Corbyn & Scotland

I have a confession to make. I am not a good socialist. To my shame I enjoy the finest of Italian coffee machines, despise infighting and wear my beret in a sort of ironic homage to the Auld alliance rather than on a Che-inspired imperative. I also happen to think that any attempt to ‘retake Scotland’ is both ignorant and doomed. I like Jeremy Corbyn. He is honest, values driven, straight talking and honourable. All the qualities that are scorned by modern day politics, especially those of British power which through its agencies of media subversively convince us we need warlords, strong men and ‘decisive’ corporate shills. He is the kind of man who would make me rejoin Labour though I doubt I would make it past the energetic ‘Trotskyite purge’ that is in full swing. But liking Corbyn and understanding the dynamic of the Scottish moment are two different things. What happened in Scotland may have been bewildering to so many outside the nation. I found myself having to explain first how it had nothing to do with hating England to metropolitan friends in London and second trying to explain how my attachment to English radicalism inspired me to support not only the SNP but independence for Scotland.
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Those inside Scotland who either voted for the SNP or not. Or for independence or not new clearly something radical had happened. Something much bigger than the England-Scotland narrative on the MSM or the constant string of jester leaders Scottish Labour provided. There were structural shifts in terms of class, generational shifts in terms of party loyalty along with a hunger and hopeful vision for a better, fairer, sustainable system. This was exacerbated by a Labour Party that had been mired in ineffectiveness and arrogance but also one that had abandonment the social democratic ground it once created. Scotland didn’t leave Labour. Labour left Scotland, years ago.
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Now the argument may be that Corbyn’s ascendancy may create a situation where the Labour Party is in line with what many Scots believe is the path forward. However this fails to take into account that the ground on which these ideas have taken place has shifted. The independence referendum with its energy and passion as well as the counter arguments; called in to question the possibility that a grand socialist vision could be foreseeable in a union based fundamentally on imperial conquest and aggressive acquisition. A strong view is that even if a left government came to power in Westminster it would need to gain total hegemonic supremacy and form a new consensus to stop the Tories sweeping away progress. Unless this is gained Scotland would still be vulnerable and victim to the whims of the professional classes in England who under FPTP have disproportionate voting power.
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The Owen Jones view on ‘retaking Scotland’ also ignores the extent to which identity has been a bell weather for the SNP tsunami. But perhaps not in a way the old socialist analysis can comprehend. For the identity that has emerged for many in Scotland is based not only on civic nationalism but on the idea that to be Scottish is to challenge injustice, to take care of each other, to make our public realm; the embodiment of the soul of the nation accessible for all. In contrast to the British rhetorical of official culture this has become rooted as an alternative a politically potent resource for the SNP. To win back many left voters UK Labour would have to convince many that the British mission is free of its imperial hypocritical taint.
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Ironically the only thing that can ensure a Labour rebirth would be not only a totally overhaul in Scottish Labour of policies, people in leadership structure, PR machine and ethics. But additionally the solidification of a progressive English majority. Scottish voters are entitled to say to Corbyn and the English left that unless you convince us you can take England and remake it then we cannot fall back to our role as your comfort blanket. Scots are not entitled to prove anything anyone, rather the progressives of England must prove themselves to the Scots. I say this as an Englishman who main concern is the continuation and protection of the Scottish renaissance. But Corbyn must focus on England.
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Such language as ‘retaking Scotland’ still shows a flawed and arrogant logic at the heart of progressive politics in England. As if folk still after all we have seen haven’t got that things have changed, changed utterly. If this Corbyn victory turns into something bigger it will be partnership. Not a managing concern. I know many leftists in England who get this. We need the language and action to meet it. In 1258 the Provisions of Oxford,  a far more radical contract than Magna Carta was held aloft by Simon de Montfort Earl of Leicester that made even barons accountable to their social ‘inferiors’. A civil war broke out as a result which the young Edward I emerged victorious. The defeat of this progressive charter in England and usurpation of even the more timid Magna Carta sowed the seeds for the imperial designs on the rest of the British Isles. If you are English and progressive this must be reminder that us that we must defeat our tyrants at home.
you can read more from robert at robertsomynne.blogspot.com

Boot Camps for the Young Unemployed

So, this is what it has come to – boot camps for the young unemployed. Matt Hancock, the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, has announced ‘a government plan to send young unemployed people to boot camps to prepare them for work.’ To be honest, I have just heard the news and am trying to digest it. That young people are going to be punished in such an awful way is barely credible. Previous to the election I had written that workfare was bad enough, but boot camps? Yet again we have young people, many of whom will be vulnerable, many of whom will have issues that they require support with which will come before their employment status, many of whom will desperately require support and understanding will instead be getting sent on some sort of hyped-up work programme. I have to admit I am incredulous at this latest development.

As we know, young people are desperate to work, research consistently shows this. But instead we hear the same old tired rhetoric from Hancock, that there exists a “welfare culture that is embedded in some of Britain’s most vulnerable communities.” There is no evidence for this, and indeed studies which have tried to find evidence for this have been unable to do so. Young people are again suffering for their lack of political participation. Instead of trying to embrace young people and send a message of understanding which could assist their political inclusion, measures like these will simply further embed resentment.

The bottom line in all this of course, is quite simple. There is a dearth of job opportunities for young people leaving school with few qualifications. And boot camps will not create jobs. Yet again we have a government taking an individualised approach to the issue of employment. Instead of looking at the structural issues which impede working opportunities for young people, the Tories are looking to play the blame game – and so we hear the familiar rhetoric of feckless idleness and cultures of welfare dependency. We also had a window into this way of thinking last year, when Lord Tebbit suggested that ‘young unemployed people should be made to pull up ragwort from roadside verges in return for benefits.’ Schemes like this are not about stimulating opportunity, as there is no evidence that they do so. They’re a form of punishment designed to discourage young people from claiming benefits in the first place.

Be good

We know that young people’s entry into the world of work is bounded by and hindered by many factors, including, amongst others, poverty, family disadvantage, localised unemployment, disability, discrimination and not least – a genuine shortage of opportunities which welcome young entrants into the labour market. Not to mention the evidence which shows that an increasingly common experience for many young people is moving in and out of temporary, part-time or zero hours ‘McJobs’ and/or moving in and out of training and employment schemes or short term educational courses. Again, it is worth repeating, the evidence tells us young people *want* to work. What is needed is not a bigger stick, but genuine help for young people struggling in an increasingly fragmented and flexiblised employment market. Unfortunately that seems a million miles away when we hear of boot camps.

Boot camps? Can it get any worse?

you can read more from Alan at Exploring Youth Issues

Kezurrection Shuffle

Supplying useful information isn’t part of “Labour values”, so it’s hard to be sure how many people actually voted in the Scottish Branch Office Leadership Contest.  However, the percentage result suggests that, after abstentions and ruthless purging of sandal-wearing Trotskyists, it must have been at least 100. That would be 72 for serial sideline-carper Kezia Dugdale, 27 for beige bloke in an empty suit Ken Macintosh, and one spoilt ballot: probably Johann Lamont scrawling “WHAT DOES IT MATTER ANYWAY?” on her voting slip in green felt-tip.

But let’s not worry about numbers, as Treasury staff always used to say when squirting air-freshener over Gordy Broon’s latest PFI contract. It’s a brand new start for Scottish Labour!  Kezia’s youthful Vim will – we assure voters – instantly remove lingering Irn Bru stains. We’re down but not out!  Look at how we slapped around those chapatis at the Shadow Cabinet photo-op;  that’ll be you soon, electorate.  No more negative campaigning!  It’s goodbye “SNP Bad”, hello “SNP Bad, Except When We Pretend We Thought of Their Policies First”.

The usual social media commentators, burbling with enthusiasm, assure us that “Kez has no baggage”.  Hang on, folks; your doe-eyed fervour warms my heart, but didn’t she represent 50% of the most disastrous leadership team in the party’s history? That’s a bit more than “baggage”, that’s “a lorryload of bulging suitcases blocking out the sun”.

And as for that glitzy new pine-fresh Shadow Cabinet, I know she only has 37 other MSPs available, so it’s less a pool of talent than a spittoon, but hasn’t she chosen pretty well the same shower of 24-carat berks who’ve been bumping into the furniture since records began?  Apart from Neil Findlay, of course, who’s been dispatched through the gunk-tank trapdoor as punishment for backing a Head Office candidate who supports social justice and not blowing up half of Scotland.

To give Kezia some credit for innovation, this isn’t a Shadow Cabinet in the traditional sense.  Rather than precisely matching their SNP counterparts’ portfolios, SLab’s deckchair dozen propose to adopt a “cloud of midges” formation, attacking from all sorts of unexpected directions.  It’ll be an engaging mixture of aspiration and incompetence, like a pub team trying to play Total Football.  To fit in with this system, rumour has it that whinger-in-chief Jackie Baillie will have a special “owl extension” fitted to her neck to enable her to spout claptrap through a full 360 degrees without moving her feet.

It would be churlish to write off Kezia’s chances of making a success of her new job. She’s already come a long way, having survived the early experience of working for George Foulkes, which must be like having your brains scooped out with a melon-baller and replaced with cushion stuffing.  Her First Minister’s Questions performances may still be an uneasy compromise between the fatuity of Iain Gray and the milk-turning sarcasm of JoLa, but at least she’s learning to smile in TV interviews.  Okay, it’s still a bit unnatural, as if smiling’s the final item in a long mental checklist, just after “Did I leave the gas on?”, but she can do it perfectly well in selfies, so there’s hope for her.

BBC Scotland, or “downtrodden victims of Putinesque intimidation” in the words of the Gospel According To Nick Robinson, will naturally lend “Kez” every assistance.  Look out for Eleanor Bradford hole-punching thousands of bedpans in a hospital near you shortly, in preparation for this winter’s NHS “Rivers of Pee” crisis.

Less welcome may be the support, so far mercifully confined to print, of the increasingly bizarre Adviser from Hell, John McTernan. With the BBC inexplicably fawning over his laughable punditry, he’s at present otherwise occupied, but reports suggest he can show up on the doorstep looking for work within 45 minutes.  If he does, I’d advise Kezia to distract him with a pile of juicy postal votes, and then blooter him with a dull heavy object, such as James Kelly.

Kezia does have one advantage not enjoyed by her predecessors.  Short of packing all her MSPs into a bus and driving it over a cliff, there’s no mistake she can make that won’t be overshadowed by the jaw-dropping catastrophe enveloping UK Labour, or, as they must henceforth be known, the “Thanks for the £3, Entryists, Now Piss Off” Party.  Dear God, I haven’t seen this much self-inflicted damage since a drunken Edward Scissorhands poured itching powder into his Y-fronts.  It’s worth a wee blog post of its very own, if I can find a painkiller strong enough for my aching sides.

The corresponding disadvantage for Kezia is that she’s in limbo. Who knows what sort of Head Office she’ll be dealing with in six months’ time?  Will it be a Corbynista Politburo, commending her on her impressive five-year plan for the re-use of paperclips?  Will it be a Coodall/Kenham/Burper appeasement operation, urging her to clear her speeches in advance with Ruth Davidson?  Will it be nothing to do with her any more, because all her colleagues have joined a breakaway Scottish party led by Alex Rowley and she’s having to apply for a job as chief tour guide at Dismaland?

Ah, opportunity or obscurity – always the two faces of a career in politics.  Well, good luck, Kezia.  I’ve already chosen my progressive party for the 2016 Holyrood election, and it ain’t yours, but the SNP could do with decent opposition somewhere along the line, and your gender-balanced search for fresh faces – as long as they’re truly fresh, and not just a skipload of Westminster rejects – doesn’t seem a bad way to go.  (Yes, that is a polite way of saying, “Yer current lot are rubbish.”)

Hey, maybe the newbies might even feel inclined to take a more ambitious stance on devolution, or (gasp) be warmer towards the idea of independence.  Now wouldn’t that be something?

you can read more from William at To September And Beyond

“DON’T HATE THE MEDIA, BECOME THE MEDIA

“We are citizen live stream journalists, people like you are us”

 

Sitting at a table in the Glad Café, I was pleased to have the chance to catch up with the self-effacing founder member of Independence Live, Kevin Gibney. The Glad is a integral part of the Southside community, and in itself a key player in the Independence Live story.

Kev always stresses that it wasn’t just him and most people will be more aware of the other founding member, Derek McLean – the enthusiastic 8-badge Yes supporter of Jim Murphy’s now famous train journey – especially as Derek was often the public face of the organisation, but I thought it was time to hear from behind the camera.

 

We start by discussing pre-referendum politics.

Looking back, Kevin says he wasn’t as politically aware as he liked to think he was at the time. He believed he was on top of the politics scene, as he read the Guardian,, watched the news on TV, followed UK political happenings (and occasionally Scottish, when it hit the main headlines). And he always felt he had an instinctive leaning towards greater autonomy for Scotland, voting for Scottish devolution in the 1997 referendum.

 

As time passed, doubt in old political certainties crept in, the Westminster expenses scandal and global banking crisis occurred with the subsequent narratives blaming the poorest in society for the country’s woes and it seemed that Labour didn’t rise to the challenge. This then closely followed by the election of the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition and subsequent rise of austerity led to Kevin feeling very disconnected from Westminster and British politics.photo 3.PNG-001

 

After the referendum was announced, he kept waiting for the Guardian to give balanced reporting setting out the arguments from both sides of the debate. After a while he said it felt like a veil dropping when he realised that ‘his paper’ was as just as much a part of the establishment as all of the others. So, like so many others, he went online looking for further information, finding his answers in Wings Over Scotland, Bella Caledonia, Newsnet, etc.

 

Kevin then started to attend Yes events, in particular ones organised by RIC, such as at Langside Hall in June 2013 with Patrick Harvie, Jonathon Shafi and Liam McLaughlan. These meetings inspired him and, while he was happy to canvass and leaflet, he wanted to use his skills to spread the message further.

 

It was around this time he had been given an iPad, and with the help of Derek, they were involved with organising a meeting at the Glad that they intended to livestream. The two of them were incredibly nervous but they got through it, and it was events like these that enabled them to experiment, learning the best ways to facilitate the livestream. They also started working with Cherryman Media to improve the quality of their output, as he said it had to be watchable to engage people’s attention.

Getting the message out is the priority, and Kevin was pleased to add that they are able to get signing for the deaf on a number of their events covered. There is no group which he will not try to engage. One of his favourite events was one they set up for pro-indy ex-military, which lead to the formation of the Veterans for Indy group. This was done as a counter to all the “patriotic Union Jack waving”, such as the total co-incidence that Stirling just happened to get Armed Forces Day on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. VIDEO: https://youtu.be/hojDDZtU2vQ

 

Kev also made links with Business for Scotland. He says that he attended the inaugural Business for Scotland meeting at a hotel in Glasgow where seven speakers all stated that they wanted a fairer Scotland. He wanted to get that side of the economic case out to non-business people, to fight the ‘Too Wee, Too Poor” stories which were being spread. Ivan McKee from BfS has since become a regular contributor to the site. The economic event at the Glad, organised with help from Crawford at Southside Session, with Ivan & Michelle Thomson MP, filmed by Cherryman Media, has been viewed around 100,000 times.

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/1W8cKHcZn60

 

It was around early 2014 that the first crowdfunders started to help fund the small group that had now formed, to pay for equipment, setting up events, travel etc. Post referendum, the increased workloads had put pressure on Kevin, as he needed to be able to set aside more time for the project, so he decided to walk away from his own business and concentrate on doing Independence Live full time, supported by the crowdfunder donations. He stops for a minute to add that he could not have put the hours in without the support of his wife Claire. You get the feeling that the last two years have been non-stop for them, with the frenetic run-up to the referendum, followed by the general election, streaming events, training others and providing as professional a system as possible, available to be used by other groups.

 

As it says on their website:

 

“We have two main aims: one is to facilitate and democratise the news coverage from anywhere by using citizen journalists and a second is to further expand our group across Scotland.”

 

Kevin is thinking big. He takes his motto from J. P. Morgan “Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.”

 

Independence Live currently has over 25 active individuals involved, including the Glasgow and Edinburgh groups. However, the ambition is for this to grow, to provide coverage of news and culture all over Scotland, and beyond. He sees the groups expanding organically, as those trained then train others, increasing the range of groups and subjects covered. He is also keen to point out that other groups can use them to host their own livestreams.

 

The site has expanded beyond purely the events, and now includes blogs and videos. As they have the ability to Skype livestream, the world is now their oyster, with interviews already taking place from USA, Spain and France.

 

The latest development is of course the IndyLive app, which was launched a few weeks back. But that is not the end of it, with the links Independence Live has formed with a wide range of pro-independence groups, the next stage is a super-app, which if he manages it will be astounding, and will ensure that I for one will NEVER be able to go offline. It seems there are downside to being a political anorak.

 

Independence Live can be found at:

www.independencelive.net

Youtube: www.youtube.com/IndependenceLive

Twitter: @liveIndyScot

Email: liveindependence@gmail.com

PLEASE CHECKOUT THE CROWDFUNDER CLICK HERE

IT’S AGREAT CAUSE AND WORTHY OF YOUR SUPPORT

A lunch at the fringe

EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL 7th to 31st August 2015
Assembly Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh, Studio 2, 6-30 August 1.30pm
My review of a great lunchtime show to catch
The Last Laugh is an interesting piece, mixing very black humour with sarcastic relationship drama.
On entering the theatre you are met with a film tribute of one Eddie Butler, the main character (played by Keir McAllister) whose career is the main theme of the production.
After a successful tour of a mysoginistic show Eddie returns to Edinburgh Fringe with a follow-up, at which an obviously pro-feminist member of the audience Grace (played by up and coming Stand-up Larah Bross) gets up and interrupts his performance, whiplashing him with her tongue she proceeds to walk out. Eddie, in an attempt to retrieve the situation explains what he is about and persuades her to sit down again.
The whole show thereafter revolves around the professional and personal relationship of Eddie and Grace.
The egoistic battle between the mysoginist and the feminist culminates in the roles being switched. Eddie becomes the underdog and Grace achieves worldwide fame.
The characters of Eddie and Grace as protrayed by Keir McAllister and Larah Bross are brought to life very cleverly. You can easily recognise and have a laugh at the slightly run down jaded Eddie and the ambitious rampant feminist Grace.
It is a masterfully put together work which by combining the topics of femnism and mysoginy with the social politics of being a comedian or comedienne at the Edinburgh Fringe creates a very dark satirical humorous drama.
The creative risks taken in putting together The Last Laugh have worked superbly it is an extremely well written drama that is worth watching.
Throughout the month of August 7th – 31st August I have a few shows to catch.
As I really would like to share a flavour of the Festival Fringe from the perspective of someone who lives in the city I will be out and about on a daily basis, reviewing some of the shows, catching some of the street performance and the market city variety that goes on each year I will also be visiting some of the international eateries and places to stay in the city.
I hope to be posting something every day of what is happening. On the Scotland Positive Page on Facebook, my wordpress blog:  www.aworldofcontemplation.wordpress.com or www.leithunique.wordpress.com, and on Twitter @leithunique.
It will be wonderful for me if I can inspire a visit or visits to Edinburgh.
So here’s the first bit of information:  There are over 8000 performers from all over the world in Edinburgh this year.
There are so many festivals going on, the Fringe programme itself is more like a catalogue than a programme and it is quite difficult to choose what to go to.
I would love some feedback on what I post.
Hope everyone enjoys what I present.

The Butterfly

I have just been reading a passage in the Bible. The one about the pharisees not believing that Jesus could heal a blind man.
I always know that wherever I open the Bible there is something for me to understand that pertains to what is happening in my life and this case is no exception.
The last few months have been very stormy not just for happenings worldwide but personally for my friends and myself. In particular over the last few weeks with no time to relax and take stock before the tide came in again.
You may wonder what this has to do with this particular passage, the answer is quite a lot.
You see, from my own perspective there have been a few disappointments that really rocked my world.
In my own blindness over what society expects and how to deal with what came up, I have not, on reflection, had enough faith, or indeed time to have faith to look and keep my focus on the learning side of what happened.
Now, on a day I have decided to give myself, reflecting in a quiet moment, I think I see the truth.
“You cannot trap a butterfly in a cage.”Sandra Marshall – 2004
We all have dreams and we all have our own realities.
My own dream is huge. There is a lot of learning involved and all that happens both positive and negative is part of the learning curve that could lead to my dream becoming real, if I pick up the threads correctly.
There are others though, that have dreams, ideas, ways of life “normal?” society cannot live with, relate to, or understand, because of the narrow margins and box-like structures within which we live our lives.
My own struggles with living the way I am expected to from birth to death have brought about so much stress, anxiety, grief, narrow-mindedness and have, I now recognise (I hope I am not too late!!!), held me back so many times it is unbelievable.
What does the daily struggle mean for those much more sensitive, whose brains run much faster, or a different way from yours or mine?
We can see the debris all around us. Frustrated lives, lack of self, addiction, mental health problems, stress, anxiety, depression a multitude of cause and effect.
People who try so hard to fit-in that they lose their lives because it just is not the way they were expected to live.
What if there is a genius out there who could solve some of the world’s huge problems, who feels that it is just not worth trying, he/she will not be heard above the cacophony of “you are this, you are that, you can’t do that it is not the right way, stop!”
We are all butterflies, where are the butterflies has anyone seen any this year? Importantly, why can we not let the butterflies go free, without judgement, and see where they take us?

Tales from the Southside Part 6 – Beautiful Cosmos

The latest addition to the Art Village family in Shawlands is the vintage clothing shop, Beautiful Cosmos, which takes over the Creation Space every Saturday (plus occasional Fridays and Sundays).

 

I spoke to Flore DeHoog, the owner, a couple of weeks ago (Yes, I know I’ve been slow writing this up – it’s been the summer holidays) to ask how a Dutch DJ ended up selling vintage clothing in Glasgow. She explained that she had studied Art & Education in Holland, before coming to The School of Art around eight years ago to complete a Textiles degree, after which she remained in the west end as a freelance textile designer.

 

Her love of vintage clothing resulted in her working at the Glasgow Vintage Company. However, she finally saw sense and moved to the south side (yup, I’m biased, deal with it). She spent some time working at the Glad Rags thrift shop, which gave her the idea to set up Beautiful Cosmos. Despite all our artisan coffee shops, there has been a dearth of vintage shops in the area.photo 3-002

 

The shop first opened in November 2014, to a great response. Fleur was keen to make visiting the shop an experience, and used her musical connections to ensure there was regular live music. Artists who performed there have included Stevie Jackson, from Belle & Sebastian, Alasdair Roberts, and Honey and the Herbs. I’m pleased that this is something she plans to continue to do in this new location.

 

So, why the move to Art Village? It was simple, she replies, the old shop was just too quiet in the week. Rachel from Glad Rags, played business matchmaker, and suggested she speak to Patrick, who was pleased to help out. Part of the Art Village’s remit is to support local small businesses, plus attracting a new demographic to the galleries is never a bad thing.photo 2-002

 

So the deal was done, and for part of every weekend the Creation Space is transformed into a snug vintage shop. It’s great, you still get to see the art in the gallery, but there is a completely different energy to the space, including a steady crowd of bargain-hunting vintage fans of both genders. And yes, there is a hipster element, and some truly magnificent beards have been spotted in the vicinity.photo 1-002

Who’s going to lose, by changing the Blues and Twos?

This week, Welsh Labour are at it again, and as a result, I am having to have a go at them (again).

I have already written about the sorry state of affairs that our beloved NHS has become in Wales thanks to the sheer ineptitude and insolence of Welsh Labour (especially thanks to the ‘work’ of the Health Minister, Mark Drakeford and his deputy, Vaughan Gething) after 16 years in power!

Spiralling waiting times, slow response times and ever increasing pressures, the list just keeps getting longer. Something must be done, and quickly!

But before I carry on, every time that I write about the NHS, it must always go without saying (or writing) that we in Wales must thank the tireless work that the thousands of doctors, nurses and staff that work in the NHS in Wales do for us. Thank you.

In recent weeks, the ever mounting pressures placed on the NHS by the Health Minister 150 miles away, in the corridors of power, has faced national uproar by declaring that NHS staff should work for 7 days a week, prompting a social media revolt with the hashtag #ImInWorkJeremy showing selfies of hundreds of NHS staff at work.

Quite frankly, good on the NHS staff! These Tories really know how to sell this ‘One United Kingdom’ approach…

Now, it’s Wales’ turn, and I think we have done one better. Sorry to disappoint you Cameron.

Now when it comes to the Emergency Services, Wales is a bit of an embarrassment. Ambulance response time in Wales are the slowest in the whole of the UK.

You saw right. The slowest.

According to a report by the BBC, published on the 28 January 2015, ambulance response times in Wales are the worst on record.

The target for a Category ‘A’ call out in Wales (a response that must be answered in 8 minutes or less) is 65%, whereas the UK target is 75%. But it gets worse. A lot worse.

In December 2014, the figure achieved was 42.6%. So out of the 65% target, only 65% of callouts were met.

I’ll give you a moment…

Now traditionally, when asked about this, the First Minister Carwyn Jones would give a shallow answer and then do his little comparison of Wales against England. After that, he would back up his comparison by stating that Scotland doesn’t publish their figures and so Wales and Scotland can’t be compared.

Well I can. Shall we compare? Hold on to your hats (or kilts).

If Carwyn Jones actually did a bit of research on the Scottish Government’s website, it wouldn’t take him long to find out the response times in Scotland. Or would it…?

Scotland, along with England and Northern Ireland have a target of 75% for Category ‘A’ callouts. The Scottish Government under the leadership of the SNP have published figures of 73.9% in 2013/14 and 74.7 in 2012/13.

That makes an impressive 98.5% and 99.6% respectively. Read it and weep Carwyn.

Compare that with Wales which has an abysmal 51.0% in November 2014 and from 57.6% from December 2013.

So out of the target of 65%, the figures make for bad reading:

  • 89% of Code Red callouts were met in 2013
  • 78% of Code Red callouts were met by Nov 2014
  • 65% of Code Red callouts were met by Dec 2014.

That is a decrease of 24% in 2 years. But that is only just the tip of the iceberg.

A review into these poor response times was called for back by Carwyn Jones in September 2013, but luckily for Welsh Labour, recess has arrived.

When stating about these times, Carwyn said “Well, we can’t review the targets until we’ve met them”. He went on to say “I mean, quite naturally people will say if we try and change them without meeting them that we are trying to shift the goalposts.”

The last time they were met was October 2013. That’s 20 consecutive months the target has been missed.

Now, I’m sure the First Minister knew that reviewing ambulance targets was a risky move as the public would have been made aware of this disaster and it could have been very bad for him and indeed, his party’s power.

But now he has decided to chicken out (again) and shift the goalposts himself, trying to do so without anyone knowing. And he has moved them far, far away.

Anything to keep power, eh?

So now, Carwyn has decided to scrap target times altogether. Without consulting the public and behind closed doors. What’s more, in an attempt to cut off his nose to spite his own face, the Welsh Labour government has also changed the definition of a Category ‘A’ or Code Red callout.

They have decided that the number of these callouts should be dropped from 40% of all the eight minute target callouts to just 10%.

Frankly, it is Labour’s terrible mismanagement of our NHS in Wales that has led to this shameful failure in performance and only a change at the top will put that right. And that starts with getting rid of this lacklustre ‘Welsh’ Labour Government who have been in control for far too long.

Politically, this move by Labour has been shot down in flames as the leader of Welsh Liberal Democrats leader, Kirsty Williams, had a great crack at Carwyn, stating “targets should be about “patient outcome, not political convenience”.

She went on to deliver the killer blow: “Of course, it is politically convenient for the Welsh Labour government to scrap targets that they’ve been incapable of meeting, especially with an election just around the corner”. Ouch! Someone better call an ambulance…

Out of any Welsh political party, Plaid Cymru have been the most vocal, described the trial as a “dangerous experiment” and said Labour was “moving the goalposts instead of dealing with the issue”.

Quite right they are too.

And that is exactly it. Welsh Labour are fiddling with the numbers to try and rescue the situation so it suits them. Well the plot has failed and they have been caught ‘red handed’. Get it…? (I never was a great comedian…)

Now it falls to us as the people of Wales to get rid, once and for all, this terrible government who have done nothing apart from leave our country in a worse state than when it was when they arrived back in 1999.

An education system that is failing so many children, a stagnant economy with despairing levels of poverty and a crumbling health service at breaking point. This simply can’t continue any longer.

With Labour lurching irrevocably to the right, someone must occupy the space that has been left by the empty branch. One party must expand and occupy this space.

Wales has never given cause for the right and has voted Labour for nearly 100 years. If Wales is to change for the better, change must first happen where Labour are the strongest.

The South Wales Valleys. Welsh Labour’s heartland.

A traditional breeding ground for Labour and a place the other parties must mount an assault if they are to be removed from and challenged for power. In other words, someone must make them mortal again.

The Valleys are also a shining example of their legacy whilst they have been in power. High unemployment and some of the most deprived areas in not just Wales but the UK as a whole. A place that has been neglected after the Iron Lady’s deliberate de-industrialisation of the area. A mysteriously beautiful place that bears the scars of a great and rich past and still continues to today.

Labour have always either claimed to ‘stand up’ to the Tories or ‘stand up’ for Wales. In both cases, I have very rarely seen any proof that such a phrases should be given to them. Just look at the number of abstainers there were when it came to the cruel Welfare Bill proposed by the Tories. 25 Labour MP’s were elected from Wales. 7 chose to vote against.

That is inexcusable behaviour.

The fact of the matter still remains that Labour have never known what it is like, after 16 years, to be an opposition party. I think that time and that opportunity has arisen and is well overdue to them.

But by leaning to the right as a Nation doesn’t mean we should give the right a chance at power. We would only be part of the problem we are currently living in. Hypocrisy at its finest.

We need to follow Scotland’s example and stand UP for our country and not aside for Westminster, as Labour are doing all a bit too often. Someone with a backbone and guts to take them on.

The answer is simple. What greater weapon to use that the power of the vote?

Simple, easy and effective. So let’s get out there and give Labour the kicking they deserve.

Let’s Talk Bioresonance: Part 2 – My Experience So Far

First things first, I should just say that I wrote this a year ago, so any time frame mentioned is for back then, not now.

If you haven’t done so already, may I suggest you give Part 1 of this subject a read. It’ll help you understand (hopefully) what Bioresonance actually is. You can do that by simply clicking the link below:

http://losheps0212.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/let-talk-bioresonance-part-1-what-is-it.html

Once you’ve read that, just come right back here & carry on reading Part 2.

Ok so you’ve read Part 1 & are now an expert in the field of Bioresonance but you’re still probably wondering what it’s like to actually experience this treatment.  Well don’t worry because that’s what this post ia all about, my experience so far. Be warned this will also be a long post, so I advise rests for my fellow M.E Warriors & again I’ve had to write this over a few days.

Right then, let’s begin shall we?

I had a couple months waiting time, from making my first appointment to actually getting there.  As you can imagine I was on count down, just willing the days to come & go fast, as by that point, my health had gotten worse & for the most part I was now housebound, only able to venture out a couple times a week & then that usually resulted in sheer exhaustion & pain. However, as the date (18th June 2014) drew closer, the nerves & stress of the unknown began to surface & this resulted in my body producing adrenalin. Now as all those with M.E know, this is like being injected with poison every single day, so by the time the day of my appointment arrived, I was feeling pretty bad to say the least.

So nausea at an all time high, we set off on the two & a half hour journey to Bramley, Leeds for my first two hour consultation.  I don’t remember much from the journey, I think I was a little quiet.  I remember taking a couple of pictures of the scenery & sending them to a friend that was texting me & I think I got a message off another friend saying they hoped everything went well.  But apart from that, the journey was a blurr really, I think that was because I was concentrating on keeping my stress & nerves down.

We got there with some time to spare, which was good because it meant I could have a breather, have a granola bar & my next lot of medication (a true spoonie is never without her pills & or a snack) I’ll add in here, that we were in one of the specialist’s houses, as the treatment was done in his conservatory at the time (they’re now in a little office unit)  So we meet one of my specialists, who is just lovely & has had M.E & used the Bioresonance treatment to make himself better!  I don’t often speak face to face to people that have experienced what I’m going through, but it was just so wonderful speaking to him & when I was telling him how I am with this illness, the nods of knowing, understanding & hearing the words “I know exactly what you mean” were so comforting & made me feel like I was in good hands.

Ok now let’s get down to business, the real reason you’re here reading this post: To learn what this treatment is like;

So I get comfy in the chair, feet on the metal plates, probes in hand & the machine is turned on. This first time is a full body check basically & as frequencies start to block & I’m told what’s being found, I’m then asked about certain symptoms & my health in general.  I’m not going to go into detail on every little thing that was discovered, they’re private & really things I only want my mum & my specialists to know about, not the whole world, as there are things that I would like to remain private regarding my treatment & what I’m being treated for in addition to the M.E.

The main point of interest really that was found, in keeping with the whole subject of this blog, is that I have a whole load of Epstein Barr Virus!  A lot of it was found in a number of glands in my brain (it sounds so weird!) so I was asked to place the smaller more intensive treating probe on my forehead to begin with. As soon as I did so, I could feel the treatment doing it’s thing.

The only way I can describe it, is if I you get two magnets & play with them, trying to fit them together, you can feel a force between them, one magnet rejecting the pole of the other.  It was the strangest feeling & with every passing moment, the pain I was feeling in my head was getting worse.  I’m not going to lie, this was quite a painful experience when it truly got going & I had a lot of time spent on my head. The Epstein Barr was sat in a whole host of places in my brain, that effected all different functions throughout my body, including my emotions & my nervous system.

When these points in particular where beginning to be clear of the virus, my adrenaline began to kick in as a reaction & I could feel that poison running through me & I began to shake.  As if that wasn’t enough, my emotions began to become more intense & out of nowhere I began to cry & as one of my friends would say, I was a “hot mess!”

I like to think I’m pretty tough, my tolerance for pain has improved a lot out of necessity over the past year, but my specialist looked at me at one point & said “you can take a break you know” I don’t remember really saying anything to this, I think I just nodded, all the while my body was still shaking & I had tears rolling down my face.  I was looking so attractive & very thankful I don’t wear mascara!  I took the probe off my head & he set the machine to work on calming down my nervous system for me. There’s no way I could have calmed myself as quickly as he got the machine too. I also went through a couple of lovely colour changes while this was all going on; from my usual pale white to the wonderful grey that every M.E Warrior knows & back to pale white.

I will point out here, that this wasn’t & isn’t the normal reactions to the Bioresonance treatment in general.  This was my own body reacting to what was being done & partially due to the virus fighting against the frequencies that were killing it.  Getting rid of the virus allows the effected parts of the brain to begin to heal & begin to work correctly again. That is what I was experiencing.

I’ve not had this intense a reaction since, yes at certain times, I’ve felt some pain when being treated for certain things but nothing like that first treatment. I’m actually very sensitive to the Bioresonance treatment, more than most people, so I can feel it working & can actually pin point which areas are being worked on. I also find, when the Epstein Barr Virus is being worked on, it sets off certain symptoms, my temperature goes through a number of variations, my nausea kicks in more & one that’s always fun, the muscle spasms multiply, especially in the tops of my arms.  Again this is more likely the virus fighting to stay alive than any adverse reaction to the treatment itself.

So after my treatment was over, I somehow managed to get from the house to the car, put on my hoodie, put my hood up, laid down in the back of the car & just closed my eyes pretty much until we got home.  I was a bit of a wreck for the next few days but by the following week I’d picked up a bit & one thing I did notice, was that my muscle spasms have lessened a little & they’re still not as bad as they used to be.  My mum has also noticed that I no longer go grey when I’m crashing, this isn’t such a good thing, as she can no longer read me & I’m now having to listen even more to my body & be even more open on how I’m actually feeling & when I’ve had enough.

One revelation (if you will) regarding this is that the second specialist I am now seeing said that the Epstein Barr is incredibly deep in the cells of my body.  He began to ask me when I thought I became ill; now I’ve always thought a bad case of swine flu triggered it off around 2008/2009.  But my mum said, that she wasn’t so sure, she remembers me hitting the age of 11/12 & becoming incredibly exhausted all the time, resulting in missing a lot of school. I would never make it through a full term without having time off.  She said after a while of this, as I got older, I seemed to get better but then after leaving school & going to work, I then went through stages of having no time off to missing on average a day a week from work due to sickness & exhaustion.  But again, I seemed to come right, until around 2009/2010. By the time 2011 hit I seemed to be struggling again, 2013 I finally got a diagnosis for what was wrong; M.E/CFS or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (to give it’s proper name & if you think it’s hard to say, you should try living with it) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

As my mum was relating this, my specialist was in full agreement & from what he could see as to how deeply the Epstein Barr is in me, I have likely had it since I was 11/12 years old, as my mum has figured out.  So with that revelation, I’ve actually had undiagnosed M.E for 18 years & diagnosed for a year now, in fact, it was a year last month since my official diagnosis.

Anyways, I’ve had four treatments so far over the course of two months & I’m going to my fifth this coming Wednesday.  Each treatment has become easier, less painful & the amount of things I’m being treated for is becoming less each time, which means more time can be spent on clearing my Epstein Barr Virus, which is the main reason I’m having the treatment in the first place, it’s the main thing that stops me having a normal life.  I will admit the improvements haven’t been massive so far & I’m still very much up & down daily, but that is to be expected as my body is dealing with a lot right now & it’s still early days.  Plus the traveling is a bit of a killer for me, I can be exhausted by a 20 minute car journey, so a two & half hour one there & back leaves me dead for a good few days.  The day I see improvement in my PEM (Post Excursion Malaise) from the journey, that’s the day, I will know that I’m beginning my recovery but until then, I’m just doing my best to get through the bad days & enjoy the good.

Due to this fact, I’m still on very strict rest, which is driving me crazy!  I get out a couple times a week but not really any more than that.  I’ve been told that although in time, I’ll likely begin to feel much better & feel like I can have days where I can do more, my body is simply not up to it & I will set my treatment back & likely do more damage. The repair stage of this treatment hasn’t begun yet, that will start once everything that shouldn’t be in my body is pretty much gone.  After all you can’t begin to repair something if the cause of the damage is still there, the repair work would be futile!

So I think that pretty much covers my experience so far with Bioresonance, please do not be put off by my reaction during my first treatment.  I’m sharing this to help anyone considering this treatment to be aware of what may go on, as I didn’t have a clue.  Everyone’s experience with this treatment will be different, the way my body reacted will likely be completely different to someone else & it’ll also differ from illness to illness.  Even cases of M.E will likely all have different reactions to this, I mean, that one isn’t hard to understand considering how variable M.E itself is from person to person.

I hope after reading this & Part 1 on the subject of Bioresonance treatment, it has made it at least a little clearer as to what I’m having done & how it’s been for me so far.  I hope this post finds all my fellow M.E Warriors as well as they can be & all the non M.E Warriors staying healthy & doing well.

Thank you for reading & take care everyone.

Tales from the Southside Part 7=Queens Park

Typical, just like buses, I don’t write anything for a while and then do two straight after one another, although this will be a short one.photo 1-003

 

Today was such a beautiful day, that – unsurprisingly – it was very quiet in the gallery, allowing me to sneak out early. Like so many in the area I headed for Queens Park.photo 2-004

 

I am so lucky that I live only a two minute walk away from it, and it is as easy to go sit in the park as in the garden. In fact, there aren’t many days when I don’t walk through it. But on a day like today, I just needed some quiet time, on my own, sitting against my favourite tree, reading and watching the squirrels. Although I must confess, I didn’t do that much reading and may have shut my eyes, just for a minute or two.

 

I’ve lived in Shawlands for just under three years now and this park has become integral to my family’s life, from attending Farmers Markets, the Southside Fringe Shindig (it doesn’t always rain), wild food foraging walks, Bonfire Night at the flagpole (amazing views of the city), sledging (on the rare occasions it does actually snow), to helping at my daughter’s Woodcraft Folk group and previously assisting at Locavore’s Urban Croft in the Recreation Ground. Sometimes we even just go for walks though it.

 

I love this park. There are the traditional swathes of grassed areas – which are packed on sunny days – the boating lake, the Poetry Rose Garden and the Glasshouses with birds, fish & snakes. But if you head up to Hill 60 and round the back of the allotments there are less managed areas which are great for the small children to explore and feel like they’re being adventurous.photo 3-003

 

I think what I’m trying to say is that green spaces of all types are important, for communities, families and individuals. And every so often it is good just to stop and appreciate what we have near us and to take care of it.