You Be, Do, Be, Do

‘Mum, you be Ursula. Do the thing where she takes Ariel’s voice. I’ll be Ariel. Joe, you be Flounder. You do the things he does.’

And, at the behest of a three-year-old, her brother and I complied.

My sister and I used to play games like that, only we called it, ‘let’s say’.

‘Let’s say that that bit of the room is your house and this bit over here is mine. I’ll come and visit you.’

‘Okay.’

And no one had to suggest that we spoke differently. We just did.

‘Let’s say I’m a fairy and you’re a wee girl that discovers me and we become friends.’

‘Okay.’

And no one doubted that the fairy could fly or, indeed, that she could bestow the gift of flight on her new-found friend. It was a given.

When someone comes up with an idea that sounds as if it might be fun we tend to fall in with it. Suspension of disbelief is a kid’s playbook.

Watch kids play. Or, rather, listen to them. They are oblivious to observers, immerse themselves in their fantasy world and adopt accents and mannerisms, to enhance the game, without any sense of embarrassment. If they notice you watching, they either tell you to go away or carry on regardless.

Kids are amazing.

They carry all the potential of their lives, or any other life they choose to imagine, as easily as adults carry debilitating self-consciousness. We change at some point, or most of us do, to become less free in our play. Play becomes, for adults, either a hidden thing or manifests as a talent for acting or sports. We tend not to be as comfortable as children in the suspension of disbelief.

Except, perhaps, when we’re fantasising about winning the lottery or what it would be like to live in far-flung places or how life would be, if only, if only. ‘Let’s say we win the lottery, darling, what would you want to do?’

Perhaps we honour children in their unique capability to be all that we would wish. Perhaps we watch them and pity them, in the knowledge that their fantasy lives will prove to be just that. Adults tend to become jaded with life and, as if in resigned hopelessness, we let the kids, as a kindness, enjoy the world of imagination for the time that they may.

Santa gets to come every year, no questions asked, or, at least, are evaded until inevitable truth is revealed in some manner that always and forever is remembered. How old were you when you ‘discovered’ that Santa wasn’t who you thought he was? Bet you know. What about the tooth fairy? Fairies, per se?

How old were you when you realised that your parents did not have an infinite supply of money? How old, when you first had to do without something that you needed? Not wanted. Needed. If you were fortunate, money and need were supplied as required and your childhood belief of abundance remained intact for a long while. Perhaps you’ve never known what it is to go without. Lucky you.

For most of us, I would suspect, we know alright. We know that we have to work to earn the money to buy the things that we need. And, if we have the health and opportunities to do so, we get on with it. Lucky us.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that not all children or adults have either the means or resources to fend for themselves. There is a growing consensus that that’s just tough shit because those people probably brought that on themselves. At least, that seems to be the consensus among the Tory party. And, perhaps, large swathes of the public.

When did we get to be so heartless? When did we lose our empathy? Or even sympathy? Why do we not care that children go hungry? Here, there, everywhere. How is it possible, that on our doorsteps, families live without the security of a home, heating, food, basics?

Perhaps the government is playing games with the populace?

‘You be the poor people, right? We’ll be the rich overlords and we’ll do that thing that rich overlords do while you be all miserable and cry for mercy. Got that? Let’s say your kids are hungry, you beg for food and we’ll tell you that that is your responsibility. Let’s say you say that you have no work and no means of earning money to buy essentials and we say, is that our problem?

‘Let’s say you say, yes, actually, it is. You are supposed to make sure the economy functions for the benefit of the people you’re meant to serve. And we say, oh. Not part of the game.’

Let’s say that those who choose politics for self-interest have never really grown up. Let’s say that they are living in a fantasy world where the games they play suspend the reality of life on the ground.

Let’s say that we say, enough! Let’s say that we say, let’s find a better way. Let’s make believe that it is possible to do things in a different way, to make decisions that serve all the people rather than select people.

Our politicians seem to have forgotten that the word ‘politics’ derives from the Greek word for ‘people’ – polis.

It’s time the polis had a word with the Tories at Westminster and informed them of their right to remain silent but that their silence, in the face of mounting evidence, will be used to condemn them by every parent and child who too soon discovered that Santa doesn’t always come.

Anyone who wishes to cite irresponsible parenting as the source of family deprivation needs to look at the wider picture and the irresponsible governance that has allowed people to sink into an abyss of despair and hopelessness. Not without reason does mental health often focus on the hardships of life and coping.

No one really wants to depend on the government for handouts. Handouts have become synonymous with the failure of citizens as opposed to governance. We all should be able to depend on the government for policies that enable citizens.

Playing ‘you be, do, be, do’ is not service to the electorate nor society, at large. At best, it is infantile and, at worst, malicious.

Let’s say, we say, no, to more Tory incompetence, heartlessness, nepotism and greed.

Let’s say, we say, yes, to being a society that cares for all.

Let’s say, we say, yes, to compassion and mercy.

Let’s say, we say, yes, to a style of governance and policies that embrace society rather than fragment it.

Let’s say, we say, yes, to being humans of wonder and possibility.

Let’s, at least, imagine the possibilities.

We owe it to every child, including the vaguely remembered one within, to do and be whatever their needs require.

To Err Is Human…

Tonight, my own MP made a statement about breaking Covid isolation rules. She apologised and owned her own stupidity. No, it does not excuse what she has done. It was, in her own words, ‘no excuse’ for her actions. Actions, compounded by further ‘stupidity, when she then travelled home, by train, knowing she was Covid positive.

We hold our elected representatives to a higher accountability than we hold ourselves. We always do. That’s why every representative of a political party, or any public figure, will have any and every piece of dirty washing hung out to dry as soon as it becomes available. For the most part. If the narrative suits.

Whether that be extra-marital affairs or financial irregularities or something that was said in or out of context. We expect better. We deserve better.

But, do you know what? They’re human. Not one single one of us could put our hand on our heart and declare that we would like our dirty washing exposed for all to comment upon.

And that’s one of the reasons why so few people – ordinary people – will ever become involved in politics. Or do anything that brings them to public notice. Most of us – if not all – could ever claim to be saints.

Am I excusing what @MargaretFerrier did? No, absolutely not. She was wrong. She knows it. We know it. And blood is being bayed for.

But.

I want to speak of what I know of Margaret Ferrier. I have worked closely with her in campaigns and listened to her in meetings, discussed politics with her and I can tell you, hand on heart, I, personally, know of no other person who is so dedicated and hard-working in pursuit of a cause. For her, the cause is being a voice. A voice for the people she represents.

And I can almost hear her, rationalising to herself…’I feel fine. I’ll keep my distance. I have to do my job. I have to be where I’m meant to be. It’ll be fine.’

We’ve all be done the same, in other circumstances. Gone into work when we should have been at home. Smitten people with colds and flu because our presence was expected. Yes, Covid is no ordinary flu. Margaret knows that. We know that. But there is an invidious pressure, built into us, as the working task force, that we’ll be fine, that we need to do what is expected of us, be where we have to be. We call it being responsible. And, sometimes, as in this case, we’re wrong. Never done that? I know I have. But, usually, it turns out fine.

This time, it was not fine. It may never be fine for Margaret again. Both politically and personally. How does anyone come back from what, for many, is a betrayal of confidence?

Except…

Time and time again, over the course of the last few years – probably, most noticeably from 2006 and the recession that saw all of us suffer – some, certainly, more than others. Some, with their lives. Some, like the banks, suffered that bit less. But we helped them through it, didn’t we? Took one on the nose for capitalism. We stiffened our upper lip and got on with life as best as we could while foodbanks thrived and DWP claimants died.

We accepted suffering like a bad case of the flu and accepted policies, to save the economy, while those responsible did not. While those, in other countries, took a different course of action and did not penalise their citizens for the sins of corporate decisions.

While policies were implemented that traduced humanity, implemented by a Tory Government that Margaret Ferrier has fought against with every breath, on every doorstep.

It makes me sick to see the joy that people have in what may be the downfall of someone who cares.

She was wrong.

But…

The wrongs that have been perpetuated by successive Tory Governments are wrong. Who decrees the actions that are more wrong?

The answer lies in who perceives and how things are perceived.

Where is the media when it comes to declaring the wrongness of hardship and deaths through sanctions, of regulations and laws broken by the very people who create them? Where is the baying for blood of the worst UK Government since Thatcher? How is it even possible that I can declare, having lived through the Thatcher years, that this UK Government is worse?

How is it even possible that the hypocrisy of the Thatcher years can be outmatched? How is it possible that the media – with notable exceptions – does not hound the living daylights out of the atrocities and law-breaking that have come to light via connections with Trump, Cambridge Analytica, Dark Money, Bannon, DUP bribes? Jeez, my mind is overflowing with anger at the free pass the media is giving those who flout the rules of democracy.

Democracy, today, as it stands, on both sides of the Atlantic, is most likely terminal. The Tory party, in power, with backseat drivers, is ensuring its death here while the USA fights to save what is left of its soul.

Margaret Ferrier was determined to fight that. She thought her voice in Westminster was pivotal. Perhaps that is a sin of vanity or a narcissistic belief that, without her voice, something will not be said that needs saying.

I, honestly, do not know. Is Margaret narcissistic? Is Margaret vain? I don’t know. Maybe. Evidence may suggest this to some. I can only speak of what I know, for I am no psychologist, although we all seem to proclaim knowledge of subjects we are not experts in.

I’ll mouth off about this and that. Bet you do too. We all do. We have demeaned the experts. We have declared that experts, in their chosen field, are somehow not to be listened to. Not to be believed. We have entered the Twilight Zone and nothing seems to be what it should be. And everyone is an expert on everything for five minutes. Everyone is shouting their mouths off about subjects that they have little or no knowledge of. And fewer of credentials.

We reap what we sow.

The UK is currently reaping what it has sown.

The UK, as it stands, is dead.

Dead. Dead. Dead.

May God have mercy on its soul.

I guarantee you, however, that there is no joy to be had in what may be the demise of Margater Ferrier’s political or personal endeavours. The cause of Independence for Scotland does not rest with the SNP or, indeed, any one representative or member. The cause of independence rests with the people of Scotland.

Bay for blood, whether you be anti or pro. Do not rejoice. The cause is not dead.

Unlike any belief in democracy currently existing in the UK.

That is deceased. It is the proverbial, dead parrot. Not coming back to life, no matter how any may sell it. Dead.

Margaret, you were wrong. Margaret, I may very well be expelled from the SNP for writing this. So be it.

The SNP is, for me, a vehicle to the rights and sovereignty of the people of Scotland.

Independence is imminent if we declare it so. And I, for one, declare it so.

Margaret, you were so foolish. But….

I think I know you well enough to know why you thought you’d somehow be okay and that, like myself, not so long ago, it would turn out to be a false positive and it was more important that you be where you thought you should be.

I would never have chosen to be in your shoes. I would never have had the confidence and temerity to speak up for and out for the people you represent in the way you do. I would never stand for election. I would never be the voice of a local community in such an outstanding way. It’s just not my personality. But you, Margaret, you have served us so well. You have been the voice we needed.

The whip has been removed from you. And, part of me, thinks, rightly so. We must uphold the standards we expect of others.

Another part of me, a massive part of me, thinks thank God that isn’t me.

If there is anyone who wishes to be in your shoes, right now, I declare them liars

You, Margaret, however, are no liar. You were wrong. But you declared it so. I hope, with all my heart, that no one suffers as a result of your actions. That, from what I know of you, would cause you untold grief.

Right now, you’re suffering. Wondering, oh my God, what have I done? Not just to yourself and your political career. But to anyone who may have come into contact with you, that may, as a result, contract this gawd-awful virus. To the party that you represent. To the people who look to you for a way forward. A better way.

I’m no priest but your penance must surely be how you are currently feeling and thinking about your own inexcusable actions.

Oh, that there were so many in politics who had your conscience.

Rail here, if you wish, I’m not listening. I’ll say it as I see it.

I may soon not be a member if what I have said offends, in some way.

But I cannot stand back and see someone so persecuted who, although being wrong and acknowledging it, will become the sacrificial lamb that none of us would wish to be.

We get what we vote for and I’m still glad I voted for you. The voice of a community. Someone who erred. Just like all of us. Just like so many other in positions of authority. You were wrong. Others have been wrong. Some have been answerable. Some, more prominent than yourself, remain, astonishingly, unanswerable. Has it ever been otherwise?

Margaret, again, for those here who may question my motives, I declare you were wrong in what you did. But I also declare my support of you as an outstanding voice for those you represent. Always there. Always active. Always willing to listen and act. Always going above and beyond what anyone could reasonably expect, both in effort and time dedicated to serving.

You have no idea how much I wish that you had not made the choices you made.

But…

I recognise, as anyone who is honest must, that I make mistakes every single day. The consequences of mine rarely see the light of day because I am a coward when it comes to public exposure.

As wrong as you were, Margaret, I take my hat off to your willingness to be a voice and to your willingness to accept the consequences of your actions.

Whatever may, ultimately, result as a final consequence of your choices, I know that I, as one of those you represent, will be glad of the role you have played in seeing Scotland move forward as a country that recognises and works towards bettering ourselves and all our fellow citizens.

In the words of Michelle Obama ‘When they go low, we go high’.

Raise the cause by doing the right thing, as you have always been known to do. And rejoice, Margaret, that a cause does not die because of the actions of one.

The party, as always, as most parties, with notable, evident exceptions, hold representatives and delegates to a higher standard than the general public.

As a member of the Branch you represent, I am willing to be expelled for speaking out. But, I cannot stand by and watch you be held accountable to a higher standard than we hold ourselves.

I have broken rules and regulations, Covid notwithstanding, and will do so again because, sometimes, we do what we think we are expected to do, what we are obliged to do, even while better judgement tells us it is wrong.

‘Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone’.

And my face, therefore, is shut.