Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Monday, 7 April 2014
I heard the news on the car radio and was astonished to hear a gushing tribute to Margo from John Swinney, the finance secretary of the Scottish Government. What a difference a couple of decades make.
Margo was one reason why I became interested in Scottish politics a couple of decades ago. I had recently returned to Scotland but I had followed the independence debate for many years. In England, when Scottish politics and independence were mentioned in conversation Margo’s name was the only one anyone seemed to know.
By the time I became actively involved in the SNP in the 1990s, I naively thought that Margo had been forgiven for branding the party establishment as ‘tartan Tories’, but I was wrong. One day I innocently mentioned Margo’s name in conversation with John Swinney and was told, “Don’t mention that woman’s name again in my presence.” I was astonished by his tone because usually he spoke kindly about everyone - political friend or foe - and asked why. “She makes promises she’ll never be able to keep,” was the curt response. Of course I’m paraphrasing here, but I vividly remember this conversation as it was an important factor towards my departure from party politics.
During my time involved with politics, I listened to Margo speak on a few occasions, although I never had the pleasure of meeting her. She exuded a warmth, honesty and sincerity to her audiences which few politicians possess. Her politics were a little too far left for my own taste, but her unwavering belief in Scottish independence fitted perfectly with my own belief.
Although the SNP expelled her in 2003, if the tributes from the SNP hierarchy are to be believed, they realised she was a greater asset than a liability to the party and in recent years must have regretted not having her ‘inside’ rather than outside but often onside. Margo was too independent-minded to be a party politician and came into her own in recent years. (In case anyone is interested, I too found party politics stifling and decided not to renew my membership in the early 2000s).
A fitting memorial would be a Yes vote in September. Another would be the passing of her assisted dying bill, which Patrick Harvie has vowed to continue, in the Scottish parliament. My hope is that her end was dignified because she fought hard, throughout her own severe, debilitating illness, for each and every one of us to have that right.
Ultimately Margo MacDonald fought, and triumphed, as a party of one. It was perhaps the only party that could ever hold her.
The video is from her speech at the Independent Rally in Edinburgh 2012.
Tuesday, 1 April 2014
Not your typical holiday video I know, but last Friday I attended a concert in Lally’s Palais to see the talent of this 19 year old. Jonathan Antoine is exceptional and his solo (3.15) is breathtaking.
The planning for the day/evening/night out took a chunk out of my time last week. I haven’t driven long distances for a few years now and was apprehensive, but I had great company and that helped immensely.
We left our ‘Highland hames’ with the sun shining brightly and a slight warmth in the air. Arrived in Glasgow and it was perishing! Thankfully we had everything but the kitchen sink with us so we rejected our posh Sunday coats and donned our heavy duty attire. Much needed in the fierce wind.
Recording is disallowed at concerts, but fortunately another Jonathan fan managed to take this one from the balcony. I wouldn’t call it the balcony, it should be named the ceiling, because the incline was horrendous. As a sufferer of vertigo all my life, even looking over the bannister for a second caused my blood pressure to go through the roof. I told the young lass who was showing us to our seats and without turning a hair she said, “Gie’s a mo til I find the wee sh*te who’s just goan aff wi’ ma walkie-talkie an I’ll get ye baith sorted oot”. Two minutes later we were taken down to the terrace area to seats right at the front edge of the stage.
What more can I say about Glaswegian hospitality? Braw, jist braw. It’s fun being a groupie for the first time in my life.
Friday, 28 March 2014
Monday, 24 March 2014
Today’s Daily Mail has an article about how our society has changed in the last 40 years.
As part of a social documentary Channel 5 television, with the permission of two young girls’ mothers, filmed the wee girls as they stood, acting lost, in a busy London shopping centre. In the hour the wee girls participated in the experiment 616 people walked by - some even veered away in an effort to purposely avoid them. Only one person stopped to ask if help was needed and she had initially walked past, but thought the better of her action and returned to ask if the wee one was lost or needed help.
Left-wingers are outraged (read the NSPCC’s comment) that this can happened today but forget that it’s their protests and complaints over the years that have produced a society where adults are afraid to approach a child in case they end up in court or, worse still, in prison.
Even in the 60s I found London an impersonal and unfriendly place so it’s little wonder similar attitudes are still present today, but what if the experiment had been carried out in Manchester or Newcastle. Would the result have been the same?
Fortunately I live somewhere which hasn’t changed too radically since I was a child and a lost-looking child would be noticed and helped but very possibly only by women. Most men I know would not approach a young girl for fear of being accused of molestation or worse.
A sadder result of this experiment is that not one of the 616 attempted to find a policeman/woman to help the girls. In my local town, since the introduction of Police Scotland, police are rarely seen. The local office has been closed and their base is now nearly 20 miles away. Their presence on the streets each weekend used to help keep the daft behaviour of teenagers in check, but in the past months they have been more or less invisible after 10pm.
Are we uncaring? I think, in general, we’re not, but we’re certainly a society that lives in fear rather than friendliness these days. Instead of the adage ‘It’s better to do something than nothing’ the reverse not seems to be the norm.