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Scotland – Don’t leave the party, help us change the music

I’ve always felt a weird connection to Scotland. I think it’s because of my surname.

Being a Mcleod allows me to wear a kilt when I want to show off at weddings but, as a descendant of Jamaica, my name probably has more to do with ownership than heritage.

Better Together?

Better Together?

Nevertheless, like most lefties, I have always had a massive affection for Scotland.

It was one of the few parts of the UK that refused to vote Tory even when much of the rest of the Union was greedily supping at the Thatcherite teat.

Stereotypes are always problematic, even when positive, but my view, through tartan-tinted glasses, of Scots is that they are calm, intellectual, socially-minded and humorous.

I have no doubt Scotland could be a successful and vibrant independent nation but I want Scotland to vote NO and stay with us.

Many on the left, like Billy Bragg, are supporting the YES vote, arguing Scotland should be free to form a socialist utopia which would be a beacon to the rest of the UK and Europe.

The sad truth is that even if Scotland achieved the society her people are crying out for, many in England would just shrug their shoulders in the same way they currently do about Scandinavia, and carry on.

The rest of England would be that little bit more Farage-friendly. For the left, Scotland’s exit would be like a sibling moving out of home and leaving us to deal with our bullying step father on our own – we would wish them well but be a bit fearful for our future.

Maybe if Scotland goes she can take Kent and Essex with her for balance?

I’d love our Scottish allies to stay and help us take back power from the forces of self-interest and social isolation.

Democracy works best when as large an electorate as possible has equal status on a macro level and as much genuine power as possible locally.

Despite the fear of sounding like John Lennon, I dream of a world with no borders and with a much more direct technology-aided democracy, devolved down to the lowest point possible.

Political leanings can change over generations but constitutional structures are more robust.

Picking one out of an alarmingly similar bunch of bad options twice a decade is a pretty poor version of democracy anyway.

Our societies have evolved from tribes, to villages, to cities, to states, to groups of states. This natural progression, if it comes with a genuinely fair distribution of rights and powers, offers the distant promise of a truly fair world.

With good reason, many fear sprawling, distant, bureaucracies leave people with less power and less involvement in the democratic process. This is simply because institutions like the EU and UK have been allowed to become detached from the people they serve.

The task is to make them truly democratic, not to break them up into smaller invented clumps of self-interested humanity.

Despite all of this, it’s been hard not to be amused by the woefully run ‘Better Together’ campaign.

In the last few panicked days of the campaign it sent three massively unpopular party leaders north of the border to remind Scotland what she might be able to escape from and apparently hired Mr Bean to hoist the saltire over Downing Street.

When your long-standing girlfriend says she needs time to think about your relationship, the decent thing to do is to give her space. The NO campaign instead decided to turn up on her doorstep every night shouting abuse and threatening to confiscate her puppy if she doesn’t take them back.

If Scotland votes to break free on 18 September, I won’t enjoy watching Alex Salmond striding around with a blue-painted face, laying claim to the iron throne of Scotland. It will be a small step away from the unified world I want to see but the short term silver lining will be an implosion of Cameron’s leadership.

I’m hoping for a NO vote but one that is dangerously close enough to give Cameron a bloody nose and to leave the Westminster establishment scrambling around for ways to make the UK more democratic.

Oprah Winfrey and travelling while black

Oprah Winfrey is one of the world’s richest women but it didn’t stop a Zurich shop assistant from assuming she couldn’t afford the bag she wanted to buy. I talk about the real risks of travelling when black and sadly, they are more troublesome than having trouble buying a £24,000 bag.

Oprah Guardian

Oprah Guardian

 

There was a depressing familiarity to Oprah Winfrey’s tale of racism in an upmarket Swiss boutique.

Billionaire TV presenter Oprah is a household name around the world but this didn’t stop the staff in an Zurich handbag shop from assuming she couldn’t afford the expensive bag she wanted to buy.

In Oprah’s case, she decided not to make a scene or to play the ‘do you know who I am?’ card, instead choosing to leave the shop and spend her money elsewhere.

Oprah knew just mentioning her experience would be pay back enough and already the owner of the boutique has apologised and tried to explain away the incident as a ‘misunderstanding’.

While £25k handbags are not normally on my shopping list, being made acutely aware of your race when you leave the safety of home is all too familiar…

Read the Guardian article

This article was originally published in the Guardian with thanks to Writers of Colour

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Cypriot deal hits the right targets

Cyprus pulled back from the brink of Euro collapse last night, as a deal was struck which is likely to see the breaking up of one her biggest banks and a massive levy, of up to 40%, on bank accounts with over €100k.

The pain will be long lasting for Cyprus.

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Laiki, the country’s second largest bank, employs 10,000 people and despite the accounts under €100k being guaranteed, there is still likely to be a run on the banks when they fully reopen.

I think the pain unleashed on common working people in various parts of Europe in order to save a doomed common currency is immoral. I would rather see countries do what they are there for – defending their citizens. (more…)