I have been puzzled about something for quite a while now. Something that Darling said, which made me furious when I first heard it, because I thought it was a flat out lie! He was in Edinburgh for a Better Together launch and said “I don’t want to choose between being Scottish and British. I’m both.” He referred to himself as Scottish. But he was born in London, which would make him English.
This person that took us into an illegal war in Iraq, then tried to cover it up by voting against the Iraq Inquiry, who mortgaged the futures of every man woman and child in the UK so he could write a blank cheque to the banks without taking any control over them, and throughout it all he was stealing from the people by “flipping” his home to claim huge sums of money in his MP’s expenses (which wasn’t technically stealing because it wasn’t against the rules which MP’s wrote for themselves). For these crimes he shouldn’t even be allowed to call himself British, never mind Scottish!
When I pointed this out, I was told to go away and have a think about what I was saying as it could be looked upon as being racist. Campaigners seeking a “No” vote just love that sort of thing, as less people are likely to support Independence if it means being labelled a racist. Now I’m fairly certain I’m not racist, otherwise I have a fair bit of explaining to do to the 90% of my close personal friends who are not from Scotland. But I saw their point as Better Together and No campaigners are pretty good at twisting things to make supporters of Independence look bad. Make a comment on the weather, for example “It’s a lovely sunny day” and the headline would be…
“SNP Ignores Suffering of Skin Cancer Patients”.
And so I went away and had a think about whether he can make this claim of being Scottish. I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about what it means to be Scottish. I am only too aware of the fact that we are not all saints, so we can’t exactly claim that being Scottish is to be a good person. It may be the ideal, but right now it’s not the rule.
And there are a great number of people that live in Scotland but were not born here. Every one of them will have the chance to vote in the Independence Referendum, which makes me proud that the governing of our country is not just for the few, it’s for everyone. We even get to make the choice of whether or not we take part.
I then looked at it from Alistair’s perspective. And I had to alter the question from “Can he call himself Scottish?” to “Should he call himself Scottish?”. Because whenever he talks about this subject of National Identity his point of view appears to be based upon ‘Geography’.
This started back in November last year when he waffled nonsense that Independence would mean the loss of all British Culture in Scotland and would lead to relatives of Scots in other parts of the UK becoming foreigners overnight. The very idea that we’d stop listening to The Beatles or The Jam, stop watching Dr. Who or the Grand Prix, is pretty laughable. But the 2nd part is even more stupid. And it’s been parroted by the likes of Margaret Curran that we’ll all be suddenly foreigners to one another. But that’s just geography. I know people both in the UK and across the globe, from countries far and wide. I’ve never thought of them even once as being foreigners. It’s automatic in my brain to regard them as friends. Regarding anyone as foreign is purely a state of mind. Anything else is just geography.
The next point is this notion of his that Independence would mean no longer being able to call yourself British. 1st off, there are no rules that say we cannot have dual nationality. Independence might create the very first Scottish Passport, but as I fight my way through various levels of security checks which I must endure in order to get a wee week away in the sun, explore the land and culture of the people who live there, get in a bit of relaxation before I have to go through it all again on the return leg, I’m not really caring much about what my passport looks like. So long as it’s in date and I’ve remembered the thing, I’m happy.
Then there’s the fact which cannot be denied, which is unless we are visited by some crap Hollywood style Sci-Fi disaster in which the tectonic plates shift, Scotland is dragged 3miles north causing the Solway Firth to stretch all the way to Berwick leaving a new body of water 3 miles wide and way too deep to build a bridge over, an Independent Scotland will still make up about one third of the Island of Britain. That’s geography and that will probably never change. Certainly not in the next millennia or so.
So Alistair’s assertion that we’ll be forced to choose between being Scottish or British isn’t really true. But this is where he’s changed his rule. Alistair says he is Scottish. But he’s chosen to be Scottish based upon a state of mind. By his rules of Geography, he’s English. Of course, he was raised here, educated here (allegedly)…and depending on which property he’s currently claiming for in his expenses, he lives here as well. So who am I to deny him his right in a supposedly free world to call himself Scottish? Especially as there is no hardened definition of what it is to be Scottish. It can be very different for different Scots. So it comes down to choice. We will still be part of the Island of Britain, so you can call yourself British. Or if you like, you can be Scottish. Or call yourself both, because that is your choice.
Because if Alistair can choose his own identity, why can’t we all choose?
In the end this whole nonsense about Independence being about Nationalism and Identity, as well as the branding of Independence campaigners as English Haters, it’s nothing more than dividing tactics to stir up hatred between us and to distract people from the fact that our biggest problem is Westminster.
I’ve heard a few people say “Westminster isn’t working” and I always add “…for us.” Because they don’t work for the people anymore. Westminster works for big finance. It works for banks and financial institutions, the Defence Sector (we know them better as International Arms Dealers), the big energy companies, the global healthcare sector, Wall St, and Washington.
My reasons for wanting Independence are many, but include:
Because I’m sick to the back teeth of being dragged into illegal and unjust wars,
of being forced to pay for and keep nuclear weapons which are both abhorrent and pointless,
of the City Of London Corporation getting more of a say than we do on how our economy is run,
of accepting the debts of private companies who’s boards usually plunder the profits and avoid tax,
and of seeing our most vulnerable citizens being made to pay for a crisis that was not of their doing.
I’m sick of people who steal from us but get away with it because they write the rules.
Independence for Scotland is about taking back control of our Government.
And that, is the single most important reason why I will be voting Yes.
Last weekend, this leaflet dropped through the letterbox of my girlfriends place in Edinburgh.
Now, as you may imagine I was not best impressed. My girlfriend was offended by it, I was disgusted. But I decided to follow the advice handed out on the back, and contacted Margo MacDonald. Here’s what I sent.
I got this leaflet through the door at the weekend, and as you can see from the attached images of the front and back of the leaflet, it instructed me to contact Margo MacDonald about the subject of Marriage Redefinition. But I only live in Edinburgh on the weekends. During the week I live and work in West Lothian, so I’ve included Fiona Hyslop and Angela Constance, who I know are at least two of my MSP’s through this way.
I’ll begin by confirming that I am actually FOR Equal Marriage. Or Marriage 2.0 as it should be known. It’s an upgrade for the 21st century where we have a bit more respect and tolerance towards each other. This leaflet shows little of that. I thought about dissecting the entire leaflet and all the ways that I find it detestable, but I’m sure 5 good reasons to ignore the lobby group behind the leaflet, will suffice.
1. “Marriage is Under Threat.”
Really? Says who? I’d say it has been under threat for decades thanks to celebrities who marry and divorce when they need to generate some publicity or they get the option to flog pictures to some magazine. At this moment in time, I personally don’t want to get married, because I feel the very vows of matrimony have been cheapened and are given just lip service. More thought goes into the planning of the Wedding than the oath that people are about to take. I’m not going to kid myself that they’ll all be perfect, but I’d like to hope that same sex marriages will bring a few more loving couples to marriage and redress the balance just a bit.
2. “Kids need a Mum and a Dad.”
I think this should say “Kids need thoughtful loving parents.”
3. “when they people said ‘no’ they decided to ignore them”
I’ll ignore the huge error and go straight on to say, They* have a little graffix about this with the ’64precent’ magic number of theirs that they keep trotting out down the bottom of the page.
“64% of respondents to the public consultation were opposed”. And right there is a bit of truth, if a little bit warped. It was a consultation, not a referendum! I wasn’t even aware there was a consultation or I’d have firmly responded with a “Go right ahead and make Marriage Equal for every informed adult living in Scotland.”
However I am very aware that the Catholic Church made sure their congregants knew about it, and provided literature on how to respond along with suggestions of what to say. I have also heard tales from people of the Catholic faith saying that they were not given any options on how to respond if they favoured Equal Marriage. They do actually say later in the leaflet “Let’s be free to disagree.”, yet they don’t seem to be encouraging free thought amongst their congregants.
4. “Teachers who refuse to endorse equal marriage could be sacked.”
This would be very concerning to me. If there wasn’t a solution. Teachers don’t have to endorse equal marriage to keep their jobs. They just won’t be allowed to teach bigotry either. I was actually under the impression that we’d stopped that already after we got shot of Clause 28!
Teachers just have to say, anyone over the age of 18 can get married. Then go back to teaching maths and stuff. Simples.
5. “People could lose their jobs for backing traditional marriage”
Are they really trying to convince us that people can get sacked for having religious views? And these are religious views, right? Because if they are not then isn’t it illegal to promote hate speech? Or are homosexuals suddenly illegal again? Nope, fairly certain they are meant to have the same rights and privileges as anyone. So people can have their religious views, so long as they don’t force their views onto others. And that covers about half of the entire leaflet. Religion must never be allowed to directly influence democracy and the pursuit of a fairer, more equal society.
I think this whole leaflet is hooey. The idea that people will be sacked, sued or blacklisted as they say will happen to Foster carers, is just bonkers talk. Everyone is allowed their opinion. Just as much as the next person is allowed to disagree with that opinion. But the act of denying two people the option of getting married in a place of worship by an authorised minister who wishes to perform the ceremony, just because they are the same sex says plainly, that they are not seen as equals by law, when there are those that would say they are already seen as equals by God.
P.S. My girlfriend shares these views. It was her door the leaflet was pushed through and she found it highly offensive. So please count her as also supporting Marriage Equality in Scotland.
*I left the capital in “They” for sarcastic effect.
I was born in Scotland, so without a doubt, I am Scottish. Scotland is part of the island of Britain, and so I am British. It even says so on my passport. Britain is part of Europe, making me European, which is pretty cool. Europe is a continent in the northern hemisphere of the planet known as Earth which firmly classifies me as an Earthling, species Homo sapien.
Beyond that my knowledge is limited, but it’s how I tend to look at myself in the bigger overview of life. I am just one of the 7 billion human beings occupying the 3rd rock from the sun. I’ve not even seen that much of my planet. Just a handful of the 200 odd countries that make up Earth. My travels have only taken me into three of the continent’s which divide up the land masses that cover just one third of the surface of the world, which we collectively share.
That’s how I view our world. Vast in size when compared to just myself, yet tiny in the grand scheme of the universe.
In my travels I have met a wide variety of people from all walks of life, and I’ve made many friends from a fair number of countries. England, Wales, Ireland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Australia, Canada, America……the list goes on. People of all sorts of races, colour, creeds, sexual orientation and political persuasion. But the only time I have ever been made to feel like a foreigner is in my own fucking country.
I lived for 14 years in England. A place supposedly part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. A unified state where everyone is meant to be exactly the same. That’s if you believe the Better Together campaign led by Alistair Darling. A man that says I’ll become a foreigner if I vote Yes for Scotland to become Independent from Westminster.
I’ve got friends all over England and Scotland who are not originally from the UK. I’ve never once considered them foreigners, but now I’m supposed to believe that my mate’s in London will all be alien to me if I say Yes to protect Scotland’s NHS from privatisation (which is well under way in England thanks entirely to the unmandated ConDems).
It was while I lived south of the border that I was occasionally made to feel like a thoroughly unwelcome foreigner by one or two small minded idiots. Plenty of Scots have suffered the same abuse I’m sure. “We’re doomed!”, “You’re a Sweaty Sock!”, “Coming down here, stealing our jobs!” Just a few of the insults thrown my direction by racists. And that’s exactly what it was, racial insults. Not just trying to be funny. Actually insulting me and showing disrespect. Of course, it can’t be racism if Scotland and England are one in the same along with Wales and Northern Ireland. But that’s not the way the Alistair Darling promotes things when he tries to pretend that the “Better Together campaign will be led by real Scots”
I’d rather not view the world I live in in such divided terms. The No campaign and their most hardcore supporters would have you believe that us “separatists” want to carry out some kind of Lex Luther style master-plan, turn all our windfarm turbines into propellers and fly everywhere north of Carlisle to the Caribbean. Of course if we were going to be so diabolical, it would be far easier, and in the interests of everyone if we just sunk the Houses of Parliament and the City of London corporation into the Thames, then start again with a new Government that focuses on the people they are meant to serve, everyone in the UK. Not just a tiny percentage. Everyone.
But there’s something even more sinister going on than a super secret plan to divide a nation into two islands. I’m now being told that I’m a foreigner in the very country I was born in, BY MY OWN FUCKING PEOPLE!
It was just after a member of the audience on Question Time suggested that England should send all their nuclear waste to Scotland, then grant us our Independence that I was told that I wasn’t really Scottish. A Twitter account by the name of @DontKnowVoteNo (who thankfully seems to have been closed down) made an attempt to defend the statement by claiming that the audience member was “attacking the separatists trying to break the Union not loyal Scots”. So I can’t be a loyal Scot if I believe Westminster is wrong to socialize private debt whilst privatising profits, as well as public services which should never be run for profit? In fact, it suggests that anyone who votes for a party that is not in favour of the status quo is not a loyal Scot. And what is a loyal Scot? Is it like a dog when you yell fetch? Beg? Roll over? Cos I’m not going to just give anyone my loyalty without them earning it, and Westminster has done NOTHING to earn either my loyalty or my respect.
Both Labour and the Conservatives have run Britain into the ground. And now the Lib Dems have added to the hypocrisy by pretending to act in the best interests of the country. They claim they are leading us to better times by forcing harsh austerity upon people that were already in the poorhouse, whilst they live it large on ever increasing tax payer funded expense accounts. They’re sending £800 annual bills to the disabled to save a few million, because they claim we’ve no money to help the most vulnerable. Then they’re magicking £100Billion to pay for American nuclear weapons we’ll never be able to use. Spent £10million on the funeral of a woman who left behind an estate worth £66million. Yet we’ve no money to keep open shelters for battered women. No money to build social housing, creating jobs and forcing private landlords to lower their ludicrous rental costs. Instead we’ll let people get evicted so that councils have to pay even more ludicrous Bed and Breakfast costs.
No, WasteMonster’s plan to get people working is to pay the likes of Asda and Tesco £400-£500 per person, telling them to work for their £71 per week dole money. Only to see each slave return to unemployment following their two weeks intensive study on how to put beans on a shelf. How is any of this going to generate tax revenue to pay down the national debt?
But of course, I’m not a “real Scot” because I oppose these things and this type of thinking. Only the other night I heard another comment on Question Time, which just sounded crazy to me. In reference to Trident, they said “Surely it’s better to have something and not need it, than to need it and not have it.” Yeah. Cos when I’m being burned alive at 10 million degrees centigrade, the one thing that will comfort me is the knowledge that our nukes will soon be toasting the people of whichever nutball launched against us! When really, my very logical mind will be wondering why we’re Kentucky Frying some poor sod that did nothing to me, whilst our not so democratically elected leaders are safe in a bunker somewhere. Especially when they are they ones that should be nuked! Not us poor civvies who just want to work, live our lives and get on with it.
This idea that we are paying for a “nuclear umbrella” is just moronic. If a maniac is going to launch at us they’ll do it safe in the knowledge that by the time we retaliate they’ll be in a cosy underground lair. Surely if we really wanted to spend £100 billion that will guarantee protection for everyone, then spend it building a bunker big enough to fit all 70 million of us.
So that’s the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberals all moving way off to the right. And now we are witnessing the rise of UKIP, a party so far to the right they make Thatcher look like a loony leftie. Even if all 5 million residents of Scotland could vote for a centrist party it still wouldn’t alter the election results in Westminster and there’s not a chance in hell of a sudden surge of voters for The Green Party in England. So, Scotland’s only hope for a government that will act in the interests of the people of Scotland is to vote Yes to Independence from Westminster. I’d rather not divide up our country but it’s the only way we can show everyone in the UK that Westminster only run things on behalf of the wealthy few. A millionaire cabinet funded by their billionaire financial backers, and supported and promoted by a vicious right wing media, who all share the very same agenda. Greed.
Cameron says he will offer the people of the UK a referendum on membership of the EU, if the Tories are returned to power. Well this says a lot about the Union.
Unionists have tried to argue that Scotland wouldn’t be able to stay in the EU if we gained Independence, but he’s offering to have us removed if we stay in the Union. Scots certainly won’t get a say in an EU Referendum, since we are vastly outnumbered by English voters. And just like in General Elections, Scotland will just have to accept it.
But it says something else as well. Part of Cameron and the Unionists argument against Scottish Independence is the lie that anyone who supports Independence hates the English. They never come out and just say it, but they call us racists. Yet now, by offering the chance of an EU Referendum, he is trying to attract the votes of those people that hate the EU & mainland Europe. And that will definitley include racists.
And finally, he can’t have a go at Salmond saying he’s delaying a referendum on Scottish Independence then tell the entire UK they’ll not only have to vote for him and return him to power, but they’ll also have to wait until after they’ve done that in 2015. Hypocrite much?
Once more, Call Kaye on BBC Radio Scotland had my blood boiling with their topic of discussion this morning. Apart from the constant drip of congrats for Andy Murray winning his first Grand Slam (fair enough, the lad done good) part of the discussion was on ‘people on benefits’.
Now, I missed the start of the show. Kaye Adams gets started 5mins before the news at 9am (well I was listening to the Today programme, why would I turn over early) so I’ve no idea where these figures are coming from, which she refers to throughout.
They had the usual right wing nut ball, this time in the shape of Richard D North (never heard of him) and Chris Banbury (totally clueless) covering the case for the vulnerable. Mr North says there is no excuse for turning down a job even if it pays less than the dole. Hmmmm, we’ll get back to that. Chris wasn’t much help arguing against this. He came at Kaye with a lot of info about how damaging the Governments Work programmes are, depressing wages, turning people into slaves, demeaning them…way too much at once and very little explanation of each. Plus the mobile they had him on was dodgy and kept making him do a Norman Collier…Underwater.
Now, I didn’t get pissed off at the pointless Chris Banbury, not when we had good people calling up with facts! This guy nailed the whole argument!
Now, they didn’t return to Michael after the news, instead they got the chance to natter to Alex Salmond about Andy Murray. But I’m not getting into that rant! Seriously, I’m not! Okay maybe later.
I didn’t get pissed off with the stuffed shirt of Richard D North. A quick search engine later and we find out this guy is a Tory, probably successful, but you’ve got to wonder at him when he suggests that a father struggling to feed his kids should take “an economic hit” and take a job that pays less than benefits, as it’ll help him in the long run? You have to wonder if this guy is for real. He works at the Institute for Economic Affairs but doesn’t think it’ll be hard to keep paying all the bills with not enough money coming into the house. Only way you manage that is if you can get credit and get yourself deep into debt, which most people, if they’d gotten to this point, are probably already up to their necks in debt.
No the thing that pissed me off most was Kaye Adams. I was under the impression she trained as a journalist. I must have been mistaken though, as she kept referring to the case of Kate Riley. Kate is the 23yr old Geology Grad student that was unemployed for 6months, told to work in Poundland on a “Work Experience placement” for only her benefits. Kate claimed this was Slavery, and I’d have to agree with her, but the courts decided it was not. Now I’m guessing Kaye must have brushed up on Kate’s story via a BBC news website, cos she kept talking about this case like Kate was turning down a job.
She wasn’t turning down a job. Again, I’m not sure where she got her numbers from that I mentioned earlier, but I have to wonder if these were real jobs that were turned down, or if they were work experience placements offered as part of the work programme, often referred to as Workfare. These placements are not jobs. By their own definition they are Work Experience positions. It’s training. It’s not a real job.
And in the court of public opinion I’ll bet most people will agree that a “Job’s a job!” but almost all of them will want paid for that job. The only ones that will disagree are the fucking planks that think they are the only ones in the country paying tax, and that anyone that is unemployed has probably never paid tax in their lives. They probably never think of National Insurance as an actual insurance scheme, one that is supposed to support you when times are tough, thanks to some greedy bastards screwing the economy into the ground.
And that is what pissed me off. A professional journalist who probably gets paid a fuck load more than dole money and appears to get more holidays than teachers do, helped to demonize people on benefits just a little bit more. The BBC who are supposed to be balanced and fair keep generalizing “people on benefits”, and not seperating those that are unemployed because they are down on their luck, and the downright bone idle. Being unemployed doesn’t automatically mean that person is lazy or work shy.
And this demonization was paid for and broadcast to the masses by us, License Fee Payers. Suddenly I’m agreeing with Richard D North, but only on the subject of abolishing the BBC. Unless of course, they buck up their ideas and start working for the people again, instead of promoting Government Bullshit!
Based solely on a few of my blog posts or my tweets, some people think I’m a morbid bastard. A few of the activists I’d spoken to on Edinburgh Uncut protests actually thought I was an undercover reporter for the Daily Mail. But the reality is, I just have a very dark sense of humour. And that’s how I like my comedians.
So while the girlfriend went to have her haircut I popped down to The Globe Bar on Niddry St to see Chris Coltrane do a Free Fringe show. I had seen him do some political stand up on Westminster bridge during the UKUncut ‘Block the Bill’ demo for the NHS. I’d also been following his Twitter feed, with tweets that often showed that dark sense of humour which I love so much. So getting to see him do some stand up for free couldn’t be passed up.
Now, being a very political comedian most of his tweets were purely about how much a bunch of bastards the Tories are. Couldn’t agree more. But there were also a number that were overtly sexual, making the reader curious as to which way he dressed. Well thanks to going to see him do his stand up show Activism is Fun, (and to Josie Long’s directional advice that he should share things about himself) we now know he is bi-sexual, or as he puts it, a pervert. By his own statement he is 80% straight, 20% gay. Although from my observations I’d say he’s about 80% straight, 80% gay, as there was certainly more talk of big dicks spunking in Rick Santorum’s face than there was about eating Theresa May’s mindge. Or maybe I just filtered out the image of anyone eating out Theresa May.
And you’ve got to admire the balls it takes to tell a crowd over a sound system that you like sucking cock, whilst just the other side of a curtain is a bar filled with Aberdeen and Celtic fans.
He had me in tears. It got so bad at one point, just as he started in on Dave Hartnett to be precise, that one of my contacts fell out. After that I couldn’t tell how far away he was. But even without depth perception I still found him hilarious and as Mark Thomas described him, he is definitely the next generation of political comedians. And it came with a message. Being politically active is not only fun, it’s the only way we’ll stand a chance of defending our public services from the Tories and any other greedy fuckers that want to steal from the Public Purse. And as he says near the end of his set, even if you can’t get out and join a protest, anyone can help smash the Tories just by making some home-made porn and sending it to him.
After the show ended, Chris was followed by another small show, and since my girlfriend still hadn’t emerged from the hairdressers, I decided to check it out. Atomic Horse Explosion did sound a bit daft, but what the hell.
Fronted by Red Redmond, a skinny ginger (no I’m not being nasty, this is his own description of himself), it’s another Free Fringe hour long show that is well worth it. Red is young, but confident with his banter and engages with the audience well, cracking jokes about where his watchers are from and what they do for a living without being offensive to anyone. If I were to point out just one example of his comic genius, it would be Falkirk. Only a good comic could fill 5mins of his slot just discussing with the audience how Falkirk should be pronounced. Add to that some of his throw away one liners that almost had me spitting beer all over the place, and you know that if he sticks with it he could be one of the next top stand ups.
The next 2thirds of Atomic Horse Explosion was a hairy chap named Tom O’Dare. Very much like Tim Vine with play on words jokes, but he seemed to be lacking the same confidence shown by Red. Not that I can really criticize, cos he still stood up in front of strangers and made them laugh. Which is 100% more than I’m prepared to do.
And the final part of the trio is a young lass named Jayne Edwards. Here’s another young comic that shows promise and just a touch of genius. She too had an element of the dark in her with a gag about sending a hat made out of a cat to a childrens TV show, which had me struggling to breathe. A joke set up and delivered like a seasoned pro. And I’m not going to give away any more than that, cos she finishes her set with a skit that is so simple in nature, but fucking hilarious in execution.
So that was my Saturday afternoon in Edinburgh on what is really the 1st and last day of the Festival. Well it is for me. I’m dog-sitting next weekend and away camping on Mull the weekend after. In the meantime, me and the girlfriend are off to make some home-made porn for Chris to use against the Tories!
Activism is Fun & Atomic Horse Explosion are on every day from 14:15 at the Globe, Niddry St until the 26th of August, part of the PBH’s Free Fringe.