Thursday, 14 August 2014
He asked 'what is your vision for a new Scotland' and answer came there none
This is the second guest post by Hilary for Sign for Scotland. You can read her first, Indie Dumping and Scapegoating, here.
Yes, poor darling had no answer at all. He was completely flumuxed. Vision? What’s that?
So I ask myself the same question and suggest that we all do that and post in our ideas.
What is my vision for a new Scotland?
Firstly I see a new Scotland not reliant on weapons of mass destruction, that is the real name of Trident. The name ‘Trident’ is a pretty cover up. Alex Massey said in one of the TV debates that Trident is a complete irrelevance. I like listening to him in the same way that I liked listening to Malcolm Muggeridge and Boris Johnson. They are all very quick, very sharp and can be very funny but in this instance I think Massey is trying to be amusingly dismissive but is actually being superficial.
If you go out and buy a gun and put it in a drawer and never use it , that is not an irrelevance. It marks you out as a person who is or was prepared to use violence against another human being and that is a very different thing from being someone who would never dream of possessing a weapon that could cause harm . Therefore if we give up weapons of mass destruction our psyche alters. In one way we are defenceless against maniac nations but in many other ways we have alternative defences. We develop alternative means of communicating rather than always having the great explosives at our backs. We know that we have to keep good communications going; we use trade, cultural and educational exchanges, twinnings; our academics and researchers pool their findings. In other words we behave like sensible adults not like cowboys and Indians.
I think this is important. There is no weapons-insurance policy so we have to strive for secure friendships and be watchful over the peacefulness of our state of mind.
It can be done. It is done everywhere except in a few power mad lands.
Secondly I see a Scotland that is much fairer. How about us actually ‘loving our neighbour’? Who is our neighbour? Familiar stuff this. The neighbour is then anyone that you see or know of who is lonely or in need. The difference between the wealthy and those in real need is staggering in our country. In the aftermath of apartheid Desmond Tutu suggested to the wealthy that they adopt a family and look to its real needs. I don’t do that here but the idea is worth playing with. Let us, collectivley look for ideas that can make a real difference. There is really a whole load of money being flung around. The coffee houses thrive on it. How we can redistribute money and make a difference and how we can make others who feel unvalued feel valued I am not qualified to say. You will have better ideas than me. But think we must.
Now this is crazy…! I see a Scotland where we remember Carnegie’s words ‘The man who dies rich dies disgraced’. I would even enlarge these uncomfortable words and make them even more feared: ‘The man who lives rich lives disgraced’!! In the States it is considered a good thing to be a philanthropist. It is ‘cool’. There’s a lot of kudos to be gained in big giving and a lot of good feeling from those who benefit. I have aired my views on this before and people immediately think I am calling for more taxes on the rich. I am not doing this at all. Taxes are given grudgingly. The philanthropist gives willingly and publicly. The ‘publicly’ is important. Secret giving is fine and modest but the word philanthropy means ‘love of mankind’ . If a rich man gives anonymously, in many ways, this is good but mankind needs to know its rich people as friends and benefactors who will help in need. Money is not bad in itself. It can do wonderful things but money kept, hoarded, far away from those in need, rejecting them …that is bad. And it breeds distaste towards the rich man, not envy but contempt and anger. This is what we see so often in feudal Scotland.
But I knew a rich man in Ardross ,some years ago, a Greek of Scottish descent, John MacTagart, an ill man. He was freehanded with his money, he built a fine community hall, he allowed no fishing out of respect for the fish and no hunting for pleasure on his estate. The deer were managed and a certain amount eaten by the estate workers and the family and the rest was left for the wild animals to feed on . I do not know if this is good management but it gave a very good feel to the countryside and the community. There was respect and responsibility towards all living things and people. But he was only part Scot so the feudal path was unknown to him.
The philanthropist should, I think, look around at all those bare areas in Scottish life and see how he or she can fill its many needs, building hospices (which can bear the donor’s name), sports facilities, setting up youth projects and so on and on and on. The rich man should love his country and his fellow Scots, whatever their position in his world view! and should give handsomely and he might then in return be held in affection. Unfortunately, he keeps well away from the rabble and does not appear to love the land, except in so far as he owns that part of it. The Selfish Giants of Alba.
Land reform is thus necessary. The rich could to some extent ward off the worst effects of this by openness and philanthropy but I am pretty sure they won’t.
Thirdly I see a Scotland that, even more than now, welcomes the immigrant. I do not mean those extremes examples that are shown as the norm on salacious TV. At my first school my best friends were a girl from Uganda and a Polish girl whose family had managed to escape from Poland in the war. Ever since then I have been excited by ‘the stranger’ and made countless warm and lasting friendships. The immigrant has a lot to offer and a lot to teach us.
The immigrants speak our language already or works hard to do so. We are so useless that we often alter their names as it is too much trouble to pronounce the foreign names correctly. Such imperial arrogance! They also work hard, they dress properly, they arrive on time, they are polite and good natured. Our young people who complain that the foreign workers are taking their jobs could learn a lot from them. There was a radio 4 programme recently and an English farmer said he tried to give the local English kids a chance but they weren’t up to fruit picking. They arrived late, grumbled and didn’t pick fast enough. A whole generation, maybe two have lost out on a good attitude to work. The Me lot can’t do it. I suppose ‘They don’t deserve it!’
I understand therefore why lots of jobs are given to the foreigners. They are reliable.
However I think the practice of shipping in loads of workers from abroad and giving them jobs that are not even advertised locally, is quite despicable and I hope this will be outlawed in our new land of peace and plenty. I believe this happens at Walkers in Aberlour. If I am wrong then I apologise immediately. I am repeating the local gossip.
In our new Scotland I hope to be assured that asylum seekers will be welcomed. These are a different category of homeless people. They have no safety in their homelands; they have possibly witnessed their family members being murdered, raped or tortured. They may have endured rape and torture themselves. They live in a twilight hell and are haunted by nightmares. Whitehall has little understanding of their griefs and fears. Freedom From Torture battles hard on their behalf but it is a hard struggle against beaurocracy. I hope our Home Office will show itself compassionate and allow asylum seekers to work and be rehabilitated more quickly.
I would like to see a Scotland where people begin to speak languages again. Languages open up new friendships and cultures and other countries are no longer seen just from the outside, as tourists. We should be citizens of the world soon. But languages are a sort of taboo. The presenters on radio Scotland set the example by tittering in embarrassment if anyone so much as says Bonjour! My family say ‘What’s the use of learning languages? They never helped me!’ So our people don’t get the interesting jobs abroad; they miss out and have an inferiority complex. What’s wrong with English? Plenty if you don’t respect other languages and people and mispronounce foreign proper names.
These three things – weapons of mass destruction, the gulf between the rich and the poor and emigration are the big issues that I would like to see reformed and made good in a New Alba.
Please write what you would like and get folk answering Alec’s Oh so Difficult Question for You Know Who.
We at Sign for Scotland would like to say a big thank you to Hilary for writing a second blog for us.