Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Here's the door - don't let it hit you on the way out!

At LAAAAAAAAAAAAssst!!! Tony Blair has left Downing Street and now has the grand title of EX-prime minister!!! Parliament gave him a standing ovation at question time ..... kinda odd...

Enter new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. He's doing things a bit differently already - he's asking members of other parties if they would like to be in his cabinet, he's talking about getting rid of 'top down' style of governing. He's already surprising people. We'll see if that continues now he has the top job.

And he is a Scot. He has a growling Fife accent that no manner of polishing will erase. But this is no Scottish friendly prime minister. Like many before him and bred from the 'canni dee it attitude', he has to shun his Scottishness, prove his Britishness (ie Englishness) in order to take himself, and for others to take him seriously. He infamously told Scotland that we should support England in football - yeah that went down well....!!!

We will see how our new Prime Minister makes his mark on Britain. We shall see how he deals with the irritating little stone in the bottom of his shoe that is the Scottish Parliament and the SNP with Salmond at the head. To be continued......

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Cannae dee it" Attitude

I just read Gwen's comment on my last post:

"think you have hit the nail on the head with your comment on the "Cannae dae it" attitude. I have over the years in a variety of jobs, seen many a person with that attitude. No wonder we get nowhere. We have to, as a nation, get ourselves some confidence that we can work hard and build an efficient economy. How do we instill such an attitude? Maybe its down to teachers in schools and parents to start this off at an early age. If it doesn't happen we just won't get anywhere."

"How do we instill such an attitude?" is the question for Scotland right now. Having lived in the country where people believe they can do anything (even fly to the moon...!!) I think I have some suggestions.

Being brought up in Scotland means never "getting above yourself" and participating in self deprecation. To actually admit that you are good at something is seen as a negative personality trait. If you've got a talent you'd better hide it under a bushel.

This is present also in parenting. To tell your kids that they are brilliant is considered a faux paux. To brag in anyway about your offspring is looked down upon.

Things are changing with parenting these days. Children have gone from the Victorian "be seen and not heard" to the center of every family activity. I personally think its gone a little overboard.

I think that in order to instill confidence in Scotland, confidence needs to be instilled in individuals from the start. We need to be proud of our children, we need to be proud of ourselves. Scottish pride seems to only reveal itself when someone is dead. Anyone who gets too famous or "above themselves" is quickly cut down or derided.

Scotland needs to admit to its hopes and dreams and see them as achievable goals. Scotland needs to believe that it can do anything. Scotland needs to stop cowering in England's shadow.

The one difference in the report I talked about in my last post is that all the small countries that are better than Scotland are independent. They rule their own affairs within Europe. They have not crumbled and failed without a larger country to cling to like a limpet. They have flourished.

I don't believe that Scotland needs to adopt an American attitude. It would be insincere. I do however think that Scotland needs to adopt a Scandinavian one. They work hard and look after each member of their community. They are a practical people who get things done. They have similar population to Scotland and some even are very similar topographically (I once took a flight from Aberdeen to Stavanger and it looked like we'd just flown in a circle and landed back in Aberdeen!).

I think one of Scotland's problems is the fact that the central belt can't seem to remember that it is attached to the rest of Scotland. The Labour run country for the last 50 years has been forever trying to strain forward to Westminster. Hopefully Alex Salmond, representing a North East constituency, will change some of that. Scotland has always looked to England and Westminster for answers instead of seeing our potential within the country.

If Scotland is at the bottom of the league for small countries in western Europe then what is the big risk in going independent? We can only get better.

Of course I am saying this from 3,000 miles away and I can just hear my sister thinking "what is she wittering on about? she doesn't pay taxes here or live here day to day!". True. But I think I have a different perspective because I am looking at my homeland from outside. I have a perspective that puts Scotland into context in the world. Sometimes when you live in a place you can't see the woods for the trees. So I hope that my witterings may give some Scots some pause for thought.

I am not in Scotland right now so I do not know the answer to this (although I've noticed a buzz in the blogosphere about it) but I hope Scotland is nervously excited for the future. I feel the SNP slender win over Labour is a tentative step towards trying something new, maybe trying a little confidence in ourselves.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"worst wee country" in western Europe

Apparently and in contrast to Jack McConell's phrase "the best wee country", Scotland is the "worst small country" in western Europe.
Shock, horror!!
You mean Scotland isn't better than Norway? Sweden? Denmark? Holland? Austria?

Ehmm. I'm nae surprised!!

We have a love of fried food that makes New Orleanian's look health conscious and there is a pesky gene going about that insists on knocking us down with heart disease - although it is given a hand by the amount of salt, fat and sugar that the population devours. So Scotland is hardly healthy ... yet?

OK so we are not making loads of cash either. But with our moaning whinging, "we couldnae dee it" attitude I'm not surprised. Hopefully we'll slowly see that Ireland is the model for Scottish economic growth - Oh yeah didn't I mention that Ireland, the country most Irish were dying (literally) to get out of, is doing far better than Scotland.

Scotland has a great deal of untapped potential. It has culturally a lot in common with the other small countries in western Europe. Its yet to be seen but maybe one day Scotland will start to gain in confidence and the wee country will be a wee bit further up the line to the title of "best wee country in the world".

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Scary Alex - does Blair think he'll get "Salmond"ella?

"He never writes, he never phones..."

So said Alex Salmond when asked about Tony Blair.

On Friday, Gordon Brown, the soon to be and sorta kinda really already is the next PM (Prime Minister) of the UK, phoned to congratulate Alex Salmond on becoming the First Minister of Scotland. Great, but a little tardy at 16 days after Alex got the job.

Tony? He's abroad, he's too busy, he's (in my opinion) really pissed off!!

Tony is swanning around Africa indulging his massive ego with a farewell tour of places he likes to think he did real swell in - Libya, Sierra Leone... etc.
["Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
Britons never will be slaves."
- yeah right! ]
I personally think he missed out on the better tour - the US where the ability to speak in complete sentences is regarded as a miracle after so long with a monkey at the helm (sorry I'm likely insulting monkeys here). Everyone here can't get enough of Tony but then the majority of people wanted to go to war in Iraq. Oh and its easier to like someone you didn't vote for and doesn't actually have anything to do with running your country.

If Tony had a pair he'd be touring the UK apologising!!

But back to Alex. Alex Salmond has a tough job ahead of him. He will be the first person to actually test out the theory of devolution: the theory that the Scottish Parliament actually has control over a chunk of their own affairs. He has a minority government and will have to govern Scotland by doing things the way devolution was set up to do them - by cooperation between rival parties for the betterment of the common good of the country.

So far, Alex is doing a great job of trying to achieve this.

But, as Mark Douglas-Home writes in today's Observer, the issue for Alex will be communicating with the PM (Gordon). There has been little need for much coordination of such things before as all the First ministers of Scotland and Wales have until now been members of the Labour Party. They are all in the same club, singing from the same hymn sheet.

Uh oh! Alex is not in the club - he's not even allowed in the car park!! (although I don't think he wants to go anywhere near the sewer infested place...) He's likely to be pushed around by the members, be picked on as the odd one out. He really is the weakling considering he has to operate in a mode of cooperation or his governing days are over.

So what has happened? Tony disnae phone. Gordon has to have his arm twisted (press outcry) and 'sorta' phone but make sure and do it late. If this doesn't sound like bullying ....

Labour hate the SNP with vitriol. I'm sure Tony would rather walk naked through Baghdad before talking civilly with Alex Salmond - he may after all contract a case of "Salmond"ella.

Gordon is painting himself as more English than the English and wants to signal to England how much he cannot abide the man who will be governing the devolved Scottish Parliament - even though as MP for Kirkcauldy in Fife in Scotland that very man (Alex Salmond) will be making decisions that directly affect the people he (Gordon Brown) has been elected to serve.

All this is great. I love it. It shows blatantly how the Labour Party is a bastion of tradition which is out of date with the postmodern world. Tony and Gordon took to spinning till we all got dizzy but they can't hide the reality underneath. The SNP victory has slipped a knot in the carefully constructed fabric and the curtain is unravelling in front of the wizard of Oz.

Modern day Britain, modern day Scotland, modern day England, Wales, Northern Ireland are awash with multicultural aspects that no longer mold to traditional politics. The world is becoming more individualistic, more autonomous. Politics needs to catch up. I am excited at a political environment in Scotland where people have to debate, discuss and resolve issues for the common good. The system at Westminister has demonstrated how easy it is for a government with a big majority to allow an egotistical PM to do what he wishes - take the country to war against the wishes of its people.

The UK is one of the oldest democracies in the world. Before we make claims about exporting it, I think it would be good to address whether our system should be changed to fit with our changing world and country.

If Tony ever gets round to phoning Alex I'd love to hear Tony's excuse for being so late in calling....