Labour don’t do democracy locally

It appears British Labour in Dundee have gotten themselves into a wee bit of selections difficulty in the lead up to next years Council Elections.


The Dundee Party membership over the last week decided to de-select Councillors Tom Ferguson and Councillor Mohammed Asif for next years local elections. Former Dundee Labour Lord Provost Mervyn Rolf has called on the party to clear out the dead wood. The de-selection resulted in a local high profile trade union activist to tear up his membership card. All sounds interesting but at least local members were making their choice and we should all respect party democracy.

But low and behold, barely 24 hours after the de-selection, Kezia Dugdale, Branch Manager of British Labour in Scotland, comes to the undemocratic rescue and overturns the decision of local members. Labour don’t do democracy in Dundee or Scotland, and as we saw in England with purges and refusing to grant members a vote during the Corbyn leadership contest, don’t really do democracy in England either.

This all comes on the back of questions asking if the Labour Party even have a future in Scotland at all. Polls are not looking good for next year, they have been projected to lose all but 11 councils as they have fallen to around 18% in the polls, potentially losing Glasgow City Council and again coming third behind the Tories.

I actually have sympathy for local members of Labour. I left the Liberal Democrats when Willie Rennie over ruled a conference vote by members and all women shorts lists. All women short lists also saw me resign from the SNP years ago, and currently we have Theresa May as PM without a popular mandate from the voters irrespective of us living in a parliamentary democracy.

Parties often talk about involving people in decision-making, local councils do this all of the time as well, but when that involvement in decision-making can be so easily be overturned what is the point. What is the point of being a member of the Labour Party, or any party for that matter, if the wishes of the membership can be so easily ignored and discarded. So while Labour woes always bring a chuckle out of me, esp locally, the undermining of membership democracy will slowly but surely bring about disaster for politics and political parties.

Just my opinion.


I was reading an interview in the October IScot Magazine with former Labour MP and MSP Malcolm Chisholm and just thought to myself that a comment he made was the paradox for many Labour voters.


Malcolm said that the ” political arguments for independence have got stronger, “attachment to Great Britain has weakened greatly since 1979”. Malcolm implies that the political argument for independence has been won but that the economics have gotten worse and that economics trumps politics. That might be true for the ordinary man or woman in the street but should it for a politician?

Now a paradox is a statement that, despite apparently sound reasoning from true premises, leads to a self-contradictory or a logically unacceptable conclusion. Some logical paradoxes are known to be invalid arguments but are still valuable in promoting critical thinking (wiki).

Isn’t the paradox here that only independence can put into the hands of the politicians the powers that a Government needs to try to effect the economy, but in Labour speak, unless the economy, controlled by the people who would deny that independence, improves greatly, then they cannot support the political argument even if they think it has been won. Now is it just me or is that nuts, is that a no win position that can only result in burying your head in the sand and denying everything you see around you. I just don’t get the thinking of many who campaigned for a no vote, Malcolm being one of them.

Are they so afraid to take power, so afraid to have to actually make the decisions that normal politicians in independent countries make every day. There is a part of me that see a cowardice in their arguments, a lack of faith in themselves, their country and their fellow citizens and that must be some of the saddest feelings anyone can have. Those of us on the yes side might sometimes feel powerless but have the optimism of the argument, the fight for what we know to be the way ahead. But for those unionists like Malcolm, to be powerless and afraid must be even worse to live with, knowing that the political arguments you believe in have been lost but you are still paralysed by fear. Who would want to be them, not me.

Something Different: Football Manager 2D or 3D?

I like to play Football Manager, I am absolutely no good at it but it is the only game I really play other than beating a certain Liberal Democrat at on-line scrabble every once and a while. I recently bought a new PC, mainly for word processing and for this blog. The specs are slightly lower than my previous laptop, which belongs to my wife, so I have been mucking about with the settings. I loaded Football Manager 2014 and decided to go back to 2D graphics (see below).


The very first version of the game I purchased had only text updates and then there was a leap in development and we ended up with 2D graphics. This was a major move forward for the game at the time and certainly added to the enjoyment of playing the game, the detail and complexity also developed and the game started to take a lot longer to play. Books were even written about it as a lot of men, myself included, had many debates with wives about the fantasy life of a Football Manager lol. Around 2011/12 3D graphics came along and took the game to a new level (see below).


The 3D graphics certainly added to the enjoyment of the game but have always been flawed here and there, weird actions of the players etc but it did add to the game. Now I can use 3D graphics on my new PC, it’s puts a little strain on the graphics card as it’s a windows 7 computer as I decided to buy a new older pc due not liking windows 10 at all. However I have found that I actually like the 2D graphics a bit more and it speeds up the game a little, of course you can always switch the graphics off altogether. Does anyone else play the game and if yes what do you think?

Whatever Happened to Brexit?

So four months on from the EU Referendum where are we? Well no one really knows or are willing to say. The Government don’t seem to know other than want their cake and eat it, the papers still appear to be fighting the referendum and arguing about the size of children’s teeth, the Scottish Government are consulting on a future referendum for Scottish Independence and if Question Time is anything to go by, many in England are still afraid of foreign people or want parliament to ignore the referendum result.

French President Francois Hollande has intimated that Britain will be punished for leaving the EU, not exactly in those words once you dig a little, but the implication is still the same. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, wants a united front against the UK and it’s access to the single market and Malta have made clear that the four freedoms – free movement of goods, capital, services, and people – could not be decoupled, Muscat said. “that cannot be negotiated … these principles are the basis for everything the EU does.”

Basically it’s a mess. I have covered my leave reasons in previous blogs so won’t revisit them here in any detail. My views haven’t changed, in some ways they are more entrenched the more I hear what is coming out of the EU, but what do I think is going to happen.

I think that nothing much publicly is going to happen until Article 50 is put in motion, there are of course going to be discussions behind the scenes, anyone who thinks they are not already happening is deluded. I actually find myself agreeing with Conrad Black that once the dust settles a pretty much neutral deal will probably be found, especially once major EU elections are out of the way next year.

Punishing the UK serves no one’s purpose to be honest, yes the EU will want to be seen to be doing something but Germany is rolling back on it;s immigration policies and many within Germany are questioning the free movement of people, like wise in Holland , Spain and in France.


While the free movement of people was not a huge issue for myself it is for many EU countries as we see above in the satisfaction levels on the EU, and it is growing. The EU in my opinion is on a knife edge, as I argued before, without fundamental change it will collapse, so my view is we may see the EU restrict the free movement of people, something along the lines of only those with a job offer or for education will be allowed to move and then they will come back to the UK before we actually leave to vote on a treaty change that will nullify the referendum result.

I might just be thinking a lot of crap, I don’t pretend to be an expert, this blog is purely my feelings and opinions on what I read and the research I have time to do, and is in no way pretending to be any more than that. What will it mean for Scotland is too soon to say. I do believe that we need to act in many ways as if we are independent now and having our own Brexit Minister is fine with me but we should not rush into another referendum, we still need the dust to settle.

It’s not England’s fault all the time

Something that has always bothered me is the constant comparing of what is going on in Scotland with what is going on in England. All the parties do it but does it serve to just further an inferiority complex that some seem to have regarding Scotland and its place in the world.

Some people call it the ‘Scottish Cringe’, a perceived inferiority of England and the English through a sense of resentment and under achievement of ourselves as Scots. I grew up with a belief that everything is England’s fault, not a belief I have now, but one that some, including many of our politicians still have. I recognise in myself a cynicism that I have always had, that many people around me have, a blame culture that has surrounded me my whole life and continues to today in a small degree even though I have come to understand that having that view actually keeps myself down.

A lot has been written about the ‘The Scottish Cringe’ over the years but something I read recently by Bill Forsyth the Film Director caught my eye, he said about Scotland “It’s either had an inferiority complex or the opposite. It’s just a little schizophrenic nation like most little nations seeking an identity”. There is a lot of truth in that statement.

We, or many of us, bang on about how great we are but our politicians can only measure our success by comparing our society to the failure of England’s in so many ways. The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberals will talk up how great things are in England compared to Scotland when the facts suit them and the SNP will compare how good things are here when the facts suit them. Now I recognise that as sadly being part of the political game but is it all holding us back.

I am not for talking ourselves up all the time in the hope that will somehow make all of our problems go away, it won’t. But with a possible independence referendum on the horizon I am starting to think that the constant comparisons with England will make it harder to win any future vote. I have a huge problem with Westminster and our lack of democracy in the United Kingdom and in particular Scotland, but I don’t have a problem per say with England because I don’t really care all that much what they do, it is their business, but I understand what Westminster does can, and often does, have a detrimental effect on Scotland.

I actually don’t think that many Scots have a problem with the English, I blame the politicians and the media for this perception as it’s suits their purpose, I think most people probably don’t care all that much as we all just want to get on with our lives in many ways but the politicians won’t let it go. I want a divorce from Westminster but not from Wales, Northern Ireland or England. We share this island and will continue to share this island.

However, as we move towards Indy2, is it time to pretty much ignore England to a degree. Comparing ourselves to England at a political level all the time by our politicians will reduce our chance to win in my opinion. We have got to find our own story now, not looking to the past, not looking to England or anywhere else. We don’t need to believe in a Scottish utopia but we do need to chart our own path.

I appreciate and totally understand that our current political circumstances make it difficult to make the decisions we might want to make, and we should continue to point out at every opportunity where the Union does not work, but we do need to make our circumstances work as best we can. Maybe we need to operate as best we can as if we are already an independent country.

I like the SNP idea of having a trade mission in Germany, let’s see if we can have as many of them as we can afford all over the world. Let’s continue to engage with countries on our own terms and let Westminster try to stop us. If countries don’t want to engage fine, but let’s make the effort. There are many reserved matters we can’t do anything about but we can chart our own path where we can and screw Westminster.

We may not be an independent country, we won’t be recognised by many if any as one, Westminster will continue to make life difficult but so what, f them. It’s our journey and it’s time we stopped caring what they think, if we can do that maybe we can and will win the next time.

Just a thought.

Great Britain and messing with Russia

Been playing a little catch up and saw Boris Johnson’s comment in parliament encouraging UK Citizens to march and protest outside the Russian Embassy in London regarding the current situation in Syria and just thought to myself, here we go again.

I won’t pretend to understand all the complexities of foreign relations, and pretty much all of ours have been a disaster for the whole history of the United Kingdom, but are we starting to have to consider looking into the abyss.

Reading the article in the Sunday Herald yesterday, Russia v The West, it does appear that both sides are playing very dangerous games in the Syrian conflict. RAF pilots are now flying with air to air missiles, Russia is planning on sailing it’s biggest Aircraft Carrier and support vessels through the English Channel, and like when Russia parked an Aircraft Carrier off the coast of Scotland, we have little or no navy to keep an eye on things or respond.

admiral-kuznetsov-1024x768 v gloriana

Admiral Kutznetsov v British Royal Navy

There is no doubt that the world has to do something about Syria, that might and is now looking increasingly likely, involve more military action against both Syrian forces and heaven help us Russian Forces. UK and USA foreign policy has been a disaster. People like Boris Johnson sabre rattling is not going to make this situation any better. The Russian economy, like our own, is pretty much in the toilet. Throw in the EU and USA economies and we pretty much have the perfect storm that we cannot afford economically or in the loss to human life.

Many people, stupid people, believe that war is good for the economy and given that ours is pretty much in the toilet do you trust the Tories to do the right thing, I certainly don’t. As Economist Dean Baker notes:

It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy. In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment.

I don’t know who to believe on the ins and outs of what is being reported because we know we can’t trust the media, and certainly cannot trust the Tories, but it’s not looking good. As Assad threatens to clean out Aleppo, standing by and watching is not going to be option, however the Conservatives and Labour have shown in the past they like a good war, is that what is coming? Can we afford another major conflict?

People need to take a step back and talk, all sides need to get a grip, the children of Aleppo certainly deserve better. I do know one thing though, in my opinion messing with Russia is something that we cannot afford to do. That doesn’t mean we don’t defend ourselves, that doesn’t mean we sit back and allow Russia or anyone else to do pretty much what they like in the world, but it does mean we have to be careful about what we say and what we do.

The UK cannot afford any war let alone a conflict with Russia, this is the time when the EU and the UN have to be allowed to take the lead in this horrible conflict. Britain will make this situation worse if our recent history is anything to go by, who will stand with the UK if it balls the whole thing up, the USA, NATO! Can we trust them to support us if we make an even bigger mistake because of idiots like Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. Ruth Davidson sitting on a tank won’t scare Putin, it might keep Willie Rennie and the yoons happy, but it won’t stop us stepping off into the abyss if we are not careful.


Something Different: Madrid 2

Ok, so just back from Madrid this morning after a long night travelling back to Fundee. As always it’s good to be home, the two oldest kids didn’t destroy the house but it is raining, the Dees lost again and the gas has went on the blink so waiting on British Gas to turn up to try to fix it but it sounds like a new meter is going to need fitted outside so no doubt won’t be easy or quick. Anyway, Madrid was really nice. Once we had sussed out how to use the Metro system life was so much more easier. Anyway here are some photos:


Madrid Rio Park Project runs for around 7 miles through the City and is an urban park with sports facilities, playparks, walking areas, cycling areas, outdoor gyms and other buildings and activities. This I really enjoyed as it was wall to wall families and very very peaceful.


Capital building, lovely building with a message that I don’t think you will see anywhere in London.


Street soccer pitch for young people to use, these are all over the City. Look like a lot of fun.


Estudio Sampere and gardens. Spent the afternoon here and it is another lovely park area in the Centre of Madrid with a variety of things to do but really just for chilling out.


Variety of pics from out and about.


So Madrid is pretty much a lovely City. The people were so very polite and welcoming, I never heard one F word in my whole time there. Compare that to arriving in London on Saturday night where in the underground we saw wall to wall drunk people, girls being grabbed by drunks in the stations, nothing but F words everywhere, litter everywhere, rudeness everywhere. I don’t think the EU are going to miss the UK at all. Madrid is a very clean City but there is graffiti all over the place and that takes away from what is a really beautiful City. The food I enjoyed but everything is sweet and comes with bread, to be honest I was a bit sick of the food near the end, just wanted some home comforts I guess.

Only one time did we get asked if we were English, in a Cafe when we were having lunch, I said I was Scottish and a woman at the bar gave a little clap. Overall my dislike of travelling was more than made up for by having a nice break in Madrid with my wife and youngest son. I would go back again and I think I would enjoy it even more as I would have a better idea how it all works and would take more time to learn a little more of the language.

My wife said she could live there.