Nov 042016

With thanks to Christian Allard.

weareaberdeen-poster-smaller-version2#WeAreAberdeen, has today (Friday, November 4th) launched an online campaign, to hear the many local voices of immigrants and people from ethnic minority backgrounds who live here, and everyone else who wants to celebrate our diversity in the North East.

To add photos and stories to those already shared online, the campaign is inviting people to visit the Facebook and Twitter pages. 

The campaign brings people and communities together to respond to the recent rise in intolerance in our society. The North East of Scotland is not immune to what has happened recently in other places across the UK and Europe.

The message from the campaign has already been adopted by Aberdeen Trades Union Council (ATUC) as the theme for this year’s St Andrews March, in Aberdeen on November 26th.

Kate Ramsden, President of ATUC, said:

“We are delighted to be working with #WeAreAberdeen to celebrate the diversity of our communities. Everyone is welcome on the march and I would love to see people bringing their own stories, positive messages, such as colourful banners, placards and posters”. 

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Jan 282016
Immigration What's the story

Christian Allard at the launch of ‘Immigration: What’s the Story?’ at the Scottish Parliament with (left) Nicola Hay, Campaign Manager and (right) Gillian Eunson, Educational worker.

With thanks to Sarah Masson.

North East MSP Christian Allard praised the ‘tremendous’ work of Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) on their 20th Anniversary. Mr Allard made the comments after viewing ‘Immigration: What’s the Story?’ film by SRtRC at the Scottish Parliament today.

SRtRC is an anti-racism educational charity which was established in January 1996. The charity aims to combat racism through enabling role models to present an anti-racist message to young people and others.

Over the last 20 years, SRtRC has worked extensively across Scotland and the rest of the UK delivering training to more than 50,000 individuals per year.

In response to negative attitudes expressed towards migrant communities, SRtRC developed a UK wide educational film, elevating the voices of people who have moved from one country to another, to dispel some of the popular myths and provide an alternative view.

Christian, along with colleagues, saw the film at an event in the Scottish Parliament last night. The North East MSP looks forward to Show Racism the Red Card Scotland’s visit to Pittodrie this year.

Commenting, Christian Allard MSP said:

“’Immigration: What’s the Story?’ is another great educational film from Show Racism the Red Card.

“They have achieved a tremendous amount in the last 20 years making sure everyone’s voice is heard and challenging attitudes in our society.

“As an Aberdeen FC Supporter I am delighted to see the initiative making its way up to the North East to work with schools across the city.

“I was delighted to speak to all the team at Show Racism the Red Card and the footballers and wish them all the best for the next 20 years.”

Mr Allard submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament celebrating Show Racism the Red Card’s twentieth anniversary and the work that they have done.

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Dec 032015
Christian speaking at the Aberdeen Trades Union Council St Andrew's Day parade

Christian Allard MSP speaking at the Aberdeen Trades Union Council St. Andrew’s Day March.

With thanks to Gavin Mowat, Constituency Assistant to Christian Allard MSP.

Christian Allard MSP has spoken of his thanks to the people of Aberdeen for showing solidarity with the people of France and the people of Syria at a St. Andrew’s Day march in Aberdeen.
Aberdeen Trades Union Council organised this year’s march which was themed “Refugees Welcome Here – No Racism”.

The French born MSP spoke of his wish to see more refugees coming to Scotland and suggested ways we can make newly arrived refugees feel welcome.

Speaking at the event, Mr Allard said:

“Here at the Castlegate, the French community living here with many our Scottish friends showed our solidarity with the people of Paris, the people of France. As an Immigrant from France, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came and send us messages of solidarity, Merci.

“And here today again, we are assembled at the Castlegate to show our solidarity to the people of Syria.

“I would have been much happier if we were celebrating today the arrival of 10,000 of Syrian refugees to Scotland.

“To put this welcome in context, last year, Sweden, a country of 10 million people, took 80,000 refugees – the highest number per head of population in the European Union, and second only in number to Germany.

The SNP MSP added that he could think of two simple ways to make refugees welcome:

“First, watch our language – word choice matters. You may have heard and read from many of our media, particularly the BBC, calling refugees names, calling them migrants. Let’s be clear, from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “the two terms have distinct and different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations”. Refugees are persons fleeing armed conflict or persecution.

“The second easy way to welcome refugees is to smile, just simply smile. We greet guests coming in our own house with a smile, let’s welcome refugees with the same smile in our streets, when Christmas shopping and in our communities.

“Let’s remember where we all come from because, in Scotland’s Story, we are all worth the same.”

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Oct 012015

Alex-Salmond-MP-MSPthm-Credit-SNP-AberdeenshireWith thanks to Tom Collins, Press Officer, Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond MP MSP

Alex Salmond MSP and Christian Allard MSP have welcomed the news that the SNP led Aberdeenshire Council has committed to support up to 50 refugee families fleeing the war in Syria.

At a meeting held on Thursday 24th September councillors debated an emergency Notice of Motion which was unanimously supported.

The Notice of Motion said:

“That Aberdeenshire will contribute to the vision of a Scotland where refugees are able to build a new life from the day they arrive and to realise their full potential with the support of mainstream services; where they become active members of our communities, with strong social relationships.

“That Aberdeenshire welcomes the co-ordination role being taken by CoSLA with regard to financial support and integration issues.

“That the Chief Executive will indicate to the Scottish Government and UK Government, through CoSLA, as a matter of priority, the scale of support that Aberdeenshire can offer in the short-term, middle-term, and longer-term, acknowledging that both the Scottish Government and the UK Government have made a commitment to settle refugees within a year.”

Aberdeenshire Council has been engaging with local partners to identify appropriate resources that can be put in place to support families who may come to Aberdeenshire.

Commenting Alex Salmond said:

“I welcome Aberdeenshire Council’s decision to support these families, who are in desperate need of our help.

“We must remember that these people are not being pulled into Europe, they are being pushed from their homes because of war and the threat that exists to their lives.

“It is fantastic to hear that the motion was unanimously supported. It is important that we all work together to try and help these people in need.”

Commenting Christian Allard said:

“It is great to see unanimity at Aberdeenshire Council. This decision reflects the overwhelming opinion that Scotland should take its fair share. We must ensure that we are helping these refugees and our partners in Europe to come to a solution to this humanitarian crisis.”

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Oct 012015

This refugee crisis has certainly brought the Middle East situation into sharp focus. Many and varied opinions have been voiced, and no doubt the picture of the young boy on the beach in Turkey tugged at many heartstrings. It has encouraged many people, including our own first minister to offer to put up some of these unfortunates. Fin Hall opines.

CalaisThis awful situation, as we are aware, has came about by several factors. One of which was Tony Blair engaging in an illegal war; but the Syrian situation originated as part of the Arab Spring, which started in Tunisia. Their actions were relatively peaceful, but in Egypt, and more so in Syria, it was the opposite.

The failure of the uprising in Syria led to the easy access of Isis, and the escalation of Muslims killing Muslims – leading to the mass exodus that we see now.

Iraq is a different situation. We invaded this country because we didn’t like their leader, and make no mistake this was the only reason.

Coming soon after going into Afghanistan where Egyptian and Saudi terrorists called Al Queda were located, this was George Bush jnr’s excuse to flex his muscles. As soon as he became president, it was obvious he was going to go to war with someone, and 9/11 gave him the opportunity.

He must have been wetting his pants at the thought. His next thought was obviously, ‘Who can I rope in to be my gullible partner here? I know there is that nice right wing lefty Tony Blair’. 

The rest, as they say, is history.

The sad thing about us civilised countries is we never prosecute our leaders when they break the law. We just let them retire on an non austerity pension and get them a good job elsewhere. In the case of Mr Blair, U.N. Envoy to the Middle East.

Who says politics doesn’t have a sense of humour?

Meanwhile at the “successful” conclusion to the “freeing” of Iraq, the people themselves greeted the troops by cheering them on the streets and toppling the previous regime’s statues. Kind of like what happened in Europe at the end of WW2. Only this time the love affair was short lived. This new found freedom gave leeway to the people who were too scared to try and overthrow Hussein, to rise up and to start the cowardly process of killing, not only American and UK troops, but their own fellow citizens.

This seems to be the continuing, relentless manifesto of these maniacs. Resulting in the refugees. The sad thing is that none of their fellow Middle East neighbours seem willing to take them in. They see Western Europe as their only place for safety.

Saudi Arabia, in the meantime, continue their onslaught and killing of the citizens of Yemen. And nearby, Zionist controlled Israel, backed by USA, relentlessly persecutes Palestinians. In none of these conflicts do we ever hear on any news channels, ‘Now over to our correspondent on the ground in ( insert appropriate country here) for the latest news’.

Social media, for a while, was full off scare stories alleging ‘Isis members in the ranks of the refugees’, ‘refugee kills European citizen’, etc. Now while there is always the risk of such things happening, and I am sure that governments will be on high alert for this, I think that our humanity will not allow our fear to win out.

Nor should we be complacent though.

I see on social media people saying that we should all open our doors and let some of these poor unfortunates into our homes. How very magnanimous and easy to say.

But the whole situation is not that simple. Already some people moan about Eastern European, economic migrants getting council houses before people who have been on the waiting list for years. What would it be like when our quota of refugees arrive?

Not that these moaners are right of course.

The other end of the stick are the 3,000 or so refugees living in camps at Calais, whose plight suddenly made people act after the picture of the toddler on the beach went viral. All over the country people started collecting clothes, shoes and sleeping bags etc to help ease their lives.

My one question on this is; why in this case is it mainly, I say mainly not wholly, young men that have travelled right across Europe to try and get to Britain? I am not implying that they have come all this way to claim benefits or suchlike, but as a whole lot of them have come from Africa, where are their wives and children?

Recently I have read of Refugees in Holland and Denmark, not complaining about various things. Minor things in the big picture and things that we would tolerate if it meant us having a safe life free from real oppression. Things like not every migrant is a potential terrorist having internet, sharing accommodation that is meant for 16 with half that number, not eating because they aren’t sure if their food is halal, only getting a one year visa and not being automatically allowed to bring your family over.

This latter man had his supermarket bombed, not sure if it was deliberately targeted, and not in any way decrying this person’s loss of business, but I know if my business was destroyed I would never abandon my wife and children to fend for themselves.

I don’t pay any attention to the scaremongering posts that pop up on social media; you know the type I mean – ‘Isis infiltrating refugees, migrants wreck bus, etc.’

Even when there were delays at Calais, it was reported it was due to migrants, whereas it was mainly due to French workers going on strike. I am not naive enough to believe that every migrant is a potential terrorist, nor do I understand why some otherwise sensible friends repost stuff from the likes of Britain First, even though the sound bite might make a little sense.

But I am also not foolish enough to accept the fact that every single asylum seeker is genuine. And I realise why some people are concerned.

I realise that, hopefully, they will be checked out properly and that, in all the countries only the genuine ones will be allowed to stay.

Meanwhile we should all keep treating them with compassion, whilst making the facts clear, that whichever country they are entering, they are making that choice of which country they want to be in and therefore should obey the laws of that country and respect the cultures and traditions of it.

And, as much as possible, don’t alienate and isolate yourself from the natives.

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Sep 182015

With thanks to Gavin Mowat, Constituency Assistant to Christian Allard MSP.

Christian Allard MSP debating at the Scottish Parliament

Christian Allard MSP debating at the Scottish Parliament

Whilst debating the Global Refugee Crisis today, Christian Allard MSP has highlighted that our Word Choice Matters.

Speaking today in the Scottish Parliament, he encouraged accuracy in terminology used and commended those who are currently discussing the Refugee Crisis with appropriate terms.

The North East MSP has recognised that when discussing the Refugee Crisis there must be clarity between the terms ‘Migrant’ and ‘Refugee’.

Christian Allard MSP explains that by ensuring the separation of the two terms it will protect the refugees from implications that the ‘M’ word can carry and, we can support the current crisis through truthful, informative discussions.

The North East MSP recognises that there has been a positive change of tone surrounding the situation but continues to urge that we all must continue to watch our language.

SNP MSP Christian Allard said:

“The damaging effects of using an incorrect term is very relevant and will influence our own perception and attitude towards refugees. Accuracy is key, Word Choice Matters.”

“The careless use of our words won’t help, calling people names is not the solution, helping them is.”

“They are not migrants …I am a migrant and I am no refugee.”

“Let’s remember where we all come from because, in Scotland’s Story, we are all worth the same.”

Commenting on the difference between migrants and refugees, a spokesman for EUHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) said:

“Yes, there is a difference, and it does matter.

“The two terms have distinct and different meanings, and confusing them leads to problems for both populations”

Note: A video of the debate will be available on the Scottish Parliament website in due course.

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Sep 102015

With thanks to Radical Independence Aberdeen.

Radical Independence CampaignAn anti-austerity rally is planned for Sunday 13 September, with an additional refugees welcome message in light of the ongoing crisis in Calais.

Last year, on the Sunday before the referendum, a flashmob of over 1000 people gathered in the Castlegate in support of a Yes vote for Scottish independence.

This year’s event calls for people on both sides of the independence debate to come together against austerity, and in support of refugees.

The event’s organisers, from the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), explain the connection:

“it’s all part of the same problem, the same mind-set where rich politicians get to decide the fates of people who are less fortunate. Thousands of people are dying in the Mediterranean. Thousands of people are dying within weeks of being declared ‘fit for work.’

“Thousands of families are relying on food banks and charities to survive, both in Calais and right here in Aberdeen, one of the richest cities in the UK. This can’t continue.”

The event is strictly non-party-political, though politicians are encouraged to attend. Speakers will represent a range of charities and activist groups, including Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE), Future Choices, Aberdeen CND, Aberdeen Anti-Fascist Alliance and RIC Aberdeen. There will also be people sharing their personal stories of how austerity has affected their lives.

In addition to speakers, there will also be a food bank collection by CFINE, information stalls from local charities, and music from Guarana Drummers.

The event will take place on Sunday 13 September, at 2pm, in the Castlegate. For more information please contact

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Sep 072015

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryApologies for the late running of this service. One or two little non-Aberdeen Voice responsibilities have kept me tied up. I’ve got about 12 days left to get artwork ready for a group show at Under The Hammer, and there’s much to do. If anyone has experience making talking Donald Trump and Friends dolls, I could use a pointer or two.

This will be as respectful and tasteful a collection of art as befits our presidential candidate; the man who ‘is the evidence’ against windfarms, and who is, as he puts it liked by ‘the blacks… the Latinos… and the educated blacks…’ We women of course love ‘em. But I digress.

I had a little visit to BrewDog’s Ellon factory bar, and enjoyed a nice chat with Stephen, one of the brewers. He’s even given me one of his own home brew ciders which is ageing nicely in my beer/brew library. Thanks Stephen.

Could things get any more vibrant and dynamic we wonder; I don’t think I’ve written since the astonishing development on Belmont Street. Fashionable Café Culture has Belmont Street! Result! Even if only until 6pm.

This development has made us the envy of Europe, not least for the festive warning signs we’ve put up to let motorists know that there are tables and chairs out in force. Not even some Inspired bunting could add further festive cheer. Do our city safety officers know something about chairs the rest of us don’t? Chairs – specifically those dangerous plastic ones – were on the list of forbidden items back when the Commonwealth Games torch festivities overwhelmed us all.

We’ll look back on the people barriers, list of banned items (pets, chairs, food, drink), the hordes of security forces outnumbering the punters, and happily tell our children’s children what a safe event it was.

While we were all clamboring to get into the gardens, for some reason people are clamouring to leave their own countries to come to seek new lives in Europe. What’s going on? What are we to call them? What’s caused this? Perhaps some definitions may help

Migrants: (English plural noun) – Human beings; men, women, boys, girls infants trying to find a place to live.

A nice little collective noun, useful for dehumanising humans – just a group of faceless individuals on the move.

Refugees: (English plural noun) – Human beings; men, women, boys, girls infants trying to find a place to live.

Another nice little collective noun; avoids any collective responsibility we have for how they got there.

Cockroaches: (English plural noun) – vermin insects

Now we’re talking – large groups of the hungry? Cockroaches it is then. Dehumanising people into something less than human is a great propaganda tactic.

It’s been used by the greats: Hitler, and the folks that brought you genocide in Rwanda used this word – so did our dearly beloved Katie Hopkins. (Ah Rwanda – genocide, famine, aids, other epidemics, lack of schools. And our very own Ian Wood is holding onto some £50,000,000 to this day, until he figures out how to help the existing Rwanda landowners grow more tea. That’s what I’d do if I had a few spare millions).

We’ve even seen the word vermin used here in Aberdeen by our fearless office Peter Leonard when describing the Tullos deer he wanted shot of so he pushed to have them shot. He called these herbivores vermin so often that even the SNH had to tell him to cut it out.

Propaganda is just a useful way to tell people what they should be thinking. Have a look at old columns, Old Susannah #72 – Propaganda Special and Old Susannah No 172 – Propaganda 101 Part 2 for a helpful guide to the dark arts of persuasion.

Katie Hopkins: (Improper English Noun) – Scholar, Renaissance Woman, empath, philosopher, writer

Hooray for people who tell it like it is. People who aren’t afraid to stick to their misanthropic, far right wing ideas are just what this world needs. At least someone had the guts to call these migrants cockroaches.

It’s a courageous thing to stand up for what’s right. Katie famously wrote this some time back:

“No, I don’t care. Show me pictures of coffins, show me bodies floating in water, play violins and show me skinny people looking sad. I still don’t care.

 “Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.” (newspapers ad nauseum – literally)

However, not all the migrants/cockroaches got the memo, because 800 of them drowned within days of her penning this great, well thought out column. Untold thousands died since. Maybe they could have withstood a nuclear bomb, but thousands aren’t making it past the people traffickers, the waves, and the squalor of the refugee/cockroach camps. (I am just jealous you see; after all, she’s blonde, she’s been on TV, and she gets paid to write her column).

I think she’s on to something there though – nuclear bombs. I wonder if Iain Duncan Smith isn’t thinking along those lines? I know he is doing his best to keep these things out of the UK. Here’s how:

Detention Centres: (English compound plural noun) – holiday resorts for migrants, refugees, cockroaches

Anyone who gets this far ought to be grateful if they make it to a detention centre. There are lots of activities to participate in. The centres even have nice names, like Yarls Wood.

Channel 4 did a bit of filiming inside: this was very, very wrong. No one – not even the UN’s expert on violence against women – is allowed to film. I think this must just be a case of respecting the refugee/cockroache’s privacy, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Channel 4 is pretty left wing anyway, and their slant on this would have you believe that detainees (a kind of refugee, don’t worry about it) don’t get good medical care, are abused, and wind up with psychological problems evidenced by self-harming. Probably just some kind of cultural phenomenon thingy, I wouldn’t worry. The kids, instead of being grateful for the lack of schooling, are said to be at serious psychological risks.

Anyway, if you can be bothered, here’s a link to some Channel 4 propaganda – I’m sure it’s much more fun than it might look

Those that make it through get to live a life of luxury inside detention centres. The kids don’t have to worry about school much – then when they turn 18, they get a free one-way ticket back to where their parents tried to leave behind in the first place.

Some of the people being returned object to having to leave the luxury camps, and make wild claims like they will be tortured if sent back to countries where torture takes place.

Now, how I wonder would third world dictators get the equipment to subdue, kill, torture, gas and otherwise deal with their civilians?

British Arms Export Sector: (Modern English compound noun) – Area of enterprise responsible for selling UK produced arms, ammunition, chemical weapons, restraints, chains, etc. to countries outwith the UK.

The UK sold £12 billion pounds’ worth of weaponry and restraints abroad last year. You’d get quite a few granite webs for that kind of money, I can tell you. It seems completely ungrateful that with all that lovely hardware floating around the third world, people aren’t staying put and enjoying how much safer we’ve made things for them.

Where have we sold the goods?

“Britain has supplied £12bn of arms to some of the world’s most brutal dictatorships and human rights abusers, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, China and Belarus, a report by MPs has revealed.

“Almost half of all exports were sent to Israel.

“The UK also sent arms to countries who have tense relations with Britain, including Russia, which still supplies weapons to Syria’s President Assad, and Argentina, despite its threats over the Falklands.

“Sales to Sri Lanka raise “very serious questions”, the report by MPs says. Three licences still remain valid for Syria.

“The UK sold arms to almost all of the countries which the Foreign Office blacklisted as human rights abusers.”

It’s not as if this were some self-interested British cartel enriching itself off of human suffering and making countries uninhabitable for the citizenry. We don’t sell to North Korea, so I think we can be proud of what we’re doing.

But somehow, I can’t occasionally wonder if there might be a link between selling guns, shackles, tear gas and weapons to despots, and people trying to get to the UK.

I even once wondered if sending all this hardware abroad instead of sending teachers, books, farmers and seeds and medicine, etc. might be a better way to get a secure world than torturing people into submission. And if you can believe it, there was this time I wondered if resentment in the third world for the UK could somehow be connected with our arming the despots that keep things in order.

Happily these thoughts faded as soon as I started being a devout reader of Hopkins.

One thing I don’t get, is why don’t these people just stay where they are? Palestine has some nice scenic areas. ISIS keeps law and order maintained (as long as you do exactly what you’re told and believe as they do, and aren’t Christian, gay, or heaven forbid Jewish or a woman with ideas of independence). Then there’s Syria. Why are these migrants/cockroaches migrating out of Syria?

Climate Change: (Modern English pseudo-science) – Idea that we are somehow changing our planet’s climate

As far-fetched ideas go, this climate change is quite a piece of propaganda. There’s no evidence for it, and no evidence that it’s got anything to do with Syria. Sure, a bit of land known historically as ‘The Fertile Crescent’ is drying out, laying waste to thousands of Syrian farms. Sure, there’s famine. But that’s no real reason for migrants to migrate away like cockroaches in to the cities, is it?

It’s all nonsense, but I thought I’d bring it up anyway, just to show you that for every reasonable columnist like Katie H, there are a few crackpots out there. Here’s a quote that might entertain you:

“Syria sits in a band of relatively moist and productive land in the Middle East, known as the Fertile Crescent. But between 2006 and 2010, the region was hit by the worst multiyear drought since 1940

“Syria gets almost all of its rain during its six-month winter, from November to April. In 2007-08, winter rainfall across Syria fell by a third, with some areas receiving no rain at all….,

“As the drought continued, farmers and their families abandoned their land and headed to urban areas for work. Around 1.5 million people migrated to Syrian cities during the drought, adding to the high population growth and recent arrival of 1.2 to 1.5 million Iraqi refugees…

“The growing urban populations resulted in overcrowding, unemployment and crime, but the worsening situation was neglected by the Syrian government, the study says. This growing unrest, the researchers say, was the trigger for the uprising…. “

“Dr Peter Gleick, an expert on water and conflict at the Pacific Institute, says the evidence for the impact of climate change on security is mounting:

“The war in Syria has many causes, from ancient enmities, religious and ideological disputes, economic and social pressures, and political tensions. But there is growing evidence that pressures on water resources associated with poor management, increasing populations, and human-caused climate changes are now influencing regional security in new and disturbing ways.”

I wouldn’t put much store in this ‘Dr Peter Gleick’s’ opinions anyway – that’s a pretty foreign-sounding name he’s got there, don’t you think?

Pretty much, these people brought their problems on themselves, just like the Oklahoma farmers did in the 1930s. In true American style, most of the displaced farmers had a jolly time of it seeking work and lives elsewhere. A guy named Steinbeck has a little comedy booklet on this happy episode called The Grapes of Wrath, if you’ve got enough time after reading your daily serving of Hopkins to want to read any further.

Just remember back to World War II, when England decided to send its children to live abroad. We did the world a favour by sharing our English youth. Let’s not let anyone use the evacuations as an excuse to let these migrant/refugee/cockroaches in here. Some things just don’t cut both ways.

So there you have it. As an aside, some well-intentioned I’m sure Aberdeen folk have been collecting clothes and goods to send to the migrants. Many of the migrants are off on holiday in France in a place called Calais.

The people behind this campaign are really too numerous to mention – but a few include Iain Richardson and Pat Ballantyne (both musicians, so probably left-wing types), The Café 52 Bothwell clan (trouble makers with form), a lady named Shelley Milne, ACT Aberdeen, The drama school and its students (obviously left wing). Clearly Katie Hopkins still has her work cut out for her.

If you want to give, there is still time – just of course to get on the band wagon and not because you actually care about these migrants, mind. Details of remaining collections here and here.

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Aug 072015

With thanks to With thanks to Lee Robb, Caseworker to Christian Allard MSP.

Christian Allard MSP at Holyrood2French-born MSP, Christian Allard (North-East Scotland), has submitted a motion calling for politicians and media commentators alike to “watch their language” with regards to referring to the situation in Calais and the people involved.

The call comes in response to recent coverage of the refugee situation in Calais.

Mr Allard has expressed his disappointment towards the derogatory terms used to refer to what he describes as “desperate people in desperate need of a new life”.

Commenting, Christian Allard said:

“We have a UK Government that callously responds to desperate people who are desperately seeking a new start in life by calling for higher security fences and more police dogs. David Cameron does not recognise that the people he is neglecting are human beings.

“I am disgusted by the response of the UK Government so far. Not only does the UK fall far short of meeting its quota on refugees, but its government reacts in such a manner of contempt.”

In response to the increased attempts of refugees to cross the Mediterranean, proposals from the European Union was that member-states would increase their asylum seeker quotas to 40,000 – a proposal that the UK Government has dismissed.

In 2014, the UK had 31,000 refugees applying for asylum. In contrast, France had 62,000 applicants, and Germany had 202,000.

Mr. Allard added:

“This negative attitude is reflected in the language used when referring to these refugees. They are not migrants; they are refugees fleeing their homeland. Many of them are from Syria – the alternative is to stay in a country that UK allies are bombing.

“To hear a Prime Minister refer to these people as a ‘swarm’ was totally unacceptable. The derogatory rhetoric from some government officials and media channels alike has got to stop. That is why I submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament calling for those commenting to watch their language.”


David Cameron remarks:
EU proposals: theguardian-40000-asylum-seekers-migration-quota-syria-uk
Europa asylum statitstics:

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May 012014

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryTally Ho and please excuse the late running of this service. Among other things, I’ve been up to Gardenstown to look into the operations of USAN’s company, Scottish Wild Smoked Salmon.

There is a video of them having an interesting little chat with one man from Sea Shepherd; clearly there are some colourful vocabulary words in that video being used by the men with guns which sadly are not  suitable for definition here.

Anyway, USAN’s people want to shoot seals from private land, and the landowner isn’t having it.

For some reason, not all of the locals and the tourists are that pleased to see men in high viz running around with rifles slung over their shoulders cursing at their opponents.

Salmon stocks are considerably down in some rivers; farmed salmon live in incredibly cramped, cruel conditions (with sea lice painfully biting through their skin to the bone), and seals are on a downward population curve as well. Let’s therefore catch all the salmon we can, blast the seals through the head with shotguns, and make money selling smoked salmon to Norway and China.

That’s the entrepreneurial spirit we’re all so proud of. And I wouldn’t worry – we will always have massive fish stocks, and quotas are wholly unnecessary. The only problem is that we also have people who, for whatever reason, want to visit Scotland to look at the seals, birds, fish and cetaceans. These people spend in the region of £65 million pounds ever year.

Many of these people are from the UK. Why they can’t just stay home and watch a wildlife programme on television like everyone else is a mystery. But apparently walking around in non-polluted air, getting exercise and a little sunlight are good for health. Who’d have thought it?

Clearly, few people in Aberdeen City planning think green spaces have any worth; our green spaces are being eroded. New homes are springing up in fields (like the wildflowers and mushrooms that used to); at least they’re all extremely tasteful, unique, and profitable to the builders. Brownfield waste ground is, er, going to waste.

Thankfully we’re going to tear down one of Torry’s remaining granite gems, Victoria Road School. With luck, we’ll get an office building with a glass façade. If you wanted to visit Loirston Loch before all the land around it is built up, get in there quick. How the wildlife, especially migrating birds, will manage is another matter.

And yes, there are tourists who actually come here to Aberdeen to look at wildlife. For now, anyway.

In Tullos, the city has given back the parking area that used to service Tullos Hill. It had been gifted to the city – but we took such bad care of it it’s been clawed back by the public sector.

We were unable to stop travelling people from trashing the area and so we closed the parking off rather than guarding it properly. It fell apart. So rather than having a welcoming visitor parking area for Tullos Hill, we will now have private parking (and we lose one path to the hill as well). I’m sure there were many public consultations widely publicised, but funny, I just didn’t see them.

I’m likely to get an asthma attack now that I’ve suddenly developed asthma

Between new offices and homes by Loirston Loch and new offices in Altens, I predict there may be one or two more cars on Wellington Road. The planners seem to think we’ve little to worry about in terms of pollution – or they’d not have given this the green light. For some reason, Aberdeen has some of the worst air pollution in Scotland.

Could there be a link between air pollution, hundreds of cars and decreasing green spaces?

I wouldn’t worry about it. I can’t actually – or I’m likely to get an asthma attack now that I’ve suddenly developed asthma. UK deaths with a connection to air pollution should not be a consideration when we have offices to build and roads to create. In fact, we’re only talking about 28,000 air pollution-related deaths a year.

But back to more positive stuff. The Palma Violets were amazing in The Tunnels; I wish I could show you my photos, but they’ve disappeared into the either when I tried to transfer them. Then again, when the band started, it was hard enough not to get trampled let alone take good pics; respect to the photographers who manage it. The crowd was wild.

A slightly more restrained crowd greeted The Temperance Movement in The Lemon Tree on the 26th April. This is my favourite up and coming band; the place was packed, and everyone sang along to all the songs (more on this later).

But my real brush with a superstar came this past Monday; I was selected to join a teleconference with…. David Cameron! Well, me and a thousand other people. I may never wash my phone ear again. I’d hate anyone to be jealous; I’d equally hate anyone to think I’m a cynic. However, if it was 100% live, then Cameron did very well indeed.

His opening remarks on this Europe-themed chat were perfectly spoken and very well timed and phrased. The questions when I was still on the call were, would you believe it, all very sympathetic to the Conservatives. It looks like we’re being promised a referendum on whether or not to stay in the EU. But fear not, it’s years away.

One of the questioners asked how we stop benefit scroungers coming from Europe. Perhaps I missed something, but I don’t recall Cameron objecting to the phrase ‘benefit scroungers’.

the news seems dominated by people and organisations in power who know what’s best for us

We can’t have people coming over here and asking for money. This is a capitalist country. You have to first have lots of money, then avoid paying tax on it by sending it offshore. This is good for the banks. Well, the food banks anyway.

While these hoards of Euro benefit scroungers are coming here, the likes of Bernie Ecclestone managed to avoid over one billion pounds in tax according to the BBC. Somehow, they never got round to letting me ask a question. As thrilling as this call was, I was too heartbroken realising I’d not speak to DC myself, so I rang off.  That, and it was time for a beer.

This past week (and longer), the news seems dominated by people and organisations in power who know what’s best for us and want to set the collective moral compass to point where they say it should.

Farage and his crew know that god disapproves of gays. Alex Salmond thinks we should admire Putin (also not known for being fond of gays). Alas! Even BrewDog has come under fire for setting a bad example. So who are these bastions of what’s morality? Here are a few definitions to help.

The Portman Group: (Modern English Noun)
Self appointed alcohol regulatory body formed by private drinks companies.

BrewDog are in the doghouse; they’ve had a letter from The Portman Group telling them to be good dogs.  BrewDog however did not roll over, and sent a slightly scathing reply, telling Portman to clear off (although BrewDog’s language was a bit more colourful).

So, what is The Portman Group?  According to their website, it :-

“…was established in 1989 by the UK’s leading alcohol producers. Its role was to promote responsible drinking; to help prevent alcohol misuse; and to foster a balanced understanding of alcohol-related issues. The name derives from the fact that the early meetings to launch the organisation took place at the Guinness offices in Portman Square, London.

“In 1996, the Portman Group took on the additional role of encouraging responsible marketing when, in response to fierce criticism of ‘alcopops’, it launched its Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Merchandising of Alcoholic Drinks.

“The Code has since been expanded to cover other forms of promotion, including websites, sponsorship, branded merchandise and sampling, and is widely credited with raising standards of marketing responsibility across the industry.”

I do just have one question. If the group exists in part to raise ‘standards of marketing responsibility’ Old Susannah wonders where the Portman Group was when Diageo tried to steal an award from BrewDog at a ceremony by fixing the result? Perhaps they are concerned with raising only some companies’ standards.

Oddly, this private group’s lofty moral goals haven’t really hit its members very much. The Portman Group started in the Guinness offices, but beer was not all that was brewing. How very fitting that concurrent with TPG’s birth, a Guinness-related massive fraud scandal came to light.

Who can doubt the moral authority of the police?

Its details are colourful, and about as clear as a glass of the Liffey water itself. For one thing, Ernest Saunders, one of the defendants, managed to become the only person in history to have managed to recover from Alzheimer’s.

He was given a reduced sentence because of his reduced mental capacity. Once freed, his mind sprang back to sufficient condition to be able to run businesses. Isn’t it amazing what kind of cures money can buy?

I’m sure TPG isn’t remotely worried by the antics of the country’s fastest-growing beverage company, and this current threat by letter to Martin and James is not an attempt to derail an amazingly successful marketing campaign which can’t be helping TPG’s own member companies. It’s just that The Portman Group want everyone to be as moral as their own members are. Cheers.

Stop and Search Powers: (Modern English compound noun) – rights granted to police to stop and search anyone they choose.

Who can doubt the moral authority of the police? Who can question that? (Well perhaps the Guildford 4, the Birmingham 6, the plebgate politician, George Copeland, the Stephen Lawrence family…). The bad news is that the ConDems are going to possibly curtail (to a degree) the rights of the police to stop and search anyone they choose.

Part of the reason we’re so safe now is that the police can detain anyone they like. This is what keeps our streets free of crime.

There may be a tiny discrepancy in the kind of people who get ‘randomly’ searched – most belong to ethnic minorities. It’s almost as if there were institutionalised racism endemic in the police (or so former officer Gurpal Virdi might think – he was accused of sending out racist messages from his computer, usually when he wasn’t even around).

This spurious charge of institutionalised racism is just about one year old, so I’m sure it’s all been cleared up by now.

Teresa May, darling of the front benches, says that about 27% of the police searches made under stop and search laws were potentially illegal. If the figure is really only that low, perhaps we should just let them get on with it. It’s not as if the police are arbitrarily flexing their muscles and intimidating people, is it?

I’m afraid that’s all the morality I can stand at the moment, or I’d have defined some terms on Tony Blair, UKIP, and so on. Let’s all try to remember to learn from our betters, and be moral, upstanding citizens. If you can’t do that, then just try and avoid random stop and searches.

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