Independence supporting mum, activist, campaigner, and surprisingly – a PhD Student. If you like what I write perhaps buy me a coffee? https://ko-fi.com/squidge142

Sleazy? So what! Big Deal!

So… what to write about today?

Oh my goodness there is so much going on at the moment that I don’t know where to start.

There is the apparently now £5 million in tax and penalties that Nadhim Zahawi has been charged by HMRC for what he describes as a “careless error”. Nope, this appears to be a deliberate attempt to avoid taxes and he has used solicitors to repeatedly threaten journalists with libel charges to shut them up.

Then there is Blagger Boris being helped by his pal Richard Sharp to secure an £800 000 loan whilst he was PM. Mr Sharp apparently helped source a guarantor for the loan and then was appointed as BBC Chairman. Nice bit of you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours there folks. No surprises, we have seen this again and again with these Tory Governments. Sleeze, sleeze, sleeze.

Next we have Rishi Sunak – the Prime Minister, fined by the police. Again. Not wearing a seatbelt was less of a crime than appointing him as Prime Minister if you ask me but hey ho.

These are all stories which highlight the type of people we have in government just now. They show a lack of respect for ethical behaviour. A belief that they are above the law, a “fuck you plebs” attitude that we have seen again and again. These three episodes in just one week would have seen previous Governments badly holed below the waterline and may even have sunk them but, my god, not these Teflon Tories.
They appear non-stick. In fact, one response to the reporting that Johnson, Richard Sharp and a multimillionaire Sam Blyth, (a potential guarantor)had dinner together at Chequers was “So What? Big deal”. There you go. No matter the stench, nothing to see here.

Aye … Right!

There are however worse stories. Stories that are so grim it’s hard to believe they are true. Stories which highlight the way that this hideous gargoyle government treats ordinary people and those most marginalised.

Today we have learnt that in their war against refugees and asylum seekers the Home Office has ignored the disappearance of 222 unaccompanied children, from home office approved accommodation. The Observer reports that children are being trafficked – picked up off the street outside the place they should be safe. One place in Kent was losing 10% of the children living there per week.

Asylum seekers, refugees are hated by our home office. The Home Secretary calls them a swarm, labels them a scourge, an invasion. In the same way as these other parasitic idiots (Johnson, Zahawi and Sunak) shrug off their immorality, their unethical behaviour, Braverman opens her mouth and dehumanises, denegrates snd despises people, men women and children with nothing. What matter if vulnerable children are lost to drugs, sex, violence and who knows what else. They are asylum seekers, no one cares.

And actually this attitude to asylum seekers is the same attitude we are seeing from those I have already mentioned. Zahawi, Johnson, Sharp, Sunak. It’s is the attitude that nothing and no one matters except by how they benefit them. Ordinary people don’t matter, the only thing that matters is how we make money from them. Exploiting their fears to allow us to do dodgy PPE deals that benefit us, whilst people die from covid. What larks!

NHS staff, Railway workers don’t matter as long as we can pay massive subsidies to rail operators and offer the NHS up to Private health insurers making people pay for appointments so profits can end up in the pockets of shareholders.

And the poor, and asylum seekers, disabled people, trans people and apparently unaccompanied children don’t matter at all. Except as the scroungers, the shirkers, the useless, the dangerous and the hopeless that serve as a vehicle for the hate, the fear, the blame that the Tories can whip up and that keeps them in office. The Government can ignore, insult, demean them and the English electorate cheer and vote Tory.

But not in Scotland we don’t. We haven’t elected a Conservative Majority since the 50s. And yet our hands are tied, our laws vetoed, our rights undermined, our budgets cut.

If the world that you want to live in is not the one which the Tories are designing; if the priorities you have are not putting money into the pockets of pirates and privateers, if you want something fairer, better, for our society, our country, our people, then independence is the only way to have any chance of getting that.

Without Independence we have no power over how we shape the society we want to be. Independence is the opportunity to do things differently. The chance to shape things the way WE want it, with our priorities. That does not exist if we remain as part of this union, because, to the likes of Zahawi, Braverman, Sunak, Johnson we are nothing.

So What? Big deal.

#YouYesYet. #IndyRef2

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Latest Westminster Shitshow

So … this week has already shown what a shitshow the UK is and it’s only Tuesday.

Living in Britain today is like thinking that you have seen the worst of everything and then watching something else come along and saying – here! Hold my coat!.

Having just spent two weeks in France in a country that just seems to work, everyone we met shook their heads and thought Britain was a car crash. The UK is heading further and further into the gutter and there appears little hope that things are going to get better soon as this gargoyle government tries everyday to outdo itself on the awfulness front.

Im actually starting to wonder if this is some macabre game of dare or some sort of joke.

This last week, we have seen the Government appoint a minister for internet safety, who was sacked from a previous ministerial role because of allegations of pornography on his parliamentary computer. And that’s actually the least worst thing.

In Dartmoor a Hedge fund manager bough a huge swathe of countryside and then set about denying people a right to spend time there, using his immense fortune to take the issue to court. Of course he won. Campaigners approached their MP only to find the MP has been funded by the Hedge Fund Manager.

It appears in the UK today that you can be jailed for benefit fraud, you can also be jailed for tax fraud unless it appears you are an ex Chancellor of the Exchequer who owed £3million when no one hardly says a thing and the papers ignore it and you remain a minister in His Majesty’s Government.

We also have a Home Secretary who stood up, actually stood up in front of a holocaust survivor who calmly explained the danger of the rhetoric she was using and refused to apologise, modify or consider the language she was using and in fact doubled down on the fascist crap we are beginning to see as normal from this government. The Government then demanded the video be removed from circulation.

There is, of course more – I could go on and on. And the lies! The lie by the Sec of State for Scotland who stood up in Parliament and said that Scotland doe not want to return to EU membership when we have repeatedly voted pro EU membership parties in, voted to remain and polls are putting support at 75%.

Rishi Sunak said on television the the NHS in Scotland is doing worse than NHS in England and that is not true. In fact it’s the other way around. They open their mouth and lie thinking we won’t notice but of course we do, and if you don’t then FFS READ something!

And finally yesterday, yesterday the UK government decided to use a Section 35 order to prevent the Scottish Government passing a Bill on Gender Reform.

This Bill is the most debated, most consulted Bill in the Scottish Parliament’s history. It has cross party support and it was passed before Christmas. Regardless of what Bill it is, it cannot be right that the UK Government prevents an elected Scottish Government from legislating within its competence.

What next? The Child Payment Bill? The taxation changes? Environmental legislation?

Make no mistake, this is just the start.

And what of Labour? Labour who’s MSPs introduced amendments and had them passed and incorporated into the Bill. Labour who voted for this legislation, worked hard to shape it into its current form, debated it long and hard? What of Labour indeed.

Despite the hard work of Labour MSPs Keir Starmer has been less than supportive of them. At weekend, in addition to idiotic and incoherent comments on the NHS that tell us that it’s as safe in Labour’s hands as it is in the Tories, he also said that he does not support the Bill, that he has concerns and is positioning himself to support this utterly appalling attack on democracy.

Anas Sarwar is so far silent.

This Bill has been a source of discomfort for many. I know that. I have found it difficult to write about it. I know it has been divisive – more so on Social Media than anywhere else and people that I know and trust have expressed concerns. Despite this Parliament debated and passed this legislation in a lawful and correct manner. It wasn’t rushed through as someone say – it took six years to come to a conclusion. The legislative process was followed and it was passed in the Scottish Parliament with a significant cross party majority.

The way however, that this Bill, that Trans people are being weaponised by the far right, supported now it appears, by a Government who is moving further and further to the right, should ring alarm bells with everyone. Along with plans to outlaw strikes, plans to curtail free speech, voter ID, this UK Government is taking us further and further down a road to isolation, inequality and persecution for the most marginalised people here.

If you think the Tories or Labour have any plans to stand up for you, for your family, for our NHS, for LGBTQI+, for disabled people, for migrants or refugees, for rural communities, for the environment, for the sort of economy, businesses that we want here, for Scotland then you are completely and utterly deluded.

The push from both parties to the right, the rhetoric, the policies of the far right, the politics of division – we see it with the strikers, with the poor, refugees, trans people – this push is about making the rich richer and fuck the rest of us.

None of that is what we voted for in Scotland. It’s time for Independence and it can’t come quickly enough.

#YouYesYet #Indyref2 #SupportTheStrikes #SaveOurNHS

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End of days?

So … the NHS.

We all know the NHS is struggling. If we are lucky, we know that through reading about it in the papers and online. If we aren’t so lucky we have first hand experience of being unable to see a GP, or of waiting for hours in A and E or tragically losing a loved one to the lack of ambulances or access to medical help at a crucial time. If that is your experience then I am truly sorry for your loss.

I absolutely revere the NHS. Like many of us, it has saved my life and the lives of my loved ones several times over. I’ve had five babies, several operations, spent time on ICU twice where I was at serious risk of death. I’ve made use of the air ambulance, my kids have had broken things mended, cut things stitched and concussions monitored. The NHS is actually the only Great thing in this increasingly appalling Great Britain.

And we are at serious risk of losing it. The idea is being punted around the right wing policy pushers is that the NHS is so broken that the only answer is to sell it off to private health insurers and let the pursuit of profit force it into efficiency.

The NHS is not broken, it is being deliberately underfunded and deliberately undermined by a profit driven bunch of right wing ideologues who don’t give a flying fuck about anything else other than the money in their own pockets.

Since the Conservatives came to power they have reduced spending on the NHS hugely. They have cut nursing training, they have reduced the number of doctors, they have massacred the pension schemes, cut hospital beds and services. They have, where they could get away with it hived off services to private companies. They have let the NHS deplete to the point that we have the lowest number of beds per head of population in Europe.

And now they are throwing their hands up in despair and saying “Look how crap this is”

Right across the UK, health services are struggling. In Scotland, we are doing better than every other health service in the UK, but it is still miles away from what we need it to be. And whilst we hear the opposition call for the head of the Scottish Health Secretary here, there is no similar call from the opposition in Westminster. And yet, In order to fix this the change has to come from Westminster in the first instance.

I know some of you will roll your eyes and say that the Scottish Government runs the Scottish NHS and of course you are right. The finding, however – like all our funding comes from WM. That’s not because we don’t have/ make/raise any or enough money in Scotland. It’s not because we are too poor to pay for it. It’s because all the money we raise bar a wee bit of Income tax goes to WM a d they give us some if it back.

This means that If WM cut the money they spend on the NHS in England then the money Scotland gets is cut too. If WM cut the money they spend on Dr’s training in England then the money for higher education in Scotland is cut too. If WM does not find money for nurses pay rises then Scotland does not get money for nurses pay rises. If WM pursues a hard Brexit and professionals leave for elsewhere, Scotland loses them too.

This is not rocket science folks, Scotland (like Wales and NI )- despite running our own NHS – is fundamentally at the mercy of the decisions made at WM.

That Scotland has the best performing NHS in the UK just now is because of the spending decisions the SNP have made to redirect funds from elsewhere, to have a more progressive tax system which allows us to top up health spending and, as with social security, mitigate the damage the Conservatives have done to the NHS over the years they have been in Government. Here we pay our nurses more, we make decisions to funnel extra money into the NHS, to try to support our front line services to negotiate with striking unions. And yet, without extra money from Westminster we cannot resolve strikes, without changes to the immigration policy in WM we can’t bring more workers in, without
Independence we will lose the NHS. That’s because we have a fixed budget and no borrowing powers.

The headlines today are telling us that record numbers of patients in Scotland waited more than “half a day” for treatment at A and E over Christmas. Labour’s Jackie Baillie screams about the hell of it whilst Keir Starmer, the BBC and others are silent despite what’s happening elsewhere in the UK where people are waiting days and days. Where’s the howling from the rooftops we should expect from the opposition? Nowhere, because fundamentally Starmer’s labour has the same end game as the Tories – lower public spending, more privatised health services in the name of efficiency and undermining a unionised workforce.

The answer? Well, I’m very afraid there isn’t one in the short term. In the long term the answer has to be Independence which will at least ensure that we don’t have our hands tied by a bunch of profiteers and racketeers masquerading as a government but we are going to have to fight to keep the NHS before that.

To do that We must protect Scotland’s right to use devolved powers to support our NHS. We must support the strikers, we must stand against the defunding of our NHS and force Sunak to take action to protect the service and people’s lives.

So far his big idea has been making kids do Maths until they are 18 and demonising asylum seekers and refugees.

The Tories might be a busted flush but they aren’t giving up anytime soon. The damage they will cause in the time they have left could see the NHS changed beyond recovery.

Scotland can’t stop that happening across the UK but we can take control of our own future. We need the full range of economic and political powers to do that. We need Independence.





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Friends and Enemies

So … I have news for you.

If you can’t afford to put your heating on whilst it snows outside, if you’re struggling to keep your cupboards full, if your mortgage rate has gone through the roof and you can’t afford to fill your car up, the causes of that are not striking workers wanting a 10% pay rise nor the unions demanding that.

This last week we have seen a frenzy of new organisations, papers, Tv programmes, shouting that the unions are trying to bring the government down and punishing “ordinary people”. Aside from my gut reaction when anyone talks of bringing the Government down being “Good”, who do they think ordinary people actually are? Ordinary People are the railway workers, the nurses and healthcare workers, the postal workers. They are you and I – ordinary people – struggling to heat homes, afford Christmas, pay their mortgages.

The media seems to have decided Mick Lynch is the bogeyman. The questioning of an elected official about how much he earns was relentless. Unions today, are pretty much transparent in the way they are run, in complete opposition to the way the Tories run Government.

Watch the attacks – because that’s what they are – on Mick Lynch and you can only wonder why they do not question the government in such a manner.

The Government and it’s lackeys in the media want you to believe that Mick Lynch and striking workers are the enemy, that they and their wage demands are causing the inflation and the cost of living crisis with a little help from Putin.

They want it so much that the chairperson of the Tory Party actually said out loud that striking nurses will help Putin divide the west.

This is patently nonsense. Insulting arrogant nonsense. All the unions involved in strikes have asked the UK Government to negotiate and all are reporting a clear, definite, arrogant refusal by the government to do so.

The UK Government wants us to believe that striking workers are the enemy because it deflects from their incompetence and garners support for their policies of hate and inequity.

What am I talking about? Well, blaming the nurses, the ambulance staff, the doctors, the health care workers for the strike and the calamitous state of the NHS diverts attention from the profits made by private companies stripping our NHS. It allows right wing commentators to call for privatisation of our health service as a way to rid ourselves of the troublemakers and the inefficiencies when the actual cause is a failure to invest in people and services year after year after year by a Tory Government who take advice from private Health Insurance companies. And not just advice – money. Donations to Tory MPs amounting to thousands of pounds – millions even.

Blaming the railway workers for the chaos the Government has orchestrated allows them to continue to subsidise failing private operators whilst they plan to cut staff to increase profits for their shareholders.

Same with postal workers. Cut services, demand modernisation (which means redundancies) in order to increase profits for shareholders.

Profits are all. Who cares about the service as long as the people at the top are making money, millions and millions of ££££.

This stripping services to the bone is the same dodgy dealing as Michelle Mine’s apparent PPE deal. No one’s calling her an enemy of the state though are they? An unelected peer in the House of Lords, It is reported that she walked away with £29 million whilst Mick Lynch earns £84k a year. It would take him 345 years to earn what Michelle Mone appears to have secured in a few months.

But yeah, Mick Lynch and his striking workers are the enemy.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the Unions are commending the Scottish Government for negotiating. Comparing that to the unwillingness of the Tory Government to get round a table and talk about a deal. We have no striking NHS workers tomorrow because the strikes have been suspended as the Government has been negotiating. Mick Lynch pointed that out yesterday, Unison recognised that different experience too.

Teachers are still waiting for a negotiated settlement but we are moving forward here and the support for the unions in taking strike action is openly and clearly supported by the SNP. Not something Keir Starmer can bring himself to do.

We could do more and I would urge the Scottish Government to be bold with their budget. To put up taxes, be innovative and brave and put money in the pockets of our teachers, nurses, care workers by taxing the highest earners more and using the powers we have to increase support for the poorest.m, to protect our NHS Be brave, progressive and determined.

Open your eyes folks. This is class war at its most arrogant. Workers are exercising their democratic right to protect pay and Conditions and stand up for their members and the unions are their vehicles for doing that. They are not friends of Putin, they are not benefiting from donations from Private health insurers looking for a nod and a wink when contracts are up for grabs. Their donations come from ordinary people – from you and me. Unions, striking workers are not the enemy the Tories would have you think they are.

Support them or your job, your mortgage, your livelihood your NHS will be next. This UK Government will make sure of that.





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Another long read 2022’s WFI speech.

Unfortunately due to some sort of glitch the wrong speech was added – the previous post was 2021’s presentation. This is the 2022 speech – I’ve removed the previous one as it’s duplicated and here is the up to date one

Sorry Folks – juggling life, study, work and speechifying is complicated as many of you know.


It is ten years since Women for Independence was formed by some who are joining us online, some who we have sadly lost and others whose lives have taken them in different directions.
I was remembering recently the feelings that I had after being scooped up into a google group of what I thought were some seriously impressive women, Later, I walked into a kitchen in a town I had never been to, to meet women I did not know and had never met, wondering what on earth I was doing there. Those early days of what would become Women for Independence were some of the most exciting, enlightening and sisterly of my whole life. I found my voice and it was a socialist feminist voice.

Women for Independence changed the Independence debate. Those of us in that kitchen elbowed ourselves into hustings, demanded a space on the couches of the late night political shows, dared the men to talk over us and put them firmly in their place when they did.

After the devastation of the referendum result in 2014, I thought it was over, I thought it was finished. And yet somehow it wasn’t. There was a determination to continue to work – to work as if we were in the early days of a better nation – that nation so many of us had dreamed of. And we have, as a group of national committee members, and as local groups around Scotland – women for Indy members have done exactly that by the bucketload. We have campaigned on national issues, women’s justice, baby boxes, poverty, and local issues hospital closures, school issues, local campaigns where women’s voices were desperately needed. Many of us have put ourselves forward for political office, stood for selection and some have been elected to Westminster, to Holyrood. Its always gratifying to see our sisters on a national stage, yet the biggest thrill for me is to see so many of you sitting in council chambers, in community councils, on Parent councils, working for your people and your communities, supporting each other, being the voice that was so completely missing prior to the last referendum.

And yet despite all this, working as if we are in the early days of a better nation is really tough when we aren’t. In the wake of Brexit and now facing a cost of living crisis that will see poverty rise to levels many of us have never seen in our lifetimes – it is really tough to remain optimistic and determined.

Being part of the UK today is like finding ourselves in a strange, unfamiliar place where no matter how hard we look for it we cannot find the way out. It’s tempting to step back and think its too hard. Its tempting to think we will NEVER get a second referendum and if we do, then there is no way we can win with the media, the might of the British establishment against us and the misery that yet another Tory Prime Minister brings along with his tea chests and packing cases into Downing Street.
And yet Independence is more important than ever. As we look around us at the impact of the hideous policies of this ever increasingly hideous government, more and more it is becoming clear that Independence is the tool we need to do things better. Being part of this Union prevents Scotland being the better Nation that we have all tried so hard to make even with one hand tied behind our back.

In the 8 years since the first Indy referendum women have been at the sharp end of the UK Government’s war on the sick, the poor, those on benefits, immigrants and refugees. Poverty is ravaging our towns and our sisters’ lives. Food Banks have become a well kent sight in our towns, we are seeing charities, churches, ordinary people opening their spaces so people can keep warm, charge their phones, have a hot drink, get something to eat, we are seeing school uniform banks, holiday food programmes. This is our post Brexit union in 2022.

Today, there will be women who want to join this call but cant afford the internet access to do so. On this call there will be women who cannot afford to pay their energy bills, there will be women who do not know how they will make it to the end of the month. There will be women who don’t know how they will feed their children.

Poverty is a political choice. We see that every day. The UK Government has employed deliberate policies designed to make people poorer. The rape clause, the benefit cap, the punitive welfare policies designed to humiliate and denigrate people already struggling. The clearest example of this was the removal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift. The UK government had the choice to do something different but they didn’t – they chose to take £20 a week off some of the poorest people in our society. That was a choice. – They spent billions on dodgy PPE, they gave tax breaks to global companies that make billions in profits and yet they take £20 a week from the women struggling to feed their bairns.

How dare they. Universal Credit is a stick to beat the poor with and they just turned their smug self satisfied faces away and made it harder for people to feed their children and heat their homes. What kinds of people makes that choice?

And the Autumn statement is not really any better. They have told us that hard choices have to be made. We are all going to have to tighten our belts, we are all going to have to take difficult decisions. Well, The people telling us that aren’t the ones that are taking the hard decision not to have their tea tonight so their kids can eat. They aren’t the ones taking the hard decisions not to turn their heating on – In fact many of those making decisions about whether to allow people to eat or heat their homes have their energy bills paid through expenses. So lets see this for what it is – it is US that are making the hard decisions, it is you and me and people like US – mostly women – who are having to decide to cut back on food, on car use on heating our homes, on using hot water. Not this Tory Government – I bet Rishi Sunak has never gone to bed at 4 o clock because its dark, its cold and you haven’t any bloody gas. I bet he and all of his cabinet have never had to sit underneath the window so the milk man cant see you because you haven’t the money to pay him. I bet they have never ever ever cut up an old fleece to use as a sanitary towel or washed in cold water because you cant afford to put the immersion heater on.

The Cost of Living crisis means that we are seeing these things everywhere we look – unless you are in the government. Im speaking to you from here in the Highlands where we have one of the highest levels of fuel poverty in the Country despite producing enough energy right here to meet our own use and more.

There are sisters, sitting in Sutherland, in Ross-hire, in Caithness who cannot afford to put their heating on and yet look out of their windows at windfarms on our hills, look out over the North Sea to oil and gas rigs and off shore windfarms and yet pay some of the highest prices for their fuel. The government says they are helping but £67 a month won’t heat houses in remote areas, where wind driven rain, poor quality housing and no access to mains gas means that the “absolutely not” an energy price cap does not apply and is of no help. The price of smokeless fuel has risen from £10 a 25kg bag in March to £16 a bag today. The price of wood has similarly risen. In the middle of December when it’s not this unseasonably warm, we can go through two bags of smokeless a week, on top of electricity, the electricity we have to use to warm our rooms in a morning when the fire has not been lit, the electricity that powers our cooker to cook our food, helps to dry our clothes and keeps the damp at bay.

Poverty is everywhere we look. In our cities it is more visible perhaps but it exists here in Rural and Remote Scotland too and it’s no less damaging. Research I carried out in 2019 looked at the link between rural poverty and levels of mental wellbeing and showed through some complicated maths that I learnt specially that people living in rural poverty have the lowest levels of mental wellbing.

Unsurprisingly the issues are similar in both urban and rural areas but the effect is perhaps different. In a recent Poverty Week event which looked at some research being done by Glasgow University into women in multiple low paid employment, there were discussions around how women are cutting back by buying cheaper food and cutting back on and car use to make ends meet. It was really interesting but I made the point that women in rural and remote areas often don’t have that choice – if one of your jobs is in a hotel in Lairg and one in a care home in Bonar Bridge then then you cant cut down on your car use. – Petrol is more expensive often in rural areas. Access to affordable food is difficult when the only shop you have nearby is a local shop. And that’s not just about price. I can go to Aldi and buy instant noodles at 32p a pack. The kids love them for their lunches. In our local co op they don’t have that choice – they have Batchelors supernoodles at 90 pence. Tesco sell milk at £1.65 and Co op £1.85. The cheapest pads I can buy at our local co op are £2.20, the same pads are 95p at Tesco.

Rural life brings added costs and added stigma. I spoke to one woman who told me that when she went to her local shop to buy electricity the kind wellmeaning cashier would comment on what she bought every time. Only £3 today? Are you struggling – it must be hard, £20 today -oooh you flush this week. It made her feel scrutinised and shamed and left her isolated and depressed.

Here in rural Scotland our housing costs more, is of poorer quality and is more susceptible to the type of weather we have. But Houses are designed to be heated properly, when they aren’t mould can form, damaging health and the building. After the devastating death of a wee boy – Awaab Ishak – as a result of mould in his housing association home in Rochdale – a place I know well, where I grew up and lived before moving to Scotland – we saw people on social media blame his parents for his death. They should have wiped it away, they could have done better , they should have “Just kept their heating on”. What use is telling people to keep their homes heated when they can’t afford to turn on their electricity or their gas? What use is it going to service a boiler when people have no credit on their gas meters?

The individualisation of poverty overlooks the structural causes and gives the Government a free ride to get away with doing what they are doing just now – nothing. Poor governance, poor housing, racism, all factors in the death of a beloved and beautiful child and yet we hear the Government express regret, but they don’t take any action because ultimately – they don’t care – they too think that poverty is an individual failing.

We hear this so much these days. “we had ice on the inside of our windows when I was a kid and just piled coats up and it didn’t do me any harm”. Just put another jumper on, these are the foods you can eat if you just scrape the mould off. There is no care and compassion from this Government – never big on these in the first place they were dumped, tipped into the pile of Brexit shittiness, thrown into the sea to lighten Britain’s load as she set sail for the sunlit uplands of post Brexit growth growth growth. Except there is no sunlit uplands if you are poor. Just grinding greyness and empty cupboards.

Nothing in the Autumn statement will change that. Women will remain, as I heard said recently – the shock absorbers of poverty. The UK Government announced 600 000 more people will be who are to be encouraged back into work from Universal Credit more of them will be asked to work with a work coach. Make no mistake this will target women – lone parents, carers. They will be subjected to the assault course that is Universal credit, a system designed to kick you every step of the way. They will be required to work more or face sanctions with no corresponding increase in childcare provision or caring support how will women do that? The UK has the second most expensive childcare costs in the world according to the OECD and women, poor women, find their choices reduced as a result of that.

The sanctions that will follow on from this expansion of bullying condescension will leave people without money , without food, heating and dignity. They punish the already struggling and Jeremy Hunt is promising more of them.

This is Scotland as part of the union in 2022.
What can we do about it? Well there is some being done, As much as Westminster deliberately chooses policies to further degrade and stigmatise people in poverty, The Scottish Government has tried to mitigate some of that pain and anguish. It is gratifying to see the Child Payment increased and rolled out to under 16s, I am thankful to see free school meals for all primary children, removing the stigma of the free dinner tickets I remember from my youth and free childcare would have helped me when twice in my life I have had to give up my work because childcare was either unaffordable or – particularly when living in Caithness, unavailable or completely unworkable.
I am personally pleased to see the Scottish Government approach to Social Security instigated by our own Jeane Freeman. I called for its devolution in the lead up to the Smith Commission and having taken part in experience panels and development work through my role with the Poverty Alliance and SPIRIT advocacy.

And yet it is not enough.

If you read the report by the Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Womens Budget Group which came out this week you would have seen how women internalise and blame themselves for the poverty and hardship that they experience. Women are more likely to be poor, have low levels of savings- if any at all, less wealth and twice as likely as men to rely on the social security system. Parenting, caring responsibilities limit the ability of women to take on more paid work leaving many of us struggling to stay afloat in the face of rising costs and inadequate social security payment.

There remains much to be done.
We saw from the Scottish Social attitudes survey that 68% of people felt that income should be redistributed from the wealthy to the poorer, 64% were happy to pay more tax in order for more money to be spent on health education and crucially social welfare so, in Scotland the will is there. We know we need more policies like this and it appears that we want more policies like this but they cannot come without Independence. The Scottish Government is nudging us in the right direction but when the purse strings are tightened by Westminster then that nudging becomes more difficult and progressive steps to fundamentally move Scotland away from the neo liberal, me me me society that the Tories have nurtured since Thatcher, become harder and smaller.

The Scottish Government has thankfully, prioritised the spending commitments they made for people, for the child payment, for mitigating the appalling policies that the UK Government foists on us because remember we have to mitigate them – we have to find the money to meet the bills of the bedroom tax, to ensure that people are paid a living wage, to remove the impact of the disgusting rape clause. These are all helpful to women but there is more that can be done and our womanifesto sets out what we want the Scottish Government to do across a whole range of issues.

Despite this the catastrophic fall out from this Tory government leaves us facing cuts to public services, struggling to offer the pay rises that people rightly want and deserve. Cuts to public Services have the greatest impact on people living in Poverty – this constant battle to spend only what the UK Government allows Scotland to spend is damaging to our society and people here in Scotland. Our inability to borrow to fund anything other than capital projects is a barrier to women’s equality in Scotland today.

There’s a lot of back slapping from Jeremy and his mates and suggestions that this Government is keeping the triple lock and uprating benefits in line with Inflation but they have kept the Benefit Cap, they haven’t increased the local housing allowance which means that more of people’s money will go on Rent and they have reduced the support they have put into the fuel cap. Cold comfort for us all.

That benefit uprating of 10% will not come until April and its already too little. Today Inflation is at 11.1% with some forecasts suggesting it will reach 14% – what help the 10% uprating then? And what are people expected to do over the winter? Food and fuel are driving inflation, the price of everyday staples hitting our pockets. Petrol, Electricity. Bread, butter – my god the price of butter, milk and cheese. But you know Like they say – put another sweater on and scrape the mould off the bread.

So despite the child payment, despite the mitigation of the worst of UK policies Scotland cannot do something different without the full powers of an independent country. And so, we trim a bit here, cut a bit here in order to try to help those who need it the most. To try to help people keep warm and eat, to try to find pay rises for nurses, teachers, railway workers – overworked and carrying the weight of Brexit and the impact of Covid.

Scotland does not have the control of the economic levers to change the society we live in. Talking about economics is challenging. There seem to be as many views on whether we need to raise taxes and cut spending as there are those that say we should cut taxes and raise spending. Experts here there and everywhere.

Taxi drivers in Glasgow (Those experts in everything) where I have been staying during the last few weeks have variously told me that that we cannot stand on our own two feet without holding the hand of the Great British Economy, that we can’t expect to be a success without the roar of Britannia behind us. I say that is nonsense. Look around us, look at the natural resources, look at the tourism, the food and drink, the innovation we have in Scotland. Ripped out of Europe against the expressed will of the Scottish People these things have been damaged precisely because of the self indulgent, roar of Britannia.

I like to think I have more of a grip on economics now than I did 8 years ago when I blogged about it for National Collective. But even with the degrees I’ve acheived since 2012, I can still only find one unassailable truth about the Economy and an independent Scotland. In an Independent Scotland the revenue raised in
and by Scotland will be spent by a Scottish Government on the
priorities decided by the people of Scotland at the ballot box.

That does not happen now and women are the poorer for it. Literally.

This idea that we can only survive because of the largess of the UK Government is not only nonsense, it is dangerous. The UK government have done nothing to prevent people dying from cold and hunger this winter. They have done nothing to prevent hardship and poverty and they have done nothing that will improve the lives of the most vulnerable, the most isolated and the most desperate. Just like with Covid -19 – they are all right Jack and fuck the rest of us. Make no mistake – people will die as a result.

Tied as we are to Westminster, at the hands of a Government that have evidenced that they do not value the human condition through their policies on refugees, their welfare policies, their Complete disregard for the Covid regulations that they devised, we have seen the Scottish Government at least try to improve things for people at the sharp end.

And those of us who are thankful for that, say a wee prayer and watch as the opposition parties in Holyrood stand up and demand that the Government follow whatever ghastly policy being bandied about by the UK Government and find money from nothing, whilst their bosses in Westminster laugh in our faces, week in week out.

I hear people who say ahhh but labour might win and things will be different then. But will they? Will labour bring in a more compassionate and generous social security system – there is no sign that they are thinking about that. Will Labour take us back into The EU, or at the very least the single market and freedom of movement – helping particularly our rural economy, struggling to find nurses, hotel staff and care worker? Absolutely not They are not talking about safer routes for refugees, restoring freedom of movement for EU citizens, in fact the opposite. Freedom of movement is gone and not coming back Keir Starmer said, simply ignoring the need Scotland has for growing our population. Will labour fundamentally tackle the structural issues which see women drowning under the weight of poverty and inequality? I doubt it. There’s is the voice of individualism, it is the voice of conditionality and punitive social security rules. The Labour leadership speaks to England.

But just imagine, imagine an independent Scotland where labour can reflect the priorities of Scotland. Imagine a Right of centre party – conservatives, without the need to second guess what their laughing stock of a leadership are going to mess up this week, what excrutiating u turn Douglas Ross is going to have to complete. We would have infinitely better opposition parties and we need that for a functioning democracy. Independence will be good for both of them. What a shame they can’t see that.

So, As we move towards a second Independence referendum the voices of women will be vital in bringing people with us. We are often the people that our communities trust – sitting in councils, community organisations, parent councils. We should be where women come for answers. I remember holding the first Highland meeting of Women for Independence. It was a cold rainy dark Tuesday night and I had organised a meeting in a coffee shop with Olivia Hamilton, who is sadly no longer with us. We expected to get a couple of people and a dog, probably men at that! We had 30 women join us, we talked, laughed, learnt things and at the end of it one of the women said to me “I thought I was the only one”. Women for Independence are here for all those women – for all the Mhari’s who have nowhere to go for their answers. The values of sisterhood, creating a safe space where women’s voices can be heard and raised continues to be important. Fundamentally, women are the backbone of our society and we will be the backbone of an Independent Scotland, designing the laws, developing the policies and demanding equality.

Independence is only the beginning Sisters – Bring it on.

#IndyRef #YouYesYet #Womenspoverty #womenforindy

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An Inconvenient Truth

So…There is interesting stuff going on just now

There is a concerted effort to prevent the Scottish Government from working on their manifesto promises.

Let’s just think about this for
A minute.

A Government – any government in the UK is elected by winning a majority of seats in a Parliament and forming a Government. If they do that, they have a mandate – indeed – a duty or a responsibility to deliver the promises which they made to the electorate who voted for them.

That is not a controversial statement. For those of us who didn’t vote for them – well we have to pretty much wait til the next election in order to vote them out and install a new government who will have the responsibility to carry out the policies that they promised those of us who elected them.

It maybe that the Government tries to carry out their policy in a
Way that causes them to come into conflict with human rights or other legislation and they may have to go to court to defend the way they are designing the delivery of their policies. The Government doesn’t abandon their priority, they simply re-examine how to deliver it.

And yet, in Scotland our Government is expected to abandon a commitment to an Independence referendum which people voted for.

The ante is well and truly being upped. We are hearing that Not only are the Scottish Government being prevented from holding a referendum, there are suggestions that they should abandon any attempts to secure a referendum or any work on an Independent Scotland.

Let’s be clear here – again – the SNP have won a number of elections because people have voted for them. People did that fully expecting that the SNP would, whilst in Government, work towards a referendum on independence. Presenting this as an unknown, as a niche policy that no one supports is dishonest. Talking about those supporters as fanatics or as somehow holding an extreme view is a lie (and pretty insulting too).

It is an inconvenient truth for those parties opposed to a referendum that the people of Scotland keep voting for the SNP, in the full knowledge that an Independent Scotland is their priority.

And thank goodness it is. In a week where we have seen that the UK Government are taking significant sums from the Universal Credit payments of some of the poorest in Society, leaving them destitute; when there is talk of them hiking up the pension age again at short notice; when a peer of the realm skims £29 fucking million off a PPE contract awarded under the sight of a former health minister who’s just appeared on reality TV; whilst Rishi Sunak is spending £1.3 million on a statue for his garden whilst the poorest people in Britain face the hardest winter in years and public services are crumbling.

As I wrote this, I remembered what I said about being labelled a fanatic. Well, you know, if it is fanatical to want better for our society, for our country, for my children and their children then Bloody Right, I’m a fanatic. If it is fanatical to want free higher education, personal care, prescriptions: to want people to be warm, have enough to eat and not starve through the state sponsored abuse delivered by a social security system that lets people down – bloody right I’m a fanatic.

If it is fanatical to detest the Tories and their money grabbing, grubby, hate filled policies then I’m a fanatic.

Democracy is at work here in Scotland and the people will have what the people vote for. Make no mistake about that. In the meantime, we can watch the headless chickens run around trying to keep the rush of democracy from overwhelming them. Just now they have their finger in the dyke but the pressure is building, and make no mistake, they are feeling it.

#YouYesYet. #IndyRef2

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The Manufacture of a Lie

So…. Last week the BBC reported on a meeting where senior NHS Chief executives discussed a two tier NHS. An NHS where the rich pay for their treatment which of course they get faster and more pleasantly delivered than the rest of us. I thought that option already existed but hey ho.

The story did not say that the Scottish Government led the discussion but reporting that the attendees had been given a “green light” to have a wide ranging and free discussion on reform implied this. The report did however say that the Health Minister had “denied” this was being considered.

Ostensibly a bit of mildly interesting news about a discussion some relatively important people had.

The online Scottish political world went nuts. The opposition parties jumped on this very quickly. Nicola Sturgeon was called upon to make a statement to Parliament, despite the original report not saying anywhere that this was Scottish Government policy.

The BBC issued a statement which said they were absolutely right to report on an interesting insight into internal NHS issues. Journalists defended the right of the BBC to write about anything they want – as they should, and pointed out the public interest in such a story. Fair enough actually, but of course, it didn’t end there.

The newspapers jumped on this too. They printed the story reporting the BBC ran an “exclusive” a story they had “broken”.

A day or so later however this had now become a “proposal”. The Times headlined “NHS Scotland could make wealthy patients pay for treatment in two tier NHS”.

The Daily Express complained that “Nats” had been triggered and described a Twitter account asking questions about the report and pointing out how similar it was to a report in 2014 it was, as “sinister”and “deranged”.

Both the Health Minister and the First Minister made it abundantly clear that the NHS in Scotland would remain free at the point of delivery, and the founding principles would remain central to NHS policy. No ifs or buts.

Tory MSPs called for the Audit Commission to investigate why chief executives were even having this conversation and the sense of glee around this topic was palpable.

I got quite irritated about the nonsense on Twitter posting “Damned if you do and dammed if you don’t. What a waste of everybody’s time over someone opening their mouth like their tummy rumbles”. It felt like a complete overreaction on both sides of the political debate to a mildly interesting story.

By First Ministers Questions on Thursday the story should have been over and done. A worrying indication of the strains on our NHS that we already know about but nothing of any substance. However that was not the case.

The opposition had demanded a statement in Parliament and during FMQs the minutes of this meeting had become, according to Douglas Ross “secret talks about privatising the NHS”.

Once again, the First Minister pointed out that this was not Government Policy, that neither she, nor the Health Minister, dictate what NHS chiefs can and can’t discuss at their meetings and that threats to the Health Service come from the Tory policies. Their privatisation of services and stupid Brexit.
(She didn’t say stupid Brexit – I added that – Im adding stupid before Brexit every time I have write about the stupid thing – doesn’t make
Any difference but makes me feel better)

And then it went a wee bitty quiet. The Supreme Court decision exercised our brains a wee bit and it wasn’t on any of the front pages.

Until now. A report in the Times that suggested the NHS should copy Ireland and charge £50 for GP appointments was retweeted by Jackie Baillie who wrote “SNP two tier proposals open up the prospect of charging in our NHS.”

And there you go. This is the reason for the furore. Because what was a mildly interesting article by the BBC, has now become “SNP Proposals”.

For clarity – Scotland has the best performing NHS in the UK. It’s on its knees for a whole lot of reasons (including stupid Brexit) but actually none of that is because the Scottish Government has proposed a two tier system or otherwise privatising our NHS.

And yet, despite this, despite flatly, unambiguously and consistently making it clear that this is not SNP policy, the lazy journalists and lazy politicians see it as an easy win. The language they used around it, the positioning of this story from what it was – a discussion amongst NHS leaders to Scottish Government Policy took less than a week.

There’s not really a point to this blog other than to highlight an interesting process where an interesting report becomes something entirely different.
It manufactures a distraction, a smokescreen a lie. This allows opposition politicians to gloss over the real failures around the NHS which can only be fixed by the UK Government. Cuts in UK spending, creeping privatisation especially in England undermine funding models for devolved nations. Years of inadequate funding, failure to invest, staff shortages and Poverty. Oh and Stupid Brexit.

We need a better NHS in Scotland – we also need a better opposition but we aren’t likely to get either of those without Independence.

#Indyref2 #YouYesYet #NHSScotland

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The dance of democracy

Bit of a long one today folks – sorry

So… the Supreme Court reached a judgement on Wednesday.

It was asked by the Scottish Government to examine the law as it stands and make a ruling as to whether the Scottish Government has the legal capacity to run its own referendum.

Now, it’s important to understand that this ruling was not about politics, it was about the law. This question needed to be asked because so far the UK Government has refused to issue a Section 30 order which would allow a referendum to be run just like in 2014.

Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court decided the Scottish Government does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on independence.

So, this in effect means that unless the Government at Westminster allow a referendum there will not be one in 2023. This is of course, disappointing but it is not surprising.

For years now those of us that follow politics have known fine well that Scotland, a nation in our own right, can only do what the UK allows us to do. You’ve heard me harping on about taxation and social security, about pay rises and tax bands, about energy policy and borrowing. In every single one of these areas, Scotland can only act with the permission of the UK. Either directly -“Please can we have a referendum?” Or indirectly – we would like to to give bigger pay rises but we can’t because the money we get from Westminster is insufficient to cover pay rises in the way Scotland wants to cover them.

The unionist parties know that. They know fine that Scotland can only do what we are allowed to do by Westminster and yet they roll out the lines about grievance and “blaming Westminster” as if that’s a made up thing. It isn’t. In order to pay Teachers 10% we are going to have to find that from a different place – we can’t borrow to fund it. Whilst we do have some tax powers, these are limited to taxes on individuals – income taxes. We can’t “windfall tax” energy companies or close tax loopholes. We are not allowed to increase tax mid year.

And my God, if Scotlands Government dares to exercise those powers of taxation the howls of outrage that rich people have to pay more per year here than in England.

The demands from the opposition, that the SNP should follow Liz Truss and Kwarti Kwarteng down their dead end dead duck dead stupid plan were deafening. Where are those calls now?

The responses to this expected judgement have been equally wild – on all sides of the argument. I have read comments that say the SNP have never wanted Independence, that they are happy to remain as part of a union that does Scotland no favours and fundamentally undermines the moves we are making towards the sort of society we want.

Let’s be clear about this. I have never met an SNP member or politician who does not want independence for Scotland.

This nonsense pales into insignificance however by the tsunami of crap being said by unionist politicians in response to Nicola Sturgeon pointing out that the failure to grant a Section 30 and a referendum is a failure of democracy.

From Ian Murray saying that the BBC is “scared” of reporting on Scotland because Indy supporters might protest, to Anas Sarwar telling us that there is going to be violence as a result of the FM’s measured and reasonable response. There’s Maurice Golden telling us to shut up and go away – you’ll have had your referendum on 2014 never again – and Alex Cole-Hamilton calling the same response Trumpian.

They are without doubt cheering the response from the court whilst worrying that it highlights a failure in democracy that will cost them dearly in the long term.

Meanwhile Matt Hancock is STILL in the jungle and the masses are cheering him on. Whitewashing his reputation, seeing him a nice guy. Making out that aww – maybe the Tories aren’t that bad after all. Keep your eyes open folks. SEE what’s going on.

So let’s be clear – The Scottish Parliament does not have the power to call a referendum despite Scotland having elected a majority of Independence supporting MSPs and MPs on a manifesto of offering such a referendum.

This leaves Scotland with no way of democratically enacting a key policy without the say of the Tory Government. The Tories in Scotland have lost every election in my lifetime. If the Government we vote for can’t do what we voted it in to do because a Government we didn’t vote for and a Prime Minister No one voted for, won’t allow it, then Democracy in Scotland is not functioning.

Not allowing us to ask our electorate the questions on independence will not make it go away.

Howling about the “day job” not being done because of a focus on independence when Scotland has just settled its rail strike, has the best performing NHS in the UK and has just introduced the Child Payment to help the poorest families manage better won’t wash either. Things are tough at the moment and they will get tougher and Scotland will do the best they can to weather that. Without the full powers though we can’t prevent recession, we can’t tackle energy prices and we are prevented from growing our economy and our country and taking the powers we need to create a better fairer society.

So, we will need to make our voices heard. We will need to stand for what we believe and we will need to use every avenue open to us to challenge this bunch of Tory no marks in this useless Tory Government at every stage. And if every election we have from now is a plebiscite on Independence, so be it. Far from a campaign for independence going away it will be more visible, louder, stronger than ever.

Scotland has a long history of nationhood. Proud, Independent – fought for over hundreds of years. Our own flag, education system, legal system. Whether you believe in Independence or not, whether you hate Nicola Sturgeon or me, whether you think that we should shut up or not the fact remains that the Scottish People keep voting for the SNP, keep giving the SNP the mandate to govern AND to have a referendum and in the end it is the Scottish People that will prevail and democracy will have its way. It might not come quickly enough but it will come.



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The chance for change

So… Wednesday will see the results of the Supreme Course decision on the right of the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a second independence referendum.

There are rallies planned around Scotland in response to the decision. It’s unlikely I’ll be at any of them. That’s mainly because I’m skint. Money has had to be spent on petrol for work for one car not two, so no petrol for a trip into Inverness sadly. Electricity costs, the costs of wood and coal, and months of living only on one wage have left us struggling. Our somewhat elderly cars need work which can’t be put off any longer and we have had to rely a wee bit on the generosity of family and friends to get through this financially challenging time, like many others.

Fortunately we get paid on Thursday and then we are solvent again. We will pay back our loved ones as we can and do a “big shop”. We will order coal and pay our rent and relax a wee bit. Might even do some Christmas shopping. Not everyone is as lucky as this.

On Thursday, I’ll head off to Glasgow for the Poverty Alliance AGM. Last Saturday I gave a keynote speech at the Women For Independence AGM along with the wonderful Angela O’Hagan. This Friday coming I’ve been asked to speak at the RASASH Reclaim the Night March here in Inverness.

The link between all these things – the Supreme Court, poverty, women is important and significant. Whilst I get paid on Thursday and we will be fine going forward, many other women won’t.

Many other women will be sitting with their heads in their hands, their heating off because they can’t afford it, hungry, because they have had to go without to feed their children, unable to sleep because they are worrying about money and how they will manage Christmas, ashamed because they have had to ask their parents for a borrow – again.

Women are at the sharp end of poverty. I spoke about this at the Women for Indy AGM, I’ll speak about it on Friday at the March and I make no apology for writing about this today. Women are more likely to be poor, have low levels of savings- if any at all, less wealth and twice as likely as men to rely on the social security system. Parenting, caring responsibilities limit the ability of women to take on more paid work leaving many of us struggling to stay afloat in the face of rising costs and inadequate social security payments.

Poverty is a political choice folks. It’s not, despite what the Daily Mail and the poverty porn shows would have you believe, an individual failing. And it’s a choice that Westminster keeps making. It is as clear a choice to keep people in poverty as it is to choose Brexit. Last year the UK Government removed the £20 uplift to Universal Credit. This had been a lifeline for people during lockdown and the Tory Government removed it – right as we started to hit a cost of living crisis. A choice. A choice made to take £20 a week out of the pockets of the poorest. Who makes those choices?

Conservatives – that’s who. Westminster politicians who tell us we have to make difficult choices. Tell us that we are all going to have to tighten our belts, we are all going to have to take difficult decisions. Well, The people telling us that aren’t the ones that are taking the hard decision not to have their tea tonight so their kids can eat. They aren’t the ones taking the hard decisions not to turn their heating on – In fact many of those making decisions about whether to allow people to eat or heat their homes have their energy bills paid through expenses. So lets see this for what it is – it is overwhelmingly women that are making those hard decisions, women who are having to decide to cut back on food, on car use on heating our homes, on using hot water. Not this Tory Government – I bet Rishi Sunak has never gone to bed at 4 o clock because its dark, its cold and you haven’t any bloody gas – trying to make it a game for the kids. I bet he and all of his cabinet have never had to sit underneath the window so the milk man goes away because you haven’t the money to pay him. I bet they have never ever ever washed in cold water because you cant afford to put the immersion heater on.

Women are having to do this every single day. We are the shock absorbers of poverty. Grinding us down, leaving us floundering and struggling to keep our heads above water as this UK Government gives us a 10% increase on our benefits – in April. What are people supposed to do til then? Shut up and get on with it seems to be the Tory answer. Pile coats on the bed, scrape mould off food and stop complaining. It never did people any harm 100 years ago.

In Scotland, we know that’s not true and it’s not right. The Scottish Government are trying to help people albeit in a limited way. A limited way because we have limited powers. The Scottish Government has introduced the child payment of £25 per week per child for those on the lowest incomes. They have brought in a carers additional payment, they mitigate the worst of the welfare policies of this hideous Tory Government but without Independence, without the big economic powers over borrowing, taxation, the power that comes with Independence to shape the type of economy, the type of society we want, their hands are tied.

And it’s women paying the price for that, for UK Governments that wage war on the sick, the poor, those on benefits, immigrants and refugees.

Without Independence that will continue. The rich will get richer and the poor? Well the poor will die. Of cold, of hunger, of desperation and mental anguish, traumatised by poverty fear and shame.

The Supreme Court Judgement will be watched closely right across the political spectrum and closely by activists and campaigners. For me, I’m watching because it’s the chance for change. I know that without Independence, women will continue to struggle. Unlike me, many won’t be able to sleep on Wednesday night, because their Thursday morning won’t bring money in the bank, food in the cupboards and wood for the fire.

Independence is the best – perhaps the only – opportunity we have to build a better, fairer society. Let’s hope the Supreme Court gives us another tool to make that happen sooner, rather than later. Because surely, surely we can do better than this.




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Not a political post

Not a political post lol – well not much of a political post

So… I’ve been a month travelling back and forth to Glasgow. Spending a few days there each week over the last month. I’ve been staying with my lovely cousin and travelling back and forward to GCU. Mostly that’s been the subway, but I’ve also used black cabs and Uber.

I have a secret love for Uber. I know I’m not supposed to – the gig economy and all that, but I do. As a stranger, a teuchter in the big city, I love that I can stand in the street and I don’t even need to know where I am, Uber will find me. It’s like magic to this middle aged wifie, who never ever has had the knack to hail a cab. I stick my hand up wave it about, look determinedly at the driver who never even notices. Either that or there are just no black cabs, I stand there waiting and looking and hoping and….nada, nothing.

Let’s be clear about this. I’ve been in Glasgow before. This isn’t my first time. I used to be here quite a bit when I first moved to Scotland, training courses and the like. I’ve tripped up and down for work since then, fairly regularly, a few times a year but this is different. I dont really understand how places fit together. What I mean is that I know where certain places are – the University, 94 Hope Street, where the Poverty Alliance have their offices, George Square, Queen Street Station, Nelson Mandela Place, Kelvingrove, but I know them as separate places to go to and then go away from. Working out how they connect together is a bit of a challenge. I keep being surprised when I walk around a corner and find myself near a place I recognise but didn’t think I was near.

Ohhhhh THAT’S Where I am.

And I love coffee shops – people, every language, colour, dress, accents. I soak it all up like a kid, mooch about on my phone or with a book and listen into strangers conversations. I‘m not going to write about them, (there should be an eavesdroppers code) but I have wished they could hang around so I could see what’s going to happen next and I’ve felt a wee bit teary. I’ve smiled at young love, laughed quietly at gossip and learnt about the lives of strangers.

I’ve been surprised how much Glasgow is like Wick. Does that sound daft? Well, people smile and say hello but I find that when you speak to people they want to know all about you. Taxi drivers say GCU or often I’m hearing “Caley?” And they follow that with I’m guessing you’re not a student. I say, Oh yes I am, and they want to know EVERYTHING. What I’m doing, why I’m doing it, where I’m from, how long I’ll be in Glasgow, it minds me of the conversations in Wick about who I was, where I was from and who my man was, where my kids went to school. At first I thought people were really nosy in Wick but then I realised that they wanted to “place” me. Once they had done that the questions settled.

Living in Caithness taught me just to answer questions, get the craic and be open to conversations and I am. So I’ve had loads of tips from people about where to go, from cat cafes, to films, to the best cheese shop, good pubs and book places. I’ve also had conversations about politics.

Now it might surprise those of you who read my stuff to know that I rarely introduce politics into a conversation. I don’t speak about it as a matter of course in my day to day life. I will however respond to being asked and have that conversation if people want to go there. Always fun, light hearted, friendly and kind. I’ve been amused by the assumption that as I’m English I must be feart of Independence. I love disabusing folk of that idea. Several times I have left a taxi, a conversation with someone who says “Im going to have to think a bit more about that”.

Honest conversations and friendly banter will win the day every time.

So Glasgow, although I rapidly walked in the opposite directions from the fireworks yesterday – they were a bit scary – Im enjoying getting to know you a bit better.

Can’t wait to get home though xxx

#glasgow #teuchter #StrangerInACity #Indyref2 #YouYesYet?

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