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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Over the last few months Question Time on a Thursday night has become the go to place to get an up close and personal view of what a fractured isle we have become. The behind the scene guys have cottoned on to the fact that these days the audience can offer much more bang for the buck than the panel.

Last Thursday was no exception. Last Thursday we were all taken on a thrilling little day trip to check out the haters of Hartlepool. Hartlepool has become one of the most prominent of our post industrial towns. No wonder the programmers find it hard to resist. It has all the usual boarded up shops and rusting factories. It has the usual bitter ageing population and unusually high levels of illness. The fact the town was once the super safe home of Peter Mandelson adds a certain little something. And of course it delivered a mighty 70% Leave vote back in June. Maybe they are working on some new signage on the edge of town – 'Hartlepool – Leave Town.'


Well it has to be said the audience did the programmers proud. The first question was minimalist in its simplicity. A hard faced woman with about as much humour in her as a letter from the Inland Revenue fixed the cameras with a look of withering aggression.

'Trump or Clinton?'

Dimbleby greeted her pared down words with a small smile and threw the question to the disgraced Canadian media tycoon, Conrad Black. Now I guess I am showing my age here, but I retain an instinctive expectation when it comes to people from the North of England. As in people like me. I expect bent multi millionaires who once strutted their right wing venom through the pages of the Daily Telegraph to be met with the right kind of hostility. Because fractures are hardly anything new. Back in the days of the Miners Strike, a Hartlepool audience would have shown loud solidarity for the lads on strike whilst an audience from Guildford would have cheered the police to the rafters.

But things have changed. Black weighed his thoughts before choosing one of the two words in the question.


And then? Then came a loud burst of enthusiastic applause. In Hartlepool. In the north of England. Here were people who wanted the rest of the country to know that as far as they were concerned the Donald was very much their kind of people.

It set a familiar tone for the next hour. Kenneth Clarke was shouted down before he managed to open his mouth. The female Labour MP whose name I can't remember and can't be bothered to Google was met with contempt. The UKIP councillor was heard out with deference and her words of poisonous wisdom met with applause.

The night slipped along from bad to worse. A Polish woman who had lived and worked in Hartlepool for 23 years and married a local lad was roundly booed when she told us how she no longer felt welcome. A couple of teachers were given similar treatment when they explained how hard it was containing growing levels of playground racism. An orange faced woman looking like an extra from a Star Trek movie demanded for our country to be made great again. I wonder where that particular pearl of wisdom entered her orange head?

Lots of very, very angry men vied with each other to see who could make the veins on their foreheads stand out the most as they demanded Article 50 to be triggered right here, right now.

There is not so much as a hint of Regrexit to be found on the dismal streets of Hartlepool. Oh no, it's the harder the better for these guys. Their message to Downing St could not have been any clearer. Get out now!

Nobody seemed to have much interest in asking what on earth a well hard Brexit was about to do for Hartlepool. The lines were not exactly very hard to read between. Hard Brexit isn't going to be about lots of new factories and well paid jobs. Surely even the most wild eyed Leave merchants can't seriously believe in fairytales of such magnitude. Surely? Instead they want an outcome which can very much be delivered. They want the despised Johnny Foreigner to be sent packing from this Sceptered Isle of ours as soon as possible. Out, now! All of them. The whole pack of them.

And when all is said and done, who can blame them. They can't find work because Lithuanians and the Poles are hogging all the jobs. Their kids can't get a place in school and it takes about ten years to get to see a GP because there are over pampered foreigners at the head of every queue. I guess the last time the good folk of Hartlepool were so comprehensively invaded by marauding Europeans was when a fleet of Viking long boats emerged from the mists of the North Sea back in the day.

I took to Google to try and get a feel for how it must be for people to be so thoroughly swamped by such a rising tide of grasping strangers so perfectly depicted by Nigel Farage's 'Breaking Point' poster.




Lucky we don't pay any attention to experts and their ridiculous statistics any more. Here's why I guess.


Percentage of EU citizens in the population – 4%
Percentage of those born overseas in the population – 9%

TOTAL – 13%


Percentage of EU citizens in the population – 0.9%
Percentage of those born overseas in the population – 1.3%

TOTAL – 2.2%

Hang on a second here....

Population of Hartlepool ? 92,000

What is 0.9% of 92,000?


Not so many then.

In fact when you think about it......

About 700,000 EU nationals in the UK help to prop up the NHS and the care system. As in just over 1%. So it kind of looks like the the odds are very much on almost every one of Hartlepool's 828 migrants working as doctors, nurses and care assistants.

So why were so many uber angry middle aged guys so hell bent on the immediate triggering of Article 50 so that a bunch of nurses could be frog marched onto Ryannair and sent packing?

Search me. I guess the sheer pleasure of hate leaves no room for any kind of logic. Sadly we human beings have always been rather too keen on this kind of thing. It never made the remotest kind of sense to blame the Jews for Germany loosing the First World War, suffering hyper inflation and having 20% unemployment. But what had sense to got to do with anything? The most logical people on planet earth vented their anger and duly elected a psychopath with a sweet tooth and the incinerated bones of five million went up chimneys across eastern Europe.

Hate and logic will never be bedfellows. I very much doubt if there will be any pressure whatsoever on primary school places in Hartlepool. Their problem like all of the fading northern towns will be a shrinking, ageing population which can no longer generate enough kids to fill the schools they already have. Their NHS will rely heavily on foreigners because any smart local kid who qualifies as a doctor or nurse uses the qualification as a ticket to get the hell out of Hartlepool as soon as they can.

There are a million and one reasons why Hartlepool has become such a dismal place. Not one of those reasons has anything whatsoever to do with the 828 EU migrants who have chosen to make their home on Teeside. But nobody seems interested in hard truth. Hate is just so much easier. Hate and the pipe dreams of Trump and Farage.

Of course we have all to many Hartlepools up here in Scotland. Thankfully we have managed to avoid the hate. The reason for our post industrial misery is one we absolutely share with the North of England. It has been going on for thirty something years. It started with Thatcher and it never stopped. Successive Westminster Governments have prioritised feathering the nests of the super rich over the desperation of the old industrial heartlands. The people of Hartlepool know this in their bones because their MP famously put it into words when he announced to the world how comfortable he was with people getting 'filthy rich'.

We know it too. But the paths we are taking have diverged. The blighted left behind towns of Brexit Britain seem to following the same road to hell in a hand cart the Germans chose in the 1930's. They are listening to siren voices who tell them the reason for their lives being so utterly shit is all down to 828 European migrants. Thankfully we have different voices up here. Better voices. We are waking up to the fact that most of the bad stuff is all down to a greedy, corrupt place called Westminster. The voices we are hearing are more akin to Gandhi and Nkrumah than Hitler and Mussolini. 

Hope not hate.

Songs of freedom, as the man once said. Would the word 'Trump' have got so much as a smatter of applause from an audience anywhere in Scotland? Or London? Or Liverpool? Or Bristol?

No chance.

Tragically is it becoming clearer with every passing day that the Tory Party have decided to embrace the populist hate for their own nasty ends. Once upon a time an arrogant aristocrat who went by the name of Franz Von Papen thought he could pull the strings of an Austrian oik who went by the name of Adolf Hitler. It didn't work out so well. We need to take heed of the growing ugliness which is taking root south of the border. Pussy footing around and pretending it isn't happening is the wrong call. The right call is to see it for what it is and get the hell out of Dodge as quickly as we can.

As a born and bred Lancastrian, I guess I can see just how lucky we are up here to have the chance of a life boat. We really, really need to climb on board because it won't be there forever.      

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


So, as you can see there are pictures of two women at the top of this blog. They are both American women in their late sixties. One of them will be all too familiar. I am pretty certain the second woman will be a complete unknown to the readers who make their way to these words of mine. Because of the old death and taxes thing, it is doubtful if either of these ladies will still be with us in twenty years time. In twenty years time they will have departed the stage for the final time leaving only memories of their lives and achievements.

And when they are both dead and gone, one of these women will have changed the world utterly and made a huge contribution to the whole of mankind. I am pretty sure you will know well enough where I am headed here. Well, I always was a bit obvious. And yes, you're absolutely right. It won't be the woman we have all heard of who will be remembered for doing something world changingly great. It will be the other one. The one none of us have ever heard of.

So where are we at. In the blue corner – literally – we have Hillary Rodham Clinton who is fighting like a spitting, cornered cat to get the nod to be the most powerful woman in the world. Or man for that matter. Human being number one. And of course it is hard to argue that particular fact. If she is indeed granted the keys to the Oval Office, she will also be granted the chance to let all those American nukes fly and thereby fulfill Robert Oppenheimer's prophetic words.

'Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.'

But if Hilary is to be the one to bring forth Armageddon, she won't really be able to claim all that much of the credit. Fair enough she will be the one to press the button, but the only reason there is a button in the first place has nothing to do with her. The fact the American President gets the chance to end civilisation as we know it is entirely down to the likes of Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer and their outsized brains.

Of course Hillary isn't basing her campaign on claiming the right to turn the planet into an irradiated wilderness. Obviously. It wouldn't be much of a vote winner. Instead she is doing her damndest to focus American minds on the dreaded Donald getting a shot at using his fingers to do something rather more terminal than groping pussies. I guess it is hard to disagree with her on that particular point.

But Hillary is focusing on the positive stuff and all the big changes she will make to the lives of 300,000,000 Americans. This is a familiar story. It is told be every candidate who dreams of becoming the most powerful human being on the planet. And when the prize is so huge, it is hardly surprising the race gets a tad ferocious as the last two standing splash hundreds of millions of dollars to slag each other off.

In 2008 the prospect of the most powerful man in the world delivering huge, life enhancing change seemed like it might be genuine. Barack Obama looked like a man to change the world for the better. Well, he tried his best but it only took a couple of months to see that the most powerful man in the world wasn't actually so powerful at all. He reckoned his huge win gave him the right to try out big stuff like finally making sure poor Americans got the chance to see a doctor when they got sick. It would have been nice if the Senate and the Congress had agreed, but they didn't. Instead the Republicans chose to put superglue under his feet and he remained stuck and hopeless for eight long years.

Barack never got the chance to use his so called power for anything good. Instead all he was left with was the chance to be destructive. He was never going to be allowed to use the the most powerful economy in the world to treat poor people who had gotten sick, but he could have invaded Iran any time he liked. Firing off Hellfire Missiles from his drone fleet was on the table every single day. Bringing in new laws to stop headbangers walking into Walmart to buy semi automatic weapons was a complete pipe dream. I actually believe Barack would have dearly loved to change the world for the better. To leave a legacy. To genuinely earn a chance to get his mug up onto Mount Rushmore. But in reality it was never going to happen. And it didn't happen.

The same fate awaits Hillary Clinton when she ends her life time quest to reach the top of the ladder. She will have all the opportunities in the world to do bad and virtually no opportunity whatsoever to do good.

At times I wonder why we get so carried away when election time comes around. Those who are elected seldom manage to change anything. Well, not for the good at least. In 1997 Tony Blair was the great white hope as he bounced into Downing St like an over eager puppy dog. He was granted over ten years to make things happen with a massive majority behind him. Was that enough to leave a genuine legacy of making things better? Nope. Instead he will be remembered for being party to a historic mistake which left over a million Iraqis dead before their time.

Hillary Rodham Clinton knows all this of course. She has been round the block enough times to get real. There will be no point in wasting her time trying to make nice. What would be the point? Instead she will get her teeth into the nice juicy War on Terror. She is making it a big selling point. Wanna a safe pair of hands to bomb those ISIS long beards back into the Stone Age? Well, I'm your gal!

The future isn't so hard to read. Barring unimaginable miracles, Hillary will win and get the desk in the Oval Office. And she will spend a minimum of four years firing off hellfire missiles around the world. The Great War on Terror will drag on. Endless billions of tax payers dollars will be wasted and in four years time a new cast of characters will strut about the place and promise to be even tougher.

And all the while the real change will happen elsewhere. Which brings me to American lady number two. Loretta Mayer – the real change maker. A few years ago Loretta joined another long running war. Unlike the Great War on Terror, this is a war that has raged for thousands of years. It has been the most protracted and brutal war our planet has ever seen. Casualties on both sides make even the Second World War seem like a tea party.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about the real war of the ages. Man versus rat.

As wars go, this one is a bit like Vietnam - times about a million. In Indochina it seemed like the Americans held all the high cards. They had jets and B52's and aircraft carriers off the coast. They had napalm and Agent Orange. They had the money and the finest weaponry money could buy and when it came to their treasured 'Kill Ratio' they won the thing hands down. The Americans lost just shy of 70,000 soldiers whilst the Vietnamese lost millions. But in the end, the sheer sticking power of the little guys won the day and the most powerful nation on the planet was sent back home tae think again.

Our war on the rats has always run on similar lines. We kill and kill and kill and yet they never go away. We trap them and poison them and do absolutely anything we can think of to get them, and yet they just keep on coming. Worst of all, we have always known they will win in the end no matter how hard we try. If Hillary succumbs to the temptation to let all of her nukes fly, the era of man will probably end as the radiation clouds roll across the earth. But our age old foe will soon find a way to deal with it. Radiation? So what's the big deal. We're rats. We can handle it. We can handle anything.

When it comes to industrial killing, no animal comes close to human beings. We really, really know how to kill and we get better at it with every year that passes. In the end we will kill ourselves. We just can't help ourselves. And when it comes to mega death, we have certainly killed our share of rats over the ages. Trillions of them. But we have never managed to kill enough. Because at the end of the day they are the ones who hold the real high card. We have the nukes but they are happy to play the long game because they will always outbreed us.

If you put a mummy rat and a daddy rat into a perfect safe place where there is plenty to eat and drink and no human beings to kill them, the results are utterly jaw dropping. Mummy rat and daddy rat will live for a about a year and during that time they will create a pretty large extended family.

As in 15,000.

As in fifteen bloody thousand! 

No wonder we can't kill them fast enough. A female rat ovulates every three days and copulates every hour or so. No wonder they evolve and adapt at such lightning speed. No wonder they can shrug their shoulders at the prospect of an irradiated world. They have always known one day they will inherit the world. For the whole of history they have known all they need to do is breed and wait.

And all the while they nip at our heels like the Viet Cong once upon a time nipped at the heels of the mighty US Marine Corps. They spread diseases and steal our food. Every year 30% of the Indonesian rice crop is eaten by rats. Once they have had their fill, we humans get the 75 million tonnes they have left for us. With no rats, the harvest would be well over 100 million tonnes. In a hungry world, 30 million tonnes of rice feeds and awful lot of mouths. If we were ever to find a way to win our long war against the rats the prospect of hunger and famine would be kicked a long way down the tracks.

And here is where Loretta Mayer steps onto the stage as a genuine game changing human being; as the kind of superhero to make Batman look distinctly second rate.

Loretta joined the war on rats a decade ago and after thousands of years of failure, she has found a way to turn the tide. Loretta's big thing is that she is a vegan who really likes animals and hates the idea of killing them. She took a step back and took a measured view of the great war. She took a look at the big guns in the respective armouries of the two combatants. Our biggest strength? We're smart. Their biggest strength? Their ability to breed. And from that starting point it didn't take her so very long to find a way to use our strength to finally find a way to win the war. She was smart enough to discover the means to stop them breeding. She has come up with a super sugary pink liquid that rats simply cannot resist. Once they slurp it down they don't keel over and die and the female rats are entirely unaffected. But the male rats lose their sperm count and all of a sudden the whole game is changed completely.

If a dish of Loretta's pink goo was added to the mummy rat, daddy rat scenario, the outcome is an extended family of zero after a year instead of a family of fifteen thousand. Finally it seems we are about to finally win our long war. And why? Because an animal loving vegan woke up to the fact that wholesale killing was never going to be the answer.

Over the coming years, millions upon millions of human beings will owe their lives to Loretta Mayer and the thousands of American fire fighters who have invested their pension funds into her genius. She is about to change the world for the better in a truly massive way. She is about to become one of the very greatest human beings ever to draw breath but we won't notice because we are all way too obsessed with the Hillary/Donald show.

And of course there is a moral to this particular tale. Politicians are hugely over rated. If we want real change we need to look to the the likes of Loretta Mayer and her firemen. The good stuff always comes from the bottom. Only bad stuff tends to come from the top. 

Friday, October 14, 2016


It's 2007.

Carol and I are killing some time in a $40 a night motel somewhere deep in Rustbelt America. We were twenty miles or so out of Pittsburgh in a one horse sort of town complete with a crumbling old factory and a bunch of boarded up shops. The Walmart car park was all but empty and the only sign of activity were the two shiny Marines who were out and about looking for recruits for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The TV was on and I was hopping my way through channel after channel bizarreness. Then I landed on a political interview with a guy I had neither seen or heard of before. And yet within about ten seconds the screen seemed to burst with charisma. Wow.

Who and what and where? It turned out he was a few months into a crazy long shot run at the White House. The interviewer chuckled at the length of the odds he was facing. And the candidate laughed along with the knowing smile of someone who knew he was going to win even if the rest of the world didn't.

I nudged Carol away from her book and pointed at the screen.

You need the watch this guy. He's unbelievable.”

So we watched. Mesmerised. In a forty bucks a night motel in the midst of Rustbelt Pennsylvania.

Once again the interviewer indulged in an amused chuckle.

Senator Obama, how do you feel about the fact that Hilary Clinton will have her husband Bill on her team in the campaign. Rather daunting, don't you think.....?”

The question provoked an amused smile. “I think you are forgetting that I'll have Michelle on my team. And Michelle's got some game, I tell you.”

When the show rolled onto the next item, I told Carol this Obama guy would be the next President. And Carol laughed at the idea of a black man being President. Not in my lifetime she said. Not a chance.

So we shook hands on a £1 bet which eighteen months later I duly won.

Watching Barrack that day for the very first time was one of those light bulb moments. His eloquence and charisma completely overwhelmed the fact he was an unheard of nobody out of Chicago. He was just so damned good it was inconceivable to me that he wouldn't win.

It was a light bulbs moment which won me a quid.

I mention this eight year old memory because I had a similar light bulb moment last night whilst watching 'Question Time'.

The evening news had carried footage of Nicola Sturgeon bringing the 3000 delegates to the SNP conference to their feet by announcing she was kicking off the IndyRef 2 preliminaries. Experts had been to quick to point out this wasn't an actual referendum. Far from it. It was merely the beginning of a road. It was packing the suitcases and leaving them ready by the front door. You know, just in case.

And of course it summoned up howls of outrage and derision from the usual Unionist suspects. Of course it it. These guys would lack the reason to exist if they failed to leap in front of the cameras to bay and mock the very idea of an independent Scotland.

So nothing new there then.

The Beeb had shown a bit of foresight and booked Alec Salmond in anticipation of this kind of thing. And Alec had obviously decided to foresake the SNP conference in Glasgow for a museum in Hendon.

And of course the Beeb couldn't have chosen a question along the lines of 'Does the panel think there will be another independence referendum in Scotland?' Of course they couldn't. Instead the question was a mocking little number talking about how those who lose a playground coin toss start begging for the chance of best of three.

So nothing new there then.

But from that moment everything was new. Edge of the seat new.

The UK has become a very different place in the post Brexit world. As the value of Sterling has plummeted, sales of Cross of St George flags have broken all records. It is the era of white van man in a land where racism is the new black. Bigotry isn't simply OK, it seems to becoming mandatory. Jeremy Hardy summed up Theresa May's shiny vision rather well on Friday Night Comedy. Her's will be a realm where everyone will have an equal shot be they black or white, straight or gay, tolerant of bigoted...'

The ever adaptable Tories are racing to catch up with the new reality. No longer do they need to keep their racist tendencies in the closet. Oh no. The time has come for them to come out and now they are testing the boundaries like toddling children working out what behaviour is deemed to be amusing and what behaviour will result in a smack and an early night. They take their lead from the front pages of the Daily Mail and the Express. The settled will of the British people is to be xenophobic and racist which means our gallant leaders deem it to be their democratic duty to be xenophobic and racist. They are spending their time gleefully testing the waters like teenagers experimenting with legal highs. 

Of course they can only go so far. Amber Rudd found out the hard way where the boundary was when she tried out her big idea of naming and shaming businesses who employ too many foreign types.

Not to worry. A learning curve, right?

And what a heroic place Brexit Britain is. It is a place where you can be murdered on the street for the crime of being Polish or being an MP showing too much love for Johnny Foreigner. It is a place where you can have your Hijab ripped clean off your head.

23 June has spawned a new Nationalism which marches under the flag of St George. It's called English Nationalism and it doesn't look much like the Nationalism we have up here. It is a spitting, snarling, eight pints into a Friday night Nationalism. It is a Nationalism which harks back to a time of greatness when irksome wogs were dealt with by gunboats and Lancaster bombers firebombed German cities. Little England is getting off on the dream of a new golden age where foreign types will once again be trained to know their place.

Who cares if the pound is making like the Zimbabwean Dollar? Who cares if the rest of the world is starting to look at us like we are some kind of basket case of deluded losers? England is adopting the strut and swagger of Millwall fans.

'We are Millwall, we are Millwall, we are Millwall, from the Den.
No-one likes us, No-one likes us, No-one likes us, we don't care...'

Once again the dreams of Empire are coming alive. Once we rid ourselves of the Muslims and the Poles we can rule the world again. The cotton mills and the steel mills will all open up and run 24/7. Soon the shipyards will be clanking with the sound of thousands of highly paid white men making a new fleet of gunboats to sail out of Portsmouth harbour to re-conquer the world.

But first there are enemies to be rooted out. The job stealers from Eastern Europe. The uppity Muslims who have the cheek to own busy Spar shops and drive better cars than their customers. And of course there is the hated Metropolitan Liberal Elite who are plotting to overthrow the greatest democratic moment in our nation's long and proud history. What has come as a shock to one and all is the terrifying truth that this despised Metropolitan Liberal Elite is sixteen million strong. The hard truth the new heroic flag carriers of Brexit Britain are having to deal with is that 48% of us are democracy hating 'Remoaners'.

So where in all of this was my light bulb moment?

Oh it was there all right. And it was a hell of a light bulb. It was the kind of light bulb you expect to find hanging from the concrete ceiling of a torture room. Bright enough to burn the back of the eyes.

More or less as soon as the 'best of three' IndyRef 2 question was asked, the flag of St George brigade in the studio audience started to bristle. Their mood was crystal clear. The Scots were well and truly on their list of bad people along with the Muslims and the Poles and the namby pamby tree huggers. And the panel jumped onto the back of the prevailing mood with evident glee. There was no hint of the 2014 love bombing. We love you Scotland.... we really, really do. Please don't leave us. Please stay.....

Oh no. None of that. Instead there was mockery and derision. Leave? Oh yeah. Dream on you pathetic bastards. You lot are poorer than Greece. You're a complete joke. Leave? Dream on.

They were Queen Victoria and we were the Matebele. Independence? Oh come on. You lot couldn't manage for a week. They are the all knowing parents and we are the thirteen year old having a tantrum and threatening to run away from home.

And you could sense Alec was finding it hard to conceal his smile of joy. Because when IndyRef 2 rolls around, this will be the new Better Together. No more Mr Nice Guy. No more parents worried sick at their treasured child making a truly terrible life choice. Instead it will be unconcealed mockery and derision. Want to go your own way? Course you do. Like you want to be pathetic and poor, right? You lot? Don't make me laugh. Yeah, go on then. Have your poxy little vote. Like we give a shit. Like we are supposed to be worried. As if! You haven't got the bottle. You'll never have the bottle. Piss off and sleep in a doorway for all we care.

This time the words from south of the border will be very different. This time we will be lined up alongside the Poles and the Muslims. When I was growing up in the seventies, Saturday night prime time was filled with comedians who made a handsome living out of cracking Irish jokes and Nigger jokes and mother in law jokes. Then that kind of thing was deemed to be beyond the pale. But now we live in suddenly different times. IndyRef 2 will be a time of Scottish jokes and the millions who have wrapped themselves in the flag of the Cross of St George are all primed and ready to laugh along.

Well, the Scots don't tend to react well to this kind of thing. Never have and never will. The response will be pretty straight forward. The response will be 'away and shite'. The response will be 'Yes' by a country mile. And there will be nothing anyone will be able to do about it. Nobody will be able to persuade the Brexit brigade to make nice. I very much doubt if anyone will even bother to try. Last night Little England had it's say and it will continue to have it's say.

And we will also have our say. This time we'll say thanks, but no thanks. This time we'll say 'away and shite' with the lot of you.

This time we'll say yes.

Anyone want a quid on it?      

Friday, October 7, 2016


Watching the news this week has been a thoroughly depressing pastime. Aleppo of course has been the hardest watch and those wrecked streets seem destined to remain the hardest watch for months and years to come. I guess Haiti was next on the dismal list. It seems the place where sticking pins in people was invented has become a pin cushion for the gods who have thrown another vast natural catastrophe at a bunch of flimsy cardboard shacks.

And then of course we were served up the nauseous pictures of the collective Tory faithful indulging in a kind of mass orgasm at the prospect of so called 'Hard Brexit'

I only saw the headlines of most of it. A few commentators found it to be the nearest thing they had seen to a Politbureau jamboree since the Berlin Wall came down. Dreary speeches delivered badly by dreary men in dreary suits were cheered to the rafters for the hate they contained. Hi Ho Silver, we're all about to saddle up and head back to the sunlit days of the 1950's when we still had an Empire and plenty of perfectly formed public school types were all properly fired up to give the uppity wogs a good and proper bashing.

There was something horribly grotesque about it all. Pavlov's dog was barking its little head off. You say the word immigrant and you add something nasty and the floor will dutifully cheer and get all tearful at the prospect of the return of the British Empire. These were a bunch of people all primed and raring to re-shoulder the 'White Man's Burden' and ride out of Portsmouth Sound in a shiny new fleet of gunboats.

And of course the media jumped up and down in glee like a bunch of freckled cheerleaders from small town Iowa. For there was no more talk of economic sanity to be heard this week. Such nonsense was consigned to a great British dustbin. Who needs factories and jobs when you have the chance to kick out Johnny Foreigner and never, ever allow him in back in again.

What is truly scary is how this vicious bile seems to have become universally accepted. Apparently it is now the settled will of the British people to be xenophobic bastards. The greatest democratic act in our tawdry history deemed it to be so. Well, didn't it?

This week feels like the end of debate. Anyone who has the gall to speak up for the idea of hanging onto the only half way decent market we have is screamed at for being a democracy denying member of the Metropolitan liberal elite. Shut your face you Latte sipping privileged bastard. The poor people of Britain have cast their votes for seeping racism and my God we are going to deliver it.

With both barrels.

Usually when a Government is about to embark on such a suicidally idiotic course there is at least a degree of dissent from the media. Well it ain't so this time. Instead almost to a man and woman they are gushing at the dawn of the Hard Brexit dream. They are painting pictures of Theresa May as some kind of Wonder Womanish amalgam of Boudicea, Maggie Thatcher, Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc. Well. Not Joan of Arc. She was French. Come to think of it Mother Teresa was even worse. Oh yeah, half Albanian I'm afraid. Dear oh dear. Well we'll certainly keep the likes of her out in the future. 

Well it seems we now have our very own Mother Theresa and she is about to take us all to the promised land the good folk of Hartlepool and Merthyr Tydfil voted for in their droves. It's called foreigner free grinding poverty.

In the midst of all this rampant propaganda, the occasional snippet of reality raises a rather embarrassed head over the parapet.

Amazingly enough I know a bit about what currency fluctuations look like. Way back when, it was my job to buy all the commodities our family business needed to make 120,000 tonnes of cattle feed a year. When the pound fell in value, the price of soya would shoot up. And if the price of soya shot up, so would our prices, and farmers would call us every name under the sun. A weak pound is lousy news for anyone importing stuff. A weak pound means you have to whack up your prices and your customers hate you for it. The supermarkets are gearing up for this right now. A 10% crash in the value of sterling means a 10% price hike for groceries this winter.

On the flip side, a weak currency is manna from heaven for anyone looking to export something. For these boys, a 10% fall in the value of sterling means special offers all round for overseas customers. Maybe this is the brave new world we are hearing so much about from Boris and his merry men. Or maybe not. Because to export stuff you need to have something to export. You know. The kind of stuff you make in those places called factories. We used to have factories once upon a time until Maggie put a stop to that kind of thing. Nowadays 90% of our economy is 'service industry' where smart young Polish waitresses sell over priced coffee to pensioners who have yanked equity out of their over priced houses. Sorry buddy, you can't export that kind of thing no matter what kind of brave new world you create.

But come on. It's not like we don't make ANYTHING any more. We still make SOME stuff people want to buy. Well, don't we? Fair enough, not much. But some. Right?


Like Jaguar cars?

Sure. Like Jaguar cars. They must be having a field day right now exporting such a symbol of absolute British greatness to a world desperate buy that kind thing, especially when there is a 10% off sticker on the windscreen.

Well actually...... Well no. Not at all in fact.

Last week the boss of Jaguar made a statement which really should have stopped the Hard Brexit lads in their tracks if they had bothered to listen. He announced that sales of Jaguar cars in Europe had fallen since 23 June even though they were 10% cheaper.

But why and how?

Simple. They don't like us in Europe. They don't like the things we are saying about them. They don't like our tone. We are becoming the Apartheid South Africa of the new millennium. We're being boycotted. No wonder the cheerleaders for Hard Brexit weren't over keen on printing the thoughts of the boss of Jaguar in their papers.

But surely Her Majesty's Opposition will step up to the plate and start to convince the good people of Hartlepool and Merthyr Tydfil all foreigners are not benefit scrounging pickpockets hell bent on breaking the back of the NHS. After all, their great leader has been recast with an epic mandate. Surely the mighty Jeremy now has all the guns he needs in his armoury to take us all to the promised land.

Another snippet. And interview with Jess Philips MP. You might have heard her. Quite a character. She's a Brummie who has taken the journey from managing a women's refuge to the mother of all Parliaments.

So Jess, how was the atmosphere at the Labour Conference?

Yeah. Well …. a mate of mine from Birmingham came up for the day. When she hooked up with me I asked her how she was finding it.

I don't know what's going on here, Jess. It's weird. I've only been here three hours and I've already heard the word 'Jew' about forty times....”

Christ alive.

Here Majesty's Opposition. Aye bloody right. The world according to a Starbucks in Islington.

The most depressing thing of all is the relative silence up here in Scotland. Unlike England, we export all kinds of stuff – oil and timber and beef and whisky and salmon. And unlike England, we are popular all over the world. People like us and they want to buy our stuff, especially when it is 10% cheaper than it was a few months ago. We have the perfect opportunity to jump off this miserable sinking xenophobic ship. We just need to get on with the job of persuading people that the blindingly obvious really is blindingly obvious. We need to stop being so bloody cautious and start showing a bit of front. We need to get out while we can because who knows when another chance will come around.

One more snippet.

Last night President Hollande made a speech. He said something pretty straight forward. He said it was important that Hard Brexit should mean a world of pain for Mother Theresa and her citizens.

No great surprise about any of that. But what happened next was a surprise. All over the world the banks have developed computer programmes to read between the lines of the words of politicians. When the French President spoke, it was the middle of the night in Asia. All the human beings were asleep. But the computers were wide awake. The computers absorbed the words and considered the words and came to a conclusion.

Sell. Sell. Sell.

The value of Sterling crashed 10% in less than an hour as a bunch of Asian computers made their digital minds up about the brave new world of Hard Brexit.

Of course there was a huge panic and no doubt a few on the ball traders made a vast fortune. Human beings reversed the wisdom of the computers and the value of sterling crawled back to where it started.

It leaves us all wondering who was right? Man or machine? If I was still involved in the currency market, I would be putting my money with the machines.

We really, really need to get ourselves off this miserable sinking ship.