Springingtiger's Blog

Sheep and Goats

Today, as I will everyday this year, I read my Bible. The Old Testament still does not endear itself to me. I wonder whether there can ever be peace in the Middle East when one of the main religions in the area has such an inauspicious foundation. I am only in Exodus, but so far it’s all been propagating dishonesty, adultery, slavery and violence, the first instituted holy day is a celebration of the slaughter of Egyptian children. One can only hope things improve in later books!

Today’s New Testament reading on the other hand was magnificent and so relevant to our country today. I do like Matthew Chapter Twenty Five largely for its condemnation of modern Christian values. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels! I was hungry but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink; I was a stranger but you would not welcome me in your homes, naked but you would not clothe me; I was sick and in prison but you would not take care of me.’”…. “’I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me.’” (Mt. 25: 41 – 43, 45. Good News Bible)

When I read this in the context of a Britain that wants to turn away refugees and migrants rather than welcome them, I wonder how many of Britain’s self professed Christians like the Prime Minister actually have any regard for the teachings of the man they consider to be God. It’s all very well going to church to pray and sing hymns, but what about the instructions their holy book gives them? How can anyone claim to follow Jesus when they force people to starve or rely on food-banks? We are not talking here only about the unemployed, but about those with jobs. Whatever happened to ‘The worker is worth his keep.’? If a worker’s wages cannot feed his family, surely that is an affront to the teaching of Jesus and of St. Paul who repeated the saying in his letter to Timothy.

The repetition of the teaching by Paul suggests it is a fundamental Christian value, but sadly one ignored by the Government of the United Kingdom. It may be argued that the fault lies with greedy and dishonest employers more intent on profit than justice. However the government has a duty to ensure that people are justly treated. I hardly need to relate the government’s failure to properly support the National Health Service to Jesus’ condemnation of those who fail to care for the sick, nor shall I comment on the privatisation of prison services so they are run for profit and not for society. Who is condemned by Jesus in Matthew 25? All of us, our responsibilities are collective and if we allow people to be abused, to go hungry and homeless then we are as much to blame as anyone as long as we allow it. I am quite glad I don’t believe in heaven and hell, but those who do have real cause for concern.

Even the day’s selection from the Book of Proverbs condemns our society; ‘To honour the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance evil ways and false words.’ (Proverbs 8:13). Perhaps our legislators should take the proverb to heart, particularly on Wednesday at Prime Minister’s Questions.



I watched the BBC documentary “Balmoral” and  it occurred to me how much more in touch with ordinary people are the Royal Family than the politicians in Westminster. The No campaign, rather stupidly, recently suggested that an independent Scotland might not be allowed to keep the Queen. What the No folk forget is that the Union of the Crowns is not dependent upon the will of the Westminster Parliament. The Union of the Crowns long precedes the perfidious union of parliaments and depends only on the will of the people and of the monarch.

Since Victoria the Royal Family have assiduously courted the Scottish people. Whereas Westminster has quite obviously only seen Scotland as a source of revenue and cannon fodder,  the Royal Family appear to have a genuine affection for and loyalty to Scotland. I believe that they have ensured, deliberately,  that the Union of Crowns will survive regardless of the greed and stupidity of Westminster’s politicians. As long as the English keep imposing Tory governments upon a Scottish people, who reject everything for which the Tories stand, I think independence is inevitable one way or another; I do not see the Queen letting Scotland slip from her grasp.

It is ironic that the sense of Scottish identity that underpins the campaign for Independence has been fostered and encouraged by the Royal Family, from Victoria until today, contrary to the opinions of Westminster’s politicians. Were I cynical, I might even believe they have deliberately sought to preserve a power base independent of Parliament. Either way it affords little joy to a republican like myself. The Royal Family have successfully nurtured a mutual affection, respect and loyalty with the people of Scotland which the English dominated Westminster Parliament has manifestly failed to do. Scotland will, unfortunately in my opinion, have a monarch long after she she has won her freedom.

Revolution Now


Today I am angry,  anger brought on by two pieces of news. The first  was that there will be 4, 847 children homeless in Scotland this Christmas;  Shelter says there will be more than 80, 000 across the UK.  The second piece of information to fuel the fire was that a Conservative Member of the Westminster Parliament, despite being a millionaire,  had claimed £5, 822 in heating expenses for his second home and he was only one of many.
This comes on top of the news last month that MPs are about to get an eleven percent pay rise while clinging onto a raft of allowances.
While many of us can’t afford to heat our homes,  at a time when benefits are being cut.

I have, in the past, vented my upset at the rise of food banks in the UK as a direct result of Conservative policies. The government crows that unemployment has fallen,  what it fails to address is that most of the new jobs are part time, underemployment is rising,  People cannot get enough hours to pay all their expenses.  Their crowing also conceals that many of these jobs come with “Zero Hours” contracts where a worker is not guaranteed work,  but his pay is based on the hours he or she works, thus condemning them to weeks without pay or with very little.  Zero Hours contracts are being used to make it appear that the Conservatives have done something to reduce unemployment, it is an illusion that conceals the falling living standards of ordinary people and the increasing poverty of the most vulnerable.

There are those who will say that in a democratic system we must accept, sometimes,  a government for which we did not vote.  However in Scotland we have imposed upon us from England a government to which the majority of Scots are vehemently opposed. It is obvious that Alastair Darling and the Better Together campaign have a vested interest in opposing independence, they might have to work for a living.  As long as we remain bound to England we will have to endure Conservative governments. As far as I can see we have a choice between two revolutions either we vote for independence or we change the UK system of government.

Some would say it is selfish to look after our interests and cast adrift the English working class, but the honourable alternative is to clear the Houses of Parliament and start again. I am not advocating violence, heaven forbid,  but were People’s courts to hang every Westminster MP, at the least we could elect a new lot whose primary interest was not feathering their nests at the expense of ordinary people. Indeed should we not choose independence we should at least get rid of every greedy MP as an alternative.  Tomorrow is the Million Mask March celebrating Guy Fawkes; perhaps now is the time to bring to and end this corrupt and exploitative system. On the other hand, if you live in Scotland,  you could just VOTE YES!

Happy Birthday Peter Seabrook

I saw the physiotherapist today and I should be able to get back to doing some light gardening very soon. In the meantime I continue to look at gardening magazines and contemplate the work I have to do. In Amateur Gardening this week I read that Peter Seabrook is celebrating his Seventy-Fifth birthday. He was a professional gardener before I was even born and – apart from while he was on National Service – has been ever since. He presented Gardeners’ World amongst other programs on radio and Television, he has the Victoria Medal of Honour from the Royal Horticultural Society and every week I get to read his column in Amateur Gardening.

The one thing that puzzles me is that he is reported as having been awarded the MBE in 2005 for services to horticulture. Why am I puzzled? He richly deserves the acknowledgement he has been given but I have to ask why only an MBE? Pop singers like Mick Jagger get knighthoods so do actors and civil-servants, businessmen like Alan Sugar get knighthoods or even ennobled to the House of Lords. I have to ask, why is horticulture valued so low compared to other activities? It is true that there are very few horticulturists who earn millions but while they may earn less for themselves can anyone say that their contribution to Britain is any the less! The contribution of people like Peter Seabrook can be seen in gardens the length and breadth of these islands in the knowledge and inspiration they give to millions of ordinary men and women who make this country a more beautiful place to live. Personally I feel to only have honoured Peter Seabrook with an MBE is very shortsighted, surely we need people like him in the House of Lords. Horticulture is central to who we are as a nation and the millions of Britons who practice it should have a voice in parliament to fight against garden grabbing, disappearing allotments and for the many other economic and environmental concerns we share. We have enough self-serving millionaires in both Houses what we need is people who truly represent us – even if his politics are a little conservative – it’s time to give us Lord Seabrook! So There!


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