Tag Archive | Colonialism

The Day The Phoenix Rises 

This poem draws on the stories of my ancestors who told me about the importance of the phoenix in guarding the laws of Scotland and Ireland and the belief that our countries will finally be free of British rule on the day the phoenix rises. It is for that reason I have given it the title The Day The Phoenix Rises. I hope you enjoy the read. 
The Day The Phoenix Rises

Outsiders

we were scorned on arrival 

in a cold uncaring place 

 locals claimed we were not the same as them 

using language and religion as excuses to label us 

boasting of their achievements

as part of an empire

they were unaware their own culture was scorned 

Scots or Irish a Celt can never be 

reborn as a Brit

when they were told this 

the new order got angry 

they were beyond unhappy

when the Irish community formed a football club 

which would be open to those of  all faiths and none 

when trophies were won we were feared and hated 

the angry brigade felt threatened 

that their fragile identity had been questioned 

there were suggestions we should go home 

as those with blood on their hands

conveniently forgot  it was they 

who did the clearing 

which left us dispossessed 

the victims of cultural genocide

in the Celtic heartlands from which I am descended 

 I’ve always known my blood is the blood of twin tribes 

both of which were marginalised 

the Irish  and the Islanders share 

a history of oppression

with stolen lands taken from the people 

and given to those who would obey colonial orders

without questioning why 

in Culloden and Atherny 

the pain lives on  in the lyrics of our songs

and the hearts of those who know 

the history the oppressers tried to ban 

along with our culture and traditions 

that however was a big mistake to make

in their determination to break us 

they inspired a spirit of resistance

they will not quell 

hell will freeze over before we ever accept 

the label outsiders 

It is not who we are nor will it ever be 

our freedom will come on the day the phoenix rises 

to take us home from the ashes of a ruined estate 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

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The Home We Once Loved Is The Property Of Strangers (My Thoughts On Scotland Come Home And The Culture Of Entitlement)

Hey everyone It seems the Labour Party just can’t take the hint when it comes to Scotland. Not content with Mr Corbyn’s dismal performance on Sunday, yesterday his best friend and shadow chancellor was next to beg Scotland to come home. By come home what he really means is be obedient little sheep and return the Labour fold where your benevolent Labour will give you a smile as his welcome before dishing out the orders to colonials and sentencing you five years of neglect.

You know I really don’t think they get the picture this is not the Scotland of the pre referendum years where the Labour Party could spin us as many yarns as they liked and get away with it for no other reason than the fact they were the Labour Party and people in Scotland always voted Labour its just what we did, right?

Well yes it might have been right in the past even the recent past but Scotland has changed now and will continue to do so as we progress to the next stage of our journey and where ever that may lead to. The referendum set new rules as to what would and would not be acceptable in our country, and running councils and parliamentary constituencies like rotten burghs for the benefit of any particular party simply won’t be tolerated any longer. The Labour Party can no longer expect people to turn up and vote for them without first of all being given a damn good reason for doing so.This concept of working for votes is alien to many Labour members who have been used to just turning up and taking the voters for granted and believe me they want to get to that business as usual arrangement as quickly as possible. This idea that they may public servants rather than the public serving them does not sit easily with a party who for the last 20 years have been standing on the shoulders of Tories.

This time it was John McDonnell’s turn to patronise the Scots or at least make an attempt at it even if it was doomed to fail. As he launched an attack on the SNP’s economic record I couldn’t help but laugh at him and his pathetic slogan Scotland come home. It is this arrogance and sense of entitlement that annoys me about the Labour Party. It isn’t so much that I disagree with them on the constitution that is a perfectly valid political position which I respect their to hold, it is has more to do with the fact that their metropolitan comrades don’t understand Scotland and quite frankly just see it as a place to be used as voting fodder at election time whilst conveniently forgetting we exist for the rest of the time and in this respect John McDonnell is no different from any other mainstream unionist politician regardless of political hue.

To be honest, like Corbyn I am sure John McDonnell is a very nice guy but I’m not sure he is up to the task he’s been given. In his recent appearance on question time he seemed all over the place and relied on Alex Salmond to save him from a savaging by both the audience and fellow panel members. This is why his attacks on the SNP and those of his new leader fail to hit the target. I mean how can you attack a party whose MP’s you have voted with more times than the vast majority of your own party colleagues. It kinda lacks credibility shall we say.

Personally I think that’s being kind to a party which and let’s be honest has a massive rebuilding job to do in Scotland before it can even be an effective opposition to the SNP let alone replace them as a party we can trust in government. To blindly assume as Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have that Scotland will come home just because they want it to is naïve and shows an ignorance of the circumstances which have led to Labour’s decline and eventual meltdown at this year’s general election.

To assume as so many outside Scotland have done that the SNP’s landslide victory was a rejection of Blair and New Labour 8 years after Blair left office is I think not only disingenuous it is also delusional. So let me say this to those who chose to walk that path if Scotland had wanted to reject Blair it would done so when he was Prime Minister not 8 years after he packed his bags and moved out of Downing Street to spend more time with his family. In my view to make this claim and pretend was a factor after such a time lapse is actually madness especially since we rejected Labour’s most left wing manifesto in a generation.

So why did we do this if we are supposed to be a socialist country? Well it could be because we already have an anti-austerity party in government in the SNP and believe me that is part of the reason but I suspect that it has as much if not more to do with the fact the Labour Party campaigned with the Tories in their desperate attempt to save the union.

You see by taking this decision Labour lost the right to any moral high ground they wish to hold as a party of the left. For years they had taunted the SNP with the lie that the party were tartan tories. That lie now exposed for the world to see we now know who the Tories little helpers really are and their name of the black hearts is The Loyal British Labour And Unionist Party. It is my considered veiw that this act of treachery has cost them any credibility they may have had and no new leaders can save their tired old message.

You know I had held out hope that a new leader would a signify a change of attitude toward Scotland. Maybe they would learn from their mistakes of the past and admit where they’d gone wrong, I hoped they may even build some bridges with the SNP and act in the way a principled pragmatic opposition is supposed to act when its being assessed by electors on its fitness to govern. I was clearly over optimistic in my hope that the party of broken promises not to mention vows could ever be anything other than negative towards Scotland and the SNP. After all they were the Tories favourite sheep in the bunker of  project fear.

This to me is Labour’s biggest problem you see unlike our parents and in most cases grandparents generation we thanks to having our Scottish Parliament which by way was not given as a gift from Labour as some would falsely claim but a demand from the Scottish people which had to met are the most politically switched on Scots of the democratic age. The referendum despite the result indeed regardless of it only goes to prove this. People are not willing to give any party including the SNP a blank cheque to do as they please. Unlike Labour however the SNP who are still in relative terms fairly new when it comes to governance are smart enough to realise this and do not take their voters for granted. This is something Labour need to learn and they need to learn it fast. For too many years that is exactly what they have done and this complacency shows no signs of ending. John McDonnell’s Scotland come home call emotional and heartfelt though I’m sure was illustrates this only too clearly.

To me this language is not only misguided it is also potentially dangerous as it shows complete contempt for democracy and gives the impression that Labour think they own the right to our votes. I think it is my duty to inform them that they don’t. I should perhaps explain to them that  the way democracy works is by one person casting their individual vote in a sealed ballot box. Well that’s how it works unless it’s an independence referendum in which if you are a key member of better together your allowed to sample postal votes before the count begins.

This Scotland come home attitudes smacks of colonialism where what the Labour Party are actually saying is Scotland shut up, get back in your box and do only as we tell you. It’s like they are telling us we have been disobedient children by daring to leave the family home and we must never do it again.

It is this attitude of disdain towards our country proves that the Labour Party have learned nothing from their general election drubbing repeating verbatim the same old tired line it wasn’t us who were wrong it was Scotland. It is this culture of entitlement which has turned me and thousands off not only from voting for them but even from giving them a fair hearing. God knows I do try, but this nasty pernicious attitude that Scotland is their personal property makes me feel both alienated and angry.

This is not the Labour Party many of my family grew up supporting, it is not the Labour Party of principled socialists like Jimmy Reid or the late Robin Cook who were instrumental in awakening my interest in politics as the best way to achieve social, cultural and economic change. This isn’t the Labour Party of Clement Atlee, Nye Bevan, Barbara Castle or the Labour Party of John Wheatley, Tom Johnston or Norman And Janey Buchan and as they rest in peace they must be wondering what in god’s name happened to it. You see this despite the changes at the top remains the party of the Blairs and Browns the colonials who think the way to beat Scotland is to chastise us as if we are somehow dependent on their approval in order to exist.

Without a major change in mindset it seems that their appeal to Scotland to come home will largely be ignored and rightly so. Doubtless when it is they will shout as loud as they can at us and tell us again we’ve got it wrong. The fact is we won’t be wrong whatever we decide to do, we will be taking the decision we think is the right one for our country. It is for this reason despite their faults I believe Scotland will continue to stick with the SNP and won’t be going to visit a home which though it once belonged to us is now the property of strangers.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X