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, November 14, 2016


These are pretty tough times to feel much affection for democracy. The sick to stomach feeling at five in the morning is becoming all too familiar. New place names are added to a slowly growing and ever more infamous list as the dark side keep on winning. Clackmananshire. Sunderland. Ohio. And each time the encroaching darkness feels just that little bit darker. Each time the bad guys are just that little bit worse. Better Together were bad. Vote Leave were worse. Trump is appalling.

Thankfully racism and bigotry had no place in the Scottish Independence Referendum. Instead Better Together merely lied through their teeth to scare the living daylights out of the older generation. Farage and his hideous henchmen tapped the well of latent racism to achieve Brexit and Donald Trump took their dog whistle hate and amplified it through a twenty foot high speaker system.

It was only two years ago when being openly xenophobic was a surefire way to guarantee political oblivion. Now it is almost mandatory. The unsayable is the new normal. And time and again we are told by angry old men that the people have spoken and it is time for those who think otherwise to suck it up.

Are there common themes to be found as one by one the countries of the West vote for hell in a handcart? A few I guess. Every time 70% plus of the under 25’s vote for hope and a brighter future only to be slapped down by the selfish bigotry of an embittered older generation who hark back to the days of Empire when it was OK to make jokes about wogs. I guess it would be a whole lot worse if things were the other way round and it was the young generation who were sliding quietly into fascism.

Now the media spotlight will swing back across the Atlantic Ocean to shine its merciless light on France. And of course all the experts and pundits will tell us a win for Marine Le Pen just ain’t going to happen. Because it can’t happen. Just like Trump couldn’t happen. And maybe it won’t happen. Maybe the French will be the ones to draw a line in the sand, but it is hard to feel very optimistic. If Le Pen and the Front National are beaten back, it will not be down to a message of hope and tolerance being heard loud and clear. Instead it will be down to Sarkozy or whoever takes on the National Front matching them step for racist step.

Are there reasons for this sudden rush for a new kind of fascism? Sure there are. Lots of them.  All over the western world bitter old white people are turning out in their droves to vote for the dark side. They don’t like the way the world is right now. Why? Because every year seems to be worse than the one before, and none of them hold a candle to the glory days of the 1950’s. Ah yes, those good old days when it was fine and dandy to hang out a sign reading ‘No Blacks, no Irish’ on your front door. When those of a darker hue were required to sit at the back of the bus. When a solid day’s work was enough to give you a decent house and the chance of helping your kids get an even better one. And now the old towns of the Industrial Revolution all look the same with their boarded up shops and rusting factories and littered streets. Siren voices tell us that all we need to do to get the good times rolling again is to stop those pesky foreigners coming in to take what is rightfully ours.

Of course the bigger picture is rather less black and white. Or maybe a whole lot more black and white. The last twenty years have seen global living standards rise at a rate never before seen in the whole of human history. Hard to believe, right? So what’s the problem? Why are all these angry old white people voting for the likes of Trump? Well the problem is actually quite clear. The record breaking rise in living standards has not been for white people living in the west. Instead it has been enjoyed by billions of black, brown and yellow people in the south and the east. And we hate it. For hundreds of years we have become accustomed to being top of the pile. For hundreds of years we have delivered White Supremacy via the barrels of our guns. Or gunboats. Or the World Bank. Or the IMF. Successive empires have taken their turn. The Spanish, the Dutch, the French, The British, the Germans and finally the Americans. And now it seems the era of the white man is finally coming to an end. And we hate it. Oh and how we hate it. And out of this frantic desperation, millions are reaching out to comic book leaders like Trump and Farage and Victor Urban.

I actually find it hard to see Trump as any kind of Darth Vador figure. Never before has an American President been so woefully vulnerable. I don’t pretend to understand his business empire, but it seems clear enough that it is built on many billions worth of borrowed dollars, most of them Russian. After his last bankruptcy, every bank in North America decided enough was enough and took away his credit cards. Kazakhstan was the only show in town. These borrowed billions from the Wild East clearly came with plenty of strings attached.

In many ways it seems the Trump Empire is similar to the Glazer Empire. 90% of it loses money and bleeds cash and is only being kept on life support by the 10% which actually works. In the case of the Glazers, a cash cow called Manchester United FC keeps all the doomed shopping centres afloat. In Trump’s case it is ‘The Apprentice’ that keeps all the gaudy towers standing. Apparently the Donald's big plan was to make a decent fist of running for President and then use his super size profile to launch Trump TV which would finally take his business into the black. No wonder he looked so green about the gills when it became clear he had actually won. Well, there ain’t going to be any Trump TV now and he can hardly carry on with 'the Apprentice'. You can bet your bottom dollar that Putin’s in house money men will be demanding a painful pound of flesh for all those billions of borrowed cash.

I don’t think it will take so very long for Trump’s business to start falling apart at the seams. All those hotels are just too much of a juicy target. The demonstrations aren’t about to stop any time soon. Why would they? They will be far too much fun. And will the cops break them up with tear gas and baton charges? No chance, because all the hotels are in the centre of cities who voted 70/30 against Trump. Any mayor signing off on the tear gas option would be committing electoral suicide. Will paying guests be willing keep on coughing up top dollar to stay in Trump hotels when getting through the front door will mean running the gauntlet through the baying mob? I don’t think so. And a business like Trump’s is an easy mark once the opposition gets its act together. ‘Anonymous’ have already warned Trump to tread carefully. As a Liverpool fan I saw at first hand how an angry online mob of hundreds of thousands can take down big corporations. If enough people flood the Trump servers with e mails, the Trump servers will crash. Time and again, day after day. So no online bookings. If enough people send black faxes, every fax machine gets totalled. Word has it that Trump’s golf courses here in Scotland are losing him money hand over fist. It wouldn’t take much for a car load of activists to sneak onto the Old Course at Turnberry in the wee small hours of the morning to pour weed killer on the manicured greens. No greens means no golf. No golf means no reason to stay in the hotel. No guests in the hotel means bad losses become catastrophic losses.

If Trump’s business Empire was a profitable, conservative affair, he would probably be OK. But it isn’t. Instead it is a vast hyped up bubble completely dependent on the big man's bluster and truck loads of dodgy Russian cash.

More than anyone else, Trump reminds me of Mussolini: vain, boorish, vicious and clown like. The Italians bought what Il Duce had to sell and they backed him to get the trains to run on time. They took his pipe dreams at face value and turned a blind eye to what an idiot he was. It didn’t work out so well of course. Mussolini would have crashed and burned years before a Milan mob hung him up from a butcher’s hook if he hadn't had Hitler to prop him up. And here is where the real darkness threatens. Il Duce was too much of a clown to be much of a threat to anyone other than the poor deluded sods who voted for him. However his success paved the way for Hitler and the price of that particular Austrian corporal was paid by the fifty million who died as a result of his genocidal hatred.

I guess all of this brings me to the strapline of this blog, namely what makes Scotland different. Being the white half of a mixed race couple gives me a very particular view of the racist contagion which is slowly seeping into the countries of the west. The old Lancastrian mill towns I once called home are no longer a place to be for a family like ours. We got out a quarter of a century ago and we have thanked our lucky stars ever since. We are now meeting more and more similarly motivated refugees and we always share the same kind of conversation: thank Christ we got out. As of now, Scotland is different. Anecdotally we hear of junior doctors with the wrong kind of surname or skin colour upping sticks from the Brexit heartland and heading north to our Caledonian sanctuary.

We have been down this road before. Hundreds of years ago the Scottish Enlightenment shone a light into a dark world. We can do the same again. We can be like Sweden was in the midst of the Hitler nightmare. We can become an island of tolerance and decency in an ocean of bigotry and hate. Of course, before we can become a shining city on the hill, we need to cut the cords with our increasingly nasty Siamese twin.
We need to see the light.

And once we have seen the light, we can be the light. Lord alone knows, the world needs all the light it can get right now.


  1. We need to burn brighter than ever in these times, Scots have been at the forefront of loads of the enlightened moments in history. Hopefully that won't change anytime soon.

  2. Again, an insightful and frighteningly accurate portrayal of the situation. Mark, would you be prepared to discuss the work you do at Firstbase with a small group of students?

    1. So long as you are not too far away I would be delighted to.

    2. Hi Mark, no I'm at Sanquhar so your observations on what our community has been through resonates. If it is okay I will contact the charity to arrange date time etc? Is that the best way? Pupils have read some of your work and one of my classes is studying social inequality atm. Thanks!!! Darren

  3. Again, an insightful and frighteningly accurate portrayal of the situation. Mark, would you be prepared to discuss the work you do at Firstbase with a small group of students?

  4. Sanquhar is nae bother whatsoever. 07770 443483 is the best number to get me. Mark