Archives » 2011 » June

Sluts, Trams, Bigots and Barbie

This week’s Scottish Roundup is brought to you by Colin Millar (@colin_millar on twitter) a leadership and management enthusiast, Ambassador for the Chartered Management Institute and blogger.


They say a week is a long time in politics and this proved to be the case for the SNP.  Despite having a majority in the new Scottish Parliament,  they were delivered a few blows in quick succession recently.

The first was a quiet protest at the SNP’s manifesto pledge to reform Scotland’s police services after their consultation (which was heavily premised on the creation of a single Scottish police force) suggested respondents are not in favour of centralisation believing the case remains to be made regarding perceived benefits.

The second was a continuance of the very public debate about the Supreme Court’s role in Scottish justice which resulted in the First Minister giving a rather heated and, some commented “childish” interview in Holyrood magazine, views he refused to apologize for despite pressure from all other parties in the Scottish Parliament.

Tony Kelly, the lawyer on the receiving end of the First Minister’s vitriol stated he was seeking legal advice on action against Alex Salmond and Holyrood magazine, the Guardian amongst other newspapers covering this story.

This was followed by incongruence in the SNP’s deliberations over new legislation to outlaw “sectarian” behaviour.  The First Minister bowed to widespread public pressure and announced a delay to allow further consultation on their proposals.  This was immediately preceded by the Communities Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, announcing a delay was untenable as the legislation had to be laid before the new football  season kicks off, the First Minister’s change in direction resulting in Ms. Cunningham being “caught offside”.

The sectarian legislation debate prompted Absolvitor to pose a few probing questions about what actually constitutes a criminal offence should this law be passed.  Does singing the national anthem constitute an offence? What about answering a ringing cell phone during a minute’s silence?  A cartoon strip?  Questions Roseanna Cunningham and her aides may struggle to answer expeditiously and conclusively by her own admission.

Lallands Peat Worrier also comments on this topic in “Cunningham up before the beak”, noting the small print of this proposed law even had the Ministerial sponsor stumped on occasion, instead offering a “wild guess”.

Perhaps it’s just as well the pressure brought to bear did result in a short delay to make sure the legislation does what it’s supposed to otherwise convictions obtained using it may end up in the Supreme Court!

Money, Money, Money

There was good news for the voting public for a change.  The taxpayer having shouldered the burden of our bungling banks now starting to return to profitability; Liberal Democrat MP Stephen William suggested everyone on the Voter’s Role receive a share of the benefits.  This move was backed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat MP, Nick Clegg.  Paul McGarry asks “How do you share the problem of bank ownership”.

Slut Walks

Scotland witnessed a number of “Slut Walks”, organised events to remind the administrators of justice and the public at large that women should not be subjected to physical assault or abuse regardless of their attire.

At the same time, Strathclyde Police’s Chief Constable, Stephen House, admitted “disappointment” at the increase in rapes and murders recorded in his Force’s area.

Bright Green notes this recent movement has fell victim to political hyperbole in the Conservative Party’s subsequent press release, despite a rape victim’s plea for politicians to avoid this kind of language.

Where’s the “Burdz”?

A Burdz Eye View notes a distinct lack of the female of the species on Newsnight Scotland.  As popularised by the (in)famous ex-footballing  personality caricatured on “Only an Excuse”, Burdz Eye View asks “where’s the burdz”.

Olympian Struggles

The SFA, along with their counterparts in the Wales and Northern Ireland Football Associations, refuse to join Team GB to compete in the London 2012 Olympics, contrary to press releases from the English FA suggesting agreement to the contrary.  The SFA suggests amalgamation into Team GB, even for a single tournament, would begin to erode its independent identity.  Andrew Page, a Scottish Liberal Democrat outlines why he feels “Team GB would be good for Scotland”.

Barbie & the “real me”

On indivual identity, Dorkymum writes “In praise of Barbie”. Reading Dorkymum’s blog, I was reminded of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

In the book, Stephen explores what makes people “highly effective” and using some very personal and poignant reflection on his relationship with his son, reminds us that we need to explore and celebrate the values and attributes quintessential to who we are.

This piece reminds me of that fantastic piece of advice “Be yourself….everyone else is taken.”

Damn Tram

Unlike the seemingly ill-fated Trams In Edinburgh (TIE) project, the subject of Better Nation’s reflections, this blog must come to an end, on time and on budget.

Have a great week!

Life and death, trumping Trump, climate change and cBeebies

This is my first Roundup, so please allow me to introduce myself: I’m Gary Marshall (@garymarshall on Twitter), I write about technology for a living, and I blog at

Right, enough about me. Let’s talk about you.

You can’t accuse the Scottish blogosphere of parochialism: this week alone it’s been pondering matters of life and death, architectural vandalism, online identity, climate change, gender politics, coalition cuts and which one of the In The Night Garden characters you’d do if you really had to.

First up, Gina Maffey of Au magazine – a student-run science magazine from the University of Aberdeen’s Science Journalism Society – takes a cool look at the way the media reports science, noting that “the impact that one sensationalist headline can have on the perception of the research in question is huge.” Maffey’s examples suggest misinterpretation at best and outright falsehoods at worst, with examples including the Daily Mail’s claims that we’re heading for a mini ice age. We aren’t.

When it comes to bad science reporting the Daily Mail is a repeat offender. That means any science-related blog post by somebody who credits the Daily Mail as “probably Britain’s only real newspaper” is going to set my alarm bells ringing. Neil Craig is the Mail admirer in question, and his post claiming to demolish “catastrophic warming alarmism” left this particular blogger – no pun intended – cold.

I’m quite sure some environmental activists have exaggerated the effects and dangers of climate change to promote an agenda, just as energy companies have invested enormous sums of money to suggest that everything’s just rosy and others have exaggerated the dangers of nuclear power (as Craig correctly points out), but to these eyes the debate has long since polarised into a battle between “warmists” on one side and “deniers” on the other who clearly aren’t paying the slightest bit of attention to one another.

For his part, Craig sets out his stall early by calling climate change scientists “alarmists” and demanding that the scientific community apologises for Al Gore – and in a week when Scottish Power promised to up energy prices by 19% and I had to remortgage my house just to buy a half-tank of diesel, the debate over whether our dwindling fossil fuels are also changing the climate reminds me of the poster tagline for Aliens versus Predator: whoever wins, we lose.

Sticking with energy for a bit longer, the Mossmorran gas fractionation plant near Cowdenbeath is an unlikely muse, but its flare moved user McKintosh to poetry. The Dawn Chorus o Mossmorran is a blackly funny way of describing something that, for many local residents, is no laughing matter.

Development or destruction?

The redevelopment – or as some would put it, destruction – of Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens is a hot topic in the Granite city, and Other Aberdeen’s proposed Woonerf – a development that gives people and vehicles equal priority – is the subject of a detailed and thought-provoking post that’s relevant to any city facing regeneration. I must confess I don’t know Aberdeen particularly well, but Other Aberdeen’s done such a great job of selling the Woonerf that if they build it, I’ll definitely come for a visit.

Gillian Martin has been thinking about Aberdeenshire too: as someone fundamentally opposed to Donald Trump’s proposed development of the Menie Estate near Balmedie, she went to see a documentary about Trump’s battle with the locals, You’ve Been Trumped. “My goodness, though, I didn’t know the half of it,” she writes, noting that the locals shown in the documentary are far from the “belligerent troublemakers clearly just holding out ’til Trump opened the cheque-book still wider” portrayed by the local press. The documentary found ordinary people treated appallingly and then demonised by the media that was supposed to represent them. “They had every right to be bitter,” Martin says. “Instead they are amazing.”

RXpell from Moved To Comment was also, well, moved to comment: “I’ve been opposing this development since the first time I saw what it involved … and I’d oppose this regardless of the developer involved.  I have written to my councillors and been ignored, I’ve been on the marches and been at the protests so I do think I’ve got a reasonable idea of what is going on yet as I said before what I saw in the film really shocked me.”

More earthy matters were being discussed in the capital, where Ellen Arnison takes a break from more serious topics to describe how playing “sh*g, marry, avoid” fought her fatigue during Edinburgh’s late night Moonwalk. That wasn’t the only topic of conversation – others included “men, children, governments, schools, families, gender politics, blogging and the etiquette of weeing en plein air” – but wondering “if you were In The Night Garden and you had to, who would it be?” generated a mile’s worth of argument. I’ll let Arnison tell you the answers to that one – and while you’re there, do click on the Moonwalk link to donate to a very worthy cause.

Gender politics were on Kevin Holdsworth’s mind too after a spate of news stories suggested that Queen Victoria was right when she stated that lesbianism didn’t exist: people the internet thought were lesbians turned out to be heterosexual males playing around with gender roles. Holdsworth makes some good points about the supposed Syrian Lesbian Blogger’s motivation and notes that “the Scottish Episcopal Church published some good guidelines for children in dealing with the online world. Part of those guidelines dealt with the fact… that not everyone online is who they purport to be.” Perhaps we grown-ups should take note too. For his part, Holdsworth promises that he’s “very real. Honest.”

LittleGrumpyG had matters of life and death on his mind after watching Terry Pratchett’s documentary, Choosing To Die. Rather than confirm his beliefs, G found, they challenged them: “Before watching the documentary I was in favour of assisted suicide – in favour of people going to Switzerland to exercise their right to die and in favour of it becoming legal in the UK. I supported Margo MacDonald’s attempt to make it law in Scotland. Having watched a man go to his death in Switzerland I am now re-considering that full-throated support.”

Just in case there wasn’t enough misery in the world, the coalition’s swingeing cuts will soon begin to bite – and carers are going to be particularly affected. Kate of A Burdz Eye View marked Carers’ Week with a considered post on the coming cuts, and on the assumption that in an independent Scotland everything would be much better. “These cuts will be scything their way through the fabric of people’s lives long before the ink is dry on the independence referendum bill. And even if Scotland votes yes, there will be several more years of transition and pain before control is transferred. In any event, this statement asserts an assumed truism: that Scotland would stop these welfare cuts.  It also implies that given the chance, we would reverse them.”

Anti-sectarianism – what’s the sudden hurry?

We’re not independent yet, but we do have a majority SNP government, and it’s going to eradicate the cancer of sectarianism from Scottish life by rushing new legislation onto the statute books. Lallands Peat Worrier is not impressed. “All that effort to foil Blair, and then you find yourself enacting his legislation yourself, at breakneck speed, to achieve precisely the end you once so strenuously resisted,” he writes, arguing that “for Holyrood to sag before the Emperor’s quixotic wheezes, however well-intentioned his basic inspiration to legislate in this area, and worse, to smile admiringly at his follies, and collude with them – is unworthy, totally unworthy of the institution and the many decent folk who serve there.”

The splendidly named Wowbaggertheinfinitelyprolonged has been thinking about anti-sectarian legislation too, and his reading of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill raises an interesting question: could it be a crime to sing the National Anthem in Scotland? He paints an entirely believable scenario of Rangers fans winding up Celtic fans by singing in praise of The Queen, and notes that “we can rely on the good sense of the police, and of the prosecuting authorities not to act where it is unnecessary” – just as they did when former Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc was cautioned for crossing himself in front of Rangers fans. “Crossing yourself cannot possibly be considered a breach of the peace… it is ludicrous,” one politician said at the time. His name? Alex Salmond.

There’s no doubt that the legislation is being rushed through with unseemly haste, but Wowbagger has an explanation: “The Government has made it clear that it wants this Bill to be law in time for the next football season.” It’s hard to disagree with his conclusion: “we have a Bill which, without apparent supporting evidence, is stated by the Government to be urgent. This deliberately cuts down the time for proper scrutiny. Parliament will be unable to do its job properly regarding this Bill, and, as has been the case so often in the past, we await the unintended consequences.”

After all this food for thought, how about a feast for the eyes? Here’s Musa Aberdeen’s video recipe for Turbot cooked in garlic sauce with a little help from another local celebrity, BrewDog Punk IPA. Cheers!

Courts, referendums, knighthoods, European sojourns, festivals and farewells

Events this week have meant that I haven’t had a huge amount of time to chase up nominations for the best posts in Scottish blogging this week – but, thankfully, you lovely readers have kept them coming in on a wide variety of topics.

There’s been plenty political controversy this week, but I thought it might be good to start with National Volunteer Week for which Volunteer Edinburgh interviewed a different volunteer every day.

A new community initiative for a wind turbine for Leith and Portobello has attracted 200 backers in just a few days, according to Greener Leith.

Bloggers have not exactly been queuing up to congratulate Stagecoach’s Brian Souter on his knighthood. In fact, Bright Green Scotland and A Scottish Liberal are quite strongly opposed.

Constitutional issues are still causing voices to be raised and tempers to be lost. This week Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore suggested that if an initial independence referendum only asked for permission to negotiate, there should be a follow up one on the final deal. I thought he was right. The Better Nation team were split and Lallands Peat Worrier explained the legal sided of it in scholarly fashion.

The Supreme Court controversy continues with Scots Law Thoughts being unimpressed with the Executive’s language. Lallands Peat Worrier thinks that there are problems with the way our High Court of Justiciary deals with human rights cases and that we should be putting our own house in order.

A Shoogly Peg suggests that it’s not issues over courts or referendums that could anger Scots sufficiently to choose separation, but that FIFA could make it happpen.

Love and Garbage has his own highly unique theory about the Blair/Brown plotting.

The other half of the Better Nation team have been on a jolly fact finding mission to the European Parliament in Strasbourg for which they have produced a number of posts, but this first one is a light hearted look at 5 random things they learned on their first day.

Willie Rennie, the new Liberal Democrat leader, also decided to support minimum alcohol pricing, a move that pleases me
but not my friend and colleague Keith Legg on Climbing Russell’s Mountain.

This is the week that Labour Hame burst into our consciousness. Tom Harris MP has returned to blogging at this group blog which aims, I guess, to rival the likes of Bella Caledonia and Better Nation.

The Burd makes her suggestions as to how best to reform Holyrood. Clue, it doesn’t involve printers and faxes.

Bright Green Scotland suggests that nobody should have to choose between femininity and feminism.

And Michael Traill suggests we could even use social networking for FOI requests.

Bella Caledonia were very excited about the Edinburgh Film Festival.

Giggle Beats, funnily enough, looks at the comedy on offer.

Fringe Report has an overview of the biggest Fringe yet.

And Set in Darkness looks forward to Rock Ness.

We have a heart warming story of how a bee was restored to health on Taexalia.

My friend and fellow blogger Andrew Reeves’ funeral took place on Friday. Tributes had been paid to him across the political spectrum and I have been pulling them together. Knowing how much he loved the area around Newhaven Harbour, and how he’d photographed it many times for his Blipfoto blog, I was particularly pleased to see this short film on Greener Leith of the area, showing a windy sunset, in the nominations, and I’ll leave you with that.

A nation of artists

We Scots are an artistic lot.  We’re famed for it too: our history is in many senses defined by creative talent from novelists such as Walter Scott and Lewis Grassic Gibbon, painters of the calibre of James Guthrie and William MacTaggart and of course our celebrated poets.  They’ve all chartered our historic, spiritual and cultural progress as a nation, as Scotland’s bloggers continue to do today.  We really are a creative bunch.

Pat Kane writes a thought-provoking article in Play Today, urging inventive play initiatives and advocating an ingenuous play policy as an investment in tomorrow’s citizens.  Pat also suggests that creative workers of the future should “expect a degree of creative play in their lives”, which seems a reasonable claim to make. 

Meanwhile, Misssy M appears to have been having some fun filming The Lorelei in Camden (love the kilt!); she also reflects with some humour on the frustrations of a filmmaker.  Similarly, Ken takes a look at the ill-luck and difficulties that plague authors – and himself particularly. 

With news of a certain footballer’s alleged infidelity and super-injunctions dominating the headlines recently, Scottish Mum questions whether such injunctions are in fact legal and asks about the ramifications for taxpayers.  

Onto political matters, and Freedom-2-choose champions a more evidence-based approach towards public indoor smoking.  Abuse of people with learning disabilities, recently exposed by BBC’s Panorama, has resulted in public outrage.  A Burdz Eye View not only criticises the institution at the heart of the matter but also highlights cases of neglect closer to home and asks wider questions about how we, as a society, treat our most vulnerable.  

The Scottish government has expressed its objection to the UK Supreme Court adjudicating on appeals for Scottish cases under European Human Rights law.  Caron argues for pragmatism over political posturing and asks whether justice or geographical location is more important.

G’s Spot considers the rather interesting predicament of a US congressman and a compromising photograph. 

Sadly, one of our most prolific bloggers, an inspirational friend and arguably the friendliest person in politics passed away on Friday.  Andrew Reeves, known to many as an active blogger and an enthusiast for online communication, was the campaigns director for the Scottish Lib Dems.  But he was far more than that – an amazingly talented, hardworking, funny and deeply human person who touched countless lives. 

In an unusually busy week of blogging, Andrew found time to discuss the problems at FIFA, the jailing of Lord Taylor for expenses fraud, Scottish Labour’s internal turmoil and the e-coli outbreak.  His straightforward style will surely be missed in the Scottish blogosphere.

I leave the final word to Stephen Glenn, who writes a fitting and heartfelt tribute to Andrew.