Drawing a Perfect World

By Jason Michael

Of all the things that are wrong with the world, baby boxes and free sanitary provision aren’t two of them. Yet the BBC wants us to ignore the costs of Brexit and nuclear bombs and think of these as a waste of money.

Many – many – moons ago, while still a nipper back in Bellfield Primary School, my teacher Mrs Miller asked our class to draw the perfect world. What we all drew exactly I can no longer remember. It has been a while. But, having seen other teachers work this magic with other children, no doubt we drew our families holding hands on sunny days, with rainbows and unicorns and that sort of thing. Perhaps there is an unintended cruelty in this lesson for youngsters. Teachers are essentially asking their pupils to imagine a utopia which’s absence will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

As adults living in the real world – in the actualised dystopia our political leaders have made for us – we find ourselves longing for that ephemeral perfection. Sure, isn’t that exactly why we are prepared to move heaven and earth just to get a few days in the sun once in a while? With or without Theresa May and Donald Trump and their ilk wreaking havoc upon the face of the earth, life isn’t perfect. There will always be speed bumps. That’s why genuine goodness touches us.

In Scotland we are blessed to see some of that genuine goodness being done by a Scottish government eager to make a difference in a nation that has suffered long at the hands of a self-serving and negligent London government. Baby boxes and free sanitary provision for women living in poverty are two of its genuinely good initiatives. Beginning very soon, after a successful pilot project, every newborn child in Scotland will be given a rigid, safety assured box; filled with many of the essentials needed by a baby in its first few months, that doubles as a cot – giving our newest Scots the best possible start in life. Having seen more than a few babies sleeping in drawers growing up, I can’t even write about this scheme without getting emotional.

There was a time in my life, while out of work and struggling to pay a private landlord rent, when all I could afford to eat was pasta or rice and brown sauce. I was right on the edge of falling into homelessness. Had I been a woman I would have been forced to find alternatives to tampons or sanitary towels during my period, and I know a number of woman who have been in precisely this position. There is no denying that all over Scotland, where record numbers are dependent on foodbanks, that countless women and girls are faced with this indignity. Scotland’s government is the first government in the world to have taken steps to end this.

When I say that I am proud of our “SNP government” – as the BBC is wont to call it when it puts Scotland, as it always does, in a dim light – I mean it. I am dead proud of the government in Edinburgh Scotland has elected to represent it.

Had these baby boxes been sent out to the “Black Babies” – remember that colonialist-racist and patronising British aid programme? – the UK government and media would be gushing. Had some fancy London-based charity, headed up by some character of dubious character with an OBE, spearheaded free sanitary provision for women in India or Africa, we would never hear the end of it. But that these things are being done in Scotland, by the Scottish government, for the people of Scotland, the British press and the Scottish unionist commentariat are working overtime to paint these boxes as potentially life-threatening, and all of it as a frivolous waste of money.

Absolutely, when the government gives stuff out for free it costs money – it costs the taxpayer money. But since we are going to be paying tax anyway, we should perhaps take some time to look at the kinds of things the UK government wants to use our money for – compared to what the Scottish government is doing. Brexit – something Scotland resoundingly rejected – will be costing the Scottish taxpayer £5,333 a year, HS2 – the high speed rail link that won’t even come to Scotland – will take £2,201 a year from the philanthropic Scots taxpayer, refitting Westminster – the English parliament – will cost us £276 annually, and Trident – the nuclear deterrent the Scottish parliament has objected to – will lighten Scottish pockets by £269 every year. That’s a staggering £8,079 yearly cost to the Scottish taxpayer for the things we don’t want.

How much will it cost to give a baby a safe place to sleep and everything it needs for its first few months? It will all cost £4 a year from every taxpayer in Scotland. For a measly £4 a year – that’s about 1p a day – we can reduce the burden on families, lower the infant mortality rate, and do something that is actually genuinely good. Compare that to the imposition of a Brexit we didn’t want, a fast train we won’t get, and nuclear weapons dumped on the Clyde. I’m no economist, but I can’t see tampons and sanitary towels for women and girls living in Westminster imposed poverty as costing even that much.

Take me back then to the fish table in Mrs Miller’s class and let me draw that perfect world again. I have a much better idea than I probably had at the time. It would be a world of baby boxes and free tampons, safe, adequate housing, sustainable employment and a basic income for everyone. It would be far from a utopia. No doubt the BBC would still be covering up the British establishment’s child sex abuse scandals, but at least my mammy would be damn proud to stick it on the fridge.


BBC 3: People are only “amazing” when they are doing good and not Scottish

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Standing against the Tide

By Jason Michael

Charlottesville isn’t just about Trump’s America. This is only the latest warning of the fire that is burning right across the world. We are kidding ourselves on if we think this is all just going to blow over. This is getting worse.

Fire has always been humanity’s most useful tool, but – as an analogy of the frightening developments we are witnessing around us – there reaches a point when lighting fires when the flames get out of control. Our world is on fire. We are caught in the midst of a conflagration that is threatening to consume us all. Watching events unfold in Charlottesville, where thousands of white supremacists marched on the town in a Nuremburg rally-style torchlight procession and where at least one counter-protestor has now been killed, we are forced to realise that a line has been crossed; that the world has taken a turn for the worse.

It is not the case that this verrechtsing (or right turn) is limited to Trump’s America. This rise in right-wing populism is a global phenomenon. The racism we are seeing emboldened by the current US administration is also being emboldened across Europe and Russia, and – terrifyingly – these groups are more connected to one another, thanks to the internet, than ever before. In Scotland the coded and overt Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia at the core of hard unionism is echoing and is being echoed by Tommy Robinson and neo-Nazi organisations like Britain First and the English Defence League. We’re looking at a disease that has spread far and penetrated deep into our society.

In the month following the Brexit vote reports of hate crimes across England and Wales doubled, while incidents of Islamophobic abuse and violence – specifically targeting Muslims – increased by a terrifying 326 per cent in the year prior to the vote. Politically very little is being done to tackle this trend because populist leaders in the west are relying on support from the right to stay in power. In some cases, as is the case with Donald Trump in the States and Theresa May in the UK, leaders are actively inciting the far-right and turning a blind eye to the consequences. It is little wonder then that these rightists are feeling emboldened and becoming more audacious and violent.

Having pondered this intensification of right-wing sentiment over the past half-decade or so I have reached a conclusion that is not in the least optimistic. The forces that right-populist political leaders have harnessed and piggybacked have – like the fire – gotten ahead of them. What they thought they could control has become their master, driving them ever further to the right in the pursuit of power. We are now in the midst of an uncontrollable inferno, one that is going to get a damn sight worse before it will either blow itself out or be defeated.

If you are thinking what I am describing here is apocalyptic, you’re right. This is apocalyptic. Not in the modern sense of an end of the world, but in the proper sense; an unveiling – a cataclysm between the ages, a laying bare and an unleashing of the aggressions that the dying age has stored up in sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Yes, I fear we are about to reap the whirlwind.

It is all too easy to think that we are safe in Scotland. Racially motivated hate crime in Scotland has been falling steadily over the past ten years, and this is praiseworthy. But this is a bubble. It is an anomaly created for the most part by the growth of a socially inclusive independence movement which sets itself against the ideological trends of the Westminster government and the populist political positioning of Scottish unionism and its English cognate British nationalism. We hope that the Scottish exception lasts and that the cause for independence is ultimately successful in extricating Scotland from the mounting toxicity of the United Kingdom, but its failure will burst this bubble. The death of the independence movement will unfetter all the rage and bile that is simmering beneath the surface of right-wing Scottish unionism.

With or without Scotland, this cataclysm is coming. Every time I say this, however, someone will tell me that war is over in Europe. Apparently we are too modern, too sophisticated, too bloody technologically advanced and scientific to go to war with one another (but we’ve never had a problem going to war with non-Europeans). Bullshit! The holocaust wasn’t shocking. Mass murder and genocide are par for the course in human history. What was shocking was that Germany did it. Germany was the apex of philosophical, scientific, cultural, and technological enlightenment. No way could Germany perpetrate such a crime – but it did.

On the eve of every major war or social-civilisational collapse there are those who say it can never happen. These things never happen… until they do.

Of course I hope I am wrong. I pray to God I am wrong, but I don’t think I am. All the signs are there. Police participating in the violence against refugees in Hungary, the government sending vans around London telling foreigners to “go home,” the President of the world’s leading super-power calling Mexicans rapists and signing orders banning Muslims from entering the country. There were plenty of people in Berlin and Paris convinced it would all blow over when Hitler started expelling Jews and other “undesirables” from the Reich. Many in Rwanda thought it only a phase when the government began describing Tutsis as “cockroaches” – now a familiar slur against Muslims in England.

This isn’t going to get better. What, do you think that when it gets too much for you to take you can just tweet POTUS and ask him nicely to cool it down? It’s already upon us people, the axe is already at the root, and it is high time that we decided what side we are on.


White House defends Trump’s response to Charlottesville unrest

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‘…Or So She Thinks:’ The Exoneration of Michelle Thomson

By Jason Michael

An innocent woman – an SNP MP – is falsely implicated in an alleged crime by the British state broadcaster. Once all of this had unravelled and its falsehoods run their course the BBC did not even have the good grace to apologise.

“The serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field.” This eerie little line from the Genesis creation myth has percolated in my memory ever since it was first drummed into me as a youngster at Sunday school. Yes, I was one of those kids. It appears in the biblical text, in literature, and in art as a vignette describing how humanity – “in the days of man’s innocency” – was beguiled by the devil. In his craftiness and subtlety the serpent tells no lies. He, who later tradition would call “the father of lies,” has no need of naked mendacities – for he knows how willing people are to be manipulated. Watching the BBC often reminds me of this story.

On Tuesday we watched as Jackie Bird and Nick Eardley discussed how the criminal case invented by the BBC and the British media into former SNP MP Michelle Thomson had been dropped. The Crown Office had found there to be “no credible or reliable evidence against her.” Why would there be? Michelle did nothing wrong. As a property developer she availed of the services of a solicitor. Unbeknownst to Thomson this solicitor, Christopher Hales, would subsequently be investigated by the police in matters pertaining to alleged mortgage fraud. Michelle Thomson had no more to do with this man’s alleged actions than I had to do with my neighbour’s decision to pinch the road cones from the bottom of the street.

At no point was any of this anything to do with Ms Thomson. She was only ever the man’s client. Yet it is evident there has been a conspiracy within and throughout the British media establishment to use her association with someone who may have committed a crime to discredit her. Sadly, in its earliest phases at least, this conspiracy worked. It succeeded in casting such a shadow of guilt over her that she was pressured into leaving the SNP. While she continued until the general election as an independent member of parliament, the slur ultimately cost her the opportunity to run again and the seat she held was lost altogether. All the while she was perfectly innocent.

This is what Jackie and Nick should have spelt out to a Scottish viewing public which deserves the truth. They did not. Knowing the truth as well as anyone else, they continued their deception, insinuating her actual guilt and implying a miscarriage of justice in the bogus decision of the Crown Prosecution Service not to pursue the case. It had never considered it. There was never even a whiff of a case against her.

At this point we arrive at what I thought the most interesting – perhaps the most devious – point in the bulletin, where Eardley says: “Michelle Thomson thinks she’s been completely exonerated.” Indeed, the serpent is more cunning than any beast. The devil is, as always, in the detail. Michelle Thomson has been exonerated… or so she thinks.” In this one word exists all the cunning and wickedness of the BBC beast. It calls out to the audience the broadcaster’s presumption of guilt, and with a conspiratorial wink utters the unspoken promise that they will get her yet. At the same time it works to persuade the listener that Thomson is aware of her crimes and that by thinking she has gotten away with them she is deceiving herself. They will get her yet.

He never lied. The report itself didn’t lie. But they did. The script they were reading – and this was scripted – is indicative of the game the BBC and the whole British media apparatus have been playing with Scotland. It is nothing new of course. When the jury at the inquest into the deaths of Diana Spencer and Dodi al-Fayed found them to be “unlawful killings;” caused by heretofore missing vehicles, the media shouted “paparazzi!” Clever manipulation is what the BBC does. It controls the narrative. It hides the truth. It leads millions of people – without necessarily lying – to believe things that amount to lies. Britain’s media machine has mastered the art of leading its viewers to the point where they lie to themselves.

None of this stops with Michelle Thomson or indeed with Diana and Dodi. This subtle and crafty – often almost undiscernible – state media confidence trick has been going on for years. More recently here in Scotland, as we push ever closer towards another independence referendum, its application has been intensified. No democracy can function without accurate, reliable information and news, and we are not being given this. What we are being given is at best a sedative. At worst a poison. What the BBC is doing in Scotland is criminal. It is a crime against the body politic of our country and a crime against the profession that we are a nation in a union of equal members.

It is our responsibility as people who love Scotland and want what is best for our country – no matter what that is – to resist this toxic and insidious interference in our national consciousness by what is and has always been essentially a foreign and hostile force. We must make concrete steps to defend ourselves from Britain’s distortive and manipulative media. This we can do by tuning out, by forgetting to pay the licence fee that fuels this monster, by informing ourselves and others by seeking out quality alternatives, and – most ambitiously – by putting some serious work into the creation of an authentic media of our own. Every other nation, many of them far smaller than Scotland, manages this. Why can’t we?


Dear Reader: From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for reading the Random Public Journal. It is a privilege to write it and to know that so many read what I have to say. Your comments have always been so encouraging, and I appreciate that support. I have a wee ask. Don’t worry, it’s not money. This is my hobby/addiction. What I am asking is that if you have enjoyed this, if you have gotten something from it, or if you think what I have written is important then would you please consider sharing it on social media? I write about what I think is important and by sharing it you can help this blog reach more people. Every share is greatly appreciated. Jason Michael

Jackie Bird and Nick Eardley working some BBC magic on Michelle Thomson

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Yes, They Are Killing Us

By Jason Michael

Why is it that when we describe what we are doing in the independence movement as a “conflict” there is a general panic in some quarters? Just what is it that people think we are doing here, and how does Britain see it all?

Young Ross Greer, that ragamuffin who thinks I’m a latter day Michael Collins with a keyboard, has taken issue with the suggestion that we are in a conflict with Britain. His understanding of conflict would appear to be limited to Dan Dare and Biggles; although even those might be before his time. Responding to the assertion made by the Butterfly Rebellion that we are “engaged in a real conflict with Britain,” he insisted – by way of excusing his anti-Irish racist remarks – that “we are definitely not in a conflict with the British state where it’s willing to kill some of us.”

Where does one begin with this level of ignorance? Okay, I’m not going to be too tough on wee Ross. I have a sneaking admiration for anyone who would compare me to an Irish national hero dazzling enough to be played by Liam Neeson on the big screen. “Riddled? Riddled? What are you going round riddling people for?” Whatever he needs, this young whippersnapper needs a short history lesson. As he was so keen to start his attack on me with Ireland, let’s start there. This British state of his that isn’t willing to kill us – its citizens – on 30 January 1972 shot and killed fourteen innocent civil rights protesters on the streets of Derry. On 6 April 1985 the 61 year old Scottish independence campaigner and anti-nuclear activist Willie McRae, after being surveilled by Special Branch and MI5, was shot in the head. He died the next day.

There are so many people in the independence movement who, in their innocence and naïveté, truly believe we are not in a conflict with the British state – a conflict in which Britain would be willing to kill. Youngsters the likes of Greer, born in 1994, will no doubt think of Bloody Sunday and the McRae assassination as events from the olden days, when the television was black and white. Guys like Greer, with their visions of independence and as means to a utopian end, look at the London government and see little more than a benign auld uncle who’s dithering is getting in the way of “progress.” People who approach Britain the way these lambs do are living with their heads up their backsides.

Britain is the dying embers of what was an imperial-colonialist murder machine that put both the Third Reich and the Soviet Union in the shade when it came to its sheer barbarism and its perpetration of genocide. In Greer’s own lifetime the British government lied to the public in order to follow the United States into the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan – conflicts in which over one million civilians have been killed – and now stands implicated in the murder of the weapons expert, Dr David Kelly, who blew the whistle on the state’s lies.

All of this might seem a bit abstract and far away to Ross Greer and the others just like him in the independence movement, so let’s bring this a little closer to home. In the early hours of this morning, at four twenty-six according to my phone log, I had to make a call to a young woman who was feeling suicidal. Very shortly she has to undergo a Personal Independence Payment – or PIP – assessment at the hands of the DWP. With a chronic illness she cannot work, she has no savings, no family nearby, barely meets her rent, and is so petrified of this trial by pencil-pusher that she believes she is on the verge of taking her own life.


Britain has a welfare cuts system designed to kill people.

When we add up the numbers of all those who have taken their lives as a result of the strain imposed upon them by this system and all those who have otherwise died due to the stress it causes, can we ask how many people in Scotland the British state has killed as a result of this deliberate and calculated, callous “welfare” régime? It’s darkly humorous to point out that Greer, after watching the Ken Loach film I Daniel Blake knows all about it. We know this because he tweeted: “May be [sic] a movie but it’s the reality I see every day when constituents ask for support. #WeAreAllDanielBlake” Just who does Greer imagine is behind this violence; a violence described by Loach as “imposed with conscious cruelty?” This is a system engineered to kill people.

I am questioning if Greer is, as he claims, Daniel Blake at all. He doesn’t give the impression that he has joined the dots between the conscious cruelty of the British state and the groundswell in support for independence in Scotland over the past ten years. It is clear for anyone to see that London is using austerity and now the chaos of a Brexit that will compound the suffering of tens of thousands across Scotland as a weapon to bring Scotland to heel. Such economic warfare was used against us in the past, and, yes, it is killing people.

As I see it, there is a confusion here when we use the word “conflict” – exactly the right term to describe what is happening. There are those – both unionists and utopian independentistas – who are trying to narrowly define “conflict” so as to portray people like me, who use it – in the Marxist sense, as idiotic keyboard Michael Collins’ or William Wallace’s; imagining ourselves at fictive barricades fending off the Black and Tans or the English. But no, “the history of all hitherto existing society,” wrote Karl Marx, “is the history of class conflicts.”

It is true; we are not a class in the socio-economic sense intended by the Manifesto. Yet we are a class in the sense implied by the Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci. We have come together as a political and politicised class – the independence movement – in order to challenge the hegemony of the British state and the British establishment, which is – in every sense – a class unto itself. Everything we are doing as a movement is done in the context of this conflict, and whether or not we are comfortable with the language of conflict – class or otherwise – we can be absolutely certain that Britain sees this as nothing other than an existential conflict.

So to address Ross Greer’s quibbles about us being in a “deadly conflict” with the British state, we can say quite uncategorically that he could not be more wrong. It was British violence towards Scotland over three centuries, and the lives that it has cost, that gave rise to this movement he now pretends to lead, and now that we have started Britain will kill more in its efforts to stop us. Ross, after dropping out of university, wants to school me on what is and is not conflict. After having completed an MPhil in Conflict Studies and awarded a fellowship at the In Flanders Fields museum in Flanders, Belgium, I am fairly sure I know what I am talking about. We’re in a deadly conflict.


Ken Loach: life in austerity Britain is ‘consciously cruel’

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Anti-Irish Racist IRA Slur from Ross Greer

By Jason Michael

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer showed such promise in the Sunday Herald when he blasted the bigotry of the “zoomers” on the “lunatic fringe” of the independence movement. Then he goes full Murdo Fraser with the sectarianism.

“In 2014 we built a movement which was hopeful, optimistic and open to all,” wrote the Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer in the Sunday Herald, and “bigots and bullies aren’t my people,” before he went on Twitter to attack me as “Michael Collins with a keyboard.” As the editor of the Butterfly Rebellion blog, a website established in September 2014 to continue to work for Scottish independence, I have been accused of many things. Jill Stephenson has called me a “nutter,” her unionist confederates have attempted to paint me as a neo-Nazi “blood and soil” nationalist, and – as has come to be expected – I have been written off as a “zoomer.” The ad hominem has become the go-to mode of debate for many online unionists.

Over the past couple of weeks these personalised attacks have been democratised, as the independence movement’s “radical left” intelligentsia has increasingly turned on those independentistas – including myself – with whom it disagrees. In the midst of this maelstrom I was heartened to read of Greer’s frustration at these “deeply personal attacks on good people” by “obnoxious keyboard warriors.” He rightly underlined the hypocrisy of our movement in tolerating this problematic behaviour when he asked:

What kind of hypocrisy is it to proclaim that we must all be polite to the bigots but not tell those same bigots to cut their vitriol for the sake of those they are attacking?

After over a decade of living and working in Dublin, Ireland; working with the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation at Glencree – building peace in the aftermath of the Troubles, as a delegate to the International Council of Christians and Jews, and an activist for Palestinian Solidarity, the answer to his question matters to me. Peace is an essential component of any civilised society, and peace is established with dialogue and mutual respect. When Greer writes that it is “clear that this fringe has nothing civil to say,” I agree. There are always voices on the peripheries who want nothing other than to insult, offend, and stir up trouble. I applaud Mr Greer for having called this out.

Yet yesterday the young MSP went and dirtied his bid, spoiling all his fine words. The Butterfly Rebellion published an article critical of Common Space’s use of sock puppet Twitter accounts – namely “@AngryScotland” and “@CommonWings” – to harass and troll other pro-independence activists. James McEnaney, a writer for Common Space and the unionist Daily Record, posted this to his Twitter page, calling it – as is now typical of his behaviour online – “hilarious” rather than addressing its content. So low has the journalistic integrity of Common Space sunk that everything critical of its divisive antics is dismissed as hilarious and foolish by its writing team. This was to be expected. What was not was Greer’s comment, “Check out Michael Collins with a keyboard.” Like McEnaney, I too assumed this was a witty way of calling me a “rocket” – a Scots slag term of insult, but no. In a subsequent response he hammered home its meaning: “The struggle is real and you’re no Butterfly unless you join a flying column.”

Greer was not referencing the Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, but General Michael Collins – IRA commander during the Irish War of Independence and leader of the Irish Free State Army until his assassination by Anti-Treaty forces during the Irish Civil War. It was Collins who directed the “flying columns;” a guerrilla tactic used against British forces in the War of Independence. What an obscure insult, but it does make sense. It makes sense when one reads my personal profile on Twitter: “Scottish journalist and blogger based in Dublin…”

Jill Stephenson, retired professor of Nazi German history at Edinburgh University, has used my location as a weapon to inspire unionist aggression in the past. She is convinced the independence movement is led by “Catholics” and “infested” with “Irish Republicans.” There is simply no hiding the sectarian bigotry of such comments, but people like “Historywoman” are best ignored. But to see it used by Ross Greer, a fellow independence supporter and a “Christian,” is deeply distressing and personally hurtful. I am not going to call Ross a racist, but his comment definitely is.

Anti-Irish racism – yes, it is a thing – and its close relative anti-Catholic sectarianism are serious problems in Scottish society. Greer talks a wonderful game of the Scotland he wants to see after independence, but I am afraid that by perpetuating this garbage he is doing nothing but replicating the nightmare vision of Murdo Fraser and his ilk’s bitter and divided Scotland. Having worked with survivors and the families of the victims of the Troubles – from both communities – in Northern Ireland and in the Republic, I know the pain that such thoughtless IRA slurs cause. I too was almost a victim of a sectarian paramilitary bombing in Derry. How dare this young man use this nasty, hate-filled bile in an attempt to shame and silence me.

What do I want to see come of this? Well, for a start I want to see an end to the infighting he and others among the self-proclaimed leaders of the Yes movement are stoking. I would also like a public apology for this remark. It was a stupid and insensitive jibe made on a public forum by a public figure. Nothing short of public recognition and a public apology to me and all those Irish-Scots it has offended will do. On receipt of such an apology I will be content to let it go. If I do not get what I have asked for, I will be taking this as far as the law will permit me.


How relevant is sectarianism to life in modern Scotland?

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