Sunday, 12 October 2014

When Is A Con Not A Con?

Answer: When it is carried out by a politician.

After the ‘No’ vote in the Scottish referendum there has been much talk of a rigged ballot outcome; suspicious looking videos, eye-witness testimonies & other claims. I do not intend to dwell on the legitimacy of any of these (although would not entirely dismiss them) but, for me, there is another far more important ‘elephant in the room’.

And frankly I am staggered that no-one seems to have either noticed it or is talking about it. It concerns democracy; it concerns trickery. Or, if you like to call a spade a spade, it concerns lies and misinformation.

Please let me start to explain my concerns by introducing a paragraph from Age Scotland (Age UK):

Factsheet 102s, Page 5/20 March 2014

Section - Elder Abuse, Point 2
‘Action on Elder Abuse uses the definition: a single or repeated action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person’.

Indeed the scammers at the doorstep and phone-calling conmen are taken very seriously by the Police and offenders can receive jail terms. 

So, given that we have a duty of care to our pensioners and laws to protect them I would like to ask this: Why do politicians get away with ‘conning’ pensioners into voting a particular way with downright lies or misinformation? I would suggest that being able to vote is one of the precious rights of a ‘democracy’, perhaps THE most important right. Our forefathers fought for the right to vote. And yet, many in Scotland voted 'No' because of a perceived threat to their pensions from a man with whom they had 'an expectation of trust'.

So, I ask, when Gordon Brown was talking to ‘invite only’ audiences of pensioners and told them their pension was under threat if Scotland were to be independent was he not, too, just tricking them in the same way as an uninvited ‘doorstepping conman’?

'Vote No or your pensions get this'

In the end around 73% of Scotland’s over 65s voted No – by far the largest sector of society to do so – compared to the 71% of 16 and 17 year olds who voted Yes for their future. It has been suggested, rightly in my view, that this sector of the voting population 'swung the vote in favour of the Better Together campaign.' Let me be clear pensioners are not to blame here, after all they believed they could trust Gordon Brown. I know people who told elderly relatives that their pensions would be safe but were unable to nullify what these elderly people had been told by the 'Better Together, the BBC & Gordon Brown'.

But they weren't.

However, here’s what the UK Government Minister for Pensions (Steve Webb) said to the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster prior to the Referendum when asked if Scottish pensioners’ pensions would not be adversely affected by independence:

‘They have accumulated rights into the UK system under the UK rules to a pension, at the age we would have paid it to them, not at which the Scottish Government would.’

Indeed the website Wings Over Scotland had an excellent article on the implications of pensions in an independent Scotland.

What Mr Brown also 'forgot' to reveal is that in the 2012 Budget pension ages were increased meaning we all have to work longer anyway under Westminster rule.

 The Daily Mail (sorry) in 2012

We all tend to say 'you can't believe politicians' in a 'well, what can you do about it' sort of way, but lets face it this flies in the face of democracy. If you are unable to make a decision because facts are misrepresented or make a decision about your vote due to a twisting of the truth is this not a serious matter; a flaw in the system? Well, obviously yes it is. And that's how they (the Westminster politicians) want it and how they survive. Surely this is scandalous!

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Yes Scotland won the argument which is why Better Together spoke mainly at closed meetings, constantly refused to debate in the village halls, kirks and community centres and used a compliant media to get their message out. That message was not a 'positive case for the Union'; there is none. We would have had it rammed down our throats had there been one.

The referendum was won by obfuscation, misinformation and scare stories. It was the only way it could be won; hide the truth and scare the electorate. Unfortunately, it worked. This time. But we can rely on these self-serving, duplicitous, Unionist politicians to fall on their own swords soon.

As a wise man once told me 'at the end of the day there are only two things that come out; one is the moon, the other is the truth.'

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Scotland Dies Of Old Age

19.09.2014 is a date I will never forget; the date Scotland died. In fact, if truth be known it is the date Scotland committed suicide. Fear won over hope as the mainstream media gave full backing to the self-diagnosed Project Fear campaign of Better Together/No Thanks.

Brown's Pension Raid 

The despicable Gordon Brown succeeded in scaring the elderly into voting ‘No’ by lying to them that their pensions would be under threat (around 73% of Scotland’s over 65s voted No – by far the largest sector of society to do so – compared to 71% of 16 and 17 year olds 71% of whom voted Yes for their future). Of course, they never were under threat as it is the system that you have paid your pension contributions to that has the responsibility to pay out. Hence, some pensioners are able to retire in sunnier climes, for example, to Spain or Australia and still be paid by the UK system they paid into. Incidentally, this is the same Gordon Brown who, in 1997, raided our pension pots to the tune of £100 Billion-£150 Billion.

 Voting Patterns By Age

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) once wrote that ‘to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive’.* Well, we have arrived; we as a people (55% of us anyway) have decided that it is not worth trying to change the fact that 1 in 5 (1 in 4 in some areas) children in Scotland are born into poverty. The demonization of the poor (incl working poor), the unemployed and the elderly, weak, infirm and disabled will continue unabated. Hope lost. There is no hope once you know that this is where your travels terminate.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson was a giant. He was a giant of literature and a giant of humanity. He was not a poor man, coming from the wealthy ‘Lighthouse Stevensons’ family, however when he travelled to the States he did so describing events in steerage along with the poor, sick and stowaways. He was keen to find out how others lived and in this case the ‘other half’. Imagine the rich or a politician doing that today?

Today we live in a Post-Thatcher era where greed is good and an attitude of ‘I’m alright Jack’ prevails.

1.6 million ‘Scots’ voted for independence; these are the people who would not be cowed by fear. They became self-educated spurning the newspapers and media of the rich and rebelling against the State run BBC. The internet played a huge part in this education and whilst some people moaned about not being given ‘enough information’ these trailblazers trawled through sites like Wings Over Scotland, Newsnet Scotland, Wee Ginger Dug, Bella Caledonia, National Collective, Business For Scotland, Craig Murray and dozens more. Each site in its own special way exposed the lies in a way that shamed ‘real’ journalists. Facts, figures, statistics, links, and comparisons detailed a system desperate and prepared to maintain a dysfunctional Union. But despite these courageous and informative sites it wasn’t enough; for some the truth hurts and it is much easier to continue life awkwardly rather than seek and face the truth which deep down you know will challenge your core beliefs.

So, the UK Government’s legal advice (see previous post) that Scotland ceased to exist in 1707 and was subsumed into an enlarged or renamed England although erroneous has been given validation in 2014.

The proud country of Scotland ceased to exist this day. 1.6 million people will mourn and over 2 million won’t even know what they have done. The biggest irony of all is that it was the fear of the majority of our pensioners that have crushed the hopes of our young.

*Travels With A Donkey In The CĂ©vennes (1887)

Monday, 25 August 2014

A Swift Journey To Yes, But A Long Wait

I said to someone recently that I had wanted independence for Scotland since I was an eleven year old. He was bemused to say the least. Let me explain.

Perhaps I was being over-dramatic saying I ‘wanted independence’ but I definitely became aware of the imbalance of the Union from a child’s point of view. Sometimes the simple perspective of a child can help even an adult see the wood from the trees.

I was a wee Hearts fan (I liked the name) in 1976 and for the first time in, like forever ‘my’ team were to contest a Cup Final.
So, after counting the days down to the 1st May 1976 I was like a kid in a sweet shop. My team was to be the star of the day; I discounted the fact we were up against Rangers; being in the Final and getting mentioned on the News was enough for me.

So, I sat with my football-hating mum to see and hear about my team getting to the Final. However, the BBC News that day featured Manchester United v Southampton in the FA Cup Final. The Scottish Cup Final didn’t get a mention (Why is it the FA Cup & not the English FA Cup anyway? I guess because the tournament in England is two years older.)

I was distraught. My mum assured me that Hearts would get mentioned on the local News after the national News. ‘But this is the “B” BC News. We’re part of Britain just as much as England,’ I said. I could see my mum (who was English) struggle with the simplistic view. ‘Why should the Scottish Cup Final be on local news? The English Cup Final will be on their local news too so how come our Final isn’t on the national news?’

‘Ok,’ my mum relented, ‘you have a point. So why don’t you write to the BBC and tell them…and you can offer to be their Scottish Football reporter.’ I don’t know if she said it tongue in cheek or not but write to the BBC I did. I got no response.

 Later that year something else struck me. ‘How come when we’re on our school summer holidays we don’t get good telly programmes but when they (I called English schoolkids they – perhaps the first recognition of a ‘difference’) are on holiday and we’re still at school they get all the good cartoons and stuff all day?


Then in 1979 there was a devolution referendum and a majority of Scots voted ‘Yes’ to devolution. But, Westminster imposed a 40% rule which meant 40% of the registered electorate had to be achieved by Yes for it to count; this meant that anyone on the voters roll who did not vote or had even died but was still on the roll would be counted as a ‘No’. Thus, the majority ‘Yes’ vote was defeated.

Thatcher; need I say more?

Jobs became scarce in Scotland and I moved to England for work. 

The ‘differences’ became more pronounced. I had Scottish Pound notes refused in shops in England and questioned or refused abroad. 

I lived in England and could not read in the ‘national’ newspapers about Celtic or Rangers competing in Europe. I could tell you who the English cricket team captain was but not the Scotland football team captain. I rarely saw Scotland games on television.

At work I was allowed time off to watch England World Cup or European Championship games but not any time off to watch Scotland games (that’s even if I could find anywhere that was showing them – I drove from Oxfordshire and the West Midlands to Moffat on a few occasions to watch games). 

I watched the national news interview David Cameron when Tony Blair stepped down and the conversation veer into ‘too many Scots in Government already’ as Gordon Brown was mooted as next Prime Minister. I imagined the furore if ‘Scots’ was substituted with ‘Asians’, ‘Blacks’, or ‘Pakistanis’.

I could buy a French newspaper in WH Smith: a German one, Polish, Asian Eye, newspapers for Africans, Caribbeans, Americans, Canadians, various Italian newspapers and even papers in Urdhu or Hindi. I couldn’t buy a Scottish one and The Sun, Telegraph, Daily Mail never reported any Scottish related news (well apart from a swan in Anstruther that was suspected of having bird flu); they regularly ran ‘whinging Scots’ and ‘Let them eat haggis’-type stories. 

'National Newspaper Cartoon'

My Black Country-born English wife started out claiming I had a huge chip on my shoulder but eventually became more infuriated about my ‘perceived injustices’ than I did. She even joined me on a trip to see Scotland play France in Paris (we lost 5-0) and loved the atmosphere. She didn’t like the anti-English chants however. But not long after we went to a pub in High Wycombe to watch an England/Scotland rugby game on the big screen; she begged me to leave such was the anti-Scottish venom. All that proves is there are good people and bad everywhere.

I would sometimes, in a haze of drink and kilted up, head to the Lozells Inn on Lozells Road (scene of the famous riots of Lozells/Handsworth in 1985 where two men were left dead and a police officer shot and wounded) in Birmingham and laugh and joke with the Jamaicans that I was more foreign than them. They agreed. However, I could play ‘their’ style of dominoes and not the local ‘five and threes’ style. I was constantly warned not to go to such a dangerous place at night but I was only ever welcomed with big smiles; perhaps I was looked at as a novelty?

My point is that I have never seen the ‘Union’ as being an equal partnership and I have never seen my desire for Scottish independence as Anti-English. On the contrary, I always felt that many Scots used the power of Westminster as a convenient excuse to blame England for all our woes. 

Now we can say YES and start taking responsibility for ourselves.



Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Gaming Kid

I’ll be 50 years auld this year and some people find it weird that I still love playing ‘video games’. Hooked on Space Invaders* and Defender*, to name but two, as a kid I was barely out of the amusement arcades in my home town of Burntisland in Fife. I remember a fantastic KISS* pinball machine from those days too. I never pumped my pocket money or wages (from paper round or being the delivery boy for the local butchers) into slot machines. No, it was the video games I loved. And there were a few I was bloody good at too!

Many years later I got a SEGA Megadrive* & continued gaming; although admittedly alcohol (& to a lesser extent, drugs) were taking more prominence in my life.

Eventually, after coming out of a decades-long haze of alcohol and drug abuse I met someone who had a Playstation* who showed me a game called Call of Duty* – World At War. That was it. I was hooked again. I had never seen anything like it; the graphics, the gameplay. Everything about it was ‘awesome’ as the kids used to say. I got an X Box* and now have an X Box One*. I’ve been through different gamertags too incl. scotsgeoff and Dr Jekyll before finally settling on Auld Scotsman.

I love being able to run around online pwning (gaming speak for ‘owning’) other players (admittedly that doesn’t happen very often unless it’s Titanfall*) but you get the point.

For me it is fun; a game. I want to ‘socialise’ with people from other countries – the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Brazil. Wherever. And I certainly can’t afford to go there so it’s the next best thing in some ways. How cool is it to be sitting playing a game live online and be chatting to someone from Texas at the same time! It’s no Space Invaders*!


I was blown away by the graphics too, the ‘gaming community’ and camaraderie, shocked at how serious some people take it all and how they can lose their temper and end up cussing to high heaven; but most of all I love the competitive aspect. And now, as you’ve seen you can publish your own clips.

I’m not really one for Campaign modes; I never finished any of the COD* ones and didn’t even start some of them. It’s multiplayer for me!

My favourite titles/franchises are (currently, lol) Read Dead Redemption* (still no new one announced for X Box One* – Hurry up Rockstar Games*!), Titanfall* and Sniper Elite III*

Rebellion* that make Sniper Elite III* are based in England (in Oxfordshire) so all the more reason to be supporting them but there is no extra reason needed as the game is excellent. And believe me I ‘hate’ snipers in games; generally I’m rubbish at it too. This game is different. It, for me, is a ‘must buy’ which I never thought I would say. I didn’t like Sniper Elite II* or whatever it was called. Played about 5 minutes or so and I just didn’t like it. So I wasn’t even interested or keeping an eye out for Sniper Elite III*. 

I just happened upon some YouTube* clips of it; trailers, campaign gameplay and multiplayer gameplay and became quite impressed. So after trading some stuff in I got it. And I haven’t stopped playing since.

My name is Auld Scotsman and I’m a big kid and proud gamer.

All names marked * are Copyright or Trademarks of the respective owners