Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Rest in peace

A great man has died today.

I met James for the first time in The Grove pub, in Kelvingrove St, in the West End of Glasgow in September or October 2000. I was with a friend watching the Spanish football game in Sky Sports and he overheard us talking Spanish.
He introduced himself to us and I immediately recognised his name from BBC News stories about Scots serving with the International Brigades. We talked about the Spanish Civil War and the infighting within the Republican side. We also talked about politics and the demise of Communism. Although we disagreed on the issue of Communism, I had the utmost respect for him and his comrades who fought against fascism in Spain.

He was not fluent in Spanish but he could recite Lorca and Machado by heart, with soft Andalusian tones. You could tell he had learnt Spanish from an Andalusian person. Whenever he recited some verses, his eyes would well up a little bit. You could tell he had many stories to tell. I wish he had written a book about it.

I bought him a drink that night in The Grove, and thanked him for his courage and bravery in fighting for Spanish democracy. In fact, every time I saw him in Glasgow, I repeated the same procedure: I shook hands, sometimes a hug, like in the annual International Brigades gathering in Glasgow, and always thanked him.

Thank you James Maley.

The Herald
BBC News (and here)

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

It's time

It is time. Quite right it is time. Personally, I can’t wait.

It is time Scotland gets rid of the culture of dependency and subsidies.
It is time Scotland gets rid of the Labour mafia that dominates our local government and politics.

It is time that the city of Glasgow, where I have lived for the last 7 years, got rid of the local Labour mafia that has kept the city at the bottom of the table of living and social standards.

After 30 years of a Labour-dominated council, Glasgow has the lowest life expectancy in the UK. Some Glasgow wards have living standards below developing countries. This is the record of the Labour party in Glasgow: Easterhouse, Ruchill, Sighthill, Ruchazie, Parkhead, Ibrox.

This is what the Labour party has achieved for Glasgow: poverty, social exclusion and record levels of unemployment, record levels of alcohol and substance abuse, the shortest life expectancy, record levels of heart disease, record levels of knife crime and violence.

We can see what are the results of 30 years plus of Labour government in the city of Glasgow and the west coast of Scotland. For as long as we have a Labour dominated devolved government in Holyrood, where Glasgow leads (or rather sinks), Scotland will follow.

The Union has run its course. England and Scotland have different social priorities, different foreign interests and allies. England is truly becoming the 51st State, attaching itself to US foreign policy regardless of whoever is in power in the White House.

Any Westminster government (Labour or Conservative) is going to look after the interests of England, specifically the interests of the south-east, when determining economic and social policy.

I could write about the rights and wrongs of ending the Union from an economic perspective. But that would be missing the point.

For all the economic potential an independent Scotland would have, it is not about money. It is about being your own, doing your own, being responsible for your own decisions. Scotland’s economy is highly dependent on the public sector. At 51%, public sector spending in Scotland is one of the highest in the EU. Yet, the quality of public sector delivery (large class sizes, crumbling NHS hospitals, expensive and unreliable public transport) is low by EU standards.

It is time to change Scotland’s mindset. It is time to stop blaming Westminster for all our ills. It is time to start being a normal country in the EU. It is time to stop the decline.

Doubtless any split is painful and uncertain. I personally have nothing to gain from Scotland achieving independence. My pension entitlement will be at risk from the political negotiations that will settle the post-Union scenario. The industry I work in (investments and finance) is highly dependant on English clients. However, for the sake of Scotland’s future, it is imperative that something is done to stop the cultural and economic decline of this country. If I were lucky enough to have children, I would have no hesitation to vote for Scotland’s independence. I would not want my children to inherit the country as it is now: a subsidised, public-sector dominated economy; a country lacking self-confidence; a country with a permanent chip on the shoulder about England but also a country that hates itself; a country where success and economic profit is criminalised by the so-called Left, who have a quasi-total monopoly of local power in the central belt; a country with people whose life expectancy is lower than some places in the third world.

It is time to end the rot.
It is time to join the club of free nations in the world who determine their policy according to their needs, and not those of a bigger neighbour.
It is time.

I will be voting SNP on May 3.

Two articles from economist John Kay in the FT: here and here.
How the UK government lied about oil revenues.
The result of Labour policies in Scotland.