Joe Middleton: I am 39 years old and have been involved in the Scottish independence movement as an activist for over twenty years (since 1987). I am also a keen chess player who is trying to improve, but without much success so far! I live in Granton in Edinburgh and am from Mayfield, Dalkeith originally. My blog is Political News from Scotland
What made you decide to start blogging?
I was trying to highlight instances of bias in the press pertaining to the Scots independence movement and also trying to give an overview to what was happening politically in Scotland.
What is your best blogging experience?
I was at the by-election in Glasgow East (which the SNP won thankfully!) and someone told me that they had been following my blog every day which gave me a bit of a boost as often you think no-one is reading your blog if you don't get many comments. Also Alex Salmond said he read it at a convention launch meeting I went to which was pleasantly surprising.
And your worst?
When you feel no-one is reading your blog and you are talking to thin air!
What do you regard as your best blog entry?
My posts tend to be a mixture of clippings from newspapers, letters to the Editor and the odd bit commentary if I think something has come up that hasn't been properly covered elsewhere. I quite liked this post which came from a letter I sent round a few papers:
I like the Scottish Patient (Kev Williamson), I worked with Kev in Independence First and I feel he always has something interesting to say. Ian Hamilton's blog is excellent (‘a drunk man looks at the thistle’) and I also like 1820 (by Gus Abraham).
What inspired you to go into politics?
I came to the realisation as a teenager that Scotland was being ignored politically. It didn't seem to matter who we voted for, our wishes were not thought about. Later I studied a bit Scottish history (which wasn't really taught in Scots schools at the time) and after watching a PPB in 1987 I resolved to join the SNP.
You recently blogged about past attempts to undermine Home Rule for Scotland. Surely English support for Scottish Home Rule is more widespread than ever?
There is growth in support for English home rule as a reaction to Scots and Welsh home rule. There is also a growing desire for English independence but there is no political party offering this. The beginnings are there but there is no genuine threat to Britain from England at the moment. Parties like UKIP are quite xenophobic and patronising when it comes to Scotland. UKIP doesn't realise that the UK is already independent and could leave the EU if it wanted to. The English democrats demand devolution but it's only with a strong demand for independence that devolution is likely to be achieved. Again they are quite anti-Scottish which is unhelpful and doesn't reflect the more modern style of nationalism in Scotland and Wales which asks people not to blame another country, but to be aware that we can take more power for ourselves simply by voting for it.
How do you see Scotland faring within the next year in the face of the current economic crisis?
I'm not sure. The collapse of the banks has affected political confidence in Scotland's financial abilities but it also looks like Britain is looking more and more economically unstable by the day. Brown is borrowng too much yet he is unwilling to take measures which would improve things. It makes no sense to cut interest rates on mortgages if mortgages are already at too high a level, all this does is extend the housing bubble for a longer period. Similarly cutting interests rates in an attempt to make people spend money they don't have is rather silly, the correct thing to do is save during a recession and spend during the better times. Brown knows this but he appears to think the public are complete idiots.
The recent decision to allow a buy out by the Union Jack waving Nationwide of the formerly very strongly Scottish Dunfermline Building Society shows GB's political agenda. We Scots really need to make decisions about our economy and public spending ourselves because we can't trust Britain to act in our best interests.
Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?
I would like to go to Paris, Dublin and the USA.
Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?
I spent a very enjoyable and interesting trip in Barcelona, Catalonia recently. The Catalans and Basques both have very interesting independence movements so I would like to go back to Catalonia or to the Basque country for a political look see. I also did a trip around Holland and Germany while I was in high school and I would like to go back to both of these countries at some point.
Who, excluding the present SNP leader and First Minister, do you regard as the best First Minister, and who do you regard as the best SNP leader?
I think Henry McLeish seemed to be the best of a bad bunch.
Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?
I have had a few close friends who have inspired me politically. Andrew Lumsden who I worked with between 1990 and 1992 when he stood for election in Midlothian was a very inspiring guy. Sadly he died recently. I find the story of both John MacLean and Thomas Muir very interesting and inspiring. Also Jim Sillars is a very exciting public speaker and I enjoyed the times when he was the SNP's deputy leader.
Favourite Bond movie?
Sean Connery is the best Bond but I think On her Majesty's Secret Service is the best film.
Favourite Doctor Who?
Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
All of the above.
Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?
Not sure. Don't really know them.
Favourite national newspaper?
What would you say your hobbies were?
Chess, politics and reading.
And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
Wild Card in the Pack - Prefab Sprout
Cap in Hand - Proclaimers
Frank & Ava - Suzanne Vega
The Dune series by Frank Herbert (all six books are magnificent)
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh