Tuesday, 30 September 2014

If you go down to the woods today...

The sun shone, it was a beautiful warm morning, perfect for a wander round the local woodland.
Backpack stocked with supplies, off we trotted, straight through a pile of dog's dirt! That would be me of course, not Kiddo. Charming! Nevertheless, onwards, woodland bound.
Autumn would appear to have come early this year, probably due in part to the unseasonal cold weather towards the end of August, but the floor of the woods was a carpet of leaves of all colours of the autumnal spectrum - gold, brown, scarlet, green and orange.  Our swag bag filled up fairly quickly, and the leaves were dry too. There was an abundance of pinecones on the ground for our picking. But no cheggies. What is autumn without conkers?  Still, it is only the end of September, hopefully there will be conkers to find as the season progresses - I hope.
We found not only nature treasures  for taking home, but mushrooms too, heard a woodpecker and enjoyed listening to sounds of the woods, with the birds all signing their own wee tunes. We chatted about which animals were about to hibernate, and why they hibernated, about which and why some birds migrate south for the winter.  We played hide and seek amongst the trees and, as always, Kiddo gave the biggest trees a hug. He has done this since he was small, it makes me so proud, my wee tree-hugger.

Eventually it was time for hot chocolate in the warm sun (perhaps I was a bit previous bringing the flask before the proper cooler weather arrived...?).  Kiddo found us a great spot on a tree trunk to sit and enjoy hot choc and mini  marshmallows, before taking off to race me to the play park.

The leaves we collected today are going to be made into a wreath for the front door over the next day or so (photos to follow).  In the meantime, the pile of pine cones is now settled, pride of place on the nature table.

Our day rounded off with hot apple and plum strudel.  I would love to say that I made this myself, but, alas, it and the custard it was served with, came from Aldi, and it was delicious.


Monday, 29 September 2014

Autumn has arrived

The Autumnal Equinox has since passed, summer no longer with us.  The nights are fair drawing in.  It is my favourite time of the year - beautiful smells, colours, feeling of coziness and getting the warmer jumpers back on.  The cooler weather makes for great days out, be it puddle jumping or kicking through piles of leaves. Walks to the park or local woods always means coming home with pockets full of conkers, pretty leaves and strange and wonderfully shaped twigs. Its the time of apples and pears and plums. Time for crumbles and stews. It is a truly heartwarming time of year.
Last year we decided to set up a nature table for Kiddo. Autumn seemed like the perfect time to start. We collected a variety of leaves, brought them home and painted them, making imprints with the different shapes and colours. I cut out some 'leaf-shaped' felt shapes and we scattered them over our table in amongst pine cones, conkers and berries.
Last years table at Halloween

This years table has moved from the livingroom into Kiddo's bedroom.  Today we cleared away the summer collection and made a table cover in autumn colours, dedicated the blackboard to the season and spread out some of the leaves Kiddo has started collecting already - 3 leaves a conker and 1 feather... we brought out the paintings from last year and scattered those too.  This time, I finished my craft project from last year, and actually stitched the felt leaves into a garland! The original idea came from Cherry Menlove's blog - her original blog post can be found here.

Tomorrow we are heading out to the woods to collect items for the table, and this year we are going to identify the different leaves and twigs. We tried bark rubbing last year, which he wasn't really into, but going to give it a go again. I loved making bark rubbing drawing and pictures when I was small.

I will post more pictures as we update our table during the season.


OK. Its been 10 days...

Get over it.
Scotland decided.
Thought you were all about democracy?
Sore Loser.
Sour Grapes.
I'm sick of hearing about it.
Its getting embarrassing now.
There was no vote rigging or foul play.
You'll not get another ref - Scotland didn't want it.
You lost.

These are the comments over the last week or so that I have seen written on Social Media, in newspapers, heard on the television and overheard in conversations, and had said to my face. 
I will hold my hand up to feeling an enormous range of negative emotions in the time since the result, and it has been exhausting. But the reason that I and many many others have felt this was because we don't believe it was a democratic referendum - the Better Together and The Establishment played their followers for a fool.  Still think I'm sucking on sour grapes? Lets take a look then shall we:

1. On day 98 (countdown to the referendum) I wrote about saving the NHS. It was a theme throughout the campaign. We were told repeatedly by BT/TE that the NHS was safe. Post 18.09.14, Labour is all over the NHS telling voters to vote for Labour in the general election 2015 to SAVE the NHS.  Labour MSP Jackie Baillie has stated that she would re-introduce prescription charges to Scotland, at £8 per item. This is the tip of the iceberg, given that TTIP is going ahead without the NHS being protected. The future of the NHS is over as we know it, under Labour or otherwise. Once its signed, it is non-reversable. Once the UK Prime Minister puts pen to paper, the control of Scotland's NHS  is on borrowed time from a reduced budget. Only with the Yes win would the NHS have been protected from TTIP.

2. On day 44 I wrote about oil. We were mocked for believing that there was any future in our oil industry. Told that David Cameron was not in Sheltand discussing the vast oil field discovered there. We were told that oil would run out in 10 years max and it was foolish to base our economy on it (we were basing 15% of our economy on oil, compared to Norway's 30%). Less than a week post referendum, suddenly there is enough oil to last the next 120 years, with the Claire oil field producing 120k barrels per day. The previous arguments of the cost of oil extraction being too expensive is suddenly now not mentioned, not when there are new developments in technology to be able to extract our black gold.  This is not even a mention the oil field off the west coast of Scotland, because that is where Trident is based, and will continue to be based.

3. On day 61 I wrote about war.  On Friday 26th September Parliament was recalled in Westminster and it was voted that once again we are back to bombing Iraq.  Iraq, the home of the illegal wars and 'terrorist' groups - whom we armed!!! Thinking logically, who are the real terrorsists here - the country being repeatedly invaded and bombed or those in the West doing the bombing. Already this move is being hailed as the start of World War 3.  Incidently, the SNP MPs ALL voted AGAINST the decision to go to war.  We have a deficit of almost £1bn in the NHS yet miraculously have £3bn to spend bombing the middle east.

4.  On day 78 I wrote about Fracking.  Big money to be made here by the industry and government.  Our previously devolved powers regarding energy were removed and taken back to Westminster in October 2013. By Monday 22nd September 2014 Ineos had the fracking license to Grangemouth and the Firth of Forth.  We have now been told that David Cameron has given rights to fracking companies to frack under our very homes, WITHOUT our permission and we as citizens and householders have NO say on the matter.

5. Yesterday the UK Government revealed at the Tory Conference plans to scrap Housing Benefit and Job Seekers Allowance to all under 25s, to make more savings in the name of austerity. Labour proposed a similar plan, only reducing the age from 25 to 22 years old. This is alongside a benefits freeze for 2 years, and an increase in pension age (to 70). I have used the Government calculator to work out when I am scheduled to retire under current rules - 68years of age! The life expectancy for Scotland, whilst it has  increased over the past couple of decades, remains the lowest in the UK overall, with parts of Glasgow's life expectancy rate for men at 56years old.

This is all without considering Jack Straw's desire to make any future independence plans, illegal, Ed Balls wishing to scrap the Winter Heating Allowance for the over 75s and the delay of the new magical powers from The Vow being revealed, as we now have both an General Election to focus on and take into account that if Scotland gets more devolved power, then so too must England.  I have zero objection to England having powers solely for England and voting for their own matters - that is a good move for their own country, but we need to have ours addressed as a priority as it was what many many people voted for.

The Vow is never heard of in the media now, other than some celebs coming out (like Billy Connolly and Sean Connery, neither of whom live here) to say the Government  had better deliver. Or what? Nothing, that's what!

Now, I am no Mystic Meg, but come on.  Do you see now why we are still so angry?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

And then...

18th September, we'll never forget that date
when we took to the polls to decide our fate.
Independence: a future of hope and dreams
destroyed in a few hours, ripped apart at the seams.
A nation divided when No won over Yes
in under 24hours our biggest city was in a mess.
When the unionist loyalists began to descend on George Square,
the rest of us looked on with disgust and despair.
The ugly side of Scotland sullying our name,
the split yes/no nation reunited in horror and shame.

The weekend that followed was of heartbreak and tears
the blame game in motion, fingers pointing at the Establishment and our old dears.
It was a dirty campaign won through fear and license to scaremonger,
that frightened the older generation but angered the younger.
Despite lies about pensions, NHS and oil.
Yes was gaining, No campaign was in turmoil.
They broke the rules of Purdah and created the Vow.
A mere PR stunt, a false promise. Where is it now?

With No declared the winner at 55%
The Establishment giddy with glee, are smugly content.
The Queen allegedly purring in delight,
Jack Straw trying to make sure the binds of the union are watertight.
Now the gloves are off and the lies are revealed,
although to be honest, if you were paying attention, they were hardly concealed.
Reduction in the block grant, NHS under fire, fracking permission all good to go.
All that was foretold is coming to fruition. Really 55, did you have to vote No?

Now, with Parliament expected to be recalled on Friday,
don't be thinking its to sort Scottish affairs and make everything all tidy.
Westminster is currently talking again of going to war in Iraq,
taking our country's soldiers back fighting, under the Union Jack.
Our voters appeared to have lost their sanity
when they chose to keep weapons which will end all of humanity.

The 45% rallied ourselves to come together and share in our grief,
our bitterness and anger, our complete and utter disbelief.
We accept our defeat, though it was got by underhand means and hardly democratically.
However, away we are not going, the fire still burns. That, I can tell you, emphatically.

We now have the most politically awake and actively engaged population in the world,
The Established now exposed, the extent of their deceit laid bare, unfurled.
Tory, Lib-Dem and especially Labour, are now dead in the water.
Pop by Holyrood when you're passing and collect your jotter.
SNP, Scottish Greens and SSP are the parties now leading the way
Their memberships soaring, welcoming the us all, giving us a say.

Our future has already started, the movement continues on. Quit the mopin.
It no longer matters how you voted, but moving forward keep your eyes and ears open.
The time for blaming each other is through
We must come together, our future is down to all of us. Me and you.
The people of Scotland, the 45% and more; united in hope,
free of fear, with vision and scope
to plan and deliver a future to suit us all.
When we are a nation that's free and can at last stand tall.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Its a Monday Thing

Monday - typically the day when we start something new. All good intentions start on a Monday - a new diet, a new exercise regime, keeping the house tidy, taking packed lunches to work, preparing the night before for work the following day, being more careful with money - we always get the weekend out the way and start afresh on a Monday. Or maybe that is just me?
Today is no different. I have got the weekend out the way, and today is the start of something new.
A new look to the future. Accepting what has gone before, and embarking the next part of our journey.
I have read through my post Its a New Dawn and it doesn't sound like me. On reflection it reads rather bitterly, and bitter isn't in my make up - sarcastic, gobby, smart-arsed, yes, but bitter, not so much. Ordinarily I can find that silver lining in most clouded situations, but I really struggled with this one. With my head un-fugging (although my heart is no lighter), I am beginning to see that shimmer of silver trying to catch my eye. Bitter Together was the opposition in the indyref, not the positive, looking to a bright future of hope, that was the Yes side.
Its no good blaming the 55% for letting 'us' down - they voted as is their right, based on the information they had  - whether they researched it or not, whether they relied solely upon MSM or not, whether it was old-fashioned outdated ideas of what they thought they were voting for, or whether they had no clue what they were doing and just voted they same as their pals or parents, it is now irrelevant. 55% of the population voted to remain united with England Wales and N.Ireland. No bloodshed, no war, just a democratic choice and free will - the didn't have to vote at all if they didn't want to, but over 80% of the electorate made a conscious decision to vote.  The biggest turnout ever in a UK ballot.
In the same vein, its no good blaming the elderly for saying NO, despite the fact they lived through the hardship of the Thatcher years following the 1979 vote.  They were lied to in the printed press and on every news channel - if all the MSM are saying the same thing, are they going to believe us?  The vast majority of these people are not online and are not seeing the other side.  Moving forward this needs to be addressed - how can we reach out to those who need more balanced info the most?  The petition is already well underway with signatures for SBC (Scottish Broadcasting Corporation) and independent Freedom TV is in development.
The number of people who are now regretting their decision should be welcomed into the fold, not villainised  - it has probably taken a lot of courage to confess their regret.  The more people who want independence the better, leave the past in the past - we now need to focus on the future.
When #the45 then #the45plus came about it was a great feeling  all of us rallying together, 1.6million people voted for independence, 45% of the electorate. We would stick together and make a change. Now after a couple of days, I am questioning whether this is a tad divisive? Is it turning more people away from supporting the cause? Do we need to come together under a different name, one more inclusive and inspiring? There are a few suggestions being tested on Social Media, I particularly like the Butterfly Rebellion, but that may be more to do with the fact I LOVE the logo
What has been the most successful outcome so far, has not been the finger pointing "I told you so's", particularly with today's announcements from Labour (Child Benefit Cap, stopping winter fuel allowance for pensioners, increasing retiral age, tweeting about only being able to save the NHS under Labour, DESPITE telling everyone that YES were scaremongering over the NHS during the indyref) and the devastating news that Ineos has bought the fracking rights right to Grangemouth, as reported in the Guardian , has been the upsurge of political party membership since Friday morning.  In 4 days the SNP have now become the 3rd largest party in the UK, overtaking the LibDems with membership numbers. The Scottish Greens have grown by more than 3000 members and the SSP by more than 2000 - this is unheard of and fantastic. It means that the population are now engaged, focussed and actively involved in taking an interest in how our country is governed.
Another wonderful outcome has been the focus on food banks - not from the political parties, but from the people on the street - us! The food bank donations in George Square are incredible.  There is a donation day planned in my home town on Saturday this week, already the support on Facebook is breath taking - compassion and support for each other in our communities has not been so strong in a long time.  A change is afoot - forget the Me-First politics and ideologies and remembering All-Of-Us (as per The Common Weal) is happening, and it is a beautiful thing.
The friends I have made over the past couple of years, more so in the past year (some of whom I have never actually met, but have developed bonds with over broadband) are so inspiring and passionate. To have been a part of such a positive movement, one that is not just going away, but getting stronger and growing by the hour, is one of the best things I have ever joined. 
The silver lining that I am seeing, through the clouded despair of not gaining our independence, even though we believed we were ready, is that losing may just have been the best thing to have happened. Yes, I did just say that! As a result of losing, we haven't actually lost, we have gained - gained more followers towards indy, gained a more active electorate - would 28,000 people have joined a pro-indy party if we had 'won'? We know exactly how we felt when we got the news, which further fuelled the desire and we now know what we are up against. We now also have time to develop all the ideas and implement the frameworks for the Scotland we are building.
Its not longer Yes or No (even though I am still wearing my badges and car displaying my YES sticker). I have no idea what its called now, but it is invigorating, inclusive, creative, positive, passionate, and here to stay.
There, I feel much better now

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Its A New Dawn

Its a new day. Its a new life, for us and I'm feeling blue.

Actually, I'm not feeling blue, I'm feeling devastated, angry, disappointed, disgusted, hurt, betrayed, heartbroken and bereaved. When my head hit my pillow around 6am this morning, having followed the results all through the night, I felt numb. In amongst all the different emotions I've experienced since the results starting coming in,  I am also grieving.  Grieving for the loss of hope, loss of opportunity to make a difference and a better life for my country and everyone who calls her, home, and most importantly, grieving for the loss of a future for my son and his generation (and the next...). When he woke up (knowing I had been waiting on the results) my 4yo asked me "Did we win?" All I could muster at the time was "No". His confused face will forever be etched in my memory, then with the clarity of someone much older than his years he asked "Why? Why did all the NO's want the man in BigBen and Westminster to be in charge? Why do they not want to be in charge? That's a bit silly."  "I don't know, son. Maybe they were scared. Ask your grandparents" "I will!"

That was Friday. Many a tear was shed over the course of that entire day, and then new tears came after a very important woman to me (my Mum) revealed (having been undecided with a strong lean to No) that she had voted Yes. What do you know, its now Sunday, and the thought of her Yes vote still makes me well up.  As does hearing that a fair few of my colleagues at work voted Yes too (although the vast majority voted No). Apparently there has been some heated discourse in the staff canteen...

So, as we know, Scotland took to the ballots on Thursday, and we became the first nation to say 'No Thanks' to being an independent country. No thanks to self governance and determination. No thanks to a chance to a better and brighter future. No Thanks to an oil fund. No Thanks to NHS.  No Thanks to free education. No Thanks to a new written constitution.  No thanks to self respect. No thanks to a more fair, just, inclusive and equal society.  No Thanks to our unofficial National Anthem.  Can someone please tell me how we are to sing Flower of Scotland again?  We did however, say a great big Yes Please to more austerity. Yes Please to poverty. Yes Please to keeping Trident in our waters and Yes Please to spending £163m per annum on its upkeep and £30bn approx. to replace it in 6 years time. Yes Please to not only spending this money on nuclear WMD that we will never use, but also to paying for the House of Lords, HS2, renewal of the London sewer system. Yes Please to privatisation of the NHS, including TTIP. Yes Please to Fracking. Yes Please to food banks. Yes Please to MPs grotesque expenses, 11% payrises and Westminster cover ups (paedophile ring?). Yes Please to Mainstream Media bias, including the unashamed BBC. Yes Please to eliteism. Yes Please to more wars. Yes Please to 'new powers' that no-one has detailed exactly what they are  yet come with the threat of removal of other powers., Yes Please to not more of the same, but of worse yet to come.

Democracy spoke, its just a bloody shame, it didn't listen first.  I was born in the late 70's and raised in a time when we were taught to "think before you speak". The generation and the one prior who taught us values and manners, and like to remind us all now and again of these little nuggets of appropriate behaviour in society, were the ones who (73% of them to be exact - thank you to the 27% who did listen, had their eyes open, and thought to the future not the past) did not heed their own advice and did not think. They just absorbed the messages of fear and stuck to stubborn outdated opinions and said NO, without question. Even when some did question - as seen on the televised debates, they chose not to listen to the answers.
It would appear that Scotland is indeed, not to wee or too poor, but by god, we are too stupid! We have no-one to blame but ourselves, right?  45% of the electorate made to decision to take matters into our own hands, to get informed, to grow our own campaigns away from the political parties - National Collective, Radical Independence, Women for Independence, citizen journalists like Wings and Bella, and blogs such as Wee Ginger Dug for instance, all took to getting informed and involved, sharing the messages wide, and had (and very much still have) belief in ourselves to believe that we could be a prosperous and successful country in our own right. Unfortunately the other 55% decided that instead they would believe the scare stories, the media, the vows and promises made by Westminster Politicians, specifically Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Brown.
Over the course of Friday and more so Saturday, the realisation of what a No vote means, began unfurling before our eyes. The first promise, upon which the No vote was based has been 'missed'
We are still waiting on this timetable, as promised by the seemingly newly appointed authority over Scotland; Gordon Brown.
Jack Straw, Labour former Home Secretary announcing his intention to lock Scotland into the UK for evermore :

People who voted No to protect their mortgage (cost of repayments and maintain equity in property) :
Here is what is about to happen to your home when fracking commences - which the Scottish Government was against, the once devolved energy power was taken back to Westminster in 2013.

None of this is a surprise. It and more was foretold prior to the polling day.  Democracy reigned and the country voted NO, get used to it and move on. Oh really? Oh did it really? How very democratic was it that Westminster and the Better Together/UKOK/NoThanks (Seriously, how many name changes? Did the No side think they were Prince or P.Diddy?) played a deeply dirty game? Lies, scare mongering, the whole campaign based on you wont get this or this, You cant have that , you  look like you're winning, well we're coming to get you, manipulating the population, particularly the older generation who relied solely on what they read and heard on MSM as they are (in the majority) not online. 37 of our 38 printed newspapers did not back independence, only 5 of them Scottish owned, so always printing with bias, BBC repeatedly shown to be heavily biased and derogatory in their reporting, and yet they go on unchallenged by the powers that be. Big business got in on the act too, its all about the money. Shares in Kellogg's must be through the roof!
And now, we have swathes of people taking to twitter to declare their regret over their decision to vote No.  While I am glad these people have woke up to the reality, its a kick in teeth and makes the pain all the more intolerable.  As a friend said on the matter :"These people have had 2 years to make their minds up, and it takes only 2 days for them to change it?"

Personally, I took our defeat a lot harder than I expected to. I always had an idea that No would prevail, but with the growing momentum for indy, and the switch up of position in the polls, it seemed to be within reach. Once the feeling of 'we could actually win this' was felt, there was no going back. So when 55% of the population decided to remain within a broken union because they were scared of the unknown, or whatever reason they had, the reality and gravity of what they had done was crushing.  The resignation of the First Minister was almost too much.  I have never voted (as have already said) for the SNP, however, Alex Salmond has done so much for this country, he has been a fantastic First Minister, a fine example of a strong politician able and willing (and delivering) to fight for his people.  I was gutted that he did not take us to our independence. However, he did take us to the vote, and 45% of Scotland wants it. Wants it badly - that in itself is a hell of an achievement.

It took a day, we allowed ourselves to cry, to grieve, to take it in, then #the45 came alive.
The political awakening that happened in Scotland has been epic.  The indyref was merely the start for what is about to become the most radical evolution in politics ever.  We have a fire in our bellies and are going nowhere.  Grassroots was from where the indy battle was fought, and its where we will continue, alongside the political parties, the parties, of course, being SNP, Scottish Greens and Scottish Socialist Party. Since the vote was declared a win for the UK (a win, yet no celebrations..?) the membership to the SNP increased by 10,000, the Greens membership has now swollen to more members than the LibDems - that in itself speaks volumes.
During the indyref I was involved in canvassing, leaflet drops, blogging on it and very active in social media.  Since the Vote, I need to do more - its like a primal need. I have, like so many others have joined a political party - I joined the Scottish Green Party, as well as CND (getting rid of Trident was an important campaign point for me), and National Collective.
As well as reading through fellow 45ers (and now #the45plus , incorporating those who now wish to join us) status updates on Facebook Twitter and blog posts, the movement towards a better Scotland continues to be inspired by the following:
Bella Caledonia - Wipe Your Eyes, On Your Feet and Evolution not Revolution
National Collective - Statement : How We Won and How We Still Will
Derek Bateman - Here I Come
Freedom TV
Plus we have the Radical Independence Conference in November to look forward to.

Down but not out. A new dawn has arrived, just not the one we were expecting.

Something Inside So Strong

A little something to keep us going - thank you Labi Siffre


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

1 Day To Go

This is it, 1 more sleep until we take to the polls in the only poll that matters : Should Scotland be an independent country?
Both sides have said their piece, now its time for the people of Scotland to decide. Only we can make the decision for our future, by placing a cross in a box, YES or NO. 
97% of the electorate have registered to vote in this monumental, democratic, life changing referendum, and every single vote counts. 
This is part of history, and we are right at the heart of it.
All the best and good luck to all who have the right to vote tomorrow - vote for your future (whatever that looks like to you).

If all the campaigning over the past 2 years has left you still undecided or choosing No, my last chance to convert you is now - I defy anyone to listen the tunes below and not Vote YES!!!

Flower of Scotland
Loch Lommond
Caledonia - (Frankie Miller not Dougie McLean as personal favourite - it's the one I grew up with)
One Great Thing
Wild Mountain Thyme
Cap in Hand
Hope Over Fear

Our time has come. Are You Yes Yet???

I will have voted before I'm here again, so, see you on the other side.



Tuesday, 16 September 2014

2 Days To Go

2 days to go, and quite honestly, I'm glad. I can't wait to get into the polling station, cross my ballot paper and post it into the ballot box, then sit back and wait for the results to start coming through later in the evening and through the night.  This once passionate yet friendly (from where I sat) debate and at times extremely humorous one, has turned sour, really sour, and I don't like it. Graffiti from both sides are defacing the opposition's banners and posters, comments are nasty and personal, at times racist, xenophobic and bigoted, and there appears to have been a humour bypass installed at some point too.  This is not restricted to one side or the other - I would say it is fairly even balanced. It is so disappointing, and a really poor reflection of the people who call Scotland, home.
Looking to the future, not too far in the future, just to Friday morning, I hope that regardless of the result (whether it be a surprise landslide to YES or 51% YES or 60/40 win for NO or whatever split occurs), that everyone remembers who they are, and why this referendum was taking place, and what the outcome means for the future.
Part of the YES campaign has been about democracy. There is nothing democratic about vandalising the opposition's property just because you don't agree with their opinion. There will be nothing democratic about taking a major strop and huff if the result is the opposite of the one you voted for. The majority will have spoken (well, voted), and that is the decision that will stand, and we will all have to live with. I hope that everybody can accept the decision and move forward with good grace.
Will I be pissed off if No win, of course, just as my No voting friends will be if Yes wins, but at the end of the day we are still friends and that won't change.  I will still go to work with people who have voted the same and different, and we will carry on our business. You see where I'm going with this...
But what do these two different futures look like after Friday and beyond? Truth is , no-one knows for sure.  We do know however :

Its important to remember the past, but not dwell on it as we no longer live there. We need to look to history though inorder to learn and not repeat mistakes. We have politicians telling us to Vote No and we will get DevoMax or whatever they are calling it today, but in 1979 the Scots were told similar stories as today, to convince the electorate to vote against the Scottish Assembly. Today we had The Vow on the front page of the Daily Record that the 3 Westminster Parties signed a declaration citing 3 vows they will uphold in the event of a No Vote. The Vow included the funding of the NHS to remain devolved and in full control, yet with TTIP being negotiated, The Vow would mean nothing then as TTIP will be signed off by the Prime Minister of the UK. For those that remember (not me, too young) when the SNP were called the Tartan Tories - called that for a reason, they were not always left of Labour, we are not voting for the party they were back then, nor are we voting for the party they are now - this is not party political, its far bigger and far longer lasting than that.
We have to look forward, to the future, and choose the best possible future we can, and NEITHER side has any guarantees. You have to think about the two futures lying ahead and choose the one that offers the best possibility of achieving what you deem important.
For me, only with YES to independence, does the possibility of a future with greater equality for citizens have a chance to flourish - equality for gender, sexual orientation, disability, wealth; a future where we are not looked at as the annoying relation or thorn in Westminster's side, but as an equal nation, (like all other nations); a future that puts people before profit (privatisation and re-nationalisation of services like NHS, postal service); a future of peace not WMD (Nato membership is SNP policy, not all pro-Yes party policies); a future to grow into ourselves and fully realise our own potential. This is not a view to some Utopia, as is mentioned regularly to those favouring YES. This is a view of a positive future, one we will have to work bloody hard at to make work, one which will take time. If we don't have a dream or a vision for something to work for, to aspire to be, to look forward to, then what is the point?

Not much time....

At the start of my 100days series, the indyref seemed like ages away. The whole summer lay infront of us, filled with fun, sun, blogging, campaigning and enjoying life.  That was exactly how our summer panned out.  However, in amongst the fun, and falling knackered into bed, I have missed 18 days in my 100, including reasons such as Welfare, Austerity, Europe, Social Justice, Land reform, Taxation, Wealth, Equality, Democracy, Local democracy, Re-nationalisation, amongst others. How did that happen? I always had full intentions of being able to catch up, hence some posts are out of sequence, but 18 with 2 days left to go!! Anyone got a time machine I can borrow?
Technically I should be writing one just now, but I'm writing this Arrgghhh!!! one instead - not exactly the most productive use of my time, granted.
So, with an empty coffee mug, and still a bit of time to myself, I'd better get on.
2 days to go, people still to convince, a dancing musical flash mob to attend (cannae wait for that one), a YES T-shirt to keep washing and drying (should've bought more than 1),  and blog posts to write as to why I am voting for YES.
Heres to a busy couple of days - and more coffee

Monday, 15 September 2014

3 Days To Go

This morning my postman delivered this letter, addressed to me, from my Trade Union, USDAW :
And this is my response (written on the back of the above letter):
Dear John
Thank you for your letter addressing the forthcoming Independence Referendum.  You are absolutely correct in that the decision is irreversible and there will be no going back. What would be the point of going through this whole process if we thought that we 1. wanted to stay or 2. come back? Your acknowledgment that it is vital that everyone votes is a pretty unanimous opinion, being as 97% of the electorate have registered to vote on this crucial point in our life.
I question as to where you decided that the voices of many Scottish Usdaw members led you to campaign for a NO vote - I have never been consulted on  this. I have looked at your website as recommended and saw the photographs of members holding NO placards - how many people did you question, when and what was the split between Yes and No?
Now, the problem I have with your letter, quite apart from receiving it 3 days prior to the vote and  paying a membership fee to an organisation that does not reflect or represent my opinion, is the wording and recommendations made in the final paragraph.  The questions posed as leading uncertainties, have already been answered numerous times by various sources, for example the DWP have already stated that pensions will continue to be paid as they are at the moment and pensions are safe. I strongly object to your suggestion of uncertainty in such matters - playing to people's fears by power of suggestion.  You are, of course, quite correct in the point that people can't afford to leave it to others to take the decision - everyone should be making their own informed choice. But quite frankly I am disgusted and appalled by your suggestion demand, that if people don't know, they should automatically vote NO - are you serious??? What about "If you don't know, here's some suggestions of where you may find some useful information..." How dare you treat your members with the same patronising contempt that the Better Together Team tried with the female voter. How dare you presume to know better what is in the interest for Scotland. And how dare you try to influence decisions  by telling your members "don't let others take the decision" then do precisely that.
It is with great pleasure, I terminate my membership with immediate effect.
Vote YES on Thursday 18 September
Yours independently (a female voter who is informed and able to make a decision for herself)

Sunday, 14 September 2014

6 Days To Go

All over social media in the past few days, has been the shameful manipulative editing of the Biased Broadcasting Corporation machine at its finest.  The press conference with Alex Salmond where Nick Robinson's questions were put to the FM, answered, then edited in a negative light to broadcast to the viewers at home.  Thankfully we have social media which aired the interview prior to editing, hours before it was broadcast into our livingrooms, and highlighted this blatant distorted representation of the press conference.  Take a look for yourself here

Over the past couple of years the level of dirty politics, bullying, threats and use of scaremongering tactics have increased in volume and content.                 
We have had ridiculous threats like:
Scots can't leave the UK and keep Buckfast
All the banks are leaving
Independence would be catacalysmic for the world
Leave the UK and you're not getting the pound
We'll put boarder guards in place if you vote NO
We'll not get Dr Who and Strictly

And finally, you see, the thing about all this skullduggery and lies is, a liar is always caught out.  Especially if someone forgets the biggest lie they were meant to maintain...Step forward Mr William Hague.  While the 3 Stoogies were in Scotlandshire trying to convince everyone that staying in the union was the right thing to do and spraffing about Devo Max, Wee Willie was at PMQT telling us the opposite : you just couldnae make it up!
Politics is not known for its honesty and integrity at the best of times, but this whole indyref has really highlighted the levels of dishonesty, fear-inducing and underhand tactics in play.
Who do you trust more?



4 Days To Go

Tick Tock, only 4 days to go.  This mornings polls show another swing to the YES leading by 8 points at 56% (biggest swing yet).
After last Sunday's 2point lead, the furious parent in Wastemonster kicked into action and the my goodness, I thought we were going to get grounded! "Don't you dare break up the union...or else...!!!" As if this petulant rebellious teenager would ever dream of such an affront to the family, I mean with all this independent thinking, taking care and responsibility of oneself, just what would the neighbours think?
Well, Spain across the street a couple doors down, they're not best pleased, their wee one has the same notions. Further along the street, Belgium and further again, Italy have reservations due to areas within their borders seeking to their own independence too. (I have no knowledge of any of these 3 situations and do not pretend to. I don't know, and frankly at this time do not have the time to investigate whether they were formerly their own country and were swallowed up by the bigger area or not, but Scotland WAS and REMAINS a country in its own right, but is bound by an old agreement to be a part of the United Kingdom, a tie from which it now wishes to severe). But the rest of the neighbours have no real concerns. Especially them in the street over the back, Iceland.
Back in 2008 when the financial markets collapsed, so too, did Iceland.  This blog post from Shaun Gibson explains how it collapsed and how they brought themselves back up again. The Icelandic story is a truly inspiring one; one which Scotland should take note of.  Could this be a reason why Wastemonter is bearing down on us from their perceived mighty height, trying to lord over our political awakening and democratic right to be an independent country?

Why Iceland Should Be In The News, But Is Not, by Shaun Gibson



Saturday, 13 September 2014

5 Days To Go


My 4 year old is really getting into the #indyref vibe. He has YES badges, flags and his own wristband (even though it doesn't fit, so he 'lets' his Dad wear it...).  We love playing YES Bingo when we are out and about in the car - spotting all the windows with Yes posters and cars with the same. Its a race as to who can spot them first and who many we spot each time we head out.
Together we have been out on the streets delivering leaflets to neighbouring streets on behalf of YES and ben and listened to Jim Sillars when he was in our area with the Margo Mobile team. He has asked questions about YES, such as "why does everything say YES?" "Why can't I put a sticker on my window?" - I didn't have the heart to tell him it was because his window would probably get panned in. The joys of living in such a fancy-pants part of town...
But aside from the fun he is having with all the indyref excitement, he has been listening and taking bits in. A conversation the other day in the car, whilst driving through the east end of Glasgow and losing count of all the YES windows we past, the voice from the back seat pipes up
"That man that lives in Big Ben who stole all our money - we're going to take it back when you say YES. Is that right, Mum?"  Not quite, but I am impressed. 
While he is so young, some may feel too young, to be involved in such adult matters, I think this is the perfect time to introduce current events and political goings-ons, IF he is interested and a level that is understood by him.  Living in our home, he is not going to escape such conversations between his dad and I. If and when he has questions, we answer them and get him involved.
This referendum is not just about the here and now, not just about currency, not just about the bonds and shared history; it is also, and to my mind, more importantly, about the future.  My family's present and future. 
That future has not yet been written, but that doesn't stop us starting to shape it and visualise how it may look. Should my son decide he wants to go to university, he will have the chance to do to so, without incurring £thousands of debt by graduation day. With the focus placed upon creating news jobs, should by the time he is seeking employment, be able to offer him a stable and affordable income. If he is ill, or any other member of my family falls ill and needs medical care, our NHS will provide that care - not a privatised company.  My parent's pension is safe as are ours, at a sensible retiral age.
The investments and changes planned for the improvements in this country will be felt by the next generation more than  mine , but an investment in their future is also an investment in ours - knowing that the autumn years of life wont be working til we're 69 or longer and scrapping by on crumbs of a pension in a country ravaged by austerity.  Speculate to accumulate, as the saying goes. Invest now for a better future.
My family is the most important thing in my life, and deciding upon that future has not been a decision taken lightly.  It is with confidence, vision and hope that I place that future firmly in the hands of an independent Scotland.
Scotland will be looked after by Scotland for Scotland. Once your family is taken care of, what else matters?



Friday, 12 September 2014

8 Days To Go

This film is absolutely fantastic.
Scotland Yet :  a film about independence






46 Days To Go

We have been hearing for some time now about how supermarkets will have to increase the cost of our weekly messages in the event of a Yes vote.
We have been told that the cost of distribution to stores will increase, the cost of setting up a new company in a foreign country, the cost should there be a completely different currency.
It has been reported that the PM David Cameron has had 1-2-1 chats with executives of the leading supermarkets in Downing Street, regarding the implications of independence and urging them to support the union.
Robert Peston (British economist) tweeted that David Cameron "met supermarket bosses at No.10 this afternoon and urged them to go public on how prices would rise in and independent Scotland."
This is the very same Prime Minister who repeatedly states that he is not getting involved with the referendum as it is a matter for the Scots.

Asda and John Lewis (owners of Waitrose) has came out to say that prices may increase, as any extra costs incurred dealing with iScotland would have to be passed onto the consumer. Since his chat with Dave,  Asda CEO Andy Clarke said: "If we were no longer to operate in one state with one market and - broadly - one set of rules, our business model would inevitably become more complex. We would have to reflect our cost to operate here.
"This is not an argument for or against independence, it is simply an honest recognition of the costs that change could bring. For us the customer is always right and this important decision is in their hands." When only last week Asda were saying that they had no plans to raise prices in iScotland.
John Lewis chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield warned ""From a business perspective there will be economic consequences to a Yes vote, not just in uncertainty but some of the turmoil we are hearing about.
"And it is also the case that it does cost more money to trade in parts of Scotland and therefore those hard costs, in the event of a Yes vote, are more likely to be passed on."

 Meanwhile Tesco and Morrisons have actually said the opposite. In the Huffington Post, it reported that  Morrisons have said it was "wrong" to say they were planning to hike food prices, with a spokesman telling Newsnet Scotland: "If an independent Scotland increased or decreased regulation or taxes we'd have to take a second look at our pricing. Clearly that could work for or against Scottish customers depending on the direction of travel."
When contacted by a member of the public (and then published on Face Book), a Morrisons representative is reported as saying:
"Thank you for contacting us regarding the leaflet you received.  We have received similar enquiries regarding this articular correspondence from one of the campaigns in the Scottish Referendum.  As a company Morrisons have a thriving and loyal customer base and we work to try and keep those customers satisfied.  We base our pricing on the retail MARKET and not on political decisions. We strive to offer customers in Scotland the best service we can.
As far as we are aware the increased cost in Ireland is due to a number of factors, the major one being the higher cost of distribution.  Morrisons currently have in place a full distribution network within the current UK which would remain in place in the event of a Yes Vote.  The only way we could envisage an increased cost for Scotland is if the Scottish Government were to push Scotland's land mass away from the rest of the UK and into the North Sea."
And Tesco had this to say

As for the photo at the top of the post, taken from the BT Facebook page - who does their maths?

Edited to insert this photo, taken from twitter 13.09.14

A great article in Business for Scotland reports on the particulars of retailing currently and in the event of a Yes vote and gives a very clear argument as to why the argument against independence in terms of your grocery shopping, is flawed. For example, with new taxation rates in iScotland, prices may actually fall.

From a personal perspective, as a supermarket employee, prices fluctuate constantly. They have been creeping up for a long time, until very recently when Aldi came to town. Good food and great prices - even with my 10% staff discount, I still get the vast majority of my groceries in Aldi, topping it up with the heavily discounted weekly deals in the big supermarket.  Perhaps if supermarket workers were paid more than just above the Nat Min Wage, we wouldn't mind paying a bit extra for food.
I used to enjoy a local veg box scheme and meat ( and soaps and cheese and jams etc) from the farmers market, but these are luxuries I can no longer afford as a way to shop.  My internal moral compass is in constant motion between budget and green credentials of where my food comes from and how it comes to be.  As such we don't eat a lot of meat, but when we do it is of the highest quality and welfare I can get, I try to buy Scottish or British food, and produce that is in season (I do not buy strawberries grown in Egypt in December for instance), but that is my choice. I would love to be able to have a box scheme again, use the local grocer for all meats foods, and have my milk delivered by the local dairy, but it is not viable - especially with the amount of milk we get through each day.
The Common Weal has a plan for a better future, that combines all elements of supermarkets, local co-ops, food banks and local economy, which totally resonates with me, and is the perfect way to balance the situation (from my point of view).  The full details can be found here.

At the end of the day, if Aldi and Lidl (both German companies, trading in the UK and throughout Europe) can have lower food prices and the big four are in competition for the cosumer pound, why should our vote be held to ransom? Yes, prices might go up initially, but all it will take it for one of them to say, "I'm taking customer turnover and loyalty over profit" (ie increasing market share), and then the price war starts all over again, as none of these companies want to lose customers or any more profit than they need to.



62 Days To Go

Food banks - the growing phenomenon that is sweeping the UK. In 2013 the number of people relying on food banks to feed themselves and their families TRIPLED in a year, exceeding the expected forecast by over 100,000 people. In terms of figures, in the period April to October 2013, The Trussell Trust (biggest food bank operator in the UK) helped 355,985 people - including 120,000 children, whilst in the same period in 2012, that total figure was 113,264 people.  Last winter, the British Red Cross were also involved in distributing food to British citizens, a first since WWII.

The thing about food banks though, it is not just people who are out of work and living on benefits that are using them - families from working households (known as the working poor) are also in need of these valuable charitable services. In a quick search on the Trussell Trust website, there are 16 food banks within a 25 mile radius of my front door, not including the local run independent/charity/church  set ups - that is a lot of hungry tummies.

How did this supposedly wealthy nation end up like this? Swinging cuts to the welfare pot, extortionate price hikes in energy bills and food bills, big mortgages for owners and the buy-to-let, so therefore rents are higher, just for a kick-off.  Prices going up all around, whilst the wages people are earning are not rising at the same level, if at all - the cost of living far exceeds the wages of the average family.  Many people earn more that the 'average' but I think it is fair to say that they are not the ones trying to feed their families from food banks!  Even worse (if that's possible), are the number of people returning to the food banks to exchange items in their food parcels, not because they didn't like what they were given, but some people have returned items that need heating prior to eating, as they don't even have the money to pay for the electricity bills for a cooker or microwave. Yes these people may be in the minority and in the worst case, but the fact that this is happening at all in wealthy west European country is disgraceful.

Our caring MPs however, need not worry about food banks for themselves, not with the grocery allowance of £165 they receive per week on top of their salaries! These are the same MPs who are happy to pose for the local press as they open another food bank in their constituency. Even more galling, is that some MPs (not going to tar all politicians with the same greedy brush, but there are many which deserve to be) believe that food banks are going to be and should be, the norm!  Of course, why would any country not want their own citizens to be able to support themselves and their families?!

After this post from Aberdeen BT went viral, it was removed, but not before a great many people saw it and spread it.  How anyone can spin poverty into something "enriching" is beyond belief.
Not only that, the our caring sharing MPs in Wastemonster also rejected EU funding to assist those who were in most need:

This youtube video tells exactly what it means to rely on food banks, and is a video of one dedicated volunteer, Denis Curran, who runs a food bank - please watch the 12mins to appreciate what the reality looks like.

When I vote for Yes, I will be voting for a system that does not aspire to see food banks normalised, that is intent on fixing the welfare state so that the most vulnerable citizens are not punished, and are committed to ensure a living wage (not a minimum wage) is actually liveable. It obviously wont happen overnight and will take work to achieve, but food banks and the working poor need to be consigned to history in iScotland (and everywhere else on these isles), before the work house is resurrected in the UK.




Thursday, 11 September 2014

7 Days To Go

Life is a gamble : The only certainty is death at the end of it.
Every achievement starts with the decision to try.
If you get a chance; take it.
You miss 100% of the shots you didn't take.
There is no certainty, only adventure.
All great changes are preceded by chaos (Deepak Chopra)
The biggest mistake you could ever make is being afraid to make one.
The best way to predict the future is to create it (Peter Drucker)

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. (Mark Twain)
Making a big life change is scary, but regret is worse.
What is life without a little risk? (Sirius Black)
In all things, it is better to hope than despair (Von Goethe)
Hope: its the only thing stronger than fear (President Snow, Hunger Games)
May your dreams reflect your hopes not your fears (Nelson Mandela)

If you are lucky enough to get a 2nd chance, don't waste it.
If you can dream it, you can do it (Walt Disney)



Wednesday, 10 September 2014

29 Days To Go

The plan for iScotland in both the White Paper and the interim constitution, is to keep the royal family, with the monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, as head of state (although, should she not be Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland? Queen Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 1558-1603, and the Scottish monarchs during that same time period were Mary I, Queen of Scots, 1542-1567 and James VI, 1567-1625).
Some people consider the monarchy to be old fashioned, parasitic, a drain on our finances, a privileged lot to whom we are all subjects and therefore they have no place in modern society.  Others love the Queen and her brood, they support the charity work the royals do and the tourism they generate.

What I want to know is, do the royals still have a place in an iScotland?
Technically yes they do; a couple in fact. Balmoral - holiday home and private residence which is actually owned by the monarch and not the Crown Estates, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse (more commonly known as Holyrood Palace) - the Queen's official residence in Scotland.
There are also the 'un-occupied' properties which are: Dunfermline Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Castle of Mey near John O'Groats and Stirling Castle.
The Queen's property portfolio is worth £9.9bn, which last year (according to CityAM) generated returns of £267m.  The report by Billy Ehrenberg on 26th June 2014, states that :
All rents from the property portfolio are paid to the Treasury, from whom the Queen receives living and household maintenance expenses. The sovereign grant was £37.8m for 2014.
As all revenue from the Crown Estates are paid directly to the UK Treasury, the SNP called for devolution of Crown Estates income in Scotland back in 2011. Michael Moore (Secretary of State for Scotland, in the Scotland Office at Westminster) decided not to devolve this and not split up the Crown Estates. Since then, (from Wikipedia) plans have been developed to allocate some of the Crown Estate income to the Big Lottery Fund, which would then distribute funds to coastal communities. These plans have also been criticised by the SNP.

The cost of up keep of the Royal properties has, according to a report in the Independent in June 2014, "... bucked the trend for austerity and dramatically increased spending on the upkeep of its palaces.
The Queen’s official expenditure from the Sovereign Grant, the amount released from the public purse each year to finance the monarch, increased to £35.7m - a rise of £1.9m on the previous year.
The steep rise included a 45 per cent increase in the amount spent on the upkeep of royal residences, including Buckingham Palace and the Kensington Palace apartments of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Public spending on refurbishing the 20-room central London living quarters of the couple and Prince George has totalled £4.5m over the last two years but royal aides said the cost of internal furnishings, including a new kitchen, had been met “privately” by the duke and duchess.
The Independent understands this cost was in fact met from the income received by the Prince of Wales and his dependents from the Duchy of Cornwall, which critics claim is effectively public money....An aide said: “Some of the fit out we felt should be paid for privately. The Cambridges have been extremely sensitive to the fact that public funds were paying for a lot of this work.”
A source underlined that the resulting accommodation was “not opulent”, adding: “It is done to a very comfortable but ordinary level.”

Now,  I am no financial expert, but anywhere in the region of £millions on renovation and decoration is hardly 'ordinary' and very much 'opulent' in cost if not in style.

The 'cost' of the Queen (via the Sovereign Grant) to the UK last year (2013/2014) was £36m. This financial year is £38 and the following £40m. This may seem excessive as she is in receipt of a 5% increase, while UK wide budgets are being slashed in the name of austerity. But this equates to just 56p per tax payer, which doesn't seem much, especially considering that the MPs in Westminster received an 11% pay rise this year and have now released a forecast pay rise of 10% for next year (they are so good to themselves), whilst common subjects are lucky if they receive 1-2% pay increase over the last couple of years.

So what is she spending her millions on?
The majority goes on the household bills - utility bills (the cost of which would cover the energy bills of 2,288 British homes), laundry, staff wages, luxurious and ostentatious parties, I mean, official functions, with an annual food bill of an eye watering £1.3m.
The cost of maintaining her residences come in at £13.3m.
However, even the royals are having difficulty managing their household budget.  Where as the common subject has to cut their cloth accordingly, or face the bailiffs, Lizzie just keeps on spending!
Her spend increased last year by £2.4m. This is despite Sir Alan Reid, keeper of the Privy Purse, declaring that that funding of the monarchy had fallen.
The Royal purse spreadsheet showed that in 2013 - the amount received in royal purse grant £31m, the amount spent £33.3m.  In 2012 - the amount received was £29.1m, the amount spent was £32.4m.
Chief Executive of (campaign group) Republic, Graham Smith, said : “An increase of this magnitude when everybody is dealing with cuts is frankly beyond belief. I think many people will struggle to comprehend how spending of this nature can be justified. It appears very much that the royal household believes it can get away with spending what it wants.”

Defenders of the Queen and monarchy argue that despite over spending on budgets and being at the polar opposite end of austere Britain, the sovereign is (according to the Express) "worth her weight in gold". According to their report, the crown estate generated £267.1m in profit, all of which goes directly to the treasurer. Last year this was an increase of 6%, and apparently justifies George Osborne's generous rise in the Sovereign Grant.

All of above is in relation to the Queen and the Queen alone. What about Charles? (Never mind all the minor royals too.) Charles 'income' comes from the Duchy of Cornwall which according to the official website, is a private estate which funds the public, charitable and private activities of the Prince of Wales and his family. It also allows the PoW to have a separate income from the monarch.
In the financial year 2012/2013, the Duchy of Cornwall's profits rose by 4% to £19m. Due to the Duchy not, however, being a 'corporation' it doesn't have to pay corporation tax.

Ok, enough about the financials. Its not all about the money (eh, Jessy J?).  What about the news from 2011 reported in the Independent, that the Royals, specifically the Queen, Charles and William, were to be granted new rights of secrecy?  Obviously over 3 years have passed since this article was first published, but do we know if these rights were granted? Or to what degree.
Essentially the rights to which it refers are  (1) Absolute protection from public scrutiny and (2) communications relating to Liz/Charlie/Wills no longer to be disclosed, regardless if in public interest.
The report states :
"Sweeping changes to the Freedom of Information Act will reverse advances which had briefly shone a light on the royal finances – including an attempt by the Queen to use a state poverty fund to heat Buckingham Palace  (apparently she requested and was refused a poverty handout in 2004, as the £60m energy-saving grants were for families on low incomes) – and which had threatened to force the disclosure of the Prince of Wales's prolific correspondence with ministers."
Ian Davidson, a former member of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), told The Independent: "I'm astonished that the Government should find time to seek to cover up royal finances. When I was on the PAC what we wanted was more disclosure not less.
"Every time we examined royal finances we found extravagance and indulgence as well as abuse of expenses by junior royals.
It is believed that the one pushing for this change in legislation, is Prince Charles.  Not surprising really, as he is known to be particularly politically vocal, whilst maintaining an air of neutrality. Mr Maurice Frankel, head of Campaign for Freedom of Information, said :"The heir to the throne has written letters to government departments in an attempt to influence policy. He clearly does not want these to get into the public domain."

And for something a bit more up-to-date : the Scottish Indyref - Should the Queen get involved?
The Queen has remained silent on the subject, indicating her impartiality. However, there is a growing pressure mounting from some of Westminster, to come out and make a stand for the union, like she did during her Silver Jubilee speech, in 1977, when she said :
“I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and of Northern Ireland. Perhaps this Jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of the United Kingdom.”
 A spokesman for Buckingham Palace has said :
"The Sovereign's constitutional impartiality is an established principle of our democracy and one which the Queen has demonstrated throughout her reign.
"As such the Monarch is above politics and those in political office have a duty to ensure that this remains the case.
"Any suggestion that the Queen should wish to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong. This is a matter for the people of Scotland."

Another thing about the monarchy and their ruling over Scotland, is that is it nothing really to do with the referendum.  Scotland  and England united crowns in 1603, a whole 104 years before the formation of what we call the United Kingdom.  So what then am I doing writing about the future of the monarchy in iScotland? The personal view that I hold is that with indy, we are making the decision to hold our own country accountable to its citizens, to create a more fair and equal society for all, and to ensure better standards of living for all. The monarchy represents the exact opposite of that- firstly that we are not citizens but subjects, it is all pomp and extravagance, wealth and privilege not gained through hard work and self effort, but by fortunate birth, it is grotesquely unequal, considering how many people are living in poverty - working and living in poverty whilst the royals jet around the world visiting 'important people' in the name of charity, tourism and international friendship.  Scotland doesn't need to be ruled by unelected royalty, our tourism industry is wealthy without royal tourism (not that we get a penny of it currently anyway), but if they started paying for their luxury crumbly castles into our treasury that'd be just awesome.
First independence, then republic.



Source of information (if not already acknowledged above):

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

9 Days To Go

Behold, the Saltire is flying above Westminster (despite its very own anarchistic rebellion) and tomorrow we await the arrival of the 4 (well 3 in physical presence) Horsemen of the Indyrefalypse!

The new dawn heralds the arrival of David Cameron (Conquest - in power despite being unelected), Ed Miliband (War - his party took us into illegal wars), Nick Clegg (Famine - rise of the food banks and austerity measures) and bringing up the rear, the forth, the symbolic Death (death of independence for ever - at least in our lifetime).
They are coming to Scotland to support Project Fear, foretelling tales of woe should we break free, with the impending sense of doom they so willingly share, the lies and deceit told and retold are so well-rehearsed and repeated so often, it's as if they believe it themselves. Their stories have almost become folklore in their own right. However, their reason for wanting the union to remain intact, is very different from the No voting Scottish public, be under no illusion.
And  if they fail tomorrow, we have Nigel Farage coming up on Thursday...

Alternatively, they may be viewed as JK Rowling's 3-headed dog guarding the Philosopher's Stone (aka our independence) from Harry Potter, who was based on Cerberus, the 3 headed dog in Greek and Roman mythology.  Cerberus guarded the entrance to the underworld, where the dead could not escape nor the living enter. This is very similar to our situation now - the Con/Dem/Lab uni-party guarding our chance of independence with all their might. The panic and realisation that this isn't Scotland taking a huff; this is real, has sent their adrenaline surging like heroin through their veins and they are feart. Fight or flight has finally (its only taken how many years??) kicked in and they are ready to fight, to the end. But just like Fluffy (from Harry Potter) and Cerberus, you have to know the beast's weakness, its achilles heel.  And fortunately we do - the grassroots movement of the YES campaign. Armed with information, passion, and nae fear!

Both analogies share  a commonality - the presence of fear. But we're not scared. The WM Juggernaut is no more; its lost its power, its credibility, its security.  It is however, the architect of its own downfall. The complacency it has shown throughout the indyref campaign period and the contempt for the Scottish voter has been countered by the recent polls.  They will only have to look at the windows and cars they pass, to see the mounting support, and proud support for independence.

I doubt very much that what they say in the coming visit will sway anyone, its just a little bit 'too little too late'.



Monday, 8 September 2014

10 Days To Go

I love babies. I don't care who is pregnant, as soon as I hear the news, I am delighted for whoever it happens to be, and hope they have the healthy pregnancy and the birth they hope for, to bring their wee precious baba(s) into the world.  I like hearing pregnancy and birth stories,  and love finding out the sex of the infant and the best bit - their name!
And so with todays news that Wills n Kate are expecting baby #2 I am a little torn.  I am super excited for them, but a little sad that they had to announce it early (pre 12week scan) again due to the chronic morning sickness that Kate is suffering with.  I am also a bit cynical and annoyed. Why? Because I have a feeling that this 'wonderous news' may be a 'bandaid baby'. Save the union with the women's vote - aww a wee baby. I wonder if they were somehow 'put up to it' by Granny Liz..? Its all to do with the timing you see. 10 days, that's all we've got left, 10 days - could they not have waited with the announcement? Its all a bit convenient. Kate is not being treated in hospital for her Hyperemesis Gravidarum (chronic morning/all day sickness), but instead from her residential palace, so surely it could have been kept hidden for a mere 10 more days?

When Prince George was born, I was excited with most of the nation. A wee baby. Not a future King in my mind, but a healthy baby for a happy couple and again, I couldn't wait to find out his name, after getting over the shock that he was a boy as I was convinced he was going to be a girl!
The chances are that this baby will probably never be our ruling Monarch. He'll (or she'll) get to enjoy the perks of being a royal and party on our taxes. During a time of tough austerity measures, are we honestly expected to pay for another baby throughout his life? The regular common subject can expect to have any benefits they are in receipt of, cut and have to pull in belts to meet the cost of living, whilst Prince George has already had £2m spent on refurbing his nursery alone!

Its not George's or his sibling-to-be's fault that they are so privileged at our expense, they are no better than the rest of us. So why then do we need to continue to pay for them?
I wish Kate and William well and the joys and challenges of parenting that the present and future holds, but one (me, not Her Maj) is not amused about being expected to pay for it.
The news of the royal baby has zero impact on the referendum, and so it shouldn't, but it will be milked for all it is worth over the next 10 days. Altogether under the crown - give me a break!
Congratulations Wills n Kate, and in 10 days time, congratulations to Scotland on the impending (re)birth of our nation.



11 Days To Go

The results came out Saturday night and published in the press Sunday morning. According to the latest YouGov poll (the only poll that everyone, including governments are paying any heed to), the YES side has pulled ahead with a 2 point lead over NO with a 51/49 split. Last week the polls revealed an 8 point jump to only 6% separating the two sides, with NO leading at 53%.
It has taken until this poll for the complacent big wigs in both Westminster and BT to sit up and realise that Scotland is rising up to be a nation again! They (the Establishment) have realised that this shit just got real! And an S.O.S. has been sent out. Rally the troops! Its time to Save Our Subsistence!!!

They never thought we would actually vote for independence, they didn't even give us the option of further devolution on the ballot paper (which in all honesty would probably have won, hands down), just a full in or out, left or right, just nae hokey-kokey. But now, oh now, its all about new powers: pulling together to establish what more devolution (devo max) looks like, with George Osborne on the BBC with Andrew Marr, promising that in the coming days we will see that very plan, of "more tax powers, spending powers and control over the welfare state... more fiscal autonomy, but need to wait and see the proposal in the next few days". Except, its now within the 28 days of the referendum, and no-one can change the conditions of their offer. Or can they?
According to the Statutory Provisions and Edinburgh Agreement :

The Electoral Commission published this document  which states that :
"The UK Government is not restricted by the referendum legislation, but has agreed to abide by the same restrictions"
Excellent. The Scottish Government have basically got to keep their mouths shut in response to the new plans being put forward by The Establishment. Whilst The Establishment can renege on their previous agreement to uphold the same conditions, and go into a new promise overdrive. It screams of desperation, underhand tactics, and their full colours are on parade. Scotland is voting for, in part, a fair and just society - shame WM and BT have chosen not to display this trait when the chips are down.  This is, as FM Alex Salmond says, "a last-minute bribe". We won't be bribed into staying. And what about the many (postal) voters who have already cast their vote - this is hardly very honest.

Alastair Darling has refuted comments that they are in a panic and has come back to say with regards to the Andrew Marr interview, is that all George was referring to was the same plans as before, just more detailing of the time-scales.  Oh. Really??  At no other time in the referendum period have the parties got together (publically) to discuss Devo Max - they all had their own version, each declaring what we would get depending which party won the General Election.  Do they really now think we have forgotten that? Do they think that coming together at the coos-tail, we believe that they care about us?  Do they really think that we deserve such commitment of their time and energy, that they leave all serious talks until now? Are we really so 'insignificant' and 'too stupid' that they thought when it came to 18th Sept we would just vote to Keep the UK and Carry On? Were they really that smug and complacent? Why Yes, yes they were.

Do not be fooled though. All the panic and rushing around to bring a new offer to the table is in a last ditch attempt to save the UK - but its not for our benefit, its for theirs. They need to protect their own jobs, the cash flow into the treasury from our taxes, to save face in the eyes of the world - to show The Establishment still has might. They need Goliath to win, not David.

We are prepared for the next week to be ugly, full of lies deceit and fake smiles, PR spin in overdrive - making Saatchi work for his money. We must remain focussed, respectful and not complacent. A 2% lead is not enough, we need to win with no margin of uncertainty. If we let the other side use their dirty tactics, we will come out on the 19th, victorious not just in the referendum vote, but also with our integrity in tact.