alithea: (Warrior River (made by brokenharlequin))
I'd like to say that it's because Scots are less racist and more leftwing than the English but that wouldn't actually be true (social attitude studies consistently show little difference - for example this report (pdf) "Is Scotland more left-wing than England" finds very modest differences in concern over income inequality and support for tax-and-spend and wealth redistribution. Similar issues are discussed in this Guardian analysis from last year). None of these differences are sufficient to explain why every single area of Scotland voted to Remain in Europe, even the rural conservative heartlands with similar demographics to the Leave voting areas of England.

So what's the difference?

Seems to me that the Scottish Parliament, the fact that it's elected by a proportional system, the existence of the SNP and the consistently pro-immigration political discourse are the deciding factors. In England, and now Wales* it seems, working class white folks abandoned by New Labour have turned to UKIP and bought into the increasingly popular immigrant-blaming discourse, encouraged by the mainstream media. In Scotland, this same demographic has turned to the SNP. While the UKIP lot vote in increasing numbers but have one MP, the SNP have been running the country for years, pretty successfully as centrist parties go. And they have been putting the blame for the inequality in our country firmly where it lies - with the Westminster Government and consistently telling Scots that we need immigration to survive. So while large swathes of England feel thoroughly disenfranchised and are obsessed with 'taking their country back', those same people in Scotland are getting on with doing it - from Westminster not from the EU and people who want to live and work here. And while there are racist bigots, they *never* hear their views legitimised by mainstream political discourse (much to my shame, we do have a single UKIP MEP up here (elected in a turnout of 33.5%!), but he is quite literally a national joke; when he took part in one of the TV debates, he showed himself to be completely at 90 degrees to reality, it's the only time I've seen *everyone* commenting on Twitter agreeing on anything).

And you can say what you like about the SNP (I am not their biggest fan - they pay lip service to wanting a Scandinavian-style social democracy and then centralise the police, fail to reform council tax and make excuses for not raising taxes on the rich when they have fought for the powers to do so), but while the Tory leadership candidates are talking about using EU residents as bargaining chips, the first thing Nicola Sturgeon did after the vote was tell all our EU residents that Scotland is still their home and call for everyone to be granted indefinite leave to remain, something only the Lib Dems have done south of the border, where the Labour lot are now competing over who gets to address 'immigration concerns' because the way to deal with UKIP support is apparently still to pander to their lies, because that hasn't just plunged us into complete chaos, has it? Oh no, wait, the other thing.

So now I'm back to the same point I was making during the indy ref - that modern Scottish nationalism is a very different beast to British Nationalism. And regardless of what some folks, the lexiteers and others no doubt, want to believe, the Leave vote really was about British Nationalism.





*What I can't speak to is why Welsh devolution doesn't seem to have had the same impact there. I confess I've never paid much attention to their politics.
alithea: (Being human (base by ahlai))
Really glad I joined the Scottish Greens and got involved this year. Going to the count last night was really good fun. We didn't get either of our deposits back but we substantially increased our vote share in both constituencies and managed about 3% (and 4th place) in Dundee West which was pretty damn good all things considered, since that was the seat the SNP were fighting as opposed to defending. And I'm really hopeful for Holyrood next year - there's a lot of sympathy for us locally, especially amongst the SNP lot, we should be able to pick up a lot of regionalist list votes here.

The anger towards Scottish Labour was palpable - the candidate for our constituency (who was running against the deputy leader of the SNP and was never going to win) was the only person whose speech after the results was booed.

Also telling was the fact the local Lib Dems are a bunch of St. Andrews old boys and spent the evening sitting with the local Tories. The Boy got chatting to one of their activists, who is actually a lefty liberal and apparently he's seriously considering decamping and joining us instead.

All in all a really positive experience, I hadn't planned to stay 'til the results were announced but I got caught up and did so anyway. Cheering on our merry little band was a great moment, although we didn't make the BBC Scotland coverage because our results were announced just as Douglas Alexander lost. And then we came home and got sucked into the TV coverage because Jim Murphy was just conceding defeat as we got in. So we didn't go to bed til gone 4am, by which time it was looking like Carmichael might be the only non-SNP left in Scotland and like the exit poll was depressingly accurate.

The next 5 years look to be *interesting* - Tory majority and an EU referendum was about the only scenario where I could see us having another indy ref within the next 10 years but I think it will depend on whether Westminster are prepared to offer electoral reform and how much devolution we now get. It's certainly depressing for the UK as a whole - branding the Scots a bunch of 'ugly nationalists' isn't going to do anything for the state of the Union and if that's the best Labour can manage, England is rather fucked.
alithea: (Mucha Fran&Katchoo)
National identity is a funny old thing. As a young person, I think you probably start off inheriting your national identity from your parents but as you get older, particularly if you move away and make your home some place else, it becomes a more complicated. Unsurprisingly, the indy ref has brought up a lot of issues regarding national identity and one person of my acquaintance just straight out said to me 'I'm surprised that as a recent immigrant to Scotland, you are supporting independence'. Now as it happens, my support for independence is not about national identity, it's about democracy and representation. I'm a federalist at heart but as we are quickly finding out now, the UK is not in the least set up in a way to achieve federalism any time soon. But the national identity thing is still an interesting discussion. So here are my thoughts:

I don't think I've ever felt British in my life. I was always English.

For context, my mother's family are very English on both sides and probably go back to the Doomsday book in the Beds/Bucks region. On the other hand, my father is Irish Catholic on one side and German Jewish on the other. Rather than being 'British', he has always referred to himself as being a mongrel and I think would probably identify as a European more than anything else (he infamously had a blazing row with the modern language teachers at my high school about how they should teach Spanish rather than German because Germans spoke English anyway and communicating in Europe was the future). Scotland was never on my radar until I lived here (my parents used to holiday in Kirkcudbright but the last time we did so as a family was when I was still too young to remember), Wales was somewhere my father hated with a passion (he lived there for a few years as a small boy and got bullied pretty badly for being English I think) that I only ever went to on biology field trips, and Ireland was a place across the water that my name and love of potatoes came from (a day trip to Dublin was my sole experience of the place until I met the Boy).

So regardless of actually *being* British, if you'd have asked teenage me what I was, I'd have said English every time.

Then I moved to Scotland.

Now for those of you who have never lived in Scotland (or Wales, or NI) let me share this - you don't have to live up here very long at all before you quickly realise how England-centric all the national news/media/whatever is and how utterly ignorant your average English person is about life and politics up here. I know because I *was* that ignorant English person. When I announced I was moving to Aberdeen to my friends at uni, one of them thought it was in Wales, and believe me, lack of knowledge of geography is only the start of the issue.

Now in Aberdeen, I was only at home in the bubble that was the old city, the university campus populated by folks from all over the world, so my Englishness remained. Also, I was miserable and there is nothing more inward looking than a depressed PhD student (I exaggerate for effect).

But when I moved to Dundee, I made a *home* for myself. Now home is a funny old concept just like national identity. Home had always been a difficult subject for me because I had been an outsider growing up because my parents weren't local and no-one ever believed I'd been born and bred in Staffs because I didn't *sound* local. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't an *outcast*, I made friends for life at school, but I also spent my entire school career being bullied about my voice/accent, and not just by the other pupils. Anyway, at some point in the last 10 years, Dundee has gone from being the place I live, to *home* and therefore *where I come from*, and similarly I've gone from feeling English to feeling Scottish.

But you're not Scottish, I hear you thinking. Ah well, feelings don't always fit with logic now do they? So here is the thing you are missing - unlike in England where, in my experience, immigrants identify as British if they aren't *ethnically* English, Scotland in the last decade or so has successfully made Scottishness a civic identity rather than just an ethnic one. Obviously not entirely and completely but for example, you often see Asian immigrants on Scottish TV who identify as 'Scottish Asian'. Now I don't know about you, but I have never come across any Asians or indeed anyone else with non-British ancestry who identifies as 'English' anything.

And then there is the other side to this - why don't I identify as British? And now we get to the bit that is further complicated by having an Irish Catholic (pagan) husband from Northern Ireland. It's hard to be a proud Brit when a lot of stuff you are supposed to be proud of involves an army who terrorised your husband as a child, empires and wars when you're not far off a pacifist, and sporting tribalism when you are the sort of person who enjoys watching people triumph regardless of their nationality (I love ice skating; I don't believe Torvil and Dean were cheated of gold at their last Olympics, I think they were damned lucky to get the bronze and probably didn't deserve it). Visit NI in July when you have catholic family that you love and then tell me the sight of a union flag makes you proud. Listen to the anti-immigration nonsense parroted by all the Westminster crowd when you have very dear friends who have been at risk of being deported because of the stupid new rules despite Scotland desperately needing more working age immigrants and tell me it makes you proud to be British.

And then there are the great British institutions we can all be proud of like the NHS and the Welfare State. But what are we doing to these things in modern Britain? Tearing them apart is what. The more I see of the modern Labour party and the rise of UKIP in England, the more I buy into the notion that the post war to 1970s period was the blip and actually the majority of folks in Britain basically want to live in the 19th Century. And I don't thank you very much, regardless of how much I love the fashions, architecture and Arts and Crafts, and I think the majority of Scots agree with me, whereas I'm afraid despite knowing English folks who do too, I don't have faith that they are a majority.

So there we have it, I might *be* British, it is after all what it says on my passport, but I don't feel loyalty to a nation that doesn't really exist (our country is the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) over a place that is my home. If we can be the Scotland I want us to be within the UK that suits me just fine, but if we can't then I'll be Scottish even if that means I'm not British any more.
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
I just got *two* letters from her - one sent at the beginning of the week making it clear she wasn't impressed with the delay over the Equal Marriage announcement either and assuring me she was on the case, and one sent yesterday including a copy of the announcement and saying she'll be working to ensure the changes to the UK Equality Act go through as swiftly as possible.

(I just wish she'd replied by email rather than feeling the need to send me 3 bits of paper in 2 envelopes, given I have only ever emailed her. But hey, no-one else has bothered to get back in touch after their initial responses to my emails.)

Weekend

Sep. 12th, 2011 01:37 pm
alithea: (Default)
*Saturday started off very badly, when I woke up to Tony Blair being interviewed on the Today programme and wanted to stab his eyes out after about 2 minutes. I then spent the rest of the weekend avoiding all news and coverage of the 9/11 memorials like the plague, which did wonders for my sanity.

*I went swimming on Saturday afternoon and ended up in the sprint lane, which was a bit full on. I love my new goggles soo much though - they don't leak or steam up!

*The Boy and I had dinner with a friend we don't see enough of on Saturday night and it was lovely. Also, her pet rats are incredibly cute.

*Dr Who made me cry. That's the first time I've been emotionally engaged this series and therefore a win (ETA: okay, I forgot about The Doctor's Wife). My only gripe is that the writing *still* seems to be ignoring the fact that Amy and Rory are supposed to be parents.
alithea: (Being human (base by ahlai))
I think I'm more depressed by the people calling the rioters animals and advocating sending the army in to shoot them than I am by the wanton destruction and violence (not that I'm not appalled at people losing their homes and livelihoods you understand, but as this article points out, most of the culprits are thoroughly dispossessed and condemming people with no hope as worthless and less than human isn't the way to improve our society).

I really hope things calm down and the clean-up crews with their brooms don't find all their good work undone by the morning.

ETA: Also, everyone should read this post by someone who works with these young people (via Andrew Hickey on twitter)
That's made me think actually, I was contemplating applying for a voluntary PT job editing stuff for a food-related environmental campaign group but all this makes me think I should really volunteer with my local community instead...
alithea: (Default)
*York was lovely - I'm a big fan of medieval architecture so just wandering around the place is lovely, especially when the weather turned out to be far less wet than I was expecting, but we also did something of a museum tour - the Merchant Adventurer's Hall (we are roleplayers, how could we resist something so named?!), the Jorvik centre, York Castle Museum and Clifford's Tower, plus a lot of walking on the walls and in the Yorkshire Museum Gardens. The hotel was pleasant enough but buying food out the whole time reminded me why we usually do self-catering holidays!
The Merchant Adventurer's Hall )

*Scotland has not set up border controls in my absence although you'd think it was imminent from the UK media response to the SNP victory. I'm a little surprised at how much of a drubbing they gave Labour but pleasantly so, given the scare mongering and authoritarian nonsense Labour was campaigning on up here. I'm not sorry to see the back of either the Scottish Labour or Lib Dem leaders either. Interesting times ahead I feel - personally I'm hoping we get stronger devolution rather than independence and I suspect the majority of Scotland agrees with me, although the more damage the Tories do, the more appealing a firmer border looks...

*I suspect the least said about the AV referendum the better.

Politics

Nov. 12th, 2010 02:16 pm
alithea: (Ivanova (made by amergina))
I haven't mentionned politics for a good while, mostly because it is simply too depressing for words and for the 1st time in my adult life I find myself actively avoiding the news and wishing I could bury my head in the sand.

As you may remember, I was impressed with Nick Clegg in the election debates and dared hope that the Lib Dems joining the Coalition would be good for both them and the country, so this article pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter right now - thoroughly betrayed. If I met him in the street tomorrow, I think I might be forced to give him a good slap (utterly pointless in the grand scheme of things but it might make me feel a bit better!).

I'm also unimpressed with my local MP - I wrote to him about supporting the BBC and got a reply back still complaining about how they wouldn't let the SNP into the national leaders debates before the election, and this week I asked him to support the Sustainable Farming Private Members Bill and got a reply saying he is too busy in the constituancy to attend parliament today and vote, completely failing to state whether he has any intention of supporting it at later stages should it get that far!

We have elections for the Scottish Parliament up here next May and at this rate, unless I find a local candidate who impresses me enough to ignore party politics, I'll be spoiling my ballot paper rather than endorsing any of the damn lot of them!
alithea: (V ideas (made by garinungkadol))
cut for those who are pig sick of the subject and don't want to read my opinions )

And now I'm off to vote and I hope all the rest of you in the UK have done so, or are intending to later in the day. Because even if your views of completedly different to mine, I'd still rather you vote than not. I believe in voting like I believe in freedom of speech - I'd even rather someone voted for the BNP (and believe you me that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth because I think they are a bunch of vile hate-mongers) than not vote at all. And if you really don't feel your views are reflected by any of your local candidates, spoil your ballot paper if you must, but turn out anyway, because people died fighting for our right to this voice and you betray all of them and all of us, if you sit on your hands and do nothing today.

/rant

Compassion

Aug. 20th, 2009 01:53 pm
alithea: (V ideas (made by garinungkadol))
So the Lockerbie bomber is being released on compassionate grounds so he can die at home with his family. This will no doubt cause considerable consternation to some, such as Hilary Clinton, while others doubt he was ever guilty in the first place.

I don't know whether he was responsible for all those deaths or not, what I do know is that compassion for victims and their families is easy. Surely, the test of a truly compassionate person or country is the ability to show compassion even under the hardest circumstances, and it doesn't get much harder than a convicted mass murderer. So I'm sorry if the victim's families feel betrayed by this judgment, but for my part I'm proud to live in a country where we can show compassion to a dying man, regardless of what he has done.
alithea: (V ideas (made by garinungkadol))
Moved and hopeful.

Let's hope his actions can be as inspiring as his words.
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
Looks like Prop 8 is going to pass, banning same-sex marriage in California.

*sigh*
alithea: (V ideas (made by garinungkadol))
So as of today, a black man is president-elect of the USA. Even if he completely fails to live up to expectations (although I really hope he doesn't, for all our sakes), nothing will change the fact that there are black people in America who remember being 2nd class citizens and not having the right to vote, and now one of their own is going to run the country, in their lifetime. From my position of privilege, I'm finding it hard to comprehend how huge that must be for them. (ETA: which is not to say it isn't a big thing for all of us and that we don't all benefit from increased equality)

The thought of having Sarah Palin as Vice President when McCain is eldery and not exactly hale and hearty, was always much scarier to me than the thought of McCain as president (I might not agree with his policies or the way he conducted his campaign, but i think he is at heart a person worthy of respect and not an utter nutcase like she is), but now there's a liberal intellectual heading into the White House, and from my place of liberal intellectual bias, that's a very good thing for world :)

ETA: This blog post is the most eloquent I have found on why this is so important. Read it and weep for the right reasons.
alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
I'm shattered, two disturbed nights in a row do not a Happy Helen make :(

I've carried out my civic duty and voted though. Not that it will make much odds - my local seat for the Scottish Parliament is a two horse race between Labour and the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party for peeps not from around these parts) and I couldn't bring myself to vote for either to keep the other out so I voted Lib Dem as usual, because i mostly agree with their policies, although i think Nicol Stephen is a bit of a numpty (and their website says my postcode is invalid so that tells you plenty about their hopes for this constituency!) Oh well. It'll be interesting to see whether the SNP do beat Labour, and what they do to try and convince everyone that independence is a good idea if they do...
alithea: (River (made by spiffy_themes))
Did make it to T'ai Chi on Wednesday, which was good - we did 44, 108, Palm 2 AND animals so it was a really good class, and i felt soo much better for it!

Yesterday, went out for lunch with Jakob and ended up having one of those 'here's how I'd save the world' discussions, involving my pet rants on the utter crapitude of the Government's energy and transport policies, particularly with regard to climate change, and culminating in my latest annoyance at Friends of the Earth, and their complete failure to be an effective national lobbying voice. Jakob quite rightly pointed out that rather than ranting about it in the pub, I should actually write them a letter. He has a point - I go on about not knowing what I should do with my life and it's just an excuse; I know what I should be doing, I'm just not brave enough yet to stand up and actually do it! Thing is there's a big difference between ranting to a friend and pointing out to people who have spent their lives doing this stuff that I think they're really missing a trick here. Not helped by the fact that these kind of organisations tend to be run by people who have no respect for anyone who calls themselves an environmentalist but has never got closer to volunteer work than a week at her local RSPB reserve :( I mean they employed Barbara because she had worked at a call centre NOT because she had a PhD, for godsake!! They seem to be increasingly of the mindset that scientists are the enemy too, and that isn't going to get them anywhere.

Anyway...

Then had great fun with Gizmo 'cos she had to go to the vets for her second jab, but deary me, was she soo not going in that box! Much upset, hissing and struggling ensued :( Fortunately, she did not attack me or go into hiding in an inaccessible corner so i eventually succeeded. Went pretty well; I've not put up with almost constant yowling in hunger for nothing - she has lost weight! Not enough yet, but progress in the right direction. Her teeth really are a bit grim though, she needs a good scrape and polish. Unfortunately, that would necessitate knocking her out so I think we'll leave it for now, I expect there'll be quite enough upset over the cattery *sigh* Oh well, she seems to have forgiven me at least, I didn't get trampled on in the middle of the night in revenge ;)

Today, it is utterly foul - not as cold as it has been but dark, wet and windy. Joy :( I'd rather it be freezing if it meant we got daylight! Ah well. Need to catch up on my house work anyway. Need to get the place fit for visitors so that [livejournal.com profile] purple_bug can come over and discover if the vague plan for her to move in next year will be foiled at the first hurdle by her being violently allergic to Gizmo! Other plans for the weekend include Bollywood dance class on Saturday, Adventure! and Nobilis. Can I interest you in Johnny Depp in a frock coat on the big screen, [livejournal.com profile] mcwoof??? ;)
alithea: (Burning books (made by celandineb))
When I'm agreeing with something coming out of the mouth of the Tory leader???

On the plus side, the police will not be allowed to effectively give people 6 month jail sentences on the basis of no evidence - civil rights 1; Blair 0! He just doesn't get it at all - he was all indignant on the news, saying we don't understand how under threat we are. He's completely missing the fact that if our civil rights are thoroughly eroded, he'll have destroyed our society for the flippin' terrorists! A high security prison might be pretty damn safe place (well, if there was no-one else in it maybe ;)) but it doesn't mean we want to live in one!!!

Also, there is still hope - Kansas might be allowing ID and creationism to be taught be schools but Channel 4 News managed to track down a Presbytarian minister who is a trained biologist, and is so horrified by the biblical fundamentalists trying to make out the earth is 6000 years old that he's teaching evolution in Sunday school!

Doesn't say much when the news cheers me up :( Today was beautifully sunny (but cold) and i was going to spend the afternoon in the park but i ended up in town with Amy. Which was good company-wise but left me grumpy and restless rather than peaceful. And I lost one of my amethyst earrings :( And I missed T'ai Chi for the second week running 'cos I would have had to leave without having any dinner first because I went back to Amy's for a cuppa and didn't get home until 6.20pm. Grrrr, must make time to practice. Have been unmotivated since the classes moved, Wednesday isn't as good as our old Friday classes used to be :(

Tomorrow, Gizmo is going to the vets for her shots ready for the cattery over Christmas so she's going to love me! I did buy her some new toys today though as I've discovered she likes to play football. So now she has a ball with a bell in it, which kept her amused for about 20 mins after she'd had her tea :) Just hope she doesn't decide to play with it in the middle of the night though as it makes a lot of noise!

Sad Times

Aug. 19th, 2005 10:50 am
alithea: (Burning books (made by celandineb))
First it was Robin Cook, man of The speech of the decade so far, and today, Mo Mowlam, a woman of incredible courage and determination, and a politician who was much loved, as well as respected.

Rest In Peace.

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