Mirror , Mirror on the wall

One sleepy morning last year, while shaving I looked in the mirror. I usually look in the mirror when shaving but this time was different. I didn’t recognise the face I was looking at; not at first anyway. The face staring back at me in surprise was a much older version of myself. What’s happened to me?

Of course it was my realface, not the one I remembered from years before. I was not in the habit of looking at my whole face in the mirror, just the bits I was shaving before I hurried out to work. This was different, a revellation. I was not the person I thoiught I was. This was what other people saw when the looked into my face, and I had no idea.

This sudden reflection on who we really are is a good thing – usually. It makes us stop and consider what’s really going on rather that the rosy assumptions we had held. In a way the Brexit campaign and the referendum has been like looking into that magic mirror that shows us who we really are.

We have long applauded ourselves for being a tolerant, welcoming people. We are reasonable, logical and honourable. Unlike some other, hot bloded, excitable or even devious peoples we are the good guys.

Well the Brexit campaign opened my eyes. What I saw was a campaign of lies and deception, welcomed by many who wanted to punish an uncaring Tory government and by many who harboured racist views. I saw a referendum promised as part of a srategy to hold the Tories together being allowed to tear the nation apart in the cause of a power struggle in the Tory party.

They are to blame. The whole box and dice of them. But they were able to do it because we are not the people we thought we were. Boris, Brutus (sorry, I meant Gove) and co. knew that. They played on the weaknesses of our character to achieve their aim and thirst for power.

They are to blame but we are at fault. We are not the nice people we thought we were.

Just fitting the Flux Capacitor into the DeLorian

Well, that’s it we are on our way! Where to you ask? Back, back to the future, where things were and will be again, rosy and wonderful. Back to the future of the good old days.

video here

Yes, the vote was decisive and we are about to set off into the future on a journey to the past. I’ve been told by those who know these things that things were great in good old Britain before we went into the E.U. Food was cheap, beer tasted better and we were living the life of Reilly.

Mind you that’s not quite how I remember it. I remember a post war Britain where rationing still determined what you could eat. I can still remember the day I was able to go into the shop at the end of the street and buy sweets without my mother bringing her ration book.

I remember a selective schooling system where only the few could get a full secondary education. I remember my dad going to work onChristmas day because it was not a holiday. I remeber people could be forced to work long hours for low pay. I remember when people died of industrial diseases and accidents at work.

So I’m going off to revisit the past now that we can dispense with these pesky E.U. directives. Just as soon as I can hook up my Flux Capacitor into my DeLorian and get it up to 88 miles per hour I’ll be back in a flash. By the way, anybody know where my nearest Plutonium retailer is?

You, on the other hand, will just have to wait till the negotiations have completed and we get out again – back to the future of the past.

Will you go out with Boris and his pals?

We are nearly there. Thursday is the day when we will choose whether to go out of Europe with Boris and the guys in the band or stay and get on with business. What will you choose to do?

Boris tells us that we should go because we will be able to rule without the interference of the ‘Brussels bureaucrats’ who interfere with our freedoms. They neglect to say that the EU has brought us more freedoms than this government ever did. They would love to rule us unhindered by ‘human rights’ (how can they make that sound like an offence?) and working time directives that stop employers forcing people to work unsafe hours.

Lets have a look at the boys;

GoveHere’s Michael Gove. Remember Michael as Education secretary? He instigated a programme to remove schools from local, democratic control to be responsibel only to the Education secretary, himself.

He would be a great champion of  our democracy, unhindered by European ‘interference’.


IDSIan Duncan Smith, the man who has pushed through reforms to the welfare system that took millions away from the poorest in society, is he your cup of tea?

Everything was going well until he fell out with the P.M. and decided to change his story about the reforms. Watch out he doesn’t do the same after he takes us out of Europe.


HowerdMichael Howerd, a man with ‘something of the night’ about him, according to another Tory M.P.

Where did he ever take the Tories? Are those a safe pair of hands?

I’m not convinced that he is all that he pretends to be. I don’t think I’d go into a dark alley with him.


nigel-farageNigel Farage, hail fellow well met? The kind of guy you would have a pint with down the boozer? Well, he has never appeared in my local.

Is that because he is a former commodities broker? One of the financial types who made such a great job of the economy a few years ag? We’re still paying for that. He might deny that his campaigning is racist but I think that would be hard to prove. Is he your type?

BorisThen there’s Boris himself, a man who see’s  himself as the one who pulls the strings. If we all vote his way and trott out of Europe forever then he will be well placed to take over as leader of the Tory party. That will make him prime minister.

It’s difficult to know what that would mean for the country as Boris is prone to changing his mind about policies to fit the current trend.

Can he be trusted? I think I’d prefer the guy on his right.

This could be a fateful year for the democracies; just imagine Boris is P.M. and we are an island again. Donald Trump is President and the U.S.A. is on the skids. Scotland has another indyref and opts out in despair. I can just imagine the complaints from ISIS, “Hey, stop wrecking the world – that’s our job!”

Well if you do decide to leave then remember you asked for it. The complaints desk here will be closing down for good. The rest of the world might just be in too bad a state to be able to help in any way.

The Private Sector Shows How it’s Done

The emerging scandal of Edinburgh schools built under a PPP contract shines a light on the workings of the private sector. For years we have been told about the inefficiency of the public sector and how the private sector can get things done. It was far better to have things like schools and hospitals built and managed by businesses rather than local authorities.

Now with 7000 pupils put out of schools for an ‘indefinite period’ we can see just how business works. The schools are fine until it gets really windy then all bets are off. The wall collapse at Oxgangs primary school not only opened the school to the elements but opened business practice to full public view.

Businesses are all about making money, as much as possible. If that means cutting corners and putting children’s education and future prospects at risk, well that’s a small price to pay, especially as it’s not the businesses that pay it.

I wonder if the contracts allow the local authority, the ones left with the mess to clear up, to sue the businesses involved. Who is going to pay for the remedial work required? Who is going to pay the costs of providing alternative arrangements for the seven thousand pupils displaced?

If it comes back to bite the business involved then I suppose they can always go bankrupt and leave the mess to someone else – the public sector.

Death by 1000 Cuts?

This week we have seen a dreadful example of the the dangers that face us in today’s world. The disgraceful attacks in unarmed civillians in Paris show just how vulnerable we can be today. How are we reacting to the threats that face us? Let’s see;

Our austerity besotted government sees cuts in spending as the answer to all our woes. so far they have reduced our armed forces to a level well belowthat our allies regard as safe. Naval ships have been decomissioned, aircraft have been scrapped and regiments disbanded.

The police are facing cuts which will leave them unable to investigate simple burglaries; what chance do they have against a terrorist attack? How does the government respond to this desperate situation?

The clowns

Always blame someone else!

David Cameron recently wrote to the head of his local authority to complain about the effects of the cuts in spending! The reply was patient and accurate in its description of the effect that government cuts were having in local authority budgets. Why didn’t they just say “We will refer your complaints to the First Lord of the Treasury, a Mr Cameron”?

Well, Russian submarines are in our waters, Russian Bombers are again prodding our air defences ( just to see if we still have any) ans ISIS are at the door. Who can we blame for the state we are in? That’s easy – it’s all your fault. You voted in this useless bunch of chancers, Mr Cameron will tell you


Fear Is The Key – A Cunning Plan

In 1961 Alastair Maclean wrote his novel ‘Fear is the Key’ set in the Caribbean. It was a great read, like all Maclean’s early works. I was an avid reader of his stories. He had been an English teacher in the school across the road from our house. I felt he was someone worth listening to.

His message has been listened to again, after all these years, and by David Cameron of all people. Fear has become the key strategy of the Tories in this election and it could well be a winner. Like all the best strategies it is both simple and cunning. Churchill once said of the secret services that truth must be guarded by a bodyguard of lies. Strangely enough the lies must be protected by a bodyguard of truth. Confused? That’s the whole idea!

The polls show that Labour and Tories are neck and neck. That’s remarkable considering the damage that Osbourne’s policies have done to the UK economy. Neither party has the promise of an outright victory. How can the government survive? A good general knows how to use the forces he has to concentrate fire on the enemy’s weakest point. He knows that if he can force his enemy to split his forces then he will win.

The Tories have chosen a diversion plan. Cameron talks of the danger posed by the SNP. They pose the greatest threat since the abdication, apparently. Even John Major has been rolled out and dusted down to proclaim the message. But what threat do the SNP pose to the Tories? The SNP are only contesting seats in Scotland and the Tories only have one to lose in Scotland; why the panic?

Panic is what it is about. Convincing the Scottish electorate that he is afraid of the SNP might drive many Scottish voters to turn to the Nats to hit the Tories hard. This can only hit Labour seats and reduce the Labour strength in the UK Parliament.

The same message plays differently in England. By highlighting the possibility of the SNP forcing a Labour government to go way left of their current position and forcing Scottish claims ahead of the needs of English voters he hopes to gain seats in England at the expense of Labour (the SNP don’t have any seats in England).

He hopes to force Labour to attack the SNP position to defend their seats in Scotland, drawing fire away from Tory policies. The question is, will it work? There seems to be evidence that voters are turning from Labour to the SNP. If they manage to take a large number of seats from Labour then the Tories will surely end up as the largest party. What happens then? As we saw last time, a minority Tory party was able to cobble together a coalition which enabled them to take power and wreck the economy. The poorest have suffered most while the richest few seem to have doubled their wealth.

Could this happen again? I think so. When we have an undecided result then all bets are off. Those who say they will not support the Tories can claim that it is in the interests of the country that we have a government that can have a majority in the house. The Tories will be back and in the words of Adolph Hitler when asked to come out of hiding in Argentina to take over Germany in the seventies, “This time there will be no more Mister Nice Guy!”

This is a Difficult Business

I recently joined the Labour Party. I got my official Party card yesterday. I suppose that makes me a card carrying Party member, if I actually carry the card. Why did I do this? Am I a political animal with my sights set on taking power in some local council or even reaching the heights of political power? Well, no I’m not and I’ve avoided joining a political party all my life. I have always voted Labour and I’ve never made any secret of that. I have been put off the Nationalist cause all my life for some strange reasons, the Tories are, in my opinion, an abomination and the Libs (Dem or otherwise) I find mediocre and not to be trusted.

Some might expect me to have Nationalist sympathies and in some contexts I have. My grandfather smuggled guns for Michael Collins and faught in the Irish Civil War. He put me off Nationalism. He was willing to die for Ireland’s freedom but told me he didn’t go there to kill Irishmen. The Irish Troubles which resulted in the Ireland we have today were necessary and, perhaps, inevitable. What happened after the handover still hangs over Ireland like an enormous skeleton in the cupboard. There are beautiful places in Ireland which have an uneasy feel about them. Bad things happened there; things that had nothing to do with Ireland’s freedom.

I find myself more of an internationalist. I think that people all over the world are basically the same. We all need the same basic things to survive. Some people are terribly disadvantaged. Africa is an extreme example of this . It has wonderful natural resources but has been plagued by a history of colonialism. Europe is now plagued by people flooding in from Africa, looking for a better life. Who can blame them? People from Scotland have moved to all parts of the world with the same aim in mind. Surely what we need is a world where all people have the basic necessities of life.

I’ve visited people who live in mud huts and send beautifully dressed children to school, clean and tidy. I’ve visited people who spend most of their day finding clean water or firewood to prepare food for their children. We are all linked together. We can not ignore the plight of others either out of love for our fellow man or fear of how they will affect us. Nationalism runs contrary to this. It is all about what we can have for ourselves. It is dressed up in the clothes of Scottish history, heroes and battles but that is all smoke and mirrors. It’s all about greed.

My difficulty now is having a vote in the contest for Leader and depute of the Scottish Labour Party. I’m new to all this and I don’t really know the people involved. They all seem to be good people and I would find myself on their side. So who do I vote for? In the end I voted for Neil Findlay and Kety Clark. Why?

Well, it all came down to their history. Both candidated have worked in other fields befor entering politics. Personally, I think that we have too many politicians who have never been outside the world of politics and I thought it was time we had people who knew something of the outside world actually running it. It was difficult because I like all the candidates but that’s how my votes have been cast. I wish all the candidates well and hope for nothing les than a Labour government in Westminster and the SNP having to face up to the truth about their administration in Holyrood. I also have a Euromillions ticket running on Friday.


Old Van, Old Flag – What’s the Problem?

House with flags

Something wrong?

Emily Thornberry has resigned her post as shadow minister as a result of posting this picture in a tweet. Many in the Labour Party are shocked. What a disgrace!

But what is the problem with the picture? It shows a house with the flag of Saint George draped over the windows. It shows a white van. Which of these is disgraceful? Is it the proximity of the flag to the van, implying that Saint George was a white van driver? It is a picture with no comment attached.

It is a picture of how it is. The occupier has every right to fly his flags on his house. His white van is only one of the myriad white vans delivering stuff all over the country and enabling people to ply their trade. Some say it is snobbish. I think it is just how it is.

The occupier is not shy about proclaiming his views (and showing his flags) so I can’t see any problem about causing offence. What is the problem with the Labour Party? I have recently joined the party after a lifetime of voting Labour. I’m not anti Labour but I do question what the politicians are focussing on. There are lots of problems to be sorted out and there are lots of voters who need to be persuaded that Labour recognises what is important.

Flags and white vans? Some people have too much time on their hands.


Kevin McKenna and a Moral Duty

Reading this weekend’s Scottish Catholic Observer I was interested to see Kevin’s column dealing with the upcoming referendum. Kevin states that we have a moral duty to vote. This is a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with. Kevin deftly points out the immorality of the policies pursued by our Tory and Lib Dem coalition and their attacks on the poor. There are moral issues here and we should take note.

Kevin’s point, however, seems to focus on how a vote for independence would free Scotland from immoral policies. He fails to show good examples of policies the Scottish Government has espoused which highlight morality. The same sex marriage bill seems to put great restraints on people of a christian outlook voicing their views and keeping their job in certain areas. It is an interesting thesis that leaving 90% of the population of the KU, the country we inhabit, to the mercies of the Tories is a moral act. Running away and making no attempt to change things does not seem like a moral stance to me.

For some reason Kevin seems to think that Scots are more moral than the English and Welsh. I must say that has not been my experience. Kevin is right to say that we have a moral duty to vote. He is right to suggest that we have a moral duty to work for a fair society. Picking up the ba and walking away does not fit the bill. Kevin is the very man to campaign against the greedy society, the immoral bankers (RBS anyone?) and politicians who rob the poor and help the rich.

Come on Kevin, you know you can do better than this!

You can read Kevin in the Scottish Catholic Observer. See what you think. Where does the moral path lead us?