Is Westminster a terrorist organisation?

Ok. I bet that got your attention there. Hyperbolic? A year ago, perhaps. Today, I believe it’s an appropriate description of our government in the Westminster Parliament.

In the last few weeks we the people of the UK have been told that we should prepare for the possibility of a no deal Brexit. What does that mean exactly? Well it’s not pretty. In fact it’s downright dystopian. Basically we’ve been told that the shops would run out of food in just days. Hospitals and healthcare facilities could run out of medicines in just 2 weeks. Flights would be grounded. The south coast of Kent would be a literal parking lot for lorries trying to get to mainland Europe. It sounds like some really awful futuristic apocalyptic novel. But no this would be the United Kingdom in 2019, in the event of not securing an adequate agreement with Brexit.

Now, you might be thinking why on earth would a democratic government ever risk such an disastrous outcome for its citizens? Well, exactly. It’s not the way government in a functioning democracy behaves. You don’t set upon a course of action which would lead directly to civil unrest, and possibly even thousands or millions of deaths. This is not what we elect people to do. It’s the kind of oppressive behaviour that people have been fighting against for centuries. It’s certainly not how you would expect a 21st century western government to behave.

Unless. You start to analyse the government in another light. What if the Westminster government is really a terrorist organisation? I know it seems to go against all rational thought. But given what we have heard from them over the last few weeks is it really such an odd concept? We’ve had a Tory MP say on national television, that we won’t see any benefit from Brexit for 50 years. Another Cabinet Secretary stating, that we could be headed for an “accidental” no deal. But it would be all the EU’s fault. Now last time I checked it wasn’t officials in the EU which had imposed an EU referendum on the UK (with virtually no real information as to what leaving the EU would even mean). How is it possible a government which is meant to be working for the people, is leading us towards such a draconian existence, that will make the Middle Ages look like the glory years?

Terrorists attempt to intimidate a population through mass murder. We have seen horrific examples of this just in the last 20 years. They try to cause the maximum damage and upset to a country or ideology which they view as the enemy. The end result is tragically many deaths and severe devastation. The public watches in horror and wonders how anyone could do this to innocent people. We never imagine our own government would try to cause such intentional harm and destruction to its own citizens. That would never happen.

But what is the realistic outcome of a nation of 65 million people not having enough food, or water or medicines? It’s death. There is no other ending to that scenario. Why on earth would any rational government even begin to contemplate this kind of scenario for its people is beyond the realm of rational thought. Except this has now been our political discourse over the last few weeks. We live in a country where are own elected officials are now steering us on a course of utter devastation and potentially massive fatalities.

If a terrorist organisation wanted to bring a country to a complete standstill and cause maximum pain, they could hardly devise a plan as destructive as the UK leaving the EU without any deal.

So, I ask you. Is the Westminster government a terrorist organisation?


Post Lockdown Life

What if life does change fundamentally for all of us? Change can be scary, yes. But it is also full of numerous possibilities. Perhaps it’s time we did modify the way we live. I don’t believe the world will ever be the same after this pandemic, maybe it’s time we looked at that as an opportunity.

For me personally, I don’t believe lockdown life has been extraordinarily difficult. Yes, I miss cultural events and the odd visit to the cafe or restaurant. However as a full time parent/carer who studies online from home, being forced indoors didn’t feel like a massive burden. I’ve adapted quite well.

For my autistic son who is a full time college student, it’s been a bit more challenging. Although again, as he’s a bit of an introvert, he’s not all that bothered about being indoors. He likes his solitude. Despite losing his college routine, he’s adapted quite well.

But all around me, the feeling is quite different. I read comments from people online, desperate for lockdown to end and for life to resume as it was just a month ago. I sense panic and frustration at not being able to work, while some watch their bank accounts dwindling. I can’t fully relate to that now, because truth be told my life changed so drastically about 6 years ago when my ex left us. I had to navigate a whole new way of living which I was woefully unprepared for. But I have managed and have adapted quite well. Downsized flat living. Buying fewer clothing items. Accumulating less stuff, in general. Anyway you get the picture.

So I don’t dismiss the very real fear so many have about the significant economic shift which has taken hold of all levels of society. It’s scary, but what if these changes are seen in a different light? What if we don’t think about life going back to the way it was, because let’s face it, it won’t. Nor should it, in my opinion.

One very significant and probably the most positive impact of the global lockdown has been the quite extraordinary effect on the environment. We’ve seen major cities air standards improve exponentially. Bodies of water, previously polluted by human activity are once again clean with more water life living in them. Wildlife, once fearful of man’s ominous presence are roaming more freely and securely now. It’s as if in the wake of people being forced inside, our planet is breathing a collective sigh of relief. Do we really want to go back to slowly killing Mother Earth once again?

Also, our reliance on fossil fuels has changed. We don’t drive nearly as much. I imagine those of you with vehicles can probably not ever recall a time you’ve filled your gas tank so infrequently. Flying, what’s that? The skies across Europe and much of the world are virtually empty. Planes must be about the worst place to be, during a global pandemic. Not to mention where would you go? Most countries have shut their borders. So now oil prices have plummeted. In fact oil has gone into negative equity. I’m not sure that has ever happened before. But guess what, we’ve adapted. I know people love to travel, for work and leisure. But maybe we need to get used to appreciating life in our local environment more. Of course, in the UK we miss the sun and long to go elsewhere during the dark winter months. Maybe we need to change that thinking. Perhaps we should look at phasing out fossil fuel dependency. This will not only help the environment, but it also forces economies reliant on the oil and gas industry to re-think their economic future. It could even result in fewer wars. As even the US Government can’t invade and steal other countries sunshine and wind.

We’ve seen the extraordinary economic levers that many Governments around the world possess. Funny how we’ve been told how necessary austerity is for so long, only to discover actually most governments do have the power to help out all levels of society. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I understand UBI (Universal Basic Income) is now entering the lexicon in many countries, including the UK. A few months ago that would have been unimaginable. In many cities, the local councils are finding accommodation for the homeless. So basically homelessness is preventable and avoidable. We have the means to eradicate poverty, once you realise it was never lack of available resources that was the problem, but the lack of political will by the people who are meant to represent the public. It’s been a real eye opener.

Am I naive enough to believe that life will be a peaceful and much more egalitarian utopia, post lockdown? No. This pandemic has not fully eradicated human greed. I suspect there will always be those who feel they deserve vast wealth and believe homelessness is a price worth paying, in order for them to own 10 homes. But I do believe life has changed. People have been surprisingly resilient and adaptive. Many governments have become socialists virtually overnight. We have the means, and the intelligence to create a different way of living. Let’s hope on a significant global level, we have the capacity to continue to make these changes to our lives. We owe it not just to our fellow citizens, but to our planet. Perhaps lockdown life will make us all better people.


Now is not the time? Or is it?

I don’t have a newspaper column to assert my views every week. So I need to make due with my wee blog here.

Today’s topic is Scottish independence. Should we wait? Should we push through now? What are the options? And how does the reality of Brexit impact on Scotland’s future? So much to contemplate. Unfortunately, with 29/03/19 less than 2 months away, so little time.

I will come clean from the start, I’m not notoriously a patient person. It’s not always a fantastic trait, but overall it has served me well in life. I’m a risk taker. It’s why I have lived in 8 different countries over 4 different continents in my life. I take chances. Does it always work out? No. But I am the person I am today because of all those life experiences. Personally I am proud of my life and accomplishments. Anyway that’s me. It’s not the route for everyone, I fully understand that fact.

Which means I come to the Scottish independence debate from the perspective of now is the time. I don’t see a reason to wait. What exactly are we waiting for anyway? The stars to align to show a clear path? I have heard that we need to wait until we have 60% support. Why? For one thing that may never happen. For another, since when do you wait until you have a super majority until you set a date for a vote? If we had that attitude in 2012, the 2014 independence referendum would never have happened. I genuinely find that logic absurd. Almost no campaign would ever get off the ground with that kind of prerequisite.

Then we have Brexit looming over us. In my opinion this changes every position for Scottish independence. I don’t believe you can put off an independence vote for too long, when you have the reality of food and medicine shortages being foisted upon us. Not to mention the great uncertainty that over 200,000 EU citizens have. These people call Scotland home. But as immigration is a reserved matter for Westminster, their ability to live and work here is now in serious jeopardy. Many of them will leave. And let’s face it, once they relocate and settle somewhere else, chances are they won’t return. So what are the pragmatic solutions to these issues? Well, I see Scottish independence as the only answer. Will it be easy? No, I don’t believe it will be. But nothing worthwhile in life, is ever easy. However, I do think it’s the necessary remedy to a Brexit imposed on us by our much bigger neighbours. Scotland didn’t vote for Brexit. In fact, the last poll for Remain in Scotland had support for the EU at 70%. We’re a very pro-European country, and we most definitely want to stay a part of the EU.

However as long as we remain a part of the UK, we will leave the EU. It probably would not matter if 90% of us in Scotland were pro-EU, because England most certainly wants to leave the EU. They have 90% of the UK population, so they will decide the outcome for all of us. That’s the reality of life in this “United” Kingdom.

Now there is only one way to remedy this obvious disparity in our future travel, and that is with our becoming a completely independent nation. We then can decide if we want to be a member of the EU or not. The people of Scotland can decide. Not the people of Leicestershire or Lincolnshire, but the people of East Lothian and Strathclyde.

I realise there is no simple route to independence. Personally I don’t envy the leadership of the SNP having to best navigate that course of action. But I do feel very strongly that if you wait too long, there won’t be another opportunity for a very long time. I have closely observed the actions of the UK government and opposition for a long time now. I believe they will both ensure that Scotland becomes ever more absorbed by Westminster. I do genuinely believe powers will be stripped from our own Scottish Parliament. They don’t strike me as the type of people who will want life to be better for Scots than for anyone in England. Let’s face it, the only way to ensure that fact is to make sure our own Scottish government has little power. I foresee a future where Scotland is forced to have £9000/year Uni fees, and high prescription charges. I also see our NHS will no longer be free at the point of need. This is what I believe our future holds for us.

So forgive me, if I don’t believe we have the luxury of waiting until the people of Morningside get fed up with waiting in long queues every time they travel to Europe. We need a clear path to independence now. Because without that, I am afraid Scotland’s future looks very bleak, indeed.


McCringe- Part Deux

My piece on the Scottish cringe (which I originally penned in April, but seemed to only generate discussion last month) certainly struck a chord. Regardless of how you identified with my blog, it certainly instigated debate. That’s always a positive, in my book.

So here’s my follow up piece. I was pondering how to structure this article. But after a week or so, I became inspired. Here we go.

I’ve concluded that British Nationalists or Unionists as they seem to prefer being labelled are never going to shake off the cringe. It’s not because they want to abandon Scotland, but because they don’t see Scotland as anything other than an appendage of the UK. To them, everything of significance and pride emanates from London and moves outward. Scotland is just a small part of that. Not a place of influence, just a bit of land too far north for most people in London to really bother with it. This suits Brit Nats just fine.

I spend significant time on social media. Probably too much time. But one thing all those hours on Twitter has taught me is that a certain segment of the Scottish population genuinely have no allegiance to Scotland. They don’t care if Brexit destroys our economy. They don’t care if we run out of food or medicine. I’m not even sure if many of them care what kind of impact this will have on their own families. It’s bizarre, but take a casual online stroll around the accounts of the most outspoken Brit Nats. Whether they be Unionist politicians and journalists, wanna be economic gurus, or just anonymous trolls. They all share a common view, and that is whatever happens to Scotland, no matter how detrimental, it’s okay as long as we move in the same direction as the rest of the UK. Did you know these folk have circulated a petition to have the Scottish Parliament abolished? Yep, Scotland is just getting too big for her britches, and that wee “prentendy” Parliament is getting above her station.

Which leads me to a very different conclusion than how I felt last April. I genuinely believed we could help staunch British Nationalists see that Scotland had a brighter future with independence, and that ALL our decisions could be made in Scotland by the people who live and work here. But I was wrong. The Scottish cringe is a part of the very psyche of these people. They don’t have any individual Scottish indentity. I don’t imagine when (or if) they travel abroad they ever try to tell others that Scotland voted 62% to Remain in the EU. And that it was our much larger neighbour in England who decided we would leave the EU. Why? Because to them Scotland has no separate identity. They’re British not Scottish. They don’t see a different attachment to Europe here. As long as more voters in Sunderland say Europe is bad, then it must be so.

So I’ve removed the optimism and hope I had for these people. I’m not even angry with them. I just feel a strong sense of pity for them. I don’t for a moment understand what makes a person so compelled to be so dismissive of their homeland. But now I fully understand, Scotland is only the bit of land they happen to live on. The UK is their first and foremost allegiance. Whatever the government of Westminster decides (a government almost always chosen by our much larger neighbour) is fine. Food and medicine shortages. Oh well. It’s part of a shared heritage for them.

I no longer have the energy or inclination to want to change this view. But come April when food is scarce, do you imagine they tell their kids that hunger is price worth paying to stay part of this “great” United Kingdom?  Here my dear child, try some HP sauce on that union jack, it makes it a big easier to ingest.


Why I march

IMG_1336I am an old pro to marches. My first march was when I was just a teenager, back at university. We were marching for equality of race and religion. It wasn’t for a specific vote, just a large group of like minded people supporting a cause we all fervently believed in. Yes, I have attended many marches in the USA, both in protesting events and supporting causes. Never once was I criticised or looked down on by people, who were allegedly on my team. Sure opponents would scoff at “the lefties” out in their thousands, but my ‘brothers in arms’ always encouraged me, even if they themselves didn’t participate.

So I am more than perplexed when large marches, which I have attended in Scotland are viewed with scorn. Not just by the usual suspects of union jack loving British nationalists, but by people who share my views and goals. Last Saturday’s march for independence through the streets of Glasgow, is one such example.

I attended this independence march alone. My son was meant to join me, but was ill. So a friend stayed with him in Edinburgh, as I was desperate to attend this event. I knew it was going to be special, and I was not disappointed. I took the 9:30am train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. I noticed many others on the train were obviously going to the same place. I imagined there were people from all over Scotland making their way to Scotland’s largest city. My excitement grew as the train progressed westward. Even the increasingly grey cloud coverage couldn’t dampen my mood.

I arrived at Queen Street station and made my way to Kelvingrove Park, where the march was to commence. I was there at about 10:45 (the march was to begin at 11:30am) but already I could see thousands of other marchers. I felt a zing of exhilaration. I had my YES flag in my bag, but have never successfully figured out how to put it on a pole to wave it. But I need not worry because there were men everywhere, selling flags (on poles), scarves, banners and whistles. I admit, I am a sucker for these types of items. I purchased a saltire flag, one independence whistle, and a scarf emblazoned with IndyRef2 across it. Did I look a bit over the top? Perhaps, but I loved it. Besides I was amongst like minded folk from all over Scotland. I was in my element.

I fell in line with the marchers. Somehow I managed to be towards the front of the march. It was kind of exciting as at past events, I had usually been towards the end. There’s something kind of special about seemingly leading a group of thousands. I stood amongst the throng of people and just observed the different groups of citizens I would be marching with. I was struck by the sheer diversity of the population in attendance. I’d been on a few independence marches in the past, but this one felt very different. There was an energy and buzz I had never experienced in previous marches. I was elated.

The march started at 11:30am, and we took our places and proceeded to weave our way through the west end, towards the city centre to our final destination of Glasgow Green. It was extraordinary. As we marched, people lined the streets to cheer us on. I looked up at the tenements we walked by, there were smiling faces waving at us and giving us the thumbs up sign. Every spectator seemed to have their camera phones out. I imagine it’s not often you witness a sea of tens of thousands of saltire flags moving through the streets of Glasgow. It must have been an amazing sight for those watching from above.

I was lucky to be marching just ahead of a group of drummers, who played the entire march. They must have been exhausted by the end, as three hours is a very long time to be beating a drum. Anyway they were a real adrenaline boost for those of us in their proximity. They made climbing some of those hills en route much more bearable.

The crowd who participated was extremely diverse. Young (I had previously never seen so many kids on a march before), old and every socio economic class in Scotland. I know there are those who dislike class distinctions, but for a large political movement to work you need people from every walk of life, that’s just a reality. Middle Scotland was largely missing from our support in 2014. For anyone serious about truly gaining independence this next time, their involvement is crucial to our winning.

It was just an utterly glorious day out. Despite being absolutely knackered by the time I reached Glasgow Green (my health hasn’t been great lately) I was also completely elated. After taking some photos of the throngs at the rally, I plonked myself down on the ground and finished my half eaten sandwich while I gulped a bottle of water. In retrospect I was glad it had been an overcast day. I half listened to the speakers. I was too far from the stage to really make out who was talking. But to me, the rally seemed pretty secondary to the actual march. We’d made a huge impact on Glasgow. Yes, we may have delayed some cars, and disrupted some folks shopping environment. But that’s the point of a large march, to be visual, to disrupt everyday life. To remind the public that we support this cause of Scottish independence, in greater numbers than ever before.

So to the naysayers (you know who you are), just remember these marches excite and invigorate those who participate. They’re not events to be mocked or scorned. They bring an energy and vitality to any political movement, that no amount of canvassing will ever replicate. We’re all on the same side here. Can’t we all just get along.


Power Grab

Admittedly I am not super knowledgeable about Welsh politics. I know Wales has a devolved parliament like Scotland, but my understanding is they don’t even have as many powers as the Scottish Parliament does. That seems strange, but then nothing about the makeup or operation of the British government as a whole surprises me any longer.

But today the Labour led Welsh government completely caved in to the Westminster Tory government power grab, regarding new powers post Brexit.  Why? Well, it’s odd, isn’t it? Only a few weeks ago, the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones was the most outspoken about the naked power grab being attempted by this Tory government. Then with little explanation, he announced his resignation as FM over the weekend.

Fast forward to today, Tuesday, and the Welsh government (without Jones as FM) agrees to hand over all these powers to Westminster for a “temporary” period of 5-7 years. Yeah, and if you believe Wales will ever see those powers again, I have a bridge (or 3) to sell you over the Forth.

Of course now the UK media, along with the Tories in Westminster and Holyrood want us to believe it’s the SNP led Scottish government which are being difficult. Because hey the devolved Welsh government caved in to the Westminster power grab, why won’t the Scottish government?

There are no coincidences in politics folks. This is a naked power grab by the Tories in Westminster to centralise as much power in London as possible. If you think those powers will ever be returned, all I can say is look at what this government has done to the Windrush generation. Would you buy a used car from the Tories?

I hope enough people in Scotland are paying attention to the fact, that we are witnessing the systemic dismantling of the devolved administrations. Anyone who strongly believes in devolution, (and I hope this isn’t just SNP supporters), should be extremely concerned.

We need to be vigilant, and fight in every way possible to ensure Holyrood stays a strong devolved parliament.

If history tells us anything, once a government has certain powers, they don’t give them up easily. This Westminster power grab is wrong and dangerous for the future of Scotland.


Love Their Children Too

IMG_1264Remember the song Russians by Sting. Today I was reminded of these lyrics.
‘I hope the Russians love their children too.’

Brexit is going to be terrible for all of us, but it’s going to be even worse for the younger generations. Our children and grandchildren. You see they just won’t have the same opportunities to live and work anywhere in the EU. Their ability to easily study in France or Germany has been taken away. The older generation (who were the demographic which largely voted for Brexit) have basically taken these opportunities away from our kids. Anger doesn’t begin to define how this makes me feel.

But here in Scotland we do have a lifeline. It’s called independence and it’s the only way for us to ensure we do stay in the EU. Now before the unionists start moaning, but how do you know an independent Scotland will be allowed in the EU? Well because senior figures in the EU have said we would be. Now we can have the debate about what kind of membership we want. Full EU membership, EFTA, EEA. But only independence will allow us any of these options.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years, everyone knows the Westminster government and the opposition want the UK FULLY OUT of the EU. No single market, no customs union, no freedom of movement. Although they still seem to have no idea how this will work in reality, we know what their end game plan will look like.

I’ve already concluded those people don’t care about future generations. They don’t care that young people will never have the same European opportunities which they had growing up. They’re selfish bastards. It’s as if the under 35’s just don’t exist.

That brings me back to Scotland. Let’s face it, we don’t impact the UK government here. We could elect every Scottish MP as a pro-EU supporter, and it wouldn’t matter. England decides the make up of the UK government. If you don’t know that by now, well you truly have been living in a cave for decades.

Which is what depresses and frustrates me in equal measure regarding folk who still cling to the idea of staying in a union with the rest of the UK. I regularly read these people bemoaning the inevitability of Brexit, and I sit back and ponder how much are they really worried about the catastrophe of being taken out of the EU. To me, it’s a no brainier. Scotland must be independent, as to no longer be dictated to by our MUCH larger neighbours. There’s no pleading with England to change course. The support for Brexit in England is still as high as it was on the 24th June, 2016.

This is why I have to hope British nationalists in Scotland will put the younger generations’ futures first. Do they want their kids to have the same opportunities that they had? To work in Germany or study in Italy? Do they want them to be able to take a year and travel around Europe with the same rights afforded all other EU citizens? I am not so sure. To me, it appears that Scottish independence is a step too far for them.

Sadly, I’m not at all convinced unionists ‘love their children too.’