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, July 31, 2019


I haven't written a blog in ages. I don't know why really. It's not like there hasn't been much going on in the world to write about. Maybe finishing my latest novel, 'The Last Valley', has left me feeling a bit washed out. I guess it was kind of a hard write: fiction yes, but based on delving into facts from a very dark place.

The summer days have drifted by. I have been a red van man, driving through the exploding greenscape of Dumfries and Galloway delivering ridiculous numbers of food parcels. My writing time has been restricted to wading through endless application forms. More money to buy more food to fill more food parcels to feed more hungry people who are getting more screwed over with every passing day. Thirty years ago, people were screwed over by massed ranks of cops in full riot gear smacking truncheons against sheilds and yelling 'ZooooLooooo!!!'. Now people are screwed by the small print. The dry as bones Catch 22 of a benefits system meticulously designed to herd people into godforsaken jobs.

Sometimes the news stumps up smart people from think tanks to lay out the statistics of spreading poverty. On the ground it means more and more emergency food. It's not like the Toxteth riots or the battle of Orgreave. No smashed windows. No burnt out cars. No skies filled with drifting smoke. It is a crisis played out behind closed doors. A lid kept on with prescriptions for tens of millions of anti depressants. Every day.

And everywhere I go, I have the same brief conversation. Hi Mark, how are you? Fine. And you're still busy? Yeah. We're always busy. Always busy. Because there is absolutely no end in sight.

And my days driving from small town to small town are nothing remotely unusual. The whole of the western world is trying to come to terms with our new reality. Ageing populations which don't make anything any more. Ageing populations angrily demanding to be granted the life we they have become accustomed to. It's the Walt Disney version of the 1950's when we still had an Empire and you could go for days at a time without seeing a brown face.

All of which means the preferred answer to all the hard questions is buffoon like, so called hard men who promise a return to the good old days. Only a few short years ago, these were mildly amusing fringe figures. Fodder for the cartoonists. Yapping with false ferocity like chained up poodles, safe behind the garden fence.

Suddenly they don't seem so funny any more. Suddenly they have got a hold of the reins of power and now they have the chance to do their worst. Countries have gone down like dominos. One by one. Faster and faster. Russia and Hungary and Poland and Turkey and Italy and the Philippines and Brazil. And America.

And now us. 

The wolves are no longer howling from deep inside the forest. They have come out through the tree line. They're in the garden. Snarling. Throwing themselves at the back door.

And suddenly the news brought us pictures from a conference centre in North Carolina. Ranks of hate filled faces. White faces. Old faces. Sweating faces.

Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!”

You could almost feel the twitching of their right arms. A hair's breadth from going the full 'Seig Heil'.

As a father to mixed race sons, this kind of thing chills the blood. And no matter how many bland faced Tory MP's from safe Surrey seats take to the airwaves to assure me it can't happen here, my blood stays chilled. I look at all the hate filled old white faces from a Farage rally and I see the same faces as the ones in North Carolina.

Once upon a time I spent three years of my life being a historian. Fat lot of use that proved to be! But it makes it hard not to compare and contrast. Then and now. Undercurrants and trends. Like a ranting idiot who everyone wrote off as a joke figure. A useful idiot for the great corporations who craved lower taxes and less workers rights. And who cared if he went a bit over the top when he went off on one about the Jewish thing. All hot air. Nothing to worry about. So long as it kept workers out of Unions, then all was deemed fair in love and war so far as the men in the boardrooms were concerned. So long as it sat well on the bottom line. So long as the share price kept going in the right direction. The top brass at Mercedes and Krupps and IG Farben were sure they would always retain complete control of their ranting Austrian puppet. Their corporal. And the Prussian generals were similarly confident. They could keep their useful idiot on a short leash. Who the hell was he anyway? A nobody. A laughing stock. The idiot's idiot.

And they were all equally unconcerned by the Italian idiot who liked to fly into Tempelhof airport like a strutting peacock to get himself onto the newsreels.

And then it all changed. The corporations and the the generals were happy enough when their useful idiot decided to roll over Czechoslovakia. Of course they were. It was good for the bottom line. Good for the share price. And they were more than happy to accept his invitation to attend a celebratory victory banquet in the Hradcany Castle in Prague. Picture them in their fine uniforms and black tie. Faces red with too much drink taken. Masters of the universe. Swapping tales about their favourite discreet banks in Zurich.

Until their useful idiot got to his feet and stood in the huge window which gave a panoramic view of the captured city below. Until their useful idiot suddenly started started to beat his chest like a gorilla. Like a lunatic. Like a psychopath. And for the first time they must have realised they had created a monster.

What goes around comes around. Now the great corporations have served up their own 21st century useful idiots. And once again they are all utterly certain they have a firm grip on the strings of their chosen puppets. And over the next weeks, we will all be subjected to the nauseating pictures of our useful idiot flying into Dulles International to pay homage to the useful idiot in chief.

Just like Mussolini once upon a time flew in to Berlin Tempelhof. Back in the day when the corporal had invited the press to take a look at his shiny new cutting edge camps in Dachau and Buchenwald. Will Trump take Johnson down to the border to check out the kids in cages? And will Johnson purr his appreciation and make some moronic joke about a pet hamster he once had?

But of course such comparisons are ridiculous. The world has moved on. These things can never happen again because bland faced Tory MP's from safe seats in Surrey tell us they can never happen again. Just like it could never be possible for thousands of white people in North Carolina to raise the roof with chants of 'Send her back' while the President of the United States of America stood there for fifteen long seconds drinking it in.

Thank God my family made the decision 25 years ago to up sticks and come to Scotland. And thank God for Scotland. When all the lights went out in the late 1930's, there were only a couple of countries who managed to steer clear of the killing madness which spread through Europe like a an unstoppable plague.

Sweden and Switzerland.

Sanctuaries. Places of sanity amidst the madness which left 50 million corpses in its wake.

Such is Scotland today. Right now. Thankfully we have found a way to head in a different direction. We have found a way to see the likes of Farage and Johnson for what they are. And Trump. And Le Pen and Silvini and Erdogan and Urban. And when our people take to the streets in their tens of thousands, it is to dream of a country where hope overrides hate.

Over the coming years I have no doubt there will be thousands and thousands who make the same decision as Carol and I made twenty five years ago. To get out of Dodge. To leave places of simmering hatred where the streets are no longer safe for anyone with the strong skin colour. Our London masters can crack the whip and laughingly dismiss our requests for our own immigration rules. They will slap us down with a public school smirk and their cheerleaders in the Telegraph and the Daily Mail will roar them on. Just like the right wing press once hailed the grand opening of Dachau and Buchenwald as a great triumph.

And for a while they will get the chance to bask in their control. Not for long, but for a while. But they will be powerless to stop internal migration. The Indian businessman with a thriving factory on the outskirts of Leicester who finally gets sick of his kids being called 'Paki' as they make their way to school. And when he chooses to up sticks and move his operation to an industrial park on the outskirts of Paisley, there won't be a thing our lords and masters in Westminster can do about it.

Things are falling apart in England. Hospitals and roads and prisons and schools. And as things fall apart, the cancer of strutting English nationalism will continue to spread. And as things fall apart, thousands and thousands of people will start to vote with their feet and come north to the sanctuary of Scotland. They will be doctors and teachers and business people. They will be young and old. They will be people with the energy and drive to make a life changing move and leave the hate and racism behind. And my God, we'll benefit just like America and Britain and eventually Israel benefited from the thousands of Jewish professionals and scientists who fled from Hitler before he slammed the door in their faces.

When the madness finally ground to a halt in 1945, Sweden and Switzerland emerged as two of the richest countries in the world and they have remained so ever since.

Just like Scotland will. Already we are in a uniquely blessed position with our climate and our huge resources and our limitless supply of clean water. We lack only two things to cement our place as the best place to be in a darkening world – Independence and people.

Well, as the useful idiots in Westminster do their worst, it seems pretty nailed on that both of these final jigsaw pieces will be coming our way soon.

So as the lights go out one by one south of the border, I thank god our mixed race family came to Scotland. Of course I do.