How a Scottish tourist video became needlessly controversial

Visit Scotland is responsible for promoting Scotland around the world so lots of tourists visit, and of course to convince people to immigrate here.Last Friday they released this video for worldwide consumption.

A bit cheesy, but a good message for a tourist video and of course, the 29th March was supposed to be the day the UK left the EU so a message from Visit Scotland asking people to come to stay and we’re still open was in fact, a slightly more subversive act than a tourist video would normally say.

So you’d expect Brexiters and the likes to kick off complaining about it? Well, no, the self-proclaimed ‘radical’ left in Scotland decided to descend like vultures upon it. Sparked by a Tweet from Cat Boyd there followed an extraordinary display of ‘woke’ bullshit from leftish Corbyn supporting Millenials.

The ad was ‘nationalist’ because it didn’t discuss Scotland’s horrific problem with sectarianism, or the poverty endemic in parts of it, or any number of social issues. It was ‘selling a myth’ and other bits of nonsense as Scottish Twitter became probably the only part of social media in the world where the alleged ‘progressive’ part finds a pro-immigration message a problem.

Fact is releasing this on Brexit Day was a nice act of subversion, and frankly we need positive messages about immigration these days but to a small, but vocal portion of supposed ‘socialists’ that’s wrong and we instead should be sending out a more realistic version of Scotland.

To translate to what actually is going on these people complaining are all Labour supporters and with a general election being possible soon, they’ve reverted to type in supporting Corbyn’s Labour which it has to be noted, has an awful immigration policy as they’re trying to lure in all those UKIP voters swimming around.

The fact is that Lexiters have as much of a problem with immigration as their Brexiter companions so we get a dull whine rather than supporting the message. Thankfully these people aren’t especially influential but this doesn’t stop these incidents of total fuckwittery.

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A quick word about sectarianism in Scotland

This week saw Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke rightfully despair about the sectarian abuse that comes from some Rangers fans, as well as the wider problem of religious bigotry in the West of Scotland.

This prompted not the widespread soul searching one would hope, but instead people started digging in, including sadly Steven Gerrard who decided instead of condemning what he clearly hears behind him since becoming manager of Rangers, decided to bring up the abuse of Kris Boyd. For the record Boyd sat with Clarke in a press conference to discuss the problem.

There is a feeling rife in Scotland that this ‘is just how it is‘ and that trying to change it would just be too hard, which of course is incredible nonsense. IF certain institutions and people wanted to change they would so we have to deal with the fact some people don’t just enjoy wallowing in this hatred, but they thrive from it. Ruth Davidson for example has helped get where she is today through pandering to Orange tinted bigots, while Labour have been hand in glove with the Orange Order for too long with Jeremy Corbyn being the latest leader happy to turn a blind eye.

Essentially large parts of Scotland’s establishment have strong links to sectarianism, or are themselves, sectarians happy to push that agenda with Murdo Fraser of the Tories being the most blatant example. As for the media, many wring their hands in faux outrage, but are only happy to cash in on sectarianism for clicks like the Daily Record is. Then there’s people like James Kelly MSP, who fought to get the ‘football act’ repealed which as flawed a bit of legislation as it was, it happened to be the only bit of legislation passed which targeted this specific problem. Kelly promised after the repeal that he and Labour would present ideas around the idea that education and other approaches would work. Over a year on we see there’s no educating some people and we still await Kelly,not to mention the Scottish media establishment’s ideas of ‘other approaches’ but Kelly wrings his hands in faux outrage while still celebrating his victory to let bigots realise there’s no punitive outcome for singing about ‘bathing in fenian blood’ or  IRA terrorists every week.

The SNP don’t get off the hook either. If they’d tightened up the law and made it more focused, while backing it up with some much needed reforms that Scotland desperately needs, they might not have presented people like Kelly and Fraser such an open goal. They’re now stuck in an impasse where they’re too scared to bring something into power, so we now have this situation where everyone (bar the extremists) want something to be done, but nobody is actually doing anything.

Fans of Rangers, and of Celtic, need to step up but the ongoing failure that is the SFA, fails the game at the most basic of levels has allowed this to fester for generations. Want it to stop? Next game where there’s something being chanted, the game after is played behind closed doors.. Still happens after that? Take away points. Fining clubs and slapping their wrists is pointless but nothing that will stop clubs quietly letting this carry on will happen and the Scottish establishment will wring their hands saying ‘och, it’s awful’ next time it happens, and the next time and the next time.

It is a fucking shame on all of us in the country to claim we’re tolerant, and different to the rest of the UK when we let this happen and we do let it happen because it isn’t challenged enough. If Scotland wants to live up to the potential we have, this archaic fucking monstrosity that blights us all has to go and if it means breaking down old institutions then fine. Nothing lasts forever and generations to come deserve better.

The ongoing death of the Labour Party

After the split of seven Labour MP’s there is a never-ending supply of people overjoyed as ‘having something to vote for’ but the group of MP’s, who include Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and a bunch of MP’s most people won’t have heard of, are calling themselves The Independent Group. They propose to give voters a path away from the Corbyn led Labour Party by offering such policies as opposing Brexit and that’s pretty much it. There’s no policies beyond this and indeed, it looks as if they’re looking to see what ideas are popular then try to adopt them as ideas. This is something used by politicians with not a lot of actual principles which makes it unsurprising that they dabbled with the idea of asking Ruth Davidson to lead them. If you think Davidson is ”centrist” then you don’t know fuck all about Scottish politics.

In short there’s a real Harold Saxon vibe about the whole thing.

Even though there’s a clear opportunism on display, and even though barring a united opposition to Brexit there’s nothing these people stand for there’s some sympathy to be extended to some of them. Mike Gapes for example made some good points about Labour’s failure to deal with antisemitism, but it’d take a lot not to feel for Berger, a Jewish woman, heavily pregnant talking about how the party she’s given her life to has in some case, turned on her because she’s Jewish.

Yet the smart, brave thing to do would have to resign, fight by-elections and let the people decide instead of this abject cowardice to show they’re not just trying to stay in a job. In the meantime Labour make a bad day worse by readmitting Derek Hatton. The way this looks is simply awful as to many, Labour look less of a viable government or opposition but a party of protest. Just as they are here in Scotland where they’ve not been a viable party of government for a decade and won’t be for as long as I can see.

And yet all of this is self-inflicted by Labour. All of this could have been avoided. Had the leadership, and those in the media close to it, not been aiming for the sort of political purity of sixth form political groups, they’d now either be a viable opposition or even sitting in power but thanks to Brexit, we have a situation where the loose coalition that has been Labour is coming to an end and even though I wouldn’t ever vote for them again it is a sad time. I invested a number of years into the party as one would being from the north of Glasgow, but to see it shambling around spitting abuse at Jews, Catholics (Scotland only) or cheer on Brexit, a far right project, because they’d rather people lose jobs than put up an alternative, is galling.

But before Tories cheer, there’s talk of several of their MP’s joining this shapeless group as it too sees its loose internal coalitions crumble as Westminster politics starts to fall after centuries. For Scotland, the future lies elsewhere with allies in Europe as well as in some time in the future a sane whatever remains of the UK but it’s clear now that one of the things Brexit is doing is rewriting the system, & that would normally be a good thing, but at a time when extremist and populism is so rife, this is also horribly dangerous.

Glasgow’s striking women and the Labour Party

Today has seen the first of a two-day strike by women employed by Glasgow City council (GCC) in regards a very long dispute going back to 2006. Back then, the Labour run council implemented the Workforce Pay and Benefit Review (WPBR), though it quickly became apparent women (and in the vast majority of cases it was women, men in similar roles had no issues) were being paid up to £3 p/h less than their male counterparts. What then follows is a story of low-paid workers, mainly female, being advised horribly by unions and attacked by the then Labour run GCC. Fairly recently it became clear just how badly the women suffered and just how the Labour run GCC spent over £2.5 million fighting the women’s case.

In this time the GMB were advising the women, well, badly, but one heard not a peep from other unions or the Labour Party, both pre and post Jeremy Corbyn til May 2017. Two things happened; one is that Labour lost control of GCC for the first time in half a century and secondly before the women won their long fought court case and the incoming SNP run administration promised to settle the case. Negotiations started but earlier this year the GMB promised to strike so we’re here today.

The more astute of you may think ”hang on, why didn’t the GMB go on strike in the 11 years when Labour ran Glasgow?” and that is indeed a reasonable question and can be explained by the symbiotic relationship of both. In fact current Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard was a GMB official during part of this time, and the self-appointed leader of the strike, Rhea Wolfson, is a Labour candidate in the next election. Once you ask that question and discover other councils in Scotland have similar issues, but as they’re Labour run, there’s no threat of striking, then one has to conclude this is a political act that doesn’t have the women’s concerns at the heart of it.

Here for example is a Tweet from Carol Fox, who has been a lawyer representing the women.

Here’s an example of the ‘staggering hypocrisy’ in full gaslighting flow.

Now it is true the SNP led council need to up their game. Their handling of the aftermath of the Mack fire has been, on the whole, fucking dreadful (I live not far from the area affected and can testify as to how bad an aftermath it has been first hand) and their general level of communication is terrible but as this nicely balanced Scotsman article by Dani Garavelli makes clear that for all the faults of the current GCC administration, we can’t forget that a male dominated GMB and the Labour Party got us into this mess in the first place so some humility, and even an apology is forthcoming.

Today has seen Labour indulge in a campaign of stunning political hypocrisy mixed with opportunism as figures who stood against the women now Tweet furiously in favour, and some MP’s wade into the debate in the most cack-handed, tone deaf way.

You read the above Tweet right but in the midst of all this gaslighting there comes honesty from at least one person in Labour.

Realistically, this is probably what will happen as the estimated bill to settle is between £500 million and a billion. GCC can’t afford this without bankrupting Glasgow, and the Scottish Government would have to step in to mitigate this which means because the SG works on a restricted budget, other services in Scotland would be cut which means Labour run with the ‘SNP austerity line’ they’ve decided is their only real contribution to Scottish politics in the age of Brexit.

In effect, what could have been a day where the women’s 12 year old fight (and remember, some of the original women have passed on now) could have finally hit a point where all sides worked together for resolution. The current council could have been more open, and Labour rather than gaslight, lie and bullshit could have been contrite, even apologising and offering sensible solutions. Union leaders on 6-figure salaries who ensured men were paid more because that’s how it always has been could have apologised and we could try to come to a sensible outcome where the women get their backpay (the current council have binned the old pay scheme and employees are all now equally paid) but no, we’ve seen an extraordinary day where the divide has been ripped open.

What can we draw from the day? We should show solidarity with the women. There’s no doubt with that after the contempt these working class women were shown by the then Labour run council.. We should however question the GMB as to what exactly their motives are now after over a decade of, at the very least, not advising the women correctly, and for Labour they need to answer why they fought the women so hard for 11 years and also, what happened to people’s council tax because we’ve got buildings declared unsafe in what seems now like a policy to let some of Glasgow’s buildings fall into ruin.

I’d personally like an inquiry into just exactly went on in the City Chambers for decades and why women are forced to take less than their male counterparts and large parts of the city are left to rot and now we’re having to clean up this mess. That however would uncover some dirty little secrets that some of those gloating today would not like aired in public but realistically this isn’t going to be over til those responsible are contrite and that includes the Labour Party as a whole.

A quick word for Labour in Scotland

Labour’s leader in Scotland, Richard Leonard. is reminding everyone he still exists by coming out with a new policy of not just opposing a second independence referendum (not unusual and it’s entirely their right) but by the act of having this in the UK manifesto would mean a future Westminster Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn would block any second referendum. Of course this comes a few days after Corbyn had said he’d have no problems with a second referendum being held but who expects Westminster politicians to be consistent?

The problem is for Labour is that the Scottish Government has a mandate for a second referendum voted for by the people of Scotland, Holyrood and sitting there waiting to be used once we’re familiar with what Brexit looks like which right now looks like a mess.

So we have a UK Labour leader who will back self-determination anywhere on the planet, except Scotland, and his Scottish team leader blocking not just the will of the Scottish parliament but of the people themselves. Added to Corbyn’s obvious pro-Brexit credentials we have a situation where Labour are fighting on the same ground as The Tories in Scotland, which hasn’t done them any favours in the past but hey, Leonard thinks digging in is a smart idea when polls show Labour in Scotland to be back where they were prior to Corbyn partly because people are tired of them doing shite like this. It also places Labour in a position where they say whatever happens, Scotland is better off under a Tory government, even one as cruel and psychopathic as this one.That won’t wash with former voters, or the younger voter attracted to Corbynism who supports independence and who are now realising that trusting diehard Unionists isn’t a smart idea.

In October we’re told that Nicola Sturgeon will make a statement as to what she’s going to do with this mandate now that Brexit is becoming clearer. The smart money is she’ll be pushing for a Section 30 order (the piece of legislation that makes a second referendum binding) which throws up a can of constitutional worms as the Tories will probably refuse it, so Labour need to be careful as to what side it chooses.

We’ve now had two years of Brexit

Two years ago the UK, well, England mainly, voted to leave the EU and the world went mad.The vote was won with no plan, no idea of how to leave and with experts promising total collapse if we just up and leave with no deal, but hardline Brexiters from the right and the left on the morning after the vote demanded Article 50 (the procedure that kicks into motion the UK leaving the EU)invoked and the UK leaves with nothing more planned than the fact we’re leaving. Two years later this is sort of the situation we’re still in. Both the right and left of Brexit want to leave ASAP to bring about some sort of nirvana based upon their own political ideology so both push the line about ‘respecting the result’ because to veer off course now would mean they don’t get what they want.

Problem is ‘respecting the result’ means buying into the fact the referendum was built on racist lies and possible (probable?) criminality and corruption. This Bloomberg article reveals part of the problem, while the work of journalists like James Patrick and Carol Cadwalladr are exposing what is a massive perversion of democracy, not to mention people’s real concerns about being stuck in eternal austerity which has lasted a decade with no end to come.

Tens of thousands marched the streets of London at the weekend just gone protesting Brexit but with the Tories locked in a death spiral trying to put off the day when the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg gets his cold hands on the PM job, and Labour stuck in a nostalgia trip there is no way a political end to Brexit can be found. Anyhow, it’s far too late. As soon as Article 50 was invoked the UK lost any control on what will happen, apart from the ‘no deal’ option where the UK walks and carnage happens overnight. Business is making that clear with a series of warnings falling on arrogantly deaf ears. Basically the type of country you want to live in is at stake and frankly, the extremists have all the Trump cards.

We’re heading towards reality with a sickening thud. When the smoke clears and things calm down we might not like the look of where we are, what we’ve done and the irreparable damage done to people’s lives. So, I’ll be blunt. Be prepared for next year as if we do drop out with no deal and off that edge, or even just take what we’re given because we gave away any power in March 2017, we could face something people in this country haven’t faced since the early to mid 1970’s. I hope I’m wrong but unless something major happens we’re fucked.

Antisemitism and the left

One of the things about now living in Scotland that looking in on what happens politically in England  makes the utter insanity of Scottish politics seem sane and sensible, well, as sane as politics can be in this world dominated by Brexit and the aftermath of that. In this case the Jeremy Corbyn antisemitism row is one I look upon with interest as it seems most everyone involved in this are at some level, an arsehole.

It’s clear that some of those attacking Corbyn are doing so not because they’re fighting antisemitism, but they’re doing so to land lumps upon Corbyn. This of course isn’t true for all of Corbyn’s accusers as a number of people have very clear concerns with how Labour’s failed to deal with an issue that shouldn’t arise in a supposed party of the people like Labour. However as those of us in Scotland know, Labour are peachy with the like of Hugh Gaffney in their party and although it’s fair to say all parties have eye-popping racists and bigots in them, it is how they deal with them that’s the mark of a party. I can see that if I were Jewish that a party I’d normally consider safe refuge seems to be not treating bigotry aimed at my people as seriously as they should.

But the problem is that instead of an informed debate about antisemitism we now have a polarised shouting session where the decreasing voices of sanity are being drowned out by folk on all sides of this debate.

Do Labour, and the left as a whole, have an issue with antisemitism? Yes. This Guardian article provides some context for Labour, but parts of the left need to address this head on and no, that doesn’t mean turning the subject to Israel or mentioning Zionism. The comedian David Schneider make a wee test for those of us on the left and I think he’s nailed it.

I’ve been at Stop the War meetings not long after the second Iraq War where Tony Benn would agonisingly spell things out for people along similar lines to Schneider and when the floor was thrown open to questions, it would be guaranteed one of the first would be mindbogglingly antisemitic. At one in London around 2003 myself and my then partner (who was Jewish) left raging after folk ignored Benn’s message which meant she left before getting into a fight, and in Bristol a few years later myself and a mate left because we couldn’t be arsed arguing with people about ‘THE JEWS’ with spittle-flecked anger.

A section of people on the left have a blind spot for Jews. Do I think Corbyn antisemitic? No, he’s trying to protect his party and in doing so he’s fucked up because he’s never confronted the problem head on as it’d mean tackling allies, just as Gaffney isn’t tackled as it means he loses an ally here. It isn’t all Corbyn’s fault as no Labour leader in my lifetime had truly tackled the issue head-on but the issue sits within Labour and needs sorted. The left as a whole has the same issue and this leaves a massive open goal the Tories are only too glad to take advantage of. Of course the Tories have issues with every sort of bigotry going but the difference between us on the left and them is we’re supposed to care about people as people rather than find ways to get round this. Basically, we’re supposed to be better but I think some folk just have a blind spot which is why they need called out if they can’t be educated as Tony Benn used to try to do.

We have the worst government in a succession of awful governments which has wallowed in lies and corruption. A Prime Minister in Theresa May unfit for the job leading us to a Brexit nobody with sanity and compassion backs and yet the official Westminster opposition can’t break a lead because they can’t keep their own house in order. It’s a sad, pitiful and hopeless situation but if the left learns something from this then at least it may just have been worth it.

It won’t of course.