Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Stand!

 Dick Emery: Be assured of one thing
I will never cease with the obscure 70s TV references

Deep breath.

Quite a number of times during the indyref people would say things to me like "That'll be you standing for MP next" and the like and I would do that Dick Emery thing of pushing them away and saying "Ooh you are awful, but I like you" and thinking they were having a laugh.


But it kept on happening. And then it happened more seriously after the referendum, when folk weren't just saying it with a cheeky grin but with a "No, really"-face. Christian Allard MSP even said it in a speech in Holyrood to really make me jump. It took me a while to get why he said my name in conjunction with "green benches" and this was not just me mishearing his wonderfully strong and ace French accent. What have you started, Christian?

I couldn't kid myself on that folk were just being nice anymore, or indeed kidding me on. I had to start thinking about why folk were saying it to me. It seems that everyone else had the idea before I did.

So I went for vetting at the SNP Women's Conference along with 11 other INCREDIBLE women from all over Scotland who I would vote for myself if I could. I passed, even though I said in the interview "You know how Billy Connolly said that wanting to be a politician is the one thing that should barr you from being one. Well, I'm the nearest you'll get to that".

It wasn't until I got the email from SNP HQ that I realised that I was up for it. I saw it tiny on my phone and honed in on the phrase "I'm sorry". The sender was apologising for a later response than he intended, but my head thought he was about to say I hadn't passed. It was then that I realised how gutted I would have been in that case. That's when I decided I was doing it.

So now I'm up for selection as a SNP candidate in the Aberdeen City Seats. I couldn't decide which to go for as I campaigned with my Indy Quines across the city. It was too Sophie's Choice for me. I have connections to both and the simple thing is I was asked repeatedly to stand in both particularly by fellow campaigners. I have decided to let SNP members in both constituencies decide which, if any, they'd like me to fight for them.

So I've gone and done it. I've now managed to get nominated for both Aberdeen South and Aberdeen North. South is currently held by Anne Begg MP (Lab) who I debated with a lot during indyref. Aberdeen North is held by Frank Doran MP (you may know him as sexist fisheries comment man?) who is standing down. I am up for selection with a group of individuals who you would not believe how good they are. I couldn't choose (as you can see I have a problem with choosing). SNP is in fine fettle in this city. I'm pretty sure whoever the members choose, SNP have got a very good chance of gaining those seats.

I came home last night after receiving my nomination to be told that I am one of FOUR executive members of Women for Independence standing for SNP across the country. There may be more standing for other parties. This makes me feel so proud of us Indy Quines. Indy heroines Philippa Whitford, Natalie McGarry and Kate Higgins are all up for SNP selection in their constituencies. Wow. Wow. Wow. I actually felt like greetin' when I heard this.

Selection of candidates ends on 31st January. Then I'll know if I'm the one standing or one of the many campaigning their butts off for the one standing. Happy to be either.

Onwards!

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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

10 Things I Liked About Gordon

Gordon Brown
I quite liked him once


You may be surprised to hear I once liked Gordon Brown. Yes, this vile separatist, despite sending her vile separatist father into a apoplectic fury every time she defended him, would often state publicly that she thought he was a good guy. In fact, since he's announced he's quitting politics I'll do a bit of  a confessional and come clean as to what it was I liked about him.........Swiftly followed by why I'm nae that keen any more.

1. I liked it when I read that Gordon Brown told a journalist his favourite band was Big Star. I didn't like it when asked the same question years later as PM he pretended it was the Arctic Monkeys in a mawkish attempt to appear down with the kids.

                                                       Big Star- way cooler
(Seriously Spotify "Thirteen" It'll be your new favourite song)


2. I liked the fact that Gordon wasn't Tony Blair. I disliked it when we found out he was worse than Tony Blair. However both have great natural smiles that aren't at all terrifying.



3. I liked it when Gordon said that he would "learn the lessons" from the mistakes made in Iraq and hold an inquiry. I didn't like it when he vetoed the release of the government documents to the Chilcott inquiry that might actually hold the truth when scrutinised, rendering the inquiry an expensive impotent and useless exercise that would not result in folk going to jail.

4. I liked it when Gordon would give a bit of extra money to parents like me in the budget. I disliked it when I found out that he was only able to do this as he was raiding from our pension pot and selling the country's gold reserves and deregulating the banks who would later steal a lot of our money but not go to chokey and grind our economy to its knees meaning loads of us would find it hard to make ends meet for many years, and possibly many more to come.

5. I liked that Gordon never used his kids to make him look more human and shielded them from press attention unlike others. I dislike the fact that he doesn't represent heaps of his constituents' kids by hardly ever turning up in parliament to vote against things like the bedroom tax which directly affects the level of child poverty in this country.

6. I liked it when Gordon Brown said as chancellor that he would never take over as Prime Minister and govern without a mandate from the people and would hold a General Election as soon as he took over from Tony Blair. I disliked it when he did the opposite and sat unelected as Prime Minster for 3 years too feart to actually fight for the right to be where he was and give the people a choice.                                          

 You didn't vote for this scenario
(Twice)

7. I liked it when Gordon called that bigoted woman a "bigoted woman" because she was a bigoted woman. I didn't like it when he didn't stand by those comments and stand up to the right wing media organisations who recorded him saying it and instead legitimised bigoted comments by bigoted women who should be ashamed of their outrageous racism and called out for what they are.
                       
                                                                                    Gillian Duffy the Bigoted Woman
                                                     Bringing down the good name of  nice Gillians everywhere


8. I liked it when Gordon said ridiculous things about how if we voted for something on a ballot paper that meant that we'd get the thing that his party fought not to have on a ballot paper, that we'd get that thing that wasn't on a ballot paper GUARANTEED as, in my head, this made the Yes vote even more likely because folks' heid's don't generally zip up the back. I disliked it when folk actually believed his nonsense because it was in  crappy newspaper that hasn't been decent since Angus Og was in the cartoon pages and then voted No and we all got next to nothing and David Cameron laughed at us all with his pals.

 Angus Og
(You maybe have to be a seventies kid for this one)


9. I liked it when Gordon Brown said he was quitting politics. I disliked it that both he and the unionist media used his announcement to make it look that the promise of that thing that wasn't on the ballot paper was "fulfilled". Which it most certainly is not.











               
Awarded Newspaper Front Page of the Year
-by the people who publish the Daily Record
(No, really -check here if you don't believe me)

10. I like it that Gordon is going at last. I don't like it that he's not really going as he'll probably just end up in the House of Lords unelected with all his other pals that are too feart to fight to represent the people of Scotland, so will just do it without a mandate anyway.He's got previous in that department any way, so he'll be fine. We'll not hear from him for years. But you watch- there he'll be at #indyref2 with the rest of the dinosaurs.


 Image courtesy of Greg Moodie
(He's in The National, you know. Buy it and keep him off the streets)
 


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Thursday, 27 November 2014

The High Road

 You might be wondering why in today's published recommendations from the Smith Commission there's a bizarre wee offer of us getting to do our own roadsigns. Like many people you've scratched your head and gone back onto the internet to find the published submissions of the organisations who put this issue forward in their submission. Can't find them? Yeah, that's because it was only me. Personally I'm delighted that one of my recommendations was taken on board. God knows, none of the others were.

You see I've been working on a personal project to put signs up that will adequately reflect the Scottish landscape as it will stand in future years. Now, I know they have to go through the Commons and all that, but it seems only fair to give readers of the Misssives a fly peek at my blueprint. I hope you'll agree they adequately reflect some of the hazards we face. If not now, soon.

 Attention! Auld fowks having to walk to their work

Suicidal thoughts

Career politicians 
checking which way wind blowing


Caution! TTIP


Caution! You may be told 
to get over it and give up


Hazard! Eternal Pointlessness


Caution! Those responsible leaving to avoid responsibility


Caution! Mainstream Media


Hazard! Lairds avoiding taxes on their hunting lodges
Danger! EU citizen mass emigration

Danger: Continuing Child poverty


Caution: Biased Media


Bumpy Road Ahead


Warning: Right Wing Tendencies 


Daily Record Sold Here


Warning: Erosion of Social Justice



Caution Westminster: Number of SNP MPs expected




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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Watch Out

 Aberdeen Townhouse 
(print by Willie Rodger)


It's easy to feel powerless now that we handed our sovereignty back after "holding it in our hands" for a day, in the words of Jim Sillars. I certainly felt that way at first, but it didn't last long. In fact it probably lasted about 72 hours in total in my case.

What empowers us now is our activism. In Aberdeen two key indyref groups continue to be very active. One is the one I head up, The Indy Quines (or to give us our official title Women for Independence, Aberdeen) and the other is our local RIC. The Yes campaign, although no longer called that, have dispersed into various new set ups. Last week I visited our new Common Weal group, who had an agenda so long it would have comfortably fitted on a roll of wallpaper. Aye, cool wallpaper, none of yer woodchip or flock, mind. If they manage to do even a fraction of what they are discussing, it'll be impressive and empowering stuff. They are only a month old and there's a healthy contingent already getting stuck into community council meetings for one thing, with bigger plans afoot.

The period we are in is tricky. Only two months ago we had one goal. Now we missed it (that's the football analogies over, relax), we seem to have hundreds of campaigns on our hands. Too many to tackle at once (OK, I lied). However in Aberdeen we have a real and pressing problem and that is the cavalier behaviour of our (narrowly) Labour run city council. One of the many problems with the administration is their Finance Convener, a man called Willie Young. For all intents and purposes Mr Young acts like he is Council Leader although he is careful to keep the responsibility of that position at arms length. However,he happily acts as spokesperson at any opportunity and seems to see himself as some kind of kingmaker. Indeed, it was Mr Young who waited until his colleague, and former council leader, Barney Crockett, was on council business in Houston (that's the one in Texas, not the one in Renfrewshire) until he staged a coup and had him replaced. Even the docile and largely unquestioning local press lead with the headline "Et Tu Willie".

During the referendum for independence Mr Young spearheaded the decision to include a paragraph stating the council's belief that Scotland should remain in the UK in the council tax letters. Yes, you read right- in the COUNCIL TAX bills sent out to every household. At the time a great deal of us wrote letters of complaint but our local Radical Independence group went one step further and organised a campaign to have them investigated by the Public Standards Commission. You can read RIC organiser and my friend Myshele Haywood's full account of their campaign here.

I am delighted to say the complaints have prompted a Public Standards Commission investigation.  It is imminent. The report below came out in the Evening Express on Saturday just as Myshele was preparing to give a speech mentioning it to 3000 people at the RIC Convention in Glasgow. Empowering stuff, eh?

 Willie Young is the one in the middle 
who looks like Mayor Adam West
(Click to enlarge)

Similarly, Women for Independence were quick off the mark in drawing attention to another misuse of power by the same administration. Only weeks after thousands of previously disenfranchised voters put themselves back on the electoral roll (again thanks in no small part to the efforts of our local RIC), the council announces a move to claim POLL TAX arrears using the new double sized register. We immediately wrote to the Herald and were quoted on the front page condemning the decision. The decision was overturned by the end of the week- OK Mr Salmond waded in too- but we're not going to quibble over who had what idea first. (My full letter is here)

Now we are waiting to hear what the Smith Commission comes up with in terms of extra powers for Scotland. The Indy Quines spearheaded a training and letter campaign which saw hundreds of Aberdeen and shire citizens, who otherwise might not have managed, to send full and comprehensive submissions in. We blogged about it, we had public discussion sessions, we had stalls with quines and stamps and envelopes, we got organised. We'll do the same again if they fall short of our expectations, or the local council gets up to any more jiggery pokery.

One thing is clear, having had our eyes opened to the machinations of local politicians, we are very reluctant to let them away with anything at the expense of the public who rely on them to run their city. It was one thing to see them allow Better Together to stash their leaflets and stall in the Town House until the next Saturday when the rest of us had to give our cars and spare rooms over to campaign materials (we know this because we followed them one day), it's another to see them ride roughshod over democracy with gay abandon.

Be warned, Aberdeen is active.


As I suspect everywhere else is too.


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Monday, 24 November 2014

I Can't Believe I Forgot Cludgie!

One of the many things I've loved about this mad year is our increasing confidence as a group of folks. I use that term carefully. Notice I'm not using the term "proud Scot". The only time I heard this phrase used was when Better Together politicians were trying to prove that they identified with their country, which in most cases, the fact that they had to say it proved that they didn't, not really. When I feel pride, is generally to do with my family or friends when they've done something amazing, which they frequently do. I am not a proud Scot, though; I'm a confident Scot.

Confidence is more meaningful than pride. Pride in just merely existing is daft. Pride in achieving something, I'll give you, but in just BEING because of geographical accident. Nonsense. I have never felt more that the group to which I most associate myself, that is, people who want Scottish independence, are the most culturally confident they have ever been. One of the ways this manifested itself was in the use of our many Scottish words and phrases in our debates, our arts, our BADGES. "Aye We Can", "IndyQuines" etc...To unapologetically and confidently use your ain tongue is a mark of cultural confidence. It's no mistake that our most successful  and beloved writers use their local dialect or language. Hello, Mr Welsh. Let them subtitle you, if they dare!

I was asked by a friend to do a piece of art for her sister who lives in England and was feeling a bit left out with all the #indyref stuff. Prone to homesickness generally, she was looking on from afar and felt she was missing out on more than usual. So I decided to do her a map of words and phrases. I had loads of my favourite ones to stuff in there but I took to Twitter and asked for yours too. I spent most of the evening laughing as I put ink to paper. It's a wonder the letters are not a lot more shoogly.

Anyway, here is the result. And thanks to everyone who joined in. I haven't heard "Away and run up my humph" for decades. And a note to the folk who suggested "stauner", "Skitters" "sees a swatch o yer fannie" and "Nat king Cole"- maybe one day I'll do the filthy version, but for now, I'm keeping it family friendly....

You can buy a print of it here if you like it.







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Friday, 21 November 2014

Orange

 Katy Docherty
The Scottish Sun



Dear Katy

I sit here writing this to you mindful of a few things which I feel I must come clean about before I tell you my news. I am wearing no makeup therefore I shall stay indoors for fear of being ridiculed. I have painted toenails but a couple of them are badly chipped possibly risking this post from having the effect it otherwise could have. I am four weeks away from having had my highlights done and a thin line of regrowth is in danger of threatening my ability to be taken seriously. Teeth-wise, despite having had a brace at the age of forty I've still got a slight snaggletooth problem which may lead some people hearing me talk in public to have concerns over my ability to be there in the first place. Clotheswise, I'm not going to lie to you, I'm wearing jeans that I've had for over 10 years and tshirt that is a smidge too tight. Possibly too tight for a woman of forty-five to seriously get away with. And I've just had a quick look- I've got some armpit hair, which I suppose is exactly what you'd expect from a feminist, eh? My legs, yup, just looked, add grist to this particular mill. Please don't tell anyone, I've got a presentation to deliver next week and I'd rather folk didn't know in case it impacts on the content.

Despite these obvious disadvantages I have managed to get through my professional week. On Monday, I hosted an extremely successful and well attended new members meeting for Women for Independence. We've increased branch membership by over 200 since the referendum. Thank goodness no one noticed that I hadn't Jolene bleached my upper lip or it would have been a disaster. 

Then on Tuesday I delivered two corporate videos to clients. They seemed happy with the results, so they can't have noticed that I hadn't blended my foundation particularly well and underneath my outfit I  was wearing big comfy pants.

Then on Wednesday I taught my students how to do live studio directing. I'm one of those learn by doing practitioners very much following the experiential learning approach as written about by Kolb and Dewey rather than a more didactic approach that did me no favours at university. It went pretty well and the students went away with a whole host of new skills. No thanks to my lack of eyeliner though, which thankfully none of them noticed or it could have been a vastly different outcome.

Then last night, I attended a meeting of the newly formed Common Weal in Aberdeen. I gave a short presentation on how the mainstream media are failing us and suggested a few routes locally to having a more progressive and representative local, citizen led new media where the rule book could be rewritten and people could feel that they are represented in a more empowering way. However, after the meeting I went home and found that I had a small snag on my tights which everyone must have seen and I now worry that everything I said could be for naught.

Still, enough about me. How was your week. I see you got quite a big piece published in the Scottish Sun about the fact that Scotland has their first ever female First Minister, making her one of under ten in the world. Quite an achievement for both you and her eh?




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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Trouble with Bob




 Bob about to say f**k on telly probably
like a normal person


Better writers than I have written about their uneasiness with Bob Geldof and the "new" Band Aid single today so I'm not going to give chapter and verse on my range of reasons. But I too won't be buying it, preferring instead to give money when I can afford to charities run by ordinary people working hard with local people to mitigate disaster and poverty, not publicity vehicles for celebrities. I mean, it's not as if we didn't know about the Ebola crisis until we heard the curly one from One Direction singing about "them" not knowing nothing about our winter holidays. I have the same problem with Comic Relief and Children in Need, especially when I read that Jonathan Ross admitted for many years he never put his own hand in his pocket while he was the presenter or Terry Wogan commands a substantial fee whilst everyone else works for free. Being invited to perform on the Band Aid single is like the world acknowledging that you are the chosen ones, rather than any selfless act of charity. Right now Cheryl Cole is probably bloody raging she wasn't included, signifying her star in the descendant. The warm fuzzy feeling they get performing is less about doing good and more about the fact they got the call in the first place. Good on Adele for not picking up and just quietly giving some money to Oxfam without a fuss.


I have other niggles. Loads of them in fact, to do with the fact that charity picks up the slack of bad government and no-one makes as big a deal about the bad government. Tax payers being asked to give more money when their tax should be keeping child poverty in check, whilst tax dodgers do neither. We all know the statistics on which sections of society give the most; it's the ones with the least money. 

The other niggle is Geldof himself. My family have had two slight brushes with Geldof and both speak volumes about the man's character, I think. The first was my mum who observed him using his celebrity to try and cadge a free coffee in a cafe in London, and the second was my husband who, with a friend, was the support act for Bob Geldof at Aberdeen's Lemon Tree many years ago. Meester M was a Geldof fan, not so much of his music but of the man himself. He had read his autobiography and was impressed and excited to meet him, not least because he was doing a project on humanitarianism with a class of his at school. Let's face it, he wanted his pic taken with him for the classroom wall frieze. "Here's me with 'Saint' Bob, kids!"

On arrival at the venue he was to be disappointed. Geldof's management had made the venue sign an agreement that nobody was to approach him. "But I'm on the same bill. Surely he'll be ok about meeting the support act", Mr M said. But no, the contract was clear; any approaches by anyone out-with his own entourage could and would result in him pulling the gig. Seriously. Personally that would have been it for me. I'd have walked away, played my set, possibly trying out an impromptu song called "Bob's an Ass"  and then left with my fee in my pocket before Bob's minder could kick my butt for me.

Mr M wouldn't let it lie though and played the teacher card. He got a message to his management saying that he'd like a photo with him for the project he was doing at school- he possibly over-egged it a bit and said the whole project was about Live Aid or simply a big old celebration of El Geldof himself. Anyway, whatever he said worked and after the gig he got his photo. I wish I could say I have a copy but it's been lost. But I remember it clearly. There's Bob with his arm around Mr M like they were big mates; for all to see an image of bonhomie and Bob being a "good guy". Yet know this, Sir Bob did not once look at or exchange one word with Mr M. The moment was over in seconds before Bob sloped off.

Never meet your heroes they say. Still at least everyone seems to have forgotten that my husband's band also once supported Rolf Harris.....


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