Thursday, 31 July 2014

Extra Curricular Activities

When the topic of 'socialisation' rears its head in relation to home-education, I am always a little perplexed as to why people think the only place children socialise is in school.
Kiddo is learning the art of being a sociable little person, through living in the real world and interacting with people (of all ages) on a daily basis, both first hand and through observing me (Hubby, Grandparents etc) interacting with other social beings, ie other folk.
Kiddo gets plenty of opportunity to 'socialise' and make friends, through play dates and regular (weekly) meet ups with fellow home-educating families, friends and  family. Then there are errands to be run, shops to shop in, drs appointments to attend, postman delivering his parcels (generally for next door and we take them in), neighbours met in the close, the gardeners fortnightly visit to 'maintain' the communal green, etc. Plus there are opportunities for extra curricular activities. Who doesn't love a dance class or sports lesson?
So far, our attempts at such classes have not been terribly successful. Generally due to Kiddo either not 'feeling' the topic, or preferring to freestyle.  When he tried Tae-kwon-do. instead of standing on the small yellow circle to practice kicks, he preferred to toss his in the air, pretending it was a pancake. He had zero desire for tae-kwon-do, it was me who thought he might enjoy it. I know a few people who's kids love it.  We also tried gymnastics (which he did like) but he didn't like moving between the different activities, especially when he was focussed on the trampoline or the beam.  He now has his name down for a place (for a trial) at enjoy-a-ball to see if that is any more successful.
What we are discovering, is that Kiddo doesn't like large groups, and doesn't like pressure to perform or restrictions in what he enjoys.
Where does this come from?  Well, my mum came across some of my old photos from the early 1980's, when I attended ballet and tap class. It looked like a thoroughly enjoyable experience for my 4 year old self
I actually remember being at the front of the stage for the finale of the dancing display (from which, this photo was taken), spotting my Gran in the front row of the audience and bursting into tears, having to be escorted off the stage. The following year must have been better as at 5, I was happy to pose
At 6 I tried majorettes. My memory only recalls 1 class, but according to my mother, I went for a few months until the teacher took her aside and recommended that she shouldn't waste her money any more, as I was not very co-ordinated!!! The cheek. I am very co-ordinated and can shake my thing on the dancefloor like nobody's business, thank you very much!
By around 1988/89 I had long gave up on the ballet and tap, my energies had moved on to acrobatics and I absolutely LOVED this 'outfit'

There is hope yet that Kiddo will find an activity that he enjoys and lets him express himself freely, but at only 4 years old, I'm not worried about the desperate need of society to make sure he is 'socialised'. 
In the mean time, we will carry on going about our business, living our (social) life.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

50 Days To Go ...

...until we take to the polls, to vote as to whether Scotland should be an independent country, Yes or No.
Its been 50 days since I started this series on the Indyref debate. What have I learned over the past 50 days, that have re-affirmed my belief that YES we should be an independent country? Well, the BBC aren't to be trusted with their reporting of the debate; Currency is not something we will know the answer to until after the vote, but it isn't something to fear; the people of the country are engaged in politics and change is coming - we will get our independence (if not now, then most definitely in the future - so why wait?); Sotland is not the subsidy junky of the UK; the cost of the House of Lords; the NHS in Scotland can only be saved with independence; independence has nothing to do with the SNP; we will have a proper written constitution with which to hold our chosen government to account; we are able to make this decision without any warfare; we will no longer be involved and taken into illegal wars, we can rid our country of WMD (Trident); you don't have to be a nationalist or patriot to want independence; we will hopefully have learned the lessons from history - 1979; we are not allowed to politicize the Commonwealth Games (unless it is to promote the UK and Team GB, oh wait....); our ship building industry in not, as they would have us believe, dead in the water, if we leave the union; our country will be destroyed by fracking if we stay; the living wage is more of a reality; we're not too wee; our tourism industry is strong; the PM is still unwilling to debate the FM, under the thin veil of 'not getting involved' but is happy to send his lacky whilst engage world wide political heads to push his point.
What about the next 50 days? I have some posts nearly ready and am working on others, including : pensions; land reform; the monarchy; equality; tory/ukip coalition; food banks; austerity; Europe; education; democracy; national debt; welfare; taxation; care; immigration; climate change; employment; Barnett formula; re-nationalisation of post office and the like; wealth; the big debate with Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling; political parties and what it means to me, as a woman.
50 days left, and it worries me that some people STILL haven't 'looked into it' yet. That some people have zero interest, but are more than happy to slag off either Holyrood or Westminster or both. That the press and tv continue to  promote the Better Together stance.
We have 50 days left, to make sure we know what we are voting for and the consequences of each vote.
I never expected to learn as much as I have over the past couple of months, and as such, there is no way I could ever go back to thinking that the UK is OK, because it is far from it.
Forget your 50 shades of grey, bring on the next 50 days of YES!!!!!



Tuesday, 29 July 2014

52 Days To Go

Subsidy Junkies?

Yes, the UK is most definitely divided into those who give, and those to take. The "subsidy junkie" culture is alive and well, positively thriving infact.

So why am I so committed to leaving the union, whereby we are so heavily subsidised, that Scotland get so much more than the other 3 countries in the union? When we have to rely on Daddy Westminster to fund our extravagant lifestyle?

Well, lets look at the subsidised projects :
1. HS2 project - high speed rail link from London to the North of England ( specifically Birmingham, but with plans for further expansion (and cost) to Manchester and Leeds) had an initial cost of £25.7bn which has since escalated to £48.2bn. As part of the UK, Scotland has to pay 10% towards the cost of this new infrastructure. That's £4,771m. Four thousand seven hundred and seventy one MILLION pounds. So that people can commute the 200 miles between London and Manchester in 1 hour as opposed to the current 2 hours.
The website illustrates beautifully wonders of HS2 and how it will revolutionise the UK, with employment and strengthen the economy, particularly in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. I am at a loss as to how this adds any value to the Scottish economy.
2. The Scottish population is 8.4% of the UK total and generate 9.5% of taxable annual revenue per head, yet we receive 9.3% back for spending.
3. London Olympics 2012 -
Scotland actually paying more for London than for Glasgow!
4. According to Scotland is paying £127 per second, on interest o loans that we didn't take out. £4.1bn paid out in interest alone last year. We don't contribute to the debt of the UK, but are paying it back.
5. Business For Scotland has reported the following with regards to Defence :
"In the past 5 years Scotland was charged £15.813 billion in defence costs. However, government figures have found a massive defence underspend in Scotland. Between 2002 and 2008 £5.6 billion less was spent in Scotland than Scotland paid in costs.
Scotland has also paid for one of the largest military budgets in the world while defence jobs in Scotland have been cut by 27.9% across a decade. Scotland continues to face the brunt of UK military cuts.
This year £3.027 billion was taken out of Scotland’s budget for defence. Similar countries operate strong military forces on costs between £1.5 and £2.5 billion a year. Currently Scotland is charged extra costs for a poorer service, receiving only around £2 billion of these costs"
6. Again from Business For Scotland, with regards Admin and Service costs :
"£1.381 billion is subtracted from Scotland’s finances for ‘public and common services costs’. Over the past 5 years £2.1 billion has paid for Westminster’s administration structure – ie. services in the rest of the UK and Scotland.
This includes Scotland’s contribution to the UK’s £3.84 billion tax administration spend, £1.6 billion in UK Border Agency costs and hundreds of millions of pounds for the House of Lords and Commons.
Some of this £2.1 billion will have been spent in Scotland. However, Scotland is subsidising Westminster costs in a number of areas.
One of which is, the UK’s tax administration costs are based on an inefficient model of tax collection. As a result, Scotland has to pay far higher costs than similar countries. Collection costs are 50% lower in Sweden and Switzerland."

So, I think its fair to say, we have established who the subsidy junkie is, and why they are so keen for us to stay...



Sunday, 27 July 2014

53 Days To Go

Why Yes?

Because this is not going away.
Rebellious Scots will not be crushed. Regardless of the referendum outcome.
I sincerely hope that everyone who is eligible to vote, does infact vote. I hope that the outcome is a resounding YES! I hope that those who still have not "really looked into it yet" give themselves a shake and actually look into it, properly, because a percentage of the population who are sleepwalking zombies, making their decision based on "couldnae be arsed" shouldn't be allowed to vote.

But what if there is a No vote? What then?

Will we have to wait another 35 years for a shot at another referendum? Will we be ALLOWED another referendum? Will we get another chance for a democratic choice to be independent? A cross in a box on a ballot paper is all we are asked to do. No war, no bloodshed, no death. Just pencil and paper.
This genie is well and truly out the bottle and no-one can possibly hope to put it back in. I dare them to even try.  The number of people, everyday ordinary people, involved in the debate, online and in person, is phenomenal. At no other time in our history, have so many people actively engaged in politics. In politics affecting them, their lives and their futures.  Social media has played a massive part in this, from Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, on-line news such as Wings, Scotnet, Bella, to grassroots campaigns and festivities, involving the general population etc, that the traditional methods of news print and television have not been able to censor or enforce bias upon. The younger generation are involved and are passionate. Are they honestly just going to walk way on 19th September and continue "as you were"? I don't think so.

Once the reality of a No vote hits home - the prediction of the general election being another coalition, only this time Tory/Ukip, where we already know that Nigel Farage is no Nick Clegg, and has already been quite vocal in his desire to abolish the Scottish Parliament (and the Welsh  and N.Irish Assemblies).  Once the Barnett Formula has been either tossed or recalculated and we receive less money from the our Block Grant from Westminster, to spend in Scotland on Scotland. Once the NHS in England and Wales has been fully privatised and in around 10 years, the Scottish NHS ceases to exists as we know it, and we can no longer afford to treat our illnesses and health conditions. Once the welfare state has been squeezed to its very last penny, and the most vulnerable and needy in society are back in the workhouse (well, where else are they going to go?). Once the millions spent on Trident are spent. Once we are out of Europe, regardless of whether we want to be or not. Need I go on? Once the realisation of a No vote, of the illusion of Devo max has dissolved, will people then decide, that ok, that was the wrong decision. Yes was they way. Will it be too late?

Spare us the bleak future of the UK and think about the possibility of a better Scotland. It will be hard, it will take time to build a new country to stand on her own two feet. We will make mistakes and will learn from them. But lets not make the biggest mistake and let this opportunity slip through our fingers. Why risk a No vote now, to regret it later?  Make Scotland now, get this country up and running properly, why wait for later, after suffering at the hands of Westminster rule for long enough, we don't need to any more.

Why Yes? Because this is our chance, it might not come back until goodness knows when.  There is fire in the belly of those who believe we can, and it wont be extinguished by a No vote, a vote of No confidence in ourselves (how sad and deeply depressing). This fire will grow and keep going until we get our independence. Why wait?
The best things come to those who wait?  Bollocks. The best things come to those who create. And work hard and DO. So lets get on and do this. Lets create our lives our country our future.
Because we can and we will!



In the summertime...

When the weather is fine, we are busy enjoying it, and ourselves. My series on my 100 days for yes, regarding the forth coming Independence referendum has gone a bit skew-wiff, as I have been, to be perfectly honest, absolutely pooped by nightfall, having spent all my energy through out the day(s). This is being remedied and will be back up to date in due course. However in the mean time, Kiddo and I (and Hubby when he is on his nights off and therefore awake during the day) are thoroughly enjoying a proper summer. Here. In Scotland!
That is, except last Saturday when we high tailed it through on the train to Glasgow in the pouring rain.  Our trip was 2-fold - Kiddo needs new trainers, and he likes to pick his own (and Converse or Vans are now actually cheaper than Clarks, for his feet), and the protest demonstration, for support for Gaza.  Now, Kiddo LOVES both the train and the rain, but HATES shopping. Needless to say, we left Glasgow without trainers and extremely soggy, but he had an ice cream and got to play in the Lego store.
According to Kiddo, "This looks like Dad!"

He was a little bored at the demo, but not bored enough that he wasn't listening. He marched back to Queen St station chanting "Free, Free, Palestine!" and we had a chat about it on the train.

We've been to the beach. Silversands beach in Aberdour is lovely! We enjoyed building sandcastles and making 'art' from rocks, seaweed and shells we found, and took some of our haul home with us for Kiddo's seasonal table. We weren't at the beach much longer than about 2 hours, as it was really busy and SOOOO HOT! Kiddo, as I have mentioned before, doesn't do to well with large crowds, and we (Hubby and I) could sense it was time to go. Important thing was, Kiddo had a blast, and has now got really cute wee freckles across his nose.

We had a cracking day out in Drumpellier Park in Coatbridge. Kiddo and I had never been here before, but met up with our friends and played all day, in the parks.  Kiddo is overcoming his shyness (he is fairly introvert by nature) and was happily chatting away with adults and children alike. Sure, he still had a couple of huffs and mini-melts, but he is only 4, and thankfully, our friends know what he is like and take him as he is. I do tend to find that families within the HE community are a more accepting and less judgemental of children who's emotional and social skills are less developed.
That very same night I was surprised when Kiddo wanted to read ME a bedtime story. He picked a book off the shelf (not one that we read, as its In The Night Garden, and I dislike this programme intensely, its the Teletubbies of this generation. It was bought by a well meaning and kind relative, as "all the wee ones love this, don't they?" I didn't have the heart to say "actually he doesn't watch it, as I wont allow it". so it has sat there for the past few of years - he gets to watch it now as he is very articulate). Anyway, I digress. Kiddo sat down and read the book, cover to cover. He was so proud of himself, I was practically bursting with pride. His reading is excellent, but usually focused on dinosaurs, so this was a big leap.

Speaking of dinosaurs
They are all over the Thistle Centre and The Marches in Stirling. We weren't afraid. We tracked them down. Whereby my little paleontologist in residence, gave them a thorough going over

before going home to play with his current collection. Meet Binky (ring tailed lemur - not strictly a dino, but that is irrelevant), Monty, Doofy, Kiddo & Mum (a smaller and larger dino of the same breed), Trevor, Ralph, Dave (the diplodocus, but Kiddo keeps calling him, 'Pineapple'. Dave does not like this nickname...), The Chief, Kev and Tony.  Spot the ones, Hubby and I named... Each dino has his own voice, too. Mostly Mockney (think Danny Dyer crossed with Boycie from Only Fools...), Yorkshire or broad Weege.

This morning before I headed out to work, we spent a while playing with Lego - making different flags from around the globe and trying to find the countries on the map. It was great fun.

In between all this we have Netflix where Planet Dinosaur or Walking with Dinosaurs have been watched, rewound and watched again. Family have visited, cousins were played with, walks were had, arguments were had, tears and tantrums occurred, cuddles were shared. Life happened.

Who says the summer holidays are boring?


Saturday, 26 July 2014

59 Days To Go

A biggie : Currency.

Back when I was a NO voter, and the issue of currency was raised, I remember questioning it on Facebook, and made a smart-arsed comment along the lines of Alex Salmond wanting his Indy cake and a few extra slices of the best bits from the rest of the cake trolley, too. Sterling being one of them.
A friend then enlightened me as to why Alex wanted to keep Sterling. Its as much ours as it is the rUK's. I had no idea (had never even given it a singe thought) that when Scotland joined the Union 300 odd years ago, our monies merged too. Therefore, true, the pound is as good Scotland's as it is Enlish/Welsh or N.Irish.
Now, the whole hooha surrounding whether or not we get to 'keep the pound', is a major deciding factor for many a voter. Possibly THE biggest decider for many. Personally, I couldn't care less if we keep the pound or use peas, beans and glass Barrs bottles for currency. Ok, slight exaggeration, but the actual currency to be used is less significant to me than the reality of how it is used and managed. But that's just my opinion, and it is most definitely not shared by the majority.

So what is the issue surrounding currency? George Osborne hell bent on his refusal for a shared currency. Alex Salmond hell bent on keeping it.
After trawling through endless articles, here's a quick, good old-fashioned pros n cons list:

Pros, the argument for a Sterling currency union :
Professor Leslie Young, of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, accused the UK Government of relying on a "lurid collage of fact, conjecture and fantasy" in making its argument against a CU.
From the Scottish Government's White Paper, it reports that a CU would be mutually beneficial to both iScotland and the rUK.  The reasons given for this is :
1. It will not only provide a workable currency from day one of independence but also a strong overarching framework for Scotland post-independence.
2. It would promote business certainty, reassuring businesses on both sides of the border that they would continue to trade in Sterling.

3. Scotland's natural wealth would make a positive contribution to the Sterling Area economy.
4. The Fiscal Commission Working Group determined that Scotland’s economy is strong enough and sufficiently aligned with the rest of the UK that a separate currency would not be necessary .
5. Scotland and the UK have been part of a monetary union for over 300 years.  This brings a high degree of integration, trade and economic mobility necessary for a successful CU. 

Cons, the argument against a Sterling currency union :

Ed Balls (Labour Shadow Chancellor) and Gideon Osborne (Tory Chancellor)  joined forces and declared that a shared currency union would "create a Euro crisis in spades".
Danny Alexander (LibDem Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Sir Nicholas McPherson, the permanent Secretary to the Treasury are also in agreement that a shared currency union (CU) will not, should not go ahead, in iScotland.
Jim Sillars (former SNP Deputy Leader) is of the opinion that the SNP's policy on a CU with rUK is seriously flawed. He has stated that "it would mean transferring back sovereign power over Scotland's economy to London".
Martin Wolf, an economic writer with the Financial Times, has said “If I were Scottish, I would not dream of accepting such an arrangement because it would be far more unequal than the present one.” referring to Mark Carney's (governor of the Bank of England) comment that such a union would "sharply curtail Scotland's fiscal and financial independence", due to the difference in size between Scotland and rUK.
For me personally, a shared currency would mean ties with the Bank of England, and that doesn't sound particularly independent. Also, with having a certain amount of control over iScotland's financial situation, would leave us, essentially, as sitting ducks for any taxation increases, changes to inflation that may be detrimental to our economy, etc. This may sound a little cynical or a simplistic revenge plot to teach us a lesson for voting Yes, but with all the threats we've been issued with thus far, I wouldn't rule anything out.

What are the alternatives?
Sam Bowman, Adam Smith Institute's Research Director has stated :
"An independent Scotland would not need England’s permission to continue using the pound sterling, and in fact would be better off using the pound without such permission. There is very little that an English government would actually be able to do to stop Scottish people from continuing to use the pound sterling if they wanted to."
According to a Westminster report, this is called "Sterlingisation", and would be an option to the Scottish Government as sterling "is a free floating international currency " but according to the aforementioned report, this is not a credible option as, sterlingisation would not have Bank of England as its central bank (and lender of last resort), nor would it have control over interest rates.
Adopt the Euro. Although - would we want to? Is it a stable enough currency?
Jim Sillars, Patrick Harvey (Co-Convener for Scottish Green Party), Dennis Canavan (Chairman of Yes Advisory Committee) and Colin Fox (from SSP) are all infavour of a Scottish Currency. Barclays Bank have also stated that they believe Scotland's own currency to be a more valid option than a CU. According to Barclays "having a separate Scottish currency would give the “maximum degree of flexibility for policy” and give it the greatest protection from economic shocks. "

Now, I am not an economist, nor do I have much in the way of prior knowledge regarding the financial world and its workings, but, a flexible Scottish currency or a Scottish currency pegged to the pound seem the most sensible to my mind.  The actual ownership of currency is not entirely relevant, given that money and its worth is assessed worldwide in the money markets, in 'the city'.  Currency is currency if people are using and trading with it. Look at Bitcoin or even the Totnes pound - local currency used in Totnes ensuring all local spending stays in the local community.  Surely the most sensible thing to do would be have our own currency, based on the framework of Scottish trade, economy, cost of living expectation, and how healthy the country is at the time of change from the union to independence. A value or base value established for our country, that is nothing to do with rUk and their economy, since we are actually different and have differing strengths and weaknesses,  that we offer to the financial world.

Unfortunately, it looks like it is going to be one of the issues that will NOT be resolved this side of the referendum.  A stalemate. That is despite cabinet insiders saying that there will be a currency union, the party line is still staunchly adamant that we're not getting it.  Its a ploy being used by Better Together to instill a fear of the thought of losing the precious pound, fear of a decreased in our value and worth, fear of being bankrupt. Fear plain and simple. Call it a carrot, or call it a pinata, but the issue of currency is being dangled infront of our noses to either entice us to stay, or encourage us to beat it and burst it and realise that currency is only a part of the whole package.    Alex Salmond, as well as being our First Minister, is also an economist. Surely he would have forecast that the currency issue being such a major contributing factor to gaining the confidence of the voter (especially those who are/were undecided), and would consider another option to just remaining stubborn on his intention to retain the pound?

With or without the pound, we can do this. Of course we can.



54 Days To Go

As shocking as it is, food banks are becoming a way of life for so many of our citizens.  Our politicians down in Westminster don't care. They keep punishing the poor and vulnerable with their austerity cuts, and are happy to pose for local press, cutting the ribbon at the opening of the latest local food bank.
Last month, a group of musicians got together in Edinburgh, with singer, Darren Docherty, to record Dougie Mclean's 'Caledonia'.
All proceeds from this song are going to support food bank charities in Scotland.

The single is being released on iTunes and Amazon on Monday 27th July 2014 - lets get it to No1 in the charts, and make the politicians sit up and take notice.

I had heard of suggestions to rerelease either the Dougie McLean or Frankie Miller version, in time for the referendum, to make it number 1 then, but this is more important.

Caledonia is a brilliant song, I just LOVE it, and it always makes me smile.

So please, check out the new version, buy it and share the video far and wide.



Friday, 25 July 2014

56 Days To Go

The Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony

Cultural, tongue-in-cheek, self depreciating, stereo-typical piss take or ultimate cringe-fest? The nation is once again divided.
The opening ceremony had courted controversy regarding its content, earlier this year, when it was proposed that the Red Row Flats, in the North East of Glasgow were to be demolished, live around the globe, to an audience of around 1billion people. The Red Row Flats are currently home to asylum seekers, but were previously built to rehouse those displaced from the inner city slums of the tenements.
It was viewed to be a great idea for the 15 second demolition of the remaining flats, to be used as a source of entertainment, under the guise of celebrating Glasgow's regeneration and looking to the future, whilst the residents of 900 nearby homes are temporarily relocated. Yes, lets show the world that we will move asylum seekers elsewhere so we can blow up their homes, and encase it in a celebratory bubble of positivity and hype. Thankfully this abomination of an idea was served short shrift, and this was no longer the image of our country that was to be portrayed.
Instead, we got John Barrowman (you know, the bloke from Glasgow with the Tom Cruise smile who talks with a better American accent than Lulu, but switches to the broadest of Weegie as soon as a Scottish telly camera is on him? He who lives in London and has a home in Wales, has no vote and is a staunch No Thanks/Better Together supporter). We get the full panto extravaganza, crammed full with every possible stereotype that depicts Scotland, well, except for the Buckfast jakies and smack junkies, that we are also known for, in a caricature of naff tartan shortbread tin tweeness. It was all a bit Royal Mile tourist shop, magnified.  They only stopped short of See you Jimmy bunnets and a rendition of Fandabidozy by The Krankies (although I have to confess, this was a particular favourite childhood song of mine). It was 10 minutes and 28 seconds of sheer Scottish cringe, and 10 minutes of my life I will never get back.  Unfortunately, I made myself watch it again on iplayer, just so I could try and decipher what John Barrowman was actually singing. Perhaps if he'd stuck to his American voice, I would have understood him better the first time, and spared my ears and een the additional torture. For anyone who did not watch it, once seen, it can never been unseen.....The lyrics are actually quite witty and fun and true. Its just a pity they were lost in a sea of Tunnocks Teacakes. I am very disappointed that Gudrun Ure wasn't there as Super Gran, and my updated theme tune was not incorporated into the festivities! Humph!
I will however, applaud one element of the debacle - the kiss!

Groom- groom kiss in 'Gretna', was particularly poignant, due to homosexuality being illegal in 42 of the Commonwealth countries (yet there was a boycott of the Sochi Olympics due to Russia's stance upon the same issue.  In some of the Commonwealth countries, homosexuality is punishable by death, and 3years imprisonment for people who know of homosexuals and fail to report them!!!). This deserves credit and will hopefully be well remembered.
The rest of the opening ceremony was filled with highs and lows.
Highights include :
Amy Macdonald and the people of Glasgow. This was excellent.
The dancers - they must've been knackered.
Calvin Harris remix for the section of preparing the stage for the athletes.
The wee Scotty Dugs!!!!!! Stroke of genius.
The athletes parade - the look of joy, delight and pride upon most of their faces.
The feeling and reception the Scottish team received when they came out, and to be honest, their awful outfit of bad socks and crimpolene look frocks on a hot sweaty evening, didn't look as bad as I thought they would.
Ewan McGregor (No supporter -although he is an ambassador for Unicef, so his presence may be condoned on this occasion, and he is handsome so I really don't mind his coupon on my telly) and James McAvoy.
The South African signer, Pumeza Matschikiza's beautifully sung, Freedom Come All Ye.

Nicola Benedetti playing Bonny Banks o Loch Lomond on the violin.
Billy Connolly's videos about history of Glasgow and Scotland.
The Gaelic song "Song Thrush", that accompanied the Baton into the arena, sung by Julie Fowlis, so haunting and goosebump inducing, with the lyrics which translate to  "...If every other bird praises its own land, then why should not I. Land of heroes, land of poets, of hospitable, generous land of plenty".
Sir Chris Hoy receiving the Queen's baton from his 97 year old uncle. That made me cry. Beautifully touching  moment.
And of course, nothing says Glasgow quite like the Duke Of Wellington with the traffic cone perched on his head.

Lowlights include:
The reminder that this is not a chance for Scotland to make the games 'political'.
The initial opening Cringe-fest.
Rod Stewart (No supporter, not actually a Scot, his granny was).
Susan Boyle (another vocal No voter).
Some bloke singing (and really over enunciated) "The National Anthem". This was condensed to only the first verse. Even the BBC didn't deem it appropriate for him to sing the line about "rebellious Scots to crush", seeing as the Commonwealth Games are being held in SCOTLAND.
The wee hand held flags displaying the Saltire on one side and the Union Jack on the other.
The Red Arrows flying RED white and blue.
Unicef highlighting the plight of children across the Commonwealth who are in poverty and dying. All videos from abroad, but what about the plight of children, here in the UK, in Scotland? A quarter of ALL children in Scotland are living in poverty. Showing some of our poorest and most vulnerable children would NOT show Glasgow in a positive light, but we are part of the Commonwealth too.

What did the opening ceremony show, in the end then?  After the initial technicolour tartan horror, it was an evening of celebration, joy, national pride and excitement.  But all anyone will remember, will be the heavily diluted version of Scotland (or should that be a polluted version of a modern Scotland) of the opening and that the spirit of Team GB is alive in The Commonwealth Games. What do you mean, there's not a Team GB? Oh yeh, its not the Olympics, it is team Scotland, competing in Scotland, against  (with the exception of our fellow UK members) all other independent countries, who were once ruled by the UK. 

Come on, vote YES, and in the future we can show our country off with best she has to offer, with modern achievements reflecting modern Scotland, and with our own entertainers who live here (not John Barrowman and Rod Stewart), and never again, have to sing "God Save the Queen".



Wednesday, 23 July 2014

57 Days To Go

Commonwealth Games 2014

Thankfully Clyde is now basking in sunshine rather than the rain (as per Saturday)

Is it prophetic that in the last Commonwealth Games prior to our independence referendum, is being held in Scotland?  We are competing against all Commonwealth countries who were once ruled by Westminster , and all of whom are now shackle free.  Lets hope that the 2018 Commonwealth Games sees Scotland as an independent country too.

Good Luck in the Games Scotland. 

Am settled down now to watch the opening ceremony, c'moan Scotland!



Saturday, 19 July 2014

60 Days

Why Yes?

How many times do we have to reiterate that we are NOT subsidised by England. We pay more tax into the pot per head than anywhere else in the UK.
Our students and elderly get free education and care because WE care - its our money (from our block grant/pocket money issued by Westminster) and we are free to choose exactly HOW we spend it.
The blatant ignorance spraffed by Richard Madley, Katie Hopkins and Jeremy Edwards on a prime daytime talk show makes me mad!
If this is how we are really viewed/portrayed, then all the lovebombing in the world wont make a difference (not that it would any way), and why the hell are Westminster so desperate to keep their scroungers up north in Scotlandshire?



Friday, 18 July 2014

61 Days To Go

(Before starting todays post, I have jumped from 70 days to 61 days.  The posts inbetween are in progress but need further information before posting. Gone straight to todays to get back on track and will post the missing ones in due course.)

Why Yes? For peace, not war.

(Quoted from George Carlin)

Since the end of WWII in 1945, The UK have been involved in 24 different wars. 24! Not all are big wars, but wars none the less. In my own life time, I can easily recollect The Gulf War (1991), Bosnia (1992-1996), Iraq (Operation Desert Fox 1998), Kosovo (1998-1999), Sierra Leone (2000-2002), Afghanistan (2001-?), Iraq (2003-2009) and Libya (2011). I should mention here that due to opposition in the Commons and from the public, meant that the UK were unable to support the US in their involvement in the Syrian situation. No British troops went to Syria. A decision that was a disappointment to Philip Hammond, as he seemed more concerned with a potential "strain" put upon the UK-US alliance. There was also, the Falklands in 1982, which, although was during my early childhood, I don't remember it.

Throughout all history, wars and invasions are bloody and plentiful. The Empire certainly played a part in too many to mention, across all continents. It seems we just cant get enough of shooting the baddies.  Whether the war is any of our business or not is completely irrelevant. Except we, the public, don't want to be out across the globe 'shooting the baddies'. The war on Iraq that lasted 6years, was opposed by millions of UK citizens (the massive march in London in March 2003 showed how opposed people were to this, ultimately, illegal war.)

According to the organisers, 2million people were at this London protest

In the past, lands were invaded, wars were fought, fighting for ruling power over the land. In more modern times, specifically in this century, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya have not been for land, but for resources. Black Gold.  They have oil, and we, the UK and USA want it. Want it so badly that a culture of terrorism was born and heavily propagated, under the guise of weapons of mass destruction, aka WMD (so called because George W Bush was allegedly unable to say "nuclear") . They had proof. A  smoking gun. That was all they needed to go to war. That, and the horror of 9/11 (there are plenty conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11, government involvement, timing and desire for middle east oil reserves). Needless to say, no WMD were found, 179 British soldiers lost their lives, it cost the UK over £9bn and The Lancet reported that the death toll of Iraqi civilians was up to 650,000 by 2006, from 2003. Was it all worth it?
Tony Blair and George Dubya Bush sent our troops to Iraq looking for nuclear, I mean WMD. They needn't have bothered to go to all the expense (of money and more importantly, of lives) when they could've just nipped along the Clyde - what do they think Trident is!?!
Bush and Blair lied. Thousands died. Now Blair is a peace envoy in the middle east!! Excuse me?? Frankie Boyle put it superbly when he tweeted on 16th June : Personally I don't see anything wrong with Tony Blair giving his opinion on Iraq, its just that he should be doing it at The Hague.

War is a lucrative business. The UK is ranked within the Big 6  ( its chart place generally fluctuating between 3rd and 6th place) countries in arms exports. According to Amnesty International :
The UK's "Key customers include the USA, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and other NATO partners. It is also a major exporter to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in sub-Saharan Africa.
Generally supportive of strict criteria for arms transfers, the UK has nonetheless supplied arms to countries where there is a substantial risk that they could be used to commit serious violations of human rights. For example, the UK supplied arms to the Sri Lankan government knowing of its repression and UK national legislation is being reviewed following evidence that the UK supplied small arms, ammunition, munitions and armoured vehicle equipment to Libya under al-Gaddafi as well as small arms to Bahrain and law enforcement equipment to Yemen."

So what difference would an iScotland make? Well, we won't be charging head long into illegal wars for a start.  When the vote to go to Iraq was put to the House of Commons the majority of Scottish MPs objected to going to war. Incidentally, Alistair Darling was not one of the objectors, neither were Douglas Alexander or Jim Murphy ( but they do object to indepedence).  An article from Newsnet 16.03.13 reported :
"In an opinion poll published shortly before the invasion, more than two thirds of Scots said Westminster should consult the Scottish Parliament before taking part in military action against Iraq, and 65 per cent would oppose military action if it were carried out only by American and British forces.
The war proved massively unpopular with public opinion.  An anti-war march in Glasgow on an international day of protest on February 15 2003 was attended by between 50,000 and 100,000 people.  On the demo held in London the same day, over 1 million people took to the streets, the largest political demonstration ever held in the UK."
Looking specifically at the situation in Israel and Palestine happening right now, the UK Government, appear to be focussing their attention on Israel, and the BBC are at it again with bias one sided reporting. Reports of Hamas rockets fired into Israel but not the reality of the  disproportionate counter attacks via ground and air strikes on the Palestinian population (80% of which have been innocent civilians so far).  The UK Government making decisions, when the Scottish Government, in particular, the First Minister, has condemned Israel and the oppression the Palestinian' are living with, on numerous occasions.  There are many protests happening around the UK tomorrow, one in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow for support for the Palestinian population
An iScotland is looking at more of a peace-keeping mission when it would be invited into other countries. Not going where the money is, or where big pals in the States want to go. The vision for iScotland includes social justice, democracy, equality and providing the best possible future - I don't see that happening with the continuation of war after war, illegal or otherwise.

Oh, but wait....if we are promoting peace and peace keeping missions, we wont be able to glorify the horrors war (without the reality that our service personnel actually endure when out on tour in active duty, and the support they receive once back home on civvy street), through Armed Forces Day. Lots of kids with face paints and waving flags. Yes, of course show support of the soldiers/the forces and all that they do, all that veterans have done/achieved/survived, pay respects to those who have passed away, but don't let the powers that be, who send our soldiers into illegal wars, feel like they are the Don, because, it is just their PR stunt. A great family day out, to detract from why our soldiers are out in the first place. (I know that our military personnel do more than go to war, but the topic of this post is war, not the different functions of the military as a whole, hence the relevance to the negative connotations towards the PR Spin on Armed Forces Day.)

The only war I believe we should be fighting, is the war on poverty. Which could be fought and won several times over, with educating people and giving them the skills they need to get out of poverty, with the budget that is given to paying for illegal wars in other parts of the world.

Peace out.




I Love You Day

"I need to go outside for a minute, mum"
"Can't tell you, its a surprise."
"I need you to open the door, pleeeeeeease!"
"Ok, I'll come too, I..."
"NO! Just wait at the door!"
Flies out the front door and out to the back green, returning 30 seconds later, with a big grin and his left hand behind his back.
"I picked this for you mum, because its I Love You Day"
Buttercup presented with a big hug.
My beautiful buttercup is now sitting pride of place on the kitchen windowsill in an egg-cup 'vase'.

Its all the little details that make this thing called Life, ever so wonderful.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Oh what a busy week...

In a normal week, I like to spread our 'activities' and scheduled plans throughout the week, with days off inbetween to let Kiddo calm down and chill before embarking on the next thing.
This week has taken on a life of its own, and hasn't stopped! So what have we been up to?
Monday : Off to the Falkirk Wheel to wave off Gran and Papa and Kiddo's Great Aunt. They were heading off along the Union Canal on a narrow boat, via the Wheel, for a day trip. 9am on a Monday morning - what's that all about? Thankfully the sun was blazing and Gran brought some homemade dumpling for us - well, for Kiddo and Hubby, as I'm weird and don't like it!
My in-laws went one way, we went to the onsite play park. The minute my back was turned (waving to said in-laws at the top of the 'world's only rotating boat lift'), Kiddo was off, snaffling the dumpling into the willow maze, sans wellies. The wellies were promptly removed within about 5seconds of arrival to the sand pit.

The Wheel is one of our favourite 'go-to' places. At the sand pit there is the old fashioned wooden water chute and wheel at the bottom, but unfortunately the water pump at the top wasn't working, so it was dry. The water park feature is always popular. I never bring a change of clothes, figuring he'll dry in the sun, but thought it might be an idea to wear wellies for playing in the water....see what thinking did?

 Tuesday : Morning in the local play park, me and Hubby in tow. I honestly cannot wait until the end of the school holidays, and we can reclaim the parks for ourselves. I will repeat this statement several times over the course of the summer...Off to my inlaws in the afternoon for one last visit and play with his Great Aunt, before she heads back home to New Zealand, and more of Gran's dumpling, of course!
Wednesday : Trip to Blackness Castle in West Lothian, with our Home-Ed Historic Scotland group.  Only 4 families, including us were there today.  The site was busy with other visitors, but with the size and layout, it didn't seem very busy. Result! Its the first time I had been to Blackness Castle - it's fab. Plenty of scope for exploring, adventure, imagination and playing - enabling peace for us mum's to chat too. The weather was a strange mix of smirry rain, warm breeze, blazing sunshine and instant torrential downpowers followed by more sun. I remembered the wellies, for got the kagool, but honestly, didn't really need it, it was so warm. Weird! I have been told that Blackness Castle is haunted, but alas the ghostly any goings ons kept to themselves. Only a little disappointed by that. The highlight for the kids was discovering the old latrines and waste sites (what is it with boys and poo?), and climbing up the outside of the castle whilst meant to be enjoying their picnic.

More an invitation rather than instruction

See? Taadahh!

View from tower window to Forth Rail Bridge

Waving hello

Wee treat in the gift shop for me. The recipes actually sound tasty
Thursday: Off to my sister's this morning, got to wash (top n tail) and dress my new nephew, and change his nappy. My sister has a very strict rule in her house, which she will not break - who ever is holding him when he poops, has to change him. I had that joy twice. Not that it was bad, thankfully. He's so teeny. I don't remember Kiddo being that teeny, but according to the scales, Baby is now the same weight Kiddo was when he was born. Stewards enquiry!
 After leaving Master Poopypants, we (Kiddo and I) headed to our play date at, yup, the Falkirk Wheel. We met up with new friends from Glasgow who had never visited it before.  We met a couple of months ago at a HE meet in Fife, and at a couple of other get togethers since, and the boys get along. Its lovely to meet up with other HE families, especially for support and building frienships, not just fo the children, but for us adults too. A solid group of friends who don't judge or think we're "ruining our child's life". We struck gold with the weather - it was scorchin'. Ice creams and slushes a-go-go. But with the sun, comes the people. it was mobbed. too busy for my liking and as such am constantly on high alert, watching for Kiddo and listening for his screams when he is unhappy with a situation, and expressing such displeasure. On reflection, I must've looked not dissimilar to a meerkat... Anywhoos, we left after 5 hours, kids all soaking wet, with sandy shorts, faces and arms a little bit redder than when they arrived, and with smiling faces all round, making plans to meet up again soon.
Friday: Day off!!! No idea what we're doing tomorrow, but it will involve a whole lot of big fat nothing. Kiddo really needs to chill, I can sense his wheels starting to come off, so a day of just playing will probably be on the cards.
Saturday: No idea
Sunday: My real day off - working for 8 hours.
Rinse and repeat. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

70 Days To Go

Orange Walks

A topic that everyone appears to have an opinion on. There is no middle ground here. The opinion is either in support of the walks/marches/parades, or against. End  of.
It can be a tad uncomfortable to be of an opposing opinion in the company of others, best to keep opinions to ones self, as the topic of an Orange Walk or The Orange Order often provokes an emotional and physical reaction, at times, violent.

Why am I bringing up this divisive topic on my #100days100reasonsforyes series? What on earth does the Independence Referendum have to do with the Orange Order?
Well, I have decided to write about it, (from the point of view of my understanding and personal opinion) as I don't see that in this day and age, there is any need for an Orange Walk and the all that it entails. I believe that with an independent future, we, the people of our country, can redress the issue of sectarianism, bigotry, the deep seated hatred felt and expressed by a minority of our population (not focussing just on the Orange Order, but to everyone who par takes in this rivalry). The Orange Walks and the actions of some of their followers/protesters against, are actually damaging to our culture, and to future generations growing up here.   With a Yes vote, and the new written Scottish constitution, which is currently under consultation, we have the chance to properly deal with sectarianism (perceived or otherwise), not just from the Orange Order, but from society in Scotland as a whole. I believe in social liberty, justice and democracy for all our of our citizens.
The referendum is very much an issue with the Order, as they are, and have been since their inception, an extremely political organisation. Essentially they are pro-union, pro-monarchy, pro-protestant, anti-indy, anti-republic, anti-catholic. No matter how its dressed up, this is the Order in a nutshell.  The Order are marching on the eve of the referendum, to save the union.  Unfortunately, their demonstration just doesn't have the same feel of positivity, of confidence, of the every day person doing  this together for each other, as say, Yes in the Park or Yestival.

Why do I feel strongly about this outdated organisation? I was not raised in the catholic faith. But by the same token, I am not protestant either. Yes, I was christened into the Church of Scotland, but at 8weeks old, I didn't have a say in that matter. It means nothing to me and is not part of my life.  When I was a child, I loved going to the football with my Dad. We went to Ibrox. In truth I wasn't a big footie fan, but I loved the bus journey through and hearing all the swear words ("don't tell your mum what you've heard"), the excitement of a live game, and a day with my Dad. But I was NOT allowed to go to an Old Firm game - no way, no how! I feel strongly that much of our country is divided by hatred, and that the Orange Walks, keep it going and incite feeling in some people that result in violent clashes.  The amount of police presence required when the Order take to the streets for their walks, (especially in Glasgow) and the cost of such presence,is ridiculous. Violence is actually expected at this "celebration". People go, looking for a fight. That is people from both sides here, this is not one sided, even though a walk in the first instant may appear like a taunt to others. After the last march in Glasgow earlier this month, social media and the press were covered in pictures of 12year old girl covered in blood as she had been bottled. I mean, who does this? Why is this acceptable? I ask the acceptability question as one person on facebook had commented that "while she was only 12, she was there with a gang". So what, does that make it ok? No, I don't think so.
This is said photograph

Where do I think the Order fits in, in an iScotland? It doesn't. At least not in its current state. How can it be pro-union in an indy country? Do I think it will just disband and there will be no animosity, no sectarianism, no bitter feuding, no feeling uncomfortable for 'huns' going into 'tim' pubs and vice a versa? Of course not. That is simply idiotically unrealistic.  This is a 200 odd year old institution, with a lot of power, in the sense that they "are the oldest and biggest protestant christian fraternity in organisation of people bonded together to promote the ideals of [our] faith" (quoted from the home page of Orange Order Scotland). But, time has come for a radical change. And change it must.
I have no issue with people celebrating their faith - be it with  a public parade or gathering, involving their families and communities. Freedom of speech is important in a democratic society. I do however have issue with flaunting their faith in a supposedly superior manner, especially when such parades are deliberately walking through specific parts of town with opposite religious beliefs/views. I mean, the Orange Walk is not exactly a gala day! It is heavily criticised, and viewed as being sectarian, bigoted, triumphalistic and supremacist. Despite the Order refuting this.
When the subject of a Walk is brought up - usually in reference to either get up the town early or plan your route, as they disrupt the entire town, - more often than not, I get the sense that people generally find the whole thing offensive,  (or may be that's just the people I associate with?). I have yet to hear anyone saying "yay", it is nearly always met with comments such as "what century is this?" or "knuckle dragging Neanderthals" or "for goodness sake" etc etc. That is not to say that I don't know people who do support the Order/Walks, and do attend them here and in N.Ireland.

Obviously, I don't consider for one minute that everybody going to the walks, or being associated with the Order, or has family members involved in a Lodge is a big bad bigot. Same as not every Rangers or Hearts supporter is.  People, like myself, who have no first hand experience of the Order or been to a walk (seen them, but not been in attendance), have formed opinions, possibly with out some facts. Some people have been raised with the protestant faith, and the Orange traditions, that this is normal to them, they don't question it or feel the need to. Others are loyal to the monarch, just as people from other faiths are also royalists and unionists, and not sectarian, or have hate for others based upon their background.  Not every one who is opposed to the Order is voting YES, just as not every one in the Order is voting NO.  What has been very refreshing and enlightening, is the blog post from the Wee Ginger Dug, who received a letter from a woman, who grew up with the Order and Walks etc, What was wonderful about her honest letter, was the fact that she is voting YES and is actively engaging with others to encourage them to do so as well. The link to her letter/post to Wee Ginger Dug is:

Whether or not anyone agrees with the Orange Lodge with their politics or beliefs, is their own business. Choosing whether or not to vote Yes in September is every individual's own choice and ought not to be determined by an organisation, who allegedly, initially opposed the union, but now is defending it, but by personal choice, made by proper research and finding/choosing a future for yourself and family, that is the best future possible. I believe that the Yes vote can help shape a new direction towards a more tolerant, diverse, equal, inclusive and welcoming society, open to all our citizens.

For anyone who doesn't know what an Orange Walk is, its a parade or march held during the Walk 'season' usually running between April- August, with the big walk on the 12th July, in Northern Ireland, (the local one to where I live was 28th June).  The walks involved a massive parade of men from their lodge, and women from the Ladies lodge, a marching band, commonly a flute band too, many flags and banners, such as the Union Jack Flag, the Ulster banner and Orange Order banner. The uniform tends to be a suit and a bowler hat, with an orange collarette (sash) over the top and some times, white gloves. The collarette often also displays the lodge number and the individual's position with the hierarchy.  This all sounds harmless enough - dressing up, music and a parade, a family day out. Except, as we have already established, its not a galaday, and faces much opposition.

Incidentely, if anyone wants a quick run down on how the Orange Order came to be in existence in Scotland, here is a wee history lesson  (much, but not all, of the info has been gleaned from various Wikipedia pages and links, and from the Orange Order Scotland website):
1688: The Glorious Revolution, when  (Catholic) King James II was dethroned by his Daughter and Son-in-Law, Mary II and the (Protestant), Dutch-born King William III of Orange. The Revolution gave strength to the link between Parliament and the Monarchy.
1689: Bill of Rights passed through, and gave protestants civil and religious liberties, that were not granted to their fellow, catholic, countrymen.
1690: King William III of Orange and his wife Mary II battled and defeated James II at the Battle of Boyne, in Ireland. The Battle of Boyne is commemorated annually on 12th July (known as The Twelfth), with a celebratory 'walk'. King William of Orange is now more commonly referred to as King Billy, and his followers as Billy Boys, or The Billy Boys.
1791: The Society of United Irishmen was formed, in Belfast. Its primary focus was reformation of the Irish Parliament, catholic emancipation and the repeal of the Penal Laws. Over the following 4 years, they became a revolutionary group, campaigning for Irish Independence that would "Unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter".
1795: The Orange Order was founded in County Armagh, during a time of sectarian conflict, between the protestants and catholics.
1796: The first Orange Walk took place 12th July  in this year, marching through Portadown, Lurgen and Waringstown. In the same year, (it is claimed by Nationalist historians Thomas A Jackson and John Mitchel), with the support of the Orange Order, the government tried to undermine the growth of the United Irishmen by inciting sectarianism, creating disorder and unease, causing disunity, under the guise of  "passion for the Protestant religion".
1798: A rebellion was started by The United Irishmen which was inspired by the French Revolution. Scottish soldiers were sent to fight against the rebellion, and as such, brought the cause home, where it has become part of Scottish culture over the past 200 years, predominantly in parts of Glasgow, Lanarkshire, and West Lothian, and to a lesser extent East Lothian.
1800 : The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was born with the 1800 Act of Union which saw the merger of the Irish Parliament with Westminster. Whilst many catholics supported the Act, ironically, the Orange Order viewed it as a threat to the Protestant Ascendancy and actually OPPOSED the union. (How times have changed...)
Fast forward to the end of the 19th century: Irish nationalists (catholics) and Irish Land League were pursuing Home Rule for Ireland, which the Orange Order now opposed. Their opposition to the Irish Home Rule Bill 1886 spurred on the formation of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and ultimately resulted in just 6 counties remaining within the UK, in what is now Northern Ireland.

End of history lesson.



Most people only know of the Orange Order through our colourful parades.
This is just a very small part of what we do.
Contrary to some of the media reports you may have read, the pades are not a form of triumphalism, but are instead a form of celebration.
We believe in the universal right of freedom of expression.  Whilst not everyone believes in the same things as us, we hope that they accept our right to hold our views.
We in turn respect the right of all others to hold their own views and to celebrate their beliefs as we do.
So when we march, we are upholding the rights of all faith groups to maintain their freedom of expression

Sunday, 13 July 2014

71 Days To Go

Ship Building in Scotland

RAF photograph from 1950 of the Govan shipyards operating at their peak. SC1096028
There has been much said about the future of ship building in Scotland, following a YES vote, this week in the press. Apparently, if we choose to think for ourselves and actually decide that being in control of our own wee country, then we are choosing to kill off the ship building industry, stone dead. Ehm, the Yes vote is not the same as a bottle of bleach. Nothing will be killed stone dead, well, with the exception of Westminster lording over us.

The industry has been in decline for decades. Even 60 years ago the Japanese and Korean ship yards were gaining ground by being more competitive than the Scottish yards, due to massive subsidies and more modern design and construction methods. By the mid 1960's and early 70's following strike action, many a yard had closed. Thatcher then saw off the rest, (35,000 people working the yards in 1979 dropping to 11,000 by 1993), leaving just 2 ship yards on the Clyde, Govan and Scotstoun, currently run by BAE Systems. Even still, BAE Systems announced in November 2013, 800+ jobs are going between these 2 yards and the one in Rosyth, where 3,500 people are currently employed.

The research for this particular post has been quite laborious, particularly in finding information to support Scottish Independence. All across the press and the internet, the worry and fear for the future of the Scottish ship building industry is clear. However, I am just as doggedly determined as the No Thanks party in proving my point, that Yes is still the way forward.

So what are the stories being reported, that are sending chills down the spines of the ship yard workers and holding their potential YES vote to ransom?
1. Scotland would be a foreign country.  Why would the MoD give a defence contract to a foreign country?

2. There have been no defence ships built outwith the UK for over 50 years.

3. The £270m investment in the Clyde ship yard will not go ahead in the event of a No vote

4. Portsmouth yard on the south coast of England may get the contract to build the new Royal Navy Type 26 frigates, instead of the contract going to the Clyde. Therefore saving the Portsmouth yard from closure and saving the jobs.

5. Without the UK defence contracts, Scotland's ship building industry is dead in the water.

However, I have an answer to each of the above concerns:
1. Taken straight from the Torygraph, I mean, Telegraph from November 2013 :
BAE and many other defence companies are global multinationals; the equipment for modern warships can be – and is – made in many different countries, yet continues to carry the label of BAE Systems or General Dynamics or other big manufacturers. Many other countries have no problem buying foreign-built warships, so why should we? We already participate in collaborative defence projects or buy equipment off the shelf. Indeed, the Royal Navy’s new replenishment ships are being built in South Korea. "
In February 2012, a South Korean company, Daewoo, was awarded a contract worth £452m to build 4 new generation of 37,000-tonne Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) tankers for the Royal Navy. This was awarded despite a bid for tender from BAE Systems yard in Govan. Believe it or not, it was actually the Labour (yes, Labour. Take from that what you will...) government that drew up this particular contract.  According to Newsnet Scotland :
"Critically, this was done without designating them as “protected” defence contracts which could have been tendered within the UK, as they would not then have been subject to EU competition laws.
It has also emerged that Tory Defence Secretary Philip Hammond rejected a bid led by an Italian company which would have seen the ships built in BAE System’s Govan yard, Hammond instead agreed a contract for them to be built in Korea."
Ian Davidson (Labour MP for Glasgow South West) actually commented on BBC 2's Scotland 2014, during an interview with Sarah Smith, that :
"...ships from South Korea are based on price not quality"
The big project at the fore of the discussion is the  building of the Type 26.  The design of which was, ironically,  a project between the UK MoD and Australia.
Other countries have no such concerns as to where their vessels are built, deciding that quality of the end product and skill of the workers are a priority. Ships for Brunei and vessels for Trinidad and Tobago have recently been commissioned and built here, in Scotland.

2. And?

3. BAE Systems have already, along with Scottish Enterprise, invested heavily in the skills in this particular industry sector. There is their ever growing apprenticeship programme, which has not only ensures a fully trained workforce for the industry now (from those already through their apprenticeship) and in the future, but also the investment in the retention and renewal of shipbuilding skills.
BAE Systems are looking at the possibility of one new super all singing all dancing multi-million-pound frigate factory at Scotstoun.  Although they are left hanging with that until AFTER the referendum.  Regardless of whether the new ships are to be built on the Clyde, in the event of YES or NO, Westminster can't lose their fear card that they so enjoy wielding.

4. Chief Executive of BAE Systems, Ian King, has stated that " England has no yards capable of making such ships." as well as admitting that they had "no contingency plans"  should Scotland chose to vote YES as "all of the company's capability for building complex warships exists north of the Border".  He added: "If Scotland becomes independent…then we will have to have a discussion with our customer, the Westminster Government, about how they would like to deal with that,".
UK ministers, have also, only said that they "would likely" move to Portsmouth, not 100% definitely.
The cost of moving production to Portsmouth would be enormous for BAE Systems. Would that cost be factored into the quote tendered to Westminster? What if Westminster consider it too much - would they seek tender elsewhere, *sharp intake of breath* from possibly abroad? Would it not just be better to build the best ships on the best site with the skilled labour already inplace??
The MoD knew the referendum was coming, they knew there was a possibility of a YES vote (or were they too smug and confident, and just assumed that a NO vote was imminent?) What sort of business sense is to choose the Clyde for the preferred site if they won't "allow foreigners" to build defence vessels? Why start making a business decision into a political point scoring one?
SNP MSP for Anniesland, Bill Kidd has said: 
"The Clyde isn't just the best place to build the warships the Royal Navy needs – it will soon be the only place in these islands following the decision to end shipbuilding in Portsmouth," and 
"The fact is that the skills and capabilities of Scotland's ship building sector are what will help them to continue to win work in an independent Scotland."

5. I have to hand over to Ian McMahon ( Head of Aerospace, Defence & Marine for Scottish Enterprise ) when he commented in August 2010 :
There remains a stubborn belief - everywhere except in Glasgow itself and in shipbuilding industry and defence industry circles, both of which know better - that Scottish shipbuilding is dead.  Nothing could be further from the truthIn fact, since 2001 the Clyde yards, operated by BAE Systems, have seen a massive resurgence and now employ almost 4000 people.
Skills are at the heart of the industry.  Recognising the need to address the skills losses of the late 20th century, BAE Systems set about an ambitious recruitment and training programme from 2002.  Who would have believed that it would be a Clyde shipbuilding company that would become Scotland's largest private sector employer of apprentices, with well over 800 joining its scheme since that time?
Even in the 21st century, 'Clyde-built'  still has a very positive reputation in the shipbuilding industry worldwide - and the industry and public sector partners are working hard to ensure that reputation grows."
Scotland's Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon said this, last year :
"The threat to defence jobs in Scotland is not independence, it's Westminster and we're seeing that day and daily...For me, the key lesson is the need to build a more diverse future for our shipyards. Naval vessels will always be an important part of the industry in Scotland, but it has become painfully clear that on its own it is not enough. As an industry - as a country - we need to internationalise, build the client base and boost exports"

Sure, there is the risk that Westminster will take its ba' and go hame. But, why can't the skills, expertise and dedication of the workforce be utilised for a more diverse range of building/engineering works?  I'm not saying there wouldn't be potentially more redundancies, but with without the reliance on the UK MoD contract, they would be free to go after contracts worldwide, and not worry, again, once the Type 26's were built, if they were once again at the face of mass redundancy, and what next big project might be? Who can say that the UK MoD won't start outsourcing more and more of their contracts in the future, once they have secured that all important NO vote? The spirit of Margaret Thatcher is alive and well and thriving in Westminster.  Surely its as much a risk to stick with NO as it I,s for daring to believe in better and voting YES? The fear of losing jobs in the next couple of years if they voted YES, as opposed to potentially losing more jobs and more yard closured in the long term if voting No? Or the new opportunities and broader horizons with various and varied contracts that YES has the potential to deliver?

I don't know exactly what the future holds, no-one does really. I believe that YES is worth it.  The Scottish government are fully behind ensuring the ship yards are a strong industry in the global market, and our people have the skills.



A Century in Film :

From Scotland with Love

A friend recommended this film a couple of weeks ago, and I watched it, but not all of it at the time.
I'm sitting blogging just now regarding my 100 days series for Indy, and see that it has been on TV again (Sunday 13th July on BBC 4 at 9pm, I'm watching it on catch up!)

This is a film, made entirely of silent footage of Scotland and the everyday people of Scotland living their lives. King Creosote provides the soundtrack, and I have to say that it is emotional stuff.

I love watching films, looking through old photos (doesn't matter if I know the people or not), reading old stories, about the lives of everyday people. About how they lived, where they lived, how the dressed, family life, everything - it fascinates me endlessly.  I think I must be an old soul, as I always feel some sort of connection to by gone eras, but only Scottish ones, strangely enough. A sense of excitement and nostalgia for a time I have never lived in! That I know of...

If you get a chance to watch, I thoroughly recommend it (its on for 71 mins and available on iplayer for the next 6 days)

Ok, back to my other blog post, or it'll never get finished....


Saturday, 12 July 2014

What a difference a day makes...

Or certainly, a couple of days.
Following on from my worst day ever being a parent, we have had the most wonderful day on Thursday.  Our Home-Ed group had arranged to meet up in Dunblane ( 7 families came) and the sun shone.  5 hours of playing in the sand, on the chutes and general playing with friends and scoffing picnics inbetween fun and sun cream re-applications.

The best bit was when the heat just got too much and we all wandered down to the river edge and the kids stripped to their undies and paddled, swam, splashed and had THE most fun in the Allan Water.

this is where they swam and played - good old fashioned fun.

A complete flip to Wednesday - and I did not shout once. Not once!! As a result we have both been far calmer. Kiddo said to me " mummy, I like it when we are friends". Yes Kiddo, me too <3

On Friday the 2 of us spent the day playing. I was, for the most part, Hattie the Australian Dinosaur Expert from the National Museum (character from Cbeebies, Andy's Dinosaur Adventures). Again, no shouting. This is lovely. I was a little apprehensive of how the evening was going to progress as I had a rare evening out planned, and Kiddo was staying over with my parents.  I didn't mention anything until around 4pm when a casual "do you want to take Connect4 to Gran's tonight?", was met with, "Are we going to visit Gran? Can I stay all night - she said I could?". This was going in the right direction.  I suggested to Kiddo that he ask his Gran first if he may stay - cue phone call to Gran to ask that very question! The idea that the sleepover was all his made the actual sleepover a success, especially when I dropped him off and was leaving. PHEW!

So, my rare night out was on! Poor Hubby had to work, so wasn't able to join us (our friend and best man at our wedding, Scunnered, and me). The sun was still shinning as I waited for the train - Edinburgh bound. It was a delight to find that Scunnered had brought a rum refreshment for our journey to Auld Reekie.  We went to see Caitlin Moran at the Festival Theatre - she was on a promotional tour for her new book, How To Build A Girl.  I have read and loved both her previous books (How To Be A Woman and Moranthology) and follow her on Twitter, enjoying her bold, honest, sarcastic, intelligent wit and writing style.  We were not disappointed by her show. Feminism all the way. There was a distinct lack of men in the audience, but those there were warmly welcomed and seemed to enjoy the stories and comedy.  Scunnered and I left, not just with a few more rums consumed, but with a new t-shirt (me) and our feminism badges. I was torn between the black 'I am a Feminist' tee or the red one, 'I would like a revolution now please thank you'. I went with the red one in the end - figured it covered more bases - feminism, equality, indyref, and more.

It was a beautiful warm summers night in the capital, so onto The Peartree - favourite pub with faulous beer garden - before the train home. I have to confess to being less than sober, but by jings, I needed it!
Feeling restored, and having had a good chat with those closest and trusted, I have a better sense of perspective, renewed confidence in my parenting ability, renewed understanding of my son and his difficulties, and most surprisingly, no hangover!!!
Now with the Super moon hanging in the sky (albeit hiding behind the clouds), I am back on my blogging horse and ready to get caught up with my Indy Ref Series, how many days are left now?