Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Hing on a minute...

I wasn't gonna blog again till we had another referendum but I'm so fed up I need to have a rant.

Last night the UK government rejected amendments to the Scotland Bill. One aspect was to enshrine the Scottish Parliament as a permanent institution and protect it in law. Guess what happened? It was rejected. 302 against, 271 for. Full Fiscal Autonomy was also declined. As my friend @MisssyM tweeted;

"It's hard to stay positive today. Like being told to go to your room whilst the grown ups have a party. #ScotlandBill"

It kinda is. It's like we are being told, "right you've had yer fun, pack it in." How dare we become politically enlightened!? How dare we question those who rule over us!? How dare we challenge this archaic system!?

I swear I'm starting to feel tired with politics. But we can't escape it, it surrounds us. In every facet of our lives. We live it. We either embrace it and try to make a change somehow, or we can sit mute and just hope for the best?

I see loadsa folk calling for a Unilateral Declaration of Independence or something similar. I don't know if that would help things, without a doubt I'd love us just to say 'away wi' yersels' but what would be the repercussions?

We have just sent 56 SNP MPs down to Westminster. These guys aren't superhuman, let's give them a chance. See what they can achieve. Remember they are facing the psychological minefield of 'not belonging' and have the uneasiness of being confronted daily by the pomposity, the tradition and etiquette, and the leather and wood of the chamber. Like Frankie Boyle says, the only time we usually see that environment is when we are taken to court for something. These MP types are usually surrounded by leather and wood in their public schools and yachting clubs, we've sent some real folk for a change.  

Let's hing aff a wee while from making demands, see how it all works out? After all we've gone 300 years so far...

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Independence Blethers and female inspiration

I have wonderful friends. Some are interested in politics. Others aren't, so whenever the independence referendum comes up in convo over dinner or a glass of wine there are several responses; from sighs of objection to enthusiastic agreement.

However I have one dear friend, who is as passionate about an independent Scotland as I am. She also happens to be a wonderful artist who selflessly mentors me, not only in how to be an *proper* artist but just in life in general.

Her name is Debs Sanderson. She lives in Milngavie with her lovely family. She is involved in the community in many ways but most noticeably for campaigning for a Yes vote in September.

She has initiated a movement, shall we call it, that is slowly taking off. A while ago we embarked on a community arts project with the non-partisan Aye-Aye lemur club. We tried out the concept and it was a success but we didn't really follow anything up with it. Then an opportunity arose for Debs to use that experience to start a women's evening of events. We gabbed about it and Debs done all the legwork, lots of other fabulous women also started to get involved and Independence Blethers was born.

We had our first event last month and had Natalie McGarry from Women for Independence, Michelle Thomson from Business for Scotland, Maggie Chapman from the Scottish Green Party and other experts to speak.

However this wasn't like anything I had ever attended before. There was no "top table". There was no formality. There was a buffet and a bar, I only had orange juice since I was designated driver. My 74 year old mother was there, there were teenagers and young mums, well to do businesswomen. We were all gabbing, chatting asking questions, writing ideas on lollipop sticks, then the music began. 4 Gals and a Piano started singing Mama Scotia in a wonderful homage to Abba.

This wasn't a political meeting was it? It felt like a family event, a wedding or christening vibe. Cyan is a brilliant venue and staff so helpful. Then I realised I was at a table with Maggie Chapman, questions were flying, answered every time, not only by the experts doing the rounds but by all of us women ourselves.

There are a few questions I still have. Mainly about fracking in an independent Scotland and access to adaptive sports, but that is why I will be attending the next in the series of Independence Blethers. This one is Risk... Dinnae be Feart! It will feature speakers Sandra Webster and Anne Mullen. As well as a host of other knowledgeable women. The event will be held in Cyan Bar/Bistro in Milngavie, just off Stewart Street, on Thursday 26th June at 7pm. Why not come along, bring a friend and be part of this momentous, historic referendum?

Poster by another indy woman, Karen McDonald

Other women who are attending will be hosting their own Independence Blethers. If you think you could host one but don't know where to begin, please get in touch with me and I'll pass your details to the star of a woman, who will stay up late into the wee hours to bake "Aye" shortbread, who will hobble round the village precinct with an injured hip and still have her wicked smile and dulcet southern tones to woo the undecided voters.

That's what it's all about, talking to folk and inspiring others to talk about it. Encourage everyone to engage in discussion, understand the arguments and share the knowledge. Politics do not have to be stuffy, nor should they be too complicated for us "mere mortals" to comprehend. It doesn't have to be full of impenetrable language that only politicos speak. Nor does it have to be boring, have a think about what you would do for an evenings entertainment, (e.g. cabaret; karaoke; interpretive dance) and do it! Host an Independence Blethers.

Yes this is a bit lovey dovey, fan-boyish and arty farty, but it's my blog and I'll blog how I want to! Anyway, you've yet to meet "Dorethea, my dears" (said in an ├╝ber Bearsdonian accent) although, I do believe another alter-ego of my talented friend will be reading the "News from where you are" at Thursday's event. Mark it in your diaries and hope to see you there!


My dear friend Debs with the lovely Nicola Sturgeon
(Glittery Yes t-shirts available NOW!)

Monday, 26 May 2014

Gabbing to folk - English and Drama teacher (linguistic tones)

Gabbing with folk: English & Drama teacher....

So today I was gonna touch on linguistic tones throughout the #indyref debate and how words are but sounds and connotation or interpretation, is dependent on cultural and emotional associations. My lovely friend explained it as eloquently as this:

"All language is just sounds that are given a value depending on the culture they exist within. E.g the sound 'light' has a higher value in our culture than say 'bin' because light has religious/Christian connotations etc."

Alas the European elections took hold and I feel it's never been more relevant.

We will hear of the 'earthquake' and of the 'rise' and the general fanboy attitudes of some for those purple badged buffoons. But more than that, why has far right political groups surged over Europe? I asked several times throughout the evening of incoming results. Austerity I am told, it pushes blame on 'others'. However I don't think Scotland would've even been that aware of UKIP if they hadn't been swannying all over television like a big itchy rash for the past year.

Again it comes back to the tone of language used by media outlets and the sensationalism about 'foreigners'.

I cannae fully buy into this ideology; because of austerity the far right policies are a chance to entice disenfranchised voters out to 'protest vote'. I mean Greece was victim of particular austere but a left wing party won? Evidently austerity doesn't equate to right wing support.  If however austerity does equal disenfranchment amongst the electorate, then why are they disenfranchised? How on earth is it a protest vote if that party can actually be elected? Could it be down to the corrupt political systems all over the EU? That's pretty disenfranchising. Or could it be the bended knee homage given to these policies by other more 'left wing' parties? Does the pandering make it 'awrite'? Literally. All right?

I was called a desperate nationalist and a UKIP apologist for suggesting that as some consolation at least Scotland didn't vote on droves for UKIP. 10.4% of Scottish voters (the turn out was rather poor) decided that a party who's policies are rather obscure, perhaps with politicians who are a tad homophobic, xenophobic and even in a bit of a ...you know, holocaust denial (see recently ejected Kipper face in Scotland)... were better than a Labour or SNP or Green representative. What does that say about political parties in Scotland? Or in the UK? Or even across EU as a whole?

What is happening? I can't say it enough. What is happening? Yes austerity causes frustration but since when is racism cool? Or trendy? I mean how many Parisian hipsters voted for NF? Is it really just cos media loves a character? Someone to rave about as the peoples representative? I'm not calling folk who voted for UKIP stupid or racist or homophobic or misogynist, but the party that you have voted for seem to boast those attributes. So I come back to the effect of language.

The word 'foreigner' gets swung aboot like an empty tracksuit. Especially in #indyref debate as does the words 'seperatist' and 'nationalist'. Many other bloggers have addressed this much better than I, but I had to vent this frustration. I had to ask about a language that I fluently speak and write. I had to understand why when these words are spoken I instantly understand the direction of conversation. I think I kinda get it now.

I get that folk wanna talk about immigration, what I don't get is how in my local area, where the only immigrants I see are 'hardworking' (another flung aboot word for another blog), high-tax paying individuals who are fully integrated with Scottish society, yet BNP, BF and UKIP got nearly 3500 votes? Why? In my leafy suburban (mothers house) hometown, austerity denial is rife. Even though we have a Foodbank in the town. The folk here dismiss poverty as a thing in Scotland. My family live in the east end, friends in Parkhead and Shettleston, I see impact of austerity every day but not so much here. Yet, folk still voted for far right parties in my area? Why?

I want to make it clear now however that SNP won the EU parliamentary elections in Scotland, UKIP came fourth. It will however be described as a UK wide earthquake for UKIP. The rise of UKIP. Eurosceptism, the people's politicians, popular vote, all these words. How does that language make you feel? Emotionally? How do the words republican, socialist, communist make you feel? Or even the word independence?

Someone pointed out to me that all political parties could be described as certain things in some way. Perhaps except the Greens who's 'Welcoming Scotland' slogan was the overall winner for me!

Another great description of events I happened to gander upon last night was it was like the big brother house. The most popular candidate won, and like reality tv shows usually the most obtuse option succeeded.

If you actually want some radical change, some statement vote, then why not #voteYes come September. Why not dissociate with the way language is swung about? I know I will. I didn't even watch one single main stream broadcast of the European election results. I am a much happier person today for doing so.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Gabbing to folk - Dinner Lady

Recently I spoke to a lovely lady who works in the dinner school in a rural location. We were gabbing about independence and she vehemently supports it. We ended up on the topic of free school meals. I asked her how it would affect her work. She replied with concern in her voice.
Currently she overseas the menu and distribution of meals to other schools in the outlying area. Her school has three sittings just now and she worries about how her dinner ladies will cope with more numbers. She thinks this new policy is a great idea but she only heard about it from news reports. No one from head office got in touch to ask front line staff their opinions. Her concerns are about equipment, canteen size, staff numbers, time. There have already been cooks made redundant due to low pupil numbers. This is why her meals to other schools now go out in a private vehicle. (Which she has concerns about anyway and led us off on a tangent in the conversation.)
The frustration with those higher up, in charge of making decisions, was clear when she spoke about the local product sourcing policy. Arguing that she could get good deals in her town for her school and the others she oversees but head office rejected the plans as they couldn't supply the whole region. (There was some confusion on who governs this policy which led us on another tangent.) So a larger producer, further away got the contract. Which defeated the purpose in her mind. These are all issues she wants to address and hopefully she will get a positive result after further queries. It will mean she has to utilise her tenaciousness and passion for good quality, healthy food and challenge head office.
We chatted a bit more and she made a great comparison.... the bureaucratic problems she faced in work are down to needing more localised control, just like Scotland and the need for independence.

This is all purposely quite vague not because the woman in question wishes to remain anonymous but rather because I feel it keeps everything casual. As serious an issue as independence is, not everyone wants to talk about it all the time. Folk do however love to gab about what what they are up to in their lives. It's the second sentence after "Hello".... "how you doing?....What you up to?".....  I'm hoping to have a few more gabs like this with teachers, business folk and financial sector workers all from different backgrounds and all various stances on independence. For one thing I know I can do well is chat to folk.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Britain: a pars pro toto, a part taken for the whole

When I wrote my last poem I couldn't talk very well,
Now my eyeball has gone wonky as hell,
But what hasn't faded has my intrigue,
About Westminster parliaments elite league,
Of gentlemen and businessmen and cruel profiteers,
A United Kingdom celebrated for 100's of years,
Britain: a pars pro toto, a part taken for the whole,
England proclaimed as the glory hole.
The ruling elite elected by the large population,
Of England; a really wonderful nation!
Kind people, good folk, I've lived there too,
But the thing that really, really rings true:
The union is divided,something often denied.
But u may say why would they have lied?
What do I mean? How can I say that?
Ask the UK as a matter of fact.
Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland you see,
The United Kingdom is not one country.
It's a political union but that's not how it acts,
Just look through out history if u want the facts.
From empires of Rome to Spanish conquest,
Papal wars... U can google the rest.
All of them end in a similar way,
The people revolt, they demand their say!
Over the richest in power making the rules,
Profiting on the back of those they think fools.
But wise men can see that words mean more,
There are many other options than going to war.
The greatest of folk demand true democracy,
It's not a reality this fallacy,
That is presented to thee. 
Just research and see...

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Gabbing to folk...

Whilst speaking to people about the referendum, I have quickly come to realise that most folk are totally uninformed. They are crying out for information, unfortunately the mainstream media (MSM) have already taken a stance of supporting the union with Westminster. All be it with a few surprise front pagers backing independence, the majority have wonderful techniques of instilling the "fear" amongst their readers.

Headlines of overly exaggerated figures, job losses, currency, EU, immigration....you all know the ones. The thing that truly baffles me though is that folk who read these papers, and believe the headlines, know fine well that the papers are sensationalist, liars and all have an agenda or a boss man/woman encouraging the writers direction. Look at the Leveson inquiry, look at what horrors were unveiled in the media procedures. The other blatant point about the stance of the MSM is look where they get their orders and directions from.....yup well done, 10 points....their headquarters in London.

London.....That big city down in the South East of England, where the highest proportion of wealthiest households are. Where the wealth of the UK is gathered and where most of it stays. That big city and region where there is such a huge population there are more MP representatives than anywhere else. That place that influences the direction of politics all over the UK due to the fact they can outvote any other region. (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland are all classed as regions btw. Union? Domination more like.)

So when these folk, who believe the Better Together blethers or MSM headlines, argue with me I struggle to have a comeback as how do you convince someone who believes something they know for themselves is a media spin?

This has been a few of my attempts:

Naysayer: "I don't want to swap London for Brussels..."
Me: "Well right now we kinda bend over and touch our toes for London, it would just be a nod of the head to Brussels."
Naysayer: "But why have a kid-on version of independence?"
Me: "Why would it be kid-on?"
Naysyer: "Aye well......"

<convo end>

Naysayer: "The union has worked well so far"
Me: "Really? Give me an example....."
Naysayer: "Erm.....eh.....Defence. MoD."
Me: "You do realise that we have Trident 30 miles from our largest city, the same defence that is too unsafe for South of England? And the majority of our military bases in Scotland have been radically reduced."
Naysayer: "But an independent Scotland wouldn't have an army!"
Me: "Why not?"
Naysayer: "Eh, erm....I read it in the Mail."
Me: "Would the members of the forces from Scotland no longer want to serve Scotland? Do we not have a right to a share of the MoD's assets?"
Naysayer: "I suppose...."

<convo end>

Naysayer: "I don't want to be in the EU after independence so I'll vote No."
Me: "What''s wrong with the EU?"
Naysayer: "Prisoners get human rights!!!"
Me: "But we have human rights too, get rid of the EU human rights convention and you are affected."
Naysayer: "But then Padeos, murderers and rapists don't get them."
Me: "And either will you!"
Naysayer: "So?"
Me: "Ok, thank you for your time and enjoy the rest of your day."

<convo end>

The bottom line is that a bit of pragmatism has to be employed in all these arguments. Why will an independent Scotland be any different from any other independent nation in the world? Why are we always referred to as "Seperatists" and "Breaking up the Union"?  Because it makes it easier to promote that fear-mongering, repeat it enough and folk will start to believe it. However I believe the Scottish people are wiser than that, they wouldn't let their neighbour next door to them control their finances and they don't avoid walking down the street in case a bus crashes into them on the pavement. The awakening is spreading, the No campaign realises it and some of the stories coming out of their corner are getting rather amusing.

I'm a Scrounger

At 14 years old I donned my kilt and peeny. A waitress at Knochendarroch hotel, it wisnae very easy.
In Pitlochry, that’s the way it wis, work your fingers to the bone.
Didnae matter though, those pennies I made were my own.
Odd jobs here and there as I worked through college and uni.
I even worked for the government, I was a photographer too,
I know “ya beauty!”
    But I got sick, couldn’t continue that dream career.
So I had to review what I could do, worked in the science centre up here.
But then once again, illness reared its ugly head.
 It tried to keep me down and keep me in ma bed.
So I worked for myself, and returned to education.
Who could have known I’d get even more sick, causing so much frustration.
    After weeks in hospital, needles in my spine.
I kept telling myself that I was gonna be fine.
More tests than I had at school,still no-one knew what to do.
That’s when I had to go down to the bru.
They were very nice, helped me out a lot.
But now all has changed and they seem to have forgot.
We are not all scroungers, in fact none of us are.
Westminster government has just gone too far!
    Every day I hear on the news, about benefit fraud, folk not paying their dues!
 But I did! I made my NI contribution, this truly is unjust retribution!
 Millions of folk rely on the state.
I know it’s not ideal but let’s make no mistake,
the Scottish parliament opposed such cuts, Scotland put their most vulnerable first!
    Doesn’t matter though, Westminster rules!
Lets stop listening to these godamn fools!
Millionaires, Etonian school boys, all pally pally telling us what to do,
never not once has any of them had to sign on at the bru!
While billionaire tax cuts are passed through as policy,
 the poorest are attacked. How is this democracy?
The worst of it is the division it will cause,
folk judging us as cheats,lazy, worse than dirt on dogs paws!
    Our UK government telling us we are not worthy without evidence.
How can we remedy this? Lets vote YES to Scottish independence!