The season of good will

A guest post by Samuel Miller

This’ll be short and sweet, so pay attention at the back. 2017, the year where Brexit, austerity legislation, societal disenfranchisement and the empowerment of the nastier side of right wing demographics started to really deliver on it’s inevitable payoff. The economy of the UK, so far as the vast majority are concerned, is doing a swirly in the lavvy and is on the verge of disappearing round the U bend. The politics of the UK have meanwhile descended into a farce resembling nothing so much as a group of cartoon chimps on a sugar rush throwing poo at each other whilst the rest of us wait for something resembling a competent central government to make an appearance.

All of this as the UKs former closest trading partners and international political allies, decide whether it’s worth their while, or even whether they can be bothered, holding out yet another lifeline to the ungrateful boneheads who used them repeatedly as media scapegoats only to tell them to take a hike in a moment of colossal self harm. Safe to say, things have pretty much gone as a lot of bods in the YES movement feared back in 2014. So close to their worst nightmare they become desperate maybe?

Quite the year to be sure and another beaut promising to follow in 2018. You can see why frustration, recrimination and not a little desperation might creep into some people’s thinking. Some may start to wonder on the reasons why they were deprived of a different resolution three years ago. Who voted no to self government and why? How can they be persuaded or… ignored? Been more than one conversation over the past year on incomers v natural born, aged v youth vote, rich v poor etc., and there’ll probably be more as 2018 proceeds and things get a little more desperate (which they will). For many, it won’t just become an imperative that there is another referendum, but that it must be won at all costs. All costs though? Right or wrong? Fear’ll do that. Pretty understandable and all too human.

How and ever, people should perhaps consider that economic ineptitude, bad or punitive legislation, resultant poverty and loss of life chances and rights, much like natural disasters, don’t care where you were born. They don’t care what colour you are. How you worship. How old you are. Who you love, or indeed what part of spam valley your bungalow rests on. Just like the natural disasters of flood, fire and quake they’ll impact your life regardless. Once enacted, they don’t discriminate. Only people do that.

Some people will never change their vote of 2014. For good or ill, no matter how bad it gets and no matter the suffering of others around them, they will vote out of loyalty and belief that their system and worldview will come right in the end. They are entitled to that choice and that opinion. They are also welcome to it.

Here’s some political reality though. If Scotland and its electorate are to become self governing and make our own choices in the near future, we’re going to need some of those who voted no in 2014 to change that vote.  Around 6% would do, but I’m greedy and would prefer more. A great deal more. Oh, and residency is the criteria for voting eligibility. You live in Scotland. You pay your taxes in Scotland. You contribute to life and community in Scotland, then you get to vote on Scottish matters. Call it the Karmic balance to those disasters which don’t care who you are. Voting based on residency is a human being’s way of saying we don’t care who you are, your opinion matters. Does it make winning a YES vote any easier given voting breakdowns from 2014 onwards? No, not really. Then again, no one said winning the right to govern yourself was ever going to be any easy thing. In some parts of the world and throughout history, it’s been downright dangerous.

In my own opinion? Vote by residency is also the right thing to do. Scottish self governance… I’d say it’s not simply winning it which matters, but how you win it. The foundations for the society you want must be solid. The establishment parties and their practice of politics really should be a heads up as to the shit storm you build up over time when winning by any means necessary. When you divide and rule. When you win without care or consideration for others.

Seems to me that Brexit, austerity, fractured society, political elitism, bigotry, intolerance, exceptionalism and isolationism might be seen as reason enough NOT to repeat their mistakes? You govern for ALL in your care, or maybe you shouldn’t be governing? Just a thought.

What we see in the UK today is a direct result of the politics of societal division. Me? I’m more of a hugger. I’ll hold my hand out and welcome folk from any point of origin or walk of life who want to work for a more socially just Scotland.

In the season of good will and given all that 2018 may bring our electorate, it’s maybe worth remembering that a little good will and understanding can go a long way.

Are we there yet?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

2017… It’s a bit of a badly written disaster movie, isn’t it? What is it they call them? Mockbusters? Politics and its institutions falling apart and brought into disrepute near daily. Economy teetering on the brink of brexitmageddon. A society constantly having their frustrations, anger, fears and uncertainties stoked by the next horror headline. Headlines mainly supplied by policy wonks looking to snag a vote for their agenda du jour, or a motivated meeja themselves looking to make a quid and support their party sociopath of choice. Oh, and after two referendums, the winning slim majorities and campaigns of both tainting the whole of UK society with the nasty stank of intolerance, exclusion and isolationism. Just to add a degree of difficulty we really, REALLY, needed in our lives about now. As for trust? In any major institution of central government? Do NOT get me started. It’s more than taken a kicking in the recent past. Welcome to Brexit/Austerity UK. The inevitable destination of the politics of me, masel’ and I.

No, I’m not seeing many laugh out loud moments in this particular mockbuster script either.

People aren’t born to hate or fear you know? No, that gets taught. It’s what you experience. It’s driven by outside forces in your life. It is also what I find most unforgivable about politics as it is practised UK style. Democracy cynically managed. Democracy undermined. Democracy and identity defined by the powerful, managed to favour a parliament and political class, then re-branded and marketed for public consumption. Politics and government for the population made worthless. The tail wagging the dog as it were.

Establishment parties in our own system made it ‘OK’ to hate someone. They ensured that the politics of greed, envy and self was the norm. The messages they sent out through their media chums made it acceptable to demonise and disenfranchise whole demographics for political gain, that the ends justified the means. The normalisation of the worst in our natures. Parties with decades of Westminster entitlement, preaching loyalty and unity, paying lip service to tolerance, whilst telling people who to exclude, hate and punish. Dehumanising your intended victims is where it starts. Where it ends? Historically… rarely any place good.

This past year in politics has been one long Q.E.D. moment. Lot’s of folk, especially in the media, telling us who to include on their exclusion list. Well, big whoop! They’ve succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. So, how is Brexit working out for everyone? Everybody just peachy in Better Together’s pooling and sharing union of equals? Is this the vision of the UK going forward you thought it would be?

Put it another way. If you’re poor, disabled, a supporter of Scottish self government, a person of furren origin living in the UK, furren in general, a remainer, or any number of other ‘minority’ groups*, are you all feeling the lurve of one nation unity about now? Do you feel wanted, included, significant? Do feel as if your views are valued, respected… heard even? (*Yes, I know. Not really insignificant minorities. Pretty much fairly major demographics)

If you don’t. If you feel that the language and practice of our political class has been less than honest or caring. If you feel the rhetoric and publicity generated by the mainstream media has been less than conducive toward the creation of a cohesive and tolerant society,  then where does the buck stop? The source of the message? The ever so willing messenger, or those the message is aimed at?

Back in August 2016 I posted the piece Who needs a sword (fades to wavy lines);

“The written word is powerful. People can be moved to acts of great kindness and humanitarian aid, or they can be moved to acts of intolerance and great inhumanity. They can be motivated to feel true empathy, humour, regret, hope, aspiration even. Or they can be made to feel doubt, uncertainty, anger, fear and hatred. In the hands of a true wordsmith it is a tool or a weapon that can influence the emotions and opinions of individuals and populations alike for good or ill.”

As I said, the whole year seems to have been one long Q.E.D. moment. Right wing politicians and media have gone to town on major demographics of the UK in pursuit of Brexitmageddon. The reborn ‘kinder, more honest’ Labour party have gone to war with seemingly everyone else in politics whilst searching for political relevance and a long lost soul. The Libdems have sat on the sidelines and learning from their betters, now speak fluent hypocrite demanding a referendum ‘do over’. BUT NOT FOR YOU SCOTLAND! Seems you’re either not far right enough for some, or you’re not left leaning enough for the other, and both extremes would still sell their granny for a sniff of the big chair. Their hypocrisy on tolerance and inclusion, loyalty and unity is basically a complete insult to any reasonable human being’s intelligence. In reality their idea of ‘unity’ is to seemingly shout at you a lot through their respective meeja channels, demand your loyalty, your compliance and a blind acceptance of their respective narratives. Apparently speaking to you like a human being and earning those things through actions are for lesser mortals.

Maybe just me, but given their respective narratives, strategies and ideologies, I’d say they’re going about this whole reaching out and unity thing in the wrong way.

The casualties, as per usual, are a general public who simply want a meal on their table at the end of the day and a roof over their heads. A public who want their servants to do the jobs for which they are amply paid, ensure that they are cared for and just as importantly… be respected and listened to. Doesn’t seem much of an ask, now does it? Seein’ as how we kinda do pay the wages and all. Most folk don’t want to hate anyone. They don’t want war or strife, or argument with their neighbours. Life’s hard enough thanks. They just want to cut along with their lives in relative peace and security. What they have though, is a system of government, political parties and a practice of politics which drives their opinions and emotions through fear, uncertainty and doubt on a daily basis. Who does that to the people in their care? (answers on a postcard etc.)

This ‘practice’ has done incalculable damage to the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. It has fractured society, outraged partners, alienated friends, dragged an economy to the brink and generally scared people shitless. When people are scared, they get angry, frustrated. They look for targets to unload their fears and frustrations upon. Cue the never ending cycle of spin, misdirection and scapegoating. Something the current Scottish government and the wider YES movement are all too familiar with.

So, are we there yet? Have we hit rock bottom with no way out? Well, no. No we haven’t hit bottom yet (hard to believe, I know), but there is a way out before we do.

Politically, all the electorate of Scotland have ever needed to do is empower and mandate a willing Scottish government to seek a dissolution of a treaty. Take their powers back from those currently misusing them and start doing what all normal countries do. Live. Make choices. Screw up sometimes and be a credit to the world at others. Do what grown ups do. That example stands a chance of starting something better throughout these islands. No more than that, but a chance nonetheless. Aspire to be better than we are and as good as everyone else.

On a personal level? I’d say that so long as you remember what caring and tolerance is really all about. So long as you refuse to be defined or pigeonholed by some political sociopath, or an out of control media, then you retain the power to choose. You can choose to not walk on by those in need. You can choose not to hate on demand. You can choose how you live. You can choose to think for yourself. You choose.

Sounds a bit like self determination really.

 

Normal sarcasm will be resumed after the artisanal baps, filled with (organically reared) turkey, have been consumed. All the very best of the festive season readers.