A Few Thoughts On What In Blazes Is Going On

In fierce anguish & quenchless flames
To the desarts and rocks He ran raging
To hide, but He could not: combining
He dug mountains & hills in vast strength,
He piled them in incessant labour,
In howlings & pangs & fierce madness
Long periods in burning fires labouring
Till hoary, and age-broke, and aged,
In despair and the shadows of death.
– William Blake, depicting post-Brexit Britain (probably) in The Book of Urizen

You know what? Forget my worries about being a Cassandra. I’m just going to call it like I see it. World’s mad enough as it is.

Continue reading

Mind Over Manners

If you get rid of the midden of power control, special pleading, social engineering, fevered dreaming, spiritual zeal, do-goodery, vanity and dumb-thuggery, then, right at the bottom of politics, you’ll find its original idea, the founding purpose of governance: it’s to feed people, or perhaps to allow folk to eat their dinner in peace. It doesn’t need a manifesto or speeches or plebiscite or subcommunities or baby-kissing or flesh-pressing to understand politics, it’s just about breakfast.
– A.A. Gill

I don’t respond well to ultimatums. If I was ever in a situation where someone said “it’s me or the dog,” I’d pick the dog, precisely because the dog would never demand I make a choice like that. “My way or the highway” – the highway doesn’t insist I follow it. So when someone tells me “don’t donate/support/follow this individual, or you’ll hurt the cause of independence,” how do you think I’m going to respond to that?

This wasn’t No campaigners or champions of the British Establishment, by the way: it was other independence supporters, saying that I shouldn’t give my support, my time, or my money to another independence supporter, on the basis of their personal statements. Now, here’s the thing: I’ve made a point of being as welcoming as possible to all independence supporters, knowing fully well that people are going to disagree with each other – sometimes vociferously, as is their right and prerogative. I think every major pro-independence blog, site, magazine, or paper has said something I either disagree with, or find personally offensive, whether it’s specifically related to independence or not. Yet I still list them on my links on this site; I’ll still read, retweet, and support good articles; I’ll still congratulate them on work well done. I’m used to this in other areas of my life, be it Robert E. Howard scholarship, anti-sectarian work, or even something as broad as art & illustration.

I’m not going to shut out an independence supporter because I disagree with them, or because I find their opinions or actions offensive. I’m not going to suggest that anyone should adopt my approach, either: it’s up to you to determine who you interact with & support. All I can say is that my personal view is that I take great pride in the Scottish Independence movement being an open, inclusive, welcoming movement: ostracising or rejecting individuals or groups, even those who challenge your most fundamental beliefs and ideals, is not something I can get behind. As long as someone acts within the law, they are welcome – to be challenged, as well as accepted.

Those who know me well would be aware that I don’t tend towards using aggressive language, and that I rarely swear (except board game nights, naturally, then anything goes). I’m polite to a fault, and hate confrontation, which is why I find politics so frustratingly difficult to engage in – because in my experience, being polite and well-mannered tells you absolutely nothing about a person’s character.

And this is something that reaches far beyond the matter of Scottish Independence.

Continue reading

Mighty People of Independence

prof-dr-anna_macgillivray_macleodProfessor Anna MacGillivray Macleod of Kirkhill was the first female professor of Brewing and Biochemistry in the history of the world.

I attended the launch of The Mighty Women of Science, an alphabet picture book by Claire Forrest & Fiona Gordon, several months ago. I met Claire at the previous Glasgow Comic-Con, where she told me about the book. She wanted to publish an accessible, positive, informative book that celebrates and acknowledges the many contributions women made to the advancement of knowledge. I’m greatly supportive of such endeavours, and so I said I’d attend the launch.

The launch at Waterstones in Glasgow was very well-attended, and the talk was excellent. I’d like to share one anecdote in particular, which gave me much cause for reflection, and I think very relevant to what’s been going on recently in the world of Scottish politics.

Continue reading

Mirror, Mirror

So, a couple of days ago, Tracey Ullman did a wee sketch featuring Nicola Sturgeon & Mhairi Black kidnapping beloved victim J.K. Rowling in an attempt to blackmail her into supporting not just Scottish Independence, but “Scottish Supremacy.” It’s yet another sketch that portrays an SNP leader as a maniacal Bond villain, a surprisingly popular meme amongst certain commentators.

alexsalmondasblofeld

In fairness, you can see why the British Establishment would cast the SNP as the bad guys: you don’t get much more British Establishment than James Bond.

You might think I’d be shocked, appalled, disgusted and outraged by this, as indeed I have something of a hair-trigger for this sort of thing.

On the contrary, I believe this to be hilarious. A fantastic work of satire, brilliantly biting, ruthlessly incisive, an absolutely merciless evisceration of its targets… it’s just that Nicola Sturgeon, Mhairi Black, the SNP, and the Scottish Independence movement aren’t the targets at all.

Continue reading

The Boy Who Cried Fascist

“How did this happen?”

I keep reading this in articles, hearing this from talking heads, constantly this repetition of disbelief. All these journalists and commentators and analysts and “experts” who are utterly blind-sided by just how recent events have come to pass. I wrote a post about the false, illogical, and deeply insulting comparison of the Scottish Independence campaign to the worst elements of the Leave and Trump campaigns. Indeed, I found myself rather vindicated by the latest Question Time from Stirling, where Billy Mitchell (who, the BBC neglected to point out, was the UKIP candidate in the 2013 Coatbridge West by-election) actually seemed to agree with my central point:

Donald Trump was elected by the American people, and the people of Britain just can’t understand that the American people believe in democracy. And democracy has been lowered to mob rule; when you don’t like the decision of a referendum, you disagree with it, you go to court, & you get rid of it. The SNP should know this, because we had a referendum: we voted No, they didn’t like it. They had a referendum on Brexit, they didn’t like that, let’s go to court, we don’t like Brexit, and now they don’t like Trump!

Democracy has been overruled by mob rule, and those people have been on the losing side of every single election, and thank God I’ve been on the winning side of every one. Mob rule wins – no democracy, mob rule. The SNP were on the losing side on five different occasions: I’m the winner, they’re the losers, let’s get them out.

Everything he says is true. Well, apart from Trump being elected by the American people, democracy being lowered to “mob rule,” the SNP bringing the indyref result to court, the EU referendum being “overruled” at all, the SNP losingevery single election” (!?!) and most spectacularly, him being the “winner.”

Think he might be a bit sore about that lost deposit?

Think he might be a bit sore about that lost deposit?

But he is, indeed, on the “winning side” of the indyref, the EU referendum, and Trump, along with the white nationalists and supremacists celebrating this glorious change in the world’s political climate.

Continue reading

The Appointment in Achnamara

There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said,
“Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.”
The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said,
“Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?”
“That was not a threatening gesture,” I said, “it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”
– “The Appointment in Samarra,” as retold by W. Somerset Maugham, 1933

This is an old folk tale of a self-fulfilling prophecy: where the very act of attempting to avoid it coming to pass actually leads to its fruition.

I thought of this story, as I watched the Single Market and Trade (EU Referendum) debate in Holyrood today.

Continue reading

The Northwest Passage

Hey... HEY! I've nae problems with your seccession dreams, but at least pick a different logo, like a two-headed bear or something.

HeyHEY! Look, I empathise with your secession dreams, but could you at least pick a different logo, like a star or a bear? Give it two heads, or something.

In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
– The United States Declaration of Independence

Back in 2014, Scottish Independence was something that only really mattered to Scots, Britons, and Europeans. On the international stage, the mood was generally “well, ok, I guess, whatever.” Most leaders did not speak out, though those that did were against independence.

Just over two years later, the story’s very different, isn’t it?

Continue reading