‘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.





Violence as entertainment: an outsiders view.

26 04 2012

A while back, The Guardian had a series of articles on Glasgow Gangs and the response on twitter was interesting to say the least. From a laypersons observations, as an outsider moving to North Glasgow as a young teen, I thought I’d describe my understanding of it all. In my understanding, it operates quite differently to other gangs in the UK. I personally believe it’s a cultural issue passed from father to son for generations. There are reports that suggest much the same (that I’m too lazy to search for and link to).

A report from 2008 highlighted that Glasgow had the same number of teenage gangs as London who has over 6 times the population. Obviously gang culture has developed in Glasgow like any other gang culture around the world. Mostly location-based gangs formed and it was like a right of passage for the teenage boy to be in the local gang, it was a form of protection but it also met a human tribal needs. Although taking drugs were a large part of recreational gang behaviour, of the people I knew, it was never about being a drug gang or dealing in hard drugs. Someone always knew a guy who knew a guy who sold jellies (a now banned form of Tamazepam). In those days ecstasy and cocaine were expensive, Acid for hippies and heroin only for junkies.

The dealing and organisation of drugs gangs was the domain of the “grown ups”. This is a huge organised crime which revolves around drugs and territoriality and is the reason for almost all shootings in the area. The gangs are more often family based with the names of such being household names in some parts of Glasgow. The battle between the Daniels and the Lyons is the most recent highlighted gang feud but names such as the Thompsons were notorious for generations with my grandparents knowing of the family in their youth.

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I remember being astonished upon starting high school how many friends would organise fights among themselves. As soon as the home bell went, friends became enemies and in the evening the gangs from rival areas would meet in the field next to my house to fight. This wasn’t about drugs or vendettas, it was entertainment pure and simple. They didn’t meet to kill each other or do serious damage just give each other a good “doin”.

There would be about 100 kids, 50 on either side of a valley who would charge down a hill at each other brandishing weapons, boulders, wooden bats, tree branches etc. The so-called “posh kids” and the “scheme kids”. Various schemes would arrange to meet the “posh kids” for a fight, mostly at weekend but a midweek battering wasnt unheard of. The gangs had names, some inventive others just representing the area young team. The ones I remember most were the Auchinairn Bison and Balornock Young Team as they were the most common opponents to whatever the “posh kids” gang was called. Wikipedia has provided a hysterical (yet handy) list of gang names in Glasgow. Reading it I remember quite a few of them and the chants each Young Team would holler wherever they went. The next day at school they were all the best of friends again.

Violence for them was a form of entertainment. I cannot get my head round this concept to this day. Having moved from the leafy suburbs of wealthy Hertfordshire into what felt like a warzone was a massive culture shock for me. It was quite possibly worse for my brother as there was a huge pressure on males to conform and get involved in this violence. Boys had to prove themselves from an early age and even in adulthood this behaviour continues. Violence is normalised, it’s accepted and promoted among societies as a means of status and proving oneself. It’s about honour. This theme of violence and honour has existed for thousands of years and the violence of the Scots has been noted as far back as Roman times when the majority of the country lay beyond the boundary of the Roman Empire. Even today, Scots talk with pride about “stopping the romans”, despite archaeological evidence suggesting the two cultures lived reasonably harmoniously alongside one another.

Now I know this violence as entertainment isn’t a practice restricted to Glasgow, or indeed Scotland, but I have never come across a people so proud of their violent heritage. It is incomprehensible to me why violence is celebrated in such a widespread manner, but it would be remiss of me to ignore this as a reality in favour my pacifist’s utopia. Yup if you’re reading my blog for the first time, I am and always have been a pacifist. I have taken punches and not so much as returned a slap. Violence solves nothing. Knowing this doesn’t stop the rest of the society I live in having a violent code of honour. In their eyes makes me a freak. I am fine with that.

Today MP for Falkirk, Eric Joyce spoke openly about his troubles with violence and crime in his life during a Channel 4 interview. Undoubtedly, he would have experienced the peer pressure to conform and get involved in violent behaviour. He would have likely understood and experienced the entertainment aspect. He even openly said it was fun. For many this may have been their first introduction to the normalisation of violence within Scotland and their shock is understandable. It shouldn’t be this way but it is, and it would take massive cultural shift over many generations to even begin to touch on this mindset. And while I have concentrated mainly on male cultural violence in this post, my biggest personal shock was seeing that it existed with as much prevalence, in teenage years at least, among females too.

There was considerable comment online about Joyce’s unacceptable behaviour and how his condoning violence made him unfit to represent the people of Falkirk in parliament. Most of the outrage appeared to come from those living in the South East of England and with all due respect, they are unlikely to understand the importance and prevalence of Scottish violent culture to such a large swathe of Scottish, mostly working class, men. To say as such is not to agree with or support such violence but it is an acceptance that it does exist and is, for whatever unfathomable reason, important to many people.

 

 

 





Open Letter to Alex Salmond & Co.

29 01 2012

Dear First Minister Alex Salmond & co,

I applaud raising the issue of Scottish independence and by asking such questions of the Scottish people, we have the chance of dictating real and positive change in their political and economic future. However, and there is always a ‘however’ in this kind of situation where spin quickly overtakes reality, we are left completely in the dark regarding independence and any other options such as devo-max. You are asking too much of the Scottish people (and we’re really not as daft as we look) to expect us to just trust you, a politician nonetheless, on an issue that affects every inch of our political and economic future.

I am excited by the prospects of the alternatives to the union but without knowing what EXACTLY is on offer and how EXACTLY we get there, you are asking too much of me and my fellow Scots. WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY PROPOSE BEYOND THE PHRASE GAINING INDEPENDENCE?

I do not believe Westminster and the Government of the United Kingdom represent me and my country fully. I can see many benefits of independence or devo-max, but what i am thinking of is not necessarily what the politicians of the country are thinking of and until I see a road-map to independence in front of me, complete with legal competence, to ensure for example the majority of north sea oil belongs to the Scottish people, then I cannot vote in favour of it.

Talking of legal competence, I would like Scotland to be openly consulting not only with UK but also with international lawyers on this matter and for the response to be made public. United Kingdom legislatures are not appropriate as all sides will find the wording in favour of their campaign. But this isn’t necessarily about legality. This is not about who has competence to hold a referendum. It is about the future of around 6 million people. This is about the breaking of a union brought about through a treaty, this is higher law than merely Westminster or Holyrood and their respective government dictates.

It is oft quoted that the people need to decide the future of Scotland. I wholeheartedly agree. We need to know that what the 6 million human beings want BUT before we know what we want, we need to know what is on offer to us.

You ask me to follow you blindly but centuries of doing so with Westminster have led us into the darkness. We have an opportunity at light but I don’t want to see a rope dangling in front of me that is out of my reach. I do not want more unfulfilled or unfulfillable promises laid out in front of me. I don’t want to be continually striving for the light but it continuing to get further and further from me.

I do not like carrots, and the stick you dangle bearing one does not entice me. I need more. I need an informed choice.

Show me that you mean business and are not just talking through your well fed cake-hole. Show me that Scotland can and will survive and remain economically viable with legitimate proof not just conjecture and mibbes. Show me that a future independent Scotland can be based on openness, honesty and above all reality. I cannot stress enough the importance of reality in this situation. We may be surrounded by clouds but our heads need not be permanently stuck there.

Independence is a dream and until the people of Scotland can be shown the facts and figures pointing to the reality, this is going to remain an unwinnable battle fought out in the media by the media. This is not a battle for newspaper editors to fight. Why are you letting it be the case? People will not walk into the unknown, they would prefer to remain with what they know is safe but unacceptable. Yet you are not showing us your plans or that your plans are realistic and attainable. You are asking the impossible of the people who can make this a reality. Lets stop talking fantasy.

The unionist battle strengthens daily as you do not offer the information people require to vote for independence or an alternative devolution. We are not asking you to look into a crystal ball and predict our future with precision but we cannot vote on some half-baked idea of independence without a plan to get us, and more importantly keep us, there.

The longer the ridiculous media circus plays out in public, the less likely your chances of winning a fair battle are. I don’t want people to vote because the Daily Mail called the Scottish people names or because the unrepresentative government at Westminster pissed us off, I want them to vote in favour of change because it is what we need. As yet you have not shown us this is what we need or why we need it.

I’m not alone with my concerns.

With the sincerity of a politician,

Grumpyhatlady





*guest post* East Dunbartonshire Council and Freedom of Information Requests

18 06 2011

I have the authors full permission to reproduce this email, as is. Instead of backstory, I’ve created links within the email to the relevant discussions or posts.

Dear *Grumpyhatlady*,

Just thought I’d update you on my problem with East Dunbartonshire Council and the passport to leisure scheme.

As you’ll recall, I initially raised an issue regarding East Dunbartonshire Council’s policy on disabled people being refused entry to their sport centre without their carer… I made a freedom of information request in the hope to get some answers from them.

SURPRISE!

They didn’t reply beyond acknowledgment. I gave them plenty of opportunity to reply and in the end had to request an internal review.

SURPRISE!

They didn’t reply to that beyond acknowledgement either.

I’m now having to submit an appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

And wouldn’t you know,

SURPRISE!

When I made an FOI request about how East Dunbartonshire Council deal with freedom of information requests, they have delayed the response beyond acknowledgement for that too. Internal review will be requested by the end of next week.

Now I know they’re answering other requests as the website shows the successful ones. I can’t believe it would be that much hassle to reply with a simple refusal email.

If you or any of your blog readers have any information or advice for me, please let me know.

Yours sincerely

***** *******

———–

So there you have it. East Dunbartonshire Council are refusing simple FOI requests without so much as a reason. Can anyone offer help or advice to this guest poster? Either comment or email me at yahoo dot com.





Panorama, Privatisation and Prognosis

31 05 2011

I just watched Panorama : Undercover Care – The Abuse Exposed and rarely has a television programme angered me as much as this did.

Vulnerable residents of an adult care home populated by people with learning and developmental disabilities in Bristol were regularly and violently tortured by people paid to care for them. The “hospital”, Winterbourne View in Bristol is a private facility owned by Castlebeck yet is publicly funded by the tax payer.

I urge anyone able to watch it, to do so on iPlayer (link above) then consider how Andrew Lansley and the Tory led government wants to create a situation in England and Wales where more private companies take control of hospitals, or services, or healthcare provision that the NHS are currently responsible for.

Lansley claims it’s not privatisation of the NHS but an efficiency measure to ensure patients get more choice and a better service. He maintains there will be no competition and as his credibility ship slowly sinks, Lansley continues to salute his ‘reassurances’ to the public, but strangely enough no one seems to believe him.

I wonder why…?

An Independent Article from way back in 2004 reported current Tory Minister of State for Policy, Oliver Letwin, telling construction industry representatives that the NHS would not exist within 5 years of a conservative government and would instead be a funding stream allowing people to choose where they want to go for their healthcare.

Fast forward 6 years to October 2010 (via Spinwatch website) when Mark Britnell a senior health adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron claimed, the  NHS would be a state insurance provider instead of directly delivering care. He continued to claim, “The NHS will be shown no mercy“.

Based only on two corroborative statements by conservative blabbermouths, it is looking increasingly likely that the NHS will be privatised at best, destroyed completely at worst. This is no real surprise to Joe and Jowena Average but obviously everyone is a little shocked that the institution once the pride of Britain is slowly, surreptitiously being demolished in the name of progress and reform.

When Pres. Obama is trying to ensure state healthcare for all in America, Andrew Lansley is trying to turn the UK into an insurance system whereby healthcare is provided based on a) your insurance policy and b)your/their ability to pay. Most certainly not a progressive policy, no matter the spin they try to put on it.

Already the coalition government are renowned for not listening and for going back on their pre-election promises, while my chosen ‘evidence’ may be 6 years apart in the claims being made, they both say essentially the same thing and both contradict the public face of the government.

Tonight’s Panorama highlighted what any decent human being would hope to be an isolated incident but more and more instances are broadcast in the media, relying on whistleblowers to alert the public of such abuses in care situations.  There is a realistic threat that where profits are put ahead of people, these abusive and torturous “carers” will be employed for their value for money rather than their skills or desire to care.

At a time when the most vulnerable in society are already facing the stresses of cuts to welfare and services, to add to that physical and mental abuse by those charged with their care, it paints a very poor picture of a ‘caring Britain’. It’s a terrifying prospect to think that when you resign to placing a vulnerable loved one in the trust and care of a state funded service, that there could be the threat of torture as a means to entertain the care staff. Torture as entertainment and we pay for it.

I’m lucky. I’m in Scotland and our NHS is not currently facing the same threat of destruction. Yet. I am often asked why I get outraged at the changes being made to England and Wales when it does not affect me. But it does affect me. I am merely an accident or illness away from ending up in a care home like that. Such behaviour is not restricted to England and while the impending privatisation of the NHS down south may not directly affect me in person, it angers me to know that any human being could treat another with such disrespect, let alone someone vulnerable and unable to properly fight back. To watch the NHS be destroyed for my neighbours does not sit easy with me. To know it could just as easily happen here should it make an easy transition in England is enough to make me want to stand up and say my piece.

There but for the grace of dog etc.