It is the easiest thing to feel the pressure and fall back in line. It is sometimes hard to walk in the opposite direction, but it is sometimes the true road , and you will know because you will be following your conscience, As long as you have that , you will never walk alone
The SNP and Nicola Sturgeon, Bernie Saunders, US foreign policy
Well, here I am with my musings of the world this week from Mennies, But this week it is somewhat different as it comes from Brussels, where I am spending the weekend, Brussels is a beautiful city a city with, it seems, a chocolate shop on every other corner and a Belgian beer hostelry on the other one.
Back in Dundee it has been another busy week in business, with another step in the progression of a MOT (Ministry of transport) station being completed.
In-between all this, trying to keep up with what is happening in Scotland and indeed the rest of the planet.
Here in Scotland we had one of our representatives at Westminster, and MP for Perth and Kinross, Pete Wishart making a fool of himself again by showing his unionist credentials in one of his blogs, calling England the “parent country of Scotland.” This in relation to the debate on how we should progress to another referendum on independence, or what it should actually be and that is, an assertation of the will of the people, with a view to progressing to a fully independent country.
At present we are caught up in a massive road block brought about by the leader of the SNP and therefore the de-facto leader of the independence movement ,Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence that the only “legal” rout is to keep on asking Westminster to pass a section 30 derogation of schedule 5 of the Scotland act, thereby enabling a referendum to take place , the outcome of which would be pre-agreed.
This is of course in no way required and the present Westminster government are rubbing their hands with glee at the fact that Nicola Sturgeon and people like Pete Wishart are doing their job for them. It is quite clear in the UN charter of self-determination that all a country, or a people requires to do to gain its independence is simply ascertain that the people wish to be independent and then declare that they are independent. This would be followed by recognition of the fact by other countries and eventually the UN. This was exactly how Kosovo became independent and Britain was one of the first countries to recognize that fact. In this process we do not need foolish people like Pete Wishart and Nicola Sturgeon giving false credibility to the naturally oppressive state of England, A country who have raped and pillaged the resources of half the world during the history of the British Empire.
The trial of Alex Salmond is to begin next Month and I fully suspect that revelations which could be made concerning the involvement in, and closeness of, some of the witnesses to the first minister, could see her departure from the post. I sincerely hope that this will be the case and we can get back on the road to independence.
Only today it was announced that Joanna Cherry will be standing for the seat in Edinburgh that Angus Robertson intends standing in, This is good news as a precursor to Joanna becoming leader of the party and Angus being consigned once more to the pages of history as he is too close to Nicola and he himself is likely not to come out too well either ,in the Alex Salmond case. By the way, if there are still a few misguided people out there who still think Nicola is going to lead them to a glorious referendum this year as she has promised, or indeed that she ever had a “cleaver plan” in the first place then be prepared for the shock if your life as she will be very lucky to still be in power by the end of March.
So now to Bernie Sanders who had been doing rather well on the primaries and looks good to successfully challenge Daft Donald in the forthcoming presidential election. Now there are several reason why I say this and not least among them is the fact that the Jewish lobby are throwing inordinate amounts of money into a campaign of disinformation against Bernie and guess what? The Russians are coming again, riding to the aid of Bernie, I ask you folks, honestly, just how stupid do you have to be to believe that crap being fed to you daily. Just look at where it is coming from, it is media and news papers with large Jewish controlling interests. The reason being if course is that if Bernie gets elected, he will reign in the mindless support for the worst terrorist state on the planet, Israel, In doing so he will stop the US from being a poodle of Israel and guess what? He will bring your young folk back from stupid wars in the Middle East. Hands up every Mother and Father who would like to see their Sons and Daughters in the armed forces being used to protect US shores instead of “US interests” which is another way of saying Israeli interests in the Middle East. Come on folks, wake up, you are being taken for a bunch of mugs and by the way you might not have noticed but there is about to be a peace agreement with the Taliban and the only condition is that the Taliban have to cease hostile operations for a week. I will say that again “the Taliban have to Cease hostile operations for a bloody week.” So, in other words you have had your young people dying in Afghanistan for the last 17 years to give Afghanistan a week of peace, wow. Mission accomplished.
So, sitting in the lounge at Brussels Airport finishing this week’s “The World This week From Mennies” and looking out on a dreich windy day. I am sure the Sun is splitting the pavements in Dundee awaiting my return.
So, to all my friends the World over I wish you a great (remainder of the) weekend. Take care all, be productive, be fair to others and gentle with animals. Life is too short for anything else. Slainte
Well here we are again at the end if a busy week, I missed my view on the World from Mennies last week because of pressure, business wise, as we are in the process of setting up a new workshop facility within recently acquired buildings adjacent to our existing workshop and depot. Big project for us, and it will give us one of the largest and most diverse vehicle workshop and repair operations in Dundee, it will include at least one possibly two MOT test bays allowing testing up to the largest vehicle possible under MOT regulations.
So, to what is happening around the planet over the last couple of weeks and let’s start with Russia, Now you will probably have noticed that there has been a lot of talk about Scottish independence of late and this had been brought about by various announcements and promises by the leadership of the SNP. Now let me be clear, I have absolutely no confidence in the present leadership of the SNP doing anything remotely like advancing towards independence ( as they have promised) this year and will instead ,once again use independence to get them a comfortable majority at the Scottish parliamentary elections next year. Ok, so what has this to do with Russia? you will be saying. Well I will tell you. Now although the SNP ( the party of independence) are doing absolutely nothing , by way of preparation for and other referendum ( or other means of ascertaining the will of the people) the British establishment certainly are doing something about any threat to the removal of the goose who has been laying the golden egg for the last 313 years. In fact, ever since the last referendum in 2014 they have never stopped trying to influence the people of Scotland against any thoughts of removing ourselves from the United Kingdom. There is various way in which they do this and one if them is to try to negate the value of our assets and in particular our reserves of oil. You will notice that recently there have been various interviews from so called experts in the oil industry giving views on the sustainability of our oil reserves and therefore the potential value to an independent Scotland of a product that is in declining usage. These reports are mainly put out by the UK state propaganda broadcaster, the BBC. So where does Russia come into this? Well Russia together with its oil related companies are about to embark on the largest oil related operation the World has ever known and are to develop large oil reserves on the wide-stretched tundra lands of northern Ural and export it through a projected seaport in the Taymyr Peninsula.
The project costing in the region of $155 billion will include 15 new towns, airports, sea ports and in the region of 100K jobs, Now if anyone ( even the BBC) expects Russia to put that amount of investment into a product that will loose its value in the foreseeable future then they seriously need professional help. Scotland’s oil will continue to be a huge factor in the economy of an independent Scotland for many years into the future no matter how many (Sir) Ian Woods’ the BBC drag into their studios to try to tell you any different.
So now to the SNP, who at one time were called the party of independence. That was of course until Nicola Sturgeon took over, and now are called the party of the Grand old Due of York as she has marched her troops up to the top of the hill and down again so many times that that it is not funny anymore. Well a couple of weeks ago she did just that, for the umpteenth time. Before the recent UK General Election she made great play with regard to a referendum being held this year, She even went to the lengths of arranging a rally in George square Glasgow to fire up the faithful into believing that there would be a referendum this year, The fact that she actually appeared at an independence related rally in the first place was remarkable as it was the first one she had appeared at in the five years that she has been leader of the so called party of independence, Choosing instead to appear at rallies of her chosen sexual affinities held by the gay community and of course Brexit rallies on her crusade to save the UK union.
Now the SNP have been in power in Scotland for some considerable time and like all political parties they become jaded and corrupted by the power they hold. Now once upon a time it was the policy of the SNP to disband on achieving their primary goal but this is now not the case and my concern is that they will fall apart at the seams before they have achieved their primary roll and that is, facilitating a road to independence. This process of falling apart , to my mind has already been put into operation. We now have a faction withing the SNP who are causing mayhem among the membership and the general independence supporting community, they are the WOKE brigade of gender neutralization. They are supported by the leadership of the SNP. Believe it or not they are pushing for a system of self ID which means that a physical male can have access to women’s private places by simply saying he feels like a woman, There are quite possibly very genuine people who struggle with their gender identity and should have provision made for them, but it is not in women’s toilets and shower rooms where women and children can be vulnerable and at risk from weirdos and sexual deviants. This gender recognition policy as laid out by the SNP leadership will cause huge losses in voting intentions and a subsequent loss to the independence movement. It must be stopped in its tracks. Just over a week ago the finance minister of the Scottish Government, Dereck Mackay was discovered to have been texting messages to a 16 years old youth and is now under police investigation for grooming. Now anyone who conducts himself in this manner (and assuming he was indeed grooming) is disgusting. However, there is another aspect of this that is deeply worrying and that is his downright naivety and stupidity. This was a government minister openly texting without any thought as to where these texts were going, He would have been as well copying in GCHQ to the texts as every single one of them will have been sifted through their intelligence gathering software, stored safely away awaiting a prime opportunity for this to be used, Coincidently this came out days before he was to be laying out the budget for the Scottish government and more importantly he was to be producing an alternative version of the GERS figures, something the Scottish government should have been doing years ago as these flawed figures are used every year to falsely show Scotland in deficit. So a couple of weeks in which the SNP Scottish government are starting to unravel at the seams and only a few weeks to the Alex Salmond trial in which I expect Nicola Sturgeon to come out in a very negative light. We badly need a new leadership in the SNP to carry forward the independence cause.
So to the middle east and Trump’s instructions from the Israeli government to produce a peace plan that will virtually destroy Palestine, Well understandably this has not gone down well at all in the world with many nations voicing their severe reservations Probably the only country where it did go down well was the country that it no doubt, was drafted in and that is Israel before being handed to Trump with instructions to sign it and get it out there. United Nations, this week produced a list of companies in Israel who trade on land stolen from Palestinian people. The purpose being to put pressure in Israel to uphold the something like, 64 UN resolutions passed against them in relation to their treatment of the Palestinian people. Will it do much good? Probably not, as the tentacles of the Israeli government creep far and wide.
Human Rights Watch said the list “should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
Hopefully the World will now sit up and see what is being done to a people in the Middle East, but I am not holding my breath waiting.
And so to the main event tonight and that is a couple of pints in Mennies and no doubt some lively conversation.
So to all my friends the World over I wish you a good and peaceful weekend and remember :- When in Dispute with someone, and before passing judgment, you should first, walk a mile in their shoes Then if you still do not agree, you are at least a mile away from them And you have their shoes
Nicola Sturgeon’s speech of surrender. Trump’s awful peace settlement proposals. Leaving the EU.
Well, another week in and a busy one at that and time for a pint in my favorite hostelry, but first a wee look at the week past, and indeed let me start with a subject very dear to my heart and that is the state of the independence movement in Scotland today.
Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon made her much awaited statement on what she intends doing with regards to advancing our march towards independence. To cut a long story short the answer is nothing ,except for the usual marching of the troops up to the top of the hill and down again. There was absolutely nothing in her speech which differed from her approach till now, and that is absolutely nothing, except “wait a little longer” That is what she has been saying for the last 5 years. Five years ago she said that the people of Scotland would tell her when they wanted another referendum, So they did. They marched in their tens of thousands, they engaged with no voters on social media they did everything they possibly could without an official campaign. They, the people, told her that they were ready.
What did she do? Nothing, except change the peramiters. The “people will let me know when they are ready” slogan was dropped as the people marched. Marches that she was never on, She did however march at the front of her chosen sexual preference groups in Gay rallies and also in anti Brexit rallies. In the elections in 2015, 2016 and 2017 she swept the cause of independence under the carpet, supposedly to set about governing Scotland well, in order to convince Scottish voters, that because it could be proven that Scotland could be governed well under the union it would be able to govern itself well without the Union. I ask you this, if a person voted no because they though that the country would be better off under the union ,then why on earth would they change their mind if it could be proven that the country could actually be governed better under the union.
No, just nonsense, and meanwhile whilst she was trying to convince no voters that they could actually be governed better under the union she was doing nothing to actually convince them that they could be governed better as an independent country. Yes believe it or not, in the 5 years since the last referendum the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon have not even tried to address the issues we lost that last referendum on quite possibly with the exception of the Growth Commission report that the SNP commissioned, which actually made the situation worse by suggesting that we do one of the very things we lost the last referendum on and that was a form of monetary union and worse still that we could be tied to England financially, for up to 10 years. Absolutely crazy.
Throughout this time since Nicola took over as leader of the SNP, she has constantly marched her troops up to he top of the hill and down again with a series of promises generally made in the lead up to an election which were then broken shortly after the election, The classic was the lead up to the General Election we just had. A few weeks before the election there was a surge of talk about another referendum from Nicola and a hastily arranged rally in George square where for the first time since she became leader of the SNP Nicola actually appeared and spoke at a rally, making a strong case for another referendum and indicating that there would be one in 2020. However when it actually came to the election campaign there was no sign of any election material campaigning on independence and instead the campaign was conducted on the basis of fighting against Brexit. So another wards she had done it again, she had sidestepped independence in favor of trying ( as she saw it) to save the Union.
Throughout her time in office, all of her actions could be construed as working to maintain the union, and in doing so she lost seats at every election after the 2015 GE landslide which was won on sentiment after the defeat at the 2014 referendum ., The 2015 landslide was won, not because of Nicola Sturgeon, but despite her. In the GE in December the SNP did manage to take back some of the seats lost in 2017 but that was specifically because she had made such a play on the independence case just before the election, although as I have just said the election was not actually fought on independence but on Brexit which was lost anyway.
We are now faced with the most right wing government in the history of the UK, one with a huge majority and there was actualy no need for it. Believe it or not, it was the SNP who actualy facilitated it by, together with the Lib Dems, agreeing to hold the GE in December , this in turn bounced Jeremy Corbyn into also agreeing and we are now faced with the disaster of a Boris Johnston government of fascists. Johnston was in a cage and Nicola let him out. Once again she saved the union.
So since the GE we have had a series of delays in getting the promised referendum under way, to the stage the other day when again Nicola had run out of delaying tactics and had to make a much needed speech to clarify the situation regarding what people saw as the promise to hold a referendum in 2020, Well the speech was a disaster and gave not a bit of clarification as regards another referendum. There was an avalanche of criticism on social media as people finely realized that they had been duped and this again was the march down the hill experienced so many times in the past. This time it must be clear that the Emperor has no clothes, even to the ardent “Nicola has a secret clever plan” acolytes. My advice to them is stop hitting your head off a brick wall, you will feel better for it.
My hope is that Alex Salmond will be cleared of all charges and the people who set him up will find themselves in court. I have a feeling that there are a number of people including Nicola Sturgeon who will be rather uncomfortable in the run up to the Salmond case and I would not be at all surprised if the case was dropped altogether. We really need Salmond back in charge, that is our only hope for a proper route to independence but whether or not that happens Nicola Sturgeon and her husband, the chief executive of the SNP, Peter Murrel have to be replaced.
Ok so briefly , the US has made proposals for a peace plan in Palestine and Israel, and they are a disgrace. They basically entrap even further the Palestinian people . Donald Trump is now no more than a puppet of the Zionist Government of Israel. The plan and the drafting of it are a disgrace and is openly and simply a propaganda tool of the Israeli government for instance the word “violence” is used repeatedly but only in connection with the Palestinians, Absolutely no mention of the awful “violence” meted out to the Palestinian people by the Israeli forces. The document is a disgrace and I suggest you look at Craig Murry’s excellent piece on the report. Yet again the conflicts in the middle east are leading back to the door of Israel.
Now the EU, and a very sad day it was on Friday as we officialy left the Union after 47 years, This is a disaster for Scotland and indeed the rest of the UK but England voted for it by a small margin and so the rest of us were dragged out against our will. My hope is, that now there are no membership restraints on the remaining countries they will openly show their support for Scotland becoming a member should we become independent. When I cast my mind back to the independence campaign in 2014 the no side made great play of the fact that only remaining in the UK union would guarantee continuing membership of the EU. Well we can see just how hollow a promise that was now, can we? To all my friends in the EU I am sorry to leave you, I campaigned to stay, please leave the door ajar and a light on, we will be back I promise you.
So to all my friends the world over I wish you a pleasent weekend and I raise my glass to you Slainte
Remember :- Every day is a new page in your life story You have a choice You can just read it Or you can write it
25 January 2020. Robert Burns, Iraq, Brexit, Coronavirus, Independence
Another week in, and a pretty eventful one here at home with another stage in our expansion plans completed and a commitment to installing an MOT ( vehicle testing facility) station in the new premises, the purchase of which was completed several weeks ago. However, a wee incident at the beginning of the week just about spoiled things somewhat. I was in one of the workshops and decided to check on the oil burning space heater which had just been lit. It seemed to be giving off unusual fumes and on looking through the glass door into the burning chamber I couldn’t see any flame and only a build up of fumes. Suddenly there was an explosion and the door flew open, the blast hitting me in the face and knocking me on to my back. Great way to start the day. Once I got my breath back and assessed any damage, it would appear I had been very lucky. My hair was singed, I had lost half of one eyebrow and my face was stinging. Very luckily I had been wearing my glasses as both lenses had been burned and showed signs of melting. If I had not been wearing the glasses I would in all probability have been blinded.
So great start to the week and we have today, the anniversary of Scotland’s greatest poet Robert Burns. Born in Alloway in the West of Scotland in 1759, and after a very active and creative life, passing away in 1796. Every year on New Year’s Eve the whole world sings one of his songs, Auld Lang Syne. Here in Scotland we mark his birthday with a Burn’s Supper where the traditional Scottish delicacy, the Haggis is served up in the traditional manner with mashed potato and turnip. The haggis is piped in and there is a rendition of an “Address to the Haggis” given before the haggis is shared out amongst the gathering. The first verse of the poem goes like this, Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o the puddin’ race! Aboon them a’ ye tak your place, Painch, tripe, or thairm: Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace As lang’s my erm. Burns was a humanist and wrote many poems highlighting the inequalities of the times in which he lived.
So to the rest of the World and the big story at the moment is the spread of the Coronavirus which seems to have started in China and been contracted from animals. The Chinese government seem to be taking this very seriously and are in the process of building very large isolation hospitals to contain the outbreak. It is a respiratory illness similar to a flu. Up till now there has been approximately 2,400 people infected and 41 deaths. The media outlets are stirring up panic, but I feel that they are getting it slightly out of context and causing undue concern and alarm. As an example of this, it might be an idea to look at the incidences of flu during a winter period. For instance in the winter of 2017 to 2018 in the USA there were 49 million cases of Flu and 80,000 deaths. That is in a population of 327 million people. China has a population of 1.4 billion. So sometimes better to keep a sense of proportion and at the same time act cautiously.
Meanwhile, in Iraq there has been a demonstration of a million people against American troops remaining in their country. This has been very lightly reported by Western news outlets which is rather concerning. The Iraqi government recently passed a resolution demanding the removal of American forces from their country. This is the country that the US says it is there to protect, well, American troops are still there so that makes them an army of occupation. Of course we all knew that and we all really know why they are there in the first place, don’t we? Yes it all started with the removal of Saddam Hussain and the take over of the Iraqi oil fields, just like it always is with countries with colonial ambitions. The government do the dirty work for large corporate interests who pay them back through contributions to party funds and other ways. Same happened in Britain’s colonial days with the East India Company and the Hudson Bay company. The US should simply go from Iraq and leave the people to run their own country.
During the week Boris Johnson signed the document that cuts us adrift from the EU. An act of stupefying madness. No doubt in the coming weeks or months we will come to realise the real reasons for this idiotic act and I suspect it was more to do with the EU move to regulate the manner in which companies move large amounts of profits to offshore accounts in order to avoid paying the proper taxes due in the countries in which the trading takes place. Meanwhile we will witness the drain of companies leaving these shores to be where the real economic activity takes place and that is within the EU. Yes there will be negotiations as to future trading arrangements with the EU but they cannot be better or as good as they are now because that is the very founding principal of the EU and that is to benefit the member countries before any other consideration can take place. It will indeed be a sad day on the 31 January as that is the day we leave the EU.
And so to Independence. I wont go into just how the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon have messed the whole thing up over the last 5 years culminating in them actually facilitating the election of the most right wing, uncaring, anti Scotland government in the history of the UK, because I have been outlining their inadequacies over that period of time and it gets a bit wearing after a time, but I will say this, Nicola has promised another statement on the situation regarding another referendum on independence this coming week. There is still a way to hold another referendum within this year and that was the latest carrot she dangled before the general election to get more votes. There has to be a case of determination of schedule 5 of the Scotland act taken out, firstly in the court of session and then possibly in the UK supreme court. This is to determine the legality of the Scottish government holding an independence referendum without the consent of the UK government. If she does not at least do this then she is finished. Quite possibly with delays there will still not be enough time to hold one this year and of course she will have the effects of the Alex Salmond case to consider. A case that I suspect she is not going to come out of well at all. I also suspect the there will be attempts to put off another referendum until after the Scottish elections in May next year. I feel this is her last chance to do something and get us out of the corner she has painted us into. The clock is ticking on her tenure as first minister of Scotland.
So to conclude lets get back to Rabbie Burns as I said before, he was a great man of the people and one of the poems he wrote brought this out very clearly. It was a poem called “A Mans A Man For A That” and it ends like this For a that and a that, Its coming yet for a that, That Man to Man the World ower, Shall Brothers be for A that.
So to all my friends wherever you are on this fragile planet, I lift my glass to you. Slainte.
Global warming, Vladimir Putin, Independence, Donald
Here we are at the and of another week and I simply do not know where the days went this week, It seems only yesterday I was sitting here writing a World this week from Mennies blog. Bit colder this week here in Scotland but still nothing like the Winters we used to have . I remember when I was younger here in Dundee we would skate on the Swannie ponds for six weeks. I honestly cant remember that last time I saw them iced over, Global warming? Probably, man made possibly not, but in all probability certainly not helped by mankind. People speak about the “last ice age” which was approximately 12,000 years ago, but that was when this area was last covered in ice and it steadily retreated to where it is still steadily retreating near both polls. now this has happened in the main way before any industrialization and not only that but it has happened many times in the past. We have had successive warming and cooling cycles for hundreds of Millions of years . Most of them before mankind was on the planet. The common denominator is the Sun. It would be good to see if these , and indeed the present warming spell has anything to do with solar activity. Oops is that Gretta at the door.
Ok so on to something else and lets speak about Vladimir Putin. Now old Vlad is now probably the most popular leader that Russia has ever had, but as you read the nonsense in Western papers you would be forgiven for thinking that he was as popular as Rasputin the mad Monk. He is popular because he stands no nonsense from the west He has had a very successful relationship with Assad of Syria and has indeed saved that country from the ravages of the US and ancillary hanger-on’s such as the UK . He is probably the only leader whose army is there by invitation unlike the US and the UK who are there as invaders. Putin’s term of office officially ends in 2024 but the crafty old Fox seems to be working on a plan to extend that., Would that be a bad thing ? No , I feel safer with him in charge of the largest country in the World as apposed to Trump who is in charge of the largest ego on the world, and I would certainly be in favor of closer trading arrangements with Russia in an independent Scotland. Think of it, two of the countries with largest oil reserves on the planet together in a trading pact., What better way to keep American greasy fingers off our natural assets when independent. Is Russia a democracy? Well at least they do not have 900 unelected clowns in the house of lords.
Ok so I see I am already way up there in the popularity stakes with poor wee Gretta teaming up with Extinction Rebellion and the CIA to barricade me in and stop be having a pint in Mennies tonight . So who will I upset next? Lets see, hmm, how about the few remaining fans of the royal family who still think that they are God’s anointed, They must do because why on earth, if they are not, would people get a kick out of bowing and scraping to these unelected parasites., If by some chance they are Gods anointed , then I am afraid God has a very poor sense of humor. in choosing one of the most dysfunctional families on Earth to rule us Here we have Harry and Megan. Megan of mixed race and Harry of mixed parentage . Both decent people on the surface but both not quite conforming to the typical royal and both getting an absolutely rough ride from the English press., Why? for the crime of wishing to live their own life’s. That is unfortunately the UK we live in and the UK that most Scots now wish to leave just like Harry and Megan. Best of luck to them.
So, to independence. There has been a hell of a lot of disquiet in the ranks of the grass roots organizations and activists at the performance of Nicola Sturgeon with regard to what should be her prime function and that is the attainment of independence, Now in the weeks before Christmas when a General election campaign was in progress ., Nicola made great play on the fact that independence was to be in the forefront of any campaign., This culminated in a hastily arranged rally in George Square in Glasgow where Nicola appeared for the very first time at any rally to do with independence, She had marched at the head of other rallies but these were either gay Rallies of save the UK rallies. So at this one she got the faithful all fired up by “almost” promising a referendum on Scottish independence during 2020. Problem was that as soon as the GE campaign started properly, the word independence was expunged from both the campaign literature and the campaign itself, just as it had been in all previous elections since the 2014 referendum and as we all know the campaign was fought on stopping Brexit. There was the letter to Johnson ” asking” for a section 30 and there was the reply which basically said get lost, All very predictable. Now there are several other ways that independence can be attained and there is also several legal avenues that can be gone down to try to reverse this refusal to grant a section 30. Problem is that all this takes time and there is now only eleven and a half months left in 2020. Personally , I do not think that Nicola Sturgeon has the commitment or the ability to get a referendum campaign going. I think she has painted herself and the independence movement into a corner, I think lot of this obfuscation has a connection to the trial of Alex Salmond scheduled for March, I also think Nicola Sturgeon wont last much longer than this trial. To strengthen my reservations we had Angus Roberson making an announcement on twitter today, urging people to campaign,- wait for it, not for a referendum this year, but for the Scottish elections in 2021. Roberson is seen as being close to Nicola Sturgeon as is his wife Jennifer Dempsey who I have a feeling we will be hearing more of in the coming months, March in particular. So disappointment ,yes but as blogged many times in the last 4 years, not unexpected. There has to be a change in the leadership of the SNP or a new party.
Ok, so enough if the doom and gloom and I havent even mentioned daft Donald but we will leave him for another day and let him enjoy his impeachment.
I raise my glass to you, wherever you may be on this fragile planet of ours . Have a great weekend folks.
I have not written a World this week from Mennies for some time, as to be honest I have been heartily sickened by politics in general. However I decided to get a few things down on paper to vent my frustrations at how the world looks from a disillusioned political observer and campaigner for Scottish independence’s point if view.
So, here we are again at the end of another week and some week it has been on the tail end of last week in which the World teetered on the edge of World war three , brought to you by your old friend and incompetent President, Donald Trump, who decided he would murder top Iranian General Quasem Soleimani.
Now make no mistake about it , this was Murder , pure and simple, pre- meditated murder. Ok there are arguments that he was involved in assisting groups who were opposing US incursions into other peoples countries , like Syria for instance. No doubt similar groups that the US assist and finance like ISIS , All-Qaida, All-Nustra etc. Strange thing is that ISIS were over the Moon at this assassination because this particular General was very successful in eliminating many thousands of the adherents to that obnoxious sect. One of the victim of that attack was the driver of the car who, presumably was simply doing hos job and did not go home to his wife and kids that night. Strange World we live in.
Following on from this attack was the downing of the Ukrainian airliner in what has now been admitted by the Iranian Government as a horrible mistake, no doubt made by an anti aircraft battery manned be soldiers expecting a US attack. No doubt this will be investigated including whether there was any interference with their target marking and identification systems. There is however one inescapable conclusion and that is that without the attack on Quasem Soleimani, this airliner would not have been shot down. Therefore Trump will have the deaths of more than just the occupants of the car on his conscience but also the 173 unfortunate passengers in the airliner. This of course assumes he does have a conscience.
We have witnessed the devastating bush fires in Australia and our thoughts go out to the causalities and people who have lost homes in this tragedy. There has also been millions of animals killed in this sad episode in Australian history. A consequence of global warming? Who knows, but a horrible tragedy never the less.
Ok, so now to my favorite ( or perhaps not so favorite at the moment) subject and that is the ongoing fight for Scottish independence. I have leveled so much criticism lately ( and a lot not so lately) at the manner the SNP and in particular, Nicola Sturgeon have progressed along the road to independence and because of my criticisms over the last ( almost) 5 years, I have regularly came in for condemnation and abuse on a grand scale. The thing is that in the main the abuse has not been generated because of what, I have been saying, but mainly because of the fact that I was saying it. In other words the general consensus of the less able to think was that regardless of how bad a job the SNP were doing, it was felt that I did not have the right to criticize them. This was very clear in a recent blog I did and posted it on, among other sites the Republic of Dundee Facebook page. It laid out the muddle the SNP have got themselves into. Now on this site alone it generated 450 comments and answers some were supportive and some were definitely not supportive backed up by some pretty foul language . The thing about all these comments was that not a single one actually criticized anything I said and all were about my right so say them. Eventually the owner of the site took the posting down, bowing to the mob.
Anyway, the fight goes on, and not very efficiently by the present incumbent of the position of leader on the SNP whose main line of attack is that Boris Johnston is duty bound to grant a section 30. Well this week he has told her for the third time in parliament that he will do no such thing. Surprise ,surprise! So plan B, err, what is it? I wonder just how the faithful feel now after all the time they have said to me that “Nicola has a clever plan” as one thing is sure, and that is that if by some miracle she does have a clever plan it will be the only one she has formulated in the last 5 years.
So moving on and thinking ahead to when the next area of action will be, and that no doubt will be the Scottish elections in May 2021 because I am sure we will arrive at that point without any referendum having taken place and we will be back once again to Nicola ( if indeed she is still at the helm which I very much doubt) standing in George Square at a hastily arranged Rally once again and getting the (By that time) rather jaded faithful all fired up again with half promises of another referendum.
Well, that cannot happen and if we get to that point in time without a referendum having taken place then there must be another party there to, at the very least fight the list seats in the election to allow a large pro-independence majority to guide the SNP to a proper road map to independence.
Now this leads me to a very recent development and that is the formation of a group who have just launched the “Digital Covenant”. This is an ongoing digital referendum with one question and only one answer, YES, It is run through the blockchain system so is incorruptible. You can only vote YES, therefore all non votes are taken as NO. This means that we will have to get more than 50% of the voting public to vote yes, some 2.3 million votes but the result will be absolute. It just went live today and there will be teething problems so give it a chance and I will be writing more about this in the days to come. you can get to the site at digitalcovenant.scot . More on this later
So to a pint in my favorite hostelry to celebrate the Weekend. I wish my friends the World over a pleasant Saturday evening and I raise my glass to you.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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 ”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.