A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘Green Party’

Political Wood Stack.

Even if you do nothing for a whole week in Applecross there is always something going on or conversations to comment on. Up till today it has been a pretty dull week, waiting for the first storm of the winter to pass through on Monday and Tuesday, and not going out fishing when I should really have, as there are no langoustines on the menu board and the weather was not too bad on Wed/Thurs. Today was back to the strong winds but looking more hopeful for getting back into the swing of things next week. The dinghy is back on the out hauler and ready to go. Unfortunately when I took her into the pier,bailing her while hanging onto the rope and keeping her off the shore wrecked my shoulder, so hauling creels was not on the top of the agenda.

A little wait for the worst of the rain to pass through yesterday morning before attacking most of the wood left for this years outside wood stack. Seems to have gone a wee bit political and may not be fully apparent on first sight. As I have aged the progress to the right-wing of politics has not taken place, in fact possibly gone the other way as I have become even more disinterested in wealth. On the wood stack front my thoughts are very, very simply put. Trident and nuclear weapons are useless in the extreme in that a deterrent never used is not a deterrent. And if some one was to push a button to start a nuclear strike that person would be insane or at the very least dehumanized to the nth degree. Pointless being second in pushing the button. A long-winded way of explaining why I have a Trident submarine in my wood stack. Some one somewhere must have a logical explanation as to why we spend so much money on something we cannot use while we struggle to find money for services, health and education, I remain to be convinced. Lots of angst flying about how to use one’s second vote in our upcoming election….such an easy choice as I have already met him, found him to be interested and supportive of community empowerment and real sustainable development, and supports an economy that is sustained within the environment, so John Finnie our Green list candidate gets my second vote. There are lots advocating two votes for SNP but when you have fine candidates like John, Andy Wightman, Patrick Harvie among many others you know you are voting for people who will try to take your views to the legislature. And the Trident view is shared, needless to say.

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On the local front I always find it interesting that no one mentions the Filling Station in any of the conversations I have, or the public toilets. Come to recognise that this is a good sign in local politics. It means they are working well. Unfortunately that cannot be said for the AppleNet Broadband system. I personally do not think there is anyone to blame as it was an ambitious pioneering project that will still work but in certain places throughout the community there are poor signals. The system was based on the Eigg and Knoydart models but the big difference here is the number of relays to get the signal to the various outlying and awkward placed settlements. These problems were not so acute in the first systems set up further south. Seems one loses the strength of the connection if at the end of a series of relays. There also is a problem in places like Craic Barn where the signal is bounced of walls from house to house resulting in possible distorted reception from noisy radio signalling. And weather is always going to be a problem. Our masts have to be more robust and money made from the connections is going to be reinvested in the network, that goes without saying. It is a new phenomenon that we experience living in the same community as the service and responsible for that service. We are the Indians in the BT Call Centre dealing with the problems but we are in the shop or at the Community Hall or the Inn while coping with the down side of the network. I do not have any regrets in anything we have tried and on the positive side WHAN is still on the horizon, the fibre optic cabling is installed in Mallaig, the masts are in place but need equipment installed and improvements are on the way. Our local network needs improving and outside help is being approached to do just that. Back to the down side the WHFP tells the story of how bad our Skye connection is and how long BT are taking to connect the Mallaig line to the WHAN Network. As the connection date was 9th Nov 2015 I am going to stop predicting when the BT connection takes place. Maybe I will prefer being a graduate in India in the Call Centre for a wee while longer. I look forward to AppleNet dropping out as a conversation piece just like the Filling Station has done, and like the Filling Station the problems are being addressed, maybe not as quickly as some would like.

The Hydro may well be doing that already although I find it is in many people’s minds and it appears to have awakened the potential in the community. Not a few people have remarked that if the community can build a Hydro Scheme against all the odds then what are the limits. Lateral North will soon be coming here to carry out a project on just that. A vision, without the constraints of land in outside hands and lack of affordable housing, but sustainable employment both meaningful and connected to the local environment. Jamie and Mick from HighlandEco were back in midweek to run through some of the glitches in the systems, a bit of rewiring and some software programming called for. It seems to be running smoothly at 100% capacity just now. Still a bit of landscaping to finish off with some gates and fencing to be erected but the system is generating money for the community day and night. Patience while AppleJuice builds up some capital before the monies raised will be reinvested in the community. It was interesting chatting about the regression of FiTs and how they affect the future of the renewable industry. It was pointed out that actually FiTs can lead to the wealthy becoming even more wealthy as systems are built on the Lairds land and public monies are siphoned off in that direction. The regression does hit the community schemes the hardest as they have to raise investment on top of the capital cost of build and if, like us, we do not own the river we are hit with rents that will make future schemes unviable. Wonder if it would be possible to have a two tier FiTs system where communities can enjoy a better return thus a genuine redistribution of the nations finances while improving the drive to renewables. That would get over the problem of the transfer of public funds into already deep pockets.

 

“Enough is as Good as a Feast”

Recovery completed and looking forward to my first ever Party Political Event, we left for Inverness for a morning’s dash about town with the intention of heading down to Farr to join a few other people to hear speakers talk about Green matters. A beautiful autumn day with low light across the Bealach

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and again and again all the way across the country. The reads, yellows and browns are resplendent just now and are sharpened by the acute angles of sunlight. After the Bealach no photos as I would probably be just arriving by now. Appropriately, on a green day, my first stop off was at Highland Bicycles where the Volt Ebike was left for its annual make over. Time flies when one realises that I bought it over a year ago, although I have only used it properly for about 6/7 months of that time. Going to be interesting to see how I cope with a north-west winter. Last winter’s six months of horizontal rain was not tackled with any enthusiasm. This year so far so good and after the overhaul it genuinely feels like a new bike. Haircut, Highland Wholefoods and winter fishing clothes from Blacks were all sorted in rapid order and the trip out to Farr was under way in good time. Last and only time I was out here was to learn about bees from Neil and Alison Spence. This event had been moved from the Spectrum Centre in Inverness to Farr due to the unprecedented pressure of numbers. Evident as the car park

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and hall so filled up.

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All on time as well….west coast time is always at least 15 minutes behind, or if it is a Dance about an hour before it finishes before people turn up.

Settled in and pleased to see an Applecross connection in the form of Nessa who spent some time over our way and Roddy who wandered over to share sympathies over political events. Even before events kicked off just sitting there in a room of over two hundred liked minded people was a wee buzz and as Lesley said when she spoke first we all need these meetings to keep energy levels high, a battery top up. Always inspiring to hear Lesley Riddoch speak and she was constantly stopped by spontaneous applause. And yes she did mention the Nordic nations. One really fascinating point was the development of Norway’s nationality and how for a time they had full autonomy over their own affairs bar defence and foreign policy before gaining full Independence. Now the aim is Home Rule with just that in mind. And of course Land Reform, pointing out the tax advantages of having a Sporting Estate as a plaything and emphasising that our land distribution is ludicrous and unique in Europe. It being so “unBritish” to cap or limit anyone or thing. Ownership of land has to be one thing to be capped, whole tracks of land and people living on it should not be held to the whims of one person. A recent bad example of this being Radcliffe of Ineos/Grangemouth holding the nation to ransom and ends up with public funds and licence to frack in the Central Belt. Speaking to Brian this morning from Shieldaig and such a different picture where land has been released for housing the school less than ten years ago was under threat but now is thriving, such a simple way of “repopulating the Highlands” and why not. Many houses can be built without destroying the Highlands unique attractions and giving its soul back. There are still long stretches on the way home where you do not see a light from the road. Surprised myself and asked Lesley if I could take a photo and she obliged and chuffed with the result.

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Next up was Robin from Common Weal and he amazes me in how he can talk so fast, without notes and pack so much enthusiasm, information and inspiration into so short a time. Interesting to hear the political outcomes and strategies of recent upheavals. I do not think any one has much of a clue what is going to happen next. The one thing is for certain the Referendum has only started a movement and not finished it. Robin’s analogy, from a French film , I think, was off a man/woman, stepping off the pavement and on the way down does he fall or fly and that depends on how much effort goes into his progress. He says it feels like we have stepped of the pavement. The austerity measures are affecting the poorest sections of society and you can feel his passionate anger against tis effect on whole sections of the community. After his session he is still enthusing.

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John Finnie, MSP,

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who moved from SNP to Independent to joining the Green party finished the first section off with a list of reasons why he has moved in this direction. Trident, NATO, pointless wars, useless and subsidised nuclear power. Read recently that nuclear power has produced £156 billion of power, cost £200 billion to build and will cost £100 billion to clean up and some people complain above renewable subsidy. A theme throughout the afternoon was the disenfranchisement of local government right down to community council level. Many areas have no Councils now and at home we have not had an election for the last two nominations. On going are the LRRG proposals, the Community Empowerment Bill and the Smith Commission, put in my wee submission but as it had to be costed will probably be ignored, so no one can say nothing is happening in this part of the world. And hardly a mention of other parties, nothing negative, only a response to a direct question to which Robin MacAlpine asserted that SLAB’s umbilical cord to its guaranteed support was being severed. What I liked about the afternoon was the range of ideas and actions various people were taking themselves and suggesting for both individual and community levels. Liked the call to resurrect the Highland Land League. John’s saying from old, “Enough is as good as a feast” is an apt summing up of how we should live. Local food, local energy, local industry, common sense proposals discussed.  All was excellently organised by Fabio, Isla and Ariane.

Away sharp to pick up the bike and home. A shift at the Inn, slightly disjointed, dropping into service already under way but not busy and slowly got into the swing as much as one could after such a different scene in the afternoon. Stayed on as staff wanted to head up to the Walled Garden, occasional caller such as Darren,

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stopped in before staff Darren

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and Lydia called in for a lift up.9Q7Q7126

The night ended in some fine music from John and Lorna.

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His renditions of Green Fields and Caledonia were fine and emotional, music at its best. Uptil now have not really picked up on the song Applecross Bay, written by a McCalman (I hope), sensing the layout of Applecross resulting from the Clearances. 3,000 living here in the middle of the 1800s, now 250 maximum. But hearing the background to a fine song gives it even more resonance. Also heard the Common Weal event at Bogbain Farm went very well and Applecross was represented there as well. Would have loved to have been there but one has to select sometimes.

Today a long a very pleasant shift, busy enough with lots of very appreciative and generous people, music throughout the afternoon and good food and residents into the evening.

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Requested another rendition of Caledonia to see me through and it seemed to work. So onto the bike and home around eight. It really is like having just bought a new bike, so Dougal and Eilidh got a wee walk down the Craig Darroch in the moonlight to finish off the day.

Future is Green, Credit Unions and Local.

A day is a long time in politics. After what I thought was a pretty major disappointment in the history of Scottish politics I was back on the bike to nip up the road for any instructions for sleeping in at the Inn. Not much was to be learnt as full team on and it was more a case of being there. And as it turned out after a couple of phone calls I did not need to go up till after service. Fairly quiet during the day although a little busier during the evening it was not manic. Well I had my malt whisky , first and last ones kindly bought, Oban to Bunahbhain, fairly thoroughly enjoyed, enough so to manage to sip one or five during the late evening.

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If anyone thought the Referendum is all over then they are seriously underestimating the political engagement of the Scottish populace. After the diners had left the conversations raged on and the content was highly intellectual. The other aspect of the day was the comfort displayed by friends to those they thought needed it. A large number of hugs and consoling words came my way…must have displayed some desire for a Yes vote. Once settled in with my drams the chatter happened and what is immediately apparent is that a new political process is underway and it will not be run by the elites. There is a palpable feel of excitement about and it is now replacing the despair I felt yesterday. There is always one joker in the pack who seemed to thrust himself into several people’s conversations. I got caught in one of them and very wide-ranging, a No Voter, he displayed much knowledge about anything and everything from oil to historic interpretations of the Darien Scheme and claimed that the Yes voters cherry picked their way throughout the debate. I tried to point to a different version of the original Union that did not suggest the Country was broke but some very important noble families were and also pointed out that the Alien Act of 1705 may have contributed to events over 300 years ago. But this did not tie in with his “cherry picked version” which I told him with a fair amount of suppressed glee, but had to walk away, in my professional capacity of course. Turned out he was not having a very good night, as the people he was picking on, both staff and customers were all Yes voters and very well versed in their reasons for voting Yes. After he had gone I sat down with his mates who were staying at the Inn and had a fine end to the evening. Lots of little connections and one that was very disturbing as they were involved in finding the last fisherman to have lost his life on the Inner Sound in the 80s, up north at Gairloch. Brought back some unwelcome memories..  The rest of the evening was spent dipping in and out of Social media where I saw the awful scenes of a Yes stickers on Donald Dewar’s lapel and the nice “Loyalists” taking bits of Glasgow and some of its residents apart….or is it the other way round. Cannot get over the outrage of the Better Together chappies on slights of such insignificance while ignoring the nasty aspects of supporters of their campaign. Thanks for all the comments and tweets and reads of my blog from yesterday. Appears I made teacher cry, but in a good way.

Slept like a log and came home this morning to a very welcome phone call from Rogart. There is a network of communities out there and we are already in contact and discussing the way ahead because while the Nation voted No 1.6 million voted for something different and they are not going away. Today on fb and twitter there has been an upsurge in SNP and Green memberships, 3000 and 1200 respectively. And I am pround to say I am one of them. I have for the first time in my life joined a political party, The Scottish Green Party. Also in this frame of mind, support, but not joined the 45% Group and next time in Inverness joining the Highland Credit Union based at Merkinch. Probably ditching the TV and BBC licence. The phone was on the go all morning and an interesting one to the brother-in-law. Alison said that they went to the Polling Station as a family and had their picture taken with the boys so they could show this to them when they grew up. Also an appointment has been arranged with their local MP to see what is happening to Trident. This from some one relatively non political up till now. Just another example of where Scotland is going. Another little story involved Son No3 who became politically active in Dundee outside Caird Hall. Traditionally second years take a first year on as a “son or daughter” on Freshers Week. One event of Son No3’s week was dressing his “daughter” up as Alistair Darling!!.

Wood cutting took place in the rest of the morning,

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an attempt to get the grass cut failed as the strimmer was not functioning as it should and a wee delve into the hives was a sight to behold.

 

 

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The wonderful bees are slowly drawing out the frames and are filling them with some beautiful honey. Did not take any off but will probably have three frames in October. Dougal has also recovered from his Yes disappointment and is back hunting rodents in our Better Together Kingdom.

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Just finishing off with a few observations on Sunday morn after a manic night at the Inn. Regular group of Whitby boys coming up for twenty plus years were here along with the other half of the country. Lots of regulars arrived expecting it to be a little quieter. I think it may well be over the next week or so but the new staff that started last night must have wondered why they have landed in. Prep room was still cleaning up after eleven. Accomplished, but slightly drunk, piper played for a bit at the end of the evening including Caledonia which he had never played on the pipes before and it caught the emotion of the weekend again. Evening finished at 1.30am and with a bit of a sour turn. The remaining Yorkshire men turned the chat round to the Vote and dished Scotland as “too wee, too poor and could not survive without England” It was quite extraordinary as they were decent hard-working guys but it told me how much the media affects people’s views. There was no negotiation, they were right. Did not come up with one “fact” but just repeated assertions. It told me that it was pretty impressive that as many as 45% of our population did vote Yes. Establishment wins a battle but the movement that is born I hope will continue. Despite these little downers life is back to tired but happy, stressed but invigorated, its good.

Breakfast now and out to pick up some prawns before another shift at the Inn. But Dougal is fine.

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