Tag Archive | The National

Speak To The Night

On day 26 of NaPoWriMo my poem looks at women’s safety and is based on the story of what  happened as I waited for a bus on my road from an enjoyable Last Monday at Waterston’s and why I was grateful to have the companionship of another woman at the bus stop as drunks and beggars stopped to give us their chat. Like it or not I do feel vulnerable in this situation and if there is one thing I’ve noticed since I started living as a woman it’s the fact that  you never see men get this kind of unwanted attention. This is as every woman knows one of the perils of living in a blatantly patriarchal society. Believe me the need for feminism in 21st  Century Scotland/ Britain is as strong or maybe even stronger than it’s ever been, I wish it wasn’t but it is. 

 As you can imagine thinking of a title for this poem wasn’t easy which is why I called on the services of my friend and National columnist Nadine McBay who suggested the title should be Speak To The Night which I think describes perfectly how my companion and I felt as the drunk guy approached us, so that is the title I’m running with. 
Trust me when I say that this is a very difficult topic to talk about as no woman should ever feel vulnerable on any streets in a so-called civilised society but the fact is many of us do and that’s why I had to write this poem.   I hope you find it  a challenging and thought provoking read.  

Speak To The Night 

At a bus stop, two women wait 

for different buses to take us

on homeward journies 

in the distance a drunk man appears 

we show no fear 

but hope he won’t stop for a chat 

unfortunately, he does exactly that 

evening girls he says you alright 

the silence broken he speaks to the night 

I worry my tartan tights may attract attention 

he slurs words beyond my comprehension 

my younger companion assures him we are fine 

 eventually he gives up  taking the hint 

we just want to be left alone 

he staggers on convinced we are either lesbians 

or a mother and daughter out for some women time 

as he goes in whatever direction

the wind blows him 

a begger approaches asking if we have any change 

we politely say we have none 

he shuffles on his way 

as we both complain about the unseasonably cold weather

we enjoy a blether 

 about what men would call women’s stuff 

finally a bus arrives 

I feel  guilty on leaving 

a girl I don’t know 

to face the night alone 

and like a mother I pray 

she gets home safe 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

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 Political Musings On  Valentine’s Day 

Hey Readers Since this is Valentine’s Day  I thought I would write a Valentine’s themed poem to send a few tongue in cheek messagees  to our political leaders and influencers though like all humour you may find some grains of truth in my carefully selected words.  So here goes with a short selection of rhymes for those who’ve been making the news. I’ve titled this poem Political Musings On Valentine’s Day I hope you enjoy the read. 

Political Musings On Valentine’s Day. 
Nigel had a British card 

and Nigel liked his Brexit

when I saw him ín club UK 

I ran towards the exit.
Tony loved really loved himself 

and waved his Union Jack 

until I finally handcuffed him 

for crimes against Iraq. 
Humza Yousaf works so hard 

and never ever complains 

so make his Valentine’s day complete

but please don’t mention trains.
With Mhairi’s Paisley patterned chat 

the voters hearts were melted 

I have to say it made my day 

when Labour got black belted.
 David  Cameron looks so lost 

he seems in great distress 

In fact I think it’s fair to say 

the man’s an Eton mess .
I’ve got a job for Gordon Brown 

so bring him up  from the attic 

he’s rearranging deckchairs  

and he’s starting on Titanic .

 
Jeremy Corbyn seems ok 

his favourite colour is red 

but Kezia ran to the Daily Mail  

when she found him under the bed.

 

Boris lost the Tory job 

but  Boris had a plan 

forget the honey monster now 

it’s time for Wheatabix man.
Ruth was so pleased with her Westminster card 

that she told rebel Scots to calm down 

until a fortune teller claimed

she would soon get a job as a clown 

 
The Lib Dems say Tim’s the man 

their Valentine has no fears 

they claim the future has a name 

It’s called the Farron years. 
I honestly like Willie Rennie

he always e-mails me 

but Nicola Sturgeon has no fears

I’ll stay with the SNP.
 My  Valentine’s message to Michael Gove

concerns the state of the press 

If you believe The National’s bad 

you’ve not read The Daily Express 
 

To Murdo Fraser I will send 

a song to be respected 

Alice Cooper will tell him 

that when voters speak 

he’ll never be Elected.
If you ask a non Tory our favourite month 

I know just what we’ll say 

in unison we’ll answer June 

well we can’t wait to get rid of May.
To Better Together on Valentine’s Day 
with a thank you for telling our story  

this has card has been sent by the BBC 

with love from Jackanory 

@ Gayle Smith 2017 

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

Hey Readers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

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

Union Jacks And Union Hacks Won’t Stop Our Road To Progress

Hey Readers Unless you’ve been living on another planet in which case David Bowie was right and there really is life on mars you surely cant have failed the ramping up of anti SNP propaganda to almost hysterical levels in the mainstream press and media over the last few days. 
This comes as delegates gather in Glasgow for the last SNP conference before the Scottish election where my party will be campaigning to secure an historic third term as Scotland’s party of government. 

As opinion polls show the party on course for victory the unionists of all persuasions have stepped up their hatred to fanatical proportions but despite this they
are making no inroads in to our lead nor by the looks of it are they likely to.  One of the main reasons for this is the fact that to be a credible alternative government you must first be a credible opposition and in nine years as the  opposition the Labour And Unionist Party still hasn’t learned this very basic skill.  You see they and their friends in the  mainstream press and  media seem to think that they can ignore this basic requirement of any future government by getting on their union jack soapboxes and shouting SNP bad at every opportunity they are given and believe me they are given a lot of them as with unquestioning sycophants in the Scottish/North British establishment deem them worthy of more free rides than a pensioner with with a bus pass.

This may be shocking but the truth must be told, and the cold and inescapable truth is that the Labour Party get it easy from a so-called Scottish press in which only the Sunday Herald and the recently formed pro independence National come anywhere close to reporting the real Scotland I see every day. As for the rest of them their sales figures are crashing to the ground faster than someone jumping from a plane without a parachute.

The past few days demonstrate this fact and in doing so highlight why The Labour And Unionist Party and their Tory friends rely almost completely on the help from their friends in a pro unionist media to fabricate their scare stories as they did both in the independence referendum and far less successfully in the UK election for the Westminster parliament.

There is hardly a day goes by without these so-called journalists inventing some Anti SNP scare story but I have some devastating news for them and I don’t know how to tell them nobody listens to you anymore. You see you’ve contradicted yourselves so many times that you’ve used up all your credibility and like the emperor’s new clothes people now see you for exactly what you are and believe me it isn’t a pretty sight in fact to describe it as a shambles would be being far more generous to you than I want to be.  Well you can’t claim to the nation on the day of the Smith Report that the vow has been delivered only to say in the same paper after what they believe is a long enough time lapse to con the gullible that we are fed another story which this time says the vow must be delivered and have the gall to  blame the SNP for not delivering a vow we never made and which former Labour leader Ed Milliband claimed never existed.

Another example of this type of fairytale journalism came with  the recent attack on former First Minister Alex Salmond  when that most bitter of all unionist papers the Daily Record which is run and lest we forget this by the London based Trinity Mirror group and has a Ulster unionist political editor raided the political gutter for another project fear type to con the gullible by saying that if we had fallen for in their words Salmond’s vow and voted yes we would be poorer because the GERS figures tell us we would. So let’s have a look at the facts shall we.  The GERS report which was highlighted as a pro union device by the man who thought it up former Conservative governor general of Scotland (Yes I know the official term was Secretary Of State For Scotland)  Ian Laing who said that the reason for introducing them was to make any future devolved government look bad and in doing so weaken the case for Scottish independence. So all this proves is that you skew statistics to get any result you like.  Despite this obvious fact and that even the GERS report couldn’t quite get the doomsday scenario the unionists wanted it didn’t stop them needing more toilet breaks than is necessary for an adult  such was their desire to wet themselves over these manufactured stats

We should however be under no illusions here the real reason for this juvenile attack on our former First Minister was nothing to do with him, nor was it anything to do with independence. The real reason for this was the fact that the Daily Record which has always been one of Westminster’s most loyal stooges tried to highlight Alex Salmond who by the way the never a vow that is a failed UK Labour leader by the name of Gordon Brown was with the sole purpose of undermining Nicola Sturgeon’s position both as leader of the Scottish National Party and as First Minister of Scotland. Now I hate to break it to them but this strategy failed at the UK general election and it’s going to fail again.

You see no matter what they say Kezia Dugdale is not leadership material and her childish outbursts at First Minister’s questions merely serve to underline that fact In her latest outburst Ms Dugdale tried to claim the the case for Scottish Independence is now dead thanks of course to the mythical stats from The GERS report.  It is obvious to me that Kezia lives in a fantasy world where everyone votes Labour and we live in a nice little bubble which no-one ever wants to leave this happy little land. 

The truth however is somewhat different. You see though The Labour And Unionist Party may have set up our devolved parliament to crush what they saw as rebellious Scots I quote from that hymn of hate known as God Save The Queen but reality tells a very different story.  If one takes a closer look at the bigger picture it it shows a nation which has become albeit slowly, more confident in it’s ability to take decisions and for the most part get them right. This frightens the unionists more than you will ever know. You see they are totally dependent on what I call the  Westminster cringe to keep what they see as the natives in what see as our place.  Some people call this cringe the Scottish cringe but these people are deluded this is a cringe which was born and developed in Westminster by shallow self interested subservient Brit-Scots and they alone stand accused of talking Scotland down to serve their party interests and their political careers 

Make no mistake many unionists are feral creatures who will do anything to preserve their position of privilege in Scottish society and will use every means at their disposal to do so. They will do this by whatever means they must even, if as was the case on Thursday it means the deliberate misrepresentation of the views of a city to suit there fanatical British Nationalist agenda. I cite the example of Thursday as the UK political panel debate show Question Time was broadcast from Dundee. Now for those of you who haven’t been asleep for the last two years Dundee had the highest yes vote in Scotland in the  2014 independence referendum and is represented by the SNP at all political levels. The BBC however don’t like this this fact and as we know what they don’t like they ignore or worse still misrepresent and that is exactly what they did on Thursday as they stuffed the audience with good obedient unionist toy soldiers as if to pretend that the city had been recaptured for the UK and fortress Dundee was no more. 

Thankfully I never watched the show as I was out performing some of my poems at an event which goes by the title Fail Better It goes I think without saying that my performance was a damn sight
better than the unionists in the Dundee audience. Well I have what they and the BBC don’t it’s called credibility. Well it is I think significant evidence of the BBC bias that in a city which all MP’s and MSP’s are from the SNP that two failed Labour candidates were on the programme including one nasty piece of work who compared the SNP to Hitler Youth. Now I hate to tell the unionists and their associated parcel of rogues but we are not the party  who are giving the sectarian bigots of the loyal Orange Order the chance to parade their hate  the streets of Glasgow on St Patrick’s day whilst denying those of genuine Irish descent the chance to so that is the Labour And Unionist Party  These are not cases of failing better they are cases of failing spectacularly and illustrate why the BBC are unworthy of our licence fee and the Labour And Unionist Party are unworthy of our vote

You see the BBC have form on this issue, all through the referendum they showed their bias in favour of the no campaign and their aggressive treatment of the yes campaign showed their claim of neutrality to be blatant and barefaced lie. Since the referendum they and STV/ITN have been complicate with 98 per cent of the printed press in perpetuating an SNP bad party line which borders somewhere between pathetic and shambolic.
Though they may think otherwise this does them no favours, Scotland has woken up since that dark day in September 2014 and shows no sign of going back to sleep much to the annoyance of those who favour colonial dependence for our nation.

As a proud Irish-Scot the next few days are an important celebration for our people and our community but I want to think beyond that time and to do so by travelling back 100 years to Ireland 1916. As I make this journey I think of a nation which tired of being subjected to the imposition of laws they didn’t vote for by a government they didn’t elect stood up and said enough is enough and decided they would take no more.  100 ago this Easter years despite ferocious and fanatical opposition from a hard-line opposition within in their own land and a Westminster elite which neither cared nor understood the issues facing them  a nation took decisive steps that would begin their journey to freedom. It is my belief that in the early hours of the  6th of May the no matter the dirty tricks of a grovelling unionist establishment our nation is no longer scared and Union jacks or union hacks won’t stop  our road prohandand Scotland will have taken significant steps on the same road our Celtic cousins once walked with courage, pride, and dignity.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

The Tartan Tights Awards 2015

Hey Readers Welcome to the fourth annual tartan tights awards and every year they seem to get bigger. This is the case again this year with more than ever to give out so forget the golden globes these are the awards to win. Apart from the awards for which I hope you are all dressed up in your virtual finery, this is a time to celebrate those who’ve made my world a better and more entertaining place by simply being in it. So let’s crack on and see whose won what this year and given me moments to cherish and made 2015 a  better year than it might have been.

I start these awards with my politician of the year and though First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has had a brilliant year leading the SNP to the most sensational results in her party’s history, it is a beneficiary of that never to be forgotten night in May who succeeds her party leader  in picking up this award.  In defeating Douglas Alexander she caused one of the biggest political earthquakes on a night which had plenty of them,  she became the youngest MP ever to be elected in the democratic age. Make no mistake this is a young woman with a very big future Indeed her maiden speech  was widely acclaimed as the best heard at Westminster for many years. This however is not a woman who is content to rest on her laurels and in the time since her election she has shown that she is a woman of  passion, power, purpose, and principles. My 2015 tartan tights politician of the year is the brilliant Mhairi Black.

My young politician of the year is like her predecessor Laura Doherty a member of the SNP and is also a member of the Shettleston branch of the party. Since this is my local branch I know this fighting force of nature well and during the successful campaign in Glasgow East she seemed to be everywhere. Not only was this dynamo buzzing all around the East End of Glasgow she was also encouraging others to do the same. I am, I have to say very happy to announce that the thoroughly deserved winner of the young politician of the year is the flame haired genius pictured below, the lovely Morgan Horn.

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My vision of Scotland award goes to that politician or member of the public who by their actions have made Scotland a better and fairer place. This year this award goes to someone who rose to prominence during our independence referendum in which she gave many impassioned speeches in support of a yes vote which she believed would bring about a fairer more inclusive Scotland than would be possible under Westminster a socialist Scotland which she said would be bolder than the version of independence offered by the SNP. This fair but feisty feminist was a great asset to the Yes campaign and was able to connect to voters who for so long were thought to be beyond the reach of traditional nationalists. Now a columnist for the pro independence newspaper The National , her columns are always insightful, thought provoking and a damn good read. So for her commitment to a fairer more inclusive Scotland and presenting alternative vision of independence which I believe  not only needs to be heard but also needs to  articulated my vision of Scotland award goes to Cat Boyd.

My next award is the Unsung Hero/Heroine Award. This award goes to the politician who represents their party quietly and without fuss and often restores people’s faith in politics and political system as they do so, Last year this award was won by Caron Lindsay of the Liberal Democrats but this year it goes to a member of the Green Party A fellow poet she will speak out the issues that concern her, she is after all well versed on such matters. Ladies and gentlemen my  unsung heroine for 2015 is that patron saint of poetic polemics Anna Crow.

Now it’s time for my One To Watch award. As the title suggests, this is someone who I think will go to bigger and better things and become more widely known than they are at the moment as they have the talent and potential to shape to the future of our nation Our winner this year is someone who I think is great asset to their party and yet again their party is my party On election night she defeated one of my least favourite opponents when she removed Jimmy Hood from Lanark And Hamilton East My one to watch award goes to Angela Crawley.

My Impact Award goes to the politician who has made the biggest impact on one or more issues in the past year and like my politician of the year this was a straight fight between two members of the same party Mhairi Black and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. This time it was Nicola who prevailed though Mhairi ran her a lot closer than any of her political opponents. In what was a memorable year for her she managed something even Alex Salmond couldn’t and working in partnership with Plaid Cymru and The Greens  got the UK General Election debates increased from what the UK press and media like to call the three main political parties Conservative, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats increased not to four as the so-called big three parties in the Westminster village wanted . I  believe they were going to include UKIP probably because every village needs an idiot, but to seven which was a much fairer representation of British democracy.

Not content with winning TV appearances  she then set about winning the debates and with team progress of the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and The Greens set about the Westminster old boys network in spectacular style. A force for change Nicola also launched the first ever SNP woman’s manifesto slaughtered Jim Murphy in the Scottish TV debates and has regularly trounced unionist party leaders in the Scottish Parliament by maintaining her dignity whilst they lose theirs. If that’s not making an impact I don’t know what so the winner of this year’s impact award is Nicola Sturgeon.

My last political blog is for political blogger of the year and despite some brilliant posts by Bella Caledonia, and the ever wonderful Burdz Eye View, in an outstanding year when he published two or is it three volumes of his work he has been yapping, yelping, and biting the hand that patronises more often than ever before my winner for the second year in a row is Paul Kavangh for Wee Ginger Dug.  

Having given out my political awards it’s now time to focus on the community awards and what better place to start than with blogger of the year.  This is never an easy decision but this year I have split this category in to two separate awards  Scottish blogger of the year and International blogger of the year. The later category is for bloggers not resident in Scotland but more of that in a moment, firstly let’s focus on Scotland  It is I think fair to say that Scotland has a number of talented bloggers and last year’s winner Last Year’s Girl is the perfect example of what I like in a blog it has to be informative with content worth reading but it also needs to written in that kind of chatty style that would make me want to read it again and this year’s winner certainly has that style. It is for that reason she beat off challenges from A Life With Frills, Colours And Carousels, and Frankly Ms Shankly and the winner of the Scottish Blogger of the Year is Claire Smith for G Is For Gingers.

2015 is the year that I began to chat more to other bloggers both inside and outside Scotland. This meant joining lots of blogger chat groups and I’ve even hosted a couple of them.  It is with this in mind I have come up with a new award of International blogger of the Year. This is in tribute to all the fantastic bloggers from the other nations in the British And Irish Isles. Most prominent amongst them are  All Things Beautiful , AliCaitrin, Becky Bedbug, Blogs All Beautyy, Cardigan Jezabel, Colours Of A Rose,  Country Pearls, Dorkface Blog,  Dungarees And Donuts, Forever Amber,  Jessica Lauren Hatcher, Mini Mouse Chic,  and  Naturally Beige, As you can imagine trying to pick a winner from that little list wasn’t easy but in the end I had only had one choice to make, and I make it not just for the quality of her blog but for the fact that she isn’t afraid to speak out on the issues that matter to her. She is similar in that respect to the wee ginger dug and her post on challenging the main stream media (the dug will be proud) to use plus size models to advertise woman’s wear was the best I’ve read all all year so my first ever International Blogger of the year is Olivia Jade Thirsten for Dungarees And Donuts.  

My next award is activist of the year and since i think of activism in terms of community empowerment rather than just in it the political sense of the word then it is in the right category 
Explanation over I can now tell you that this was the easiest decisions of the night You see my winner is a fellow blogger who in an effort to empower other girls and indeed some more mature women invented the idea of the girl gang to help us encourage each other to become better bloggers. So to those the blogging world it will come as no surprise that my winner of my Activist of the Year is  Dorkface Blog also to her family and friends by her given name Jemma Humphreys.

My Young activist is of the  Year someone who was has made her mark not just in the world of spoken word but also a fiery campaigner on issues which range from woman’s rights to Scottish Independence and was very active in the campaign to save the Blue Chair Cafe. A regular supporter of Words And Music she was the featured writer who led us in to Christmas my tartantights young activist of the year pictured below enjoying the company of friends is the lovely and highly talented Kirsty Nicolson.

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Now the focus switches from communities to culture and where better to start with the awards for poets and poetry it is after all my art of choice and the one with which I have most direct involvement.

The first poetry award is that for The Best Poetry Performance of the Year. In a year filled with top quality performances I decided that this year’s winner would not be a 50 minute show at the Edinburgh though I ,did see some good ones. Well, I always do you know. However, after much consideration I selected a set from the Christmas Words and Music in the wee back room.  Far giving us a fuzzy festive feeling our winner read a set of three poems on the devastating impact of depression and left those who heard it gobsmacked by the power of what was one of the best sets  heard at Words And Music for many a long year  My winner of the best poetry performance of 2015 is JJ Turner.  

My next show is for the best show at the fringe. As always I saw a lot of quality shows and there were many others I would liked to have seen but of those who did there was a very clear winner.  I say this because with Agnes Torok and Hannah Chutzpah I knew at least to a certain extent what to expect namely top quality poetry of the highest possible calibre and that is exactly what they delivered but knowing how I hated sketch shows it was going to take the mother of all sketch shows to convert me from a deeply entrenched position. There are however exceptions to every rule and when a young London lass handed me a flyer for her show she was so confident I would love her show she even offered to buy me a drink if I didn’t enjoy it.  Needless to say the woman in question  Yes I do mean you Katie Norris was proved right and in the words of a certain Simon Cowell ‘I didn’t like it I loved it and that’s why my choice for the best show at the fringe is the best double act to hit the British and Irish Isles since the days of Wood and Walters and The Two Ronnie’s the brilliant Norris And Parker for All Our Friends Are Dead. Thankfully as you can see  from the picture below where this deadly double act are pictured with yours truly the girls are very much alive.

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Next I turn to the Most Original Show of the year and this year the award goes to a show which had the most multi cultural cast I have ever been involved in. Well when you’ve got South African gospel choirs , and Canadian jazz musician as well as the fantastic Anti-Poets it’s going one of those mights which will live long in the memory.  To organise such a cast takes time and effort of the magnitude which deserves be recognised  and rewarded  and that is why the most original show of 2015 goes to Rose Fraser Ritchie for Fringe Of The Fringe. 

My next award is new award and it is given in memory of the late Sandy Hutchison a well respected poet and traditional musician who passed away at the end of the year. Sandy was a man who loved language be it expressed in the lines of a poem or the lyrics of a song, he also loved both Scotland and the wider world but had a particular passion for the country he called home  To win this award the winner needs to demonstrate both their love of both language and Scotland. Indeed I want them to show their Scotland and make it so real I can imagine being a part of it so strong is the power of  their words and images and this year for showing his Scotland in such an authentic even the BBC/MSM can’t deny the reality of it I award the first Sandy Hutchison Memorial Award to Shaun Moore.

As some of you will no doubt know, I am a big comedy fan so I thought it was time to introduce award which reflected that so this new award is for the Live Comedy Show of the Year. This is the event which had me giggling so much I nearly proved the truth of that tenna lady advert that oops moments happen. I went to this show at Webster’s Theatre in the spring of last year and I’m still smiling and giggling now as I do every time I think of it. With an amazingly talented cast of talented local performers my choice of my comedy of the year is The Graduettes  . 

Next up is an another new award for the most inclusive show of the year. This takes me back to a windswept Evening in February when as part of LGBTI History Month I along with many others including  the excellent  A J McKenna, and the magnificent Dave Lee Morgan was privileged to play my part in a truly amazing night of poetry, stories, and song this was a show in which everyone felt valued and proud to be a part of. The winner of the most inclusive show of the year is Colin McGuire for Talking Heids.  

Talking of the LGBTI community brings me on to the topic of equality and it’s now time to name my Equality Champion and this year this award is a very easy choice.
It goes to someone who when just a party activist came up with the innovative idea of holding the biggest LGBTI event Scotland has ever seen. Thanks to his determination  the event took place and was held in early February to great acclaim from not only from participants and received favourable coverage from press and media. It was I have to say  one of my few regrets of the last year that I was unable to attend what I heard from all I knew who attended a truly inspiring day.  In May this talented and determined young man was elected to Westminster to represent his local area and the people he grew up amongst as he won Glasgow South East for the SNP as he played his party in the party’s landslide victory. In his acceptance speech he said he had done ‘no bad for a boy from Castlemilk ‘ and how he right he was  It is fair to say that  I think we will hearing a lot more from this year’s equality champion Stewart MacDonald.

The award for Quote of the Year comes from the maiden speech of yet another newly elected MP. This time Ian Blackford takes the title for warning the Westminster establishment that  they are in for a big disappointment if they think we are going to play the game by their rules with little gem  as he told them ‘We are not here to settle down, we are here to settle up’.

Moving on from words to music It is time for Musician of the year This has yet again
been a difficult choice to make as every year I seem to find more and more top quality musicians from which to choose to add to those I already know Those considered include Bob Leslie, Pauline Bradley, and the lovely Chrissy Barnacle, but my winner is a lass from
Montrose that I had the privilege of seeing at the Royal Concert Hall at the Danny Kyle Open Stage and she warmed my heart on a cold winter’s Sunday with a lovely easy listening voice. The fact that she writes her own songs is also something that gave her an edge as did the fact that is was only 17 at the time of that performance So my musician of the year for 2015 is Rona MacFarlane.

Next up is my event of the year and believe me there was only ever going to be one winner. As a trans woman no words can describe  how happy I was to attend this event and to do so as a VIP guest was beyond my wildest dreams. From the moment I boarded the train to the SECC to when I reluctantly had to make the journey home, I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier or more empowered and that’s why  my event of the year  for 2015 is The Girls Day Out Show.  (see deliberately placed promotional photograph) Well I can’t wait till this year’s show and I want to tell the girls of all ages to attend and enjoy a great day)

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The Girls Day Out is for the future but it’s time to get back to present and get on with the awards and whilst the X-Factor may claim it’s time to face the music I prefer to celebrate it and what better way to so than by naming my Best New Band and this year my choice proved that just like my football team the glorious Glasgow Celtic I can also score last minute winners. I say this I saw this band at the December edition of Rally And Broad and they blew all other competitors completely out of the water with a set I can only describe as sensational.  My best new band of 2015 pictured below are the amazing Teen Canteen.

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Next up is the Campaign of the Year and my winner demonstrated spirit and guts in taking on Glasgow City Council and winning the right to stay open . A  community cafe which has become a haven for poets and performers with weekly Wednesday night spoken word events, it was a campaign in which I was proud to play a small part, though so many people did so much more. My campaign of the year goes to Save The Blue Chair.

From campaigns I move on to songs and my song of the year was heard back in the cold dark days of January on yet another night at the Danny Kyle. This was one of those songs which was so catchy you just couldn’t help wanting to sing along. A comedy song it not only made me want to sing it gave me a doze of the giggles My song of the year for 2015 is Martha Healy and Too Many Vodka’s In My Cranberry Juice.

Now on to my venue of the year. and this year of all years and Words And Music celebrated 25 years at Sammy Dow’s before continuing our story at the Stag’s Head which is the same place under a new name, my venue of has to be the wee back room in the place we call home.

As you know I always get a buzz from seeing new talent on the performance scene and I have to say that the standard
of poets, musicians, and performance artists both in Scotland and the UK has never been higher. Amongst those considered for this award were Anna Crow , Kirsty Nicolson, and Peter Russell, who as regular readers of this blog will know are all top quality poets, From the world of music Rona MacFarlane was also carefully considered and to show that age is no barrier to talent Russell Wilson was another I thought of in this category. However this year’s winner comes from the world of comedy. No it isn’t Gordon Brown seeking a new career, comedians are supposed to be funny so my award goes to yet another member of the Blue Chair family. Our winner describes himself as the Alice Cooper of Stand Up Comedy his style is educational, edgy, and entertaining. My discovery of the year is Gabriel Featherstone

As for my comeback of the year I would normally give this to a poet who returned to the performance scene after a long absence. This year it is slightly different and I give my award not to an individual but a group. This is a group I was proud to be a part of back in the day but in 1995 the group disbanded as we all went our separate ways and got on with what we had to get on with. 20 years later, the group had not only re-formed with many of the original members and put on their first show in two decades. Under the direction of Neil Shackleton their production of The Hired Man led to one of my most emotional nights of the year and my comeback of the year award goes to GAP Community Theatre Group.

My best sporting moment of the year is dedicated to the voters in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for selecting Andy Murray as the well deserved winner of the award for his decisive role in winning Britain their first Davis Cup Win since 1936.

My Team of the Year is the British Davis Cup Tennis Team also known as Dunblane Tennis Club. Well where would British tennis be without Andy And Jamie Murray? I’ll tell you exactly where it would be playing Division Z matches and losing to Luxembourg that’s where and I won’t hear blinkered fools attempt to tell me otherwise.

From sport I move on to one of my favourite awards The I Think I Must Be Mad Award. This is given for friendship which goes above and beyond the call of duty. In other words this award is for the friend who not only puts up with my bad days but as and when required steps in to sort them out and as I’m sure last year’s winner Audrey Marshall would be only too willing to testify this is not an easy task. I have to say however in this year’s winner Audrey has a very worthy successor. You see our winner is a woman of faith who by her gentle kindness, keeps my feet on the ground, my head out the clouds, and my heart in the book. It was she who selected the passage on which I based my entry for the Faith and Unbelief poetry competition, she is to me at least Scotland’s Hidden Treasure, and the well deserved winner of the I Think I Must Be Mad Award is Samantha Hands.

Now I move on to The Lifetime Achievement Award This award is not given lightly and recipient has to have served their community, culture, or organisation, for at least 20 years. Like all of previous winners this year’s choice has served this time and more. Our winner is from the world of traditional music and has taught generations of young musicians at the Comalthas Irish Minstrels over the last 40 plus years Inducted in to Scottish Traditional Music Hall Of Fame at the recent Traditional Music Awards, former BBC Young Musician of the Year Paddy Callaghan said of this year’s winner that he doubted he would be the same performer without the help he received from him, and in a chat at St Patrick’s family fun day my friend Maryanne Hartness said on seeing one his daughters playing with St Roch’s Celi Band that he had done so much for our Celtic community and deserved to recognised for his contribution to our culture. These are sentiments with which I wholeheartedly agree and I pay my small tribute by awarding the 2015 tartan tights Lifetime Achievement Award to Frank McArdle.

So at last it’s time for the main choices that of my man and woman of the year and as always I’ll start with my Man of the Year. The past year has been an interesting one for many of the potential candidates I know and a significant number of them rose to the challenge the year provided in innovative ways and around eight or so were viewed before I selected the final three from which to choose my winner. The three candidates who reached the podium places this year were Shaun Moore, Stewart MacDonald, and Chris Young. Of those nominated I will if I may, start with Shaun. My reason for nominating Shaun was for his commitment to both the independence movement and the more importantly the spoken word scene in which he is gaining a deserved reputation as a poet of considerable stature. This reputation was greatly enhanced when he organised the first Paisley spoken word slam the sma shot’s big shot was an outstanding success and showed that Shaun is a man who is as passionate about poetry as he is his political beliefs.

The next candidate to be considered was Stewart MacDonald whose achievements have already well documented in this post and quite rightly so. After all, organising the biggest ever LGBTI political event ever staged in your country is something of which you should be justifiably proud , but Stewart is not one to seek the limelight so I guess I’ll have to trumpet his achievement for him and believe me I am happy to do so.

In the end however both guys were beaten by a man who had a very mixed year and proved the truth of the old saying what you lose on the roundabouts you gain on the swings. You see our man of the year, like so many of us on spoken word scene has an interest in politics his party of choice being the Liberal Democrats so it has to be said whilst he was at long last enjoying success in the world of poetry winning practically everything he entered including the Words and Music championship he had long coveted, his political adventures were somewhat less fruitful failing to save his deposit at both the General Election where he fought the Glasgow Central constituency and the subsequent Carlton by-election caused by the election of the local councillor as the local MP. However it has often been said that you learn more about the character of someone by the way they react to defeat than you do when they celebrate their victories. In this case the man concerned showed humility in his successes and dignity in his defeats, it for this reason and a million others that I am proud to say my tartan tights Man of the Year for 2015 is Chris Young.

Chris pictured below receiving the Hughie Healy Memorial Trophy as Words And Music Champion from myself and Jim King.
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Finally I come to my last award of the evening and that is my Woman of the Year. If selecting a man of the year was a hard task and it was, then choosing my woman of the year was even harder as more women than men play an important role in my life. Among those considered before I made my decision were Agnes Torok, Leanne MacKay, Lesley MacKay, Kirsty Nicolson, Samantha Hands and Victoria Hamilton and believe me when I say all of them had a real chance of winning right until the last half hour before decision time. Eventually however after much procrastination I finally made my choice and that choice was in favour not of a poet, nor a woman of faith, but a kick ass beauty consultant who has been a constant support and encouragement to me in more ways than I can ever list. So my tartan tights Woman Of The Year is the lovely Cheryl McHugh.

So there you have it, we’ve finally reached the end of our tartan tights awards ceremony for 2015. I offer my congratulations to all our winners and all those nominated and thank them for making 2015 an entertaining and enjoyable year for me and as I raise my glass to them all I look forward to 2016 and what ever challenges it may bring us I am sure we will face them with dignity It is with this message I wish you all you wish yourself and hope you’ll continue to read tartan tights throughout the coming year.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

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