Independence, Where are we?

Well here we are a couple of days from the most significant General Election in most of our lifetimes and a Tory majority that will allow them to do whatever they want with Brexit and anything else they wish, which could include tampering with the devolved settlement.

 To  be plain, the way the Scotland act is set up at present, the only way it can be revised is with the people of Scotland voting in a referendum, to have the Scottish Parliament annulled and that is contained in the Scotland act 1998. However, the Scotland act was brought into being by the Westminster parliament and therefore, it can be changed by the Westminster parliament. There is no doubt in my mind that faced with the real possibility of Scotland seceding from the united Kingdom and the resulting chaos emanating from the loss of revenue, coupled with the fact that we have the most unstable prime minister in history, that the possibility of Westminster seeking to dissolve the Scottish parliament is very real.

So how did we get here? Well think back to where we were a couple of months ago. The Tories were riding high in the opinion polls because of the latent racism prevalent in England. This had been fostered through a huge social media campaign by the leave campaign headed up by Boris Johnston, in the lead up to the Brexit vote.

The ironic thing about this was that the Tories were playing on prejudices built up over the years against black and Islamic people, mainly from the British commonwealth, transferring this prejudice onto the immigrants from the EU, who are mainly white and Christian.

This of course had nothing to do with the real reasons of the shadowy backers of this huge media campaign, who were more concerned with the implications of new EU laws concerning the transfer of profits to offshore companies in order to avoid paying the taxes due in EU countries. Taxes, which if paid could alleviate poverty in one fell swoop.

Now parliament were in the main against either Brexit at all or a Brexit which, still did not allow a good trading relationship with the EU. I needn’t go into the machinations that went on in parliament over the 3 years since the Brexit vote and more especially in the last 6 months.

Johnston wanted an election as it looked like he had a majority, but he wanted it before the awful effects of Brexit could be shown, whereby, even the racist element in England would be turned off when it started affecting their pockets. Problem the Tories had, was that they were boxed in and Johnston was in a cage. They had prorogued parliament and been thwarted in court by the actions of Joanna cherry (not the Scottish government) forcing parliament to be restarted. Johnston had lost 8 votes in parliament which was unprecedented. He was boxed in and held tight.

Ok , so Labour, the lib Dems, the SNP and a goodly number of tory MP’s were all against either Brexit in total or the deal that Johnston had come to with the EU which meant a border on the main land of the UK ( put out as a border in the Irish sea, which was abject nonsense) A deal which would have lead to the breech of the good Friday agreement.

Now the SNP could have seized the chance ( as I laid out in a blog I did at that time ) and could have came to an agreement with the Tories to back their request for a General Election on the basis of a legal agreement to recognize a second referendum on Scotland’s independence being made. Yes, it would have meant tolerating Brexit for a time (although, only the transition element) and yes it would have meant the unsavory though that it could have meant the election of a right-wing Tory government. (In the event they chose not to take that rout and we have now got the tory government without a section 30 agreement.)

So, what did the SNP do? I remember Johnston putting forward the request for a December 12 General election on the Thursday, followed by howls of derision from the SNP, with Ian Blackford saying that “a December election was madness” however, by the Saturday, ( two days later) it was not only a great idea but the SNP had proposed an election three days earlier on December 9. I thought I was hearing things, I just couldn’t believe it.

So, let us get this very straight, here was the SNP prepared to allow Johnston out of the cage he was confined in and without any agreement on a future referendum for Scotland. Now they did this in collusion with good old Jo Swinson of the Lib Dems and this inexplicably bounced the renowned fence sitter Corbyn to fall into line and also agree to the date in December.

The SNP have made many mistakes along this interminable road to independence, but this will surely go down as the worst, because they had just facilitated the election of the most right-wing government in the history of the UK.

So, where are we now on the road to independence, well, as usual the SNP have once again been the beneficiaries of circumstance and the Tories have yet again made the case for independence, the SNP only half preparing themselves for this eventuality and let me explain what I mean.

To do this I have to go back to when Nicola Sturgeon was made leader of the SNP. From day one she decreed that the governess of Scotland was to be in no way associated with the cause of independence. That was a huge mistake and one that has haunted them (and us in the yes movement) over the last 5 years. I remember in the run up to the General election in 2015 being visited by Chris Law (at that time, candidate for the WM post). We had an independence rally booked for the City Square for the week before the election. He asked us to postpone this until after the election because ( his words) “Stewart Hosie says that we cant have Yes signs and saltires being waved around the City Square , the week before the election” Yes ,incredible , the SNP party of independence was trying to subdue an expression of a willingness for independence. Now the election was won on a huge majority and 56 SNP MP’s were sent down to Westminster, but it was won on the sentiment of loosing the referendum not in any way because of the actions of the SNP under Nicola sturgeon.

So, let’s look at what has happened since, with this, “don’t mention independence” culture. At every election since 2015, the Scottish elections in 2016 both national and local authority, the GE election in 2017, the SNP lost seats in every single one. At the GE in 2017 they lost half a million votes in comparison to the previous one.

So back to today and we find that yes, there is an opportunity with this election but perhaps not deserving the euphoric reception in which it has been received in certain quarters.

So, throughout this Brexit mess Nicola sturgeon has pursued a road to unionism, every effort has been to save England from itself. Right from day one after the EU referendum , instead of announcing a campaign for a Scottish referendum, based on the fact that Scotland voted 62% to remain, she announced that Scotland wished to be “part if the single market” although not a single person in Scotland voted for that.

Now it would appear that she has realized, rather reluctantly that her policy of sweeping independence under the carpet has been a disaster. It is also very obvious that during all of this long five years in which I and others have been criticizing the SNP strategy ( or lack of) and all these times when I have been pounced upon by the Nicola cult for having the temerity to criticize their glorious leader with shouts of “Nicola has a clever plan” that there has never been a clever plan ,in fact there has never been a plan at all, unless you class her crusade to save the UK as a plan.

Some of the reasons for coming to this conclusion are contained in what happened the other day and the lead up to the GE. You might have noticed that before the GE campaign started there was a burst of independence fervor from Nicola, even a rally hastily organized in George square for Nicola to appear at, the first independence rally she has appeared at since the 2014 referendum. Preferring to restrict her appearances to either Gay Rally’s or anti Brexit rally’s.

Lots of talk about a referendum in 2020, but as I have pointed out in previous blogs, she did not actually say there would be one, and certainly never gave a date. Great, on our way to independence! But was it? When it actually came to the campaign, the word independence was yet again conspicuous by its absence, instead we had a big yellow bus with Stop Brexit all over it ( an act which would have actually taken away one of the main reason for independence by Sturgeons own admission, remember the “significant event” caveat? ) So, the campaign was in the main about saving the UK from the evils of Brexit and in that, the SNP lost.

There was of course a mention of the main reason for the SNP’s existence in the election manifesto which could be the lifesaver and probably the main reason most people voted for the SNP and this is the straw we must grasp.

The SNP increased the amount of seats by 12 , 13 if you include Neal Harvey who was de-selected by the SNP because of a ridiculous   anti-Semitism accusation inexplicably leveled at him by the wok faction in the SNP itself. This falls short of the 56 seats won in 2015 when people thought the SNP were still the party of independence. They drew back half of the votes they lost in 2017. It looks like there were a sizable number of people still not convinced that the SNP were back on the road to independence.

So, the position today is this. We now have the most right-wing government in the history of the UK,( bordering on Fascist) compliments of the SNP who facilitated this general election. Johnston has yet again said he will not countenance a section 30 derogation of schedule 5 of the Scotland act. Once you strip out the stop Brexit element the SNP have a sort of a mandate (the fourth one) to insist on a section 30. There have been suggestions that the way forward is to get all the SNP MP’s to resign, causing by elections which would be fought on a mandate for independence. That suggestion is going nowhere, as there is no way these MP’s will put their cozy £90K plus Jobs at risk and if that seems a good idea now then why was it not a good idea in the manifesto (another suggestion I and others made). In fact, I walked out of a meeting that Nicola Sturgeon was hosting in 2016 ( the week before the Scottish elections) in the Queens hotel in Dundee because I was prevented from being able to ask that very question as to why she had not included that intention in the manifesto Nicola is now saying that we “will not ask for another referendum we will demand it”! So why didn’t we “demand” it some of the other times the faithful have been marched up to the top of the hill and down again?

This magic letter that Nicola has been threatening to send for some time requesting this illusive section 30, has not been sent but when it is, and that should have been yesterday, should contain an ultimatum. “We will have a referendum by next September, it can be with or without a section 30 , your choice, if the referendum confirms the people of Scotland wish to continue to be independent and leave the Union then we will announce our intention to dissolve the union of 1707. In the meanwhile, we will enter preparatory discussions with the UK government in connection with the transfer of the instruments of state and the sharing of assets.

That to my mind is the only option left open to us. My suspicions are that Nicola Sturgeon has in mind a federalization option.

Mark my words, although I have had great reservations of the ability’s and commitment to independence of Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrel, should what I suggest or something similar come to pass and a campaign comes about, I will campaign to the best of my abilities and the Yes Bus will once more be out on the streets of Dundee.

One more thing, the Yes movement should not be hi-jacked by any Gay rights movement and the yes sign should be two colors white and blue the colors of the flag of Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon must stop this transgender nonsense with self ID, allowing men to share intimate places with Women and children.

Hopefully, and with a struggle, we just might be back on the road to independence.

By the way this is the kind of independence battle buses you need, not ones with Stop Brexit all over them.  

This is the kind of Busses you need on an independence campaign

 [bc1]

A Nautical Nomad

Trip to Asia 5 December to 23 December 2019

Halong Bay Vietnam.

After leaving Hong Kong on Sunday we sailed south towards Vietnam in the South China Sea . I have always had an interest in Vietnam since I grew up watching the Vietnam war on television. I have been there once before but my experience was not a fulfilling one as I had failed to do any research as to the port we were to dock at, It was the port for Ho Chi Mien City ( Saigon) and there were of course ships excursions on offer but this meant a 12 hour trip which did not excite me in the least, so I decided to do what I usually do and that is head ashore and explore the town or village we docked at. Well you know the saying in a Robert Burns poem ” the best laid plans of Mice and Men gang aft aglee” ? Well this was most apt in this case, as when we docked and I went to the rail of the ship to view the town, all I could see was a pier, and Jungle for as far as the eye could see, oops.

I tried to persuade the police guarding the pier to let me have a walk into the Jungle as there were various tracks I could see from the ship but they would not allow me to leave the pier. So, my previous experience of Vietnam was a walk up and down the pier and a look at the several small stalls selling local wares.

So yesterday I had made up my mind that this was not to happen again and I had made previous enquiries to ascertain that the visit was not to consist of an inspection of a pier. I was not disappointed as Halong Bay is a very beautiful part of Vietnam, With huge sandstone rock formations protruding from the water and forming a very large amount of islands within the bay.

View of Halong Bay from the ship

There was a complimentary shuttle to go from the ship to the terminal Building, a distance of 1 Km but I decided to walk ( a decision I was to regret later) although I had been getting twinges of pain in one of my knees, the result of a parachuting incident many years ago during a night jump into a very bleak Scottish moor , but that is another story. Every so often I get this flair up of this knee condition which gives extreme pain and makes it very difficult to walk. It can last for minutes or it can sometimes last for quite some time.

So I decided to set off along the shore towards what seemed to be the center of the town. Once through the terminal there was a selection of taxis, tour busses and motor bike transport available, all at what seemed like very reasonable cost, and there was a the usual offers of transport by the many agents based out side the terminal building. One guy after offering to provide transport on his motorbike simply refused to take no for an answer and followed me for about half a mile, constantly offering to take be to where presumably I would get better views of the bay and offering translations through his phone. I didn’t realize it at the time but subsequent problems with my knee made me think that this guy was probably a guardian Angel sent by God as a reward for not burning down any churches for some time. So eventually I had to be more direct with this guy resulting in him indeed going away.

So after a walk of a couple of miles my knee decided I had walked far enough and seized up resulting in me having to turn back stopping at regular intervals to rest my knee. I came upon this memorial which was commemorating the defenses of Halong Bay when under attack from American forces when the US decided to attack what was then North Vietnam . Please read the inscriptions on the memorial.

A very simple translation concerning a horrible event in history
The list of medal awards

Looking at this memorial brought back all that I had seen unfolding regarding the Vietnam war. Vietnam was a French colony from the late nineteenth century with a gap during the second World war where Japan occupied the country. It was part of what was then called Indo China. There was a communist influence from the North and in particular, China., A young man called Ho Chi Min came to prominence as a leader of the resistance leading the forces called the Viet Minh he had been the prim minister of North Vietnam for a time in the nineteen forty’s but became, probably the most prominent gorilla warfare leader in history as he set about to free his country from colonial control.

His war against the French culminated in the events in 1955 or 54 ( cant remember exactly) at a place in the North West of Vietnam called Dien Bien Phu Where the Viet Minh surrounded the French army and defeated them causing the French to leave Vietnam. Around the same time western countries were dividing up Indo china leading to North and south Vietnam being formed.

This is about the time that the US became involved as South Vietnam was not at this point communist and America started providing military advisers and finance to promote their conflict with the North. American involvement grew over the years as did the efforts of the North Vietnamese to take over the south manly by way of the Ho Chi Min trail which was a road through jungle from the north to the South used by the Viet Minh to get troops and supply to the battlefields in the South. During this time the US initiated chemical warfare under the cover of defoliating the Jungle using a chemical called agent Orange which caused a huge amount of civilian deaths and birth defects.

President Kennedy initiated the largest aid program to south Vietnam but was restrained in his direct actions against the North for fear that it would bring china into the conflict. However with his assassination it left Johnston a free hand and this was when the Golf of Tonkin incident led to the bombing of North Vietnam. A US destroyer the Maddox claimed to have been fired on by numerous North Vietnamese torpedo boats. This was later contradicted by a pilot who few in support of the Maddox and reported that the only vessel firing in the area was in fact the Maddox . However, congress passed a motion to allow the US to commence bombing of North Vietnam.

The memorial in the photos commemorates the early raids on North Vietnam. The Vietnam war was a horrible event leaving millions of deaths and casualties. I remember visiting the Vietnam war memorial in Washington . it has a granite wall with the names of all the service men and women killed in the war, but the design of the memorial was the thing that struck me as it is below ground level, as though the US were ashamed of the war. They should be, and not just because of the millions of Vietnamese that were killed or disabled but also for the amount of damaged US soldiers who came back from that war to be shunned and left on the streets.

In 1975 Viet Minh tanks drove into Saigon and the last Americans left by helicopter from the roof of the American embassy. The Vietnam war was over.

So, after sitting at this memorial and thinking of how it all came about, I headed off again hoping that my knee would adjust itself . It didn’t, and so I decided to stop at a Resturant to have something to eat and more importantly to drink as it was hot. I came across an interesting place which had been built around mature trees .

An interesting building

The Resturant was a buffet and for a very reasonable amount I was able to avail myself of a wide choice of Vietnamese food, starting of with noodles steeped in boiling water , strained then covered with various pieces of meats /fish/ vegetables and what could only be describes as mollusks then covered with a soup. It was tasty but I really am not too sure of some of the ingredients. So then to the main course where I had some “chicken” which certainly did not have the bone structure of Chicken in Scotland and believe it or not, crocodile, yes I ate crocodile. Hence forth I can now be called “Crocodile Dundee ”

Crocodile Dundee

After what could reasonably be called an interesting lunch I once more hobbled towards the ship, diverting again into the back streets to see how the ordinary people lived. Yes poverty here, although Vietnam has, like China , embraced capitalism to work alongside communism. Poverty is not in the sole ownership of what we would call underdeveloped countries, just look at the UK with tens of thousands of deaths attributed to the Austerity policies of the present government.

An imaginative electricity metering system

From there I headed towards the ship with another stop at a small hostelry for a beer and another rest for my knee. It had been an interesting day, from reminiscing about the Vietnam war and how it must have affected the ordinary people, to eating a crocodile ( well a part of one anyway)
Crocodile Dundee signing out for another day

A Nautical Nomad

Trip to Asia 5 December to 23 December 2019

Days 4 and 5

So sitting here in the coffee shop on the ship docked in Halong Bay Vietnam and going back to the two previous days in Hong Kong and at sea.

The last day in Hong Kong was a delight with a trip to the Peak which sits above Hong Kong this involved going back to Hong Kong Island from where the ship was berthed in Kowloon. A trip which meant a taxi drive from the cruise terminal to the Watch Tower based at the ferry port for Hong Kong island.

Ferry port at the Watchtower looking towards Hong Kong Island

Once again a smooth embarkation process followed by a pleasant 15 minute sail to Hong Kong Island and the financial heart of the territories. The rout to the base station for the tram to the summit of the Peak, takes you through a succession of interconnected walkways and flyovers which wend their way through a succession of shopping malls and hotel lobbies to the base of the hill. On the way you pass a strange social phenomenon, which is various gathering points for domestic staff from the Philippians, who gather together in social groups to share food, converse and sell wares. In various locations between the ferry port and the base of the hill there are literally thousands of these people all using the one day off ( Sunday) to get together and maintain and make new friendships.

One of the quieter gatherings of Philippine domestic workers

So, after the maze of walkways and flyovers it was a relief to get to the base station of the tram which goes up the side of the mountain to the Peak and quite a climb it is but with fantastic views all the way up.

View from the tram

The views from the top were exceptional looking down over the financial district of Hong Kong and over the straight to Kowloon, Of course at the top there was a shopping mall and a Gordon Ramsey Resturant ( you just can’t get away from these Scots in Hong Kong) which served a very decent late lunch.

Back then to the ferry port and the return trip to Kowloon and a taxi ride to the ship. I have sailed quite a few times with Celebrity and they are indeed beautiful ships, however one of the things that separated them from other lines is the on-board prices they charge, which are extortionate. A capachino is $6 including the mandatory tip which is 20%. A bottle of Heineken is $9 including the tip. They do full cruise drink packages to which are added the 20% gratuity. The gratuity on its own is more than the base cost of the drinks to the company. It really is a case of a captive market being exploited. On Sunday evening before we weighed anchor, we had what turned out to be the longest and most confusing safety drill I have ever been through( and I have had a few of them ). Generally, all the members of staff demonstrate the procedure for putting on a life jacked but in this case only one person did it meaning that probably 75% of the people in that crowded room did not see how to do it.
Now it is normal practice to instruct people to head straight to the gathering point in the event of an emergency but first retrieving any warm clothing and medication from the cabin usually a life jacket also, but in this case they instructed every one who were not in their cabins to go straight to the gathering point whereby they would be issued with a life jacket and “medication”. How the hell they are going to be able to do that I do not know.
The views as the ship left Kowloon of Hong Kong were memorable

Leaving Hong Kong

This is a photo of a strange contraption beside one of the pools on the ship and it reminds me of a Witches chair used in the 17th century in Scotland to determine whether a lady was a witch or not. It was a perfectly logical process and worked every time, The procedure was that the accused lady would be strapped into a chair which was then suspended over a body of water. The chair was them lowered into the water and remained there for some time. Now when the chair was hoisted out of the water and the lady found to be alive then she was obviously a Witch and truly guilty whereupon she would be burned at the stake. If the lady drowned then she was of course innocent. Pretty straight forward. It is reassuring to see that this ship is equipped for all eventualities.

I will leave Vietnam for another day as that country deserves special consideration.

A Nautical Nomad

A trip to the Asia 5 December 2019 to 23 December 2019

Day 5 of my trip to Asia and a busy few days it has been with a start in Dundee last Thursday boarding the airport shuttle outside the Malmaison hotel at 8.30 in the morning. Great service which drops you right outside the departures’ door at Edinburgh Airport , Effortless passage through check in and security with a few hours to pass in the airport lounge together with breakfast.

Flight on time and effortless boarding procedure, I was flying British Airways on this trip, which meant a flight to Heathrow to catch another flight direct to Hong Kong. When British airways opened terminal 5 at Heathrow they had huge problems with luggage transfer and being in the transport industry with regular airport pick ups ,it was a standing joke that when you looked at the flight number a saw it was BA you know that it would be an easy pick up because there would be no luggage to load on to the coach. Of all the trips I have done , I think I have only had lost luggage about three times and it was always with British airways, so that was a thought I carried with me as I boarded the flight to Hong Kong , was my luggage on the same flight?

The flight was on the A380 Airbus, a comfortable aircraft with decent seats and plenty of legroom ( not that I need much legroom) so I settled down for the long flight which was 11 hours. There was a good selection of movies available once I worked out how to use the selection process, which required a degree in quantum physics to navigate the process. Watched a couple of films had dinner which was average to say the least and actually managed to get a reasonable sleep before touching down at Hong Kong international Airport half an hour early.

The airport experience was a delight, extremely well organized in every way, well signposted with everything in both English and Chinese and I found the same everywhere I went in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has the densest population on the planet, with a population of over 7.5 million in an area of something like 450 square miles, that is approximately half the area of Angus therefore you can see the need to keep people moving efficiently. From leaving the plane clearing immigration, collecting luggage ( yes it was there ), customs, and sitting in the taxi it was half an hour flat. I couldn’t help but compare it to the other communist country I visited a few years ago ,Cuba, which took hours to get through a tiny airport in comparison to Hong Kong , before then discovering that I did not have a form ( that no one had given me) so had to do the whole process again. Once in the taxi and on the 40 KM trip to the hotel the driver gave me the nearest to a formula one experience I have ever had, covering the distance ( in heavy traffic) in 40 minutes.

My hotel was the Harbour Plaza on Hong Kong Island and once again the check in was completed within minutes, again I couldn’t help but compare this with the normal experience checking into the Pennsylvania Hotel in new York which usually takes at least three quarters of an hour. So a shower and change and out to explore the area.
Hong Kong sits at the mouth of the Pearl river and is made up of several islands, in the main, Hong Kong island, Kowloon and the added on territories of Macaw and the new Territories. There is a long and complicated history surrounding Hong Kong and it centers round the British empire together with its appendage , the east India company., Now the east India Company was a government sponsored trading company similar to the Hudson bay company in Canada. These were companies set up for the specific propose of stripping the assets from countries ceded to the British Empire by force. The east India company played a big part in the events which lead up to the two opium wars with China.
The Scots played a big part in these early days in Hong Kong’s history with people like Mathison and Jardin moving from their positions in the east India company to be entrepreneurs in the Opium industry and facilitating the Opium wars. They also started one of the earliest Banks in Hong Kong . Many of the Banks now still in existence were managed by Scots, Banks like HSBC ( Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation )
It was because of these Scots that China finally came to an agreement with Britain that Hong Kong would be leased to Britain for 99 years ending the opium wars. China took back control of Hong Kong in 1997.

A relation of the yes Bus , Scotland’s dragon for independence

So, a wander around the area and a very nice chicken curry at one of the many restaurants. Hong Kong has a very good public transport system and indeed the independence movement in Scotland has a very close association with this very same public transport.
In 2014 during the campaign for Scottish independence my family decided to donate the usage of a double deck bus to the cause. Dundee is known as a very diverse City political wise, So we decided to allow the use of the bus free of charge to any grass roots group, to campaign in their own particular way, in and around Dundee. This bus was built in Scotland by Alexander Denis for the Chinese market in Hong Kong. The type designation given was the Dragon , a dragon being an important creature in Chinese mythology. So the dragon went to Hong Kong and plied the streets for several years before going to Kenya to do the same, then going to England, working on the streets of Manchester, before we bought it to service a contract for the High School of Dundee ( the forerunner of which was where William Wallace was educated in his early years in Dundee). So here was the Dragon on the streets of Dundee fighting for the independence of Scotland after servicing two countries both of which gained their independence from Britain, I often said that this was the dragon who would defeat St George.
Unfortunately that was not to be the case on that occasion, but we will come again. The Dragon was widely used by many grass roots groups from women for independence ( who had several cheese and wine parties on board it) to the SNP and mostly by the Yes Bus team who naturally formed around the dragon.

I digress, so back to the trip. After having a couple of beers at the hotel I decided to look for a bar with music and set off into Hong Kong , I must have waked a couple of miles without finding a single bar open after 11.30, so decided to return to the hotel to catch up with the Jet Lag.

Day 3 and from the hotel I could see the ship I was to join across the straight between Hong Kong island and Kowloon. The day before, I had investigated the possibility of taking a ferry which seemed to terminate in the vicinity of where the cruise ship was berthed then walking to the ship. It is just as well I did not take this option as it turned out the ferry terminal ( although near the Cruise dock) would have meant a convoluted rout to the cruise ship taking several hours to walk. Thankfully I chose to take a taxi.
Before I left for the Cruise terminal I went to a McDonalds for breakfast ( good Coffee and always good Wi-Fi) . A Chinese Gentleman sat down at my table and started up a conversation, One of the most illuminating I have had. We talked about Scottish independence, the history of Hong Kong and more importantly the demonstrations going on at the moment. It opened my eyes. I had brought my saltire with me and had considered perhaps joining in one of the demonstrations as an act of solidarity with the young people demonstrating for more democracy. That guy changed my mind, he posed the question , what would they achieve with more democracy, they were in no way oppressed, they had every freedom, had I seen many police on the streets? ( I had not seen a single policemen since I arrived) What would change with corrupt politicians in charge? We spoke about the events in Tiananmen Square and how things had changed since then. He changed my mind.

That is my ship on the right , Celebrity X

I think I will leave it at that for today before everyone falls asleep and will continue with days 4 and five tomorrow , As of now the ship is heading for Vietnam.

Democracy, what is it?

I am in Hong Kong for a couple of days before taking a trip through Asia. We have all seen the footage of the students demonstrating in the streets of Hong Kong and like me the first reaction will probably be to feel a sense of sympathy for them as thoughts of the events around Tiananmen square in 1989 no doubt come to mind.


When I came here I had prepared my self for the possibility of perhaps joining the protests as a mark of solidarity. I had brought my saltire and was prepared to display this in one of the protests. After all Scotland is also experiencing a democratic deficit as the SNP wearily plod on with their intention to “ask” the British government yet again for “permission” to hold a referendum on independence.


Now a few weeks ago I had occasion to personaly remonstrate with Jeremy Corbyn ( leader of the British Labour party) when he came to the Queens hotel in Dundee to tell the Scots that he would not be considering granting the asked for section 30 to facilitate an agreed referendum. This to me marked a severe denigration of UK democracy and in between fending off some of his henchmen who were trying to throw me out, and trying to speak above him I made the point that he was going against the principals of democracy.

So here was I in Hong Kong with the thought in my mind that it would be a good gesture to show some solidarity with the youth of this part of china and express my feelings on democracy.

This morning something happened that changed that.

I went into McDonalds for breakfast ( always good wi fi and decent coffee) found a table and got my computer out. I was busy checking and answering emails and social media when a Chinese gentlemen asked if he could share the table. I of course made it clear that he was more them welcome. He asked if I was working and I said partly between emails and social media. He asked where I was from and I said Scotland. “Ah, independence” he said. so as you can imagine, we had quite a conversation.

He was probably late sixties lived in Hong Kong all his life and had been in IT until his services had been dispensed with, so now he had a van and was connected to Google van which is a delivery service presumably hosted by Google. I said to him that Hong Kong seemed to be a vibrant place going by the amount of construction projects I could see going on. “not now “he said ” things are changing”, I was surprised.

“Was it since China took back the territories” I asked, “No, things have been much better since then” he said, I was surprised. “One of the things that has not helped is the student riots” he said, That caused me to pause. I went on to question him as to the motives behind the riots and asked if perhaps the cause of democracy was worth it, “Why do we need any more democracy” he said, The Chinese Government do not interfere with what we do, do you see any oppression, do you even see any police on the streets”. I had to admit that I had not seen a singe policemen up to now.

We went on to speak about Tiananmen Square in 1989 and it brought back to me thoughts of a very dear friend who was involved in the organization of the protests there and who had to move to the US shortly after. She made a notable career for herself on Wall street.

He went on to say to me almost exactly what I said to her when we both visited Tiananmen Square. “It made a difference, look at China today, it is different and so is Hong Kong because of that sacrifice the students mad on that day in Tiananmen Square”. ” This place is better since the British were here, they ruled Hong Kong for Britain , China rules Hong Kong for the Chinese people. Most of these students were not alive when the British ruled Hong Kong. What they are doing is damaging the country”

Well that put the situation into perspective and made me think about our democracy . Yes china has a communist government run by a congress of chosen people, not elected, but we have the house of lords who are ,in the main there because of either birth or because they have given one of the main parties large amounts of money and make no doubt about it these unelected people make laws.

Would the UK government turn against the people if we demanded democracy? I feel we will very shortly find that out when we once again try to wrest control from Westminster of the power to ask the people whether they wish to be an independent country. I will not now be joining the protests in Hong Kong.