It’s Time To Kill Our Monstrous, Evil Baby

We’ve a shocking, guilty secret that we all must face up to.

It’s the sort of psychologically traumatic burden people carry about them for decades, in our case, for generations. The sort that sends the guilt-ridden insane, that makes the ordinarily-pleasant do terrible things in the name of denial, that causes the otherwise-intelligent to think and act in bizarre, inexplicable ways.

Many, many years ago, we did something terrible, something appalling. Something we foisted on people everywhere, which the entire world is still suffering from.

Let’s say it plainly – Scotland helped to invent capitalism. Us – the arch-socialists. We did it. It’s at least partly our fault, no question.

More properly, we took the embryonic capitalism of the Dutch and the Florentines and the English, and we hot-housed it to fruition.

It’s well-publicised that Thatcher gave her cabinet of dunces a mandatory reading list in 1979, and that top of that list was Adam Smith’s masterpiece of economics The Wealth of Nations. It’s equally well-known that she chose not to put Smith’s masterpiece of ethics, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, on the list – after all, cold hard economics works best, as far as a psychopath like her was concerned, without the soft woolly morals that Smith felt were an essential balance to the necessity of money-making.

Smith, though head and shoulders above his contemporaries, wasn’t thinking in isolation. His time coincided with the Industrial Revolution, leading to unprecedented, huge opportunities for manufacturing, distributing and, of course, profiting. Stock exchanges already existed, private companies already existed, industries powered by the human equivalent of machinery, slavery, existed, but none of them existed in the same way or the same number they would once Smith’s ideas had been read, understood and applied.

Old Adam himself would most likely be aghast at what he and we helped create. It’s only too evident that the thinking Scottish population of today have definitely thrown their hands up in horror at the excesses of capitalism. We mistrust banks and big business. We mistrust Westminster and Washington. We mistrust the media that underpins them all, and the million – sorry – billionaires who rule them.

We definitely helped to create it, not just Adam Smith. The massive Coats thread factories in Imperial Russia were as much a sign of it then as the many millions of people all across the Caribbean and North America with ancestry from Africa, but with slave-surnames from Scotland, are a sign of it now. Scotland didn’t just help to create capitalism, we helped to export it around the globe, more often than not at gunpoint, to people who didn’t want it, but who ended up with it anyway.

It’s hardly surprising that people from such a poor country as Scotland was, before the Industrial Revolution, thought carefully and often about money. Those with no money think most about how much they’d like to have some.

It’s also not surprising that a brutalised, exploited people were ready to exploit and take so brutally from others.

In addition, it should come as no surprise that almost immediately after Smith’s Wealth had hit the bookshops, there was disagreement. The infant socialism was also hot-housed in Scotland, through another genius of the age, Robert Owen. With varying degrees of extremism, the world has been witnessing the disciples and descendants of the two slug it out ever since.

Smith had in mind a capitalism of benign paternalism, where wealthy, humane mill-owners would benefit the lives of their workers. It’s the sort of idea that David Cameron wants people still to believe in. Problem is, today’s mills are owned by venture capital conglomerates operating through shell companies based in tax havens, and the wealthy owners aren’t interested in benefitting the lives of people thousands of miles away. They don’t see them. They never meet them. In many cases, they don’t even know that they pay wages to them.

Business concerns running society for their own benefit was never the ideal, although, with hindsight, it’s easy to see it was always going to be the only possible outcome. Noam Chomsky recently wrote about organisations acting like “psychopaths”, deliberately employing teams of people to carry out plans which the individuals who are in control of that company know is not in the public interest. Health experts hired by private companies to exploit the NHS. Accounting departments with a remit to do everything but account. Legal experts employed to subvert the law.

It isn’t just businesses, of course. Capitalist monsters are everywhere.  Governments willing to conceal an oil strike in order to maintain access to a nuclear base can at least claim to have the greater good as their aim. Governments willing to conceal an oil strike so they can retain control of that oil for their own greedy, warmongering ends cannot. A public service broadcaster manipulating the truth in order to maintain a £200m surplus cannot. An influential oil executive guilty of deceit or incompetence who then corners the fracking market cannot.

Little wonder so many people long for the day we are rid of all of them. Little wonder so many feel that we need to be rid of them and their type to thrive, maybe even to survive.

It’s us or them. The aims of the mega-rich – organisations and individuals – are now so incompatible with the aims of everyone else that co-existence simply isn’t possible. It’s in Arcadia’s interest to pay as little tax into the community as possible. It’s in the Daily Mail’s interest to continue to foster hatred and division to sell advertising space and newspapers. It’s in the interests of Sports Direct to drive temployees into the ground with zero-hour contracts. It’s in our interest to bring these monsters to account. A very one-sided economic war is being waged on all of us, and our tolerance of their rampant maniacal capitalism is being used by the greedy to commit atrocities on a scale unmatched in global history.

Ugly as it may be, malevolent and exploitative and rapacious as it is, it’s still Scotland’s baby. If anyone has the right and the duty of starting the process of ending its existence, it’s us. If we don’t…well, we all know how The Omen ends, don’t we?

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What….a Difference…..Two Months Makes

Next Tuesday marks the two-month anniversary of the Independence Referendum. Two months. That’s all. Barely sixty days have gone since crushing disappointment turned briefly into furious anger, which became a clinical perception that, even though ‘they’ wanted things to remain the same, things never will. They never do.

In that, if nothing else, we’ve succeeded, but we’ve succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. Scotland’s entire political landscape has changed, and it appears to have changed forever.

Scottish Labour must, collectively, be very glad there isn’t a General Election tomorrow. All that scrambling around like headless chickens counting the rotten eggs they know are waiting to hatch tells you all you need to know about their own analysis of what happened.

Things, though, are likely to get only worse for Labour. Politicians rarely become more popular over time. Every day, those Scottish Labour bigwigs with extra-marital affairs, dodgy expenses, or who-knows-what-other-sins looming large over their heads (it’s doubtful anything hangs over their consciences – those seem few and far between in any of the members of the Imperial Alliance parties) must be hoping those ties to the media hold for just another few months.

If they can just get through May, they’re thinking, the electorate will all have forgotten by the time the election comes around again in 2020.

They couldn’t be more wrong. For one thing, most of them aren’t going to get through May. For another, the young have long memories.

A watershed has nothing to do with sheds. The word comes from the German wasserscheide, meaning, literally, a division of waters. A parting of the waves, if you like, or clear blue water, if you prefer.

The Referendum might not have given the result so many people wanted, but what it did do was focus the Scottish population on political criticism like never before. The difference between those who wanted to “move on” from the Referendum, and those who are determined to learn lessons from the vote, and apply them, is stark, and becoming more obvious every day.

It’s obvious in the “let’s-forget-the-whole-thing-ever-happened”-bordering-on-shame attitude displayed by a huge proportion of those who were duped into voting No. It’s obvious in the still-swelling ranks, even now, of the Yes parties. It’s obvious in the dwindling sales of those companies foolish enough to think Scottish nationhood could ever be manipulated for their own private gain. It’s obvious in the sell-out tour of Scotland conducted by Nicola Sturgeon.

If Jim Murphy could sell out a decent-sized pub in most towns in Scotland, it would be a surprise.

Where is Margaret Curran these days?

In six months, we’ll be in the post-General Election 2015 Scotland. Will any of those parasites who currently occupy seats in Westminster still have any green leather to sit on, bar maybe their own taxpayer-funded settees? Once again, it’s up to us to decide.

We know Labour politicians are greedy, grasping inadequate incompetents. We know the Tories are even worse, pure evil. We know the LibDems will side with incompetence or evil, depending on how much power they’re given. We know not one of any of them can be trusted any further than they can be thrown.

We also know those in favour in London won’t be allowed to be hung out to dry. Lord Darling is a certainty. Lord Brown, too. After all, in addition to their fine work in lying to all of Scotland, they’ve both been at the heart of New Labour sufficiently long enough to probably know where at least some of the bodies are buried. They probably buried some of those bodies themselves.

(Anyone who imagines a parallel universe in which Imperial Labour commanded its members to say Yes, and we ended up with Brown, or Darling, or Murphy, or Lamont, or Curran, or Alexander, or Sarwar at the independent helm, as we surely would, must surely recognise what a disaster it would have been. Thank goodness they all said No. Grass might not be greener on the other side, but recognising the snakes in the grass always makes it safer, no matter which side you’re on.)

It’s worth speculating on just who will be moved upstairs from Scottish politics, come New Years Honours season. Lady Curran? Lord Alexander? Lord/Lady Davidson? A sure marker of who’s not in favour will be their being left to lose an election against 45+% of the electorate. Captain Oates’ “I am just going outside and may be some time” might as well be their campaign slogan.

Whoever remains to face the voters is in trouble. Come May, November’s headless chickens will look like cool, calm leadership. Turkeys trying to get people to vote to ban Christmas, is the image which springs to mind – well, that and Snakes and Ladders. With cannibalistic snakes. And snake-eating ladders.

They’ve poisoned their own bread and butter so thoroughly that we don’t need to do anything but wait, keep our discipline, and hold our position. We understand our landscape, where we are. They don’t. Lurching from one disaster to another, they’re on a slow road to catastrophe. After all, if a week is a long time in politics, how long is six months, when you’re a liar and a cheat?

The goal of 59 Yes-MP’s must be our mid-term aim. That there are no safe seats in Scotland for any Labour, Tory or LibDem politician is obvious. The argument has been won, convincingly. What’s left now? Being role-models to those less sure.

What’s imperative is that we – those who seek fundamental change – keep ourselves as squeaky-clean as possible. No whiff of scandal. No taint of deceit. No lies, no bullying, no cheating. Absolutely no impropriety. No violence, no unethical dealings, and no sleaze. After the perjury verdict, and Andy Coulson’s imprisonment, few journalists will pick on Tommy Sheridan. The rest don’t have that luxury.

Two months have been and gone. Six remain. One hundred and eighty days or so. If we’re careful, and focussed, and discreet, and organised, we can count those off with the expectation of a goal assured, and let the other side worry – they seem to have lots to be worried about. Be honest – if you’d been told, just after Referendum Day, that the picture would look like this only two months later – would you have minded quite so much?

A Day To Remember.

This Sunday, the great and the good of British politics will stand together in Horseguards Parade in London, laying wreaths of remembrance at the Cenotaph. Each of the three main party leaders will be there, the next more determined than the last to seem as sombre and as grave and as proud as can be.

A little over ten minutes walk away, the Unknown Warrior will continue to decompose in splendour at Westminster Abbey, as he has done for 94 years, in grand marble-inlaid contrast to those other unknown warriors, even now being found and exhumed and brought to rest from a hole in a field.

We don’t know anything about him, so it’s impossible to know what the living man who became the honoured corpse would make of it all. A conscript? A volunteer? One of the Pals Battalions, who’s mowing-down in the mud annihilated an entire generation of working-class men in some towns and neighbourhoods? One of the almost-one-in-three of Oxford students who died, in pain and frightened, violently and prematurely, in one of the four years between 1914 and 1918? 300 000 British and Empire soldiers that we can now say with certainty died in the war were still – optimistically, gloomily – “missing” when he was laid to rest in 1920. Informed speculation tells us that all the candidates to be the Unknown Warrior (for there was a grim selection process) were killed in 1914, but how true this is…it’s as unknown as the identity of the Warrior himself.

It’s difficult to imagine that he sleeps easily with such warmongers paying lip-service to him and his comrades. It’s easy to visualise his bitter disappointment that the war to end all wars never did such a thing. His horror that young British men in the 21st century are still being killed and maimed, but to defend American foreign interests, and to promote a UK which pretends to be the British Empire, is a dead cert.

Cameron, Brown, Blair, Major, Thatcher – you have to go back to James Callaghan in the 1970’s to find a UK PM who hasn’t been involved in a war with another country. Each – including the Falklands – was desired, planned for, embraced, and foisted on the British people as just another one of those “good” wars that Britain does. The truth is the UK has only ever fought two “good” wars, and they were both finished before 1946.

Everything that’s good eventually turns to shit, and out of bad shit grows beautiful flowers. The UK turned its “good” to shit the day it decided that just siding with America no-matter-what, calling yourself the Allies and stuffing World-War-II-in-Colour onto the TV endlessly was enough to satisfy public morality, without checking if the war in question was legal in British law. Out of that shit, the poppies continue to grow and breed; now, they cover the moat of Windsor Castle. Each one is not enough to understand the waste of life, the ruin of limb, the bringer of nightmares so real, they infest the daytime.

Poppies were chosen because they covered Flanders fields. They’re a metaphor. A life, blooming quickly, all red, cut short, spread all over Belgium and France, literally. That symbolism seems to have been forgotten. The fashion now is to have a poppy adorned, as if a soldier’s dead body intertwined with little spiky leaves is somehow less obscene.

You can understand poppies growing in Belgium and France. The kinds of poppies the UK has intentionally planted in Afghanistan and the Middle East – are they as wholesome? Everyone knows what poppies sown in Afghanistan yield.

David Cameron likes poppies. He likes the way he can pretend that they cover a facade across the Broken Britain he rules over. He likes the way nobody can say anything in the least controversial about the UK during poppy season for fear of being shot to pieces by the Daily Mail. He likes the way they let him believe he’s superior to Angela Merkel. Most of all, he likes that they do all that, and they cost him almost nothing.

Can anyone explain why ex-soldiers need charity, if full government support is so full and supportive? Why it’s necessary for the public to pay for the care of those men the government ordered into battle and now treat like they’ve done something wrong? Ex-servicemen are among the most shabbily-treated people in society. The public has unimaginable levels of support for them and will raise any amount of money for them. How can those two facts be squared?

Why is Erskine Hospital a good cause, rather than a sub-department of a government ministry?

Westminster’s mentality can best be summed up in two words. Waterloo teeth. Teeth – actual teeth – which were raked for years from the mouths of those British soldiers who died defeating Napoleon, in Belgium; soldiers who’s memory was defiled by anyone who did not participate and get their false teeth made from the mouths of soldiers slain at Waterloo. Poppies? Much more sustainable.

Or, if you prefer – why pay them what they warrant when we can get them to do what we want at the cost of their lives and then make money selling souvenirs of their sacrifice?

Our Remembrance Poppy is helping the UK government avoid the responsibility of caring for the distress they themselves have created for too many years.

Our 16 and 17 year olds – ha! naïveté! Our 12 and 13 and 14 and 15 year olds – are being targeted for military service by a government which sees national service as a cure for a whole catalogue of their own sins.

We’re being made to take part in a national exercise in Daily Mail hysteria for the brave men of the trenches – all long-dead now – who’s most sincere collective wish was that wars would stop; Westminster politicians will put wreaths on their graves, but they won’t stop committing war, they won’t stop the dying of our soldiers, and they don’t want to provide for those who managed to survive whatever hellhole Westminster ordered them into. Why should they? None of David Cameron’s children will ever be in the front-line.

Years ago, there was a white poppy. It’s near-forgotten now, but it recognised the bravery, the sacrifice, the death, of all those young men, and expressed the same gratitude toward them. It also said “Enough is enough”. You almost never see it now.

We aren’t supposed to expect a war end to all wars anymore. We just routinely fight those wars which, we’re told, prevent ‘real’ wars coming close or blowing our houses down. Don’t ask why we fight them, or why those wars keep getting closer. That’s not important. Don’t ask what happens to our sons. For them, for everyone, there’s charity. As optimistic and as gloomy as “missing”.

What price a “love all UK servicemen, hate all UK wars” Saltire poppy? At the very least, next year, Nigel Farage won’t be standing in Horseguards Parade, wearing one.

Love Labour Lost

There’s no question – it’s desperately funny, watching the power-mad becoming afraid to take power. It happens sometimes in a nation’s history, usually – as now – during a crisis, when those people who long for all that lovely control over everyone else understand, with the instinct of a common, feral rat, that becoming King (or Queen) Rat will not do them any favours long-term.

Imagine being so close to something you’ve sought obsessively for decades, and knowing that it will now – only now – turn you into a human biohazard to touch it. That the chalice is so deeply poisoned, even the word “chalice” is toxic. Imagine knowing that a large swathe of the population wants you to take that chalice and be destroyed and will delight in your demise, and will then invite your nearest and most hated rivals to do exactly the same thing, with exactly the same result. If Scottish Labour’s front bench weren’t already slavering with insanity, practically, days such as these would surely be driving them mad. As it is, Scottish Labour’s future can only get madder and madder. Their competition for leadership is looking less a race than an exercise in narcissistic Pass the Parcel, where the parcel is awash with ebola-ridden snottery hankies. Nobody wants it, but nobody wants anybody else to have it either.

Johann Lamont is already scrambling furiously back from the edge of the precipice she helped to create. Westminster, apparently, has too much control over Scotland and Scottish things. We should hope it’s a genuine realisation, just one more No voter for whom the penny has finally dropped. If it is, we ought to greet her like a long-lost sister, for she would then be a lost sheep who’s suddenly remembered she’s a lion. It’s a sign of the times, though, that it’s difficult to believe it’s anything other than a cynical attempt to begin to re-brand Labour in Scotland, with cosmetic changes – a tart(an)ing-up of the red rose – masking the deeper paralysis, all designed from Oxbridge and Westminster, and given the personal seal of approval by all the heads and both the Eds, from Balls to Miliband.

Iain Gray doesn’t want it. Gordon Brown doesn’t want it. Kezia Dugdale doesn’t want it. Jackie Baillie doesn’t want it. Anas Sarwar doesn’t want it. Alistair Darling doesn’t want it. Who’d imagine that being Labour leader in Scotland would be such an undesirable job? It wasn’t supposed to be that way, was it? You know, in the past decades when careering through the Labour Party meant a reasonable career in anonymous politics? It’s as if we actually expect something of our politicians all of a sudden, and not a single one of them wants to step into the spotlight.

Then there are the Children of the Damned options. At the time of writing, they haven’t said anything. Douglas Alexander. Margaret Curran. The ones who…well, let’s just say questions have been asked in pubs and online as to how far they’ll go, even with loved ones, to get to where they feel they should be. Jim Murphy. The Egg-man. People that you know are intelligent, that you know are very intelligent, but who somehow seem to slither.

It’s to be expected that nobody, but nobody, has asked Edinburgher-by-birth Tony Blair to lead Scottish Labour, just in case he says Yes.

Scottish Labour’s high heid yins seem to consider themselves already unelectable. That they know they are going to be given a swift hard kick out of the country in barely seven months time – and each of these career politicians is holding back in an effort to win the reins after 2015, maybe even after 2016, when they think they can slowly re-build the trust of the Scottish people….well, that tells you everything you need to know about the depth of imagination of the average – and average is the right word – career Labour politician.

To consider Scottish Labour as dead ducks….it’s almost inconceivable. The party of the poor and downtrodden have been circumvented in one swift move, entirely replaced among the left-wing of Scotland by a Not-Empowered-by-Westminster Socialism, a society-based socialism, the socialism of the SSP and the SNP and the Scottish Greens. It’s astonishing that Labour, of all people, didn’t realise how contagious standing shoulder to shoulder with members of the Conservative Party actually is.

My enemy’s enemy might not be my friend, but my enemy’s friend is realistically likely to be my enemy. Once you see Ruth Davidson and Margaret Curran high-fiving, metaphorically if not actually viscerally, sorry, visually, it’s hard not to wonder who the bigger enemy is – the one who denies poverty, or the one who promotes it.

One’s already been rejected. It’s time for us to lose the other.

For too long now, Scotland’s been crushed between familiarity and contempt – the familiarity of the Labour movement, the contempt of the Tories. Neither has – or has had, for a long time – any motive to actually change things here. The one breeds the other. They’re two sides of the same old and bitter coin. Tony Blair relied on our belief. Margaret Thatcher depended on our loyalty. There was no gain, no intentional advance, from either. Is there any to be had from Cameron or Osborne, Farage or Johnson or – as if – Miliband?

The campaign for Scottish self-determination isn’t an entirely socialist campaign, but it certainly understands the benefits and desirability of a united society much more than these descendants of Thatcher do, and it understands why being social beats being anti-social. It explains why we’re all working together. It explains why they’re all working apart.

Better Together was their slogan barely a month ago.  Bit unTogether has been their slogan ever since.

In 1987, when Margaret Thatcher swept once again to UK power, lots of Scottish Tory MPs lost their jobs: Gerry Malone, Peter Fraser (later Baron Fraser), John McKay (later Baron Mackay), Albert McQuarrie (Sir Albert, now), John Corrie, (Sir) Alexander MacPherson Fletcher, Barry Henderson, Alexander Pollack, Anna McCurley, (Sir) Michael Hirst and Michael Ancram (Baron Kerr of Monteviot, don’t you know) all became unemployed. Faceless career politicians. You’ve got to think each of them done ok out of it, though. No wonder they think everyone else can do the same.

Looking into the future, there’s no reason why, next year, we can’t consign a larger number of equally instantly-forgettable career politicians into the dustbin of OBEs and self-centred honours: Danny and Douglas, the Alexander Brothers, Willie Bain, Banks, Begg, the Browns, Clarke, Curran, Davidson…the list looks like a turkey-shoot of obviousness.

They’ll be ok. Ladyships and knighthoods keep a person warm, as past form shows. Particularly a certain kind of person. It’s near-embarrassing as a socialist to accept that that sort of person is a Labour politician, but there you go. That’s what Scottish Labour’s become.

They think we’re to blame.

Farewell Loving Aunt*, Hello Ministry of Truth

It’s hard to regard her quite as fondly as an aunt once you’ve seen her lie through her snarling teeth at you.

Auntie Beeb. She’s someone we’ve all grown up with, someone who’s sat in the corner since childhood, dispensing unchallenged ‘wisdom’, entertaining, educating and informing – something she likes to remind us she does, and has done all our lives. The BBC – from TV to Radio, through News, Sport and Drama, has monopolised – the word ‘dominated’ doesn’t even do it justice – culture in Scotland for decades.

Peter Sellers and Kenny Everett, between them, are given the credit for the Beeb part, but how, where, when or by whom the term “Auntie” was first used in relation to the BBC is anyone’s guess. One thing is beyond doubt, though – whoever coined the term was a marketing genius. No other corporate catchphrase has sunk itself into the national consciousness with anywhere near the same ease.

It’s how she likes to think of herself – one of the family, for every family, a little like your mum or dad, but more fun, sometimes seeing things differently, taking you to places they can’t, telling you things they can’t, explaining things they can’t.

We know now, though, what sort of auntie she used to be, at least. She’s the type who let her golden boy DJ friend Jimmy touch up the children in her care after the lights went out. The type who gave a kids TV platform to Rolf Harris and an alleged rape cupboard to Stuart Hall, and devoted grope-able audiences to DLT and so many more, disgraced or not, dead or not, discovered or not. She claims she’s changed, that she didn’t know, that it was a long time ago, when everything was different. One thing is for sure – if your parents had known then what everyone knows now, that auntie would never have been allowed to set foot inside the house. A prime-time 1970’s Saturday night double of Jim’ll Fix It and It’s a Knockout? You have to wonder, if you have a strong enough stomach, what the “It” was.

Quite how a national broadcaster gets themselves tangled in such a snare has never been explained. Don’t kid yourself: it never will. UK law now is such that no story is automatically in the public interest when an injunction comes calling, and the BBC’s legal team are a household name in their own right. If Andrew Marr could spend an untold amount on trying to keep his own affairs quiet, who knows what other secrets are being held, have been held or will be held, all with scrupulous UK legality? We don’t. We won’t.

We did, on the other hand, see with our own eyes how far she’ll go to preserve herself and her Whitehall friends. The £300 million a year she collects from Scotland is repaid with a budget somewhere in the region of a third of that. It’s hardly a surprise she was willing to stretch the truth a little to keep a £200m a year profit. Who wouldn’t want to protect a scrupulously legal racket like that?

The memory of Jackie Bird, all piercing eyes and predatory tension, presenting reports which often did not accord with reality, is a hard one to shift. It’s difficult now to watch anything on channel 1 without wondering if it’s similarly skewed. News from Syria, phone votes for dancing celebrities, even wildlife documentaries, panel shows or quizzes….it’s hard to believe anything Auntie shows you.

For anyone who’s ever read 1984, watching Auntie’s news, it’s uncertain if we are going to war with Eurasia (Russia? The entire Muslim world?) or Eastasia (China? Japan? Oh, wait a minute – they’re our friends….for now. Muslims again, maybe?). Airstrip One has always been at war with…..someone. The BBC are always right there to tell you all about it. They provide guests to give you ideas of what to think. They provide comforting presences to tell you what’s happening and to suggest that you do exercises (in front of your TV, presumably) every morning. It’s not hard to see a future point at which refusing to do exercises in front of your TV will see you declared somewhat treacherous.

Currently, there’s very little else that the UK government has to sell. They’ve sold everything else we worked to give them. Anyone who believes the complete privatisation of the BBC won’t be achieved by the end of the next government, in 2020, is living, frankly, with their head not in the sand, but with it right up their own arse. It will probably be sold for a fraction of its worth, to the usual billionaire purchasers, and then – well, when you look at its record as a publicly-owned broadcaster, it might actually improve.

Would George Osborne sell the BBC to Rupert Murdoch or Silvio Berlusconi or some other media billionaire? That picture detailing how to easy it was to get to his heart when he was young is already shared widely enough on the internet – no need to do so again. Little question that he’s probably as corruptible as most other people are.

The immediate public and exhaustive audit of every BBC asset isn’t just desirable, it’s necessary. Every other public asset has been sold on the cheap. It’s only a matter of time before the same fate befalls our national broadcaster. Things in this country have come to such a place that if it somehow emerged tomorrow that it had already been sold for £1 to NBC, and that the negotiations had been legally-protected, the surprise would be minimal. The immediate public scrutiny of everything held by them (at least in Scotland) needs to be done now. They’re a private enterprise waiting to happen.

So why wait? Make public its accounts, sell it at a fair price, and use the money to build a better broadcaster, a leaner, more focussed, more modest broadcaster, one which isn’t mired in slime immemorial, one which can be trusted to report, expose, and discuss, rather than inventing, manipulating and dogmatising. One which doesn’t have such a shady, toxic past. It’s not just possible – it’s achievable.

Our state broadcaster can’t be trusted, and fundamental change is needed. The BBC has shown itself to be unfit-in-essence for the esteemed position it holds – just another distorted and biased voice shouting out from the squat idiot-box in the corner. Auntie indeed. Aunties are supposed to be loving and supportive, kind and caring and vigilant against anyone who might not be all they seem. She may think of herself as our Auntie, but if you had a family like that, do you think you’d need enemies?

*Apologies to Larry David, who’s “ ’Loving Aunt’ Obituary Misprint” joke helped inspire this thought.

Second-home Flippers V United-K*ppers

It’s weird how ripples keep on rippling. The adoption of the terms and ideas we became familiar with during the lead-up to the September Question into the lying hypocrisy of the run-up to a UK general election is so blatant, uncomfortable and perverse that, were it a real adoption, you’d have to be concerned about the welfare of the child.

All the Westminster Party leaders have been so keen to talk about a “fairer society” that the sincerity on their privileged little faces is etched on every well-positioned camera on every news channel for all to see. If their party policies had even a hint of the same concern, then we probably wouldn’t be in this situation.

One day, maybe, a historian will line up the quotes of Salmond, Sturgeon and Sheridan in the weeks before The Event, and the quotes of Cameron, Miliband and Clegg in the months after, and a question of whether it was recycling or just plain theft will arise.

The problem the Westminster Party leaders face is that nobody believes them. People in England know they’re liars – they saw the lies told to us, and they’re seeing the lies told to them. People in Wales know it – they’ve been told the same lies longer than Scotland has, and with even more condescension. Both sides of “the community” in Northern Ireland are awake to the fact the Westminster just lies and lies and lies, depending on who they’re talking to, and what they want from them.

Little wonder – by culture, by tradition, by stealth and by sheer design, Westminster only ever has looked for us to believe their lies while they fleece us. Even now, Gordon Brown is trying to paint himself as some sort of patriot by struggling against the Bond henchman that is William Hague. It all looks as choreographed as Riverdance. They must think we’re stupid.

At least Scotland has alternatives in the SNP, the SSP, the Scottish Greens. Wales has Plaid Cymru. Northern Ireland has the DUP and the SDLP and Sinn Fein and the UUP. Poor England (and I do mean poor England) is left with UK*P.

To be clear, everything about UK*P is loathsome, from the implied ker-ching bribe of their stupid poundland logo to the tacky Imperial-purple and Royal-gold of their colours, and especially the flabby wrinkled faces of the old men that this supposed radical new force presents to the public and, much more, to the ever-suckling media. The only thing that prevents anyone loathing each of their policies is the fact that they seem to have no policies. “We’ll tell Johnny European to naff off and then we’ll re-conquer the Empire, somehow, and make sure nobody from abroad gets past Calais” is not a policy. It’s a wish-list from the senile deathbed of an insane old Tory.

It’s difficult to do anything but feel pity for their supporters, though. What sort of despair and desperation must you feel to look at F*rage and become inspired? Who would listen to Godfrey Bloom and think “He’s got it – he’s right”? Lord Monckton – LORD Monckton – thinks everyone in Scotland whinges like a bagpipe while waiting for their next subsidy. The doctors, the lawyers, the entrepreneurs, the businesspeople, all the professionals – all whingeing, en masse, like a bagpipe. What kind of moron would a person have to be to actually vote for anyone who has the same opinions as such a demented clown?

And yet – they have an MP. One, for now. An elected deputy of the state. The British Union of Fascists never got that. The downtrodden poor of England, who’ve rejected far-right crackpots for decades are having those same crackpots foisted upon them by a media which seems to be in the grip of some sort of UK*P mania. Of course they’re going to fall for it – each person has entire departments of the BBC and the Daily Mail dead-set on convincing them that the future’s (b)right – the future’s F*rage.

As Johnny Rotten shouted, there is no future in England’s dreaming. There certainly is no future for Scotland in UK*P’s dreaming. There’s definitely no future in a party so obsessed with past glories and perceived past purities and, more than anything, how to regain them. It’s like watching someone who used to be very rich and very successful making lists and plotting revenge on everyone they think was responsible for their downfall, either not realising or not caring that they were responsible alone.

Still……they are, more or less, England’s only version of alternative politics. This is all England has – the only change from proven cheats and thieves they’re being told they can make. Cameron, Clegg and Miliband, or F*rage. It’s hard not to feel sorry for England, given such poor options, and it’s even possible to see how some down South might prefer F*rage to the three leaders of the Westminster Party.

We’re lucky.

Like all of Britain seems set to do, we get to reject Westminster too, but we can reject them by embracing the poor and the unfortunate, and ridding ourselves of the cost of the expenses-junkies (F*rage himself had claimed £2m in expenses by 2009, incidentally), not the other way round.

UK*P isn’t an answer; we all know that, but until the electorate of England has had time to consider what independence actually means, UK*P is what they’re stuck with, poor souls. F*rage wants to be Minister for Europe. Try to picture that.

Our nationalism is an aspirational nationalism. Their independence is a fictional independence. They seek to cut ties with other nations. We seek to build them. They want separation, we long for integration. They’re going right. We’re going left. They’re going wrong. We’re going just fine the way we’re going, thank you very much.

It’s not true to say our enemy’s enemy is our friend, but it is true to say that our enemy’s enemy can be used as a good argument as to just what’s wrong with our enemy in the first place. Looking at UK*P, it’s easy to see what’s wrong with Westminster. Aren’t you glad we have an alternative worth fighting for in this country?

Fear of Flying

From the outside, and maybe even to some inside, it’s maybe what it looked like. If you weren’t here, living it, watching the mainstream media do what they did, reading and hearing the lies spewed out by newspapers and television stations, and then witnessing them being exposed on a hundred websites and social media feeds, contrasting the “good neighbour” policies championed by Yes, and the “we will threaten you with everything but actual invasion” promises of bitter revenge from Westminster, viewing the comedy gold of the Imperial Labour Party’s Death Star Shuffle along Buchanan Street and shaking your head in literal disbelief at celebrity millionaires defecating words of discouragement over all of Scotland….well, if you were outside of all that, or, of course, if you were a pensioner who gullibly relied on the BBC and the Daily Record to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then maybe a fear of flying is what it looked like.

There must be many people worldwide who misread Saor Alba as Soar Alba, and who subsequently watched as we attempted to take off, but never made it off the runway. Nobody was killed; it wasn’t a crash and burn, or an exploding fireball, as so many independence movements become. Almost everybody got up the next day and got on with their lives, whether they were heartbroken or satisfied. That’s how democracy is supposed to work, and it’s something everyone in Scotland, from the strongest Yes to the staunchest No, can be proud of. Unless you actually did inflict unprovoked violence on someone else because of the result, in which case, you’re an asshole, regardless of how you voted.

The issue we face is that fear of flying is a natural human trait, and has been since humans first flew. It’s not necessarily a fear of death, more a fear of endlessly falling into who-knows-what oblivion. Control is relinquished to someone who says they know what they’re doing, but do they? The head is in the clouds, the feet are no longer on the ground. Flying is much safer than it used to be, but it still has risks, and even if we’re prepared to take them, it’s useful to understand that there are people who aren’t.

The solution we need is to find enough of those people who simply thought our craft wasn’t ready yet, who preferred to continue to fly with an experienced-even-if-utterly-immoral pilot to a shiny bright first-timer, to find out from them what they’re wary of, and examine whether their worries have substance, or whether it’s enough just to show them that it’s safe to step in, as we all have. We know – and many of them know – that the experienced pilot wants our money, and won’t hesitate to shoot a rival right out the sky. They’re trying to tell us that they don’t think we have enough protection, enough experience, enough fuel. It’s up to us to make sure that we do, and to persuade them. Shouting at them for being cowards does no good.

The complication we’re making for ourselves is that some of us seem to be doing just that. It’s hard for me to believe that the vast majority of “the 55” love Scotland any less than those they voted against, rather than that they simply think the other way is better, yet they’re being pilloried on occasion as traitors. It is not treason for a little old lady, who has nothing but the BBC and her favourite newspaper to guide her into thinking that this flight will end in disaster, to refuse to board the plane. It isn’t cowardice as far as she’s concerned – it’s good sense. On the other hand, those people – and we know who they are as well as they do themselves – who decided that our planned flight from Westminster must be sabotaged at all costs….well, it’s much harder to find a kind word to say about them.

It’s curious how a fear of flying can be contagious, even more so how it can manifest itself in different ways. By alienating those who voted No, 45-ers who feel themselves to be holding first class tickets for the maiden voyage are effectively ensuring that the plane never will leave the ground. We must welcome as many of these No-voters as we can with the reassuring skill of a cabin steward, the learned expertise of an air traffic controller, and the solid talent of a pilot. Nothing else will make these people want to leave the ground.

All the while the vicious pilot is up there, keeping the sky for itself, intermittently dropping bombs on us from unreachable places.

Those of us who wanted to fly in September are a minority, even if we are right; we believe in democracy, and we must effect change by democracy, or else we are threatening our basic social decency. That means more persuasion, more understanding, more perspicacity, not coercion and condemnation. That’s No’s way.

To fly in the 21st century requires administrative organisation, technical ability, experience of theory and applied knowledge, skill and passion and confidence – only transforming our ’45 and proud’ campaign into a drive for 59 Yes MPs will manage this. 59 Yes MPs will have the clout to make the BBC behave like a responsible national broadcaster. 59 Yes MPs will be in a position to counter every idiot claim made by every idiot far-right-wing MP (for there will be several of them) in relation to the UK’s funding formula for Scotland. 59 Yes MPs will be better-placed to mitigate the worst of what Westminster is going to throw at us. 59 Yes MPs will be able to demand answers of the likes of the Governor of the Bank of England. Questions like: why aren’t you called the Bank of the UK, exactly? It’s what you are.

59 Yes MPs would put Yes in the same position the LibDems were in after the 2010 UK General Election, with only 57 MPs, when their support could be given to either the Tories or Labour to form a majority government. Labour-Yes coalition UK government, anyone? Sounds better then Tory-UKIP.

By reaching out to the 55, the 45 can make that magic 59, and we can all conquer that fear of flying together by actually flying; nothing can stop us if we are united. By endlessly condemning them, we’re only ceaselessly repeating that we are an exclusive minority, and we will always be an exclusive minority. If that’s the case, we might as well all head back to the airport lounge and await the next actual flight out.

Time’s Up for Proud Edward’s Army

October 11 is fast shaping up to be a dental appointment of a day for the Scottish football fan. Scotland play Georgia but, for once, it’s not doubt about the result which looks set to cause the ache. It’s not even that the flag of Georgia is a dead ringer for the flag of England – a red cross on a white background, with each quarter bearing another red Cross of St. George – which might inspire an attack of the collywobbles inside Ibrox. It’s a sign of the strange times we live in that it’s our unofficial national anthem, Flower of Scotland, which is causing the fear.

There’s been talk of a boycott, even though a stadium-wide silence to Roy Williamson’s rousing anthem seems unbelievable, maybe even tantrum-driven; after all, it’s not the song’s fault Scotland voted the way it did.

There’s the problem. Scotland voted the way it did. Singing about rising now and being a nation again is troublesome. Collectively, we had the chance to rise and be a nation again, and we didn’t. Proud Edward’s Army might have been sent homeward, but Proud David’s Army is still here, even if they aren’t, perhaps, as sure of what the future holds as they’d like to be, or as they thought they would be. Sir Alistair Darling, as he surely will be, might find consolation in a title; Johann Lamont OBE is less likely to be able to square her medal with a public disapproval which looks likely to grow and grow. It’s hardly a surprise – Darling has that infamous second home in London in which to find asylum and a good nights sleep. The would-be Lady Lamont does not.

(The Norange vote, strangely enough, probably can belt out Flower of Scotland with more gusto than most others. They did rise. They are a nation again. The result reaffirmed that. There might be a little shyness, perhaps, about a song which deals with sending members of the same nation ‘home’, but that oughtn’t to be too much of an issue – after all, singing God Save The Queen, a song which is every bit as anti-Scots as Flower of Scotland is anti-English, doesn’t seem to cause too much of a stir.)

What to do? Sing, with gusto, words that many find embarrassing, or don’t believe in? Unlikely. Mumble over something choked on? Intolerable. Change the words? Unthinkable.

There is only one solution. It’s time for our unofficial national anthem to regenerate.

Flower is an inappropriate song for a peaceful, modern-day nation to have for a national anthem anyway. It is, arguably, anti-English; much less appealing even than that is the fact that the King of England shares centre-stage with our own nation. A national anthem cannot have one eye on an entirely different country – the French army wouldn’t stand to attention to a song called We Hate The Germans Ra-Ra-Ra. At least, you hope they wouldn’t.

More than that, it points to a violent past. It celebrates one military victory, ignoring a host of traumatic losses, from Flodden and Solway Moss to Culloden and Neville’s Cross, as well as a hundred less-known others, where tens of thousands of Scottish (not to mention English) men and boys lost their lives in terrible, agonising ways.

Flower of Scotland as an official national anthem would have been us defining ourselves socially by our historical relationship with just one people.

Auld Lang Syne as an official national anthem will be us defining ourselves socially by our ideal relationships with everyone.

We ignore one of the world masters of humanity and poetry for the fiery history lesson of the Corries at our own cost. Auld Lang Syne is the perfect moment of friendship, within a social group, between social groups. You know that from every wedding held in the damn country, from every silly grin to every merry relative. Quite apart from that, though, it is easily the greatest, most enduring song in any of the British languages.  Truly. In the “English”-speaking world, its rivals are Happy Birthday, and Jingle Bells. No others. The power of Auld Lang Syne is so great, it can – on occasion – make even the most homophobic of Scottish men hold hands with another man. When sung by the New York public, it weakened Vigo the Carpathian enough that the Ghostbusters were able to kill him…and that was cynical Hollywood’s cynical take on cynical New York. One of us did that. One of us. A Scottish person. With a Scottish accent.

Our national anthem is unofficial. We don’t have one. It’s just one of those things…I mean to say, one of those few things that can actually be swayed by public opinion. We don’t need to cringe to Flower of Scotland facing the cross of Georgia on October 11. We can, instead, nod down to the pipe band on the grass at Ibrox, shrug our shoulders, and think “Scotland’s done that, mate. What exactly have you done?”

I don’t mean any offence to the nation of Georgia, or to the cross of Georgia, by that.

Our national anthem, if we are to keep living as if we are living in the early days of a better nation, needs to be focussed on us more. When the French Army stands to attention, to La Marseillaise, they think of Marseilles. Not Bismarck. The German Army stands to attention with appeals to the brotherhood of Germany, not memories of historical military victories in Belarus and Belgium.

Can the Tartan Army stop being forced by our unofficial national anthem to defend their wee bit hill and glen against England and start promoting Scotland, within and without, do you think? That probably depends on the pre-match organisers, and that depends on the SFA, I guess. Goodness knows how contactable they are. info@scottishfa.co.uk. I, for one, hope so. Auld Lang Syne is a song which fits Scotland, which is fitting for Scotland, which invites and rejoices. Flower of Scotland is a bitter-fond memory for a conquered people.

It’s fairly simple: September’s gone now, and in the past it must remain….OR…..Should auld acquaintance?