Sunday, 30 June 2019

BBC NEWS REVIEWS all about London




Journalist and politician Angus Robertson, claims The BBC London news broadcasters only report on the London papers. Wheras in other nations, they report from all the varied regions. And also from across Europe. 
“The newspaper review presents different angles on the same story. He listened to all the European headlines. In Germany they report ALL the headline news from all the different regions – Bavaria, Frankfurt, Munich, Cologue, Berlin, Chemnitz. By contrast here the BBC Radio 4 morning press review, Today programme – ONLY reports on all the London based newspapers and on NO newspaper headlines from Ireland, Scotland or Wales!! Not only shocking but also shows why those in London have no clue what is going on elsewhere in the regions.
The BBC don't represent the country with their newspaper reviews
Very interesting article by former journalist Angus Robertson – “In Germany they report on news headlines from ALL the regions. Here UK they only report headlines from London and NONE from the Irish Times, Scotsman, Herald, or any Welsh or Yorkshire papers. Its no wonder those in London are totally ignorant of what is happening in the regions. (well Scotland is only a mere region to them).”  
“The news sources were from across Europe – France, Le Monde or Le Figaro; Spain El Pais or La Vanguardia; Italy Corriere della Sera or La Repubblica; Finland Helsingin Sanomat in Finland; central Europe, Der Standard or Die Presse Vienna; Poland, Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita…more. it was important to reflect different news sources and stories from different countries. 
I was keen to hear details of the European Parliament elections results from different nations so I tuned into Deutschlandfunk, the German broadcaster equivalent of the BBC, with their news paper review. They included headlines and news angles from newspapers right across Germany, including both national titles and regionals - the Freie Presse, Chemnitz; Rheinische Post, Düsseldorf; Frankfurter Rundschau and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; Badischen Neuesten Nachrichten, Karlsruhe; Der Tagesspiegel and TAZ Tageszeitung, Berlin; Süddeutsche Zeitung, Munich; Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, Cologne; Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung from Osnabrück and Landshuter Zeitung from Bavaria. German radio thinks it is important to reflect media coverage, journalism, news content and analysis from across the whole country. 
Compare with the UK’s flagship radio news equivalent: BBC Radio 4 morning press review, Today programme. I listened this week, and was struck by its total imbalance, so much so that I listened again on the iPlayer to double check and get the statistics right. By my reckoning there were just more than 60 newspaper or news website mentions in the press review between Monday and Friday. ALL were from London based newspapers! Guess how many were from non-London newspapers? There were none. Zero. Zilch. According to BBC Radio there was not a single headline or report worthy of inclusion from Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish or English regional newspapers. Not one.

Robert the Bruce released June 28th


Shocking. A huge movie project for Angus MacFadyen. Huge support - so why is Cineworld refusing to show this Robert the Bruce film? Blocked? (Cameron also stopped 'Outlander' being shown until AFTER the 2014 vote oddly. Why can't we acknowledge and understand our differences - they are what make us stronger, not weaker.) Other questions, why did Creative Scotland back 'Outlaw King' with American lead Chris Pine - but not 'Robert the Bruce.' And why exactly is King Robert an outlaw anyway? Strange goings on if you ask me....`i hope to go see the film at an Odeon cinema soon, films need support in the cinemas.
I was wondering, why the powers-that-be down south, enjoy Scots stories that include massacre or Scottish downfall - such as Mary Queen of Scots, Culloden, or other defeats. Rather than any Scottish success stories - Enlightenment, innovations, great songs, art and more. Odd really? Especially when they claim to support the UK Union so much? What other country mocks or puts down a part of itself or a partner

We have known Scotland clutched in the grip of a mighty hand… now we'll set her free!" Signature Ent. in the UK has unveiled a trailer for the action drama Robert the Bruce, made by Australian director Richard Gray (of Mine GamesBlinderThe LookalikeBroken Ghost). Robert the Bruce is a hard-hitting historical epic covering the turbulent time after William Wallace's victories depicted in Braveheart. The epic story of one of Scotland's greatest heroes will be premiering at the 73rd Edinburgh Film Festival this month. Angus Macfadyen stars (playing the same role he played in Braveheart) with Jared HarrisZach McGowanDaniel PortmanEmma KenneyMelora WaltersAnna HutchisonTalitha Eliana BatemanPatrick FugitGabriel Bateman, and Kevin McNally. This also features original music from Scottish national treasure Lulu. Looks a bit dry and talky, but perhaps still an invigorating film about a great legend.
Scotland 1306, Robert the Bruce (Angus Macfadyen) crowns himself King and takes the ambition of Scotland’s freedom as his own. But he cannot overcome England’s power: defeated again and again, his army is scattered and Scotland’s nobility abandons him. Hunted, with a price on his head, he finds himself alone and wounded. The cause of freedom seems lost once more. Hidden secretly in a secluded croft of a clan pledged to England, and close to death Robert is nursed back to life by a young widow and her orphaned children. His determination to do what is right, regardless of the cost, reinvigorates his passion to rise again. But it’s not revenge he desires. It’s freedom. Now. Robert the Bruce is directed by Australian filmmaker Richard Gray, director of the films Summer CodaMine GamesBlinderThe LookalikeSugar Mountain, and Broken Ghost previously. The screenplay is by Eric Belgau and Angus Macfadyen. Signature will release Robert the Bruce in UK theaters starting June 28th. No US release is set yet. First impression?

When Covenanters Ruled (1581 – 1651)


 
I’ve always been fascinated by the histories of the ScottishCovenanters. Who were they and why were they so important? Interestingly,  part of the Covenanters, the Cameroonians were major part of the American revolutionary wars. 
The first major Covenant was signed during the Scottish Reformation of 1560, which was to work tirelessly over the nest centuries to establish the Presbyterian church of Scotland. The main group of reformers were known as the Covenanters, with a more extreme off shoot known as the Cameroons, who eventually settled in America and were a major part of the American revolutionary wars (1765 - 1783) 
Their intentions was to keep James Vl on the throne and bring him up “in the fear of God” – the young king was famously educated by the fierce Presbyterian intellectual, poet and writer George Buchanan, who was not averse to a touch of corporal punishment on the royal behind. Although later not only James VI and his ill-fated son Charles I, both attempted to reintroduce rule by the Bishops and to Anglicise the Scottish church. This was massively rejected.  The National Covenant of 1638 was a stunning gesture of defiance and independence against the King, and its implications for the Stuart monarchy were long lasting, not least because it was a genuine mass movement – some 300,000 people signed it. This led not only to civil war but to the war of the Three Kingdoms.

From 1581 – 1651 - The Covenanters were the government of Scotland. The Covenants bound them to the protestant faith. – Scots confession of faith 1560. (signed by James VI)  1637 – Charles I and archbishop of Canterbury imposed rule of bishops., which led to a riot in St Giles, started by Jenny Geddes.  
The National Covenant signed in 1638. Drawn up and signed at Greyfriars graveyard. 1640 adopted by the Scotch Parliament.  The Covenanters raised an army to resists Charles I religious reforms, defeated him in Bishops war. 
This crisis led to the War of the Three kingdoms, which lasted ten years. 
The English Parliament asked for Scots help. They agreed on condition that the Scottish system of church government was adopted in England 1643,


*The Solemn League and Covenant Treaty - to preserve the reformed religion of Scotland. The Scottish armies were important in the victory over the king.
Civil War Scotland - 1644 – 1647
Royalist who opposed the Covenanters took up arms (Episcopalian) led by John Graham, 1stMarquis of Montrose.  Divisions between religions, Royalists, Covenanters – and the Highland and Lowlands Covenanters. Charles I surrendered but refused to sign the covenant.
Covenanters were divided. – Kirk party , more militant  and rejected any engagement with Charles I.  (1647). Their army invaded England but was defeated at the Battle of Preston. This left Kirk party in charge – and this led to war with English parliament. 



The Covenanters were defeated by Oliver Cromwell 1650 – 1652., and his new model Army, who marched as far north as Dunnottar castle Stonehaven.
Charles Ii signed the Treaty of Breda 1660 and declared oath to Covenanters, and had his coronation at Scone. After Charles II Restoration 1661, he renounced the Covenanters and had the Episcopacy and Bishops restored. To stop unrest south west Scotland, Covenanters rebellion, the government brought down 6000 highland troops. 

The Covenanters fought and defeated John Graham of Claverhouse – 1679 Rebellion – but were defeated at Bothwell Brig. 1200 captured and taken to Edinburgh and 400 imprisoned Greyfriars kirkyard.

The Covenanters split – and Cameroonians, who had more extreme positions. To stamp out sedition, the UK government ordered field executions without trail. This is known as The Killing Time
The Cameroonians supported William of Orange, who summoned a convention of estates. 1689 in Edinburgh. The Cameroonian guard helped to defeat the Jacobite highlanders, at the battle of Dunkeld. They were disappointed when William did not adapt their religion and Covenanters. They formed the United Societies. 


The Covenanters migrated to North America by way of Ireland - fleeing persecution they set up churches in Ireland and north America. In 1717, the preacher William Tennent founded Log College, the first Presbyterian seminary (reformed Presbyterian church) The Covenanters were among the first vocal agitators for independence from Great Britain and volunteered as soldiers. They also opposed to slavery.  (there are monuments to the Killing Time)
Although the king defeated their attempts to dictate the religion of his subjects, Presbyterianism became the established religion of Scotland.  




Wednesday, 26 June 2019

We Need New Stories


Through understanding our past stories: and as singer songwriter Rab Noakes says, "a future with no past has no future". New stories can emerge through the exchange of ideas, new stories may emerge.

Professor Tom Devine writes, in his latest book, The Scottish Clearance: A History of the Dispossessed, that until the 1960s, there were few academic studies on Scotland’s history after the Union of 1707.((there were more on Yorkshire)

Is democracy failing today, with the rise of populism, and as people seem to have lost all trust and faith in the system? Military expert now say its all about counterintelligence – Russia and China are experts in this field. Its no longer about huge warships and its about who controls information flows. With the rise of cyber warfare and online propaganda, how can we protect our freedoms and democracies. How can we regain trust?

We in Europe we must remember we do have the rule of law, some accountability measures of free press, vibrant arts and quality universities. Knowledge is central – reading stories, creativity, collaborations and understanding our past.  

Most Scots have pride in their Scottish culture: from our highland glens, ballads and poetry, Edinburgh enlightenment, border hills, western isles, imposing historic castles and ever changing skies. We’ve had turbulent histories: William Wallace, John Knox, Mary Queen of Scots, Bannockburn, Reformation, Jacobites. We are known for our whisky, Clyde ships, fish, oil, tweed, tartan, golf, poetry and song.

We’ve given the world the great songs of Robert Burns and other great writers. And innovations such as Penicillin, steam engines and more. The traditions are continued by powerful troubadours of folk music with popular live acoustic music and world scale festivals such as Celtic connections and Edinburgh festivals – the world’s biggest arts festival. 

I am encouraged that Scotland’s first minster is a keen reader. But equally dismayed to read that neither Trump or Corbyn are readers. In fact Trump has fake book covers lining his walls. Says it all really. 

Our national poet Robert Burns was a ferocious reader and read at the dinner table. He enjoyed his aunts stories, his mothers songs and his fathers reading and conversations. Famous fashion designer, Karl Lagerfield, valued his vast library of books above all else. Francoise Frenkel, fled the Nazis ( author of No Place to Rest my Head) - and it was her books and poems that kept her hope alive. When the Communist regime in Russia wanted to control arts and thought, they exiled any free thinkers, writers and artists on the Philosophy steamer. 

Edinburgh International book festival blog 2019


We Need new Stories 
THREADS FOR 2019 INCLUDE – 
Fragile Planet, Indigenous Voices, Her Story, Stories that make Scotland. Amnesty International Imprisoned writers series, music and more.
Contributors in 2019 – Val McDermid, Deray McKesson, Eilidh Muldoon, 
Famous names attending EIBF 2019 – Salman Rushdie, Elif Shafak, Naomi Wolf, Kevin Barry, Ian Rankin, Ben Okri, Cathy Newman, Kirsty Wark, Fintan O’Toole. Alexander McCall Smith. 


Through understanding our past stories: and as Rab Noakes says, "a future with no past has no future." New stories can emerge through the exchange of ideas, new stories may emerge.
Karl-Ove-Knausgaard
Brian May
Chelsea Clinton
Murray-Lachlan-Young
Ruby Wax
BOOKS are the keys to empathy, understanding, otherness, journeys of imagination, we could never otherwise take. A love of books begins before a child can walk or talk, by the joy of bedtime stories.

EIBF welcomes children authors, illustrators, academics, politicians, novelists, scientists, journalists, travel writers, musicians, artists, poets,


Famous names attending EIBF 2019 – Salman Rushdie, Elif Shafak, Naomi Wolf, Kevin Barry, Ian Rankin, Ben Okri, Cathy Newman, Kirsty Wark, Fintan O’Toole. Alexander Macoll Smith. Roddy Doyle, Kate Atkinson, Joanne Harris, DelRay McKessan (black lives matter) 
Sporting heroes – Chris Hoy, Katherine Graniger, Doddie Weir, 

A talk on homes for Migrants and Refugees – with Val McDermid, singer songwriter Karine Polwart, author Ali Smith, and Nayrouz Qarmour, (will speak of a Damascus refugee camp) who will discuss why people have to leave their homelands. The UK is a nation of immigrants (as is the US). What do we really mean by fear of immigrants? Is it a result of Blair’s uncontrolled influx of secret huge numbers of migrants. 

This year as well as main sponsor Baillie Gifford, the book festival has teamed up with the New York Times,with several of their journalist’s and writers – Naomi Wolf, Laura Watts, Yanan Yang, Adam Satariano, Josh Haner, 
*Music – Beerjacket, Tracy Thorn, Stuart Cosgrove, James MacMillan. 

More than ever we need ‘open spaces’ to discuss new worlds, adaptability, progress, to build bridges and for accountability. How do we encourage healthy, informed debates. 

**The joy and love of books in central, and EIBF also has a large Children’s book festival. 
EIBF celebrates the written and spoken word in the perfect setting of Charlotte square Edinburgh. EIBF is a celebration of books, written words ideas, spaces to collaborate and exchange views, inspiring stories. retrieving and renewing. 

EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL - 11th to 27th August 2018




How do new stories evolve? 

Through understanding our past stories: and as Rab Noakes says, a future with no past has no future. New stories can emerge through the exchange of ideas, new stories may emerge.

Professor Tom Devine writes, in his latest book, The Scottish Clearance: A History of the Dispossessed, that until the 1960s, there were few academic studies on Scotland’s history after the Union of 1707.((there were more on Yorkshire)
Is democracy failing today, with the rise of populism, and as people seem to have lost all trust and faith in the system? Military expert now say its all about counterintelligence – Russia and China are experts in this field. Its no longer about huge warships and its about who controls information flows. With the rise of cyber warfare and online propaganda, how can we protect our freedoms and democracies. How can we regain trust?

We in Europe must remember we do have the rule of law, some accountability measures of free press, vibrant arts and quality universities. Knowledge is the key – reading stories, creativity, collaborations and understanding our past.  

**I am encouraged that Scotland’s first minster is a keen reader. But equally dismayed to read that neither Trump or Corbyn are readers. In fact Trump has fake book covers lining his walls. Says it all really. 

Most Scots have pride in their Scottish culture: from our highland glens, ballads and poetry, Edinburgh enlightenment, border hills, western isles, imposing historic castles and ever changing skies. We’ve had turbulent histories: William Wallace, John Knox, Mary Queen of Scots, Bannockburn, Reformation, Jacobites. We are known for our whisky, Clyde ships, fish, oil, tweed, tartan, golf, poetry and song.

We’ve given the world the great songs of Robert Burns and other great writers. And innovations such as Penicillin, steam engines and more. The traditions are continued by powerful troubadours of folk music with popular live acoustic music and world scale festivals such as Celtic connections and Edinburgh festivals – the world’s biggest arts festival. 
I am encouraged that Scotland’s first minster is a keen reader. But equally dismayed to read that neither Trump or Corbyn are readers. In fact Trump has fake book covers lining his walls. Says it all really.  

Our national poet Robert Burns was a ferocious reader and read at the dinner table. He enjoyed his aunts stories, his mothers songs and his fathers reading and conversations. Famous fashion designer, Karl Lagerfield, valued his vast library of books above all else. Francoise Frenkel, fled the Nazis  (author of No Place to Rest my Head) - and it was her books and poems that kept her hope alive. When the Communist regime in Russia wanted to control arts and thought, they exiled any free thinkers, writers and artists on the Philosophy steamer. 

Friday, 31 May 2019

Forgotten Women

Women pass on our stories, but they are often forgotten in the archives and annals of history. 
We live in a world where most of the statues are to men. I used to wonder were there no great women artists or musicians. Then I discovered, yes there were many outstanding women artists! –

In my life time there have been women of genius and great accomplishments – Joni Mitchell, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Oprah Winfrey, Coco Chanel, Angela Merkel, Christine Lagard, Hilary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and many, many more. 

There are many women, who not only supported their husbands, but added to their creativity. 
I also read of how women influenced their children – Robert Burns learned not only from his father, but from his aunt’s stories and his mother singing the traditional ballads. 

Scottish author Sara Sheridan has written a new book where all the names in Scotland are female names!
Where are the Women? (2019) Sara Sheridan
Margaret MacDonald
Elsie Inglis

 A Few Examples

Elsie Inglis: Female hero honoured in Serbia. There is no statue to her in Edinburgh, only  plaque in st Giles, she brought hygiene to war conditions and saved many lives. 
**Elsie Inglis, doctor and suffragette, who fundraised for the first Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH)  hospice for poor women Edinburgh in 1894. She attended Edinburgh medical school and qualified from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Edinburgh. She trained at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson’s new hospital for women London and later at the Rotunda Dublin. She was appalled by the general standard of care and lack of specialization in the needs of female patients. 

She is best known for The Elsie Inglis maternity hospital and her war work when she set up the SWH for Foreign Service which sent medical teams to Belgium, France, Serbia, and Russia. After the British army turned her down she gained support from the French government. She was told – to go home and sit still by the UK war office! She went to Serbia and worked to improve hygiene to reduce typhus and other epidemics. She was awarded the Order of the White Eagle of Serbia

Margaret MacDonald
– (1864 -1933) Scottish artist whose design work became one of the defining features of the "Glasgow Style" during the 1890s.With her husband, renowned architect Rennie Mackintosh, she was one of the most influential members of the loose collective of the Glasgow Four. She exhibited at the 1900 Vienna Secession, where she was arguably an influence on the Secessionists Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffman. Her husband Charles Macintosh said, Margaret is the genius, I have only the talent.’

Beverly Martyn, English singer songwriter (1947 - )
Apparently John Martyn wrote his best songs with Beverly Kutner, his wife, which she gets little credit for. Beverly had worked with Paul Simon, Nick Drake. They recorded three albums together before John was persuaded by the record label to go solo - Stormbringer, Road to Ruin and Bless the Weather. She played piano while they wrote songs together for Solid Air.  Beverly was then left on the house on the hill to raise their children. John toured and turned to alcohol. Beverly left him after ten years of marriage.    
Nelle Harper Lee (1926 – 2016), author of To Kill a Mocking bird, one of the best loved American classics. 

Sofonisba Anguissola (1550 Spain) 
Lavinia Fontana (1520 Italy) 
Artemisia Gentileschi (1615 Italy). 
Clara Peeters (1594) 
Lady Butler (1846 England) 
Berthe Morisot (1841 France) 
Karin Larsson (1859 Sweden)  
Margaret MacDonald (1864 Scotland) 
Georgia O'Keefe (1887 America) 
Elsie Inglis -  (1864 –1917) Scottish doctor and suffragette,
Muriel Spark – (1918 – 2006) Scottish author
Margaret Macdonald – (1864 -1933) Scottish artist
Mary Somerville  (1780 – 1872)
Mary Barbour(1875  – 1958)


Friday, 17 May 2019

Victoria Morton's painting Soliton Kelvingrove


At Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, from the Hamilton Bequest (since 1927), there are world-renowned works by Glasgow Boys William Kennedy, Scottish Colourist Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell and painter Joan Eardley as well as Monet's View of Ventimiglia and The Young Girls by American Impressionist Mary Cassatt.

The final paintings are by Scottish abstract painter Victoria Morton's Soliton hangs at the gallery's south east stairs next to Salvador Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross.
As an art student, she came to Kelvingrove and was inspired by the Scottish Colourists and the French Impressionist collection. The colours in her work and the broken brush she is looking back to past master examples: a sensory experience.



" Morton's paintings are closely connected to her practice as a musician (she sings as well as playing bass recorder, piano and analogue synthesizer). Working through painting, sculpture, found objects, photography and sound, the artist explores colour perception, expression and non-verbal communication. "They were very open-minded," 



Morton, "I wanted to make a series of works where people could just walk in and experience them all at once, almost like they were different movements in a piece of music. I was thinking about broad and universal themes like light and sound and the physics of sound. The name Soliton comes from a type of wave form that exists in nature and also in physics. I was interested in that sound aspect because I work with music as well. "Soliton is quite a sensory piece. There is a direct connection to music and waveforms. I wanted to make a large scale, abstract expressionist painting that relates to real experiences. I love colour and the effect it has. Colour is a type of waveform, so there are different frequencies at play.”


Scottish Women Writers

*Catherine Carswell 1876 – 1946
Carswell wrote of the worlds of Europe and Glasgow. Carswell was a professional reviewer for the Herald newspaper. She wrote of great women characters of modern fiction: vulnerable, tough, bright and strong. 

Biography Robert Burns (1930):The Sage Pilgrimage (1932); the Tranquil Heart (1937),
The Scottish world is not for Joanna: Italy and Europe must be experienced before she can fully inhabit her potential


*Nan Shepherd(1893 – 1981)
`The Quarry Wood, The Weatherhouse, A Pass in the Grampians. Shepherd wrote of identity and freedom; landscape and spirituality; responsibility and choice. Her most famous book is  The Living Mountain (1977).


*Willa Muir (1890 – 1970)
Women: An Enquiry (19250, Mrs Grundy in Scotland (1936), Imagined corners (1931); Mrs Ritchie (1933), Living with ballads (1963); Belonging (1968)

Aileen Christenson’s critical study moving in circles on Willa Muir’s writings (2007)

All three have either place in any canon of modern literature, write Alan Raich. Scotland should be glad to give them acclaim.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Our Culture of Violence (posted in 2005)


I’m writing about the tragic death of a young 20yr-old boy ( he was a tall rugby player) who lived behind us here in a northern suburb of Glasgow. He was violently and indiscriminately attacked in the centre of Glasgow by two youths.  A recent study from California cited Scotland as having the highest rates of Youth violence in the world. When it reaches so close to home, it shocks and horrifies us all. 

As I pick up the Evening Times I read of further attacks. Apparently the two Youths involved in the random attack, injured several others the same night. My son works as a junior doctor in Glasgow and those on call in the Infirmary talked of the numbers brought in injured that same night. It was a Friday night after an Old Firm clash. 

We live in a Culture of Violence, that starts in the home and spread out into the community at large. Add to this a cocktail of alcohol over-indulgence and ease of access to drugs, and you have a lethal combination, a powder keg just waiting to explode.  

 Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, recently suggested in the press that it was time for an Open Debate on this pressing subject.  Perhaps we need to look at other cosmopolitan areas such as New York, which used to have a high level of violence, and adopted a zero tolerance approach several years ago – which meant targeting young criminals and the smallest crimes, before it leads to the more serious ones.  My daughter was there this summer and found New York a safer city to walk around in than Glasgow. We also need to tackle the alcohol and drug abuse problems, through education and through stricter laws on selling alcohol to the very young.   

The introduction of laws banning physical violence in the home may help to raise awareness that violence towards others is not acceptable behaviour in our society. This also raises questions about our society’s attitude to violence generally, as a way of controlling others. There are other more successful ways of coping with problems and with young children. Another problem is the severe lack of male role models for many young boys growing up here, and the fact that Scotland has such a high rate of single parent families.

The second issue is attitudes to binge drinking. We glorify ‘being drunk’ and ‘binge drinking’ in Scotland – as if it is something to be proud of.  A whole generation is being caught up in a cheap triple alcoholic haze. Do we care? Well we should. We set the example by what we do and say. My view is it is the entire ‘Culture’ and attitudes here in Scotland that have to change, and not about a few experts telling the less fortunate to behave better. 

It is time we looked seriously at these and other alternative ways of behaving, before youth violence escalates even further on our streets.

Brexit Questions - Change is Coming

 As water leaks through the crumbling Westminster roofs, and its labyrinth of corridors, it has been found greatly wanting and completely unable to deal with modern challenges. The Brexit debates, like a dangerous football, have thrown everything up in the air – with no written constitution, or interactive democracy.  Other leaders are aghast at how out-of-touch and not fit for purpose Westminster is. 

Three years ago 2016 before all this Brexit happened, few really cared about whether the UK was in or out of the EU, and I never saw anyone marching on the streets over this EU question. It was simply an institution like Nato or the Commonwealth – that was an important and accepted part of our lives. (People are marching though against climate change: we may only have 10 years to save our planet!)

Britain has suffered severe upheavals and ups and downs - before the dark days of war, the strikes of the late 60s, the Thatcher years, the Iraq war during Blair. The 2008 crash crisis worldwide. It seemed that the EU offered some stability and also peace and prosperity, surely important issues? So why did those in England want to leave the EU, and blamed the EU even, with the rise of Ukip? What was going on? Is this merely an uprising of populist far right bigotry as some argue? Or something much deeper? Or why some English voters believe England is not a sovereign country that is simply operating in at trading union?

An embarrassment. Its extremely worrying the decay, incompetence  and inability to govern this whole process has highlighted. Many appear to forget the boom and bust we used to suffer in Britain before we joined the EU 40 years ago. It meant high interest rates, inflation and all kinds of suffering and uncertainty. That’s what will be in store for us again once we leave the stability provided by being in the EU. This is partly driven by the fact that Germany in particular, always aims for a stable economy based on solid manufacturing, rather than the uncertainty and debt -ridden roulette of the London financial markets. 

The UK has been led by a poor leader, who is unable to empathize or collaborate? Why are MPs pursuing an ill-thought out policy that will make us all poorer? Why was there no real planning or idea of what Brexit really meant? What was it really all about?  Restoring past glories? Keeping the UK union together, when the cracks only get wider? Restoring Britishness’ and Union jacks? I'm really worried about the Americanization here in the UK and the privatising of health care and more. Where will it all lead?

The British Tory ship steams ahead, with no destination, no captain, and no map. What are we Scots to do? Can Brit Nats and Scots Nats exist side by side? Should we scramble for life rafts – or accept this laughable chaos? Or instead take control of our own Scottish resources? For now we need to let the anchors rise and the dust settle – and why does Nicola have explain her every move, when other politicians explain nothing?  Why are our respected MPs snubbed as irrelevant? Its insulting to the Scots nation.

Scotland needs to protect its significant resources by emulating countries like Norway (which is in EFTA) and also sets regulations to protect its environment, industries and by promoting Norway’s own oil company (which prevents multi-nationals exploiting their wealth). There are many examples of small, indy nations that operate very successfully in a larger trading block. There are no examples of a country operating successfully in a trading block, and then deciding to leave these treaties with no plan over its future! All we know is Brexit means leaving present agreements, but not what it actually wants! What a mess.

Why I want independence
I believe a nation is best served making its own decisions, in its own best interests – and that those in a foreign nation are not best able to make decisions for us. To flourish, Scotland must break free of the chains of English colonization and be an independent European nation once again. 

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Democracy and Universal Suffrage

It appears that the small island nation of Iceland led the way
Iceland is generally held to be the oldest Parliament, starting in 930. The oldest continuous Parliament is the Tynwald (Isle of Man), which started in 979, although its roots go further back. In 1188 Spain held one of the first parliament followed by the Netherlands in 1581. 

In the UK the Union of Parliaments 1707, brought about a more modern parliament, which limited the power of the monarch. 
After the Union of the Parliaments in Britain – which dissolved both the Parliament of Scotland the Parliament of England under James Stuart (VI Scotland and I England) to create a parliament of Great Britain, which sat in London. The modern concept of parliamentary government emerged in the Kingdom of Great Britain (1707 - 1800 ) and in Sweden during the Age of Liberty (1718 - 1722). 

**Universal Suffrage
Suffrage – is the right to vote in public, political elections. 
Britain was not one of the first countries to offer votes for all men, and later all women.

France - 1792 suffrage for all men (in 1850 excluded criminals and homeless)
America  - 1856 Voting rights all white males, and suffrage women 1920
New Zealand  1893 – full suffrage and votes for omen. First self-governing country.
Finland - 1906 – suffrage all men and women (women could also stand for election) 

UK – 1918 – male suffrage, all men the vote
1928 – all women the vote. 

Voting Injustice
In 1969 UK closed a loophole where 7% got 2 votes!
Also in 1969 Northern Ireland  votes for Catholics after the civil rights movement. (under Harold Wilson)

In the US, some states exercise shared sovereignty to offer citizens the opportunity to write, propose, and vote on referendums. 
Referendums in the UK are rare. In the UK we have a passive, non interactive democracy.
and we have too large, impersonal council areas. 

Friday, 19 April 2019

Four Hundred Years of the Scottish Parliament

St Giles
The Scottish Parliament,sat for 400 years ( 1230 - 1707 ) influenced by the Reformation, Enlightenment and great scholars. It set many precedents that were eventually incorporated into the British parliament. It worked to reduce the power of the monarchy. The great scholar George Buchanan, who based his writings on the Scottish clan system and the father of democracy. He wrote that all political power resides in the people, and it must reside in the people: and that it is lawful and necessary to resist kings (or queens) or (we might say all rulers) if (or when) they become tyrants. There were many attempts to suppress his work and he foresaw where stupid Stewart vanity would lead.  

It bothers me that the British media portrays the British or English democracy as if it’s the oldest and best in the world. It is not. And while the contributions of the Scots are simply swept aside. Also Britain lagged behind other countries with universal suffrage (votes for all men) and crushed the Peoples Reform movement late 18thcentury, in Ireland and Scotland. 

The Scottish Parliament was begun in 1235 under Alexander II and had a political and judicial role. It sat for 400 years and incorporated The Three Estates – clergy, nobility, Burghs – who all sat together in a single chamber. Which contrasts to the divisions in the English parliament with its House of Commons and House of Lords. And the parliament travelled across the country. Later it sat in St Giles 1563 – 1639, and the nearby Parliament Hall 1639 – 1707.
The Declaration of Arbroath


The Declaration of Arbroath (1320) - Arbroath was the place that the Arbroath Declaration of Independencewas signed by lords, commons and the clergy of Scotland in 1320.  In it they had affirmed our right to be free to live our own lives in our own way.  Six years after Bannockburn.
There is a clip of Ian Hamilton, who led the students who stole back the Stone of Destiny 1951 from Westminster abbey, at the Arbroath visitors centre, speaking of his quest to awaken Scotland from its long slumber, his voice chokes as he speaks.. 

...for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

The Scottish Parliament determined the religious orthodoxy but at this time more power resided with the church and the monarchy. James Stewart V was Catholic.  
The Protestant Reformation happened in 1560, and Bishops were excluded after 1567 - abolished by the Covenanters1638 – 1651.
George Buchanan

Under James VI and I of England, (1603 Union of the Crowns) who was tutored by the highly respected scholar and the father of democracy George Buchannan. Buchanan was one of the most significant literary and political figures of the 16th century: poet, playwright, historian, humanist scholar, teacher to Mary Queen of Scots, and later to her son James Stewart VI of Scotland and I of England. He wrote one of the most important books in literature. A Dialogue on the Law of Kingship among the Scots, a critical edition and translation of George Buchanan's 'De Iure Regni apud Scotos Dialogus 

The Lord of the Articles was often appointed by the Crown, and parliament therefore became less independent. There was the War of the Three Kingdoms (not English civil war) and The Thirty years religious war in Europe, 17th century. 

Turbulent Times.  Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland in 1651, after Charles I was executed and he went as far north as Dunottar castle, looking for the Scottish crown. (which was hidden elsewhere) 
Ten years later in1661, saw Charles II restoration. He sent Commissioners to rule his northern kingdom. His brother Catholic James VII fled into exile 1689. This period is called the Glorious Revolution, but why is it glorious but other revolutions are only ordinary? And this led to divisions Northern Ireland begun under Henry VIII.

The Scottish Parliament nominated William of Orange and they disposed James Stewart VII under the Claim of Rights, and they offered the Crown to William and Mary, with limits to royal power. .

The Union of the Parliaments – was a Trading Treaty - but by 1801 England began colonising Scotland. 
After years, the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999, to Robert Burns song A Mans a Man for a That. Can we live up to these expectations and hopes?
The NEW Scottish Parliament 1999  to 2019 
'When on 25 march 1707 James Ogilvie, Earl of Seafield, Chancellor of Scotland, signed the Act of Union, ending Scotland's ancient independence, and merging the two parliaments of Scotland and England into the United Kingdom Parliament, he threw down the quill with these words: 'Now there's the end of an auld sang.'   

Ian Hamilton on taking back the Stone of Destiny. "It may be, it just may be, that on Christmas Day 1950 four young people wrote a new verse to that old song. Whatever we did, the song is still being sung."