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.

Advertisements
Standard

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.’

Standard

The Changeover

My son Ethan spent his spring break with his Dad. Two weeks he was away. It’s the longest period of time I have ever spent apart from my boy. I won’t lie, I enjoyed it. Sure I missed him, but until you understand the constant stress of being a single parent of an autistic child, you’ll never fully comprehend the sense of relief when you don’t have to worry and care for them 24/7.

I personally didn’t do much. I went out with friends on a few occasions. Caught up on films I have wanted to see. Read books without feeling guilty that I should be taking my son out and entertaining him. Cooked and ate when I felt like it. Basically I just decompressed for two weeks, and it was the mental break I so desperately needed.

Yesterday, Ethan came home. My ex and I don’t really feign the pleasantries too much. It’s no secret, he’s not exactly my favourite person. So A. brought Ethan to the end of our lane and I walked up to meet him halfway.

Ethan was so excited when he got home. He had so much to show me. All these new DVDs that Dad had bought him. Not to mention the new jackets, and trainers. He enthusiastically dug out his phone to show me the photos from his trip to London with Dad. It was difficult not to get caught up in his energy. I couldn’t recall if he was ever this animated after our holidays together. Was I not as fun as Dad? It made me wonder.

But after Ethan went to bed, I had time to ponder over his time away. Of course he was excited. He loves his Dad. He so desperately wants every encounter with his father to be special. He has this incredible ability to only ever focus on the good in everyone. He forgets all the pain his father has caused him. So why couldn’t I forgive and forget.

This isn’t about my ex cheating on me multiple times, or the various women he’s had relationships with. I am well over that part. He’s a serial cheater, always has been. Always will be. His brothers told me I should have known this about him before we married. Perhaps that’s true. But anyway that aspect of A.’s life is no longer my problem. I forgive him being unfaithful, because I know it’s who he is.

But I just can’t get past the hurt he’s caused my son. I still remember that newly teenaged boy, asking me every night for weeks, if his Dad was dead. I spent sleepless nights for what seemed like an eternity, wondering how to navigate my son through this hole his father had left. There was actually a time I had wished A. was dead, if only for the ability of my son to be able to grieve. Instead of the constant not knowing.

And then when A. did finally appear, he would demand to see Ethan as if nothing had happened. For years, Ethan always agreed, because like I said, he loved his Dad. He wanted to please him.

But as Ethan has gotten older his attitude has started to change. You see, A. has gone a year at a time (on two separate occasions) without any contact with his son. This has had a negative impact on my son, and he has in the past refused to see his father. I don’t even begin to comprehend how a parent can do that. It’s certainly not normal. But unlike many Dads who just completely disappear, A. eventually returns.

So fast forward to spring 2018, and A. agrees to take Ethan for his spring break. It was my idea, because my health hasn’t been great and I needed a break as well. Ethan was lukewarm to the concept at first, but eventually he became excited at the prospect. Especially as Dad would be taking him to London. We lived in London for a bit, and Ethan had a long list of places he wanted to go back and visit. Great. I was happy for him.

Now Dad is back in the good books. Ethan has put him back on that pedestal and he’s definitely a very happy boy today. But Mom is worried. A text from Dad confirms he has no idea how much longer he’ll be in Edinburgh. And as usual I am given no further information of when exactly he’ll leave, or how long he’ll be gone this time.

Last night, Ethan went to bed full of stories about his adventures with Dad. This morning I am not sure when he’ll actually see his Dad again.

Changeovers are hard.

Standard

A Mile in Their Shoes

I can’t promise I will be terribly good at this, but I recently wrote a paper (for my psychology course) on reverse psychology, or trying to think like your opponent. So I decided to attempt it regarding, Scotland, and unionism. If this seems a step too far avert your eyes now. Or just close my blog.

I moved to Scotland in 1999, it was the very early days of the Scottish Parliament, when Donald Dewar was the First Minister, and Labour hegemony seemed eternal. I admit as a young, recently married woman my focus wasn’t that much on Scottish politics. I concentrated much more on getting to know Edinburgh. I was fascinated by the history and the culture. Some times, I’d pinch myself as I could scarcely believe my new life was in such a romantic, beautiful city.

Fast forward nearly 20 years, and my life is completely different. Yes, I still live in the amazing city of Edinburgh (although I have lived in a few other places during this period, including London). But I’m now nearly 50, divorced and bringing up an autistic son, pretty much on my own. My rose tinted glasses haven’t just been removed but they’ve been lost in a drawer, somewhere under the Indian and Chinese takeaway menus. I hate to say I’ve became a cynic, but I have definitely lost that innocence of the yonger me who moved here all those years ago.

However over the years, one aspect of living in Scotland which has matured in a rather healthy manner is my political knowledge of this wonderful country, I now call home. It didn’t happen straight away, in fact the first election I participated in wasn’t until we moved back here from London in 2012. But as my Scottish political awareness grew, so did my perplexity at the majority who still seemed intent on keeping Scotland down. It’s like a large segment of the population had no vision for a better more prosperous Scotland, where people from all over the planet wanted to move to, because the opportunities here were boundless. As an American, I didn’t understand this mentality. Admittedly, we Americans have many faults (Trump, anyone), but national pride and self belief is not something we lack. I know I have been accused of thinking I’m an American exceptionalist. I am not, but I suspect many Scottish people see self assurance as arrogance.

So what makes a person have so much self doubt? Yes, I understand the media here are forever telling Scots their country is too poor, their population is too dim, and they would be nothing but some pathetic little backwater without their “betters” in Westminster. But why does the vast majority of the media do that? I can only assume it’s because this is what they believe Scots want to hear. So I have tried to understand how thinking the place I come from is just not capable of a better future. For those of you also perplexed with the negative unionist mindset, you can try this at home.

Go to a mirror. Take a good look at yourself. Now tell that reflection, you’re not worthy of a better life. Or of a more prosperous job, or a more promising future for your kids or grandkids. Tell yourself, you just can’t achieve anything more than what you have. And perhaps even tell yourself you don’t even deserve what you already have, because somehow you’re just not worthy. After about 5 minutes of doing this, I was eyeing up that whisky in my cupboard. Jeezo, I felt truly awful.

But to me this is exactly the mindset of roughly half the population in Scotland. I am no stranger to getting into heated debates with unionists on social media. It’s disheartening. Eventually that sentiment can quickly turn to anger. Let’s face it, most of us at some point have been involved in these debates. So what makes a person so lacking in self belief, that they see no better future for themselves or of the next generation? There is certainly a cultural influence at play. Even to an extent a religious one as well. I doubt it’s a concidence the first time I ever heard the phrase, ‘don’t get above your station’ was here in Scotland. I dare say it must take a toll on your long term health to be so engulfed in an, ‘it’s shite being Scottish’ mentality. I suspect it’s probably why so many people here suffer from long term mental health issues.

Perhaps once we identify why half of us, are so consumed with self doubt, we can better understand why Scotland has never fully realised that she could become a flourishing, vibrant nation. A place all other nations look at with awe and envy. Let’s try to walk a mile in a unionist’s shoes. Then once we’ve seen for ourselves how exhausting that is, let’s bring them to the shop and help them pick out a lovely pair of trainers. Something to help them run with the rest of us to the finish line, towards a better Scotland for all.

Standard

#AsOneFor90Minutes

IMG_1231I’m relatively new to the whole rugby fandom. I have watched 6 Nations games over the years with just a passing interest. But over the last 2 years I’ve become much more interested in the game. To the point where I now revolve my schedule around watching important Scotland matches.

Yesterday was one such match. It was England VS Scotland. A big rivalry. An important game for both sides in the Six Nations tournament. Edinburgh was flooded with England fans who seemed quite assured that their team would win. I believe they were the favourites, but Scotland had been playing well recently, so there was hope. Anyway Scotland pulled it off and won 25-13. It was a thrilling game, and the boys in blue played brilliantly. A well deserved win, by the underdogs.

However one thing which baffles me are the folk who scream in support for Scotland on the field, but then turn around the next day and say, ‘but we’re Scottish, we can’t run our own affairs.’ Yes, I fully understand that sports and politics are two different entities, and that the justification for the former is it’s all just a game. I get that. But, I fail to understand folk who take such pride in their team winning, even to the extent of possibly waving a saltire and donning a Scotland shirt, on the day. Items they probably hide in the back of their wardrobes any other time of year. I mean they don’t want anyone to think they are actually pro-Scottish, lest they be labeled a “silly Nat”.

The idea of self determination to me is about taking pride in EVERY aspect of your country. I don’t comprehend how one feels so much passion for one’s county for 90 minutes, but then after that, it’s switched off and it’s back to moaning about how bloody hopeless Scotland is at governing itself. It’s like we can be good at sports, but don’t ever suggest that means we could ever be good at anything else.

So if Scotland can excel at rugby, perhaps next it will be the arts, or technology or food and drink, or commerce…or maybe, just maybe self government. C’mon you 90 minute patriots start waving that saltire for more than just a Saturday afternoon in February.

Standard

What is feminism?

Social media is fantastic in many ways. It’s also a great vehicle for bullying and attacking folk who truly did nothing wrong.

Okay, for those who don’t live in the Scottish Twitter bubble, let me fill you in. Last week a YES group held a meeting. On a cold night, midweek in late November, you would think turnout would be low, but I understand there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. I watched the video of the speakers and was very impressed with their different styles, but yet their shared passion. It was great to see the independence movement still had so much energy.

Now I understand it was an all male panel. Or as I was to later discover, a manel. Yes, that’s apparently what they’re now called. I myself questioned why this was, beforehand and I was told, that several women (17 to be exact) were asked but none were available. Okay, I thought. That seems fair enough. I truly thought that was the end of it.

But then the day after the event, I noticed women from all political backgrounds becoming really irrate about the fact that a YES group had the audacity to exclude women from the panel. Their anger was generally focused on one individual who spoke publicly for the first time and was genuinely chuffed with his accomplishment.

At first I ignored it. I mean, Twitter is full of spats, most of them resolved within a day. But then I noticed it wasn’t dying down, and more and more people seemed to be piling on. I dipped my foot back into the debate, and found the level of vitriol a bit shocking.

Before I am accused of being some sort of male apologist, let me say nothing could be further from the truth. I happen to believe we live in a very unequal society. Women are not even paid the same in many professions. But I don’t think singling out one independence event, which did publicly attempt to find female speakers, is in any way beneficial to further the cause for feminists.

I mean what is feminism anyway? We have female politicians like Ruth Davidson and Theresa May who belong to a party which has instigated a policy where women are penalised for having a third child unless that child was a result of a rape. How feminist is that as a policy? Does it make it somehow more acceptable because the leader of the party who implemented this cruel law has a vagina?

Then there’s an area where I have personal experience with. Being a single parent. Single mother to be exact. My ex husband resides outside of the UK, living and traveling all over the world. He sends money for our son, when and if it’s convenient for him. I have relentlessly attempted to pursue him for regular support, but the system largely just shrugs and says, ‘Well we can’t do much, if he’s outside of the UK.’ ‘Yeah, but he is back here periodically. Can’t you do anything then?’ ‘Well, do you have an address for him?’ ‘No.’ ‘Sorry, we can’t help you.’ So I go back to wondering how I am going to pay my rent and keep the heat on next month. This has been my life for the last few years now.

And not once, have I had a barrage of women come to my defence. Sure, I’ve had words of support and encouragement. Calling my ex ugly names, etc. But damn it, I wish just one person had said, you know what this system is really crap. We should collectively fight for single mothers being screwed over by their children’s dead beat fathers. Let’s all attack the system which continues to allow this.

No. It’s easier to attack a group of men who did nothing more than take time out to speak for Scottish independence.

I realise that this piece may anger people who I hold in high esteem. But I am tired of these battles in the name of feminism, which seem largely to not actually address the areas in which women truly are treated unfairly.

Walk a mile in my shoes, ladies. Let’s fight the real battles for feminism.

 

Standard

Depression, you ugly beast

I suffer from depression. I have on and off for many years. That’s not to say I live in a perpetual state of doom and gloom, because I have had many years where I feel fine, great even. But now isn’t one of them.

This blog isn’t about why the black dog or ugly beast as I find a more appropriate term has entered my life and shows no signs of leaving. Anyone who reads my blog or knows me, probably understands the many triggers for my darkness at this time. No this is my attempt to explain depression to those who may have never experienced it before. I thought writing while I felt really low might help others understand that it’s a true illness just like any physical ailment. But unlike an acute physical affliction, depression can be hidden and often misunderstood. So here’s my experience.

I’m presently sitting in a rather dark room. Yes, there’s a light next to me which I can just easily lean over and switch on, but the greyness of the room feels more appropriate to my mood. Sometimes (and I know those who have never suffered from depression may not understand), but going through the process is therapeutic. I can’t tell you the enormous energy it takes to pretend you feel fine to the outside world. I’m alone right now, so I don’t have to feign normality to anyone just now.

Let me just say, I am not suicidal. So please don’t worry about that. In fact even at my darkest times I have never planned my ultimate exit. I understand enough about depression and suicide to reach out for help long before I ever get to that stage. But that doesn’t mean my illness doesn’t have a major impact on my life. Today for example, I don’t even have the interest or energy to fix myself something to eat. It’s nearly 3:00pm here and I haven’t eaten today. I faintly feel a pang in my stomach but my silly mind won’t allow me to get off the sofa.

And before anyone wonders, yes I am taking anti-depressants. Escitalopram, to be exact. Does it help? I suppose it keeps the anxiety at bay, but to be honest I have been on it for so long, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be doing any longer. No doubt if I discussed it with my GP and told her I was still sad, she’d probably just up my dosage. We live in a medicate the problem culture. That’s the reality.

Yes, I have been to therapy. More years than I care to admit. My first shrink visit was when I was 19. I’m now 49, so I can safely say in my situation, discussing my problems isn’t necessarily a magic cure. Sure it helps, and I have had some fantastic therapists over the years. But it’s more like the pills, it keeps the ugly beast down but never fully eradicates it.

I guess my point of writing this (as if I am supposed to have one), is that some of us in society get depressed. Not just the random, I feel a bit blue today. But  an illness that permeates every aspect of our lives. I want those around us to try to understand that it’s a genuine illness and not something we can just decide to snap out of. Yes, there are pills we can take, experts to talk to, groups we can join. But please try to understand, it doesn’t always help. Sometimes it consumes us, no matter how much we know there are people who love us and would do anything for us.

This is just my personal experience of depression. I understand everyone who has this disease is impacted differently.  I just want those who may find it baffling that we aren’t really different. We just experience the world differently.

For me, my son is my light. He keeps me going, even when I don’t have the energy to get out of bed. He makes me laugh. I love him with all my heart. And he’s the reason I still battle the ugly beast with all the tools I have.

So please don’t worry about me, just try to understand me. Me and the millions of others who suffer as well. If we can all recognise the ugly beast, perhaps one day the beast will become extinct.

 

Standard