I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Monday, July 11, 2016


In the end his name was Micah Johnson. We have been waiting for Micah Johnson for many, many years. He was always going to arrive. It was always a question of when. Never if. Micah Johnson is the pigeon and the pigeon has come home to roost.

The nightmare Micah Johnson brought to the streets of Dallas has been a recurring nightmare for years and years. The nightmare is born out of a straight forward recipe for disaster. You take a particular group in society and treat them appallingly. You demonise and denigrate them. You make sure they have worse life chances than everyone else. You park them up in ghettos and give policemen a free hand to crack the whip and when they crack the whip too hard, you turn a blind eye.

And when you are a young guy growing up in a place where youth unemployment is twice the national average where is the 'go to' place to get a paycheck at the end of the month? The army of course. Where the hell else? Always has been, always will be. Maybe it is an official army of a government. So the boy from Easterhouse, Glasgow joins 1 Scots whilst the boy from Cleveland, Ohio signs on the dotted line for the United States Marine Corps. Or maybe it is an unofficial army. So the boy from Karachi joins the Taliban whilst the boy from Kano signs up for Boko Haram.

And then what happens? Well it couldn’t be much more obvious. The young men from the wrong side of the tracks are taught the arts of violence. Professional violence. Maximum violence. They are taught how to deploy their ‘war face’ as they plunge a bayonet into a straw model of whoever is the enemy of the time.

Maybe they will get to put their new skills into practice on battlefields from Helmand Province to Fallujah. Or maybe the skills they have been taught will simply be put away for a rainy day.

Unsurprisingly governments have always had sleepless nights when they take so many screwed over kids and invest tens of thousands of pounds and dollars into teaching them the art of deploying efficient death. What happens once they have taken off their uniforms and returned to the ghettos from whence they came? What if they get even more pissed of about being poor and unemployed and pushed about by the cops? What if they decide enough is enough?

The most surprising thing is that it has taken so long for Micah Johnson to make the nightmare come true. The American Government was more or less convinced there would be a hundred Micah Johnsons way back in 1967. Statistics emerged which prompted the black citizens of Detroit to set the city alight. The stats were stark and hard for the White House to answer.

8% of the population of the USA was black.

8% of the army fighting in Vietnam was black.

So fair enough.


25% of the soldiers killed in the jungles and paddy fields of Vietnam were black.

It was a hard discrepancy to explain away. Were black soldiers being used as cannon fodder? And the White House couldn’t find a way to explain it away. Instead they tackled the Detroit riot with every ounce of maximum force they could put on the streets. They put out the fires. They locked a lot of lads up for a very long time. They went back to having their nightmares.

And finally the nightmare has become a reality nearly half a century later.

The Micah Johnson story is in many ways the story of our times as pigeons are coming home to roost all over the world. All the festering garbage which has been swept under the carpet for years and years and years is starting to crawl out from under. And those who have become so accustomed to being in control are discovering to their horror that that control is a thing of the past. Everywhere you look there is anger looking for a channel like the water from an overflowing drain.

Everywhere we look we see what was not supposed to happen is happening all the time. The rage is blind and beyond logic. A couple of weeks ago pissed off people from Hartlepool and Burnley and Stoke and Walsall voted ‘Leave’. Was it because they were perturbed by the democratic deficit implicit in the beaurocratic structures of Brussels? Aye right. Instead it was a straight up and down two fingers job. Pissed off people took the opportunity to let the world know just how pissed off they are. At immigrants. At closed down factories. At benefit sanctions. At no more Woolworths. At everything.

I saw one young lad from Hartlepool interviewed about his decision to put his cross in the 'Leave' box. He grinned a grin of triumph and said he couldn't wait for all the immigrants to be sent home and for the town’s factories to be re-opened. Poor sod.

And what are all these millions of pissed off people about to get? They are about to get a shiny new leader selected by 150.000 blue rinse Tories from the south of England. The reward for the great vote for 'Leave' might well be a born again ex banker who God has taught to hate abortion and gay people. The sainted Andrea has a crystal clear vision of how she will make everything better in these troubled times. Andrea absolutely vows to overturn the foxhunting ban. Andrea is determined to ban pessimism. I wonder how the good folk of Hartlepool are going to feel about that? The immigrants they hate so much will no doubt up sticks and find work somewhere else. Because there will be even less work to be had in Hartlepool. And all those factories? Has God instructed Andrea of open them all back up to provide jobs for all at £10 an hour? Or will more pigeons come home to roost?

I had business down in England last week. And it felt odd. I drove 300 miles south on the M6 and the M65 and the M62 and the A1. I drove past the towns where 17 million had taken the chance to vent their fury. The tower blocks of Blackburn and Oldham and Rochdale and Halifax and Pontefract and Doncaster and Newark. And the place where I grew up suddenly felt like a foreign place. The border at Gretna felt more like a real border than it has ever felt before. I filled up with fuel at a service station near Peterborough. It was shiny place filled with canned music and overpriced everything. Behind the counter were three East European women. Young women. And to say they were putting 150% into their work wouldn’t begin to do them justice. Imagine walking onto the Porsche stand at the Motor Show. Imagine the kind of young women Porsche would hire to present their high end brand to the world. Imagine their demeanour. Well that was the demeanour of the three women behind the counter of the petrol station near Peterborough. And there was a part of me that hated myself for going so far out of my way to smile back and be as friendly as possible. And a part of me hated the country for making these young women feel they had to show everyone they were not the wicked immigrants of the gospel according to Nigel and Boris.

The sight of the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign felt different this time. Completely different. Like sanctuary.

And of course the pigeons are about to come home to roost here. Will anyone seriously want to be ‘Better Together’ this time around? Some will I guess. But not enough. Not this time. This time the cord will be cut. This time the pigeons will finally come home to roost.

The hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme has been all over the media over the last couple of weeks. And a statistic has dusted itself down and appeared here and there on Twitter. The statistic is eerily similar to the statistic that saw Detroit burn back in 1967.

Percentage of Scots in British population 1914 – 1918?


Percentage of Scots in the British Army 1914 – 1918?


Percentage of Scots in the death roll of the British Army 1914 – 1918?


We can see this statistic engraved on war memorials all over the Britain. Have a look for yourself. Look at the number of names carved in stone in a small English village. Count them. Then look at the names on the memorial in a Scottish village of the same size. And count them. And compare the two numbers. It is truly shocking. 

It wasn't an easy statistic for the British Establishment to explain away. Just like the very same set of numbers were never something Lyndon Johnson could explain to the black population of America in 1967.

When the pigeons finally came home to roost for the American Establishment, they came in the form of Micah Johnson.

Thankfully our pigeons will not require semi automatic weaponry to announce themselves. Our pigeons will require nothing more than hundreds of thousands of ticks in the box that says ‘Yes’.

Will there be enough this time around?

Oh yeah. There’ll be enough. There’ll be more than enough. Can you hear the sound of flapping wings coming ever closer? 
I can. 

1 comment:

  1. Westminster democracy in action one woman one vote.Still trying to work out what Cameron was humming after he dropped May into his mess.