The Dilemma of a Biased Media in the Struggle for Independence

Yesterday’s Commons debate merely confirmed what all Yes voters knew already: the annoyance of the Scottish referendum is now over and we can be ignored again. You can gauge how important Scotland is to the denizens of the Palace of Westminster, by the amount of time given to our representatives. If Wings over Scotland is to be believed, and I have no reason to doubt that august e-publication, then we have taken up six minutes of our Britannic overlords’ time. So, even when we are able to argue against the unexpurgated mendacity of our rulers, they still have ways of silencing us or ignoring us. I noted that Unionist MPs were treated with a modicum of respect, whereas any utterance which seemed to be critical of the union was shouted down. I was not surprised.

Democracy is in danger, when the people believe that they are no longer being served by those whose job is supposed to be that of shining lights into dark corners and lifting stones that our masters would like to remain untouched. As it stands, at least 45% of us no longer believe anything that is said by the media, with one honourable, Sunday based exception. Beyond that, others are beginning to realise that they have been deceived. Our hope lies in their awakening. Our future depends on their growing anger. Our freedom must be assured by their unsettled will.

But how do we contact them? How do we befriend them? How do we persuade them to walk with us? The mainstream media stands between us and them: an implacable foe who will brook no interference. Like the Germans with the Maginot Line, attack is pointless. Like the Allies in 1944, faced with the same problem, sometimes leaving the enemy in their entrenched positions is the best solution. I, Field Marshal Gedboy, will now explain the first part of a two pronged assault. There are 1.6 million of us who can speak to those who took the wrong side – for an understandable reason. They were lied to. There are 1.6 million of us who constitute a mighty army – and we have refused to demobilize.

We cannot be stopped, pushed aside or suborned. Our weapons are our voices and they can never be taken from us. The mainstream media know this. The Daily Record has just suffered a 14.1% fall in its sales. This is the first intelligence report on the Unionist media’s death by a thousand cuts. A printed lie can be crushed by millions of calm conversations delivered by regiments of truth bearers. We are more powerful than anything Westminster and its stooges can range against us. It’s good to talk.


UKIP and Scotland: Advice From Napoleon.

It has been claimed that Napoleon once said ‘never interrupt your enemy while he is in the process of making a mistake’. For those of us in the YES camp, it is time to be very, very quiet. In truth, it should not be difficult. The rise of UKIP is going to damage either the Conservatives, or Labour, or both. I am glad that I am not an English policy wonk trying to counsel my leaders on how to approach the General Election. Every decision they make will be fraught with a plethora of downsides. The show will be entertaining.

For the YES Alliance, many of the lies that the Better Together camp told, will now come back to punish them. I look forward to our enemies in both the red and blue Tories explaining how concentrating on driving back the alleged tide of immigrants and removing us from the EU will lead us to this land of milk and honey where John Bull waxes fat on the riches to be created by Middle England. Meanwhile, in the real world, our services will be cut in proportion to budget cuts in England.

On the subject of this benighted realm being full, I look at the desolate spaces left in Glasgow, where 550,000 citizens of our lost population used to live. A country with one third of the land mass of the UK and one tenth of the population does not share the fears of a group of people who are ready to rebuff whatever menace the media have imagined for them. A country which has had strong links to Europe for the best part of a millennium and sees the continent as a solution, rather than a problem, does not need to share in the psychoses of a population who think that everything malevolent lies in wait off the Strait of Dover.

The election is fascinating because it is impossible to call. If UKIP reach a certain voting threshold, they could go from one MP to a hundred. If the north continues its divorce from the party it once thought would protect it, then we might find that Mr Farage will get his wish in being the minister who negotiates the U.K.’s retreat from Europe. And then, my friends, the game will really be afoot.

Our Relationship with NO Voters

Our relationship with NO voters has been a difficult issue over the last ten days, but it must be so, no longer. In the 55% who voted NO, there are many who are beyond our reach. I found this in the year’s after Thatcher won power, when it became ok to denigrate those who wanted a fair society. I remember being insulted by a workmate at the old Pirelli General Cable Factory in Southampton for lending money to a pal in need and not asking for interest on the sum.

Scotland is not like that, which is why I live here, and not there. Most of the NO voters are not like that either. If you are fed lies by 36 out of 37 newspapers and all of the broadcast media, then it is very hard to come to any conclusion other than that we are ‘Better Together’.

Ours is now a campaign of activism and information. We have gone in a week from no oil to oil squeezing out of the stones. We have gone from the Labour Party saying the NHS is safe with the Better Together barbarians to a suggestion that we need to vote Labour to prevent the Privatisation of the NHS. I have checked in the mirror and confirmed that I do not button up the back. Neither do at least 20% of the NO voters. They are our friends and we need to welcome them into our ever growing group. I’m away to check on the membership of the SNP 

Fighting Fear for a Fairer Future

Hope and fear have been my constant companions in the last month. A heady but mutually exclusive pair of emotions have occupied my thoughts – in a battle where only one will achieve victory. I find myself shaking like a leaf at odd times of the day and night. My senses have been unquiet partners in the continuing search to find the answers to the demands that daily life makes of me.

On September 18th, I will make the most important decision in my brief sojourn on this earth. It is a decision that will affect not only me, but as yet unborn generations of children. On that day Scotland will take control of its own future. For the blink of an eye, in the long history of this dear, northern nation we, the people, will stand as arbiters of our own destiny.

4.3 million citizens will enter polling booths across the land as rulers of their own country. For one day the people of Scotland will be sovereign masters of the soil on which they stand. I want to savour that day, when I feel I will be a citizen and not a subject. I want to breath in the free Scottish air that is shared by the people with whom – and for whom – I live my life.

However, as the shades of night approach, the polling staff will quietly close the doors on a day as meaningful as any in the preceding three centuries. In the remaining hours of night, there will fall upon this beloved nation a terrible tension. That tension will be borne of the burden of three hundred years of a history that has long encumbered us. It slowed the steps of long dead generations who were denied the chance to express an opinion on who should have been their masters.

In the hours that follow, servants of the people will separate pencilled crosses into two columns of hope and desolation. They will divide the nation into those who voted to keep matters of life and death within the domain of the Scots and those who decided that, after all, it would be much better if someone else decided their destiny.

It is this fact – a fact that has frightened me the more I have dwelled upon it – that has kept me perturbed and perplexed through much of my waking hours. It is the dread thought that fear itself will overwhelm decent people who are desperate to do the right thing.

In the last six months, honest people have been besieged by their southern masters with a callousness that would shame a thousand demons. We have been told that we are too limited, too hemmed in by circumstance, too uninformed, too weak-willed and too ill-prepared for the vicissitudes that fate flings at us to cope on our own. This litany of lies has been delivered by the malevolent tongues of serpents who smile and pretend that they also love and respect us – for aren’t we just like them?

But for those who want us to be better together: wrapped in the suffocating embrace of those who will not admit that we have grown tall and strong, I have a message for you. I will enter that polling booth on the morning of Thursday September 18th, 2014 with an unbreakable and unshakeable belief in my own abilities and the abilities of the people of Scotland who I love and respect.

I will mark my cross for those who are to come after me, the unborn generations who deserve the chance to live in a country that will be defined by tolerance, enlightenment, culture, intelligence, respect and a core belief that the only duty we have is to improve the lives of those around us. I will not deny the people of Scotland the right to live and die by their own efforts.

I cannot say what the future will bring. Those who assert that they have this gift are liars and madmen. All that I know is that – on Thursday September 18th, I will wake up as the most powerful human on earth, for I will have freedom in my own hands. On that and every succeeding day I will live my life in the knowledge that I did not succumb to fear. I will live my life in the knowledge that a life unlived is no life at all. Freedom is already resting in our own hearts. Let it remain there for as long as we remain together on this earth. Vote YES.

Rangers Crisis Part 1

On October 24th, 2009, I started a new thread on Kerrydale Street (a Celtic fans’ forum for those who don’t know). It was entitled ‘Media Scandal Bias’ and my opening post was as follows:

“On Radio Scotland live Walter No Surname admits that the Bank have taken over the club, he is buying no-one and they’re waiting to see who can buy the Club. Yet this is ignored and the phone in goes on about the general ‘Old Firm’ issues of the poor standard of the game. Maybe I’ll wake up and this nightmare of bias will end…”

Now, little could anyone know where we would all be this Friday 13th April 2012. Rangers on the brink of liquidation and the media in Scotland accused of a blanket disregard for their prime directive which surely is to uncover truths others would prefer hidden. Not only that, but the SFA are presided over by someone who is deeply implicated in the issue of EBTs and the SPL seem hell bent on returning a new version of Rangers to their long held place in Scottish football, without the benefit of justice having been served.

I’m still proud of my second past on that thread two and a half years ago, so here it is again:

“There are two Rangers teams: the blameless 1872-88 lot who helped Celtic get going and the Frankenstein’s monster created by Sir John Ure Primrose to defeat the forces of Popery, Home Rule and Republicanism. It is the latter who have remained unmolested by the media for the last 100 years because they, those who governed us and the media had the same ideals.

The situation is now much less homogenous. The Labour Party is full of Unionists. The SNP want to break up the Union. What’s a decent Brit walking down the Paisley Road to do? Who can they believe? What can they understand or hope for when the very ground on which they walk is crumbling beneath them?

Adam Smith’s capitalist creed is ultimately heartless and always devours its own. Tonight the invisible hand of the market has emerald Fenian fingers and I for one am sniggering quietly to myself.”

I will return to this theme, as it is a defining moment in Scottish football. How this crisis is solved will point the way to the sort of society Scotland is going to be in the coming half century. And it’s just about football. Funny that.

More Thoughts on the New Museum of Transport

First thought is that I need to visit again when it isn’t packed with visitors there for the same reason as myself: to gawp at the new architecture. What would I have designed with limited money? I guess I would have worked on the idea that all objects deserve to be seen from the middle distance and close up, thus satisfying the casual visitor enjoying the experience and the expert who has travelled specifically to see their favourite object. When I worked in the Museum of Transport back in the 90s, I used to wander around the cars looking for inspiration for building the Football Museum. The temperature and humidity control was difficult because the Kelvin Hall was just not built to cope with the environmental demands of a museum, but at least you could scrutinise the objects very easily. If a car is to be lifted up, then I suggest no more than a metre. The four year I took around did not have much to enjoy but that’s a separate debate. At that age they’re focussed on the next shop stop.

The basic need is for the visitor to look at an object that is on the ground. I would have spent less on the aesthetics of the building and more on ensuring the public could see what was in their collection. I believe it is possible to produce reasonable design to a tight margin: for example the new Aldi stores in Scotland are functional but likeable. Maybe that’s from the sublime to the ridiculous for some, but the rigours of commerce do make the Aldi owners concentrate on the only thing that matters: showing off their produce to the customer.

Maybe as the Museum matures someone will stick some light rail rail down along the quay, to run a tram the 500 metres from the Museum to the Heliport. It should not be beyond the wit of the city fathers to take it as close to Exhibition Centre Station as possible or to even run it out along the old Caledonian Line towards Yoker. Now that would make it a museum worth visiting.

Ace McTastic: What Genre Is It?

I have an unhealthy love of rhetorical questions, but the rule should be that both the inquisitor and the audience have a reasonable mutual idea as to the answer. In this I have to say I am struggling. When I had my flash of light on the Albert Drive railway bridge, all I knew was that I had a brilliant idea around the character of amusingly surreal chum Annie Mac. The skeleton of the narrative was easily fleshed out and though I kept changing elements until the final page was concluded, I always knew what I was writing.

Less easy was the question of genre. At first I had it pegged as a children’s tale and indeed the vocabulary suits the average twelve year old. However, it is not just a children’s tale, because there is a nod towards the alternative history genre. Not exactly a ‘Man in the High Castle’ but I purposely sought to change Glasgow to a place in my mind where its nineteenth century brilliance had continued and burgeoned further. This confusion has led to me trying to understand my own tale as a children’s book based on an alternative history for Glasgow and a satire on some of the mistakes that society has made in the last century. Maybe I’ve fallen between a forest of stools, but it was immense fun to write.

The New Museum of Transport/Riverside Museum

The MOT is certainly an impressive sight, anchored at the confluence of the Kelvin and the Clyde on the site of the old Pointhouse Inn and Bowling Green. In a doff of the hat to the past, you can even catch the phoenix of the Govan Ferry to get to the Museum, though the single fare of £1.50 for an adult is certainly not redolent of yesteryear.

With the destruction of most of the buildings on the north bank of the Clyde, the Zaha Hadid design rules its section of the riverscape. If the mark of a good building is its visual distinctiveness, then the Riverside Museum is unlikely to be mistaken for any of Scotland’s other landmarks. However, the critical criterion for a museum is to show off its collection to maximum effect and utility and it is here where my optimism falters. Having been responsible for the Scottish Football Museum, I am all too aware of the core need to stick objects in cases so that visitors can peer at them. Therefore, though the placing of vintage cars ten metres up a wall may be a coup de theatre, it prevents me or anyone else from examining them.

The long term will prove the designers right or wrong, but I am always nervous when a museum’s display shouts so loudly that it deafens the story the institution is trying to tell. If the medium obscures the message, you need a new message.

The Scottish Catholic Observer

Sectarianism and Anti Irish Racism is an obsession with me. I only noticed it when I moved to Glasgow. Having been born in England, no-one cared that I was from an Irish family. Only when the Troubles (what a cracking example of litotes, kids) were at their height was there any real friction, if one excluded the pervasiveness of the Irish Joke. Hell, everyone who wasn’t a WASP was getting it tight in those days: why should we be left out?

So, when the Celtic sites noticed the piece by Kevin McKenna, I had a look and decided to put something up that I hope you will feel is possible. Most of it, without the introduction – is below.

“Currently I teach in a Catholic Secondary School – which is by far the best educational institution I have ever enjoyed the pleasure of working in. Having taught in C of E schools, non-denom, primary and secondary over the last thirty years, I know for a fact that Catholic schools are superior houses of education.

I admire and strongly support the moral drivers of the Catholic sector. In this I mean core values of respect for others and for oneself, understanding of a clear set of life goals and clear discipline which allows all to thrive. These ideals should be supported by all schools. They are ideals through which we can all attain long term personal fulfilment, even if we might debate in other fora, the existence of a supreme being.

On the subject of sectarianism: I despise this term, as it is used to lump bigots with innocents. The problem is one of anti Catholic and anti Irish bigotry. I have yet to meet an anti Protestant bigot – as I have yet to meet a Catholic who is concerned with any other religion. They are too busy getting on with their own lives. Until society takes on these facts, Catholic schools will still be subject to obtuse comments by those whose opinions are formed in the stygian gloom of total ignorance and stupidity.

Please don’t assume non Catholics are against you: I too can recognise an attempted cultural and religious pogrom when I see one.”

Ace McTastic and the Blackguard BeeBaw by Gedboy

The idea for Ace McTastic came to me one evening on the Bridge over the railway by the Tramway. In a flash I knew what I had to do. By a great piece of luck, my writing was helped by the SFA kicking me into touch in the February of 2004. This gave me the time to sit in the Tramway every afternoon for the best part of a year nursing one cup of coffee and typing away on my beloved MacBook. The story was quickly roughed out and a fitting denouement provided which would allow for the second and final part. The as yet unwritten ‘Ace McTastic Meets the Pugalizers’. I am immensely proud of my first born. Though I have gone back a hundred times to amend the grammar and improve the set pieces, I have never altered the core of the story.

The last years have been more prosaic. Six rejections, five years out to write and research ‘Played in Glasgow’ and now I have to do the MLitt without which I will be jobless and itinerant. I hope that someone will notice the book on Authonomy but if not I shall keep on going until my genius is accepted as a mundane fact.

You think I’m joking?