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Scottish Independence March

Yesterday I attended a march organised by the campaign for a Yes vote in next years Scottish Independence referendum.

It was held in Edinburgh, an they marched from the High Street to Calton Hill.

Seemed like a decent turnout, it took over an hour for the marchers to pass me.

Patrick Harvie and Nicola Sturgeon

Patrick Harvie and Nicola Sturgeon

Cute kid pic, it's compulsory!

Cute kid pic, it’s compulsory!

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Is it just me that finds masked folk menacing?

Is it just me that finds masked folk menacing?

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Patrick Harvie, Green Party Leader

Patrick Harvie, Green Party Leader

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Aamer Anwar

Aamer Anwar

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The Aftermath

In just over a year Scotland will hold a referendum about whether or not Scotland should become an Independent country, leaving its 300 year old union with the rest of the United Kingdom.

I should state at the outset that I am pro union and will be voting no in the referendum. But this piece is not about the pros and cons of independence, it’s about what comes after the vote.

Nobody knows what the outcome of the vote will be, but the one thing we do know is that all those who do vote either Yes or No will still be living together in Scotland the morning after.

We will have went through 2 years of increasingly bitter divisive campaigning with both sides making decisions based, at least in part, on winning this vote. I do think this has been and will increasingly become a time when Scottish politics stands still, with people frightened to take any radical stances, or decisions for fear it costs them in the referendum.

So on day one after the vote it will become vital that all parties realise they have to put their differences to one side and work together for the common good of Scotland and its people.

Our present SNP lead administration will still be the party of Government, obviously should they win the day in the referendum they should find it easy to start implementing policies designed to really help Scotland improve, instead of the populist window dressing type of policy we have seen from them so far, Free prescriptions, 1000 extra police etc. Should the vote go the other way, I understand it will be difficult for them, but they need to accept that the people do not agree with their vision, they will still have a chance to become a true party of government and not one that is using it’s time in power for the sole purpose of winning the referendum.

Whatever the outcome it gives all parties the chance for a fresh start, let’s move away from the pettiness that we see each week at First Ministers Questions, and make our Parliament something that all Scots can be proud of.

Would it be too much to ask that we consider moving away from the party  politics we presently have and allow our representatives to listen to their electorate and not orders from central office.

So when the dust settles let’s hope our political leaders have the intelligence and ambition to seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to really make a difference.

This might just result in Scotland showing the rest of the UK how it’s done or failing that it might mean a majority of Scots decide they have a real basis to go their own way.

UK Peace Index

Latest results from the UK Peace Index, which is compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace, shows that violent crime in the UK is falling. An interesting point in the data is that these falls in crime are set against a back drop of a fall in Police Officer numbers, I’ve long thought that Police numbers have little impact on levels of crime and that other factors, like rising wages,  the way people spend their leisure time etc, have a much greater impact than boots on the street.

So with that in mind, here in Scotland our Government has bucked the trend set by the Westminster Government and has actually increased the numbers of Constables, the much vaunted “Thousand extra police” so why has First Minister Salmond done this?

The cynics among us might say, it’s another populist policy from the SNP designed to capture Yes votes in the upcoming Referendum, an to be honest I’d have to say that’s the camp I fall into, more cash being spent unwisely on policies that sound great but actually achieve little.

The new Police Scotland has just come into being, one of the reasons for this happening was a wish to be more efficient and save money , this is being partly achieved by cutting civilian posts, sadly this is causing higher paid Constables having to back fill some of these posts, hardly a good use of resources, but another example of the actual number of Police on the street having little correlation with crime levels.

So just think what might be achieved with regard crime levels if the money spent on extra constables wages was spent more wisely, it’s not as sexy saying you’ve spent the cash on better technology, improving working practices, or even more radical, not spending it on the Police at all and putting the cash into education or youth job creation, but a forward thinking radical government who were not focused on a date in 2014 might just be able to grasp that.

Brave

Sometimes I think we hand out the label of ” What a Brave person” to easily, but I don’t think anyone could question it’s use with regard to Malala Yousafzai, this young lady was recently the subject of a assassination attempt by the Taliban in Pakistan, her crime, demanding the right for females to be educated.She is 14!

Now I’m not going to argue the rights and wrongs of western involvement in that area of the world, but how can any right thinking person support the people who carried out this horrendous act against a child?

We in the west take access to education for granted, but obviously for some it’s a matter of life and death, what makes Malala’s story even more amazing is the fact that senior politicians in Pakistan are not prepared to take the stand she has.

I don’t have many hero’s, but I think it’s safe to say Malala Yousafzai has joined that list.

A link to one of the articles about Malala, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19899540

#Gategate

Yes the big news this weekend in the UK is that an ex public school boy thinks he’s a cut above the rest of us, shock horror!!

I refer of course to the Governments Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell and his alleged comments towards Downing street police officers when they refused to open a gate for him.

It must really stick in his throat that he’s been forced to apologize for his actions, I mean imagine having to say sorry to a “pleb” ,but  as I said in the opening line does anyone have any doubts that our present government is full of gentleman like Mr Mitchell who think this way, they are a product of their upbringing. it’s just another example of how the class based society is still alive and well.

Another issue to arise from this, is how that odious publication the Sun has gained access to Police Reports on this matter. How has that happened, has nobody learned from Leveson?

Anyway, whilst the Islamic world decends into madness,over a film most have probably never seen, and people are losing their lives as a result, we in the UK will continue to focus on a non story, the arrogant posh boy has been made to grovel, personally I think that’s a great outcome.

Lets move on, though I suppose it’s a wee bit of a more interesting story than last weeks one about another member of the ruling elite and her breasts!

Oh, and I think the #gategate from twitter is great, it had to happen eventually 🙂

Ill Divided World

I was in Leicester  Square,  London trying to get all arty taking a picture of some railings , kneeling down, then I looked to my left and right next to me lying in the bushes, is a human being, how bad must things have got that this person chose this spot as their resting place for the night.

Poor shot of railings

Poor reflection on our society

Team GB

Got to say I’m enjoying the Olympics, Team GB are doing very well, it’s been fantastic TV.

Also a minor benefit of sport being the focus has been the lack of politics and politicians sticking their beaks in. From a Scottish perspective this is even better as it means I’ve not had to suffer the utterings of the Smug One, El Presidente Salmond!

Alex must be hating all this Britishness, Scots have featured and have done extremely well, Hoy, Grainger , to name but two, problem is they have won their medals along with sports persons from other countries which make up the wonderful union of nations that is Great Britain, just another example of why our union is a great thing well worth keeping.

Anyway enough of the cheap political points, back to the sport.

Come on Team GB 🙂

Extradition

An  alleged member of the Basque separatist organisation ETA was recently arrested in Edinburgh, seemingly this gentleman has been convicted in France and sentenced to Five years imprisonment.

Now what I find interesting about this case is the fact that the French and the Spanish, there were arrest warrants from both countries, have to apply to the Scottish courts to have this person extradited, why, as ourselves and France are members of the EU is this still the case. One of the benefits for EU citizens is freedom of movement between member countries, in fact do we not have the right to live and work in any of the EU member countries?

So why is it the criminals or suspected criminals can enter the UK with impunity but when another member state wants them back we have to go through an lengthy and no doubt expensive legal process?

I’m sure to join the EU, countries have to meet certain Human rights standards, so this is not a concern, surely if the French and Spanish have been granted a European arrest warrant that should suffice, I can see no good reason for wasting more time on money on this process.

I suppose it’s a good earner for the lawyers!

Sports

Watched some of the tennis from Wimbledon yesterday, so firstly can I say, well done Andy Murray and good luck for tomorrow.

I’m not a big tennis fan, but I can appreciate that the men and women playing in these big events are excellent at what they do. But why is it that they, like loads of top sports persons, are valued so highly and paid vast sums of cash?

I appreciate that I’ll never be as good at any sport as those that play at the top level, but that’s it, they are playing. It’s always seemed odd to me that we happily see footballers being paid vast sums of cash, never mind that their industry can’t afford it, but we are comfortable paying people in say the childcare profession, minimum wage. We hand over the thing most precious to us, to someone who is paid in a year less than loads of sportsman earn in a week, and we expect the highest levels of care.

I remember a discussion with friends a while back, we were talking about the local football team, soccer team for those who think football is played by giants in crash helmets, now this is a small side watched by at best 4 or 5 thousand folk, less these days, and one of my friends was shocked that some of the players only got paid 2K a week! Err time for a reality check I said, that’s 100K a year, average wage in the UK under 30K, I’d love to be paid 3 or 4 times the national average for playing a sport I’m supposed to love. Ah but it’s a short career, they said, well we are told these days that nobody has a job for life, but not many of us end up getting 100K during our first job, if ever.

Now I know that sports people entertain us and bring a lot of joy to folk, but I for one have become increasingly disillusioned with professional sport. I find the sums of money talked about obscene, an don’t get me started on DJ’s and TV presenters!!

Sadly when cash becomes involved the quality may improve but the standards of sportsmanship drop, but that’s a whole other argument.

Anyway, as I said, Good luck Andy Murray

Another moan about litter

I posted this photograph the other day, I was quite proud of it, then I had another look at it and there bottom left a wee bit of blue poking out, yep its the curse of open spaces everywhere, the plastic carrier bag.

Seemingly the Scottish Government is going to have a consultation about a levy on this menace, never mind consultation, as Nike would say “Just do it”

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