The Charge of the Fright Brigade

In today's Scottish Sun there's a nice photo of the leaders of the three main Westminster parties as they abandon their usual ritual hostilities and instead head north in a last ditch attempt to frighten the unruly Scots into not voting for independence.


So the rumours are true. It looks like even Rupert Murdoch is convinced that Better Together has blown it and is therefore, true to form, now coming out to back the Yes campaign.

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I thought about flying the Union Jack

Apparently, we're now being urged to "fly the Saltire to persuade voters in Scotland to reject independence".

Odd, isn't it? I'd have the ought the obvious flag for Unionists to fly would be the ... er ... Union Jack. But when politicians are gripped by panic, they lose all sense of reason.


By that inverted logic, I suppose they would take the Union Jack to be a sign of support for an independent Scotland.

Well, I thought about buying one ... but just couldn't bring myself to do it. They wouldn't get the joke.

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Banksy says Yes



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Butterflies and an AyePad

Bella Caledonia has been running a competition for the best independence poster, and the twenty that have made it onto the shortlist can be seen on this page.

There are two that I particularly like. The first is one that I've shown before and is well worth showing again.


The second is by G Connelly:


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No love

Better Together, the group campaigning for a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum, launched a video aimed at women voters yesterday. It was immediately described as "insulting" by the Yes campaign because it portrayed women as "daft ditherers" ... although it's hardly likely that either side would have anything good to say about what the other side produces.

What surprised me, however, was what Blair McDougall, the director of the No campaign, said at the launch:

"The key factor for people isn't the love of our country – as both Yes and No voters love Scotland. The key factor is the love of our families."

Which can only mean that he thinks those who vote No love their families, but that those who vote Yes don't love their families.

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Scotland Yet

If you can carve out an hour-and-a-half, I'd recommend using it to watch this film from Rough Justice Films. This is what they have to say about it:

Scotland Yet is a feature length documentary that takes a radically different approach to the debate on Scottish independence.

Blissfully free of sound bites, politicians and statistics, Scotland Yet examines the sum of several personal stories from across the nation to explore the many reasons why we find ourselves at such an historic impasse.

Filled with remarkable characters and sparkling with collective imagination, vision and humour, this is the story of a society that’s beginning to see itself in a whole new light. From the old to the young, from veteran activists to bold artists, Scotland Yet delves into the past, documents the present and asks poignant questions about Scotland’s future.

This film focuses on the real referendum debate, the one taking place in the streets, homes and communities across Scotland. It documents the most important discussion we have ever had, as democracy, place, what we have here and what we lack, come to the fore.

A coming of age story about a whole society: Scotland Yet is a unique and radical cinematic journey about a country that will never be the same again.


Click the four-arrow button at the bottom right to watch it in full screen mode.

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Welsh Language GCSE Results, 2014

Each year at this time I take a look at what the GCSE results can tell us about the way Welsh is taught in our schools.

There are three different types of Welsh GCSE: Welsh First Language, Welsh Second Language (full course) and Welsh Second Language (short course). However a substantial number of Year 11 students, even though they study Welsh, still do not take any Welsh GCSE. The number of entries for each can therefore be used as one indicator of the state of Welsh teaching in our schools.


This year the figures are again quite positive. Although the size of the cohort has decreased by about 1,100 compared with last year, the overall number taking Welsh GCSEs has increased by more than 200, and the number of students not taking any form of Welsh GCSE has fallen from 5,768 to 4,447 ... its lowest level ever in both numerical and percentage terms. These are the figures:

Total number of students aged 15 at start of year
35,262 (was 36,361) ... down 1,099

Welsh First Language
5,591 entries (15.86% of year) ... was 5,636 (15.50%) ... down 45 (up 0.36%p)

Welsh Second Language (full course)
10,566 entries (29.94% of year) ... was 10,183 (28.01%) ... up 383 (up 1.93%p)

Welsh Second Language (short course)
14,668 entries (41.60% of year) ... was 14,774 (40.63%) ... down 106 (up 0.97%p)

Total Welsh Entries
30,815 entries (87.39% of year) ... was 30,593 (84.14%) ... up 222 (up 3.25%p)

Number who did not take any Welsh GCSE
4,447 (12.61% of year) ... was 5,768 (15.86%) ... down 1,321 (down 3.25%p)

Source for GCSE results
Source for Cohort Size (Maintained Schools)
Source for Cohort Size (Independent Schools)

The graphs below show how the numbers and percentages have changed over the last couple of decades, and a spreadsheet with full details is available here:

Although the Welsh First Language entry is down very slightly in numerical terms, it has again risen in percentage terms. The long term trend should continue steadily upwards. The latest figure for Year 2 assessments in WFL is 22.4% of the cohort and, given the new emphasis on continuation between primary and secondary school, this should mean that the figure for WFL GCSE entries will be comfortably over 20% when these pupils reach Year 11.

In terms of Welsh Second Language teaching the percentage entries for both full and short course GCSEs have risen, but it is encouraging to note the significant increase in those taking the full GCSE rather than the short GCSE. It probably won't be very long before the short course is phased out altogether, and the challenge will be to make sure that pupils do in fact take the full GCSE exam rather than opt out of taking any exam in Welsh at all.

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