bellaBella is a newspaper and website. You can write for it, stock it, distribute it, sponsor it, subscribe to it:  email us at bellasletters (at)

Bella is edited by Mike Small.

Bella is named after  a character in Alasdair Gray’s Poor Things (1992). Like Bella we are looking for a publication and a movement that is innocent, vigorous and insatiably curious. Bella is aligned to no one and sees herself as the bastard child of parent publications too good for this world, from Calgacus to Red Herring, from Harpies & Quines to the Black Dwarf.

Poor Things is a remarkable book. Presented as the memoir of Dr Archibald McCandless, it describes his life and that of a colleague – Godwin Baxter. A monstrous proto-Frankenstein, Baxter performs surgical marvels, his greatest achievement being the (re) creation of life: he brings to life a drowned woman by transplanting the brain of the foetus she is carrying. The full-grown woman with the infant’s mind, is Bella.Earlier this year Alex Bell of All Media Scotland asked:

“Where is there a newspaper that champions independence as favoured, we are told by pollsters, by a majority of Scots? There is none. Never has been. It never ceases to amaze me that not one newspaper in Scotland supports the policy of independence supported by half of the six parties in Holyrood. That is not only anti-democratic, it is a disgrace to journalism and an affront to free speech.”

What’s at stake? Never mind sovereignty, or cultural identity, breaking with imperialism and the long overdue peace dividend is on offer. The Labour Party has moved fundamentally in the intervening twenty one years between Gordon Brown describing Trident as: “…unacceptably expensive, economically wasteful, and militarily unsound” as he did in 1984 – and David Cairns this week foaming at the mouth over a Scottish Government extending its sovereignty to effect a more peaceful world by refusing Son of Trident:

“Salmond prefers posturing on the world stage to delivering on bread-and-butter issues…instead he seeks to cavort across the world stage with his discredited looney left policies.”

Commenting on the anti-Trident summit in Glasgow, Labour’s éminence gris Baron Foulkes of Cumnock, spurted: “The SNP’s summit today is a ridiculous waste of time and taxpayers’ money. This is a reserved issue over which they have no control”. I suppose you could call good food for schoolchildren, or cancelling prescription charges, bread and butter issues, but then to develop these policies and deride the Treasury’s financial settlement, “makes us look like stupid, whingeing Jocks”, according to former Scottish Labour minister Sam Galbraith.Let’s not pretend this is anything other than an ethical choice about what kind of society we want to create and what kind of signals we want to project around the world.

As we know from bitter experience – and are constantly being told about Iran – it’s impossible to separate the new nuclear programme from the military programme. Instead, the new Brown government has already allocated £10 million for the fiscal years 2006-2008 on preparatory work for “future deterrent” capabilities. The annual cost of nuclear weapons in recent years has been between £1 billion and £2 billion. Therefore, it will cost between £50 billion and £100 billion to keep the Trident system from 2007 until 2055. It’s an odd direction for the famously fiscally prudent Iron Chancellor to go in. He’s a man who, according to Jonathan Freedland, when he looks for a way into any international problem, heads for the door marked “economics”.

Let’s take a look through that door. Researchers have calculated costs and translated them into alternative options. Assuming replacement cost to be at the “minimum of £25 billion” the pro-rata share of that paid by the Scottish taxpayer will be £2.125 billion – money could be spent in Scotland to pay for a combined package of: 10 new secondary schools, 5 new hospitals, 30 new community sports centre, 100 new dentists, 100 new doctors, 200 new teachers, hosting the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, dualling the A96 from Aberdeen to Inverness or the A9 from Inverness to Perth. Is that all? Setting aside the highly dubious value of our road-building programme or the stupidity of our Commonwealth Games bid, the lesson’s clear. This is a vast sum of money for an immoral and illegal weapons system.

Answering the question of “Can a small country make a contribution to addressing the major problems of our world?” Isobel Lindsay writes: “Smallness is not a bar to effectiveness. Switzerland, as home to the International Committee of the Red Cross, has made such a contribution during the last century. Sweden/Norway have the international Nobel prizes. The Netherlands is a centre for international justice.”
The truth is that post-Blair we have been handed Brown’s Britain, patented slogan: ‘Better yesterday’.
As Tom Nairn put it:
Brown was not of course elected, parachuted from On High, or installed by an indignant mob: over many years he materialized in fits and starts, glimpsed intermittently like a ghost from times past, brooding but saying almost nothing. Then suddenly the spirit was there, seated all too comfortably in the Anglo-Brit living room, account-books and Britannic sermons to hand. The armchair’s previous occupant had left for Jerusalem. Such is death in life.”

Bella proves there is life after death.

26 replies

  1. Hi, Just a quick note to congratulate everyone involved in Bella Caledonia on producing a genuinely refreshing and stimulating newspaper. Every article was interesting and enjoyable, but I was particularly fascinated by the interview with James D. Young as I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t come across his work before – an oversight I’ll be recifying at the earliest opportunity!

    Warmest regards – Stuart Christie

  2. What a refreshing change to the usual rubbish trotted out this website is. I stumbled upon it by a link from newsnet scotland and is now on my favourites list. I will tell my mates and family about Bella Caledonia. All the very best for the future


  3. I find the site less accessible than before but newsnet’s site organisation is very clear.

    It’s just my personal impression.

  4. I wanted to write something for Bella but didn’t know how to go about it. So here it is.

    Within just FIVE MONTHS of the Labour Party being elected with a majority in 1997, the late Donald Dewar had us voting in a referendum on setting up a Scottish Parliament.

    It’s only really complicated if you choose to make it really complicated.

    There is no need to sort out all of the details of independence, some of that can be sorted out after a decision is taken in principle.

    Since all parties are now agreed on transferring substantial powers from Westminster to Holyrood, the transfer of substantial powers can be taken as the “status quo”; and all that is needed in a referendum is a straight yes or no to negotiating independence.

    Last week, there was a referendum on the question:

    “At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead?”

    That doesn’t offer “various options”, it’s a simple yes/no question, and it would be quite possible to have an “independence referendum” along those lines. To give just one possible example:

    “At present, the Scottish Parliament has authority over some policies, but important areas such as finance, welfare, defence, and foreign affairs are reserved to Westminster. Should the Scottish Government enter into negotiations with the British Government for transfer of full sovereignty to Scotland?”

    I am certain the answer of the electorate in Scotland to such a question would be an emphatic “yes”.

  5. why don’t you scotts tell england where they can go, come on be more like ireland.

  6. take some of your 100 notes to london as the biggest note they print is a 50 most britts have never seen a 100 note, go have fun in their stores.

    • Gordy, pack it in. Your kind of nationalism I can do without.

    • £100 pound notes…..goodness me!……but according to lamont, Scotland does not have a currency of its own, and must keep the English Pound… of course these £100 notes are hallucinations, they must be, as they are clearly Scottish currency, still being printed, since the Act of Union!!…gosh, someone tell Lamont immediately, that these bank notes are coming out of cash machines all over Scotland, and being spent in the shops. This has to be put a stop to immediately, Mrs Lamont. Oh, how embarrassing for her!!….

  7. HI Mike,

    Ony yesterday saw your post on my Facebook page. They don’t email you anymore. Can’t find your email either. See my today’s blog on, and let me know how I can contribute to Bella.

    In solidarity,

    P.S. DId you know the Egyptian generals are going to pick 80 of 100 people who will draft a new Constitution…….?

  8. honestly now, you get a logo from alasdair gray and all and then you make such a blurry scan of it for the header. are those jpeg artifacts? honestly now.

  9. 10 reasons to vote yes. If you agree, share this link.

  10. Hi Mike,

    Bella as wonderful as ever. Would you like 1400 words on Islam’s Reformation – a longer version of what appears on Otherjones?


  11. Mike,
    Please send me your email. Can’t find it on your website. Soryy,

  12. Did you receive my piece about Islam? Congratulations on the million page viewers!


  13. I would like Mr B ell to read and reply to my comments on his article about Berwick. He obviously knows nothing about the town, its history and its people and writes nonsense from a safe distance. I live here.

    • Hi MIke,

      I’ve sent you two articles recently and apparently you didn’t like either of them. Why am I getting this email?


      On Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 10:23 AM, wrote:

      > ** > Derek B utler commented: “I would like Mr B ell to read and reply to my > comments on his article about Berwick. He obviously knows nothing about the > town, its history and its people and writes nonsense from a safe distance. > I live here.”

  14. Leave the capital, exit this Roman shell.

  15. Hi Bella Caledonia, good news!

    I have nominated your blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

    The rules of that award are at


  16. under capitalism Hope


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