We are all in the grips of election fever. And I don’t mean that in a good way. The fever I have felt over the last weeks is as nothing compared to the national fever we are sweating through. The Tories are on the rise as surely as the midgies are soon to be back among us after a warmish winter. The sting will be felt long beyond summer I fear. The North East has returned more Tories than SNP to the local council, and Turriff played its own part in that shameful scenario. By next month I hate to think what there may be to report on the Westminster front.
Why do we not learn from the past I wonder? I turn, as always, to the printed word for answers (and yes, at times for escape). Leatham says even a hundred years ago ‘The present generation is not as much moved by the printed word’ and it becomes an act of rebellion to actually sit and read long form fiction or non-fiction these days. But that’s what we’re offering you at Gateway – a chance to explore and discover – to form and reconfirm opinion and to see the world from other perspectives than those pumped out constantly on national and social media.
This month in Gateway we have the final part of Sandy Cran, Leatham’s biography of a weel kent Turra loon. Despite being an old school Tory (aye, they were well in evidence in these parts a hundred years ago too) he was the sort of guy you would love to meet – reminding me that we must all rub along together somehow. It’s Tory politics and capitalism that I rail against, and we must see the best in all folk I’m sure. It’s hard when you see the country you love under siege from an onslaught of right wing opportunism and as Scots a sense of déjà vu seems inevitable.
However, find what you can as crumbs of comfort and perhaps even amusement in this month’s Gateway. In ‘What’s Wrong with Sleepy Hollows?’ Leatham addresses what’s wrong with Scotland – and has a dig at J.M.Barrie for leaving – but we offer a tribute to J.M.Barrie by offering a short sketch from his An Edinburgh Eleven and the Orraman offers a Restoration tribute. In Sandy Cran there’s some humour of a potato variety and right now I think we must look for good humour wherever we can find it. It may be in short supply in the months to follow. Brexit will be bad enough. Five more years of Tory rule will test us to the core. Remember Thatcher? Think on that as you go to vote. Think about the country you want to live in, the values you believe in, and be afraid, be very afraid of what is to come. This is the price for not taking our destiny into our own hands.
I would be rich if I was paid a pound for all the folk I hear say they will leave if things don’t turn out right. In that respect I’m with Leatham when he says ‘Scotland herself is sick and bleeding to death, and the first duty of patriotic citizens is to stay at home in it, and try to set the house in order.’ That’s the only crumb of comfort I will gain should the worst happens and the SNP get whipped by the Tories on June 8th – that more of our good folk will come back from Westminster and be able to work in Scotland itself. They should not come back tail between their legs but with pride that they can now contribute to our own nation, from within, rather than being subjected to the ‘Mother of All Parliaments’. Scotland may still have ‘sleepy Hollows’ and many of them may be Tory, but that only changes when more forward thinking, progressive folk commit to make things better in the Sleepy Hollows themselves rather than heading off for the bright lights and becoming part of the problem not part of the solution. Next month, in part Two of Sleepy Hollows Leatham will offer some more interesting and informative points on our country as it was in the late 1920s. It is up to us to make it a better place for the 2020s. And the first part of that is to vote - a heavy and hard won responsibility we must not shirk. As Leatham said in his autobiography ’60 Years of World-Mending’ ‘if you want to escape being badly governed, you must take a hand in the business yourself.’
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