Saturday, 16 June 2007

Blog On Holiday

This blog is having a long holiday.

I became tired, needed a rest but, more importantly, I have to focus on much more important tasks.

I will return but know not when.


In the meantime, if you wish to leave a comment then "Thank you" and I'll pick it up on my visits.

For all visitors: thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoyed the blog.

To those whose blogs I visited, "Thank you".

I will write again .....whenever


Monday, 11 June 2007

Blogpower Awards - Why I Withdrew

Last night when I withdrew from the Little Bloggers' Category of the Blogpower Awards I hadn't expected to post again on the subject but such has been the turmoil apparent within the community today that I feel compelled to post.

Firstly I'll go into more detail about my approach to voting and why I withdrew and then I'll give my views on the key issues which came to a head today.


My Voting Approach

As a very very small blog - daily visitors normally 7 - 15 although being mentioned and linked in a Blogpower post has doubled my traffic - I was amazed to be nominated 4 times in Category (Note: I self-nominated first hoping that others might pick up on that) and I only wanted to perform creditably in the vote. To that end I asked 2 people if they would vote for me and I hoped that they would find others to vote also. I guess this could be called an attempt to vote rig or skew although I saw it as my chance not to be embarrassed by a very low poll. I voted once per day until James mentioned that we could vote more often.

How many of my votes came from these sources I don't know but my vote was large enough for me not to be embarrassed.


Why I Withdrew

I was uncomfortable with comments made about the nomination of BNP- supporting blogs (actual or alleged) - henceforth called "BNP" blogs - in various categories. I wondered in a comment to a post somewhere if there would have been the same reaction had it been Conservative or Labour blogs which had organised themselves well. My guess is that the reaction was because of their BNP connections - again actual or alleged. When vote skewing was mentioned first I assumed from what was written that it was the "BNP" blogs which were being alluded to. I don't know if this was actually stated or not. When I read that James was playing "hardball" and saw that the leading blog - one of the "BNP" blogs in my Category had not increased its vote in two days - I assumed incorrectly that the organisers either had words with these blogs and convinced them not to vote or had taken other steps to block their vote. At the same time the votes for other blogs seemed to increase markedly.

I was confused. I assumed that there was some "jiggery-pokery" going on and I decided that I wanted out: despite being a great idea the awards were tarnished and I wanted no further part. Had I been unaware of any skewing I would have remained in the competition but I did know and ..........

I accept that James and the other organisers did not ask for nor did they set up any counter-vote skewing.


Key Issues

Whilst I detest BNP policies they are a legal political party and, therefore, they have as much right as any other party to have blogs in Blogpower, to have blogs nominated in the Blogpower awards and to organise their resources to get a favourable poll outcome. I do not agree with any organised attempt to skew the voting totals but, provided that the guideleines are not broken, the results of the voting should stand.

I have huge sympathy for James: he was between a rock and a hard place. Whatever he did he was likely to be criticised. I don't agree with everything James has done in this area but I respect his absolute right to act in the best interests of Blogpower and I support his actions even where I disagree. I have no doubt that James has always acted in the best interests of Blogpower.


Having found support within the Blogpower community I hope Blogpower can move on and find strength from this trouble: certainly I am committed to its on-going success.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Withdrawing from Blogpower Awards

I have decided to withdraw my blog from Category 10 (Best Little Blogger) of the Blogpower awards.

There have been allegations of vote skewing against some blogs - not mine I hasten to add - about which James Higham has talked in various places. In addition, it appears that action has been taken against one blog, at least: the leading blog (in category 10) after 3 days has not increased its vote in the last 2 days. The overall vote total and my blog's vote have increased hugely in the last couple of days.

I appreciate the difficult position with which James has had to deal - rather him than me - but given that I do not understand, and am uncomfortable with, what has been done; why there have been vote surges and vote droughts I have no option but to withdraw from the competition. I guess the bottom line is that I don't know if the vote is now straight or if one skewing has been replaced by another. Withdrawing is easy because I was never going to win
(lying in 4th spot at withdrawal) but I believe it to be the correct decision. I hope I would have made the same decision had I been a contender. My withdrawal does not affect my commitment to Blogpower.

I thank all those who nominated and voted for me. To have been nominated is prize enough.

To James I offer sincere thanks for all his work in organising and trying to maintain control of the awards. My withdrawal does not reflect negatively on James in any way and I would be very disappointed if any saw it a such.

Finally, if you are minded to vote for me, please do NOT.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Blogpower Blog Awards - Vote for Me

I am among the top 10 nominated blogs in one category in these awards: Best Little Blog - less than 100 visitors/day.

If you like my blog please visit here to vote for me. Just click on the circle next to "Calum Carr".

You can vote once per day every day until 13 June.

If you don't wish to vote for me then thanks for visiting.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Scottish Independence - My View


Several weeks ago Lord Nazh asked if I believed in Great Britain or a free Scotland (along with Ireland and possibly Wales)? I read this question as asking. “Do I believe politically in an independent Scotland (with the possibility that some or all of the other three countries could be independent) or do I believe in the United Kingdom (of four countries)?

At last I can answer him.

There are two issues I need to consider: my national identity and the politics of the situation in the light of that identity.

Let us consider my national identity. In a previous post I wrote:
…. I consider myself Scottish and then British but, if asked, I couldn’t find words to describe even my Scottishness. I just am Scottish. I was born here. I have always lived here. As far back as I have traced – about 1750 - all my ancestors were born in Scotland. I feel British but this is a poor second to my Scottishness. I don’t feel European, ever. I know I am officially a European but the concept of Europe as an entity of which I am a citizen means nothing to me.

Some might suggest that, because I live in Edinburgh, I will have more in common with those in other large cities, for example, London or Manchester, than I do with those living in remote parts of Scotland. Certainly, my lifestyle is more similar to those in metropolitan areas than it is to those in remote Scotland but I do not identify, in any way, with other metropolitan dwellers whereas I do identify with other Scots regardless of where in Scotland they are.

Therefore, my Scottishness is undefinable – it just is – and, similarly, my Britishness just is.

and

If I were told that my Scottishness had to be subservient to my Britishness I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it. It isn’t as though I spend my time considering Scottishness – I rarely do - but asking me to relegate my Scottishness would be like asking me to give up my right hand so that my left hand became more important. I can’t because it’s part of me. Only by performing this simple thought experiment can I get an understanding of those for whom religion is more important than their Britishness and the difficulty they would have making their religion subservient to Britishness.

I am quite clear: I am Scottish first and then British is a distant second. In the weeks since I wrote the above piece I make one significant addition: I am Scottish, I feel Scottish, I only feel Scottish but I am British because I know logically that I am British. I do not feel British in the way that I feel Scottish. In fact, I do not feel British.

Now how does my identity affect how I view the United Kingdom and its four component countries?

Given that I feel Scottish but only know that I am British it is inevitable that I see, feel and identify with Scotland as a country but only know, without feeling, that Britain / UK is a country. Therefore, logically, I expect that those born in England and Wales will see the position similarly. I omit Northern Ireland from this because I imagine some will see Eire as their country whereas others will see Britain as their home.

This is probably an appropriate place to say that I harbour no anti-English or anti-anyone feelings: I arrive at my position simply through my feeling of Scottishness.

From my youngest days, I have known Scotland to be a country in its own right but a country subsumed in a larger composite country (United Kingdom). Perhaps surprisingly I never dreamt of Scotland being an independent country. Just as I accepted without question that Scotland was a country I accepted without question the need for Scotland to remain within the Union. This was just how things were.

Even when the Scottish Nationalists were having success in the 1970s with their “It’s Scotland’s oil” campaign I remained a Unionist convinced that Scotland could not survive independently. It was as though the Nationalists were pushing a dream, an unrealistic and unrealisable dream. Through the years my views remained static: even devolution didn’t move my thinking although I was very much in favour.

Looking back I think my position has been that my heart would have been happy with an independent Scotland but my head has seen sufficient negatives to reject the idea. As time has passed my heart is unchanged but in my head now I am prepared to listen to the arguments in favour of, and against, independence: arguments which are solid or flimsy depending on one’s original standpoint. Therefore, I am left with inconclusive arguments about the likely success (or otherwise) of Scottish independence and the safe position, under these conditions, would be to stay in the Union but I don’t want the safe option anymore. For me the time has come when we should give independence a go and make it work. Will Scotland be better off immediately after independence? I don’t know. The success, or failure, of an independent country, of its economy is dependent on so many factors most of them outwith the control of the country that predicting the future is futile.

There is a risk but, in time, I believe we would prosper. We should take the risk.

We won’t go for it, of course. Our inherent conservatism plus the level of fear engendered by unionists will ensure a majority for maintaining the Union. I can imagine that I too would worry more and become more fearful about the future as independence beckoned. That I am not champing at the bit for independence suggests that, despite my support, I am not wholly committed. Major doubt must still remain. Sometime I will explore this area.

Even if Scotland did vote for independence moral and legal questions would abound. Could Scotland become independent on the basis of a vote of its electorate only? If so, imagine the roles reversed and the electorate of England voted for English independence whilst Scots wanted to remain in the Union: what would Scots say? I suspect that we would complain about being cast adrift by our larger partner with no opportunity to influence the decision.

If voters in both countries needed to vote, would Scots not complain that their future was dependent on voters of another country as would the English if the roles were reversed: obviously an intolerable situation.

Therefore, neither approach can be deemed as acceptable but if I had to choose one approach I would have to take the view that only the electorate of Scotland has the right to determine whether or not Scotland becomes independent with equivalent positions applying in the other UK countries.


In a long-winded way I have now answered Lord Nazh’s question.

Yes, I believe in an independent Scotland with any or all of the remaining countries having the right to proclaim independence but I do not necessarily want independence now.

At the same time, I see the UK as the composite entity of individual countries but I do not have any emotional attachment to this composite country. However, until one of the constituent countries wants to split from the UK or until I am committed fully to independence, I am happy to accept the UK as my known, but unfelt, country.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Eating Disorder - Lack of Provision

Ten days ago I wrote about the tragic story of Alan Mullin who committed suicide in prison when he should have been receiving treatment for his mental illness. Today I return to mental health but this time to the lack of provision within my health board, Lothian, for those with eating disorders.

I am close to one who suffers from an eating disorder, who has been diagnosed as having an eating disorder but who must join an obscenely long waiting list for treatment at a specialist centre:

Twelve to fourteen months to reach the front of the queue.

Twelve to fourteen months after formal diagnosis before treatment.

Twelve to fourteen months without treatment.

Twelve to fourteen months to continue damaging one's body.

Twelve to fourteen months to continue to suffer the psychological problems underlying the disorder.

Twelve to fourteen months to deteriorate.


One can jump the queue by increasing one's risk factors: if one loses even more weight or shows major changes to other physical or cognitive attributes. Therefore, make oneself worse, thinner, more dangerously ill; do oneself more damage and one may get earlier treatment.

Make oneself worse to get treatment? Those with a diagnosis are already very ill. They should get treatment without the delay. They must get treatment without this delay!

That those who are so ill must wait more than one year for treatment is obscene.


Obviously, there are insufficient resources within the NHS!

But why are there insufficient resources?

Is mental health not "sexy" enough; are there not enough votes in it?



Twelve to fourteen months!!

Does no-one in power care?

Do no MSPs care?

You bloody well should care!


I CARE!!!

and

I AM NOT GOING AWAY!!!