Friday, 28 August 2015

Blame the Immigrants

On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore
Robert Plant
Led Zeppelin, Immigrant Song

I don't know about anyone else, but I am sick of and sickened by the number of people who think it is perfectly OK to blame immigration for the ills of this country.   The blame and ill-feeling which is becoming more and more entrenched in people's psyche to the point where it is increasingly acceptable to comment and litter my Facebook feed with anti immigration messages, memes and sheer ignorant bollocks! The undercurrent of hate is perpetuated by the media and accepted as gospel.  There seems to be some sort of twisted joy in getting all indignant about immigrants, from ones perch upon an extremely lofty horse. Almost celebrating the anger that the subject fuels.

A plague of pests invading our country, bleeding it dry, using all our services , taking school places and drs appointments, spending benefits that go waaaayyy above the benefit cap limit, all the while oor weans are living in poverty, oor elderly cannae even live oan their pension, ordinary people cannae get a joab coz they immigrants took them while undercutting the rate of pay.

Stop! Just, STOP! Take a step back and think. Our media is driven by fear and pushing subtle intolerance (although it is hardly subtle these days), as it suits the British Government's agenda. If the public are up in arms, they [The Gov] can continue with their wars whilst arming and creating the opposition.

Greed, money and oil. Arms deals make a fortune. Refugees are the result.
Fighting for G.O.D. Gold. OIL. Drugs.

I don't want to cover the problems and perceptions with immigration generally, because I have already written about that ( last year during the Independence referendum I wrote about immigration in my 100 days series. What immigration could look like in the event of a YES vote).   This time round, I would like people to consider WHY immigration is such a 'problem' in our communities and country as a whole.

As with everything in this world, it comes down to money. Money money money! Where it comes from and how it is spent.  'Our' Government  (using the word "our" in the loosest sense being as they are very much for themselves rather than us!) is hell bent on "reducing the deficit" and making cuts to achieve such a goal. The cuts have to come from somewhere they say, and that somewhere has been decided to fall on the services and welfare. Rather than focussing on the uber wealthy tax avoiders (both personal and corporate) and offshore tax havens, for instance, where money haemorrhages from the country, completely bypassing Inland Revenue and Customs as if it were made of Teflon. So when the services, such as NHS, education and transport to name a few are stretched to capacity, they are obviously going to struggle and at time fail, to deal with the number of people relying on them. What does the Government do? Starts selling off the NHS to private investors. If it's not their service, it's not their problem.  Not able to fund or afford to maintain the service, blame the immigrants for using the services. Service that many an immigrant actually work in - and pay taxes to!  In Scotland we have a council tax freeze for the eighth year in a row. 8 years. While the cost of everything in life has increased, the amount of money our local councils have to spend has remained the same - again, they have to find money from somewhere and cuts have to be made. It would appear that the easiest expenses to fell are those that the most neediest of people rely on. Locally to me, the council tax freeze has had a terrible impact upon the lives of people living with disabilities and the services once freely available to them are now charged for at extortionate rates.  See - it's all money that is causing the squeeze.  When the Government is more than happy to fund illegal wars, renew of our own Weapons of Mass Destruction (which are actually on loan from our pals in the US), or spend over £1m on an investigation into the leak behind Nicola Sturgeon and the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, when Alistair Carmichael was behind it all along (and get to keep his job at the end of it),  or dropping £100k in Scotland to rename the new hospital in Glasgow, yet not able to spend the funds on the "everday ordinary people" of the country, then there is something far wrong. The responsibility of that lies firmly at the door of Government, not at the feet of those who come here to live and work and provide a better life/future for themselves and families. While some people will scoff at that last 23 words of my last sentence, I wonder if these same people can explain how that is different to the 8million British expats who live around the world for the very same reason? How many of those expats speak the language of their new country and are fully integrated into communities rather than in mostly British areas? How many are earning a pretty packet in the middle east yet are coming "home" to have their babies in the NHS hospital for free - is that not still NHS Tourism???  Now when it comes up that our pensioners are living off a pittance of a pension and barely surviving, even before the issues associated with winter kick in, let us not forget that Gordon Brown raided the pension fund to the tune of £118BILLION - it's not the immigrants fault that our pensioners have such a paltry income to live off of.

When online discussion start taking place, heckles are risen and defensiveness of our opinions becomes our armour.  But the line between opinion and fact is becoming blurred. Opinion and fact are NOT the same thing, no matter how much we would like them to be. 

The distinction between immigrant, refugee and asylum seeker could not be any clearer, yet for many they are one and the same thing. Why? Because these people, regardless of circumstance, are painted by the media (when it suits) as a foreigner to our land taking what is ours on their quest for the milk  and honey. Yet the UK takes far less refugees and asylum seekers than our fellow European counterparts and pay far less to those to whom we do offer shelter. I was asked yesterday if I think we should just open our doors to everyone - no I don't. I do however think we should be offering help and support to our fair share of people in dire need being as our country is partially responsible for the circumstances from which they are fleeing. The current situation with refugees and asylum seekers is far greater than it ever has been since the time of the Second World War. The photos we see of people in camps in Calais or of bodies being washed ashore of children and adults alike are too distressing for words. Why are we (as in the Western World) so scared to help these poor souls? We should be ashamed.  This sitaution is not a "tragedy" it is mass murder. If people from outwith the UK wish to migrate here to live, then they should be able to prove that they can support themselves and their families.  If students wish to come here to study then they ought to be allowed to stay following completion of their studies in order to use the skills/knowledge they have gained here, to benefit this country via their skills and by paying their taxes.  

The much proclaimed "the UK is full" and "charity begins at home" are used as convenient excuses rather than addressing the real issues. The UK is not full. How many buildings do we have lying empty and abandoned? How many people have their main residence plus a holiday home in the country (thus pushing up the prices of desired properties to well outwith the affordability of local residents), what about the private investors from abroad ploughing their money into the seriously ridiculously over priced properties in London further exacerbating the housing and homeless problems? Of course it is not all to do with just having a roof over ones head, the impact is further reaching by ways of communities and services as previously mentioned,but we have the money to sort that which the Government chooses to spend elsewhere. The Government is the one who needs the reminder that charity begins at home, Instead it chooses to penalise those in need, practically criminalising poverty. Remember the homeless spikes outside buildings?  The vicious circle of outsourcing jobs, using machines instead of people thus reducing number of jobs available, offering part time or zero hours contracts (with no sick pay or holiday pay or any benefits), putting people in unpaid work placements (where people could do the same job and be paid for it!) then cutting benefits to the point where some people are finding themselves destitute.  How did we get to this stage?? People, regardless if they are born here or elsewhere, are not seen as people anymore; just a way for corportaions (including Governments, because lets be real, they are run by the corporations) to earn more for less.

What would happen if the tables were turned and UK found itself in the midst of war? Take a look at this 3 min video produced by Save the Children :

At the end of the day, it is irrelevant where we come from or where we were born; we are all human.

And just because I love Led Zeppelin: 

(I know it is about Viking invasion)

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Best day of my life

I'd wager a bet that most people in my position would say that the best day of their life was their wedding day or the day their child(ren) was born. But for me, it was neither. Sure, both were wonderful in their own way; celebration, joy, happiness, family, highly emotional, time of change etc etc. But with both my wedding and the birth of my son, I would change so many things if I could do them over again. Neither were as perfect as in my imagined reality, certain things still annoy me and always will surrounding both events.

No, for me the best day of my life was 9 years ago today. It was a Sunday. It was the last day of our holiday leave from work. Hubby (he wasn't then) and I were lying in bed reading the Sunday papers drinking coffee. Well, when I say reading the papers, I do believe I was reading the News Of The World (hangs head in shame...), or rather their magazine, Septic Smeg (Mystic Meg)'s column in particular. Hubby was reading the Sunday Mail (I just want to say here that our reading materials have significantly improved over the years!!), or rather their magazine, Lynne Ewart's column in particular. Hubby read his horoscope aloud and asked what Septic Smeg had to say. As I was reading the prediction for the week ahead in the life of a Gemini, he reached down the side of the bed (to get what I presumed was his coffee) saying "Thats all very interesting. So, will you marry me?" and produced the ring.

Squeal! Tears! "YES!""Ha ha" "Oooooh!" came my reply, although I'm not sure in which order. And with that we were engaged. No big fanfare, no fuss, nothing showy, no embarrassment, no audience; just us. It was perfect.

I knew we were "getting engaged" being as it had been discussed and I picked my ring one afternoon as we wandered through the Argyll Arcade in Glasgow.  Several weeks before we were engaged, Hubby took my Dad for a pint to the local and informed my Dad of his intentions "So, I'm going to ask Lissa to marry me." I picked them up from the club as we were having dinner at my parent's that evening. Over dinner my Dad could hardly contain his excitement and had I not known in advance of the impending proposal, the cat would have been well and truly out the bag as my Dad shared the news with my Mum at the table before looking at Hubby and asking if I knew! That was all I knew; it was happening and there would be jewellery. I did not know when and I did not know how it would happen.

The proposal could not have gone any better; the mood, the setting, the actual popping of the question. I would change nothing if we were to do it over again.  The rest of the day that followed was a visit to both set of parents, but not before a run in the car through to Causewayhead in Stirling to Corrieri's for ice cream. It was the calm, simpler time before the madness takes over, the madness that is organising a wedding!

Can't believe it was 9 years ago.
Cheers to perfect days.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

First Day

Over the past week, children all over Scotland have been returning to school to continue their education; a new wave of 4 and 5 year olds just embarking on their journey at the doors of Primary 1 (P1). Today was the turn of the kids in Edinburgh, Fife and Falkirk. Facebook is on fire with photos of friend's bairns in their uniforms and looking all excited. It's lovely to see and fun to look at how much some of them have grown and changed, especially the ones with the pics of the First Years at High School (S1) shown next to their old pics of first day in P1. Today I particularly liked the ones of the kids the same age as Kiddo just starting out on their very first day (so cute!).

It was Kiddo's first day too and he was no different to any of the others this morning, except that he didn't go to school. Today we officially began our home-ed journey. What did that look like? Well, a long lie for  a start (Kiddo didn't surface until 8.30am) which was followed by a hearty celebratory breakfast feast of homemade pancakes, waffles, strawberries, raspberries, maple syrup and bacon (!); a trip to the swimming pool (the good thing about the schools being back is that there is no time limit in the pool - we had 2 hours in a pretty empty pool) and a trip to the library in the afternoon (I have to add here, as I am very proud of this fact : the books we returned WERE ON TIME!!) resulting in Kiddo taking out 10 books for his next project. No need to explain what his chosen project is.... The librarian let him stamp the books. I was a little jealous; a favourite game of mine with my sister when we were kids was playing "libraries". I loved to pretend to swipe the bar code and stamp the books (I was always the librarian) but the best bit was the noise the hardbacks made as they closed.


Thinking back to my own school days, (I loved school) one of the best bits about going back after the summer was new stationery. Who doesn't love a new pencil case and the smell of new pencils?? Kiddo got his own new pencil case filled with pencils, a rubber/ruler/pencil sharpener. He loved it so much that he hasn't looked at it since he received it. This is upsetting. Does he not understand STATIONERY - NEW STATIONERY!!!!!?????!!!!! Such simple but oh so satisfying pleasures. I remember my first day at school in the August of 1983. I mind quite clearly charging off up the street leaving my mum in my wake. I was so excited to start. Me and my fellow P1's - all 5 of us. The school I attended for the first 2 years of my primary education was a very small village school where the teacher, Miss Cassidy taught P1-4 in the one classroom, and the Headmaster, whose name escapes me, taught P5-7 in the other classroom.

5 year old me!

Do I regret not having that "first day of school" moment for Kiddo? (as I was asked today) Nope, because this is not about me - this is about him and his education. The choice allowed to us parents by the government, to choose the best choice to ensure our child(ren) are educated means that just because he is on a different path to the majority, doesn't make today any less significant. Our days won't necessarily differ much to what we have been doing up until now, we won't "actually start his education" at 9am each morning, because, if I'm being pedantic, his education, which is a life long process, began 5 years and 5 months ago.
We were excited today because Kiddo knew he wasn't going to school, he knew that he was still going to be learning and he knows that tomorrow we are spending the day with his pals at the beach, rain or shine.

Today was a great day, a memorable day, as I am sure it will have been for children across the country on their first day too.


Monday, 3 August 2015

July 2015

Loch Lomond last Tuesday

Dreich. That is how I would describe July this year.  A long and frustrating game of hide and seek with the sun (and it won); only showing itself for the briefest of spells before disappearing behind the clouds again.  For a pluviophile like  myself, that is no bad thing. The sun hates me and is hell bent on burning my peely wally pale skin regardless of sun cream factor applied! We have had some very welcome thunder storms and warm rain. I have enjoyed that rain, which falls straight to the ground without the interference from the wind. Standing barefoot on the back grass (probably to the confusion of my neighbours) just enjoying the fresh clean air and the clarity such rain brings; the sense of calm. 

But this is summer. And it's not meant to rain this much (even by Scottish standards). I don't remember such a crap summer, ever! That said, it has not stopped us from going about our business as usual.  In the 31 days of the past month we (as a family or just Kiddo and I or just me on my own) have had plenty time being busy, being bored, playing, chilling, arguing, annoying each other, laughing, learning, reading, or zombifying watching tv; living. Same as any other month.  

 Picking Berries in Inchinnan Fruit Farm, Glasgow
 Found this Large Emerald beauty resting on our front door - check out its face!!

Every day is a school day

What have we been up to ? Well, Edinburgh Zoo, Loch Lomond Sea Life Centre, Home Ed Groups (covering topics and learning about space / musical instruments / circus skills), library, berry picking, moaning about customers and their first world problems that pass through my check out (seriously contemplating writing a 'Checkout Etiquette' piece, for both customer and cashier) started an oceans project, finally watched all of The Great Gatsby from start to finish, and despite fabulous sets and costumes, being a little disappointed with the actual movie,  visiting and learning with Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre (pond dipping / mini beast hunts / worms / mud / hayfever.. ok the last one was me suffering, but it was fun between sneezes), playing with pals, playing in the local parks and skate park, playing the play station (the boys, not me - I hate gaming, and my 'playing' ability is proof of this), enjoying red wine (me, only me), I made a filofax (terribly organised and yuppy-ish but totally worth it), helping on the local Scottish Greens street stall, out leaflet dropping with fellow Greens for local by election, visiting family, watching new programmes on Netflix (still loving Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and discovered a love for Grace & Frankie, but ditched Wayward Pines [not on Netflix] because we couldn't bear to waste any more time on it), Blair Drummond Safari Park with Grandparents, Deep Sea World in North Queensferry, Falkirk Wheel, 1 solitary barbeque for nephew's birthday (in an "it was sunny" shocker!)

So now we are in August and there has been no marked improvement weatherwise as yet.  I have been reliably informed by different customers at work that we are "in for a heat wave" and "it's to be the same as July". Needless to say I am just looking forward to Autumn - what's not to love about Autumn? Plus our autumnal calendar is filling up, I have had to book my mum in for babysitting already : 3 gigs, Scottish Greens conference, wedding anniversary, more home improvements and decorating planned.

But before I get excited for the next season, Hubby has a birthday and Kiddo has his first day "not starting school" to celebrate this month.
Happy days.