May The Force be with you!

… although it might seem like some ancient and mysterious force is needed to guide you thought the perplexities and complexities of the Single Transferrable Voting system which you are soon going to be asked to use, it’s actually not that difficult to get your head around.  (Assuming of course you’re reading this in the galactic land of Scotland and are going to use your vote in the Local Council Elections on May the Fourth…..)

The only really important thing to remember is “Never use an X”. This voting system is all about numbers.  So you must use a ‘1’  a ‘2’ a ‘3’ and so on.  Here’s a voting guide for you.  

This isn’t a vote for the Empire, no matter what the evil Senator Theresa Palpatine says.  This is all about your local councillors, the local folk who will really be sorting out all the street lights, the schools, the bantu droppings, the pot-holes in the tracks around Tatooine.   You’re not voting for the Senate. Not this time. So try not to be swayed and influenced by the stories the Senators are putting out about the alliance. Vote for the people who you think will get the job done. This is kinda how I see it….

Your voting slip will look kinda like this.  Loads of names with a space beside them where we need to put our numbers.

FETT Bobba
TheHUTT Jabba

You can’t vote for Padme Amidalla nor Senator Theresa Palpatine  (even though we just know her “Great Repeal Bill” is as big an act of democratic betrayal as the motion to have Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum removed from office).

Now – I quite like that Calrissian guy ‘coz he’s got experience of running the Cloud City. So he knows how to get things done in a small local goverment sort of way.  But, there’s others I think who have more potential.  So he’s not my number 1.   And,  just a hang on a minutes,  hang on a doggone minute,  whoever I vote for in this Local STV election I sure as Endors two moons really don’t want to vote for Darth Vader.  Hell no!  He’s the evil Senator Theresa Palpatine’s right hand man.  Giving him more power?  No chance… All I can do to try and deny Palpatine and Co getting more power is to vote for everyone above him.  So I think I’ll be voting like this:

FETT Bobba 6
KENOBI Obi-Wan 4
SOLO Han 2
TheHUTT Jabba 7
VADER Darth 8

Even Jabba The Hutt deserves a vote before Darth Vader….. at least Jabba ran a business…….

So, as you approach that polling booth on May the Fourth, or as you’re completing your postal voting slip right now, just remember that a very big game is being played with your vote.  Although it isn’t really about how much power it will give to Senator Theresa Palpatin, and she knows this, she’s trying to change the rules of the game for this election. Supporting her , well we already know how badly things turn out when Senator Palpatine becomes full of the Dark Side and declares themself as ‘Emperor’……….

As we all vote for local people whom we trust will do a good local job for us and deliver the local services and support we’ll all need in the future (and perhaps help us shape the type of planet and galaxy we want to live in)  –


The Art of War….

Sun Tzu’s writing on the way a war and battles should be fought and campaigned are still used as example of how to do things logically to improve the likelihood of reaching a successful conclusion. suntzu


If you’re involved in planning for anything you’d normally think about what the best case and what the worst case could be. Then you’d expect a result that was somewhere in the middle. That’s just common sense. If you’re planning to hold a car boot sale you’d probably think about what would happen if it’s a nice day and what would happen if it’s raining.  It’s called scenario planning  in the buzzword-bingo business land.  And everyone does it.  Everyone. Always.  Then they do “What-Ifs”.  What if this happens?  What if that happens?  What if this+that happens?   So you plan.  The bigger the event the more you plan.  That’s really what Sun Tzu was teaching all these centuries ago.  The art of planning.

Unless you’re the multimillionaires in the UK Government. Then, you don’t plan. You don’t think about the best case or the worst case.  You just spout vapid empty slogans and soundbites. You don’t even think that establishing the baseline case for Brexit by actually planning the impact of “NoDeal” would be a good idea.  Good heavens. Why would you do that?  The only rational I can come up with for the calamitous failure by the UK Government is because no matter what they do, it has zero consequences for them personally.  And that’s not good news for the rest of us.

How about this for the UK Goverment – You plan because it is only when you know just how bad the worst case scenario is that you can even vaguely know if you’ve negotiated something better?  Sound like a good idea? It does to me.  But not to MayDavisFoxJohstone.

I don’t recall a UK Government ever being so utterly incompetent.  Margaret Thatcher was bad news for many but we all knew what she was doing.  Tony Blair was a wide boy on the make (and he started the rot of Government by Daily Mail headline) but we knew what he was doing.  This lot, particularly Theresa May, are clueless.

As Winston might have said……  “Never in field of human democracy, have so many been so screwed by so few”  

Until we can persuade parliament to allow us, the electorate and the people they are supposed to represent, to have the right to recall MPs whom we are not satisfied with, probably the only thing we can all do now is to write to our MPs telling them in no uncertain terms that the performance of the UK Goverment is not good enough.  Use  to get the email address of your MP.

Halt!! Who Goes There?

We’ve got elections coming up in about 5 weeks time.  These are for our Local Authority Councillors.  I’ve never been really sure that politics with a capital “P” should play a big part in these elections, but hey, it does. Especially this time.  No less a figure than the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has decreed that it should be so.  “Send a message to the SNP. Tell them in these local authority elections that you don’t want another Independence Referendum” she said.   Well then, who am I to argue with the Prime Minister?  Clearly the local council elections really are all about politics with a capital “P“.   So if that is the case then maybe we should all look very closely at the parties who are putting forward candidates seeking our votes.   I know, these elections really ought to be about the best people for the jobs, people who really do understand our local issues, people who can deal with the dogsh*t problems and the housing development issues.  But they’re not. The Prime Minister says so.  So they can’t be.  (Well, not this time anyway). So lets look at the parties.

This then gets us to something which isn’t mentioned or reported on the BBC News nor in any newspapers.  It’s an uncomfortable truth, for the media,  that Scotland only has a handful of political parties.  (Assuming you accept the definition of being a Scottish Political Party as being a political party registered with the Electoral Commision as being Scottish.) The table below is an extract from the electoral Commision’s list of registered parties.


(You can click here  to find the full list if you like)

So what of the Scottish Labout Party?  The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party?  The Scottish Liberal-Democrat Party?   Well, according to the Electoral Commision  (and they are the only source of facts) these parties do not exist.

Although the Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservative and Unionist parties might stick Scottish before their name, they in fact do not exist by those names on the role of registered parties. How Scottish are they then?  Where do they get their money from?  Where do they get their instructions from? Who actually controls these “Scottish” parties if they’re not on the Electoral Commision’s register?  ( Johann Lamont once famously said the Scottish Labour Party was a branch-office.)

The questions I’ve posed are good and fair questions as these parties are asking us for our votes. It seems to me the “big three” parties are as Scottish as Yorkshire Pudding, the Blackpool Tower and the white cliffs of Dover.

So, when you come to choose where to put your 1 and 2 (and 3 and 4 if you wish) on your ballot paper on the 4th May in the Scottish Local Authority elections – just remember what country you are voting in, and which parties are as Scottish as David Beckham’s right foot…….. (and David Beckham’s left foot actually….)

It’s about time…….

Maybe I should start this as “Once upon a time”…. exceptbroken-time I’d rather not draw parallels, however tempting it might be, with Wicked Queens in the South and heroic champions in the North.   (Pause for thought – it’s funny to think that it’s always the North that’s the desolate, often frozen, wasteland.  Think of the wall in Game of Thrones, it’s in the north too)

Anyway, it’s about time…. and a whole lot more.   Let’s have a look at what’s possibly going to happen in the UK over the next few years against a timeline.  It’s the way I think about big events and hopefully it might enlighten a few thoughts, or spark questions, from other people who read this. (assuming anyone does!!).  I’m happy to add lines to this from anyone who reads it and then in a years time we can all look back on it and see how accurate we were.


  • The Scottish Parliament calls for #scotref, a further referendum for the Scottish people to vote on independence to happen between Aug ’18 and April ’19
  • The Tory UK Goverment enacts Article 50, with no ammendments and no protections for anyone.
  • The Tory Goverment hands itself  unimaginable power through the Great Repeal Bill.
  • The Tory UK Government enacts the Investigatory Powers Bill and the Digital Economy Bill.
  • The Tory UK Government offers no solace to EU nationals living and working in the UK while it is negotiating it’s Brexit “deal” with the EU.
  • Inflation in the UK continues to rise, caused by the long term devaluation in the £ Sterling and wages continue to stagnate, leading to a lowering of disposable income for many in society.
  • Businesses for whom it is (comparitively) easy to relocate head office and similar functions activate their Brext plans.  ie they start moving jobs to EU countries.
  • Northern Ireland holds a 3rd snap election in a 6 week period and Sinn Feinn wins outright control leading to them to seek re-unification with the South.
  • Donald Trump resigns from the Presidency citing stress and wanting to spend more time with his family…….  (impeachment hearings were being scheduled)


  • UK Inflation is now running at between 4% and 5% and wages are, at best, rising at 1%
  • Consumer confidence in the economy is falling, leading to overall confidence in the economy weakening.
  • Wailing and gnashing of teeth, lurid media headlines abound.

The difficulty the media will have is knowing what story to headline with.  As the Brexit bites start to mount up to being far more than just the little nibbles of voracious midges, what do they say about it all?  Do they continue to attack Scotland for seeking to mitigate and minimise the unfolding disasters?  Do they instead attack those who took the UK into this swamp?  Who could they find – Nigel Farage has emmigrated to America  (oh the irony of him becoming an immigrant, David Cameron has just gone into hiding and BoJo and Gove are protected from criticsm because thy’re part of “The Government”.

  • Scottish people continue to reflect on the scenes before them.
  • People from the EU are leaving the UK and this causes the predicted near collapse of NHS England.
  • The Electoral Commission implements the electoral boundary changes, which most commentators/analysts forecast will benefit only the Tory party.
  • The Labour party implodes and splits into smaller factions.
  • N.Ireland launches a formal process/referendum  to rejoin the South of Ireland.  The EU supports this move and says the precendent for N.Ireland staying in the EU when reunified exists.  See German reunification for details.
  • Belfast starts to suffer from a property bubble as people flock there from England.
  • The Tory budget lowers Corporation Tax to 12.5% and moves the pension age to 70.
  • Spain makes overtures to Gibraltar about becoming a “Spanish Protectorate”


  • The UK Formally leaves the EU, without a negotiated settlement. The UK falls back on WTO trading terms.
  • The Tory UK Government calls a snap election as it becomes clear that the WTO rules are damaging to the UK economy.
  • The Tory party is returned to Westminster as a majority government, despite receiving less than 30% of the popular vote.   (Remember that bit about changing the electoral boundaries…. it pays back in spades for the Tories as they achieve a historic third succesive term in Government)
  • The UK is now set for a Tory Government until 2024 and all bets are off about them losing those elections thus raising speculation that the UK could have two decades of uniterrupted right wing Government.
  • Scotland holds #scotref with another astonishingly high turnout and independence is backed by 58% to 42%
  • N.Ireland and Scotland both start the formal processes of leaving the United Kingdom.


What can we add to this story?   Who wants to contribute to it?

Changing Times,

Changing minds……………..

Just a short update,  we had friends staying with us over the weekend.  English friends from England.  It might surprise some people to know that Scottish people and English people can be friends.  (yes Sadiq Kahn, I’m looking at you….)   Indeed we’ve been friends for about 30 years now.  Even friends however can have arguments and disagreements and I had one with my friend back in 2014. We were on completely opposite sides of the Independence referendum.  We even parted from a joint weekend holiday with harsh words ringing in my ears.  My words mainly, and I was sad and ashamed that I said them.  However, the cross-border friendship endured.  This weekend, as I said, they were up staying with us.  And there were no cross words.  Just agreement that Scotland would be mad to stay within the omnishambles that is Brexit Britain.  Changing times. changing minds.



Location, Location Location….

There’s even a TV series of the same name.  It’s a good bit of light entertainment as people are hunting for their ideal homes aided by two professional (at least in TV terms) house experts.   But, let’s look at this from above, take a high-flying helicopter view.  Seen from above,  what is it about the location of our home that matters?   Proximity to transport, to shops, to jobs, to leisure facilities, to schools, broadband connectivity. Yes, these all matter to varying degrees, but there’s surely something more that matters too. Something that’s not measured by Zoopla. Something bigger.

How about having a home in a location which has some privacy?  On the LLL TV show homes which aren’t overlooked are apparently more desirable and sought after.  Yet, it doesn’t matter where your ideal location is in the UK now as the Government has legally abolished your privacy.  The Investigatory Powers Bill gives the Government not just the right to spy on your every movement and message but also requires that all this information about you is stored for 12 month periods of time. (See the bottom of this post for a list of the Government Agencies which can now legally, without asking your permission, access all your electronic information).  Do remember that the Alexa over there in the corner is always listening, otherwise how would it know to waken up on hearing the key word being spoken?   If you were asked to relocate to China or to North Korea, you’d know what to expect in the way of Government run surveillance and spying.  Yet this is exactly what is now happening on every High Street and Acacia Avenue in Britain.  The Government is storing every word you type, every call you make and a record of everything you look at.  Isn’t that something you should be concerned about when choosing your location?   That our ideal Location, Location, Location (wherever it is) now comes with intrusive state surveillance?  Did you choose that?

Maybe another factor in our ideal Location, Location, Location is the access to Healthcare. Hopefully it’s not something we plan to need or use frequently, but it’s something that’s nice to know it’s there and we can easily access it and be loked after at times of illness t accidents.  How’s that going in most Locations, Locations, Locations these days?  What’s happening to the NHS around your ideal location?

So when you’re thinking about the Location, Location, Location of your home maybe you should be thinking about more than Zoopla.  Maybe you should value a home in a location where the Government isn’t doing things which will make your life harder.   Where a Government is doing all it can to make life fair, to make opportunities available to everyone.  Where the Government is trying to be just (even with one had tied behind it’s back).  I wonder where in the United Kingdom such a Location, Location Location could be?

We’ll get a chance soon enough to decide on what’s really important in our ideal location. I wonder what Zoopla will say?



Here’s a full list of agencies that can now ask for UK citizens’ browsing history  (and actually a whole lot more) , which is laid out in Schedule 4 of the Bill and was collected by Chris Yiu, is below:

  • Metropolitan Police Service
  • City of London Police
  • Police forces maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996
  • Police Service of Scotland
  • Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • British Transport Police
  • Ministry of Defence Police
  • Royal Navy Police
  • Royal Military Police
  • Royal Air Force Police
  • Security Service
  • Secret Intelligence Service
  • GCHQ
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Department of Health
  • Home Office
  • Ministry of Justice
  • National Crime Agency
  • HM Revenue & Customs
  • Department for Transport
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • NHS trusts and foundation trusts in England that provide ambulance services
  • Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service
  • Competition and Markets Authority
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Department for Communities in Northern Ireland
  • Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland
  • Department of Justice in Northern Ireland
  • Financial Conduct Authority
  • Fire and rescue authorities under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
  • Food Standards Agency
  • Food Standards Scotland
  • Gambling Commission
  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
  • Health and Safety Executive
  • Independent Police Complaints Commissioner
  • Information Commissioner
  • NHS Business Services Authority
  • Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust
  • Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board
  • Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Regional Business Services Organisation
  • Office of Communications
  • Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
  • Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
  • Scottish Ambulance Service Board
  • Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
  • Serious Fraud Office
  • Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust







Power for the People

A Sunday morning idea. 

Looking around my house at the things which we use which use electricity and I got to thinking. Bear with me on my flight of fantasy here.  

Global warming is happening, man made or otherwise.  I believe we’re contributing to it and ought to be thinking of ways to reduce the electricity we use. As we depend on more computers, tablets phones, routers, monitors it seems unlikely that we’ll actually reduce the electricity we use.  So how about changing, drastically, how we made, distribute and use it?   What if we really, as a mass society, could make a step change in how we do this?  

Many devices are essentially battery powered so only need to be recharged, so we have wall-wart transformers to the 5v DC these devices need.  Others are 12v DC. The latest adverts for vacuum cleaners ‘break the cord’ so that’s another device which runs on batteries. 

But what if…….we built houses with DC ring mains?  Not instead of 240v AC but as well as.  What if every house, factory, office had to be built with photovoltaic cells feeding into a DC ring?  All lighting, LED of course, would run from this DC ring, as would as many devices as we can make which will do away with the need for a transformer.   What things do we have which really need 240v?  Washing machines?  Almost everything else has transformers and power supplies which take three mains down to a DC level. 

So why not do away with all the transformers and have DC rings? Is this what Tesla is doing with their battery walls and solar tiles? If so, more power (pun intended) to them.  Wouldn’t such a house (or office) really be a worthy “Grand Design”,  just as Armstrong’s Cragside House was back in the days.  

What England Means to Me


What England Means To Me   – is a website I was invited to write a piece for.  This is a draft of that piece.  I’m trying out on my own website first, before submitting it to the other one.   I’ve had this on the go for a few months and am only getting around to a near complete draft.   Fire away with your comments……..  


“O wad some power the giftie gie us, tae see oorsels as ithers see us.”

Those are the words of Scotland’s national bard – Robert Burns. This essay is about ‘What England Means to Me’ from a Scottish perspective, hence the introduction. When asked if I’d like to write a piece for this site, I was flattered and challenged in equal measures. I consider myself very Scottish, although I was born in Coventry. I support the movement for Scotland to once again be an independent nation, which means I support the SNP as the best vehicle to get Scotland there and I’m writing about England.


My first feeling about what England means to me is one of slight frustration. I can’t easily answer the question “What is England?”  The geographical area is well defined,  but what else?  these days it means to me the place where my daughter lives and works.  It was, but for a spot of gazumping, a place where I (almost) lived and worked.

England has had a real problem with its identity for a long, long time. England and Britain and UK have seemingly been interchangeable terms forever. So much so that when considering what’s England, or English, it’s difficult to separate them. Even contributors to this site casually conflate the terms “England’s” and “Britain’s” when referring to events and deeds of the past. England wears the coat of Britain with comfort, indeed the coat was probably tailored to fit England. This has to be a challenge for England and the English as Britain goes forward. Just what is ‘England’? How does England take off this coat of Britain and relax into its own identity? Nowhere is this confusion over identity shown more clearly than at rugby/football internationals where the England team uses the British national anthem as their own, even when they are playing against Scotland, Wales, N.Ireland – who all have equal claim to use that song. Staying in the sporting world for a moment there is “The FA” and The RFU”. All the other countries in the UK have a national identifier in front of their sporting bodies, e.g. “The SFA”, “The SRU”. Yet England uniquely seems the have the word “The”. Pause and think about that for a moment, and what it says about national identity.
The Union Flag is similarly easily swapped for the St George’s flag. This schizophrenia about identity runs deeply through English/British/UK history and doesn’t seem to have been resolved yet. Scottish nationalism has been and is a benign force: civic, progressive, pluralist, and deeply multicultural. The English nationalism we are witnessing is practically the mirror opposite – ethnic, regressive, anti-pluralist, and at war with multiculturalism and diversity. There are many essays on this site which talk of the English values of ‘fair play’ and ‘helping the under-dog’. Where are those values being demonstrated in post-Brexit England?

So England, the largest country in the United Kingdom. The dominant country, not a partner to the other countries. The devolution arrangements and very recent pronouncements from the Supreme Court  have shown this in sharper relief than ever before.  England – the country which rules that it’s too dangerous for nuclear weapons to be stored in its territory yet is happy for them to be stored within 15 miles of 46% of the population of another country in the United Kingdom.  Much has been said about the need for a parliament for England, to put it on a level footing with Holyrood, Stormont and Cardiff.  EVEL will not deliver this. This is the politics of England, not the people. The political direction in which the country is being driven just doesn’t reflect the view the English have about England. English people are really no different from Scots, from Welsh, from Irish people. It’s a puzzle therefore why they are allowing themselves to be pushed in a direction which can only end in diminution of their country.


England is a country with areas of great beauty. The Lake District, the Cotswolds, the garden of Kent, the wilderness of Dartmoor. It’s all there. The Riviera on the south coast. What’s not to like about this land? And I do like the land when I’m there.  So is that what England Means to Me?  A pleasant place to visit?   London is good to visit, but not as stunning as New York.

Right now though, at the end of January 2017, there’s something happening in England which is causing real anxiety in Scotland (perhaps moreso in Northern Ireland and Wales too). England is allowing itself to become characterised by a meanness of spirit. The appalling murder of Jo Cox MP, the societal divisions being foisted, with no care or regard for the future, on England by its politicians, no longer sit comfortably with the Scottish character. Maybe it was always thus, but I don’t think so. The trajectory England is being put on is going to stress the bonds of the United Kingdom as they have never been stressed before. I doubt that they will survive.

So what is England? A proud nation, people who long ago created a vast empire but have yet to really come to terms with its ending. England – a nation with an identity crisis.

Sometimes it’s the little things……

broken-rings…… that make all the difference in the world.   I’ve no idea what the main reasons for people getting divorced are, but I’m willing to bet it’s usually because of a lot of little things all piling up until it beceoms intolerable.

For Scotland, that seems to be what’s happening.  Over the past few weeks there have been many little things happening.  None of which, in isolation would cause a divorce.  And yet……when the cumulative effect of all the little slights, and all the snide comments and put downs are added together they begin to make you wonder about staying in a union.

Here’s a few of the little things

  • Speaker John Bercow’s (quite excellent) speech on Trump being shown on BBC Newsnight – with a backing track of “Jerusalem”.
  • Joanna Cherry QC MP being told to sit down and be quiet in the House of Commons during a debate on the Develoved Nations and Brexit.  (Tommy Shepperd has written about this, see below this post)  This, despite her talking for a scant 3 minutes when many Tories had been permitted to speak for 20 minutes or 30 minutes.  As for the behaviour of the Tories……
  • The Brexit White Paper being devoid of any factual content in relation to Scotland.  There’s an excellent review of it here.
  • The mis-use (abuse?) of statistics by Ruth Davidson MSP with no challenges or questions being raised from the Scottish Media.
  • David Mundell’s waffle and obfuscation and complete denial of having been elected to represent people in Dumfriesshire when he clearly believes his job is not to represent his constituents, but to represent his Party and it’s dictats from London
  • Theresa May ignoring the Paper on Brexit, which contains many compromises,  presented by the Scottish Goverment.


So when the dust settles, the Scottish people, being well balanced will be left to wonder what exactly is going on.   All little things on their own.  Collectively though they seem far larger.






Here’s Tommy Sheppard MP’s post on Facebook. 

So not everyone spends their evenings watching Parliament TV – and who can blame you. It’s often not the most exciting watch. But I do think it’s important that folk know what happened last night. Even after some kip, I’m still pretty angry.

We have 3 days to debate around 100 motions on the Brexit bill. Yesterday we focused on 2 elements – the rights of EU citizens and the role of devolved administrations. It works out at about an average of four minutes to debate each amendment.

In one of the many bizarre aspects of debate here no time limit is placed on speeches during committee stage debates. When that is combined with the informal gentleman’s club hierarchy whereby the longer serving get priority, it means it’s very hard for new MPs to get a word in edgeways.

In 8 hours of debate, only 4 MPs representing Scottish constituencies got to speak. In the 3 hour debate on the devolved administrations we had 1 MP representing Wales, 1 Northern Ireland and 2 Scotland.

One Tory MP spoke for longer than all members from Scotland combined – on a debate about the role of the Scottish Parliament in Brexit.

Our second was my colleague Joanna Cherry QC. After 2 minutes (when many others had spoken for around 20 mins each – including a Tory who attempted to filibuster and had already had 20mins+ in the first debate) the Deputy Speaker said he expected her to finish up, that he had been kind enough to let the SNP speak and she should not abuse it.

Joanna made the point that she should be heard and carried on. She was basically told to sit down – she was done. Alex Salmond raised a point of order and a number of the group walked out in disgust. It wasn’t pretty.

You elected me to represent you. To do that I need to be able to speak.

Last night the voices of the people of Scotland were not heard. We were silenced by the mother of parliaments not being fit for purpose.

It shouldn’t be this difficult.

The fact that the debate was delayed by points of order on the clerks wearing wigs (some Tories were upset that Bercow had ruled that they no longer need to) shows just where we are at.

I’m proud to represent Edinburgh East and I will continue to fight for my constituents with all I have. But sometimes you do wonder…

A Light In the Darkness


They say that the darkest part of the night comes just before the dawn.  Politically, in the UK and the USA we seem to be at that stage.  In the UK we’ve got an out of control unrestrained right wing faction of the Conservative Party who seem to be making the rules and behavioural norms up as they go along.  And in the USA today they’re about to anoint the most unlikely President ever, who gives every indication of being just as out of control and of making up the norms of behaviour as he goes along as the right wing in the UK is doing.   Only the very fortunate and very few on this planet can see either of these “leaders” as portents of the breaking dawn.  To the remaining 99% of us it’s dark, and getting darker.

How long this night will last we don’t know.  For the UK it could be a very long time.  The USA will have an election in another 4 years in which they can undo the mistakes they’ve made (assuming that President Trump remains in office for a full term).  But for the poor UK the calamity of Brexit will still be in full flow at the time of the next election.  There’s also every sign that the Conservatives will be returned to power in that 2020 election, although I’d bet on a far lower turnout than at any election.  So the night in the UK could be another decade long.   A darkness in which it is forgotten that we are all humans, that we all need shelter, warmth, food, health and society.   I can’t help but feel the leaders we have currently got seem to have lost sight of this, as they luxuriate in the rarified atmosphere of their riches.

And yet, there’s  a spark of light in Scotland.  The Scottish National Party has it’s core the belief that Scotland can be a successful independent nation state once again.  The SNP is fortunate to have the most capable leader and gifted politician in Nicola Sturgeon leading them at this time.   The SNP is a broad church with over 120,000 members.  As a share of the population, this is truly remarkable, I doubt if many other political parties anywhere in the world can match that.  Certainly, none in the UK can.   The problem the Unionists have with the SNP is that it is that at the moment the SNP is the party of hope.  While it’s easy to snipe and argue that hope doesn’t pay the bills, it’s not something that can ever be taken away from people.  You can’t kill an idea.  As the UK is accelerating towards societal upheaval and the economic calamity of Brexit,  taking back control of our own destiny looks ever more attractive.  (irony alert – yes I know….. I’m using the slogans of the Brexiteers. Double irony is that they used those words and didn’t see that they could just as easily be applied to another situation within the UK)

One by one, the ‘promises’ and ‘vows’ made in 2014 by the Unionists in the “Better Together” campaign have been dropped, forgotten or just ignored.   The men who made those promises are now, a mere two and a bit years on, either sidelined by their parties or have left the field of politics.  Yet, the new leaders of the parties continue to make more ‘promises’ and ‘vows’ to Scotland.  Ask yourself – what credibility do those leading the UK parties have?   When will they be gone and will their repacement(s) set any store by what was ‘promised’?

So,  Scottish friends, what can you do to help keep the light burning in the darkness?   For sure, regaining independence for the people of this wonderful country will not be easy.  It will not be an immediate land of milk-and-honey. There will be economic problems to overcome.  What currency?  What tax?  How will we be organised?   But these are short term problems and are being worked on and tought through.  The light in the darkness is to build an undeniably fairer and more equitable country.   That desire runs through the SNP like the lettering in a stick of seaside rock.  That’s what the 120,000 members signed up to.  One of the USA’s most charismatic President’s asked at his inauguration  :  “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”

Scotland can show the way.  The Scottish Enlightenment did exactly that back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  So what are  you going to do to keep a light shining in the darkness?