Jun 142013

By Duncan Harley.

I never really read Ian Banks. I mean, he was an Edinburgh man after all.
‘The Wasp Factory’ was published in 1984. My heroes then were Blair and Mandela.

Not the Labour Blair of course, but ‘Homage to Catalonia’ Eric Blair, and that Nelson Mandela man who was awarded the Freedom of the City of Glasgow.

My sons met him outside Glasgow City Chambers, just after the ceremony, but were then too young to recall the smiling eyes of the man and the air of peace and gentle power he generated.

Before his presidency, Mandela was of course an anti-apartheid activist and high ranking leader of the African National Congress, and its armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe, which translates as “Spear of the Nation.”

Following his 27 years in prison on convictions for various crimes including sabotage but not murder, Nelson’s switch to a policy of reconciliation and negotiation led the transition to multiracial democracy in South Africa. Since the end of apartheid, he has been widely praised, even by former opponents.

Somewhat like Ian Banks however, Mandela will soon be out of this place except in our collective memories.

It was moving indeed to view the tributes to Ian’s passing. In particular I was struck by the fact that both Sky News and the BBC carried lengthy interviews with his writing and drinking pals. Also, the outpouring of dismay and affection by readers on the announcement by Ian regarding his imminent demise, spoke volumes about the impact the man made.

Comments such as “Ian Banks was a very sad loss, as for Mandela who can say anything but a working class hero” from Ruby Finnie, and Helena Petre’s “I’m sorry to hear about Ian Banks, loved his book about Whisky, and the TV dramatisations of his novels, though I did not read any of them”, say it all.

I may just buy the Wasp Factory on the strength of it.

The British National Party’s leader, Nick Griffin, has sparked some outrage

Then of course there are the detractors. As far as I am aware, the BNP have no issues with Scottish science fiction writers but it seems that in their view Nelson Mandela is a different matter.

The British National Party’s leader, Nick Griffin, has sparked some outrage with a series of tweets branding Nelson Mandela a “murdering old terrorist”.

Mr Griffin, who has been often been called a far-right politician, and who is of course NOT an MP, seemingly mocked the 94-year-old former South African president’s lung condition. He apparently wrote on Twitter that

“Nelson Mandela on last legs it seems. Make sure to avoid BBC when the murdering old terrorist croaks. It’ll be nauseating”; and

“‘Statesmen’ must be judged on results not rhetoric. Before Mandela, South Africa was safe economic powerhouse. Now crime ridden basket case.” Plus

“No surprise Mandela’s lungs are shot – all those burning tyres. Smoking necklaces very bad for the health.”

Love them or hate them, the BNP are seemingly here to stay. Nick Griffin is currently holidaying in Syria “on a fact finding mission”.  He will shortly be meeting President Bashar Assad in Damascus.

With rhetoric such as “What he wants is to let people have a proper view of what is going on in Syria, because at the moment all we have is William Hague and his infantile war-mongering” and “He wants to ascertain just how many British citizens are fighting out there for the so-called Free Syrian Army and other elements opposed to Assad” from BNP spokesperson Mr Simon Darby, plus of course the infamous statement that “He”, presumably Nick, “ is sick and tired of seeing lads from Manchester and Liverpool coming back in body bags or with arms and legs missing because the Government got them involved in business that isn’t any concern of ours”.

What can the BNP spokesman mean? Body bags, arms and legs missing? Surely that is President Bashar Assad’s job.


Mr Griffin on Mandela, a comment: http://www.urban75.net/forums/threads/nick-griffin-sparks-outrage-with-sick-tweets-about-nelson-mandela.311430/

Mail on Line: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2339568/BNP-leader-Nick-Griffin-visits-Syria-receiving-invite-President-Assad.html#ixzz2Vw2UAIII

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