Hey everyone. On Saturday morning I got up early well early when you consider that Saturday is usually my day for a long lie. Not only that but I did so with a real sense of purpose. You see I have to be honest I was a woman on a mission and that mission was to let the Government know exactly what I thought of what they refer to as the spare room subsidy and the rest of us call by its real name the bedroom tax.
Though as an owner occupier this does not hurt me directly I grew up in a council house and had I not been a bit more fortunate than many of my peers it could have had the potential to have a devastating impact on my finances and quality of life. Unlike some people I remember where I came from and I’m proud of my roots they are what grounds me and give me a sense not only of personal identity but also of community.
So as soon as I had freshened up and selected an appropriate outfit for the West of Scotland weather I made myself a bacon sandwich, had a quick banana and a coffee to wash it down then without a moment’s haste headed in to town to join the march against the introduction of this hideously unjust law.
Though I joined the march late I still felt a genuine sense of solidarity amongst those protesting. As the crowd congregated in a busy George Square the first of many friends I saw during the day was one of my closest political comrades and one of the SNP’s newly selected candidates for the 2014 European Elections Chris Stephens. Chris a passionate campaigner for equality and respected trade union official was leading the SNP trade union delegation. I congratulated him on his well deserved success in gaining a place amongst the Euro hopefuls. A lifelong Partick Thistle fan Chris will be hoping his team can gain promotion to the SPL and maybe follow him into Europe.
It wasn’t long before I bumped in to a few more friends and fellow patriots amongst them my local MSP John Mason and my former local councillor for Baillieston David McDonald who now represents his local area of Pollok as one their elected representatives. Baillieston’s loss is definitely Pollok’s gain but the pull of home turf was too strong for a local boy whose grounded in his politics and first became active on seeing the problems of the local community from which he drew strength.
It was also good to see many friends from outside the political village such as local disability campaigner John Thomson and poet Dominic Boyle and it was good to find out their latest chat. Whisper it but I even managed to direct John a lifelong Labour supporter who is not adverse to an Independent Scotland to the facebook group Labour Voters for Independence which as I explained to him may be right up his political street as it supports the aims and aspirations of an Independent Scotland but from a Labour Party perspective. Well I’ll do what I must to serve the banner and cause and I think may this have been my good deed for the day.
Next for a chat was a musician of considerable quality I know this because he was our featured musician for the March edition of Words and Music I refer of course to Bob Leslie. During our chat I said that couldn’t see many of the usual ‘Labour’ suspects about the place. Needless to say he concurred with my views though he did spot one or two of them around the fringes. However most of our chat was spent talking about Words and Music which he said far surpassed his expectations both in terms of the talent of most of those taking part and the number of people in attendance that evening.
Mhairi McAlpine was next to say hello and we talked socialism, equality, independence, and writing with the last topic coming in for particular attention. Like myself Mhairi is a keen and talented writer and had sent some new material for me to look over which I will at the first available chance. This will probably be on or after Wednesday. Always someone whose company I enjoy. It was good to get the chance to catch up with someone who shares my passion for writing.
It was at this stage in the day I noticed the Women for Independence team so ever eager to lend I stood behind the banner and when the photo opportunities came I wasn’t posted missing. Well as Carol Hainey knows I’ve never been a shrinking violet.
I was proud to stand behind this banner as I truly believe independence is a matter of great importance to the women of Scotland and I believe the bedroom tax illustrates only too clearly why its so necessary. The bedroom tax will hit women and hit us hard as will the other so-called benefit reforms which masquerade under the banner of cuts
to reduce the Government deficit. I mean why they don’t punish or those with spare homes rather than spare rooms I honestly do not know. However this is why we need independence if we want build a fairer nation and why women’s voices must be heard at the heart of it.
On leaving the banner I moved closer to the front of the crowd in order to hear the speeches. Unfortunately I strained to hear anything as the PA wasn’t working properly though I did hear a chorus of booing and I guessed that the those in attendance must have spotted a Labour MP who was guilty of misleading the public. I was right it was Ian Davidson telling himself and fooling nobody that he had voted against this tax when he had in fact abstained.
Meanwhile the rest of the gathering had principled reasons for opposing this legislation such as the fact they would be directly affected as the tax would mean a reduction in their household income which could mean having to the making the choice between eating and heating.
For others it may be that though they won’t be directly affected by this punitive tax they remember what it is was growing up in the schemes and because of their experiences they have a desire to see a much fairer redistribution of wealth within society.
It was as I moved closer to the crowd I managed to meet up with another friend from the writing community and this one is no ordinary friend. Not only is she a friend she’s my wee chosen sister and proof that good looks run in my Words and Music family I refer of course to the brilliant Catherine Baird.
A woman of principle Catherine was telling me recently that she signed up to the Yes Scotland campaign. Despite this she like me has friends in the rival Better Together camp and such is her compassion for those less fortunate than Yes voters she even brought a couple of them with on the demonstration. Her cousin and her partner are caring intelligent women who want they think is best for Scotland and I have the utmost respect for two women who are courageous enough to be lonely in a crowd. Well judging by those I knew there were hardly any blethers my pet name for Better Together supporters
in attendance I wonder why
As the protesters began to disperse there was still time for one last surprise and this was I have to say the highlight of the day. Just as I approached the outer edge of the square a young women of a bright and cheerful disposition asked me if I enjoyed the demonstration. She said she was hear with friends I replied that though I hadn’t came with anyone if wasn’t exactly shock of the year that I had met so many friends both on the march in the square. As we chatted we introduced ourselves to each to the other and suddenly I swear I could see a musician smiling in the centre city skies that musician was Kenny Caird as he watched his daughter Roisin chat to a friend who had enjoyed his many company on many occasions. I should have known she had her father’s smile and I have written a poem with that title as a memory both of the day and of a friendship I valued and still do as I was very lucky to have it.
As I was about to go to the Gallery of Modern Art for a quick wind down I was asked by a young woman if I would mind being interviewed for a documentary on the Bedroom Tax and naturally being shy little wallflower I am I said no of course I wouldn’t mind. Well as friends of every persuasion and none would agree a gabby little madam with opinions on everything so naturally I was only too eager to share my opinions with the world or at least the students who were making this documentary.
The first question I was asked was if I was hear as part of a group or organisation or if I was an individual who was attending as myself. I told the young woman making the film that I was hear only as an individual who was greatly disturbed by this development.
I was then asked if the bedroom tax would have an affect on me and personal quality of life. Again I answered directly and that as an owner occupier this would not be the case but that as a Christian and a socialist I could not just sit back and say if it doesn’t affect me I shouldn’t care so before attending I asked myself what would Jesus do in this situation and it took me less than a heartbeat to conclude that he would have walked on the side of fairness and marched with the protesters.
I also said that one of the things which made me really angry was that no-one in this Government were prepared to the tax the rich or do what Iceland and jail the greedy bankers. Instead it was the poor who would be left to pay the price of a recession which was not of their making.
I concluded my interview by stating that I would be voting Yes in the independence referendum and looked forward to living not only in a fairer Scotland which was able to shape our future by making bolder and better decisions particularly on social justice and create a country fit for the purpose of serving those who live here.
I also said that I hoped this would lead not only to a better Scotland but to a better British Isles. I justified my comments by stating that this development would give the other nations in these islands a chance to re-examine the kind of politics they may wish to see in the future and may see the re-emergence of real socialism throughout the new and equal partnerships which time would bring. However I said that such a development would never be possible in a Britain ruled by a privileged elite. At this the girl thanked me for my time and what she described as my great contribution I told her I was happy to help and headed for GoMA and a refreshing diet coke.
After a brief stop at GoMA. I went on my travels again this time to Hillhead
Baptist Church for a faith/unbelief poetry discussion group chaired by my good friend Jim Ewing. Before I got there however I was delayed by a busker playing a blue guitar who was so good I just had to listen and dig in to my meagre resources to help her out. Well the busker in question was very talented and I have to say I really enjoyed her music. Her name is Anna Shields listen out for her on you tube and if you like her then like her on facebook or follow her on twitter I know I will. I think we may hear more from a young women with considerable talent.
Eventually I made it to Hillhead and enjoyed an eventful afternoon of poetry prose and heaven only knows examined through scripture. I was particularly impressed a story from a young guy called Dave who read a very moving piece about his girlfriend’s gran who has dementia. He brought the piece to life as he dealt with a hard topic using both humour and sensitivity to show the struggle of those who to live with this condition and the impact it has on both them and their families friends and communities. I also enjoyed Susan Milligan’s poem Did God Do It? in
which she asks a serious question as to who made her the way she is and though she doesn’t say directly in poem l am sure she is subliminally asking should God get credit or blame for this creation. My answer to that would be a wee bit of both and that’s the same for everyone well we all have our good days and our bad ones
As for me though I performed more than one poem the highlight of my contribution was I believe the poem where I gave God the ultimate reality TV slot and this time God gave the viewers food for thought by asking us the question What Have You Done To My World? This is a question which I believe many people would feel very uncomfortable answering I know I certainly would. During the feedback Dave said that he liked how I managed to combine spirituality with social justice. I told him I just got the idea for the poem and decided to run with it and see where it landed. The fact I am both a Christian and a socialist made it easy to write and it was those same two pillars of my life which had made me late for arriving at the meeting. Well it was Easter Saturday and people were marching against the bedroom tax so I had to do what Jesus would have done and stand on the side of the people.
Love And Best Wishes