Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Result Of Our Vote For Independence

To quote my own words from my last blog post :

We need change. We need a positive way forward, and the way to get that positive way forward, is to vote yes to Scottish Independence.

Sadly, only 45% of Scotland voted for Independence. The other 55% voted to remain as part of the UK, so Independence was rejected again.

We belong to a democratic country thankfully, and as such, we were allowed to have this vote. No blood spilling, just a X in a box. And I accept that the majority of the country did not want Scotland to run its own affairs. However, I do still have the same views about Independence for our country. And should we ever get the opportunity to vote again, I would certainly vote in the same way.

Several things changed throughout this campaign. And a few other things need to change.

My own opinion on Independence changed. I had, until a few months ago, been certain that I would vote against it. Then I read and learned as much as possible, and I became a somewhat vocal yes voter. I wasn't alone in that. I have read and heard about so many other previous no voters, who, once they looked into it, changed their minds. I admire anyone who took the time to try to learn about the subject before voting. I hope that continues.

We had an amazing turn out at all the polling stations. People, both for and against, were determined to be heard and make their vote count. Some areas had over 90% turn out which is unheard of. Voter apathy is the term most often used during most political campaigns. So, for whatever reason, people became involved in this decision. This was a good change, and I hope it continues. The only way politicians will ever listen to us is if they know we are watching and voting accordingly.

Media......where do I start? People depend on the news programmes and newspapers to get information. They presume that most of the stories reported are true. I have always realised that they decide which slant to give a story, but I have discovered it is far more than giving it a slant. The truth is that they can often create the story. They make it completely different from the truth and in doing so, they can sway people's opinions. People believe what they write. It is actually quite shocking how they can manipulate stories to suit themselves. Will this ever change? Probably not.

In our quest for Independence, the government at Westminster really were not taking notice that this quest was real. About two weeks before voting day, a poll emerged saying the Yes campaign was in the lead, and panic ensued. At that point Westminster made offers of more devolution powers. Those seemed to be very hastily put together, and I doubted at the time whether they would actually happen. The offers increased as the days went on. All three leaders of the main parties at Westminster signed a vow for change. After Scotland rejected Independence, David Cameron, our Prime Minister, stated that we would get those extra powers, as would other areas within the UK. That has to be for the good.......if  they actually come to fruition. We can only wait and see (but there are already cracks showing, and many people voted No on their promises).

During the campaign for Independence, the Orange Lodge marched through Edinburgh and some other towns throughout the country. They were campaigning for Scotland to stay as part of the United Kingdom. They carried their Union Jacks and their Better Together banners, while playing music. Doesn't sound bad, does it? But it is bad. The Orange Lodge is a sectarian institution comprising of Protestants who hate Catholics. They have existed for centuries and it is disgusting that in 2014, an institution like this can still exist, never mind being allowed to march carrying official Better Together banners. Is this really something which should be allowed in any country nowadays?

People have complained that the Independence campaign split the country. But the Orange Lodge is openly putting a divide between Catholics and Protestants. Why should religion come into politics? Would authorities allow marches from groups which are openly homophobic, sexist or racist?

I doubt it.

So why is the Orange Order allowed to march through the streets of Scotland carrying Union Jacks. The Union Jack represents United Kingdom, it does not represent sectarianism of any kind.

Better Together say that they had nothing to do with the Orange Lodge marches. However, they seemed to be happy enough to have the support from them.


The aftermath....on Friday after 55% of Scotland voted against Independence, Yes campaigners got together once again in Glasgow. Despite having lost this vote, those people were still in good spirits. They were with like minded people and the atmosphere was still electric. Then several hundred Union supporters appeared. This seemed to have been very organised. They came with their Union flags, giving Nazi salutes, threatening to stab those yes voters. They rioted. They burnt Scottish flags. They assaulted anyone carrying a Scottish flag or wearing a Yes badge. They terrified people. Thugs. That's what they were...thugs.

Shocking, disgraceful and disgusting. Those people waving their Union flags do not deserve to say they are either British or Scottish. They probably didn't even vote. They probably didn't even know what the vote was about. They were simply there to cause trouble. It was not a confrontation between Yes and No voters (as some media would have you believe). Who on earth were they? It may have been an organized attack by a minority amongst Rangers fans. Rangers fans have always had a close alliance with the Orange Order. There are also some suggestions that they may be part of the British National Party and the English Defence League. That may or may not be true, but whoever they were, I hope they are arrested and charged.

Thankfully by Saturday, things had calmed down. Yes campaigners had another rally in Glasgow, this time not just with their Scottish flags, but flags asking for peace. And not only did they come armed with their flags, they also brought along supermarket bags full of groceries to set up an impromptu food bank for the people of Glasgow. Those people are the type of people who make me feel proud to be Scottish.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Yes is a very positive word...

So, the vote for an Independent Scotland takes place the day after tomorrow. And what a campaign it has been.

We've had celebrities like Bob Geldof and David Beckham tell us we should stay with the UK. A fairer Scotland doesn't need millionaire celebrities to tell us how to vote.

We've had warnings that some of the banks and shops may move headquarters to London. In actual fact, some of them already have their headquarters in London. Scare stories. That's what they were. I am not worried about a bank moving it's headquarters to London if we become Independent. However, there are some banks which I would like to see out of banks. I would hope that a fairer Scotland will no longer be needing food banks.

We've had bias from the media, especially the BBC, who have tried to knock every pro-independence argument. A constant barrage of questions about which currency an Independent Scotland would use became like a broken record, despite getting answers. If Westminster does not agree to a currency union, the rest of the UK will suffer more than Scotland. Therefore a currency union is in their interest too. But, if they don't agree to that, then we will use the pound....a Scottish pound. We will have to start afresh, and it will be hard work, but we will cope with that. Scottish people are used to having all sorts of issues thrown at them. We're a pretty hardy nation.

The Better Together camp and the Westminster government have given us an endless amount of empty promises if we remain in the Union and prophecies of doom and gloom if we put a cross in the Yes box on Thursday. They even changed the goalposts just last week after postal voting had started, putting offers on the table of more devolution powers if we stay with the United Kingdom. And practically every day since, they have offered even more powers.

Makes it sound pretty good if we stay within the UK. But, in the words of David Cameron himself, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

More devolution powers they told us. But there have been no straight answers as to what those powers are. They also told us that we could have those powers by January the 25th next year.

They seem to have forgotten something important here. More devolution plans have to be passed by the House of Commons, the House of Lords and, if it is Devo Max which has been suggested, it must also get the go ahead from the voters in UK by way of a referendum. September to January isn't a long time to deal with all that.

Another little issue with this.....those are major powers they are giving to Scotland. MPs at Westminster are not happy because those devolution powers have not been discussed with them, and quite rightly so, they are not happy. Many have said that they will not support and pass this bill. Therefore, those promises are empty promises.

People in other parts of the UK must be watching this unfold and ask why Scotland should have more powers. Why is Westminster trying to bribe us to stay within the UK? Why should Scotland get more powers, but no other areas in the rest of UK getting those same powers. I am sure, if I was not Scottish, I would be watching, wondering and asking many questions. And no doubt, I wouldn't be too happy.

Policies like devolution powers would normally be part of a manifesto of a political party prior to an election. Then people would have the chance to vote for that. But they are not getting the chance to do this.

David Cameron, Ed Milliband, Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and many more from Westminster have tried to use their powers of persuasion on us to vote no to an Independent Scotland. David Cameron said they should love bomb us. According to the media, they made heartfelt pleas.....heartfelt??

Yes, their pleas were heartfelt...but not out of concern for Scotland.

They are fighting to keep their jobs. That is why their pleas were heartfelt.

The media has proved themselves to be extremely biased about this referendum and have gone out of their way to discredit the Pro Independence camp. The BBC especially has been extremely underhand. They edit interviews, they lie and they tell us what they want us to know. They have tried to knock everything to do with the yes campaigners and the yes voters. The yes camp has been referred to as an aggressive bunch of trouble makers. Not true. There has been nothing but good vibes from the yes camp who only want to go ahead on this journey with positivity.

Yes, there may have been a few troublemakers on both sides.....that is inevitable on any campaign. Adam Boulton from Sky News was interviewing Alex Salmond earlier tonight and they were discussing those troublemakers. Alex Salmond said that there are always a few idiots on both sides. Adam Boulton replied, "but there are more idiots on the yes side." Sorry, Adam Boulton, I don't like what you implied with that comment. Idiots do not take the time to learn about an issue as important as Independence, and the majority of yes voters have done that. As I have said previously, I was convinced that we should not vote for independence, but since reading and learning, I am thoroughly convinced that independence is right for Scotland.

Yes, there is uncertainty. There are questions which can't be answered yet.

But we will cross all those hurdles and Scotland's people can stand up and be proud that they made a choice to vote for a better, fairer nation.

I honestly feel that no matter what the outcome of the vote, Westminster is going to jump from one campaign straight into another, because they will have to try to win favour  from the rest of the UK electorate. There will be a knock on effect in my opinion. The rest of the UK will demand the same powers which have been offered to the Scottish people in the last few days.

Let's not think for a minute that Scotland is the only country within the UK that has poverty and problems. The UK is on a downward spiral. The rich get richer the poor get poorer.

In 1979 the country had referendum for independence. The same arguments were heard then and similar promises were made if people voted no. People believed what they were told. There was no internet at that time so that people could find the real answers. So people were afraid of change and voted no. And the promises made?? The government reneged  on those promises. They didn't come to fruition. And Scotland suffered in the years following that referendum, losing industry after industry and the country became poorer and poorer.

Will history repeat itself?

I really hope not.

We need change. We need a positive way forward, and the way to get that positive way forward, is to vote yes to Scottish Independence.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Scottish Independence

Over the past few months, the campaign both for and against have gathered momentum.  Politicians, even some from other countries, have voiced their opinions. People in Scotland and outside Scotland have voiced their opinions. Celebrities, some of whom have probably never so much as taken one step on to Scottish land, have voiced their opinions.

I was a definite no voter. I have to be honest though, I hadn't really put much thought into it. Scotland has been part of Great Britain for the last few centuries, so why change now? There is always a fear factor to any change and this would be a huge change. Probably the biggest change in the politics of my country I would ever be likely to see. So I was happy to simply put an X in the 'No' box on the 18th of September.

However, my opinion has changed.

Nicky Clarke, a celebrity hairdresser from England, spouted his opinion on the referendum. He believes we should stay with Great Britain. But he also said that Scottish people are not educated enough to be able to make such an important decision.

He is entitled to his opinion on the referendum. But I can't agree with his point about Scottish people. Not educated enough? What right does he have to say that about the people of Scotland?

I think it is fair to say that there have been more than a few brain cells amongst the Scots. Let's face it, televisions, telephones, fridges, pneumatic tyres, bicycles, colour photography, hypodermic syringes, hypnotism, MRI scanners, penicillin, insulin, flushing toilets and deep fried mars bars are just a few things either invented or discovered by the so-called 'uneducated' Scots. Ok, so we'll forget about the deep fried mars bars....that is possibly not one of the better inventions.

But seriously, what right does a hairdresser in England have to say that Scottish people should not be making this decision on our future, because we don't have the intelligence to understand it? That remark did make me angry, but it also made me think more. Perhaps there was a bit on truth in what he was saying. Here was I, looking ahead to the referendum without giving it much thought, apart from, let's just stick with what we know.

So from that day, I started reading. I wanted to educate myself on the subject. Avoiding media, since they have a habit of giving biased views on most subjects, I read facts....real facts and I do believe that Scotland has the ability to stand alone once again. It's not about what has happened in the's about what can happen in the future.

I have never been too keen on Alex Salmond, but this vote is not about Alex Salmond. It is about Scotland's Independence, not about which politician should or shouldn't run the country. However, having said that, after reading his CV, I believe he does know what he is talking about.

The 'Better Together' campaign seem to be promising us the earth if we stick with them. Why?? If they thought we were so worthy of all they promise now, why are we not already better together? They are making promises of more devolution powers for Scotland if we stay with the UK. When did you last meet a politician who fulfilled promises made prior to an election? False promises in the hope that people will vote for them. They use scare tactics telling us that we won't cope on our own, there isn't enough oil, not enough tax in the country to cover everything we need. They say we can't use the pound. They also say we are not guaranteed to be part of the EU. No money for pensions. The NHS will fall to pieces. It is all scare tactics. The truth is out there, but you have to look for it.

So where do I start?

  • EU - Scotland is already a country in its own right, so why should EU not allow us to stay there? European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker  has said that Scotland would be treated as a “special and separate case”, rather than a new applicant, so there wouldn't be a problem about joining the EU. But apart from that, some English politicians are considering coming out of the EU, so as it stands, the UK's future in the EU is not definite.
  • The £ - if the rest of UK decided to not allow us to use the pound, they would have a bigger problem than us. (As an aside, the Bank of England was actually created by a Scotsman). They actually cannot stop us from using the £, but it would be in the interest of both sides to have a currency union. The £ belongs to Scotland just as much as it belongs to the rest of the UK. The American dollar is used in some parts of South America, but it has nothing to do with the USA.
  • NHS Scotland is already funded solely by Scottish taxes. At present, if a Scottish person was treated in an English hospital, the English hospital will invoice NHS Scotland. Likewise, if an English person is treated in a Scottish hospital, Scotland invoices England. So there would be no change. At present, Scotland still has an NHS to be proud of. Hopefully, if we can keep it in our own hands, we will be able to keep it that way. There is probably less chance of that happening if we remain part of the UK.
  • No pension pot. There is actually no pension pot in the UK either. People who are paying tax today, are actually paying for the pensions of those entitled today. The money hasn't been put into a giant piggy bank waiting for everyone's retirement. It was used at the time.  An Independent Scotland would take on the responsibility of paying pensions in the same way as it is done by the UK. As far as still being entitled to a pension goes, yes, everyone will have the same rights as before. At present, anybody who is entitled to a UK pension receives it....even if they decide to spend their retirement in another country.

At the moment, Scottish taxes pay salaries for our MPs based in Edinburgh, for MPs based in Westminster, plus Prime Minister, chancellor, all the other cabinet members and staff to go with them. We pay to have MPs in Europe.  We pay for the House of Lords. And as much as I think the Queen is a lovely lady, we all pay a pretty hefty price to keep her and her family. I am not against Royalty completely, but when some people, working people, are relying on food banks, it just doesn't seem right that our royal family live so lavishly. So I guess my vote is for Independence, with the hope that Scotland would then have another referendum on the Royal family. If Scotland becomes independent, the country will have a government which will focus on Scotland and its people. We will have a chance to let our taxes stay in Scotland to help Scottish people.

In learning about what Independence could  mean for us, I have seen some bitterness and anger....from both sides. That concerns me. If the country decides to vote no, what will the relationship be like between Scotland and England? Some English people believe Scottish are just spongeing off England (this is not true) and can't wait to see the back of us. So if we vote no, do we ever manage to get a good relationship again? Likewise, if we vote yes, does it divide us further and will people be waiting and watching, hoping that we fall on our face. Surely it would be better to have a friendly relationship with our neighbours no matter what the result of the referendum is. There is already enough fighting and disagreement in the world, we don't need more.

I hope the bad feelings stop on both sides. It doesn't help anyone. But I also hope that people who can vote, do so with their eyes open. Don't listen to the scare-mongering, and don't vote no just so we don't have to face change. Read and learn (not from the media), then whatever way you choose to vote, do so believing what you are doing is right.

Scotland has always been classed as the lower class neighbour of England. Nobody works, we just sponge off the neighbours. We're lazy. We're loud. We're aggressive. And of course, we are mean. At least, that is how we are often portrayed.  When it suits and we achieve something, we are classed as British. When we fail, or something goes wrong, we are classed as Scottish.

I am, always have been and always will be, proud to say that I am Scottish.  And having learned about Independence, I do believe it can work for Scotland. A government, voted by the people of Scotland, in Scotland, focussing on Scotland. My X will be going in the yes box.

A few websites I have found useful :
Guide to the debate
Business for Scotland
Future UK and Scotland
An ebook about Independence

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Independence Debate

The vote for Scottish Independence will be taking place in just a few weeks time. I wasn't ever going to blog about it, but a couple a days ago I had to find my soapbox, and once found, I climbed on to it, and have not climbed back down since.

I wasn't ranting about whether we should go it alone or stay with what we know.

I was ranting about not being able to watch the debate between Alex Salmond from the SNP and Alistair Darling from the Better Together campaign which was shown on STV (Scottish Television) on Tuesday night.

STV covers many parts of Scotland. But not this part.

STV gave ITV the chance to show it to us, the Scottish Borders viewers, but for some reason, they only showed it in Scottish Borders areas which used Freeview. And where I live, nobody can use Freeview to watch television. Due to location, we need satellite if we want to watch television. On Tuesday night, ITV Borders via satellite, showed a gardening programme instead of the independence debate.

Not that I am against gardening programmes, but I don't believe watching it would have helped me to make an informed decision in the forthcoming vote.

(I would also like to say that watching the debate would possibly not have helped me to make an informed decision either. But that is not the point.)

Anyway....soapbox came out and I complained to ITV.

This morning, I received an email from them.

"ITV screened the 8-10pm debate live, in the area where our viewers have a vote in the question under discussion. 

The debate will of course be covered as a news story in our news programmes broadcast to the whole of the UK.

If you would like to watch the debate it is available to view on the STV Player at the following link: -", does ITV not realise that the Scottish Borders area of Scotland is actually in Scotland, and as such, the people who live there are entitled to vote (even if they live in an area which is too remote to receive Freeview).

Of course, the news programmes would show clips in their programmes. And the news programmes never give a biased viewpoint, do they???

And yes, the debate could be seen online. A little bit of a problem with that also. Many people who live in the Scottish Borders, who live in areas where they cannot get Freeview, also cannot get normal, through the phoneline broadband, so watching a two hour debate online would have been out of the question. Incidentally, I do have broadband, satellite broadband - not through the phoneline, actually more like through the nose! Over £70 a month (yes, you read that correctly), and it comes with a limited usage policy. So watching a two hour debate, would have used much of our monthly allowance.

What I do not understand is why STV (Scottish Television) cannot be shown to the whole of Scotland. Our local news tells me what is going on in Newcastle and Northumberland, but doesn't tell me much about what is happening where I live.

I will stress, that my complaint has nothing whatsoever to do with my preferences of voting either yes or no. But surely, everyone in Scotland should have the same access to information as people from elsewhere in Scotland.

Ironically, ITV is London based, and makes decisions involving the people of Scotland. Hmm....does this sound familiar to anyone?

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Panorama - Care Home for the Elderly

A few days ago we watched the much publicised Panorama programme about care homes for the elderly. It was distressing viewing to say the least. I don't know what was worse - seeing patients being physically abused or the degrading manner in which they were treated or the way the staff took every last piece of dignity from them. This is an article here, written in the Daily Mail last week.

My husband and I watched the programme in horror and disgust and neither of us have been able to stop thinking about it since. All we could think was "thank goodness that none of our parents are in a care home".

A hidden camera had been placed in a 98 year old woman's room by her grand-daughter. The old lady, who seemed like a fairly young 98 year old, had told her grand-daughter that some of the care home staff were mistreating patients. Without saying anything, the grand-daughter placed a hidden camera in the room. What was filmed was beyond shocking.

The old lady could no longer walk unaided, and had called for a nurse to help her up out of bed to go to the bathroom one evening. The poor woman was becoming distressed when nobody appeared. She kept calling out and two and a half hours later, a carer (this was her job title....definitely not a carer by definition) came to her room and asked why she wanted to get up. The lady asked for help to go to the bathroom and the carer refused and told her "you're wearing a pad - just do it where you are." The lady was shocked and seemed horrified at the thought of doing that. She begged the carer to help her, but the carer ignored her plea. She left the room, switched off the light and left this poor lady in distress. The lady again called out, and eventually the carer came back with a colleague and this time they did get her out of the bed. But they expected her to walk alone. She was then chastised and ridiculed for being unable to walk, then put back to bed very roughly and told yet again to just use the pad.

I can't even begin to explain just how distressing it was to watch. That poor woman was 98 and still wanted to retain some dignity, but those carers stole that from her.

Thankfully, the film footage was shown to police and charges were brought against the staff. The old lady passed away just days after that incident. Her grand-daughter had told her about the camera having filmed her and the lady was so pleased because she felt it would help put a stop to treatment like this, so it could help other patients.

Hidden cameras discovered a lot of bad treatment, however, they also showed that there were some nice staff, who deserved the title "carer". Sadly though, the bad will always overshadow the good. People with family in care homes will probably always wonder just what kind of carers are looking after their loved ones.

Should it be necessary to put a hidden camera in all the rooms? Seems very Big Brotherish, but is it the way to ensure that someone is getting the proper care and attention they deserve? Perhaps some of the staff in these care homes need to be aware that there could be a camera somewhere, making them more aware of their actions.

Being a carer in a home for the elderly cannot be an easy job, and is probably not well enough paid. But surely the job title "carer" should give a clue to what they are expected to do. Some people would admit that they are not suited to that job, and that is not a crime. But to do the job badly is a crime.

Hopefully programmes like this will help towards giving people a better future in care homes. Surely everyone deserves compassionate care and to be allowed to keep their dignity for as long as possible. Surely that is everyone's right.

There will always be bad apples in all walks of life. But hopefully there will always be more good than bad. And hopefully, people will look after the vulnerable in society to ensure they only get good apples.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Has Sprung

Blue sky and sunshine here, so I've been outside just enjoying it. Don't get weather like this too often, so not missing an opportunity to get some natural Vitamin D.

Been really lovely - not a cloud in the sky, with the sun in my eyes. I'm sure those words could be turned into a good song...

Sometimes it is nice to take some time out of life, relax, and just enjoy something you love. Some people love hustle and bustle. I love silence.

So silence, with the added bonus of having sunshine, has kept me smiling over the last few days.

I suppose I could say it makes me feel on top of the world....

Wish I could sing like Karen Carpenter. Actually, I really just wish I could sing! Husband wishes I would stop singing....

Anyway, back to being outside, in the peace and quiet, no noise other than from nature itself. The birds have been singing, bees buzzing, leaves rustling in the peaceful.

The garden is full of daffodils and our hens have started laying again. So that is a sure sign that Spring has definitely sprung.

We only have six hens now. They are three years old now, and still giving us eggs. Only problem is that they keep changing their minds about where to lay their eggs. So while other people have been doing Easter egg hunts over the last few days, we have been doing real egg hunts. I was lucky enough on Sunday to find a nest with six lovely eggs....and two pheasant eggs as an added extra. The pheasants must have decided they liked that spot for laying too.

There is nothing to beat fresh, free range eggs. During the winter, when the hens stop laying, we take it ill out when we have to buy eggs. I pay extra to buy free range, but they are never the good as our own. Maybe it's because we know ours really are free range...