Showing posts with label brexit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brexit. Show all posts

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Scotland’s Ties to Europe


One of the main reasons for Scotland’s enlightened thought  - reformation 1560 to the 1700s – was our close collaboration  , integration and trade with Europe. Our scholars studied in Paris and beyond, and also taught there.

 

When the UKs Brexit happened it was such a profound and distressing wrench for Scotland it was extreme hard to write about. Many of us thought the EU project had brought us peace, stability, security, and prosperity. Most Scots feel European of heart and mind and culturally. 

 

We didn’t understand what Brexit was for – was it a global Britain, to stop immigration, to be Singapore on Thames, with de-regulation and lower pay – or high paid jobs? Who knew? Those of us who lived through the 60s and 70s remember a UK in turmoil, a rollercoaster of financial crashes –  IMF, pound devalues, blackouts and strikes. 

 

Most Scots prefer the stabile European economy, to the insecurity of a Brexited Britain. We only have to look over the sea to Ireland. We have a major constitutional divide now in Scotland that will not be easily healed. How do we move forward? Half of Scotland has a vision of a new, greener and more successful Scotland.

 

The other half wants what they already know and prefer – to share resources with the rest of UK. The main drawback to the UK ‘centralising dependency’(not a union) is its extreme centralisation of power in London, which sucks and draws from the rest of the country.



Saturday, 31 July 2021

Europe for Scotland

 


 Compared to 2014, Scotland now has a great deal of support both world wide and in Europe, for its desire for independence. Wheras in 2014 many did not understand, now they do. 

For centuries Scotland has been  a trading nation – over to Flanders, France.

 

https://europeforscotland.com

 

LETTER 

We are Europeans from across the continent and around the world.

We want the people of Scotland to know that Europeans everywhere would welcome them back in the European Union if this is still their democratic wish.

 

Dear Heads of State and Government of the EU, President of the European Council, President and Members of the European Parliament, President and Members of the Commission,

We are Europeans from across the continent and around the world. Naturally, we disagree about many things. But we all agree on this: We want the people of Scotland to know that Europeans everywhere would welcome them back in the European Union if this is still their democratic wish.

 

In the 2016 Brexit Referendum, not a single Scottish district voted to leave, and Scotland as a whole voted by a 62% majority to remain in the EU. In subsequent years, the Scottish Parliament rejected the withdrawal process at every stage. Yet in 2020, Scotland was taken out of the European Union alongside the rest of the UK.

 

When Scots voted to remain in the EU, they did so as part of the United Kingdom. Separating themselves from the UK to become a member state of the EU is a different matter. One that demands its own referendum, which the Scottish Parliament and government have formally requested. At present the UK government refuses to permit this. 

We should not stand idle while this impasse lasts. It is an unprecedented development and demands fresh thinking from the EU. 

 

Therefore, we call on you to ensure that the EU clearly signals a path for Scotland to become a member in advance of any independence referendum. The usual process is for the EU to respond to a membership request only when it comes from an independent country.

 

Scotland deserves a different process. While it is legally part of the UK the Scottish government cannot negotiate with the EU. But the EU can declare that, because Scotland has already long been part of the EU, should it become legally and democratically independent it need not apply as a ‘new’ accession candidate.

 

Instead, the EU and its member states should make a unilateral and open offer of membership: an exceptional proposal to match Scotland’s exceptional circumstances.

The EU has demonstrated already that it can recognise the unique circumstance created by Brexit. The European Council unilaterally confirmed at its Summit of 29 April 2017 that Northern Ireland would become part of the EU immediately should it ever vote in the future to join the Republic of Ireland.

 

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

MUSIC and creative industries badly effected by Brexit & Covid




Attending live concerts is so important to many of us – nothing beats the thrill, togetherness, emotional releases and well-being of an excellent, engrossing concerts -  either the energetic large stadium, music festival or the intimacy of the characterful smaller venues.


I’m very concerned, as are many others, over the destruction of many of our crucial industries due to this foolhardy and reckless Brexit. The Creative industries and music is a massive industry for the UK, and this is all a disaster. 

Brexit failings

The EU is by far the biggest touring market in the world–  in 2019 - with EU 20K tour dates, America 5K, and other countries much fewer. Plus it costs a fortune to tour say Australia with a much smaller population 

 

To tour the EU after Brexit now requires - Visa regulation and lots of red tape, instruments, lighting, sound equipment, rules on transportation, And only 3 stops in the EU!!  All the uncertainty now for mid-tier artists makes touring practically unviable, and there are no crews or tour managers. Devastating for artists. 

 


On top of the destructive Brexit there have also been the Covid restrictions on us all. However Covid Insurance won’t cover festivals or musicians. There is a Covid relief fund – and Festivals have been offered 35 million.

 

Sadly many artists are now quitting and leaving the industry. 

Among my hopes are that we might be able to return to the EU single market and customs union. Apart form our crucial cultural, economic and scientific connections the biggest benefit the EU has brought is “peace and prosperity”! 

 

I’m excited to have two concerts now booked for August – its 18months since my last concert at Celtic connections 2020!  - Tideines 8th August,Edinburgh Festival 2021 and Chrissie Hynde 24th August, Queens Hall Edinburgh!

 

 

Friday, 30 April 2021

Centenary Northern Ireland: Old black & white photo

 


In April it will be the first centenary of Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland consists of the six counties - 

County Down, County Armagh, County Fermanagh, County Londonderry, County Tyrone.

While the rest of Ireland is the Free State of 26 counties. 

 

Northern Ireland did have a Protestant majority, as there is now a balance equally between Catholic and Protestant. My parents were Ulster unionists and I grew up over in Edinburgh Scotland and visited Ireland in the summers growing up. I have mixed views and during the Brexit debates I couldn’t believe that the English debates never gave any thought to what on earth might happen in Ireland. So much time and effort went into establishing peace with the Good Friday agreement. So much wasted time on this ill-advised Brexit. 

 

I remember the nightly news during the Troubles of bombings, murders or knee cappings. I felt angry that Brexiteers gave no thought to these issues. The troubles began with peaceful protests by Catholics of decent housing. Especially as I still have no understanding of why or what Brexit is about – except saving the Tory party and avoiding the new EU regulations for tax avoiders. Or was it about saving Englanders view of themselves. 

 In 1921 the first Prime minster of Northern Ireland Stormont assembly was Viscount Craig

 

**The Captain of his Football team

Recently I discovered an old black and white photo of my fathers’ father – my granddad – who was captain of his Irish football team. And also a letter from my father to my son dated 1986, when he wrote this treasured photo was from 75 years ago. This photo was taken in 1911– 100 years ago. He played football for the Ards team and won caps by playing for the Ireland team.


Ards Football Team 1912

 

I realised then this photo was before partition and before the Troubles that followed. 

I remember visiting Northern Ireland when there were long road blocks and helicopters hovering over head. Scary times. 

 

Northern Ireland is divided into six counties, namely: 

County Down, County Armagh, County Fermanagh, County Londonderry, County Tyrone.

Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone.

As well as "Ireland", "Éire" or "the Republic of Ireland", the state is also referred to as "the Republic", "Southern Ireland" or "the South". In an Irish republican context it is often referred to as "the Free State" or "the 26 Counties".

 

 Ireland / Eire

also known as the Republic of Ireland (Poblacht na hÉireann), is a country in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the eastern side of the island. Around 40% of the country's population of 4.9 million people resides in the Greater Dublin Area.The sovereign state shares its only land border with Northern Irelandwhich is part of the United Kingdom.


Stormont

**Northern Ireland Centenary 

Its the centenary for Northern Ireland in May, so it’s a time to reflect and consider the benefits and drawbacks. When Northern Ireland was set up the Protestants has a clear majority there, but not anymore. So the loyalist community feel under threat and not protected by the British empire as they once did.

 

There is existential crisis going on across the British Isles - in Scotland and in Northern Ireland is under strain and something has to give. The loyalists there feel more British than many in London, but find themselves cut off from the mainland by Boris Johnson, false lies and his Northern Ireland protocol erecting a border Irish Sea.

 

The hard Brexit has caused so many problems – for Ireland, for fishing, for farmers, for exports, for immigration and for Scotland. Brexit is a disaster for Scotland – loss of immigration, 40% loss of trade. For businesses in Northern Ireland, its cheaper and easier to deal directly with the EU deliveries, so many are going to consider what’s the point of the present situation. Trying to bring Catholics and Protestant children together in schools worked when we were all in the level playing fields of the EU single market.

 

The only solution that I can realistically see, is a return to the EU single market – that Scotland has been pushing for. Since 2016, this ill advised Brexit has been a disaster – who actually benefits from it? So far I’ve found no answer to this question (except those with offshore tax funds) If Brexit is about English Nationalism, then its time for English independence – and its well past time for a new constitution.

 

The Loyalists feel let down by all sides. and ignored in all this. The Tories try to claim this is all about the EU being too strict over the border. The trouble is the British empire no longer exists. The problems Northern Ireland are not only sectarian, they run very deep. Protestants in Northern Ireland feel more British than  many in London and fly union jacks constantly. Its an existential crisis made much worse by this ill advised Brexit. Those in London never considered the dramatic effect Brexit would have on Ireland or Scotland. Brexit makes a united Ireland more likely for instance, for both trade and business reasons.


Lack of History teaching.

 

Today, in Germany children are taught over and over how easily evil dictatorship can take over, to protect and ensure this is never repeated. Its a sad state of affairs that History is sidelined in UK schools and often hardly taught at all. We are taught of the Tudors but nothing of more recent and crucially important histories of Empire and imperialism.

However Boris is on a mission to reclaim the glories of Rule Britannia on the ocean. But this past is well and truly gone: most of the empire are now independent nations since the great wars.

 

Story of Northern Ireland
Several Gaelic kingdoms, 16th century Ulster most resistant to English control (1596 – 1603).  Norman Irish Lords
The Pale, around Dublin controlled by the English. 
Henry VIII, Tudor English king, declared himself King of Ireland in 1542.

 

The Plantation of Northern Ireland began under the Tudors, and Elizabeth and continued under James Stewart, after union of the crowns 1603.

Flight of the Earls. Ulster Irish Lords O'Neills, after defeat fled to Europe. Lands confiscated crown and colonized by British Ulster Protestants. The War of Three Kingdoms ended English Parliament.

 

Conquest ensured Anglican Protestant rule. 

Williamnite – Jacobite war 1688-90 – Siege Derry, and Battle of the Boyne. 


Scots migrated to Ulster due to Scots famine. There was Institutional discrimination with Penal laws to disadvantage Catholics and Presbyterianism. 

 

250K Ulster Presbyterians emigrated to America and now there is 27m Scotch-Irish Americans and Scotch-Irish Canadians.

1700s there was secret militant socialites.


1801 – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland formed, governed from London. Pushed for 2 kingdoms to merge to quell sectarianism, remove discriminatory laws and to prevent spread of French republicanism and reform for democracy.

 

Late 19th century, Irish nationalists MPs, Westminster committed the Liberal party, to Irish home rule, first bill defeated, third home rule introduced, suspended by first world war. Conservatives opposed and threatened violence – 1914 weapons smuggled from Germany: By UVF to oppose Rome rule for Ireland. 

 

Easter Rising 1916 – full independence rather than Home rule. Irish Convention 1917-18

British Lloyd George proposed Home rule.

Fourth home rule to divide Ireland passed May 1921, with creation of Northern Ireland. 

26 counties Dublin/ 6 countries Belfast

 

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Scotia’s Ties to Europe: Top Scots writers support Scots indy

 

Nicola Sturgoen & Val McDermid Edinburgh

Brexit, is an act of deep political folly.

Writers keep a light on hoping Scotland will return to EU.

 

TOP WRITERS speak out!

Some of Scotland’s top writers wrote of their deep sense of regret and loss at leaving the European union – an equal partnerships of sovereign nations – imposed on us by England. Brexit was take back control, is about London taking back control of the devolved nations of the UK.

 

All three pre-eminent Scots writers are supporters of Scottish indy. 

 

Professor Tom Devine, “ I am hopeful that our ancient country will once again be united with out European friends before too long. The Brexit battle is over, the struggle to return to the EU has just begun. For over 600 years between the 12th and early 18th century Scotland most intimate external relations were with Europe. That can be so again. It will be a black Friday for me, a sad and utterly irrational farewell to the EU, a decision which is fundamentally opposed by a very large majority of this ancient nation.’


Val McDermid - "Today is a day of deep mourning. Membership of the EU has improved our quality of life in so many areas form human rights to the vastly higher standards fo roads in the highlands and islands." 

 

Al Kennedy - "Brexit is being revealed ever more clearly as an English project, with an increasingly laser focused definition of what is permitted to be English. The idea that countries would unite on equal terms in any kind of collegiate organisation is incomprehensible. There are only colonies and the colonised. This betrays England and Englishness and leaves only the worst fo any nation - the freakish, the frightened, the racist and bigoted." 


The way ahead for Scotland will be difficult as it will be for all areas of the UK. Breaking away form a government with a desperately colonial mind-set will be complex and no doubt fraught with setbacks and betrayal. But Brexit has turned Scottish Indy within the EU into both a necessity and a real possibility.”

 

Glasgow university

Professor Tom Devine is Scotland’s premier historian and author of major books on Scottish history. He is the recipient of 3 national prizes for research on Scottish history. The senior Hume Brown prize,  Saltire society prize (1985), Henry Duncan prize Royal Society of Edinburgh (1993). Honorary membership of Scottish PEN (2020). Devine is considered one of the top academic and influencers.  “ The nations pre-eminent historian ,a towering and fearless intellect.” The Herald Scottish power 100. Professor Tom Devine, retired in 2015 as the chair of Scottish history and Palaeography university of Edinburgh. He continues his lectures in the UK and abroad. 

I’ve attended 3 of Devine’s lecture, which I enjoyed and benefited from. He is a supporter of Scottish indy.

 

Val McDermid, Scottish crime writer best known for a series of novels featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony hill in a grim sub-genre that McDermid and others have identified as tartan noir. She sings with the band Fun Loving Crime Writers.

 

AL Kennedy is a Scottish writer, academic and stand-up comedian. She writes novels, short stories and non-fiction and is known for her dark tone, blending of realism and fantasy and for her serious approaches. She contributes columns and reviews to European newspapers.

 

 

Other writers who support Scottish indy include – 

William Mcllvanney, Alasdair Gray, Ian bell, Irvine Welsh, Iain Macwhirter, Alan Riach, Irvine Welsh,

Alan Bisset, Stuart Cosgrove Liz Lochhead, Lesley Riddoch, Ruth WIshart, Gerry Hassan,


Musicians who support Scottish Indy  - Aly Bain, Dick Gaughan, Annie Lennox, Proclaimers,

 

Scots actors who support Scots indy – Alan Cumming, Sean Connery, Sam Heughan, Brain Cox, David Tennent, Elaine C Smith. 


I’m amazed by the Scots history I’ve been totally unaware of until now – even though I studied education at Edinburgh university and took history higher at school. We were taught only English history. Yet Scots history is so incredibly interesting! 

 

Scottish Enlightenment - 

English historian Peter Gay argues that the Scottish Enlightenment "was a small and cohesive group of friends – David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and others – who knew one another intimately and talked to one another incessantly.’ 

Education was a priority in Scotland, both at the local level and especially in four universities that had stronger reputations than any in England. The Enlightenment culture was based on close readings of new books, and intense discussions that took place daily at such intellectual gathering places in Edinburgh as The Select Society and, later The Poker Club as well as within Scotland's ancient universities (St Andrew’s, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen). Sharing the humanist and rationalist outlook of the European Enlightenment of the same time period, the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment asserted the importance of human reason combined with a rejection of any authority that could not be justified by reason. In Scotland, the Enlightenment was characterised by a thorough going empiricism and practicality where the chief values were improvement, virtue, and practical benefit for the individual and society as a whole. Among the fields that rapidly advanced were philosophy, economics, history architecture, and medicine. Leaders included Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, Thomas Reid, William Robertson, Henry Home, Lord Kames, Adam Ferguson, John Playfair, Joseph Black and James Hutton. 

The Scottish Enlightenment influenced England and the American colonies, and to a lesser extent continental Europe.


Sunday, 31 January 2021

Visas for Musicians after Brexit



This hard Brexit is proving a disaster for the Creative Industries.  A young band will require a cost of an extra £3,000 for visa expense and a major band about £10,000. Plus a pile of paperwork – Bank statements, proof of taxes, and more. Europe was the place for cultural exchange. These costs are impossible and will mean younger artists unable to tour in Europe. 

 But stopping freedom of movement is all the Brexiteers care about.  

After Brexit touring musicians require visas for everyone on their tour, hugely increasing costs with a £500 charge on each country. A petition is calling for visa free travel across the EU – a free cultural work permit for bands , musicians, artists, film makers and sports stars.

PETITION - https://petition.parliament.uk.Europe-wideVisa-freepermitTouringprofessionals Artists

“The DCMS has told musicians to deal with each country individual. I’m not getting clear answers.” musician The Anchoress. “Culture is absolute a class issue.” Look at where the arts council emergency finding went.”  There are however exceptions within the trade agreement – for miners, tour guides, spin doctors!

 

The UK music industry is worth £5.8 billions and one of our most popular international exports.  The creative industries as a whole is worth £111 billion. The EU rejected an agreement on temporary movement of business travellers.

 

Composer and broadcaster Howard Goodall, “There is clearly something not functioning in the current government DNA, that we have in this instance a successful and important industry for our country’s exports, which has been warning for five years now of the negative impacts of the withdrawal from freedom of movement. 

 

“It has been obvious to me from the start of the negotiations that because of the point blank rejection of freedom of movement, the creative industries were going to be at car-park basement level on the list of priorities. 

At a stroke the rights of pop singers, bands, orchestras, chamber groups, tour managers, stage managers and more to seamlessly travel within the 27 EU member states  come to an end. “


 The creative  industries are worth – theatre 112 Billion, (football 8 billion). After this hard Brexit so many hurdles for young actors, artist and musicians. 

 The Arts are fundamental to our well being.


Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Leave a Light on for Scotland!



After there was a candle vigil against this foolish Brexit

on the Buchanan street steps beside the statue of first, first minister of our Scottish parliament, Donald Dewar, where we sang Auld Lang Syne to mark the sadness most Scots feels at being forced to leave the EU. 

... who will the Tories blame now? 



Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Year of Flux and Turmoil



Change doesn’t mean we forget the past – we forget the past at our peril. 

The days are cold and frost lays heavy on the ground, but we must reflect this is a crossroads time – and we must now make important choices for our futures. Can we make a better future in the UK as a group of indy nations – like other modern states do? Can this be more successful? But what exactly does success mean? Does it mean more money in our back pockets, or saving the planet? Does it mean a well-being culture alongside successful businesses? 

Saving our planet from climate erosion is now a urgent priority. 
One dominant theme is the mistrust of politicians, but it is also mistrust of the media and press, who are supposed to inform us?

2019 ends with another major UK election but will it settle anything?
We are at the end of a decade and look forward to 2020. Our years of turmoil end with a major election in which choices were stark. Boris is a selfish, scheming chancer, and I have no trust in him or his side-kick Cummings. England continues to tie itself into knots. The trouble is Labour are providing no opposition. Will Ireland consider reunification – if so will Scotland vote for Indy?




**Heroes
In America there are several strong women role models I admire, women who give back – Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Angelie Jolie, Hilary Clinton and more. In Scotland and the UK I struggle to think of good, present day female role models though – Nicola Sturgeon, Anita Roddick, Virginia Woolfe, 

*HEROES of 2010s - Greta Thunberg, Obama, Andy Murray, 

I’ve believed change can only occur in small places, at the grassroots level and while we must see the big picture.

**The Past Decade
I look at photos of the 2010s
The early years were hopeful – we had Obama, a UK coalition, hope of Scottish indy, 
The decade held many tragedies – Grenfell, Windrush Trump, Brexit, Boris, climate crisis. 

Now we have chaos, and rich oligarchs gaining more power, and wealth.
Sometimes the world goes off its axis, and I hope it will right itself again!
Its hard to understand the Brexit vote – but Fintan O’Toole is the best read(Irish Times)

**Looking ahead 2020
Celtic Connections January 2020
Climate conference Glasgow, November 2020
700 years since 1320 Declaration or Arbroath, April 2020

HAPPY HEW YEAR FOR 2020, I took a late walk on the moors in the gloamin tonight and the sky was a perfect glow. Hope its a good sign for the year ahead!


***Time is now running out ** 
We are facing several major crises. Its crucial we see the urgency of our decisions.

*Respect for our Past
I worry some have little regard for culture, history or past stories. This isn’t about dusty books on shelves – but is essential to understand our choices today 
Scotland’s only hope is indy in Europe. 

And we do have horrific images to witness – dying species, melting ice sheets, dangerous fires, severe floods, 


Letter to EU 
I hope those in Europe understand why Scots seek indy now. Brexit is not about the EU. Its about English nationalism, and about a UK creaking and not fit for purpose. The UK today is a disunited kingdom – all 4 nations are not working well together. Both Ireland and Scotland are on different trajectories: and many in Ireland are seriously considering and debating reunification for the first time. 
Only 10 years ago the SNP had only a few MPs, now it has 80%. The SNP is socially democratic and progressive and not about racism in any shape or form: and totally opposite to other nationalist parties in Europe. Scottish nationalism is inclusive and outward-looking: it is empathically not narrow, elitist or exclusive. For centuries Scots heritage and ideals have been ones of travel on our seas to distant lands  Its English nationalism that is right wing. Perhaps it is in essence the Scottish democratic party? JK Rowling claims her villain Voldemort would be a ‘nationalist’ – its clear she totally misunderstands our Yes Movement. Its about the right of an ancient nation to self determination: and to have equal rights to those in the south! No more, no less.


Letter to the EU


I hope those in Europe understand why Scots seek indy now. Brexit is not about the EU: its about English nationalism and about a UK creaking that’s not fit for purpose. The UK today is a disunited kingdom – all 4 nations are not working well together. Both Ireland and Scotland are on different trajectories: and many in Ireland are seriously considering and debating reunification for the first time.  I strongly believe an indy Scotland will be outward-looking nation and a voice for peace making and ounity in Europe.    

Only 10 years ago the SNP had only a few MPs, now it has 80%. The SNP is socially democratic and progressive and not about racism in any shape or from and in fact totally opposite to other nationalist parties in Europe. Scottish nationalism is civic, inclusive and outward-looking: it is empathically not narrow, elitist or exclusive. For centuries Scots heritage and ideals have been ones of travel on our seas to distant lands  (Its English nationalism that is right wing.) Perhaps it is in essence the Scottish democratic party? Scotland’s ties to Europe are deep and centuries old.

After decades of UK prime ministers blaming the EU for their own failings, the consequences have come back to haunt them. Who will they blame now - the Scots, the Irish, the EU for not being nice enough to them? They have employed populism, telling the people what they want to hear. 

We need to change the narrative, particularly with those who dislike and fear Brexit. The UK establishment surrounded Scotland’s independence with negative language – words such as warning, catastrophe, too poor, too small, dependent. And instead offer positive words – opportunity, self-determination, vast resources, bright future, innovative, freedom, fair, make our own decisions, success, hope. Scotland urgently requires it own TV channel, film studio and media.

Scotland can be compared to other highly successful economies in the European trading block. The EU offers economic stability and lower mortgage rates for young families. Small economies are more adaptable and progressive. How can we re-imagine our future Scotland with greener and well-being policies? A new Scotland that doesn’t make the mistakes of the UK by de-centralising and by not having only a couple of major cities, and with improved infrastructure. 

Plus why would we accept England’s deficit: they squandered our oil reserves, with billions spent on trident and other vanity projects and on London infrastructure projects. These  produce the false GERs figures. This is not against the English people, a successful indy Scotland can be more supportive of the other 4 nations, not less. Its against those neo–liberal elites, with their off-shore tax havens. 

Indy is a process. And a journey. This failing Brexit is fooling people with a Tory government, who don’t even believe in it. Some of us might be thinking that federalism is an answer for the UK crisis – but England’s too big and has little interest. Although it might be an answer to England’s Brexit crisis. 

What’s truly scary – do people believe they have a free press or believe what they are told on tv, radio, online or in the press. Obviously it requires effort and time to search for any honesty and it’s confusing as we have so many media outlets now. The truth is not found in foreign owned press that peddles gossip, propaganda or downright lies. In fact it appears many across the UK don’t trust the media or their politicians. Figures show that trust in the UK media is far lower than in other European nations. This is surely extremely concerning for a country that portrays itself as democratic. 

Boris wants to diverge with regulations. This will mean non-alignment with the EU, and that any deal will be complex and take years with transitions or no deal. Northern Ireland will remain in the EU (and UK) which means not the UK, but Great Britain is leaving the EU. The question for Boris is: how can he take Scotland on this Brexit journey it didn’t vote for? How can he explain how Westminster works for Scotland?

We need the EU protection. ‘A small country with big ideas.’My vote’s for real democracy. Are we running out of time, as some argue – with the Brexit take over by ever richer oligarchs and the threatening climate crisis? Norway with a population the same as Scotland’s and similar resources, is one of the worlds most developed successful, democratic nations. One thing is clear – people in Scotland have voted against Brexit and they want to stay in the EU, hopefully emulating other successful independent nations. 

*Sweden Dagens Myhater  ‘Openness to the outside world made modern Britain what it is today. Now the fog lowers across the English channel. The continent is isolated.’   Kate Devlin


Saturday, 5 October 2019

Bonnie Greer on Question Time spoke some Home truths!

Bonnie Greer on Question Time – spoke some Home truths! 

Bonnie Greer on BBC Question Time – spoke some Home truths! 
First of all , she said, "‘Ireland owes this country nothing, the UK doesn’t own Ireland. It is not a play thing for the UK. Ireland is Europe." 
Second. "’The US is Irish. There will be trouble with the US if the UK thinks it can mess with Ireland. I’m from Chicago, you must understand on St Patricks day the river there is green!"

She spoke a few home truths to people with closed minds – to people who really need to hear.
I often watch BBC question time each week with some trepidation, of the small minded, insular and ignorance often displayed, both by the audience and by the panel. 
What a breath of fresh air she was



She put journalist Melanie Phillips in her place too.
Bonnie Greer attended the Edinburgh book festival in 2014 – she is an American-British playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster, who has lived in the UK since 1986. She is the Chancellor of Kingston University in Kingston upon Thames, London.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Is Scotland Ready?


Irish Times writer Fintan O’Toole is an excellent, creative thinker and I enjoyed his essays, in the Sunday National. He writes that we must not idealize what independence will mean. Unlike Brexit, we have given Scottish Independence careful consideration, both by past artists and also in recent times.  

In the years leading to the historic 2014 vote on Scotland’s indy, one of the most significant changes that occurred was the rise up of renewed, energised and enthusiastic debates on all aspects of our views on how to build a healthier democracy, and with all walks of life here being more engaged. These debates led to creative imaginings of the type of country we might build here. This progress has been totally missed by the London based press. (And as Angus Robertson well points out, little attention is paid by the UK press to the UK regions, nations or to the European press) 
  
The twenty years of the Scottish Parliament has brought renewed confidence in our ability to govern ourselves, even while history tells us Scotland has always had some form of self government. Another big change was with young people. For the first time 16 and 17 year olds were given the vote, which meant political debate was considered in schools. Young people also take their news from diverse sources online. There has also been a reworking and recreating of Scotland’s arts, heritage and history. According to leading historian Tom Devine, until the 1960s Scottish history, particularly from Union to the present day, had been seriously neglected by academic study. 

My impression is all these discussions greatly moved Scotland on, with new creative ideas on how to make our own nation. Its been clear for decades now (as the polls point out) that Scotland has been moving in its own and different trajectory to those in England. 

Re Brexit – I’m getting worried now for the state of things here UK. Gerry Hassan, who has a new book, Scotland the Brave, thinks we’ve come to the limits of devolution and where do we go now?  The new guy Adam Price leading Plaid Cymru in Wales is very interesting too. He’s lived over in the States and believes we might all be stronger here with 4 diverse nations working together, as comparable to the Benelux countries of Netherlands, Luxemburg and Belgium which thrive independently but also co-operatively. Perhaps we need to define better what indy means and that the four British Isles nations would work closely together to build security, trade etc.  In todays internet world its such a different business to the days of ship travel! Worryingly UK politics appears in melt down, and with the hoping Brexit is some impossible quick fix.

On our social challenges. My view is we need to close private schools. The trouble is a big shift in culture like that can't really happen over night. After centuries of empire building and a Them versus Us culture, real social change will take some time I believe. We should seriously look at the Finnish education system - which believes in a "co-operative culture" rather than a "survival of the fittest" of creaming off an elite you nourish while the rest are disregarded. Because Scots history tells us we thrive when we are all given a chance, re libraries and education here.

There was an interesting write up in the Sunday Times June 21 (I like to read the right wing press also!) on Dr Geetha Marcus, professor of education Glasgow who advises the Scottish government. She advocates abolishing private schools in favour of a high-quality comprehensives model, and in line with the approach by Finland after the second world war, as required to reduce our nations attainment gap.Marcus argues segregated education is holding Scotland back. She also advises masters degrees for all teachers. Finland with a similar population, is recognised as an education success story since it replaced private and selective schools with ‘common’ schools on the basis that a society divided by class and poverty would weaken the country.There are 30K pupils in 74 independent schools in Scotland, around 4%, which encourages a privileged few.

It is vital we close the attainment gap. This can only be achieved, through a radical shift in attitudes. All children deserve a fair chance in life. We must also have mixed ability groups in primary schools and a Montessori type of education with mentoring. 

Worryingly the establishment and media continue to be run by private school elites. They want to protect the status quo and are rigidly against change, but this flies in the face of progress and of a real future of younger generations. So the question is, what do they really stand for? Those in London need to listen to more diverse voices, and not only to an isolated Tory party or a dysfunctional Labour. Huge changes are coming and I certainly don’t see the Brexit party or Lib Dems as an answer.

We need to look for the bigger pictures. Too many are only concerned for the personal and party issues. Why are the unionists running away from discussing Scotland’s pressing issues in a Peoples Assembly/? What are they scared of? Those on all sides of Scottish politics agree we need control of our immigration, drugs policies, and are against any Westminster power grab. We must find consensus – we can have an ever stronger British isles, just not one where all is controlled at Westminster. 

I am presently reading Fintan O’Toole’s recent book, Heroic Failure, on the Brexit carry on, and what an excellent story teller he is in this well researched tale of this highly confusing break down. He states that Brexit is really not about the EU, but an existential crisis. 

Scotland sits on the edge of Europe and for centuries has been an outward-looking nation. We must embrace this now – and become the welcoming, non-hostile nation, most who live in Scotland wish to be part of.