Returning to normal need not mean the Tory normal

The first time I went to the USA I was 18. It was 1981 and I was shocked by the number of homeless people begging in the streets of America’s cities. The sheer numbers seemed overwhelming. Homeless people on the streets of Glasgow were few and far between, and were overwhelmingly older men with alcohol problems. In the USA they came in all shapes, ages, and sizes, and were legion. But most shocking of all was that there were even people in wheelchairs, parked in the street with a crushed coffee cup to solicit a few cents. There were young people, old people, people who clearly had a disability or mental health problems or sometimes both. People who needed help, help that they were not getting. And in my 18 year old naivety I thought that kind of societal cruelty could never happen in Scotland. Scotland was very far from perfect to be sure, but we had the NHS, a social security system, council housing. We had the idea as a society that we all needed to look after one another or all would be lost in a brutal and inhumane struggle.

But it has happened in Scotland, just as it has happened in the rest of the UK. That’s the visible legacy of decades of austerity, of the legitimisation of cruelty as government policy. Before the lockdown the streets of Scotland’s towns and cities were full of people begging on the streets. And bad as that is, there’s an invisible legacy that’s even greater. That’s a legacy of children whose parents work, but who depend on foodbanks to keep food on the table. It’s a legacy of disabled people struggling to make ends meet while faceless box tickers tell them that they’re fit for work. It’s a legacy of mental illness going untreated, of drug and alcohol addictions spiraling out of control as people self-medicate in order to cope with the hopelessness that blackens their horizons. It’s a legacy of a generation burdened by debt, of dreams of a home of your own going unfulfilled, of insecurity of employment and precarious day to day living on zero hours contracts or self-employment that’s not self-employment at all. It’s a legacy of ever widening inequality, of falling life expectancy. It’s a legacy of the death of joy and hope.

All the while a small minority enriches itself, and preens itself as wealth creators while it parasitises all the life and goodness out of society. It demands special treatment. It tosses us a few bones in the form of a charitable initiative and tells us that it’s a force for good even as it seeks yet more innovative and convoluted ways of avoiding paying taxes. The UK has become a democracy in name only as we are governed by a tiny self-selecting elite, the Oxbridge boys and girls who look after their own. We have a government for which accountability is a word in a foreign language, yet it understands blame all too well. Poverty is to be blamed on the poor. Inequality is to be blamed on those without opportunities. Disability is the responsibility of the disabled. Government failures are the fault of the governed.

Poverty kills. It kills social cohesion as well as individuals, forcing the majority to compete for ever scarcer resources and opportunities. It turns society into the Hunger Games writ large. It destroys compassion. When you have to struggle to look after yourself you have precious little energy left over to care about looking after wider society. Poverty destroys social capital. It impoverishes even those who have personally escaped its worst effects. It breeds the contempt of those who display their disdain on social media and in the comments sections of newspapers. It makes a virtue out of cruelty. And all this suits those who control the reins of power just fine. All this creates an environment where the wealthy and powerful can discuss how much collateral damage they can get away with in order that they can get back to the serious business of making yet more money to add to the piles that they’ve got stashed away in tax havens. That collateral damage is your parents, your grandparents, your neighbours, your friends and relatives. It’s you.

This is the society that the Conservatives want us to get back to once the current crisis has passed. Yet none of it is inevitable, it’s a result of deliberate policy decisions. The Conservatives seek a return to the normalisation of cruelty, marginalisation, and inequality all wrapped up in a union flag and paeans to Vera Lynn and Dunkirk spirit. This is their normal that they tell us is our only option. Well it’s not. A better society is possible, a better Scotland is possible. Their normal does not have to be ours. If we’ve learned anything during this crisis, it’s that the British government cannot be trusted. Its repeated failures are not isolated incidents, they’re a part of a pattern of disdain and ignorant arrogance. Their priority is and always will be the wealth and privilege of the rich and powerful.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We can build a Scotland that’s founded on the dignity of ordinary people. We can create a Scotland based in the belief that we all have a collective responsibility for one another’s well being. We can construct a society that is founded in an understanding that the wealthy have an obligation to pay to support the society which creates that wealth for them. Because the real wealth creators are not the Richard Bransons sitting in their private islands in the Caribbean, they’re the factory workers, the supermarket shelf stackers, the bus drivers, the checkout operators, the taxi drivers, the shop workers, the bin collectors.

They tell us that coronavirus teaches that Scotland wouldn’t be able to afford to look after itself, but that’s a lie. As part of the UK Scotland will still have to pay for the borrowing that the UK government is doing.  Those bailouts will be added to the share of the UK debt that Westminster allocates to Scotland and the interest payments added to the share of the UK  deficit that Westminster allocates to Scotland.  They will be used as yet another argument why Scotland is too poor. But one way or another, we’re going to pay.  The real choice is to pay the British way without control over how the money is spent, or to pay in independence with choice and agency.

We should be investing Scotland’s immense natural and human resources into building a better Scotland for all her people. A Scotland that looks towards a post-oil future, a Scotland that’s blessed with enormous resources for clean energy, a Scotland that invests in the education of her young people, that looks after the vulnerable. All this is possible, but only if we live in a Scotland where the government can be held to account by the people. Because as a part of the British state, all that’s going to happen is that Boris Johnson and his pals will return us to the cruelty of inequality once the cruelty of coronavirus has passed.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…

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69 comments on “Returning to normal need not mean the Tory normal

  1. seorsa70 says:

    I for one agree wholeheartedly. I would rather pay my share to an Independent and forthcoming Scotland than to the corrupt wastemonster establishment.

  2. Liz g says:

    Well said Paul…. One of my first thoughts when the lock down was announced was that there was a chance of a new normal at the other side of this thing…
    A reset to ” working to live ” not ” living to work” , to relearn the value of home ,community and society….that thing that Thatcher claimed did not exist would be shown to have been right there all along!
    The Governor of New York said it best….
    “It’s no longer about ME, it’s about WE”…

  3. Macart says:

    Same thoughts have been running through my mind of recent times.

    That was well worth saying.

  4. Dr Jim says:

    When we all bailed out the banks without being asked whether we’d like to or not then never got the money back and suffered years of ideological austerity as an excuse for it maybe the banks should be asked in the same way we were to bail the people out and this time we don’t get to pay them back until after the four nations returns to profit, and then we’ll repay them less than they lent us just the same as they did

    It’s our money, and without us there is no money

    Of course that’s fantasy because we don’t live in our world, we’re only allowed to exist in theirs and they make sure they own the government that keeps us living that way, that’s what normal means in UK world

  5. grizebard says:

    My first experience of America was watching TV in New York on my first evening there back in 1972 as some poor woman was desperately trying to keep her husband in the news so the hospital wouldn’t dare turn off his life support machine, even though the money to pay for his treatment had run out. It’s a vivid memory of an absence of social solidarity that has never left me since.

    And a warning to us all here today, because that is the kind of heartless society we could end up in if we don’t escape this careless and uncaring UKGov as fast as we can manage. (The additional insanity of Brexit hasn’t gone away, BTW, it hasn’t even gone into temporary abeyance.)

  6. Welsh Sion says:

    Hope you don’t mind me carrying forward this from a previous thread, but it’s probably more relevant here. This is one of the things we are up against – it’s not even the status quo ante. It’s the latest manifestation of a Westminster power grab.

    Be warned, Scotland!

  7. Robert Harrison says:

    All these England rule types go on about is what currency we will use because ask about what England has to trade on its own and they go silent ask about England rescoures youll get no answer the englanders and there bootlickers up here can call us a drain all they want just hit them with what does England have in rescoures to trade with the rest of the world and they instantly back off.

  8. […] Wee Ginger Dug Returning to normal need not mean the Tory normal The first time I went to the USA I was 18. It was 1981 and I was shocked by the number […]

  9. Another great piece Paul.
    I too have been around long enough to remember the only street people being what we wrote off at the time as “auld Jaikies” round the railway stations and the like.
    I remember one really auld lad when I was about 5 lying on a bench outside St Enoch’s subway station with one leg.
    Poor bugger probably lost it in WW1 and a helluva lot of the other auld guys were probably veterans of Britain’s imperial wars too.
    20 years later at the end of the 1980s I started noticing youngsters dossing in shop doors and the bus station in the “affluent new town of East Kilbride”, FFS.

    Now they are everywhere, a statin on the soul of this brutal, capitalist society we have allowed to be created because far too many of us allowed ourselves to be distracted by vacuous materialistic BS for too long.

    We simply cannot allow this to continue.
    Lockdown is allowing those of us who are lucky enough not to be struggling to survive to ponder what has currently gone from our lives and weigh the importance of those things and those that remain.

    Just like de-cluttering a house it is a time for systematic re-valuation of ALL our priorities, as individuals, societies, nations and as a world.
    There is an opportunity for reset here and an initiative which must be securely grasped and held firm before the Criminal Overclass try to return us to the Road to Hell.

    Let’s not waste this opportunity people; as FDR said; “do what you can, where you are, with what you have”.

  10. Andy MacNicol says:

    We hear much about life returning to normal. “Normal” is the last thing I want to see in this country. “Normal” is all you have described here, and worse if the so-called elite have their way. During Indyref1, I heard many unionists talking about the UK “punching above its weight”. I said then many times that we should be looking to create a country which cared above its weight. That is still the country I want to see and as long as we are shackled to Westminster there is no chance of that happening. The Tories will see to that and the Labour party will enable them whether in or out of power.
    We can look to many countries in Europe where caring societies seek to level the social scales with policies which treat all as equal and do not pander to the rich who seek only to bolster their bank accounts. I would go further than many and kick out the Bransons of this country if they are unwilling to contribute their fair share of taxes for the betterment of their fellows, instead of sifting it abroad into hidden bank accounts.
    Only independence can give us the tools to start building a better society, one we can be proud of not embarrassed by.

  11. Bob Lamont says:

    Agree with every word….

  12. Margaret McAuslan says:

    With a lot of family in New York, my first trip was 1964, I’m 11 years old. I was shocked to see a legless man pushing himself along on a wee wooden trolley, using hands wrapped in cloth. I asked my uncle why the man didn’t have a wheelchair and my uncle said, ‘because he has no money’. I was confused, even poor people in Scotland had wheelchairs if they couldn’t walk. They got them free from the NHS. 1970 and I was back there, 17 years old and now politically aware. I was appalled by the amount of ‘bag people’ on the streets and the large working class families, including my uncle’s family, crammed into tiny, slum apartments that belonged to private landlords, and loads of teenagers taking pills and heroin as they hung out on the streets, even in winter, because life, and the fear for boys of being sent to Vietnam, was unbearable. After 6 months I was desperate to get back to some sanity in Scotland.

    But from the moment the Thatcher govt. came to power, I saw my own community in Glasgow (Castlemilk) suffer the same deprivation. Housing stock sold off, mass unemployment, young people refused benefits, the attempt to introduce the Poll Tax, an explosion in alcohol and heroin addiction, etc.

    I’m not in Scotland now but both my friends and my son tell me how bad it is. My adult son said he wants to weep every time he goes into the city centre, there are so many homeless and destitute people. And when did food banks become normal, FFS?

    I’ve recounted such anecdotes to lots of younger friends and family over the years as I’ve tried to encourage people to be more politically aware and active in the push for change. The drive towards independence gives me hope, the pandemic and the huge change in our way of life provides an opportunity. But we must be on our guard.! There are plenty who will attempt to use that opportunity to turn the UK into an even more brutal and authoritarian society.

    Great post Paul, as always.

  13. I read today’s Scot Gov papers as the usual suspects were going through their usual rigmarole, and as the FM calmly answered. It looks as though the weans will be off school for a while yet; the missus may have to borrow one of my bandana’s and scarf up when she gets the messages, a chore I can’t do being shielding for a while. And I’ll be shielding for a while beyond the end of June by the look of it, unable to enjoy a pie & bovril on the terraces for some time yet.

    And yet. That plan is all over the BBC, the UK pages, even as I glance at the screen and see Hancock delivering his daily dribble, waiting on his ‘grilling’. And those fine folk at the state broadcaster have opened up their article on Scottish politics, yes they have, comments allowed on a Jock piece, examining the FM’s announcements and the possibility of a vision emerging as the situation evolves in the days, weeks and months ahead.

    And the comments below that article. Surprise, surprise. Nothing changes. The bile remains. And if a better Scotland does not come out of this; if we cannot have the vision of a future that does not match this Westminster cabale. Then we will get what we deserve. We need to wake the rest up as we emerge from this shambles. I will not read another single comment from the drooling hordes that gave us this mob.

  14. Every country in the world prints its own money, the gold standard was done away with years ago. the value of a countries money depends on their natural resources and industry, not their gambling bankers, insurance companies, and stockbrokers.

  15. Arthur Thomson says:

    Don’t you know that Nicola Sturgeon has been undermining the Brits “government” since day one of this pandemic? Nigel Garage just explained that to me on the radio.

    I do not imagine for one moment that the Brits will allow positive change when the pandemic ends. They have the scent of blood and now know that there is absolutely nothing they can’t get away with in Britland. They will use the outcome of the disaster to suck the lifeblood out of any person who is weak and set one person against another, one generation against another and the strong against the vulnerable, in the cause of making Britland great again.

    Scotland will be their only challenge and that will depend on how many Scots are now up for it. The various shades of Brit Tory will be fighting alongside them. It was always so and it will be again.

    We can win this but we will have to win it. It will never be given willingly by people who are by their very nature PREDATORY.

  16. uno mas says:

    I saved myself the air fair to the U.S. of A. after being taken to see the film Midnight Cowboy in 1969 when I was eighteen by my mum and my step dad.

    A strange choice of movie for a family outing I thought at the time but that was my mum, she had her moments.

    I remember being apalled that the Dustin Hoffman character (Ratso Rizzo) who was ill and eventually died with what appeared to be TB which of course is a very treatable (thanks to Alexander Fleming) illness.

    I couldn´t understand why he didn´t just go to the hospital and get cured.

    Later on being informed that it was because there was no inclusive health care system in the richest country in the world I vowed to never set foot.

    I also had issues with having to declare if I was or had ever been a member of the communist party which although I never had I didn´t think it was their right to ask me.

    Years later I did relent and went on a holiday there (a woman was involved!) fecking hated the place!!

    • I’d never been to the USA either until ten years ago when I spent a week in Florida with my bro and his family who were there for three.
      My abiding memory of waiting in arrivals at Orlando was of an airport cop in full bully mode yelling full metal jacket style at some guy in a queue from another flight who had switched on his phone and was calling somebody outside.
      Nothing I really saw in Florida impressed me; it all looked a bit seedy and careworn.

    • Shagpile says:

      I really don’t get why I should be feart of God. That sort of relationship smacks like an abusive one. I wonder if you understand the concept of socialism? Are not roads, the police, armed forces and schools not social? I’m a capitalist with a strong social conscience and am comfortable with that. Socialism in a fair society ought to be balanced and not a one way street, not reserved solely for the likes of bailing out the banks for example. It never ceases to amaze that self righteousness is invariably based on an accident of birth.

  17. Hoofhearted says:

    In researching Family roots from the Isle of Lewis, I came upon Gaelic maps and this blog. Thank you for recording your thoughts in an articulate and logical way…..easy to follow. I disagree with certain of your comments but appreciate and respect your perspective.

    I have known the Scots as a God fearing hearty race who have paid a significant price by willingly abdicating their governance and looking to others to provide for them. It is my prayer that without being burdening by the dictates of the EU, the UK as a whole, but especially Scotland, would regain it’s confidence sufficiently to become an example of self support.

    As with the recorded revival of the Hebrides, the key begins by humbling ourselves before our Creator. Getting my own life sorted out and depending upon Him as the source of my provision changes my perspective. I suspect that the Scots, once known for their creativity, pride, honesty, diligence and faith in God would be rekindled in a way that would give an example to the rest of the world to follow.

    Then, we, I’m a Canadian, would not drink the Kool Aid being offered by misguided politicians and corrupted gov’t officials. We lose more freedoms every time we accept their promises and depend on them. We, here in Canada, are so far down the path of socialism that without divine intervention, there is little hope for generations if/when they might follow. We are all in perilous times and need to grow a backbone so that we may look up.

    • weegingerdug says:

      Yeah – you’re clearly not Scottish or you’d realise that the god stuff really doesn’t play well here.

      Most of us quite like the idea of the EU. Most of us don’t have your aversion to socialism. And most of us don’t want religion anywhere near politics.

      • Hoofhearted says:

        I know…. but there was a time in history when Scotland was blessed. God hasn’t changed. Thanks for reply.

        • millssandra says:

          Hoofhearted ? Sorry , more cold hearted – certainly shows little ‘Christianity ‘ in his comments !

          • Hoofhearted says:

            I don’t wish to come across as being cold hearted but rather just realistic. My point was that Scotland has had a unique history of being blessed for hard working industrious people. And if God hasn’t changed that only means one thing ……..

      • David Agnew says:

        Even the most superficial reading of religion in Scotland would highlight what a load of old cobblers that notion is. This is a whole new class of union cringe. You may not drink Kool Aid. But you sure as hell have been at the pish.

  18. velofello says:

    I would term the factory workers, bus and rail workers, NHS staff, refuse collectors etc., not as the wealth creators, but as the wealth facilitators. They fuel the engine of the economy, enabling the entrepreneurs ( wealth accumulators?) to operate, to seek wealth.

    And which category of workers is proving stouter in adversity? Branson and Trump, the ‘risk takers”, the entrepreneurs, now seeking financial bale out from the facilitators? Nope it is facilitator population who are unselfishly responding to this virus problem.

    I truly hope we do not just return to the pre-virus way of life once this virus is controlled.Let’s not be bought off by X% pay rise for them, and Y% pay rise those, facilitators. We need to address social change in Scotland, housing, terms of employment, and much more. Develop a fair deal for the facilitator population. And this will not happen whilst we are in the UK.

    Scottish Tories yesterday and today are gloating over the drop in the oil and gas selling price, and the drop in the tourist trade. Sick in the head.

    Just pause and assess the persons in Government over us, and their shambolic lying attempts at management. And Johnson, “recuperating” at the Uk’s country retreat. The House of Lords dossers want their £300+ a day for staying at home.

    Time for change.

    • It seems to me that those people of Conservative/Unionist mindset seem invariably to embody all that is bad about human nature.

    • romiveda says:

      You should have mentioned also the men and women on offshore rigs amongst Scotland’s ‘wealth creators’ or ‘facilitators’. They spend half the year away from loved ones and often in comparatively quite lowly paid jobs.

  19. Dave tewart says:

    Heard LBC radio letting an ex minister in a tory government a free rant,Mellor his name.
    The discussion was the release of the way forward,quote from mellor,’I’m not a fan of Sturgeon’.
    What is wrong is that the government ministers are leaderless and don’t have any talent to run a country,cure is to bring back doris.
    As tony benn said a long time ago,’ If you can have full employment to KILL Germans you can have full employment to look after the whole population,give them health care,shelter and freedom from poverty’.
    On the oil,it is still in the reservoir,you don’tneed to sell it at a loss.
    I’ve worked in the oil industry,Saudi Arabia puts a barrel of oil onto a crude carrier at $1 a barrel,that’s 36 us gallons of light crude.
    Remember they told us it would run out before 2030.
    Treat of an article ,Paul, we need to move towards a better lifestyle.

  20. Dr Jim says:

    Yep, it’s pretty much all getting started now with the invented criticism of Nicola Sturgeon ramping up, she’s too slow, she’s doing what Westmister does, she didn’t do this or that and shoulda woulda coulda, wait for it folks because the next criticism coming along is Sturgeon sacrifices the freedom of the young for the elderly and doesn’t care about the economy enough blah blah blah

    What it all means is Scotlands First Minister is doing too well and being too popular and too trusted by the people so get the pitchforks and torches out and kill this Scottish monster womans name before Scotland starts wanting Independence again

    Clue, we never stopped!

  21. bringiton says:

    Excellent ideas Paul.
    However,the problem is that they don’t teach socialism in England’s public schools.
    We are well down the road to bringing back Victorian values where the elite exploit everyone else under the guise of competitiveness and Darwinian survival of the “fittest”.
    I hope that this crisis will let people reflect on this and decide whether they want this existence or a decent way of living.
    One thing is for sure.
    England’s elite will not be reflecting.

  22. Ken2 says:

    Poverty (different degrees). Absolute or relevant ie Absolute – people totally without. Relevant – people with less by comparison. Different calculations of comparison.

    Poverty in UK/US/Russia all 15%. It rises and falls, along with outside influences. Economic. Recession or depression. Banking crash. Illegal wars. Brexit.

    Poverty has decrease in Russia under Putin. People have become more prosperous. That is why he has lasted so long, The Chinese administration continues (no universal suffrage) because people have been taken out of poverty, by comparison to previous economic conditions.

    The Russian Revolution 1917. The people were starving. Serfs. Tsar, Emperor. Absolute monarchs. Despots. ‘Divine right from heaven. God.,The Chinese Revolution. Mao etc.

    They started from a background of absolute poverty. People were starving
    Famines. An explosion of population. Less substance.

    Russia controlled population. Nurseries. contraception. Women in the workplace. Break up of the USSR. Soviet bloc countries obtained self governance and self determination. Often helped by the EU. One reason or argument given for Devolution in Scotland. Scotland had less democracy than the new emerging countries. Recognised by the EU. ECHR.The right to freedom of expression, self determination and self governance.

    Chinese ‘one child’ policy. Not absolute success but reduced the pop. making people better off. Only one child to keep. Lead to pop. unbalance. More males than females. Now being changed to two children for more balance,

    US State Law. Some States are more prosperous than others. There is some form of redistribution. Fed tax is 10% of income. Other State taxes.

    US/UK the most unequal places in the world. Vast difference of in wealth. Tax evasion. Non cohesive. More equal countries are more prosperous and happy.

    Tax evasion by multi nationals. The US puts monies into research and development.The US companies create a monopoly through copy right Laws, Then charge more. Making vast profits but paying no taxes. Breaking International business Laws of fairness and competition.

    The UK supports the world tax havens.Thatcher introduced them. Created them causing inequality of wealth. The Royals benefit from tax evasion for years. Charles (111) Stuarts. Right wing Charles pays 10% tax. An income of £20Million. Pays no corporation tax or capital gains.

    It is sickening the tax evaders giving money to charity. If the taxes were paid, there would be less need for charity and Food banks etc. More funds for essential services. The increased demands in times of stress, anxiety and confusion. Or in times of extremely poor Westminster administration mismanagement.

    Women and children have suffered under austerity. The elderly dying before expected. The ill fated cuts to NHS, Education and Welfare. All essential services.

    Scottish revenues and resources are being mismanaged by Westminster Gov. Funds which could have helped the economy and alleviated poverty. Child poverty in Scotland is being alleviated by the introduction of child payments, and mitigating cuts to essential services from Westminster unionists.

  23. Ken2 says:

    Scots founded the US. Influenced by the Declaration of Arbroath. On rights and freedom. Migrants of Scottish descent. 10%? of US population. 260Million pop. 26Million?

  24. Arthur Thomson says:

    Every day Nicola is projecting the very values that most of us want pursued. She is undertaking the duties of Scotland’s first minister brilliantly.

    Of course, those who have never fought and never been defeated know better. They fight their imaginary fight with windmills while she lays her soul on the line every day. But I don’t give a two penny f..k what they think and neither does any other normal person.

    I want a civilised Scotland that encompasses all that the Dug has described. I have wanted it all my life and with her every action our FM is bringing it closer. Best of all there is a list of other brilliant women in the SNP who are in the wings should she ever falter.

    No wonder the Brit no-marks and the pretendy independence supporters are miffed.

  25. Petra says:

    I’ve been to the US on a number of occasions and stayed there for a while. My abiding memory however was when my husband, his brother and I decided to go from New Jersey to Washington on a Greyhound bus. You know sit back, take in the views and relax. Great no driving. Everyone was horrified when they heard that we planned to do this. You Scots are crazy, they said. At a party we were told that these buses are full of blacks that’ll cut your throats. Anyway we went ahead, boarded the bus and sat at the back to keep an eye on what was going on. Sure enough we were the only white people on the bus. The black people who boarded the bus seemed to be gobsmacked when they saw us. Anyway, long story cut short, I got talking to a young woman in front of me who had a young baby. Ended up with it on my knee joogling it about. It went from there to the whole bus load of people moving around talking, laughing and joking with us. We ended up having a ball but more than anything heard the stories, many, about how hard life was for them. At one point we reached Newark and were going to get off to buy some takeaway food. The whole bus load of folks said no don’t get off (you may be attacked) we’ll get your food for you which they did … and wouldn’t take a penny from us. When we reached Washington we said our goodbye’s to folks with loads of hugs and kisses. Our fairly well to do relatives (well two as the others were too feart to come along) were nervously waiting for us and mesmerised with the hugs and kisses. At one point I wandered out of the bus station and was horrified with what I saw. Poverty personified. And yet the city which I later toured, White House, etc, was amazing. Very much a country of the great divide which has worsened dramatically since then. Not exactly what I envisage for an independent Scotland. Far from it. Let’s make sure that it doesn’t happen folks.

    • deelsdugs says:

      Great story that warms the heart Petra. And I’ll bet the bus people had tales to tell for some time thereafter…

      • Petra says:

        I’ll bet they did, deelsdugs, as we had too. Forgot to mention that my husband and his brother are great singers and we ended up having a fantastic singsong on the bus with some amazing singers including the driver. More than anything the kids on the bus just loved it. Happy memories.

    • Margaret McAuslan says:

      My mother took a Greyhound bus from New York to North Carolina in the early 90’s. All of our American relatives were horrified and tried to talk her out of it. She had a similar experience to yours, and loved every minute of it. She returned to Scotland after living there for four years, couldn’t handle the racism and poverty.

  26. Petra says:

    Jackieg posted an interesting and relevant article yesterday. I hope he / she doesn’t mind me reposting it here.

    ‘This is How a Society Dies::- America and Britain are Textbook Examples of a New, Gruesome Phenomeon: Rich Nations Self-Destructing Into Poor Failed States.’

    ..”You can see how a society dies — with horrific, brutal clarity — in the self-destruction of America and Britain. The hate-filled vitriol of Trumpism, the barely-hidden hate of Brexit. Why wouldn’t people who have grown suddenly poor hate everyone else? Why wouldn’t they blame anyone and everyone they can — from Mexicans to Muslims to Europeans — for their own decline? The truth, as always, is harder. America and Britain’s collapse is nobody’s fault — nobody’s — but their own.
    They are in a death spiral now, but no opponent or adversary brought them there. It was their own fault, and yet they still go on choosing it. They don’t know any other way now. Their elites succeeded at making the average person truly, fervently believe that battling perpetually for self-preservation was the only way a society could exist.”..


    ‘Johnson to ‘seize NHS’ in bid to further privatisation ready for Brexit.’

    ”There is a point when you read something and realise that all is lost. One Nation Conservatism is dead – they are no longer a centre-right political party but little more than a death cult. Their policies since arriving back into power after the Blair years has taken them back to a time which no longer has a place in any modern society – but here they are.”..

    …”Somehow, this revelation is not on every front page of every newspaper in the land. It is more proof that the lives of people mean nothing, the NHS means nothing and they are all expendable and have a financial value. The NHS is threatened again, whilst it throws its people and resources at a crisis killing thousands and all this death cult can think of is how to profit from it, in an ideology so dangerous we should all stop to think – who in hell put these fanatics there?”

  27. Petra says:

    Any truth to the story that Craig Murray has been charged with contempt of court in relation to writing blogs about the Alex Salmond trial?


    ‘Glasgow Lighthouse Lab facility begins processing samples for COVID-19.’

    ”The newly operational lab will will test samples from the regional test centres where NHS staff and frontline workers with suspected COVID-19 infections are tested. It is hoped the lab will quickly move towards processing several thousand tests per day, before scaling up further to tens of thousands of tests per day.

    The Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow is hosted by the University of Glasgow at their Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus, and opened in collaboration with the Scottish Government, industry experts from BioAscent and the University of Dundee, and the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute.”..

  28. Ken2 says:

    There is no doubt that America is a great country of diversity. A country of great world importance. Disproportionate to it’s size or proportion in the world. No least because of it’s historical military clout.

    Often not put to any positive worth. Bombing the world to bits. In pursue of a misplaced ideology or ignorance. Many Americans do not travel or leave the country. They do not have a passport. Finding their needs met in their own environment. A vast continent.

    People in the US are quite laid back, because of the climate or the temperament? American hospitality. They are a class of their own. Sometime over the top display of emotions. The society or the culture. A country of migrants descent from all over. Especially Europe and Latin America. Mexico.

    Scotland has close ties with the US. There is hardly a family in Scotland that do not have American relatives of Scottish descent. A high proportion of visitors back and forwards and trade links. The situation exacerbated because of Westminster failed, mismanaged policies in Scotland since the betrayal of the Treaty of Union.

    Migrants from Scotland had to flee to America and elsewhere to try and find prosperity and a better life. Elsewhere including Australia, NZ, Canada. A high Scottish contingent of influence. People from Scotland live and work all over the world. Especially because of the Oil industry. A 40million diaspora.

    Scottish invention and influence shaped the modern world. An amazing achievement for such a relative small country of 5Million people. Education and Medicine/science pursuits. One of the first countries to have universal tertiary education.

    Still strong support for Education and Heathcare/Medicine. Scientific development worldwide. The pursuit of virus vaccine. Worldwide involving scientists from Scotland. Medical advancement.

    Trump is of Scottish descent. Mother from Lewis. President of the US. Father of German descent. Grandfather refused re admission to Germany. Criminal conviction? or some trouble with a visa. Otherwise history would have been rewritten.

    Trump was elected to stop the illegal wars. The Americans were sick of it. He has complied. He has not engaged in pursue of military dominance so far. Yet. By trying to engage in dialogue. With Russia, North Korea even reports of the Taliban. Challenging the CIA and the MSM. Involvement ruining the economy. The Press barons. Fake News.

    The NY Times, of get influence worldwide, is now owned by the biggest tax evader in the world. One of the richest man on earth. A totally unsuitable person to own any news outlet of influence. A total hypocrite contributing to the world’s problems. The persona of a caring, liberal trying to put the world to rights but really the cause of multiple problems.

    It takes a bigoted, misogynist ignorant racist, to engage in peace and prosperity. Aiding the American and world economy. War is totally destructive. The vast expense of the military could be better spent. On healthcare and relieving poverty. Worldwide. Cost $1.8Trillion a year. The US a third of the spend , $647Billion. Population 260Million.

    World population 7Billion. It will peak and fall by all accounts. The European population underlining fall, without migration. A more elderly population.

    Swings and roundabouts. Causes and affects. Checks and balances. The US constitution established by the (Scottish) Founding fathers. Influenced by the Declaration of Arbroath. Did they fail? Or add to the success of a vast territory of vast resources and revenues. A major influence in the world of great importance. A relative high standard of living. With a vast difference of unequal wealth.

    The similar wealth gap in Britain. The Barnett Formula taking revenues and resources from Scotland to fund London S/E. Unfair and discriminately. Wasted. It must be addressed. If Scotland was Independent it would be better off. So would the rest of the UK. Elderly people should vote for SNP/Independence to live longer. The tide turning, Demographics. A UK Treasury and Chancellor. Chancer. A failed fund manager who does not understand economics.

    The Westminster Tories cannot count or read a balance sheet but want to line their own pockets with public money. Never have so many been promoted beyond their capabilities. A lying wide boy PM. Could not be further than the mark. A dope on a rope, mess of inaccuracy. A total shambles. The Brexit catastrophe yet to come. Before the Tories get vote out.

  29. David Agnew says:

    The one thing that will not change – Scorn and defiance; slight regard, contempt for everything the tories stand for. Theirs is an alien politics to Scotland. It revels in the misery it causes will counting the pennies it has saved for itself.

    If to be Scottish & British is to be the butt of the oldest joke in history. Scottish conservatism is its punchline.

    The only thing this party should be allowed to do in Scotland is pass wind, not policy. Their fate? to be reminded what an unpleasant smell they are.

  30. Petra says:

    ‘Scottish Government document (embedded) decisively repudiates the catastrophic ‘herd immunity’ approach that the whole UK was following only six weeks ago.’



    ‘New YouGov poll finds strains among nations of the Union.’

    ”The survey carried out by YouGov asked 1743 adults for their views on attitudes to Scots, the Welsh, as well as residents of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

    It found that only 13% people in the UK felt they had “a lot in common” with people in Scotland.

    The survey also found that UK voters had least in common with their counterparts in Northern Ireland – with only 6% feeling they had “a lot in common” and 49% saying they had “nothing in common” with them.”..

  31. Ken2 says:

    Someone complained to the Police. Who? Complained to the Police re Craig Murray. The Police have to ‘investigate’ malicious complaint. The malicious ‘complainants’. Another vast waste of public money which could be better spent.

    Mr Murray can assume the role of martyr and get some free publicity. Emerged unscathed with some donations of monies. To fight against the SNP policies and the wider support unit for Scottish Independence.

    Irrational? Without reason. As bad as each other. Pot kettle black. Unhelpful. Give it a rest. The self isolation affecting more people. Nothing better to do.

    The names will come out in the Law of averages. Despite protests. Retribution and rebuttals. Already known in some quarters. Just a matter of time.

    People have to be responsible for their actions and the harm it can do, especially unfairly to other people. To the movement. Spite and false report does not help the movement. Let it go. It will resolve over time. The verdict has been given, in a Court of Law. Accept it. Not always so successful.

  32. Petra says:

    UK democracy and all of that!

    ‘Tories ‘block’ key groups of Scottish MPs holding scrutiny role.’

    ”The UK Government has been accused of “dodging scrutiny” by failing to allow the Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee to reconvene. It is to date the only departmental select committee which has been not been reassembled in the four months since the General Election in December. The role of the cross-party committee is to examine and interrogate how UK policies affect Scotland.”..


    Do you see any other newspaper reporting on this or any other story relevant to Scotland? We need this newspaper folks. Please support it.

    ”A message from the editor … ”Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: Thanks – and stay safe.”

  33. romiveda says:

    You should have mentioned also the men and women on offshore rigs amongst Scotland’s ‘wealth creators’. They spend half the year away from loved ones and often in comparatively quite lowly paid jobs.

  34. Ken2 says:

    Scotland is secular. Over 50%+ of the population not religious or of organised faith. The Churches are losing members faster than a sieve loses water. An elderly, female community club members of support network. Some indoctrination and discrimination.

    32% Protestant (declared not Church goers)

    13% Catholic (declared not Church goers)

    1.5% Muslim (declared not Church goers)

    1%? of other religions. Brethren or Jehovah. Jedi. (declared not Church goers).

    Churches has privileged above the Law. Equal opportunity Laws. Employment Law, The Churches receive public funding. Grants, aid, tax, recompense and compensation.

    Bigots, racists and misogynistic act in secret. Discriminatory. Taking over the streets. Illegally. Blackballing people. Action should be taken against them. For peace. quiet, other people’s well being and aiding the economy. Not putting off people.

    Christians support the SNP and Independence, including Royalists. A delicate balance. Treading the tight rope. To convince people of the merits. Even education.

  35. Welsh Sion says:

    Welsh Government to bring in tighter lockdown rules from Saturday

    ‘Even’ Wales’s Mark Drakeford has a say 😉

    • Bob Lamont says:

      Encouraged to see them take a firmer stance on second-home distortions with respect to financial support and access…

    • Petra says:

      ”It will mean that people who travel from home to stay at second homes or who travel elsewhere for exercise cannot do so.The Welsh Government has also asked the four police forces in Wales to provide further advice about whether existing provisions intended to prevent people from travelling to second homes in Wales need to be further strengthened.”

      It looks as though Mark Drakeford is preparing for the lockdown to be removed earlier in England than Wales, WS, and having greater control over the situation as this virus ebbs and flows over the months ahead. Great news about the restrictions on grants and self-catering accommodation too.

      I’m really concerned about what’s going to happen to Scotland when England lifts the lockdown. Surely Nicola Sturgeon can do something about our border, holiday homes, self-catering accommodation, and so on, too? The vast majority of Scots are staying at home and abiding by the rules. We’re keeping our end of the bargain and it’s pretty galling to think that as we’re doing so people can flood over the border and in fact fly in here or more so into London and head north.

  36. andyfromdunning says:

    Petra’s story earlier about a Greyhound bus journey in the States backs up my experience that the majority of people are descent if you treat them fairly and with respect. There are nutters everywhere but they are the minority.

    I note that even when you talk to die hard Unionist supporters that if you acknowledge there views and discuss issues of disagreement honestly you get on fine. Exceptions exist as some are headers.

    Then you come to that group that Paul calls the Establishment and our WM Government. No hope here all head bangers who’ mantra is ME or I or US. I hope our independent state, Scotland curtails some of these people’s excesses by a written constitution, a tax system based on land ownership ( you cannot take that to a tax haven) and a form of citizens basic income. Our tax system if more than 30 pages would be complex making fraud easier.

    You cannot stop the behaviour Paul refers to but it could be limited.

    Freedom, what a lovely thought. Hello

  37. Ken2 says:

    @ Washington Post. Undue influence. Amazon.

    In competition with the Saudi Prince. Undercutting one another. On an alternative universe/planet. Orbiting earth. Trying for dominance. Competition. Now even about space resources. Assets and minerals reserves. Amazon rainforests.

  38. grafter says:

    “I don’t understand why you are bothering to even acknowledge any debate on the statistics! Its as irrelevant as the misdirection on PPE for health workers.
    We all know politicians are liars. We all know this is a propaganda campaign! Which evidently was compiled with great care & attention long ago, to destroy our culture (as if we had one worth saving) lives, economy & country.
    The simple fact is no amount of deaths are worth more one enslaved life, our grand parents, great grandparents & their parents before them died in their millions to fight for our freedoms! Politicians don’t have the right to take a single persons freedom! No arbitrary mass house arrest can be justified under any circumstance. So stop trying to legitimize their terrorism.
    The real tragedy here is how easily the masses who can barely lift their heads from their smart phones have swallowed this BS & been so complicit & compliant in their own imprisonment. No amount of facts or articles is going to change that egregious reality.”

    • J Galt says:

      They might not be as compliant and complicit as you think, in the queue outside my local shop this morning the general attitude was one of derision and scepticism, whilst we took part in the compulsory pantomime.

      For the first time in a while I was actually quite proud of my fellow Scots!

  39. Petra says:

    Worth a read.

    ‘Coronavirus: Hospital cuts COVID-19 death rates with ‘black boxes’ for sleep disorder.’

    ..”At the same time, they realised using ventilators – which require a breathing pipe to be inserted down the throat and the patient to be put under anaesthetic – had a relatively poor recovery rate. In some cases it was only 50-50. This realisation was in line with medics across the world who were also finding it was a long and difficult journey to bring COVID-19 patients back to recovery from ventilation – and a journey which often didn’t result in survival.”..

    ..”But the medics in the (Warrington) hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) found by putting patients on the black boxes as soon as they arrived in the department, they stabilised quickly, avoiding ventilation. “Often we were seeing positive reaction within 15 minutes,” said Dr Forrest.”..

    • Welsh Sion says:

      Better idea than injecting/drinking disinfectant, eh, Petra? 😉

    • Arthur Thomson says:

      Well done them.

    • Bob Lamont says:

      Interesting result, wonder how much of the success came down to speed of putting patients on oxy, the rapid decline in health can be colossal for some patients…
      Because of their intended application, presumably these modified apnoea machines would still require minimal to no supervision, hopefully somebody is following this up…

  40. Ken2 says:

    People, especially, those in the most at risk do not want to get the disease and end up in hospital. Gasping for breath. Drowning in their own fluid. A complicated death. A most unlikely occurrence but still a realistic threat.

    Especially those at risk and their families and friends. The threat for them is real. The alternative to stay indoors for a few weeks. Keeping in touch.

    Some people are enjoying it. A few weeks off work. Spending time with their families. Others getting help. The elderly and care workers getting some much needed love and appreciation. For a change. Spending a few weeks in doors to stay alive. A considerable fair exchange,

    Becoming a bit boring with still massive problems to overcome. This could finish off the Tory Gov, The incompetence and complacency with more to come. Deja Vu. They will get voted out. No wonder. It will all end in tears again.

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