You’re past the worst of it

A bit of a different post this time. Not that the iniquities of Brexit and Trump and the delay on Scottish independence have been solved, you understand – merely put on hold whilst I subject myself to other tortures. Those who follow me on facebook will be aware of some of them. In my fiftieth year I have taken to…

Climbing hills.

Which is a frankly ludicrous thing to do and I wouldn’t even have started it had it not been for a job. Some young people we work with decided that they needed to ‘achieve’ something so they picked (and this is why you don’t listen to young people)… climbing Ben Nevis.

Oooh, look at the views!

Here is the offending mountain on a day I wasn’t there. And neither were very many other people by the looks of it. This photo only glorifies the place and gives no real notion of the stupidity of climbing the thing.

This is a better representation – two-thirds of the way up. There is a cloud in it and this will only get worse. That view behind these half-wits? It will vanish. There are sharp rocks in it and these will only become more prevalent. In fact, you will soon be in an alien landscape covered with them. I do believe they were going to carpet it in upturned razor blades but the rocks were already there and do the job just as well.

The full top third of Ben Nevis is covered in scree (an onomatopoeic moniker that echoes the noises you make when you walk) and as I approached this section I was already in bad shape. People on the way down would walk past my colleagues but then stop at me and ask ‘Are you all right?’ So I would smile and tell them a joke to prove that I was not in need of a helicopter.

Sunday Morning walk for the papers in Paisley.

Then you approach the summit. You don’t know that of course because you could be on Paisley High Street going by the view and that fella on the right? he disappeared into the mist; history does not relate what happened to him after that.

Then you reach the summit itself. Which looks like this. Celebrating is not compulsory but you do feel like doing it just because it means you don’t have to climb any more.

And then you have to go back down.

Which is even worse. By the time I came out of the cloud again I needed a hip replacement and my feet felt like Annie Wilkes had been at them with a hammer.

And all through this we were accompanied by our guide – Sally.

She’s a trained physicist from England who went to the University of Edinburgh and just hadn’t found the hills big enough in her native Yorkshire so she moved to Fort William.

Sally is slim and healthy like you always dreamed of being.

She climbs Ben Nevis four times a week and it is an inconsequential bump in the landscape to her. She walks to the summit and back in the same way that you or I would walk to the kitchen and back. Sally is now so healthy that the countryside is essentially flat  and not really a challenge until it gets vertical.

Oh… And Sally is a lying liar.

Like all people who encounter someone struggling up a hill she tells the same lie. No matter where you are on the hill you’ll hear a variation of;

“You’re past the worst of it”

Which is a lie (or at least it is as far as she knows) because by the end of this trek. With the bottom in sight and a mere 300 metres to descend, my feet felt like I was the little fucking mermaid

Those feet haven’t climbed Ben Nevis.

who had abandoned the sea in search of true love. They couldn’t have hurt more if you’d taken to them with a hatchet and I swear to you that if I had stood on a lego brick in the car park I would have gone down and never got up again.

We spent 8 and a half hours getting to the top and back down again. It would have been quicker but I was the slowest of us and my chums did the decent thing and waited for me instead of abandoning me like proper people would. As we descended the last 150 metres Sally asked me if I had enjoyed it.

Enjoyed it?

I was dreaming about walking on snooker tables for the rest of my life; snooker tables made of green jelly actually and yet Sally seemed quite surprised when I said.

‘No Sally, I have not’

And ever since then I have struggled to explain that whilst I am glad I did it: That it is, indeed, an achievement. I did not enjoy it.

It was eight and a half hours of pure torture. If you put someone in a room and subjected them to that much pain for that much time you would have created a PTSD patient and breached the Geneva convention.

And yet still – glad I did it.

The closest analogy I have come up with is that of a maths exam. You put your head down at the start and you just keep going to the end. There are bits that are easier and bits that are harder. You don’t know any more at the end than you did at the beginning and it is not pleasant – but you achieved something.

If you ever sat a maths exam then you know what it is like to climb Ben Nevis.

Sally meant to lie when she said you are over the worst. She knew that there were steeper sections, more pain and harder questions to come – but she was actually right. The worst bit isn’t the exam or the mountain. The worst bit is the night before worrying if you can do it.

If I can, you can.

 

 

How Did That Happen?

I have come up with an idea to assist the Indy movement. Well, I say I have come up with an idea – what I have done is noticed a viable idea that seems to be working for other folks in moving their agendas.

In a way it is entirely unsurprising that it took me this long to formulate this notion but it is  fairly ironic that what I am about to propose has been around for a while and I just never noticed the possible connection. The thing I am talking about is…

Erm, not quite.

Ninjas! Actually, no.

As much as they tend to dominate TV series and they are handy with swords they are of very little use in the politics of these islands.

They do, however, exhibit the one trait which might be useful, a trait shared with…

Handy, but no…

These things.

Bombers. No, you don’t need bombers any more than you need swords but what you do need is what they have in common.

Stealth.

All across the world the bad guys are using stealth to advance their principles or their agendas. They are achieving their ends not in a single bound but by moving slowly – a step at a time.

Every new law on privacy takes a little from the population and places a little more control in the hands of the central authority. Every new bill that gets passed, every new policy… designed, not by any Illuminati but rather moving through general principles – across longer periods of time. Like evolution.

And just as life changes through genetic modification so the culture changes through stealth – tiny incremental changes that result in a complete transformation.

Don’t believe me? What about the NHS? That’s not being privatised all at once – No, no, no. But small parts of it are outsourced, mere admin in the beginning, or laundry, or catering and eventually it is ambulance services, then you can move on to testing and… you get the idea.

Stealth.

And just as I was writing in my last post that the Tories are somewhat stupid for not stealing the other side’s policies it occurred to me that perhaps the independence movement are being stupid as well.

If you think Scotland should be an indepedent country then that is an agenda that you would want to move forward. Why not use the same techniques they use?

Much has been made of the birthday honours list this year. But let’s look at it from a Scottish view point. I have heard many rail against these fellas…

Now, I grew up listening to Billy Connolly and rolling on the floor laughing with tears in my eyes. There were tears of a different sort when Andy Murray finally won Wimbledon. He cried and so did I. They are pictured here accepting accolades from the royalty of the United Kingdom and that rubs some folk the wrong way. Personally, they are currently citizens of the UK and perfectly at liberty to accept such rewards are as on offer.

But what if there were Scottish ones? Don’t you think they’d be pleased to accept them?

Westminster and the English throne have excelled at soft power for centuries. That’s not just me saying it, even Angela Merkel is in awe of the pageantry on display in London. Even the insane clown Trump seeks it out.

If you want to be thought of as a country you have to have this kind of thing. Does it have to be so ostentatious? No.

Does it have to be the old boys network?

No.

What it does have to be is visible. Visible and desirable.

Wrong gongs

There should be some pomp when you reward people for services to Scotland. It works.

We need gongs.

Scotland has already started the process by setting up offices in foreign countries to promote interests, culture and industry – a fine start. Now it should start behaving like a country so that by the time everyone figures out why the mood has shifted it will be too late and they’ll be saying

“How the hell did that happen?”

 

Free Advice (with swearing)

For Fucking Fuck’s Sake!

I try to be a bit civilized on here and generally manage to get my point across without resorting to my favourite words but… fuck, the tories make it difficult.

It is Father’s Day, Sunday 18th of June and in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster (because that is what it is) Phillip Hammond is on the Andrew Marr show. Here is what he had to say about fitting sprinklers.

“If the conclusion of a proper technical evaluation is that [fitting sprinklers] is the best way to deal with the problem, then of course. But my understanding is that the best advice is that retrofitting sprinklers may not always be the best technical way of ensuring fire safety in a building,”

I have watched the segment a couple of times now and he takes valuable air and time to make absolutely sure he isn’t tying himself down in any way. And I have no idea why.

The tories seem to do this a lot. They are making unforced error after unforced error these days and it seems like every day.

What they don’t seem to realize is that they are being given golden opportunities every day. This is going to sound callous (not as callous as Tories can be, but callous all the same). Theresa May should have been secretly fucking delighted with the Grenfell Tower tragedy. She should have been out on Downing Street in the middle of the night professing her horror and then walking back into number 10 giving it Cameron’s ‘tum-te-tum tum’ tune.

Why?

Because it was a chance to change the story from her calamitous election decision and the even more calamitous alliance with the Satanists DUP. All she had to do was be a human being. Actually, scrap that. All she had to do was not be a complete cunt.

But she couldn’t manage it.

And neither could Phillip Hammond. At every point in this story they could have turned this around.

Carrying on her winning strategy from the election Theresa May ducked the chance to talk to anyone who wasn’t working for her when any politician of any party in any country would have been straight down there and putting an arm around those poor unfortunate survivors. Even if you were doing it for selfish political gain you would go down there. But Theresa is terrified that someone will shout at her and so she only talked to people who are paid to do what she wants.

The excuse? Security.

Which is a fucking riot given that the Queen didn’t seem to need the security but maybe they are putting her in harm’s way to create another story.

Okay Theresa you fucked it up but the excuse was nearly as bad as the mistake. All you had to say was ‘Actually I went straight back to Downing Street to get working on helping those people’

You are a fucking incompetent.

Then there was the £5 million pound emergency fund.  I can see them now, all smiles and self-congratulations as they come up with what they think is a big number. This will impress the voters thinks Theresa.

No, no it won’t. We might be poor but we know what a colossal deal this is. What you should have done is come out and said what the Americans would say (except Trump, he’s as much a shitpouch as Theresa) and what they say in these situations is.

They’ll have everything they need.

Every Democratic President Ever

That’s it. Five words. Nobody was expecting a figure. You made that up and you released the information because you thought it would sound good. Even if someone asked you for a number you could have said ‘An initial five million’.

You have left the Fire Brigade to deal with it. You left the Borough to deal with it. When any other country would call it the catastrophe it is and send in the Army to help out. I hate seeing soldiers on the streets and I would have cheered that decision.

And now the aftermath. The survivors are living on a tenner – christ! – and there is talk about whether the cladding was illegal and what might be done to fix this shitstorm so that it doesn’t happen in the future. Which brings me back to Phillip Hammond and his nit-picking over whether or not sprinklers are the absolute best solution as told to him by a fire safety expert (weren’t we tired of experts?) anyway.

What he is saying is that you need to get the best solution for the money. Hmmmm, hold on.

 

No You Fucking Don’t !!!!

I don’t know how to make this any clearer. Phillip, what you should have said is

‘Yep, sprinklers. And even where it isn’t the 100% best system we’ll put the best system in AND the fucking sprinklers’

Because people want to feel safe and the safety of the population is your first and most important duty you useless shitstain. We don’t care what it fucking costs. Go find the money or move the fuck out of the way and let someone else have a go. Idiot.

In all of this I was actually glad to hear that he has consulted a fire safety expert.

Why? Because it shows me they are actually willing to hire in the skills when they don’t have them.

So, given that they are a bunch of cunts lacking basic human empathy or any clue as to what a human being might do in any given situation I will now dispense my free advice.

Hire a human being. Anyone will do. Any of the people reading this blog would be able to advise you on how to react. I’ll do it. Send my consultancy fee to the survivors of Grenfell Tower. Just phone me up, day or night.

Scott, there’s been an airplane crash at Heathrow, should we send Boris to the scene?

Have a fucking guess.

Actually don’t. Hire someone who hates you. And run every idea you have past them.

Here’s my last piece of advice – stop being tory cunts, start being people.

The Tempest

Strange Bedfellows

Anyone who knows me knows that my daughters are central to my thinking in just about every way (except music, I don’t know what it is they are listening to but it ain’t music) and politics is a major factor in all of our lives so the overlap is enormous. I make most of my judgements on what is politically right based on how it impacts, or might impact, them.

I don’t want anyone else to be making choices regarding their bodies when they grow up, for example and  I am pro-indy because I think they should be able to rise as far as their talents will let them; The London-centric old boys network that is UK politics does not seem conducive to that.

Bear with me on this. I was delighted lately to be able to take them to see Wonder Woman. A strong and powerful woman with a moral centre and her own agenda. What’s not to like? Truth told it was a bit much for my youngest but they both still loved it. A reaction echoed around the world by girls young and old.

And now, finally, it seems that the country is in the hands of women.

And how I had hoped for more. Are men better than women? Absolutely-fucking-not. I have never thought so and never will. But a small part of me had hoped that women would be better than men. It turns out they aren’t.

The moves made lately are typical of political operatives be they male or female and a cynical call to the polls has resulted in the three above coming together in an unholy alliance.

misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.

William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Does Arlene Foster have any affection for Theresa May? We may never know but I doubt it. What we do know is that her beliefs are anathema to Ruth Davidson. Do we think for one moment that Theresa May was looking forward to dealing with Arlene? Of course not, this government has tried its hardest to ignore the issues in Northern Ireland.

Who among us had really been following the breakdown of powersharing at Stormont? Go on, be honest. I know I have spent more time watching the Trump Train Wreck than I have watching events in Ulster – and I used to bloody live there!

The DUP leader holds the whip hand with her 10 MPs but then the exact same thing can be said can be said about Ruth and her 13 staunch combatants. Somehow, we have no idea how, Theresa May has to keep them both happy. The DUP are going to be looking for extra cash and if Ruth doesn’t get the same then neither Kezia nor Nicola are going to be shy about shouting the odds in Holyrood.

If Mrs May had just that to deal with then maybe she would look forward with some small glimmer of hope. She still could, if she would stop reacting to individual issues as they arise…

Misery

Shame about the Brexit thing. She has to negotiate a complex trade relationship with a party standing behind her that is nowhere near unified. If Ruth asks for a soft Brexit and the 1922 committee ask for hard then who does she serve?

Theresa May might be forgiven for thinking she has been somewhat unlucky.  Sure, even someone like the PM has to admit that she has made a few errors of judgement.  The Dementia Tax can’t really be placed at anyone else’s door; the attack at Borough Market though?

That just happened to highlight the police cuts as we went into the final days of the campaign and I am sure Theresa will be telling herself that had it not occurred then she might not be having meetings with Arlene.

Equally, Brexit was not her doing. She’s been dealt a bad hand as a new Prime Minister. Take the election campaign  – that strategy could also be placed at other doors besides No 10.

Lynton Crosby might take a little blame  and the disgraced advisors might take a little more…

And now there is the Grenfell tower – I am not English, nor do I live in London but you would have to be inhuman (or a vicar’s daughter) to be unmoved by the stories coming out of this horrible, horrible event – an event that does not play well for her either.

Can you blame the Grenfell tower directly on Theresa May? I doubt it. Can you hound other Tories for their housing policies and their votes on building regulations? More likely, much more likely.

So Theresa might understandably be sitting in No 10 moaning like a teenager convinced that it does, actually, all happen to her. It is Boris in the meeting telling someone to get stuffed. It is Cameron on video promising to gut the Health & Safety community. Not Theresa’s fault at all.

Problem after problem, blow after blow.

But it doesn’t have to be.

What we are seeing is the logical result of flawed thinking – for decades (yes, I include the other parties in this) we have seen an adherence to political and economic policies that increase inequality. Am I saying that Theresa May decided Manchester could suffer an attack and it would be all right? No, I am not. Neither am I saying anything similar about the  attack in London. But the police cuts were made in the name of an economic policy that benefits corporations and the wealthy. Would the events have happened if we had not made these cuts? We will never know. But the Police think they would have had a better chance.

And the fire services are also cut to the bone.

As is the NHS.

One cannot draw a line between decisions and consequences in these cases. It’s just not that simple – but what we are seeing, in my opinion, is more than just a streak of bad luck.

Inevitable unless they find their humanity

This is a tempest conjured out of politics. By ignoring the population and simply assuming that we will get by whatever privation is visited upon us the people at the top (who happen to be women at the moment) guarantee further problems. Like continental plates pressing against one another something has to give sooner or later. A build up of pressure can only be released by an earthquake, preceded by tremors. Theresa, you are now feeling the tremors.

This isn’t going to stop because life doesn’t do that. There will be a train wreck, or a bridge collapse or… it doesn’t matter what the actual event is. The upshot will be yet another graphic example of how the political class have weakened the fabric of our society. They have set it up to serve the few and it can be no surprise then when it fails to meet our needs. You can’t expect it to carry all our weight when the politicians have been removing the supports year after year.

No, there will be more events, more tremors and what needs to be done is to evacuate the political area you currently inhabit. The lower orders have been treated like kine for long enough and are you surprised that they are turning to Jeremy Corbyn?  A man who sees them as people (or at least, gives that impression) is about to upend your precious order if you are not careful.

Strangely, he is doing it using tools that would once have been labelled as women’s specialities. Compassion, caring, empathy and a focus on things other than money and war. Theresa May, Ruth Davidson and Arlene Foster are playing the game of the past and ignoring the warning shocks of the future – which is a shame.

We always hoped that female leaders would bring these aspects to the world of politics and now it seems they will… in the form of a middle-aged bloke.

 

The road most travelled…

Theresa’s strong weak leadership.

Here we go. It used to be that elections came along every few years and now it seems unusual if we go a year without some vote or other. Which drives some people crazy but is great for certain special interest groups like journalists, bloggers and primary school kids desperate for yet another unscheduled day off.

And of course it is the journalists who are making hay right now.  They do not need to sit in editorial meetings pitching stories when the stories come to them so easily and even when there is a paucity of actual facts (‘what’ is the announcement? Soon became ‘why?’) then they can all stand around guessing at the motives of Mrs May.

And what guesses we got.

Theresa was either cunning or brave or ruthless or astute or… all manner of things, mostly said with either respect or a grudging admission that it made sense for her and her party. The common factor in all of this being that the decision was, at least, decisive.

But it isn’t.

I don’t normally recommend reading below the line but if you bob your head into the sheep dip that lies beneath a Daily Mail article (or on their twitter feed) you soon find orgasmic haters delighted at the ‘strong leadership’ being shown. They see May as a person driving the agenda – outfoxing her opponents before they have even thought of their move.

But she isn’t.

All Theresa May does is look down the road. And then identify the places where decisions must be made.

She sees the points in the story where things will fall one way or the other, for good or ill. (Not our good or our ill; her good)

And then she chooses. The problem with Theresa is that she always makes the same choice and it’s never the right one.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost

Mr Frost spoke of deliberately taking the unpopular route; of choosing a path that others would not have chosen. Theresa May is the exact opposite.

Look at the issues raised.

Brexit

Theresa was a remainer. Not a strong remainer because she doesn’t actually have strong opinions about anything (National Insurance included, thankfully).

By simply agreeing with everyone she became leader of her party and Prime Minister. It was easier to concede to the EurOgres in her party than do anything else.  Pretending that her hands were tied by the ‘Will of the people’.

Moving on from that she has carefully decided not to reveal her Brexit strategy. An easier choice to make when there is no strategy to reveal. You only have to see David Davis admit that they haven’t even costed out a ‘no-deal’ scenario to realise they don’t know what they are doing.

Indy

When Theresa May realises that there is no good option she makes no decision at all. David Cameron famously ‘checked his socks’ every time he came out of a meeting with Alex Salmond and (never thought I would be saying this) you have to give him credit for even trying.

Theresa doesn’t engage with Nicola Sturgeon because she knows she’s on a hiding. Now is not the time? Really? When Theresa thinks she is going to lose, she just doesn’t show.

Election Fraud

The new MP accommodation block was very popular.

With the CPS looking at 30 individuals in the Conservative apparatus this was the most pressing reason to take another path. There would have been by-elections and they would not have gone well for the tories.

This was going to be the scandal of her time in office. Perhaps as many as a dozen seats up for grabs with Tory politicians walking in and out of court as police personnel look on.

Can’t have that. So, a poll appears showing Theresa is well liked, her party are ahead and Labour have been in the doldrums for so long that they seem to have forgotten where the ship was headed in the first place.

It is a big decision, but an easy one to make in the end. Election!

And now we come to the most telling example…

Debate

Theresa has stated right at the top of the show – there will be no debate.

Er… what?

This is about Brexit, she said. This is about having strong and stable leadership, she said.

But we don’t get to see her be a leader. We have to give her the authority to argue the case against 27 other states (represented by highly educated and capable politicians) and we have to trust in her ability to manage that process when she is unwilling to go up against Paul Nuttall.

Scarier than Donald Tusk apparently.

Theresa must know she is going to get hammered for this. I am already writing about it and the press, for all their faults, are asking questions about it.

Why would she let herself in for that kind of abuse?

Because it is the easier road. For both Labour and the Conservatives this election is impossible to fight in soundbites. They can’t have one message because they managed to split the country in half with that stupid Brexit nonsense. Whatever position the Prime Minister takes on the podium there will be someone on either side of her who can attack anything she might say. Put aside for the moment that Brexit is an act of irreparable self-harm, put aside that she doesn’t really believe in anything she might say. Theresa May would need to enter that debate with answers – and she doesn’t have any.

Brexit is already tumbling off the cliff.

Not having a debate attracts uncomfortable questions, but not as many as a debate would.

And Theresa doesn’t show up when she is going to get beat.

Theresa has taken the easy option again and she will continue to do so. This election will be fought with platitudes on the TV and location-specific lies on the ground. In areas where Remain was strong the tories will state that a mandate would allow her to soften the blow. That she would have the base to create a soft-brexit. Where Leave held sway they will be on the ground telling voters that they need a strong leader to show the Europeans we mean business.

Theresa May did not call the election because she is a strong leader. A strong leader does not need 100 extra bodies. No, she called it because she is a weak leader in need of back up.

When this is finished she will still be inherently weak and she will always, always take the path of least resistance, More austerity, more tax breaks for the corporations, more cuts and less humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

How I learned to love worrying.

This is my new profile picture. And yes, it has been photoshopped a bit.This one makes me look taller – with a better complexion and whiter teeth. But this is me sure enough. As it turns 6am on Easter Sunday I have been out in the back garden depositing chocolate eggs (and rabbits and rolos) for some reason I am not quite sure of.

Which is insane on several levels.

We’ll get the obvious one out of the way first. What the hell is he doing celebrating Easter when he is a stone-cold atheist? And I could yadda, yadda, yadda, pagan ritual really, yadda but the truth of the matter is that sometimes (not all the time) I just like a quiet life and sometimes (most times) there is chocolate left over for me.

But that’s not the biggest piece of insanity in this tableau of madness. The astute reader (if such I have) will have spotted the truly alarming aspect as being the fact that I am awake and alert at 6am on a Sunday.

What the hell is he doing up at that time? I can hear him/her asking.

I was supposed to get up at 6.30am. So I got up at 4.14am. That wasn’t my first wake up. No no no. I had already woken up at … 00.34am having gone to bed at 10.22pm the previous night. All in all this amounts to not very much sleep before doing 5 hours of driving on twisty roads. A crap idea.

And only made possible through worry. If I hadn’t been worried about getting up then I would have slept like a baby. I did not sleep like a baby and the worry achieved what worry generally achieves. Fuck all.

And there seems to be a lot of worry going about at the moment. I was worried about being in Argyll in time to pick up my family but if you don’t have that there is plenty else to be worrying about.

There’s all this for a start. And that’s before you start adding on all the personal stuff that you might have on your plate. The kids, your health, someone else’s health. There’s money and work and the inability of your team’s strikers to score goals. It’s literally endless.

I have now established that there is no point, no point at all, in not worrying. It would not have assisted me in any way to have someone there telling me that I should get some sleep. Actually that would have only caused more problems since my wife was 120 miles away and who would this other person be, exactly?

So, I can toss and turn in bed or I can wander about the back garden placing chocolate confections in unlikely locations just so that my kids can wander about the next day picking them up and shouting ‘Thank you Easter Bunny!’

Dealing with their illogical certainty in a magical bunny delivering chocolate foodstuffs is actually perfect training for dealing with other things in life that I find nonsensical (Trump voters are a fine example here) and I move forward in the hope that this is a temporary state of affairs. I shall be just equally alarmed four years from now  should they still be adamant that bunnies lay eggs and Trump is still President. But there is nothing I can do about that.

If you are blessed with a lack of worry then I welcome you. We are in desperate need of optimists right now because (as I have shown) worry can actually cause the very thing you might be worried about. It is actually beneficial for us to have people with a sunny point of view; People who sleep soundly and then get up on time.

In my case that is never going to happen – so, I embrace it. I get up at 4.14am. I put eggs in the garden as the sun rises and I am exhausted by mid day.

But…

Everything was achieved that had to be achieved and if you think you might have cause to worry then you can always ask me. I’m an expert.

 

The Future…

Well, that lasted a while. Here I was getting all optimistic about the future following my work last week and now we have the Emperor disbanding the Senate. Fear will keep the devolved nations in line, fear of this battle station.

But they haven’t got a battle station, have they? They don’t have a Death Star, nor the force… not even a lightsaber of any colour. The  Westminster tories are not the evil empire of Star Wars – but only because they have neither the class nor the character to pull it off. This lot are too small to fill the robes.

No. All they have is denial. And denial can’t possibly win in the end. It’s only a solution when the problem is going to go away eventually – and this problem isn’t.

So, what’s the problem? I’ll tell you what the problem is not.

It’s not Brexit. Sure, Brexit is a colossal fuck up, but it’s a symptom, not the cause. It’s a high temperature, not the virus itself.

It’s not independence. That’s been around as an issue for quite a while and eventually it might be an end result of the problem (Note here I do not guarantee it as the solution) but independence, or the lack of it, is not the problem.

The problem, you see… is the future.

Stop for a minute and think about the future. I’m not talking about the football at  the weekend, not talking about the holidays in the summer. Think longer term. And when you think about it what do you see there?

Is there greater inequality? Or less?

Is there more security? Or is there more fear?

Are people happier, in the main? Or are they more frazzled and less tolerant?

Are there more wars? Or fewer?

Think about the things that matter to you, the people who are important in your life.

Will they be safer? Healthier?

Or will there be more austerity, more racism and more hatred?

If you come out with happy answers to these questions then I envy you. Because when I think of these things I extrapolate from the events in my lifetime. And all I have seen is greater inequality and more fear. Yes, more people have cars now but there are also more people (many more) in zero hours contracts who will never be able to own their house. There are people being demonised for being unable to work (if you think they are all shysters you are already lost) or people being demonised for coming here to work.

The NHS is at breaking point south of the border and the answer they came up with was to drive away all the nurses.

Not to say that these things are certain, but when you think about what has been and then you think about what is to come, which seems more likely?

If someone worked for you and did a consistently bad job – who made things worse instead of better – would you continue to employ them? If you had a friend that always, always turned up late – would you keep turning up on time? No, because you base future decisions on what you have seen in the past.

Westminster aren’t going to turn this around. They have had decades to do that and only ever managed to make things worse. Money continues to pour into London and the South East whilst the voters continue to return governments that have a vested interest in doing the same thing – time after time after time. They have no reason to change because their future looks okay to them. It is only the outlying regions and nations that look forward with dread.

If you kept winning? Would you change? I doubt it.

Which is what has brought us here.  Worsening conditions require ever greater excuses if the blame is not to fall on those who have been making the decisions thus far. To the extent that now they have to blame other people, as I wrote previously.

Those who would wish to stay in the Union can bang on about the evils of nationalism all they like. This isn’t about Scotland being a special place – it’s about Scotland being a specific place. A place where things can be done differently.

We don’t have to have fracking just because someone 300 miles away says so and cares not a jot what it might do. We don’t have to be beholden to big business or old school networks and we don’t have to engage in a race to the bottom on workers’ rights. We don’t have to be scared of ‘experts’ and my children wouldn’t have to feel different just because they can speak two languages.

I guess that last one is the most important for me. Scotland doesn’t have to be a country where people can be asked for their papers.

My wife is an immigrant. She moved to this country because compared to her homeland  (France, which was by no means a hell hole) the United Kingdom was a place of energy and imagination – where a young person could take some risks and maybe, enjoy life without an overbearing bureaucracy and a stilted culture telling them to behave.

Now she thinks differently. The imagination and friendliness are gone for her and our discussions are of moving back to France regardless of any referendum or deal on Brexit or the like.

The culture has changed. I am not having my children grow up in a country ruled by people living in a state of denial that there is anything wrong. A ruling elite that seems to think they can just carry on ignoring the people being left behind.

I am writing on this blog following Theresa May’s announcement that she won’t be ‘allowing’ a second independence referendum for Scotland; Despite the mandate handed to Nicola Sturgeon and her coalition government by dint of their manifestos. But that isn’t the reason I mention it.

The important part of that last paragraph is the word ‘blog’. I am not writing this on Facebook because by doing so there I might as well be daubing the words on the side of my house.

My friends would already know how I felt and those who disagree (some of whom are also my friends) would simply walk past or daub a retort on the walls. Moreover, screaming at your friends and neighbours either on Facebook or on bricks is simply creating more screaming and not more understanding it seems. So, if you want to discuss this please do not put things on facebook; Particularly stupid pictures of Theresa May dressed as the Emperor or Nicola as Wee Jimmy Krankie. If all you have is a meme then don’t bother and if you can’t email me or call me or, horror, talk to me then what makes you think my reading your facebook post is going to help?

I’ll be posting in here from now on. If you want to get in touch  to agree or disagree then my email is steakerz@gmail.com

 

 

The Question Is…

 

Over the last little while I have been talking to a lot of people. Not with just one aim in mind you understand, but as a result of having so much on the go at the same time. Regular readers of this page (I am assured there might be as many as two of you) will know that I do tend to bang on about politics a bit. Not as much as I used to, but a bit.

Combine that with a media career and what you get is someone who talks to a lot of people about a lot of different things so when somebody asks me that question; ‘What are you up to lately?’ I hardly know where to start.

So, I’ll start at the end. Which is where things sit right now…

Amongst the many ideas on the slate at the minute are;

A comedy short

As proof-of-concept for a comedy feature. If I say the words Baseball bats and Scotland – it’s exactly not what you think it is. We are putting together a kickstarter for that short and all I need to do is sit down and write the thing. If you liked Electric Man, you’ll like this. And no, it isn’t in the style of Ronnie Corbett. And neither am I. And now I’ve put this photo in here I do somewhat regret it. Moving on….

ETA: Filming after the summer holidays

Thriller/Action Feature

I have had a first draft of this ready for a while and since we are heading to London this May for a few meetings I shall be putting this out to a single trusted reader to get it in shape for May. We spent ages talking to industry figures at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival. My wife thinks I just go for the cake and wine and I do, but the talking is also work, trust me.

Anyway, this year we are going full on – we want to get some film making done no matter what – of course this isn’t the perfect  project  given that it is set in three different time periods in Venice, Lyon and London. So, you need to go where the money is. Glasgow is lovely for meeting people and it gives you no guarantees when you get a meeting in London but at least they might actually read the script and as a writer that’s about the best you can hope for.

ETA: Meetings in May

Documentaries

Half my week this week has been talking to people about a documentary we want to make. And to be honest this can be both uplifting and infuriating.

I spent three hours being told what kind of documentaries we couldn’t make in a meeting with STV at Film City in Glasgow but you never know we might be able to get a good story together to fit in between episodes of Coronation Street – I wish I was joking but you need to make it half an hour so that it fits between two episodes. I will keep you updated on that. I didn’t even know that there were two episodes in one night. Is the second one a kind of, after-the-watershed, fifty shades of Corrie?

Anway, the STV opportunity is open to people who have had publicly shown documentaries at festivals or on TV and you can find out about it at the Scottish Documentary Institute. They are worth checking out if you are that kind of film maker even if you don’t currently feel like making a half hour programme that suits viewers of Corrie.

So Friday was kinda frustrating. I went in with three ideas only to discover that of those three only one of them stood even half a chance. Hey ho, that’s the business. I go in for lots of things and get about 1 in 10. The next day was better though.  Our documentary idea is about the future and how that future need not be the dark and bleak thing everyone seems to think it’s going to be. Having just begun the research (fitting it in between other jobs) I am more hopeful than I have been in ages.

A few weeks back I spoke with Professor Colin McInnes from University of Glasgow. You think you are clever until you start talking to people like him. He’s an expert on solar sails and holds the James Watt chair currently. He said something that I hadn’t thought of before. In a conversation about the future of the planet he said ‘Artists are all doom and gloom, engineers are all optimists’ because…

Give engineers enough time and money and they’ll fix anything

Now, he’s an engineer and so I thought he might be a bit biased. Then yesterday  I went to talk to Mark Stevenson: this was just a chat and he wasn’t talking ‘on the record’ or anything but I hope he won’t mind me plugging his show a little bit. He’s just written his second book and that’s great but he also makes a living talking to organizations and governments about the future. Because he sits and thinks about it whilst they generally don’t. I have started his first book and I heard the talk and it cheered me up no end.

It takes him an hour to tell you that we might, just might, be not-fucked. The future can be beautiful if we just let it be.

Highlights were…. people are making diesel from air, the next generation (and some of this generation) should be able to live healthy lives and reach 120. Oh, and there is no need for famine at all. The books are seriously worth checking out. I wanted to make a documentary about how there is a possible future that isn’t a shitstorm – then discovered that there are people all around the world actively inventing it at a rate that would bamboozle you. The talk was the first event in a long time where I walked in feeling one way (a bit meh) and walked out feeling like there was a reason to smile.

ETA: Documentary – who knows. part 1, this year.

ETA: The future – Sooner than you think.

 

 

I hate to say it, but…

In my very last post I said it would get worse. It did.

Well, there’s good news and bad news and good news.

First, the good news and that comes from Abraham Lincoln (via a French bloke called Jacques Abbadie who may have nicked it from Aesop in the first place).

The good news is...

That Donald Trump has forgotten this one, simple, truism. Which is unusual for a con-man. You see, his whole schtick has been that he could do just about anything if he was a Republican; You can go back and check him saying it on video. That he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and so forth… and no-one wanted to believe that he was right.

But it might be the last time he told the actual truth.

All of which puts us here. At the mercy of a madman who is struggling to keep a grip on reality.

The American media has gone into overdrive (I know, I watch it constantly) as people debate the facts, the post-facts and the alternative facts – filling up air time with babble, running around to check the ‘facts’ before another tweet appears and another ‘fact’ needs to be checked.

Why is that good news?

I’m glad you asked.

It’s good news because those words -wrongly attributed to Lincoln – are coming back to haunt President Trump. No matter how many times a day he tweets, no matter what he forces his underlings to defend from a podium or on a news show he can only ever win the support of his base. He already had the most votes he was ever going to get and even then it was 3 million votes short of a majority.

Trump seems to think that by continuing in the same vein he will get the same results and that, like so much that he believes, is simply not realistic or even real. So, a majority of Americans are actually sane and we should be grateful for that. However…

The bad news…

Very few of those sane people seem to be in the US Congress. Despite the fact that this so-called President has already done several things that are, in my opinion, impeachable there are no moves to impeach him because only the Republican majority could do that. And they are clinging on to the tiger’s tail in the hopes that somehow, we don’t know how, but somehow, they make it to the next election.

They aren’t going to impeach him until it is too late.

I was speaking to a friend the other day and had the idea (like a lot of other people) that Trump is an opportunistic hazard waiting to become a dictator. Yes, yes, yes… it’s all Steve Bannon but we are judged by our actions and it is Trump who signs  the orders. It didn’t take me, or other people, long to make the link to the possibility of a Reichstag incident. You can read about that here.

Burning of the Reichstag 1933. Germany / Mono Print

A single incident that became the basis for a complete shutting down of civil liberties, the judiciary… we know the rest.

And, I had to admit, I was worried about that. Until I thought of another incident that would be even worse.

The Gulf of Tonkin – 1964 –

Initially reported as two separate attacks with the North Vietnamese firing first (they didn’t) on the  USS Maddox in the first encounter and with sketchy details of the second encounter the combined incidents were used as the basis for Gulf of Tonkin resolution allowing Lyndon Johnson to counteract communist aggression in the area.

You can see where this leads already, can’t you?

Not a bad likeness
Forgive the somewhat useless photoshop skills, still… looks like.

The second incident (August 4th, 1964) never even happened but it was still used as the basis for congressional action. The orange bawheid (a particularly Scottish insult) is already seeing things that aren’t there – illegal voters, inauguration crowds, bowling green attacks – so there is no evidence to suggest that he would be calm and measured should something actually happen. More to the point, he has made up so much already that another fiction isn’t going to pose a problem.

So, something or nothing happens in the middle east and President Tangerine demands the power to support (insert allies here…Israel, Saudia Arabia… doesn’t matter) which gets passed because all he is asking for is the power to act. It doesn’t mean he’s going to.

Of course, it does.

A war in the middle east (we should have kept the oil, maybe we will next time) serves multiple purposes. He’s already put Iran ‘on notice’ and hinted what he would do. All he needs is the match and if he doesn’t get one then he’ll probably just imagine one.

But that doesn’t give him his final result. The war is not an end in itself. Sure, it might be to some people but not to our peachy pal. No, his final win is the shutting down of the protests. Creating an atmosphere where he has to be supported because that is what his fragile ego needs.

The GOP already enacted a state of emergency this week I hear, in a midwestern state, so that they could over turn some ethics laws that were proving troublesome. Do you even doubt for a second that this moron would hesitate to do the same in case of war?

But I promised to end on good news…

And strangely that good news is his insanity. The good news is that he will throw anyone under the bus to make himself feel better; His staff, the congress and (most importantly) the intelligence community are currently coming to terms with this madness but one thing is utterly clear – he will not save them. He will not protect them and as a result, they will not protect him in the end.

Do not try to impeach him first. Go after his aides and allies.

Let the Republican leadership know that when this all falls apart they better have damn good reasons for letting him go this long. That there will be hearings about who knew what, when . And what kept them from addressing the Russian interference.

Keep up the protests, hive off his support and leave him in his bathrobe watching TV – alone in a big house, with his inadequate personality and unable to trust anyone.

They cannot change the world for him. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time… and so, eventually, he will turn on them.

Then they will then turn on him.

 

 

It will get worse.

reallyFirst they came…

A family friend has a father in his 90s. He’s French and therefore was alive and in Europe in the 1930s. He is currently very worried about what he sees happening both in France and elsewhere, because he’s seen this before.

To be honest, you would have thought that once was enough – but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Having been down that road once I would have hoped that the destination was clear; that there were no deviations, no forks whereby another terminus might be reached.

This information seems to be of no interest to some. And make no mistake, there’s a lot of information. Remember this?

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

There are many different versions of it as the man who said it did so in many different places and it has been adapted many times since by those in need of it. My point here is that the history is not hard to find and it is the same process. The names of the groups are not important, what is important is the fact that they are split into different groups. Why, is important.

Because that is what is happening now.

Across the world it is the weakest who are attacked. The illegals with no paperwork, women, the sick, the gays and the poor. Just as Pastor Niemoller would begin his recitation with small groups and move on to bigger ones so the powers that be focus on the weakest to begin with. Those who have the fewest allies amongst the general public.

And all the while we are told that there is great danger from outside – that the Muslims are coming.

Why?

Because the system isn’t working, that’s why. The increasing population of the planet and the increased longevity of that population have placed a strain on the natural and man-made systems that keep us alive. Eco-systems and economies are failing and although there are answers to specific problems those in charge baulk at making the big changes that could set the balance right.

The activist with the placard, or sleeping outside the offices of the Wall Street bankers, will tell you that this is greed; Pure evil. And, sure, there might be an element of that – but it isn’t just that.

Any changes required in a corporation or a country would, in their own opinion, place them at a disadvantage. You can pay people a living wage, absolutely, but when your competitor is paying them a quarter of that – in a country where legislation is lax – then you are now in the business of losing money. Corporations can’t handle that. Countries can’t handle it either.

What we need is fundamental change and greater co-operation across groups and borders – but that requires imagination and selfless service – which we aren’t going to get. Why?

The leaders, when pressed, do what lots of us do – they blame someone else. The trouble is, that the someone else wasn’t the trouble in the first place, so blaming them won’t fix it.

Let’s have an example.

For years they have been blaming Europe for anything and everything. Only now, as we prepare to leave Europe does the harsh reality sink in. There won’t be more money – there will be less money. That isn’t working so… it’s the immigrants.calais-jungle-demolitions

Blaming immigrants isn’t going to fix anything either, because they aren’t the problem and eventually this fact will become glaringly obvious. They add more to the economy than they take out.

Here in the UK we are looking at ten years of stagnant wages whilst prices rise. That is to say, for the next ten years we will be getting steadily poorer. You could throw out every immigrant in the country and all you will have done is made the price of food go up. You will have left Europe and all that will have happened is that you made businesses less competitive.

The tax receipts will plummet and more austerity will follow.

Guess what happens next?

They’ll have to find someone else to blame – or take harsher measures against those they already blame. And we move onto the next line in Pastor Niemoller’s speech. It might be the Muslims, the gays, the scientists and intellectuals, the incurably sick…

Which won’t fix it either. Because they aren’t the problem.

To paraphrase the bible somewhat – we are building a house on shifting sand but when we discover the house is crumbling and unstable we seem to be looking at every place except the right place. We are fixing the doors, changing the roof and painting the walls when what we should be doing is building a house somewhere else.

Blaming separate groups only leads to a constant search for the next group to blame. And down that road lie the camps.

Inequality breeds hatred, war and death – it is time to move from those shifting sands.

Many will think I am exaggerating, that this could not happen in our modern world.

What about these people?161028162600-14-calais-jungle-camp-clearance-exlarge-169

These are the immigrants who were removed from the ‘jungle’ camp in Calais. The photo above is their shelters being burned.

My question is this.

Do you know where they are? You personally, do you know where these people are right now?

According to the newspapers at the time those who did not choose to leave by other means are in dozens of ‘centres’ across France. An English newspaper ran a graphic at the time…

map-calais

Well, that must be all right then. There you go, they’re all across France and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Looks quite nice.

Do I think these refugees have been disappeared? No. I don’t. But the fact of the matter is that I don’t know where they are right now and the public at large generally forgot about them as soon as that camp was destroyed. If you think bad things can’t happen then you haven’t been paying attention.

This should have been a triumph for the UK. Here were people willing to suffer untold deprivation, travelling under incredible hardship and willing to cling on to the underside of a truck – risking death – just to get to the United Kingdom. There was a chance to take the lead, to move away from the old mentality of fear and to show how it should be done. To stand on the international stage with the moral authority to make bold moves.

Some will tell me that I am naive. That these geopolitical issues cannot be solved simply and that we should be listening to the will of the people. That this road is the only road available and our leaders are plotting the best course open to us. To which I say…

really

You honestly believe these people have your best interests at heart? That they have the slightest clue what to do to make this better?

Earlier I mentioned that greed and selfishness and evil was only part of the problem. These two fannies are a large percentage of that evil.

It will get worse.