A thistle grows in the rubble

Back in the 1960s when I was a wean, if you were bright enough you could go to uni for free, there was an NHS that was safe and secure, there were nationalised blue trains that were the height of modernity, and when you left school you could get a job for life. My parents enjoyed opportunities that had been denied to their parents.

It wasn’t a paradise. It was very far from that. There were evil Tories aplenty, and they enjoyed a significant support in Scotland from the big drum banging brigade. Sectarianism and racism were rampant and socially acceptable, the dread question what school did you go to was asked at job interviews. Homophobia wasn’t just commonplace, it was obligatory. But there was a Labour party to act a bulwark, a defence against the worst excesses of the establishment and the bosses. We felt that Labour stood on our side, that we had a powerful ally that could look the establishment in the eye and say No. We felt safe.

People looked down on furren lands with their generals and their coups and their coalition governments that crashed as frequently as a Fiat with no brakes. Scandals and corruption were things that happened in far away places, and we could watch from afar and feel smugly superior. For all its faults, Britain was the gold standard of democracy. Or so we thought.

We were naive, childlike in our trust. We knew nothing of the sex abuse, the cover ups, the corruption and the sleaze. These were things that happened elsewhere, in those foreign lands we were taught to look down on. Not here. We were better than that. We had the British state to save us. We had the safety blanket of social security, and for all the many faults of Britain for the most part we felt safe.

And then came Thatcher, and the British state ate itself. It consumed Scotland and the North to build glittering towers where bankers could worship money. The rich got rich and the poor got kicked in guts that they have nothing to fill. In the towns and cities that formed the powerhouse that drove the Industrial Revolution there were once factories but now there are only food banks. The safety net is a tattered tissue of begrudgement called welfare on which no one fares well, given only to those deemed deserving by the arbitrary tick of a box on a form. We’ve got a state that offers nothing, but demands ever more, becomes ever more intrusive. It snoops and it pries and demands that we hide nothing from it. But it hides away its own secrets. If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear, say the powerful people who keep their sins secret with a Jimmy Savile smile.

Britain protects the rich and powerful. It covers up their vile crimes against children. In Britain, protecting the reputations of members of the establishment is more important than the life of your child. Britain robs from the poor to enrich the wealthy. It exists in a network of connection and nods and handshakes and mutual backslapping that exclude the majority. They have power but no accountability. The higher your paygrade, the less likely you are to carry the can. Only the little people have to resign for their failures. This is Britain.

Britain bombs and blasts the fabric of other countries, and calls in the army when the shattered citizens of states Britain has made fail come seeking refuge. Demonising and dehumanising, human suffering becomes a swarm. Compassion is a weakness. Care is privatised. Charity only for a hand picked few. The only jobs for life are the jobs the rich and powerful give to themselves and their children, while the rest of us scramble for coins in the dust they throw up in their haste to avoid paying tax. We now live in the furren land we once looked down on. This state is alien to the likes of you and me.

And the Tories are still Tories but now Labour has joined them. Evil twin dark stars orbiting around the black hole that swallows all hope, devours all that is good, reduces and shackles all that is progress.

Tony Blair promised to reform the House of Lords, a chamber composed of hereditary peers who had the right to affect our laws because of who their dad was. It was an insult to democracy and had no place in a modern society. True to his word, Tony reformed the Lords. He replaced it with the only thing worse. Tony replaced the lottery of genes and birth order with political patronage, appointees who get their privilege as a reward for services rendered.

Now we have a Labour party whose leading lights struggle with the very concept of democracy. John McTernan, the former spin doctor to Tony Blair, thinks that ordinary party members should do as they’re told. They should vote for the candidate that their betters tell them to vote for, and if they don’t then the person the little people elect should be summarily evicted from office.

There are those who cling on to past glories and old stories like dried up chewing gum on a broken pavement. What they love is the image of a Britain that never really existed, the surface gloss not the rot underneath. But the truth is that you can’t really love something that is kept hidden from you. If you don’t know the truth, you live and love in a lie.

And I think of all those who cling on to the comfort blanket of myths and still believe that Scotland shouldn’t stand on its own feet. I feel sorry for them, living in the cotton wool of lies. Blind to reality, deaf to truth, living on hopes of change that will never be delivered. The only hope is in our own hands, in the changes we make ourselves. We can be agents of that change. It only takes faith in yourself. Trust yourself, or trust the McTernans of this world. That’s the only choice remaining.

Look on the wreckage of the British state. Smell the rot. Inhale the heady gases of decay. Then look to the north and see the green shoots of a thistle, growing and thriving in the rubble.

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42 comments on “A thistle grows in the rubble

  1. heathermclean19 says:

    Powerful, inspirational writing! I really look forward to your blog appearing in my email inbox! Well done and thank you Wee Ginger Dug.
    A fabulous piece of writing as usual!

  2. Jim Arnott says:

    I echo Heather’s sentiments completely. Powerful, inspirational and moving. Thanks a bone, Wee Ginger Dug.

  3. xsticks says:

    Superb Paul. How I wish I had your articulacy. Bone fur the dug on its way.

  4. mumsyhugs says:

    Absolutely searing piece of writing Paul. I so wish you could get some of this into other MSM as well as the National – I’m sure folks would recognise the truth like this when it hits them in the guts and perhaps at least make them think about their position.

  5. uno mas says:

    There is a saying that “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there” well a good number of the population of Great Britain in 2015 must think that the present is a foreign country because they sure as hell do things differently there and not for the better.

    Stunning piece of writing as per Paul.

    Where the hell have you been all these years?

  6. No missing and hitting the wall, WGD. I find it puzzling that anyone would take anything McTernan says seriously. He has a failed track record. Australia and Jim Murphy can attest too. Liebour elite have totally lost the plot deriding their members for not choosing the Puppet clone they want. Fallon is no asset to the Libdums either. Common sense has left the building and the SNP voice is the only one of reason.

  7. Devereux says:

    Wow. Just wow. All those thoughts swirling in our minds this week and you put them into beautiful words. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it is WGD.

  8. Thistles are really, really tough, and just when you think you’ve got rid of them…..up they come!

    Nice analogy Paul.

    • Patience is a Virtue says:

      When we left the street and were in the country, Father became instructive, ‘There is a thistle,’ he would cry into the wind, pointing a pale finger, and we looked. Then further along, ‘There is another thistle,’ again pointing. There were lots of thistles in Scotland. We were soon well acquainted with them…… The other game was battering one another over the head with a thistle whilst shaking hands… I miss Ivor Cutler.. though its certainly not quite as dull these days in a Scottish Drawing Room.

  9. Bill Hume says:

    God Paul, I love it when you express my anger.

  10. GAvin C Barrie says:

    Simply magnificent Paul.

    Blue trains, shipyards, jobs.

    We have a job to do, Yes needs to kickstart, plenty of data to discuss with the fearties.

  11. Mark says:

    Stunning piece of writing a Paul! Saying what a lot of us feel much better than and more powerfully than any other!

  12. Stoops says:

    I felt like I was the only one who was experiencing this despair, thank you for your articulation. You make me want to build a better world.

  13. Giesabrek says:

    This would be great as a political speach. Reminds me of the speach at the end of the Great Dictator in style and passion.

  14. arthur thomson says:

    Brilliant. That imagery will live on in my mind. Each time the dug barks someone else hears and understands. Someone else feels the sense of outrage and determines not to be deceived again. Someone else realises that life does not have to be like this. Hope over fear.

  15. Fillofficer says:

    The dug that roars. How many accolades can wan dug take, I wonder ? Such truthful scribblings…..Nicola must read, Shirley !!

  16. Itchybiscuit says:

    I like a good rant.

    That was a great rant. :o)

  17. Justin Fayre says:

    Searing is about as close as you can get I suppose to the power this piece exhibits.
    To be honest, recently I’ve been feeling ‘all angered out’. Weariness and sadness had replaced rage. Believe me, it had taken 25 years to reach that stage.
    Then within 48 hours, two stunning tales arrive..- this one and the latest from Grouse Beater – that fully recharge the ‘anger battery’
    Thank you sir. More than you can appreciate.

  18. Weegiewarbler says:


  19. Inspirational writing, again. How long can this state of affairs continue before people revolt and take power back from these maniacs? It surely can’t be long now.

  20. Angus Skye says:

    Beautifully articulated. As someone only a few years older than you who also grew up in post-war Glasgow you have hit the nail on the head.

  21. mealer says:

    What a good piece of writing.Well done.Personally,I think we spend too much time looking back at old Labour with rose tinted spectacles and not enough time looking at other countries who have actually achieved much of what old Labour set out to achieve.

  22. aitchbee says:

    The masks have slipped big-time, but Labour are so busy with their internal plots and mischief-making that it seems to have fallen below their radar. It will, however, provide fuel for their next round of in-fighting, when they start the blame game for their abysmal performance in the next elections.

  23. macart763 says:

    That’s the one. 🙂

  24. scot2go2 says:

    Again with the nostalgia… almost another bbc homily… and the worst part is the jump from safe7 secure labour nirvana’s to the wicked witch of the South… WoW!!!..

    Only you missed out the Callaghan years… you remember them?.. or were you too busy listening to mixed tapes on your cassette player…. ?

    You missed the hidden McCrone report & what it could have meant for the citizens of Scotland… you missed the nationalists who knew what was going on & could find no media to investigate & broaden the truth. You missed the cosy labour party mafia with their red ties and stitch ups. Where ” control ” was more important than the implications of their inertia. So…. three words from that report that are engraved on my soul….. “”” chronically in surplus “”” .

    Scotland could have became a more enlightened society… could have shed all the dead weight that it still carries from years of seriously inept labour misrule …..& yet you blame Maggie….. I blame 50% of Scots… which includes the red tory tribe who have finally been exposed. Not by the same wm media but by those Scots using social media and who… in the 70’s recognised labours cancerous consumption. …but still… unfortunately….. through the best efforts of the same media allow 50% of Scots to still feel safe voting for the “broad church” of deceiving manipulators.

  25. Nana Smith says:

    Wonderful writing which conjures up such powerful imagery. I can see the thistle standing proud.

    Recently took a walk with my own wee dug along a track off the roadside in Sutherland. Came across a field where the thistles were growing in abundance. Absolutely beautiful.

  26. Great writing once again Paul. But I believe they, the Labour party lost, at least part of their soul, long before the 1960s. Yes the National Insurance Act of 1948 was a great achievement, but even Ramsey MacDonald, the first Labour Prime Minister, said in the 1920s that he felt he had abandoned socialism. And of course when he tried to take the party into a coalition with the tories in the next decade, he was expelled.
    Being a bit older than yourself, I grew up in a Labour supporting, Daily Mirror reading household, (the Record was then considered a tory rag), and yet even then, I felt I could never trust them as a party.
    Probably from hearing stories, whether true or not, about if you wanted your local councillor to do anything for you, a brown envelope had to change hands first, this being Glasgow in the 1950s.
    So as I say, I think the rot started long ago, and has merely got worse as the years progressed, but hopefully now the penny has dropped, at least with some folk, and eventually enough people will vote Yes for Scotland to become an independent country, if not for my sake, but for my great-grandchildrens future.

  27. mary docherty says:

    Thanks WGD for that wee glimmer of hope.In a week where a labour politician on £300 aday snorting coke and prostitutin women and a friends parapeligic son on 12 hours a day dialysis,spoon fed,can’t speak has to attend ATOS to see if he’s fit to work or his benefit will be stopped Iwas in a right despair.Cheers.. on we go !!!

  28. lazy git says:

    Print it and stick on a lampost.

  29. hektorsmum says:

    Another excellent piece of writing Paul, filled with the passion we all share but cannot express.

  30. Grizzle McPuss says:

    Perfectly expressed Paul. Nothing to add except respect & peace.

  31. Luigi says:

    1.6 million thistles now grow in the rubble they created. Each and every one of them a painful thorn in the flesh of the UK establishment. 1.6 million and growing, rooting deep, becoming stronger and sharper, spreading seeds everywhere. For every thistle they chop down, two more will grow in its place. The ground is already full of seeds, in the hearts of men and women across the land. The war is not yet won, but we are winning. 🙂

  32. My life in a nut shell,as well as many others I would suspect. Onwards and upwards.

  33. And the great thing about thistles is that when everything else is falling by the wayside they thrive and flourish.

    Superb piece of polemic Paul – the perfect antidote to MSM crap. Thank you.

  34. Simply brilliant

  35. Jan Cowan says:

    You’ve reached the very top this time Paul. Can’t praise you enough!

  36. Melvin Penman says:

    Fantastic,every time .I spend several minutes thinking after reading your work Paul. It’s amazing your grasp of all our thoughts and conclusions perfectly summed up in a short statement. The more people who know about you the closer we are to independence.

  37. INDEPENDANT says:

    Probably the best piece you have ever written, and that is saying something.

    Any ideas how we can get the 55% to read this. ( I’m not very good on the facebook / twitter thingy, being an Old F**t.)

    It would surely switch at least 10% of them who are teetering on the edge!

  38. Brian Mckenna says:

    Needed that .

  39. funkypish says:

    Reblogged this on funkypish and commented:
    an excellent piece

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