Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A Wind of Change

As a new year dawns a wind of change is sweeping across the world. The transgressions of past actions are manifesting themselves in a variety of ways and nothing will be the same.
The world is in need of a transfusion to revitalise not only its economy but its values.
The structures of society are in danger of collapse and a re-evaluation is required to bring about a new direction for mankind.

The elements which will transform society are not so much materialistic as spiritual. In order to survive mankind has essential material considerations: food, shelter and clothing, but there is an current imbalance causing turbulence and instability throughout human society. The rich and famous are honoured and feted and the remainder of society is ignored or encouraged to adopt false values. It is no shame to pass through life leaving scarcely a mark.

Past civilisations have been brought down through corruption and greed, as well as by environmental catastrophies. The most successful societies were those which cared for their environment as well as their people, who were content with their lot and demanded little, who lived in harmony with nature and treated their world with awe and reverence.

They were the pantheists, so-called primitive societies, the sun and moon worshippers, who saw the spirit of nature alive in every living thing. Today we see the world around us ravaged and exploited and we see conflicts between nations which are unable to co-exist. Gordon Brown, despite his self-confidence and arrogance, cannot save the world, but there is hope that Barack Obama can, and will, provided he can provide the inspiration and leadership that the world sorely needs. It is love and compassion along with wisdom and action which will transform this world.

Monday, 29 December 2008

The Hammer of the Poor Indeed

Independence Cymru recognises the truth wherever it is preached, whether it is spoken by Bishops or organs of the Conservative Party. The time has come to join forces, and unite to turn back the tide of crass materialism, deception and spin, and to stand up for the true values which are being spurned and trampled upon by the present government of the discredited United Kingdom.

Gordon Brown - The Hammer of the Poor.

Warning! This is a partisan post, written under the influence of a dark mood. The cause of this darkness? I've just read this bilge from Mr Liam Byrne, Cabinet Office Minister. I do not know how he can bring himself to speak in such a way - and on a Sunday as well.

How will our children, and their children, look back on what's being done to their futures by the current Labour Government. Will history record the 'spin' or the reality. Will it describe Gordon Brown in the way he wishes to be remembered, or the way he deserves to be - as Britain's worst Prime Minister of modern times. Will he be remembered as the Chancellor/Prime Minister who spent and borrowed so much that he brought the British economy to its knees. Over the last day or two, some Bishops have used their pulpits to help open the eyes of the British people to what this man has done and would like to be allowed to carry on doing.

What's instigated the Bishops to speak out is the realisation that its the poor who are going to pay the heaviest price. He was found out when he abolished the 10p tax rate. But the leopard doesn't change his spots. Its still the poor he's going to target. He preferred an ineffective temporary cut in VAT, rather than help poorer people by raising the starting rate at which income tax is payable. And to recover the money this pointlessness will cost, he tells us he plans to raise National Insurance Contributions - a direct tax on jobs, which again is going to put more people on the dole. The Bishops have seen through him. It will not be long until everyone else, at least those with eyes willing to see, will do the same.

Its the hideous 'spin' that grates with me. The whole 45p tax rate issue is nothing to do with raising money for the Exchequer - but to make it appear that he's hitting the rich. It'll probably raise less money for the Treasury, rather than more. He witters on about tax credits, knowing full well that many of the most needy don't claim it because its too complex. He shouts at the banks to lend more to support business, but he knows the terms on which he has lent the money to them to re-capitalise are on terms so unfavourable that they will want to repay as soon as possible. Its all 'spin'. And worst of all, he's raising Government borrowing to levels never dreamt of before - and trying to put all the blame on others. No - even worse than any of this , is that the Prime Minister seems to believe what he says. Its terrifying.

posted by Glyn Davies at 22:59

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Britain's Spiritual Bankruptcy

Britain under "New Labour" is not only financially bankrupt but morally and spiritually bankrupt too. First the Archbishop of Canterbury, and now more church leader are speaking out about the legacy of the past ten years under Labour which has left Britain devoid of ethical and moral values. They speak of the encouragement given to people to spend causing them to get into spiralling debt, the rise of the property-owning democracy which saddles people with mortgages which they cannot afford to sustain and the encroachment on civil liberties which deprive people of the right to happiness. They are right in speaking out against the pernicious erosion of family and societal values and the destruction of community life. Britain is not the land that many of us grew up in and which we were led to believe to be the home of the free. It is time for change, for Britain to disband as a viable state so that the people of its constituent nations can embrace a different philosophy from the one which has led us all to this sorry state.

Your comments are welcomed.....

Bishops slam 'morally corrupt' Government

2 hours 32 mins ago

Leading bishops have delivered a damning assessment of Labour's record in power, branding the Government "morally corrupt". Skip related content
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Bishops slam 'morally corrupt' Government

Five senior figures from the Church of England warned that the country was suffering from family breakdown, an addiction to debt and a growing gap between rich and poor.

The bishops of Durham, Winchester, Manchester, Carlisle and Hulme accused ministers of squandering their opportunity to transform society and pursuing "scandalous" policies.

The interventions, in separate interviews in a Sunday newspaper, came after the Archbishop of Canterbury launched an extraordinary public attack on the Government last week.

Dr Rowan Williams said Gordon Brown's plans to spend more in order to tackle the recession were like an "addict returning to the drug", and suggested the economy had been going in the wrong direction for decades.

The Rt Rev Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham, berated ministers for not doing enough to help the poor since 1997.

He said: "Labour made a lot of promises, but a lot of them have vanished into thin air. We have not seen a raising of aspirations in the last 13 years, but instead there is a sense of hopelessness.

"While the rich have got richer, the poor have got poorer. When a big bank or car company goes bankrupt, it gets bailed out, but no one seems to be bailing out the ordinary people who are losing their jobs and seeing their savings diminished."

The Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, the Bishop of Manchester, criticised Labour for encouraging people to get further into debt.

"The Government has acted scandalously. This is not just an economic issue, but a moral one. It's about what we value," he said.

"The Government believes that money can answer all of the problems and has encouraged greed and a love of money that the Bible says is the root of all evil.

"It's morally corrupt because it encourages people to get into a lifestyle of believing they can always get what they want."

The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, the Bishop of Hulme, said: "The Government isn't telling people who are already deep in debt to stop overextending themselves, but instead is urging us to spend more. That is morally suspect and morally feeble.

"It is unfair and irresponsible of the Government to put pressure on the public to spend in order to revive the economy."

He suggested they were cynically attempting to improve the economy in time for the next general election.

"They are trying to take the credit for this, but are playing with people's livelihoods in the process."

Monday, 22 December 2008

Duchy of Cornwall - A Few Comparisons

Below is an economic comparison with some small countries throughout the world. Luxembourg is the most relevant as it is almost identical in size and population to Cornwall. It is also a Duchy. Cornwall earns a relatively high proportion of its GDP from three sectors – mining and quarrying; distribution, hotels and catering; and agriculture. In 1996 Cornwall's Gross Domestic Product was estimated to be £3,680 million. Cornwall had a population of 485,600 in 1997. Cornwall's population has grown by 27% since 1983 and its working population has risen by 24% in this same period.

Tourism is the only traditional industry which is currently expanding. There are now an estimated 4 million visitors a year spending some £930 million, although only about a third of this is retained in Cornwall. The industry accounts for around 30,000 jobs with many more at the peak of the season. In 1997 87.1% of Cornish employees worked in small firms with fewer than 10 employees, more than the 83.6% equivalent for the UK. In 1996/7 21% of the workforce were self employed, nearly double the UK average of 11.6%.

Cornwall National name: Kernow Area: 1370 sq.mi (3550 Population: 485,600 in 1997 Density per sq mi: 1.4 people per hectare, 363 per sq. mi Economic summary: GDP/PPP: 1996 Gross Domestic Product est.£3,680 million ($6 Billion) ; per capita: £7,614 ($12,410) Real growth rate: 1.9% Inflation: 2.3%. Unemployment: 4.8% Jan 2001 Industries: Distribution & catering (25.3%), Other Services (30%), Construction (9.3%), Banking & Finance (7.7%), Agriculture Forestry & Fishing (6.0%), Other manufacturing (5.4%), Manufacturing metal etc (5.1%), Transport (5.1%), Mining (2.8%), Energy & Water (1.2%)

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Ruler: Grand Duke Henri (2000) Premier: Jean-Claude Juncker (1995) Area: 998 sq mi (2,586 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 448,569 Density per sq. mi.: 449 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $15.9 billion; per capita $36,400. Real growth rate: 5.7%. Inflation: 7.8%. Unemployment: 2.7%. Labour force: 248,000 (of whom 70,200 are foreign cross-border workers primarily from France, Belgium, and Germany) (2000); services 83.2%, industry 14.3%, agriculture 2.5% (1998 est.). Industries: banking, iron and steel, food processing, chemicals, metal products, engineering, tires, glass, aluminium. Natural resources: iron ore (no longer exploited), arable land. Exports: $7.6 billion (f.o.b., 2000): machinery and equipment, steel products, chemicals, rubber products, glass. Imports: $10 billion (c.i.f., 2000): minerals, metals, foodstuffs, quality consumer goods. Major trading partners: EU, U.S

Republic of Iceland
National name: Lydveldid Island President: Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (1996) Prime Minister: David Oddsson (1991) Area: 39,768 sq mi (103,000 sq km)1 Population (2002 est.): 279, Density per sq mi: 7 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $6.85 billion; per capita $24,800. Real growth rate: 4.3%. Inflation: 3.5%. Unemployment: 2.7% (Jan. 2001). Labour force: 159,000 (2000); agriculture 5.1%, fishing and fish processing 11.8%, manufacturing 12.9%, construction 10.7%, other services 59.5% (1999). Industries: fish processing; aluminium smelting, ferro-silicon production, geothermal power; tourism. Natural resources: fish, hydropower, geothermal power, diatomite. Exports: $2 billion (f.o.b., 2000): fish and fish products 70%, animal products, aluminium, diatomite and ferro-silicon. Imports: $2.2 billion (f.o.b., 2000): machinery and equipment, petroleum products; foodstuffs, textiles. Major trading partners: EU, U.S., Japan.

Principality of Liechtenstein
Ruler: Prince Hans Adam II (1989) Head of Government: Otmar Hasler (2001) Area: 62 sq mi (160 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 32,842 Density per sq mi: 532 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (1998 est.): $730 million; per capita $23,000. Real growth rate: n.a. Inflation: 0.5% (1997 est.). Unemployment: 1.8% (Feb. 1999). Labour force: 22,891 of which 13,847 are foreigners; 8,231 commute from Austria and Switzerland to work each day; industry, trade, and building 45%, services 53%, agriculture, fishing, forestry, and horticulture 2% (1997 est.). Industries: electronics, metal manufacturing, textiles, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, food products, precision instruments, tourism. Natural resources: hydroelectric potential, arable land. Exports: $2.47 billion (1996): small speciality machinery, dental products, stamps, hardware, pottery. Imports: $917.3 million (1996): machinery, metal goods, textiles, foodstuffs, motor vehicles. Major trading partners: EU and EFTA countries.

Principality of Andorra
National name: Valls d'Andorra Head of Government: Marc Forné Molné (1994) Area: 181 sq mi (468 sq km) Population (2003 est.): 69, Density per sq mi: 379 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (1996 est.): $1.2 billion; per capita $18,000. Real growth rate: n.a. Inflation: 1.62% (1998). Unemployment: 0%. Labour force: 30,787 salaried employees (1998); agriculture 1%, industry 21%, services 72%, other 6% (1998). Industries: tourism (particularly skiing), cattle raising, timber, tobacco, banking. Natural resources: hydropower, mineral water, timber, iron ore, lead. Exports: $58 million (f.o.b., 1998): tobacco products, furniture. Imports: $1.077 billion (c.i.f., 1998): consumer goods, food, electricity. Major trading partners: France, Spain, U.S.

Principality of Monaco
National name: Principauté de Monaco Ruler: Prince Rainier III (1949) Minister of State: Patrick Leclercq (2000) Area: 0.75 sq mi (465 acres) (1.95 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 31, Density per sq mi: 42,485 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (1999 est.): $870 million; $27,000 per capita. Real growth rate: n.a. Inflation: n.a. Unemployment: 3.1% (1998). Labour force: 30,540 (Jan. 1994). Natural resources: none. Exports: n.a. Imports: n.a. Full customs integration with France, which collects and rebates Monegasque trade duties; also participates in EU

Most Serene Republic of San Marino National name: Repubblica di San Marino Captains Regent: Giuseppe Maria Morganti and Mauro Chiaruzzi (2002) Area: 24 sq mi (61.2 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 27, Density per sq mi: 1,174 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $860 million; per capita $32,000. Real growth rate: 8%. Inflation: 2.2% (2000). Unemployment: 3% (1999). Labour force: 18,500 (1999); services 60%, industry 38%, agriculture 2% (1998 est.). Industries: tourism, banking, textiles, electronics, ceramics, cement, wine. Natural resources: building stone. Exports: trade data are included with the statistics for Italy: building stone, lime, wood, chestnuts, wheat, wine, baked goods, hides, ceramics. Imports: trade data are included with the statistics for Italy: wide variety of consumer manufactures, food.

State of Qatar
Emir: Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (1995) Prime Minister: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani (1996) Area: 4,416 sq mi (11,437 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 793, Density per sq mi: 180 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $15.1 billion; per capita $20,300. Real growth rate: 4%. Inflation: 2.5%. Unemployment: n.a. Labour force: 233,000 (1993 est.). Industries: crude oil production and refining, fertilisers, petrochemicals, steel reinforcing bars, cement. Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, fish. Exports: $9.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.): petroleum products 80%, fertilisers, steel. Imports: $3.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.): machinery and transport equipment, food, chemicals. Major trading partners: Japan, Singapore, South Korea, U.S., UAE, UK, Italy.

State of Bahrain
Emir: Sheik Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah (1999) Prime Minister: Sheik Khalifah ibn Sulman al-Khalifah (1970) Area: 257 sq mi (665 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 656, Density per sq mi: 2,742 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est): $10.1 billion; per capita $15,900. Real growth rate: 5%. Inflation: 2%. Unemployment: 15% (1998 est.). Labour force: 295,000 (1998 est.); industry, commerce, and service 79%, government 20%, agriculture 1% (1997 est.). Industries: petroleum processing and refining, aluminium smelting, offshore banking, ship repairing; tourism. Natural resources: oil, associated and non-associated natural gas, fish, pearls. Exports: $5.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000): petroleum and petroleum products, aluminium. Imports: $4.2 billion (f.o.b., 2000): non-oil, crude oil. Major trading partners: India, Saudi Arabia, U.S., UAE, Japan, South Korea, France.

State of Brunei Darussalam
Sultan: Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (1967) Area: 2,228 sq mi (5,770 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 350,898 Density per sq mi: 158 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $5.9 billion; per capita $17,600. Real growth rate: 3%. Inflation: 1% (1999 est.). Unemployment: 4.9% (1995 est.). Labour force: 144,000 (1995 est.); note: includes foreign workers and military personnel; government 48%, production of oil, natural gas, services, and construction 42%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 10% (1999 est.). Industries: petroleum, petroleum refining, liquefied natural gas, construction. Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, timber. Exports: $2.55 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.): crude oil, natural gas, refined products. Imports: $1.3 billion (c.i.f., 1999 est.): machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, chemicals. Major trading partners: Japan, U.S., South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, UK, Malaysia.

Status: Overseas territory Governor: Sir John Vereker (2002) Premier: Jennifer Smith (1998) Area: 21 sq mi (53.3 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 63,960; Density per sq mi: 2,817 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $2.1 billion; per capita $33,000. Real growth rate: 1.5%. Inflation: 2.7%. Unemployment: negl. (1995). Labour force: 35,296 (1997); clerical 23%, services 22%, labourers 17%, professional and technical 17%, administrative and managerial 12%, sales 7%, agriculture and fishing 2% (1996). Industries: tourism, finance, insurance, structural concrete products, paints, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, ship repairing. Natural resources: limestone, pleasant climate fostering tourism. Exports: $56 million (2000 est.): re-exports of pharmaceuticals. Imports: $739 million (2000 est.): machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, chemicals, food and live animals. Major trading partners: UK, U.S., Mexico.

Republic of Estonia
National name: Eesti President: Arnold Rüütel (2001) Prime Minister: Siim Kallas (2002) Area: 17,462 sq mi (45,226 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 1,415, Density per sq mi: 81 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $14.7 billion; per capita $10,000. Real growth rate: 6.4%. Inflation: 4.1% (1999 est.). Unemployment: 11.7% (1999 est.). Labour force: 785,500; industry 20%, agriculture 11%, services 69% (1999 est.). Industries: oil shale, shipbuilding, phosphates, electric motors, excavators, cement, furniture, clothing, textiles, paper, shoes, apparel. Natural resources: shale oil (kukersite), peat, phosphorite, amber, cambrian blue clay, limestone, dolomite, arable land. Exports: $3.1 billion (f.o.b., 2000): machinery and equipment, wood products, textiles, food products, metals, chemical products (1999). Imports: $4 billion (f.o.b., 2000): machinery and equipment, chemical products, foodstuffs, metal product, textiles (1999). Major trading partners: Finland, Sweden, Russia, Latvia, Germany, U.S., Japan.
Phil T, Cornishman in Oman

Sunday, 21 December 2008

British Labour's Taxing Regime

Under failed Labour government Britain has the largest debt in its entire history.
Gordon Brown through his policy of leading the country into debt, and now along with James Purnell, has unwittingly engineered massive redundancy as thousands of workers become unemployed. A loan to help the needy is to be is proposed with an interest rate of up to 27 per cent.
Is it possible that Labour has dug its own grave?
Does Labour rely in the masochism of the working class?
Merry Christmas and Nadolig Llawen to all.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Scottish Protest

SNP launch new attack against GB football team

Monday, November 17 03:00 pm

The Scottish National party (SNP) has launched a new attack against the idea of a British Olympic football team. Skip related content

Have your say: Scottish National Party

SNP sport spokesman Pete Wishart has called on Fifa to investigate interference by the UK government over attempts to "force through" the 2012 team.

Mr Wishart has also written to prime minister Gordon Brown seeking an explanation for the alleged "meddling" and highlighting Fifa statutes that prohibit political intervention by governments. Mr Wishart said: "The Labour government at Westminster is playing politics with the people's game by trying to force through a British Olympic football team with no regard for the views of the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland football authorities or the fans of all four home nations, who are united in their opposition to this daft and dangerous idea.

"Significantly, all four home nations' supporters associations are actively working together to oppose this irresponsible idea."

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

An Unintended Boast

Prime Minister Gordon Brown made himself the butt of merciless mockery in the House of Commons when a slip of the tongue led him to boast "we have saved the world".
But can he save himself from ignominious defeat at the next general election?

Working Together in the Cause

Welsh and Scots MEPs back 'Dragon and Lion' bid for Euro2016

Plaid Cymru Member of the European Parliament Jill Evans and colleague SNP MEP Alyn Smith have thrown their weight behind the prospect of a joint Welsh and Scottish bid to host football's European Championships in 2016.

The pair have written, jointly, to the Presidents of the Welsh and Scottish Football Associations in support of talks between those bodies to thrash out the details of a prospective bid. The SNP and Plaid Cymru co-operate in both the European and London Parliaments, sharing staff and facilities.

Speaking from Brussels, Alyn Smith MEP said:

"We're used enough to the camaraderie that the Rugby generates and this is a great chance to showcase both our countries to the rest of Europe. Joint bids are the way of the future for UEFA and I like the fact that there is an actual need for co-operation. The Scots and the Welsh have already been working together for years and this is another extension of that.

"We know from our own experience in the European Parliament that working together gets results, and I think it is only right we stress that any Scottish-Welsh bid will have our full support.

Jill Evans MEP added:
"This is a great chance for the Celts to shine, we know from our own experience that we can work together well and it is only right that two such passionate footballing nations work together to host the championships.

"I'm delighted to support a joint bid and both myself and my Scottish colleague Alyn Smith have put our backing on the record. This would be a tremendous opportunity for our two countries to showcase our strong sporting history and culture. Between us we have first rate facilities and I know that the Welsh and Scots would make excellent hosts.

"It would also be a major boost in promoting football to a new generation of young people as well as emphasising our respective nations' independence in sporting competitions."

diwedd / ends

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Free Greenland - Free All Nations!

Our Friends in the North


One of Scotland’s largest neighbours has just voted for independence. I don’t mean England, or Ireland, or Scandinavia, but a country which is bigger than all of these combined. And I use the term “neighbour” loosely, because it is a good few hundred miles across the Atlantic from us, and very few readers will have ever been there.

Greenlanders voted by 3-1 for almost total independence last week. I say “almost”, because while they don’t get control of defence or foreign policy, they get control of just about everything else. 32 areas of government will be handed over to them. Every political party, but one, in Greenland backed the “yes” vote. Who couldn’t sympathise with this statement that senior politician Hans Jakob Helms made?

“Home rule was a compromise, it’s a simple fact that home rule has reached its limit and there’s a need for more room for self-government.”

Applied to Scotland, it appears that even the majority of Unionists support this position. The result makes Greenlandic independence pretty much inevitable.

Greenland’s road to independence is a bizarre one. A colony of Denmark for three hundred years, its population is tiny – a mere 57,000 (less than Guernsey), but if it gains full independence, it will be the 13th largest state in the world. 80% of the place is covered in ice, and there is no road network to speak of. People get around by boats or planes. There are about a dozen settlements, mostly tiny, scattered around the island. Traditionally, some of them have had almost nothing to do with one another, just because of the sheer distances involved. It is the largest island in the world – if you don’t count Australia – at eight times the size of Great Britain. At one end, it is near the North Pole, and at the other, the same latitude as parts of Shetland – there are even some trees there. Technically part of North America, its size and remoteness, makes it almost a continent in its own right.

80% of the people who live in Greenland are Inuit (Eskimos), only 12% are Danes. Under the terms of the referendum, Greenlandic will replace Danish as the language of government. The native Greenlanders are an obviously non-European people, still tribal to an extent, and mainly nomadic in the recent past. The native Greenlanders have massive social problems including a degree of permanent unemployment, bad diet, alcoholism, drug abuse and even AIDS. The suicide rate is also extremely high. While the traditional Inuit lifestyle was a difficult and harsh one, the modern disillusionment and substance abuse are classic results of colonialism, and can be found in places such as widely separated as Peru and Tibet, as well as parts of Australia and the USA. By voting “yes”, the Greenlanders have displayed the maturity and self-confidence that they require for a happier future. Greenlandic is now the only official language – even though it has fewer speakers than Scottish Gaelic.

However, Greenland already has some serious problems which are global in nature. One of these is climate change, something impossible to deal with at a purely local level. Greenland features prominently in Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth with good reason. If its ice cap melts, the sea level may rise by twenty five feet everywhere, drowning whole cities and nations. Another theory claims that if it melts, then the Gulf Stream will be set into reverse, and Europe will experience another Ice Age. Neither of these are theories that I’d like to see proven. Further oil drilling and mining will provide jobs and money for the Greenlandic economy, but they also threaten the hunting and fishing many Inuit still rely on, and poison the island’s fragile environment permanently. Greenland’s economy is much less diversified than Scotland’s, and subsidised to the tune of £400 million by Denmark, but the alternatives may prove simply too costly.

If it is not careful, Greenland also risks replacing Denmark with the USA. The island played a surprisingly strategic role in both WW2 and the Cold War. The Americans unsuccessfully tried to buy Greenland off the Danes for $100,000,000. In 1953, the Danes allowed them to set up the Thule base in the far north of the island. It was the most northerly American base anywhere, and allowed the US to monitor Soviet activity in the Arctic. With shades of Britain’s Diego Garcia – in 1999, the Danish High Court ruled that the base was on Inuit land, and that the inhabitants had been illegally evicted. Shortly after this ruling, it also emerged that a B52 had crashed near there in 1968. It had been carrying H-bombs, and an estimated 1,700 people were exposed to radiation. The base is still there. Some people argue that an independent Greenland would be unable to defend itself, but its relationship with the USA is going to be one sided from the outset.

But what Greenland has done is brave, and we should respect them for it. As one Welsh blog puts it -

“Now, if Greenland, a nation of 57,000 people, speaking what many of our fellow-country men would probably call ‘a silly language which nobody speaks’, has the confidence to have more power, what the hell is stopping Wales?”

When it comes to self-determination, the Nordic countries have a much better record than most. I suspect there are several reasons for this, one of them being that it is much easier for the likes of Greenland to deal with a nation of several million, than one of tens or hundreds of millions. Secondly, the remoteness of many parts of the Nordic countries meant that it was more practical for a number of decisions to be taken locally to begin with. Denmark’s other colonies, such as the now independent Norway and Iceland, or the nearly independent Faroe Islands, all neighbours of Scotland, have been given much fairer hearings by Copenhagen, than they would have done from London. For example, since WWII, the population of the Faroe Islands has doubled, while that of the Shetland Islands has halved. It’s worth remembering that Greenland got its parliament in 1979, the very year that Scotland’s own vote for an assembly was sabotaged. Since then, Greenland has never looked back. Scotland, on the other hand, is only just getting over that defeat.

A Short History of Greenland

The first people arrived in Greenland over four thousand years ago, although it has not been continuously inhabited since then. It is thought that the ancestors of the Inuit arrived in about 1200.

Southern Greenland’s European connection goes as far back as 980, when it was discovered and settled by the Norse. Their numbers were never particularly great. By the 15th century, Greenland’s white population appears to have died out, due to worsening climate, unsuitable farming methods which eroded the thin soil, and conflict with Inuit who came in from the north. They did not leave much of a legacy, other than a few ruins, and a mere 5% of Greenlandic DNA.

The Europeans returned in the early 18th century with disastrous consequences. The missionary Hans Egede heard stories in Norway of the Norse settlement in Greenland, and decided to find out whether it still existed. He established Godthåb (Nuuk), the capital, and set about converting the natives and wrote down their language for the first time. He also translated the Bible – an incredible feat as Greenlandic lacked words for “bread”, “sheep”, “wine” and other important Christian imagery: his version of the Lord’s Prayer includes the surreal line - “Give us today our harbour seal.”

Within a few years, a smallpox epidemic had wiped out large numbers of Inuit, and their shamans were being tried for witchcraft. The Europeans’ intensive hunting, fishing and whaling made it harder for the Inuit to obtain food, and some of them were also abducted or raped by sailors. By the end of the 18th Century, Greenland was an official Danish colony.

During the 19th century, the first newspaper in Greenlandic appeared, and the first district assemblies. In 1911, two regional assemblies were established, one for the north and one for the south. It was not until 1951 that they were merged. These assemblies were not a form of home rule – they were more like local councils, and all their business was conducted in Danish.

In the late 19th century, a Greenlander actually reached Scotland by kayak after being blown off course. He died soon afterwards, but his boat can still be seen in a museum.

In the early 20th century, the USA and Canada claimed parts of Greenland. In 1946, the USA attempted to buy all of it from Denmark, but the Danes refused. In the 1930s, Norway laid claim to a section of east Greenland, but the Permanent Court of International Justice ruled in Denmark’s favour. In 1951, Denmark and the US signed a defence treaty, and the Thule base was established two years later.

By 1953, Greenland was no longer officially a Danish colony, and was allowed to elect MPs to the Danish parliament. Proper welfare and medical programmes were initiated, and most of the population started to move into towns. Greenland’s integration with Denmark meant it became part of the EEC in 1973, even though 70% of Greenlanders voted against joining it in the referendum.

In 1978, Greenlanders voted for devolution, and a year later, a 31 seat parliament was set up. All Danish place names were replaced by their Greenlandic versions. In 1982, 53% of Greenlanders voted to leave the EEC, while Denmark itself stayed in. This put Greenland in a strange political position, but not a unique one – the Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Faroe Islands, Canary Islands and Madeira are amongst those nations currently outside the EU, but still controlled by members of it.

In 1985, Greenland’s flag was designed, and in 1996, the international Arctic Council, an environmental body, was established, with Greenland as a founder member.

In November, 2008, three quarters of Greenlanders voted “yes”…


Filed under Greenland

Tags: Ray Bell

December 2, 2008 at 6:48 pm

It is interesting that almost none of the arguments for or against Greenlander independence have been based on the economy. In Scotland almost all the arguments are based on the economy. Why is it so important here and apparently not in Greenland.

It surely is because the people that set the agenda for discussion all have a vested interest in the economy, but almost nothing invested in all the other facets of life. It seems that in Scotland, that any serious discussion of our seprate culture is viewed with embarrasment and that we do have a certain cultural cringe

Jimmy Kerr
SSP Renfrewshire
Ray Bell
December 2, 2008 at 9:12 pm

You make a good point, Jimmy. Obviously, the economy is important in that no one should live in poverty, but one of the overriding factors in both cases must be self-esteem and self-confidence. The Inuit, as a colonised people, have been told for centuries that both them and their way of life are somehow inferior - this goes a long way to explaining a lot of their social problems (although the lack of sunlight in Winter is also a problem in both Greenland and Scotland).

I think comfort, happiness and peace of mind are more important than massive amounts of money, which will buy people a lot, but not fulfil them.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Guarding Hard-Won Human Rights

The scenes in Parliament following the Queen's Speech were unprecedented in the modern era. Not since 1642 have we witnessed such indignation and outrage. At least it indicates that there are courageous souls who will not succumb to the kind of scenario characterised in "Animal Farm".

Greenland's Bid for Independence

For more information on the above please go to the following website: