Lord Snooty and his Pals
George Galloway's latest publicity stunts - boasting about crossing the England/Scotland border and turning up at a Queen of the South football match that was supposed to be closed to spectators, are an indication that he is trying to get himself arrested so that his friends and colleagues can take to social media to proclaim him a martyr for freedom. Thankfully, the police have better things to do than to pander to his foolishness.
Galloway has started more political parties than he has worn hats, and offended just about everyone over the years. His new creation, Alliance4Unity, has just one aim, which is to campaign against Scottish independence. All the causes that GG used to be associated with appear to have been chucked out of the window and he has allied himself to people who are too right wing to join, or probably to be allowed into, the Tory Party.
The Sunday Mail outed one of A4U's candidates, Jean Mathieson, as an out and out racist, since when, although GG defended her when the story was printed on the front page of the paper, she seems to have disappeared without trace. We're left with a bunch of typical Twitter freaks, snobs and bores who would have run miles to avoid George Galloway in the past, just as he would have wanted nothing to do with any of them. RagBag4TheUnion would be a more accurate description and it's a good thing the lockdowns keep them away from one another because the clash of egos should they all meet in one room would be potentially catastrophic.
Prominent among them is Jamie Blackett. He's a foxhunting Old Etonian and occasional contributor to the Spectator and Daily Telegraph. You certainly would never catch him reading the Guardian. He chastises the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Tory Parties in Scotland for not forming an alliance with A4U to defeat the SNP at the Scottish Election in May. In fact, A4U has been told to take a running jump by all three parties because they don't wish to be associated with fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists any more than David Cameron did when Nigel Farage wanted him to ally the English Tories with UKIP.
If A4U remind me of anybody it's the League of Empire Loyalists, a similarly crusty bunch of right wing ex-public schoolboys in the 1960s who were generally considered to be buffoons, and whose publicity stunts once included throwing a shopping bag full of sheeps entrails at the President of Kenya. Who is the Alliance actually allied with? Nobody, and since their candidates continually insult supporters, members and leaders of every other political party via social media there's very little chance of them making friends with anybody.
GG says he is ready for a referendum, but he also tweeted this.
We will take no part in an illegal fake pretendy referendum either and we expect the UK government to take all means necessary to preclude any such divisive and even dangerous adventurism.
Well, we certainly know that his Twitter account isn't a parody because that sentence is pure Galloway. What he is telling us here is that should a referendum take place A4U will boycott it, not that a lot of people are going to notice. It's a classic playground tactic when children think they're in danger of losing at games; adopt an attitude of lofty superiority, refuse to play and then don't accept the validity of the outcome. It also begs the question; if A4U are not going to take part in the referendum, what's the point of their existence at all other than as another vanity project for George Galloway?
If you happen to be pro-Union and can't bring yourself to vote for A4U or for Labour, the Liberal Democrats or the Tories, you'll almost certainly not feel like opting for Nigel Farage's new billies either. What a choice!
A4U now has a Twitter spin-off calling itself the Scottish Green Alliance. It's an astroturfing thing, pretending to be a grassroots organisation, with no website and no interest in the environment. I had a chat with the secretary of Dumfries & Galloway Green Party, who had never heard of the so-called Green Alliance. It's as green as Glasgow Rangers' royal blue shirts.
Behind the Park Inn attack
It's reported (although not necessarily accurately because you can't believe all that you read in the papers) that the 19 June attacker had been sleeping and spending his days in a windowless room for 3 months. What we do know is that Mears Group, the company given the contract to house asylum seekers by the Westminster government, moved people out of separate housing and into communal accommodation just before the peak of the first wave of Covid-19, making everyone onvolved much more likely to spread the virus or become infected, and that following those unwanted moves all financial help to the people in the hotels was cut off, leaving them unable to go out to buy such treats as sweets, cigarettes or newspapers.
Immediately after the attack, evacuated residents had nowhere to go, and a feck of them were left to sit in the road till 10.30 at night. It was a warm day but they weren't able to buy a bottle of water or a lolly to help cool themselves down because they had no money. An asylum seeker in a Glasgow hostel died alone in his room in April: others had been on hunger strike in protest at having lost their £5 a day allowance and being forced to live in overcrowded conditions.
The contract to house asylum seekers in Glasgow is w0rth tens of millions o ££. Mears Group was given the contract after Serco had it taken away because of their inhumane tactics, including evicting people from their homes and immediately changing the locks to prevent them from collecting their belongings.
It's hard to imagine that these poor folk would be given worse treatment if they were taken to Barlinnie and put into a cell. It's as clear as daylight that the purpose of making their lives so difficult and unpleasant is to deter them from wanting to remain. Eye witnesses tell us that asylum seekers, in spite of being predominantly black and African, have the same number of heads and limbs as native Scots and, we can assume, also have the same capacity for suffering mental ill and physical ill health. In that case, the way that Mears Group has treated them, on behalf of the London government, can fairly be described as cruel.
Do Racist Lives Matter?
Well. It's not easy to make a case for them. In a world that needs love they give us only hatred. At a time when we need peace they bring violence. Sooner than enjoy the world around them they prefer to take fear and misery into the streets of our towns and cities.
Noise rather than calm. The ugly and hideous instead of the bonnie and bright. Foul rather than sweet, fresh air. Pain, misery and injury before health, good cheer and life.
What can we say about people who take to the streets to broadcast their support for slavery? Did they look at the pictures of George Floyd's murder by Derek Chauvin and think it a great thing to squeeze the life out of a man because he was black?
One of the most appalling things about Officer Chauvin was the casual manner he adopted while he had George Floyd beneath his knee. His hands were in his pockets and he was chatting to his pals, to demonstrate to everybody his lack of interest in George Floyd's right to life. While you and I were scunnered, the bullies and dunderheids that disgraced Glesga after BLM protesters took to the city centre were, we must assume, excited.
It would have been helpful if one or two had witnessed one of their London billies being carried to safety by a black man and his band of brothers on a weekend of violence in London, and thought again before breaking up the peaceful No Evictions march. No chance. It was all there; too much testosterone and alcohol, not enough humanity or reason and not a smidgen of compassion for anybody.
Protecting the Cenotaph? My erse!
Let's not pretend that we don't know the hooligans were mainly followers of Rangers FC, a football club that attracts unpleasant characters like no other in Scotland because it's the traditional favourite club of ultra-loyalists in Northern Ireland. That fact doesn't make me feel any great warmth toward Celtic, mind; they have plenty of sectarian, homophobic and racist fans of their own, as do many other clubs regardless of the black players on the field. With all respect to decent and reasonable supporters of the Auld Firm I wish a plague on both their houses; aye, and on racists and thugs everywhere whether they follow a fitba team or not.
If you can cope with reading about the self-styled National Defence League here's a link. Their leader was a bampot from Leeds, Lee Parkinson, who is now back in England, so if we're lucky we'll hear no more of the so-called NDL.
NB If you're wondering, the SE hasn't only recently discovered racism. I went on my first anti-National Front march in 1974. The NF was supposed to bring all the British racist groups together, but soon it all fell apart, as the far right has done a few times since. It's no surprise that groups built on hatred can't stop themselves from falling out with each other. We'd have much more to worry about if it wasn't so.
Let's make our own Drug Laws
Scotland has Europe's worst drugs problem and Glesga's is the worst in Scotland. Glasgow Council, with the support of the Scottish Government, would like to create consumption rooms, where pople who are addicted can get their drugs and take them in sfaety, eliminating the danger of death from a dirty needle or overdose in the street, but drug policy, regardless of the First Minister's apology for the 2019 statistics, is one of the areas that the London government reserves for itself. So Glasgow can't have its safe consumption rooms and we'll still be seeing homeless users of crack and heroin lying in the street surrounded by their paraphernalia.
Peter Krykant, a former Glasgow addict who was using an ambulance as a safe place for users was arrested even though the government of the country in which he lives supports his actions and the police were reluctant to interfere. Mr Krykant's requests to meet with the Minister for Public Health and Wellbeing were rejected. The Minister in question, Joe FitzPatrick, was sacked after the statistics on drug deaths were released; hopefully the new Minister will show more imagination and constructive thought, and invite Peter to take part in discussions going forward.
In February, Westminster minister Kit Malthouse told the BBC that consumption rooms are a distraction, and that a more assertive approach was required although he never spelt out what he meant or what his plans were. If he intends to send drug users to prison he'll be needing to let all the other prisoners in Scotland back out to make room for them.
A House of Commons committee that included 4 Tories looked into Scotland's problem and made some recommendations, but on 7 September the government in England rejected them all and denied that the situation amounts to a Public Health Crisis.
One thing we know for sure is that Scotland is being prevented from taking the action we choose, on a matter that particularly affects Scotland, because the government that the Scots didn't elect holds sway over the one we voted for in 2016. Only when we have the power to decide our own drug laws and policy will we be able to take the practical steps we need in order to reduce the worst death rate from drugs in Europe.
And the most sensible step of all would be simply this: legalise all of them. Let's have the users safely indoors, the merchandise away from the city streets and the dealers out of business.
Pure Scottish Gammon
The media and Twitterati in Scotland continue to hold the First Minister personally responsible for every business that's worried about going into lockdown and to imply that she is acting out of spite rather than trying to protect the people and the NHS from the effects of the virus. Meanwhile, in England she is more usually portrayed as a model of good sense and pragmatism in contrast to the shambolic approach of Boris Johnson and his Cabinet.
For all that, on 6 November the Spectator published an article headlined Nicola Sturgeon is not so different to Donald Trump, even though the First Minister is neither a bully nor a crook, has the required concentration span to be able to read a book or deliver a rational speech and has never incited her supporters to assault anyone or described gun-toting racists as very fine people.
The FM has been criticised for acting too soon and too late, for putting Covid-19 before independence and for putting independence before Covid-19, for not sacking Margaret Ferrier as an MP (which she doesnt have the power to do) and for throwing her under a bus by expelling her from the SNP. She has been accused of colluding with Alex Salmond over allegations of sexual misconduct, and of conspiring against him by taking part in a conspiracy to have him accused of sexual misconduct.
Unlike her English counterpart, the FM comes along almost daily, and has done so without a break since March, to explain to the people of Scotland what the Cabinet has decided on the strength of the medical advice they have been given, and to remind us of the necessity of taking precautions while sympathising over the hardship caused. For doing so, she is accused by the Tories, Labour and the Liberals of spreading Nationalist propaganda.
While the opposition parties see it as their traditional role to criticise the government, a lot of the most spiteful personal attacks, as is frequently so, come from Nicola's own side, from the Sputnik and Russia Today hacks, from male chauvinists and transphobes within her own Party and from the usual suspects on the fringes of the internet. None of these people will ever be in the position where they are accountable to the people of Scotland so they feel able to say what they like; a dollop of Anglophobia and a helping of foul-mouthed abuse are usually part of the recipe.
There is absolutely no guarantee that an independence referendum held today would result in an Aye vote; it might do, certainly, but before it took place the media would launch the kind of hate campaign that was used to attack Jeremy Corbyn before the Westminster Election in 2109. People who agree that next year, after the Holyrood Election has produced a strong mandate for Indy Ref 2, would be a more practical opportunity are mocked as being acolytes of St Nicola rather than folk who are simply taking an alternative, pragmatic view. One thing we can be sure of is that if we were to have a referendum now and lose it, we could forget all about having another for the next 20 years at least.
The Labour Party in Scotland...
...has announced that it will be opposing independence at the Holyrood elections next year. I can understand why the English party would be anti-Indy, because without Scottish votes they're unlikely to win a majority at Westminster again for a very long time, but I'd have thought that winning a Scottish election would be even more difficult for them now that the SNP has scooped up most of the anti-Tory vote on our side of the march.
I have the feeling that Richard Leonard would like to change his Party's stance but has not been allowed to do so. He knows that a system that allows the Tory Party to run Scotland again and again without a mandate is undemocratic but whenever he tries to create a debate on independence within the Party he is told to wheesht.
Richard was a strange choice to be leader of Scottish Labour. He's not very eloquent, nor does he come across as dynamic or intellectual. Plus, of course, he's not Scottish, and Scots usually don't like to be told what to do by English folk. It's too easy for his opponents to tell him that if he doesn't support what the majority of Scots appear to want then he can bugger off back to Yorkshire.
Still, at least his home is in Scotland. Kier Starmer was born in London, went to school in Reigate and to university in Leeds and Oxford and is MP for Holborn & St Pancras. He has no more right to govern Scotland than he has to rule over France, and I'm sure he'll be getting that very message loud and clear in those Holyrood elections in May, even though it will be Richard Leonard who gets the blame and the sack after Labour's inevitable thrashing.
2014 and All That
I've heard it said that more than 70% of Scottish citizens born in the rest of the UK (overwhelmingly so if born in England) voted against independence in 2014. Personal experience told me that this claim was false, but an academic study, the Scottish Referendum Study, surveyed a sample of 5,000 voters and one of its conclusions is that it's an actual fact that English people in Scotland voted, by more than two thirds, for the Union.
It's an interesting study in lots of ways, always taking into account that 5,000 is a very small proportion of the voters of Scotland. Some of its findings surprised me, and I must admit that I can't find rational explanations for some of them.
These were the results:
£0 – £19,999 AYE 53.2% NO 46.8%
£20k – £29,999 AYE 43.5% NO 56.5%
£30k – £44,999 AYE 49.8% NO 50.2%
£45K+ AYE 50.5% NO 49.5%
16-19 AYE 45.7% NO 54.3%
20- 24 AYE 45.9% NO 54.1%
25-29 AYE 62.2% NO 37.8%
30-39 AYE 55.2% NO 44.8%
40-49 AYE 52.9% NO 47.1%
50-59 AYE 47.7% NO 52.3%
60 -69 AYE 40.5% NO 59.5%
70+ AYE 32.9% NO 67.1%
With a degree AYE 48.3% NO 51.7%
No degree AYE 47.8% NO 52.2%
COUNTRY OF BIRTH
Scotland AYE 50.2% NO 49.8%
Other UK AYE 29.8% NO 70.1%
Elsewhere AYE 43.2% NO 56.8%
Protestant AYE 39.9% NO 61.1%
Catholic AYE 57.7% NO 42.3%
None AYE 52.1% NO 47.9%
Other AYE 52.5% NO 47.5%
Male AYE 52.7% NO 47.8%
Female AYE 43.4% NO 56.6%
Based on those statistics the target demographic group for the Indy movement seems to be young and old Protestant English and Welsh women with no degree and an income between £20k and £30k. It would take a better scholar than me to understand why this should be the case.
On Scotland's Moors
In September, photos in the papers of Prince William holding hands with his wee laddie George on a grouse shoot near Balmoral reminded us that there are huge areas of Scotland that you and I are not allowed to enter and enjoy because they belong to rich people from other countries. I find shooting birds and animals to be a disgusting activity no matter who does it or where it takes place, but for an English prince to be doing the killing on a Scottish moor is particularly annoying.
All that land could be a safe haven for animals and much of it could be cultivated for our own benefit. Instead, it's not simply wasted; it's worse than that. The land is being used for cruelty and vandalism. Aye, some jobs depend on the massacre but that doesn't make it right, and nor does it represent good value when we consider all the other things we could be doing with that land if it belonged to the people of Scotland.
It's our land! Independence for Scotland will be largely pointless if we let landowners keep it to themselves after we've won our freedom. The Royal Family has more than enough property in England. If the English people are willing to allow their masters to steal their land and use it to kill animals it's nothing to do with us but there's no reason why we should allow those shenanigans to continue here in Scotland. But the instinctive reaction of "Do your killing in your own backyard, ye radges. Up the Republic" is tempered by the knowledge that banning the Royals from the Scottish moors wouldn't save the birds or the beasts. Smiley photos of the SNP's John Swinney and Pete Wishart drinking with the shooters indicate that we can't safely rely on them to convert the countryside into something we can all enjoy in peace.