Refugees are welcome here

Aylan Kurdi never knew peace, in his short and tragic life, he never knew safety. He met his death on a Turkish beach as his family tried to escape the death that stalks Syria. His undeserved fate is to become a symbol of a tragedy that he was too young to comprehend.

The UK media is complicit in his death, for demonising those who flee from the devastation sparked off by the foreign policy of Western governments, who run from the destruction caused by the products of Western arms manufacturers. Today the Sun with crocodile tears says that Cameron must take military action. The Sun’s definition of compassion is a bombing campaign, more bombs and wars to assuage the guilt of those who turn their backs on the desperate faces that our European governments have stripped of hope. Just a handful of Syrian refugees have been accepted by the UK. There are more on a single train, blocked by Hungarian police.

This is the same paper that ran a column calling refugees cockroaches. I hope Katie Hopkins is feeling proud of herself today. I hope that the image of Aylan Kurdi is burned into her conscience and seared in her soul, but I’m not holding out any hope. The dehumanised ones are not the refugees, it’s Katie and those like her. With its dehumanising rhetoric, the UK press strips the humanity from the desperate and makes us all less humane. Then it hold up the Katie Hopkins of this world as examples for the rest of us to aspire to, a casual cruelty is the new compassion.

If you believe the UK press, and sadly many do, the refugees are not fleeing war and the destruction of their homes. They’re not fleeing the so-called Islamic State, the death-cult perversion of an ancient faith that destroys antiquities and culture and beheads a nation into barbarism. They’re coming for £36 a week in social security payments. These heartless and insulting articles are written by well upholstered arses who spend more than that on a liquid lunch. Aylan Kurdi’s home was destroyed by IS. His family took him on a dangerous journey which ended in his death, and the death of his five year old brother and their mother, because it was safer than the alternative. They didn’t face death on a Turkish beach because they were attracted by the tender mercies of the Department of Work and Pensions and the UK Home Office. Britain is not that generous.

We should not be surprised at this lack of empathy, the UK won’t even grant asylum to the Afghan interpreters who worked with British forces in Afghanistan. They risked their lives for the British armed forces, and now they’ve been abandoned, risking death on a daily basis. The UK government doesn’t feel it owes them any debt of gratitude, refuses to allow them to settle in the UK. So it’s hardly surprising its response to the Syrian refugee crisis is cant and hypocrisy, the pretence of care and a poor fascimile of compassion. If you are not a highly paid executive for a global finance company indebting the poor in developing nations, if you’re not a Russian oligarch dripping with ripped off billions, Britain has no place for you.

The only refugees of interest to the UK are those who can pump thousands into the coffers of Westminster’s political class. This is a country which showed more respect for the human rights of Augustin Pinochet than it did for the British citizens of the Chagos Islands, unceremoniously evicted and dumped penniless in Mauritius to make way for a US air base. Let’s have no more of this self-congratulatory crap about what a welcoming society the UK is. We’re Better Together as long as you’re not a refugee, we’re pooling and sharing except with those who are in the greatest need.

Germany and Sweden give shelter to tens of thousands, Britain quibbles about a few dozen. There is not a single refugee in David Cameron’s constituency. In the UK, compassion is far fetched, empathy is a fantasy, grace and humanity are held in contempt. Faced with an international crisis to which the UK government has played a part in creating, this country is a disgrace, a shame, a stain. It’s the selfish self-interested bigot in the bar who thinks only of the price of his car insurance and how much he can get for his house, the I’m alright Union Jack.

Cameron says that the real solution to the problem is to seek a lasting peace in the Middle East, when we have Tony bloody Blair as Middle East Peace Envoy. Which is like telling cancer sufferers that you’re not going to offer them any treatment because the real solution to their problem is to find a cure for cancer, and then entrusting the search for a cure to a man who makes his millions by selling ciggies to schoolkids.

This is the compassionate and caring Union that Better Together campaigned for us to be a part of, a Union that thinks the solution to a refugee crisis is more bombing and more war. If there is no quick fix involving an air campaign, the UK isn’t interested. It’s someone else’s problem and Westminster walks away, surrounding itself by high hedge funds so it can’t see the suffering. This is why so many of us sought independence last year, and why the numbers supporting it grow with every passing month. We don’t want to live in a heartless society which knows the price of everything but doesn’t grasp the value of human life. We want a Scotland that cares, that says to the dispossessed – refugees are welcome here.

Refugees enrich our society, they give to us all. Refugees are your future colleagues, the friend you’ll bond with over a coffee at work. Refugees are our university graduates, our doctors, our lawyers, our mechanics, our teachers. Refugee children will play in the park with your kids. Refugees are our future partners, our lovers, our spouses. Refugees are our family.

Refugees are welcome.

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One year on

This is an unashamedly personal post. Thursday is the first anniversary of the death of my partner Andy, an anniversary which is far more personally significant, meaningful, and painful than the anniversary of any political defeat. This time last year, as the independence referendum campaign was reaching its end, the saltires waved and hope was in the air and YES posters plastered windaes, the centre of my life was torn away from me. After a long illness in which each piece of him was removed one by one, the teetering tower of blocks which supported his life finally fell away, and came tumbling down leaving me in the rubble of a life lived together.

Andy’s death was a peaceful one. I was with him at the end and had a chance to make my goodbyes, to bid him farewell, to wish him a safe journey. He passed without leaving me with regrets, without anger, without rancour. That was his final gift to me.

This time last year I was terrified. I’d been with Andy for almost 25 years, and for the previous few years I’d devoted myself to his care. He was the centre of my solar system and without him I was hurtling through the dark depths of deep space, alone and unlit. His death was not unexpected, it came as no surprise, but however much you brace yourself for impact you are still rocked and shocked when it occurs. It still stuns.

The inevitable had happened, the dread day had arrived. Cold, afraid, I suddenly found myself confronted with a life alone. How could I build a life without him? Could I fly solo, could I walk through the darkness unaccompanied, how was I going to make a living, what purpose did I have any more. Where would the centre lie, how to anchor myself, adrift in the vastness of loss. I’d been with him so long, how could I learn to be me without him. Those are the fears that overwhelm, that stalk the nightmares of loneliness.

I started this blog because I was trapped indoors caring for Andy. He suffered from vascular dementia and could not be left unattended. His illness meant that he slowly lost all those parts of himself that had made me fall in love with him all those years ago. I never stopped loving him, but our relationship changed, I ceased to be his partner, and became his carer.

However as I watched him slowly lose his personhood, his gifts and skills, and grieved for him while he still lived, I came to realise that I was losing myself too. Carers give everything, they give of themselves until there’s nothing left. So I started this blog, it gave me a wee island where I could be myself, and I’d sit on the sofa and type on the laptop while Andy sat beside me. Typing for my sanity, typing for myself, typing for a Scotland that lived only in dreams and hopes. What I never realised, lost as I was in the concern of a carer, and then lost in the grief of loss, was that this blog touches others.

One year on and Andy’s loss still hurts, but the raw and bleeding edges of the hole in my heart have scarred and hardened. I miss him, I miss who I used to be be when we were together. But the loss has become a part of me, and I’m learning to live with it. As I wept on that day, dazed and devastated, uncomprehending in the magnitude of grief, I slowly came to realise that there could still be hope, and that’s what kept me going. I can live and love again. I can hope, and I can still dream.

And I have you to thank for that, the readers of this blog, the kind strangers who showed me that there was still a reason to hope, to fight, to go on. You gave me a reason to get up in the mornings, you gave me a purpose. You showed me that a country is a community, a community of care and compassion. With people like you in it, Scotland’s future is assured.

And here we are, a year on, a referendum lost but a country gained. We’re still here, still fighting, still persuading, still arguing, still being. With every word, with every day, we show that another Scotland is possible.

We don’t all agree. After a year it’s clear that the independence movement was always broad coalition of diverse views, distinct voices, and different opinions. We have disagreements, but that’s a good and healthy thing. We are a nation not a political party, but we remain united in the belief that power rests with the people of Scotland, that the best people to decide on the future of this land are those who live here and love here. We remained united in the knowledge that our country’s many problems and issues can only be tackled successfully when we as a nation take collective responsiblity into our own hands and we stand before the world as an equal.

The referendum was not the end, it was only the beginning. One year on and an opinion poll for STV shows that 53% support independence. Once don’t knows are omitted, that rises to 55%. The cause of independence continues to make ground. We’re not there yet, we need to have support consistently over 60% over the course of a few opinion polls before we push for another independence referendum.

But one thing is clearer now than it ever was, our day is coming, the confidence of a people grows, the realisation is made in more and more minds that Scotland unleashed and unchained can only grow and flourish. Scotland is no longer submerged, we’ve come to the surface and we’re breathing the fresh clean air again.

We do this for Andy, we do this for Margo MacDonald, we do for all those who believed in Scotland but are no longer here. We carry them in our memories and we will never forget. We’ll carry them to the independent Scotland that they believed in and fought for. And we do this for our children, we do this for ourselves. It’s happening. We are not afraid any more.

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Weapon of mind destruction

Ever since the independence referendum, the UK government, its agencies, agents, and its cheerleaders, have gone out of their way to rub the noses of Scotland’s independence supporters in the brown stain on the underpants of the narrow victory for No. Although they saved their Union, at least for the time being, the victory was not the crushing one they’d hoped for. The desire for independence was unleashed and remains unleashed, stalking the land and spreading the virus of hope, preaching the possibility of change. A year on, and the independence movement is still here, still loud, still proud, still organising ourselves, still putting the fear of Gord into the Unionist establishment. We came out of the kailyaird and into the streets and the cities, and there’s no going back. The independence referendum wasn’t the end of Scotland’s road to self determination, it was the beginning.

You’d think, given such circumstances, that a sensible Unionist government would go out of its way to placate Yes supporters, to stave off the inevitable as long as possible, to buy friends, to split enemies into opposing camps by means of judicious bribes and carefully constructed carrots. Giving Scotland devo max, and making this country the most devolved nation in the history of devolving would satisfy many. That’s only what was promised back in the fag end of the referendum campaign when the Union was a doubt. It would reduce the demand for independence to a level that might be manageable. It would keep Scotland addicted to the cancer sticks of Westminster, at least for the time being.

While such a strategy would not ensure that the demand for independence would fall entirely quiet, it would at least buy the British state some breathing space during which it just might find some means of reforming itself. The greatest issue facing the British state in 2015 is to find a lasting solution to the deep seated problem that half of Scotland think our Parliament in Westminster is so fundily-mundily corrupt, so out of touch, so unfit for purpose, that we’d rather walk off and start again with a Scottish parliament we can keep on a short leash. You’d think that this imperative would be even more to the fore in the minds of our rulers, given the utter humiliation which the Scottish electorate heaped upon the parties of No during the General Election in May.

But no. Instead the UK government is trying to return to business as usual, to pretend that the events of the past couple of years were like season nine of Dallas, and Davie Cameron woke up in the shower in Number 10 on the morning of 19 September to discover that Alicsammin was just a bad dream. It was back to business as usual, the same cast of bad actors spouting their hackneyed lines. Not even the destruction of the Unionist parties’ Westminster representation could force the spin doctors to realise that they needed a new plot line. They’ve lost the plot entirely.

We are governed by trolls who are howled on by arrogant ignoramuses who wear their lack of understanding like a badge of pride. We live in a country whose foodbanks are protected by nuclear warheads, where dying after being found fit for work by the Job Centre is the leading cause of murder, where the respect agenda means only that we must respect the No vote and never respect ourselves or expect to be respected. We live in a country where progressive politics means the progressive proscription of hope.

The solution to the Tory problem, say the Westminster chatterati, is Andy or Liz or Yvette, interchangeable middle managers returned from a Human Resources course. Andlizette have redefined sensible to mean whatever the Tories and big business say, and everyone else must sign up to that agenda. The modern definition of common sense is for a small number to get obscenely wealthy while raping the planet’s resources and impoverishing the rest of society, spending billions on weapons of mass destruction whose use spells the end of what’s left of civilisation. The role of the modern government is to manage our expectations, to ensure that we are quiescent and put all the blame on the poor. Andlizette offer everything that the Tories offer, only with a sad face, while telling us it’s all for our own good.

We’ve reached such a low pass in this country, that weapons of mass destruction are what we are offered by Westminster as a job creation scheme. It’s a shameful, disgusting obscenity. And our media doesn’t see fit to challenge the Goverment on just how many jobs depend on Trident, the number is blown up in direct proportion to the vanity of the politician making the announcement. It’s a number that blows up like a Trident missile. We spend billions on a machine of evil whose only product is death, and we are supposed to welcome this. We spend billions on a device that puts Scotland at risk, the accident prone nuclear base could make half of Scotland uninhabitable for a thousand years. Our Westminster masters don’t care, they already think Scotland is uninhabitable by anyone who counts.

Yet on the day that George Osborne came to Scotland to promise some radioactive viagra for the nuclear dildo that substitutes for British great power status, the Unionist trolls on Twitter focused their spleen on two Gaelic words on the side of a police helicopter. The greatest wrong faced by modern Scotland isn’t that the government chooses to spend £500 million more on a useless weapons system that does nothing except inflate the vanity of politicians while citizens starve after their benefits are sanctioned, it’s that poor North Britons have occasionally to look at words on signs that are written in Gaelic and so be reminded that Scotland has a culture and a history independent of the Union that they fetishise as the core of their identity.

I don’t mind people who have no interest in a part of Scotland’s heritage. I am quite happy for people to define their own Scottish identity, and if that’s a Scottish identity that doesn’t include Gaelic or Scots I have no quibbles with them. But what I do object to is them telling the rest of us that their monolingual Scottishness is somehow superior, and that their ignorance of Scottish linguistic history is a form of erudition.

And I object even more when they use their ignorance as a weapon of mind destruction, as a means to distract us from other issues, like the the weapons of mass destruction imposed on our country, the democratic shortfall that gives us a Tory government, the decline into sad irrelevance of the Labour party, and the obscenity of foodbanks protected by nuclear weapons.

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Down the rabbit hole with Tony

Tony Blair is so worried about Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership election that he’s speaking out against it for free. Or more exactly he’s speaking out against it in the hope that he can remain free. If Jezza wins the leadership election and then becomes Prime Minister, Tony might be swapping his smart suits for an orange jumpsuit and his cufflinks for handcuffs.

This is why Tone is keen to let anyone who will give him a hearing, which is a small and increasingly diminishing audience outside of Central Asian dictators, that he thinks that Jeremy Corbyn practises Alice in Wonderland politics. Tony knows a great deal about fantasy, having pursued Conservative politics down a rabbit hole into a topsy turvy world where he played the role of the Queen of Heartlessness, playing croquet with human lives. It takes a special kind of brass neck for a man who took his country to war on the basis of an entirely invented prospectus to decry a pacifist politician for peddling a fantasy, yet Tony now warns us that Jeremy Corbyn preaches “a parallel reality … in which reason is an irritation”. Jeremy, says Tony in all apparent sincerity, has WMDs that can reach Cirencester in forty five minutes.

Tony doesn’t look in the mirror created by a puddle of Iraqi blood, except to admire himself. Making him Middle East Peace Envoy was like putting Myra Hyndley in charge of child protection. He’s far too focused on his own self-grandisement to reflect on the effects of his actions on the little people. The truth is he probably doesn’t care that much, nowhere near as much as he cares about making money from representing Central Asian dictators.

Tony Blair has but one achievement in his life, to create a Labour party that the lying mendacious UK media could believe in, and fittingly he managed that on the back of a great lie. The great lie was that there was still a Labour party left after Tony had got his paws on it, and that it was still a party of the left. Tony transformed Labour into a party of identikit drones and android clones preaching a pastiche of Thatcher’s predatory profit taking. Tony turned politics into performance, a reality show called Britain’s Got Talons where the poor and the disabled and the migrants and the marginalised get ripped apart in the press for the entertainment of the powerful. Greed is good when you call it stakeholding, smiled Tony’s tombstone teeth, as he held the stake that he plunged into the heart of Labour’s last socialist pretensions.

It was supposedly all down to Blair that Labour won the 1997 election, but Labour sold its soul to the Pied Piper of Hammy Lies for nothing. They were so desperate to get power and privilege again that they destroyed everything that was once good about them. They turned themselves into their enemies and in so doing turned themselves into the enemies of those they claimed to represent. The common cry is Scotland is that we didn’t leave the Labour party, the Labour party left us. Tony was driving the bus, he drove our hopes and aspirations off a cliff as a sacrifice to the newspaper demons.

The truth is that an insentient sea sponge could have won that election for Labour, and in most Scottish constituencies that’s exactly what happened. By 1997 the entire UK was as fed up and sick of the Tories as Scotland had been for the previous 18 years. It wasn’t so much that Labour won spectacularly, but that the Tories lost spectacularly. Labour would have performed as well even without the Conservative con of Tony.

After 1997 the scale of the Tory defeat was such that the party was lost in the wilderness for a decade, so lost that it chose Michael Howard as leader, the only politician in the history of the universe who is more slimy than Peter Mandelson who is himself more slimy than a garden slug which has taken a swim in a vat of wallpaper paste. Naturally Labour won again. The party’s victory came despite Iraq, because the opposition was every bit as complicit and even more slimy. Triangulation ruled.

But by then it was too late to save Labour, too late to rescue the British state. The road to Scottish independence started on the road to Baghdad, it was wafted aloft by UN resolutions that were never sought. Revulsion with Thatcher was the midwife of the Scottish Parliament, and revulsion with Labour will be the midwife of independence. Jeremy Corbyn is a good man, but he’s England’s last hope, he’s not ours.

Tony claims that he’s the older statesman who has travelled the road before. We should listen to his warnings that the path is littered with boulders and there’s a cliff ahead and that Jeremy Corbyn is headed straight off it. But Jeremy Corbyn isn’t travelling Tony’s road at all. Tony’s road is a lying road, a false road, a road to deception. It’s a road that leads to a right wing party, a road that doesn’t lead where any left wing person would want to go. It’s a road off the end of a cliff for social justice, for the redistribution of wealth. It’s a road that leads to inequality and rampant casino capitalism, a privatised highway to wealth and power for the few. That’s not the road that Jezza is on.

Tony is the creator of the plastic smiles who have dominated our public life ever since he smiled at the fool Gordie over the table of a posh London restaurant and lied through his teeth to the only man in the country as vain and self regarding as he was. Gordie is as self-serving and as much of a liar as Tony is, he’s just less photogenic.

It’s their style of politics that we want to put an end to. We want our politicians to be human beings, not plastic grins without content. Jeremy Corbyn stands for all those thousands of ordinary people who want a politician for whom public service means just that, and doesn’t see it as serving himself from the public. But Tony and Gordie cast their dire warnings that any attempt to change British politics will end in failure and ignominy, and together with their friends in the press they will do their utmost to make sure that their predictions come to pass. What’s left of their shattered credibility and the credibility of the lying British media depends on it.

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The ignorocracy of a shrivelled balloon

We need to calm down about the BBC. Scotland voted no, and that means that the people of Scotland surrendered all and any right to input on our devolution settlement. We will get what we’re given and should tug our forelocks like good North Britons, and go and be grateful that Edinburgh Castle has been plastered with a giant Union flag. The BBC just as it is is perfectly able to provide Scotland with totally unbiased Great British broadcasting. People who voted No voted for everything to remain exactly the same forever, say the people who promised that a No vote was a vote for safer and faster change.

So said Philip Davies MP, or at least that is what his comments boiled down to. Actually what he said was that Nicola Sturgeon needed to calm down following her “demands” that Scotland should get its own public service television channel. Of course the fact that Nicola had not demanded anything is irrelevant. All she really did was to air the suggestion that the BBC adopt a federal structure and as part of this Scotland should get its own dedicated channel. Her suggestions were in fact originally proposed from within the BBC itself, before being dropped on account of costs and uppity Scottishness.

But then any suggestion from a supporter of Scottish independence counts as a demand and a threat when the Union dangles from the fraying thread of 384,000 votes. Listen very carefully and with every slight and put down you can hear another strand in that thread pull apart. We’re respecting the views of the 55%, and we’re respecting the fact that they’re declining in number with every passing day.

Phil was speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, which may or may not be another of those international Scottish arty festivals that’s never been directed by a Scottish person. I’ve no idea, to tell the truth, all I know is that if the festival had never had a Scottish director it would be wrong to point it out and if you did then one of Scotland’s legion of right wing newspaper columnists would write an angry article about the evil of anti-English racism that lurks at the very core of every Scottish psyche. Except for those Scottish psyches which are right wing and North British of course and which do their best to do an impression of not being a Scottish psyche at all, a definition which conveniently includes most of the modern Labour party.

Neither do I have any idea who Philip Davies is, nor why his opinion on the future of Scottish broadcasting should be considered newsworthy. However it didn’t take long to discover that Phil is, not to put too fine a point on it, about as relevant to Scottish broadcasting as a five day old shrivelled balloon lurking behind the sofa is relevant to creating a cheerful party atmosphere. Possibly pointing that out also makes you an anti-English racist, or at least anti-balloonist, but frankly I am way beyond caring.

Phil’s one of those white able bodied middle class heterosexual Conservative men who are very quick to claim victimhood status. White able bodied middle class heterosexual Conservative men with high paid jobs and a public profile are subject to more discrimination than anyone else, apparently. Or at least, since they are white able bodied middle class heterosexual Conservative men with high paid jobs they’re far more important than anyone else and so any slights they perceive must natually be more important than the discrimination experienced by lesser mortals.

These are the same mental gymnastics which go behind complaints by the aforesaid rightwing Scottish commentators about perceived anti-English racism from Scottish people and allows them to ignore the far more blatant anti-Scottish racism which peppers the pages of the rightwing UK press like those wee bits vegetable matter that litter the vomit of a drunk. That’s just a bit of banter, humourless nat. But if a Scottish person makes equivalent remarks about the English it’s proof positive of the atavistic impulses and blood and soil nationalism that’s the real hidden face of separatism. Or something.

But back to Phil. Phil fancies himself as a contrarian, which is to say that he’s your typical middle class golf club boor-bore with the opinions to match. The Tory MP for Shipley feels that it’s an appropriate use of his time as a parliamentarian to send a stream of letters to the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission demanding to know why the Black and White Minstrels are offensive, and whether the Metropolitan Black Police Association is racist because it doesn’t represent white police officers. Phil isn’t any more enlightened when it comes to people with disabilities. He called for disabled people to be paid less than the minimum wage because they’re “less productive”.

Phil is likewise deeply unenlightened on the rights of LGBTI people. He wants people who aren’t heterosexual to get back into their box. This may or may not be the same box that Scottish independence supporters are supposed to get back into, but it’s quite likely that it is. Phil also hates the EU, women’s rights, the Human Rights Act, thinks we need to imprison more people, and is one of those Tory Neanderthals who gives Neanderthals a bad name. The real Neanderthals were welcoming of the Cro-Magnon migrants, and cared for the sick and the disabled, which is a lot more than can be said for the Tories.

Having been uncertain who Phil is and then finding out, I’m still in the dark as to why his opinions should have been sought on the future of Scottish broadcasting. I’m even less sure why those opinions, once expressed in Phil’s inimitable style, should have been perceived as being important and worthy enough to be plastered over the pages of a number of newspapers.

But then we voted No, and having voted No we were voting for the future of Scotland to be a hostage of fortune to the mouthings off of the Tory Phils of this world. It doesn’t matter that he knows as much about Scotland as the average rightwing Scottish newspaper columnist knows about the finer points of linguistic methodology, he’s a Tory MP accountable to no-one in Scotland, and his prejudice outweighs any fact, his ignorance counts for more than any knowledge.

Scotland isn’t a democracy, it’s an ignorocracy where decisions are made by shrivelled balloons.

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Get tae

Scotland’s over-abundance of right wing commentators have reacted predictably to suggestions from Nicola Sturgeon that the BBC should be federalised and Scotland gain its own dedicated English language TV channel. Some have stated proud-Scotly that they don’t want the BBC to become any more Scottish, wearing their cultural cringe and ignorance on their sleeves like a badge of pride. Scottish culture is after all only fit for pithy insults and invitations to get tae. Putting more of it on the telly might actually encourage people to take it seriously, and that would never do. Allow people to explore their own culture and they might just decide that there’s more to life than the Great British Bake Off and poverty porn on Channel 5. They might realise that Scotland isn’t the marginal and unimportant little province which it is reduced to by an unequal Union.

One of the strangest things about the Scottish media is that it is full of people who openly despise the populace they write for. Scottish culture, insofar as they recognise its existence, is to be belittled and joked about. At best it is to be patronised and treated like a small but not too well behaved child. Gaelic is a dead language, they say as they fight against any attempts to keep the language alive. And Scots isn’t a language at all, they claim with a confidence which is inversely proportional to their knowledge and understanding of linguistic issues. A wee hint – having a degree in English literature doesn’t qualify you to state that Scots is not a language, and most certainly not while you labour under the misapprehension that Ausbau and Abstand are 1980s German electropop bands.

Worse than any of this however, they regard their own ignorance, lack of knowledge, and elephant hide sensitivity as positive attributes to be admired and aspired to. We live in a country where the dominant voices, the elite voices, have traduced and warped our view of ourselves and our country to such an extent that not once in over 70 years has the directorship of Scotland’s most important and prestigious arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival, been held by a Scot. Yet this singular fact, which would be unthinkable in any other European country, is regarded as perfectly normal and acceptable. What is unacceptable to the dominant voices in the Scottish media is to point out how remarkable it is and to suggest that it may not be a desirable state of affairs. Liz Lochhead found herself subject to oppobrium and insults for daring to suggest that the best person to direct a Scottish arts festival might be someone who was familiar with Scottish culture and arts.

What this boils down to is that in the eyes of the modern exponents of the Cringe, Scottish people are only to be valued when they cease to be Scottish. Call them out on this however, and they will react with howls of outrage. How very dare you accuse them of cringery. All of them are proud Scots, and all of them love Scotland. But the truth is that they are like religious fundamentalists who say that they have no problems with gay people, they love gay people. It’s just gay sex that’s wrong. Gay people can be loved as long as they don’t do anything gay. The Scottish Unionist fundamentalists have no problems with Scottish people, it’s just expressing Scottishness that’s wrong.

The old saying goes that familiarity breeds contempt, and Scottish culture is the everyday, the lived experience. As such it must be of lesser value than the imagined British culture to which the fundamentalist Unionist aspires. Only this imagined British culture is just that – an imagining. The irony is that the claims of Unionists to a less parochial cultural aspiration rest upon a deep rooted parochialism. There’s nothing much to distinguish Scotland from England, they cry. And they are correct. But the problem for their argument is that it can also be applied in equal measure to Ireland. And more, since so many British Unionists suffer from the same propensity to monolingualism that besets the rest of the English speaking world, they do not realise that what they say about the commonalities between Scottish people and English people also apply to the rest of the human race.

I lived in Spain for many years, am fluent in Spanish, have many close Spanish friends – many of whom don’t speak English. Yet most of the “very British problems” which were aired in a humorous Twitter hashtag and a TV show recently also apply to them. They are problems of the human condition, not distinctive features of a pan-British culture. Britishness corrals and confines, it’s no more a platform to a wider world than Scottishness is. In fact, it’s less so, as it’s an unlived experience, an imagining not a daily life.

Of course, the real reason that the right wing Scottish commentariat don’t want more Scottish content on our national broadcaster, and don’t want our national broadcaster actually to be a national broadcaster, is quite simple and self-serving. The more Scottish our telly becomes, the less of a place there will be on it for right wing media persons who are dismissive, denigrating and deprecating of Scottish culture and politics. Whereas just now our media revolves around their opinions, in a Scottish media they’d become the marginal figures that they truly are. This is not a country which votes for the right in any huge numbers, yet spokespersons of the right are represented in our media in numbers which are vastly out of proportion to the society which they claim to speak for. Or more accurately, the society they speak down to from their lofty position on the Great British soapbox.

That’s why they are so viscerally opposed to our public funded broadcasting service becoming more representative of the public it serves. A publicly funded Scottish media that was controlled and regulated within Scotland would not be the platform for unchallenged right wing Unionism that the Scottish media currently allows itself to be. You don’t need a column in a right wing newspaper to work that out. They need to get tae.

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The unbearable snideness of Iain

Once upon a time, there was a discredited Tory leader. There’s been a fair few of those. This one had led his party to electoral humiliation at the hands of Tony Blair’s New Labour, and his lack of leadership skills, his insensitivity and tin ear, his gross incompetence, and his inability to distinguish truth from fiction had caused him to become the most risible leader of a major political party in decades. And that was no mean feat because this is the UK, where establishment incompetence and venality is so entrenched that Gordon Broon is still regarded – at least by the media – as a statesman instead of a man in a bit of a state.

That Tory leader was Iain Duncan Smith. It all started off so well, the Tory hopes that the quiet man of the right would set the party on the road to power after the serial disasters of William Hague’s term and leader were as bright as the glare on Iain’s shiny bald head which was going to rise like a full moon and cover up the star struck embarrassment of Wullie in a baseball cap yo-ing wit da yoof in a pathetically transparent attempt to make like the Tories still had some sort of relevance in the 21st century. The Tory party assured its media acolytes that there would be no more of this press office idiocy, and moon heid Iain’s straight talking and no-nonsense leadership would be a total eclipse of the spun.

The Tories had invested a lot of confidence in a man whose previous term in high office had been restricted to shouting at squaddies while having a sergeant major standing behind him. Following in the traditional pattern of rich and well connected families with idiot offspring, Iain got a commission in the British army. Unsuprisingly, within months it became clear that Iain was scarcely fit to manage a knitting pattern, as he purled himself in knots before the press on a daily basis. Sadly for Iain, but not anyone else, it all unravelled as quickly as the sock puppets on the BBC news, snagged on Nick Robinson’s toenails.

The core difficulty with Iain’s term in office wasn’t any great political dispute, it wasn’t any high priniciples. It wasn’t even the traditional Tory seppuku of party self harm over EU membership. It was that he was a duplicitious lying wee shyster and everyone was laughing at him. It soon transpired that Iain’s claims to have studied at the highly prestigious Italian university of Perugia boiled down in reality to having looked at a pamphlet advertising a course when he was there one weekend with his terribly well off missus, eating pasta and pizza on the piazza.

Iain had wrought such utter devastation on his own party and his own reputation that he wasn’t even able to take the traditional way out, accepting a directorship in a City financial institution. That’s how crap he was, and City financial institutions don’t exactly demand competence, skill, knowledge, or indeed moral probity from their political refugees. Instead, Iain had to flee on pilgrimage to Easterhoose in the hope of rescuing the remnants of his career from the wreckage of ruinage he’d brought down on his own baldy head. You have to be pretty piss poor as a Tory if you need to go and find some credibility in Easterhoose.

Iain came to Easterhoose. He basked in the poverty like a supplicant seeking salvation. Which is exactly what he was, unfortunately the only saving he was seeking was the salvation of his career. And as soon as he’d re-established a place for himself in the Tory party as the man who really “got” poverty, he pissed off in a posh car to a big house, a feat previously only achieved by some of the more entrepreneurial minded residents of the scheme. But Iain did it with pharisee press calls instead of pharmaceuticals.

Rebranding himself as a compassionate Conservative, Iain rebranded compassion too. Previously it meant to share in someone’s suffering, to feel their pain. Iain’s compassionate Conservatism means sharing out the pain so everyone suffers. Everyone except people like Iain, who have had the good fortune to have well connected and wealthy families. Iain’s never had to worry about feeding his well padded stomach. He’s never had to fret about ensuring that his kids have new shoes, that they’ll wake up in a house that’s heated. Iain’s got a cosy life, and that apparently makes him an expert in the psychology of poverty. Although admittedly a day trip to Shandwich Shopping Centre is more experience of poverty than any of the rest of the Tory Eton Boy cabinet have got.

Now Iain is telling us that work is good for your health, and wants us to believe that forcing the sick, the disabled and the terminally ill out to work in a crappy job on the minimum wage is actually a form of therapy for them. It’s all for their own good, and has absolutely nothing at all to do with an ideologically driven assault on the state. Heaven forfend you could think that. Iain’s a compassionate Christian Conservative.

Iain’s the kind of Christian that Jesus would condemn along with the money changers in the temple. I’m not a believer, but Iain is the kind of Christian that gives his faith a bad name, and he’s up against child abusing priests for competition. He thinks that social security is charity, and not an essential means of ensuring that all of us have a decent standard of living and a decent life. Because when there is poverty, when there’s a yawning gap between the richest and the poorest and that gap grows every wider, all of us are impoverished.

The usual suspects have joined in the condemnation of Iain’s incompetent compassion. Andy Burnham and the Daily Record fulminate against Tory policies that penalise those who are already poor, that punish the powerless and malkie the marginalised. But Andy condemnation couldn’t stretch to voting against the Conservatives, and the Daily Record campaigned for a No vote so Scotland was left prostrate before the Tory voting shires. Their compassion is as counterfeit as Iain’s.

There’s only one way to ensure that Scotland is safe from Iain’s brand of pitiless compassion and cruel care. That day is coming ever closer, when the unbearable snideness of Iain and the crocodile tears of those who only pretend to oppose are no more.

Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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