Back home again in Glasgow – the Wheelie Bin of Culture, the Dipstick of Style. The assault of Hate on Arran is successfully completed and I see the Saltire is flying from Brodick Castle which I think means I’ve converted the entire island.
At least the five-year-old came home with an Arran Yes badge along with her bag of seashells. So much of this trip was a success – the super fast road network down the M77 and along the A71 and A78 to Ardrossan, the smart ferry terminal, the fantastic voyage on the Caledonian Isles, a modern high school at Lamlash, the very good value hotel apartment, a beautiful golf club at Shishkine – that I was proud of Scotland and even wondered if we needed independence after all…I mean Lewis Macdonald opened the ferry terminal and Brian Wilson the Arran Aromatics factory. There’s no end of success under the Union.
I think every holiday should start with a Calmac ferry – it’s so much better than a plane on the runway. The red funnel, the cars disappearing into the belly of the ship, sitting on deck watching the gulls wheel and the islands slip by. We even passed the Waverley gliding elegantly downstream, propelled by the giant paddles invisible below the waterline like a swan.
We didn’t wear a coat all weekend and since it’s one hour in the car and one by boat, it’s about the same travel time as Loch Tay when we go to Perthshire.
OK. I have to stop. My seven-year-old just said this is like a school essay ‘Where I went on my holidays’. There’s no fury, no edge and no analysis…get on with it.
Well, I’m making Arran my last public event for at least a month. I can’t keep doing this at my age. I have the blog, internet radio and two kids on summer vacation and a wine habit to keep up. It’s enough to handle without travelling the country as well. It has been great though to go around not just talking at people but listening and a very uplifting thing it is too. I haven’t met a single anti-English nutter and I’ve heard a lot of common sense. The characterisation of Yes people in the media and by Better Together? No Thanks is an insult to them all and a reminder that when it comes down to it they don’t care about you – their fear is the independence movement and they don’t care who they hurt to stop it.
A couple of points stood out from the Arran event for me – the tangible resentment at a misleading media and the desire for local control. The latter is a logical extension of political engagement because when you see how decisions are made and how wrong they are, your first instinct is to want to do it yourself. It’s healthy. Why shouldn’t the community run Arran? Why shouldn’t the community own Arran? They know what’s needed, they have its best interests at heart. A new start under independence with an on-going Scotland-wide Yes movement keeping pressure on the Edinburgh government offers the best chance to achieve it. There were examples at Lamlash of people who have never been what they term political but who have been drawn out -called out – by the cause and the desire for improvement and they aren’t going to retreat after September. They are the heroes of the campaign and one of them drove me to Blackwaterfoot.
I’m afraid the BBC came in for criticism as always and it’s a trickier subject than pensions and nuclear deterrence for me to explain. I don’t agree with those who say you should shut up and accept the service you are given by the national broadcaster. You can’t opt out of demonstrating in case your opponent tries to turn it against you. They turn everything against you. Since when did silence aid the debate? In fact when I saw the quotes from Jim Murphy I realised that it backfires against him. A Labour politician accusing peaceful demonstrators of bullying the media? Does he mean like Paul Sinclair in Johann Lamont’s office demanding the Head of News at BBC Scotland balances his coverage? Sinclair who called the First Minister ‘an arse’?
Or does he mean Labour spin doctor John McTernan, as nasty an online troll as there is in the entire campaign north and south and whose vile behaviour to journalists in Australia is the stuff of legend?
Or is Jim referring to Alastair Campbell, the bully of them all, whom many suspect of helping to harass a man to his death? Campbell, who pursued and berated journalists and bullied the media, who started a war with the BBC after Gilligan and concocted false claims on Iraq which misled MPs?
Perhaps it’s plain old loopy Brian Wilson spitting bile against the new Scotland and likening critics to Nazis, the same Wilson who ran Labour’s spin machine in the Rebuttal Unit? Lot’s of choice there, no?
Demonstrating is what Labour used to do – when there were Labour people to demonstrate. Marching was what Labour did when they had a reason to march. Chanting was what Labour did when they had a voice to raise.
Now they whine and girn because we took their ba’ way.
And if it’s true that Yes people are angry – as we are all painted in their join-the-dots student politics project – well, Labour used to be angry too. When the Joseph Rowntree Foundation tells us today that for every £1 that low income working families have gained from increased tax allowances, they have lost £4 as a result of cuts to tax credits and child benefit, Labour should be angry. ‘For working families with children, if these cuts continue, the opportunity to reach an acceptable living standard may not improve, even as wages start rising again in real terms’, they say. Angry yet?
The report also found that ongoing cuts to tax credits have more than outweighed savings from higher tax allowances, increasing financial hardship for low-earning families with children. The report states that cuts to child benefit and tax credits have ‘created losses double the amount of tax allowance gain for working couples, and nearly four times the amount for working lone parents.’
That is only one reason why progressive Scots are angry because it used to be Labour that protected them. That pretence has gone as they admit they are wedded to Tory spending plans if elected.
What makes Labour angry today? Yes people standing up for themselves. They don’t like that.
No longer buying Labour lies. No, that’s awkward too.
Resentment at barely coherent MPs making a career at people’s expense. Oh dear, it really does make them fiz with anger that you’ve realized that most Labour backbenchers are little better than woodentops with no aspiration, no vision, no talent and no socialism.
But what really makes Labour angry is the knowledge that in a few weeks time, the whole house of cards could tumble taking with it salaries, expenses, free flights, subsidized meals, foreign travel and retirement in the Lords – the very birthright of the Labour MP-for-life.
At least our anger when it comes is reserved for a corrupted democracy, children in poverty, government waste, nuclear weapons and injustice. If that doesn’t make you angry, you might as well join the No campaign’s fellow travellers – the BNP and the Orange Order because, whether you’re a Labour voter or not, you’re no good to Scotland.
(Have a holiday in Arran instead)
Incidentally, you may have heard that Arran is just the latest in those communities ruthlessly used by Better Together? No Thanks who have refused to accept invitations to speak in what is supposed to be our great national debate. Even when someone is promised they end up pulling out at the last minute as they did before the end of the school term, denying young people a unique insight into the political process, leaving the organisers high and dry when it’s to late to find someone else. It is another deeply cynical manoeuvre in one of the most despicable episodes in modern political history – an official British campaign which can’t find speakers to defend its cause and can’t find a leader to present its case. Afraid, cynical, manipulative and anti democratic – and this is how they demonstrate Britain is best. It isn’t even in the tradition of the country they pretend to promote.
Any of you Labour voters who read here got anything to say yet? Are these campaign crooks your representatives? Proud of cheating the next generation out of hearing your arguments? Arran a bit far for you, is it? A bit scary having to stand up and make the case for the UK before your own people? You can hear the chickens clucking in the background as Scotland’s Labour Party members who boast of Keir Hardie run in the other direction. As you’ll see from the Ewan Hunter post alongside, Jim Murphy told him he’s a Socialist. Is Jim your kind of Socialist? Pro nuclear weapons, pro benefits cap, for Tory austerity, against restoring the cuts…that’s what Socialism is to your own leadership – a total sell-out and I don’t believe a single Labour voter intelligent enough to read on this blog doesn’t know that perfectly well. Get some guts and go public. At least express concern at the level and tone of your campaign. Ask where the progressive agenda is and the vision for a deserted working class. It doesn’t matter what your politics are if you don’t have self respect.