My first column of the New Year 2019 was delayed by a combination of gastronomic illness, the details of which are entirely inappropriate to share, and my wife Gail’s birthday. So even although today is the 6th day of January I will still take the opportunity to wish you all the very best for the year ahead and offer hope that your dreams and aspirations are realised. Remember always that basic human kindness and compassion towards others costs us nothing but yet is priceless. Judging people by the size of their hearts, depth of their integrity and sincerity of their actions rather than their looks, material belongings or social status is surely a New Year Resolution we can all adopt and apply.
The stomach bug that laid me low as we crossed from the old year into the new one prevented me from attending the ‘Hear Us Rise’ independence shindig in Dundee organised by the excellent group ‘The Graham Brown Band’ on the evening of the 1st of January. That was a pity for me but by all accounts it was a first class way to celebrate the birth of a New Year full of independence hopes and expectations. Hundreds gathered to sing, dance and pledge renewed allegiance to the independence cause. A cause which has matured and ripened over the last four years in the face of economic mismanagement, cruel and callous welfare policies and the realisation that the unionist promises of stability and prosperity which were promoted alongside the engendered climate of fear for the unknown in 2014 have now been exposed as a tissue of lies, deceit and distortions.
What is clearer than ever in the first days of 2019 is the days of the British union are numbered. The brutal and bloody Empire that the Rees-Moggs and Buffoon Johnsons hanker for is long gone and will never be revived. Their narrow nationalistic chauvinism full of empty promises about £350 million a week more being spent on the NHS and milk and honey aplenty for everyone only struck a chord with large sections of the working class because they have been so badly alienated and marginalised by the mainstream political system that enrichened the tiny minority at the top while impoverishing millions at the bottom.
Remember the richest 1,000 in the UK have seen their combined wealth rise from an incredible £256 billion to an incredulous £724 billion over the last ten years. Ten years of acute austerity and reduced real wages and living standards for most has spawned a grotesque rise in wealth for the tiny minority at the top of society. Those same billionaires and millionaires who have benefitted from top rate tax cuts and immoral tax evasion and avoidance schemes have used their lickspittle rags that shamefully pretend to be newspapers to demonise the immigrants, the unemployed and poor larger families and offer them as sacrificial scapegoats for the many problems which confront struggling households and communities.
What an ingenious plan from the billionaire tax cheats who own alleged ‘newspapers’ like the Daily Mail and Sun. Lord Rothermere is the billionaire owner of The Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and the Metro. He lives in France. Rupert Murdoch is the billionaire owner of the Sun and Sun on Sunday, Times and Sunday Times through his News Group Newspapers Group and News Corporation which also owns the radio station TalkSport. He lives in America and like Lord Rothermere pays no income tax in the UK. Between them these tax evading billionaires control over 52% of all newsprint and online news across the UK https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/british-people-think-their-media-is-the-most-biased-and-right-wing-in-europe-and-theyre-probably-a6860911.html .
On a daily basis they spew lies and bile about immigration, asylum seekers and benefit recipients. They use their immense unchecked power and influence to manipulate and distort reality. Why blame the rich and powerful for low wages, lack of affordable housing, NHS waiting lists and education cutbacks when constant distortions and lies can shift the blame onto the immigrants, asylum seekers and poor. What a great idea it is. Blame the victims of poverty for causing poverty. Just make sure the newspaper industry is under regulated to allow the plethora of lies to continue unabated. No wonder the Cameron promise to introduce Leveson 2 has been ditched. It would have exposed the rotten and corrupt relations between newspapers, politicians, the police and public officials.
Of course the biased manipulation of news to protect the rich and powerful does not stop at newspapers as the BBC and ITV are willing and able acolytes of the billionaires and accept big wage packets to ensure the spotlight of blame for society’s ills is never shone on the real culprits selling stocks and shares, armaments and financial pipe-dreams through their ownership of banks, insurance companies, newspapers and global corporations. The real crooks don’t wear masks they wear smart pinstripe suits and their most potent weapon is ignorance through control and manipulation of news output.
It is why the billionaires consistently try to undermine social media and attempt to assume ownership of it in equal measure. They despise the fact they don’t control what is published, promoted or read. Only 5 billionaires own over 90% of all the national and local newspapers published in Britain but they effectively promote the myth of a ‘free and democratic press’. Free and democratic press my arse. Free to lie, distort and manipulate but certainly not democratic in any way, shape or form.
The influence of the newspaper industry is waning but the rise in racist attacks and abuse across many parts of England is the toxic legacy of the distortions pedalled daily against anyone who is not ‘like us’. What the hell does that actually mean? I heard the ‘look after our own first’ phrase many times while an elected councillor and MSP in Glasgow. I heard it particularly in early 2001/02 when Glasgow began to accept quotas of asylum seekers and placed them in the High Rise flats in Sighthill. Meetings I was invited to attend were packed with residents of the area anxious to know if the stories in the Sun and Daily Mail were true. These asylum seekers were getting enhanced benefits, special furniture packages and preferential treatment. They were ‘jumping’ the housing queue.
It was complete and utter crap wrapped in manure designed to sell papers. Sensationalised nonsense designed to divide the community. Random racist attacks and incidents grew. It was necessary to confront the lies with facts and patient explanation. How could these individual human beings with their children fleeing countries we had bombed to smithereens, like Afghanistan, be accused of ‘jumping’ housing queues when they were being placed in flats that lay empty for many months because no one would accept them?
The only packages these new potential citizens of Glasgow were entitled to were the homeless packages available to everyone else. While they were seeking asylum they were barred from working so they needed benefits to survive but their benefit entitlement was less, not more, than anyone else on benefits.
The truth eventually won the day and these new human beings and their children soon became assets within the community and helped rebuild the area, much to the disappointment of the nasty tabloids who had hoped to stir discontent. That one example of Sighthill in Glasgow is the prototype of the new independent nation we can build in Scotland.
Independent Scotland, a country that is outward looking and friendly to other nations not arrogant and insular.
Independent Scotland, a country intent on extending a hand of friendship to those who seek to come and live with us not a fist of ignorant fury.
Independent Scotland, a country building bridges between and within different cultures and nationalities not walls of isolation.
1789 saw the storming of the Bastille in Paris and the beginning of the French revolution to overthrow unelected monarchy and the introduction of early democracy.
1819 saw the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester when unarmed citizens gathered in support of lower food prices and universal suffrage only to be slashed and mowed down by soldiers on foot and horses.
1909 saw the heroic suffragette Mabel Capper force fed inside Winston Green Prison in Birmingham to break her hunger strike in support of votes for women and to break the spirits of the suffragette movement. It failed to do so.
1919 saw Mahatma Gandhi launch his nonviolent resistance movement against British rule in India, the Battle of George Square in Glasgow in support of the 40 hour week resulting in the imposition of martial law for three days across the city and the Declaration of Independence from Britain by the newly elected Irish government in Dublin.
1929 saw the Great Crash on the US Stock Market ushering in the first financial disaster of the Great Depression, the first large-scale outbreak of Jewish-Arab violence caused by a clash at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and the legendary gangland massacre in Chicago that went on to become known as the St Valentine’s Day massacre.
In 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland and renounced non-aggression pacts with Britain and Russia ushering in the beginning of World War II.
In 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is formed, the German Federal Republic (West Germany) is established and the People’s Republic of China is proclaimed. Britain also recognises the independence of the Republic of Ireland.
In 1959 military dictator Batista is forced to flee Havana in Cuba and guerrilla leaders Fidel Castro and Che Guevera assume power and begin building a nation committed to healthcare, education and peace for its citizens.
1969 saw Colonel Muammer Gadaffi depose King Idris of Libya and establish a new anti-US Islamic republic and the Stonewall riot in New York marking the beginning of the gay rights movement.
1979 saw revolution in Iran and the overthrow of the Shah, the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan, victory for the Sandinsta freedom fighters in Nicaragua over the brutal Somoza regime and the election of Britain’s first ever woman Prime Minister.
1989 saw the fall of the Berlin wall after 28 years and a Romanian uprising which overthrew brutal President Ceausescu.
1999 saw the re-convening of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh after an absence of 292 years.
Hopefully the pattern is clear folks. Years which end in a 9 tend to throw up significant events of an important and historical character with those above only a select few. 2019 will be no different.
This will be the year the British union is dissolved and Scotland’s status as a normal independent nation is restored. Of course we will all have to campaign hard and persuade our families, friends, neighbours and workmates to vote for normality and independence but from where we stand now to where we have to reach is a much smaller leap than in 2014 and I am confident we will win this time.
Fear has two meanings. Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. In 2019 we as a nation will choose meaning number two. We will Face Everything And Rise. Use the Mandate Nicola, Name the Date. We are ready.