Tag Archives: Scottish politics, Scottish independence

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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Welcome To Scotland Ya F***ker

While under the influence of drink and perusing some Yes threads on Facebook for someone to argue with I came across an interesting comment; that a Scottish poem from the 1500s contained the first written example of the word ‘fuck’. This briefly sobered me up enough to do a quick google to clarify this amazing revelation. Unfortunately as I suspected it wasn’t quite so cut and dried as that but there was enough information to suggest that once again we were ahead of the game in world culture.

I couldn’t help but think that Visit Scotland were missing a trick. Sure we gave the world television, the telephone, antibiotics and a whole warehouse full of consumer goods but being the home of Fuck? An ad mans dream and the commercials would be 24 carat gold.

Picture the scene. A fishing boat is silhouetted against the setting sun on Loch Fyne, pipes play a lament in the background. Cut to a young man sitting on a hill staring across Glencoe shrouded in mist, fade to a couple strolling through fields of purple heather and laughing, switch to the piper standing atop Eilean Donan castle. A throaty voiceover cuts in….

“Scotland. Fuckin gorgeous eh?”

Imagine billboards in America with the legend:

“Told your boss to fuck off? Don’t mention it, our pleasure. Visit Scotland”

Or

“Scotland. We give a fuck, but in a nice way”

The truth is we love to swear. Most of us are aware enough to know when and with whom it is appropriate. The advantage we have over almost every other nationality is that we are incredibly imaginative about it. On the same night I discovered the ‘fuck’ reference I came across examples of such audacious sweary word-smithery that I guiltily laughed out loud, though admittedly I didn’t feel that guilty.
Our profanities are as varied in tone as they are in structure.

Take fud.

The word fud has a massive invisible full stop after it which says ‘checkmate’. When someone calls you a fud you know that is the endgame, the coup de grace. There is simply no adequate response short of physical violence, it is the obscene bullet to the brain and you know you have been bested by a superior linguist. You retire and mentally take ‘fud’ with you.

Fanny is another one. It has a certain beauty because it manages to convey inadequacy, despair and disdain all at once. Most commonly used by the type of people who would struggle to define the meanings of inadequacy, despair and disdain but used effectively nonetheless. The classic “What a fanny” will never go out of style.

There’s more, much more but to list them and their varied uses would take longer than I have.
To close, I’ll leave you with this handy phrase for the next time you’re out canvassing.

Don’t be a fud, vote Yes.

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B.O.L.L.O.C.K.S

To: All Group Organisers
Cc: DC/OO/UKIP/BNP/VNOB
From: AD

Subject: Reorganisation

As we approach the final weeks of the referendum campaign we have decided to adjust our structure and the way we disseminate information with a view to maximising media focus. This will entail the creation or renaming of several groups.

Better Together will now be known as Britains Best Campaign (BBC) The BBC will be firmly on message and have responsibility for relaying important information in support of the union.
New groups include Labour Idealists Against Radical Separation (LIARS). This group will emphasise the dangers of independence and gather news damaging to the yes campaign. Youth ambassadors Friendly Union Debaters (FUDS) will focus on the positives of a strong union and Together With All True Scots (TWATS) will accentuate the essential similarities between all Britons.

Those voters who are undecided or leaning towards yes have now been classified as Scottish Citizens Unconvinced of Membership (SCUM).

There will be a reclassification of categories of information to be distributed with two main threads. Shared History In Troubles (SHIT), the focus of which shall be examples of cooperation between UK nations at times of national emergency and Problems Involved in Scottish Hegemony (PISH), a self explanatory thread exploring the difficulties facing an independent Scotland.

The BBC will attempt to disseminate as much PISH as possible, especially to less informed SCUM. The bulk of their output will be provided by LIARS though TWATS have a significant role to play as talking heads. FUDS will talk SHIT to SCUM at a grassroots level though due to a lack of FUDS in Scotland we may have to bus some in.
Leaflets printed will be mostly SHIT with elements of PISH and will be heavily endorsed by LIARS and TWATS through the BBC.

To conclude, LIARS, FUDS, TWATS and the BBC have an important role in convincing SCUM to vote No. We must distribute as much PISH and SHIT as possible in the time remaining without allowing SCUM to suspect we are talking CRAP (CRAP).

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Minor Union Irritation #126:

Having to check ‘United Kingdom’ as country of origin on internet forms.

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Life of Alex

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REG: Those Nats have bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers’ fathers.

LORETTA: And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers.

REG: Yeah.

LORETTA: And from our fathers’ fathers’ fathers’ fathers.

REG: Yeah. All right, Stan. Don’t labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!

XERXES: Council Tax frozen for seven years?

REG: What?

XERXES: Council Tax frozen for seven years.

REG: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that’s true. Yeah.

COMMANDO #3: And cutting the business rates.

LORETTA: Oh, yeah, the business rates, Reg.

REG: Yeah. All right. I’ll grant you the council tax freeze and cutting the business rate are two things that the Nats have done.

MATTHIAS: And the free university tuition.

REG: Well, yeah. Obviously the free university tuition. I mean, university education goes without saying, doesn’t it? But apart from the business rates, the council tax freeze, and free university tuition–

COMMANDO: Provided an extra £20million to combat the bedroom tax .

XERXES: Raised smoking age to 18.

COMMANDO #1: Increased foreign aid.

COMMANDOS: Huh? Heh? Huh…

COMMANDO #2: Provided the HPV vaccine for teenage girls.

COMMANDOS: Ohh…

REG: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.

COMMANDO #1: And the free prescriptions.

COMMANDOS: Oh, yes. Yeah…

FRANCIS: Yeah. Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss, Reg, if the Nats left. Huh.

COMMANDO: Investment in green energy.

LORETTA: 1000 more police officers and recorded crime at a 39 year low.

FRANCIS: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it. They’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

COMMANDOS: Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

REG: All right, but apart from the council tax freeze, free prescriptions, free university tuition, business rates, public order, help with the bedroom tax, green energy, foreign aid and public health, what have the Nats ever done for us?

XERXES: Given us the opportunity to reinstate our country as an independent nation.

REG: Oh. Independence? Shut up!

And the original source is here

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The Confidence Trick

Every parent knows the value of building self esteem in a child; it creates self belief, encourages communication and by extension investigation and prepares that child for a world which is wonderful but often seems harsh and unfair. The armour of self confidence allows hope and ambition to flourish, lack of it can create an insular personality, fearful, full of self loathing and doubt.
Scots as individuals generally don’t lack confidence but as a nation we are the kid who was always told they’re a bit, well, crap.
We are drunken belligerent subsidy junkies, we are racist English hating bigots, we are parochial tartan-clad
bumpkins who can’t be trusted to hold the national bank card. We are morose and maudlin. We accuse ambitious Scots of rising above their station. We make good soldiers but poor officers. We don’t have the intelligence, organisation or skill to operate without the benevolent hand of our guardian to lead the way.

Unfortunately most of us have believed some, if not all of this, at some point in our lives so it should come as no surprise that many in Scotland have not embraced the risky, danger filled path of independence.

This negative view that many of our countrymen hold of their nation has not occurred by accident, it has been a calculated and cynical design by the British ruling classes to maintain a subservient and compliant Scottish population and it has been until now an overwhelming success.
A nations history is important in engendering a sense of self, it can offer clues to who we are and what we might become. I was never taught about the Darien Scheme and the Act of Union at school. The Jacobite Rebellion, the role of Scots in the slave trade; zilch. I was taught about Corn Laws, Rotten Boroughs and the Industrial Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Middle Ages all from an English/British perspective but nothing of my own countries past. It was as if we had no history, or at least none worth investigating, none of any value.
Throughout the decades the portrayal of Scots by the media has been predictably negative. We are the Jocks ( I read recently, possibly Derek Bateman that if we are supposed to hate the English so much, why don’t we have a nickname for them? We are quite imaginative when it comes abusive terms but I’ve racked my brains and can’t think of any bar the mild ‘sassenach’). It seemed for several years during the 1980s that every London drunk on TV was Scottish. We know that is not who we are but we care that others might think so and that has a subtle influence on how we see ourselves.
The secrecy of the McCrone Report, the destruction of our mining, steel and shipbuilding industries and the vilification by Labour of the SNP, the only political party solely concerned with Scotland’s welfare have all contributed to the belief that we have nothing and we are worth nothing as a nation.

Until now.

Something strange has happened in this debate; people in Scotland have decided collectively and en masse that we are worth something and ironically it may be the No campaign and the British establishment that have inspired that self belief. Over the top estimates of costs, denial of currency, denial of EU and NATO membership, threats to security, pensions and mortgages have all inspired people to ask the most important question of all: why are they trying so hard to keep us?.
This has been answered by every Yes organisation, website and blogger; we are a wealthy nation, more than capable of looking after our own affairs and the British establishment stand to lose more than simply a piece of land, they lose status, prestige and cold hard cash. Healthy finances do not buy happiness but they do provide a degree of stability that breeds confidence in the future and confidence is the cornerstone of this debate.
My first indication that a Scottish government could provide a country that I wanted to live in was the freeing on compassionate grounds of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. That took guts and a morality which was directly opposed to Westminsters US-led revenge doctrine. To make a decision which they knew would be widely condemned took courage and confidence and they have continued through policy and attitude to demonstrate to the Scottish people what is possible.

Every time I visit an independence thread on Facebook, Wings, Bella and countless other sources I see a nation that is waking to the possibilities. I don’t recognise this Scotland but it is a welcome sight. Positivity and hope abound as information is sought, found and shared. Many will not be swayed, the insidious nature of their conditioning is hard to counter but confidence is bred by strength in numbers, by visibility, by strong role models and above all by information.

So spread the word and show your colours; others need to see that they are not alone and that their belief is your belief.

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STOP PRESS

Following recent bad publicity and the increase in special interest Yes groups, BetterTogether have created a number of ‘grassroots’ organisations to mirror the feel good factor engendered by pro independence campaigners.

Expect to see Puppies Say No, Internet Kitties UKOK and Foetuses Against Independence (obviously) soon.

Rumours that Bigoted Warmongering Fascists For No have been disbanded have proved to be untrue.

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References Will Not Be Checked

I hadn’t intended to write another post about Labour but the events of the past twenty four hours are hard to ignore.

Kathy Wiles, prospective Labour candidate for Angus, has resigned after posting a tweet comparing children photographed at the BBC bias protest on Sunday with Hitler Youth.

I was at Pacific Quay; there was definitely no goose-stepping.
This was no staged corporate show with timed performances and polished production, this was a genuine grassroots gathering of ordinary people from all over the country discontent with the partisan behaviour of our state broadcaster. It was well attended, peaceful, good natured and a credit to organiser Moira Williams.

Inevitably Ms Wiles tweeting history came to light on a number of websites and revealed a character who is not averse to offensive comments. She has compared the SNP to Nazis and SNP supporters to benefit scroungers. She has suggested that she may ‘lose her nationality’ because foreign citizens in Scotland can vote in September. Scottish politics is well rid of this vile character though it would be unsurprising to see her surface in another role.
Commentators have rightly asked questions of Labours candidate selection process but there are other concerns highlighted by this issue which the party would do well to address.

Firstly, Ms Wiles beliefs clearly do not concur with what most people would regard as traditional Labour ideals, notwithstanding their hatred of all things SNP. Defence of the poor and vulnerable used to be the mainstay of their values. Not any more it seems. The fact that this lady can find a place in the modern Labour Party is only slightly more worrying than the fact that they’d welcome her in.
It suggests two things; that the party have become so far removed from its origins as to be unrecognisable and that people seeking political office in the UK simply choose any party which they feel will advance their career. Conviction politicians are few and far between and have been replaced by self serving careerists for whom the public, the very people they are meant to represent, are dismissed as unworthy of respect.

Secondly, why did she feel this was acceptable behaviour? The answer lies in the vitriolic rhetoric of the No campaign and in the malicious hyperbole of Labour MPs in particular.
Johann Lamont describing the desire for independence as a ‘virus’, Alastair Darlings blood and soil gaffe and Ian Davidsons ‘bayoneting the wounded’ comment demonstrate that such attitudes come from the top, not some wild eyed online fanatic. The increase in abusive and offensive comments from No supporters online are simply a reflection of the tone set by their leaders.

It’s difficult to believe that they haven’t considered the consequences of such actions. Yes supporters don’t ask each other which party they vote for so an attack on any pro independence group is seen as an attack on all. The most recent reliable poll showed Yes at 48%, almost 2 million people eligible to vote. Can a struggling Labour Party really afford to alienate 2 million voters in Scotland? No party can.

We could be witnessing the death throes of Labour in Scotland unless there is a dramatic change of strategy.

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The (Labour) Party’s Over

September 19th 2014. A TV screen shows a reporter interviewing David Cameron on Downing Street. The reporter wears a red, white and blue dress with a badge stating ‘BBC says Naw’. Cameron winks at someone off camera and turns to face the reporter.
“Prime Minister, you must be overjoyed that Scotland has voted to stay in the union”
DC – “Well of course Sally it’s wonderful that the Scottish people have chosen to remain in our family of nations. I like to think they voted with their hearts above all else”

“Bollocks!”

The camera pulls back from the screen to reveal the interior of Labour Party headquarters. Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband, Johann Lamont and George Osborne sit together on a sofa facing the screen. Alastair Darling sits on a chair beside them.

AD – “There’s no need for that language Gordon”

Brown launches a sheaf of Better Together leaflets at Alastairs head

GB – “F**k off Darling, that poncy tw*t is taking all the credit!”
JL – “He’s right by the way so he is. We did that, no him, alicsammin”
EM – “Come on now guys, it was a team effort! We done it for team UK!”
GB – “Shut it bacon boy, so why have half the Tory party been interviewed and not us!”

BBC – “You’ve been praised for running a very shrewd campaign, using well known faces from the Labour Party to appeal to Scottish voters. At times your strategy appeared to be failing with the Yes campaign gaining ground in the run up to the referendum”

JL – “That’s us by the way, she said us alicsammin!”
GB – “Shut it GM I’m trying to listen”
GO – “GM?”
EM – “Genetically Modified”
JL – “Ah don’t like that nickname so ah don’t alicsammin”

DC – “Sally it was important to show the people of Scotland that we cared and wanted them to stay in the bosom of the union; cross party unity played a factor of course but the valuable information provided by the government proved the vital factor in the end”

Brown fires a teacup at the TV

GB – ” What a c**t. Have you seen the latest popularity ratings? We’re lower than an Irish immigrant on the titanic!”
AD – “I’m sure with some hard work and the support of our loyal, er, supporters we’ll turn it around before the election next year”
GB – “Not with you on board ya f*d, Salmond wiped his fat, hairy a**e with you in that debate!”
JL – “ooh ah hate him alicsammin so ah dae alicsammin”
EM – “Come on now Gordon you know that wasn’t a fair debate. They kept asking questions. And they wanted answers!”

The door opens. John Reid peers in

JR – “Why don’t we bomb them?”
EM – “Bomb who?”
JR – “Dunno. Whoever you’re talking about”
GB – ” Oh, f**k off John”

Reid leaves.

BBC – “Rumours suggest you plan to ensure such a situation does not occur again; is there any truth to this?”
DM – “Look, Sally, we want to create a society where everyone is equal and has the same opportunities. Scotland is a wonderful country, the people of Scotland have chosen to remain in our glorious union and perhaps it’s time to consider wether having free education, free prescriptions and a separate NHS in one part of these islands and not in the rest is really in the best interests of everyone”
BBC – “So, you intend to remove powers from the Scottish Government?”
DC – “Hehe Sally these things are very much in the pre discussion phase. Workable plans may take years, maybe months”

JL – “ooh alicsammins no gonny like that so he isny alicsammin”
AD – Well it’s about time, we’re all British after all”
EM – “Hear hear, well said that man”
GB -“Hehe the Nats are gonny take it right up the jacksy, once they start making cuts they’re finished!”

BBC – “Finally Prime Minister, you’ve retained Scotland, the Liberal Democrats ratings are at an all time low due to failure to keep election promises and George Osbornes high visibility as an austerity chancellor, Labour have lost much of their support in Scotland and the rest of the UK because of their involvement with Better Together and their eagerness to adopt Tory policy and it looks as if the SNP may be in for a tough time ahead. It must be a good time to be a Conservative Prime Minister?”

Stares at camera and smiles

“I’m feeling pretty good right now Sally”

GB – “B*****d! If I didn’t know any better I’d say this is what the sod planned for all along!”
AD – “Oh come now Gordon you don’t really thi….”

Silence

ALL – “Oh fu….”

EXIT, LEFT WING

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