‘Alexa give me a snapshot of 2021 without mentioning Covid’ Can I help? All of the events below were of course shot through with Covid, antivaxxers, restrictions, opposition and media undermining of the Scottish Government health message, oh, and big shouty businesses. It didn’t stop the world from turning though!
In Search of Q
We started the year with an eye-watering show of strength and crazy from the Capitol, a hellish action thriller unfolding before our eyes as mobs of white supremacists mysteriously breached a deficient security arrangement in response to Trump’s dogwhistle, putting the lives of Senators, staff and reporters in danger, and threatening the democratic process happening within it. One of 2021’s unfinished stories, who knew and who will pay ultimately?
After the welcome pre-Xmas gift of Covid vaccination, by February the first world were already at the start of an ongoing and grotesque competition with developing or occupied countries for vaccines, and guess what, we’re winning. Channel 4 news reported that 60% of the vaccine has been purchased by 16 of the richest countries. While Israel boasted a programme in readiness for their second dose, at the expense of The West Bank, Canada had reportedly purchased doses up to four times that required for its citizens. The vaccine greed never ends, and Johnson continues to take credit for the UK vaccination program, as his less reported efforts to stall global vaccine equality drag on.
HE who must be avenged
Back in the territory of Scottish politics, while hopes grew for a more successful outcome globally from the Biden election, If the Capitol represented the most bizarre and delusional threat to democracy things were becoming darker here too. In the depths of the Twittersphere, the wheels had been coming off the grassroots movement for some time, as All Under One Banner became Some Under One Banner. A perfect storm of ‘Plan B’ indy impatience, misogyny arising from the re-appearance of Salmond and his Bonnets and strong aversion to Gender Reform and Hate Crime legislation divided us.
Eventually the Salmond Enquiry unfolded. A barrel of rotten apples from Westminster, the UK media, the unionist opposition and the independence movement itself rounded upon, not just a coup attempt on Nicola Sturgeon, but the whole democratic framework of Holyrood.
In a desperate attempt to tie Conspiracy and corruption to the party leadership, Baillie, Ross and Davidson found new connections with Salmond that could only be explained in “my enemy’s enemy” terms.
‘Misogyny’ doesn’t cover it
Sarah Everard’s terrible death at the hands of a Met officer and the poignant vigil, met by a violent police response made a huge impact on women everywhere. Women continued to be murdered throughout the year. Misogyny still hides in plain sight behind the vile façade of our broken, toxic patriarchal systems, rather than in our changing rooms and public spaces.
If there is one take-away, let’s hope that it’s the realisation at last that It’s not her responsibility. It’s down to every adult male to take responsibility for his actions, his thoughts, words, glances and intentions.
Alba Through the Looking Glass
In a shady broadcast, reminiscent of underground bunkers, we met Alba in the wake of the Salmond Enquiry; a birth that reeked of plan B compensation for a man who tapped into every available resource, including Tory David Davies to further his destruction of the Scottish Government and the First Minister.
In this era of malevolent bloggers, spearheaded by Stu Campbell/Wings, we entered the final lap of the Scottish Government election campaign. We saw polls fluctuate and the SNP and the FM slightly, but not fatally wounded by the inquiry. Memorably, we saw delusion and an unshakeable belief by those at the heart of the Alba Party that they could make serious waves.
Sadly, we saw Alba settle in behind strong gender critical views, spearheaded by ex-SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and other hitherto unknowns, emboldened towards open transphobia and unchallenged by Salmond.
‘You are a Fascist and a Racist’
Election day came and went. It had its own dramas, highs and lows; Ayr, Aberdeen West, the fascist Green scammers on the ballot paper and Sturgeon telling a fascist what she is. 45k votes were squandered on Alba for a 1.7% return. Nevertheless, the incoming anger was about ‘wasted SNP list votes.
The Yes movement was irrevocably changed after the dramas of the preceding months. We lost those heady 56 – 58% Yes leads in the polls, taking the soft Yessers with them as some mud clearly stuck to the FM and the movement. It was a good result though and another referendum mandate causing increasing hysterics in the unionist media and opposition.
A fortuitous rallying call to save neighbours in Pollokshields from a Home Office dawn raid erupted into a spontaneous mass protest. It resulted in a reprieve for the two Sikh men, led with great procession and relief by lawyer Amer Anwar to Glasgow’s Central Mosque. The men had already lived at the heart of their community for 10 years, and the very widely reported episode brought home the inequity of the brutal Home Office policy, and how Scotland could do things differently away from the clutches of Westminster.
With the independence movement split, the case for self-determination was strongly highlighted by the need for progressive, outward facing policies.
The Home Office police were bot-like brutes. That, I can confirm first-hand, but Police Scotland did not cover themselves in glory at this or other episodes involving Rangers at Riot. Their reputation hangs on a shoogly peg while the Met are truly the personification of fascism.
Patel is a Monster
Throughout the Summer and despite Kenmuir St the UK govt moved on apace to criminalize/demonize refugees and push on with changes to The Human Rights Act, which at the very least will result in the dumbing down of investigative reporting under the threat of criminalisation of certain journalistic practices.
The Overseas Aid budget was cut and it’s clear that obscene amounts spent on trying to prevent people from landing after a treacherous journey at sea could be better and more humanely spent in the re-settlement of asylum seekers in our communities. It’s not about the money though.
18th and worse, 19th September rolls around again and we weigh up the changes.
Sadly a sinister fantasy land has been created at the outer edges of the independence movement. Watch Murdo Fraser rock that anti-trans persona with a wheen of Alba types and other bussed in ‘Gender Critics’ in appropriated suffragette colours outside Holyrood. Listen to the overt transphobia of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh’s ‘joke’ in Alba conference, after a mix up about names, that ‘you’re in the wrong party’ ( if you’ve changed your sex.)
We are not a united movement. We never really secure under one banner. We always knew that Scotland was as susceptible to bigotry in all forms as anywhere else. The September 19th George Square eruption of red, white, blue and orange told us that, but those were the Britnats. The ugly side of the movement was yet to fully reveal itself.
But the Greens and SNP enter into an ‘arrangement’. For the first time, there are Scottish Greens (Patrick Harvey and Lorna Slater) in Government. It’s generally well received by most in both parties but with caveats that The Greens must at all costs keep their identity and politics intact.
Not Brexit and more hate
Nobody would say the ‘B’ word. The continuous denial of Brexit could clearly be seen as a major force for decay. Fuel, and other shortages were one thing obviously influenced by Brexit at the very least, but the fall-out for vulnerable people from fuel price rises and benefit cuts as the £20 UC ‘extra’ is clawed back by the Tories.
They are shameless though, as Douglas Ross initiates the sexist trend of gaslighting the First Minister with his ‘knackered’ slurs. The baton was baton willingly picked up Alex Cole Hamilton and Times Editor Kenny Farquharson.
The death of Tory MP David Amess illustrated that hate is real and walks amongst us. In spite of political differences, the murder is condemned by all in the name of decency.
Another year of fires and floods as we witness the desperate effects of climate emergency on displaced humans and animals driven from their homes/habitat or killed. All summed up at the COP 26 event by Slab leader Anas Sarwar as;
‘Glasgow is an SNP shitehole full of rats, let’s use some workers to exploit that.’ I paraphrase just a little.
Maybe more eloquently summed up by Greta Thunberg’s ‘Bla bla bla’ as reps from the fossil fuel industry were the largest bloc of delegates. The good folk of Glasgow were great hosts though, and for many it will be an unforgettable event. Well, except everybody seemed to forget about climate change as storm Arwen raged a couple of weeks later.
Just another of 2021’s unfinished stories.
Let’s sum up December for now as Sleaze, Sleaze, Sleaze, Omicron, Sleaze, Maxwell goes down and sleaze. C’mon Allegra, let’s be hearing from you. This is not over, and neither is December as I w
For a good gossip about this and other stories from 2021 tune into Ungagged’s weekly pod Holyrude.
Oh, and Happy New Year from me and the Ungagged Team.