exactly what you said, but if it is not what you
      meant then what you were saying was irrelevant to this

      1. pugs

        Hi again. I think we’re getting near the point where we agree to differ so I’ll just respond to a couple of points in your post, and then if you want you can have the last say in response.
        I’m just going to focus on the points most closely related to my original post. I’m not dismissing your other points and arguments, or saying they are not valid debates, I just want to ensure my key ideas are clear.
        You refer to the Scots as the people who live in Scotland, so it is the geography that is primary, that defines who the debate is about, what in my original post I called “arbitrary divisions of land mass”. So let’s take the evil of poverty you mention in your post. There are poor people in Lerwick and poor people in Liverpool. At the moment I happily pay taxes that provide services to both. What you are telling me is that I should only provide services to the one in Lerwick, and not the one in Liverpool: not based on their need, but on their postcode. It’s not even an argument based on distance: I live nearer Liverpool than Lerwick. Can you see why I find that kind of thinking evil ?
        You also list a number of evils, and also a couple of aspirations (Norway and Sweden), implying, I think, that these are what the referendum is about. But as I said in my first reply to you, what is on offer is not a state based on a common agreed set of values – Patrick Harvie can’t appear on TV without rubbishing SNP policies, and Harry Giles has taken a hatchet job to most of them in the original article. What’s on offer, as you’ve said yourself, is a state based on geography. I just wish the Yes campaign would stop pretending otherwise.
        All the best.

        1. Matt

          Sorry for the lateness of my response, but I have been on holiday for the last two weeks.

          You say that you live nearer to Liverpool than to Lerwick; fair enough, I do too. But I also live nearer to Limerick than I do to Lerwick. Are you saying then that it is evil that I pay taxes that provide services to people in Lerwick, but not to people in Limerick?

          As long as there are international borders in the world then there are always going to be people who live closer to some towns in foreign countries than to some other towns in their own country. As I said before, the only alternative to this is that there are no international borders, and that the entire world is ruled by one government. Is this the position you advocate? I doubt there are many people who think a World Government would be a good thing.

          Alternatively, is it that you feel international borders are fine, but they shouldn’t ever change? That would be a strange position to take, as around 150 countries have become independent in the short space of time since the Second World War. Borders shift all the time. They are, as you say, arbitrary divisions; as such there is no eternally right or wrong way for them to be configured. It is therefore natural and right for them to evolve over time.

          So do you feel, then, that the UK is a special case? That the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – which has existed in its current form for less than a century remember – is unique among the Community of Nations in that it should continue in exactly the same form from now until eternity? That is the kind of jingoistic belief that would typically be held by a chauvinist, by an ethnic nationalist, by the kind of person who believes that his own country is better and more important than any other country that exists/existed in any other place or in any other time. It is the sort of belief you would surely describe as evil.

          As you can see, I believe that all three of those positions are wrong, but for your argument to make sense you must agree with one of them. Of course if Scotland became independent then those of us who live here would cease to pay taxes that fund services in Liverpool, but at the same time the taxes that are paid by Liverpudlians would no longer contribute anything to services in Scotland. There is no obvious reason why our independence would make the people of Liverpool any poorer. You seemed to be suggesting otherwise, which is simply dishonest.

          I don’t have a problem with anyone arguing the pros and cons of an independent Scotland, or of London Rule, but trying to claim that the independence question can simply dismissed as fundamentally evil is absurd and cowardly, and doesn’t help anyone.

          Your argument is that your taxes contribute to fighting poverty across the UK, but my belief is that our taxes are not spent in a way that is remotely effective in doing that. I believe we need to do things differently from the way we are doing them at the moment, and wherever my opinion is requested in a public ballot, I will always seek to vote for whichever option provides the best chance of doing that.

          You correctly point out that voting Yes does not guarantee that Scotland will be exactly the way the SNP describes it, nor will it be exactly how it is described by Patrick Harvie, or by the Radical Independence Campaign or anyone else in the Independence Movement. However, I fail to see how anyone can look at the current UK and not realise that an independent Scotland would at least have a better chance of doing things differently.

          Labour and Conservative agree with each other on every major issue. They are both perfectly happy with a country whose economy and society are structurally rotten, where widespread poverty is seen as a price worth paying for the holy grail of economic growth. This lack of alternatives in the mainstream parties is leading people to look for radical alternatives, but they are looking in the wrong places. In my opinion, the best chance of providing real effective alternatives are the Greens, but it is very difficult for them to gain any traction as they are completely ignored by the media. At the same time, UKIP get wall-to-wall coverage from the BBC, who put personality before policy and simply adore Nigel Farage.

          Meanwhile in Scotland, the SNP are fighting tooth and nail to defend the principle of Universality, to provide services to the Scottish public that voters in England are told are unaffordable, and they are providing those services on the same budget as other parts of the UK. Either they are doing this because they believe it is the right thing to do, or they are doing it to win votes. If they are doing it because they believe it is the right thing to do, then good: we should seek to give them more power through independence, so that they can be even more effective. But if they are doing it to win votes this is still good, as it proves that the Scottish electorate have the right priorities, and given more power over their own economic and welfare policies they will elect governments that can better look after the interests of the whole of Scottish society.

          1. bennybrazil

            My main concern is that if Scotland becomes independent – who will look after the trustafarians ?
            As has happened in Rhodesia, any farm ( or for this matter, ethical vegan cafe in Edinburgh) could be overrun with angry natives at the behest of their bombastic leaders.
            What then, would become of our ethical vegan cafes in Edinburgh that host poetry ?
            I say to you,our shared and welcoming place could be swamped with the very burberry wearing chavs Giles so tellingly warns us of.

Post Your Thoughts