Springingtiger's Blog

Slave Nation

I have started watching BBC 2’s excellent series of documentaries on ‘Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners’. Although living in Glasgow we are probably more aware of our debt to slavery than in most parts of Britain, I had not realised how much modern Britain stands on a foundation built of enslaved, exploited and dehumanised people. I was surprised at how many of our ‘noble’ families owe their enoblement and wealth to slavery. I was very interested to discover that Britain’s financial  sector was funded by the earnings from slavery. Britain’s trading power owes its former dominance to slavery. Many of those who formed our laws owed their position to slavery both in the Lords and Commons and it is their heirs who still dominate society using the industries born from the proceeds of slavery. Horribly slavery could not merely be abolished for the inhuman evil it was, the British taxpayer had to pay the slave owners millions of pounds in compensation.

In Britain we fetishise private ownership and so successive governments are happy to sell the assets that belong to the people to private enterprise for a fraction of their worth, however whenever a private asset like the coal mines or railways has been taken into public ownership the previous owner, like the slavers, have been royally compensated, ironically some of them were descended from those same slavers.

This year the Tories in the UK Parliament thought it great fun to laugh at Cromwell’s enslavement of Scots who were shipped out to the Caribbean plantations, but given the rabid racism of their election campaign, it was hardly surprising. As an Irishman, thousands of whose countrymen were shipped as slaves to the West Indies by Cromwell, I find nothing amusing in slavery. However when all is said and done Cromwell has one thing to commend him, he executed a king. A commoner executing royalty set a precedent for the Jacobins and the Bolshevics to follow. In the debate about EVEL in the Commons when the SNP claimed the People were sovereign, but Dominic Grieve, the former Attourney General made it clear that the people are subservient to the Queen and Parliament.
But by what right does the Queen rule over us? The Crowns of the United Kingdom owe nothing to the democratic will of the people they were taken by force. As for this Queen, even if one accepts the principle of hereditary monarchy, her family came to power by usurpation of the legitimate king, the Crown under which the Kingdoms were united was not hers, although her usurping ancestors united the Parliaments.

The Queen’s right to rule comes from her ancestors’ theft of the reigns of power from those who in turn stole it by force from their predecessors at least one of whom was buried under a carpark in Leicester. Her rule does not depend on right, or justice it depends on force. Neither does much of the ownership of land, wealth and property in this country rest on any sort of right or justice. In Scotland the great estates were the outcome of the clan lands being conferred on the clan chief when enobled by the king in a move to bring the country into conformity with European models. The great estates south of the border were conferred on their followers by whichever king they supported at whichever time they supported him, the people who worked the land were little better than slaves transferred from one lord to another. And of course our banks and industries were built upon slavery and not upon any sort of honest or moral foundation. The only right the Queen, our landowners, industrialists and bankers have to their property is that of possession.

The majority of people own only themselves and their labour, but this government wants to remove from the worker even the ownership of his own body by effectively denying him the right to withold his labour in protest against unjust working conditions. Our industries were built on slavery and the Conservative government wants them to return to slavery. The worker who puts into a company is as deserving of the produce of that company as the heir of slavery who invests in the company as his forbears invested in slavery. No, the worker is more deserving because what he contributes is his own not stolen from others, his body, his own labour, unlike the product of exploitation or usury provided by the investors.

The British have been whipped so long into submission that they believe they must be slaves, those who are supposed to represent them refuse to oppose the burden of austerity laid upon them, choosing rather to accept the lies of slavers in return for their comfortable Westminster sinecures. British workers have a choice and they must make it for themselves; will they bow the knee to the Tory descendents of slave owners and expropriators of wealth and remain slaves themselves, or will they take back the country which is theirs by right of birth or adoption, but above all by right of participation? They are no lesser men than the bankers and businessmen who exploit them, they are no lesser men than the parliamentarians who abuse them, there is not one Briton who is in any way inferior to the Royalty artificially raised over them. This country belongs to its people and its people should take it back!

Fuck Off Depression!
June 25, 2015, 15:17
Filed under: disability, Gardening | Tags:

Yesterday I said to a friend that that the first depression is never as bad as the second, because the second shows you that no matter how often you come through it, it can come back. I joked that I sometimes envy the bi-polar because at least they get highs in between the lows, but perhaps they would argue that the higher you soar the greater the crash. The bottom line is that staring an oncoming depression in the face is almost as bad as being hit by it.

I woke yesterday with that depression that always lurks on the periphery of my consciousness reminding me it hadn’t deserted me. It is rarely a big thing that brings on my depression, but rather, an accumulation of little things accompanied by a voice telling me that all this is pointless. So there were the aches as I pulled myself out of bed and the increasingly noticeable veins in my legs reminding me that in any realistic chronology, I am securely into the second half of my life. And the voice asking what I have to show for my years. Outside my window the midsummer sky was grey and the garden wet with rain, and I found myself wondering if I will make any real progress with getting my garden into shape before the winter comes. Experts tell us not to cut mow our lawns when the grass is wet, but the day before I could wait no longer and mowed the damp grass, now it didn’t look as if I would ever get to mow dry grass; the weedkiller washes off the weeds before they get a chance to absorb it and so I hand weed, knowing the roots I leave behind will furnish more of the same within weeks, if not days, and again the little voice reminds me how pointless it all is.

I look at my writing projects with depression reading over my shoulder and whispering that I am not a writer, that no one will ever read what I write and if they do they won’t like it. And so the flow is gone and typing is a struggle, a slow struggle as my fingers type a word order my brain knows is wrong, very wrong. I keep backspacing and retyping, it’s so slow and tedious and the voices tell me I am wasting my time. Voices? Yes, now there’s more than one and they are discussing me without having the decency to go out of earshot of my mind’s ear. All the time I stare at my keyboard another voice is urging me to catch up on tidying that I know will never be complete until the day I just give up trying to sort things and ruthlessly dump roomfuls of accumulated history and knowledge. I ask myself why am I carrying on?

I carry on because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate, I’ve been there. The call of the pit may have a horrible fascination, but just as previous depressions have told me I am not immune from further depression they also remind me of why I will not return willingly into hell. Familiarity warns me when depression is bracing itself to swallow me, I know what to look for and I know when to fight. Yesterday I had a Skype call prearranged with a friend, isolation is depression’s ally so connection is essential, my daughter visited for a little while as well. No amount of social media can replace another’s face to fill the emptiness. All day long I kept busy, studying, reading, writing, housework, getting into the air between showers. Today is not great, but it’s better than yesterday. One thing I have learnt is to be grateful for even small things, everyday I record my gratitude in my journal, some days that awareness, that there is always something for which to be grateful, is the only thing that stops me going under, a life belt against a ‘sea of troubles’. Every day, one day at a time.

I do not know what tomorrow may bring. I know that there will be challenges, I am aware I need to find some solidity beneath me, I know I will not sink willingly however tired I get of struggling. Depression may want to embrace me, but I’m not fucking giving in! I had hoped this blog would be more upbeat and positive, affirming that depression can be overcome; it can, I’ve done it, again and again and I will not give in now. I suppose my message is depression can be beaten, but be ready to fight, don’t be afraid to cry for help and don’t leave it too late. Today is the day to fight, I shall not sit and weep at the grey sky, I shall go out in the rain, so there! Fuck you depression, fuck you sideways, just fuck right off, go directly to fuck, do not pass fucking ‘Go’ do not collect two hundred fucking pounds, I am not fucking playing! I can do this!

SNP: One Million Members.

What if the SNP had One Million Members?

That’s the sort of question that’s guaranteed to trigger all sorts of reactions, many of them, particularly from non members, quite negative. Is it even possible? Numerically, obviously it is possible, but is it realistic? Not as long as we remain bound by negative beliefs of what is possible, but we live in a new Scotland where our old certainties have been turned upon their heads, do we even know what is possible? In both the Holyrood and General election the expectations of experts have been far exceeded despite our own people trying to talk down the expectations. At one point SNP leaders were pointing out that any advance on six seats would have been a victory, later they were suggesting perhaps a count of more than forty seats was possible, but few dared predict fifty-six Westminster seats for the SNP.

I am not suggesting One Million Members as a target or a goal, but as a possibility to live into. The power of a possibility lies in the questions it stimulates. What would we need to do to win One Million Members? What sort of vision for the future of Scotland would we need to have, to enrol One Million Members into the possibility that the Scottish National Party is a cause into which they wish to invest their time and energy?

I suppose about now some Labour people are preparing to launch in with attacks on ‘Tartan Tories’, however I would like to suggest they ask themselves the same questions. What vision of Scotland’s future will engage Scotland’s people? They might also want to ask themselves, why attacking nationalism did not win votes? What sort of Labour vision would make the Labour Party appeal to the Scottish voter? Looking for answers is a better use of time and energy than mudslinging.

What Labour and many others missed is that SNP does not stand for Scottish Nationalist Party. The SNP is the Scottish NATIONAL Party which is a very different thing. Yes it contains some nationalists, but so does every party be they English, Welsh, Irish, Scots, or British nationalists. What the SNP has managed to do is to be a ‘National’ party, an inclusive National party, it presents a vision of a Scottish people based upon residency in, love of, and commitment to Scotland. The Scottish People are not a race, they are a community and the SNP contains within its ranks, and indeed is represented by, people of different races, all committed to a shared vision of Scotland.
No one could deny that some of the nationalists within the SNP are racist against the English, but when one compares the campaigns of the parties it can be seen that Scots of any party have also been on the receiving end of racism, indeed the Conservative election campaign in England was largely based upon the threat that a vote for Labour would hand over control of Westminster to Scots. Whereas the SNP campaign was based on the possibility of making Britain better and speaking up for  Scotland. In the modern SNP, as in the Yes Campaign, there are many people who were born and brought up in England, as well as other countries, who support the SNP because of the possibility it represents.

The SNP thrives now because its identity is given by its vision of the future. There was a time when it was a party of Jacobite nutters in kilts and its identity was given by looking back to the imagined glories, but also the injustices of the past and the SNP accomplished very little. The modern party has taken a position that does not ignore the past, but it does not seek to return to it. The past is in the past, the point is to learn from it, put it behind us and move on. The SNP is criticised for not being a Socialist Party. It does not try to be, its vision is not communist but Communitarian, it wants Scotland to belong to the people of Scotland. It wants a Scotland where the resources of Scotland, whether they be manufacturing, mineral, or land, are owned by the people of Scotland primarily for the benefit and enrichment of the people of Scotland.

Why does the SNP not yet have One Million Members? Because, while levels of political engagement are greater than ever in Scotland, it has not yet presented enough people with a vision that makes them want to be active campaigners for the SNP. I don’t pretend to know what that vision will look like, but I do know it will be generated by the people of Scotland, not by think tanks and consultants. We are edging towards that vision in stages as more people engage with it. It is a vision of Scotland not merely as a place, or an economy, or a colony of England, or even an independent country, it is a vision of Scotland as a possibility that transcends and surpasses previous thinking and belongs to all the people of Scotland.

What would it take for the SNP to gain One Million Members?
What would it take for the Scottish Labour Party to win a million members?

It’s time we stopped the petty squabbling and seized the opportunities within our grasp, it’s time to explore new possibilities for Scotland. Will any Scottish Political Party ever have a million members? Is it even desirable that a party should grow so large? Perhaps not, but what is desirable is a populace engaged in working for a vision that excites them. Do we need an SNP with One Million Members? What would happen if instead the political parties and campaigns of Scotland were able to share a vision and take the people with them? What if we put aside all our beliefs and prejudices about politics and just worked together to accomplish the dreams we share of social justice, a revival of Scottish enterprise, an education system second to none, a healthy population served by a health service that not only treats ill health, but prevents it and actively promotes good health, a peaceful country that propagates peace and justice. A Scotland that stands on her own two feet and owns the envy and respect of the world.

Where do we start? By asking questions like, “What if the SNP* had One Million Members?”

*Insert organisation of choice.

NaPoWriMo (NaPoWriMo Day 30)
April 30, 2015, 22:37
Filed under: Poetry, Writing | Tags: ,

Well that’s it! NaPoWriMo is over and I wrote a poem every day. Not all of them worth holding onto. However it was a useful discipline and I’m glad I did it.

NaPoWriMo is all dusted and done.
I will not pretend that I am sorry
That NaPoWriMo is all dusted and done.

It is a relief that the month is gone.
To write a poem a day is a worry,
I am relieved the month is gone.

The challenge has given me lots of fun
And tested me to the very limit,
But the challenge has given me lots of fun,

NaPoWriMo has been quite a struggle,
Often I did not think I would win it,
Writing a poem a day was a struggle.

I could not load them all onto Youtube,
I really do wish that I could have done,
But I could not load them all onto Youtube.

You don’t understand when you begin it
The problems NaPoWriMo will bring you,
But you will be glad you did begin it.

Looking back with a sense of completion
At the different things you had to do,
Ends the month with the pride of completion.

Two Limericks (NaPoWriMo Day 29)

It is the second to last day of NaPoWriMo and I can’t say I’m sorry. Some days have been really difficult and only stubbornness got a poem onto paper. Other days were inspired. Today I felt like a bit of light relief.

Two Limericks (NaPoWriMo Day 29) on YouTube

Two Limericks
There was a wee lass fae the Clyde
Whose horizons stretched far and wide
Broke Westminster’s mould,
Left MPs in the cold,
Washed away by the SNP tide.

Big Jim Murphy was awfy sad
His campaign had been very bad,
Labour was undone,
The SNP won
And the whole of Scotland was glad.

What Does Scotland Want? (NaPoWriMo Day 28)

I had some ideas floating round my head yesterday, but I found it difficult to shape them. I think today’s poem gets closer.

What Does Scotland Want? (NaPoWriMo Day 28) on YouTube

What does Scotland want?
Hope not empty promises,
Promises born of fear,
Fear of the people,
The people who cast their vote;
They vote, so few, in desperation,
Desperation at the empty lies,
The lies the politicians tell,
Tell to get themselves elected;
Elected, faith they never keep,
Keep their vows and promises,
Promises broken are the death of hope,
Hope is what Scotland wants.

What does Scotland want?
Hope born of vision,
A vision of a better world,
A better world for everyone,
For everyone, not only Scots;
Scots want to shape the future,
A future that lies in their own hands,
Hands that reach out in friendship,
Friendship to our neighbours;
Neighbours who betray are not friends,
Friends do not steal from friends,
Friends support their friends’ vision;
A vision is what Scotland has.

What does Scotland have?
A vision born of a passion,
A passion born of faith,
Faith in our fellow humans
And human rights born of justice,
Justice which is born from love
Of others and of our land;
Our land that cries for freedom,
Freedom born of nobility of soul,
The soul that looks forward not back,
Back to oppression, but to the future;
The Future is what Scotland holds.

What does Scotland hold?
A future that is born of vision,
A vision unfettered by fear,
Fear of mere material loss,
Loss of dignity is greater;
Greater still the Scottish pride,
Pride in the Scottish people,
The people who choose this land,
Land of beauty and resources,
Resources to be shared by all,
All who make this land their home;
Their homes, their hearts, belong to this land.
This land of heroes prepared to stand, 
this land of diversity where all are welcome,
this land of hope of a better, fairer life
this land of vision of what we all may become,
This land that we call home
This Scotland.

Union (NaPoWriMo Day 27)
April 27, 2015, 23:08
Filed under: Justice, Poetry, Politics, Scotland, Writing | Tags: , , ,

I am not recording today’s poem because, to be frank, I am not happy with it. It requires too much work to fix it. I must post a poem each day, this is what I’ve got, but I’m not happy with it.

What beauty can compare with this my land?
Her great mountains reaching unto the sky
Her rivers stocked with salmon feed her folk,
So too the silver seas that her surround
are with treasure and great bounty filled.
In her fertile valleys flourishing, lie
Cities where knowledge and beauty abound,
Bearing sad traces of murdered industry.
Poignant scars remain, the Finnieston Crane,
Miners Clubs still live where the English killed
The pits; yet they do not understand
Why from their malice we would be set free.
What is not given shall we take, and break
The Union that suffocates Scotland.


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