‘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…



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.

Salmond and Murdoch up a tree

26 02 2012

So readers of tomorrow’s chip poke, the Scottish Sun on Sunday will have discovered this morning that the date of the Scottish Independence Referendum is to be Saturday 18th October 2014 (link to BBC not Murdoch jam-rag). Reputable Scottish blogger Burdzeyeview, posted on this, ‘All bets not quite off on date of indy referendum’ where she discusses the pros and cons of the date. I’m not going to replicate that discussion here as she does it far better than I ever could, Instead I have two points I want to rant about.

My first gripe with announcing the date in such a way. If the date is indeed the correct one, and as yet we have nothing to say it is or is not other than the Sun report, why was it not made in some kind of formal public announcement? Why was the date not presented to parliament first? And as Burdzeyeview highlighted, what is the point of a referendum consultation, if these kinds of decisions are made independent of it?

Of course, Salmond et al aren’t the only ones ignoring public consultations in favour of pushing their own agenda, but perhaps naively of me I hoped that the Scottish government may try to employ a best practice approach to their work, to differentiate them from their narcissistic neighbours. If Scotland is to become independent, I want it written into the constitution, that the public are key to decision-making. I want what already exists on paper, essentially an effective and involved consultation process, to be the norm and to be widely known about among the public. I want public involvement central to all aspects of the Scottish government and I want this education on consultation processes to start in schools.

But I digress, should the Scottish Sun on Sunday date be correct, it raises questions as to the appropriateness of the relationship between the SNP and the Murdoch empire.

During the hacking scandal most major parties were seen to visibly distance themselves from the cosy and profitable pockets of Murdoch’s papers. Obviously looks can be deceiving and despite the much publicised closure of News of the World, the new News International title, the Sun on Sunday published its first edition this morning. In no time, politicians will be grappling with each other to get the paper onside. Despite this ongoing furore down south, Salmond appears to have stayed firmly in the pocket of Murdoch and it seems to have paid off for him. In the past week Salmond and Scottish independence have been the topic of a number of Murdoch’s tweets, with positive overtones, which has led the media to suggest that his papers will be supporting the SNP in their quest for independence. There is no denying the power of Murdoch’s support at elections, however, there is the ethical issue of Salmond jumping into bed with him so readily given public opinion of his journalist’s methods is so low.

This leads me to consider two possibilities. Either Salmond is consumed by a quest for personal power and will do anything necessary regardless of ethics to get it or, he’s playing a very savvy but dangerous game of courting the media. Either method seems to me, rather tasteless.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest Salmond is in it for the personal prowess of being the Prime Minister of Scotland.  The Scotsman newspaper, quoting Jack Irvine once editor of Scottish Sun, said Rebekkah Wade (now Brooks) found Salmond very arrogant in a meeting they had. The paper also continues to discuss Salmond’s aggressive and deterministic courting of the Murdoch papers. He’s not daft is our Alex, he understands the power they have and knows massaging their over inflated ego’s can only help his. However he seems to be ignoring the public perception of News International after the hacking scandal, which on the whole is very negative. Indeed many are finding it hard to understand why he is putting such effort into courting such a shamed empire. It’s also important to consider what News International have to gain from backing independence. The Scotsman are trying to suggest that Murdoch backing Scottish Independence is an attempt to create trouble for the English after his treatment at the hackgate affair. It would seem unfair for Murdoch to use something as important as potential independence for a country of around 5 million people, to settle a petty score he has for his dodgy business deals. And there were the gifts to and courting of, the staff working for Murdoch’s papers, perhaps more so than staff of other media groups. Salmond’s campaign has been very targeted. It’s his motives that aren’t quite so clear.

It’s true public outrage didn’t appear to be as great north of the border as it was down south at the Hackgate Scandal. The degree of disconnectedness from events in the South East of London is huge, and despite Tommy’s family allegedly being targeted nobody up here really seems to care. I think perhaps the renowned Scottish cynicism for the likelihood of such behaviours replaced the Westminster outrage. It worries me that a large swathe of the population won’t be asking questions of the Salmond/Murdoch relationship, given what we know of Murdoch’s previous close political alliances. I tried to consider why Salmond would make use of a ‘friendship’ with such an outcast media mogul. The Scottish Sun has a circulation of around 300,000 and obviously that is not a figure of potential voters to be sniffed at. However, a study (that I can’t find the link to anymore – if anyone knows of it please let me know) suggested that those in lower-income bands, the target market for the Scottish Sun, are mostly in favour of independence, while higher earners, the middle and upper classes are not so keen. Without going too in-depth with media snobbery (although it should be noted journalists for the Sun and similar are asked to write their articles for a reading age of 9), the middle and upper classes are less likely to be reading a red top rag to inform themselves of political activity and opinion. It sounds to me, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, as if these are the people Salmond should be targeting with his Yes vote campaigning.

Scotland’s two candidates for broadsheet newspaper, The Herald and the Scotsman appear to have firmly taken sides already. The pseudo-socialist Glasgow based Herald newspaper appears to be in favour of independence, while the Edinburgh based Scotsman seems to be firmly opposed. Neither appears to have the same degree of interest from Salmond on this issue. The circulation for both newspapers is less than 50,000 each. Considerably less than their red top rivals. It is also interesting to note however that the Daily Record, who have taken on a pro-union stance also have a circulation of around 300,000 and they have not received the same attention from Salmond as the Sun.

300,000 votes out of a possible 5m votes doesn’t appear to be worth the effort for the party, yet Salmond is still notorious for his relationship with News International over all other media groups and it begs the question, why? What does he gain from it and what do we gain from it? Do we really want someone like Rupert Murdoch trying to play God with Scottish politics in the same way he did with UK politics? Is there any reason why we cannot have an open and honest and unbiased reporting of the situation, allowing the public to make an informed decision?

For many reasons, I like the idea of independence, but for many more I get put off by the behaviours and allegiances of the politicians and the media. If Scotland gains independence, it needs to be a completely new and transparent system not a replication of old school, traditional, ‘who you know’ methodologies. A politician should be courting his or her public, or finding favour and forming allegiances with the public, not treating us as if we are incapable of independent thought or some kind of personal, ego massaging cash cow.