A furore, an uproar, or, a diaphanous truth? Judy Murray, yes, that one, mum of Scottish tennis players Andy and Jamie Murray, was out shopping on the other side of the Scottish border. I don’t know exactly where, but it was certainly well south somewhere in the shire of England

Judy Murray tendered a Scottish £10 note in payment for her purchase. The note was refused with the explanation that only British notes were accepted! Nice one……So much for the political crie de coeur about this sceptered isle being united.

Scottish bank notes do have a national developmental history. In addition, their ‘differences’ are indicated by the name of the bank that has issued them and designs they depict. However, they are legal tender. The English notes are similarly individualised. At the risk of being seen as partial here, and I assure you, I am not, I have never had a English bank note refused anywhere in Scotland for payment of services or goods. Even the banks in Scotland will disburse English bank notes as well as Scottish ones. I have though, had Scottish bank notes refused in England.

There is a parliamentarian trying to smooth out the ‘ethnic’ spending differences that have now been well publicised, which, arise when the Scots grace the shire of England with their presence and their money.


Apart from a rumble of disgust at the British Government’s response to the refugee crisis, I have not heard much discussion about the U.K’s sorting criteria for ‘acceptable’ refugees.  Britain is not open to refugees on the move, irrespective of the reasons why.  What we hear, is that any refugees that Britain accepts will have to be in the official camps  They will include the most vulnerable, (whatever that means) and likely, orphan children.  Alarmist voices quickly channeled all the resources arguments against giving refuge to unaccompanied children. The same arguments have been raised in respect of the trickle of ‘acceptable’ refugees over five years that Britain may give refuge too, 4000 per year.  In this instance the Westminster Government response was to offer time-limited assistance in areas where any refugees may be settled.

Funding the needs of extra people is a consideration, it has to be.  While that discussion is being resolved both domestically and internationally, it is worth remembering history shows that  previous waves of refugees who arrived in Britain have and still do substantially contribute to the wealth of this country.

Britain has not been mean with aid on the ground, far from it.  A major slice of basic aid in forming the camps, in particular, in Lebanon, has been given through the generosity of the British people.   But, not all refugees are in camps, there are a large number eking out an existence in  sub-standard conditions in countries like Jordan.  That said, their need to  be fed is no different from the refugees in the other camps.   Like many  in camps, (including camps in Turkey) they are now being forced to move on because the United Nations (U.N) which has been supporting these camps with food aid, has run out of money for food aid for  the refugees. The U.N has been reliant on international financial donations to support vast numbers of people with food.  Starkly put, the refugees, whether in camps or shacks, can no longer be fed.  Their choices for survival – the basic human instinct – are limited to moving on, to attempt to survive.  Life becomes a lottery. In trying to survive many die.

Communities around the U.K have spontaneously been taking practical steps; there have been collections of warm clothing for people stuck at Calais and other ports, who have arrived  at these places wearing their sandals and lightweight clothing, none of which is suitable for surviving Northern European Winters. In Vienna,  clothing donated from many sources  is given to the refugees as they arrive in the city. I expect the same scenario will have been enacted throughout other refugee arrival points, where refugees are being treated  with dignity.  Sad to say, treating the refugees with dignity  is not universal.

I was appalled to hear the rhetoric of Fascism by the Hungarian Government and from other Eastern European States. The Balkan Wars and the Hungarian uprising against Russian suppression  are all still within living memory.  They created refugees who were desperate for help.  Some of my faith in humanity was restored when I saw and heard the reports of the Hungarian people individually helping refugees, irrespective of their Government’s distasteful stance.

The UK has no need to swell its population with young and intelligent people from elsewhere to support an ageing population as much as some of our neighbour countries do, (like France and Germany, for example).   So, to minimise our responsibility to what the world has now accepted is a true refugee crisis, (as opposed to economic migrants) from Africa and the Middle East,  this is what the British Government says it is going to do over five years.  Britain will consider taking  a total of 20,000 ‘acceptable’ Refugees, (4000 per year) who are in official refugee camps.  Perhaps, from those selected  there will be orphan children.  You are definitely not going to be offered refuge in the U.K if you are a refugee with the many thousands on the move,  who are  risking life and limb to survive.




When British and other Nationals were advised to leave Egypt, the advice to them was the same, (when you could obtain information) as people have been receiving in Libya. The means of getting to an airport (or other exit point) was up to the individual. This guidance is very limited at the ‘best’ of times, and hardly works for for people who are stuck in the centre of bombarded areas (like war zones in or near Tripoli)or marooned in a desert or anywhere else construed to be the middle of nowhere.

The word has got to the British media by various means, that the response of the British Government to helping our citizens and anyone else, is woefully inadequate, indeed it is pathetic. While other countries have been getting their citizens and other nationals out of the danger zones, where they can, under media pressure, the very best Britain could offer, and very late in the proceedings, was one plane which got stuck on the tarmac for 10 hours going nowhere. Meanwhile, in television interviews, the Foreign Secretary of State, William Hague, sat in a high-backed winged leather armchair, looking serious and important, making disingenuous statements about Government concerns and rescue activities.

While the revolutionary turmoil continues apace in the Middle East, cut backs have been announced in the maintaining of, and staffing of British foreign embassies and legations. We will be told, no doubt, that the services given, (I think we now need to know what they are)can be offered in a more progressive,(which means radical) and efficient manner. If a large number of countries take the same view, there will be no-one to merge with, no country on which we can piggyback minimal services, or ask to act on our behalf for British nationals abroad. What value is Britannia, when she is internationally sinking into an abyss.