Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yes or No

Where it gets cold and snows Scotland !
‘Why would you break apart something which has worked so well and made you so rich’ 
Asked Mary who works for me in the house I live in here in Kenya. This is from someone who’s government fails her at every turn without her realising the extent. She lives a very different life to those in the UK and couldn't see why we would break apart something which works and provides a stable country for its citizens. Which it does have. 
It seems to have been a turbulent time on home shores and by those shores I mean the Atlantic lapping on the Western Isles as that is where I feel home is, or perhaps Africa. 
With the referendum building major momentum creating both divides and also time to think about the Union between Scotland and England and for many the first time to engage with homeland politics, which has been a positive thing. There are a million now disgruntled people in the North now but also many relieved ones and I hope this divide heals. Its a large one. Which from what I have seen wont and this is a stepping stone the inevitable.
Although London born Scotland really is the only place I would consider moving back to in the UK. It snows there! Which makes it feel more personal than anything which is not what it should be but  perhaps a clear view on the hard facts and then vote. I think the SNP discounted that in its campaign and perhaps never really understood the link many would have to the UK and its history on a personal level. Perhaps they campaigned with to little compassion and understanding for those links as its not just Scots who live in the UK/Scotland, and having spent so many years there  I can understand its not just Scots who care deeply about Scotland. 
I moved to Scotland after a couple of years travel in South East Asia to a small outdoor centre in Argyll and Bute in 98 Ardroy the LEA for Fife county. It seemed more than fitting to be sat in the East African bush with a Fife lad who attended that centre a few years after I left watching the news and feedback together late at night after the results. Where my only gripe was, never watch an American channel when looking at international opinion CNN international is utterly rubbish and devoid of truthful fact. He and I where both pleased with the outcome, he was a Glasgow born lad who grew up in Fife and a staunch Scot and felt that he had lost nothing. His roots where in Scotland and felt very much Scottish and understood that yes it was different to London but then someone in Penzance was also different to those in London. We are all part of the UK which is simply collection of different regions. But also he saw the divide between friends and family which upset him and add the fact that he was sent to places to fight for the UK he saw this as a slight on that and that perhaps his own people didn't support him. 
I think having been fortunate to travel a bit and see other places its often made me see people billing for reform and political change in the UK and the expectancy of more as self centred,  a little selfish and perhaps also wanting to much but perhaps that is how we have what we have, its just a continuing evolution of the political system. 
Having cycled through Egypt soon after the fall of Mubarak and the move to a democratic system during the Arab spring which would appear to have sprung soon faltered and then flopped as the Egyptians cheered in Genral Sisi through a military coo and who walked into an un democratic presidency. I saw the expectancy of change which was expected by the Egyptians the ‘California effect’. The Egyptians on the streets looked despondent as though the revaluation had happened and ‘why are we not driving around in corvettes filled with hot girls and the sunroof’s down’. The democratic process takes years to build, refine and evolve the Egyptians never let that process happen but Scotland's recent referendum has shown the strength of the UK in being able to host that kind of democracy. We should really be proud of how this went. Aside of course from a few dicks in George square who break out in violence most weekends anyway whatever the cause. It allowed people to come out and decide what they wanted for their futures and do that with a democratic and political system that allows people to decide what they want in a transparent and all inclusive way. I should think the Zimbabwean politician Morgan Tvchangerai is deeply envious of this system given the complete calamity that occurs whenever he heads to the polls. As an aside I heard an amusing comment that was made by a Zimbabwean politician recently who in response to Mugabi stating ‘we don't need money from the UK or US go and print your own money’ he replied ‘we would but we cant even afford some paper to print it on’.  The UK’s stable economy which will be due to the Union I think have given many the fear of destabilising it with an independent Scotland. That will have heavily influenced the voters. People should not interpret our economy as weak in anyway perhaps it could be better. But do you get an ambulance, fire service or the Police to come when needed do you have an army will someone get you from the Ben with a broken leg. 
The voters went against leaving the UK on this occasion but I certainly think the margins where to small for this to be the last word and that this vote was perhaps the first step in the separation of the UK in the long run or a move to a federal system. Perhaps I am wrong and the promise of ‘devo max’ will turn out to be the way forward but the impassioned views I have seen will rise again and are only made in favour of all out independence without compromise. I suspect the the opinion when this referendum was agreed was that it would be a way for the Westminster powers to call Scotland's bluff and create the downfall of Alex Salmond and knock the SNP back a few pegs. They certainly wont have someone as sharp and as cleverer politician as Alex Salmond again, as he despite any opinion was a very clever politician and worked wonders for Scotland. Perhaps he went to far in the end and the promises from Westminster can breathe a sigh of relief and ease back on their promises although they should not, I suspect they will. But the idea worked and he is out as far as I can see. The public opinion and rhetoric from the North will have shaken the halls of power to the core and forced a long hard look at the needs and wishes from tip to toe of the country. Which can only be a good thing. 
Its been strange to view this so far from from home but yet feel close to the action and see the reasons banded about on Face Book and other media streams as to why we should split the UK. Talk of corruption and poverty in the UK came up a lot which must be taken into perspective, where I live I pay the police to drive through town and get asked by skin and bone kids for food as they have nothing and all done without the driving pleasure of tarmac, so talk of poverty and corruption in the UK wears thin on me and always has. I have driven and cycled through the biggest slums on earth Kibera in Nairobi and a huge one in Delhi and they are a world apart from UK poverty. Of course we should strive to improve and make things better as a nation as it always has but we should also not loose sight of just how good its been to us. I am the luckiest person in the world when traveling around as my passport is from the UK and its looked after my forgetful ways in various situations when I loose my passport they pave the way to get me home and students who have had a similar problems on expeditions have had the UK government or embassy step in and assure their citizens a safe return. We seem to have a free and open political system which allows people the kind of say we have just seen in Scotland. I remember seeing the disdain that the people of Hong Kong had of the British being in charge when living there. We took it on as a colony simply because we could could make money there, the money which means we have an NHS and a social security system. That money in part was gained by pumping Opioum into mainland China getting them hooked and then selling it in vast amounts through Hong Kong and making a good profit along the way. People are not in my opinion aware of why we are a superpower and so wealthy, we didn't get that footing by simply paying council tax and keeping to PC views we made that through our ‘UK’ actions or the Empire in years gone by which seems to be a taboo to speak of at home. Many regrettable actions will have taken place but it was done together and to try and side step out as there is a bit of oil seems a bit rough to me and a bit short sighted, I thought Scotland was all about the renewables. But anyway that is why we took Hong Kong on. But in 97 as times had changed dramatically from those former years I saw the reality and fear in peoples faces when I watched the PLA march into Kowloon as the Chinese handover happened and the hundred year agreement ended. I worked on the very building that happened and where Chris Pattern made his speech, on the roof which leaked like a sieve, it was Typhoon season and I knew nothing about roofs. A realisation was spreading that China was now in charge of affairs and not such a democratic and free system was moving in. I have seen protests in Southern Africa as the Malawian government had spent all their dollars meaning the country could no longer afford to buy petrol and we drove around with four tanks of fuel sat inside the vehicle. Or the way that the mentally challenged are looked after in Lima, Peru having being taken as a detour on a sightseeing trip through the ‘loco’ (mad) streets where all people with mental issues where housed as a sort of amusing spectacle. And seen the numerous people who have disabilities in capital cities who are forced to beg in Bangkok, Lima, Delhi, Shenzen, Cairo, Nairobi, Daresalam and many more towns and cities in the developing world and even San Fran Sisco where their countries systems cant support them. But ours can and does so we should be pleased that the Union so many where opposed to remains in place and their security remains in tact. To brush those details off would be foolhardy. After a motorbike crash here in Nanyuki I went to the hospital and was asked to pay before I would be seen. I was seen and then had to pay for the Xray prior to having it, then wheeled back to the desk to pay prior to getting my diagnosis, then wheeled back to pay for the medication. If I didn't I would not be seen. At home I can walk into any medical facility and they would help me without asking for a penny. 
Many also seem totally unaware of just how much our government and country helps others around the globe in aid and sometimes force. How many people know that after the scene in ‘Blood Diamond’ where they are outside the hotel in Freetown Sierra Leone and the RUF march into the centre almost immediately after that it was the British who moved in under Blairs orders and smashed the RUF away in just a few days saving thousands and freeing the people of the RUF and their hand chopping off ways. The UK can use itself as something which can help others, it can also cause a mess which it has done in the middle east in removing the dictators and paving the way for Isis to move in. Which in reality the clock is ticking as they move towards the Turkish border with Syria, we are going to have to do something about it and soon. Blairs recent comments of boots on the ground may come to fruition as we may may need to be involved in repairing the mess we have created. 
The UK lives in a way which has taken generations to build, some of the arguments I have seen through the media deride and discount those efforts that committed generations have made. Being a pro unionist I found that a little hard to watch having never really seen the divide being that deep between Scotland and England, as someone mentioned ‘it was always there but this time people where discussing it sober’. 

People at this time should be less focussed on their back yard and internal divisions but instead be thinking how do we as a world united stop the onslaught of Ebola which is a threat that will kill millions if not tackled and has the ability to reach home shores, Isis continues to build wreaking havoc across the middle east and approaches Europe's borders, Russia continues to cause problems in the Crimea and the motorbike police guy near the edge of town continues to hassle me forcing me to drive round the back way via La Rustique where a take away Cappachino costs more than the bribe. There are much larger issues facing the world at the moment and I hope that the UK’s recent referendum and vote of no from the Scottish people allows people to move on and look beyond internal differences and realise the world is a bigger place and stands a far better chance united and perhaps the yes campaigns ‘better together’ slogan could be taken on at an international level. My next group has canceled from the UK as they have been diverted to West Africa to help with the Ebola crisis so perhaps the Eaton lot are thinking bigger than Hadrian's wall.