Not In My Back Yard

Last night was the first Question Time I watched since Alex was on, and that was purely because I wanted to see Nicola get stuck in. Unfortunately, Nicola simply doesn’t have the experience Alex has in being vastly outnumbered by a hostile and aggressive media, and so she was put on the defensive far too often – even on something like Trident, which has absolutely zero rational justification, yet you wouldn’t know it from the maniacal rantings that issued from the dessicated remains of Michael Heseltine.

I'm not being ageist - its just that anyone who uses the term "Mutually Assured Destruction" in 2015 is clearly from a different time period.

I’m not being ageist – its just that anyone who uses the term “Mutually Assured Destruction” in 2015 is clearly a relic from a different time.

Seeing every other member of the panel talk about the necessity of Trident, and hearing most of the audience applauding it, just about broke my heart. Especially that woman who offered to host it in her back garden.

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Most people don’t know about the bloody and gruesome story of St. Valentine. That doesn’t mean it’s inappropriate to celebrate a martyr who was beaten and beheaded for the crime of practising Christanity by sharing cards or chocolates – far from it, because Valentinus died for love. Love of his fellow human being, love of his faith, love of God, all that stuff.

So here’s my Valentine’s Day message. See everyone who voted Yes? I love youse. All of youse. All you politicians who backed a Yes vote? I love youse too. Those internationalists from other nations who supported the cause of independence? I love youse all! All the bloggers who nagged politicians and put professional journalists to shame – I love youse tae bits! All the businesses, celebrities, writers, artists, who stuck their necks out and pinned their colours to the mast – I love youse and all!

But see thon No voters? See all those who took their sovereignty and handed it back to Westminster? See all those who thought we were too wee, too poor, and too stupid to function as an independent country? See everyone who felt they were British, loved being British, and didn’t want to stop being British? Those 2 million?

I love youse too. Really, I do. Yes, I’m still deeply hurt at the result of the referendum. Yes, I’m still angry, and I don’t think I can forgive you for voting no even if you now regret it. But I still love you, because you are my people. I voted Yes for everyone in Scotland, and that included you. I voted Yes for everyone in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, too, because you lot deserve to know there’s another way. I voted Yes for all the countries in the world gripped in the Old Ways of politics, to show that redrawing the map doesn’t have to be painful and acrimonious – that the assertion of nationhood does not have to mean xenophobia or exceptionalism.

And I’m voting SNP in the 2015 General Election for the exact same reasons. I love the people of Scotland, I love the people of the rest of the UK, I love the people of the world. It is because I love them that I want to see an end to austerity, and Trident, and the House of Lords, and all the ills and inequalities which we have become so normalised to that we simply cannot imagine it being any different. Why would I vote SNP if I hate the English, when the SNP will stand up for the rights and aspirations of the English people far better than the tyrants of the established parties? Why would I vote SNP if I hate New Labour, if the possibility of a new kind of politics based on cooperation rather than competition could affect even the most entrenched red rosette bearer? Why would I want to change the world out of hate, when I could change the world out of love?

Absolutely, I want Ronnie Cowan to represent the people of Inverclyde under the banner of the SNP at Westminster. This is because I love the people of Inverclyde, and Scotland, and the UK, and I know that Ronnie Cowan feels the same. We vote out of a love for democracy, a love for opportunity, a love for hope. “The politics of grievance?” No, the politics of action.

I’ve spent all my adult life despising politics – despising politicians, despising the people who vote for the pseudologues and the vice-enablers and the charlatans. I don’t want to poison my life with hate. So I’m not going to go down that corridor, the politics of hate and fear and grievance. I’m voting for love. It shouldn’t be that strange.

Just like St. Valentine, martyrs die for love – love of what they believe in. The Radical Martyrs, Margaret Wilson, the Martyrs of the Reformation, William Wallace. We don’t have to die for what we love anymore.

We just have to vote.

Vote For The Other Guy / The Other Guy


Independent Scotland circa 2020, according to Scottish Labour.

I’m a gamer. One of my favourite game series is Fallout, a post-apocalyptic roleplaying game (RPG) setting where you play a wandering survivor of the American Wasteland. Given the prospect of nuclear Armageddon was part of the very background noise of my childhood, I guess there was some acclimatisation to the idea through vicarious fiction – even if it was unlikely anyone in Inverclyde would live long enough to become Ghouls, and it’s certainly not probable we have any Vaults hidden under the Greenock Cut.

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An Open Letter To Inverclyde

Wednesday the 4th of February isn’t my birthday, but by gum it feels like it! Today, I learned that…

  • … the Conservatives are putting forward a candidate to contest the 2015 General Election, threatening to dilute the unionist vote who would otherwise have backed Ian McKenzie, even if they’d only take away a few hundred going by the last election
  • … hot on the heels on UKIP candidate throwing his hat in the ring, who also risks diluting the unionist vote – though to be fair, I can’t imagine them doing worse than 288 votes
  • … the devastating Lord Ashcroft poll shows the SNP ahead in 15 out of 16 New Labour and Neoliberal Democrat constituencies, and Inverclyde wasn’t even among those seats studied – presumably because it was no longer one with a “colossal majority” for New Labour
  • … New Labour have released one of the stupidest videos they’ve ever cut together
  • … Lego have announced a Jurassic World video game (wait, that’s not politics!)

… And to top it all off, the SNP have their candidate.

As readers of the site will know, I backed Ronnie to the hilt. This was, of course, with absolutely no intent of denigrating or undermining the other three candidates: I believed, then and now, that they will work hard and well for Inverclyde, and I look forward to working with them up to May and beyond. I said as much in a video endorsement:

I don’t doubt that not everyone will be happy at Ronnie’s selection, and I realise it might be easy for me to say since “my man” won, but the fact remains: Ronnie Cowan is the SNP candidate for Inverclyde. He will contest the constituency with the incumbent Ian McKenzie for New Labour, Michael Burrows for UKIP, and George Jabbour for the Conservatives: as of right now, these four people will be fighting for the people of Inverclyde’s vote. It is no longer a choice between four SNP members, but a choice between – as of now – four parties. Only one of those parties is Scottish; only one of those parties will fight for more powers for Scotland; only one of those parties could change the course of politics not just in Scotland, but the United Kingdom itself.

I realise that despite the polls showing massive SNP gains, not everyone is convinced of the case for voting SNP MPs to Westminster. Some might see fit to write Inverclyde off as an easy SNP win: it had the fifth highest percentage of Yes votes and was the proverbial fag paper away from being a Yes; the New Labour majority collapsed from 38.4% (14,416) to 20.8% (5,838) within the space of a single year, and that’s after the Tories were in government for a year; the Conservative, Neoliberal Democrat and UKIP voters – such as they were – seemed to have all but evaporated. Well, during the referendum, every single canvass we went on returned a Yes majority. Sometimes a massive Yes majority. And we know how that turned out.

So I’m writing an open letter to the people of my home.

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palaeoart_John Martin_Book of the Great Sea-Dragons Ichthyosauri and Plesiosauri Gedolim Taninim of Moses Extinct Monsters of the Ancient Earth 2

When prehistoric sea reptiles were first scientifically described, it was difficult for people of the time to conceive of these creatures the way they would a modern animal. It’s no coincidence that some of the earliest palaeoartists, like John Martin, were primarily known for apocalyptic Biblical illustrations – ancient animals seemed less like “real” animals, and more like the monsters of myth and scripture. Humanity has a habit of creating monsters like this.

Once upon a time, a monster dwelt in a river. It was a great and terrible beast: its broad flanks were black and smooth, like an ancient bull seal, large enough to rival even the mighty Stoorworm of Orkney. Yet despite its near five hundred feet of length, it was a silent swimmer, almost as elusive as the creature of Loch Ness – were it not necessary to breach the surface on occasion, one might not even know it existed. But its true danger lay not in brute strength, but the awful fire in its belly: within the beast lay the power to unleash an inferno miles wide, a poison with no cure or antidote that lingered for decades wherever it touched, and a light that blinds all who witness it from leagues away. This monster was not natural – it was created by the hand of man, and creatures of its ilk wrought untold horror in lands on the other side of the world.

The emperor of a faraway realm controlled this monster, but he did not want the beast to live near his subjects, or risk despoiling his hunting grounds and scenic landscapes. So he brought the beast here, closer to his enemy’s empire, to this land.  Our country did not yet have a leader to defend our interests, so the lord of our southern neighbours – who had long asserted their dominion over our lands under the guise of an “equal union” – parleyed on the matter of the monster. The lord wanted to imprison the monster in a great loch where few of our people lived, but the emperor insisted on keeping the monster closest to the most populated city of our realm – so that the monster’s guards could easily take leave and enjoy our hospitality. Despite the love our neighbour’s lord felt for our land’s grouse moors and castles – if not our people – he felt he had no choice but to allow the emperor to place the beast in a holy loch.

The monster dwelt there for a generation. The guards brought the beast out in chains to patrol the sea round the land, to impress and intimidate the rival empire to the east, and deter any would-be invaders to the realm. And all the time, the creature belched its poisonous fumes, corrosive bile dripping from its maw, into our pure air and crystal waters. The beast which was claimed to protect the land was destroying it. Some of the people rose up against it, seeking to drive the monster from our waters, but the emperor’s men were strong, and the lords of our southern neighbours did not want to risk his wrath. So the beast remained, roaring and rending the land, while the people waited anxiously for the horns which heralded the coming of its nemesis – and their oblivion.

Scotland is a land of monsters. We all know the mythic beast that dwells in Loch Ness – but Nessie is but one of the many creatures purported to lurk in the depths of Scotland’s waters. In the misty summit of Ben MacDhui, a being known as Am Fear Liath Mòr reigns supreme, a liminal creature guarding the gateway between worlds. Banshees, Bean Nighe, Bodachs, Bogles, Boobries, Each Uisge, Kelpies, Red Caps, the Nuckelavee. In modern times, humanity doesn’t have to imagine monsters lurking in the lochs, the moors, the shadows. Humanity creates monsters of our own.

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La Trahison des Images

On the 8th of January 2015, a dozen people were murdered at their work. It is believed that the murderers killed these people because they were artists who drew pictures the murderers didn’t like. When all the context of religion, blasphemy, culture and freedom of expression is stripped away, all that is left is people who were killed because of artwork. Some might consider this a frivolous and pitiful excuse for such violent and irrevocable retaliation. “They were killed over a bunch of cartoons!?!“It seems ludicrous, a loss of life over so small a thing.

To me, it simply proves the power and importance of art.

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A New Year, An Alternate Reality

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

This time last year, could anyone have imagined that there would be talk of a New Labour/Conservative National Government outcome in the 2015 General Election in the midst of what could be a constitutional crisis… after a No vote?

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