The Future of the American City

Reading Time: 4 minutes
George Collins

As I vacuum the dark green carpet while listening to an interview with author and Democracy Now! Co-host Juan Gonzalez, I’m struck by a particular statistic: 70% of the world’s population will reside in cities in the next two years. The implications of this, says Gonzalez, are gigantic for progressivism, as these cities will become the main venues of social change and civil disobedience as ideas and movements gain steam. Resting the vacuum in its upright position, thoughts of the current evolution of American cities come with feelings of hope and dismay at the current state of the country’s major urban centers and what the could develop into when they reach their full potential.

Cities have played a central role in the shaping of American culture and history since before the country’s birth. Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore served as meeting hubs in the colonial United States where the figureheads of the American Counter-Revolution could spread ideas and draw on support from large clusters of disgruntled colonists. New York City and Los Angeles emerged as culture centers in the 19th century and helped craft a unique American identity at a time when the nation struggled to distinguish its culture from that of Europe. Later in that same century, the rise of mass production and heavy industry stimulated population clustering as Americans sought to participate in the explosive development of American economic dominance in the world. The places were packed, smelled like puke and piss, and you probably stepped over a few rotting horses on the way to work for your 21-hour shift. Improved sanitation guidelines and refinement of industries into well-oiled production powerhouses branded urban centers like Detroit as gold standards of wealth accumulation in the 1950s and birthed the standards of the mythic American Dream we become conditioned to achieve.

Sixty years later, Detroit became the first major American city to declare bankruptcy in 2013. Its infrastructure and crime statistics sank to levels comparable to lower-income nations and affluent whites who could afford to fled the city in droves to leave the crumbling core to the impoverished black and Arab communities. We were left wondering how the wealthiest city in America fall so far and if this was the future of the American city. As author and journalist Charlie LeDuff warns, we can go ahead and laugh at Detroit until we realize it’s also Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle, and so many more that could suffer the same brutal evisceration in the darkness of the corporate police state’s shadow.

Such a fate on a broad spectrum is possible, but certain strides in municipal government grant me some hope.

Income inequality and wealth disparity became primary political and social dilemmas in the U.S. after the Occupy movement broke open the floodgates on discussions about class in 2011. These economic trends afflict the nation as a whole, but the major urban centers serve as microcosms of these regressions and offer a glimpse into the potential consequences of maniac sprawl. My own neck of the woods has become a spotlight for these trends. Seattle’s median housing costs hit a record high of $777,000 in March of this year with the city’s Eastside wing reaching a median of $950,000. The central city sees a growing homelessness population that now borders on becoming a full-blown crisis, and the unaffordable rents combined with stagnant wages shove hundreds of people to the suburban towns to spend an increasing portion of their lives travelling in a heavy metal box on I-5. None of the police officers in the Seattle police department live in the city they swear to protect. The same is true of firefighters and many civil servants. The same trend can be found in San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Washington D.C. and many more.

Does a prosperous city like Seattle or Silicon Valley become the Detroit of tomorrow as the purchasing power of the middle and working classes is swallowed by debt service and unaffordable living costs? Such an outcome seems to be the ticket if the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen like the American waistline.

But city councils across the nation are recognizing the dangers associated with uninhibited sprawl and growing wealth disparity. Seattle’s city council approved a controversial “head tax” last week that taxes the city’s large businesses based on employee head count. While the motion has yet to be signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, it’s a bold pivot into wealth redistribution territory for the council. Socialist Alternative councilmember Kshama Sawant has been advocating for rent control for years, and her efforts to raise the minimum wage contributed to the successful passage of the increase to $15/hour in Seattle.

Promising developments appeared in Baltimore city hall last month as proposals to reverse the city’s government-sponsored economic segregation appeared. One proposed measure seeks to create an equity assessment committee to investigate the city’s agencies and capital projects and root out discriminatory practices. Other proposals address the lack of accessible public housing in the city itself and hopes to reroute capital investment into affordable housing programs. Similar calls for increased spending in the public housing sector echo in other major cities across the U.S.
Cities served as the birthplace for the ideas of the original Counter-Revolution of 1776, and it seems they are once again playing David against the Goliath of the federal government’s authoritarianism. The passage of legislation at the municipal level to redistribute wealth and create new opportunities for working and middle-class families to live a secure existence has steamrolled into larger movements nationwide. Sawant’s Fight for 15, Mayor Rob Davis of Davis, California’s original Sanctuary City, and the prospective public housing developments in Baltimore now enjoy national momentum as they push forward with more punches every day.

The American city of old may be at the end of its industrial career, but a return to its roots as a hub of change and civil disobedience is on the horizon. In fact, it may already be here.

Dealing With Twitter Trolls

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Mhairi Hunter

Ungagged asked me to expand a bit on a recent twitter thread on social media abuse and I’m happy to do so. I emphasise these are just my personal views but I hope they are helpful. I have made all the mistakes over the years so you don’t have to.

I have been on twitter since 2010. I’ve seen it get bigger and uglier and been through various stages of trying to handle abuse from challenging it, to RTing it, to blocking it and finally muting it. For me, muting it is the best solution. I’ll tell you why.

Challenging it is pointless. Someone abusing you on twitter knows they’re being horrible so there’s no point in telling them that, they want to upset you and make you angry. If you challenge them they will only get worse. The same goes for RTing abuse. I know people sometimes do this to highlight it, but this simply invites other users to join in and participate in a nasty squalid fight that will just leave you drained and depressed.

Blocking people can also make them worse, I’ve had people set up new accounts so they can continue to have a go at me because I blocked them. I do block people in some circumstances but I find muting people is much better at just getting rid of them from my timeline and mentions.

I’ve muted many hundreds of people and twitter is much better for that. I have muted people on the No side and I have muted people on the Yes side. In my opinion a lot of nonsense is talked about the relationship between political positioning and social media abuse. The fact is you get toxic people across the board. Twitter gives you the option to mute them, so use that option. Mute them, forget about them. If they really cross the line, block and report them. And remember – on your twitter you decide what the line is.

If someone threatens you or another person don’t hesitate to go to the police. It may not result in action being taken there and then but you are still providing intelligence which may enable action to be taken at a future point if the perpetrator is following a pattern of behaviour.

I have also thought about my own use of twitter. Quote-tweeting is something I do less and less now due to the way it can instigate pile-ons if you have an above-average number of followers. I realised I was guilty of that after I quote-tweeted what I thought was a particularly silly comment from a political journalist, poking fun at him. My tweet wasn’t malicious or intended to be. I was just taking the piss. But a lot of the replies to my tweet copied in the journalist, were quite abusive and it just went on and on and on.

Coincidentally there was a recent discussion on twitter about why a well-known unionist blogger had been blocked by a large number of SNP MPs. I had blocked this chap myself after he RTd me, leading to a stream of nasties in my mentions. (If you want to stop someone being able to RT you directly, you need to block them).

Probably the blogger didn’t intend to set the flying monkeys on me – any more than I had intended to set them on the journalist – but just didn’t really think about it before quote-tweeting something he saw as silly. We all need to learn that lesson. If you instigate pile-ons, either wittingly or unwittingly, people are entitled to block you. And, for the avoidance of doubt, MPs are people.

I also have to mention twitter clyping in this context – this describes the situation where someone tweets a comment about another person and a different user replies @ing that person in. If the original tweeter wanted to @ the person into their tweet they would have done so. Don’t do it for them because it can result in a confrontation they don’t want.

Inevitably we come to the vexed subject of misogyny. There has been a great deal written about the level of sexual abuse and threats sent to women so I won’t add too much to it. It’s ugly stuff. And the more high-profile a woman is, the worse it gets.

Some may think that high-profile twitter targets never actually have to read the abuse directed at them but they (or people around them) do have to, because they need to assess if they contain any credible threats. The recent Westminster Hall debate which allowed women MPs to talk about the horrific abuse they received was, I hope, an eye opener for some. And, as in life, it’s worse if you are a black woman, a lesbian, a Jew, because misogynists are so often bigots too.

Plus, for all women, twitter tends to have the same double standards as you get in real life – men are assertive, women are aggressive, men are confident, women are arrogant, men are witty, women are silly and childish. And be careful about telling jokes – some men really don’t like it!

So why do I stay on this hellsite? Well, for one thing I rather enjoy being silly and childish on twitter. Twitter at its best is joyous, I have had so many good laughs over the years. For another, I have genuinely made some good pals who I would miss if I left – and that applies to people on both sides of the constitutional divide. So I’m sticking around with my mute button at the ready. Otherwise I’d have to go back to facebook and that would be a fate worse than death.

Privilege is…

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Chuck Hamilton

In his 1999 show Bigger and Blacker, Chris Rock explained white privilege this way: “There ain’t a white man in this room that would change places with me. None of you. None of you would change places with me, and I’m rich! That’s how good it is to be white.”

There’s a line from the Bruce Hornsby song The Way It Is that describes perfectly the interplay, internal if not verbal, between the privileged and the un- and underprivileged. “Man in the silk suit hurries by; as he catches the poor old lady’s eyes, just for fun he says, ‘Get a job’.”

Privilege is Israeli Jews sitting on a hillside in lounge chairs and couches to spectate over the bombing of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Ghetto and cheering each explosion.

Privilege is serving the greed of the few to the detriment of the needs of the many.

Privilege is the white liberal who, in the words of Dr. King, “…is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers the absence of tension to the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season’”.

Privilege is white liberals and older Afro-Americans who say the same things to the Movement for Black Lives and their allies about their civil disobedience in the response to massive and growing police brutality and murders by police.

Privilege is Madelaine Albright telling us that there is a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other in reference to Hillary Clinton in 2016 when she herself supported Edmund Muskie in the 1972 Democratic primaries, the same in which Shirley Chisholm and Patsy Mink were also running. Of course, those two contenders were Afro-American and Japanese-American, respectively, so perhaps for Albright they don’t count.

Privilege is Gloria Steinem and others like her campaigning to shame sex workers in order to cover up the fact that their brand of feminism is mostly for affluent white women.

Privilege is Noam Chomsky condemning the antifascist movement known as antifa in language that validates their equation with Nazi thugs by Trump, aka Agent Orange.

Privilege is when someone uses phrases like “look at the big picture”, ‘be a team player”, and “accept things the way they are” to bully, manipulate, and shame you into belaying or putting aside your own needs in deference to their desires.

Privilege is when lesser mortals clear the streets of Windsor and Maidenhead of their homeless to make everything pretty for a royal wedding.

Privilege is waxing eloquent about global overpopulation and how people need to have fewer children shortly after the birth of your third child in a country where the poor on benefits are penalized for the same thing.

Privilege is when an all-male panel pontificates on women’s issues, whether they happen to be U.S. Congressmen or Scottish champagne socialists.

Privilege is the often patronizing and paternalistic manner with which the middle class treats the working and pauper classes.

In truth, what we today call the middle class is nothing other than an upper working class that is desperate to distinguish itself from the lower working class and to maintain that distinction by any means necessary. Oblivious to the fact that being a house slave makes them no more free and no less exploited than the others in the fields, they carry out almost by instinct the will of their masters of the 1% and their overseers of the 10%.

Privilege is when Yanks, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, Canucks, and other white westerners travel to or live in foreign countries belonging to brown people and treat their hosts as lesser beings, committing social incest in their golden ghettoes. Of course, this same principle operates in their own countries between classes and even in those afore-mentioned non-white majority countries.

When I with the Navy at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, there was this lower enlisted guy in our unit who often had to do escort duty with local, uncleared contractors, meeting them at the gate to the compound and then sitting watching them work all day. Often he would spend the time reading, pretty sure none of the workers were equivalent to the Vietcong.

After about a week, the Air Force security police at the gate began wanding the work crew for weapons. At first, they began to refuse, until our enlisted guy told the guards to do him first, to show it was okay. In fact, he did so for the next few days until the guards got tired of or too embarrassed about subjecting one of their own to the same treatment inflicted on the locals.

In many ways, the middle class, the upper working class rather, is the biggest obstacle to the general welfare of the working, or lower working, and pauper classes. Mostly because those in it go along to get along. Its members don’t even think of being afraid of rocking the boat because doing anything that might alter their fortunes is beyond conception. So they assuage their consciences with thoughts of the rewards for their complacency and their complicity. And continue to do so even when that course will bite themselves in their own arse.

Something antagonist Lindsey McDonald said to protagonist Angel in the episode “Underneath” paints a good picture of this: “Every day you sit in your big chair behind your big desk, and you sign your big checks, and you learn a little more how to accept the world for the way it is. Well, here’s the rub: good people don’t do that. Good people don’t accept the world the way it is. They fight it.”

So stand up. Fight. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Live as if the world is as it should be to show it how it can be, and remember that the smallest act of kindness can be the greatest gift in the world.

Fight in ways against which there is no defense but which do no harm. Be the darkness that illuminate. Be the silence that resonates. Be the stillness that agitates.

I am a Terran, a citizen of Earth. The whole world is my home, and all its people my brothers, sisters, and cousins, regardless of synthetic or organic origin. Like our distant cousins on other planets across space and throughout time, we are all children of the universe

Alive, due to lack of death

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Fuad Alkbarov

The UN must recognise Palestine’s right to exist, says leading Human Rights Campaigner

Today 136 out of 193 UN member states have formally recognised Palestine. The UK needs to show some leadership and be amongst the first Western European countries to recognise Palestine and its right to self-determination.
British Government already recognises the principle that the Palestinian people have an inalienable right to self-determination but has not granted this officially because it wants to reserve the right to do so at a moment of its choosing to best help bring about peace.
That moment is now. Recognition is a good starting-point for negotiations and would help guarantee that the focus of talks is about how Palestine becomes a viable and secure sovereign state – not whether it becomes one. Denying recognition as the current British government is doing is entirely at odds with the principle of self-determination.
Of course, neither Israel nor Palestine’s right to exist should be subject to veto or any kind of conditions and we must actively challenge any refusal by either side to deny the other’s right to exist. It can be difficult to understand the scale of the human tragedy that is occurring on this narrow strip of land, day in day out. Not just when the camera crews and journalists are there, but every single day.
It’s vital that human rights violations and violence on all sides cease and that the international community take strong action to hold the perpetrators to account.
One of those core causes is the eternal question mark that hangs over Palestine’s right to exist. Recognition would help the process of removing that question mark and allow Israelis and Palestinians to look forward to a future defined by equality, justice, freedom and peace.
In Gaza, entire families sit in the darkness of their living rooms, with candles creating the only light. Thousands of families have lost loved ones in house fires. Gaza’s residents face so much struggle and pain, just to secure one of life’s basic necessities.
Today, if you ask Palestinians in Gaza how they are doing, they might respond: “Alive, due to lack of death.” This commonly used expression captures the misery of everyday life in Gaza.
Every second in Gaza under Israel’s blockade – where water and medical care are luxuries – is tainted by tragedy. Every time a family can’t afford to put food on the table, every time a house fire claims yet another victim, every time a cancer patient can’t acquire life-saving treatment or another desperate human ends their life, the dreadfulness of the blockade comes into full view.
The UN has declared Gaza “unliveable”, and the blockade creates a passive, collective death. What will it take to convince the international community that the people of Palestine, like all humans on this Earth, deserve to live in dignity?
So long as Israel maintains great control over Palestinian lives but denies them their basic rights and freedoms, it cannot call itself a democracy.

Leading Scottish BDS Activist Reacts To Gaza Massacre

Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Jim Bollan

The premeditated murder by the Israeli Zionist state of another 58 innocent Palestinians is further evidence that Israel the Apartheid state is being protected by the US and the West in its policy of ethnic cleansing.

These brutal murders along with thousands of innocent Palestinian protesters injured are being portrayed by the BBC as “clashes”.  Not one Israeli has been injured in these so-called “clashes”. It is obscene and racist the way the BBC and other mainstream media report on these barbaric acts by the Zionists.

The Labour Party also need to take to task “Labours friends of Israel” organisation who are absolving the Zionists of any blame for the murderous carnage and acting as apologists for the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces).

The UN, EU and the West stand by and watch this genocide unfold and do nothing. They are all complicit with Israel and the US who allow and condone these atrocities.

Palestine is under occupation by the Zionists who have one of the biggest militaries in the World. The IOF used marksmen to shoot and kill innocent unarmed Palestinians including women and children. Tear gas from drones was also used to incapacitate the peaceful Palestinian protests before carrying out their cold-blooded murders of innocent people. Many of these weapons used to kill Palestinians will have been made in the UK. We need to continue to expose these companies and the Government for allowing these weapons to be sold to Apartheid Israel. Yet the Western powers turn the other cheek and pay homage to the American dollar.

We all need to do what we can in anyway we can to support the Palestinian resistance to the illegal and immoral occupation, a resistance that will never die or be defeated by elite Zionists in occupied Palestine.

Trump and his fascists in the White House are dancing to Netanyahu’s tune and are determined to invade Syria and Iran to create the greater Israel the Zionists desire and also to plunder the rich resources these countries hold.

The Palestinians are brave beyond words. Their land has been occupied for 70 years by the Zionists with the total support of the West. Unemployment in Gaza is at 60% because the Apartheid state decides who can and cannot work. Power and water are controlled by the Zionists. There is no freedom of movement on their own land with hundreds of checkpoints set up as part of the control mechanism used by the Zionist IOF.

We all have a responsibility to do what we can, however small an act, to support the Palestinians in their struggle for Justice, Peace and Equality.

NO PEACE FOR ISRAEL, WITHOUT JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIANS.

Councillor Mhairi Hunter speaks to Ungagged on Baby Boxes

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Mhairi Hunter

 

When Ungagged asked me if I’d like to write something about the baby box stooshie my initial reaction was to think it might be too depressing.  But then I thought no, that’s how the Tories want us to feel. So here goes.

It all started with a Guardian story based on two pillars: one, that that a cot death expert had questioned the use of baby boxes as safe sleeping spaces and two, that the baby box does not have safety accreditation.

On the first point, there’s no reason to doubt the expertise of the person making the comments. But, as the Guardian itself reported, he is but one of a large panel of experts advising the Scottish Government on the baby box. Experts don’t always agree but the norm is to go with majority opinion.

On the second point, yes there is no single safety accreditation for the baby box for the simple reason that no such thing exists yet, though it is reported to be in development. But the baby box and its contents meet all relevant safety standards currently in place and the Scottish Government has given a commitment to ensure it complies with any new standard that is introduced.

The story was continued the next day, with suggestions that the SNP had exaggerated the impact of the baby box in reducing child mortality in Finland. This was based on a close analysis of websites, speeches and years-old tweets.

Let’s be absolutely, scrupulously fair and say that you could make a case for this. It’s possible that some claims which were made about the baby box could be interpreted as being overstated. Fair cop. But if you subject claims made by any human beings to a close analysis you will find parts that are overstated. Including in the Guardian’s story.

On the key point, the Scottish Government has never claimed that the baby box will reduce cot death and the Guardian had to amend its article to reflect this reality. The case for the baby box in Scotland is exactly the same as it is in Finland – it is part of a wider range of supports for parents and children to encourage engagement with maternity and ante-natal services and give all children the best start in life.

Now all of this might have been fine – journalists are perfectly entitled to subject government policies to close scrutiny – were it not for the toxic interaction between newspaper stories and political opportunism that characterises much of Scottish politics.

Because the story was not only picked up by other newspapers but exploited by the Conservatives (and, shamefully, a few Labour voices) via an outbreak of concern-trolling on twitter and in the Scottish Parliament itself. Calls were made for information on safety accreditation to be published, even though it already was.

This led to an interesting diversion caused by the First Minister who questioned why the Tories were so dead set against the baby box. Was it simply because it was SNP policy? Was it because they preferred to take state support away from families rather than provide it? Or was it because there was no rape clause defining eligibility to receive it?

The latter comment was, apparently, beyond the pale. The rape clause is far too obscene to be mentioned in polite society, you see. It spoils the discourse. Now, I quite agree the rape clause is obscene. That is precisely why it should be raised in polite society at every single opportunity until the Tories finally acknowledge its obscenity, get their discourse together and do something about it.

But back to the baby box. At the end of it all we’re left with the question, are baby boxes safe? Yes, they are.

We all bring our own experience to bear when reading stories like this and my own experience, as someone whose job regularly brings me into contact with health professionals, is that the NHS tends to be pretty risk averse. For me, the idea that the Chief Medical Officer and the serried ranks of health professionals behind her would support anything that potentially places babies at risk is ludicrous. This is just a personal opinion, of course, but one which I suspect would be shared by most people with experience of how the NHS operates.

I’ve talked to health visitors who think the baby box is a fantastic initiative, not only because it ensures that every parent can have a box of essential items ready for bringing baby home but because it provides a simple and effective way to work with and support new mums and dads, especially those who don’t have the help of other experienced parents around them to draw on.  This includes talking about safe sleep. If I’m asked to choose between the opinion of health visitors and the opinion of Tory MSPs, I’m going with the health visitors every time.

So what have we learned from all of this? Apart from the fact that the Sun never knows when to stop, the main thing, I think, is that the politicians who made hay with these various stories did so because they were against the baby box to begin with. And maybe we need to ask the same question as Nicola Sturgeon. What is it about the baby box that makes Tories so very angry?

I think I know the answer. It’s because people like it.

My view, to be fair, is largely based on anecdotal evidence. I don’t know what polling has been done on the subject but the large uptake of baby boxes suggests that parents like it. And so do other people.

What do people like about it? It’s not necessarily the specific policy imperatives it is designed to support. I suspect it is much simpler than that.

They just like the idea of the government providing – on our behalf – a gift for every newborn child. They like what that says – welcome to the world, little one, we care about you, we want you to have a good life and we want to help. They like the fairness of treating every baby equally. They like the generosity which, even in tough times, can find a helpful way to welcome each little miracle of life. They like it because it’s a lovely thing to do and they have no time for mean-spirited penny pinchers who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

That’s what makes the Tories angry but they’re just going to have to get used to it. The baby box is here to stay and I for one am delighted about that.

The Price You Pay for Having Ovaries

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Erin Slavern

It’s not until you start paying attention you realise how ridiculous it is. £2 for a tampon out of a machine. You must have the right change – 2 individual pound coins or you’re goosed. And that’s one of the cheaper scenarios!

 

If you use the women’s toilets, have a look next time. Are the machines stocked? Are there machines at all? You’d be surprised at how often the answers no to either one of the two. A number of restaurants and bars don’t have sanitary product machines, but they have machines which vend condoms, vape refills, even disposable toothbrushes.

 

So why is this? Why is it you can always access toilet roll and soap free of charge and not sanitary products? Why is it that sanitary products are categorised as luxuries that you have to pay to vend, the same way you do if you’re after a condom, some shifty scented lube or a candyfloss vape refill?

 

It’s the price you pay for having ovaries. It’s that simple. The previously mentioned products are used either by both men and women or men specifically. Sanitary products are a necessity for anybody with a female reproductive system, just as essential as toilet roll and soap is to everybody! There is no reason we should have to pay for tampons, anywhere. In shops, in pubs, in public places, museums, dancings, stadiums, train stations – nowhere!

 

It’s this realisation combined with the current political momentum behind the concept of ‘period poverty’ which made me take my own action. I love football, and I love politics – so it seemed only right to mix the two! With football being a male-dominated sport, we thought it would be particularly significant if we were to increase the visibility of football fans in football grounds by pushing for free sanitary products provision in football stadia – starting with our own team, Celtic.

 

Two female season ticket holders Mikaela McKinley and Orlaith Duffy, along with myself started an online petition encouraging Celtic FC to make sanitary products free of charge in their stadium. With Celtic being the top of the league for such a considerable time, with the profit margins and reputations that they have – it seemed only natural that Celtic lead the way with this initiative.

 

It is no secret that sanitary products are expensive. It is the harrowing truth that not all women and girls can afford them, and many find themselves choosing between food or menstrual hygiene. This has to change. Work to increase accessibility to sanitary products in Parliament currently has a primary focus on schools, colleges and universities which is absolutely essential – ensuring that no women or girls have to miss out on education. However, we believe that social inclusion is just as important as education and free sanitary products should be provided in all public places so that females are not prevented from participating in social activities – an important factor in lifestyle, wellbeing and mental health.

 

This isn’t a problem specific to Celtic, it is across all teams and all leagues. However, it can’t be ignored that women have always been the minority gender in football grounds, although our numbers are increasing! Females are often overlooked in terms of football merchandise, the female representation in lower league football is not massive compared to young boys participation and we’re often considered to follow the sport for male validation. We hope that by starting this campaign, if it is a success, that we will be able to highlight our deserving female presence at football grounds.

 

We have faced considerable backlash, and a lot of the arguments bare great similarity. Women demanding their essential hygiene needs are met isn’t greedy – its an absolute human right. Nobody should have to leave a football match halfway through because their needs weren’t met, nobody should have to compromise opportunities to socialise because they cannot access sanitary products. Nobody should be made to feel ashamed about their body’s natural functions.

 

Even if this campaign is not a success, it has started a lot of debate and discussion – which is a victory in itself. Social attitudes need to change towards menstruation. Once it is a normalised subject, we can improve accessibility and ensure nobody’s day at school, trip to the swimming or matchday experience is compromised.

 

 

**UPDATE: Erin’s campaign has been successful!**

The MSM, the SNP and the Yes movement

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Mhairi Hunter

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the UK and Scottish media is mainly hostile towards the SNP. But that hasn’t stopped the SNP. The media doesn’t decide who wins elections in Scotland, the people do.

Since the SNP won power the media environment in Scotland has become marginally more favourable. But at the same time distrust of the media from SNP and Yes supporters has grown stronger.

There are some who think the answer to media bias is for the SNP to simply disengage from the MSM. They should consider what the consequence would be. It wouldn’t end the phenomenon known as #SNPBad. Rather, it would mean there was nothing but #SNPBad as our point of view wouldn’t be heard at all. I can’t see how that would be an improvement.

And sometimes I find myself reading a story described as #SNPBad and thinking hold on a minute, there’s a valid point here. The job of any government will never be complete, there will always be problems that need fixed and it’s perfectly legitimate for journalists to highlight them.

Many journalists see their job as holding the powerful to account and the SNP is in power. But the fact that we’re in power in a UK context makes it a wee bit tricky. We’re both in power and not in power, in control yet not in control. It’s more layered and complex than many journalists acknowledge and, perhaps unsurprisingly, lines become blurred and readers become enraged instead of engaged.
We do need to recognise the media is not a single entity. There are good journalists and bad journalists. There are a few who are essentially professional trolls. And there are many journalists who write stories which are good for the SNP and also write stories which are bad for the SNP. That’s just the nature of journalism.

None of this means I don’t understand and share the frustration of people infuriated by sloppy, one-dimensional inaccurate stories about the SNP or Scottish Government in the media. I do.

We should always highlight falsehoods and make sure as many people as possible are made aware of them. And we should also do as much as we can to support new Scottish media.

But I still think SNP supporters can ascribe to the MSM a power it doesn’t have. We are not victims. We are in government and we should have more confidence in ourselves.

Equally, I think Scottish journalists and editors ought to reflect on the fact that a large chunk of the population feels marginalised and alienated from a media which should encompass the diversity of opinion in Scotland. That is not healthy or sustainable.

A degree of scepticism from readers is healthy, however, and should be encouraged. I’d like to see all of us apply the same healthy scepticism we bring to our own media to all media. If you believe the BBC is institutionally programmed to promote the interests of the British Establishment – as I do – then that is even more true of broadcasters like RT. Let’s apply the same critical analysis to their output.

The current debate around fake news, social media and tribal epistemology (which describes the situation where the perceived truth or falseness of a statement depends entirely on who is making it) is not only pertinent for journalists and commentators, it’s very pertinent for us too. I believe that understanding the danger of this phenomenon is crucial for the Yes movement as we gear up to make a renewed case for independence.

Many people in Scotland still feel that the world has gone a bit bonkers and that it’s difficult to know who and what to believe. That condition applies to people who voted Yes and No alike. They are nervous about the future.

In my view that makes it even more vital that the case for independence is made in a rational, calm and evidence-based way. We need to persuade undecided voters – to earn their trust, not scare them away. Rather than absorbing a tribal approach to politics we need to recognise tribalism is our enemy.
I think that means we need to be careful with the language we use when discussing the media. It doesn’t mean we need to be less critical of inaccurate reports but if you find yourself railing against the failing biased phoney fake news media you should probably stop and have a wee lie-down.

The next Yes campaign really needs to be a serious affair, in contrast to the political pantomime of the past few years in the UK. It needs to offer complex solutions to complex problems, it needs to be pluralist, it needs to be diverse, it needs to be inclusive, it needs to be rigorous, it needs to be honest, above all it needs to be grown-up.

In an ideal world a grown-up campaign would be covered by a grown-up media. I’m not holding my breath on that one. But the fact we can’t control how the media will cover it doesn’t change the way we need to campaign. And we need to campaign that way now.

The day of the Royal Baby Drop (An on the spot report)

Reading Time: 8 minutes

We’ve been on the scramble for the scoop. The run down of just what happened in that fucking hospital. And they’ve closed ranks. Even the Middleton’s uncle Pauline wouldn’t say a bastard thing. Johnny and I absolutely barked questions at Witchell and plied the greasyshit with@_Ungagged‘s annual entertainments budget (a fucking tenner. There’s nothing entertaining about Ungagged!) Luckily the fucker loves Tonic Wine. Johnny and I polished off a bottle of Gordon’s as we drilled him, but to no avail. He just kept crying, “I was once a war correspondent! ” and was sick over his shoes. “Fucking get him more booze! ” I shouted, and Kirkwood the weather showed up just in time with the BBC. “I’ve pointed at weather pictures for twenty years,” petty cash cheque book.

The next thing I see are two walking Union Jack’s saunter into the pub, as if madmen like that are entitled to fuck with our brains! Johnny shot up, grabs a fucking dolly, YES A FUCKING DOLLY! from one of them, opens the door and throws it like he’s a fucking All Black. One of the horrors, grabs Johnny and starts shouting filth that sounded like, “Yoir aw fukin ripublicin muthdirin batathrd!”

The bar was in uproar. Witchell was sobbing, Kirkwood was taking the opportunity to grab a few bags of salt and vinegar and the Murdoch mob almost had their old chaps polished to nothing.

Weatherall, the barman with the wit of a fucking cow on Mary Jane, crashed through the plywood bar door, grabbed the screaming Union Jack Jock and threw him after his fucking doll. His little side kick squealed something Glaswegian and ran out. Thing is, he forgot HIS doll.

We are in lock down while we decide a course of action. More later. Out.

Next Morning…

Fuck. Things degenerated last night. The Prince Doll is in a secret location. Weatherall guarded the premises all night, while we debated our next course of action over three bottles of gin, a bottle of vodka, and many reviving euro-lagers. Let’s see how this plays out…

Later…

All taking turns watching the door. Shut-eye in the toilets only. Staying alert. The madness that has overcome the nation could be infectious. The Prince Doll owner has been seen again outside, grinning with other Windsor Worshippers. It’s only a matter of time. Witchell has been given leave to chase the next story. Could be a death, anniversary or birthday, WHO KNOWS? We plan to stake out the Albert Hall, The Mall and that fuckng hospital. And the brewery isn’t due for a day and a half. Ends. (More later, as it happens)

Much Later…

Prince Doll owner broke through our defenses. Weatherall had to open the cellar for a local plod – a few bottles keeps them from dispersing our late night journalistic plenaries.

I was on point, but had been reviving Johnny with one of those caffeinated alcho-fizz concoctions  – he’d fallen asleep during a particularly frantic description of the scrum around the Duke of Wessex opening ceremony at a state of the art traffic cone emplacement training facility in Hull, by Roderick, the intern at Halt! magazine, the industry publication for traffic diversionary logistics.

He missed the sorry tale of Wessex fending off questions about his great nephew. According to Roderick, Wessex seemed to know as much about the sprog, the mother and the father as he did traffic cones, and almost ran through the grinning mob of halfwit local press nine-to-fivers.

Anyway, as I was administering said pick-me-up, the union flag clad working-class chap walked across the fucking Rubicon River like a triumphant, cross-eyed, vacant looking version of Caesar returning from his victory over a fucking deer filled forest.

The chap walked unadulterated to the bar, annoyingly after 27 hours of our strategy and rotational keeping dick. Johnny immediately came round stood up and without saying anything, ran straight out of the bar! With Weatherall in the cellar, Witchell already digging for the next Windsor event, and everyone else fucking sleeping, I was left to deal with the threat! More later. ENDS

30 mins later…

London, 2018.

And a grown man dressed in a Union Flag three piece suit and tie, is sobbing into a pint of British Lager. He’s lost his doll. His baby doll. Not just any doll, but a Prince Windsor Doll. I have a dilemma. I need this scoop. I need to get to the heart of darkness.

But, I know who has the doll. I don’t exactly know where the doll is, but I know where the person is who hid the doll. He’s in the cellar, with a police officer. And I’m here, with perhaps the most dangerous Scotsman in London.

What would you do? I’m a journalist. I’ve got to understand. Or at least, I must report. I’ve got to find the facts. I’ve got to stay neutral. I’ve got to get on that dingy and navigate the Nùng and befriend this Colonel Kurtz. There is only one thing to do.

30 mins before…

I got up from the table and moved slowly towards the gammon dressed in a deckchair. He was grinning. They all grin. Or weep. Or curtsy. The Windsors think most of us do. Their public either chase them on fucking mopeds or weep, grin or curtsy. They really do think we are cunts.

The Dolly man walked over to the bar. And waited. Grinning. And I knew Weatherall and the officer were sampling a few Jameson’s.

“Yes?” I was trembling. I had walked through crowds of them at Royal do’s before.

But they are distracted at those. This was an isolated one, and we HAD to talk… I needed to find out. Where does this madness start? Is it dangerous? Can anyone catch this… This condition? “Ahm doon tae see tha we’an.” He spoke. He could speak.

“Do you like booze, my good man?” I replied.

I felt stupid. Somehow inferior. This man was here, displaying for all to see, all that he was. An honest man. And here was I, about to dissect him & read his entrails. He looked me up and down, and smiled wider.

“Yoo tha barman?”

“No, but I can get you booze,” is all I could reply.

My mind was all over the place, and it’d been half an hour since my last gin.

Fucking war correspondents? Fuck them. War is predictable. Soldiers, drones, terrorists even-they have physical laws.

A Scot dressed in a Union Jack in Ye Old Cheshire Cheese is something the late Stephen Hawking could never have predicted. More later… ENDS.

Continued…

Nature’s gentleman. Le bon sauvage. Here he was, standing, a human labarum. The very essence of all Royal Propaganda, since Julius Caesar and before, had created. This was not a man, but the epitome of the fealty Aristocracy ventured to create since the legions finally left the Britons, defenseless and ready for exploitation. I poured him a Lager.

“Do you dress like this every day?” This was me dallying around the edges. But I had to work around the circle to find a gap in the defenses. I needed to know his purpose. His raison d’etre.

What culture was this? Was there a place where such nobility roamed?

“Aye man. Me an ma da, we are Sco’linds biggest Royal fans, man.”

I was in danger territory here. I could tell this warrior could turn on me if I pressed the wrong keys. I could sense this man was highly tuned. His senses were on alert. He knew the doll was here. At this point, I have to tell you, it was not my intention to torture this soldier. My intention was to help. And giving him the doll was not a kind thing to do. And I knew.

He was playing with me. This could end in violence. I almost collapsed with the weight of what was happening. It had to stop.

“You are here for the doll,” I said, unwavering from my mission. I had been deserted by the corps. But I was going to take out the machine gun myself.

“Aw pal, hae ye saw it, ye ken whurr it is, like?” His language, his sentence structure was unfamiliar, but I was getting the gist. His eyes bore through to the back of my head. This gladiator was close to winning. I was sweating, and almost ready to cave in. But I pushed on.

“There may be others who do. But I am not obliged to say, dear chap.”

I turned away. I couldn’t bear his fucking eyes! Heavy, empty, like the blackest part of the universe, sucking in light, but unseeing. I poured something into a glass. Fuck knows what it was, but I downed it.

“Ye ken whurr tha babbie is?” I was trembling. I poured something else and downed it.

“ITS DEAD! THE PRINCE DOLL IS DEAD!” I turned & looked at him, ready to grab the ice bucket in my defence… And the fucker cried.

This was a weapon I had not thought about using.

This was a man with an armoury like the Tower of London, and he chose his weapon well.

“FUCK!”

I thought about throwing up down my shirt. I thought about pissing myself. I thought about playing dead. But none of these could out manoeuvre his globular tears splashing in the pissy British Lager.

And then Witchell walked in. He looked as if he’d been wrestling with Katie Melua’s new album. His brow was pinched like a dehydrated pugs anus. And he spotted the sobbing wild man at the bar. It was too much. I tried to shout,

I WANTED to shout, “NO! THINK OF THE SCOOP!” But Witchell was on him like Trump stuck in a lift with Macron. Only the passion was played out through Witchell’s long nails, gouging, scratching, ripping at the bust mattress that had been Scotland’s only Royalist.

As they clawed, screamed, slapped and flapped, I knew I had to wait. Witchell was the professional. If anyone knew how to get to the essence of the story, it was him.

The name of every Royal baby in living memory has been announced by Witchell.

His disappointment this time is so great in being involved in another story that, this time, will go with him to the grave. Louis was not to be his. This was given to the new boys on the block The Sky News Sharks. The propagandists employed by Putin. CNN. The wannabe Jennie Bonds of the Alternative Media. Breitbart heiled a new leader of men, Buzzfeed proclaimed the name ten minutes before Kate was told she came up with it.

And Witchell was behind bars, sobbing the name “Louis,” like a dying Charles Foster Kane.

How did it end like this? Well, the Royalist Scottish walking Union Jack wasin Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, searching for his baby doll. I was raiding the bar, unable to carry out my duties as an investigative reporter. The fucker had defeated me like no one since Diana had.

This symbol of Royal power-the essence of power- the axle around which the whole British system turns, stood crying into his pint knowing the rest of us had to turn as he did. No power in Britain would exist without this man and his doll. And he couldn’t have it. This man denied the chance to demean himself, kissing and caressing this battery operated Prince “Louis” Doll could bring down the whole institution of hereditary power.

Or not.

We knew this was a test.

But, Witchell, frustrated by the younger, e-journos beating him to Royal announcement after Royal announcement was too much. He saw his scoop dead, drowned, shattered. And there in the bar, stood the diversion, the image that encaptured all that was wrong with the succession of new media “journalists” sitting on his rightful throne, the one he had taken from Sergeant Major Jennie Bond after she had retired.

He grabbed Union Jack Jock by the neck and pulled him off the barstool, just as Weatherall walked in from the cellar with Constable Barns, who was grinning from ear to ear holding the fucking doll aloft!

 Everyone froze.

I’ve never heard a silence like it.

Almost as quiet as the News of the World Christmas do, 2016.

I ducked behind the bar, saving the nearest bottle of something, unscrewing the lid and glugging  something sickly sweet down my gullet.

When I awoke, Weatherall was brushing up glass, and the bar seemed to have lost the seige atmosphere.

“What happened?”

“They named it Louis.”

“Fuck.”

“Mr Witchell, the doll man and the doll are in custody.” And bail was posted by a Mr Cambridge, showing how our press, our public and tat are bought, recycled and trussed up by our betters.

ENDS

Prick Knobinson, Royal Correspondant