I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Friday, October 7, 2016


Watching the news this week has been a thoroughly depressing pastime. Aleppo of course has been the hardest watch and those wrecked streets seem destined to remain the hardest watch for months and years to come. I guess Haiti was next on the dismal list. It seems the place where sticking pins in people was invented has become a pin cushion for the gods who have thrown another vast natural catastrophe at a bunch of flimsy cardboard shacks.

And then of course we were served up the nauseous pictures of the collective Tory faithful indulging in a kind of mass orgasm at the prospect of so called 'Hard Brexit'

I only saw the headlines of most of it. A few commentators found it to be the nearest thing they had seen to a Politbureau jamboree since the Berlin Wall came down. Dreary speeches delivered badly by dreary men in dreary suits were cheered to the rafters for the hate they contained. Hi Ho Silver, we're all about to saddle up and head back to the sunlit days of the 1950's when we still had an Empire and plenty of perfectly formed public school types were all properly fired up to give the uppity wogs a good and proper bashing.

There was something horribly grotesque about it all. Pavlov's dog was barking its little head off. You say the word immigrant and you add something nasty and the floor will dutifully cheer and get all tearful at the prospect of the return of the British Empire. These were a bunch of people all primed and raring to re-shoulder the 'White Man's Burden' and ride out of Portsmouth Sound in a shiny new fleet of gunboats.

And of course the media jumped up and down in glee like a bunch of freckled cheerleaders from small town Iowa. For there was no more talk of economic sanity to be heard this week. Such nonsense was consigned to a great British dustbin. Who needs factories and jobs when you have the chance to kick out Johnny Foreigner and never, ever allow him in back in again.

What is truly scary is how this vicious bile seems to have become universally accepted. Apparently it is now the settled will of the British people to be xenophobic bastards. The greatest democratic act in our tawdry history deemed it to be so. Well, didn't it?

This week feels like the end of debate. Anyone who has the gall to speak up for the idea of hanging onto the only half way decent market we have is screamed at for being a democracy denying member of the Metropolitan liberal elite. Shut your face you Latte sipping privileged bastard. The poor people of Britain have cast their votes for seeping racism and my God we are going to deliver it.

With both barrels.

Usually when a Government is about to embark on such a suicidally idiotic course there is at least a degree of dissent from the media. Well it ain't so this time. Instead almost to a man and woman they are gushing at the dawn of the Hard Brexit dream. They are painting pictures of Theresa May as some kind of Wonder Womanish amalgam of Boudicea, Maggie Thatcher, Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc. Well. Not Joan of Arc. She was French. Come to think of it Mother Teresa was even worse. Oh yeah, half Albanian I'm afraid. Dear oh dear. Well we'll certainly keep the likes of her out in the future. 

Well it seems we now have our very own Mother Theresa and she is about to take us all to the promised land the good folk of Hartlepool and Merthyr Tydfil voted for in their droves. It's called foreigner free grinding poverty.

In the midst of all this rampant propaganda, the occasional snippet of reality raises a rather embarrassed head over the parapet.

Amazingly enough I know a bit about what currency fluctuations look like. Way back when, it was my job to buy all the commodities our family business needed to make 120,000 tonnes of cattle feed a year. When the pound fell in value, the price of soya would shoot up. And if the price of soya shot up, so would our prices, and farmers would call us every name under the sun. A weak pound is lousy news for anyone importing stuff. A weak pound means you have to whack up your prices and your customers hate you for it. The supermarkets are gearing up for this right now. A 10% crash in the value of sterling means a 10% price hike for groceries this winter.

On the flip side, a weak currency is manna from heaven for anyone looking to export something. For these boys, a 10% fall in the value of sterling means special offers all round for overseas customers. Maybe this is the brave new world we are hearing so much about from Boris and his merry men. Or maybe not. Because to export stuff you need to have something to export. You know. The kind of stuff you make in those places called factories. We used to have factories once upon a time until Maggie put a stop to that kind of thing. Nowadays 90% of our economy is 'service industry' where smart young Polish waitresses sell over priced coffee to pensioners who have yanked equity out of their over priced houses. Sorry buddy, you can't export that kind of thing no matter what kind of brave new world you create.

But come on. It's not like we don't make ANYTHING any more. We still make SOME stuff people want to buy. Well, don't we? Fair enough, not much. But some. Right?


Like Jaguar cars?

Sure. Like Jaguar cars. They must be having a field day right now exporting such a symbol of absolute British greatness to a world desperate buy that kind thing, especially when there is a 10% off sticker on the windscreen.

Well actually...... Well no. Not at all in fact.

Last week the boss of Jaguar made a statement which really should have stopped the Hard Brexit lads in their tracks if they had bothered to listen. He announced that sales of Jaguar cars in Europe had fallen since 23 June even though they were 10% cheaper.

But why and how?

Simple. They don't like us in Europe. They don't like the things we are saying about them. They don't like our tone. We are becoming the Apartheid South Africa of the new millennium. We're being boycotted. No wonder the cheerleaders for Hard Brexit weren't over keen on printing the thoughts of the boss of Jaguar in their papers.

But surely Her Majesty's Opposition will step up to the plate and start to convince the good people of Hartlepool and Merthyr Tydfil all foreigners are not benefit scrounging pickpockets hell bent on breaking the back of the NHS. After all, their great leader has been recast with an epic mandate. Surely the mighty Jeremy now has all the guns he needs in his armoury to take us all to the promised land.

Another snippet. And interview with Jess Philips MP. You might have heard her. Quite a character. She's a Brummie who has taken the journey from managing a women's refuge to the mother of all Parliaments.

So Jess, how was the atmosphere at the Labour Conference?

Yeah. Well …. a mate of mine from Birmingham came up for the day. When she hooked up with me I asked her how she was finding it.

I don't know what's going on here, Jess. It's weird. I've only been here three hours and I've already heard the word 'Jew' about forty times....”

Christ alive.

Here Majesty's Opposition. Aye bloody right. The world according to a Starbucks in Islington.

The most depressing thing of all is the relative silence up here in Scotland. Unlike England, we export all kinds of stuff – oil and timber and beef and whisky and salmon. And unlike England, we are popular all over the world. People like us and they want to buy our stuff, especially when it is 10% cheaper than it was a few months ago. We have the perfect opportunity to jump off this miserable sinking xenophobic ship. We just need to get on with the job of persuading people that the blindingly obvious really is blindingly obvious. We need to stop being so bloody cautious and start showing a bit of front. We need to get out while we can because who knows when another chance will come around.

One more snippet.

Last night President Hollande made a speech. He said something pretty straight forward. He said it was important that Hard Brexit should mean a world of pain for Mother Theresa and her citizens.

No great surprise about any of that. But what happened next was a surprise. All over the world the banks have developed computer programmes to read between the lines of the words of politicians. When the French President spoke, it was the middle of the night in Asia. All the human beings were asleep. But the computers were wide awake. The computers absorbed the words and considered the words and came to a conclusion.

Sell. Sell. Sell.

The value of Sterling crashed 10% in less than an hour as a bunch of Asian computers made their digital minds up about the brave new world of Hard Brexit.

Of course there was a huge panic and no doubt a few on the ball traders made a vast fortune. Human beings reversed the wisdom of the computers and the value of sterling crawled back to where it started.

It leaves us all wondering who was right? Man or machine? If I was still involved in the currency market, I would be putting my money with the machines.

We really, really need to get ourselves off this miserable sinking ship. 

1 comment:

  1. Jeez, Mark. Not looking good, is it. Hopefully some signs of hope are emerging from the SNP conference. Pretty hard to argue any kind of positive case for the union after last week.