Saturday, 30 August 2014

64 Days To Go

The future of Westminster...

...and a potential Conservative/UKIP (ironically this acronym stands for United Kingdom Independence Party) coalition come the General Election of 2015.
How do you feel about that?
A right wing and extreme right wing government, set to govern a centre left Scotland?

We all pass comment on the Tory's elitist boys club, about how their austerity measures are punishing the poor, comment on the rise of the food banks, the increase in the wealth at those at the top of the money tree, the tax breaks and tax dodges from those who can afford them.
What about UKIP? In the run up to the European elections in May if this year, their leader, Nigel Farage, was never off the front pages of the papers, and never off BBC Question Time - the amount of air time and column inches given to him and his party was obscene. But negative or positive comments only played to Farage's advantage, and his party won seats in the EU Parliament - including a Scottish seat! How was that even possible?
The problem with UKIP, is that it plays to the fears and prejudices of the general public.
If we think the Con/Dem coalition is bad, "we ain't seen nufin yet", if the predictions are true.
As it stands just now, with one Tory MP just this week resigning from his seat and jumping to the UKIP ship, and a reported possible 8 more to follow, the end looks neigh for the Con/Dem coalition. A report from rt.com has suggested that a third of Tory voters would prefer a UKIP coalition. As would Nigel Farage. In a recent Telegraph interview he said :
“There are a number of constituencies out there that are not the wealthy areas of London or the leafy shires – Kent, Essex, parts of Lincolnshire – where they are lying third.”If I were Tory high command I would say there are a number of seats here that we probably aren’t going to win but that Labour probably is going to win.”If we gave you [Ukip] a run in those seats the you would leave us alone in a lot of other seats that don’t have those socio economics. I’m thinking the more middle class areas such as Dorset and equally suburban seats."
What does this potential future mean to the everyday Scottish voter?  We have already heard that there are approx. 70% more cuts coming to the UK to reduce the deficit, the NHS privatisation will continue, more Lords are now comfy in the House probably with more in the pipeline, we will STILL have no oil fund, fracking will go ahead (right under our feet, for those of us living in the central belt of Scotland), no productive investment will be made into renewable green energy, Trident will be renewed at an inordinate expense, HS2 will be built and partially funded by us, need I go on? But what about the UKIP input - what do they have to say on the wee matter of Scotland?
First of all, from their own website (here), their misson statement states :
"...becoming a democratic, self governing country once again...good enough to be an independent nation, trading and building harmonious relations with the rest of the world...control over its borders, so that it can welcome people with positive contributions to make...Britain has become to large, too expensive and too dominant over civil society"
This may read positively, but they are only about the UK as a whole. They actually oppose Scotland's independence from the UK.
Their 2014 manifesto, at first read, appears to say all the things we hear everyday from people up and down the country and in the press (although their green credentials are nil), but when you look behind the punchy one-liners to the nitty gritty of their 'policies', the truth is, an extreme right wing politics is the polar opposite of what the majority of Scotland are about. 

Their former president in Scotland (who was fired in November 2013), Lord Monckton (hereditary peer and former Conservative political advisor to Thatcher), is of the opinion that all MSP be removed and Holyrood be filled with Westminster MPs instead.  Now, while he hasn't outright said that the aim would be to abolish the Scottish Parliament; we would not infact have a Scottish Parliament, without MSPs! This proposal would render us back to pre devolution, pre Scottish Parliament, back to a time when all we had was a Scottish Grand Committee.
This is the same Lord Monckton who has in the past declared :


But what about UKIP in general; what about their policies and the opinions of the party?


 And what about their leader?
While no-one has a crystal ball that can accurately predict, or see into the future; we don't know if the forecasts are right of such a government coming into power after the next election. It is entirely possible, yet highly unlikely that Labour will, by some miracle, remember their roots and what their party actually stands for, and win the aforementioned election, all on their own, no coalition. I am not prepared to take that gamble.
I am well aware that the Indyref is NOT an election, it is a referendum to determine whether or not Scotland should be an independent country. If staying in the UK means another Conservative government, with or without a  UKIP coalition, I for one firmly believe that we are better with indy than with reduced powers to Holyrood, to be toyed with and teased, with mere titbits from the Westminster table and kept firmly to their heel, theres a good scotty.
#100days100reasonsforyes
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Thursday, 28 August 2014

21 Days To Go

3 weeks to go until we go to the ballot box, and mark our vote that decides the fate of the nation for now and for the far distant future

This is our time



(Video by Paul Ewen on Youtube)

#100days100reasonsforyes
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HE Craft Day - Africa

Once a month our Home-Ed group meet up for a craft session.  This months session was an African theme.  There is no set agenda, we pick a theme and then each person is free to interpret that theme as they wish.
One of our friends brough maps with pictures of all the different flags, which some of the children decided to make for themselves. Kiddo, started to make his version of the South African flag, then decided to just freestyle instead...
(Flag minus its stick)
He also made a lovley African inspired necklace
(A work in progress, and an eerie shot of Kiddo's arm...)

and I (yes, I , not one to miss a chance for a craft activity) made a lion. I am not embarrassed to admit that I am fair proud of my wee lion, tee hee.


It was a busy session today with a couple of new families and other HE friends who hadn't been to our craft meet before.  I don't know if it was something in the air, or that the kids haven't had a craft meet in a couple of months (couldn't get the hall last month), or if its because they are getting older and have more energy, but regardless, it was kinda wild!
Once the initial craft session was finished with, the usual running around and playing started. But, oh my goodness! I can't relax during the running around bit, as more often than not, if I hear another child crying, its due to having been hit/pushed or played with too hard, by Kiddo! Even when its not been him, I automatically think, "what's he done?". Am constantly on high alert, and my voice rings out through the hall like a fishwife "KIDDO! NO!" "Kiddo, gently please!". This session was just plain ridiculous. I worry about becoming that family, that when we walk in the door, others think "oh no, they're here".
Kiddo and I regularly chat about appropriate and acceptable behaviour, other people's personal space and boundaries, but while it appears to all have been fully understood and has sunk in, when put in a situation, all is forgotten and its like a primal survival of the fittest/loudest.
Kiddo is a very rigid and inflexible thinker with low tolerance levels. Combine this with lots of other children of the same age and a little younger/older, and its always a delicate balance. The key for me is deciding when enough is enough, and taking him out - either home or to another destination altogether. 2 hours was the limit this time, then off to the park to blow off steam and burn off energy. Until the sky unloaded onto our unjacketed selves. Ordinarily I would have been happy to stay in the rain without a jacket, and it was still warm, but he was having difficulty with taking turns on the slide and I could see the aggression rising - time for home.
Hopefully, the next time will be better  ( I tell myself everytime)
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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

22 Days To Go

Scotland's future in Scotland's hands.

Yesterday was the Better Together's campaign broadcast. Today is ours :

If there's one great thing to happen in my life
If there's one great day, if there's one great height
Let it be a time of peace
Let it be a time of right
If there's one great thing to happen in my life
  (Big Country, If There's one Great Thing)



Scotland : a place for the young, the old and everyone inbetween; boys, girls, men, women, students, working parents, those setting up home, retired seniors. A place of positivity, of hope, of excitement, of wealth, of opportunity, to care for our people in a "modern", "fairer" and "more prosperous" country.

Not much else to add here, don't need to.
Have belief, and believe in ourselves - if we don't who will?

#100days100reasonsforyes

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

23 Days to Go

Why Yes?

Because I have a sense of humour.

The latest offering from Better Together is their Referendum Campaign Broadcast, aka #PatronisingBTLady

If you haven't already seen it, have a gander and let it sink in :




Fab, eh?
I thought it was hilarious! Pure dead brilliant, if you will.
I'm giving it 10/10 for comedy and 1/10 for promoting a positive view of Scottish women.

In a little more detail, lets see what Better Together are saying when they are talking to YOU, the undecided female voter.

Set the scene :
Suburban Stepford Yummy-Mummy enjoying a latte once husband (Paul) goes off to work and kids are off to school.  She sits to enjoy what little peace and quiet her family afford her, and ponders the future, and how on earth to make the biggest decision of her life.
The Plot :
Politics are not meant  to clutter her dainty mind,  the referendum is a dirty word!
Go Paul, go and wash your mouth out, there's some anti-bacterial Carex by the sink. How dare you mention the 'R' word at the breakfast table, infront of the children. Those ignorant children, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube et al, those uninterested children who are more than likely more clued up on the forth coming referendum, than their dear mother, as it is also discussed in schools, where the older classes have been holding their own debates on the subject.  How dare Paul try and engage his family in something far more important, relevant, current and, *sharp intake of breath* intelligent and thought provoking, over breakfast, than what so-and-so did on Big Brother. But then, Paul is the Man of the House, and politics are, of course, a man's thing. How silly of Paul.
How is this busy working mum even meant to find the time to think about the future, never mind actually doing some research of her own - is that not coffee in her cup, or as I like to call it, "awake juice"? Are Eastenders and Corrie too important to miss for a couple of evenings to find out what is involved, could the kids not iron their own school shirts to let her surf facebook, or chat to her about what they have found out?
I wonder if she watched the debate last night, or started to, but tuned out and switched off once it actually kicked off and the heat was on. Maybe if she listened last night, she would know the answer to the currency question, where both Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond said we could use the pound and it was the preferable option to BOTH sides in an iScotland.  That is assuming, of course, that she knows who Alex Salmond is. "That man off the telly", who happens to be the First Minister of the country she is so proud of, and he has been for 7 years now. Oh, silly me, she doesn't do politics! How could I forget, when she demonstrates it so well. Busy mum's are Teflon to politics.
Well, not quite, she is distrustful of political promises, having heard stuff before. I wonder if she was referring to Call-Me-Dave's, election promises of us all being "in this together" or Tony Bliar's reasons for going to work in Iraq. No wonder she's sceptical, I should give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she has listened to Paul's chat in the past regarding current affairs, whilst setting the table for dinner.
Oil, there's another dirty word. A burden upon our nation. A burden that was been squandered in the past, and where vast new reserves have been discovered and information released about previous finds. Information that she doesn't have enough hours in the day to find out about, but since its not being reported in the Main Stream Media, she is completely oblivious.
Now she's not a daft wee wifey, she is just uninterested in what's happening in the bigger picture, as its not affecting her and her family directly, not right now. She is switched in enough to consider the implications of education, NHS and pensions in the future, but again, she jut hasn't got time between lunches, shoe shopping, reading OK and Hello, housework and watching the soaps, to find out what the implications are and how they are all under threat under Westminster rule. The info is infact really easy to come by if she looks for it.  She wants straight answers, but asks no questions. Maybe Paul could give her some answers if she were to let him speak...?
She wants whats best for her children/future grandchildren (don't we all?), and worries about being unable to change her mind later down the line.  I wonder if she has considered that if she votes NO, she wont be able to change her mind then either, and given that NO other country has EVER asked to come back, once they became independent. Not one!
Her apparent lack of interest in her beloved country, is highlighted with her belief that independence has not been thought through - it's only been on the table properly, since 1979. All the uncertainty that surrounds the issue, her inability to make a decision based on the info she has and the wealth of info she has rejected to source for herself, made it really easy for her to just accept that she is a woman, too busy being a mum and a wife, running a home and a job, that she doesn't have the time/inclination/mental capacity for engaging in the referendum. That she takes the easy out and decides to vote for No.
The conclusion : No real thought, no real information, no discussion on her part, nothing. The fear and doubt has seeped under her skin. This woman is not genetically programmed to make decisions.

Better Together really think that this will appeal to women? I am so glad I have humour on my side, otherwise this could have been taken as the most insulting, patronising, condescending stereotyping of women ever to be recorded. This belongs pre 1950's, in a time when women were mild mannered and ran their homes, and their husbands ran all business and official affairs, such as money and politics.
Unfortunately though, there is an army of women, just like our Suburban Stepford Yummy-mummy in the video, across the country and they have their polling card at home, ready to vote for NO 3 weeks on Thursday.
Come on Ladies! For the love of all that is chocolate, lets vote yes! Who wants to be portrayed as a vacuous insipid stereo typical woman in the biggest, democratic, political life changer in our history?

(photo sourced : Blessedwildapplegirl)

Do we need to be reminded that women fought for our right to vote? That the least we can do is get informed and use that vote for a better life for all concerned, for now and the future?

#100days100reasonsforyes

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Monday, 25 August 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

The Ice Bucket Challenge is all over the internet.
Its the latest craze that has gone viral, to raise money and awareness for ALS (in the US) which is MND (in the UK), but people may choose to support a charity of their own choice.
My Facebook feed is full of friends and family members taking part, and their children taking part, and clips of celebrities and politicians taking part - including former US President, George W Bush, and our very own First Minister, Alex Salmond. Unfortunately, our Prime Minister, Call me Dave, has declined to accept the challenge.

I was nominated by my friend, Leanne, to complete the challenge, within 48hours (nominated yesterday). So today, my sister and I completed the Ice Bucket Challenge.  I donated to MND Scotland (Motor Neurone Disease, for which there is currently no cure, and the life span of someone diagnosed is ordinarily only 2-5 years).
From my video, I nominate 4 people to complete the same challenge before the 48hour deadline.
Please watch and enjoy my video. thanks to my sister for pouring the 2 buckets of FREEZING ice water over me, and my mum for videoing it
 
#IceBucketChallenge
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Sunday, 24 August 2014

It has been a wee while...

...since I wrote anything other than about the upcoming referendum.  I currently eat, breathe, sleep the indyref, especially since it is less than 1 month away.
However, first and foremost, I am a mother to a very enthusiastic 4year old, and between blogging on my 100days100reasons series, I get on with living and learning with this little chap and Hubby. So what have we been up to over the summer?
Well, we have been to, played and picnicked in Stirling Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Annet House and Craigmillar Castle with our friends, making new friends at Craigmillar, as we went with the Historic Scotland Home Ed group and met 3 families whom we hadn't met before.
We have been to the Falkirk Wheel on numerous occasions, always with the same outcome - ice-cream cone, bare feet, soaking breeks (Kiddo, not me), neither of us caring (regardless of weather/temperature). Although I do get regular funny looks from other parents, who like to tell their children not to play in the water play park, which incidentally is designed for children to get in and play in...


We were particularly delighted to see one of the canal boats had got their Indyref Yes groove on, on Saturday when we were there.
Stirling held a Play In The Park one afternoon a week over the holiday, we went along to one in Beechwood Park and played with the various sites - big sand pit, floor sized draughts board and naughts n crosses, 4ft high connect 4, and the regular play park climbing frame. Kiddo's favourite part was the clay tent, where he made a nest of dinosaur eggs. Yes, this is a nest of dino eggs!
 
 
Of course, this being the summer before the referendum, we have been getting our YES presence felt. Having collected a fair few flags and badges and banners, and picking up a fair few more at Jim Sillars' tour in Margo Mobile, Kiddo (with a nudge from me) has redecorated the close - out with the summer decoration of cocktail umbrellas, and in with YES

 
I have to confess to going back out and rearranging the flags, putting out the banners and Yes signs, but once Kiddo realised this had been done, it was swiftly undone....and once again looks like the above.  Note to future self : Never mess with Kiddo's creations!
Jupiter Artland in Edinburgh was another place we visited - very cool, lots to see and appreciate, Kiddo's favourite part was feeding the donkey's with his wee buddies.
We've baked cakes, which were delicious, and one banana and walnut loaf that was less than delicious...I will hold my hand up here. Kiddo's efforts are usually nice and light and moist, but when I mistakenly told him that he was to use baking powder not bicarb (American recipe stated baking soda, but I wasn't paying attention), the resulting 'thing' that came out the oven could have sank a battle ship.  Needless to say, Kiddo was deeply unimpressed...
But for the most part, we have played. Played with dinosaurs, and been dinosaurs or paleontologists, and played with lego - Hubby's birthday was earlier in the month and its been Lego Central since. We have been reading and it would appear, writing too. I asked Kiddo one day what he wanted to do that day - he chucked me out his room saying it would be a surprise.  When I was allowed back in, this is what he wanted to do that particular day :

He never fails to surprise me.
 
But now, its not all fun and games round here. No siree!
I had a wedding to attend. The wedding of my beautiful couin, whereby I was driving. I had a lovely dress, cracking new electric blue skyscraper heels, and had to drive to Glasgow like this :
 

Much to the horror then belly aching delight of my sister and Hubby. I have never been so glad to have not crashed the car - imagine having an accident with these feet!!! At least I was able to drive safely, if ugly.....
It has also been a sad time. A time to finally say good bye to my favourite and best pair of jeans ever.
My knees can no longer take the exposure - you see, when I stand up, my knobby wee knees actually have faces in them (I kid you not!), and the 'cool' torn ripped jeans no longer look 'cool', just 'done'. I now need to find me a new pair of suitable jeans that fit (no mean feat, I'm an awkward shape/size) and are flared -  the most flattering and 'cool' of styles.
 
So that's been our summer. We're looking forward to autumn (my favourite time of year), and with the big tree out the front of our block already shedding its leaves, I don't think we will have long to wait.
But first things first -  I have an Ice Bucket Challenge to complete - resulting video to follow.
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25 Days To Go

THIS!!!
A Facebook friend and fellow blogger, Steven McBrien, has written a letter to No voters and would be No voters, which I have permission to share. (It is already going viral, but I do like to get the author's permission prior to sharing)
Please take a few minutes to read this, and see if you would vote no.

http://stevenmcbrien.tumblr.com/post/95561189469/malediction-upon-the-naws

Steven has written many an epic piece on the indyref debate and the state of the union, but this one deserves a reblog and a dedicated day from me, all to itself.

#100days100reasonsforyes

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Saturday, 23 August 2014

66 Days To Go

I'm waiting...

Waiting for someone from Better Together/No Thanks convincing me that staying would be a GOOD thing.
Not through scaremongering stories. Too wee, too poor, too stupid. Leaving the UK would be "cataclysmic"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26933998
Not through bullying tactics. (You vote yes, you're not getting the pound or the BBC. No pre- referendum negotiations, so that the electorate can vote on a fully informed playing field)
Not through fake, self-serving celebrity endorsements. 
(http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/496670/Celebrities-sign-open-letter-on-Scottish-independence) and
( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG6ttqzms6U#t=19)
Not through 'misleading' information published on mail drop propaganda.( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVwGbwcP1Ac&feature=share )

I genuinely would like for someone to tell me that staying as we are IS the best thing to do.
Someone please explain to me, why spending £billions on nuclear weapons, a high speed rail link from London to Leeds, House of Lords, etc is better for us, than say, spending these funds on health care, welfare, or education?
How about the 'McCrone report #2' - the Clair oil field, all hushed up, rumours of rig workers being sent home on full pay until September - are we better off leaving the control over any oil resources and future revenues to the powers in Westminster, who squandered the last 30 years worth of wealth?
How about our future pensions - if sharing the pension pot equally among 60 million people as opposed to 5 million is better and more secure, why does the UK have the lowest pension in Western Europe?
When it comes time for the General Election, how can Scotland ensure it is governed by the party/parties it votes for, and not the party/parties voted for by the rUK?  As I believe in democracy, I understand how the majority vote wins, but when an entire country within this union ends up governed by a party/coalition that is so far removed from its own political ethos, how does mean we are better off staying here?
The Barnett Formula. Can someone in the BT camp please explain how, if the aloted money in the block grant is reduced to Scotland, how will we be better able to protect our NHS and most vulnerable within the welfare system, when we use the funding from the grant to support them just now? If we have less money to spend, we will have to make cuts from somewhere...  before anyone says that we are over funded and receive more than our fair share, please remember that we pay in more per head than the rUK.
With the subsidy junkie mentality inmind, can someone then please enlighten me as to how, if we are such a drain on the UK purse, why the hell you want us to stay??

What positives do we have to celebrate if we stay? Real reasons, not the usual guff, of we're just one big happy family - I have friends and family over the border and our relationship WILL NOT CHANGE!
What does a positive UK look like in the event of a NO vote? We know it is not the status quo and that business as usual is not how it would go. People tell me that they are undecided about voting yes, as there are too many uncertainties in iScotland, so tell me, please, what does Scotland look like in the UK post spring 2016? What guarantees do we have there?

Are the positives enough to keep us tied into a broken union? A union that has had to rely on bullyboy scaremongering tactics to get into and remain in the Scottish psyche, belittling our efforts, our ambition and our abilities.

I have not heard a reason goood enough yet to make me want to stay, when we have an opportunity such as the referendum, to actually fix what is broken in our country and take full control over all of our affairs. When people tell me that we need to stick together to fix it together - I just think, well, how did it get so broken in the first place? What is the government doing now to fix it and why is that not working? Simple - the government is not working for the people of the UK, they are working for themselves and their peers. Just take a look around and see where the cuts and tax breaks are. How and where is the wealth being distributed? Look at other countries, like Iceland and see the differences in government and the lives of the population.  Or read the Common Weal!

Yes! Only Yes can fix,rebuild, remake, reshape and revitalise our country, for all of us. And hopefully give Westminster a kick up the bahookie that it needs, to take stock and think about the people to whom it is answerable to, and start governing accordingly. With a No, Westminster will continue to break up and tear down what is left of the UK.

#100days100reasonsforyes

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26 Days To Go


So frustrated!

This may seem a little petty, but today, I want independence to prove to the naysayers that they are wrong!
A child-like "na na nana naaa, I told you so!"
Yes its petty, but so too are comments being made from the No camp on their various social media sites, from the newspaper articles being published and from the leaders of No Thanks/BT/Project Fear/UK Government. I have just finished reading an article by a blogger Politica Sancturium as to why Scotland shouldn't be independent, and I cannot believe that I am still seeing those ill informed misguided points.
We (us on the side of indy) are repeatedly mocked for our view of iScotland, we are told we are anti-English bravehearts. Our most popular and productive politician (Alex Salmond) has been and continues to be demonised and vilified and ridiculed. Lies are told by NO, debunked by YES, rinsed and repeated. The negativity from the BT Facebook page is awful and should any Yes person pose a question or challenge a comment, they are blocked.
I am even further frustrated by those who, are not undecided, but not bothered! How on earth can people not be bothered??? I went out canvassing door to door during the week, and quite a few people said they hadn't yet looked into it.  In one home, the guy that answered the door was undecided as hadn't looked into anything other than the televised debate, but was leaning towards YES, but his wife was leaning towards NO. He was going to start his research with the white paper though.  In another home, the woman ( I would guess, in her mid-late 20's) who answered the door admitted that she probably wouldn't vote as didn't pay attention to politics and was sick of the whole thing anyway, wanted her Facebook feed back to normal.
AAAARRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Complacency, apathy, ignorance, "I'm doing alright, so that's fine", encouraging anti-English sentiment in Scotland by incorrectly accusing the YES voters of this, will not only NOT get us our independence, but it will do NOTHING to help ANYONE in this country, or our relations with other countries either.
The No vote is a slippery slope and the only way is South, literally and figuratively.
A bit of a ranty post today, through sheer frustration.  The support for YES is mounting, we have over 1million citizens now signed the declaration, but the tone and misinformation and tactics used by the otherside leave me not only frustrated but sad too, sad that this is how our nation is viewed.

Today's post was brought to you from Little Miss Yes - the name I was called by one middleclass complacent person who hadn't looked in it yet.

#100days100reasonsforyes

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

28 Days To Go

Why Yes?

For Choice, for Freedom and for the Future.

What does that mean exactly?
Choice : I recently wrote about education in iScotland and the benefits of the Scottish Education System, but that was all based around nursery - school - further education. What about children who don't attend school (who are home educated), or only attend part time via flexi-schooling, prior to moving into further education (should that be their chosen path)?
Currently the Scottish Government says :

"Every child has a right to an education, and it is the duty of the parent of every school age child
to provide that education, either by sending the child to school, or by other means.
Home education is a key aspect of parental choice, and is an equally valid choice alongside the
option to send a child to school" (from their HE brochure)
This choice is not well known to the general public, with many people questioning whether it is even legal (yes, it is).  With the new Scottish constitution being under consultation, I insist that the right, and continued choice, be protected and written into said constitution.  At the moment, there has not been any threat made to the status quo of home-education, but with GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child - every child from birth to 18 years old  having a 'state guardian' in addition to their parent(s) ) being implemented throughout Scotland under the current government, I am not so certain that the future of home-education is secure, and that the right to choose will remain with the parents.

Freedom : Part of the White Paper's plan is for free child care for every child from age 3 (or for vulnerable 2 year olds), the White Paper states (on page 192):

"By the end of the first Parliament: ensure that all three and four year olds and vulnerable two year olds will be entitled to 1,140 hours of childcare a year (the same amount of time as children spend in primary school). By the end of the second Parliament: ensure that all children from one to school age will be entitled to 1,140 hours of childcare per year"

By having the state care for our child(ren), this would enable women to return to the workplace.  By having more women in work, the economy will grow and women will have a sense of worth and make a positive financial contribution to our country.  By choosing not to work (I work 1 day a week, so essentially, I am a stay-at-home-mum), I have a sense of worth already, and I am making an invaluable contribution to society, in raising my child. Pounds and pennies are not the only measure of success.
Being the ardent feminist that I am, the liberation of being a women, is not the ability to go out to work and make a financial living/contribution; but to have the freedom of choice. To choose to work or stay at home, or juggle both. No one way is easier or harder than another, its just a different choice, equally as valuable to the individual making the choice, and the society as a whole benefiting from that choice.
iScotland is all for equality, and creating a fairer society for women - that freedom and choice is what makes it fair.


Future : With my rights a parent protected in the constitution (without GIRFEC - which will hopefully be over ruled and consigned to the depths of the history as one of the government's worst ideas), I will be able to make the best choice regarding my child's education for him and with him, and raising him to be the best person he can, to be a responsible citizen, able to contribute to society in a positive manner.  That is a future I will be happy with. That is a future I will gladly vote Yes for.

#100days100reasonsforyes

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Monday, 18 August 2014

68 Days To Go



An Ode to the Indy Ref
Are you votin' 'aye'?
Are you votin' 'naw'?
Or are you no bothered,
So no votin' at aw?
Dae ye ken whit your votin' fur?
The cairds huv been delt:
Control ouer oor future,
Or dae'n whit your telt.
Wi' education an' pensions,
We look efter oor folk.
But wi' austerity an' foodbanks,
Westminsters a joke.
A social democracy
Is whit we're aboot,
No right wing Tories
Wi' taxpayer funded expenses tae loot.
Renationalisation
o' services an' the NHS,
Insteed of selling them for profit
An' leavin' the country in a mess.
Wi' Trident awa' fae oor shore,
We're a country for peace,
Insteed o' fichtin' illegal wars,
Whaur insurgent tensions spread like disease.
We want tae prosper an' grow
oor industries an' wealth.
No shut doon shipyerds and
Hae our oil rev's nicked via stealth.
Hunners o folk still dinnae ken
Whit's really gawn oan.
Biased media reportin' fear,
Positive indy, rarely shown.
Currency. Plan B.
A diversionary tactic, that's right.
Efter indy, aw' the bluster an scaremongerin'
Will be shown tae be sh...
If Salmond's no yur man,
In  2015, pick a pairty wi' better patter.
If Cameron's no yur man,
Tough shit, yur vote disnae matter.
Oan the 18th September
We tak tae the polls tae decide oor fate.
Regardless o ootcome
Let's celebrate democracy, an' lets no hate.
Fur me, votin' Aye
Is obvious, why wid i vote naw?
Given the opportunities an possibilities open to us,
 I can smile and look my son in the eye when he asks"How did you vote, maw?"


#100days100reasonsforyes

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Saturday, 16 August 2014

33 Days To Go

Should Scotland be an independent country?
THAT is the question on the ballot paper.
Not, what currency will we use?
Not, do you like Alex Salmond?
Not, how will we afford it?
Not, will I still get my pension?
Not, how can we abandon the rUK?
Not, what time will we live in (ie the possible change to BST)?
Not, what about defence and nuclear weapons?
Not, what about the future of the NHS? 
Not, what about free higher education?
Not, what about Devo-max?
Not, what about the declining oil?
Not, why do the nats want to break up the UK? 
Not, how will I watch Strictly and Dr Who?
Not, how can we possibly think we can run ourselves?
Not any other question.
All details that have been discussed and explained many a time by many an expert, a politician, a blogger, an interested person, a researcher.  All the info for questions that require answered, is out there - go find it! If you cant find it - ask!
The only question you are being asked (once you have done your required research  - attending local meetings held in towns up and down the country, read reports, listened to both sides, look into the plethora of social media updates that myself and many others are posting and tweeting daily, youtube videos, blogs, online 'newspapers' ie Bella and Wings, stalls in the high streets, volunteers and activists with their information wanting to share it with you. Yes, the BBC and STV and the newspapers, but bearing mind the bias - 3/2 in favour of remaining in UK and reporting as such. Does that seem like a lot of work? It is - but is that a bad thing? If you want something bad enough, or are making the biggest decision of your life, you will put the work in), is purely, Should Scotland be an independent country? 
This is NOT an election - that is happening in 2016.
The interim period between 19th September 2014 and March 2016 is the time for negotiating the terms of our independence. We have a proposal in the form of the White Paper, but it is only that - a proposal. There are many other parties involved in this, PLUS when we get Indy - we STILL have to hear what that looks like from the parties who wish to remain within the union. 
The devil is in the details. 
So, when you take to your local polling station on 18th September, and put your cross in the box, all you are being asked is
Should Scotland be and independent country?
And if you think we shouldn't, why is that?
#100days100reasonsforyes

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Friday, 15 August 2014

67 Days To Go

Education

The Scottish Education system is admired worldwide and has been for many years.  It is a completely different from rUK in terms of how the school year is broken down, what is taught, age of entry into formal education, the exams taken and when they are taken, even degree courses at university are different as an honours degree takes 4 years rather than 3. Control over our education has been fully devolved to Holyrood.
(From Wikipedia) In 2014, research by the Office for National Statistics found that Scotland was the most highly educated country in Europe and among the most well-educated in the world in terms of tertiary education attainment, above countries like Finland, Ireland and Luxembourg, with roughly 40% of Scots aged 16-64 educated to NVQ Level 4 and above.

So what difference does independence make to education then?
The Scottish Government's plans are:

  • A transformation in childcare provision for every child between age one and school age. By the end of the first independent Scottish Parliament all three and four years olds, and vulnerable two years olds, will be entitled to childcare equivalent to the time spent at primary school
  • With independence benefits, taxes and employment services will work with the education system in raising attainment amongst our most disadvantaged young people
  • Access to higher education will be based on ability, not wealth; this Government will protect free tuition fees for Scottish students and continue to provide appropriate support for living costs
  • This Government will provide levels of public investment in university research that will enable our researchers and universities to remain internationally competitive
  • Education and employment rights could be made part of the written constitution of an independent Scotland, including a youth guarantee to employment, education or training
The Scottish Government went on to explain the correlation between poverty and reduced learning capacity.  Therefore, by having autonomy over our financial matters, we are better able to invest in eradicating poverty and helping children to achieve their potential through quality education, which inturn leads to employment.
We have 5 universities that are ranked in the top 200 in the world (Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee), which, per head of population, is more than any other country.  The research facilities and quality of research carried out in Scotland, is again renowned throughout the world.  With independence, continued investment and growth of the research and development is crucial to maintaining economic stability.
With regards, moving into employment, the Scottish Government has reported :
The education initiatives for those aged over 16 are complemented by the training opportunities provided through Skills Development Scotland, including in excess of 25,000 Modern Apprenticeship places in 2012/13.  To further boost the opportunities for young people seeking to enter the labour market, Scotland is the only European country with a dedicated Youth Employment Minister, who is responsible for a range of initiatives to maximize the chances of Scotland's young people.
Employment services and training for employability will be significantly improved by independence.  At the moment, the financial benefits of successful employment initiatives by the Scottish Government - such as Modern Apprenticeships, Higher and Further Education funding and other training programmes - go to the Westminster Government in the form of reduced welfare payments and increased tax revenues.  With independence we will retain these benefits in Scotlanf and can re-invest them in our people by funding more employment programmes.
(above info taken from here)


The Scottish Green's view of education post independence is from a different stand point from the current SNP Government. Its a stance that resonates more with me personally. I have not summarised their view, just quoted it directly from their website :
Learning is for life, not just for work.
Education can transform lives and communities, but current policy is too focussed on making young people ‘job-ready’, as though our economic lives are everything. Greens will put more emphasis on nurturing people’s talents and encouraging creative, analytical thinking, investing in an education system that is accessible to all, celebrates diversity and nurtures talent. Scotland’s school curriculum is still too reliant on exam success as the only suitable measure of a child’s future potential. Many of our children feel excluded, and others are simply bored, by a system which values memorising facts over aptitudes such as problem solving, team working and interpersonal social skills. We want to see a society which respects children and aims to give them the freedom to express themselves. Education should not only be about teaching children how to pass exams, it should support young people to become well-rounded citizens. The Greens would require schools to put in place activities to help children learn how to resolve conflicts non-violently. Peace Initiatives encourage members of the community, particularly in schools, to recognise that encountering conflict is a normal part of human life and to support the resolution of conflict through positive, non-violent means. We would like to see initiatives like this across Scotland. Greening education is not just about the curriculum, but also about where teaching takes place and how schools function. Outdoor education develops skills and qualities such as risk assessment, working with others, self-confidence, empathy with Scotland’s countryside, co-ordination and practical skills. The reduction in opportunities to experience outdoor education is unacceptable. - See more at: http://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/policy/education/#sthash.bXQs3ShT.dpuf

But what if the nation votes against independence? What will education look like then?
It would appear that nothing would change with regards to schooling (primary / secondary). Continue as we are under devolved powers, but it is worth remembering again, that devolved powers are not necessarily permanent powers.  The concern being voiced by Better Together, is the level of funding for research and development from the Research Council UK that would be no longer available to Scottish Universities.  Yes Scotland have refuted this, arguing that by not sharing research cross borders goes against the grain of commitment to share knowledge between other universities.
Former Prime Minister, Gordon brown recently commented upon the issue of education, when he announced that Scottish education should come under the UK control. (mind what I said about permanence of devolved powers...). The link for the article reporting Gordon's recommendation is here.
If we were to follows Gordon's opinion,  and relinquish control of our education system to Westminster and the legacy of Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education is now Nicky Morgan after the recent cabinet shuffle), what would that mean for our education? So far it has meant that 40% of newly qualified teachers, who have just spent 4 years getting their teaching qualification are leaving the profession withing the first 5 years. Its a system that puts the results of league tables and constant tests and exams at the top of the priority list and the needs of the children at the bottom.
A former teacher, Liz Palmer, wrote this for the Guardian earlier this month, and concluded that the state of the UK education system was thus :
"We now have a generation of pupils who have been trained that their individual opinions and skills are invalid, that reading is only worthwhile if the text was written by a white, British man; we have a generation of disaffected teachers, who are woeful about the notion of change (even if it's sometimes for the better); and a generation of school leaders that has been told that managing teachers must involve distrusting them. Politicians may be transient, but attitudes are not. The rot has set in, its effects will be felt for years"

No thanks, Gordon Brown, we'll stick with our own system, thanks all the same.

For the future of our children and theirs, the only way is YES.

#100days100reasonsforyes

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34 Days To Go

Project Fear


The self titled nick-name for Better Together or No Thanks, or what ever they choose to call themselves in the last dash before 18th September, could not be more accurate.
Project Fear says it all.  Loud and clear. And I tell you right now, I am feart. Feart they win. Like, proper feart, they win!
Why? Here's why (in no particular order) :

1. I'm feart that by choosing to Vote No, we are authorising the Uk government to renew Trident, keep their nuclear arsenal on our shores, wasting billions of pounds on said weapons that we will NEVER use, instead of using the money for health or education or welfare.
2. I'm feart that by voting NO we give away our bargaining chip with the UK - we would basically be handing over our country to Westminster and tell them to just do as they please.
3. I'm feart that Devo-Max is just an urban legend.  All 3 main parties voted against it going on the ballot in the first place, but now they're all like, we'll give you more powers.  The only power I want right now is one of premonition!
4. I'm feart that by voting No, the powers that are already devolved are withdrawn.  Just because they are devolved, this does not mean they are permanently ours - the powers surrounding energy, fracking in particular have already been taken back - is this just the start? Remember, devolution is a gift from Westminster and the monarch.
5. I'm feart that by choosing to vote No, the proposals for recalculation of the Barnett formula and the reduction of the block grant from Westminster come to fruition, meaning a significant decrease in money coming to Scotland that we use for essential services like the NHS.
6. I'm feart that my fellow countrymen/women are swallowing the poisonous tripe being fed to them by Project Fear, the Westminster government and the mainstream media.
7. I'm feart that by voting No we are selling off our NHS and that in times of need in the future, I or my family wont be able to afford medical bills - how much will cancer treatment cost? maternity costs, a hip replacement, etc
8.  I'm feart that by voting No, that my wages will never be a living wage inline with inflation, and the number of people now regarded as the 'working poor' becomes the norm.
9.  I'm feart that by voting NO, food banks become the norm, as already voiced by Better Together Aberdeenshire
10.  I'm feart that by voting NO, we will be leaving the EU, without any thought for what we want.  The general consensus in Scotland, is that we want to stay in Europe. For all its bureaucracy and red tape, it has actually done so much for human rights and equality.  The proposed referendum will be held, but the Scottish vote is not enough to sway it in any direction.
11. I'm feart that by voting NO, we are voting for another term of Tory government come 2016, with a very realistic possibility of another coalition, but with UKIP this time.  UKIP who have no time for human rights other than their own. Who have no interest in the Scottish Parliament or N.Irish or Welsh Assemblies, wishing instead to abolish the 3 of them.
12. I'm feart that by voting No, we have not learned the lessons from the past, and Maggie's ghost will come back to haunt us and taunt us for our stupidity.
13.  I'm feart that by voting No, my pension will be worthless by the time I am due to retire, when I am around 69, possibly older.
14. I'm feart that by voting No, I wont be able to enjoy my senior years as without a liveable pension, how will I be able to afford my medical bills?
15. I'm feart that  by voting No, we are allowing the continued increase of  xenophobia being spread through the isles and causing further rifts, race hate crimes and divisions within communities, rather than embracing diversity.
16. I'm feart that by voting No, we are voting against democracy, against a more fair and just society and against equality.
17. I 'm feart that by voting No, we are telling not just Westminster, but the world, that we are too wee, too poor, too stupid to actually take control and responsibility for ourselves. That we are proud to be ruled and governed by a master in a different country.
18. I'm feart that by voting No, all the new oil that has been discovered in the north sea will be squandered once again, and that the full scale of the theft will not be disclosed until its too late - AGAIN!
19. I'm feart that by voting No, there will be no positive move towards to renewable green energy, and instead fracking will be given the green light and the central belt of Scotland (which has been primed for fracking) is destroyed, taking with it our health.
20. I'm feart that by voting No, we are heading for more wars, rather than peace.  The UK just cant resist going to war.  As for peace, just take a look at their stance on the situation in Gaza.
21.  I'm feart that by voting No, we are deciding that only the wealthy children in our society will be attending university.  Now, uni isn't for everyone, but I would at least like my son to have the choice for himself if that is the route he wishes to take. With our diminished pocketmoney, we won't be able to continue free university education.
22. I'm feart that by voting No, we are stopping ourselves from actually trying to do any better, be any better than we are just now. Not giving Scotland the chance to properly flourish and achieve what she/we are capable of.  The Common Weal wont get a look in, not while we have Westminster overlording.
23. I'm feart that by voting No, that we are saying, austerity is acceptable, penalising the most vulnerable is acceptable, that protecting the bankers and elite, celebratory tax avoiders etc are all perfectly acceptable, that protecting and not investigating/losing evidence for insider gross crimes against children is all above board and perfectly appropriate.
24.  I'm feart that by voting No, we are telling the mainstream media that we are perfectly happy to pay our tv licence and buy newspapers that are completely biased against the country they are broadcasting or reporting to, supporting instead the propaganda machine of Westminster.
25. I'm feart that by voting No, we are signing off on the provision that our achievement will always be British, but our failures will always be Scottish.
26.  I'm feart that by voting No, we will always be a shortbread tin away from dignity and will remain to be patronised by men in skirts and see-you-jimmy bunnets
27. I'm feart that by voting No, we are letting down not only ourselves, but the next and all future generations coming up behind us. I dread to think what sort of state Scotlandshire will be in by then.
28.  I'm feart that by voting No, we are raising another generation of adults who are behaving like children, unable to make a decision for themselves, and to obediently do as they are told, no questions asked. Yes Westminster, No Westminter, 3 bags full Westminster, my master.
29.  I'm feart that by voting No, some people have just been bone idle, lazy, apathetic, blind no brain thickos (trying really hard not to swear here) andhave just voted No, with no thought or consideration  for what they are actually voting for, and effectively send us all down the river for a union jack and an 'easy life'
30. I'm feart that by voting No, Scotland will continue to subsidise the rUK (HS2, House of Lords, etc) without recognition, but instead continue to be mistakenly called the subsidy junkie - a view that has been shared to the rUK.
31. I'm feart that by voting No, on the 19th September we will be expected to now toe the Westminster line and to 'know our place'. A place that will be reiterated to us at every opportunity.

So aye, Project Fear has put the fear into me.
Only one way to banish this nightmare, is to wake up and vote YES!

#100days100reasonsforyes

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Thursday, 14 August 2014

35 Days to Go

Why Vote Yes?

Because I am a woman.

With 36 days to go until the ballot papers are crossed, a third of women are still undecided as to how they will cast their vote. Why?
It is reported that women are more reluctant to make their decision without concrete guarantees and full facts on each matter, where as our male counterparts are more readily willing to have belief in the success of a Yes vote. The gender gap here is around 12% of a difference. As women make up more than 50% of the electorate, we could hold the key to the outcome.  What's the problem? The gender of the cautious, most likely to vote through fear rather than vision and confidence.  The demographic who are allegedly not as engaged in politics (why is that?).  There are no guarantees from Yes or No on every single matter, as is the case for most things we do in life.  A friend said to me, "you bought your home, married your husband and had your child, all without any guarantees", and she was right. 3 huge big decisions in my life, made with no guarantee of success or failure, and its the same for indy.  Some people may scoff at this, if that is you - take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, what have I done or decisions have I made, without a crystal ball and cast iron guarantee - probably most things?  Women not engaging in politics, I don't buy that, more and more women are getting switched on now and are engaging, but are they switching on to whats going on outside the mainstream media, or just listening to other people's opinions?
The main concerns that keep coming up from women are currency, affordability of indy, pensions, and education (for children). Having previously covered all topics (with the exception of education) thus far, I see no need to repeat the positives of independence and quash the BT fear machine.  So instead, I want to look at what it means to be a woman in Scotland.

1.  Currently in Holyrood, 44 of the 129 seats are held by women.  At 34% that may not seem like much (the figure was actually 39% in 2007). Of those 44, 1 is the Presiding Officer (Tricia Marwick), 2 are party leaders (Johann Lamont, Labour and Ruth Davidson, Tory) and 1 is the Deputy First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon, SNP, who come independence, may end up as our first female first minister).  Compare this to Westminster, whereby 147 of the 650 seats are held by women (22%) and only 1 party leader (Natalie Benn, Green Party)
Proportionally, we are better represented in Scotland, not by token women  in cabinet positions, or positively discriminated positions, but by women there on their merit and ability to do the job.

2. Childcare. The increased provision in increased nursery places and time in nursery  for pre-school children. While this does not affect me and my situation, it opens up the opportunity for many a mum who wants to work, to be able to do so, as their child(ren) will be in nursery.

3.  My son was born on the NHS, with excellent care of my midwives. I don't want, in years to come, the decision of the possibility of any grandchild(ren) to be based upon whether or not a baby can be afforded pre and post natal care and a safe birth. Who is to say how much medical bills would be in a privatised Health Service? How about the cost of smear tests - I have friends who put off getting their smears now, I doubt paying for them would actually encourage them to go. Or the over 50's mammogram screening, not cheap.

4.  Equality and social justice are to be part of the new constitution. This means we are being given a voice and an equal platform to ensure we get the opportunity to live the best we can, in a fair system.

5. We will be working away from the austerity measures implemented and continuing under Westminster.  Women have been the worst affected with the welfare cuts, which have seen an increase in child poverty and the use of foodbanks for the unemployed and the working poor.

6. A living wage. Working on little more than the national minimum wage myself (my choice it has to be said, made for the benefit to my family, rather than the financial gains of remaining as I was, although that job is now redundant...), Many women are in low/poor paying jobs, trying their damndest to support their families. We need the living wage to live, not just survive.

7. I have confidence and belief in myself and in my country that we are not setting ourselves up for a fall. 

The media constantly refer to the break up of the UK as a divorce, with Scotland being portrayed as the woman. So in the interest of humanising the indyref, here is some advice from the internet to Scotland,  in getting through the divorce:
Rihanna - "Never underestimate a man's ability to make you feel guilty for his mistakes".
Unknown - "Men are scared of strong and independent women, because we will question, we will be better at some things than you and wont blindly follow".
Ann Landers - "Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength.  However, there are time when it takes much more strength to know when to let go"
Lao Tzu - "New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings..."
and post the D.I.V.O.R.C.E. party :
Madonna - "I'm tough, ambitious and I know exactly what I want.  If that makes me a bitch, then ok".

Throughout history, women have fought for what we have now (increased social standing from 2nd class citizens, movement towards but not yet complete equality with men, in the workplace and in life, for the vote, for the right to an education, for the right to choose and make our own choices). The time is now for us to take that torch and go forward, into the next chapter, the freedom and right to govern ourselves. It takes guts and courage to do whats right, rather than whats easy or safe. Some say it takes balls. I prefer Betty's White's take on that one :


Come on ladies. We can do this. Be brave. Think of the next generation.
If Scotland and her women are in any doubt, take your lead from Audrey Hepburn:
"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I'm possible".

#100days100reasonsfor yes

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Monday, 11 August 2014

38 days to go

After the referendum when we, hopefully, win the vote that decides that Scotland should be an independent nation, guess what - we're not going anywhere!
We are not separating from the British Isles to float off into a North Sea abyss.
We are not constructing a border that currently doesn't exist - because guess what - that border is already there. There is a border differentiating the geographical location of Scotland  and England, and Wales too for that matter. It runs from the Solway Firth just south of Gretna, across 96 miles to the River Tweed, just north of Berwick. This border's location was established back in 1237.
Anyone driving south from Scotland on either the M74 in the west or the A1 in the east, will cross the 'border' into England, and a great big sign will welcome them to England. On the same roads north, a great big sign welcomes you to Scotland.  See, there is already a border, no need to create a new one.


Tadaahh!
 

There has been so much discussion surrounding 'separating' from the union and talks of the nations getting divorced, etc, but in truth we are choosing to end an unbalanced union that is out of date and does not meet the needs of all parties. I say 'parties' as opposed to 'partners' as in this, to use the divorce analogy, relationship, there is no partnership.  The relationship between Scotland and England is more parent / child (with England being the parent). We are expected to do as we are told (Westminster), listen to and respect our betters (Sleb love bombing stunts), and be grateful for what we've got (already got devolution, why do we need any more, eh, Boris?), but misbehave and it can quickly be taken back off us.
We all have friends and family scattered throughout the British Isles, and friends and family they will always remain. Going independent doesn't change that. What changes with indy, is the relationship with those that govern. We will be a nation on an equal footing with our next door neighbour, and will have our respect and dignity, and expect to be treated with such. 2 adult nations side by side. (I am well aware that England is not the rUK, that Wales and N.Ireland also have a part to play in this big 'family', but both Wales and Ireland have as much influence over the running of the UK as Scotland does, ie not very much, if any!)
Once we have our independence, I am 100% certain that the powers that be in Westminster will want to be our best pals (even if they believe us to be subsidised by rUK and all the other rubbish that is pontificated), I mean don't they want to be in with the 'oil rich' in-crowd? Well, apart from those they would rather invade instead....

If we want to get really pedantic - after indy, we will not only be Scottish, but we will still be British, and believe it or not, European. Yes, European. We will remain British because our country is part of the geographical landmass that forms the British Isles:
Great Britain is a geographical term consisting of Scotland England and Wales. The British Isles consists of the 3 countries of Great Britain, the entire island of Ireland, the Channel Islands, Orkney and Shetland Islands, Isle of Man, the Hebrides, Isle of Wight, Isles of Scilly, Lundy Island and various off shore islands too.
Great Britain is not the same as Britain, which is just made up of England and Wales.
Info from Project Britain 
Regardless of whether the EU lets us stay or terminates our membership (temporarily or otherwise), we will remain Europeans, because our land is part of the continent of Europe.
The titles with which we assume our ethnic identity are geographical, not just political.

So you see, we're not going anywhere, we're just taking responsibility and charge of our own affairs.  To be independent is a natural state of being. Being tied to a broken dysfunctional union is not.

And we still love you too xxx

#100days100reasonsforyes

69 Days To Go

Immigration, another topic that people generally have a strong views on.  Usually those against it are the most vocal in their disapproval of it.  Immigration is branded as a curse hanging around the British Isles like a millstone. UKIP, BNP and Britain First use it as a campaign point, the Westminster Government had vans with the slogan "Go Home" emblazoned on the sides (granted, it was targeted at illegal immigrants, but it set a tone), The Daily Mail has a field day inciting allsorts of hatred for immigrants, using manipulative language and manipulated figures to distort the truth and fuel anger and resentment throughout the nation.  Then we have the SNP declaring that we need immigration in Scotland, and opening its arms to welcome those who wish to live and work here, to the tune of around 500,000 immigrants. A stark contrast to the rUK.
So what is the current problem with immigration and why is it viewed with such animosity?
First of all, under the previous UK (Labour) government, the borders to immigration appear to have been somewhat lax. Our island's population swelled with over 1 million immigrants from the newly expanded EU alone, and from Poland in particular, in the past decade. This has caused the utmost outrage, especially from the Tabloids, particularly The Daily Mail readership, as regular reporting of how the Polish were stealing all the UK jobs, but doing them for less money, and sending that money back to Poland, rather than reinvesting it in the UK economy. Now, while I won't contradict this in its entirety, I don't believe it to be true for every one who entered the country. As someone who used to recruit staff on a regular basis between 2000-2013, I could not have cared less the origins of my applicants, as long as they were able to legally work and do the job to the level desired (so I didn't get fined or lose my job, hiring someone illegally - unlike Mark Harper, Tory minister, former Minister of State for Immigration, who employed his Columbian cleaner, who was here illegally, where he was not then subjected to the policy conditions he implemented.). Working in Edinburgh, I did have many applicants from all over Europe and Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australasia  too, but what I found, was that the people from abroad  were far less snooty and were willing to take jobs others would turn their noses up at (such as cleaners). The vacancies still had to be filled, and it would be filled by someone who would do the job well, and actually accept the position! On the flip side, and far less reported (less likely to sell papers) is the number of UK citizens who have emigrated to other countries. In the past decade, we have lost 2million people to the likes of Australia, NZ, Canada, America and other parts of the EU, going to find their own happiness, with a better quality life for their families, better jobs, better financial security, etc etc, each having their own priorities and reasons for leaving. Instead of attacking those who seek to move here and improve their lives, should we be looking at why our own people are leaving?
Secondly, there would appear to be a bit of a blurred line in minds of the general public between legal immigration, illegal immigration and asylum seekers, so that the 3 have all become the same thing, when in fact they are each quite different. There is the notion, heavy propagated by the media, that immigrants come here, get a council house without having to wait, get all the benefits without having to have paid any national insurance or income tax, don't have to work, don't have to speak the language and don't have to integrate with the local community. There have been television programmes made regarding this. Stories of this nature are never out of the papers. Naturally, the everyday hardworking tax paying 'native' is going to feel mightily pissed off, when they are trying making ends meet and still waiting on a council house after being on the list for the past 15years, whilst at the same time, getting any benefits cut or reduced.  But how much of this is true, and how much makes a grabbing headline and makes papers fly off the shelf, cha-ching  in Rupert Murdoch's or the Daily Mail & General Trust's bank accounts?  Again, I won't contradict the fact that this has happened in certain circumstance, and some families have done very well out of our tax pounds, but they are the minority not the majority.  If we are going to get so angry and het up about getting houses and benefits, just think about the amount of money our MPs screwed us for with their now exposed expenses racket, and 2nd homes in London, 'to be near Westminster' which end up being sub-let to earn another tidy wee sum.  The perceived drain on our resources caused by immigrants, can be balanced against the number of emmigrants - there isn't that much of a difference between the in/out numbers, not significant enough amount to cause our infrastructure and services to collapse. Perhaps that has more to do with government cuts..?

What is the reality of immigration:
1. Legal immigration - is the right of a person to live and work in a country other than the one of their birth. Subject to visa's, permits and conditions imposed from the host country's government.
2. Illegal immigration - is where someone is living in another country without the appropriate paperwork, therefore without a legal right to be there.
3. Asylum Seeker - someone who has fled their home country, usually in times of war/persecution/natural disaster. A political refugee who seeks safety/security/protection in another country.

What are the plans for immigration in an iScotland?
From the Scottish Government's White Paper  (immigration section running from pg267-271) :
Scotland has a different need for immigration than other parts of the UK.  Healthy population growth is important for Scotland's economy.  One of the main contributors to growth is migrants who choose to make Scotland their home.  In the future our enhance economic strategy will also do more to encourage young people to build their lives and careers in Scotland. 
This government will take forward a points based approach [similar to Australia] targeted at particular Scottish requirements.
Plan to reduce financial maintenance thresholds and minimum salary at entry levels, to better align them with Scottish average wages and cost of living.
Plans to re-introduce the post-study work visa (which WM stopped in April 2012, thus preventing new qualified graduates from working or setting up businesses in the UK), which will encourage overseas students and generate income for universities and invest/develop their skills within our economy.
Opportunity for new model of asylum services separate from immigration.   Scottish Asylum Agency to oversee asylum applications, and will continue Scotland's present approach of promoting integration of refugees and asylum seekers from the day they arrive, not just from when leave to remain has been granted (as is the case in the rest of UK). iScotland will close Dungavel (detention centre), end dawn raids and practice of inhumane treatment of those who have exercised their legitimate right to seek asylum.  If there is a need for forcible removals, these will be undertaken with respect for human rights.
From Yes Scotland :
At the outset, the immigration system would be similar to what exists now, and it would then of course depend on who was elected as the Scottish Government as to what changes would be introduced.  There will not be any border controls between Scotland and the rest of the UK or Ireland – these countries (and also the Isle of Man and Channel Islands) already operate a common travel area which Scotland will remain part of.
However, we can expect future Scottish Governments to develop an immigration system that best suits Scotland's particular circumstances and needs.
Yes Scotland believes that UK immigration policy is not appropriate for Scotland. For example, our Universities are critical of restrictions on student visas which are harming their ability to recruit and retain the brightest students and academics from around the world.
And because of high financial maintenance thresholds, too many families are seeing husbands and wives and mothers and fathers refused entry into this country.
Attracting younger workers is also part of the current Scottish Government’s policy for tackling demographic change and an ageing population.
Similarly, the Scottish Parliament has regularly been critical of UK policies on asylum such as detention and ‘dawn raids’ but without powers over immigration and asylum, cannot put an alternative system in place.
From the Scottish Green Part's proposal, Green YES :
The authoritarian and dysfunctional approach from the UK Borders Agency fails to meet Scottish needs. Scottish universities needs to attract overseas students; many Scottish employers want to welcome talented people to contribute to our society and economy.

The 3 sources above have a similar outlook and proposals for our new immigration policy. Essentially we need to encourage people to come to live and work, bringing their skills (or developing their skills learned here) to invest in and contributing to the increased quality of life for everyone.  With our own aging population, we need a vibrant and engaged workforce, each paying their taxes. A points based system to immigrate here would make it more difficult for people to just turn up, get a job and send all wages back to family at home. They would have to prove their ability to financially support themselves, have work lined up, a place to live, no right to welfare benefits within a set time frame (ie 6months and have been paying appropriate contributions). Just as we would have to, should we decided to emigrate out of the UK.  The beauty of the constitution is the opportunity for all parties involved pulling together during the consultation to set out a robust, fair, humane and equal system, that is in the best interest for Scotland and her people.

From a personal point of view, thinking about friends, work colleagues and relations, between Hubby and I, we know and have people from the following countries in our lives, living and working and contributing to the UK both financially and socially  : USA, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Russia, Ireland, France, Italy and Pakistan. It doesn't ever cross my mind that my friends/colleagues are immigrants. There is no stigma - the stigma comes from the media and from the ignorant.

We have a chance to start anew with the hindsight of how wrong it went in UK and how wrong it still remains/continues.
We need to start looking at immigration as a positive asset to the country, providing a multi cultural, inclusive, contributory society, rather than the negative drain on our already over stretched resources. 

#100days100reasonsforyes

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Friday, 8 August 2014

41 Days To Go

 
Imagine  (one of my favourite songs)
 
 
Imagine if you will, the future. Your future, your family's (whatever that may be, children/grandchildren/parents/siblings/ nieces or nephews/BFF's and their kids - whoever you call family) future, the future of the country YOU live in.  What does that look like?
 
Imagine theres independence
Its easy if you try.
An NHS that's for us
A proper pension til we die.
Imagine the whole nation
Living for today...
 
Imagine no punishing the poor
It isn't hard to do.
No illegal wars or immorality
And no Trident too.
Imagine the whole nation
Living life in peace...
 
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one.
 
Imagine no Westminster
I wonder if you can.
No need for Lords or scandals
Or unbiased broadcasting ban.
Imagine the whole nation
Choosing our government....
 
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one
 
 
#100days100reasonsforyes
 
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