Author Archives: todayinscotland

A Different Planet


The Homeless World Cup kicked off in Glasgow on Saturday, the same day that Portugal emerged as unexpected victors over France to claim the biggest trophy in European football. The contrast between the men and women who will take to the pitches in George Square and the multi-millionaires gracing the stadia of France could not be more stark yet both play for a sense of personal and national pride. It is easy to imagine however, that the bitterness of defeat is easy to assuage when you have a modern des res to return to.

Football in general is watched by the working classes, regardless of where in the world it is played. The astronomical wages of top players are funded by supporters for whom the cost of a match or season ticket features significantly in their personal budget. They are also the group statistically most likely to be at risk of homelessness. 


 Street homelessness, those sleeping rough, has increased and become more visible in Scotland and the rest of the UK. The sight of some forlorn soul begging on the pavement is no longer treated with embarrassment or shock, it is the new normal. We have become so inured to the suffering of others that we accept that which should never be acceptable in a civilised society. We are angry at them not for them. The media and politicians have successfully demonised members of society that have nothing; these are the men and women that Labour deserted when they removed ‘working class’ from their rhetoric. They are a reflection of the society they inhabit and the casual acceptance by most of us of unacceptable and unimaginable circumstance. Any normal human being would ask what could be done to help. The debate to replace Trident, due to take place next Monday, would be a good place to start.


Theresa May, our new Prime Minister, has urged renewing the UKs fleet of Trident nuclear submarines at a cost – currently – of 205 billion pounds. There will be no headlines of ‘Disgrace!’ screaming from the front pages of our daily newspapers. Our erstwhile champions of the downtrodden will not vote against. No one of any influence will propose a better use of such an enormous sum of money. The public will not, in general, recoil in horror.
It should be a national scandal that  our priorities lie with weapons of mass destruction rather than care for our most vulnerable. Such unusable toys are the last desperate attempt to assert dominance over a world which increasingly sees the UK as an irrelevant minor player.  I voted Yes because I believed that as an independent nation Scotland could begin to address such iniquities. Independence in itself is no panacea but there is a willingness and desire for change here that encourages the belief that anything is possible.

We can find money for weapons and war. Wouldn’t it be better spent affording those less fortunate in our society a little dignity and a roof over their head?
*The Homeless World Cup at George Square runs until the 16th July. Entry is free and no tickets are required.

We Are Not The Enemy

    
You may have noticed a change in Scotland recently and we know it makes you uncomfortable. What was once the underachieving, shouty but harmless little country at the cold end of Britain has become a vicious, destructive force of evil, intent on wreaking havoc on your traditions and tearing all you hold dear asunder. We are the greedy, grasping sweaty socks; ignorant, petty, vindictive and quick to attack those who disagree with our point of view. We are deluded, slavish nationalists; economically naive and easily led. We unjustly demand more of your hard-earned taxes to pay for our luxuries. We want to leave you defenceless in an uncertain world. We do not pay our way.

All of this is true, according to the British media.
The single most important factor which forms the opinions of the majority of us in the United Kingdom is what we see and hear in the media. It won the election for the Conservatives. It lost the election for Labour. It will decide how we vote on the EU.
Do you really want a handful of unelected men to decide you and your family’s future? How do you make an informed choice when all your sources say the same thing?
  
  You can’t have failed to notice the press and television media went to town on the SNP and Scots prior to the General Election. Unlike the referendum debate these scares, smears and dirty tricks weren’t just for benefit of the people of Scotland; they were aimed at you too. You were regaled with tales of abusive cybernats and conveniently left in the dark over the antics of abusive Britnats. You were told Nicola Sturgeon is the Most Dangerous Woman in Britain. You have been subjected to a racist viewpoint of our culture which isn’t even thinly veiled and which sought and still seeks to divide us.

We were subjected to all this too yet despite the scaremongering, misinformation, hatred and vilification we democratically elected 56 SNP MPs out of a possible 59, leaving the London parties with less than a handful of representatives. This did not happen because we are all rabid nationalists seeking independence at any cost, it happened because we have an advantage over you:
We know the press lie. We know the BBC lie. We do not trust or believe what they say. We have found or developed our own sources of information and we share it with each other.
 
  You see we’ve been through all this before. We saw it first hand during the referendum and despite the weight of the establishment ranged against us we very nearly won. Our alternative media has grown since then and continues to grow. The change in the Scottish political landscape is not a protest, it is a shift to a new reality which shows no sign of abating and it is due to knowledge. We have news outlets independent of established media, bloggers and social media users who find and disseminate information contrary to what the press tell us. You need that too.

Maybe, just maybe, your time is coming. The EU referendum could be the catalyst which awakens many of you to the deceit of the media. This time they will not all be singing from the same hymn sheet. You will be treated to exposes on the excesses of the European Union, you will be given extreme examples of wastefulness, corruption and petty bureaucracy . Immigration will feature heavily. You can choose to believe everything they tell you or you can seek the truth.
 
  England needs a Derek Bateman. a Newsshaft, a Newsnet, a Bella Caledonia. You need a Wings Over England. Are any of you willing to step up and offer an alternative? Are you willing to support those who do? Are you happy to accept what they want you to know and not what you need to know?

We are not the enemy.
Politicians and the vested interests who control the media in the United Kingdom fear an informed populace.
Make them fear you. Be the media.

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And It’s Only Been 17 Days

David Cameron laughing
The Tories have gone Full Metal Bastard.
Having achieved an unexpected majority and therefore a mandate to write their very own George Orwell novel, the gloves are off and the iron-spiked fisting gauntlets are well and truly on. Making the move from EVEL to Evil, David Cameron has decided to repeal the ban on fox hunting because nothing says ‘humane culling’ like a pack of braying, snarling hounds chasing down a terrified animal, accompanied by dogs.
The Hunt is of course a very British country tradition which encourages people of all backgrounds* to participate, especially those who enjoy blowing on wee trumpets and being ‘blooded’, just like the good old days at boarding school.
Supporters have claimed that hunting actually benefits the fox population by weeding out the weak and diseased animals so that only the strongest and most cunning survive to pass on their genes. Voters in Scotland tried the same technique with Labour but it’s difficult to reproduce when there’s only one of you.
Expect the next five years to produce the UKs first kitten cull and the legalisation of budgie baiting.

*subject to rank, income, title, race and political bent.

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The debate over our furry vulpine friends effectively relegated the story of Faslane whistleblower William McNeilly to ‘other news’, which must have come as a relief to the government in a ‘right, we need all you hack bastards to push this fox business’ kind of way. Mr McNeilly suggested nuclear weapons are in fact very very dangerous things, occasionally accompanied by very, very stupid people. Things have to be bad for a serving soldier to go native. From 2000 to 2009 there were 587 ‘nuclear incidents’ at Faslane and if the phrase ‘nuclear incidents’ doesn’t freeze your blood then nothing will.
Mindful of the public turning against our phallic protectors of Freedom and to present a more tolerable face, the government has opted to rename our Vanguard class submarines at a special ceremony broadcast live on CBeebies and hosted by Justin from Justin’s House. HMS Tinky Winky, Dipsy , LaLa and Po will resume their previous operations although the new launch command will be ‘Tubby Bye Bye’ and victims of nuclear accidents will be reclassified as ‘Tubby Toast’.
Despite recent press speculation, convoys carrying nuclear weapons through built up areas will not be known as the Ninky Nonk.

In an attempt to transform the United Kingdom into an actual Dickens novel the Tories intend to abolish the Human Rights Act and replace it with one of their own, minus the Rights. We will still have the Right to free healthcare, if we can afford it.
Immigrants will still have the Right to claim benefits, just not in this country. All across the UK employers are solemnly declaring,
Nice One Dave.

It’s going to an interesting five years.

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You Keep Using That Word, I Don’t Think It Means What You Think It Means

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When the media and politicians seek to demonise groups or individuals they oppose, their most common tactic is to label them with a description that has negative connotations for their target audience. The process of othering includes words such as scrounger, lefty, immigrant and asylum seeker, phrased in the context of “these things are Bad, you should think they’re Bad too or you’re just as Bad as they are”.
Benefit claimants are scroungers, not people caught in unfortunate circumstances. Those who drowned in the Mediterranean are immigrants, not people. The intention is to remove individuality and empathy.
Those who desire independence for Scotland are nationalists or separatists, words that to many convey danger, intolerance and instability. They are delivered as an insult and a warning.

I am Scottish. This was not a choice. I would quite like to have been born in Australia or the Seychelles because the Scottish weather can fuck right off.
I don’t feel proud to be Scottish in the same way that I don’t feel proud to have feet. Sweet tea cures my hangovers, not Irn Bru. I’m not sure I could recite the second verse of Flower of Scotland and get it right. Being Scottish doesn’t define who I am, only where I was born. When I voted Yes in the referendum and SNP in the General Election I was not seeking Total World Domination or the right to impose my tartan-clad philosophies on the rest of the UK but merely to express my desire for change and normalcy. Friends who voted Yes and SNP were, shock horror, not Scottish.
The independence movement is not one culture just as Scotland is not one culture. It contains Christians, Atheists, Muslims, Sikhs, Left wing, Right wing, LGBT, straight, old and young. Urbane professionals alongside the disenfranchised, revolutionary workers alongside those for whom change may prove a risk. People are not excluded for having no ginger relatives. These groups are present in every European democracy and further afield in the world. Our bohemian libertarians would find their niche in any country, our intolerant bigots likewise. It is impossible to categorise a typical independence supporter, though the media try their best.
The strength of this movement is its diversity. It is hard to imagine a cause which would unite such a disparate bunch.

We are not special, we are not different; we simply do not fit the stereotype of nasty nationalism.

The Oxford dictionary provides two definitions of nationalist:

1. A person who advocates political independence for a country.

2. A person with strong patriotic feelings, especially one who believes in the superiority of their country over others.

Many politicians and the media would have us believe our movement reflects the latter, the Yes campaign was defined by the former; if that is what a nationalist is defined as in Scotland then I am a nationalist and to hell with the press.

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This Is Britain

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When I awoke around 6:30am on Friday the 19th of September I knew without checking that we had lost. Traffic passed by – no more than usual – an occasional voice echoed along the streets, birds whistled on the roof above the flat. No singing, no shouting, laughing or chanting.
No independence.
It took another 20 minutes before I could look at my phone for confirmation, a simple message from a friend that said, ‘wtf?!’
By 9am I was on my way out of Glasgow and heading for the west coast for the weekend. Given the events that took place in the city later on that day, I’m glad I stuck to my no vote contingency plan.
We can’t dwell on what we’ve lost or what could have been, we have to consider what we are left with, what the United Kingdom is and what that means to us.

The joy and exuberance witnessed in George Square in the days before the vote had been usurped by a violent British nationalism. This was no celebration of unity, rather it was a nasty, hate filled exhibition of triumphalism and intolerance dressed in red, white and blue, more akin to the football violence of the eighties than the conclusion of a referendum vote. Nazi salutes, taunts and assaults were the order of the day for a gathering organised on Facebook, advertised by Britain First and somehow completely missed by the security services who, we were told, will keep us safe if we stay together.
The Union Jack is a flag of convenience for these people; it is their team colours and our national flag is the opposition, even to those who were born and bred in Scotland. Tearing a saltire from a young girl was not a political statement, it was reminiscent of a mindless soccer casual stripping another supporter of their scarf; to attribute a deeper sense of loyalty and belief in nation to such behaviour is insulting. They have no real allegiance to the idea of countries united under one flag but that same union made them what they are.

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It’s doubtful even in Thatchers most fevered dreams would she imagine a Britain that has lurched so far to the right. To achieve wealth and position through nefarious, unethical or immoral actions is acceptable, to be poor, disadvantaged or vulnerable is tantamount to criminality; the state and the media complicit in fostering the lie. No attempt is made to address divisions in our society because as individuals or small groups we cannot force change. Xenophobia is now a reasonable and supported political ideology, corporate collusion with government raises no eyebrows in the press and fear is the currency of control.

It is fear that defines the nature of the United Kingdom today. Fear won the no campaigns victory over independence; fear of loss of earnings, fear of isolation, fear of attack, fear of change and perversely, fear of poverty.
Fear of those who seek to do us harm enables successive governments to impose restrictions on ordinary citizens, to change laws and to embark on expensive and ill conceived military ventures. Fear of extremism begets it’s own reactionary extremism; bomb the ragheads, send them back to their own country, vote UKIP.
Anger and hatred are the ultimate consequence of a perpetual state of fear. Anger at those we perceive to unjustly have more than us, hatred of minorities and those the press choose to demonise. It leaves a fractured and disparate nation while those at the top reap the benefit of an unfocused population.
I want no part of it.

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Almost half of Scotland rejected this philosophy of fear in favour of a future where hope and ambition can flourish. The pain felt by many on the 19th has transformed into a desire to continue the journey. It is a chaotic ensemble of individuals and groups seeking to define their direction and purpose post referendum and hopefully will, in time, become a network of coordinated actions and activists. Many have joined political parties for the first time in their lives, others have committed to seeking change through local groups and organisations. A result that so easily could have killed the renewed vigour and passion of our country has instead galvanised us into action. It is a wonderful thing to behold.

We may still be part of the United Kingdom but that does not mean we cannot behave as though we are already independent. We can show the world that we are different, that we do not fear change, that we embrace diversity and reject hatred, that we will elect politicians who share our ideals.
We can show the world that we are not the United Kingdom, we are Scotland and we are not the same.

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It Must Be Yes, Scotland

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The last post before the referendum finds me nervous and excited in equal measure. The clock has ticked down to the final 24 hours of a long, frenetic and at times infuriating campaign which has produced heroes and villains aplenty. It’s unlikely that any undecided voters are reading this because if you’re still undecided with one day to go, you probably don’t care that much but in the interests of fairness a brief synopsis of the state of play may be in order.

You have to vote Yes.

Better Together are awful. Really awful. They are an anti-campaign; a campaign that has no redeeming qualities, no cogent arguments, no charismatic personalities, no grassroots membership, no vision of the future, no humour, passion or integrity.
They are liars.
They are backed by millionaires, Eton educated politicians, corporate interests, media shills, bigots and racists. They are not the good guys. If the referendum debate was a game of Cluedo, everyone would know from the outset it was Alastair Darling, in the kitchen, with a rolled up Daily Mail.

Labour party supporters are working class scum, they’re a virus that should be eradicated, just a bunch of nazis”
David Cameron, April 2015

How would you rate his chances in next years election if he actually said that? How soon would he be replaced?
The answers would be zero and immediately yet this has been Labours method of winning over voters.
Politicians attack each other ruthlessly in order to score points but Better Together are the first campaign in history to change the rules and attack the population. Lamont, Sarwar, Murphy, Davidson and Darling have disgraced themselves, disgraced their party and disgraced Scotland. The only reason they still have jobs is because the media in Scotland have steadfastly refused to punish them in the way they would a member of Yes.
The pro union campaign, with Labour at its head, have waged a war of vitriol, fear and lies. They have preached inflammatory rhetoric aimed at marginalising and demonising a huge percentage of the population, an electorate they expect to fall into line in the event of a no and vote them into office next year.
No fucking chance.

Every scare they raise is debunked almost immediately, every rebranding ripe for parody, every marketing campaign an own goal. They don’t understand Scotland, even those who live here, yet they have power that cannot be underestimated. They are the establishment; they have the money, they have the media, they have influence that we can only dream of.
They cannot be allowed to win.

A no vote is a victory for deceit, dishonesty and shameless self interest. It is a victory for a corrupt and partisan media, vested interests and a philosophy that Scotland has long rejected. It is the triumph of fear over hope, privilege over integrity and stagnation over progress. A no vote in any normal society should be anathema to us all.

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The contrast with the Yes movement is stark. The commitment, passion and sheer positivity on display is humbling, from the political leaders to the thousands of ordinary people canvassing on the doorsteps. The movement has heart and soul, it has creativity, humour, intelligence and direction. We have our individuals, our heroes who step up to the plate. Lyndsay, the Indy climber who scaled the cliff below Edinburgh castle to place a Yes sign as a two fingered rebuff to Gordon Browns transplant scaremongering, Mark Coburn, who cycled from Rome to Scotland to raise funds for local Yes groups and who subsequently raised money for Maryhill food bank, Matt Lygate, the rickshaw man, who hijacked the arrival of Labour MPs in Glasgow and turned what should have been a media coup for Better Together into a scene from Monty Python.

There are more, many more, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I cried when I watched the video from Wales, Stanley Odds beautiful wee song ‘Son, I Voted Yes’ had the same affect on me. Whenever I’ve had moments of doubt about the outcome, someone, somewhere does or says something which brings a smile to my face and renews my conviction. Chris Law and the Spirit of Independence, Derek Batemans inspiring journalism, the bloggers, the Freedom Convoys, the BBC protests, the wee blue book, Facebook groups, songs, stories, animations, plays.
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It is overwhelming.

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A special mention must go the resource which has given us ammunition to combat the nonsense peddled by the media. Stuart Campbell and Wings Over Scotland has been a godsend to this movement, eruditely deconstructing every myth and falsehood with a thoroughness that puts our established journalists to shame. If independence comes, history should rightly mark their contribution.

We cannot live our lives in fear of change. Change happens all the time, every day; no one knows what’s around the corner. The eyes of the world are on us now, press from every corner of the globe are in our wee country. A no vote is not the story they want. A rejection of independence will not make history, we will be an inconsequential footnote, the first country to spurn the right to self determination. It would be an insult to the belief, labour and imagination of everyone who has invested so much of themselves to make this happen.

We can and will be a successful nation. Another Scotland is possible. You can make it possible.
Vote Yes.

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I Need Your Clothes, Your Boots And Your Motorcycle

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We waited with bated breath for the latest onslaught of horror stories from the most woeful campaign in political history; what terrible consequences of independence would be gleefully beamed into our homes by the BBC or await us in the press on our commute to work.
Yes we can use the pound but our coins won’t work in condom machines or parking meters.
Yes we can join the European Union but Spanish fisherman can invoke the rite of Prima Nocta and will be legally entitled to every first born child.
Greyfriars Bobby will be found to have English provenance due to a previously unknown canine dalliance with a Yorkshire terrier and have to be returned on Independence Day, where he will renamed Greyfriars Wellard.
As it turned out nothing so dramatic, merely regurgitated nonsense from a camp who had clearly run out of ideas.

Then a small miracle happened.

Rumours surfaced on Facebook that the latest YouGov poll showed Yes had taken the lead. Upon confirmation and with barely contained joy, independence supporters aimed a respectful but audible ‘Fuck You!’ in the general direction of London.
Inevitably the promise of more powers came thick and fast though unfortunately didn’t include x-ray vision or the bone structure of Wolverine. Such was the palpable fear from Westminster that the saltire was raised, eventually, above Downing Street in the manner of a besotted ex crying,
“Look, look, I’m wearing those pants you left on the bedroom floor last week because they’re your pants and I love them. And I haven’t even washed them!”

We probably should have issued a series of demands in the style of all good hostage situations rather than wait for the predictable ‘It’s A Trap!’ devo proposals. Scots could email Eck’ll Fixit with suggestions.

“Tony from Dundee asks could Mr Cameron answer all queries at Prime Minsters Question Time with the reply ‘Yir Maw’.
Hoho Tony I’m sure Dave can oblige”

“29 year old Elspeth from Peebles would love to see Ian Duncan Smith and Johann Lamont reenact the overdose scene from Pulp Fiction, in the style of the Chuckle brothers. Which one do you want to play Vincent? Hohoho”

“And finally Tahir from Glasgow would quite like one of the Crown Jewels for his girlfriend, he’s not bothered which one as long as it’s big. Are we hearing wedding bells Tahir? Hoho”

Response to the preserve-based promises has been mixed, ranging from ‘aye right’ to ‘get tae’ as thankfully Yes supporters saw through the wafer thin mint of deceit though some undecided may consider them, being, as they are, the punter who waits till just before the off before backing the favourite.
Whatever this coming week brings, it looks as though someone is going to have to order a new pair of country-sized Union Jack pants.

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Mr Ed chipped in with the horrifying news that a Cold War style border will be erected between Scotland and England, complete with walls and barricades and guns and stuff to make it look really scary and intimidating. Commentators with specialist knowledge of such arrangements reacted by face palming and saying ‘aw fur fuck sake’.
Passports will be required at all times except if you live in Scotland. Or England. Or Europe.
Passports won’t be required.
The Scottish government will be obliged to contribute to the upkeep of said border and have promised to send a couple of bouncers from the Savoy in Sauchiehall Street. That should do the job.

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Unionist grassroots members have finally tunnelled up through the undergrowth to display their support for the UK and much pleasure has been derived from the above thing of beauty. Debates over its meaning have been raging among Yes supporters with many believing it was produced by a confused nationalist who is vehemently opposed to using sterling.
Others think the creator is not referencing the referendum at all but is in fact a South African gentleman who objects to wearing underwear (that one may take a little longer…..).
Isnt the calibre of opponent in this debate truly special?
The answer is naw.

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Project: What The F**k?

Better Together – The Pantomime (dodgy script, actors who muff their lines and a cast that hate each other) staggered through to the final weeks of campaigning with performances that had independence supporters soiling their pants with glee.

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First up we had patronising BT lady, featuring in an ad straight out of Mad Men, who hadn’t really thought about the referendum then promptly decided to vote no two minutes later. During those jaw droppingly inane minutes she managed to lambast her husband Paul for daring to discuss the Future Of Our Country As We Know It over his Coco Pops and her kids for always having a phone in their hand. You know, a smartphone, that device that can access the sum of all human knowledge, ever.
I Imagine after it aired there was a flurry of activity among Nigerian generals and European lottery syndicates trying to find her email address. The ad was so unremittingly sexist that even the Italian press were compelled to say so. Read that again. When a country who categorises investigative journalism as trying to get a photograph up a female politicians skirt thinks it’s sexist, you’re done. Having a couple of rappers say ‘Yo bitches! Vote no!’ would have had more integrity and the population duly took to twitter with meme-tastic creativity.
The truly astounding thing about this mini work of art was that it was pitched, scripted, filmed and screened and it passed at every stage. Who commissioned it? The Rotary club?
Concerns have been raised about the poor actress being unemployable in the future but I’m sure she’ll fit right into her latest role;
“We’ve been looking for someone who’s vacuous with a poor grasp of current affairs and an ability to read from a script. Congratulations! You’re the new Labour candidate for Moray!”

Similarities between Jimbo Murphys 100 towns campaign and the 100 year war are few, the main one being that neither did what it said on the tin. After playing to crowds of several, it All Kicked Off in Kirkcaldy when an assailant from independence splinter group Mobility Scooters for Yes attempted to assassinate Oor Jimmy with a size one Grade A. Video footage suggested a second eggstremist on the grassy knoll beside Greggs though this was unconfirmed.* The grassroots Yes campaign are leaving no stone unturned to uncover the identity of the phantom ova thrower although curiously No Thanks aren’t.
Jamesy valiantly moved on to his next gig like a brave wee soldier bearing the scars of war, seemingly unaware that his comfortable MPs salary could have purchased a brand new shirt from the Primark up the road. Cue gnashing and wailing from the press as the sheer Guernica-scale horror of the nationalist movement was revealed in all it’s hideous glory. A casual non partisan observer may conclude that a) the independence campaign is incredibly benign by any standard and that
b) they really are shitting themselves.

News just in. Mr Murphy has returned to the campaign trail followed by a giant chicken. Fact.

When David Cameron announced the upgrading of the UK threat level the first thought in the minds of tens of thousands of Yes Face-bookers was,
“See! See! I fucking told ye!!”
This was quite possibly the most anti-climactic announcement of the whole campaign since such an event had been prophesied and discussed as far back as January on Facebook threads. Little has been said about exactly what the threat is and how severe it is but it’s safe to say it falls somewhere between ‘mildly uneasy’ and ‘get the pistol and the children Marjory, it’s time’.
Extremists planning to attack the UK because of the UKs foreign policy so it’s better to stay in…….the…..UK. Hmmm. Glad that’s sorted.

The ‘I Hate Scotland’ campaign continued to insist that it was actually supporters of independence who hated Scotland and indeed their own families with a series of high profile billboards. ‘I Love My Family so I’m voting No Thanks’ suggests a Yes vote can only mean you are a callous bastard who despises your own kin. I occasionally hate my family but that’s not why I’m voting Yes. If Mr Cameron wants a definition of Threat Level try going from ‘son who is unhappy he is not allowed to play his xbox’ to ‘son who has become the antichrist and is disassembling the contents of his room with a rage only previously seen in 28 Days Later’
It’s absolutely fine to dislike your family sometimes because let’s face it, sometimes they’re dicks. Imposing democracy, equality and a fairer society on them does not unfortunately count as a punishment.

An awful week was compounded when completely independent and non partisan pollsters YouGov published their latest poll which held bad news for the campaign that loves to shoot itself in the foot as well as kick itself in the balls, garrotte itself and bang it’s elbow. A three point swing separates us. Move over clowns, it’s time for the main attraction.

*Stolen from Steven McGuckin on Facebook, I laughed like a drain when I read it and thought it deserved another outing

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A Hard Rains A Gonna Fall, Part 2

Politicians generally don’t lie. The accepted wisdom is that they lie all the time, about everything; its almost a prerequisite for success in the cesspit of political life. They twist words and statistics, spin news to suit their agenda, avoid answering direct questions and carefully construct sentences which promote their schemes while skirting barely acceptable levels of honesty. But they rarely tell an outright, bare-faced, demonstrable untruth.
Personal integrity plays a part but the potential consequences of such actions – as history has shown – can be severe and would deter all but the most blasé politicians. Chris Huhne, Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken to name but three have all paid the price for their deceit and the dogged determination of the media to pursue the truth. Broadcasters and the press have been a safeguard against the excesses of self serving public servants. The question must be asked, in the most important debate in Scotland’s history, why our politicians have been permitted to lie regularly and with impunity without censure or reproach?

Government officials and MPs have access to data and information not generally available to the public. They are backed by institutes, academics and offices chock full of researchers. When they lie they know they are lying; they are not mistaken, they are not confused, they do not have the wrong end of the stick. They know. When unionist politicians claim that privatisation in England would not affect the Scottish NHS they know that is a lie. When they say Scotland could not use the pound they know they are deceiving you, me and everyone else, regardless of wether we intend to vote Yes or No. In another discussion at another time they would be brought to book and their deceit laid bare in the full glare of public condemnation but this debate is different; the media know the truth but publish the lie.

The media in the UK are powerful. They can make or break careers. They can affect election results. They can determine what we know and what we are allowed to know. They are still the main conduit of news to the public despite the rise of alternative sources such as social media which can suffer from misreporting and malicious posting. In this debate newspapers have knowingly published headlines which they knew to be false, the BBC have knowingly reported news they knew to be untrue; a consensus has been reached by the media and the establishment that the desire for Scottish independence is undesirable, wrong and must be attacked. The motivation for such complicity is ultimately irrelevant; reasons can be found. The willingness of those in power, those who control what we know, to demonise and attempt to subvert a democratic movement should worry us all.

Those intending to vote no may rejoice at having such power on their side. They may see the complicity of the media and the establishment as proof of their righteous cause and validation of their beliefs. They are right because they are told daily that they are right.
What if the powers that be decided they were wrong? What if their considered and educated opinion was deemed to be unacceptable? What recourse would they have?

We are right to be concerned about the effect of government cuts on the most vulnerable in our society. We are right to be concerned about the future of our parliament and the potential for loss of control within the union. We are right to be concerned about our health services, education and jobs. We are right about all of this but that may not be the most serious implication of a defeat of the independence movement.
When government and media conspire to subvert the truth, when they can lie with impunity and mislead the population then democracy is lost.
That may be the true cost of a no vote.

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I’m Going With Plan B (Not That One)

Plan A was firmly set in place; it was the only option to counter the dread and despair of the what-the-fuck-were-you-thinking-Scotland lunacy of a no vote.
If armageddon was announced I was packing my tent and my rods and heading to the highlands for two days of solitary grieving. And fishing.

I simply couldn’t countenance being in the city then; too much like the scene of the crime. Glasgow after Yes would be vibrant and alive, a joyous celebration that even unionist media could only report in those terms. With a no vote, given the type of people most likely to openly celebrate a negative verdict, newspaper copy could plausibly include words such as ‘abusive’, ‘glassed’ and ‘arrests’.
So the decision had been made, I’ll leave them to it and head off for some quality private introspection and rage.
It was a good plan, simple with no compromises but a quirk of fate has forced a reappraisal.
September 19th sees the start of the Tarbert Music Festival.

My mum came from Tarbert and every year since I was born, up until my late 20s, I travelled on the West Coast Motors bus to visit my family in the village. When you have been brought up on a scheme in the south side of Glasgow there is something slightly otherworldly about a fishing village in Argyll; it’s beautiful and picturesque but also comforting, I haven’t lived there apart from extended summer stays but it feels like home in a way that the city doesn’t. Cousins and nephews still stay there, my sister works there, half my family are buried there. Glasgow may be a fantastic, cosmopolitan city but Tarbert is where I feel most Scottish, not as a notion of romantic Brigadoon pish but as a real, unremarkable slice of Scotland. It is part of my history and my family’s history and I’ve been away too long.

The music festival is an Occasion. It is an event in the Tarbert calendar which most people look forward to and one which involves copious volumes of alcohol and an eclectic mix of musicians ranging from folk to Glasgow pub bands. I haven’t been for more than ten years but I remember the last time like it was yesterday.
My visits to Tarbert are sporadic these days, family and work commitments make that inevitable but any time I make the three hour bus journey, regardless of how long it’s been, it always feels like home.

There’s no shame in changing your plans if a better option presents itself, so Plan B it is. Catch up with family, get uproariously drunk, listen to some music, relive some memories. The referendum will be over and the result will be in. Yes or No I’m going to have a good weekend.

Yes will make it a great one.

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