Playwright and dramaturg, author of a series of books and articles on education, ethnography, politics and ethical controversy clarified by Pirsigian philosophy, beginning with "Only Say The Word: Affirming Gay and Lesbian Love" and of the Bruno Benedetti series of mystery novels beginning with "Tricks of the Mind".
The attack on women continues, the vaccine injured are now too numerous to ignore and 15 minute ghettos are coming your way! In the English Local Authority elections on 4th May 2023 you have the opportunity to stand for freedom!
Recently the UK Freedom Alliance party has diversified with some current and former members standing as independents and some former members forming a new party emphasising direct democracy in contrast to our emphasis on representative democracy. Our concern about that new party is that direct democracy is vulnerable to populism (undue influence by an unelected and unaccountable spokesperson) and in any case, as their Electoral Commission registration missed the advertised deadline, they may not be ready until after close of nominations.
Nevertheless, as a libertarian party we support all candidates genuinely standing for freedom. The difference is that—if you stand with us—you have the benefit of our experience and support.
Our key principles as a party are:
—We are a political party born out of the freedom movement as a direct response to government overreach into every aspect of our lives.
—We are the political wing of the freedom community.
—We are made up of people from all political backgrounds, moving the dialogue away from the left Vs right debate towards a right Vs wrong – what is right for the people not what is right for the elites and big corporations. We need politicians to start making decisions in the interests of the people. Our membership model supports us to be responsive to our members and speak up about what really matters to them.
—By standing up and questioning the narrative of the government and main political parties who have been captured and controlled, we provide an opportunity for open debate. There is currently no opposition to the government and we need this in order to restore a liberal democracy.
—We celebrate diversity and support equality for all; at the same time we recognise the valid and vociferous concerns over female safe space and robust child protection endangered by changes in devolved and UK legislation.
—It is time for the people to be powerful in politics. We need to demystify politics and make it accessible to everyone, show people how important it is we take back control of our country.
—We are radically different to any other political party. We are run entirely by volunteers, people passionate enough about making a difference to consider doing something unpopular (getting involved in the corrupt and dirty world of politics).
—We are more than just a party that opposes the governments infringements on our civil liberties. In bringing likeminded people together we have started to create a positive vision of how we would like our country to be governed. We need you to join us, to help develop this vision further and take back our country.
—We are sovereign beings. We care about humanity. We want a future for our children and grandchildren which is full of joy, hope and peace, one in which they can live freely and choose the life they want to live.
If you would like to stand for Freedom Alliance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org — providing this information:
— full name
— address & postcode
— local authority (council)
— preferred ward/ division
— social media usernames for vetting (we don’t need your passwords!)
You don’t need any political experience. You don’t need to be a lawyer or academic or business person. You do need to be awake, sensible, in harmony with our key principles and willing to engage civilly with opposing views—whether from other members or other parties.
You must be over 18 (there’s no upper age limit) and resident in the UK. There are further qualifications and disqualifications set by the Electoral Commission, and we require all of our candidates to respect election procedures and the rule of law. (That said, we are extremely concerned about possible vote suppression caused by voter ID.)
Accepted candidates may receive a link to a website supporting them through every step of the nomination process.
Mein Urgroßvater kam aus Hannover. Long before even the First World War, just before the Prussian-Danish war, my great-grandfather took the boat from Bremerhaven and eventually founded an English family, all born within sound of Bow Bells. As a committed Scottish nationalist, it took me some time to appreciate my English ancestry: the Miss Marple type tales of village life of my mother growing up (fortunately, without the murders); my East Anglian fisherfolk heritage, the deepest English root of my ancestral family tree; my grandfather the Cockney publican. All this didn’t sit well with my Scots and Irish heritage. Until I grew up.
It took a mixed-race English friend to change my perspective: “my father was white, from London; my mother was from the brown middle classes of Jamaica” he’d say, and I’d marvel at his ability to speak of ethnicity with ease in the oh-so-terribly-self-conscious milieu of student politics at our University. Jeremy, may he rest in peace, made me confront my disdain and also my hypocrisy.
“When I’m abroad,” he’d say, “they start asking me, ‘are you Scottish? Are you Welsh? Are you Irish?’ And when I say, ‘No, I’m English’, they look at me as if I’ve failed the test. It’s just not cool. But my England isn’t the Little England of the racists and the city bankers and the sleazy politicians, it’s the dream of Merry England, it’s the Diggers and the Levellers, it’s about community and compassion – and not taking yourself too seriously.”
So I embraced my English ancestry. I listened to Maddy Prior from Steeleye Span, to Pentangle, Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, Run For Home by Lindisfarne and Allan Taylor singing Roll on the Day – and, later, to the seraphic voice of Kate Rusby singing All God’s Angels with Tim O’Brien’s beautiful American baritone in counterpart.
My German ancestry, as I thought of it then, was more difficult to assimilate. My father had been a prisoner of war and my mother an evacuee. Although my father spoke fluent soldiers’ German, and never blamed the German people or even the German soldiers for what the Nazis had done, I was less forgiving. Eventually, studying for a Masters and making German friends, I realised that all of my references to their country were not only stereotypical but hopelessly out of date. Germany, unlike Britain, is a country that has confronted its past and takes responsibility for it. One earnest friend, whom I didn’t always take seriously because she was so stereotypically organised, summed it up:
“We are told from primary school you can’t be proud of your country. Look at what we did. This is who we are. All you can feel is the shame. This is the reason that in international company no German wants to admit where they come from. Can you imagine that? Not wanting to say that you’re Scottish?”
Shortly after graduation, chatting in a pub in the Hebrides with one of my English aunts, I got the first clue that our German ancestry may in fact have been Jewish. It’s been a long search, and inconclusive, but just the other day a young cousin told me that his DNA test showed up Levantine blood some generations ago and piece-by-piece we filled in the puzzle and traced that back to Hanover. That ancestral surname, spelled in Hebrew, goes back to the brother of Moses.
So my relationship with Germany, with the German language (which I speak badly and with difficulty) and with the German people is complex and nuanced. Precious is the affection gained from fighting prejudice.
After this sombre beginning (which I could continue, I did work for a while as a tour guide in Flanders fields and the Somme) may I say that I do understand the irreverence of humour. I laugh at ‘Allo ‘Allo, and was thrilled when our local drama group was going to put it on – unfortunately it was cancelled due to the Covid madness – and I realise that it is one of the ways that we as human beings deal with strong emotions.
However, there is a time and place. Right now, anyone in the UK who is even remotely concerned with politics is engaged with the constitutional arguments over the rejection of the GRR bill – and the very bitter arguments over its impact on women. Especially in prison. Fresh revelations about ministerial corruption keep coming out and today there was what almost amounts to a general strike. So I really didn’t expect a puerile attack on my political party from a certain celebrity who I thought was happily founding her own hippy party, ostentatiously all about love.
I’m not going to link to the media she put out to her devotees. It’s the famous bunker scene from Downfall (2004, director Oliver Hirschbeigel, screenplay Bernd Eichinger) and is often captioned ironically. I’m not annoyed that she is trying to make fun of my party. After all, she did want to impose a ‘flat structure’ (with herself as leader) and saw no point in engaging with the Electoral Commission and then got rather annoyed when it was explained that without these ‘bureaucratic details’ none of us would be able to stand in elections. Some people just don’t understand politics. I’m not claiming I understand everything about being a candidate. I’ve only done it once before. But I do understand that it involves some filling in forms. I think someone did that for her the last time. She was maybe too busy chanting or firewalking.
In her snide captions, she alludes to the names of four party members. One of them is a founder of the party that she first accused of working for the Government and then accused of misappropriation of funds and declared that she had contacted the Electoral Commission to demand that they launch an investigation. (I’ll simply say that no such investigation has been launched and that a chartered accountant who has seen the party accounts can find no such fault whereas the celebrity who has not seen them is certain of it.) Another is a blogger, not me, who dared to criticise her. The other two, despite all our warnings, tried in good faith to work with her until she exasperated them so completely that they resigned. For that she called them shills. Now she’s calling them Nazis.
I think what bothers me is not so much her huge fragile ego and utter inability to read the room, ironically mirrored in the protagonist of this scene, nor is it really her ungracious insults to people who genuinely tried to engage with her and whose only fault was that they refused to just follow her orders. What gets me is the subterfuge and the evident disdain she has for those who follow her. I know some people who have joined that party and they are good people and well-meaning. Among the captions is a reference to ‘a technicality’ and I think – trying to follow the twists and turns of the labyrinthine ways of her mind – that she is alluding to the warning I put out that the Electoral Commission had announced that new parties had to be registered by certain Friday in order for them to guarantee that they would be set up in time for the English local authority elections in May. She waited till the Monday because the date was neater, numerologically.
I’ve nothing against symbol systems. As well as a philosopher, I’m a theologian, after all. I just think that if you’re taking membership money from people who think that your political party will be ready to vote for, in hundreds of wards the length and breadth of England, many of which are currently under threat by the imposition of 15 minute ghettos, then in the name of transparency you owe it to those people to let them know that your lovely party may not in fact be ready in time.
Instead of such candour, she seems to be preparing to blame me. That’s fine. I don’t care. I do care about the two women who are that party’s statutory officers. I may have differences of opinion with them both, principally about her, but I’ve known them both for a while now and they are good women who are clearly committed to the freedom movement and I don’t want to see them suffer. I don’t want a certain celebrity to put the blame on them if their lovely party isn’t ready in time to nominate candidates at the end of March.
In Scotland, I’m known for my good relations with other parties in the freedom movement. When I heard that the leader of an English party with aims similar to our own was travelling nearby I immediately invited him to meet for tea. The founder of my party has always maintained good relations with other English parties. We mean to carry on with these good working relations. So the first thing I did, when I heard about the founding of this lovely new party, was to congratulate an old friend who is a member and to ask her to tell me where she is standing so we wouldn’t put someone in the same ward. That’s the kind of corporation that we need in the freedom movement. We don’t all need to be in the same party. People like diversity and we’re not all the same. That’s fine. What is not fine is gratuitously attacking, in a puerile and stereotypical manner, members of another party just because they wouldn’t let you bully them and because you may have made a huge mistake.
I sincerely hope that this new party joins the ranks of the others that have been fighting this global technocracy for a while now. I do hope they stand candidates in May. However, if they don’t, because of the ‘technicality’ of the Electoral Commission deadline, I hope that a certain celebrity will not turn on old friends of mine in her own party or in ours and blame them for her own lack of attention to detail. I also hope, if her devoted followers (whose use of such flowery phrases for her as Bearer of Light, Lantern in the Labyrinth, and Divine Goddess Spirit seems to be most pleasing to her) criticise her for depriving them of the opportunity of voting for their preferred candidate in May, that she has the grace to accept responsibility and to say three little words most lovingly: “I am sorry.”
Thanks to Petr Kratochvil for releasing his photo Half Timbered Buildings into the Public Domain.
Studying Law when weighty questions are being asked in Scotland on (mostly misunderstood) matters of equality, human rights and the uncodified UK constitution is fascinating enough. Recently, I’ve also been preparing for legal action, quoting the Vento bands, setting damages for Injury to Feelings, down the phone to the ACAS mediator as my former employer seems to be running scared of the public humiliation of yet another Employment Tribunal case, preferring to settle out of court.
Fascinating though the 15th edition of Smith & Wood’s Employment Law is (I’d read about half of its 829 pages a few days after it was posted to me) it’s Stanton & Prescott’s 3rd edition of Public Law that’s morepertinent to the recent failed attempt by Holyrood to modify legislation passed by Westminster. I’ve observed previously the difference between the gracious restraint of legal discourse and uninformed party political rants on the (il)legality of the GRR Bill.
Brain whirling, I took time off my studies to watch J. Edgar, the Warner Bros biopic of the Hoover who headed the FBI for around half of the last century (not the previous and unrelated US president associated with the New Deal). Subtly directed by Clint Eastwood, its understated masculine gaze, verging at times on film noir, was enough to have critics calling it ‘controversial’ on release in 2011.
11 years on, One Nation Under Blackmail, Whitney Webb’s damning dossier of US politics, detailing and evidencing the ‘sordid union between Intelligence and Organised Crime that gave rise to Jeffrey Epstein’, is far less coy about Hoover’s rumoured homosexuality and transvestism.
Where Eastwood hints, with scenes of the devoted son so distraught by his mother’s death that he dons her clothes in front of the mirror, and of a touching and tragically frustrated bromance between Hoover and his second in command and longtime companion, Webb (ch. 2 & 4) quotes eyewitnesses to the scandal of this infamous inquisitor and blackmailer frequenting the blue suite of New York’s Plaza Hotel, known as ‘Mary’, in wig and dress, pleasuring Tolson and having sex with ‘blond boys’ and with Senator Joe McCarthy’s righthand man in his persecution of suspected communists and homosexuals.
J. Edgar is a difficult film to watch, its portrayal of the public derring do of his ‘G Men’ busting mobsters and his private stoic restraint in matters of the heart undermined by the evidence of Hoover’s hypocrisy hiding in plain sight: that he was soft on crime and unconcerned about being seen in flagrante as he was simultaneously being blackmailed to go easy on organised crime and blackmailing anyone who could publicise his sexual predilections.
Two decades before It’s Time, the Scottish Government-sponsored Equality Network’s moving 2013 video campaign for equal marriage (featuring several of my old friends) there was a scandal involving senior members of the justiciary being blackmailed by the pimps of rent boys. With associated concern over the autonomy of their judicial deliberations.
It seems to me that a secret of a public figure, however well-known, does not help a nation. It festers and starts a canker at the heart of public life. Catalyst for either compensatory action or reaction, it can lead to extreme decision-making in a state of schizophrenic politics where the truth is shouted in silence.
At the height of the US ‘Red Scare’, reticence about disclosure of sexuality would be understandable. Now, certainly in any liberal democracy, being so candid might be uncomfortable or even embarrassing if the game of Let’s Pretend has been played for some time (Hoover never married but the convenient strategy of the homosexual ‘beard’ is well-known) however the health of the body politic may depend on it. For the sake of the people, and government policy, a responsible state official may decide that it’s time.
Thanks to George Hodan for releasing his image Padlock into the Public Domain.
There’s a long wooden bench outside. It’s under the shelter of the awning running from the newsagents to the barbers and people, presumably, could take their chai or herbal tea out there, even in Scotland, in January, but I suspect that some passersby sit there too. Taking a restful moment off, from all the trundling about that’s so much part of modern life. It’s a nice touch. Human, simple, neat, good business sense. That’s Locavore.
Inside and…ah! The herbs and fresh fruit and veg and scented soaps and candles. I breathe it all in, immediately feeling better. I smile at the customer on her mobility scooter, coffee resting on the large wooden table in the cafe area, and head towards the free fruit and veg box.
I’m an inveterate recycler. I just can’t see things go to waste, so this is one of the many aspects of Locavore that I approve of. I start here because I’m thinking of what’s in the vegetable rack and fruit bowl at home. As a vegan who prefers whole to processed food, that’s where I start my meal preparation.
I always buy something too and recently decided to buy all my bread and pastries here. Everything’s organic. That sounds like a luxury until you think about the choice: with or without poison. Why do that to yourself and your housemates—then have to spend more on remedies for the harm those poisons cause?
The vegetables are interesting. Kohl rabbi and fennel as well as the usual cabbage, carrots and spuds. Paper bags or biodegradable plastic. There are huge containers of nuts and seeds and pulses at the back—I really need to investigate that end more—as well as refills for Ecover and other products that are natural and not tested on animals.
Okay it’s not entirely vegan, or even vegetarian, and I wish it was. But it’s shops like these where, looking along the shelves, someone who usually buys salami might see the vegan chorizo and decide to give it a try.
Let’s talk about cost. Yes, you’ll probably find an inferior version available for less in a supermarket but here’s the difference: this isn’t a shop where the emphasis is on sugar and starchy empty calories. This is good food and it’s good for you. So it terms of what you’re getting, pound for pound, this is better value.
Finally, the best thing about Locavore—apart from the unhurried time and space you have to pack your shopping—is the staff. People who know that their work makes a difference look different from other shop staff. Their eyes shine. When you chat about a recipe (3-ingredient vegan pancakes, for example) they’ve probably tried it or they want to and will tell you about it next time you shop. As they’re ringing your purchases up on the till, you’ll hear about the new baby, the new doggie, their visit to the Glasgow allotments where the produce is grown—and they’re interested in your news and views too.
I always come out of Locavore feeling better than when I went in. I’m a carer, going through considerable employment stress right now (and seeking legal remedies for it). My life at the moment is quite challenging. I shop at Locavore because it makes my life easier and reminds me of the consistent aim of philosophers down through the ages: the good life.
In these times of austerity, when UK elected leaders are using our taxed earnings to fund an Eastern European money-laundering scheme, it’s nifty to be thrifty. Tattie scones, Scotland’s parsimonious answer Spanish tortilla de patatas, are humble, filling fare that I usually buy. This morning, forgetting to stock up on porridge, I decided to give homemade tattie scones a try.
I found this recipe on BBC Food and it seemed simple enough. Boiled potatoes, peeled and mashed, pinch of salt (I think a teaspoon is exaggerating it) and veggie margarine. My tweak is a sprinkle of turmeric on the oil. Here’s how it went.
I had about half a pound of boiled potatoes in the fridge, so I peeled them (easy when cooked) and chopped them up in a bowl, added a dollop of the margarine and bit of sea salt then I mashed them with a fork.
Combining all that and remashing carefully gave me this.
Now at this point I decided to be lazy and rather than turn it out onto a floured surface and roll it till it was 1cm thick, as recommended, I just used a knife to press it down, going round in a circle, on a floured plate. I then quartered the mixture with the blade of a flat plastic spatula, to make it easier to fry.
Then a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of turmeric and it was time to fry the segments on a medium heat.
I now realised the mixture was too thin so I used the flat, plastic spatula to press it down and, in doing so, erased the divisions between the segments.
It was at this point that I realised that rolling the mixture would have been a better idea. However, most of it held together and when I tasted a wee piece that had broken off it was okay. So a couple more flips on the frying pan and my homemade tattie scones were ready to serve up to the expert taster: my Mum!
Mum had 2 tattie scones and I had 3, then she had another and I did too, and then split the last between us. As a most reliable taste test is whether they want more, I think this was a success! A little floury and a little crumbly, yes, but a tasty breakfast snack that’s healthy, vegan and organic. I think I may make these again.
“It’s more intimate” said the oldest member of the Kirkintilloch Players, sitting with her grandkids beside me and my elderly Mum—who smiled and laughed all the way through their production of Mother Goose. The wee 60-seater Turret Theatre, bought by the company, a cosy venue for this first relaxed performance, catering especially for any, young or old, who might be made anxious by the usual bangs and crashes onstage.
The cast were onstage as we entered slowly through the side door, the very gentle slope easier than a step for Mum, and the kids especially, as they came in with their mums and dads, clearly loved seeing them up close, reassuringly approachable even in the costumes. Good natured banter and cheery hellos were followed by words welcome to any parent or carer: there was no problem if kids couldn’t sit still or if anyone needed the loo.
Then the lights went down (which they did only momentarily throughout the show) and we were treated to the fairy magic of Jennifer Lochhead and Anne-Marie Connor, who as well as being a fun double act also have lovely singing voices. The dashing demon Ross Harrison was suitably booed—one wee boy sticking up for him but the rest of us very happily opposed to the Baddie.
Lynn McDonough and Julie Cassells as Mother Hubbard and Miss Muffet had all our sympathy with the plight of the wee dug Nancy (her cupboard being bare) and the Unfortunate Incident (with her tuffet) and played the part of the good Scotch chorus, gossips and guardians of village morals, hilariously.
Christopher Connon’s good looks made his sneaky plans as Squire Spurtle even more scurrilous and his sidekicks Hackit and Maukit, Chloe Rooney and Isla McFadden, dafter than daft, had us in stitches. Of course we booed them too!
Claire Connor and Emma Wilson, another great double act with lovely voices, were entertaining as Jack Goose and Jill Spurtle, with a Romeo and Juliet element to their romance, but the accolade for the adults—with special mentions of Michelle Lawson, for multiple quick costume changes as the amiable but confused player out of place and the forgetful Judge, and of Natalie Manly for such an eloquent mute performance as Priscilla the Goose—must go to Adam Cooper as Silly Billy Goose and to Hilary Linas, fantabulous in double drag as Mother Goose, whose antics and patter had us roaring with laughter.
The eleven-strong youth chorus were simply a joy. Congrats to the Choreographer and Youth Supervisor. It’s wonderful over the years to see kids grow in stage skills and confidence, and as I watched the show today—alternately laughing, applauding, booing, and just feeling so moved by the evident energy of everyone onstage, knowing how this kind of success depends on all the hard work backstage—I thought “we’re back!”
After the drab and Draconian regime of the past few years, the extent of which people seem to be increasingly waking up to, I was thrilled to see this community drama club bounce back. At the finale the entire cast sang: “Oh you can colour my world with happiness all the way!”
And in this well-directed, hilariously costumed, skilfully stage managed joyous and most hospitable production I think they did just that.
I’ve never watched an entire episode of Dragons’ Den. To me, when I eventually saw some footage, it smacked of the new, voyeuristic TV programmes like Big Brother,The Weakest Link or Britain’s Got Talent, that used the excuse of aspiration (a combination of Machiavellian strategy, a lust for fame, and greed) to showcase the grief and pain of failure. I found it cruel and the presenters callous, the suffering they caused the majority of the participants not incidental but rather the dirty little secret of these shows: Schadenfreude, as our Germanic cousins call it. Pleasure in the suffering of others.
The names of the presenters meant nothing to me until one of them started making waves in my small, close-knit, and (until then) generally friendly political party. I looked up this person and, coming from a long line of nurses, I immediately identified what my elderly Mum calls “a typical thyroid case”: nervous excitability; forceful, non-stop talking; mood swings; bulging eyes. It can especially hit menopausal women badly but a younger friend had it, was diagnosed with cancer—and the regime of drugs and surgery altered her body chemistry and she lost a baby. “No-one ever mentioned thyroid imbalance” her husband said to me, afterwards. I felt so guilty for not speaking up. My embarrassment about being accused of ‘mansplaining’ a female condition wasn’t an excuse. Especially when I was simply sharing the observations of wise women and my advice was no more controversial than: “maybe you should get this checked out”.
So I did, and was smacked down by the dragon lady for my trouble. My conscience is clear. I tried. I’m not a medical doctor and I don’t have proof that her psychological inability to listen to opposing points of view is at root physiological. Maybe it’s not. Perhaps she’s simply the type of rich middle aged woman from the English ‘Home Counties’ that can’t abide contrary opinions. A sort of Audrey fforbes-Hamilton, without the humour.
From the body to the body politic: my party will survive. She’s calling us all shills for throwing her out when we’d all had enough of her abusive publicity. What concerns me more, having informed myself now, is what she may do next. I’m a keen conservationist and, unfortunately, her sights are set on ‘developing’ one of the most beautiful areas of woodland and meadow in England.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for grow-your-own and organic vegetables. I don’t mind meditation, chanting doesn’t bother me at all and I can even put up with a certain amount of circle dancing. I’m not keen on drugs, I must say, and my objections to aged hippies congregating on unspoiled land in order to consume quantities of magic mushrooms is not only medical (just because I’m unqualified doesn’t mean I don’t care, and they can cause severe heart palpitations, apparently) but also because such gatherings are often marked by ecological irresponsibility. Take Glastonbury, post-festival, as an example.
A member of my party told me that, when this fire-breathing businesswomen (whose own company went into arbitration, it seems) stood for us last year, concerned villagers made the trip from the Peak District to warn us to have nothing to do with her, as they feared the destruction she was planning to wreak on their beloved acres of Merrie England. He confessed that he’d declined their invitation to visit their beautiful village, set in Cressbrook Dale, out of loyalty to our candidate. Surely, he may have considered, these people were exaggerating.
Unfortunately, it appears that they’re not. Human waste, stone chips strewn in a forest glade by people clearly more accustomed to facilitating access to a suburban double garage than contemplating and reverencing the intricacies of ecological networks (and only taking action in order to better support them), plastic tents pitched and looking abandoned over winter, publicised plans to uproot the highest category of protected land in a national park…in order to grow massive amounts of vegetables. While everyone’s on drugs? And their (non-hierarchical) muse is off round the country, or perhaps the planet, leading, somehow by the aid of a perfectly flat structure, the movement against…well, anything that stands in her way really. The wheel must be broken, and all that sort of thing.
The New Age often attracts the precise middle of the English class system. The “chattering classes”. Middle managers, chartered accountants, those who’ve clawed their way up HR, board members of quangos. Places like Findhorn are full of them. The superwomen of the 90s are among them. You can have it all, they were told. To give them their due, they really tried to. The yuppie revolution. Thatcher’s children. Keeping the faith in monetarism—until the emptiness set in. They may have tried creative writing, or pottery. Some women, desperate, even went to the extreme of bringing up their own kids. At least when they were back from boarding school.
Tragically, I think that’s why these people can’t listen. They share that characteristic with the Woke. To admit doubt is to allow the possibility of meaninglessness. To look in the mirror and see youthful charm (if ever possessed) fade. New seekers age. “Dreams have lost their grandeur, coming true.” That’s if there were any, in the first place. Very few people, JK Rowling perhaps an exception, can find magic in suburbia.
So I can’t blame these bland people for wanting more. England is famous, worldwide, for having lost its culture. Abstract the Celtic Twilight, cut off the Moorish dancing learned from the Crusades, omit everything that actually belongs to someone else and what’s left? Only one element remains, the liminal location of Shakespearean dreamland: the Greenwood.
This is why nothing else will do for the breaker of chains and her merry band. If they were truly ecological, they’d buy up brownfield sites and reclaim them. Now that would be magical. Instead, cut off from rural wisdom for generations, these self-indulgent townies, unable to limit the gratification of their desires, must have this virgin soil in order to despoil it in search of their souls.
The capacity of self-reflection of such people may be so limited that, once they’ve made a Glastonbury out of the Greenwood, with only themselves to blame, their final act—before being thrown off the ravaged land by court order—is likely to be an internal witch-hunt to identify the source of the karmic forces acting against them.
In the hell of their own creation, a hall of mirrors where fame reflects ever more monstrously the distorted features of their inability to contemplate the impact of their unchecked desires, they may forget the basic tenant of even the watered-down version of Buddhism which they claim to practice: responsibility.
Thanks to Linnaea Mallette for releasing her image Dragon Carnival Head into the Public Domain.
This is a short, reader-friendly summary of legal possibilities available to the women of Scotland and their allies in the UK following the passage of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill in Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament, on Thursday 22nd December 2022. For more legal details, please follow acknowledged experts such as the rebel leader Joanna Cherry KC (SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, King’s Counsel and Feminist), the Edinburgh-based policy analysis collective Murray, Blackburn & Mackenzie, and Michael Foran (Lecturer in Public Law at the University of Glasgow). In the Wimbledon of recent legal arguments, these are top umpires. I’m not even qualified to be the ball boy.
Firstly, to assume no legal knowledge at all, the GRR is a Bill that, although passed by Holyrood, has not yet received Royal Assent. No, that’s not a technicality, not in this case – more on that later. So it doesn’t come into force (it affects nothing) until the day after that happens – if it does. That means that people can’t already start acting as if the GRR is law. It’s not. At the moment it’s still a proposed law. (I’m not using legal jargon here.)
The relationship between Holyrood and Westminister is complicated. It really doesn’t matter what your opinion of that relationship is; what matters here is the legal reality. If you’re used to politicians spouting off their opinions and party policy all the time, the restrained language of cool logic of legal experts can strike you as odd. It’s also quite refreshing. Joanna Cherry is a feminist and Scottish Nationalist; Murray, Blackburn & Mackenzie are certainly feminist but I have no idea if they’re nationalist or unionist; exactly where Michael Foran stands personally in this debate I can’t tell for sure. That’s quite normal in legal circles.
Bills passed by devolved legislatures (Scottish Parliament, Welsh Senedd, Northern Irish Assembly) have to stay within the powers that they are legally allowed to exercise. This is quite normal. Holyrood can’t pass a law outlawing kangaroos in South Australia, for example. That’s literally, and clearly, none of its business. Neither could it, for the same reason but closer to home, decide that all schoolkids in Kent will get free ice-cream. However, it’s also not free to decide everything and anything in terms of Scotland. Why? It’s our parliament, our country, why can’t we do whatever we want? That’s because there isn’t a straight line of succession between the ancient Scottish Parliament, which closed in 1707, and this new one that opened in 1999. In the meantime, Holyrood went to Westminster – and only some of it made it back over the border. This brings us to the first way to kill the bill:
Outwith legislative competence – some matters are reserved to the Westminster parliament and Equality (most aspects) is one of them. Employment is another. (You can find the full official list of reserved and devolved matters HERE.) That’s why the recent judgment (legal spelling) of Scotland’s highest court, the Court of Session, delivered by Lady Dorrian on that matter, in the petition of For Women Scotland, is so important. What that means is that any attempt by a devolved legislature to interfere with legislation that’s the business of the UK parliament will be smacked down. This Bill could be challenged immediately, by the Lord Advocate, for example, or it might be challenged in a Scottish court. The difference between those who make laws and those who interpret them is that the latter are legal experts. I’m not being nasty. Politicians don’t tend to have legal training and even those who do may, for some reason, choose to ignore tensions between legislation and legality.
The second way may strike residents in other parts of the UK as very odd:
Incompatible with Convention rights – what this refers to is the peculiarly Scottish situation that, despite Brexit, Holyrood legislation still has to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This is quite similar to the more famous UDHR (Universal Declaration). So there could be a challenge under Article 9: Freedom of thought, conscience and religion; or, more imaginatively, under Article 6:
3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights: (a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;
A woman could perhaps make the case that she doesn’t understand the language or the nature and cause of the accusation (of ‘misgendering’, for example) levelled against her. Repeating, “I don’t understand that, what does that mean?” to all occasions of the charge might be very interesting legally. And, putting the onus on the prosecution to explain, in language that she does understand, possibly an effective defence. If the Scottish Court Service is faced with the prospect of hordes of bemused women clogging up the Sheriff Courts while frantic court clerks phone round for academic doctors with a speciality in the metaphysics of transgender (I think I’m the only one, certainly in Scotland) then the pushback might be enough to find this legislation so incompatible and therefore illegal. The third way is more probable and has already been foreseen:
Section 35 order – this refers to the power (indeed the duty) of the Secretary of State for Scotland, according to the Scotland Act 1998, to stop the Bill being submitted for Royal Assent:
35 Power to intervene in certain cases.
(1) If a Bill contains provisions—
(b) which make modifications of the law as it applies to reserved matters and which the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have an adverse effect on the operation of the law as it applies to reserved matters,
he may make an order prohibiting the Presiding Officer from submitting the Bill for Royal Assent.
Which brings us to the fourth way: King Charles could decide not to sign it. Extraordinary as that action would be, the timing is interesting. The Heir Apparent is not yet crowned and in September 2022, after the Proclamation in Edinburgh, he swore a solemn oath before the Accession Council in London to uphold certain specific religious rights:
I, Charles III, by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of my other realms and territories, King, Defender of the Faith, do faithfully promise and swear that I should inviolably maintain and preserve the settlement of the true Protestant religion as established by the laws made in Scotland in prosecution of the Claim of Right and particularly by an act intituled an act for securing the Protestant religion and Presbyterian church government and by the acts passed in the Parliament of both kingdoms for union of the two kingdoms, together with the government, worship, discipline, rights and privileges, of the Church of Scotland.
Now, unlike the Free Kirks and the Free Presbyterians, the Church of Scotland is pretty woke, in terms of homosexuality (and I’m proud to say I played a small part in that endeavour to change hearts and minds), however the extent of rage about male rapists (there isn’t any other kind in law) in the Scottish female prison estate may have caused some worthy kirk sessions to consider that ‘inclusion’ isn’t quite as fluffy bunnies as it’s chalked up to be. So there could possibly be a challenge on religious grounds: there is a specific religious duty to protect the vulnerable, and this mercy extends to those in prison, so it could be argued that this legal change by the state, that threatens incarcerated women with rape, a religious injustice that cries out to God, unsettles ‘the true Protestant religion’. That’s not legal logic; it’s the language of symbolism. Charles depends on his Scottish subjects recognising that he has fulfilled that oath. If not, he is not lawfully our monarch and may be deposed. A particularly fiery and authoritative preacher might make the point. The last way is linked: the power of the people:
Sovereignty of the People of Scotland – on 26th January 2012, Nicola Sturgeon MSP (then) led a debate in Holyrood on the Claim of Right with the motion:
‘That the Parliament acknowledges the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and declares and pledges that in all its actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount.’
If the Scottish people demonstrate, en masse (it might take a general strike of women) that in the recent actions and deliberations of the Scottish Parliament their interests have not been paramount then, by the Claim of Right that was approved by the Scottish Parliament, in the following amended form, then they may force that Parliament to think again:
The Presiding Officer: The result of the division is: For 102, Against 14, Abstentions 0.
Motion, as amended, agreed to,
That the Parliament acknowledges the sovereign right of
the Scottish people to determine the form of government
best suited to their needs and declares and pledges that in
all its actions and deliberations their interests shall be
paramount, and asserts the right of the Scottish people to
make a clear, unambiguous and decisive choice on the
future of Scotland.
Thanks to Dawn Hudson for releasing her image A Very Angry Woman into the Public Domain.
My brother remarked today that on his street there are houses with huge bay windows that may be double glazed but either lack curtains altogether or just never close them. He said they must be paying a fortune in heating bills. And probably walking round in tee-shirts shivering, I said. The remark made me grateful for being brought up by thrifty parents. So if you’d like some good Scots advice on warmth and economy from a previous generation, read on for ten hot tips!
Dress for winter, not for the beach! Girls, thin tight leggings (rarely flattering) won’t keep you warm—thick tights or long socks under a long skirt or trousers that actually fit you with room to breath, because you need a layer of trapped air, will keep you warmer. And cover your midriff! My old Mum, a retired nurse, shakes her head at the sight of all these lurid crop tops and says “that girl will have kidney trouble later!” Guys? Same! And put on a long-sleeved shirt or blouse and a jumper over that tee!
Invest in a pair of slippers. No, I don’t care if it’s not cool. It’s Baltic! Just do what you’re told!
Get down to your nearest charity shop (that doesn’t support vivisection or child prostitution!!!!) and buy carpets and rugs till you cover every inch of that stripped blonde pine floor you insisted on getting cos you saw it on TV. And mats for the bathroom. Yes you do need one round the bowl. The one outside the shower you hang up to dry, by opening the bathroom window (remember to shut it before you leave the house) and closing the door!
Close the doors!!!!!!!! It’s just physics. Freshen the air when you don’t need it warm (at night, when you’re in bed, asleep, not checking your phone) by opening the other doors to allow air to circulate—but otherwise keep them closed! If your living room opens onto the kitchen as well as the hall, block one of the doors with an easily portable chair on either side to discourage folk from wandering through and leaving it open. Portable because of fire. You don’t want a heavy armchair blocking an exit!
Get visitors in and out of the front door (and the dog out the back) quickly! Do all your greetings and goodbyes in the hall with the door firmly closed then, after all the hugs and kisses, PUSH them out into the ice and snow—and shut that door!
Hang a curtain over the front and back doors and keep it closed as much as you can. This is a Mediterranean trick to keep out the sun, because they mostly don’t heat their houses cos they don’t need to.
Curtains. Thick, long (stop it!) and on every window. Close them as soon as it gets dark. That’s about 3:30pm in Scotland at the moment.
Cover your head, your hands, your feet and your neck when you go out, well! Trainers are not made for snow. Neither are stilettos or even kitten heels. Get boots. A scarf or at least a neck warmer is a must, as are thick gloves, and a woolly bunnet (you might call it a “beanie” for some reason) that covers your ears for anyone without abundant locks—and even they could do with ear muffs.
Turn down your heating. You’ll feel the cold less outside if you stop living like a hothouse plant.
Use a small oil-filled radiator near the chair you sit on most. You don’t need the central heating blasting away all over the house when you can just heat the air in your vicinity.
Apart from all of the above, if your brain hasn’t totally shut down from hypothermia—or from the shock of seeing your energy bill—you could ask yourself why you keep voting for parties that agree with GIVING YOUR MONEY AWAY to government crony contracts; the poison industry (you might know that as Big Pharma); and a country-sized money laundromat located just to the north of the Black Sea! And then blowing up a pipeline (for political reasons) transporting cheap fuel!!!
In Freedom Alliance, we don’t agree with any of that—and we’re not alone! Check out the ADF and the (Scots) Libertarians too! So if you’re fed up with putting people in power who make you poorer, why not stop doing that and vote for the alternative?
Thanks to Karen Arnold for releasing her image House Illustration Clipart into the Public Domain.
A striking image in Graeco-Roman myth caught my attention when writing my thesis on (Dr Robert) Pirsig, Pedagogy and the Metaphysics of Quality. It comes from the story of the arranged diplomatic marriage of the crippled patron of the forge to the voluptuous patron of love who has an affair with the patron of war. Hephaestus/ Vulcan suspects that his wife Aphrodite/ Venus of being unfaithful and constructs a net so fine to be invisible yet so strong to be unbreakable and catches her coupling with Ares/ Mars. Summoning the other denizens of Olympus, his expectation of their censure is disappointed; they laugh at the spectacle.
The net of Hephaestus and the laughter of the gods compose an ancient cosmological scenario: love and strife hopelessly entangled in public view with the powers-that-be unsurprised and amused. “As above, so below” is a famous metaphysical maxim and so this scenario may also be seen in politics. Indeed, in a recent Time for Reflection on St Cecilia’s Day, Mgr. John A. Hughes asked the Scottish Parliament to reflect on harmony and discord—and to prefer the former.
It has been my experience, joining, standing for and working with Freedom Alliance, that the vast majority of leaders, members and supporters of our own and other parties with similar aims agree with Mgr. Hughes: harmony is to be preferred over discord. However, for various motives, there are always one or two who seek to cause division and use it to augment their celebrity status.
People are human and humans are vulnerable. Having been the victim of institutional abuse for years, I can testify to how exhausting it is to continually strive to do the right thing while others are gleefully attacking you. In that intolerable situation, some may be forced out and others leave because they can take no more.
On that note, several extremely hardworking members of the executive of Freedom Alliance have just resigned from the party. Under similar pressure, I had resigned from the executive and my time away from the strife has enabled me, with others, to carry on. Although there is, perhaps, a degree of malevolence in some of the personal attacks, and certainly a touch of egotism, I believe that most of the discussion comes from a genuine concern about how best to reach the non-voting majority of the freedom movement.
The timing of this strife, with a public announcement going out on the eve of the Chester parliamentary by-election, and now these resignations a week before that in Stretford & Urmston, is challenging. Nevertheless a remnant remains and is steadfast. We are working now to put differences aside and to learn lessons—and all people of goodwill and common sense are most welcome to help us in that endeavour.
I ask all friends of freedom to desist from fanning the flames of conflict and to recall the consistent warnings of the party about the steel trap closing around us—as our children are dying of iatrogenic harms and our local authorities seek to corral us in “15 minute cities” for easier control.
As I said at the count for East Dunbartonshire in May, Freedom Alliance is a pop-up party—and we’ll be popping up again!