The Tartan Tights Awards 2019

Later than ever before but in their new and permanent position it’s finally time for The 2019 Tartan Tights Awards. I’ve decided to cut a few awards this year mainly due to it being a quiet year in certain areas and the fact I’m not as active on certain scenes as was once the case. So let’s see whose brightened up my life in the last 12 months and let’s get this show on the road.

As always I start with my political awards and as tradition dictates my first award is for Politian Of The Year. Amongst those considered were SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford First Minister Nicola Sturgeon , and last year’s winner Joanna Cherry, all of whom had an excellent 2019 but my winner is the man who has without doubt shown all the unionist parties at Holyrood how effective opposition really works and who in my view will be as big an asset to the next independence campaign as he unquestionably was to the last one. He is the co-leader of the Scottish Green Party and the only credible leader of any party apart from our current First Minister. My Tartan Tights Politician of the Year for 2019 is Patrick Harvie.

Now I move on to my Young Politician of the Year which for the past two years has been won by Christina Cannon. This year however sees a new name added to a list which includes among others Saffron Dickson, and Laura Doherty, and the award goes to a young man who during the recent election was out every day spreading the SNP message in all weathers in every corner of the Glasgow East constituncey his efforts helped the party hold with a greatly increased majority My Young Politician of the Year is Jack McKelvie

My Vision Of Scotland Award goes to the individual who has made an outstanding contribution to Scotland’s political or cultural life and this year this award really was a no brainer. You see the winner created what I believe will be an enduring legacy for years and decades to come when as a gay man and a traditional musician he with the support of a group of friends created the first ever LGBT + event in the history of Celtic Connections and brought the Bohga Frois which is Gaelic for Rainbow to the stage of the Royal Concert Hall and did so to critical acclaim. So having attended this groundbreaking event I am very proud to say that The Vision Of Scotland Award for 2019 goes to our very own Man of the Minsch, Pedro Cameron

From the Vision of Scotland we move to those without whom those who have those visions may never see them realised as we name our Unsung Hero/Heroine of the year. This year the award goes to someone who isn’t involved in politics  but is actually a very gifted musician and one of the best fiddlers in the country. On collecting his award for the Bohga Frois being named Community project of the year at the Traditional Music Awards in December, Pedro paid a fitting tribute to our winner for her incredible support in bringing it life. This amazingly talented woman is and always has been a principled supporter of equality and a fantastic ally to the LGBT community.  So, as I’m sure many of you will have been able to guess The Tartan Tights Unsung Heroine for 2019 is the brilliant Laura WIlkie

Next up we have our Impact Award for the politician who I believe has made the biggest impact promoting Scotland and our values and this year the three main contenders were Alyn Smith, Alison Thewliss, and Joanna Cherry, and it was really difficult to call it between them but eventually I had to do it and on the basis of his farewell speech to the European Parliament and the fact that he defeated Stephen Kerr who is by any stretch of the imagination one of the most right wing Tories in Scotland when he gained Stirling for SNP in December’s General Election My Impact Award goes to Alyn Smith

Now for our final political award which is the One To Watch award and believe me when I say this award had a shortlist of one as the winner blew all other contenders not to mention the leader of the Liberal Democrats right out the water. To say that she pulled off the result of the night at the recent Westminster General Election would be a wee bit of an understatement as she unseated Jo Swinson with a stunning victory which sent shockwaves right through the heart of the British establishment and I’m delighted to say that My One To Watch is the newly elected Member Of Parliament for East Dunbartonshire Amy Callaghan.

From Politics my focus switches to the Community awards and this includes blogging which at least in the past year was able to sustain a category of its own. Due to the fact the blogging scene has been a wee bit quiter than usual there is only one category in this section and that’s my Blogger Of The Year. The main contenders for this award were Charlotte Dougall for By Charlotte Ann and Amie Cadwallender for The Curvaceous Vegan and by the narrowest of margins My Blogger of the Year is Amie Cadwallender For The Curvaceous Vegan

With regards to Activism there were several contenders for My Activist Of The Year award. Among those considered were Tracy Harvie for her work with the Ayrshire writers and Ayr For Independence, Pedro Cameron For The Bohga Frois, Lesley Traynor for her continued work with Women With Fierce Words , and the Scottish Writers Centre, Ailie Wallace for Rooftop Writers, Carla Woodburn For Express Yourself , Express Yourself On The Radio, and her work at the Scots Language Centre, and Jim MacKintosh For forming the Scottish Women’s Football Poetry Collection and as you can gather picking a winner from that lot wasn’t an easy choice but in the end I decided that because of her work in so many areas my Activist of the year is the force of nature that is Carla Woodburn.

Picture My 2019 Activist Of The Year Carla Woodburn Expressing herself at Express Yourself in The Project Cafe

As for my Young Activist of the Year, it’s fair to say that with talent like Alex Kerr, councillors Christina Cannon , and Laura Doherty, and of course young politican of the year Jack McKelvie the SNP have an abundance of talent in their ranks but the spoken word scene is also blessed with outstanding young activists with Ella Russell, Johnny Cypher, and the wonderful Imogen Stirling whose Soul Food Poetry night is one of the best new nights in Glasgow all being major contenders as is Rachel Cairns who successfully succeeded Jade Mitchell as host of Strathclyde University’s Live Poets Society but the winner of this award is an Aberdeenshire lass who used to grace the Blue Chair and other Glasgow venues with her considerable poetic talents and in September she organised the Rebel Rising Festival in support of Extinction Rebellion. She even read a poem of mine at the event because I couldn’t make it. My Young Activist of the Year is Molly MacLachlan

From Community I shift the focus to Culture and this will be a much shorter section than usual as my fringe was cut so short due to injury that if it was a skirt it would be so short it would make a micro mini look knee length.

I’ll kick this section off with the Best Poetry Performance of the Year. In a year in which I saw many poets share their work I think there were three performances which really stood out for me. They were Calum Rodger for his set at Words And Music In May, Emma Pursehouse for her set at Waterstones in June, and Scott The Redman Redmond for his set at Words And Music In September. As I’m sure you’ll agree choosing a winner from such a talented list was no easy task but eventually I made what was a really difficult call and decided that the winner of The Best Poetry Performance of 2019 is Calum Rodger

Calum Rodger rocking the mic at Words And Music in May as he shows why he won the Best Poetry Performance of the Year

For my next award in this catagory I focus on the Scots Language as it’s time for The Sandy Hutchison Memorial Award for Services To Scots. And though there were a number of contenders for this one such as Carla Woodburn, Janet Crawford, Jim MacKintosh and Sheila Templeton there was one member of the spoken word community who stood out and that to me was because his use of Scots interspersed with English added something to the nights I attended. It is for that reason that this year’s winner of the Sandy Hutchison Memorial Award is Jim Ewing

From language I move on to equality as I name my Equality Champion. In a year where transphobia has been more prevalent than it has for at least two decades this is a particularly important award as it highlights who is actually prepared to fight for my rights and if that sounds personal that’s because it is as I have needed more support in the past 12 months than I have in the last 12 years. I however am luckier than most and I know I have allies who will fight my corner as and when required and when it comes to allies I am fortunate to have the support of people such as Ailie Wallace, Carolyn Paterson, my Words And Music co-host and bestie Jen Hughes, last year’s equality champion Laura Wilkie, my outgoing man of the year Paddy Callaghan, Robin Cairns, Stacey McFarlane, Shaun Moore, and Stephen Watt, and that’s an impressive list from which to make my choice and believe me it wasn’t easy but in one of my hardest choices of the year that my Equality Champion is Stacey McFarlane

From equality I move on to the music as I name my musician of the year. Believe me this wasn’t an easy choice from Man of the Minsch, to Bob Leslie From Lisa Kawolski to Josie Duncan, Sarah Markey, Rachel Sermanni, Ronan Doran, and Emma Durkham there was plenty of candidates for this one but to me there was one candidate who absolutely stunned me with the quality of her voice. It is my opinion that she may be the only musician on earth who could sing the telephone book and make it sound like an artistic masterpiece. My musician of the year is the absolutely magical Kim Carnie

My next award is Band of the Year and candidates for this award included Folky Mac Folkface, Trio, a band who I thought deserved to win a Danny Kyle Award even though it wasn’t to be their fate. The Paul McKenna Band, The Southside Fiddlers, and last year’s winners St Rochs Ceili Band but it was on a summer’s evening in Glasgow city centre I saw the band who would win this award and win it by a distance as they put on a show which left me wanting to hear a lot more of them. That band has four of the most talented musicians in Scotland working to make fantastic music. My Band of the Year for 2019 is The Sarah Markey Band.

Picture The Sarah Markey Band brightened up my summer as they played an excellent set at the Griffin Bar in June

My Song of the Year was chosen not just for the song itself but for the story behind it. My choice was one of the highlights of the first ever Bogha Frois. It’s a song I’ve heard before and often play on my YouTube but when I heard the story of how it could be interpreted as a song of forbidden love it was as if I finally got it after all those years. My Song of the Year is The Ferryman By Rachel Sermanni

From songs I move on to events as I select my Event of the Year. In a year which was in some ways not quite as busy as usual there were three main contenders for this award. The events I considered are Bohga Frois LGBT Voices In Folk, The Sarah Markey Band At The Griffin, and the Ayr For Independence Words And Music Day. Despite having only three events on my list it wasn’t an easy choice as all of them would have been very worthy winners but on this occasion I decided to be guided by the hand of history and because of what it meant to me and many others in a personal capacity I decided that my Event of the Year for 2019 is The Bohga Frois LGBT Voices In Folk.

Picture The Bohga Frois LGBT Voices In Folk

Having looked at events it’s now time to think about the venues that host them and over the years I have attended some brilliant events in some truly amazing locations. From the old Sammy Dow’s which was the original home of Words And Music to the Banshee Labyrinth my Edinburgh local when the fringe comes to call. From The Royal Concert Hall which lights up the winter skies as part of Celtic Connections to the wonderful Cafe Rio, the much loved and missed Blue Chair. and of course the iconic Scotia Bar I’ve made memories in some truly wonderful places but there is one venue which has been a constant in my life since it opened its doors in 1989. This is a place I’ve enjoyed everything from slams to soup from diet cokes to caberet nights and that’s why my venue of the year is that Glasgow institution otherwise known as The Tron

From venues I move on new voices for my Discovery of the Year. Like every year 2019 threw up some new talent for me to enjoy. I qualify this by saying that whilst some of those selected may already be established in their field they were new in the sense that this was my first opportunity to see them. This impressive list includes poet comic and burlesque performer Angela Legg aka Miss A Leg, from the world of music we have Elaine Lennon, Emma Carr Martin, Kim Carnie, Mischa MacPherson, and Man Of The Minsch, and from spoken word Georgia Francis, Morag Steven, and Florian Neiderseer are names that come to mind. However, after a lot of consideration my Discovery of the Year award goes to Elaine Lennon.

From Culture I move to sport and and my Sporting Moment of the year. As a Celtic Supporter I have to say that this one came on a very historic day for our club when on the 25th of May 2019 exactly 52 years after our greatest ever victory we were able to deliver the domestic treble to paradise for the third successive season and say the immortal words Glasgow Celtic Treble Treble Winners

Now I move on my Team of the Year and despite Celtic’s great achievements I think there is another team who may just have done to shade it when it comes to winning this award. Well , when you supply a substantial number of the most successful Scotland team in decades win the league for the 13th successive season, become the first Scottish club to qualify for the last eight of the Champions League and clinch a league and cup double in the most dramatic fashion imaginable with a goal worthy of winning the World Cup itself then I think you might just be the appropriate choice for the award. It is for that reason and for proving that football can be more than just a boy’s game that my team of the year are Glasgow City


The next award is my Lifetime Achievement award. This one goes to someone who has made a significant contribution to either my life in a personal capacity or to Scottish Life more generally. This year’s recipient is someone who has done both of these and is a wonderful poet and performer and has been for more decades than I care to remember. After moving to Scotland from his native North East of England in the 1980’s he was a major force in both the Edinburgh and Scottish poetry scenes hosting and organising various but most notably 10Red at which so many of us were privileged to appear over the years and a poetry marathon which smashed the Scottish record for the number of poets appearing at a two day event with more than 150 poets including yours truly attending this two day gathering. A man not only of great talent but also known for his kindness and encouragement of others my Lifetime Achievement goes to Kevin Cadwallender

Moving on to my last award before the main events means it’s time to name my winner of The Beyond Call Of Duty Award. This is given to the friend who without even asking will go that extra mile for you and make sure you are in a good place before concluding your chat. Amongst those I considered for this one were Ailie Wallace, Emma Mooney, Hannah Cooper, Laura WIlkie, Joanne Burrows, Paddy Callaghan, and Stephen Watt. A pretty impressive list if I say so myself. I would have chosen Jen for this one but since she’s banned me from choosing her as a winner on the grounds of blatant favouritism of which I plead guilty. My winner is a cracking make up advisor and confident who is a far more talented poet that she realises. Well she’s still to make her spoken word debut though hopefully that will come in 2020 my winner of the Beyond The Call Of Duty Award is the lovely Hannah Cooper

Now at long last it’s time to move on the main event of the night as I name my man and woman of the year. As usual I’ll start with the guys and there were no shortage of candidates for this year’s title Among those in the frame were poets and writers including Charlie Gracie, Jim Ewing, Robin Cairns, and Stephen Watt. From politics we have Ian Blackford David Linden and Stewart MacDonald and from the traditional music community Bob Leslie. So as you can gather picking a winner from such. an impressive list was no easy task and though all candidates were given serious consideration I eventually made my choice. Our winner is a man renowned for his innovative and thought provoking poetry on topics from football to crime. He has by any stretch of the imagination a brilliant year in which he was Maker for the Federation Of Writers Of Scotland poet in residence for his beloved Dumbarton where he continued his groundbreaking football poetry videos as well his other work for the club and more generally. He also became the first poet ever to write a crime novel completely in rhyme and those who know me well will know that Fairy Rock has like all his other collections a place on my bookshelf. Between doing all this and so much more he took the time to perform a steller set for Jen and I at Words And Music in July which was enjoyed by all in attendance. It has to be said that succeeding Paddy Callaghan was never going to be easy but if anyone it’s this guy My Tartan Tights Man of the Year is Stephen Watt

Our 2019 Man of the Year Stephen Watt showing us why he’s one of the best poets in Scotland as he graced the Words And Music stage last July

Having named my Man of the Year it’s time to name the winner of the most important award of the lot and find out who I’ve selected as my tartan tights Woman of the Year. Just like the men there was a brilliant selection of candidates. Amongst those considered were, from the world of poetry, Ailie Wallace, Finola Scott, Molly MacLachlan, Imogen Stirling, and Tracy Harvie , Whilst traditional music saw Elaine Lennon, and Sarah Markey very much in my thoughts. There were also strong cases to be made for three of country’s best female politicians and Alison Thewliss, Angela Crawley, and Laura Doherty are the kind of women who will fight for a better Scotland and more than that a brtter, kinder world. With Hannah Cooper, and Stacey McFarlane completing a top quality list of nominees you can see this was always going to be a very close call and believe me it was. In the end however I made my call based on who I felt had the most influence on my life in the past and for that reason and only that reason I choose a woman who not supported me whenever neccessary but challenged me whenever she thought I needed it. She not only inspired me to write new poems she pushed me to improve my language skills and I’m a better Gaelic speaker than I’ve ever been because of her. She is my opinion one of the best poets in the country and a feisty voice for fairness. My tartan tights Women of the Year is the amazing Ailie Wallace.

So with all the awards given out we’ve reached the end of the Tartan Tights Awards for 2019. So with that in mind I offer my congratulations to the winners and if you weren’t so lucky then remember next year could be your year. Whatever the coming year holds for you I wish you all you wish yourself and I hope you’ll keep reading tartan tights throughout 2020 and beyond .

(Picture Our amazing Tartan Tights Women Of The Year the brilliant Ailie Wallace shares her words at the Burns Night Express Yourself.

Till next time

Gayle X

The Tartan Tights Awards 2018

As this is the time of the awards season for those and such as those the media call celebrities there is no better time to announce the winners of the seventh annual tartan tights awards. Forget all other awards these are the ones to win so let’s get this show on the road and see who has made my life that little bit brighter not only by just being in it but having an impact that I and sometimes they would never have expected.

As always we start these awards with the Politician of the Year and amongst those considered were Glasgow South MP Stewart MacDonald, Mhairi Black, my own constituency MP David Linden for the many outstanding contributions he has made both in parliamentary debates in the local constituency and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for her outstanding handling of the Brexit shambles and making the rest of the UK wish they had a leader of her ability, but my winner is a woman who has grown in stature in Scotland , and beyond and has a voice Westminster takes very seriously indeed on any number of issues she is not only a passionate campaigner not only for Scotland and the cause of independence but also for gender equality, and the right to remain in the European Union, my Tartan Tights Politician Of The Year is Joanna Cherry.

Next up is my Young Politician of the Year and yet again there are no shortage of candidates. The Green Party’s Ross Grier is someone who has always impressed me as my own branch convenor Alex Kerr continues to do as does Mhairi Black, but my winner for the second year in a row and the first person ever to retain the title Tartan Tights Young Politician of the Year is the brilliant Christina Cannon.

My vision of Scotland Award goes to the person who has inspired me to believe that their Scotland is the kind of country I would want to live in and this year’s winner is a man who fights tirelessly for the inclusive, multi-cultural, multi-linguistic , sexually accepting , politically independent Scotland he wants to see. Though born in England he is a proud and passionate Scot, who believes as I do that a free Scotland must also be a fair Scotland. A fluent Gaelic speaker he has encouraged me to learn the language of my ancestors and challenged me to write a poem about the prejudice and indeed outright hostility towards Gaelic speakers. This poem, Dead Language was my most read post on this blog in 2018 and I am very proud to say it met with his approval. My Vision Of Scotland award goes to Marcus Mac An Turneir.

The Unsung Hero/ Heroine Award goes to that activist who never gets the credit they deserve but you would soon know if they weren’t there to do the jobs that need doing and this year’s recipient is a man who is out in all weathers for the SNP and a more dedicated campaigner I’ve yet to meet. Nothing is too much trouble for him whether it be an early morning leaflet run an afternoon canvassing session or an evening stuffing envelopes in campaign rooms. My very deserving winner of the title Unsung Hero 2018 goes to Bob Bothwell.

From unsung heroes we move on to look at those who may be the stars of the future with The One To Watch Award and last year’s winner David Linden has certainly been making an impact in the corridors of power at Westminster. This year I considered both Shettleston SNP Convenor Alex Kerr and the force of nature that is Springburn SNP councillor Christina Cannon but this year’s winner is a member of an opposition party and The Labour Party should be consider themselves lucky to have him in their ranks Since his election to represent his party in the UK General Election I have heard many positive stories about the Honourable Member For Rutherglen And Hamilton West including personal examples of how he has helped constituents and that is what any elected representatives should be doing before anything else. My One To Watch is Ged Killen

For my penultimate political award I select the politician I consider to have made the greatest impact on Scottish Politics in the last year and though there were several outstanding candidates including Mhairi Black, and last year’s winner Patrick Harvie, my winner has despite some initial misgivings from those too quick to rush to judgement has more than filled the boots of Angus Robertson as the leader of the SNP Westminster MP’s and shown Theresa May what it’s really like to lead a political party. My 2018 Impact Award goes to Ian Blackford.

My final political award goes to the Political Blogger of the Year. This goes to the blogger who I consider to be have been the best and more informed read during the past year. For the past two years this award has been won by Common Space and previous winners have included A Burdz Eye View and Wee Ginger Dug but this year there is new name on this award as it goes to someone whose analysis of opinion polls and by-elections has kept me both informed and entertained on current political trends. My winner of the Political Blogger Of The Year Award is James Kelly for Scot Goes Pop

Having given out my political prizes, it’s now time to move on to my community awards and where better to start than the blogging community. There are four awards in this section and I’ll start with Scottish Blogger Of The Year. This is always a hard one to call with previous winners including Charlotte Dougall at Colours And Carousels Claire Smith at G Is For Gingers and Lisa -Marie Ferla at Last Year’s Girl. Among those considered for this award apart from those mentioned were Robyn Murray for Hey There Robyn Amber MacNaught for Forever Amber, and Jen Hughes for Dear Octopus. But this year’s winner is someone who like me has two blogs to keep her occupied and therefore out of mischief. So just in case you haven’t already guessed I’m talking about the beauty who can ramble for Scotland and my Scottish Blogger of the Year is Jasmine Lawrie for Blogs All Beautyy and Jasmine Rambles.

Next up is my International Blogger of the Year. This is for all bloggers not resident in Scotland and amongst those listed are Beccy Kiernan for Beccy Kiernan.com, Jessica Lauren Hatcher for Jessica Lauren Hatcher, Fliss Wolf for Flisss Kisses, Jade Thristen For Dungarees And Donuts, and Molly Ress for MollyyRees.com but my winner was chosen for writing those difficult posts we so often shy away from. The ones which are as challenging for the blogger to write as they are for the reader to read and that’s why my International Blogger of the Year is Amie Cadwallender for The Curvaceous Vegan

For the vlogging awards which are now in there second year I have tried to widen my net and I’ve seen a few vloggers putting their thoughts out there for us to share but when it comes to The Scottish Vlogger of the Year there is no substitute for quality entertainment and that’s why for she’s done the double my Scottish Vlogger Of The Year is Beauty Creep aka the brilliant Erin Doogan

My International Vlogger of the Year has also gained a double victory. Like Erin, she entertains and engages her audience in a way that makes you want to listen and always come back for more just to see what she’s getting up now. It is for that and a host of reasons which are far too many to mention that My International Vlogger Of The Year is Jodie for Princess Attitude

Staying with community I shift the focus from blogging to activism and as always I’ll start with my Activist of the Year. Amongst those considered were Matt Panesh for his enthusiasm and commitment in building the Morcambe Fringe, Shaun Moore for both his campaining skills and tour of Scotland in support of independence and perhaps even more importantly for organising yet another successful Sma Shot’s Big Shot aka Paisley poetry slam. Other names in the frame included Jim Ewing for Faith/Unbelief , and Lesley Traynor for Women With Fierce Words , but our winner comes from the central belt of our country A Falkirk based writer I first met at the One Weekend in Falkirk she helped to organise. She also helps to facilitate the Rooftop Writers Group and not content she also edited an anthology of the group in which she published one of my poems. Add to that some brilliant performances at both Express Yourself and of course Words And Music and the publication of her debut collection entitled The Goddess Collection and you’ll see why my Activist of the Year is Ailie Wallace.

Picture. Activist of the Year Ailie Wallace rocks the stage at the October Words And Music.

For my Young Activist of the Year I gave careful consideration to Shettleston SNP Convenor Alex Kerr, and and Words And Music’s own Jen Hughes despite the fact she has actually banned from selecting her to win anything on the grounds of blatant favouritism, I also thought of Blue Chair favourite Ella Russell, for her outstanding work on the Springburn mural project with her friend and mine Alex Docherty, Springburn SNP councillor Christina Cannon, Megan Eliot for organising the fabulous all day Woman ln Glasgow Let Your Hair Down event but for her part in the workshops which have resulted in the Bogha Frois and the first ever LGBT Voices In Folk event at Celtic Connections which I look forward to attending my Young Activist of the Year is Laura Wilkie

From Community the focus switches to Culture and I’ll start with poets and poetry with the award for the best poetry performance of the year As always there were plenty of contenders amongst them Victoria McNulty For Confessionals, Tina Seiderholm Everything About You Is Beautiful, Jen Hughes for her set at Fail Better, Catriona Knapman for Out On The World, and Dan Simpson for Worried Face Emoji but the winner for one of the most outstanding sets I think Words And Music has ever seen is Falkirk’s finest bairn. The award for Best Poetry Performance goes to Ailie Wallace

My next award is for best show of the fringe among those considered were In The Works for the 900 Club , Tina Seiderholm Everything About You Is Beautiful, Catriona Knapman for Out On The World, and Dan Simpson for Worried Face Emoji, but the winner of the Best Show of the Fringe is Imogen Stirling for Hypocrisy

Next up is the award for the most original show of the fringe and In The Works production of the 900 Club was a very strong contender for this award as was Dan Simpson for Worried Face Emoji, and Catriona Knapman for Out On The World but my choice for the Most Original Show Of The
Is Hot Mess for Bezzie Mates

My next award is an ever so slightly personal one as it’s dedicated to the memory of my good friend Sandy Hutchison and is given to the writer or musician who has done most to advance the Scots Language in the past year and this year there were great contributions from Jim Ewing, Sheila Templeton, Janet Crawford, and my Words and Co-Host Jen Hughes, our winner retains the title he won last year and deservedly so after a storming set on May Day at Words And Music. So for the second year in a row The Sandy Hutchison Memorial Award goes to Rab Wilson.

From language we move on to comedy and the best live comedy show of year and though I saw cracking shows in 2018 with Jimmy Hogg, Hot Mess, For Bezzie Mates, Robin Cairns, For The Weegies Have Stolen The One O’Clock Gun Funny Girls For Funny Girls, Marc Jennings, Stella Graham, all worth a mention any show you go to see twice has to be just a bit special and that’s why the award for the best live comedy show goes to Kate Smurfwaite For Clit Stirrer.

Staying with shows I now move on to the most inclusive show of year and this a category where I have to say there was a very clear winner. Our winner was only on for one night at this year’s fringe and got a far smaller audience than it deserved but in an incredible 45 minutes she took on a journey through three countries as she educated and entertained us in equal measure. So it is with this in mind the winner of the Most Inclusive Show of the Year is Catriona Knapman for Out On The World

For my next award I move on to equality as I name my equality champion of the 2018. This has not been an easy decision especially in a year when I believe the equality agenda has been driven backwards by a lethal combination of ultra right wing Conservatives and certain radical feminists so I think Amber Rudd and Esther McVey can rule themselves out of contention. However despite brilliant contributions from Alison Thewliss, Chris Stephens, and Mhairi Black this award is a very personal one as yet again a good friend proved to paraphrase a certain well known saying that cometh the hour cometh the woman and for her role in helping to facilitate to Bogha Frois My Equality Champion is Laura Wilkie.

From Equality I move on to Music and name my musician of year. In what was a cracking year for music there were no shortage of candidates. My short list included last year’s winner Bob Leslie, Steve Clarke, and Emma Durkin, but my winner is an outstanding young musician whose guiter playing takes me to a place many others can only dream of. My Musician of the Year is the brilliant Emma Moore.

From musician of the year I move on to band of the year and this year though it was a quiet year for bands I have to say it was a good one with Folky MacFolkface, The Graham Brown Band, and The Wakes all serious contenders but it was inevitable that one year it had to happen and when they inspired a poem from a memory I knew this year was that year so for that and a host of other reasons My Band Of The Year are St Rochs Ceili Band.

My song of the year was a reasonably easy choice. I say this as though I have heard many good songs over the past twelve months when a song about social anxiety makes you wipe tears from your eyes then you know its touched a nerve. That’s why my Song of the Year is The Girl In The Cloack by the lovely and very talented Emma Durkin

Picture. Our Song of the Year winner Emma Durkin at the July Words And Music

My next award is for Event of the Year and in a year which was jam packed full of them this was a difficult call. First up was KK Snaps Big Wedding Giveaway which was a wonderful display of all things bridal , then we moved on to a cracking night in Leith when Women With Fierce Words rocked Hidden Door not forgetting a lovely afternoon when I was the only poet on all a bill filled with musicians at the Music for the Beatson event organised by Jordan Stewart. However there was one event which just shaded it for me. On attending this day I enjoyed a feast of women’s empowerment with workshops a poetry stage on which I was privileged to perform good food, friendship, sisterhood and I gained a whole new wardrobe my Event of the Year goes to Megan Eliot for Women of Glasgow Let Your Hair Down

From events I move on to venues and there are a number of venues I love to attend both to watch events or be part of them. These include The Royal Concert Hall where Celtic Connections ensures I spend much of January and the early part of February The Banshee Labyrinth which during the fringe becomes my Edinburgh local and the Tron Theatre in which I have spent a significant part of my cultural life watching everything from pantos , and plays to poetry slams and sometimes even participating in the latter. However there are times when there really is no place like home and it’s for that reason my Venue of the Year is the home of Words And Music The Pollok Ex-Servicemen’s Club or the Tin Hut as it’s known to its regulars

From venues we move on to new talent with my discovery of the year. This was a hotly contested category with nominations including poets such as Kinsman, Connor Byrne, and Gray Crosbie, and musicians Emma Durkin, and Emma Moore, but in the end I chose a poet and I think I’ve chosen wisely because when Ailie Wallace says of her that she has so much talent it’s actually frightening then you have sit to up and take notice. My Discovery of the Year is Carolyn Paterson.

Picture. Discovery of the Year Carolyn Paterson Expressing herself at the June edition of Express Yourself at The Project Cafe

From Culture I move on to Sport and my sporting moment of the year award. Personally I think this has to be my easiest choice of the night. It came at around 4.50 on the day of a certain royal wedding when the referee blew the final whistle on The Scottish Cup Final and the season and I was able to call my team historymakers. My Sporting Moment of the Year came when I was able to say these words Glasgow Celtic Double Treble Winners

Now I move on to my Team Of The Year and though this may come as a shock to some, despite their magnificent achievements it isn’t Celtic. The team who won this award have set new standards not only for football but their sex and by qualifying for the World Cup they have given a great boost to the game and dribbled rings round those with sexist attitudes. My Team of the Year are The Scottish Women’s Football Team

As I move on to My lifetime achievement award I think to myself what can I say about this year’s winner. Well I can start by saying that like our unsung hero Bob Bothwell he is out in all weathers for The SNP just as he once was for The Labour Party. A respected local councillor he is proud to represent the area in which he was born and raised. A proud Govanite he has always been active in his local community and has been the Sheep Heid’s Bearer at the Govan fair for more years than I can remember he also has the worst jokes in the whole of the city chambers but I can forgive him his sins against comedy if only for his mentoring of our younger councillors and his continued involvement in his community at both personal and political levels. This is a man I have known for almost 30 years and am proud to call a friend. My Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Stephen Dornan.

As someone who supports the rights of people with mental health issues I have decided to re-name my next award. It was until now known as I Think I Must Be Award the sentiment being that to be my friend for any length of time you must be slightly bonkers. However this year I’ve decided to change the title to The Beyond The Call Of Duty Award in recognition of the those friends who have went out of their way to support me in all I try to do and trust me there were a good few candidates in the frame for this one. Amongst those listed were Derek Read, Hannah Cooper, Janet Crawford, Lesley Traynor, Steve Allan, and Suzanne Egerton, a quality line up I think you’ll agree but this year we don’t have one winner we have two as Scotland’s most lovable double act finally get the recognition they deserve for being stalwart supporters of both Words And Music and for more than 20 years of personal friendship. My Beyond The Call Of Duty Award Goes To Andy Fleming And Alex Frew

Picture. Beyond The Call Of Duty Winners Alex Frew And Andy Fleming at the Words And Music Christmas Cracker

Now it’s time for my two most important awards of the year as I name my man and woman of the year . As always I’ll start with the men. Those considered included poets of the calibre of Matt Panesh, Jim Ewing, Stephen Watt, and Shaun Moore, from politics I gave serious thought to both Angus Brendan MacNeil, and David Linden and from the traditional music community we have Paddy Callaghan. Now I’m sure you’ll agree that’s a very impressive list from which to choose our winner and I had a really tough decision to make before doing so. In the end it came down to three candidates who just nudged their way in front of the others the first was Stephen Watt who with his football poems and a highly enjoyable new collection McStape which he describes as a loveletter to Scottish music has had a brilliant year which he crowned by becoming makar of Federation of Writers Scotland . I also gave serious consideration to my Local MP David Linden whose tireless work for both his constituents and his country is being noticed far beyond the East End of Glasgow, the SNP, or even the readers of this blog.

In the end though I made my call and I called it for a gifted musician who is one of the most genuine guys you could ever wish to meet. He is also one cracking emergency proof reader for my newly written poems. Our winner also teaches youngsters in the tradition in which he learned his musical craft. A former BBC young Scottish musician of the year he now hosts his own radio show Trad With Pad on Celtic Music Radio as well as touring all over the world and letting people hear his stories and his songs and I’m delighted to say that my Tartan Tights Man of the Year for 2018 is Paddy Callaghan
Having named my Man of the Year it’s time to name the winner of the most inportant award of all and that of course is my tartan tights Woman of the Year and having had a very busy year there were plenty of candidates to choose from to succeed Angie Strachan. Potential successors included Charlotte Dougall, Catriona Knapman, Joanne Burrows, Laura Jane WIlkie, Megan Elliot, Samantha Naidoo, and Suzanne Egerton. With such a strong field to choose from it is perhaps no surprise this was the toughest decision of them all. Let me say for the aviodance of doubt I could have called it for any one of these women and I would have been happy with my choice because each of them brings their own unique talents to my life. For example Ailie Wallace is a poet, storyteller, editor, feminist, and facilitator, Charlotte Dougall is a real positive force in the Scottish and UK blogging scene who organises workshops and events, Joanne Burrows is both a woman of faith and principled patriotic politics Laura Wilkie is one of our country’s best young musicians Megan Elliot is a performer and event organiser for whom the sky really is the limit Samantha Naidoo is a talented musican and faith based activist and Suzanne Egerton a writer and storyteller of immense talent. So you can see that selecting a winner from such a talented group of inspirational woman was never going to be an easy decision. The fact that I changed my mind at least a dozen times before finally settling on my winner speaks volumes for their talents.

Eventually however I did reach my decision and once I’d made my mind up there was no last minute wavering. In describing our winner I can only say that as a woman of faith she has an air of quiet authority tempered by calm reassurance and is what I would call one of my silent influencers. This very talented fiddle player is a source of strength to me in ways she doesn’t even know or if she does know she’s too modest to say. A woman who has encouraged me to write faith based poems which would otherwise never have the light of day she has had a brilliant 2018 in terms of what she’s done for me. For example by posting photographs of a friend’s wedding she reminded me to honour a promise to write a poem for the happy couple and then on our national saints day she prompted me to write my first ever St Andrew’s Day poem which wasn’t aimed at a certain demographic and making a call for independence and instead got me to think of the faith of our founding father and show how that faith is relevant in our country now. It is for those reasons and many others that my Tartan Tights Woman of the year is Samantha Naidoo.

So that’s it over for another year and we’ve finally reached the end of the tartan tights awards 2018. If you were among the winners my congratulations go to you and if you weren’t so lucky then remember next year could be your year. Whatever the coming year holds for you I wish you all you wish yourself and I hope you’ll keep reading tartan tights throughout 2019 and beyond .

Till next time

Gayle X

The Tartan Tights Awards 2017 

With the awards ceremonies having kicked off in both Britain and America it’s time to discover who has won the most important awards of all. I refer of course to the tartan tights awards 2017. These awards now in their sixth year are won by those who have made my year as eventful enjoyable and entertaining as it could possibly be without yours truly entering the world of show business. So let’s get this party started and see whose brightened up my world in the action packed year that was 2017
As always I start with my political awards and I start with my Politician of the Year award. As you know I like my politicians to let their actions speak louder than their words so that rules out the shouty one trick pony types like The Conservative Party’s Scottish spokesperson Ruth Davidson or her Labour counterpart Richard Leonard, who seem far more obsessed with the idea of a second independence referendum than any member of the SNP I’ve ever met. Talking of the SNP despite losing a third of their seats including those of Depute leader Angus Robertson and former First Minister Alex Salmond there is still a wealth of talent availble to the party at both Westminster and Hollyrood and names like Glasgow South MP Stewart MacDonald Glasgow South West MP Chris Stephens last year’s winner Alison Thewliss and Transport Minister Humza Yousaf were amongst those considered as was co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie for providing the SNP government at Hollyrood with it’s only effective and credible opposition we have ever actually faced but my winner is an MP whose heart wrenching story of coming out as a gay woman in politics had me in tears of pride on reading it pushing every emotional button as it did so and it’s for that reason and many others that my tartan tights politican of the year is Hannah Bardell.
My Young Politician of the Year always throws up a name to take note of and this year is no exception. Two of our three contenders are from the Shettleston branch of the SNP Alex Kerr our brilliant young branch convenor whose organisational skills are second to none and who has a belief not not unlike my own that once free of the constraints of Westminster rule Scotland should persue a m Mo m more socialist path in how we care for our people. Next up is fellow branch member Greg Hepburn. Greg whose has been councillor for the Calton since August 2015 when he held the seat vacated by Alison Thewliss on her election to represent the party as the MP for Glasgow Central has fast gained a reputation as an effective hard working councillor who will go the extra mile for the people in his ward. However just before Christmas Greg showed his humour by bursting in to song at the full council in what has become known as his Willy Wonka as he mocked the Tories claims to be the party of fairness and of the working class and though this went down well in council chambers particularly though not exclusively with the SNP group I don’t think he’ll be winning the X-Factor anytime soon. Our final candidate in the most hotly contested contest ever for this award became the youngest ever SNP councillor to represent the party on Glasgow City Council when she was elected to serve in the Springburn / Robroyston ward she grew up in and the reports I’ve heard on her progress have been nothing short of outstanding. Enthusiastic, committed , and fiercely intelligent she brings an energy and passion to the SNP reminiscent of a young Nicola Sturgeon her name is Christina Cannon and she is a thoroughly deserving winner of this award.

My Vision of Scotland award goes to the politician or member of the public who by their actions has made Scotland a fairer more inclusive place to live. This year it goes to someone who is no stranger to these awards having been among other things a previous young politican of the year. Now having moved on to work in equalities her tireless work for Stonewall particularly in the field of trans rights is shaping lives and changing minds and she’s doing it with a passion which clearly illustrates her honesty integrity and commitment to the fairer nation she strives to create my Vision Of Scotland award goes to Sophie Bridger

My Unsung/ Hero/ Heroine award is given to someone whose contribution to their party or organisation is often overlooked but you would soon know if they weren’t around and this year there can only be one logical choice. The winner had big boots to fill when he took over the convenorship of Shettleston SNP from the man who won this award last year. This rising star of the SNP is a man who is learning the unglamourous tasks of political life now. This will stand him in good stead when he eventually becomes an elected representative as I’m sure he one day will. He may have lost out to Christina Cannon for the young politician of the year award but this one had his name on it right from the start My 2017 Unsung Hero award goes to Alex Kerr

From unsung heroes I move on to future stars as I nominate my One to Watch. This award is given to the politician who may not be too well known at the moment but who is definately on the way up Among those considered were new Labour MP’s Ged Killen and Danielle Rowley along with Conservative MP Kirsten Hair but my winner of this award has outshone all contenders since replacing Natalie McGarry as the SNP candidate for Glasgow East which he held against many people’s expectations and a concerted Labour effort to retake the seat their arrogance and entitlement has always led them to believe was somehow their personal property. Make no mistake the day our candidate who I had personally endorsed was elected as my local MP was a proud one for me and the wider SNP family as well as a great personal triumph for the local boy made good. That local boy is now making a name for himself at Westminster and has in the first six months since his election gained a reputation as a hard working and intelligent member of parliament whose star is on the rise. It gives me great pleasure to say that my One To Watch award for this year goes to Glasgow East’s very own David Linden.

My penultimate political award goes to the politician who I believe has made the greatest impact in the last 12 months. To me this means they have been a positive force for good otherwise Ruth Davidson could have won the award. However since Ms Davidson’s impact on Scotland has been similar to that which one would get if they were stupid enough to wear a bikini in a blizzard I thought I would give the award to a man who has shown Ms Davidson and others of that ilk what genuine principled opposition is really all about by opposing the SNP when he feels it’s right do so and supporting them when he believes it is right. This is a man puts substance before soundbytes and principles before posturing The winner of this year’s Impact award is Glasgow’s own green man and co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party Patrick Harvie

My final political award is for political blogger of the year and though it was a very close call with ScotGoesPop and Wee Ginger Dug both featuring prominently in my thoughts I decided that for the second year in a row my political blogger of the year is Angela Haggerty and the team at Common Space

Having given out my political prizes, it’s now time to move on to my community awards and where better to start than the blogging community. There were three awards to present in this section but this has now been changed to four they are Scottish Blogger of the Year, International Blogger of the Year and for the first time I’ll have both Scottish and International Vloggers of the Year. As tradition dictates I’ll start with Scottish Blogger of the Year and this is always a difficult one to call as there are so many talented bloggers from which to make my choice. Amongst those considered were Blogs All Beautyy by the brilliant Jasmine Lawrie, Last Year’s Girl , Hey There Robyn, and last year’s winner Tetris And Cheesecakes but in the closest contest yet there was one blogger who by writing one of the best posts of the year on the topic of Bloggers and why she doesn’t fit in to the traditional blogging stereotype wrote a post which spoke to me in a very personal way and by doing so took the title back to the west of Scotland. My Scottish Blogger of the Year is Charlotte Dougall for Colours And Carousels.

My International Blogger of the Year was like the Scottish one not an easy call especially when you consider the list of talented contenders I had to select from Those in my thoughts included previous winner Olivia Jade Thristen for Dungarees And Donuts Jessica Lauren Hatcher for Jessica Lauren Hatcher and Amie Cadwallender for Curvaceous Vegan, but for having the courage to write the best and at the same time most disturbing post I read all year on Stealthing Stalking and Sexual Contact and My International Blogger of the Year is Leluroxx aka Leya Hutton

Now for my Vlogger or should I say Vloggers of the Year award and as this one is a fairly new award the decisions were I have to say a wee bit easier than it will be in years to come. So in preparation for tougher times ahead in this catagory I have decided to split it in to two awards one for Scottish Vlogger of the Year and one for International Blogger of the Year
So let’s start with the Scottish Vlogger of the year. Last year Erin Doogan made history as she won the first Vlogger of the Year award for the brilliant Beauty Creep and now she makes history again by winning the first ever Scottish Vlogger of the Year. Well anyone who can get a transwoman and an early twenty something talking periods over Christmas Day Coffee fully deserves an award and that’s why the first ever tartan tights Scottish Vlogger of the Year award goes to Erin Doogan for Beauty Creep
My International Vlogger of the year is such a gabby wee soul that when I wrote her a poem for her 18th birthday last March I could think of no other title than Chatterbox as this highly articulate young vlogger can chat on any subject you care to name for Essex, England, and very possibly the world. Trust me she can entertain and educate on everything from make up to sexuality and her easy going style is a sure fire winner with me so for those reasons and many others that My Innurgral tartan tights International Vlogger award goes to Jodie for Princess Attitude.
Still with community but of a slightly different nature I move from blogging to activism as I name my Activist of the Year. This is a particularly difficult decision for me as I have many friends who are involved in political or community activism or in many cases both but having thought on names like Green Party and LGBT champion A R Crow, Faith and Unbelief founder and host Jim Ewing, past winner of this award Jim Monaghan and LGBT activist Lisa Tait, you can see the calibre of candidate our winner would have to beat but our winner (pictured below) not only organises her own spoken word night and Express Yourself at the Project Cafe she also hosts her own successful poetry based radio show also called Express Yourself My 2017 Activist of the Year is Carla Woodburn.

(Carla Woodburn). Pictured at the Visible Women festival )
If you think Carla has a busy life which she does my Young Activist of the Year could claim they have an even busier one. In between working as full time traditional musician he has like Carla a radio show and again like Carla it is based on his passion. Though the radio stations are different and our young activist of the year works not at Sunny Govan Radio but at Celtic Music Radio where his hit show Trad With Pad allows him to feature the acts he loves and knows his audience will like. In between all of this he somehow manages to fit in time to teach the next generation of traditional musicians at St Rochs Irish minestrals where he and others learned their craft under the guidance of Frank McArdle. This to me is the very definition of a young activist of the year namely driven to help others and passionate on the subject their involved in and that’s why My Young Activist of the Year is Paddy Callaghan.

From community the focus now switches to culture and I’ll start with poetry and poets and my award for best poetry performance of the year. As is always the case in this category there were no shortage of potential winners with powerful performances from Victoria McNulty in her brilliant debut show Confessionals Rowan McCabe in his excellent fringe show Door To Door Poetry and David Lee Morgan in his spellbinding show After The Flood but my winner came on a cold October night in the west end of my native city of Glasgow when a young poet came to Oran Mor and was the talk of the city due to an electrifying performance of her work in which she played to a capacity crowd my winner of the Best poetry performance of 2017 is the astonishingly brilliant Hollie McNish

Moving from Glasgow to Edinburgh my next award is for Best Show of the fringe and just because my fringe was curtailed in to 14 shows which I crammed in to five hectic days due to a leg injury it still doesn’t make this task any easier. However after considerable thought I decided there could only be one winner and that is Rowan McCabe for the brilliant Door To Door Poetry

As for the most original show of the fringe I really enjoyed David Lee Morgan’s show After The Flood which is set in the not too distant future in which the world is on the brink of nuclear holocaust and I think it just did enough to clinch this title in the face of stiff competition from Sophia Blackwell 50 Grades of Shame and Rowan McCabe Door To Door Poet. So my choice of the most original show of the fringe goes to David Lee Morgan for After The Flood.

Staying with culture our next award has a slightly more Scottish flavour to it and is named after a much loved poet, musician , and friend Sandy Hutchison who made great use of his mither tongue in both his poetry and in song. The Sandy Hutchison Memorial Award goes to the poet or musician who has promoted and advanced the Scots language in their work and this year the recipient is someone not uses the language in their poetry they also advance their use of it in their column for The National newspaper and I’m delighted to say that the Sandy Hutchison Memorial Award for 2017 goes to Rab Wilson.

My next award is for the best live comedy show of 2017 and this year the winner yet again comes from the Edinburgh fringe but this is a show with a difference as by booking a majority of female acts rather than having only one or at most two on the bill it turns the stereotype of the traditional comedy night on its head. The show is called Bad Girls and it has won a deserved tartan tights award for its host and creator Lulu Reubens.

Still on the theme of shows I now move on to the most inclusive show of the year. For my winner of this award I travel back to last March to a wonderful night of entertainment at the visible women festival where I was privileged to see the premier of a very innovative show entitled Confessionals. This show not only had a fully accessible venue but the fact that it was set in a bar and the poet concerned moved round the tables as if she was interacting with regular customers made you feel that you were really part of the event and that’s why my award for the most inclusive show of the year goes to Victoria McNulty.

From inclusive shows I move on to Equality Champions and this was one of my easier decisions this year as though there were a few potential candidates such as Lib Dem activist Caron Lindsay, poet and Green Party activist A R Crow and last year’s winner the brilliant Roisin Caird I eventually decided that this year’s winner someone who during the madness of the Edinburgh fringe gives a voice to those who the more narrow minded in society would call others. My Equality Champion for 2017 is the wonderful Fay Roberts .
Now it’s time for my quote of the year and this was the easiest decision of the year. It’s a second award for my local MP David Linden for his brilliant quote on the House Of Lords when he refered to them as Vermin in Ermine.

Next I move from quotes to music as I name my Musician of the Year Amongst those on the shortlist were rising stars George Gilman, and Daryl Sperry and one of the best folk session organisers in the West of Scotland Bernadette Collier but eventually I had to make a call between Bob Leslie and the star of Celtic Connections 2017 Marianne McGregor and after changing my mind at least a dozen times I eventually decided on a winner and my tartan tights Musician of the Year is that traditional Words and Music stalwart Bob Leslie

Our Musician of the Year Bob. Leslie performs at Words And Music as only he knows how

Next I move on to Band of the Year. This award was rested last year as I didn’t see enough bands in 2016 to justify it. This year however it was a very different story and there were no shortage of candidates to take this crown with The Magpies, Folky Mac Folkface, Dope Sick Fly, Talisk, and Cherish The Ladies all in the running to win it. All are as I’m sure you’ll agree fantastically talented bands but in the end they were eclipsed by four girls from Orkney who steal my heart every time I see them. They are Jeanna Leslie, Kirsten Harvey, Catriona Price, and Louise Bichan and collectively they are known as Fara and they are my band of the year.

For my song of the year I ask the question when does a song written to encourage a yes vote in the 2014 independence referendum become a new song in 2017? The answer of course is if it’s the first time you’ve heard it. This happened to me in the autumn of 2017 when after Scotland failed to qualify for the World Cup I was looking on YouTube for a pro yes song to cheer me up. Luckily for me I not only found such a song, I found a song which contained some of the best lyrics I’ve ever heard with the line ‘ the people of Westminster don’t have a clue, they don’t know Scotland and they don’t drink Irn Bru’ The song is titled Let Us Fly and the singer/ songwriter is Catriona MacAulay.

My next award is for Event of the Year and in a year which was packed with great events and even greater memories this was a category I had to think about. Well there was that wonderful day in May when I teamed up with Angie Strachan and Lesley Traynor to win the four ages slam. Then there was the Blue Chair Extra Second Election Special, and the LGBT Pride edition of the Extra Second was also a fantastic day to be a poet but the event of the year couldn’t have happened without the force of nature that is Lesley Traynor. You see from an initial poetry reading there came the birth of tribe and this tribe due to Lesley’s foresight and vision now have an anthology of the work we read on that first day we bonded in the Summer of 2016. So it doesn’t take a genius to work out that my event of the year is the book launch of that anthology Women With Firece Words.

From the event of the year I now move to the venue of the year and after losing both Rio and The Blue Chair it is heartening to see new venues such as Waterstones book store showing that as one door closes another one opens and it’s one of those new venues which is my venue of the year for this year. It is a place which hosts Tell It Slant the only dedicated poetry book shop in Glasgow and on the last Friday of the month it hosts Carla Woodburn’s poetry feast that is Express Yourself . My Venue of the Year is The Project Cafe.

One of the highlights of any year for me is when you discover new voices whose company you enjoy and whose talent is so glaringly obvious you can’t help but admire them. The past 12 months have provided a bumper harvest of talent both in poetry and in music. Names who were unknown to me at this time last year are now very much part of my life and musically Marianne McGregor, and Folky Mac Folkface are amongst the most prominent new names whose gigs I’ll be looking to attend sooner rather than later. It is however the spoken word scene that I know best and I have been really impressed by Moki Graham, Antonia Seaward, Chris Tait, Greg R Shearer and the amazingly talented Jen Hughes. That said my winner is living proof you can make hearts out of diamonds. Originally from Yorkshire I first met this softly spoken poet at the January edition of Extra Second since when we have formed a very close bond and I was a very proud poetry mama when she made her Words and Music debut in July and impressed a number of seasoned performers who’ve been doing this stuff longer than she’s been on earth and all of them agreed she has a voice worth hearing. So it gives me immense pride to say that my Discovery of the Year (pictured below) is the lovely Natasha Newman .

Natasha Newman sharing her poetry at The Blue Chair

From Culture it’s time to move to Sport and my Happiest Sporting Moment of the Year came in the last minute of the Scottish Cup Final when Tom Rogic hit the back of the Aberdeen net to ensure that Celtic not only won the domestic treble of League , League Cup, and Scottish Cup but ended a season in style in which they were undefeated from beginning to end in all domestic competitions.

As for my team of the year , for the reasons explained above and for the style which we played it has to be the treble winning invincibles of the famous Glasgow Celtic.

My Lifetime Achievement award is given to someone who has not only became a friend over the dozen or so years that I’ve known him but has also become a mentor and helped me to improve as a poet by giving me good advice on both the craft and poetic forms and technique. For five years between 2012 to 2017 he ran the 10red event in the Persevere Bar which was one of the best spoken word nights in Scotland and he has had a number of poetry anthologies published and is an outstanding performer of his work. He is also one of the true gentleman of the Scottish poetry scene and recently celebrated a landmark birthday which caused great celebrations in Leith which I was unable to attend due to snow restricting my mobility. Hopefully this lifetime achievement award will provide even more reasons to celebrate for our very deserving winner Kevin Cadwallender.
The I Think I Must Be Mad Award is for those friends who go above and beyond the call of duty, know when your feeling crap and without making a scene about it get on with making you feel better . This year’s winner is someone I’ve come to know well and someone whose kindness, loyalty, and support are more valued than she thinks. Occasionally, or if I’m really honest it as often as she thinks she can get away with it, she will tell me I favourite her sister Cheryl who was our 2015 Woman of the Year but she knows this isn’t true otherwise Cheryl would be getting this award instead of her. That however isn’t the case and this year it’s her time to shine. The winner of The I Think I Must Be Mad Award is the lovely JamieLee McHugh.

Now it’s time for my two most important awards of the year as I name my man and woman of the year . As always I’ll start with the men and there was an impressive list of candidates for my penultimate award of the year First up was Bob Leslie for his constant support of Words And Music, Peter Russell was also considered for a year of top quality poetry and friendship as was Paddy Callaghan for those late night chats only real friends can make sense of. Edinburgh fringe stalwart and Morcombe fringe founder was another name in the frame, and my fellow poetic football fan Stephen Watt was given his place on the list for his constant support and encouragement throughout the year especially during April and the insanity that is NaPoWriMo. As for my winner (pictured below) I can only say he is a man of genuine quality and character who is not only a cracking poet but also a truly decent guy. This is a man who litrally poured me into a taxi and himself on to the grass after a fantastic night at the Visable Women festival because he refused to go home until he knew I was safe. It is for that reason and many others including a brilliant set at September’s Words And Music and many more at the home that once was the Blue Chair that my 2017 tartan tights man of the year is Adam V. Cheshire.
Tartan Tights Man of the Year Adam V Cheshire performing his featured writer set at Words And Music in September 2017


Having named my Man of the Year it’s time to name the winner of the most inportant award of all and that of course is my tartan tights Woman of the Year and in what has been a busy year for me there have been plenty of candidates from which to make my choice. First up is Lesley Traynor who continues to be a force for good in the Scottish spoken word scene and beyond. Keira Mclean is another who had to be given serious consideration for her wonderful visable women festival in which she showcased women’s rights and empowered us more than she will ever know. It has also been a great year for Carla Woodburn who since starting her monthly spoken word night Express Yourself at The Project Cafe has gone on to have her own poetry based radio also called Express Yourself which is a brilliant show full of quality chat. My next nomination is 2015 women of the year Cheryl McHugh who yet again has shown an insight into my personal life which is bordering on genius and more than once has actually left me speechless. There was one occasion when she said something so personal and accurate I thought to myself how the hell did she know that without me telling her and trust me this was something I’ve never shared on any social media. It’s a real friend who knows the stuff you never and I mean never share with others and can reassure you all will be fine when you really don’t think it will be. Next on my list is Shannon MacGregor who seems to keep popping up everywhere I go and usually it’s when I really need someone to cheer me up. It has to be said Shannon is an expert in that game in fact this happens so often that I’m beginning to think it’s a sign from a guardian angel. Natasha Newman is also someone I had to give serious consideration for both her poetry and her friendship but eventually I had to make my decision and our winner is the only woman I know who compared the UK General Election to a dog show and has more random temptarions than Aldi Lldi and all the other supermarkets combined. So just in case you haven’t guessed my 2017 tartan tights Woman of the Year is the one and only Angie Strachan

Tartan Tights Woman of the Year Angie Strachan pictured with yours truly enjoying her birthday celebrations at Lauders Bar

So that’s it over for another year and we’ve finally reached the end of the tartan tights awards 2017. If you were among the winners my congratulations go to you and if you weren’t so lucky then remember next year could be your year. Whatever the coming year holds for you I wish you all you wish yourself and I hope you’ll keep reading tartan tights throughout 2018 and beyond .

Till next time

Gayle X

Global Warning 

Hey Readers This poem looks at my mother’s unspoken passion for nature and what I would now refer to as green tv programmes.Though politically unionist which I  think was due to being a wee girl at the time of world war 2 and from listening to friends and neighbours than any firm conviction to that cause my mother was never unfair or at least not intentionally and I would describe her as a liberal with green tinges. Due to fundamental differences in our opinions particularly on Scottish independence and Irish unity (I , like my dad and my maternal gran supported both unconditionally and still do without any concessions)   I seldom discussed domestic politics  with my mother. International issues however were a different matter and something on which we found areas of agreement. For example my mother was the first person I knew to mention the Rainbow Warrior and supported the Greenham Common women,  but I must admit I giggled when she referred to Global Warming as Global Warming. However with the benefit of hindsight I think she have been more right than I thought on that call. So it is to my mum Mary Roberson Russell that I dedicate this poem written in her memory  and entitled Global Warning I hope you enjoy the read.

Global Warning

My mother got it wrong

when she called global warming

global warning

for a woman of her generation

it was an easy mistake to make

but she may have been more right

than she thought

and she was certainly a fan

of recycling

often taking clothes to charity shops

and encouraging me to buy from them

before it was cool or on trend

she thought unleaded petrol

was a good idea

when others condemned it as an unworkable dream

my mother was a wee bit Mrs Bouquet

when she talked of living in the suburbs

rather than the schemes

which to her were someone else

I think it was it was her village mentality

which made the good life required early evening viewing

she would watch documentaries on trees and polar bears

before comedy or programmes on poverty

as for her politics I would described her as liberal with green tinges

I think she would have liked Partick Harvie

though she would have been more at home with Robin Harper

he was more of her generation

she would have related to him better

seeing Patrick as more my style

she often watched wildlife on one

telling me we needed to look after the world

because David Attenborough said so

I couldnt argue with logic like that

If I tried I’d be reminded

everything has its place

and we shouldn’t endanger species or plants

but tend them with care

on studying the physical environment

I told her of the damage to the ozone layer

to which she replied this had been a long coming

we didn’t have as many white Christmasses

or long hot summer days as she once remembered

maybe it was her memory playing tricks

or perhaps we had taken too many risks

in the name of progress

and what Adam Smith called

the wealth of nations

geography has to come before economics and politics

it’s the only way to create a better society

whilst ensuring our survival

in the longer term

the slash and burn approach

of so-called capitalists

who think of only of themselves

and the potential profit margins

they could make whilst others starve

or die forgotten in dull dark spaces

which nobody wants to inhabit

has caused untold misery

in every country you could name

it’s time to raise our game

my mother may have been

more accurate than I thought

this is a warning shot

and as tempretures rise

and weather becomes more extreme

with greater seasonal variations

than any time in history

we will unravel the mystery

and in doing so

we might finally get the message

the insanity has to end 

@ Gayle Smith 2017

 

I Had To Say Yes To A Truly National Party And A Night With My Family Of Friends.

Hey Readers

On a cold Tuesday night in late November when most sane people would be sitting warm in front of the fire watching comfort telly I and many friends and comrades gathered in a ciry centre bar to celebrate a very important and historic birthday which some people said would never happen. 

Before continuing with this post, I should perhaps explain that this birthday wasn’t that of a friend, relative, or neighbour. It was actually the birthday of a newspaper, a newspaper its opponents had written off before the first edition had even hit the printing press. I refer of course to The National which is the only paper which supports the cause of Scottish independence.

The fact that the paper which opponents claimed wouldn’t survived its week long trial run has now become an established part of our media shows beyond question that there is a core support for a newspaper with supports an independent Scotland and it’s my belief that developments since Brexit have the need for such a news outlet more essential than ever.

As I arrived at Yes Bar it was good to see many familiar faces from the last referendum campaign who like me realise the value of the National and acknowledge the fact it has played and will continue to play a vital role in counter acting the unionist message that Scotland is miraculously the only country in the world which is incapable of governing ourselves and prioritising the needs of our people above a  remote Westminster elite who are so far removed from reality their last known address was somewhere west of Pluto.

As I made my way through the crowd it wasn’t long before I got chatting to those around me. First up to chat was Common Space editor and Sunday Herald colomumist Angela Haggarty who told me she had really enjoyed the article I had submitted to Common Space for World Transgender Remembrance Day. To say I was delighted with her feedback would be an understatement. So I think you could say I was a very happy lady.

As I mixed and mingled on a night which was made for celebration it was good to enjoy catch up’s with fellow Blue Chair regulars Aileen MacKay (see Picture 1) and National and Common Space journalist Michael Gray (see Picture (2) with his lovely and talented college Shona Craven) as I hadn’t seen either of them since before the Edinburgh Fringe. During our chat Michael informed me he had recently moved to Edinburgh, so knowing that he likes a bit of spoken word poetry I informed him that when it comes to the fringe then the Banshee Laberinyth is the place to be during the fringe and there are plenty of great nights taking place in our capital throughout the year of which my friend and fellow poet Jenny Lindsay will be only too happy to tell him about. Like Angela, Michael who also works for common space as well as The National told he had read my post for World Transgender Day and thought it was an enjoyable and thought provoking read.

Picture (1) Aileen MacKay at Yes Bar for The National Birthday Celebration)

Picture (2) Two rising stars of Scottish journalism and very much national treasures Shona Craven and Michael Gray

To get this kind of feedback on what was I have to say a very personal post meant a lot to me as I am a serious blogger with serious opinions and a real desire to see a fairer more equal society in Scotland and elsewhere. This is something I have fought for all my life and will continue to fight for until it is achieved, so have my voice valued in this way has lifted my sprits and given me renewed determination to step up the fight. for the Scotland I believe in .

This kind of encouragement is in my opinion typical of what both the National and the yes campaign from which it was born were actually about. It is not an accident when yes voters even now talk of the yes family in a way which the no campaign can never and will never be able to do. You see when we talk of the yes family then that is exactly what we mean and that family spirit was evident for all to see in the Yes bar in this cold winter’s evening.

This was a night when everyone mixed together and chatted like we had known each other all our lives. If you’ve never been to a yes gathering you may not understand but if you have you’ll get where I’m coming from and you’ll wish you’d been among us

As I said earlier in this post this was a night to chat and to congratulate those responsible for producing Scotland’s best quality daily newspaper and I passed on my birthday wishes to the original editor and founding father of the paper Richard Walker and his successor and current editor Callum Baird. In my chat with our current editor I said that I really enjoyed the sports coverage and in particular our coverage of shinty rugby union, and women’s football as these sports are often neglected by established titles in favour of more commercial sports like men’s football, golf , and racing. Our editor’s response was that the team at the National know they can’t compete in terms of resources with the so-called_bigger titles so the decision was taken to give the best possible coverage to sports which are marginalised and may otherwise go unreported

It is this style of honest journalism without the sensationalism of other titles in addition to its support for independence which  has carved The National a very distinct place in the hearts of the Scottish public

In the two years since the first edition (the birthday edition was on Thursday ) this innovative paper has had columns from some of the most powerful voices from the yes movement such as Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie former Hue and Cry star and long term independence supporter Pat Kane, the best political bloggers in Scotland Kate Higgins (Burdz Eye View) and Paul Kavanagh (wee ginger dug) and one of the funniest voices ever to inhabit Twitter the one and only Angry Salmond.

As a fairly recent development in the print media The National hasn’t been slow in embracing new ideas as I illustrated by the fact they’ve given bloggers and digital media commentators a platform to air their views but more than that it have made a positive contribution to challenging the gender imbalance within journalism and more than any other paper it has given voices to talented female journalists. Prominent amongst this talented team of excellent women writers are Cat Boyd who was one of stars of the yes campaign in 2014 the SNP MP for Clackmannanshire and Dumblane,Tasmina Ahmed-Sheilk, her party colleague and Scottish Social Security minister Jeane Freeman MSP, former Scottish Socialist MSP Carolyn Leckie features Editor Janice Burns and one of Scottish journalism’s brightest stars Shona Craven.

In what an enjoyable and entertaining I had the pleasure of enjoying detailed and interesting chats with Janice and Shona and found them both to be brilliant company During my chat with Shona, she asked if I had ever written to the paper. When I confessed that I hadn’t she told me to get busy and write to the letters page as we need to see more women writing to the papers and expressing their opinions. Well, as she says men don’t hold back in their opinions so we shouldn’t hold back in saying what we think. As those of you who know me will know, this is something I’ve never done and I’ve no intention of starting now. It is however gratifying to receive this kind of encouragement from the likes of Shona and other journalists as it is heartening to know my opinions are respected and it gives me a wee bit more motivation to take my blog to the next level wherever that may be.

Aside for the serious business of mixing with the journalists it was also good to spend time with friends I haven’t seen for longer than I care to remember. One man who could definitely come in to this category is former Scottish Socialist firebrand Alan McCoombes who had travelled down from Dunkeld to be part of the celebration and is pictured below with his daughter Katie.As we chatted Alan told me how much he was enjoying life in the heart of rural Perthshire.I have to say he’s looking well on it I think the country air must be suiting him, it’s certainly a long way from Govan where we fitst met more than 20 years ago. It is however safe to say that though there may have been a change in our personal geographies since we first met there has been no change in our shared vision of a fairer more inclusive Scotland and the belief that independence is the best way to bring that vision to reality. 

Picture (3) Alan and Katie McCoombes both say to being part of yes family.

As I left the party to make my way back to the village I reflected on a lovely night which proved beyond doubt the spirit of the yes campaign is despite what our opponents would say very much alive. You see try as they might to divide us there is a core support who actually have become like an extended family and when push comes to shove will support each other in whatever way we can and take real pleasure in hearing of other’s successes. This unbreakable bond is what made yes campaign the most unique in Scottish political history and led to formation of the National to articulate the values, views , and visions for which we are proud to stand.

Like any family we will have our occasional disagreements but that’s allowed and indeed cherished as we all have slightly different ways of doing things and our particular talents to bring to the table. I mean me and Shona had a difference of opinion over Donny Osmond but we never fell out about it. Well, just because she doesn’t think he’s the most gorgeous man ever born doesn’t mean I don’t value her opinion. In our yes family, debate is encouraged not stifled as nobody imposes their will from on high and tells you what to think

As you can probably tell, I am very proud to be part of this dynamic collection who have been a fantastic advert for Scotland and the fact we have our own newspaper to give voice our to concerns in a way that the unionist press never will is a very heartening development as it is something which only four or five years ago would have been dismissed as unrealistic and written off as an impossible dream.

We should I think be very proud of how far we’ve come in what is a very short time. We have I believe changed the political landscape of our print media and cannot be dismissed as a passing phase no matter how much some of our more vitriolic opponents may want to do so. No matter what the unionists think the National is here and here to stay and that is why when I received an invite to attend this celebration I had to say yes to a truly national party and had a lovely night with friends because I did.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

From Daddy’s Girls To Optimists To A Green Man Whose Really Switched On Every Living Witness Knows The Same God Knows Loves Us All

Hey Readers

As you will know if you are a regular reader of this blog I am a regular attender at church and consider myself to be a practising Christian. So yesterday morning I took my usual place in the pews at my local church and enjoyed an excellent and thought provoking sermon delivered by The Reverend Roy Tuton who was standing in for our usual ministerial team.

In the sermon the Reverend Tuton preached from the book of Exodus and emphasised the value of difference as he pointed out that no matter where we may be in the world it is the same god who cares for and loves us all.

This god he told us, is the god of Sturgeon the god of Davidson, the god of Dugdale, the god of Harvie, and the god of Rennie. This to me was a masterstroke in how to connect with all hues and views in the rainbow which I am sure make up every parish in Scotland and really spoke to my condition as a political activist and member of the SNP.

You see this comment made me think on a similar quote by my friend and fellow poet Jim Monaghan made during the independence referendum in 2014. When chatting to me during the referendum campaign Jim said that it was important to remember that your fiercest opponent in one fight could be and more than likely would be your staunchest ally in another. Needless to say I agreed wholeheartedly with those sentiments when Jim expressed them so it should come as no surprise that I still agree with them now.

On hearing them yesterday morning I reflected during the quiet times the sermon gives us of what I may have in common with those who are my political opponents and I must admit I found admirable qualities in each and every one of them.

In Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson I found a woman of deeply held principles and though I disagree strongly with on the constitutional issue this is a woman worthy of respect who has a very forceful personality.

I also have something else with Ruth, and that is that I too identify as an LGBT Christian. As she and I both know this is not an easy journey but we are I hope comforted by the fact that god has placed us in our communities to show faith to others and be living witnesses to the fact that no matter how we are perceived the inescapable truth is that god loves us all and celebrates us for who we are.

I now move on to Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale. When I thought of Kezia I thought of someone who is a lot more like me than she’d like to think. For example like me, Kezia’s politics are driven by passion and the desire to see a fairer more equal society. A classic example of this came when she led the fight to abolish pay day loans as she saw the horrors these loans brought upon the poorest and most vulnerable of our country’s citizens. Like me Kezia is a Daddy’s girl and I envy the fact that she still has hers here to take pride in her success and I know from reading his tweets just how proud of his daughter her dad actually is.

To be honest her dad, whose political leanings are closer to mine than Kezia’s is I’m sure delighted that his daughter has gone so far up the political ladder in what is after all a reasonably short period of time. Personally I think she got the right job before she was ready for it as circumstances thrust it upon her but through it all she has maintained a dignity during what have been difficult and challenging times for her party and which involved a very public coming out as a lesbian during the recent Scottish election campaign. Despite our political differences this led to me writing a poem in support of her decision to go public about her sexuality entitled Journey To Pride to show my solidarity with her on this issue.

When it comes to Patrick Harvie I could eulogise all day on the good points about the most switched on green man in Scotland. I had the privilege of campaigning with Patrick during the independence referendum and contrary to what The Daily Mail may have you believe I found him to be polite, charming, and willing to give his time to anyone if he was able to do so. I will admit I share many of Patrick’s political principles especially on sustainable communities and fracking which I pray will never be allowed to destroy Scotland for the sake of a one off payment of fool’s gold. Like Patrick I believe this would be environmental vandalism of the worst possible kind and would have profound implications for the future of our nation which would be negative and long lasting.

Finally I look at Willie Rennie who for those who don’t know is the highly optimistic leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. I like Willie and I like his boundless enthusiasm for his party. I find it refreshing that far from giving up on them during what have obviously been a very challenging few years for them Willie is even more determined than ever to win hearts , minds, and coverts to the cause of Liberal Democracy. Trust me there are no limits to this man’s optimism he’s even tried to get me to join his party because I signed a petition agreeing with their stance on one particular issue and we all know that he has as much chance of that happening as there is of me climbing Mount Everest and I’m terrified of heights.

My fear of heights aside however Scottish politics needs people like Willie Rennie as it needs all the leaders mentioned in this post. To me and to democrats everywhere choice of political viewpoints is essential to a healthy democracy. We in Scotland are lucky to have plenty of parties to choose from. We are also at least in my opinion, fortunate that we have politicians of substance and talent who are willing to lead them and put themselves forward to take difficult and challenging decisions in the name of their beliefs.

It is thanks to my belief in the living god that I am able at least to some extent to see past the party colours and focus on the individual and the circumstances that shaped them because when it comes down to it each party member and for that matter voter no matter how similar we may be in some ways will have had different life experiences which will have played a part in who making us who we are. Now whilst I appreciate that this may be difficult for some people to understand particularly those obsessed by social class I think it is something worth celebrating that as different as we may be that one fact unites us no matter what views we hold or where we are in the world and that is that from daddy’s girls to optimists and a green man whose really switched on, every living witness knows the same god loves us all.

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

The Great Debate That Never Was

Hey Readers On day 5 of NaPoWriMo My poem is on the topic of political debates. I’ve given it the title of The Great Debate That Never Was because realistically that it is what you could say about every political debate which has ever taken place and probably ever will as most people will stick to the view they held before it started. It is I have to say written with tongue firmly planted in check and I hope you enjoy the read.

The Great Debate Never Was.

Ladies And Gentleman let me welcome you
to the great debate that never was
you’d get more sense if Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny
argued over who had more influence over JC.
than the usual Labour versus SNP spats
about who gets the most votes from bungalows or high rise flats
and whose got the best policies on poverty health and taxation
now if your looking for inspiration
from the Liberal Democrats
you would be advised to change the channel
their elected representatives have gone back to their constituencies
to prepare for irrelevance
and possibly obliteration
the status that in this nation
has in recent years belonged to the Conservatives
but nice friendly Ruth who is always on trend
seeks to bring that to an end and pass it to Willie and his ever decreasing band
the penalty for failing to understand
that nobody liked coalition
with Conservative or Labour
now pardon me for informing this latecomer to devolution
who parades herself as the self styled saviour of the union
but no one I know likes austerity or trident
these are topics on which Scotland will not stay silent
with the exception of a party desperate to hold on to the illusion of  power
meanwhile a wee green man called Patrick
wants Scotland to flower but not in the same way as Nicola or the SNP
freedom yes not just from
Westminster
but from fossil fuels and fracking
and there can be no slacking on this
these debates may very well be bliss
for political hacks and activists
like me
but the great debate that never was
is the great debate that never will be
as Kezia pleads please notice me
people change the channel
to be free from left and right
because they can see this is the wrong time of night
for the wrong kind of reality TV

@ Gayle Smith 2016

When A Variety Of Voices Tell The Stories That Matter It Really Is A Cause For Celebration ( My Review Of The National On Its First Birthday )

  Hey everyone  I am sure you will not be too surprised to know that I spent much of  yesterday reading the first birthday edition of my favourite newspaper.  Yes I know it’s hard to believe but is really is a year since the first copies of a new newspaper went on sale to the people of Scotland.

It was a bold new venture which was mocked by many in the mainstream media who boldly forecast that this pro Independence paper would sink without trace as would support for what they scathingly called separation. It was in to this climate of hostility that the new paper to be named The National was born.

With trust in the printed media at an all time low due in no small part to their disastrous  one sided backing of the better together campaign a voice for those who supported  independence was badly needed as of all the 37 papers in Scotland only the Sunday Herald had supported a yes vote so there was no daily outlet where yes supporters could counteract the messages of impending doom coming from unionist headquarters This was needed for two important reasons

(1) To give a sense of balance to the debate
(2) To provide news to a generation of older and/or poorer Scots

This was important because many in these demographic groups may not have access to the internet and therefore were vulnerable to believing that if they had read something in the Daily Record, the Daily Mail or heard it reported on the BBC that it must in fact be true despite evidence to the contrary.

It was therefore critical that in the aftermath of the no vote which by the way was secured by a far smaller margin than many unionists had been predicting that those who voted yes would not have our opinions so easily dismissed and so The National hit the streets of Scotland. 

In the first few weeks there were and it has to said a few problems with distribution and some so-called big supermarkets refused to stock what they saw to be an anti establishment newspaper in the vain and deluded hope that if they didn’t sell it the demand for it would die out and we would go obediently back in the box marked colony and read those quality unionist tabloids that there ministry of truth had so kindly printed for us for so many years.

This and it has to be said was a grave tactical error on the part of the outlets concerned as some of them have went on to find out to their cost recording their lowest profits in decades. It was also the answer to The National’s prayers as simply made a ready and willing readership even more determined to get our hands on a copy of the paper that so proudly supported our cause. 

Right from the start the paper faced criticism that it would be no more than the printed mouthpiece of the Scottish National Party. This criticism which usually came from more unhinged sections of unionist society was both vicious and vacuous and most of all without foundation. If there is one thing The National has put to bed it is that favourite unionist myth that Independence is all about the SNP as no-one else wants it. 

This to be honest has always been contemptuous garbage. There are many people known to this blogger who voted yes last September and will do so again when the opportunity arises who have never and will never vote SNP and I am proud that The National reflects the full range of diverse opinions which made up our vibrant campaign in which I like so many others played my part.

It is this diversity which is the strength of The National. Indeed one only needs to look through its columnists to see the wide variety of views on offer. Contrast this with the Labour and Tory echo chambers that are the unionist  print media.  Yes folks it’s The National who offer the wide range of opinions you won’t find in the mainstream media. s  From SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik to socialists such as Carolyn Leckie,  and the brilliantly talented Cat Boyd,  From the vision of a more economically and socially sustainable Scotland presented so eloquently articulated by  Green Party co convenor Patrick Harvie  to the practical business case for Independence from Business for Scotland’s Gordon MacIntyre Kemp The National doesn’t present one case for Independence it presents a variety of cases in support of why our country should govern itself. This is why the unionists were desperate to see it fail and why I knew it wouldn’t.

Another reason for its success is the fact that those involved in the yes campaign were only too aware of the importance of social media in gaining and maintaining support for independence. The new venture was quick to acknowledge this and employed the services albeit for a short time of the woman who inspired me to take up blogging the brilliant Kate Higgins of BurdzEyeView satirical cartoonist Greg Moodie and  the rising star of the Common Space digital media Michael Gray whose weekly columns have become a must read for me as have the weekly musings of the man who gave me my first ever guest post Paul Kavangh at the Wee Ginger Dug and the man who is arguably the most supportive parody account to be found anywhere I refer of course to Angry Salmond whose quest for sexy socialism gathers more fans by the week.

I am also proud to say that The National has right from the first edition been a strong and consistent campaigning voice for those  in support of gender equality,  and land reform, against issues which it and its readership believe would be detrimental to both the people and environment of our nation

This innovative newspaper is not only a voice for Scotland in Scotland it is also international in its outlook with regard to global affairs and over the course of the last year I have been very. Impressed by the coverage of issues such as the independence referendum in Catalonia, The recent tragedy of  the bombings in Paris,  The  Greek debt crisis and of course the humanitarian crisis in Syria. The mark of this coverage has been top quality journalism rather  than the cheap headlines of some of its so called rivals.

Of course me  being me I couldn’t and indeed wouldn’t end without saying something on sport. Just as in most areas The National does it differently. Though it does  report on football  it is not obsessed with what I call the old traditional rivalries and has actually given a greater degree of  coverage to the women’s game than any other paper in Britain. Also, as a lifelong Rugby fan I have to admit I was very impressed by the reporting on the recent world cup in New Zealand.

So there you have my take on the first year of what is now my favourite daily newspaper and I think it is fair to say that the paper they said would never last has cause for celebration as a variety of voices tell the stories that matter.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X