Why am I doing this?
A question that I have asked myself at various points in my life in relation to many things – recreational activities, jobs, specific projects and sometimes big, life-changing decisions and actions. The question is prompted by recognition of the dangers in proceeding with a course of activity without revisiting the impetus and purpose for that course of action. The dangers are many and manifest, and among the main ones are -
The deadening but comforting compulsion of routine, of running on a rail without thinking too clearly about a destination.
The force of a plan or project – a commitment to a course of action that acquires its own momentum, where the disciplines of the system and procedures became more important than the objective, which mustn’t be questioned because it would conflict with the plan.
The feeling that all the hard thinking is in the past, and that the momentum must not be slowed or blunted – a kind of don’t confuse me with new facts or new realities position.
The fear that if a course of action is halted or abandoned, there will be nothing to fill the vacuum.
The feeling that all the activity must have been worth something, is its own validation, and that it must be justified. This is the converse of the old accounting maxim that sunk costs are irrelevant – or don’t throw good money after bad. Has it all been for nothing? is perhaps the most painful question of all.
WHAT I TRY TO DO AS A BLOGGER
I am an SNP supporter and party member. My little ship flies under the saltire, not the Union Jack. My blog is aimed at supporting the SNP in government and in their pursuit of independence for Scotland. I am not an objective commentator – I have an agenda and a political orientation. (If only the media would treat many of those who present themselves as objective commentators to the same scrutiny and look hard at the colours they are flying under, especially the former spin doctors and PR persons who present themselves as objective. The Jolly Roger, in the form of the Union Jack, waits to be hoisted at the bases of the mast.)
Within my political allegiance, I try to be fair and objective, not an easy task, given the nature of the opposition. I am also a firm supporter of the BBC, despite all its many shortcomings, because I believe that it discharges its responsibilities as a public service broadcaster better than any other in the world. This does not always endear me to my party or to my blog readers who support the SNP! In spite of being acerbic, and occasionally exasperated, I do try to recognise than my task, and that of all nationalists is to persuade and convert the unionist and the uncommitted or tentative, not to alienate them, or preach to the converted.
Nonetheless, I recognise that there is a valid role to play in supporting the faithful and committed, in the face of relentless and unscrupulous misinformation from other sources.
I present myself, not as an expert in political science, or economics, or constitutional history, or defence, but as a Scottish voter with a long experience of Scotland, a decade of living very happily in England, with many deep cross-border commitments, friendships and relationships, and with sound business experience with special expertise in human relations, negotiating skills and corporate behaviour. I have operated at managerial, senior managerial and director level for most of my employed career, (37 years) and ran my own consulting and training business, serving blue chip companies, mainly multi-nationals and transnationals in Scotland and the UK for 15 years.
I am not an SNP party insider, have no role and hold no office within the party, do not speak for the party, and regard myself as an independent voice.
I try to counter negative and misleading media reporting, and therefore operate in an essentially reactive way, but within that frame of reference, I offer my perceptions as a voter. I try to keep the arguments simple enough to be grasped by the average voter (and often fail!) not because the average voter is lacking in intelligence and insight, but because the majority of the electorate at any given time are more occupied with their lives, careers and responsibilities than they are with political theory and arcane analysis, and must therefore have simple, but not simplistic arguments presented to them – the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities of life.
The Scottish electorate is one of the most sophisticated in the world, and certainly is the most sophisticated in the UK – they don’t need to be patronised, they certainly don’t want to be lied to, as they are regularly, but they do need clear messages at this pivotal time in Scotland's – and the world’s – history.
Politicians are inhibited in offering clarity by wider political compromises, political commentators are inhibited by the need to make a living and find a publisher, and very often those who offer simple messages are unscrupulous populists with money as their main focus.
I am not inhibited by any of these constraints, and neither are a wide and diverse chorus in individual voices, courtesy of the new media freedoms.
That’s where I’m at, and despite a wish to escape from the tyranny of a self-imposed blog output – and I do have many other things I want to do, and should be doing – I fear I’m stuck with it till independence, or perhaps other events that wait for me in the space-time continuum.
The next section is 800 words of history. A busy, or bored reader should probably skip it.
THE MORIDURA BLOG – A BIT OF HISTORY
I started my blog in February 2008 for two reasons, one to give myself a regular vehicle to write, a kind of daily exercise for the writing muscles, and the second to react to current events. The previous year and half had seen me abandoned a lifelong political allegiance to the Labour Party and vote for the SNP, and I had watched with growing admiration the way Alex Salmond and his team managed the delicate balancing act of minority government. The roots of this went back to the devolution settlement and the opening of the Scottish Parliament, then 9/11, Afghanistan and the horror of Iraq.
In May 2007, while committed to the SNP, I still felt that the three opposition parties were basically decent democrats with a different viewpoint to mine. The Tories I had grown up with as my class enemy, a visceral distrust that wasn’t easy to get past, but I recognised the need for a proper voice and representation for centre right voters. The LibDems I thought of as basically on my side of the political fence, and although I regarded their previous coalition with Labour as more or less a failure, I had never doubted that it was the only course of action open to them in the new Scottish Parliament. Labour I thought of as a party that had badly lost its way and its moral compass, but was in the process of a painful reorientation. The year that followed proved me wrong on all counts about the three opposition parties. The decision of the LibDems not to enter a coalition with the SNP baffled and angered me, and the subsequent obstructive and destructive behaviour of all three in Holyrood appalled be. The fact that the Tories in Holyrood were the only party to at least occasionally behave with any good sense amazed me.
All of this - which hardened political observers may well regard as astounding naivety from someone of my age, who by that time had lived in seven decades of the turbulent 20th century and was now well into the first decade what is already proving to be a more turbulent 21st century - was compounded by what I saw as the blatant bias and irrelevancy of much of the media reporting and commentary.
Early in the blogging game, I saw the need to capture video clips of news and current affairs broadcasts which otherwise would have been ephemeral, and give them a second life on YouTube, and linking them to my blog. My YouTube channel, TAofMoridura, in many ways had a greater impact than my blog, and certainly provoked more discussion. In December 4th 2009, with some half a million words up on my blog and a lot of videos on YouTube, I had a heart attack. There’s nothing like to prospect of imminent death to bring life and purpose into sharp focus. Thanks to the superb care and professionalism of the RIE and the Scottish NHS, I came through it, although I had some little local difficulties again in late May of 2010.
I had coped pretty positively with the challenges of my quad bypass and recovery, however, I was unprepared for the psychological effects – not uncommon – of the deep anaesthesia, and during my early recovery period had a complete collapse of confidence for a few days. This unfortunately coincided with a vicious and threatening attack on me by a well-know Unionist blogger, promising legal action on a variety of fronts. I was unequipped to handle it, and felt that I had to concentrate on my recovery, so I took down my entire blog and all my YouTube videos, a decision I now regret. To compound this, I thought I was properly backed up, but wasn’t, although I have managed a partial recovery of files since then. However, I bounced back before the General election of May 2010, started up again, and by the time of my second heart attack and subsequent cardiac arrest in late May of 2010, had no such crises of direction – I even managed a blog from my hospital bed, using the inadequate and exorbitantly expensive TV system inflicted by PFI on the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
Building up a following again was a slow process, especially since someone who had admired my blog had in effect written a glowing obituary of the Moridura Blog (not of me, thankfully) and I’m sure I lost many followers permanently.
And here we are in October 2011, with an SNP administration with a commanding majority and the confidence - and the hopes - of the Scottish people in their hands, under attack from all sides, and prospects of me being able to do some writing on my own account and playing my instruments a bit more looking increasingly remote.