‘Twas the night before independence…

17 09 2014

I haven’t written about the Scottish independence campaign before now because so many others have done so before me and considerably better.

I’m writing tonight, the night before the referendum for posterity. To remind myself what it is I’m voting for and why.

I’m voting YES.

I’m voting yes for a number of reasons, I’ll probably forget some in my list.

Mostly I’m voting yes for my daughter and any children she may have, and their children, for whom the idea of being governed by another country should be as alien as foodbanks. I don’t expect a Scottish utopia or immediate changes. I wouldn’t even be surprised if things got a little challenging for a while. The real benefits of independence won’t be experienced until my daughter is an adult. I’d hope that includes a free higher education for a mind that already shows signs of heading to university. I don’t want her starting life with £60k debt. Yes I do believe society has a responsibility to educate.

Each of my reasons for voting yes relate back to my daughter in one way or another. I want her to experience true democracy. No one who considers Scotland a country in it’s own right can believe the current political situation is democratic. We sometimes get the government the country votes for but always we get the government England, c.85% of the electorate, vote for. If a country is unhappy with their chosen government then they should have the pinnacle of methods accountability at their hands, the ability to vote that government out should they fail to deliver. With less than 9% of the electorate of the UK, Scotland can never do this without the help of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If we don’t vote for Tories & England does, we get Tories & we have no power to hold them accountable because we have none (or one) to remove from their seat in the commons. A country should control it’s government.

I’ve heard the argument that we already have our own parliament dealing with devolved issues but this doesn’t give us any control over social security, defence, foreign affairs or even the budget we receive from Westminster. Now the Westminster budgets are a little strange. Why pay all our tax to London to be given a little bit of pocket money back? Our funding will be cut, I have no doubts about that. We’ll pay the same if not more in taxes and get less pocket money back. We all know how funding cuts will affect services we currently have. This will eventually lead to NHS cuts. Westminster parties are right when they say that Holyrood is responsible for our devolved health service spending but we can only spend the pocket money we are given. If that’s cut, inevitably the nhs will come to be cut. There are only so many police, social care and education etc cuts we can take before the nhs is highlighted for its share of cuts. It’s disingenuous for Westminster to claim that’s not in their hands, it may be indirect but they hold the purse strings. I do love the NHS

This leads to another reason, I firmly believe the money we give to London to be spent on trident and illegal wars we don’t want to get into, could be better spent on more progressive and productive things like health, education and social security. I don’t want nuclear bombs on my doorstep. I don’t want my daughters life in the hands of megalomaniac millionaires with their finger on a red button. When I was a child, my parents took me on CND marches and I’ve grown up opposed to nuclear weapons. I don’t want them here, they’re not a deterrent, they’re a target. They need to go. Not down south but be gone forever.

And while still on about money. I don’t give a shit what currency we use. Like it or not we live in a capitalist world, there will be a solution be it currency union, sterlingisation, smackerooni or dust bunnies – too many people want to shaft us for all we’re worth to let us relax in an egalitarian bartering society.

The same theory applies with banking and supermarkets and other businesses threatening us in the event of a yes vote. Capitalism won’t sit and wait for them to catch up. Someone else will come along and take over. For banks I hope it will be credit unions, for shops I hope there is a regrowth of independent traders. People will always want to make money. At it’s most basic, capitalism allows for competition – let the banks go. Let asda raise their prices, people will take their business elsewhere.

Now everyone goes on about the bloody oil. Either we’re bathing in the stuff or it’s running out. It’s been running out since the day we took the first barrel. That’s no surprise… In my opinion, the oil is a bonus but not something to build a country on. We have a good percentage of Europe’s renewable energy in Scotland, we should be looking to that for the future, let oil be the cherry on the
cake, not the main ingredient.

Talking of cherrys on cakes. Lots of campaigners believe independence will rid Scotland of the Tories. As nice as that would be, I don’t believe this to be the case. Prior to Thatcher, Scotland was a fairly conservative country. I don’t think everyone here is an anarcho communist or even remotely socialist. We are generally a country that seeks a fairer society but true democracy will give the Tories equal chance to lay out their positions and some will prefer them to the alternatives. Similarly I am not and never have been an SNP supporter. I can’t say I never will be but I highly doubt it. I currently like the Greens having been abandoned by labour. An independent Scotland with it’s fairer electoral system will allow smaller parties access to parliament & the chance to grow & govern.

Acht there are probably many more reasons but it’s late so that’s it for now…





Cybertwattery

15 06 2014

I’ve remained fairly quiet on the issue of internet twats when it comes to the indyref – partly because I learned a long time ago starving trolls is the best means of killing them, and partly because even mentioning the T word (troll not twat) seems to get the attention of every brainless moron displaying the extensive vocabulary of a Viz dictionary with most of the interesting pages ripped out. Who can really be arsed?

I won’t pretend there aren’t many, many abusive arseholes out there on both sides of the “debate” because I’m not going to patronise any poor bugger bored enough to read this. I’ve met my fair share of Yes and No cybertwats. I’ve been called a traitor by a member of the yes camp for not slavish licking Salmond the Hutts rotund belly every time he speaks, and I’ve been called much worse for daring to want more for the country I live in. Oddly none of it (yet) has focused on my ownership of breasts or vagina – maybe that’s why you’ve not seen my hatted head gracing the front page of the Daily Heil. I’m sure there’s time yet.

While many are quick to jump to the defence of the hundreds of thousands who don’t embark on offensive cybertwattery, there’s a huge, important issue we’re missing out. This is a huge part of Scottish culture. It happens in real life as often as it does online. It’s just much harder to document or prove when you can’t take a screenshot. I’ve been subjected to verbal abuse since the day I moved back to Scotland. This was long before indyref was ever mentioned. It’s like a cultural game for some. Insults are normalised and because abuse is ‘just having a laugh’, people struggle to see the problem. The issue here being based around the independence campaign, highlights that what was widely distributed, localised and aimed at fatties, ‘alts’/goths or people of colour, for example, has become politically focused and virtualised. I’ll be honest, being the recipient of street abuse has dropped for me personally since the growth social media. That’s not to say some imbecile with the intellectual capacity if an overripe banana hasn’t attempted to give me what for from the safety of their car, but as this anger has transferred online, it’s just not happening as much in real life.

I think we’re being awfully naive if we believe that cybertwats (regardless of stance) are a new thing and we can’t say anonymity is always a reason as some of these fuckwits don’t have the foresight to anonymise their interactions. The internet just gives those who have the ability to shout loudest to complain about it and give the mushy banana-brained twats access to big media names in a way they never had before. The goths of the country breathe a huge sigh of relief!

Talking of celebs, let’s not pretend that the whole Rowling abuse debacle wasn’t entirely stage managed either. I mean it was like a gift. She says just wait for the cybernat abuse to appear after highlighting her obvious support for No, and lo! just like an angel of the Lord before an unmarried, virgin, teen mum, it appears. Funnily enough, it just so happens she’s got a new book coming out too. A PR guru couldn’t have timed such a non-story and predictable response so well, or could they? Half of me wants to say, surely even noob trolls aren’t so daft as to fall for that invitation but I’ve wandered down sauchiehall street when there’s been a hint of sunshine. These fannies just don’t have a single brain cell between them. Poor bunnies don’t realised they’ve been played and it’s fuck all to do with indyref really, it’s just the PRs-PR machine spluttering into action.

Christ I can just see it now. Cybertwats will become the latest PR tool in the slimy arsenal of slimy arses, and they won’t have a clue. Twaty McTwatish will continue to drop the C-bomb cos he, or she, thinks it’s dead clever. Or funny. Or something. Truth is, they don’t know why they do it, they just do. Just as their father, mother and grandparents did before them. Like flies to shit they swarm and regurgitate unintelligible bullshit because that’s how it’s been for generations. Just sit in any Scottish pub and among the genuinely intelligent and engaged debate you’ll always find one or two who just cannot do it and turn to insult. They don’t understand it and unless they break free from the twatty habit they never will. These are the same people who’d rather end a pub debate with fists or jaggy bottles and call it a laugh the next day. At least online the fists are only pounding a keyboard.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with online or offline abuse of celebs or ordinary people, but someone somewhere has to recognise it’s entrenched in Scottish culture under the heading ‘banter’ and who wants to be the “miserable bastard” stopping “the lads having a laugh”? This problem isn’t restricted to the independence debate either and it won’t miraculously disappear on September 19th after the referendum. Something does need to be done about it both online and off but it’s bigger than the ‘online bantz’ suggests. The Scottish male’s (and females) acceptance of aggression and violence in every day life confuses me. I’ve asked people why they do or accept it and have been told “just cos” or “it’s always been that way”. I’m not claiming every scot is violent or even the majority of them, and I have seen an improvement in the past few decades but social media has given these people another outlet, this time using words and threats in writing, where it can be proven instead of in-street interaction.

How long before someone’s having a go at me for daring to say this? Well I’m allowed my opinion and to discuss my observations on my blog. Don’t like it? Scream into a pillow! I won’t be listening.





Big Debate, little being said.

27 05 2012

So I’m watching the big debate on BBC Scotland. I’m not impressed.

I’m not impressed with the blatantly unionist audience members who don’t present a balanced approach to the independence debate.

I’m not impressed with the poor debate skills and manners of the “panelist” politicians who are persistently talking over each other making it impossible to hear what they are all saying, losing potentially important and valid points being made.

I’m not impressed with the inability to move from a purely political approach to independence rather than a wider social and personal implications of independence.

And most of all, I’m not impressed with how little Scotland’s own citizens think of their country and it’s prospects.

This last point has me wondering why these people who seem so disillusioned with Scotland’s prospects are happy to continue with a poor (wo)man’s status quo. Why accept this second best as a continuum? Why let people so far removed from our lives make important decisions for us that are damaging to us and do nothing about it when we are being given the opportunity?

What are we so scared of?

Political apathy in this country is shameful and the big debate audience are highlighting the problems with a continued national apathy. People are sitting back and letting others decide our future for us based on half truths, fears, lies and rumour. The people of Scotland need to take the power back from the Eton Toffs. The people of Scotland need to decide their future without external and nationally damaging political pressures. The people of Scotland need a balanced input and output in such important debates and they are not getting any of it.

The Big Debate was less of a debate and more a case of highlighting yet again BBC bias and fear of presenting alternative points of view. And things can only go downhill from here 😦

This isn’t a particularly well written or thought out blog post, just more than I can fit into a tweet.





Slippery Salmond and his media mates.

30 04 2012

Let me start by reiterating that ALL POLITICAL PARTIES ARE CORRUPT to some degree, and within them politicians are self-serving, egotistical and unscrupulous . We’re surely not daft enough to still believe they work in our best interests and do so in an entirely altruistic manner. So when the media decides to attack Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond for doing what essentially every politician does, forgive us if most of us aren’t reeling in shock and horror about it.

Unionist parties and journalists seem to think they have the winning lottery ticket with their ‘independence politician talks to media mogul about controversial company takeover’ stories. They are conveniently ignoring the wider issues surrounding conflict of interest and corruption among UK politicians, who in this instance were hugely influential in the potential BSkyB take over process and it’s (then) ultimate success or failure. And the implications of the issues surrounding the UK government and the BSkyB bid are massive, humongous even!

Then there’s the apparent revelation that Salmond privately assured Donald Trump over dinner there would be no wind farms within sight of his golf course. Who actually knows if he did or didn’t. It seems odd that he would make such a promise when renewable energy is likely to pull in considerably more investment and jobs for Scotland than a golf club, coupled with his seeming commitment to renewable energy as a major income source for Scotland. On the face of it, such a pledge would seem unlikely! However, it’s not inconceivable he’ll say what is necessary to get what he wants. He is a politician after all and a pledge is as good as lie in the political world, just ask Nick Clegg.

So who’s the bigger fool? The american businessman who took a politician at his word, or the media for the resulting faux outrage?

On the scale of things, Salmond, (a man I’m not particularly keen on, head of a party I’m not particularly keen on), and his media defined Lapdog behaviour is minuscule. Any remotely intelligent person will see this for themselves. He was just doing what those of his ilk all do, schmoozing with the media and lobbying on issues that could benefit his party or people or country, and yes probably also his ego. Why single him out for special media attention when this issue highlights a far more dangerous and destructive sleaze practice in the UK government? It seems that while people talk of Hunt needing to go, just like Fox before him, we do nothing to ensure it happens and the media look the other way.

The multiple improprieties of those in government over the past two years should have the entire country up in arms, in the same way the media appear to be over Salmond and Murdoch up a tree k.i.s.s.i.n.g. It was pointed out on twitter that The Guardian had posted five… Yes FIVE stories in 24 hours on the Salmond and Murdoch issue, each one a rehash of the others, paraphrased here:

“Politician trying to destroy our great England, does what all politicians do, but we don’t like his so here’s why he smells and you shouldn’t play with him anymore”

It’s getting a bit old reading story after story trying to discredit one man who on the face of it appears to be doing a reasonable job for Scotland in current circumstances, with behaviour no worse than that of his Westminster counterparts.

Now this may sound like I’m waving the golden flag and I don’t deny I may do so in the future as red no longer suits me, but there are no comparable politicians in Scotland at the moment. Three clone-like bores and a single green MSP suggests our choice is limited, indeed it appears there is no choice. The UK and unionist media are well aware of this and take every opportunity to discredit Salmond and his party. As someone totally disillusioned with Labour and never willing to vote for the Conservatives and latterly Liberal Democrats for showing their true colours, I’m finding the SNP policies more attractive but not yet to the point I’d become a card-carrying member. However, when the media concentrate solely on one party and focus in on one man, it gets me wondering what they’re so scared of.

Its true the other parties don’t have headline-worthy leaders, and they’re not exactly creating waves in Scottish politics at the moment. If they’re not having dinners with media moguls it’s because they’re dull as dishwater and any journalist worth their wage will realise there is no story there. Hell, the other main parties in Scotland barely have a decent policy between them to talk of, they’re  not exactly newsworthy. Their approach to politics, much like the medias approach to reporting it, is to negatively discuss Salmond and the SNP without offering so much as a constructive criticism.

I keep abreast of all Scottish parties social media output and while they all have moments of cringe worthy unprofessionalism, I don’t see the same negative talk from the SNP publicity team that I do from the other 3 parties. Labour are the absolute worst for spending useful canvassing time putting down SNP candidates and their policies, instead of promoting their own policies. At times it’s like a playground bitching session where they gather their peers around and try to convince them the new(er) pupil is nasty and horrible and everyone should stay away. Much like the national media in any instance of Salmond not being Mr Perfect, Scottish Labour pounce on it with more passion that a belieber with loose knicker elastic and this REALLY put me off them. The positivity of the main SNP publicity accounts online is somewhat refreshing. There are always individual SNP candidates/members who feel they need to spend their time bitching and backstabbing the opposition, but on the whole it’s left to labour et al to make a tit of themselves. It’s odd how the national media or indeed regional media rarely picks up on this competitive negativity, yet you’d think the other parties would notice when they’re essentially ignored in the media.

This again takes me back to my point about dinner with the media moguls. It may be, I honestly have no idea, that the other party leaders in Scotland will meet with News International (etc) staff to promote their cause, but that the media, like the rest of us have difficulty in establishing exactly what it is the parties campaign for. There is a lot to criticise SNP for, but their ability to manipulate the media and create a story, is not one of the reasons.

With the above in mind, and knowing the average users inability to read words, I feel it’s important to highlight that I disagree completely with the levels of power the likes of News International hold over parliament and politicians, as well it would seem as certain sections of society who consume the NI brands like they’re chocolate. Parliament and politicians are there to represent us and work for us and we need to reiterate this at every level. Just because all politicians behave in a similar manner courting the press and lobbying for companies that may benefit them or their families, doesn’t make the behaviour right or any more acceptable. Singling out one politician to mask the behaviours of more corrupt members of the uk parliament or indeed the entire sleazy coalition government, treats media consumers like fools. I don’t think I’m especially intelligent and if I can work out the rouse, I’m sure millions of others will too.

Id like to think that the media could and would adapt to suit a more alert readership, a readership who are more likely to be able to read between the lines. And for those who do not want to or cannot do so for themselves, I’d like a balanced, unbiased media who used their literary skills to present information in such a way that their readers could make their own minds up based on the facts presented, not to spoon feed them the party line of whomever is in favour that week.

It’s probably too much to ask.





An independent Scotland or a listening Britain?

6 05 2011

This is just a bit of a brainfart based on what’s going on in my head after the elections. Opinion rather than a heavily researched blog…

How exciting were the 5th May 2011 elections?

Not very.

For years I was a labour supporter, as were my parents. The socialist element and the consideration for education and state were important to us. Well Labour pretty much fooled the chattering classes by dressing up as warmongering Tories in red and so my family turned our attention elsewhere, long before the bankers cocked up our economy.

The Liberal Democrats spoke a good game leading up to the General Election of 2010 but now we all know how they shafted their voters by climbing into bed with the Tories and then their true colours shone through. Their desire for power, that they would never get on their own, was greater than their desire to keep their promises to their voters. It’s a shame really as they had the potential to grow more influential but failed. Oddly the British public, fearing the unknown or just not listening to the newspapers of the time didn’t vote en-masse for the LibDems at the General election as expected. Perhaps they could see through the PR monster built around Clegg. I wouldn’t be surprised if slowly this party died off completely.

The Conservatives never change, they performed exactly as expected and at times exceed those expectations making Thatcher look like a loveable hippy communist. They are a vile bunch of privileged buffoons who for some reason manage to fool mainly but not exclusively, those in the South of Britain, that they adequately represent the country.

5th May 2011

In Scotland we had the Scottish Parliament elections on 5th May 2011. It was pretty much ignored by the London UK media until *surprise surprise* the Scottish National Party had a landslide victory.

Of course in Scotland this was no surprise, it was entirely expected, but it spoke volumes to the political commentators down South. The “big three” parties were all quite severely hit, all losing seats to the SNP. Now there are claims of the British political landscape changing. Do they honestly believe it will make a difference to those voted in by, yet blinded to the people?

For me, and many of the people I spoke to, the problem with politics lies with the fact there are only three, or four in Scotland, main parties. The choice is so limited and their policies so similar that there is no actual choice. When it came to my constituency vote for the Scottish parliament it was more a matter of elimination than a desire for my chosen candidate to succeed. That isn’t real democracy in action its picking the least worst from a bad bunch because you feel the need to at least say something.

There were more options on the regional “list” vote and having only one choice out of those available, meant that many good potential politicians were being left out. I would rather have chosen two from the regional list than voted for a constituency MSP.

I’m sorry Pirate Party, had Greens been a constituency option you’d have got my list vote.

Regardless it was done and within 24 hours it was widely known that the SNP had done even better than expected. They gained a majority of the seats in the parliament by a landslide.

Interestingly, their past as a minority government was fairly inoffensive as they had to negotiate with other parties to get policies and legislation through. To me, it’s not such a bad idea to do this. It meant introducing bills that took into account many of the views of the MSPs from differing parties and given the involved consultation processes in getting a bill through parliament, it was often more representative of the populations wants and needs. It meant things were pretty bland over the past 5 years but nothing too damaging was done. No massive damage to the NHS for example and no minimum pricing on alcohol.

It will be interesting now to see how the SNP perform with a majority. Now we will get to see which side of the fence they lie on. No longer can they perch in the middle, dipping their toe in both left and right sides while staying stoically in the centre. We will get to see the true colours of the SNP and it can be either quite exciting or totally terrifying.

It’s no secret the SNP want Independence for Scotland and judging by the differences between Scottish and English political preferences in elections, it may not be such a bad idea. For sure, Westminster do not adequately reflect the needs and wants of the Scottish people on national issues and haven’t done so for a long time, even pre-devolution. With only one (YES ONE!) Scottish Conservative MP at Westminster, there is currently no real representation in the British Government for the Scottish people.

The real problems arise when looking at the logistical nightmare that would be gaining actual independence beyond the vote. We already know England would not happily give up the lucrative oil industries in Scottish waters. What would Scotland’s defence system look like? What about the state benefits system or pensions? Would the BBC still be advert free or would it need additional funding or more governmental support? Would we become a republic or keep the monarchy? Would the UK become a federal state or would Scotland gain full independence and leave the UK? Would we stay in the EU or not? How would independence affect UK made legislations retrospectively?

What would this process actually cost the country? What would this process cost the tax payer?

I’ve already heard some people suggest we’d just take 1/4 of the UK finances as we leave, but does that include 1/4 of UK debt too? Scotland already pay a proportionally high tax thanks to their oil/gas industries, that both Labour and Tory governments have  helped themselves to with ‘one-off’ tax payments when they feel so inclined. Would we take a proportional amount of what we’ve put into the UK on a territorial basis rather than a human one?

What would happen if the Scottish parliament bankrupted the country? What if the oil actually did run out? Would there be the chance to go back or would we be on our own?

The entire situation is more complex than I can be bothered going into (or researching) but there are definitely a lot of questions than would need answering. I am neither completely for or completely against. I’d need to know some truths and not political spin.

Of course this is all hypothetical based on the results of a hypothetical referendum that may or may not be legal.

And for the legality of a referendum; as a fact-finding exercise, I can’t see how it would be breaking any laws, but the results would not be legally binding and that legality is what the SNP would hope for and need to make the transition from a devolved parliament to an independent state. The only party pushing for independence are the SNP, all other parties in Westminster and indeed Scotland appear to oppose it. Even if the Scottish people suggested they would like independence, as a reserved UK Parliament matter there is little hope of Westminster agreeing to it.

And then this opens up a whole new bag of worms, referring back to the fact that the UK Government do not represent the Scottish people well. If the Scottish people do not feel that Westminster listens to them, their wants and needs, what next?

A situation like we’ve seen in Ireland over the past 40+years? Egypt? Libya? Syria?

Will we see revolution? Would this be silent or would this be violent? Would it be political or on the streets?

This could be the start of something really interesting and potentially exciting, regardless of what the public want. Conversely it could be a nightmare.

It will definitely be interesting finding out.

 

 

 

For those unaware of the Scottish system you get 2 votes. 1 for the constituency candidate and 1 for a regional candidate. On the whole its a reasonable system. The constituency candidate is selected using the traditional First Past The Post system used in the Westminster elections.  The regional vote uses the Additional Member System where you essentially select a party rather than a person that you want to have that element of the vote. Based on a Proportional Representation system, the percentage of seats a party gets equates roughly to the percentage of votes the party gains in one of the 8 regions. Each party has a list of people who will get into parliament should they get enough votes.