Category Archives: politics

Unpresidented

I have a terrible boss.

He’s not a terrible man. He’s a husband and father – with another baby on the way, so his wife must think he’s doing something right. He’s quite cheerful most of the time. He’s not afraid to experiment with facial hair.

He’s terrible at his job. In fact, he’s literally useless at his job. If he left tomorrow, no one would notice. He barely turns up as it is.

But what makes him a terrible boss is that he feels no responsibility for his employees. He exhibits no duty of care towards anyone in his department. He could not give a solitary shit.

When you become a manager, it means more than a few extra dollars in your pocket. The role of manager comes with responsibility – notably responsibility for the people you are managing. And the higher up the ladder you go, on the whole, the greater the pool of people for whom you are ultimately responsible.

A great leader would take a bullet for his team. I’m pretty sure my boss would throw us all under the nearest bus and then pretend he’d been somewhere else all along. Probably playing golf.

President of the United States is perhaps the greatest boss role in the world. This is a boss responsible not just for his immediate team but for his entire political party; for his whole country; for the West.

What he says matters. His words resonate. They don’t just tell us what he thinks; they tell us what he believes we should think.

When Donald Trump bragged of grabbing women by the pussy, it made sexual assault okay. There are now horrifying videos on the internet of young men, university students, defending their right to rape – because if it’s good enough for their president, it’s good enough for them.

This week in Charlottesville NC, white supremacists marched on an integrated community that had decided to move a Confederate statue – a march that evoked an embarrassing racist past and which ultimately descended into fatal violence.

And in the aftermath, Donald Trump refused to condemn their actions. He decried violence ‘on many sides’. He said some white supremacists were ‘fine people’. And he claimed the people protesting the march were as violent as the neo-Nazis they opposed.

It doesn’t matter that almost no Republican politician has voiced support for these statements. It doesn’t matter that several have voiced opposing views. It doesn’t matter that some have expressly denounced the president’s words. It doesn’t matter that the leaders of America’s biggest companies have quit White House advisory councils in droves, rushing to distance themselves and their corporate policies from Donald Trump’s racist right wing rhetoric.

All of their words combined don’t have the power of the words of POTUS. What he says matters. His words resonate.

They resonate with the millions of people who voted him into power.

For me, one of the most damning indictments of Donald Trump came – fittingly – via social media. It was when white supremacists claimed that President Trump had actively refused to denounce them – proof of his support for them, and of the righteousness of their cause.

And in response – he did nothing.

Who knows, maybe some of Donald Trump’s best friends are black. Maybe they were until this week, anyway. But that doesn’t really matter either.

Donald Trump’s words resonate. They resonate around the world.

I can’t think of a single other boss, in any line of business, in any country in the world, who could expressly support white supremacists – and still have his job the next day.

Suddenly, my boss doesn’t seem all that terrible.

London Bridge

Why would anyone attack London?

London – without a doubt the most inclusive, diverse, welcoming, international, politically informed and intellectually engaged place I have ever lived – and I’ve called a fair few places home.

London – where voices can be heard, and arguments can find both informed support and intelligent dissent.

Why would anyone attack the very people that would willingly hear them out? Listen to their opinions without prejudice? Help them – or help them see another way?

Why would they have their children attack our children?

Religion can be a source of great love and community. I have seen this particularly in Europe and in South America – whole communities coming together, regardless of background or ethnicity or sexual orientation, to celebrate one another and support each other. The religion of these communities is not orthodox or radical or extreme. They do not hold up an ancient text written by different people living in a different community at a different time as the literal word of god. They take the tenets of that text – whatever the creed, it is some form of ‘be good to one another’ – and they live by them every day.

Religion can also be repulsive. I have seen this too – in other parts of Europe, in the United States, in Indonesia and in the Arab world. Communities divided by fear and misunderstanding. People persecuted for things that are beyond their control – who they love; their gender; the religion of their parents; abuses at the hands of others. Their religious communities take those ancient tenets and twist them to fit a modern context of their own invention. Their texts are not proclamations of universal love, but bitter rules about who to hate.

When people feel persecuted, they retaliate. But who had persecuted the terrorists who attacked London last night? They did not lash out at politicians, the military, religious leaders, members of their own communities they felt had abandoned them. They lashed out at regular people, civilians, the young. This was the third attack in three months. And like their fellow extremists, these three men had no arguments, no thoughts, no ideas. They had only weapons and a worthless desire to die.

You do not destroy us with your hateful acts of violence. You bring us together, in all our astonishing diversity. You do not make us hate you. You make us question what has made you hate yourselves so much.

We feel sorry for you. You feel alone, persecuted and desperate.

Your acts are upsetting to us primarily because they are pointless. Six civilians dead? In a city like London, probably not even all British? You gave up your lives for that?

For what?

A bit of back channel applause on Twitter?

Killing a handful of people in this glorious city does nothing for you or your cause. If you want to effect real change, you should stop attacking us – and try talking to us.

I defy anyone – whatever their history – not to find an open ear in London.

Not Fake News

So obviously we here in the not so UK are all super excited about Brexit. Now we have a date, we can all put the finishing touches to our Brexit party plans. Whew.

Article 50 is triggered when Theresa May sends a letter to the EU. I genuinely hope she actually posts them a letter. And that there’s a New Year’s Eve style evening of TV programming dedicated to the event culminating with a midnight countdown show in which we watch TM’s hand hover at the slot of a red post box for about an hour until the nation finally yells in unison 5-4-3-2-1-Brexit! as she lets go of the envelope. Then we would all sing God Save the Queen even though she absolutely definitely didn’t have an opinion on Brexit ever and certainly never mentioned one at a party one time while loads of people were listening. Then there would be the potentially weeks of aftermath fun as we wonder excitedly if the letter will get lost in the post. The EU, Europe? Good luck with that address, Royal Mail.

But in the meantime, AMERICA JESUS H CHRIST WTAF?? It’s sort of too late – and yet things do actually seem to keep getting exponentially worse so probably still worth doing – WAKE UP.

An American acquaintance of my mother’s once said to her, genuinely perplexed, that she didn’t understand why the rest of the world thought of Americans as stupid. My mother, always ready to help others where she can, wrote her a long explanatory letter. Incidentally, she never heard from that acquaintance again.

I think I’ll suggest she sends a similar missive to the FBI, who apparently thought it was okay to not mention this prior to the election:

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-trump-campaign-has-been-under-investigation-since-july

Even though there was totally precedent for mentioning that a candidate was under investigation because they did it to Hillary Clinton during exactly the same election.

But let’s not blame the monumental cock-up of electing Donald Trump on the FBI. That, my friends, is on the American people. And don’t give me that but-the-majority-of-us-didn’t-vote-for-him bullshit. Your electoral system hasn’t changed in probably ever – you all knew what the stakes were. This is on all of you – like Brexit is on all of us.

But if any you genuinely don’t get what you did wrong, I’ll be happy to introduce you to my mum.

Thank you, Mr President

I have been thinking a lot about prejudice. Brexit, and now the election of Donald Trump, have made me really question what prejudice is, what I experience in my life, and what it means for others around the world.

I live in a melting pot of a city. I don’t describe London as a tolerant society; tolerance implies you don’t like something but you’re not going to throw your toys out of the pram about it. It’s a diverse and largely integrated society.

I know for a fact that there are people in London who experience racism; there are women who experience sexism; there are members of the LGBTQ community who experience homophobia or transphobia; there are disabled people who experience discrimination. But in London, a vast and populous city, prejudice pretty much goes down like this:

99% of the population is fine. Doesn’t discriminate. Doesn’t care about something as inconsequential as your skin colour or accent or who you fuck or how you walk. At worst they’re unclear how to help you in a particular circumstance, or speak to you about a particular issue, in case they inadvertently do or say something you find offensive. But confusion is not the same as prejudice.

But every now and then, someone is a dick. You see it, and a lot of other people around you see it too. Sure, what the dick said or did hurts you for a time – but all those other people, they’re on your side. And the person who comes off worst in this scenario is the dick.

That’s my experience of prejudice. I see it happen, but far more often I see it not happen. When it does happen, the vast majority finds it unacceptable. And if we don’t give the words or actions of the dicks amongst us credence, they don’t have all that much of an impact.

Prejudice is something that happens infrequently, and can be shaken off.

In a city as populous as London, ‘infrequently’ can mean fairly frequently in a chronological sense, of course. Someone might experience racism once a day – but in a city where you encounter literally thousands of people every day, that’s a statistically small part of your life. That’s a different subject, for a different time.

Right now I want to talk about the sort of people who elected Donald Trump as president – a man who calls Mexicans rapists and wants to ban Muslims from entering the US. They don’t experience prejudice in the same way as I do. For these people, prejudice is pathological. They are not isolated dicks – they’re the majority. They are not challenged and ignored – they have the popular vote. The people they abuse don’t experience prejudice infrequently – they experience it habitually.

And no one wants to be the only gay (or black, or Muslim, or woman, or disabled person…) in the village, if they can help it.

So the persecuted Muslim man leaves his bigoted home town – leaving no one there to challenge prejudice and show the bigots that there are more similarities than differences between him and them and there’s nothing to be afraid of. The bigots’ lack of experience grows, and turns to a lack of understanding, then fear, then intolerance, then inexplicable anger and violence. Meanwhile the Muslim man has moved to an integrated society such as London – where his existence changes nothing – or to a less diverse community such as a suburb of Birmingham but where he is in the majority – where his existence changes nothing, and the very existence of that community seems to feeds the fears of the society he left.

But on a personal level the Muslim man feels safer and happier. And the bigots in the town he left also feel safer and happier. So it’s win win.

Only it isn’t. It clearly isn’t.

I don’t understand the bigotry of people who don’t live in an integrated society expressly because I do live in an integrated society. And this is why events like Brexit and the US presidential election have taken people like me by surprise. I had no idea how the disenfranchised masses felt. I could not and still really cannot conceive of irrational prejudice on such a massive scale. I am stunned that white middle class men – for they are the astonishing majority here – could ever feel they were being treated like the underdogs. I cannot wrap my brain around the selfish nationalism that has allowed this to happen. Here. In the US. Across Europe.

People have made associations between Donald Trump and Hitler; between Trump and various African dictators; between Trump and Putin. And with pretty good cause, if you listen to their rhetoric.

I understand that some people desperately wanted change. But I cannot grasp a desperation so deep that they would vote for Donald Trump.

But I believe that the key now is not vilifying people for their prejudices, but trying to understand where they’ve come from. Instead of building a wall, Donald Trump should be travelling through Mexico. Instead of banning Muslims, he should be sitting down and talking to Muslims.

Instead of dividing societies we should all be trying to come together.

Not all differences of opinion can be overcome. But the ones born simply of ignorance can.

If anything good comes from the current global political shift, I hope it’s greater communication. I don’t think I am alone in wanting to understand.

 

The Nigel

Ah, Nigel Farage. Call me old-fashioned, but I just can’t think of his smug gurning face without uttering the word “cunt”.

What’s he up to now? He’s only offered to be Donald Trump’s ambassador to the EU, that’s what. Given he’s probably at the very top of the list of people the EU has no desire to see or speak to ever again, if The Donald did offer him the job it would be a rather spectacular own goal.

He must realise he’s literally the world’s worst candidate for that role.

So what’s he playing at? Having divided Britain and decimated the British government with his hatemongering referendum campaign, and then promptly scarpered and left a shocked and shattered land to pick up the pieces… is he now hoping to destroy America and the US presidency?

I wouldn’t put it past the vile megalomaniac. It would certainly be one way to grab Donald Trump by his proverbial pussy.

The Nigel has form. You have been warned.

My fellow Americans

Here’s the thing. If there are a few sub-par teachers at your kid’s school, you don’t get them fired and then replace them with plumbers. Even if those plumbers have proper useful plumbing skills, and they’ve been in the plumbing trade for 30 years, and also they like a laugh a spot of banter (even if their jokes are sometimes a bit “racist”, and their banter is sometimes a bit “locker room”).

You just understand that to be a teacher you need skills and experience as a teacher. You replace the bad teacher, of course. But with another teacher, obviously.

There are many Donald Trump supporters who explain their support as being because they’re sick of politicians. But the solution to bad politicians is to replace them with good politicians. It’s specifically not to replace them with people whose skills lie in totally different areas. You would never want an electrician to do the job of a dolphin trainer. Or a chef to do the job of a wigmaker. Or a dancer to do the job of an interior designer. Well you just wouldn’t, would you?

We in Blighty made a massive gaffe recently, and I for one secretly hoped it might inspire you Americans not to make a ginormous gaffe. We too were a land disillusioned by politicians. And a majority of the population used the EU referendum to voice that disillusionment. They didn’t vote for the good of the county, or the continent, or the world, or their families, or even themselves. They voted against the politicians.

And in doing so they shot the whole country in its national foot.

Is Hillary Clinton perfect? Not even slightly. But you know what, that’s your fault too. If you want excellent politicians you have to fight for excellent politicians, not sit at home whinging about how you’ve had it up to here with politicians. That’s how democracy works – you have a voice.

But look, it’s too late to worry about that now. Today you only have a choice between two people. And since the job description is “politician”, and only one of them is actually a politician, your choice should be pretty astonishingly simple.

And next time round, instead of not getting involved because you’re sick of politicians, maybe you’ll get involved specifically because you’re sick of politicians.

On yer Boris bike

It’s hard for many Londoners to understand why Brexit happened. Maybe its because we live in a one of the world’s most truly international cities, the hub of so many European and global businesses, and we see the benefits of an international outlook and pan-cultural cooperation every day at work and in our communities. Maybe its because we live in the shadow of Westminster and are familiar with a wider spectrum of political thinking than other regions. Maybe it’s because we’ve already had Boris as a leader and Christ on one of his bikes, did the rest of you think you were missing out??? I don’t think its because the rest of England is stupid, or racist – though this is an actual conversation I had in the northeast:

Them: We were forced to leave the club because some darkies showed up.

Me: Wait – what??

Them: Yeah, it was a shame.

Me: You seriously can’t use the word ‘darkies’.

Them: What are you supposed to call them then – coloureds?

But then things get reported in the papers like “Cornwall votes for Brexit then pleads to keep EU funding;” and we put our faces in our hands and think what part of leaving the EU wasn’t clear? And Nigel Farage says, “The side of my bus said let’s keep the £350 million a week we give the EU and fund the NHS instead – it didn’t say we’d give them the whole £350 million;” and we put our faces in our hands and think of course it didn’t say that, did anyone actually think it did? And the pound drops to its lowest level since 1985 and people are shocked; and we put our faces in our hands and think but literally every single economist in this country and outside of this country said the pound would drop, how has this come as a surprise?

Advocates for remaining a part of Europe included the country’s brightest politicians, economists, scientists, business leaders, manufacturers and artists. Advocates for leaving included UKIP, the BNP, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. That’s why we Londoners thought this was a no brainer.

Is Europe going to stop trading with the UK? Of course not, we’re countries not 10 year olds – but losing guaranteed access to Europe as a marketplace and having to negotiate deals is not necessarily going to work in our favour. Are big job creating tax paying businesses going to pull out of the UK? Why wouldn’t they, if the UK is a European hub – because a European hub should be in Europe, duh. Will the UK be stronger? Well we’ll be the only fish in a tiny pond, so kind of – but as opposed to a big fish in a glorious pond, which is much better in my mind. It would be a bit like if Texas left the United States, which is what’s being proposed on Twitter today. The rest of the world is still going to view the other 49 states as the powerhouse, and Texas will be reduced to being just Texas. But maybe Texans would think of themselves as better off through independence. I don’t know, are Texans as stupid as the British?

Narrow minds, and national identity over our place in the world as a whole, are not things that factor into day to day London life. It’s a city where diversity is celebrated; where people are curious of other cultures, not afraid; where politics are important and present. Where we see in practice every single day how being a part of Europe makes us stronger as a nation. Are there problems in the EU? Huge ones – but they could be overcome. Is the EU going to succeed? Possibly not as it is – but it’s not doomed to certain failure. The London I live in doesn’t run away from problems, it comes together and tries to fix them – look at the way the city unites in the wake of tragedy like 7/7 or Orlando, for Pride, or to protest injustice. The UK I’ve just witnessed leave the EU saw a problem and bailed. It’s not even a selfish move – it’s a shot-ourselves-in-the-foot selfish move.

In so many ways, London is not the UK. Today, 24 hours after Brexit, there are calls for London to secede, and today I wish that was a thing that could plausibly happen. But only if we could relocate the House of Commons, mind – maybe to Cornwall.

Because we Londoners know Boris. He’s less the saviour who will surely lead us to greatness, and more the buffoon who will almost certainly lead us to global insignificance.

Good luck everyone.

AS 25-06-16

You sexist thing

Sexism is in itself a bit of a sexist construct. Dictionary definitions are generally akin to this one, from the Oxford English Dictonary:

“Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.”

The word means discrimination on the basis of sex. It might well be more typical for men to discriminate this way against women. Okay, let’s face it – it is. But that’s surely not a matter for the dictionary. It’s an addendum to the definition, not part of it.

The problem with equating the term sexism specifically with prejudice against women is that it has a marked difference on the solution to the problem. The opposite of discrimination is non-discrimination. The opposite of discrimination against women is discrimination against men.

When George Clooney recently married Amal Alamuddin, many headlines were cited reporting how the famous actor had married – while failing to report that Ms Alamuddin was pretty famous in her own field as a high profile civil rights lawyer. Of course civil rights law is hardly part of popular culture, so it’s not sexist or any other kind of -ist to mention the globally-recognised Clooney in a headline while leaving Alamuddin’s credentials to the body of the article. Where, importantly, she always did get her due. No article ever suggested that the famous actor had simply married a female.

But such headlines were deemed sexist. So presumably with a nod to this, New York Magazine recently published the following headline:

“Robotics CEO Marries Trophy Boyfriend Joseph Gordon-Levitt.”

Comments below the article lauded the humour of the headline – but very few complained that it was sexist. And in fact, sexist in a far worse way than any Clooney headlines. No one ever suggested that Amal Alamuddin was a “trophy wife”.

Just like the Clooney headlines, this one named Gordon-Levitt but not his bride. Because Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a well-known actor whose name would be recognised by the majority of readers, whereas robotics CEOs are not so commonly known outside of their field. That is simply a comment on the parties’ respective breadth of fame, and nothing else.

But apparently, because this headline was perceived to trivialise a man rather than a woman, it wasn’t sexist – it was hilarious.

Sexism is about discrimination on the basis of sex. That sex can be male just as it can be female. Discrimination against men is not the way to abolish sexism against women – just as the answer to anti-Semitism isn’t to pick on black people. What should have been reported in both of these cases was that actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt married robotics CEO Tasha McCauley, and actor George Clooney married civil rights lawyers Amal Alamuddin. In other words, the facts.

As long as the response to discrimination against women is “hilarious” discrimination against men, sexism remains rife. The answer to sexism is simple. Don’t be sexist.

AS 03-01-15

I’ll ride with you

It says a lot about the racist state of Australia that #illridewithyou is a thing.

On 15 December a man took several people hostage in a Sydney cafe. It was 17 hours before the siege was over; the gunman and two hostages lost their lives. The gunman was reportedly an Iranian extremist and self-styled Muslim cleric. But ultimately, he was a lone religious nutter, and the colour his skin happened to be and the religion he happened to follow had little to nothing to do with his actions that day. He wasn’t a “terrorist”. He requested an IS flag at one point, but the police denied throughout that he was acting as an IS representative. He was just a troubled man – on bail having been charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife and facing more than 40 sexual and indecent assault charges – with a misguided sense of his own place in the world.

But in the aftermath of the siege, Muslims who lived in Sydney feared a backlash on public transport. And #illridewithyouwithyou was born – used by non-Muslims to show their solidarity with Muslims. I’ll ride with you. I don’t fear you, or wish you harm. And I’ll protect you from anyone who might.

The question most of the western world asks is, why on earth would Muslims fear a backlash because of the actions of one troubled individual who just happened to identify as Muslim, when those actions were neither religiously nor ethnically motivated? This is not another 9/11, where religious fundamentalism and terrorist sensibilities came together, and led to confusion in the greater community for a time about what Islam taught and what Muslims believed.

Why on earth would non-Muslims seek revenge against innocent people because a solitary individual carried out a horrifying act? What has that man’s act got to do with Muslims?

That same day a man in Pennsylvania shot and killed six people. He was a white man, of a ginger persuasion. How ridiculous it would have seemed if white people (or indeed redheads) across the state had immediately feared a backlash.

It’s not exactly like it was a secret before. But for anyone who didn’t already get the memo, #illridewithyou makes it shockingly clear that Australia is a place where racism exists at an extraordinary level. Whether they’re the Muslims who genuinely fear a backlash, or the non-Muslims using the hashtag to support those Muslims, both groups evidently believe that a backlash is inevitable.

And that’s the most horrifying thing to come out of this very tragic ordeal.

AS 17-12-14

Scotland the Brave

Our friends in the north, Scotland, are about to vote. According to preliminary polls, approximately half of the population believes that Scotland – population 5 million, biggest export whiskey – is large enough, important enough and influential enough to stand solo on the world stage. To put the magnitude of this belief into context, it’s a claim never made by England, by far the largest constituent country of the UK (population 53 million). Or any of the country-unto-themselves United States, like Texas. Or countries with far more geographical, political, cultural, racial and ideological reason to want to split away from the Motherland, like New Zealand.

It’s enough to make one wonder, why?

The Scots are a proud people with a rich cultural heritage. I respect that. So does everyone else in the UK. So does everyone in the world. No one, anywhere, I don’t think, is trying to dilute let alone obliterate Scotland’s Scottishness. Certainly no one in the UK, where we’re frankly quite fond of the place. And that won’t alter, regardless of whether Scotland is part of the United Kingdom or not. It’s not an argument for or against independence.

Scotland also has a history of warring with England, and there is some residual dissatisfaction that the countries were united 300 years ago. Well you know what, Scotland – get over it. England has a history of warring with Scandinavia. And France. And Italy. And Wales. We’re not interested in that any more. It’s a history of war. That means, literally, that it’s o-v-a-h over. Braveheart might have felt he had a legitimate beef with England; the average young professional living in Glasgow today really seriously doesn’t. It’s a bit boring now.

But Scotland’s main arguments for independence are geopolitical ones. Scotland claims to be a Labour voting country, which thanks to its being lumped in with the much more Conservative England has often had to endure rule by a Conservative government. Scotland also claims to have vast energy resources that it’s unhappy having to share with the rest of the UK. Scotland for the Scots, rah rah. Interesting. Let’s discuss.

If you look at the political map of the UK, England does identify predominantly as Conservative; of course there have been plenty of Labour governments elected over time despite this. What’s also clear is that Scotland identifies predominantly as Liberal Democrat. Er, Scotland – we currently have a coalition government involving the Lib Dems. Which I think means this is the closest Scotland has ever got to the government it wants as a nation. Sorry, what was your point again?

Glasgow and Edinburgh identify as Labour, but they only make up about 20 per cent of the country’s population. Surely you’re not suggesting that the preference of Scotland’s south should dictate the politics of the whole country? Isn’t that a little bit like the preference of the UK’s south affecting the rest of the UK…? Just saying.

As to resources… The last I heard, Scotland has vast untapped oil reserves that no one knows about except apparently the Scottish guy I know on Facebook who mentioned it and all of his mates. Official data suggests Scotland’s oil reserves are already on the decline and will be all but depleted in 25 years’ time. The truth is probably somewhere in between, but the reality isn’t all that different: there’s enough oil to keep this generation happy, but your kids are a bit fucked. Nice.

But really, from this impartial outsider’s view, whether or not Scotland should vote for independence all boils down to currency. “Funnyman” Russell Brand recently suggested this was an issue about whose face was on the bank notes – and the same Facefriend I mentioned above actually quoted his typically ill-considered and provocative remarks as a pro-independence argument. That’s not even slightly the issue! The pound is a pretty strong currency. A vote for independence dooms Scotland to joining the Euro, a currency that for years has been at worst unstable and at best stagnant. Even the established European superpowers of France and Germany are currently in economic turmoil. Note the pound is wavering in world markets in the run up to the referendum. Note that the Euro is not simultaneously rallying in excitement at the prospect of Scotland joining the party.

There is one alternative to the Euro – Scotland could invent its own currency. But as not even the hardest pro-independence lobbyists think that’s an awesome idea, let’s just put that one quietly to bed. Shh. Walk away. Nothing to see here.

Russell Brand also suggested your mortgages would immediately be assumed by someone called Abdul. If Abdul is a banker in the City of London, maybe. Any financial dealings with a British bank would automatically become financial dealings with a foreign bank. Because England would be a foreign country. Take independence out of the equation, and how many of you would choose to move your money – your security now and in the future, and the security of your dependants – to a foreign country?  More than 50 per cent…?

Also, when it comes to money, surely you want to look at what the financial sector is saying and doing. After all, money is their specialist subject. And what most of them are saying is that if Scotland votes for independence, they’ll leave Scotland. You don’t need to understand currency and markets all that well at all to know that that’s not a good sign.

Voting to join the Euro just so you could say screw you to the English would be like shooting yourself in the foot. And then the other foot, and then both arms, and then your head.

Our actions now don’t just affect our generation, but our children and our children’s children and many generations to come. Voting for independence may well give the young wealthy Scots of today an enhanced sense of national pride, but their retiring parents and their future children might well not thank them for it. Unless my Facefriend is right, of course, and there’s a never-ending supply of oil just waiting to be discovered the day after you vote for independence. But just to be clear, he’s quite fond of Scotland’s biggest export. And when it comes to Scottish independence, he quotes Russell Brand as an expert.

Government at a local level should be local; that’s how it works in every nation around the world. If Scotland’s government has been unduly restricted by the national government of the UK, then that’s worth correcting. No one wants that, for themselves or for anyone else. But that’s what devolution is about – giving more political freedom at the local level. And that’s what you’ve got. If it’s not working well enough, (bag)pipe up by all means and let’s sort it out. But Scotland isn’t big, and national independence isn’t clever.

Good luck on Thursday. It’s the 21st century. No one’s wants to stifle your national growth. And we genuinely hope you don’t end up stifling your own.

AS 16-09-14