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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Are We The Bad Guys?

I was disappointed to see the names of several people on the infamous celebrity love bombing letter that I genuinely admire. I loved Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan in Green Wing and Olivia Coleman, Robert Webb and David Mitchell have brightened up many a Friday night. One can only assume they have no idea what’s actually going on in Scotland, let alone who they’re sharing a platform with.
Hey folks, meet the BNP! BNP meet the guys!

It seems that Mitchell and Webb foresaw these events in their famous sketch

Yes, you are the baddies.

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I Am #YesDespite

I am #YesDespite having the best of both worlds, one where the wealthy and powerful live a privileged life of tax evasion, government influence and protection from prosecution and the other where the poor should be grateful for what they have.
I am #YesDespite pooling and sharing our resources, resources such as oil, which makes really big fucking pools and is shared by the city of London, corporations and arms manufacturers.
I am #YesDespite pooling and sharing our finances, giving more to London than we get back for the last 33 years and beyond to indulge in dick-waving vanity projects outwith Scotland.

I am #YesDespite being stronger together and being able to waggle our massive nuclear strap-on to prove it, to engage in the rape of another countries resources on the pretext of justifiable war and to radicalise thousands in the process.
I am #YesDespite having a seat at the top table, that ethereal what-the-fuck-does-that-even-mean top table of intangible benefits whose only contribution seems to have been to sell out Scottish fishing and agriculture interests.
I am #YesDespite having a world class NHS separate from the rest of the UK but dependant on funding which we cannot control, funding eroded by gradual privatisation in England.
I am #YesDespite living in the cradle of democracy and having a house of unelected but paid buffoons that have a say in my life, including removing powers from my government.

I am #YesDespite the bullshit, lies, misinformation, media bias, celebrity endorsements, negative campaigning and personal attacks.

I am #YesBecause we can rise above it all; we are creative, industrious, innovative, talented, stubborn and wilful.
I am #YesBecause we don’t expect utopia but we will work to achieve a fairer, egalitarian nation.
I am #YesBecause of the passion, confidence, belief and commitment of those I see around me.

I am #YesBecause we can achieve anything we want.

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The Killing Fields of Cumbernauld

When I was a kid I loved Lord of the Rings so much I thought Middle Earth was a real place, partly due to Tolkiens rich and elaborate prose but mostly because I was 10 and a bit stupid. The power to create a believable fantasy is a wonderful gift that can transport the reader to new worlds fantastic and terrible but we know they’re works of fiction. Cue the fevered imaginings of an alternative Scottish future courtesy of the Better Together Comedy Troupe and their media cohorts. The mind of your average staunch No voter must be like Dantes fucking Inferno……….

2016, or Year Zero as the media will call it, will see Scotland transformed from a vibrant modern society into a third world dictatorship riven by division. Salmond or Uncle Alex as he prefers to be known will appoint the Wings Over Scotland brownshirts as his official bodyguard. They will be responsible for rounding up English settlers and placing them in makeshift detention centres in Asda car parks for ‘re-education’. Despite the fact that the Pope (!) was behind Scottish secession, Catholics will be hunted down and persecuted by unruly mobs along with Pakistanis, Poles, Seventh Day Adventists and Jedi knights.
Terrorist organisations will find a new home in an independent Scotland. Al Qaeda, Hamas, HYDRA and the Legion of Doom will base their headquarters in Park Circus and have listings in the phone book, though new recruits will have to be brought in by sea, all Scottish airports having been bombed by the RAF.

The UKs refusal to remove Trident will see a partition of the country and the installing of a Vichy-esque government in Helensburgh. No voters from across the country will flock to this haven of democracy which has the added benefit of still using the pound rather than the devalued Scottish Groat. Lack of oil resources, Scotland’s only source of revenue, due to the Royal Navys blockade and redirection of pipelines lead to widespread poverty, though this won’t be widely publicised by the biased Scottish Broadcasting Corporation headed by director general Derek Bateman.

Without access to the EU, trade will collapse and the only growth industry left will involve the construction of massive statues of Uncle Alex in a Saddam-like pose. Public sector recruitment will drop as the requirement to speak Gaelic and the ability to say ‘geezannuradodarat’ in a convincing Scottish accent deters non Scots from applying for positions. Tourism will suffer as Scotland makes Lonely Planets list of ‘Countries That Used to be Cool But Are Now Really Shit’ and stringent border controls will discourage visitors from the rest of the UK.

Let’s face it, with independence, were fucked.

Ok so it’s a bit over the top but every example has been quoted, with my own added exaggeration, by the No campaign or posters on social networks. It’s difficult to contemplate how relatively sane and normal people can imagine their country disintegrating with the simple act of self determination. Proof will come in due course that autonomy and our will to succeed can create a Scotland that is far removed from the above description.

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We Hate The Tories (Mostly)

At the 2010 General Election the Conservative party won one seat in Scotland. This is generally held up as an example of Scotland’s contempt for Tory neoliberal policy and our nations social democratic ideals but conveniently ignores another statistic: how many voted Conservative across the country.

Over 412,000 people in Scotland opted for the Tories as their party of choice, 16.7% of the vote. How many of those will choose to support independence?
It’s a difficult question to answer because we are not voting for a political party but if I were a Conservative I’m pretty sure id be inclined to vote no.

The grassroots element of the Yes campaign have been the single most exciting and invigorating aspect of this debate. Ordinary people finally realising that this is their future and they can, by their involvement, affect the result. It seems unlikely that this new found confidence and democratic participation will fade any time soon as the customary reluctance of ordinary Scots to engage in the political arena has been superseded by an intense need for change. The thrust has focused on developing a fairer, egalitarian society based on principles of social democracy. The online campaign can be confrontational and adversarial; Westminster parties often the subject of disparaging memes, aggressive language and a typically blunt Scottish ‘did ye, aye?’ attitude which leaves no room for compromise. The Tories fare worse than most in these exchanges so how would you as a Conservative voter view the prospect of an independent Scotland?
I’d imagine not with much confidence.

This, to me, is the essence of the whole progression to independence. No matter how staunchly Yes we are, we can still barely grasp the incredible potential to change anything we want. We still think in terms of the current political system and ideologies, ideologies which force people to choose sides depending on their income, upbringing or social status. ‘No More Tory Governments Ever’ is a popular refrain in support of independence but it presupposes that a truly Scottish Conservative Party – or whatever they wanted to call themselves – would be the same as a Westminster Tory party and would be unwilling to adapt and embrace the new political landscape. The truth is that Scottish Tories would have to adapt, just as Labour and the Lib-Dems would because independence would be a rejection of those same parties and their neglect for the needs of the people of this country. How quickly they themselves realise this will determine their success in 2016 but it is not inconceivable that a Conservative party could actually make themselves electable in Scotland in the future. We cannot fear such an event because it would reflect the very democracy that we seek to attain.

One of the main driving forces in the Yes movement is the lack of representation in a union which can safely ignore Scotland, 8.4% of the UK population. It’s unacceptable that we should do the same to double that number of our own citizens. Independence brings a wealth of possibilities for every political belief; our parliament lends itself to diversity and Conservative voters should be reassured that their concerns and needs can be met in the new Scotland.

It has been said that a 3% swing could clinch the vote; persuading even a quarter of Scottish conservatives that independence can work for them would see us over the finishing line.

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