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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.

Twerking Miley Cyrus and ‘acting black’

When Miley Cyrus appeared writhing around the VMA stage one of the main criticisms levelled at her was that she was stealing from black culture. I argued that culture is there to be shared and appropriated but lamented that Miley chose to mimic a 2D stereotyped form of black culture and that she didn’t even do it well.

miley guardian

Former Hannah Montana sweetheart Miley Cyrus’s gyrating bikini-clad performance at last night’s MTV VMA awards left watching celebrities open-mouthed and set Twitter ablaze.

Miley, the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, the wholesome country and western singer with the ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, has been raising eyebrows for the last four years  as she moves further and further away from the teenage Disney channel character that set her on the way to becoming a $150m star at just 20.

Her hyper-sexualised set, which included rubbing her butt into Robin Thicke’s crotch and getting extremely personal with an oversized foam finger, drew criticism from feminists for degrading her sex and from some pundits for ‘picking the pocket of black culture’… (more…)

Paradise lost?

I’ve just returned to work from a fortnight in Jamaica.

My mother’s from there so we spent a lot of time with family.

In an eventful trip I gave my Mum away at her wedding and gave the remembrance speech at my Grandmother’s funeral – unfortunately she just died before we got a chance to see her.

Even in a country that is financially challenged, our family are pretty poor.

Many of them live in the hilly region of the island close to Christiana in a community of self-built shacks and houses with temperamental electricity and sporadic water supply.

Despite the incredible sunsets and beaches of Negril, the time spent with uncles, aunts, cousins and nieces in the red dirt of central Jamaica was undoubtedly the highlight of the trip.

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There was an immense feeling of community and I counted around 30 children who seemed to be roaming freely from house to house.

Most there can’t afford healthcare. My uncle showed us how he had removed several of his teeth with pliers and a hot nail (and a large amount of (more…)