WHERE WILL IT ALL LEAD?

With all that’s been going on, and very publicly, here and abroad, I have been at a loss to know what to think.  If I feel disempowered, how on earth must millions of other people feel.

Those that can, have grouped up and made their feelings known in public places around the world, often at personal cost to themselves. The amount of courage and positive human energy there is to care, is truly amazing.

I am not qualified to speak of what the security services at all levels do, or, what they do not do.  Like most people, I only know what morsels are given for public consumption. I am extraordinarily grateful to have been able to live a life that has been mostly safe and away from major conflicts. There are so many who cannot say this.  Every day we hear heart-rending stories, many of which are streamed into our visual consciousness to our homes. It does make us face the reality of the suffering that has been and is being endured.

With the current ruptures, of a type generally unknown to many of us in our lifetimes, our own comfort blankets are disappearing at speed.  The peace in Europe of the last seventy plus years is politically in the balance and it is also affected by major influences from other continents. There is a serious ramping up of aggressive rhetoric.  Where will it all lead?

 

THERE IS NEWS FOR YOU

Government spokespersons, or is it a lone person, whoever it is/they are, they/it remain/s nameless, nameless, publicly contradicting the tide of feeling that there is in Scotland following areas in England and Wales to vote for Brexit. …….No there’s no appetite in Scotland for another independence referendum vote…….then, sometimes adding, there are no grounds to pursue it, Scots do not want it…… Well now, to paraphrase…have the Scots got news for you!

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The Westminster Government, (now there is one) believe having spokespeople talking up the impossible will arrive at what they want as the possible.  The Scots are not that easily swayed. They’ve been duped once in 2014, by Westminster Government promises that were turned on their head the day after the Independence Referendum result.

ky-At-Dusk-2

 

To many who voted to stay in the Union, The Union was a complete package with membership of the EEC. I have not yet met one person on my Scottish travels who wants to be part of Brexit.  Sure, there was a small percentage in Scotland that did vote for Brexit on the 23rd June 2016,  I have not met any of them, or, anyone who admits to it.  There are individuals who the media find to provide alternative pop vox.

For the record, what I do hear is that people who sincerely voted to stay in The Union last time, would now vote for Scottish Independence.

My ongoing unscientific sample supports the Scottish resounding YES  vote to EEC membership. There are a number of sound reasons for this sentiment, the biggest one that is voiced, is that the EEC has been instrumental in maintaining peace between the European nations.

 Concert Hall Approach London UK

If, or when Scotland becomes independent from England, there could be a very rocky time, but then, we are only just  beginning to see the reality of where Brexiteers are taking the UK;  uncharted waters to rockier times on a much bigger scale.

Glorious Pineapple Head

Eucomis – Glorious Blooming Pineapple Head

 

 

 

 

POWERFUL WORDS

Some of you from BCUK may remember Guinevere Glasford-Brown. Since those blog days, she has become a published author and got a Best Book review from The Times Literary Reviews as well.  Last week I heard she was in Brussels.  Also, last week, I heard she was safe.  I breathed again.  Atrocities are painful to hear about, and heaven only knows, we have heard about so many; too many. When you know of someone who may be caught up in an atrocity you are seized by an indescribable, awful sensation, which, muscles you did not know you had, hold down.  Guin was fortunate in her travels, others were not.  Since arriving home, she has written about some of her post trauma feelings on her Facebook Page, to get her feelings out.  Her words talk of her irritation with  family, they indicate her anger and emotional pain at what has been done to people….to people by people. Her words are powerful.

What Guin says applies to all the atrocities we hear of, be they of large groups or individuals, such as the Moslem shop-keeper in Glasgow who was murdered because he wished his customers and Christian friends a happy festival.

It is so sad, so sad.

 

THOUGHTS ON THE BRITISH RESPONSE TO THE REFUGEE CRISIS.

Apart from a rumble of disgust at the British Government’s response to the refugee crisis, I have not heard much discussion about the U.K’s sorting criteria for ‘acceptable’ refugees.  Britain is not open to refugees on the move, irrespective of the reasons why.  What we hear, is that any refugees that Britain accepts will have to be in the official camps  They will include the most vulnerable, (whatever that means) and likely, orphan children.  Alarmist voices quickly channeled all the resources arguments against giving refuge to unaccompanied children. The same arguments have been raised in respect of the trickle of ‘acceptable’ refugees over five years that Britain may give refuge too, 4000 per year.  In this instance the Westminster Government response was to offer time-limited assistance in areas where any refugees may be settled.

Funding the needs of extra people is a consideration, it has to be.  While that discussion is being resolved both domestically and internationally, it is worth remembering history shows that  previous waves of refugees who arrived in Britain have and still do substantially contribute to the wealth of this country.

Britain has not been mean with aid on the ground, far from it.  A major slice of basic aid in forming the camps, in particular, in Lebanon, has been given through the generosity of the British people.   But, not all refugees are in camps, there are a large number eking out an existence in  sub-standard conditions in countries like Jordan.  That said, their need to  be fed is no different from the refugees in the other camps.   Like many  in camps, (including camps in Turkey) they are now being forced to move on because the United Nations (U.N) which has been supporting these camps with food aid, has run out of money for food aid for  the refugees. The U.N has been reliant on international financial donations to support vast numbers of people with food.  Starkly put, the refugees, whether in camps or shacks, can no longer be fed.  Their choices for survival – the basic human instinct – are limited to moving on, to attempt to survive.  Life becomes a lottery. In trying to survive many die.

Communities around the U.K have spontaneously been taking practical steps; there have been collections of warm clothing for people stuck at Calais and other ports, who have arrived  at these places wearing their sandals and lightweight clothing, none of which is suitable for surviving Northern European Winters. In Vienna,  clothing donated from many sources  is given to the refugees as they arrive in the city. I expect the same scenario will have been enacted throughout other refugee arrival points, where refugees are being treated  with dignity.  Sad to say, treating the refugees with dignity  is not universal.

I was appalled to hear the rhetoric of Fascism by the Hungarian Government and from other Eastern European States. The Balkan Wars and the Hungarian uprising against Russian suppression  are all still within living memory.  They created refugees who were desperate for help.  Some of my faith in humanity was restored when I saw and heard the reports of the Hungarian people individually helping refugees, irrespective of their Government’s distasteful stance.

The UK has no need to swell its population with young and intelligent people from elsewhere to support an ageing population as much as some of our neighbour countries do, (like France and Germany, for example).   So, to minimise our responsibility to what the world has now accepted is a true refugee crisis, (as opposed to economic migrants) from Africa and the Middle East,  this is what the British Government says it is going to do over five years.  Britain will consider taking  a total of 20,000 ‘acceptable’ Refugees, (4000 per year) who are in official refugee camps.  Perhaps, from those selected  there will be orphan children.  You are definitely not going to be offered refuge in the U.K if you are a refugee with the many thousands on the move,  who are  risking life and limb to survive.

 

 

A SCOTTISH ENGINEER’S VIEW ON THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM

Hi Folks,

I’m not vastly politically motivated, but being of an engineering background/profession I tend to see/prefer things in black and white. Deal with/anticipate things based on factual information and act on it accordingly etc.

Now, I’m all for independence, the only slight snag is that the “Yes” camp has no formal, factual, researched/detailed solution to address:

Monetary/funding of an independent currency;
Pensions, Healthcare, Welfare.
Defence, Nuclear Decommissioning, Nuclear Assets in general.
Ownership/division of North Sea Oil/Gas.
Potential loss of Jobs in sectors where confidence is being lost by outside investors.
Border Control, Immigration.
Postal Services, Communications services, etc.

If they [the “yes” camp] were to go and spend say 3-5 years on a full Option/Scoping mission, getting the appropriate buy-in and support and producing a real and viable package, then I would be motivated to consider/vote towards it.

Until then I see no reason to vote towards breaking a working,(reasonably harmonious)Union. A clear-cut vote to give license to consider the options/produce a reasonable package in the first instance would have been far better. As it is, there are a large cross section of the people who are taking it for read that if it is a yes vote we shall be splitting up.

In any event the country shall not be the same again; this cause has created endless debate, division and resentment to some. I hope whatever the outcome we can,(especially the more militant in each camp),live happily and work through any resultant policy changes that will no doubt occur.
Thursday will be interesting, as will the aftermath, times they are a-changin……

Alec.
Reproduced in its entirety with the permission of the writer.

A MOMENTOUS VOTE – THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM

There will be a momentous decision being made in Scotland on Thursday 18th April 2014, whether to become independent of England or stay within the union.

I received a phone call from an official referendum polling organisation last Saturday,(13th September) the first ever such call I have received.  Was I a random number being called- I shall never know. The caller did not get my salespersons treatment, he was too polite and did ask if it was a good time to call for answering a few questions. End of story…It was not a good time to call.

Votes will be placed, I believe, mainly with heart or head.  Some people will vote with both. We have had only one Member Of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) give our remote area the time of day, a socialist who supports the ongoing union of Scotland.   I note that The First Minister  Alec Salmond says he and his party have covered every area in Scotland. He should define what that means! Even the sitting Scottish Nationalist Party member, (SNP) has not ventured to arrange any local meetings.  Is that confidence because he was voted in as an MSP last time, or is there something else going on?

On the other hand, those who represent staying in the union, (‘No’  to independence)  have not tried to kid anyone that they have travelled far and wide in number to promote their cause. (One of their number has genuinely tried to).  How do you interpret this?

The ‘Yes’ campaign has been vigorous.  Its momentum has excited a lot of people. Throughout, the independence campaign has had the advantage of being blessed with a positive sounding ‘Yes’.  The ‘No’ campaign has been very slow to react and speed up, they have been  seen as lazy;  the pro-union campaign has been disadvantaged throughout with the negative sounding ‘No’. They have been struggling to find a way to make their message vibrant.

Scottish Police have begun patrolling armed, without any public debate or agreement to it. There has been an attempt to slip this through under the cover of the Independence Referendum.  The Minister For Justice tried to fob off public protest, saying it is solely a police matter: it is not.  The SNP Minister has responsibility for police and policing matters.  After local government and public protests, reports are being called for. The reporting organisations do not sound like bodies independent from the Police they will be reporting on.

Questions: why is the Scottish Government arming police? what are they intending?

All sides have indulged in disingenuity to suit their causes, some apparently more than others; the SNP were caught out very early on in this long campaign.  As a cynic, I have to sadly admit that is the way of politics. One of the prerequisites of being a politician anywhere, is being able to look someone in the eye, appear to be sincere while acting out the events of The Ides Of March. That said, it is fundamental to ongoing well-being in Scottish politics and in Scottish community life that there is respect on all sides whatever the outcome of the vote.

There are many unanswerable questions for which, political imagination has been required to field them. There are answerable questions which have been either glossed over, dismissed as scare-mongering, or side-stepped. Time scales for change, if it is a ‘yes’ vote, are, in my view over-optimistic. Is the Scottish government canny enough and strong enough to handle experienced, tough and clever negotiators in or from London, because there is no doubt,they will be wheeled out.  A similar question can be asked if there is a ‘No’ vote.  After the Edinburgh Tram contracts debacle, I wonder.

If it is a vote to keep the union, a great deal of trust will have been handed to Westminster, which on past form has been totally untrustworthy. Will this and future Westminster Governments honour what they have promised,  the equivalent of Devo Max which, if you remember, was not allowed to be an option to vote for? (Maximum Devolution for which there is no given definition).  Will they honour the tenets of the Edinburgh agreement which agreed the upcoming Referendum?  I believe, a great deal of redefining and fiddling of definitions, is likely to occur. I would like to be proved wrong.  A close vote should and ought to focus ruling classes both in London and Scotland.

WOMEN BISHOPS …SURELY NOT!

Yesterday, Sunday 13th July 2014, the current Archbishop Of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was very sanguine in a television interview that this time he was confident that the Church Of England, (C of E) would approve the creation of women Bishops in their Synod on the morrow, Monday 14th July 2014.  Oh, and he kind of hoped, (with a big wide actor’s soppy smile) that he would see a female Archbishop in his lifetime. With the ‘modern’ dynamics  of the male clergy,  (and a few women members)  relating to the  promotion of women to relatively senior management in the C Of E, I can understand why the Archbishop reacted as he did.  Who would openly admit in an important television programme, or, in any public forum  that the odds for that happening, were weak. It would be a totally undiplomatic admission, which could lead to all sorts of uncontrolled internecine developments.

Welby is a supporter of women’s progression in his church family. The man has inherited and is working with, what has been for others, a poisoned chalice.  Welby knows the subject is a potential minefield, which, to his credit, in the short time he has been top dog in the kennel, he has tackled and which, for now, he has managed to put under wraps.

Today, Monday 14th July 2014, it was announced, as Welby expected, that the C Of E has agreed to the ordination of women Bishops.  As I am not conversant with the C Of E politics in any depth, I am not sure how Archbishop Welby has  managed to reverse the narrow negative vote achieved two years ago in Synod on this same subject.  Is the achievement as historic for the C of E as it sounds?  There are bound to be terms and conditions – what might you call them…compromises -to placate the patriarchy.  It is tempting to get onto a feminine, (not feminist) soap box about glass ceilings, about the beneficial role of women in our society not being adequately represented in many areas of life and in general, in the echelons of faiths in the world.  To paraphrase… “One small step for women, that’s one giant leap forward for womankind…

MANY KIDS ON BOTH SIDES HAVE PAID THE PRICE

Whoever kidnapped the three Israeli teenagers in Hebron and murdered them had every intention of setting off a ‘perfect storm,’ whatever the repercussions. The kidnappers appear to have coldly calculated that it was worth it, to foment trouble on a grand scale. Irrespective of the awfulness of what had happened, the spokesman for the family, an uncle, was supremely considered in his pleas for no more killings. To paraphrase him, he believed no religion tells you to murder in its name. How I and countless others wish his words had been heard and abided by.

However, repercussions there have been. During protests against Israeli authority in Gaza, a boy, Muhammad Durin was killed.

Following the murder of the three Israeli boys, an Arab boy, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was abducted and murdered in what appears to be a reprisal action. Repercussions upon repercussion continue as I write this post. Israeli politicians have denounced the reprisal attack as strongly as they denounced the original three murders that set off the train of events. As if there was was not enough grief, Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s cousin was detained by the police and sported the physical signs of it.

It has been announced by the Israeli police that there have been several arrests of Israeli citizens in connection with the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir; the conundrum remains that no-one has been detained for the murder of the three Israeli boys.

The foment has been stirred into violence from the ground up, just as had been intended by the attack on and killings of the three Israeli teenagers.

An Israeli friend posted the following, after the discovery of the the bodies of the Israeli teenagers and before the abduction and murder of the Arab boy.

“Many other kids from both sides have paid the price of ancestral crimes and I really hope that they and the boy Muhammad Durin that was killed in a protest last week are the last in a very long list of unnecessary victims…”

This says everything I want to say, more eloquently than I could say it. I wish it had been the last word on the awful killings; I fervently wish it will be.

THE CHILDREN -THE ARCHBISHOP

Justin Welby, Archbishop Of Canterbury, appears to be a more publicly outspoken priest for the oppressed masses than his recent predecessors seemed to be. I do not want to be a spoiler, but, I do wonder just what affects his words would have, uttered as they are, in these British Isles, far, far, away from the awful trouble spots that are exercising many of us. He rightly points out that the focus of destruction is not just on Christian communities, though, it is those which have come into our focus because the Christian religious group has appeared to be singled out for now, and has been suffering dreadfully. The Archbishop described the dead as Christian Martyrs. Justin Welby’s summary of the politics is interesting, as is his choice of language.

The Middle East is complex, it is a melting pot for which no single answer will do. As if to illustrate this. I heard the following report.

A report on BBC radio this morning highlighted the plight and fortitude of the Syrian refugee children, who, from the age of 4 years old, are taken by open lorries to work on farms, harvesting whatever is in the fields. Their work is unprotected and supervised by an overseer. Supervision consists of threatening to dock earnings if they do not fulfill their quotas of work. I do not know who sets those. When the children return to the camps they are given some schooling. The refugee community want their children to have some education, not to be totally disadvantaged and lost. It speaks volumes.

Saving the children is absolutely vital work. UNICEF are constantly fund raising to do more work to help them.