Tag Archive | Alex Salmond

After The Votes Were Counted The Result Was A Night Of Mixed Emotions

This will not be an easy post to write nor indeed should it be. As I look back on the events of last Thursday evening it is I hope with a cool head that I review the results of the UK General Election and in particular what it means for the politics of Scotland. 

Having won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats in the election of  2015 it is I think fair to say that for the SNP this was always going to be a difficult night and I say that openly and with a Scottish National Party card in my purse. The fact this was a snap election called by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May to get a mandate for her hard Brexit strategy seemed to wrong foot my party who just didn’t seem prepared for it or the fight it was going to bring. After all the only elections we were supposed to be fighting this year were of the local council variety. 

Talking of the council elections these should have given the SNP a warning of just how dirty  all the unionist parties were prepared to fight. The fact that there were all sorts of tactical voting arrangements in place to defeat SNP candidates should have sent a flashing amber light straight to SNP headquarters and the fact that it didn’t seem to do this is something I find very alarming indeed. All through the council election campaign all three leaders of the pro UK parties were talking of nothing else but the threat of  a second divisive independence referendum and a willing press and media allowed them the space to do so. 

It is my  opinion that the SNP were far too civilised on this issue and we should have went for the throat in a much more assertive manner with all of our pro union opponents and we should have went for Ruth Davidson in particular far harder than  we did and not let her get away with her outrageous and disgraceful behaviour against our democratically elected First Minister.  Ever since last year’s Scottish election Davidson has been acting as if she had won that election, and not the SNP. This should have been held up to ridicule and Davidson should have been forced to defend her Conservative policies rather than get away Brit free with  her one issue campaign on defending  her precious union. 

Now whilst this may be perceived as bias by those concerned I am more concerned  about our apparent lack of fight in meeting this ridiculous claim head on and forcing the unionists on to the back foot.  This must be at least to some extent responsible for our loses on Thursday night as more than any other  party SNP voters need to be inspired by a campaign that motivates them to vote and to me at least that didn’t happen this time 

The matter of tactical voting wasn’t taken anywhere near as seriously as it should have been by the SNP and it  wasn’t just unionists who were  doing it. There were in my opinion three groups of yes voters who exercised their own version of independence and  anyone who says this didn’t happen is denying reality. These groups were left leaning yes voters who voted Labour for Jeremy Corbyn and his vision of a fairer society, Yexit voters in rural areas especially but not exclusively in the North of Scotland , this was a group of voters who voted yes for independence in 2014 but voted to leave the European Union, and the stay at home voters who will always vote SNP when they go out to vote  but who if they feel the party has let them down or are not doing enough in key areas and have not been engaged by the manifesto or contacted by local activists  may exercise their democratic right to withhold their vote and there is no doubt that all three of these factors played against the party on this occasion.

 This however, could have been migitgated at local level if we had been a bit bolder in holding the unionist parties feet to the fire and challenging them on the authenticity and indeed sincerity of their views. For example we should have sought to make much more of the internal Labour Party fued between Jeremy Corbyn and his Scottish party leader Kezia Dugdale and highlighted the fact that far from being  Corbynistas the vast majority of the Scottish candidates had more in common with Kez than they did with Jez. 

Whilst I’m not sure it would have prevented any of our loses to Labour with the possible exception of Glasgow North East, I do believe that such tactics might have firmed up our majorities in a significant number of the seats we managed to hold thus making it easier to defend them at the next election. Instead of that it may well be the case though I hope it isn’t, that we have to go in to that election with the kind of fire fighting strategy aimed at avoiding a whole swathe of loses to Labour in what used to be their heartland seats.  It is my opinion that should this be the case the SNP will be looking at a return of between 18 -23 seats maximum and on a really bad night we could go down as low as 8-12. However if as I think we should, we take a more assertive line against our opponents I see no reason why we can’t win between 44-48 seats at the  next election. 

I believe we have to go down this road as I think there are dangers in playing too nice. Let’s face it we campaigned as the nice party in this election and it didn’t work and to be honest I don’t see it working in  future .  You can call me alarmist if you like, but I prefer realistic. You see I learned from the best my like lecturer in electoral behaviour Malcolm Dickson who did the System Three polls for the Herald and our resident professor who at that time gave guest lectures which I always made sure to attend. I am of course talking about the voice of elections in Scotland John Curtice who I’m sure would be happy to see one of his former students exercising such caution in their forecasting 

If  my caution is justified and born of out of both experience and I hope reason, my party’s caution was to some extent dictated by the fact that this was a Westminster election and the fact that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn produced by their recent standards a radical manifesto which captured the imagination of voters throughout the UK and had I not been a member of the SNP and been so emotionally committed to my party and our ultimate aim of independence I could easily have been one of the yes voters who could have loaned my vote to Labour Party to get Jeremy Corbyn elected as Prime Minister.

The other key reasons for my party’s caution was the fact that having won an unrealistically high number of seats it was always going to be a night when the unionist voters would indulge themselves in a wee bit of tactical voting to get rid of some of our most talented and high profile MP’s whilst the media predicted the end of the road for our Westminster leader Angus Robertson who lost his Moray seat to the Conservatives, Callum Kerr and Richard Arkless who were the victims of a Conservative clean sweep in the Border constituencies Kirsteen Oswald whose East Renfrewshire seat once the safest Tory seat in Scotland returned to its natural home for the first time since the days of Alan Stewart, Stuart Donaldson in Kincardine And West Aberdeenshire and Pete Wishart who ironically enough fulfilled my  prediction and held on in Perth and North Perthshire. They didn’t pick up on others which were definitely on my vulnerable list such as Angus , Stirling, Ochil And South Perthshire,  and potentially Alex Salmond’s Gordon constituency  though I thought this was likely to be a Liberal Democrat gain rather than a Tory one.  

I have to say that the more the campaign went the more concerned I became for the SNP candidates who were fighting a difficult election on an agenda over which they had little control. At the beginning of the campaign I rather optimistically predicted that the Conservatives would get no more  than six seats and may even be lucky to get that. It is however fair to say that as the campaign progressed I began to see the direction of travel and it wasn’t travelling in our direction and even as a lifetime optimist I started to think the scale of our loses could be and in all probability would be far heavier than I first thought. Indeed on the morning of the election I forecast to a friend that my prediction for my party was between 38-44 seats, a far cry from the 48-52 seats most of my friends and even some sections of the press believed we would win. 

All things consideredthis  election was not a good one for the SNP or at least not on the surface , but if I take a closer look at it from a more personal perspective I think it could be discribed as a night of mixed emotions for me and my party. Yes we lost some serious big hitters from our ranks but  make no mistake we are a party with plenty of talent in our ranks and I hope that honourable members such as Alison Thewliss,  Chris Stephens,  Joanna Cherry , Lisa Cameron,  Mhairi Black ,  Stephen  Gethins , Stewart MacDonald , Tommy Sheppard and others will be given the chance to shine in this parliament and by doing so demonstrate the wealth of highly skilled representatives we have at our disposal.  
It is I think fair to say  that despite our  loses most of which were inevitable for a party in the mid term of a third term Scottish Government, and in an election when UK politics has been more polarised  than at any time since the 1980’s the SNP still won the Scottish part of this election. I believe to do this in the face of an unprecedented and vicious press and media onslaught represents a truly remarkable achievement from which we should take quiet satisfaction. You see by removing what they see as our most talented MP’s the Conservatives may actually have accidentally strengthened our hand as with no Angus or Alex to cast in the role of the bogeyman it will be so much harder for them cast us as a two man team now than was previously the case. 

Looking back on the  events of the night I have to say that after the votes were counted it was a night of mixed emotions.  From a personal  perspective I had as good an election as was going to be possible given the circumstances as  I watched with pride the return of several of my closest  political allies to serve as their constituency  MPs and my reputation for fairness and accuracy   as a political  pundit was vindicated by my early morning election day prediction being uncomfortably close to the truth 

Meanwhile with regards to the gains  made by the pro UK parties I will await with interest the verdict on the new Labour and Tory intake and how many of them will actually be up to the job. I suggest that it may not be quite as many as they think and once they have to talk on  issues other than their obsessive hatred of the SNP and independence they may  be found out for what they are and the SNP stand  best  placed to benefit from such a scenario.

 At the beginning of this campaign all the unionist leaders in Scotland said they wanted to send Nicola Sturgeon a message, and to a certain extent they got their wish. It is my opinion however, that sometimes people should be careful what they wish for as they may actually get it and find to their horror that it might  not be as good as they think.  

Till next time 

Gayle X


On This Day 

On day 7 of NaPoWriMo I celebrate a birthday. Not my birthday you understand but the birthday of the Scottish National Party (SNP) of whom I am proud to be a member as it was on the 7th of April 1934 that the party was born, so I thought it only right to commemorate my party’s birthday by writing this poem for my SNP family and wishing our party many more years of success I’ve titled the poem On This Day , I hope you enjoy the read 
On This Day,

On this day we remember 

the cause we represent 

we must never be content 

with second best in any aspect of our lives 

we survived the hard times 

they moulded us in to fighters 

for a vision of a future free from fear

in which the obscenity of nuclear weapons 

are banished forever from the Clyde 

we will have a country

 in which we can have pride 

where people matter far more than image 

Britishness, will be consigned to history 

but until the day comes 

we must walk with dignity 

remembering both past and present 

 heroes and heroines of our movement 

yes there will always be room improvement 

but on this day remember 

Donald Stewart the man who was our first MP 

to gain a seat at a Westminster General Election 

Margo MacDonald, and Alison Hunter 

whose talents secured famous victories 

in Labour’s industrial heartlands 

community champions like Bashir Ahmed and Jim Mitchell 

Yes I know we wax lyrical on 

the political skills of Nicola 

and have been entertained and educated

by listening to the oratory  and intellect of Alex Salmond.

further back in time we had   Jim Sillars, Winnie Ewing,  and Jimmy Reid ,

Now it’s Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik and  Mhairi Black 

who are the fresh voices the party need 

to deal with the challenges of our times 

the UK has reached the end of the line 

let us not mourn 

It is time for a better Scotland to be born 

let’s wave goodbye to the union jack 

by showing our people there is a better way to be 

Independent and free from the chains of colonial rule 

and the poverty it has brought to our nation 

my inspiration 

comes from members in every branch 

the foot soldiers  who climbed  stairs and filled envelopes 

before chapping doors and putting leaflets through letter boxes 

in the name of the cause 

we are proud to uphold 

no amount of silver and gold 

can buy our principled position 

of saying no to a country run by elites

we must explain to the voters 

why we will never be content 

to accept second best 

our history won’t let us 

as we remember them 

who fought the fight before us 

only to be faced with a chorus of apathy 

and the oft repeated line 

my father voted Labour 

and if was good for him 

then it’s good enough for me 

we as SNP supporters were dismissed without a hearing 

if it never deterred our predecessors 

it won’t stop us now 

in every city , town , and village 

we will campaign with honesty 

for the future we know is ours 

we have never wanted power

for the sake of having it 

we want to transform our country 

and the lives of those who live in it 

it is for this reason alone  we exist 

we must not ignore the fact 

we follow in the footsteps of giants 

and on this day and every day 

we will remember them 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

 In The Early Days Of A Better Nation I Got Ideas Above My Station. (A Personal Thank You To Bella Caledonia 2007-2017

Hey Readers

Many of you, particularly those of you from outside Scotland will not know how much it saddens me to write the post on which I am now about to start.

Tonight at around 7pm GMT I received an e-mail from Bella Caledonia editor Mike Small informing me that the online magazine which played such a prominent role in supporting yes vote for an Independent Scotland and has been such a significant part of the Scottish cultural, social , and political landscape for the past 10 years would more than likely be no more.

To say I was disappointed to receive this news would I think be understating my reaction by a county mile. I was and this is putting it somewhat politely absolutely heartbroken. Eventually my heartbreak gave way to rage as I asked myself the question How could we let this happen?

Be under no illusions my friends this is a massive blow for those of us who support not only independence but the vision of a fairer more equal society which attracted us to independence in the first place. For many of us Bella Caledonia represented those values and gave us an outlet which expressed those values in the face of a very hostile print and broadcast media which seemed to oppose any kind of reform to Scotland’s constitutional settlement which it took great delight in telling was the settled will of Scottish people and could never be changed so it impossible was to even consider attempting it.

Thus went the prevailing unionist orthodoxy as we started 2007 and yes the more entrenched members of unionist political class still hold to those beliefs but be in no doubt the stage Bella Caledonia now exits is a very different one from that on which it first appeared 10 years ago.

During this period in our history in which Bella played its part Scotland has changed and changed for good. We are a more confident nation than at any time in our recent history and despite the shrill, almost hysterical whinging from the more deluded unionists we will not be going back in to what they think is our wee parochial box where we can be put away and ignored ever again.

This confidence did not come overnight. Like the best and most beautiful of nature’s creations it took time to grow, and had to be nurtured in the correct and appropriate way and that is what Bella was so good at doing. From its earliest days, it urged to us live as if we were living in the first days of a better nation.

This was much more than a slogan it was a request to the people of Scotland to behave in a certain way. The thinking behind it was that if we act in a manner which is independent then independence will eventually become dominant social and cultural norm. When Bella first started such an idea could and I’m sure would have been considered dangerously radical by our ultra cautious political establishment. It is perhaps one of the magazine’s greatest achievements that this mantra is now part of our country’s political lexicon.

The last 10 years have been a time of tremendous political change in Scotland. When Bella first started many Scots were in the process of switching what seemed like a lifetime of loyalty to the Labour Party to the SNP and they did so in enough numbers to give the party more fanatical unionists such as George Robertson and Brian Wilson claimed would never govern Scotland the chance to do so as the party won the Scottish Election of that year by the narrowest of margins winning 47 seats to Labour’s 46.

On winning the election the outgoing Labour leader Jack McConnell pledged to make governing Scotland difficult for the incumbent SNP administration but in Alex Salmond the SNP had a far shrewder leader than any of his predecessors and while Labour went through leaders faster than I go through after eights at Christmas, Alex Salmond got on with the business of governing Scotland and it came as no surprise to anyone outside the Labour Party when he was re-elected First Minister as the SNP were returned to power in 2011 and this time with a landslide majority.

I bring up this matter of historiography purely to illustrate that after an election which saw the route of both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats it was Bella who provided a voice for authentic political progressives and despite their opposition to its pro independence stance many of the more politically aware amongst their number knew the value of such a liberal left site speaking for many of the more culturally and socially radical voices of the yes campaign. It was a place where principled disagreement could be had without the same rancour of some of more dogmatic yes sites like Wings Over Scotland.

After the referendum was lost by a far narrower margin than many unionist commentators had predicted, Bella continued to represent all the various strands of what had been the yes campaign and continued to give support to SNP government where appropriate and criticism where necessary. Whilst this may not have been appreciated by some within the ranks of my party to those of us who put the long term interests of the people of Scotland before short term party political gain not only welcomed this we actively embraced it.

Unlike others who would hear no criticism of the SNP or Yes Scotland I had realised that however much it may have pained me and believe me it pained me more than you’ll ever know that we lost the referendum and if we were to win the next one we needed not to pat ourselves on the back but examine why we lost what could do to persuade those voters we didn’t manage to convince in 2014 and set about doing it. The fact that Mike Small and his team of writers were able to challenge us to challenge ourselves to think bigger than we would previously have dared to is in my considered opinion no mean feat especially at a time when we could have got too self congratulatory for our own good.

Since reading on the demise of Bella I have read many comments online the vast majority of which have been very positive but one which stuck out for me was from a yes supporter who seemed to damn it with faint praise by stating that we should never forget the small part it played in the 2014 referendum. As someone who though not in the position to contribute to its financial security was a regular reader of the magazine and often pointed others in that direction if they wanted to see the news from a sensible well argued yes perspective I found this comment to be both insulting and infuriating.
to me Bella should be given enormous credit for the role it played in the years leading up to the independence referendum and indeed those in articulating the voices of some of Scotland’s most creative and talented citizens and giving them the chance to air their views on the future of our country.

It is I think a fitting tribute to what was a ground breaking magazine to say that as Bella reaches the end of it’s journey. The future of pro independence media has never been brighter even if I exclude the controversial site Wings Over Scotland whose vision of the kind of society it wants to see in a post independent Scotland is shall we say very different from mine.

With regards to blogs we have sites like Wee Ginger Dug , and the multi media based Common Space to fill at least part of the void which will be created by Bella’s loss. With regards to, the more traditional printed media we now have both The National and the Sunday Herald to put forward our views to those less familiar with the internet.

However in darker less enlightened times than now, before we had these quality news outlets to state the case for Scotland, Bella was the first to stick it’s head above the parapet and encourage us to be bolder in our thinking. In the days when we as a movement were at the beginning of our yet unfinished journey Bella encouraged us to be the best we can be and its call to live as if we were in the first days of a better nation was one I was proud to take up. Speaking from a very personal perspective I owe the team at this amazing magazine a debt of gratitude for giving me ideas above my station and for me and many others like me that will be the legacy of Bella Caledonia.

In memory of and with thanks to
Bella Caledonia 2007-2017

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Appetite For Change

Hey Readers

On Saturday I along with 7,000 others  attended a march for Scottish independence as
we took to the streets of Glasgow in the name of a better Scotland. This was a march for which many unionists claimed  there was no appetite. This poem gives them their answer I have had called it Appetite For Change I hope you enjoy the read.

Appetite For Change

We were told by unionist politicians
and those devoid of ambition
except for themselves
not to bother marching
the people were fed up
of Salmond and Sturgeon
and we should get over it
accept we lost
stop being rebel Scots
and focus instead
on the bigger picture
because real politics is only done at Westminster
we should stick more parochial matters
and let the chattering classes
how much money we should get
for our wee pretend parliament
and while we are it
we should focus on housing and health
which they say are failing
despite the fact that investment
in these areas is at levels
no unionist administration
ever achieved
though the self deluded tendency
would have you believe
there is no appetite
for another referendum
they are of course lying
and statistics are the weapons
to shoot their argument
you see these servants of the crown
conveniently forget
that whilst unionist parties
lose members by the day
it is the cause they would like to wish away
which gains respect
both the Westminster and Hollyrood elections
resulted in the SNP gaining strength and seats
our cause may have been set back
on that September morning
but far from being crushed
the support we had won
sent them a warning
which it would be most unwise to ignore
they will not bore us into submission
their union of kingdoms is fragmenting
and I don’t think they get
that lions never lose sleep
over the opinions of sheep
we will march on our streets
the streets of a nation reclaimed
no longer ashamed
to speak our truth to power
Scotland will flower
and you will see
a nation proud fair and free
which will march forward to the future
not back to the past
unlike their British day
where buckfast and sashes
fuel prejudice against Catholics
especially if their Irish
so much for their united kingdom
and the inclusion they claim to support in their green and pleasant land
so let them understand these words
from Charles Stuart Parnell
‘no man has the right to fix
boundaries on the march
of a nation
saying this far you will go
but you can go no further ‘
we are on a journey
and they’ll be no turning back
we will walk
with a hunger for justice
and an appetite for change

@ Gayle Smith 2016


Scotland Said Yes To The Civilised World By Rejecting The Brexit Club

Hey Readers

As dawn breaks I can and will declare that the United Kingdom if not quite officially dead has certainly reached a point where the family have been called and told to prepare for the worst. 

Yes I know that may sound slightly dramatic but as Britain votes for Brexit I and many others will be looking for an exit. However, the exit I want isn’t from Europe it’s from the United Kingdom which is now
more divided than ever after the most catastrophic decision ever made in the history of this mythical nation.

You see I have never bought in to the loyal and unionist fairytale of a united kingdom far less a great Britain and to me this result makes a mockery of the better together campaign to keep Scotland in the UK during our independence referendum as all through that referendum we heard this ongoing chant from the unionists that if we left the United Kingdom we wouldn’t be allowed to become a member as an independent nation.

This of course was nonsense, there tactic was to terrorise the gullible in to believing that they were somehow in danger of being kicked out the EU because David Cameron said so. This morning this cruel trick lies exposed for what it was and better together has been exposed as the fraud some of us always knew it to be.

Nonetheless as democrats we in the yes campaign accepted however reluctantly the result of independence referendum though we still reserve the right to campaign for the constitutional chance we sought and the restoration of Scotland’s place as an independent sovereign nation with the powers rights and responsibilities that comes with it.

Indeed many of us who voted yes in the independence referendum were amongst the most enthusiastic supporters of Scotland remaining in Europe and actively campaigned to achieve the outcome we wanted but what we wanted was far removed from what we got

No matter how uncomfortable it may be we have to face the fact that rampant British nationalism has triumphed in England and Wales where the voters were in my opinion duped by a lethal combination of ambitious right wing Conservatives such as would be Prime Minister in waiting Boris Johnson and his allies such as Education Secretary Michael Gove and former the voice of kindness at the Department of Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith.
and the even more extreme views of Nigel Farage and UKIP who with their toxic brand of politics managed to turn what should have been a referendum on our membership of the European Union into nothing more than a vote on immigration.

These views were given credibility by a fanatical right wing press and media who cannot get over the fact that Westminster no longer has an empire to rule over and yearned to return to the 1850’s yes I did say the 1850’s when everyone was British knew their place and bowed the knee to their so-called social betters. What Westminster doesn’t realise is that in Scotland at least we have a get out clause from this madness which has already produced its first causality with the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron and that get out clause is

You see whether the professional unionists like it or not 2014 wasn’t the end of the debate on Scotland it was only the beginning and these people think otherwise they are way more deluded than I ever thought possible. This however does not surprise me as ever since the morning of their victory in the last referendum which was only achieved through last minute promises they had no intention of keeping they have consistently implemented bully boy tactics and told those of us who voted yes to shut up and get back in our box. I regret to inform this has as much chance of success as Albion Rovers winning the champions league in any other setting than play station or a Des Dillon novel (Note quick plug for Des Dillon novel The Return Of The Busby Babes )

Anyway, nice idea as they might believe it to be Scotland is not going back to sleep and we are now in a much stronger position to campaign for the independence our country needs after this horrible referendum result. The result achieved by the leave campaign was based on primary factor and that was the demonising of those considered to be other. These are the people who don’t fit in to what the Brexiters traditional view of British identity. Unfortunately for those of us who voted remain this view which is an insular narrow minded view primarily but not exclusively based on race will now be how Britishness is viewed on the continent and beyond. This is a result which shamed Britain and exposed the shallow distrust of Brexiters towards those who don’t fit their agenda as being a highly significant factor in their victory.

It is my view and that of many others that this toxic legacy will make it much tougher for the professional unionist political class who were and remain Better Together to fight against independence than they were two years ago as one of their key arguments for this outdated union was based on the now shambolic proposal that if we didn’t do as we were told and vote to stay in the UK then we wouldn’t be allowed membership of the European Union.

This was an oft quoted argument which certainly seemed to resonate with the less well read I don’t do politics kind of voter as they tended believe what they are told by the BBC Daily Mail and unionist Westminster politicians as if they were quoting directly from the bible. To say this disturbs me would be putting it mildly. Well let’s be honest reading the Daily Mail is bad enough but to believe it is written on tablets of stone would be the actions of the demented and deluded.

Unfortunately many of the more gullible members of society appear to be taken in by this line and this was certainly the case at the time of the last referendum when the unionist establishment in which the vast majority of the press and media were a key part seemed to regard the European Union as their own private members club. I make this claim because I know how much it suited British establishment to act in this way until the vote secured Scotland for the union.

After the result of our referendum was declared in favour of the union, It was at least if you believed David Cameron and Better Together spokesman in Scotland Alastair Darling the end of the independence debate and the morning of the 19th of September was supposed to be a return to business as usual and we Jocks as the Westminster set refer to us were supposed to get back in our boxes and be nice colonial children speaking only when we were spoken to with nanny Britain’s permission.
That however is not how it turned out as a newly awakened Scotland had found our voice and we were in no mood to give it up.

In the first serious electoral test in post referendum the unionist political classes suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the SNP which was now led by Salmond’s deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon as the party smashed through what some its supporters had always believed to be the Westminster glass ceiling winning 56 of the 59 Scottish constituency seats and in doing so ending the political careers of some big name Labour MP’s such as Jim Murphy Douglas Alexander, and Ian Davidson.

A smart political operator Nicola Sturgeon had served a long apprenticeship under her former boss and was more than ready to take over the leader of both her party and her country. Impressive in TV debates Sturgeon captured the mood of the nation and gave supporters of independence belief that we not only had a future but our best days were yet to come.

As opposition parties crumbled in the weight of the SNP avalanche they desperately tried to convince themselves that this phase would soon pass and the return to normality they had been promised
This however has been and remains a million light years away from the political reality that is Scotland in 2016. As if to demonstrate this fact the SNP won a third successive victory in Scottish parliamentary election. Though the party fell two seats short of a second successive overall majority the fact that they won an increased number of constituency seats up from 53 in 2011 to 59 in recent election should not be lost on our opponents.

In fact if I’m being brutality honest the only thing that stopped a second successive
majority was the quite ludicrous
D’ hont electoral system which was so badly skewed that it gave the SNP only four extra seats whilst giving The Conservatives twenty four and the Labour Party twenty one. This resulted in painting an entirely false picture of how Scotland voted and giving the unionist parties a far greater sense of self importance than they actually deserve.

The refusal of the unionist parties to acknowledge that Scotland is not a one party state as they so often like to claim does them and their cause no good whatsoever and gives the impression that they are being childish and petulant and therefore unfit to hold office. I think that someone needs to tell them that there is a genuine and very real difference between what is really a one party state and what better together claim it is. The fact none of the unionist parties in Scotland are currently fit for purpose is not the fault of the SNP no matter how much the more fanatical amongst their number would like it to be. This is just the spin of the immature child who wants everything his own way and cries like a baby when it. doesn’t go to plan.

You know it’s funny how when Scotland was ruled by The Labour Party for almost five decades 1959-2007 (48 years to be exact) and having been alive for all but two of those years I never heard this one party state nonsense even once. In fact I can say with certainty I didn’t even hear it from the Tories not even during the Thatcher years but the minute the SNP or any pro independence party look like doing well they trot it out. This to me smacks of the back in your box Jocks kind of the attitude they would be very well advised to avoid if they ever want to regain the one thing they lack more than any other and that is credibility.

This is to me at least one of the most important factors faced by any political party or campaign if it wants to be successful. Without a credible leader your party or campaign will sink without trace and that at this moment in history in Scottish politics at least all the credible politicians are with the exception of Ruth Davidson on the side of Yes.

I have to say that though I dislike her politics intensely I do admire Ruth and more than that I actually respect her. Well I have to say that following Annabel Goldie as leader of Scotland’s conservatives was never going to be easy. Annabel at least in Scottish terms was a legendary figure who had done much to begin the detoxification of the Conservative brand in Scotland and Ruth Davidson with her personable and dare I say it likeable manner has continued the work started by her predecessor.

Ruth however faces one major problem which is that for many people in Scotland which is that no matter what you may think of them personally a Tory is still a Tory and if they are the only credible voice for the union there will be areas which will be closed to them especially after this result.

You see a significant number of those who voted to stay UK in 2014 did so not because of any sense of British identity being exclusive to their way of thinking but because they viewed their Britishness like their Scottishness as part of something better and perceived it as being more inclusive and outward looking than what they viewed as the narrow nationalism of independence. Now with Britain having voted to leave Europe whilst Scotland in large numbers voted to stay with in many of those who voted no in 2014 may already be beginning to rethink that decision and vote yes in the next independence referendum when it is eventually called. Indeed it may be that this vote on Europe has finally proved the very real political differences between the politics of Scotland and the rest of the UK have highlighted the need for independence to a far greater degree than was the case in 2014 as Scotland said yes to the civilised world by rejecting the Brexit Club.

Looking back to the afternoon of the 19th of September when Alex Salmond said in his resignation speech as First Minister the dream shall never die many people may have thought that this was just a politician trying to keep the flame of independence alive on what was for many of us this blogger included the darkest day in Scotland’s recent history. It was on that day as people began to flock to the SNP in record numbers Alex Salmond was proved to be a lot more correct than many of us dared to dream .

It was however a few days later in the interview on Andrew Marr show that Alex Salmond made his most telling comment, saying that at a time when the circumstances were right we would get the chance to finish the job we started. Thanks to Brexit that chance and our independence may come sooner than a lot of people think.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

A Reason To Remain (Why I Voted To Stay In The European Union )

Hey Readers

As today is day of the European Union referendum this post is by necessity a wee bit shorter than usual. No matter what else transpires in the next few hours this has been a historic day for the people of Scotland and the greater British isles as decision day was finally upon us and soon we will know whether the future of our country whichever version of it you identity with is in or out of the European Union. However no matter how historic or not you may think this referendum may be, it proves the truth of words of the chorus of Bucks Fizz Eurovision classic of 1981 which says I think you will find that there comes a time for making your mind up and today was the day you had to do exactly that.

Make no mistake the choice you made when you went to your local polling station will be one of the most important you make for many years and possibly even for decades.  This is in my opinion a choice between moving forward with friends and comrades throughout Europe or a journey back to a land that time forgot in a Tory time machine where Boris Johnson would be Prime Minister and Michael Gove would probably be chancellor.

Trust me if you think Cameron and Osbourne are bad these two and their not so merry men would make them look like paid up members of the Liberal Democrats.  My apologies to my Liberal Democrat friends but I think you know where we are heading with this one.

You know matter how uncomfortable I may have felt in agreeing with the last four Prime Ministers of the united kingdom Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and the current incumbent David Cameron and believe me I felt very uncomfortable about it I was not prepared to hand my country or my neighbours countries over to the likes of Nigel Farage and the Daily Mail whose disgraceful anti immigrant attitudes shame both Britain and humanity. This to me would have been an act of wanton destruction the consequences of which could be devastating for many people not to mention communities throughout this collection of nations. Thankfully I had Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond, Patrick Harvie , Jeremy Corbyn , and Willie Rennie arguing the case to stay in and fight for a better Europe.

To me this referendum was about more , much more than just the economy. It was about the values I have had all my political life. It was about making a statement as to the kind of country and the kind of society I want to live in and that is a society built upon the rocks of equality, fairness and inclusion. It is a society which accepts and embraces difference and values the diversity it brings to our people.

There is however a more fundamental truth as to why I voted in the way I did and it is that I don’t want Scotland or for as long as we are part of it, Britain left to the mercies of these hard-line right wing lunatics who would strip us of our human rights without a second thought. These people are the kind of people for whom compassion is a dirty word and society doesn’t exist outside the Bullingdon Club.

As a transsexual woman I am terrified of being isolated from Europe. I don’t want to be part of a remote island on the fringes of reality I want my country to be  forward thinking, socially progressive and outward looking. I want us to be where the real decisions are made not sitting on the sidelines congratulating ourselves on how wonderful we are whilst no-one else is actually listening to a single word we say.

You see in September 2014 I rejected the dark forces of what I saw as the insular xenophobia and narrow minded politics of British nationalism when I proudly voted yes for independence. Today I rejected those same dark forces once again and for that reason and many others I found a reason to remain in The European Union and grasped it in the hope of building a better Europe. On this historic day  I voted remain and I hope you did same.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

In Defence Of Patrick Harvie (The Thoughts Of An SNP Activist).

Hey Readers It was with a sense of bemusement that I saw some on the more fundamentalist wing of my party express what I can only describe as their self righteous anger at the fact that the six Green Party MSP’s did not vote for Nicola Sturgeon in her ultimately successful bid to be re-elected as First Minister of Scotland.  The fact the party did not vote for her opponent Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and instead choose to  abstain  seems to have been conveniently ignored by those concerned

Let me say that I do approve of this kind of politics it is not my way of doing things and though I may have got a wee bit tribal during the referendum it was mainly because I had to as I was faced with hostility which was based on my gender identity and my perceived religious beliefs by some of the less enlightened unionists. These however are different times and Scotland has returned more towards party politics rather than a politics of
causes and campaigns which dominated Scotland in the two years leading up to the referendum vote.

The fact that some people on both sides of the divide haven’t yet moved on is something which personally I find very sad especially when those doing the sniping are taking cheap shots against a party with which many SNP supporters have a healthy degree of affinity. This is why I as an SNP member have decided to write this post in defence of Patrick Harvie a principled politician I admire and respect

It is with some degree of sadness that I have to say that some of the comments I viewed on my twitter feed regarding Patrick’s decision not to support Nicola in her vote to be re-elected First Minister were to say the very least annoying. I found the anger directed at Patrick to be both unjustified and offensive.  The idea that somehow the SNP supporters who voted green on the list loaned the greens their votes and that means that Patrick and his fellow MSP’s must therefore back Nicola on every vote is to my mind ridiculous and does nothing to advance  the cause of independence, a cause on which the greens stood shoulder to shoulder with my party two years ago and as they will again when the comes. In the meantime, we should respect the fact that the greens are and an independent party who are under no obligation to the SNP be it leadership or voters. 

You see I have a real problem with this kind of high handed attitude from SNP supporters and I’ll explain why. To me the cause of independence means nothing if it is not about building a better nation and doing so on the four pillars of equality, diversity, fairness, and inclusion. The key to this Scotland is the acceptance of all shades of political traditions even those we profoundly disagree with to quote the words of Voltaire ‘ I disagree with what you say but will defend until death your right to say it ‘. This to me is what true freedom is about and the right to make our choices is a fundamental part of any truly free society. 

Now I won’t lie and say that I wouldn’t have liked Patrick Harvie and his colleagues to have voted for Nicola Sturgeon yesterday. I mean let’s be honest I would have liked Willie Rennie to have voted for Nicola yesterday but I live in the real world and therefore accept that that you can’t always get what you want on every occasion If you could I would have been married to Donny Osmond since the 11th July 1981 the year of my 20th Birthday I would have at least 10 children, Childbirth would be pain for every woman men would have time of the month plus interest,  Celtic would have won so many league  championships and European Cups it would actually be embarrassing, an independent Scotland and fully united Ireland would be the two richest countries on earth, no-one would ever go blind, or be in any sort of pain and all our dreams would come true every day of our lives. Tragically such a world is not possible if it were I would be a Scottish version of Marilyn Monroe with a bit of s Madonna thrown in to the mix for good measure. That however is a wish list, the stuff of dreams and to me at least wish lists are the preserve of poets and idealists.
Meanwhile in the adult world of politics, people are often forced to make some more realistic choices in which they will hopefully be guided by value based principles as Patrick and his colleagues were on this occasion.

The fact he and his party choose to abstain rather than vote for Nicola shows that whilst both he and his party’s wider membership may admire many of her personal qualities including her style of leadership he does not believe that the SNP are friendly enough to the environment on the issues that matter to green party members to  merit his party’s support just yet. This decision was not a personal slight on Nicola Sturgeon nor was it an insult to the SNP it was a balanced verdict made on behalf of the party he leads. 

I make this point because I believe it needs to made and made loudly and clearly. Despite what some zealots may like to believe the SNP does not own the yes movement nor does it own the votes of the yes movement. The yes movement that glorious movement of which I was so proud to be a part was and remains are diverse movement in which people from all political hues were and must continue to be made welcome. I state this purely because if we spend two and a half years attempting to and in my opinion succeeding in convincing the people of our country that voting yes was not a vote for the SNP or my party’s then leader Alex Salmond we can hardly say now oh we’ve changed on our mind on this and all yes voters must vote yes as an article of faith.  This is not the way to win friends and influence potential voters in fact to go down this road could lose the cause of independence votes which people like me fought far too hard to win and I’ll be damn well dead before I let that happen. 

It is in my opinion very good news for the long term aim of independence that greens did make the decision to abstain in this vote as proves to the unionists that you can have two or indeed more parties on the yes of the independence movement who may have very different visions of what they want the future independent Scotland to be like.

Finally I say to those who would criticise the actions of Patrick Harvie and the Green MSP’s take a step back and think for a minute. I have often supported you when you have said that the pro unionist parties in Scotland are no more than branch offices of their UK parties who will always put the needs of Westminster before the people of Scotland. So having said that I now ask you this do you want to give the unionists the chance to say to the voters of our country that the Scottish Green Party are no more than a branch office of the SNP who will put the electoral needs of the SNP before the greater concerns of how best to protect the environment.  I know I don’t and I don’t think you do either. Let’s celebrate the differences that make our yes family such a great inclusive place to be and remember that even the closest of families won’t agree on everything and that is exactly how
It should be

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X