Why I lost my sense of Scottish politics

I was asked by plenty of people why I stopped blogging on Scotland, and in particular Scotland’s political turmoils. Maybe the night before extraordinary General Elections in Great Britain is the best point of time to answer this question. There are three reasons of relevance. First of all, I didn’t feel entitled any longer. Funnily, it was never a “Nat” who pointed to the fact that neither do I live in Scotland nor do I have Scottish ancestry, it was Unionists and Brexiteers who told me “it” was none of my business. The same people who assumed I were showing a nearness to Scottish nationalism, what’s utterly illogical. Anyhow, I didn’t fancy tilting at windmills, so I kept my thoughts private for quite a while.

Second, it got harder to investigate in a journalistic sense what’s fact and what’s propaganda. The public exposition has changed a lot since indyref in 2014. No matter what topic, there always seem to be two contradicting truths (is there even a pluralistic form of truth?) linked to it. Sure, things can be seen from different perspectives, but whether it’s education or women’s rights, health care or security: one side pushes forward, the other side demonises. And stupidly even the sources of information impact the reception meanwhile. To be precise (with fictive examples): When the BBC analyses health care spendings, it’s “look, I told you, we have it good” on the one side and “fxxk media bias, they whitewash the numbers anyway” on the other side. When The National analyses how official statements on Scottish oil reserves can differ remarkably before and after elections, it’s “damn, I knew they lie to us” on the one side and “they are SNP barkers and totally biased anyway” on the other side. “Bias” is what’s used as a knockout argument from both sides equally and therefore one of the most popular words on social media these days as it seems. Although for me, as a journalist, it’s clear: If I can track the sources and if the writer considered opposing positions and asked all the intruding questions, it’s a neutral point of view and reliable, no matter what’s written on the name label of the paper or broadcaster. We cannot chose what’s true due to our beliefs, we have to elicit truth by looking at the facts and the sources. This, regrettably, has become quite a challenge when observing Scottish events while living in Germany.

Third, my understanding has a tough time with reactions and decisions (not only) in Scotland. Don’t get me wrong, I do know how politics work, I do understand coherences and causal effects, I see essential overlaps of politics and economics. Ideals, cultural as well as social ones, such as equal rights and opportunities, poverty reduction etc., are noble aims, and I, for one, do believe in them, too. But a country needs money to implement aims like these, and money depends on a vital economic system which flourishes and grows, so it would be rather naive to exclude capitalistic attempts. So yes, I can understand why the Tories, being the British party with the best visible economic direction, sail in a tailwind during times of insecurities of different types. What I do not understand is how a PM can propose a vote of confidence – and that’s the bottom line of what is going to happen tomorrow with the new GE – but miss to offer a transparent programme. What is the definition of „mainstream“, talking of the „mainstream government for mainstream Britain“ statement placed in Halifax? What if the „if“ in „if we get Brexit right, we can use this moment…“ turns out to be a „but all the others don’t want to play by our rules“? These are just two wee examples of many, I’ve read the manifesto here, maybe you should do the same, and I ask you to tell me if you find what I did not find: concrete plans, arguments and facts instead of future visions, beautiful words and ifs. So without taking sides, I personally don’t understand the Why when I read there’s no real alternative to a conservative majority, as I don’t think that a party can rest on the sad fact the other parties provide even less substance and even more nonsense. So I don’t understand the arguments for “strategic votes” or “resistance votes” which aren’t worth the term “argument”, ergo I don’t understand the going ons any more.

But I’m going to have my eyes and my attention in Britain and especially Scotland tomorrow. Maybe the outcome and what the country makes of it help me to get over these three obstacles, and maybe I’m more motivated hereafter to rant on about my favourite topic: Scotland.


We Are Family – or not? A song on Brexit

Should I stay or should I go? That’s the question Britain is asking itself tomorrow – also Scotland, naturally, as a part of the union. Starting this wee comment with a song, I’d go on with more music in order to discuss the referendum’s spirit: Is the European Union a gain or a wreck?

Actually I’m a bit astonished that Great Britain from all countries in Europe asks this question. As it was so Happy Together two years ago when Scotland said I Want to Break Free. Well, 45 percent of Scotland anyway and too little therefore, so, as we all know, Bonnie Scotland stayed part of the union. The same union that doubts the advantages of its big brother Europe now. Och aye.

So what are these advantages actually? Let’s have a look at two very trivial examples. Do you have children? Do they love to play with their Barbie Girl? Cute blonde (too thin and too busty, in my honest opinion) dolls Barbie style and their athletic beach boys (WTF are those kids playing with them btw?) could be a threat to your offspring – if they’d play with cheap Asian rip-offs made of cheap toxic materials. But they don’t, and it’s not particularly your credit, but the EU’s one which banned them. This, again, forces Asian doll factories to rethink. A huge trading partner like the EU with almost 750 million citizens is a customer everyone says to: Don’t Wanna Lose You. UK, on the other hand, with little more than 64 million citizens… Well… If it was only about what they think, and all the 686 million others would crave for the opposite… Guess who’d win!

Another one? Hm. There’s oil in the Pipeline, right? Not the Scottish ones, we forget about them for a moment as – Do You Remember? – wise scientists said during the indyref campaigns and even now that the Scottish oil isn’t sufficient anyway. No, the Russian ones. Bringing Fuel to the stations everywhere. But wait, between Great Britian and Russia are what? At least half a dozens countries on the map. All of them EU members. So it’s rather unlikely that they say „oh, sure, you can have the oil for the same price, using our pipelines, although you don’t pay for them or anything really any more“ if UK said Bye Bye Love. Right? Fuel prices would rise in UK in that case, says my logic. And if you have a look here, there are much wiser people than me foretelling much worse things even.

And The Other Side? Checking my crystal ball, it shows hatred, anger, fear. Anger that every EU citizen has to pay his or her emergency contribution for Greece’s Empty Pockets and so on. We weren’t raging on the bank crash, on the other hand. Why not? Because it was about white collars and so-called uninfluenceable coincidences? Anyway, there’s this annoyance: paying for others. Even more as the refugees who are mainly in different countries and not particularly in Great Britian also cost money. Right, refugees. That’s a huge topic for the Let Me Leave lovers. Many don’t want them in Europe, let alone in their neighbourhood. But how is that an argument to leave the EU? I don’t really get it. While in Germany, for example, there are refugee camps everywhere and the actual numbers count 1,2 million (in digits: 1.200.000) people (until now! still more coming!), PM David Cameron was as gracious as promising to accept 20.000 over five years. So UK isn’t taking much weight on its shoulder anyway. Is 20.000 still too much and a reason to bugger off Against All Odds?

What are the arguments of the Leave-side? I don’t know. You don’t know. Because we all haven’t heard and read many arguments. Oh right, Money Money Money. But how would it be an advantage to negotiate own trading deals with Asia, for example, when the highest amount of all UK exports go to Europe? I won’t collect more arguments here, my fellow journalists from the Telegraph have written quite a nice overview here. And you, dear reader, have understood by now that my whole view is a wee bit sarcastic. Maybe I’m Sick of It All. Hatred, anger, but also empty promises and polite hushing up of serious imbalances. Maybe I just want you to think. Of what might change for us all if you, dear Brits, overstep the Point of No Return. A union, and that’s your view from two years ago if I remember correctly, is like a marriage: Not easy, with ups and downs, but We Are Family. Or not?

Ten things to love about Scotland in autumn

  1. Dean Village/Edinburgh in autumn ©Maria Pakura

    Dean Village/Edinburgh in autumn ©Maria Pakura

    Even in the bigger cities, the play of leaves’ colours is stunningly beautiful, so that walks around become a sensual pleasure.

  2. There are less people around. Most huge festivals are over, typical tourists head to the warm South.
  3. Mulled wine gets back to the menues, and it’s such a pleasure to drink the first mug after a long walk through the fresh wind.
  4. After the barbecues and day outs of the summer, it’s now twice as nice to sit back in a pub and listen to open mic nights’ performers or storytellers.
  5. Be a child and dream. It’s possible virtually everywhere across the country as Scotland’s beauty is inspiration enough. But if you need one tiny push more, go to Pitlochry and visit the “Enchanted Forest”. The colourful illumination in the evenings alters the daily view.
  6. Samhain is ahead, and with it pagan traditions. Let this be  an impulse to learn more about the mystical side of Scotland, for example by attending herbal walks and diving into ancient wisdom.
  7. Seafood is so much better than during the warmer months now. Btw, did you know there’s a seafood trail between Arran and Mull? A breathtaking scenery meets amazing food, so don’t miss it!
  8. With the fall comes the theatre, concert and art season as well. There’s a intriguing exhibition in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, for example, till November 22th. Old photographies show the world and people of the Victorian era. #VictorianSensation
  9. I love the sea more than most things in the universe. And I’m into sailing. Nothing better than an autumn sail in Scotland to get the head free. I won’t be busy as it’s too cold and too windy for many, but we’re not sissies, are we? 🙂
  10. The Highlands. Are always beautiful. But never more beautiful than just right now. Don’t drive but walk through them, for half a day at least. It’s magical!