Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Driving Nationalist Tendencies.

I was hoping to finish the year on a positive note but then I came to my senses - there isn't much that separates Christmas and New Year in terms of faux expectation and eventual disappointment. I was going to try and avoid adding to it but then I saw this:

There's not much left to say and not much of 2014 remaining to say it - except...

Do fuck off Claire.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Last Gasp of Madness for 2014.

Most folk know that Christmas can be something of a magnifier for things that are otherwise dormant for months and years. As people desperately rush around trying to prepare, tempers fray and frustration builds - and for what exactly? The shops are heaving with people manically pawing at goods, wondering if they'll be adequate enough to sate the seemingly desperate needs of family and friends. Cards are placed reverently on the desks of work colleagues who under normal circumstance wouldn't be pissed on if they were on fire while family members you detest are welcomed with open arms even although it'll be more moan moan moan than ho ho ho.
I feel queasy.
Meanwhile, round the giant fibre optic Christmas tree, children's faces glow with the expectation of material gain while parents fret over the payday loan they had to take to finance it all. Later, when they've finished scraping the kids of the ceiling, they'll weep silently into the small print and wonder how the actual fuck they ended up this way.

Oh my... I feel... Uurgh...
At least they have the dubious pleasure of having kids and company on this the most glorious day of the year for there are thousands who'll be sitting in alone also wondering how the fuck they ended up that way. With little to look forward to except a ready meal for one and a constant barrage of American made-for-TV feel-good schmaltz delivered by unbearably cocky shiny-faced robot children and their pastel-shaded adult minders. Sitting with the lights off while a kaleidoscope of TV colour plays across that third bottle of wine they promised themselves -because no other bugger is there - they wouldn't open.

Ah Christmas, its here again...

Anyway, I digress.

That last gasp of madness takes the form of this.
From the Edinburgh Evening News.
Just so we all know where we stand with this; I don't really care about flags - but I do care about hypocrisy & double standards; plus, who doesn't like highlighting a spot of good old fashioned fuckwittery from time to time.

Those two flags have prosaically flown above Dunbar Town House for the past seven years and no one gave a toss - the purpose was and presumably still is to symbolise a well remembered link between the town and its most famous son (John Muir) who moved to America and persuaded presidents there to create the US National Parks service in order to preserve wild spaces.

But hold on, community council member Gill Wilson backed the decision to swap the Saltire out with a Union Flag - she lectured:
 “So much has been said about whether we should fly the Scottish flag or the Union flag that really I could write a book about it. 
“I’m English and I feel the Union flag should fly because we haven’t separated. There wasn't a Yes vote in the referendum."
Presumably mistaking the referendum result as a dissolution of the country known as Scotland, she went on to sputter:
“It’s just so petty, it’s really not funny. It’s political, and community councils shouldn't be political.”
Hud the bus Gill; you're the one backing the change. The flags have been up there for years and no bugger said a thing about it until presumably you or someone like you decided the No vote meant you could be a colonist instead of a settler.

John Muir as a boy on Dunbar High Street - although not literally you understand; that's a statue.
It would be easy to become quite exercised by this, but you know how town councils are. You get one or two good people who genuinely care about the community, then you get those who are guilted or press-ganged into attending. Then you have the person my Mum always describes with the words; thurs' aeways yin.* 

This person hides behind the mantra 'I'm doing it for the community' when what they really mean is 'doing it for the kudos'. A pain-in-the-arse jobsworth who is unable to tell the difference between selflessness and selfishness - someone who after only minutes spent in their company you realise is a complete nutter. Everyone thinks this person is an arsehole, at each meeting they all hope this will be the gathering were someone snaps and tells this one hated individual to fuck off. 

I should say, I'm not suggesting Gill Wilson is that person, nope, not for a second.

Its also a bit moot, anyone familiar with Dunbar has to know a Union Flag won't last long - not because its a hotbed of nationalism mind but because there are several pubs along the High Street. Those hostelries will no doubt be well used at this most festive time of year - possibly by persons black-mailed in to attending town council meetings - forced to listen to that one arsehole droning on about the font used for the meeting's agenda and who always has an infinite supply of A.O.B.

Going back to the original digression, while its true to say I'm no fan of Christmas, I hope yours goes well. Its been a hell of a year and I hope for more fun & games in 2015. There might be another blog before New Year (I know, try to contain yourself) but it really depends on whether I open that fourth bottle of wine - I might need another ready meal for one to cushion the alcoholic blow...

* If anyone knows how to spell that, let me know - I could find no written record of the phrase. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014


Yup, brace yourselves people - INCOMING - the result of the (Scottish) Labour leadership race will be lobbed in to newsrooms on Saturday and you know its going to be a wall-to-wall festival of prolixity only staunch Labour activists can manufacture - reported verbatim by a willing Scottish press.

SNP staff running drills in anticipation of Saturday's announcement.
Before going on, I'd like to say welcome to readers who found this blog via Reddit Scotland (hi folks.) I started posting it there (or here, if you're there now) because I'm a shameless attention whore and I really wanted to get my readership into double figures. Opening up the blog to new viewers also opens it up to new criticism, I was going to say you'd be hard pushed to find anyone with a lower opinion of it than me, but some Reddit users have proven that to be untrue. 

While I do my best to be factually accurate, the rest is just my measly opinion which as you know is subjective. Feel free to comment, you can even try to change my mind if you like. However, if I stick to my guns; please understand that a) just as you are free to offer opposing views, I'm also free to rebut them, and b) I'm not literally sticking to some guns. 

I know most of you get this, but it turns out there are one or two readers who are now hiding under a table because they think there will actually be a 'Murphybomb'. Although no one can be sure what form such a thing would take and if curling up into a ball under a table would be a defence - its what they're doing. 

I know 99% of readers understand this but for the odd couple that don't, if I say something like:
"On behalf of Yes voters, the SNP, cybernats, people who burn copies of fudged reports, Scottish Greens, the SSP and everyone else on the Yes side..." 
I haven't actually spoken to all those people, its just a figure of speech used to underline a point - a point some might not agree with because it's also my opinion. In context, its supposed to be mildly humorous - even if you find it the most unfunny thing since European sailors delivered Herpes to the New World or British news anchors started using overblown Americanisms to describe normal weather conditions.

Saying its raining cats & dogs doesn't mean it really is.
Thanks to

I don't just write here, I've got a couple of short eTravelogues on Amazon and another one on the way. Those are written (hopefully) to inform and entertain, this blog on other hand is written to entertain and challenge. While its nice when people agree, sometimes its more useful if they do not - with that in mind; have at it/me if you think I'm talking shit. Equally; if I think your talking shit, I might mention it.

Which brings us back to the Labour leadership race. We've had a weatherbomb (otherwise known as weather in Scotland) and over the weekend we can expect blizzards of 'but-what-does-this-mean' and downpours of 'where-now-for-Scottish-Labour' which I'm hoping they'll label the Murphybomb. Prof John Curtice, the only known psephologist on this plain of existence will be on hand to offer wise words, although the campaign couldn't have taxed his abilities given it'll probably become the go-to example of a foregone conclusion in political text books.

The big question is, will anything change? Scottish Labour are in a difficult situation, pulled in opposite directions by the London party and Westminster politics on the one hand - and on the other by Scottish voters and their desire for something less London-orientated. Not that Labour offer anything left-leaning - I don't believe Scotland is a socialist country, I do think the referendum threw into sharp relief the inequality and unfairness which abounds in UK politics and it is what drives dissatisfaction with London parties today.

Until 'Scottish' Labour stop taking their own advice, it won't matter who is in charge - they'll end up on the sidelines with the Tories and Lib Dems. Its not all good news for the SNP either; nobody likes a smart arse and if they become the only choice for Scottish voters, those votes will start being given grudgingly - arguably the same way many No votes were cast.

Over the weekend Labour staffers will tell us Jim Murphy's leadership signals a fresh start, unfortunately they'll be the same time-served staffers who thought putting Murphy there in the first place was a good idea. I don't think the Scottish branch of Labour are quite there yet, but by electing Jim Murphy - a bought and paid for London politician - as leader, they will be taking the final steps toward being nothing more than a hard-core kernel of party activists and their faithful few in Scotland.

The deputy leadership winner will also be announced on Saturday. If Kezia Dugdale is successful, it'll enhance the Murphybomb with shrapnel in the form of incoherent buzzwords, impenetrable phraseology and batshit mental political discourse. Jim Murphy won't be able to attend FMQ's, it'll be Kezia's job to hold the Scottish Government to account. If she can't make it, they could place a food mixer where the Leader of the Opposition normally sits, throw in a hard copy of Labourhame and a management consultant's handbook then switch it on without the lid - it'll be like she's in the room.

Equally, Murphy might not win and all of the above (except the hello to Reddit Users and the raining cats & dogs picture which I quite like) will be rendered pointless.

And before any cheeky bugger says it - much like the rest of this blog.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Doctor Doctor, every morning I wake up and a fence has grown round my body, what should I do? Oh, just get over it!

The Scottish media is in uproar again. Yesterday, Willie Rennie demanded that Nicola Sturgeon distance herself from the Wings Over Scotland website when it emerged it had been accessed quite often from Scottish government IT equipment and this morning on Call Kaye/Morning Call, poor Willie was greetin' about some SNP councillors burning a copy of the Smith report and sticking it on YouTube.

Willie Rennie
Meanwhile on Scotland Tonight, we had Gordon McIntyre-Kemp and a chap called Peter Hughes who used to be the Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering, (no, I don't know who he is either.) The topic was The Smith Commission and devolving corporation tax or rather, not devolving it. Peter (not just a No voter but a staunch unionist) eventually blurted out the tax shouldn't be devolved because Scotland voted No and independence supporters should just get over it. He was more reticent about No voters getting over it, it is after all pretty good example of what was promised in return for their cross in the box.)

Willie Rennie was upset about the burning of the Smith Report because he thinks it represents the outcome of the referendum and the wishes of the majority - which transports us to the main point; unionist defence of the Vow is to say to Yes voters - you lost, Just Get Over It.

Sorry, this is Willie Rennie
On behalf of Yes voters, the SNP, cybernats, people who burn copies of fudged reports, Scottish Greens, the SSP and everyone else on the Yes side can I just say - we're over it. We're not happy about the way it was won but we are where we are. Its unionists who keep bringing it up - could this be another symptom of what I'm going to call Braveheart Syndrome - a political illness that causes sufferers to project their anxiety & inferiority onto their opponents.

We're told the Smith Report is as close to federalism or devo-max as is possible and that the SNP and  broader Yes Campaign would never be pleased with anything less than full independence. While that is undoubtedly true, it misses the point. The debate is no longer about the referendum result. Its about the promises made that are now being dropped almost as fast as those who made them are resigning.

Gordon Brown's most endearing quality; his absence.

People like Peter Hughes think since the No campaign prevailed, the aspirations of those who voted Yes should cease to exist and Willie Rennie thinks the aspirations of No voters have all been met. In terms of the former, that was never the deal. As far as the Smith Commission was concerned, its remit was framed by the now-amorphous Vow and the promises made around it. It also asked for submissions from all who cared to send them, even if they couldn't possibly read them all. And for the latter, polling since the referendum shows that parties who sold the No vote and the benighted Vow are now deeply unpopular. Surely that hints at some discontent around the Commission's output. 

Anyone challenging the efficacy of the Smith Commission and the subterfuge around the presentation of its findings will be dismissed with just four words. What they don't understand is, many doing the challenging voted No.  

Be in no doubt, the Smith Report as it stands falls far short of what was promised by people like Gordon Brown. What's becoming ever more obvious is that ordinary folk who voted No didn't win anything, they made their decision based on promises that turned out to be false and now they're being told to just- well, you know the rest.

The only winners here are the staunch unionists - and we know they are.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Pooling and Sharing Scottish Inventions

'Tis that time of year again, St Andrew's Day - time for British PM's to apologetically tell us how great Scotland is - but only within the UK - because otherwise it would be crap. Unfortunately this year's speech was much worse being as it was made by Arch-Tory David Cameron. You can read it here - although be aware, you'll need a hardy disposition because its a no-holds-barred boak-fest.

Before you consider looking at the clip below, you should know that it will trigger a natural reaction. Normally buried, the fight or flight instinct, pops up at times of extreme stress. Otherwise known as 'gut-instinct', one second you'll be sitting with an intact computer monitor or tablet - the next second it'll be on the floor in pieces. With knuckles bloodied and expensive tablets half-buried in walls, all because your hypothalamus liaised with your pituitary gland and adrenal medulla and decided to ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK.*

All of it will be because you watched this, isn't biology wonderful?

Firstly, I'd like to clear up an issue of nomenclature - which is a fantastic word that makes me sound a lot brighter than I actually am. In the same way a Labour voter differs from a Labour activist - a No voter also differs from a unionists. A unionist is to the UK constitution what a Labour activist is to Labour policy - even in the face of demonstrable fact, logic and common sense; their support is unconditional. On the other hand, a Labour voter might only do so because its what they've always done and a No voter might have done so because of duress deployed during the campaign.

Either way, its important because you'll never change (or understand) the mind of a Labour activist and rarely the mind of a unionist. I don't want to put people who may have done something grudgingly and with gritted teeth into the same category as those who did so with heedless abandon born of a mixture of willful ignorance and cockeyed logic.

A Scottish Labour activist works through some policy decisions.
Going back to Cameron's bilious speech. Its a good example of why the independence referendum was lost. Scottish cultural waypoints as outlined by Dishface really are how we're perceived within the Union, for years Scottish culture has been made cartoonish and sidelined for the beautific grace of British culture. During the referendum campaign, it went into overdrive. Take the Braveheart meme as an example, only unionists ever mentioned the film in serious debate. It was they who linked Mel Gibson's daft Brigadoonery to the Yes campaign, not nationalists. 

Meanwhile, British culture is about matters of great historical gravitas. It is a noble thing, scrubbed clean by nostalgia - all the thorns are removed and the results dressed up in robes of parliamentary pomp and royal heraldry. Cameron mentions Scottish discoveries in science and art but would never portray those achievements outside the confines (and they are confines) of the United Kingdom.

In the referendum campaign, the hopes and aspirations of the Yes campaign and those who may have become Yes voters but didn't, was usurped by a unionist interpretation of Scottish history - it was made small & doltish, fallacious & anachronous. To paraphrase a Pink Floyd song; we traded our heroes for ghosts, hot ashes for trees, hot air for a cool breeze and cold comfort for change.

When it came to social change, the Better Together campaign had very little to say beyond vacuous slogans about pooling & sharing resources and doing things they could have done years ago but didn't. Instead, they shouted down aspirations of social democracy and fairness with thinly veiled slurs about how incapable we would have be outside the protective embrace of the union - Cameron's speech is just an extension of that message.

Of course it goes without saying, if we ever talk about it, we're told its the chip on our shoulder speaking...

* Or if you're a No voter, to run away. (I'm joking of course.)