Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Seig Heil, Mein Furher!

According to Joann Lamont in her speech to the Labour Conference, Scots who think independence is a good idea for Scotland have a ' nationalist virus'.

This sort of shallow Punch and Judy Show delivery is the norm for Ms Lamont, who is merely the mouth piece for the rubbish the likes of Jim Murphy and Anas Sawar routinely put in her mouth to keep her 'on message'. Even then, you would think she thought about what she was actually saying.

Unfortunately her 'speech writer' did not understand the subject of the 1942 quote she tried to alluded to in her attempt to create Wee Eck as Hitler and 'Yes supporters' as being in the thrall of a maniacal, fascist dictator. The problem for this tortuous claim is the subject of the 1942 quote was the 'Jewish Virus' and how Hitler was going to rid Europe of this 'Jewish Virus' once and for all.

Is Labour's hatred for the SNP so totally engrossing their Scottish region considers the genocide of 'Yes supporters', the people with Labour's alleged 'nationalist virus', as the only solution to the Scottish Independence movement?

How much lower will Labour fall in Scotland in what remains of the year leading up to the referendum? 

I wonder if there will be any apology to Scotland's Jewish Community from Lamont for this crass piece of unthinking and insensitive politicking.

(What? Don't hold your breathe you say?)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Chauvinistic British Intellectual - moi?

Today's Observer contains one of the most poorly thought out say 'No' to independence because it is just a Wee Eck ego trip articles - ever.

The core claim Ms Bennett, as author, makes as to why Scotland should not be independent is the allegation the SNP campaign (sorry Yes campaign) is based around 'Bannockburn, bag pipes and oat cakes'.  Further without the boost of 'Bannockburn, bag pipes and oatcakes' the Yes campaign would never have got off the ground. The accusation itself is groundless but then Ms Bennett falls into a trap of her own making by then comparing this rampant SNP chauvinism with the benign performance of the 'No' campaign which makes no use, in her world, of Union Flags, joint 'cultural aspirations', demeaning scare stories or the Britain of Empire.

This article is revealing in how the London media circle sees itself and its self selecting criteria of what and what is not chauvinism in a cultural sense. At a stroke this lady has demonstrated exactly the point Iain Gray was lambasted for making, around twelve months ago - the imposition of a chauvinistic 'British culture' on Scotland.

Ms Bennett clearly and without irony, imparts the same cultural chauvinism and British revisionism on the Scottish Independence movement she claims to be against, in her 'intellectual' defence of the Union.

Sorry Ms Bennett, Scots do not see Scottish independence through you and Westminster's narrow 'Wee Eck' lense, the decision is far too important for that to be the main criteria. It is no surprise the Observer / Guardian has not yet opened this frothing at the mouth piece for comment - maybe they would be better to pull it.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Manic, Depression, stable, manic ....

I went off the rails earlier this week.

It is the best way I can think to describe the manic phase, you are like a runaway train where the normal you is the driver who sees what is happening but is powerless to stop the crash (large or small), the damage and injury to yourself, and to others, which is inevitable.

Sometimes you can blow the whistle to warn yourself and others, reducing the collateral damage, but not often. Usually you just hold on and watch the crash happen; knowing pain, self anger and remorse is next up, on the menu. Then you return to 'normal' in the view of those outside your own world. Till next time the pressure in your psychological boiler gets too much and your train runs away with you yet again.

Instead of going to the March for Independence, as I have long planned, I am remaining at home this week end, as I am at the point where I could go either way - more manic or seriously depressed. My self knowledge knows going to the march would be more fuel for my manic side and would not end up well for anyone. Yet maybe it is simply I am punishing myself for being 'bad' by creating remorse that I am not where I promised I would be.

This is the see-saw I seek to balance everyday with a mix of drugs, meditation and psychological tools. This in turn takes a lot of energy, focus and patience from someone is already physically exhausted after five days of manic behaviour and little sleep - so apologies to everyone on the march, wish I was there, but it is better I am not.
The reality is when I am manic, I say and write what I am actually thinking because I do not have the time or energy to wrap it up in niceties. The emotional value and response you place on what I write when I am manic or any other time is yours and yours alone, so take responsibility for it.
To anyone who feels hurt by anything I have written this week, think why do you feel hurt?

To anyone who has become angry by anything I have written this week, ask why are you angry?

Then do you, and the others around you, a favour; forgive yourself and then those who are around you who have helped fuel your hurt or anger by agreeing or disagreeing with you - they meant well.

This is the only way you have any chance of beginning to bring balance your own personal see-saw. Then think of me working my way back up an 80 degree slope, rolling a psychological rock of Sisyphean dimensions, seeking not to slide past the balance point as I do so.

Me, forgiving me is the hardest of all - it is the Sisyphean rock which keeps on coming back, trying to crush me.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My God's better than your God ...

Philosophically:  How can you argue 'God' exists?

Training as a Methodist Lay Preacher made me an agnostic, watching Christians tearing Christians apart; Muslims, Muslims; Jews, Muslims; Muslims, Buddhists and any of the possible other combinations leaves a massive hole in the need for a God or multiples of God or religion whether Abrahamic or Hindu or Druid.

The only substance 'God' believers have to hold onto can be summed up in the statement:

<i>Its pink, therefore it's Spam.</i>

The function of a God in any religion appears to be so human's can say:

<i>It wisnae me that did it, it was yon big boy God and he's run away. I'm awfy sorry mister.</i>.

We see this in action in the faux apologies from religious politicians, such as St Tony of the Blair, or the attempts from the PC world to wring apologies out of politicians for historical actions which were never in their compass.

There is no such thing as a 'fundamental religious truth' otherwise all religions would be the same. The reality is 'truth' depends on your current view point and is therefore constantly changing in response to your own experience. So religion can only be 'fundamental' if it is strictly controlled to ensure all this 'experience stuff' does not get in the way of 'The Truth', hence all these wacky religious proscriptions which if you do not follow, you are out of the 'club' or more usually; nailed to a bit of wood, then set on fire (or multiple variations of death depending on your oppressors tastes).

One fascinating point which came from the current 'Story of the Jews' on BBC 2 is the Talmud and its purpose. All these thousands of years after the wisdom of 'Abraham's God' was written down there is no agreement on what the truth is or what the Torah actually is saying, it is endlessly reinterpreted. This leaves the mono-linear religions of Christianity and Islam in a pretty pickle. The book that acts as their basis, their foundation is built on sand, wide open to any multiples of interpretation (or if you disagree, misinterpretations).

The neat thing I like about Buddhism is it is, in its most basic form, a philosophy for seeking to live harmoniously - you do not have to believe in any God or you might, this is fine but is not important if you set out to live harmoniously in the first instance. So please, friends and enemies, if you find a need for God to explain your purpose for life: that is fine, it is your 'Truth' and I respect your right to to hold it - just as I have my own right to my own 'Truth'.

"All individual things pass away, seek your liberation with diligence."

As a flame blown out by the wind

Goes to rest and cannot be defined,
So the enlightened man freed from selfishness
Goes to rest and cannot be defined,
Gone beyond all images - 
Gone beyond the power of words.

No forty virgins, no endless feasting, no glory, just infinity and the universe goes on,  a bit bleak and not as much fun but just seems more logical to me.

Monday, 16 September 2013

There's worm at the bottom of my garden ....

.... And it is eating away at my sense of peace and calm.

  • I live trying to do more good than harm, 
  • I walk away from angry people because usually as they are angry with themselves
  • I recognise I am the only person who lets me be happy
  • I believe I am an optimist and seek to see the best in everyone
  • I think I can be a good listener to others and have empathy
The worm getting at me is this:

Just why do so many people who claim to vote 'No' to independence respond to any criticism of Westminster and the Union by claiming it is 'anti-English'. They instantly turn me into a plaster saint whose head flies off at the slightest touch, just a step away from instantaneous combustion, who has the sudden urge to go round to their house and beat their head against a wall in a vain attempt to get them to realise just what twaddle they are coming up with and why can they not admit they are either ignorant of the facts or simply scared shitless. Luckily bullet point two cuts in and I walk away from myself, switch off the computer and go off and do anything else - chainsawing and splitting logs was today's option and a good use of the pent up energy of unreleased anger.

Later on today I came back woke the computer up and scanned what is going on and there on a thread was another idiot telling everyone why Scotland would go arse over tit without England and anyone who disagreed with them was just an English hater and a racist.

The worm started chewing at my insides, this person was actually saying we were better off being screwed over by a Westminster politic that does not give a fig for Scotland and does not even represent the people of Scotland's wishes for a fair and decent country, let alone a health service or a safe level of benefit cover for the most vulnerable in Scotland. I could feel the tension rising as the nagging pain of cervical strain became the acute pain in the region of my eighth thoracic vertebrae and my diaphragm became more and more rigid.

I have military training in the use of small arms, rifles and GPMG's. I know how to throw a hand grenade and to infiltrate enemy positions - I did the All Arms Course at RM Lympstone. It was pitch dark so chain sawing and log splitting was right out. Instead I thought out how I could track the person's ISP and find out where they lived. How I would strip and clean my non existent weapons (once you can do it blindfolded, you do not forget), prime a claymore mine, fitting it with a remote detonator and placing it under the person's car so I would ensure it would only be set off with this particular person in it. I would do all this, even though I have personal experience of armed conflict and death with its aftermath in terms of the wounded, the dead and the impact of PTSD.

I then became very scared. If I, who consider themselves a pacifist, who knows violence is a last resort because all else has failed, who puts spiders and other creepy crawlies out to prevent others squishing them, have got to this point, just how much more will the more psychopathic 'Yes' supporters take?

Then I realised; attempting to create violent responses is all that is left for 'Better Together', there is no debate left and their social media operators have been briefed and are setting out to do just that. They are by deliberate ignorance and reactionary posts trying to bring people to the point where violence appears to be all that is left.


Because this is the only defence 'Better Together' have left and is the only ground of their choosing left to them, to physically fight for a win:

"Then they 'fight you', then you win."

I can go to bed and sleep easy as it is clear from the increasingly hysterical responses coming from Better Together and their supporters, we on the 'Yes' side are winning and we have no need to fight, none at all.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Is Scotland really 'Socialist'?

Newsnet Scotland has a piece by Gerry Hassan on 'Fighting Scottish Poverty' the article is, as is most of Mr Hassan's journalism, stimulating but in this case sustains the author's narrow socialist view - the real solution to poverty is to tax the rich even more. The solution is to continue the 'class war', the same social engineering view point that has brought Scotland and the UK to its present pass; an artificially divided land along artificial political lines. We do not have a UK based on fairness because both extremes seek scapegoats to blame and in doing so increase the divisions, rather than heal them.

Of course my own politics colour my view. I am what Gerry would call a 'social democrat' in my old age; Liberal in my youth. I have always been left of centre but having seen the failures of 'socialist states' and their counter part 'fascist states' I have long wondered why these two antagonists are the norm in nation states; as both are fundamentally the same paternalistic state where control of the population is paramount and loss of control by the political elite is a disaster (for them).

I was brought up on the tales of 1919 by both my grandfathers who were at Glasgow Cross. Hardy, Maxton and McLean were folk heroes in our family but they need to be seen within their context and time though if all were alive today they would see big improvements but the same basic social and socialist failings they saw and suffered from. A large gap between rich and poor with socialists high on theories but more interested in beating each other up, rather than creating a cohesive force for good. The recent history of Scotland's Socialist Parties does not make pleasant reading for the socialist cause.

Gerry's basic thesis is the 'rich' should 'pay more' and this is his solution. He argues from the basis of Rowntree Foundation papers which appear to give him credence but the problem is these papers are talking about an 'ideal world' and could only work if every single duck was in line. The reality is getting a large number of humans to agree is akin to herding cats. What an independent Scotland needs is pragmatism not a new set of political shibboleths, no matter how well meaning they are. The answer to Scotland's ingrained poverty is not political, it is consensus; the two are subtly different but rely on each other.

I spent from 1996 to 2005 being paid decent money to go into businesses, government departments and the NHS to state the 'bleeding obvious' (aka consultancy). My most common question was; Why do things need to be this complicated? To which the common answer was variation on a theme of  'its aye been'.

UK organisations are like Window's upgrades they add more layers and never throw any away because they might be useful, sometime. This leaves them stultified, top heavy with bureaucracy, slow and unable to respond to meet changing needs. This partly explains why so many brilliant and innovative systems and products created or invented in the UK are developed and make profits for companies over seas. For many in industry investing in the UK is a lottery because the UK Government is always randomly giving and taking tax breaks away on a political basis rather than an economic basis, as we are currently seeing with the craze for 'fracking' which will have no actual impact on the UK economy except to make power generation in England even more dependent on natural gas, not a real solution - just another political stop gap.

What I learned in my time as a consultant is the more you try to define a process, whether it is benefits or the sale of contact lenses, the more the process goes out of control and the more you try to define the process, this is clearly a self destructive cycle. This is the political solution writ large. It is not the legislation which is wrong it is the people, so we have to control the people and make them follow the legislation by creating even more legislation. The basic failing here is not the people, most folk know what they need and expect, it is legislation which does not reflect these identifiable needs and expectations for themselves and others ( as opposed to political wants). The misinterpretation of the logical Health and Safety Law by so called legal experts is a case in point. The requirements of health and safety are; I as an employer must assess all the potential risks to my employees from mechanical, chemical and other hazards, I have to address these risks to ensure my employees are safe and train my employees to operate safely within their work environment. My employees are expected to follow their training when operating within my business, including the wearing of any safety equipment provided. 

Where this goes wrong is, for example, where lawyers from a council decide the council would be at risk of being sued if a teacher did not check the seat belts 'worked' before a school trip. The reality is testing seat belt operation is a technical skill outside of most teacher's experience so by claiming a seat belt 'worked' leaves the average teacher with the problem in court of; How did you know? The actual responsibility lies with the coach owner who has to ensure their bus is safe for purpose in all respects and properly checked before sending it on a hire, that is the point of the hire contract and the associated documentation should be available for inspection. Again, how many teachers know what the minimum safe depth of tread on a coach tyre is or its correct operating PSI? I bet most could not tell you the operating parameters for their own car tyres.

So any new form of Benefits System in Scotland has to be based on need and expectation of the community as what is 'fair' and not on what has happened or is happening at present. I will have a go at defining the basic need and expectation as I see it:

  • A roof over your head
  • A space which is large enough, dry, warm and secure
  • Clean water, washing facilities and an internal flushing toilet
  • Cooker and cooking implements
  • Furniture
  • Food
  • Funding must ensure basic human rights and choice (not the same as a 'living wage')
  • The property is properly maintained by both the tenant and the provider
  • Heating is always available
  • Benefit should not be set at a level where work is less rewarding
  • Opportunities for paid work and self improvement should be readily available
This is where I disagree with Gerry Hassan, the Beveridge Report of 1942 still has many serious questions to ask us over 70 years later which we have still failed to address such as a preventive approach to community health. We have made strides but most of the preventive benefit is going to people who would have probably had access or were already aware of the health issues in any case. A preventable disease such as tooth decay, is now a social disease with 80% of the disease in the poorest 20% in Scotland. Dentists can hazard a guess at your postcode from the state of your mouth, in Scottish cities.

The real answer to the poorest in Scotland is to raise them up, not to pull the rich down. Many of Gerry's rich are well aware of their responsibility to their society and are ploughing chunks of their riches back, in quiet ways, to help their communities and Scotland.

Scotland needs to re-find its 'chutzpah', its celebration of the woman or man from the bottom who 'makes it' in no matter which field. We need to cherish the Tom Farmer's of this world, not berate them, because if a tyre fitter from Dunfermilne with little education but an idea can make it, then why not any lad or lass from Drumchapel or Easterhouse or Niddrie or Fintry?

The benefit system in an independent Scotland should seek to help and encourage this to happen, not legislate, it is not about redistribution of wealth but a different way of thinking, epitomised by actually making real the idea of:

'We're aa Jock Tamson's bairns'

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Only working class can be socialists .....

The biggest myth in the UK and especially in class ridden England is that to have socialist or social democratic views you must be 'working class'.

To have social or social democratic views you simply have to think the community is more important than the plutocrat or oligarch. You are persuaded that sharing risk of unemployment, ill health, disablement and destitution across the community to protect the most vulnerable is the correct way to conduct a civilised country rather than the beggar my neighbour polices so beloved by the current bunch of plutocrats and oligarchs at Westminster.

Sadly this is what old fashioned social democrat Liberals such as Beveridge believed was the essence of a civilised country, one where part of the profits from the economy were used to help those at the bottom - unlike Clegg who is only interested in power without responsibility and will do what ever it takes to cling onto power, no matter how decivilising it is.

A socialist believes much the same but like the current Government thinks it can only happen by Government intervention to make people work by taking complete control of the countries economic levers. The reality is there is little difference between the Tory and a real Socialist view of the role of Government - for both it has to be authoritarian, intimidatory and antagonistic governance where some section of the country are the 'problem', either the poor or the rich respectively.

The real problem in England is there is no social democratic option, let alone a socialist one, as all three English Parties who haggle over power at Westminster are all Tories. The result is the since 1979 the poor have always been the problem, this has been refined to a sharp point since 2010 as we see the actions of the only social democratic government to hold power in the last one hundred years is having its good works, works to ensure my father's generation came home to a country fit for heroes, are thrown in the bin, in a chase to the bottom. Yet in 2015 the English electorate will still only have three different styles of Tory to vote for and the reducing numbers who will exercise their right to vote will only have an option of which is the least worse option in their view. 

The Scots have long recognised that social democrat politics are about the sort of community you wish to live in, create, has nothing to do with class and is about a vision of creating as fair a community and as many opportunities to succeed as possible. The real change which is happening is that more and more Scots understand we can only have the sort of community, this type of common weal, we wish to continue to live in without the dead hand of a Tory Westminster dragging us back into the dark ages.

The myth is being put about by Nu Blu Labour is there are no votes in social democratic policies in England - it is time someone gave the English the choice, because I believe from living for 27 years in England, they are wrong and Nu Blu Labour are simply acting out of self interest. I do not think a new English social democrat party will do as well as the SNP have in Scotland (48% Scottish vote share currently) but I am sure they would do far better than UKIP and threaten both the English Libdems and Nu Blu Labour's sense of self importance, arrogance and infallibility.

Many in England increasingly see the ending of the Union as their opportunity to reform a Westminster which neither serves the electorate nor is democratic or representative, except in the loosest sense.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

I hate Wee Eck so .....

Here's the problem for the 'I hate Wee Eck, so I'll vote 'no' folk, they are cutting their nose off to spite their face. By voting 'No' they are ensuring Scotland will be ruled by an ever more right wing and increasingly fascist Westminster, a government which is an antithesis to the Scottish sense of fairness, for many more decades but hopefully not centuries to come.

Further it makes no sense because many of the 'We hate Wee Eck' brigade will have voted for 'Wee Eck' indirectly and, in so doing, made the SNP the majority party in Holyrood because they actually do what they say they will do for Scotland. This dichotomy does not appear to have changed as opinion polls indicate the SNP vote share has increased since 2011 which is a bit strange for a party where so many of the Scottish electorate claim to 'hate Wee Eck'.

There is a psychological process, it is called displacement, where individuals shift their hatred on to another person simply because they make that person represent their own sense of betrayal by or of others. This process would suggest their anger is not actually directed at 'Wee Eck', 'Wee Eck' has simply become a scapegoat for their realisation of just how badly they have been betrayed by Labour's Scottish Mafia.

This is clearly an irrational response to a conditioned state ( My Grandad voted Labour, My Dad voted Labour, so ....). 

The only response is to paraphrase Kennedy: 

'Think not of what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country'.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Norwegian Blue ... revisited.

Since I read the Scottish Business for Independence article on the level of US Treasury dollars propping up the City of London's main banks, in the aftermath of Gordon 'Saviour of the World' Brown's attempt to rig the market, to make Lloyds TSB's swallowing of HBOS more palatable in October 2008, by giving the BBC's Peston the nod. I have been left with this worm eating at my brain cells.

I can do my own basic small business accounts with a turn over of £250,000 but once you get into multiples of billions my brain freezes. The idea that the US Fed has put a £UK equivalent of many multiples of the UK Treasury's total bank bail out has me in a spin. If I had a silent investor in my business I know they would be looking for a competitive return on their investment and a majority shareholding. It is clear this is exactly what is happening but no one is asking the big question - what is the real impact of all this cash being sucked out of the UK economy and into the Fed?

Has Ed Balls actually said anything of note to pay attention to on this subject?

Nope, do not think so.

What about the Gideot? Well his claims for the UK economic growth this quarter increasingly has parallels with those of the seller of the infamous Norwegian Blue Parrot - it would not go 'Voom', if you put 40 million volts through it.

How about some journalist looking at the massive injections of US treasury dollars into the likes of Barclays ($522 billion), a similar amount into RBoS in London and HBOS Halifax's London operation? Just what is the implication for the UK economy of this level multi-billion dollar US treasury credit propping up the City of London?

Is it maybe why the Gideot is busy selling off the remaining UK family possessions to corporate America - NHS, Civil Service and the rest ..... after all there is no such thing as a 'free lunch' in the good ol' USA, is there?

If I was seeing 60% of my operating profit going into my silent investor's bank account, my business would not be able to invest in new product or machinery anywhere as quickly as I would need to keep up with my competitors, let alone stay ahead of the game. In fact the logical extension is I would be bought out at the bottom of the market so the venture capitalists and their commercial bank backers could make big bucks out of selling on my business when the economy actually returns to growth.

This, in a nutshell, is my problem: why would the US Fed, as both venture capitalist and commercial banker for the London end of HBOS(Lloyds), Barclays or Natwest/ RBoS, act any differently?

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Clann a' Ched ........ (Children of the Mist)

“We became one when the Clann a’ Romaidh beat on our doors to look for our gold and wealth. We stopped our raiding. We knew our code of enough was a feast was not the way of the Clann a’ Romaidh who took, plundered all and left only emptiness behind them where as we took only that what was needed and in times of harshness for others expected the same when we had plenty.  A way which has been ours since the time of the giants and the defeat of their darkness by Lug which brought us to light and life; a darkness we still defeat every Yule at the darkest point of the year with fire and cleansing. I, Griogair, son of Dungal, Ceann Mhor by acclaim of my fellow Caenn a’ Clann  now speak of something that maybe hard to bear for all who call Alba home, it is why I asked you to come to my hall, take venison and fra’och with me and hear our history told by our bards, word for word, for many generations since the many became one, we the people the Clann a’ Romaidh  called Pictii after they had seen our painted story stones that only our bards can read and the same stories tattooed on our dead before they burnt them and cleansed their souls so they would go with Lug to Eillann Glas and not to the giants where they would be crushed amongst  crag an mhor  for eternity.

We are at a point where we must decide as our ancestors decided all those moons ago do we stay alone separate while the Norse eat our lands as they have already in Caithness and Sutherland and already nibble at Eillann Dubh and onto Moray. We lost many against the Norse at Dornoch, fine warriors, great men though they were and now I say we must choose do we make peace with the Norse, make settlement with gold and silver and let them hold our lands in their name or do we look to the Scottis in Dal Ratia for kinship and joining as they to suffer from the Norse curse. This is what troubles me and why I need your council as Ceann Mhor for it is a decision that will see unification into one land, this is what the bards tell and the seers predict form the passing of the moon and stars across the stone circle of the ancients.  What are your words? Come forward to the fire and say what you will Chatt’an, Macbeth, Mac ‘eirk, Grant and all here  ... the hearth is yours.”

“I speak for Clann a’ Chatt’an. We know the story and lore that makes Alba and we feel for our friends in Sutherland and Caithness but we must look to ourselves and make tight our borders against the Norse. Yet our borders are long and our men and horse are few after Dornoch. The Norse raid Moray and take the kine, quines and bairns leaving only dead behind. If we make peace, will they not see this as weakness and simply keep up their plunder of our kine and people? We drove the Clann a’ Romaidh from our lands down the Straths, Carses and below the Forth, are we still those men or are we but mewling babes in arms?

I say if we stay our hand for peace, we will die at the Norse hand, anyway, once we are empty of gold and silver.”

There was much banging of knife handles on the tables and cries of ‘Aye, this is so!’. Griogair let them cheer and rumble and as the mood died he called forward Macbeth, styled Righ of Pittencrief and Auchterarder, Righ Mhor of the Clanns of Fife.

“We know the stories of how we bested the Clann a’ Romaidh. We defeated them by stealth; we did not face such an armed, strong and worthy foe in direct battle for to do so was doom, as those in the Carse of Gowry and Strath Don found. Their tribal warriors set in piles and their women and children taken for slaves when they would not join us, as cooperation with other Clanns was ‘not their way’ and ‘against their code’. It was only the wisdom of us in the fastness of our hills and mountains who saw what was needed was a joining; not a splitting, for we would be destroyed if we held to our old ways.  Together we became Clann a Ched, the Children of the Mist, we learnt to find the weak spots and attack those, not face the Legions – the disaster near Aber Dee taught us that, once and for all, for those with eyes to see. We would not take the gold and silver, as did some, to keep and ape the Romaidh peace.

We thought and worked together and raided short and fast from out of Straths, making lots of little cuts in that great serpent, all which joined together to make one great wound which even the Romaidh could not staunch and so they left us much the poorer in gold, people and kine yet much the richer for having found a peace amongst us, in common cause. I say paying gold and silver to the Norse to enslave us, is not our way in Alba: it is the way of the Romaidh we have long since cursed and despised. Yet the Norse are not the Romaidh, they are not a serpent with one head which our ancestors could torment and defeat, these Norse are many headed and are like the midge we so curse in late summer, they swarm no matter how many you slap down. To the South West the Scottis of Dal Riata now have the same plague upon them. I say we take an embassy to Dal Riata and seek togetherness with the Scottis, as did our ancestors with each other, all those moons before. We have kinship of tongue and our ways are not that different and maybe we will gain strength from their ‘one god’ and friendship to defeat these Norse.”

Grigoir looked round his hall, in the flicker light of the fire and the tapers and lamps around the walls he sensed the calculations going on, MacBeth had not met the same acclaim as Chatt’an but neither of the four had expected this to be the case. MacBeth was proposing peace with the Scottis who had long been their enemy, encroaching as they had on the lands of Alba. It was clear they would not surrender to the Norse but how best to survive, there was a communal intake of breath, an intake which almost sucked the life from the fire as Domhnail of the MacReath, one of the eldest of the clann heads, though of the smallest Clann, yet respected by all, for his wise council and long years stood and took his place by the fire. This was unexpected as the plan had been for Mac’eirk to speak next to lead them to the answer the four had already decided but Brehon Law said Domhnail must be heard without interruption.

“I am not of the silver tongue like Chatt’an or McBeth, I am not a bard of flower and river words, I say what needs to be said. I say this Grigoir, Ceann Mhor of Alba’s clanns. You ask us to give up our gods of river, mountain, stream and wood from time immemorial. You ask us to turn our backs on our lands the Scottis have taken by sword and fire and join with Dal Riata: all so we may have peace on one border.

You ask us to give up too much for your plan but what will you give in blood debt to us all, what will you sacrifice for this bargain, what will you pledge to this assembly in Lug’s name, Lug who has kept us safe in Alba since he vanquished the giants of Gog and Magog to the bitter darkness under the world?”

To this there was once again much cheering and banging on tables. Grigoir waited until the hubbub died away and there was silence, he stepped forward to the hearth and sensed all those around the hall leaning towards him, wanting to hear how he would stay the truth in Domhnail's words, how would overturn the path of his ancestors yet it make it right with them. Grigoir took his time and slowly and calmly looked around his hall stopping at each well known face, giving each a nod of recognition and a smile. He could feel the growing sense of expectation, the hall knew he would have a reply to Domhnail and it would be sharp, like a nail driving home into wood. Grigoir completed his circle and said quietly but with a tenor so all would hear, “I am offering my daughter to Kenneth McAlpin’s eldest son in sacrifice, it is what we must do for Alba to survive and our clan society with it. If it means swearing to the one God of the Scottis on Alba’s behalf, I will do it but I will not make one man or woman in Alba follow this one God if it is not in their heart to do so. To give up the belief of my ancestors is my own sacrifice, to give up the daughter of my blood, is my blood sacrifice, as is our way, to do what is best for Alba. What say you?  Is this sacrifice enough to sway you Domhnail? What of the rest, what sacrifice will you make to keep Alba safe or do you only offer words and silence?”

Grigoir looked around once more at the Clann heads looking each one in the eye. Most held his stare, Domhnail nodded his head, Grigoir knew he had won even before a vote had been cast. Grigoir offered his challenge, “What say you?” and sat back down. It had been planned that Grant would come forward to call for and tally the vote but as Domhnail rose, Grigoir stayed Grant.

“I have heard what Grigoir of Dun Staibhnis has to say. I am persuaded he does indeed have the best interests of Alba at his heart, a heart big enough to sacrifice himself and his daughter for Alba, to send both their souls on death, under the world to be tortured by Gog and Magog by crushing between mountains of the black land for all time, to destroy his and his daughter's chance to join with Lug and his ancestors on Eillan Glas, that is a big enough sacrifice for any man to endure for a country he loves. I will say ‘Yes’ and take tally of those who agree.”

Domhnail carefully marked each nod in agreement on the tally stick, then took up a new tally to ask who was against, there was not a mark. Grigoir saw there were two who had not voted on either hand, both held lands on the Moray Firth, they would need watching as he felt they would try and do their own deal with the Norse. He looked across at Grant who nodded he had seen who the two non voters were.

Domhnail held up his hand for silence, “The yes has it, Grigoir as our representative by election I ask for the hall by acclamation to call you ‘Righ an Alba’ so your talk will be King to King as MacAlpin already styles himself ‘Righ an Dal Riata’. To this end I wish the bards to hear and tell to all in Alba:

Sliochd nan righrean dùthchasach
Bha thuineadh an Dùn-Staibhnis,
Aig an robh crùn na h-Alb' o thus
'S aig a' bheil dùthchas fathast ris.

(Descendants of the hereditary kings
Whom dwell in Dunstaffnage,
Who possessed the crown of Scotland originally
And who still have hereditary claim to it.)

Neither did Domhnail nor all present understand the curse these words would put on the generations of Grigoiracht yet unborn and through future times. That fate was for others but only if Grigoir acted now and allied with the Scottis against the Norse maggots eating at their land, their Alba.

Gog and Magog would crush and grind the Grigioracht to ever smaller pieces, but over many centuries yet to be, for their betrayal of Lug, no matter how just the cause.

Through the Looking Glass

So the UK Parliament apparently voted 'NO' to getting involved in the war in Syria.

Well, a few 'others' plus some Tories and Libdems actually voted 'NO'; the rest voted as sheep, herded into their pens according to whether they had a blue or red mark on their backside. The sheep voted not in conscience, in response to reasoned debate or on a point of principle (as if they even understand what this means) but to 'get one over' on the other side with the UK Parliamentary equivalent of collie dogs snapping at their heels in response to the commands from 'Farmer Dave' and 'Shepherd Ed' to ensure they went in the right pen.

As any farmer or shepherd knows sheep are not the cleverest of animals. They have an amazing capacity for self destruction and get very disorientated when they are brought down from rough grazing for dosing, dipping, sex and reproduction. It is also well known that having two herds of sheep in close proximity is a disaster waiting to happen because as sure as eggs are eggs some of the sheep will decide they fancy being in the other flock. This is the only really clever thing about sheep, some of them appear to be able to dematerialise and then rematerialise on the opposite side of the pen or fence without anyone knowing how they did it, a process which is only detected when it comes time to count the herd.

Even in pretendy parliaments where the sheep are electronically tagged and counted you get the same phenomenon of sheep pressing the wrong button and appearing in the opposite herd's count, as Shepherdess Lamont has found to her cost on a few embarrassing occasions.

Fundamentally this is the problem in any system where Party Politics is dominant and it is a curse on operating a real democracy where 'Government' always has to win rather than the electorate's best interests being put first. 

If we vote 'yes' in 2014, the Scots Electorate has the power to decide whether we fall into the old two politic entrapment of so many failing democracies or we use our constituency and list votes wisely to ensure neither of  those parties likely become the big two in Scotland, with the SNP on the left and Labour on the right, can operate with out reliance on some awkward minority party to keep them in check.

Coalition politics are messy but they are clearly better than the situation where 30% of the vote cast gets you an elected dictatorship, as is the norm at Westminster. We should be looking to encourage the Scottish political wolves in sheep's clothing; anything to upset the herd and keep the shepherds and farmers worried and on their toes.