Archives for category: Opinion

Our Celtic Connections columnist Anni Donaldson goes on a musical journey with Dirt Road author James Kelman


JAMES KELMAN in conversation with Alan Bisset at a packed ‘meet the author’ session at this year’s Celtic Connections festival was full of surprises. 

The ‘connection’ celtic-wise between Kelman’s latest novel, Dirt Road, and Glasgow’s annual music festival is stronger than you might expect from Scotland’s renowned Booker prize winner, known mainly for his dark and gritty urban tales.

Kelman’s latest novel, which began life as a screenplay for the forthcoming film Dirt Road to Lafayette, is long in miles yet existential in spirit. This sojourn from Bute (maybe) to Louisiana via Alabama is a coming-of-age odyssey steeped in grief, west of Scotland male-style.

Read more from Celtic Connections – Anni Donaldson: Is it time Scotland paid a new piper?

It is a masterful portrayal of the inner life of Murdo, a bereaved, helplessly inarticulate 16-year-old accordion wizard, and Tom, his excruciatingly silent and grieving father. The moment when Murdo finally stops flayling around in his scant emotional vocabulary and gets to the point of his life and the book is simply a joy. That point is music.

The life-changing connection between oor Murdo and the Lafayette’s Zydeco culture he encounters on his travels is the core of the book’s journey. The discussion at the event revealed Kelman’s hitherto quiet passion and breadth of knowledge about American traditional music cultures which began when he emigrated to the States as a teenager with his family in the 1960s.

The musical mash-up between Kelman’s youthful musical discoveries and his political views emerged. For Kelman, the music of Appalachian, Zydeco, Cajun, Blue Grass, Hispanic, Scots and Irish cultures were all essentially “black and white working class people’s music which went around the world and moved people”.

They shared a common root in the experience of “poor people with agricultural roots making joy in their lives”. For Kelman, this music links Scots, Irish, African-Americans, Hispanic, Creole, French Canadians, Louisiana settlers and many more besides.

The maritime journeys and the fiddles, whistles, drums, accordions and harmonicas in their baggage created the opportunity for a shared migrant language which set the scene for jazz, blues and modern popular music.

Preston Frank and daughter Jennifer

Before the Beatles, the Everly Brothers had snuck their own rural family and community tradition of music and song into the emergent pop music of the 1950s. Blues hunters like Alan Lomax fed an appetite among the youth of Scotland and the UK for the truth of the African–American experience rendered in music and song and encouraged them to give voice to their own lives.

The forces of commercialism in popular culture in the 1960s tried their best to distance the new generation from its own cultural roots on both sides of the Atlantic while the previous generation hung on despairing that no one would listen.

Fortunately they did not succeed, family and community ties remain strong and Kelman’s pleasure was plain to see as he introduced his ‘Dirt Road Band’. The line up included Zydeco button box wizard Preston Frank and his daughter Jennifer on bass (pictured), Dirk Powell on fiddle and guitar and his daughter Amelia on guitar, and accordion player and singer Neil Sutcliffe (aka Murdo in the film).

Illustrating Kelman’s point perfectly, the set of Zydeco rhythms including Scottish and American versions of the famous MacPherson’s Rant had the audience not quite knowing whether they were in Townhead or Texas.

James Kelman, Dirt Road, Canongate 2016

Celtic Connections finishes on 5 February 2017.

Pictures courtesy of Anni Donaldson


Our Celtic Connections columnist, Anni Donaldson, explores the politics of gender in Scottish traditional music

WITH the chants of a women’s anti-Trump demonstration booming outside Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, it was an auspicious moment to start a new conversation about gender and Scottish traditional music. 

Judging by the audience’s response to the lively discussion during the ‘Exploring Gender and Music’ event on the second afternoon of Celtic Connections 2017, this apparently last minute addition to the festival programme billed this year as “a celebration of inspiring women artists” is long overdue.

The craic, as they say in ceilidh circles, was mighty. An impressive panel of female doyennes of the traditional music scene got down to it. Kicking off the discussion, Rachel Newton (main picture), harpist and vocalist in The Shee who organised the event, talked about the moment she became aware that almost all of the bands nominated for the 2016 Scots Trad music awards were male and there were only three women out of 39 band members in the whole category.

Newton hesitated before going public on Facebook but felt “overwhelmed by the amount of all-male and more importantly very masculine bands that are dominating the Scottish traditional music scene”.

Newton hesitated before going public on Facebook but felt “overwhelmed by the amount of all-male and more importantly very masculine bands that are dominating the Scottish traditional music scene”.

Newton found there was a growing band of women Trad musicians and artists who felt the same. They were staring into the cavernous depths of a newly discovered Scottish gender gap. The artistic gap may now be added to all the other fissures in Scottish society which add up to gender inequality (pay, care, income, representation, power, freedom).

The musicians, journalists, agents and publicists on the panel and in the audience were full of examples: of festival and gig programmers not booking enough women artists, of women being paid less than men.

Agent Lisa Wyttock talked about festival organisers rarely booking more than one so-called ‘girl band’ and how women simply do not headline Trad Scottish festivals. Journalist Sue Wilson had also observed a level of discrimination against women artists by festival programmers which just does not exist for all-male bands: “Turn it around the other way and that type of discrimination just does not apply.”

Expectations also differ. Whereas string-driven, or air blown, seriously fast and furious sets are what is expected from guys, women are more often favoured for their vocals over their instrumental skills.

Expectations also differ. Whereas string-driven, or air blown, seriously fast and furious sets are what is expected from guys, women are more often favoured for their vocals over their instrumental skills.

Guitarist and singer Jenn Butterworth was less than flattered by being told that her all-woman band had “balls” and “played like men”. According to Jenny Hill, double bass player, publicists and record labels often expect women to dress prettily and be ultra-feminine.

Hill and Butterworth were involved in a unique collaboration of women trad musicians from across the UK. The exquisite and critically acclaimed Songs of Separation (pictured) successfully premiered at last year’s Celtic Connections and was unusual not least for the fact that the sight of 10 extraordinarily gifted women composers, musicians and singers solely occupying a Scottish stage was in itself highly unusual.

20160124_204401 (1)

Funding is also an issue. Hill was unequivocal: “There’s a need for some positive discrimination for women to equalise the grants available.” Butterworth and Sandra Kerr, both also teachers agreed that while young women outnumber young men on folk music degree courses, this is not reflected in the numbers going on to sustain professional musical careers.

Michaela Atkins, press officer at Celtic Connections, described an industry which favours “those who shout the loudest”, and there was a consensus among the women and men in the audience that overall, women’s voices, ironically, were not being heard in the folk scene, that this conversation was long overdue and in need of oxygen and, above all, data.

To the sounds of the throng of protest still ringing from outside, the discussion ended with email addresses being shared, calls for more discussion, research and mutual support and in a firm resolve that women artists needed a fairer shout.

Guitarist and singer Jen Butterworth was less than flattered by being told that her all-woman band had “balls” and “played like men”.

Traditional music is, by its nature, well, traditional. Scots and Gaelic culture reflect the totems of Scottish identity which have always been essentially male with some outdated attitudes to women.

Our national story is a graphic boy’s own comic with its heroes and villains, emigrants, martyrs and the odd fruitcake queen or dead lover. It tells of blokes bonding in battles fought in factory, field or far away, of disasters and drams, triumphs over adversity, poverty, the English, other Scottish guys, the ruling classes, etc. Even with the soundtrack down low it is easy to detect whose voices are the loudest.

The folk singers and working class troubadors of the 1960s and 1970s Scottish folk revival did a fine thing – truly. However, that Sandy Bells culture of late night, drunken music sessions was full of hairy fellows with no visible means of support, who got the breaks and went on to successful professional careers as performers and national treasures – wizards of box and bow. There are not so many women among their number.

There’s an old joke that neatly sums up the gender politics of those times – Q: What do you call a folk musician without a girl friend? A: Homeless.

Q: What do you call a folk musician without a girl friend? A: Homeless.

Is it time for Scotland’s women musicians to wrench the trad scene away from its 1970s attitudes? Let’s call time on that old story: 21st century Scotland needs to pay a new piper, call a different tune.

Celtic Connections continues until 5 February 2017.

Picture courtesy of Celtic Connections

Anni Donaldson: Understanding coercive control and domestic abuse

Amid a storyline on The Archers radio programme, writing in Common Space Anni Donaldson explains coercive control in abusive relationships and how people can seek help

THE ARCHERS’ Helen Titchener really could use an independent domestic abuse advocate (IDA) right now.

If Ambridge was in the west of Scotland she could just lift the phone and call Assist and one of their IDA’s could talk through with her what is really going on in her marriage.

For those not familiar with the excruciatingly well-written, real time entrapment of vulnerable Helen over the past couple of years by her domineering and controlling husband Rob, a quick BBC Radio iPlayer catch up or glance at any online Archers forum will fill you in pretty quickly.

Helen is living in a situation which is all too familiar to IDAs, highly dangerous for her, wee Henry and her unborn child.

Assist is well placed – every year its advocates support over 4,000 women (and a number of men) in exactly Helen’s situation and around 6,000 children all affected by domestic abuse.

Rob is a textbook domestic abuser: the gradual erosion of Helen’s freedom masked as concern and ‘love’, the ramping up of her fear of him and her confusion and anxiety are common responses to the increasingly tight emotional and physical cordon he is placing around her.

Helen is living in a situation which is all too familiar to IDAs, highly dangerous for her, wee Henry and her unborn child.

IDA’s are specialists who understand very well how abusive partners behave and they know also that the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can get. Men like Rob start by schmoozing and charming, often sweeping women along to an early commitment or marriage, spotting their vulnerabilities and salting them away for future use.

In conversation with Helen, a domestic abuse advocate would find out that she is growing increasingly frightened of Rob.

In conversation with Helen, a domestic abuse advocate would find out that she is growing increasingly frightened of Rob. He ‘polices’ her life, isolating her from friends and family, tracking her movements by phone and text if she goes out.

He has left his job, persuaded Helen to give up working in her successful organic food company and is gradually taking over the business and finances. Helen is pregnant and advocates know that during pregnancy abuse can start or escalate.

Rob’s apparent concern for Helen’s pregnancy hides his final goal – complete control of Helen’s life to suit his needs. He puts her down, tells her what to wear, undermines her ability as a mother and is obsessively jealous of her friendships – gradually, almost imperceptibly, his evaluation of her as a woman creeps into her mind and like a cuckoo jettisons her own sense of herself, her independence of thought and action.

There are suggestions that he could be a serial abuser from the occasional appearances of previous partner Jess – whom Helen has been falsely persuaded is deranged. He has charmed his way into Helen’s family who think he is God’s gift to troubled, single parent Helen who hasn’t had much luck with men in the past.

He ‘polices’ her life, isolating her from friends and family, tracking her movements by phone and text if she goes out.

While there is not much apparent violence, there are hints at a rape. There is plenty of threatening behaviour from Rob, our compelling ultra-macho, homophobic, bad-tempered, narcissistic, arch-manipulating, riding-to-hounds anti-hero.

Hearing all that, it would be clear as day to an IDA that Rob is a danger to Helen. As long as she is frightened into complying, Helen will be fine but men like Rob are never satisfied and Helen will never, ever get it 100 per cent right. His changing moods and standards keep her on her emotional toes.

The romantic bond between Helen and Rob has now become a traumatic one – he has magically transformed her love into a fearful, anxious attachment and very soon he could have the power of life or death over her and the children.

Helen, living with that every day like a captive in a war zone is very likely to be experiencing a real and severe condition with a name: Type 2 Trauma.

Who knows where Helen’s and Rob’s story will end – that’s the power of this well written radio drama. In real life it could end in severe mental health problems, severe injury, miscarriage or death for a woman and possibly her children, too – it happens.

As long as she is frightened into complying, Helen will be fine but men like Rob are never satisfied and Helen will never, ever get it 100 per cent right. His changing moods and standards keep her on her emotional toes.

A trained advocate would sensitively reflect back to women like Helen the reality of their situation. Through careful questioning and professional judgement, advocates assess the risks women like Helen face in similar situations and offer options for safety and support if they want it.

Listeners describe Rob as an arch-villain, a baddie we love to hate. People swing from frustration to sympathy for Helen. In reality, Rob is an old fashioned abuser disguised as a regular guy, hidden in plain sight, nursing a Victorian world view that a woman is a man’s property without full citizenship rights.

Their hyper-vigilant partners trying to second guess their every move, anxiously tiptoe around them to prevent the next blow-up. Rob’s number could be up, though. The law In England and Wales might catch up with his particular form of coercive or controlling domestic abuse.

As of December 2015 this is now a crime punishable by up to five years in prison even if it stops short of physical violence. Listeners await his prosecution with interest. Similarly, The Scottish Government is currently consulting on creating a specific offence to deal with those who commit psychological abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour.

The consultation ends on 1 April 2016. Such an offence could rely on evidence such as is gathered in the course of IDA’s work with victims. This could prove vital in documenting the reality of life within these regimes of domestic terror.

Making that first call for help can make you feel like a traitor, the end of your cherished dreams of a happy family future. Preparing to end the relationship can be dangerous: that’s why women stay put.

Making that first call for help can make you feel like a traitor, the end of your cherished dreams of a happy family future. Preparing to end the relationship can be dangerous: that’s why women stay put.

Over the last 10 years, two women a week in the UK have died at the hands of a current or former partner often at the point of leaving. Women know that losing control could push their partner over the edge and women wisely managing their own safety.

Sometimes it is better to stay put and make careful longer-term plans. That’s where a good advocate can help whether or not the police are involved. Advocates know the law and can pull in a range of other services to help someone at risk.

A national training programme for IDAs is currently under way in Scotland to make the service nationwide through Scotland’s national network of Women’s Aid Groups and other support services.

The demand is not likely to diminish anytime soon with around 60,000 domestic incidents reported to Police Scotland last year.

To find out your where your nearest IDA or domestic abuse support service is:

In Scotland call: National Domestic abuse Helpline 0800 027 1234 – open 24 hours

In England and Wales (including Ambridge) call: National Domestic Violence Helpline 08082000247 – open 24 hours

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Picture courtesy of ghetto_guera29


This article was written for The National Saturday 29 August 2015

I was delighted, and genuinely surprised, to be announced the winner of the inaugural Write to End Violence Against Women Awards in 2013.


Since then, Scotland has witnessed a dramatic shift in its political landscape which included some devastating critiques of mainstream media and its messages. Civic Scotland brushed off its ideas, flexed its debating muscles as the independence referendum campaign warmed up and new voices began to emerge.  Among those who  ‘dared to dream’ that ‘another Scotland was possible’ were women ready to challenge a deeply macho culture once described as ‘cold and hostile to women’s lives and values’.  Bloggers, freelance journalists, writers, artists and commentators created a new estate of citizen journalism.  The bandwidth broadened, women’s space for debate and critique opened up and all of a sudden it was open season on Scotland’s gender architecture.  What the referendum started now stubbornly refuses to go away and the momentum has not diminished one jot.

Groups like Women for Independence offer online and village hall platforms for women’s concerns and safe places to discuss them. What most Scottish women have known for years is now part of the national conversation: women are still not equal, get paid less than men, do most of the caring and have less political and economic power than men. There is now growing public concern that children are growing up in a culture full of inequality, everyday sexism and all forms of violence against women.  The scandal of high reported rates of these forms of violence has now entered public debate, is a focus for Government action and placing new demands on print and online media to bring their news values into the twenty first century. The Write to End Violence Against Women Awards cleverly caught the zeitgeist in 2013 when they demanded the media raise the bar in its coverage of violence against women.

Now in 2015 there is a growing public appetite for debate on these issues and the old dismissals no longer wash.  People are joining the dots between women’s persistent inequality and the many forms of violence against women such as domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault, child sexual abuse, prostitution and pornography.  The prevalence of these crimes is a national scandal with no place in modern Scotland.  Their roots lie in laws only repealed in the nineteenth century whereby wives and children were the property of husbands or fathers who had the right to ‘chastise’ them.   While these laws were eventually repealed, unfortunately the attitudes to women which went along with them display remarkable longevity.   None more visible than those in much of our popular culture which continues to demean women, treat them as sex objects in ways which subliminally reinforce women’s second class status.

The good news is that some surprising heavy hitters are now joining the fight back.  A recent controversial media campaign against rape #WeCanStopIt had Rape Crisis Scotland and Police Scotland joining forces to get the message out. #EndProstitutionNow, a campaigning coalition which aims to do what it says on the tin is fronted by a fully on-message Glasgow City Councillor.   Clever PR is now unleashing these issues on an utterly changed Scottish media landscape.  Two years down the line gender is on the national agenda and violence against women is emerging from behind those closed doors to where it should be – right up front in the public eye.


@LennoxHerald 11 March 2015

You couldn’t get a book and film more at odds with the founding principles of International Women’s Day than that film of that book. As thousands of women and girls are being kidnapped, enslaved, tortured and raped for real by militias in Boko Haram in Nigeria, by Isis in Northern Iraq and by organised gangs of men past and present in Oxford, Rotherham and across the UK, author E.L. James and the film’s makers kept their eyes fixed on the dollar in their very own value-free cultural vacuum. Almost weekly we hear of the ever expanding extent of Saville or some other celebrity’s sexual abuse of vulnerable women, children and young people while ‘safeguarders’ look away and do nothing.  Paul Gadd may finally have been put away for life but people queued to watch the same criminal behaviour glamourised and sold back to them for their titillation on Valentine’s Day.  Give me strength!

In the movie, the perverted sexual proclivities of a very rich, handsome, white American magically convert the entrapment and sexual torture of an intelligent but naïve student into a ‘love’ story and endeavour to  make it ok.  So ok in fact women that you can buy Tesco’s branded range of ‘fifty-shaded’ lingerie with the messages while your local Ann Summers shop will helpfully provide all you need to kit out your very own red room so that you too can submit to being handcuffed for the delight of your very own Mr. Grey.

your local Ann Summers shop will helpfully provide all you need to kit out your very own red room so that you too can submit to being handcuffed for the delight of your very own Mr. Grey.

Mr. Grey is simply a stalker, sexual predator and rapist who doesn’t know that no means no.  Rape Crisis in Scotland are in despair.  Faint heart never won fair lady apparently!  Stalking is a criminal offence and our hero’s regime of husbandly control – aka domestic abuse hereabouts –  is criminal behaviour and Scotland’s courts are full of it. Fancy pants won’t cut it there as admissible evidence in the case for the defence.  Scottish Women’s Aid are also in despair.


                                                                                                   Mr. Grey is simply a stalker, sexual predator and rapist who doesn’t know that no means no.

Shading sexuality as a strategy of pure power and violence dehumanises men and women and kills romance stone dead.   International Women’s Day has been celebrating women’s achievements and publicising their continued struggle for equality and freedom for over one hundred years. If we accept cruel sexual fantasies as mainstream entertainment, mistake it for romance and an excuse for branded lingerie and the fluffy accoutrements of torture we are sleepwalking into a dystopia which will take another century to correct.



This article first published  @LennoxHerald 19 November 2014

November 25 marks the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and signals the start of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence ending on 10 December, Human Rights Day. This year the global campaign, which began in 1981, highlights the links between gender-based violence and militarism.

16 days

As its slogan ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Gender-Based Violence! ‘ shows, violence in everyday life and violence in war are two sides of the same coin. In a year which marks the centenary of the outbreak of   World War 1 this is apt.

The colour white is internationally recognised as the colour of peace. During the run up to this year’s remembrance ceremonies some people wore white poppies. The white poppy was first worn in 1933 by the Women’s Co-operative Guild movement who demonstrate their remembrance by pledging themselves to peace. Some wore only white poppies, others wore both white and red poppies.


In 1991 the 16 Days Campaign joined with the White Ribbon Campaign, first launched by a group of Canadian men, in adopting the white ribbon as a symbol of hope for a world where women and girls can live free from the fear and threat of sexual and intimate partner violence. The campaigns challenge the acceptability of all forms of violence against women – and show us that women and men can work together to help break the silence surrounding these forms of violence. While violence against women mainly targets women, children, young people and men are also affected.

Domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault are too common in Scotland and across the world. Police Scotland recently reported an 81% increase in reports of domestic rape, a 55% rise in reports of domestic stalking offences and 58,976 domestic abuse incidents last year – most victims were women. Police Scotland have just announced details of their annual festive campaign against domestic abuse and in June, the Scottish Government confirmed their continued commitment to the prevention and elimination of violence against women. The scale and nature of systematic child sexual exploitation Rotherham revealed in a recent report written by Alexis Jay, former Director of Social Work at West Dunbartonshire Council, has caused widespread concern. The Scottish Government recently launched its own national child sexual abuse strategy amid warnings that the problem here is likely to be widespread.

The links between inter-personal, intimate partner and international war and violence are clear. Scottish Women’s Aid, Zero Tolerance and White Ribbon Scotland will join campaigning groups and women’s activists on 25 November in marking the 16 Days across the country. Wear white for world peace, wear a white ribbon for an end to violence against women.

White ribbon


With three maybe four sleeps to go before we know the result of the Scottish referendum I can barely contain my excitement. I am finding it difficult to concentrate on anything else – and like most people, most women especially, there is much to be got through in a day.  However there is no other topic, no other decision, no other prospect that is as important as this referendum right now – no wonder concentration drifts out of the window.

Family Politics

Although I grew up in a politically savvy family, amid fiery debates about huge worldly topics around the kitchen table, annual May Day marches going back as far as I can remember, I have never felt so close to something which could result it huge positive social change.

Aye we’ll have they capitalists shaking in their boots the day!

mayday pipers

Glasgow May Day Parade 1960

Despite Grandpa Alex’s May Day exortation  “Aye we’ll have they capitalists shaking in their boots the day!”, the revolution never seemed to happened. There were moments of hope for capitalist boot-shaking, ban the bomb marches, the poll tax campaign, the Miners’ Strike, the anti-Iraq war demonstrations, but generally it was business as usual.

ban the bomb   Ban the Bomb, Glasgow CND March 1960s

As a child I gradually saw the gulf between how my family made sense of the world (Marxist dialectical materialism mostly) and the actual world outside of our lefty bubble.

robeson at may day

Paul Robeson at Glasgow May Day, Queen’s Park 1960

Symbolic annihilation

What was on the BBC, what I learned in school (kings and queens, endless rote learning of dates, wars and acts of parliament) and read in my comics – (boarding schools, more kings and queens, plucky little orphans, brave Cavaliers and poor Marie Antoinette) did not look familiar – aka symbolic annihilation.


Scottish Socialist Sunday School Naming Certificate

I became intellectually and culturally bipolar in my efforts to reconcile my life, ideas and understandings with ambient reality.   Even as a child marching along in those May Day columns, in my Socialist Sunday School best, heading through Glasgow city centre I was always puzzled by the seeming indifference, bemusement and occasional hostility of the people watching us from the pavement . The two tides were running in parallel but I always felt I was running against the prevailing current.  The tide eventually proved too strong for me and I stepped out.

Caledonian antisyzygy

Scotland’s symbolic annihilation was commonplace and the country struggled to resolve its own bipolarity. In 1919 (the same year the tanks rolled into George Square, and the forces of capitalism were maybe a wee bit shaky in their boots), G. Gregory Smith named it: in the Caledonian antisyzygy, he remarked, ‘we have a reflection of the contrasts which the Scot shows at every turn… which is the admission that two sides of the matter have been considered…Oxymoron was ever the bravest figure, and we must not forget that disorderly order is order after all”.

Oxymoron was ever the bravest figure…we must not forget that disorderly order is order after all”.

Disorderly order just about covers it. Even the anti-establishment politics I grew up with no longer seemed adequate to explain the reality of my life, now seriously out of kilter even with the comforting yet ever contradictory certainties of dialectical materialism –(another antisyzygy of sorts). Cast into an analytical wilderness by the late 1970s I shrugged my critical shoulders and walked away, unable to connect the dots between my now adult life and any kind of analysis which made sense. Foolishly, I was searching for simplicity. I didn’t find it.

woman car run you down

The Women’s Movement

The women’s movement provided early promise, but, full of its own complexities, lost sight of the enemy outside and struggled to survive in Thatcher’s Britain. However, as the movement matured, so too did I and gradually filled in the blanks in my understanding of how the world works, how change happens and what part I, as a woman could play.

women's lib  in scotland book cover

By the 1990s I had found a practical focus for my politics by working on gender equality in education and onward from there working against prevent domestic abuse and all forms of violence against women.

                                                      women hold up half the sky

Another Scotland is possible

With only three days to go I think I am swimming in the same political tide as so many others. We’re all off the pavement now and thousands are marching along the same road. Inequality and social injustice are there for all to see in the unionist establishment’s grand plan. But party politics are no longer the only show in town. The split between the lives we are living and the parallel universe being devised for us by the Westminster establishment has become too wide. Working closely with their allies in big business and in the fourth estate, the dominant UK political parties have lined up as one to threaten us with disaster and by doing so confirmed for many of us just why we need shot of them. Their virtual reality democracy game is over.

disorderly order is order after all”

Scottish people are learning how to break the establishment machine code and are poised to reprogramme the whole jing bang.

sunday times Another Scotland is Possible!

#indyref has revitalised a nouveau Scottish antisyzygy but Friday morning may see a new synthesis. The establishment might just be shaking in their boots. Alex would be pleased. Another Scotland is possible. I’m voting YES!

qq66fdds-1404320685 Equally Safeconv

This article first appeared in The Conversation 2 July 2014

Read the full article  here

This article was originally published on The Conversation

Read the original article.

Anni Donaldson does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.


The March of the Undecideds?  Scottish Women #indyref

Another Post from A Women’s Place

Recent polls suggest that a woman’s place is rather further from the ballot box than is good for them ahead of September’s independence referendum. By all accounts, they could be spending more of their precious time studying political form and making up their minds. While some claim that women voters hold the key to Scotland’s future if they turn out to vote in equal numbers to men, other surveys suggest women are among the many ‘undecideds’. Cue some old chestnuts: women are not natural risk takers, are more pessimistic, don’t like rocking the boat, are worried about the future, are unable to make up their minds….blah blah. More childcare ladies?   Are women being offered anything more than the same old same old?

Women are skilled commanders of perpetually rocky boats. The work they do is invisible until it stops, their unpaid contribution to the Scottish economy rarely included in high-end budget calculations and economic forecasts. Without all that free childcare, parenting, cleaning, cooking, house-keeping, homework, elderly care, health care and transport services…..phew….the whole economy would probably grind to a halt. And that’s before women get to their paid work, organised around THEIR childcare responsibilities (not Daddy’s). Watching the clock, afraid to miss the school bell they have probably done the food shopping in their lunch hour. Ask any woman. One glich in the system – a sick child unable to go to school that day or that 8.30 meeting your boss insists you attend – and the whole system crashes.

Scottish women may be aye working, but they are making up their minds.   With many turning out to local meetings, those without babysitters are on social media or blogging, chipping in their tuppenceworth when the weans are in their bed. Doing nothing is not an option – positions are being considered.

Scottish women still have a long way to go in the equality stakes, there are acres of unequal territory still to cover and the politicians need to know it according to Engender (   Women are listening for proposals which acknowledge the immense value of their contribution to keeping Scotland working, learning and healthy and to mothering the future workforce. Tangible proposals for a more equal future can transform indecision. Women need a hand – politically, economically and practically – More childcare isn’t the half of it.

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