A Scottish Political Mystery

There is an element of ‘Follow-My-Leader, right or wrong’ in one area of Scottish politics, just now, which begs understanding. Attempts by the national and international Press and experienced commentators to explain what is happening have failed miserably, never mind indicate to the electorate, as to how it could be influenced.

The dramatic rise, and rise, of a Nationalistic Party in Scotland, must be viewed in the light of its inordinate failure to provide any evidence of competence, or co-operation with other countries (except those which have patriotism, nationalism, paternalism, centralisation as their main aim), or belief in discussion within the Party, or regard for other politicians who have a manifestly greater experience in real-politic, or a viable international policy, or a respect for the value of hard-earned tax-revenues, and a life where ‘self-doubt’ is obviously a phrase which does not belong in their vocabulary.

To many of us, the last few years have brought gasps of dis-belief in how such a small coterie of people could change, for the worse, a nation whose intellect, art and culture, energy and hard-work ethic, self-sufficiency, ability to settle all over the world, able to negotiate and get-on with people of every class and background made us the envy of the world. And what do we see now? The English-hatred from the SNP which has been stirred-up is un-believable, the inward-looking attitude (manifested in the £26M spent on road-signage in Gaelic), the nepotism which favours relatives and friends over knowledgeable advisers, the misuse of funds to dubious groups, with no Second Chamber to call them to account, the belief that Scotland could defend itself un-aided, in a time of international crisis, and the total absence of forward-looking practical policies except the concept of INDEPENDENCE… Now there’s a word to conjure with in an increasingly-close-linked world!

Scotland voted by a substantial majority in 2014 that they wanted to remain within a 300-year old alignment with England, Wales and N. Ireland. That should have been enough, but Edinburgh didn’t listen and still carry-on this demand for an elusive Utopia. For some reason, they are able to convince a sufficiently-large number of crosses on ballot papers that this is how Scotland should be going, with no road-map, or indication what would be at the destination.

So why or how has this come to be. We have the right to vote but is this right always properly used? The right to universal suffrage was hard-won, and especially for women. With the value of hindsight, I think we can all agree that it was right and proper, because of the tenet that there should be ‘no taxation without representation’.

There are, however, two other points of thought which I believe are necessary, if we are to hold together our theory of democracy……

  • if you have the Right to vote, something comes with it called Responsibility. You have to use all of heart, head, emotions and pragmatism in thinking of how you use that vote. At one time, we would have voted how our parents voted, or how our friends, workmates, or business colleagues voted. This provided a stable, slowly-evolving, political landscape against which the various parties could display their beliefs and aspirations. It would not have been easy for us as a voter to move out of the mind-set of our environment and circle, or convince them they were wrong without animosity. Now-a-days, we see violence on our streets and in the media against those who would dare to stand against our Scottish masters…very dangerous for democracy. But it is now more imperative than ever to THINK, THINK, and THINK again about how our vote is to be used. We must read, listen, and look at as many aspects as possible about the possible result of the appointment of our parliamentarians on the way of life of our nation.
  • secondly, our elected members must realise firstly that they are the Servants of the people…it is the voters who put them in there and the voters who will eject them. They must learn to listen (which few do), and act on what they hear from all the electorate. And lastly they must accept that taxes and other incomes do not belong to them. They come from the people, belong to the people, and must be spent for the betterment of the people.

Perhaps out of all this latest disruptive nonsense will come a stronger, and more-wisely-thinking electorate and government in the northern half of the UK…..but I have yet to be convinced……

Shopping Madness………

The nonsense in our shops today, based on the concept of Black Friday,  is surely very indicative of a sickness in our psyche. The sight of supposedly grown-up adults fighting and shouting over the acquisition of some ‘bargains’, does not lead one to the conclusion that we are civilised as a society or, in many cases, as individuals.

The bad example set to our children, the threats and trauma caused to shop-staff, police and other shoppers , the snub to those who do not have the money to join in the melee, and the damage caused to premises and stock, don’t really show any kind of appreciation of why we have this season.

Even those, who don’t accept the Christian significance, can still spend a considerable amount of cash and time, in purchasing gifts for their nearest and dearest. Much of it may be trivial, with gallons of after-shave and perfume, and numerous bits of technology, car accessories, clothes etc among the pressies. But this is how they express their friendships with people, and relations, and a good time is had by all. No problem with that.

But the thought that people will queue from an early hour, fight their way through crowds, physically argue with other shoppers and staff, just to get some goods at a discount seems out of synch with a season of peace and goodwill.

Maybe sometime they may think of the people who wait patiently in areas of deprivation and drought as they are handed bottles of water and basic food, and take that as an example.

……so America, you are welcome to take back the idea of Black Friday, and let us get back to celebrating our Christian Festival or Winter Solstice, whichever we wish.

The thin blue line

Last week I was pleased to attend a function in Glasgow City Chambers, where long-service awards (22 years+) were being given out to a number of those, who on a daily basis have to deal with some of the worst-behaved people around. I speak of course of the police force of Glasgow who (like police worldwide) face up to the criminal element in our society, and provide a very thin line of defence preventing the breakdown of the civilised society we hold so dear.

They were all shapes and sizes, with varying skills in handling difficult situations. No doubt they have all wondered, at one time or another,why they decided to enter and stay so long do this, often dangerous and sometimes thankless, work……but thank goodness they did.

I take my hat off to you, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you very much!

Not Guilty!

So two lads, 16 and 18 year olds, who planned a ‘fantasy’ murdering spree at their school, have been found not guilty of anything….despite wasting their own time in a stupid prank, wasting police and public prosecutor time, involving a considerable expense of public money, and achieving their 15 minutes of fame.

Who do they think they are?…..I have seen no regret or apology from them or the parents, and no attempt to explain why they did this, but they and their legal counsel (presumably paid from public funds) managed to convince a gullible jury that it was only a harmless fantasy!

Do they live in the same world as us? Do they not see what is happening about them? These guys were old enough to know what they were doing. And they just want to get on with their lives!  They hoped that this would not affect their hope to join the army…..I can just imagine an RSM dealing with them, and putting the fear of death into them!………..now there’s a phrase that they might learn to appreciate!

What to think?

cockpit Lockerbie

The recent release of a convicted murderer, his triumphal return to Libya, the response from the FBI and President Obama, the objections from the relatives of the killed, the non-response from Gordon Brown, the avoidance of a straight opinion from the un-elected Mandelson, the self-assuredness of the opposition politicians, the outraged Press…it all seems to have taken-over our media.

I refer of course to the repercussions over the release of the only convicted person related to the Lockerbie tragedy….I remember the evening well as it is less than an hour from our house by car (about 10 mins air time). The shock at hearing about it was overwhelming, as no-0ne could envisage that anyone would want to do this. Daughter was not long in the police at that time, and probably would have been involved in the searches for bodies if she had been in a few weeks longer.

A prolonged hunt for, and ultimate trial of,  the perpetrators was plagued by suspicions of evidence rigging, and omission of some evidence and police reports. Subsequent investigations into the quality of the trial have not proved fruitful, and probably added to the suspicions which have circulated.

Whatever the rights, limitations and possible wrongs of an imperfect judicial system, the early release of an ill man after 8 years was always going to cause differences of opinions and emotions……… anger at the lack of trans-Atlantic discussions or consultation, sympathy for a terminally-sick man, respect for the relatives of the dead, frustration at the lack of surety about the guilt and ultimate imprisonment, sorrow that no-one may ever know the absolute truth about what happened,  forgiveness (deserved or otherwise), lack of remorse (if it was warranted)…….these have all come to the surface of this very emotive series of events.      

The Scottish Minister of Justice did not seem to have used any of the above emotions in his final statements; he may have thought of them and considered them in his decision. However, it was the ideas of Mercy and Compassion which seem to have been the main element leading to the release.

To my mind, these are personal concepts, and not easily-applicable to a nation-to-person situation. A nation, in the form of a judicial system can release or modify a sentence, but surely the only mercy or compassion which is appropriate is that from the wronged….the relations of those killed.

Had the Justice Minister told us that he had consulted with the known relatives of those poor victims and had had an overwhelming response telling him that the convicted perpetrator should be released on compassionate grounds, then I think must people would have agreed to it.

As it is, he has witnessed the ‘unintended consequences’  principle and, having offended a considerable number of people, the only people who seem happy are the Libyans….with their twisted sense of thanks and gratitude!

….And what  would I have done if I were the Justice Minister. I honestly don’t know. It goes to show once again that there are very few black and white decisions in this world…..I don’t think there is a perfect answer!

A Fitba’ Match

We went to see Aberdeen beating The Jags (Partick Thistle) on Wednesday Night. It isn’t a common occurence (either attending a match, or Aberdeen beating Partick Thistle). Son was going with his family, so Young Lady of the House was quite happy to go along with my suggestion of all of us attending. The match itself was quite exciting but I think that sometimes the activities of those attending are more interesting, and raise a few serious sociological questions….

  • Latecomers don’t seem to bother looking at the pitch as they arrive….it only seems to be part of the scene.
  • Some folk are happy to eat and drink rubbish, and pay highly for the chance to do so.
  • How does a chant start at the same time all over the stand, and just as mysteriously, just stop?
  • The quietest-looking supporters are often the most vociferous.
  • The Man in Black is often accused of being blind, but my observation has to be that he has to be deaf to avoid reacting to the taunts from both sides!
  • The Young Lady of the House can get as excited as anyone and screams with terror or jubilation as the occasion demands.
  • Footballers are only human and make mistakes just like the rest of us….but they still get better paid!
  • On a wintry evening, you end up with cold legs and a freezing bum!
  • A hoarse throat the following morning, goes with the teritory!

When’s the next suitable match?

….and yet!

I’m an early bird! As soon as I waken I have to get up. Came down to a beautiful morning, blue sky with a thin layer of high cloud, tree-branches gently waving in a light wind, birds happily chirping as they search in the under-growth for breakfast…..all’s well with the world……

…..and yet….there is something strange happening in Portugal. When we holidayed in that area, the heat was so intense that we could hardly leave the shade of the trees round the Hotel. So we didn’t get much chance to see the area or meet the ‘real’ locals, but those we did meet seemed perfectly pleasant.

So they are now wakening up with the realisation that possible suspicions may end up as proven. Whatever will materialise, there has been a lot of play-acting by various individual groups or individuals. The McCanns, their relations and friends, the Portuguese Police, and the media, have all come under suspicion as being ‘economic with the truth’ to use a long-standing phrase.

There may be good reasons for this, at least in their own minds, but hopefully the truth will appear, and this story which has gripped a large part of the European media will come to an end. This may not be the result we all hoped-for, but it may give some closure to the life of a little innocent girl.  

I suspect that it will, however, leave a feeling that human society is still not as clever at self-control as we like to think it is.

10 years on…

The remembrance of the death of Princess must have stirred up emotions of some kind in most of us. These were just a few of mine….

  • The realisation of how short 10 years are, in this one-way street called life
  • How suddenly life can be changed for a large number of people in a flash
  • A communal outpouring of grief, or any other emotion is much larger than the sum of its parts
  • The power of a piece of music like ‘In Paradisum’ from the Faure Requiem
  • The effect that we, as individuals, have on our friends and colleagues, or society in general, may never be known to us, but we will certainly be judged, not necessarily during our own life, but certainly later. By then it is too late to change anything!

What emotions did you have, reliving 10 years ago?

We’re off to a match..

………….No, not a football or rugby match….but one of the great rituals humanity has invented…a wedding. A son of one of our favourite couples is getting wed today in a lovely setting and we have been invited to witness the event.

Why do we all do this? Actually I think that the clothes industry had something to do with the concept of weddings, as the Young Lady of the house decided that certain items in her wardrobe HAD to be replaced, whilst I managed with a new shirt and dickie bow (Oh, yes, this is still high fashion for me! ).

We all dress up and make conversation with people we have never met before, and will probably never meet again, eat little nibbles which we know are not really allowed within the regime of eating which we should be following, sip at fizzy alcohol, while we know we still have to drive home, face the wrath of the Other Half if we are seen to be in the humorous company of a young lady half our age (or maybe even a third of our age!), and feel uncomfortable in those shoes which we really should have broken-in!…..and yet, and yet…..

There is still something about seeing two young people going through a rite of passage, which the Young Lady of the house, and I, undertook many years ago. Whether it is your own children, close friends you have known since their youth, or a totally unknown pair, we all hope for them the security and happiness we have enjoyed for almost four decades.

The problem is, expectations are probably much higher in most aspects of life, for them. Our generation often started off with very few material goods, and in fact we have some still. We were not well off and often had to make-do (a phrase not often used now-a-days).

Someone once said that you could tell you were getting old, as many a sentence started with ‘When I was your age…..’ and ended with ‘Of course, a pound was worth a lot of money then…..’. However, enough of my maudling memories.

No, really, I am looking forward to getting dressed-up, and seeing this young couple taking the next step in their lives together. I also suspect that it will not only be my Young Lady who has to wipe away a sentimental tear………

Quo Vadis youth?

I think that the spate of killings by relatively-young people has introduced a scary aspect into our view of respect for others. The fact that a teenager can, by using a gun, knife, or simply a kick, deprive another person of the most human right of all, that of life, must be one of the greatest problem to be tackled by society. Surely the talk of human rights has to be applied first of all to a victim and his/her family, and must supercede the demands of a thug, of whatever age.

Just now we don’t seem to have a way for a large number of our young people to work off aggression or energy in a constructive manner. Many of course do get through the difficult time of teenagehood unscathed, but what can be done about, or for those who go badly off the rails?

Is it beyond the wit of parents, friends, teachers, society in general, and Governments, to develop the concept of respect for the property and life of others….or have we all, in our own way, lost some of that respect so they are only a reflection of what they see in us?