Back home now

I’m home now, back from visiting my significant other in the USA. One of the best things about going abroad is realising that other countries’ politics are just as childish and dysfunctional as the Scottish variety. We’re often accused of parochialism in Scotland, but our news and current affairs concerns are cosmopolitan and outward looking compared to the domestic obsessions of American TV news programmes. If your sole source of information was the American TV news, you’d be forgiven for believing that the rest of the world only exists whenever it’s visited by Donald Trump, or when there is a terrorist outrage that involves white people.

Still, it was nice to spend a couple of weeks in a country where hardly anyone has heard of Ruth Davidson and none of those who have done give a damn. But here we are, back in Scotland and trying to catch up with what’s been happening while I was away. It’s back to the childish dysfunction that passes for grown up political discourse in Scotland.

Before election campaigning was suspended due to the horrific and appalling events in Manchester, the Scottish part of the election campaign was dominated by Kezia Dugdale’s attempts to deflect attention from the Labour councillors in Aberdeen who had gone into coalition with the Conservatives by pointing an accusing finger at something Stu Campbell of Wings over Scotland had said a couple of months ago. Because naturally, Scottish politics in general and the independence campaign in particular is entirely defined by a non-party blogger in Bath and joking insults he’d lobbed a few months ago are far more important than the fact that if you vote Labour, you’ll get the Conservatives, certainly in Aberdeen. It was perhaps the most blatant attempt at issue-dodging since the Mongol hordes blamed their destruction of Central Asia in the Middle Ages on the difficulty in finding fermented mare’s milk in the Samarkand branch of Lidl.

Then there was nursegate, in which a nurse with a Facebook record of blaming the SNP for everything blamed the fact that she had occasionally needed to use a foodbank on Nicola Sturgeon. The story then became how the said nurse was being hounded by cybernats and a new phenomenon – the ultranat. Ultranats are just like cybernats apparently, except that they speak at a pitch higher than can be heard by human ears. This was all detailed in articles in the Express newspaper, an organ with a propensity to CAPITALISE everything, which as everyone knows makes it more true. At least if it’s a BLOW for the SNP.

The same newspaper also carried a piece saying at a TOP ACADEMIC had delivered a SHOCK BLOW to Nicola Sturgeon by predicting that in the event of Scottish independence Scotland would be divided literally, in a geographic sense, and well as metaphorically in the sense beloved by Unionists. That’s divided in the sense that they can no longer spout off in the bowling club about how Nicola Sturgeon is responsible for every bad thing that’s ever happened, up to and including the Mongol invasion of Central Asia in the Middle Ages, without someone voicing disagreement. Jill Stephenson, for it was she, is best known for calling Mhairi Black a slut and for retweeting a Unionist meme which is simultaneously racist, homophobic and derogatory to people with autism. Kezia Dugdale has not so far taken time out of her busy schedule of condemning pro-indy bloggers for a remark that many gay people don’t find homophobic to pass any comment on Jill’s retweeting a meme that is universally regarded as homophobic amongst other offensiveness.

According to the Express, Jill had said that if Scotland votes to become independent then all those areas where there happens to be a Unionist majority will remain with the UK and the country will be partitioned. Because partition has worked out so well on every previous occasion that the British have tried it. Strangely enough, the same people who claim that the parts of Scotland that vote Unionist following a Yes majority in an independence referendum will have the right to remain with the UK are the exact same people who would have scoffed at the notion that those parts of Scotland which voted Yes last time ought to have been allowed to become independent anyway. Otherwise I could be typing this from the Republic of Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Dundee, Stranraer, Skye, and Arran and would be able to look on the farce of a UK general election with the detached air of a US news correspondent.

Then there’s Theresa May’s U-turning and the introduction of the dementia tax, which saw her polling figures slip before campaiging was suspended. Then she had to hurriedly announce that there would be a “cap” on the amount to be clawed back by the state in order to recoup the costs of social care only she refused to say how much that cap would be. Having been viewing the US news for the past couple of weeks, it’s quite an achievement to make Donald Trump seem consistent and reasonable, but Theresa May has managed it.

What it boils down to is that the state is prepared to foot the bill for caring for people with certain medical conditions, but not for others, only the state won’t – at least not before the public has a chance to vote on the proposal – say how much or what conditions. At the moment it appears that if you are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with cancer then your care will be paid for by the NHS, but if you are unfortunately diagnosed with Alzheimers then you’re paying for it yourself. But once the principle of pay for care is established, it’s only going to be a matter of time before creeping charges are introduced elsewhere too.

But not to worry. The Tories are promising to allow workers to take a year off in unpaid leave in order to care for elderly relatives. They’re touting this like it’s a good thing to fill the gap in social care provision caused by their own policies with unpaid labour. And then having been left without an income, due to the dementia tax these unpaid carers could be left homeless after the person they’re caring for dies. As a former unpaid carer who looked after a dementia sufferer, I know how heartless and uncaring the Tory policy is. It’s bad enough to watch a loved one slowly succumb to the destruction of their personality and self caused by dementia without also worrying that you’ll be left without a roof over your head after their illness has taken its course. But all Theresa May cares about it getting reelected with an absolute majority that will allow her to do as she pleases. It’s almost enough to make me wish I wasn’t back home at all. But I am, so I’d better keep ranting. Ensuring that the Tories receive as few votes as possible is a moral imperative.

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A guest post by Samuel Miller

In the posts of the past week or so I’ve written a goodly amount on concerns over a Conservative ideology dominated future. I’ve provided a fair few links on not just current examples of policies to date, but on policy pledges which should provide the reader with a real concern as to the direction of future UK government, our democracy and our society.

Thing is, are we beyond caring now? Are we beyond acting on those concerns? Have the political class and the media won? Have they dumbed down, brow beaten and manipulated the populations of the UK to the point where we no longer worry over what kind of country we want to live in?

Watching the goggle box, listening to radio, or reading a paper, the sheer saturation of mainstream political narrative is immense. There is a real danger of people switching off to the world around around them. There is a danger that they’ve become so fatigued with a seemingly never ending stream of political carpet bombing of their senses, that its gone beyond white noise. People simply want it to stop without knowing how to make it stop. Or rather, that they feel powerless to make it stop. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.

If you’re not being faced with the laughably, (yet creepily controlled), robotic and stage managed appearances of Prime Minister May, then in the northern province you’re faced with the manic, pointy, shouty mini me of Ruth Davidson attempting to hide the fact that she’s a Conservative. An angry persona who, with not another single policy or initiative to her name, has dined out well on STOP THE ESSENPEE! No answers. No suggestions. No alternative policy. No real reasoning behind why they may require stopping. Just STOP something or other and a whole lot of anger management issues.

That’s the thing though, isn’t it? It’s stage managed, choreographed, monotonous, loud and repetetive. A vertiable deluge of substance free blandness which, as everyone should be aware, is always a great way of hiding evil and unpleasant deeds in plain sight. Make no mistake, the omnishambles that is austerity UK, Brexit Britain was created by successive UK governments. Their handling of politics as it is practised, ‘the day job’, ALL of it. No one did this to the UK. A big boy didn’t do it and run away. The buck stops with the government and the system of government. The same people who want your vote right now are the people who placed all our futures and freedoms in jeopardy in the first place. They did it and not for you, but for themselves. For good old fashioned self interest. (Readers should be made aware that the ‘day job’ in Scotland differs in that our government is required to mitigate and offset the legislative bumtrumpetry of central governmenent.)

It occurs to me that seemingly the only time people get the heads up that the unthinkable has actually happened, is when it strolls right into their living room and slaps them in the face. Y’know, when people have lost their job because no one fought for their rights, or those rights no longer exist. When the benefits and services they’ve paid for their entire working lives aren’t there when they are needed most. When their pension and fuel allowances are pilfered or slashed. When their next door neighbour and friend of many years is deported for not dotting an ‘i’ or crossing a ‘t’, or simply for being furren. When their right to complain is crushed and their voice is taken away. When they are considered ‘extremists’ for even daring to complain.

It’s only when you discover what being out of a job and having your income slashed means in austerity UK really. It means relying on the charity of others. A charity and empathy that is slowly being choked out of our society by the likes of May, Davidson and all their Tory kindred. Oh, and after their atrocious actions of recent years, Labour and the Libdems don’t entirely come out of the wash sparkly clean either. They did their bit in both creating and supporting this appalling travesty.

It means that YOU will rely on the charity of people who care. All you need do is hope beyond hope there are enough people left who do.

Or, you can put a stop to it now. Stop it NOW before it comes to this for you and yours.

You have and always have had the power to make it stop. THIS is the reason for the blanket repetetive narrative. This is the reason they want you to stop thinking. Stop asking questions and stop complaining. They’re terrified that if you are fully and properly engaged, you’ll do some something radical and vote their arses out of office and out of your lives. They’re terrified of your anger, your engagement, your questions and your judgement on their actions.

They’re terrified of you.

Put aside the soundbite. Look past the vacuous, metro bubble bullshit streamed into your living room. Bin the horrific, empathy free headlines of a hopelessly politically compromised press and look around you at your family and communities. Look at their lives, consider their future and imagine how much worse it could be if Scotland’s newly discovered voice were either extinguished or never present. Imagine if the right to choose were denied you altogether. Imagine handing the political establishment of Westminster a blank cheque on your future.

A simple request.

Get Your Vote Out!

Show Tories of all shades that you’re better than a soundbite or a stage managed photo op with a buffalo. Show them that you deserve, that you have earned, better than austerity UK or a soulless, intolerant Brexit Britain. Show them what the right to choose truly means and choose a different path.

Today will be my last post before our host returns folks. I’d like to thank the readership for bearing with me for the past week or so and for contributing as enthusiastically as ever in comments.

See you below the line.

Survival of the fittest

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Apparently the UK faces ‘challenges’ according to the Conservative manifesto released on Thursday.


That’s one word for it I suppose. There are of course others, but none the weans could read before the watershed.

Brexit Britain, austerity ideology, UK populations and society in general fractured along so many fault lines. A society so divided that all the kings horses and all the kings men… Well, I’m sure we know how the nursery rhyme ends.

How did it come to this you might ask? Two reasons near as I can tell. Firstly, the buck stops with our politics and its relationship with the media and corporate world. Y’know, good old fashioned greed and self interest. The naked manipulation of the populations of the UK and the division of their demographics for political and financial advantage. Exploiting and expanding small differences into the chasms which divide and where none exist? Create them.

Out of the 30 OECD countries the UK has the 7th most unequal distribution of wealth and has the honour of having the 4th most unequal in Europe. With the fifth largest economy in the world (as Treeza and co. keep reminding us), that should tell you all you need to know about our system of government and what its priorities are. Its not and never has been the governance and care of the populations of the UK. I’d say it more resembled an asset management exercise and some of those assets, those that aren’t strong, fit or prosperous enough of course, would be expendable assets. Survival of the fittest by any measure.

The second reason we are where we are? That would be the fault of the electorate. You get who you vote for. You get the society you contribute to – or don’t, as the case may be. For generations the populations of the UK bought into the big lie of our governance, that it gave a shit, could be trusted, was just the way it was meant to be. We allowed ourselves to be reduced to ‘ists’, ‘isms’ and labels (Makes that whole dividing thing so much easier). We allowed our system of government to take our best and brightest, make over their idealism and turn them into ‘weel kent’ faces we would vote for, perpetuating the cycle of legislative abuse. Worse, we allowed them to tell us who to trust, who to vote for, who to alienate and who to hate. The pen proving itself every bit as destructive and effective as the sword over a great many years.

The voting electorate let it get this bad and they allowed the fox to convince them it was a good idea to leave him in charge of the hen house. The majority allowed themselves to be convinced they were powerless to change the way things were.

Most readers will have had a few days to absorb extensive commentary on the contents of the Conservative manifesto by this point. In times of plenty, with a stable body politic and a more or less stable wider society, such a manifesto would unsurprisingly be binned out of hand. A party attempting to sell the public on the concept of emergency measures which would effectively grant them the divine right of kings would not only set off warning klaxons of extremism, they’d also be quite rightly ‘labelled’ themselves as dangerously unhinged.

Today though? With a massively dominant right wing Conservative government and societal narrative. The willing support of an equally massively dominant right wing media to sell their narrative. Oh, and let’s not forget the nature of the democratic deficit inherent in the political make up of the United Kingdom, it’s not only possible the Conservatives can pull this off, it seems entirely probable.

The Conservatives dominate current UK politics on 36.9% of the vote. They seek a mandate to extend austerity measures, stifle democracy and silence dissenting voices (see under internet policy). If they should extend their vote share and representative presence in Commons, does anyone really doubt what their idea of ‘strong and stable’ means in reality by this point?

This is the government that turned sanctioning and benefit cutting across the board into a national sport and has been found to be in violation of human rights for same by the United Nations. This is the government that removed motability vehicles and personal independence for thousands of disabled citizens. This is the government which has seen wealth disparity and food bank culture grow exponentially for every year it has been in office. We have people starving on the streets of a 21st century United Kingdom. We live in a state where government policy has been cited as being linked to an increase in mortality rates. The world’s 5th largest economy remember? Pretty certain readers can and WILL add a lot more to this list.

This government wants your permission to extend its own powers. THIS government.THIS system of politics.

In Scotland, we have only very rarely had any influence over who will eventually take office behind the door of number 10. We will never have enough MPs in Commons to form a partnership of equals. Simple arithmetic dictates this stark fact. What the majority in Commons decides, Scotland historically and meekly accepted. Brexit and the nature of Brexit being a perfect example of the UK’s and Westminster’s democratic deficit.

Today though, we have an opportunity and one we created for ourselves. We can decide who we wish to represent and defend our interests as a nation. We can decide who best represents and reflects our body politic. We can decide when enough is enough. We can choose to take a different path. We can refuse to be labelled, reduced to ‘ists’ and ‘isms’. We can decide what kind of country we want to live in and we can instruct our representatives to act accordingly.

We can choose who we want to be and how we wish to be viewed by others in the world. We are potentially two votes away from having the government we vote for at every time of asking.

Most people after the past few years are probably sick to the back teeth of politics. Understandable to say the least. But if we don’t fix a patently broken and societally destructive system, then who will? If we don’t do it now, whilst it is still possible, then when? Decision time is almost upon us. What kind of country do you want to live in and what legacy do you want to leave for future generations?

Two votes.

Coming home to roost

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Today’s the day we saw betterthigitherness coming home to roost in all its pooling and sharing glory. Are we surprised that a Tory government finally came for you where you live? ‘Forward together’ with ‘strong and stable’ government in the national interest. “Stronger, fairer and more prosperous than ever before” is the claim. And if you don’t agree with that leadership? Presumably yer agin’ the national interest I suppose.

Today was Tory manifesto day and it’s a helluva document for yer average Joe Public to peruse. Full of the usual policy wonk doublespeak (as are most manifestos tbf), and robbing Peter to pay Paul economic waffle, which basically means we’re still skint and I’m passing round the hat to those who can least afford it. There are however, subjects that stand out to almost everyone who takes an interest. Even if you don’t understand in depth everything your’re reading, you’ll find something that catches your eye and hits you right where you live. This latest offering from the Conservatives has a fair amount to struggle through and more than a few hot chestnuts for the clever clogs out there to be chewing over. How and ever, a wee taster to be getting on with:

The repeal of the Fixed Term Parliaments act (Translation: If any PM or government finds itself in the shit, as now, call a snap election and try to extend your term in office).

The end of the triple lock for pensions post 2020 (You really, really don’t want a translation for that one).

Scrapping stage 2 of the Leveson inquiry (Translation: keep your best buds sweet and onside).

Enactment of the Great Repeal Bill to proceed (Translation from Bond villain speak: Mwahahahahahaha!)

Fracking to be actively pursued as a revenue stream (Translation: see under Great Repeal Bill)

Immigration in general to be cut to 100k across all nationalities and a focus on reduction of immigration from Europe after Brexit (Translation: Vote for me ’cause I’m jolly difficult!)

As I say that’s just a taste, but let’s move on to the devolved legislatures. Obviously we’re particularly interested in Scotland at this point which, as everyone knows, is still part of Theresa’s preciousss, preciousss union. Just so folk are crystal clear on the current state of the Scottish parliament and its powers:

“It was the Conservative and Unionist party that delivered the 2012 and 2016 Scotland acts, and only the Conservative and Unionist party can deliver further powers and the best possible deal for Scotland as we leave the European Union” (page 32 Conservative manifesto)

Should we thank Theresa for control of the awesome powers of APD, aggregates levy, road signage and responsibility for collecting a percentage of income tax now or on June 8th? Also, I’m wondering if Labour and the Libdems should feel relieved that the PM has expunged them of any complicity in the current settlement or not? The dears did work so hard before, during and after the last indyref to bring the current constitutional omnishambles to everyone’s doorstep. Gordon, I’m sure, will probably feel terribly hurt and left out. It’d seem a shame not to give them their due place in the big show, or perhaps the PM has? Now that is a thought for their current leadership to ponder.

Moving on though, we find on page 36 and 37 the meat on the bones. The enactment of the Great Repeal Bill. The good news? EU laws and protections won’t end overnight (honest). There is however a ‘but’ to that statement:

“The Bill will also create the necessary powers to correct the laws that do not operate appropriately once we have left the EU, so our legal system can continue to function outside the EU. Once EU law has been converted into domestic law, parliament will be able to pass legislation to amend, repeal or improve any piece of EU law it chooses, as will the devolved legislatures, where they have the power to do so.” (Uh huh!)

“As powers return from the EU we will be able to determine the level best placed to take decisions on these issues.” (Uh huh with knobs on! Oh, and who is this we Kemosabe?)

“We will not bring the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law. We will not repeal or replace the Human Rights Act while the process of Brexit is underway but we will consider our human rights legal framework when the process of leaving the EU concludes.” (The knobs now have knobs)

Oh and “No deal is better than a bad deal”, “Brexit means Brexit” and the sun always shines on TV. There’s something in there for everyone, from the youngest in our society to the oldest, NO ONE gets missed out for special treatment. That you may not want to go forward together with Treeza is understandable by this point. That, haud the phone, you might not agree that she presents either a strong and stable leadership, or a vision of a fairer, more prosperous society could mark you as a dangerous extremist acting against the ‘national interest’. Pure divisive this politics lark, so it is.

Make no mistake though, this is Theresa’s idea of moving the UK to a fairer, stronger, more productive society and country (don’t get me started on her use of the singular). That would be a fairer, stronger, more productive Conservative society then. A society where you better not be a third child. A society where you work till you die. A society where you daren’t get ill, or through no fault of your own become jobless. Theresa’s society is a society for those strong enough, fit enough, lucky enough.

The rest of us? The poor, the disabled, the jobless, the disenfranchised, those who don’t conform, don’t think the way Treeza does? Well she did say this was a Conservative manifesto. The PM’s vision of the UK going ‘forward’ doesn’t sound very forward at all to me, but then I’m not big on the whole survival of the fittest school of political ideology.

You can change this future with only two more votes.

Think about that.

Hypocrisy thy name is…

A guest post by Samuel Miller

I honestly don’t know who or what is worse; Corbyn and his wannabe Kezia Dugdale, or May and her mini me Ruth Harrison (Fallon, the gift that keeps on etc.). Today was a benchmark day for both teams in hypocrisy and shear disingenuous cobblers.

Let’s start with Ruth Davidson shall we? It seems Ruth gave a speech to the George Orwell Foundation (irony klaxon). Aye, apparently people get confused between nationalism and patriotism and they’re really quite different you know. Nationalism, especially Scottish nationalism, is bad. It’s all that ‘bullying and hectoring’ the Scottish government and their supporters do. Patriotism however, especially Ruth’s fleg wavy, tank riding, buffalo wrangling variety is good. So some folk who wrap their bigotry, their violence and their hatred in flegs will be delighted to find out that they’re not bad nationalists, but rather good patriots. Who knew?

Just for the removal of doubt and of course to prove that both hypocrisy and irony are dishes best served cold, I’d suggest Ruth looks up both words in a dictionary.

Here’s the thing though, patriotism and nationalism are just words and a flag is merely a piece of cloth with bright colours. What gives words weight and a coloured symbol meaning are associated actions.  The extremes of both those words have led to some of the greatest crimes in humanity’s history, equally some of the worlds greatest criminals hid behind the symbol of their country.

Of themselves there is no harm in feeling patriotism or national pride,  a sense of belonging in your community, your country, your population. Taken in the extreme to a sense of exclusion, exceptionalism and even xenophobia? That is a different and darker path altogether. Which politics in the UK reflects the latter more accurately today? That’s one for the reader to decide.

A final thought for Ruth (in case she’s confused you understand). ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’ Samuel Johnson

Then we come to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour manifesto.  Well what can you say?

This is the relevant quote from page 104 of Labour’s 2017 manifesto:

Labour opposes a second Scottish independence referendum. It is unwanted and unnecessary, and we will campaign tirelessly to ensure Scotland remains part of the UK. Independence would lead to turbo-charged austerity for Scottish families.

‘Unwanted and unnecessary’ … says who?  Last I checked the Scottish government is the only legislative body in the UK with an overwhelming public mandate across all elections and under three completely differing balloting procedures. ‘Independence would lead to turbo charged austerity’. On two counts this is pushing the boundaries of credibility. Firstly, that is an untested and unquantifiable opinion. No one has any idea what measures an independent Scottish government would take to grow their economy, marshall their resources and revenue stream or indeed who that government may be. Secondly, Scotland was already promised a great deal of security, pooling and sharing, broad shouldered better togetherness a little over two years ago. What Scotland received was somewhat less than that, as thousands of newly unemployed folk can attest to. We were also promised guaranteed membership of the EU, that we’d be living in a near federal state, that our state pension arrangements were safe and that job security was assured only by voting NO.

Safe to say that Mr Corbyn’s idea of ‘unwanted and unnecessary’ may be somewhat different to anyone else’s. Jeremy’s big catchphrase this time round is ‘For the many, not the few’. So far, he’s doing a damn fine job of protecting the entitlement of the few to decide the fate of the many. Also worth noting Mr Corbyn’s well publicised stance on leaving the EU. Regaining full sovereignty is good for only the goose apparently.

Just so he’s aware?

The UK is ‘notionally’ a union of nations. Scotland is a nation, a partner, a signatory to the treaty of union and the people of Scotland have the inalienable human right to self determination. The principle… is that we have the right to choose.

We decide.

The difference a week makes

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Y’know, you’d be forgiven for wondering what you have to do to get a balanced interview on any current issue were you a member of the Scottish government. Yesterday’s Andrew Marr show provided a perfect example as Scotland’s First Minister, ostensibly invited on to presumably answer questions on the upcoming general election,  spent a fair chunk of the interview discussing the devolved issue of education in Scotland. Again, you’d be forgiven for expecting the issues of Brexit, the constitutional question and perhaps the performance of SNP MPs over the past two years may have been on point, but hey ho, different strokes for different folks.

No question, the fall in standards in literacy and numeracy within the P4, P7 and S2 are poor over the period specified. No one should take a drop in educational or child performance standards lightly. Quite rightly, the First Minister held her hands up right away and said exactly the same thing, not once, but a number of times throughout the interview. The buck does indeed stop with those responsible for budget oversight and curriculum. Mr Marr was expecting what precisely after the second and third repetition of the same question? I’m not entirely sure he was used to a politician coming back with an honest answer and accepting responsibilty.

Still, if we’re going to be picking facts out of performances it’s surely also worth taking these on board. Attainment for school leavers over the same period has also markedly risen. It may also be worth noting that there are some things both the Scottish government and even the local authorities, (tasked with maintaining and staffing of the schools within their communities), may find beyond their ability to alter. Poverty for instance, has long been linked closely with educational attainment or lack thereof.

You know it’s true enough that if you throw enough money, manpower and resources at a situation, you can solve almost any problem. What happens though, when you can’t? What happens if you don’t have the money, the manpower, or the resources? What happens when you can’t generate the things you need, make the alterations you want, provide what you desperately want to provide, because you don’t have the latitude you require with your own economy? Because… you don’t run your own economy?

Bit of a rule of thumb, but there’s never an easy single answer to highly complex questions. Just a thought.

Still, not to be deterred from all things devolved, Ruth Davidson stuck her own oar into the paddling pool on this self same issue recently, with the broad claim that “The SNP has been in sole charge of education for a decade, and these failings are inexcusable. One in five children leave school functionally illiterate.” So how did that truly stack up then? Well, according to Ferret Fact Service, not so much as it turns out. This IS an election period. If something has a poor result or record, you better believe that by the time a party politician has finished spinning it, that poor result will be released as a biblical catastrophy beyond endurance.

(Keep an open mind. Do a little digging and decide for yourself whether a headline or a soundbite has gone a bit too far. Don’t let the meeja and the spin doctors lead you by the nose.)

Not content with merely the one tack on devolved issues, Ms Davidson then moves smoothly (cough), on to the subject of ‘free prescriptions’. Forgetting for a moment that this is one of the most colossal U turns by any Scottish Conservative ever, there is the teeny matter of competency involved here. Once more this would fall into an area of devolved government. On a few counts this may be a tad problematic. Firstly, she’d clearly have to go and ask the PM, (very nicely), if this is okay to pledge as a general rule and secondly she is NOT Scotland’s First Minister.  The next Holyrood elections are a wee bit far off at this point and let’s face it, there’s also the small issue of trust involved here. Neither Conservative government as a rule, or Ms Davidon in particular, has proven the most trustworthy of individuals on pretty much anything in terms of policy.

Worth listening to this recent radio interview to get a taste of how Ms Davidson’s views, on any given subject, change according to the weather. (LINK)

Then we get to it. THE question. Why aren’t we talking about general election matters? Why aren’t we discussing the issues generated by Westminster legislation and Conservative government? Could Ruth’s widely publicised support of the Rape Clause have anything to do with it? Or could it be the recently publicised revelations over the  improper and abusive social media behaviour of some of her party support and indeed new local authority councillors?  It must seem to the casual observer, when watching or listening to Ruth these days, if someone so much as mentions the ‘R’ word or Brexit, the subject changes faster than you can say ‘delete history’.

The gaffs on devolved issues are bad and bad enough, but having the media or the public look more closely at the legislation and nature of Conservative government and Conservative support in Scotland? Drawing people’s attention to what lies beneath the spin, the photo op and the soundbite? Don’t look over here, look over there springs to mind. Manipulation by media and soundbite. A time honoured sport in political circles.

Some say a week is a long time in politics. In a little over a week Ms Davidson has come dangerously close to proving that adage accurate beyond all reasonable doubt.

The Tory party aren’t the nasty party. That’s the message Ruth wants to send. That’s the face we are to be presented with. If there isn’t a convenient photo op to hand, then the focus is to be upon devolved issues and a shouty, pointy fingered and pure dead serious Ruth being all concerned about folks welfare.

As far as yer average policy wonk is concerned, people having short memories? They’ll never be any the wiser… etc.

In my opinion ‘nasty’ seems somehow a little weak and inadequate. Conservatism to me, through words and policy, unreservedly stands full square behind societal division along lines of whom they deem worthy. In fact I’m pretty certain that their idea of unity may not exactly conform to the norm (sarky).

What we in Scotland experience today? I reckon this IS their idea of better togetherness. This IS their idea of union and unity. Their UK, their Britain, is a ‘know your place’ Britain. It is a deference Britain, a dog eat dog Britain, an isolationist Britain, but y’know, proud for all that.

Near as I can see, the defining traits appear to be fear, suspicion, envy and intolerance. Intolerance of anything that doesn’t fit, ain’t from around here, doesn’t conform. Under those terms I’m afraid I simply don’t qualify and for that I am profoundly and eternally grateful. I refuse to live constantly with fear and suspicion of our neighbours and friends. It’s not in me to feel envy or intolerance simply because I don’t or won’t understand.

I personally never have and never will vote Tory. They are the party of deference and exclusion, of ignorance and arrogance. They are the party of self. Don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve never been one for conformity or ‘knowing my place’ and today I mainly feel like standing on my feet and holding out my hand to new friends.

What’s it all about then?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

So what is this upcoming general election all about? Why are we having one at all?

Well if you’re a Tory politician, they’ll tell you it’s all about Brexit and a strong mandate to carry it through. Yeah, seeing a bit of a logic gap there myself.

Now to be absolutely clear on the Brexit vote, democracy is democracy and much as I disagree with the result of Brexit UK, it’s what the majority, (however slim), voted for. It’s been debated in both houses within Westminster parliament, (Commons and Lords), voted upon, passed and as we are all aware by this point, Article 50 has been triggered.

In short, IT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW! (Shouting for the folks at the back there)

Near as I can tell, the Conservative explanation for their snap GE simply doesn’t add up on the face of it. This is a done deal and Brexit is on its way. Given the nature of the negotiation stances of both the UK government and the EU even the nature of the Brexit isn’t up for much discussion. Under our current electoral system and Conservative majority in parliament, it’s not as if they need any greater mandate to finalize exit negotiations and carry forward a programme of government either.

Unless…  unless they themselves believe the ramifications of their decades long EU narrative, their massively damaging leadership struggle and their penchant for the politics of blame and scapegoating are going to have catastrophic consequences for the populations of the UK and the UK state far beyond their worst nightmare. Unless the Conservative government have been less than honest with the UK’s electorate?

No. No I don’t think it’s about Brexit. It may, however, be about what lies beyond Brexit.

Now if you were a cynical sod, then you’d perhaps suspect a sitting government, fearing the worst, would need a massively expanded majority and extended tenure in office. They’d absolutely need the ability to enact drastic emergency legislation with a minimum of parliamentary debate or scrutiny. Makes pushing through a Great Repeal Bill, a Bill of British rights and such so much easier, yes? Last but by no means least, they’d need to put these measures in place before the clock ticks down on exit from the EU and Brexit impact becomes both unavoidable and undeniable. If you were a cynical sod.

Just a feelin’ like, but at this point you’re left with the impression that the more extreme Brexiteers in government don’t appear to have any idea of the economic boorach that’s about to break over them or the population. Would they even care if they did? Mind you, whatever happens, there’s always some other demographic to blame and some awfy helpful chums in the media apparently.

For people to try to grasp what the impact may be on a daily and personal level, a couple of things to consider. Take the weekly shop as an example. How much fresh produce and lifestyle goods comes from the continent? The fresh fruit and veg you buy, meat, pastas, sweets and choccies, beauty care products, shaving foams, toothpastes and a whole host of pretty familiar named brands folks pick up on a week in, week out basis. With tariffs, if we still trade at all with the EU, these may rise in cost as much as 10-20% across the board. ALL onto your weekly shopping bill. Just for starters mind.

In my opinion, I don’t think people have been in any way prepared for the impact on continental relations, or what that means for them on an ‘in your living room’ level. The shear breadth of how this is going to affect the lives of every person living in the UK on the economic, societal and political levels is literally beyond calculation at this point.

Import/Export administration costs at every port of exit/entry, the creation of whole new rafts of customs procedures and administrative infrastructure. Who do they think will pay for all this? Who do they think it will affect most? Airports alone may become the stuff of nightmare as both goods and people bottleneck.

Holidays! Back to the good old days of visa applications for every single overseas destination. No more nipping across to France, Holland or… SPAIN for mad weekends on a citybreak whim.

Come to think of it… Spain might be a little problematic this year (cough).

Then we get to it, don’t we? Wider international relations and profile. Just how will UK nationals travelling abroad be viewed and received on the continent? You think Joe Public on the continent doesn’t feel? Doesn’t take it personally? Doesn’t have a hurt national pride of their own? It’s one thing to reject a system of government at odds with your democracy and need to express your body politic, quite another to reject a multi national trade and peace oriented union seemingly on the basis of… FOREIGNERS!

Because whether people like it or not. Whether they rationalized otherwise or not. That is exactly the predominant message sent out by the campaign which resulted in 52% of the UK who voted for a blind, hard Brexit. A UK wide ballot whose leave campaign detail couldn’t fill an A4 sheet of paper… (single sided) and widely recognized as one of the most appalling and negative campaigns in the UK’s post war political history.

Anyone searching for evidence of this need only look at the rise in hate crime over the past year. They need only listen to any statement by Mr Davis on Brexit deals, Ms May on ‘unity’ or Bojo on diplomacy. Voting to leave the EU was one thing. Agree with it or don’t as the reader will. Voting to leave on the back of that particular campaign will leave an image with our near neighbours that every nation of the UK will have to live with for a long time to come. Or maybe, in one particular case, not? That case is yet to be decided and lessons can be learned by the Scottish government, the YES movement and the wider electorate with a little patience and an open mind.

Those very few issues alone merely scrape the surface on the aftermath of Brexit.

Given the political uphevals initiated by Westminster politics over the past couple of years, this most recent twist is shaping up to be an omnishambles of biblical proportions. In my opinion its effects WILL be far reaching and ongoing. I’d also imagine it would leave a nasty mark on UK international relations for many, many years to come.  On the bright side though, at least some folk got EXACTLY what they voted for, right? I mean, they did realise, didn’t they?

Personally (and I am a fairly cynical sod), I’d say this general election is ALL about the Tories consolidating a power base and grip of England’s electorate for the upcoming Brexit aftermath. Basic arithmetic determines they really don’t require the vote, or permissions, of the rest of the UK’s populations (shocking, but true). It’s about removing their nearest opposition in parliament as a viable alternative for the foreseeable future and finally it’s about giving cabinet and PM the powers to enact any emergency legislation they feel necessary without parliamentary oversight.

Mind you, the difference between what a Conservative government feels is a necessary action and what you or I may feel?

Well that could probably fill volumes.