Monday, 29 June 2015

Y Ddraig Goch y Ddyry Gychwyn

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Lest We Forget!

SNP warns Scotland could still vote for independence

Party’s Westminster leader says new referendum is on the cards if David Cameron fails to deliver promises on greater devolution

Angus Robertson
 Angus Robertson says Scots feel Westminster is ignoring their wishes. Photograph: Rex Shutterstock

The leader of the Scottish National party at Westminster has suggested that the people of Scotland could vote to leave the UK in a second independence referendum within five years if David Cameron fails to deliver on promises for greater devolution and imposes more austerity north of the border.
In an interview with the Observer, Angus Robertson, who leads 56 SNP MPs in the House of Commons – in what is now the third largest party – said many politicians at Westminster had clearly failed to grasp the scale of the political change in Scotland. The Tory government, he claimed, was attempting to backtrack on promises, made before and after last year’s independence referendum, to devolve more powers to Scotland while preparing an austerity budget that would also further inflame resentment. Some in the UK parliament, he said, seemed to be living in the vain hope that the SNP, and the pressure for independence, were temporary phenomena which would just “go away” – something he insisted would not happen.
The clearest sign of Westminster’s failure to comprehend the SNP and the wishes of Scots, he said, was the content of the Scotland bill on devolving powers which, as currently drafted, failed to implement many of the recommendations of the Smith commission that Cameron had pledged to introduce in full. Signs of backtracking by the government were feeding resentment among the Scottish people, who felt increasingly that Westminster was ignoring their wishes and failing to take on board the lessons from the SNP landslide north of the border.
Asked whether he believed there could be a second referendum and a Yes vote before the end of Cameron’s second term, Robertson refused to rule out the possibility. “I think that largely lies with David Cameron. He has to make a decision as to how he is going to approach governing Scotland with only one MP, having made a cast-iron promise and an undertaking to deliver on more powers for the Scottish parliament and the voters.”
He added: “Do I believe that in the future there will be further moves towards Scottish self-government? Yes, I do. Do I believe that there will in time be a growing desire in Scotland for independence? Yes, I do. Do I believe that in time there will be a referendum when the public wants it on independence and that there will be a Yes result? Yes, I do.”
Robertson insists his MPs are working constructively in parliament, but maintains the other parties are finding it impossible to accept the new force in their midst. “Westminster is having to come to terms with a very changed position in the chamber, where the Liberal Democrats are hard to see or hear because there are so few of them and this massive cohort of SNP are shocking the system by turning up to debates and taking part and having views that parts of the political class at Westminster have never heard.
“Images are regularly tweeted in Scotland of the small number of Tories on one side [of the House of Commons]and a similarly small number of Labour MPs – and scores of SNP MPs filling up the benches of the third party. Our party has arrived here with a job to do and, boy, are they going to do it.”
The SNP task was clear. “We were elected on a very well understood platform, standing up for Scottish interests to deliver the new powers that were promised to voters who voted both Yes and No in the referendum last year. We were elected on a strong mandate to oppose austerity, to resist the renewal of Trident, to represent our constituents. Unlike other parties, we have an extremely tangible north star.”
The SNP says it fully respects the narrow No vote last year, and that it is up to the Scottish people to decide if and when they want another independence referendum, an option party leader Nicola Sturgeon has refused to fully close off. There has been speculation that plans for one could be included in some form in the SNP manifesto for the Holyrood elections next year.
In the meantime the party is portraying the government and Westminster parties as serial betrayers. Robertson say that a cross-party report by the Scottish parliament, as well as analysis by the House of Commons Library, supports its view that the Scotland bill falls short of the recommendations made by the Smith commission, a claim the government strongly rejects.
Cameron says the bill does implement the commission’s recommendations and argues that the SNP is now backing off from its previous demands for full fiscal autonomy because it has realised it would be a bad deal for Scotland.
On devolution, Robertson added: “A promise was made and already we can see with the government’s legislation in the Scotland bill that has been presented does not match the Smith commission that was agreed and does not match the commitment made by the PM that he would look seriously on the proposals from the Scottish government on further devolution, which is what the people of Scotland voted on at the general election.”
The SNP says the bill fails to guarantee greater powers over welfare payments, and goes nowhere near delivering on Cameron’s pledge for a redistribution of power that would be as “close to federalism as possible”.
Ahead of next month’s budget, he said Scots would not take kindly to a package that imposed further cuts on them, in the form of £12bn of welfare reductions. Plans for a proposed multibillion pound renovation of parliament – which the SNP believes will rekindle memories of the fiasco of a Scottish parliament building completed three years late and at 10 times the original budget – were also unacceptable.
“Of course one needs to make sure a public building can function for its purpose, but spending £5bn, £8bn, £12bn on a renovation project I think is going to find very little favour with people who are about to be told their income is about to be cut very severely. There is hardly a bigger example of wrong priorities.
“The more that the UK parties, having been humiliated in the general election, do not respect the voters who voted for the SNP in the general election – but not for independence – there will be a growing view in Scotland that political institutions are not in a position to understand or care enough to realise that change needs to happen.”

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Wales Imposition

The Wales Bill that has been published by the UK Government is far from being an agreement. It falls short of the consensus that Silk worked so hard to achieve, and short too of what the people of Wales expect and deserve. If the devolution dispensation is to last, it must reflect the will of the people and respect Wales as an equal partner in this Union. Any devolution package that treats Wales as second rate is destined to fail. I’m afraid that if the St David’s Day Command Paper forms the basis of the Wales Bill, it has already failed the test of time. It leaves Wales languishing behind Scotland and Northern Ireland and will continue to leave Wales worse off in terms of funding.
Plaid Cymru warns that a package that treats Wales as second rate is destined to fail

Plaid Council leader scraps former Labour coalition's…

Chief Minister Vows to Deal with Internet Abuse

EXCLUSIVE: Nicola Sturgeon says she'll purge party of cybernats as she pledges to crack down on trolls and end online abuse 

  • SNP leader pledges to discipline members who spread poisonous abuse 
  • Has vowed to clean up Scottish politics from online trolls and cybernats 
  • Said politicians who follow online abusers must stop 'feeding the trolls' 
  • Hundreds of offensive tweets have already been sent by SNP members
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has pledged to discipline SNP members responsible for sending online abuse 
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has pledged to discipline SNP members responsible for sending online abuse 
Nicola Sturgeon has dramatically intervened in the battle against online trolls by pledging to discipline those SNP members responsible for spreading poisonous abuse.
The First Minister vowed to help clean up Scottish politics after this newspaper unmasked some of the country’s most vile cybernats.
Writing exclusively for the Scottish Daily Mail, the SNP leader said the time had come to ‘send a clear message that politics in Scotland will not be sullied by this behaviour’.
She also called on politicians who ‘follow’ online abusers to ‘stop feeding the trolls’. A Mail investigation has found that 72 Nationalist MPs and MSPs, including ministers and senior party figures, have online links with cybernats responsible for some of the worst abuse in public life.
We have also uncovered hundreds of offensive tweets from SNP members who are responsible for infecting politics with threats, vile abuse and racist and homophobic taunts.
The findings come only a day after the Mail revealed that the First Minister engaged on Twitter with a cybernat who uses obscene language against women and has threatened two Labour MPs with physical violence.
After our disclosures, Miss Sturgeon severed her online links with three cybernats.
Yesterday, after The Mail handed a dossier highlighting cybernat abuse to the party hierarchy, the First Minister said: ‘The SNP will take steps to warn those whose behaviour falls short of the standards that we expect.
‘We will tell them to raise their standard of debate, to stick to issues, not personalities and to ensure robust and passionate debate takes precedence over abuse and intemperate language.
‘And I am also making clear that, where appropriate, we will take disciplinary action.’
In a clear message to her own MPs and MSPs, Miss Sturgeon added: ‘We must ensure that as politicians we set a good example and debate the issues, not the insults. 
Raising the standard of debate is a responsibility across the board and I urge all parties to do as we have done – to say clearly that crossing the line will not be tolerated. And then we should all stop feeding the trolls.’


 Lochalsh branch, sent vile online messages to the late Charles Kennedy, branding him ‘a Quisling’ and ‘a drunken slob’.

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Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Way it Might Have Been


If the English had had the opportunity to vote for an SNP candidate at the last election, this conservative government would not now be in power.


Return the country to the people

The REAL Opposition

Angus Robertson: Labour has no backbone, the SNP is the real opposition at Westminster

Published on 21 June 2015
With Labour riven by an identity crisis and woefully lacking in backbone, the SNP is the real opposition at Westminster.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Referendum Revived

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Defending our Liberties


For Liberty, an Anxious 800th Birthday

If defending rights becomes the preserve of bureaucracies and international courts, especially those geographically remote and intellectually abstruse, Magna Carta's freedoms will mean for the rest of us what David Cameron's recent inability to explain them implies: not very much at all

Celebrating Magna Carta’s birthday is inevitably a complex and even disputatious matter. Historical events, especially those that still echo in our current politics, are subject to interpretation. Different ideological movements claim to be their best modern advocates. We read old phrases on old parchment and to our surprise we notice new meanings in them. And what have long seemed the ashes of dead controversies suddenly burst into flame.

Modern governments and oppositions intensely dislike debates, especially passionate debates, that wander outside the well-worn paths of contemporary argumentation over getting and spending. They don’t feel comfortable dealing with controversies that have religious or ethnic or constitutional ideas threaded into the narrative. They fear giving inadvertent offence.

In 1988 a group of distinguished Catholic laymen—and I should mention that I am a Catholic—let it be known to the Thatcher government that any major celebration of the 1688 Glorious Revolution would be perceived as offensive by the Catholic community. As a result, to its shame, the Thatcher government celebrated what is Britain’s own 1776 or 1901 as “Three Hundred Years of Anglo-Dutch Friendship”.

In addition to being cowardly, this was also absurd. I almost wish that Britain’s Catholic community would feel offended by a triumphalist view of the Glorious Revolution because that would mean they had heard of it. Such anxieties are groundless. Though 1688 is second in importance only to Magna Carta in the constitutional development of the Anglosphere, very few people could tell you its significance in Britain today.

Is that also true of Magna Carta?

The recent occasion when David Cameron, appearing on a television late-night talk show was apparently unable to translate Magna Carta for his host might suggest so. It was a truly mysterious moment. The Prime Minister went to Eton and Oxford. Magna Carta is not particularly cryptic Latin. He must know what it means. Anthony Barnett, a writer arguing from the standpoint of the dissenting Left tradition in British politics, tried to uncover Cameron’s meaning:

One [meaning] is that Cameron was under strict spin doctor instructions not to appear like a snobbish Brit who knew better than Americans, and therefore he feigned ignorance; the other that he actually had not the faintest idea what Magna Carta meant.

Barnett goes on to suggest that this nescience might be explained by the fact that if Cameron understood the meaning of Magna Carta in British history — and especially if he felt he had to embrace it as the foundation of British liberties — then he would be compelled to abandon his government’s policy on repealing Labour’s Human Rights Act. That’s an ingenious argument, even if a slightly implausible one, but it does illustrate that Magna Carta still has the power to surprise, embarrass, compel reflection and, in general, stir up contemporary passions.

Barnett’s deeper point is to suggest that an admirer of Magna Carta must logically support the codification of human rights in a written constitution that would limit parliamentary sovereignty and executive discretion. He seems to be speaking here on behalf of several traditions in several countries in addition to his dissenting English Left one. And if his interpretation of Magna Carta carries the day generally, then it will strengthen trends in Anglosphere politics — and indeed in European Union politics — that divide rights and democracy, and privilege the former over the latter.

But I am getting ahead of myself; let me return to Magna Carta. Let me also express relief that all the variations of Magna Carta were formulated and debated before the Reformation, when all the participants at Runnymede were Catholics, so we don’t have to worry about any easily offended Catholics. Well, that’s not quite true, actually, because at the request of King John, the Pope of the day, Innocent III, condemned Magna Carta. It is instructive, however, that this condemnation has not prevented Magna Carta from becoming the founding institution of parliamentary democracy worldwide. One triumphal instance of its influence was the declaration of religious freedom at Vatican II.

What other institutions and practices can be traced in their origins to Magna Carta? Let me suggest the following five.

First, Magna Carta is the founding moment of constitutional monarchy, which is itself arguably the most successful form of government today. This is clear in the most explicit way. It asserts that the king is not above the law. He is obliged to keep his executive actions in line with that law and to respect the rights of the people — including, for instance, widows. Here is some evidence of constitutional monarchy’s spread, stability, and success.

It is the form of government  in the UK, Australia, and fourteen other Commonwealth realms. It exists also in Belgium, Bhutan, Denmark, Jordan, Lesotho, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Tonga, Japan, Liechtenstein (which is a constitutional principality), Luxembourg (a constitutional grand duchy), Malaysia (an elective monarchy) and Monaco (a constitutional principality). There are others, and not all of these regimes are models of governance, but they are usually more progressive than their non-monarchical neighbours.

According to the World Bank, constitutional monarchies have an average GDP per capita of $29,106.71 and an average life expectancy of 75.6 years. Republics have an average GDP per capita of $12,518.76 and an average life expectancy of 68.3. Of the top ten countries in the 2011 Human Development Index, seven are constitutional monarchies. I could go on, but that probably suffices.

Second — and this follows automatically from the first point — Magna Carta is the constitutional moment when the rule of law enters the modern world. If the king is subject to the law, so is everyone else in the society. Society is therefore ruled by law, and not by men. And people at all levels can begin to make plans for their lives and work on which they can reasonably depend.

Third, Magna Carta is the start of a society based on liberties. Much of the language in the document restores specific liberties— fishing rights, for example — that the king had taken in earlier periods. That is even more true of the companion Forest Charter, which restricts and shares the king’s monopoly of game, hunting and forest economic activities in general. Both documents are saturated in the language of “liberties”, the nearest thing to rights in the modern sense, in general.

Fourth, largely because of these liberties, Magna Carta is the start of a relatively liberal society of dispersed initiative, authority and personal liberty. Recent medieval historians have seen this period as more enterprising and technically innovative than in the past. Magna Carta may reflect those trends; it probably also fostered them. It helped to liberate energies as well as people.

Fifth, Magna Carta is the start of the English democracy which has since spread around the globe, in some cases to peoples and regions with only an exiguous link to Westminster. That is a more controversial claim, and I would not stress it as strongly as the earlier four points. Insofar as democracy grows out of consultative forms of government, however, Magna Carta began the process that Simon de Montfort, the English Revolution, the Glorious Revolution, the 1689 Bill of Rights, the American Declaration of Independence, Edward Grey’s Reform Act, and other statesmen and developments elsewhere carried to full fruition.

Here we run into a modern problem — or rather two. Magna Carta began the process of securing the rights of the people under the rule of law against the power of the king and/or the executive. Such rights are mentioned in Magna Carta. They are not codified in a systematic way. They come and go in different versions of the Great Charter and the Forest Charter. But everyone seems to know that they mean.

Where did they come from? And how do we protect them?

They are the rights that people at the time thought they enjoyed as a result of living in a society ruled by the law they had just imposed on the king. They are rights under common law which express an agreed notion of fairness arising from court decisions over innumerable cases. And they gain their power from a shared social consensus that distils and then upholds them.

What they are not is bright ideas conceived by clever people in colleges, monasteries and courts and then presented for ratification in some formal process. In that they differ from much modern law-making, including most constitutions and modern charters of liberties in places such as Canada and the EU, which are indeed codified—that is, conceived, written down in one place, and presented as a new set of formal rights rather than a recognition of rights already enjoyed—as an innovation rather than as a tradition. How can we protect rights we know we possess but that don’t seem to be illuminated in neon?

Consider how we did so at the time of Magna Carta. As James Spigelman describes in Quadrant‘s July issue (subscribe here), there were several Magna Cartas, as well as the Forest Charter, and they emerged, retreated, were confirmed by the king, were retracted by him, were pressed again by the barons, and by degrees were established more or less irreversibly as the law of the land. Except for the fact that at least one of the reverses involved civil war and a de facto French invasion, this was a process we can dimly recognise through the mists of time as a political one. Kings conceded what they must, and barons (and the people dependent on them) took what they could — and vice versa as power relations changed. Still, the rights first claimed against the Crown at Runnymede became accepted over time as legitimate by all, including the Crown, and eventually even the Crown joined the barons in boasting of a uniquely English way of settling differences and working together. That kind of mythology may be historically dubious but it helps ensure that later disputes will also be more susceptible to compromise — unless, as under the Stuarts, the Crown is continental and thus overly logical in its political thinking — or as we should say now, “zero-sum”.

All that happened in a system that was by modern standards non-democratic. It continued until the day before yesterday. And when full suffrage democracy arrived in Western countries, it seemed at first that the problem of how to secure human rights against the king had magically evaporated. Since the people were the king, they needed less protection against his abuses of power. They would protect their own rights via the franchise and their elected representatives.

In other words, the people’s rights are protected by the power they enjoy in democratic politics. That would have seemed a statement of the obvious in the ten years after 1945. It now sounds very questionable.

Many modern devotees of Magna Carta, usually but not always on the Left, see this argument as deeply flawed. They use phrases such as “the tyranny of the majority” or “elected dictatorship”, and as a defence against such dangers, they want to establish bodies with the special responsibility of protecting people’s rights against the laws and regulations passed by democratic assemblies. It is not always clear what institutions could restrain majority governments if they were minded to do so. Constitutional courts might restrain majority governments in theory; but judges actually remained largely deferential to political majorities for several hundred years in Anglophone democracies. After the Second World War (partly in reaction to Nazism), there was an attempt to strengthen human rights against erosion by codifying them in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and setting up an international court to protect them.

But the political environment changed. Since the 1960s there has been a slow-motion collapse of judicial deference in Western democracies. Minority groups were becoming more vocal in pursuing their rights and interests through the political process. Scholars such as John Rawls invented concepts in political theory that made certain kinds of redistributive principles — and therefore redistributive policies — absolutely binding upon majority governments. These various trends coalesced in an argument that achieved surprising circulation and acceptance: namely, that majority government was the opposite of minority rights.

Its acceptance was surprising because the argument is transparently bogus. The opposite of majority government is not minority rights but minority government. And if a minority — even a minority composed of judges — is the final arbiter of government policies, then that minority is the sovereign power. Human rights then become an excuse for a judicial oligarchy. We can see that reality clearly when an army has the final say, as in Turkey. It may be less visible when the US Supreme Court is the sovereign minority. But it is no less real.

Such scepticism was rarely heard and still more rarely acted upon, however, as the 1970s wound into the 1980s and 1990s — and as a judicial oligarchy gradually took centre stage. Not only within countries, but also internationally.

With the end of the Cold War and the revival of international organisations crippled by it, a whole series of changes combined to make international rights enforcement a live political issue. I have already mentioned the rise of judicial power within the West and the revived confidence of the UN system. In addition there was the emergence of new global and regional bodies such as the European Union that challenged the existing international order of sovereign states; new international legal institutions such as the ICC; the emergence of a UN treaty and conference process that set a world political agenda at Beijing, Rio and Kyoto; and finally the NGO revolution. Together these changes amounted to the rise of post-nationalism and of post-internationalism, weakening the sovereign nation-state, empowering new non-state actors, moving towards a new structure of trans-national order—and in particular creating new enforcement mechanisms for human rights.

Whereas previously rights could be enforced only internally within the nation-state by parliaments, voters, courts or conventions, now UN monitoring bodies and NGOs could enforce the provisions of international human rights treaties on signatory countries (and according to some lawyers, even on countries that had refused to ratify the treaties). Yet, as the Hudson Institute scholar John Fonte has pointed out, the UN monitoring bodies often demand changes in law and practice that are the basic material of domestic democratic debate. Thus, the monitoring agent for the Convention on Discrimination Against Women told the British government to implement gender preferences or quotas, to amend the Equal Pay Act to institute ideas of “comparable worth”, and to compel gender equality of parental leave. These may be sensible ideas or not—usually they are not—but they represent an intrusion into democratic politics and the attempted imposition of external priorities on a self-governing democracy.

Human rights monitoring of this level of intrusion can even attack basic rights. Thus, UN bodies are critical of the US for adhering to the First Amendment right of free speech when it obstructs the criminalisation of “hate speech”. So internationally enforceable human rights are likely to be hostile to democracy until we get something like universal agreement on what rights are and what they should protect. And that’s not likely to happen soon.

Either we regard human rights as self-enforcing in a democracy by democracy or we establish bodies to enforce rights against democracy. The only external control compatible with democracy is a body that has the power of delay coupled with the power to ask democratic majorities to think again. Magna Carta seems to me to point in the first direction; continental states rooted in Roman Law point in the other. Most states have a mixture of the two systems, with the second gaining ground over time. The development of judicial imperialism in the USA, employing the Bill of Rights as a club against majoritarian rule, illustrates a more general drift.

But there is a third and final factor we should consider: namely, whether rights will survive under any legal system without a lively popular tradition of knowing what your rights are and standing up for them. Mark Steyn, the Canadian writer whose flinty libertarian conservatism is very far from Anthony Barnett’s dissident peasant leftism while both are close to each other in a joint hostility to unaccountable power, recently quoted a 2013 report that an armed US Forest Ranger, without apparent legal authority, had instructed some tourists not to photograph a herd of bison since there was a government shutdown of the national parks. Steyn then cited the provisions of Henry III’s Forest Charter which in 1217 opened the royal forests to the freemen of England, granted extensive grazing and hunting rights, and eliminated the death penalty for taking the king’s venison. These provisions remained in being until the 1970s. Steyn wrote:

The [National Parks Service] has not yet fried anyone for taking King Barack’s deer, but they are putting you under house arrest for taking a photograph of it. It is somewhat sobering to reflect that an English peasant enjoyed more freedom on the sovereign’s lands in the thirteenth century than a freeborn American does on “the people’s land” in the 21st century.

Sobering but hardly surprising. If defending popular rights becomes the special preserve of domestic bureaucracies and international courts, especially if their jurisdiction is geographically remote and intellectually abstruse, then Magna Carta will eventually mean for the rest of us what it apparently means for David Cameron or, more excusably, for the comedian Tony Hancock: “Have we forgotten Magna Carta? Did she die in vain?”

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Monday, 15 June 2015

Scotland ignored....independence gets closer

Promises of increased powers for Scotland fade as predicted in the case of the Tories gaining an absolute majority in parliament. The outcome will only strengthen the Scots desire for independence.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Iceland Recovers

Friday, 5 June 2015

Scotland`s Golden Future

Gold nugget worth £10,000 uncovered in 

Scotland is the biggest discovery in decades – 

but the man who found it almost THREW it 


  • Gold nugget worth £10,000 was found in a river in Scotland by a Canadian
  • It is believed the nugget, which weighs 18 grams, will spark a gold rush
  • The panning enthusiast who found it almost threw the hunk of gold away
A gold nugget worth a staggering £10,000 was almost discarded by the lucky man who pulled it from a river in Scotland.
The hunk of precious metal - thought to be the largest found in Scotland in seven decades - was discovered by a Canadian gold panning enthusiast in a river near Wanlockhead, in Dumfries and Galloway on Thursday morning. 
It is believed the 20-carat nugget, which weighs around 18 grams, will spark a gold rush in the area.
Scroll down for video 
Discovery: The large nugget of gold worth was found in a river near Wanlockhead, in Dumfries and Galloway
Discovery: The large nugget of gold worth was found in a river near Wanlockhead, in Dumfries and Galloway
Expert: Leon Kirk, who runs gold panning courses, holds the £10,000 nugget and his 20-year haul of gold
Expert: Leon Kirk, who runs gold panning courses, holds the £10,000 nugget and his 20-year haul of gold
John, the man who discovered it and asked that just his first name be published, was learning to pan for the precious medal under the watchful eye of expert Leon Kirk.
Mr Kirk runs gold panning courses from the Museum of Lead Mining in Scotland’s highest village.
John, who hails from the Gold Rush province of British Columbia, said: 'Leon was telling me how to look out for haematite, the red-coloured mineral which is often found with gold.
'We were a few minutes into panning when I found the nugget with a bean tin - an underwater viewing tin with a glass base.
'I saw the piece lying just under the surface of the water and picked it up.
'It didn’t look like much and I was just about to throw it back when I thought I should double-check with Leon first.
'I said "is this gold?" and couldn’t understand his excitement.
'Looking at the size of the piece I still can’t believe it’s such a big deal but it’s very interesting to watch the reactions.'
The 20-carat nugget, which weighs around 18 grams, could spark a gold rush in the area despite hunks of gold of this size being extremely rare in Scotland
The 20-carat nugget, which weighs around 18 grams, could spark a gold rush in the area despite hunks of gold of this size being extremely rare in Scotland
The last significant gold nugget to come out of the waters around Wanlockhead was a piece weighing 4.1 grams (pictured left next to the most recent discovery)
The last significant gold nugget to come out of the waters around Wanlockhead was a piece weighing 4.1 grams (pictured left next to the most recent discovery)
Golden nuggets of this size are extremely rare in Scotland - a country which does not have a commercial gold mining industry.
It is understood that any Scottish gold extracted or panned therefore commands a premium price.
Most of the larger pieces of Scottish gold have been found in this small area of the Lowther Hills which was once known as 'God’s treasure house of Scotland’.
Mr Kirk said: 'I like to tell my students that everyone goes home with a flake or two of gold, but this is exceptional.
'This was a big nugget. This is something I will never see in my lifetime again. That’s what makes it so special. 
'I was teaching him (John) techniques in the river of how to find gold.
'Within a few minutes he came up to me to show me what he found. It was just incredible. 
'I’m so glad for the guy. It’s great for the area. It’s great for the hobby. It’s given people a lift and a buzz. 
'John has the nugget. He’ll eventually pass it on to his daughter or something, it will stay in the family. He’ll never sell it that’s for sure.'
Wanlockhead Museum of Lead Mining trustee Gerard Godfrey (left) and gold panning expert Leon Kirk (right)
Wanlockhead Museum of Lead Mining trustee Gerard Godfrey (left) and gold panning expert Leon Kirk (right)
Mr Kirk added: 'I always knew there were sizable nuggets in these hills but, in my decades of panning, have only found very small pieces or flakes.
'The last significant find was made in 2002, ironically during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and that weighed in at 6.1 grams and is only a third of the size of the nugget that was found today.
'This is such a major discovery that people will be talking about it in 30 years time.'  
Mr Kirk’s collection of gold boasts a piece he panned in Perthshire weighing in at 16.5 grams, the biggest nugget he has found since he began panning more than 20 years ago. 
Museum trustee Gerard Godfrey said: 'We are absolutely delighted with such a significant find.
'No doubt there will be a mini gold rush once this gets out but we are very happy with that.
'We welcome responsible panners to the area and have all the equipment and information necessary for experienced or novice enthusiasts.
'There is now no doubt that there are some very large pieces of gold in these hills which are just waiting to be discovered.'
The museum is not naming the exact location of the find, for fear of a stampede of prospectors that could damage the delicate river bed. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Tired Old Labour in Wales - Better Watch Out

She's behind you: When Carwyn Jones met 

Nicola Sturgeon

8 hours ago
First Minister Carwyn Jones has been meeting his Scottish counterpart Nicola Sturgeon for talks in Edinburgh.
But when the pair where due to line up for a photo call, Mr Jones walked straight by Ms Sturgeon only to be met by shouts of "behind you" from the assembled media.

 Photo published for She's behind you: When Carwyn Jones met Nicola Sturgeon - BBC News

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

I am announcing today that I am a candidate for selection to the Plaid Cymru regional list for South Wales East. It is a privilege for me to do so; I have worked for the people and Plaid Cymru members of South Wales East for many years with Jocelyn Davies and was born, raised and educated here. Please get in touch if you'd like to know more or to share your views with me.