What is the point of it all?
Torrential rain, sodden earth, floods, dystopian clouds everywhere as glutinous as frog spawn, malevolent clouds that hang just above your head, the damp seeping into your bones. Scottish winters are bleak even when average city temperatures are above freezing and you can forego that woolly jumper for a T-shirt and jacket.
No amount of cheery chat or peaty malt dispels feelings of dread.
The unelected House of Stiffs
We were given the repugnant image of Alistair Darling, former radical socialist, taking the place he had longed for all his political days, the place he feels is his by right and by sacrifice, a button-backed, red leather sleeper bench in the Gothic House of Horrors.
He stood upright, proud that he had sold a nation for personal status and a bag of silver, now carrying the pelts of skinned ermine on his shoulders, a landlord who had just cleared thousands of tenants from his estate. As smug as a cockroach in a putrid latrine.
The investigation into newspaper hacking was brought to an end allowing chief suspects off a criminal charge. They surely celebrated with an e-mail to Rupert Murdoch asking for their old job back. The more odious, the harder they vowed they will celebrate. The weak and the corrupt of the Fourth Estate have nine lives … except for one exceptional journalist.
Photographs fade but not words
And on our side of the paper trail we had the death of the Herald columnist Ian bell, one of the few consistent socialists who put people before power or ideology, who knew an independent Scotland was right and just and an inevitability.
He had a way of writing columns in plain English that spoke your thoughts, and did it without rancour to such an extent you couldn’t get angry with him when he diverged radically from your own opinion. No wonder he won so many awards, the George Orwell Prize among them. He was only fifty-nine.
Death the Unreasoner never fails to take me by surprise.
A man ignored then recognised
His death was preceded by novelist William McIlvanney. He proved Scots could write about tough private detectives following tough cases in tough towns. Los Angeles wasn’t the only place to have a murder or two.
Some readers who knew his name probably didn’t know he wrote essays and poetry, or that he had been ignored as a novelist for over two decades until Alex Salmond reminded us he was still here. But then, novelists are as much victims of fashion as any other vocation. Few knew that his submission for ‘Laidlaw‘ as a television series was ripped off and retitled ‘Taggart’, the names taken from two car dealers of the day.
If we have no respect for our democratic rights why should we respect writer’s rights?
Elevate the mediocre
Meanwhile, one of the most useless MPs borne out of Scotland, Danny Alexander, unionist and inspirational model for the Muppet ‘Beaker’, knelt before Prince Charles to receive a knighthood for doing as he was told, a loyal subject.
Like Darling, he repeats infamous history of 1707. But in his case nobody gave a damn or him a second look.
A class war
The Tory class war is everywhere. They are the most cruel and callous I can remember since Margaret Thatcher decided the enemy was the British population, murdering dictators such as General Pinochet, her friends.
They use food banks as punishment for people who do not meet their draconian welfare criteria. It’s a curiosity of the English class system that denounces somebody for not being truly working class because they own an old car, or a television fed by a satellite dish.
A third Forth bridge
Our television, radio and newspaper news is besotted with English concerns, bombing Syria, getting all we can out of the European Union or getting out of it entirely; adding another airport runway to the southern gateway’s financial heaven; blocking welfare for immigrants, and telling Scots a brazen falsehood, that a worn girder on the Forth Road Bridge is all the fault of the Scottish Government.
Happily, the SNP government ignored past refusals by Labour and Tory administrations for a second road bridge and went ahead knowing the current road bridge was never built to withstand articulated trucks weighing over 50 tons.
Scotland’s pale copy of a Labour branch did what they always do, avoided any sort of discussion on something voters call an alternative manifesto to the government’s, and instead manufactured false accusation and lies, demanding evermore expensive inquiries into alleged devious behaviour of the SNP government. As they bicker and finger wag about the price of nothing important, new age barriers and ‘Berlin’ walls go up all along Europe’s borders to hold back the hordes of humanity trying to escape Syrian hell.
Military jingoism is the prattle of the day. The vote against bombing Syria went the Tory’s way, aided and abetted by the Labour party, and the bombing began. No one was surprised, the two parties being almost indistinguishable. All 56 SNP’s voted against. Hardly anybody noticed because the British press and media are concerned only with English votes for- well, you know the rest.
Our bombs are humane bombs
Here are prophetic words of a US commander in Vietnam that sums up the double-speak attitude to non-white countries in our ‘war on terror.’
“The Asian whose future we are about to decide is either a bad guy or a good guy. If he is a bad guy, he obviously has to be killed. If he is a good guy, he is on our side and he ought to be ready to die for freedom. We will provide an opportunity for him to do so: we will kill him to prevent him falling under the tyranny of a demonic enemy.”
What is the war on terrorism? Who is it for? Is it a real war against terrorism or a smokescreen to justify policies of global conquest?
For example, while al-Qaeda and ISIS are undeniably horrific, murderous regiments, the fact that US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and even NATO member countries such as Turkey, actively support ISIS is ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media, and Westminster. They show us we follow slavishly in the footsteps of Obama and his murderous drone campaign.
Turkey’s role in the so-called global war against terrorism has to be seen as one of the most hypocritical gestures in the modern annals of diplomacy, and Vladimir Putin did not mince his words following the downing of the Russian jet fighter by labelling Turkey “accomplices of terrorists.” Oil is the reason why the US and its Western allies knowingly overlook certain Gulf nations’ support for terrorist organizations like ISIS. Putin and Russia seem almost restrained in their responses.
Actually, picking up one old book from my shelves on terror campaigns reminds me that Islamic terrorism has killed more Africans than any European or American, but you’d never know it had you followed the western press’ cries of revenge after the Paris slayings.
Not a liar, just playing politics
Back in Scotland we can see how impotent voting No has made us. In every possible way. We cannot stop Westminster’s war on Syria, nor their war on the working class, or on Scotland. We gave that right and those powers away when we voted to stay in the Union.
And we can do nothing with a mealy-mouthed, malicious, mendacious politician who plotted to overthrow the democratically elected First Minister by deceit and fabrication.
Alistair Carmichael refuses to show anything resembling contrition, or place himself at the mercy of his electorate in Orkney and Shetland for re-election.
Mind you, these days it’s hard to find an Orkney accent that isn’t English; so, one hopes voters there feel as scunnered at his duplicity as any Scot and let him know in no uncertain terms. But I doubt it. They hate the SNP more.
The court in Edinburgh found Carmichael guilty, guilty, guilty but innocent. He was let off on a technicality. The judge described hi, as a proven liar, unreliable. In other words, toxic to know. Press and media, always economical with truth, chose to advertise the result as Carmichael ‘cleared of misleading the electorate.’
The saying goes, all political careers end in failure. Some bring it upon themselves and deserve whatever they get. Carmichael is one, but he keeps his pension and won’t need to visit a food bank.
A bleak, thrawn week.
The Act of Union entices us with the notion that the two nations, Scotland and England, are to be ‘equal and sovereign.’ Sovereign gets cut and slashed every week, and we still await the equal.