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.

 

 

 

It’s About Time

My last post on here was so long ago that I don’t even remember writing it and that’s not because I have been idle – quite the contrary – I have been busier than ever with things like the Scottish Youth Film Festival. But when I thought of this page the other day I mulled it over and found myself nodding.

‘It’s about time’ I thought.

For reasons too numerous to count and too personal to explain completely I have to make some changes in my life. Which is vague, I know. The short outcome is that I am removing my focus from local politics and that I will be changing this page to better reflect what I am doing from this mackay-bobbleheadpoint on.

I will be 50 next year and I have not selected the title of this post by accident. There are still many things I want to do and making the community better is still one of them and if I had all the time in the world I would still do it. But I don’t so a choice had to be made.

Those who know me well will be aware that I became a father late in life and that I have two young daughters whom I love more than anything in the world. My friends also know that I like to write stories, make films and make people laugh through my work or my social life; I like to be on stage, I like to be at the heart of things – where the life is…

Perhaps a younger man would have had the ability to do the community work, run the projects, spend time with the family and still pursue his creative interests – but I am not that young and the time I have left to me for those things has to be rationed carefully.

Add to that the recent developments in the wider world – where ideologies I find utterly hateful seem to be on the rise – and it occurs to me that as much as I would like to leave my daughters a better community I ought also to look at leaving them a better world as well.

So, I have decided that I don’t have the time to pursue the local change I wanted. I’m afraid I don’t have the desire to spend years in dull rooms speaking with dull men about even duller subjects.

Over the past years I have introduced the fireworks, fought for the community centre and created the Scottish Youth Film Festival. Is that enough? No, not by a long shot. Apologies for that.  But my shift is done.

I actually have two Facebook pages: One for work and one for personal stuff. One where I could help the community and one where I could be myself.  I will be conventrating on the former from now on but to all those who voted for me – or stopped me with a kind word at one of the events. Thanks.

It’s time to spend my days writing and being with my family, following my own dreams and enjoying time with my friends as well as campaigning for a fairer world.

Most importantly I need to be able to do all that whilst being me – creative (I hope), irreverent (polite way of saying it) and unimpeded by the conventions of politics. In short, to be Scott Mackay

I know what many of you will be thinking.

It’s about time.