Author Archives: burdzeyeview

Free to good homes: Glasgow 2014 tickets

Well, they didn’t open up a return and resale so here we are, sitting with tickets we cannot physically use and no way of giving them back.

So I’m happy to give them to you.  And yes they are free to good homes, though as the parents are pensioners these days, if you can afford to pay the face value for them, then your conscience probably dictates that you should.

But I’d really rather they went to folk who couldn’t afford to go otherwise. And the only people who will know you’ve asked for them is us, will be kept under wraps by me so please don’t feel you cannot apply for them. I’d be delighted if they go to families who really wouldn’t be going otherwise.

It’s a first come first served basis.  The only difficulty might be is that they are a funny mix – there are three concessions and only one adult.  There doesn’t seem to be a difference on the ticket between “seniors” and “children” – they cost the same – so anyone qualifying for a concession could take them.  Happy to split them up eg if a lone parent with two children or grandparents want to take a grandchild etc.

So here they are:

Monday 28 July:

Four tickets for Gymnastics in the SECC Hydro for the evening session 7pm to 9.30pm.  It’s team competition and individuals qualifying so should be good.  Three concessions, one adult.

Tuesday 29 July:

Four tickets for Badminton at the Emirates arena from 9am to 3pm. Three concessions, one adult.

Four tickets for Wrestling at the SECC from 10am to 2.30pm.  Three concessions, one adult.

Eight tickets for Table Tennis at the Scotstoun Sports Campus from 4pm to 9pm.  That’s six concessions and two adults.

If anyone would like them or just more info, please email me at I have the tickets and can post them out.  Happy for anyone from a charity working with families who might benefit to get in touch (if they don’t all go by Tuesday, I’ll be contacting the one I work for to offer them up). Happy to cover postage costs too.

Just to reiterate, this is not about making money or even our money back (though see above) it’s about making sure as many seats are filled as possible, enabling families who might not otherwise get to go and experience the Commonwealth Games on their doorstep and to ensure our Games are a huge success.

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who retweeted and shared this blog post.  All the tickets are now gone.  The majority are going to Arden community youth project in the East End of Glasgow, so some of the children for whom these Games are supposed to provide a legacy, get to go.  It’s a shame the Games organisers didn’t think to give them free access, for I can think of no better home for my tickets.

Women are wending their way to Yes

You’ll forgive me for having more than a passing interest in how women are going to vote in the referendum.  In the last two years, there has been a concerted effort – largely by women and largely by women from both Yes and No sides – to ensure women’s voices are heard in the debate.  You might wonder that we really are in the 21st Century but women have had to fight, call out and argue for their right to be represented in media discussions and speaker panels in the referendum debate.  But we are winning, even if falling somewhat short of equal representation.  Apparently, one women’s voice will always do, while often two or more of men’s is considered requisite.

Carolyn Leckie’s inspired idea to create a space for women who support independence in which they could engage with other like-minded women has borne remarkable fruit. The aim was not to create an echo chamber but a safe space which operated differently from traditional party and campaign structures, in which women could gather and importantly, invite other women to participate in. The focus throughout has been on listening to other women and giving them a space of their own in which to explore their thoughts and concerns on the referendum debate.  But let’s be honest, the point of what Carolyn and the other founding members of Women for Independence (of which I was one) created was also to enable and encourage more women in Scotland to vote Yes. 

That it has worked suggests that it was sorely needed. Because of Women for Independence, there are women involved in this debate, campaigning, speaking out, engaging and still listening to other women’s voice who have “never done this kind of thing before”. Women for Independence now has 1,200 individual members from all over Scotland, with over 40 local groups ranged all over the country.

And while our focus is on the campaign to win independence for Scotland for the next nine weeks, we won’t be going away on 19 September. The work will continue – hopefully with women from all parties and none, and from both sides of the constitutional debate – to ensure women’s rights and equality feature high up the agenda in post-referendum Scotland. Yup, that’s a threat and a promise.

Increasingly, Women for Independence is attracting women who did not start out voting yes. They have travelled to the conclusion that women in Scotland will be better off with independence either through a long and dissatisfying journey with the Labour party or over the arid landscape of two years of constitutional debate. Some of them started as No voters, most as undecideds. 

But don’t just take my word for it, look at the polls. 

Frankly, during this campaign, the polls have been all over the place. The differential in voting intentions being recorded by different pollsters and across polling periods is often so volatile that the only safe conclusion is “eh?”

There have been a lot of polls and very little can be said about them that tells us definitively what on earth is going on in the minds and intentions of the Scottish people. Though John Curtice does his best.

James Kelly at Scot Goes Pop! has done a sterling job, not only in keeping up with polling activity, but also in providing essential analysis. In particular, he’s tried to get to the crux of why the polls are still showing big leads for no when any of us out on the doorsteps know it’s a lot less clearcut than they suggest.

Looking only at ICM’s polling results in 2014 (from the surveys run for the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday), two tentative conclusions can be reached.

ICM poll table 2014

First, the longer the debate continues and the more information they have, the less men seem to know.  Wasn’t it always thus?

ICM’s polling suggests that the closer we get to Referendum day, men are being pulled away from a previous yes voting intention and increasingly, don’t know how they will vote. The fact that they do appear to be moving to undecided means there is still hope: one in five of men’s votes is still up for grabs. Why anyone thinks excluding the don’t knows at this stage is a good idea is beyond me.  Every second voter I canvass is a genuine undecided either because they cannot make up their mind or simply haven’t thought about it.  Read that last bit again, Yes and No stalwarts, and weep.

Second, women are largely where they started the year, having been on a bit of a journey in the last few months. Having reached a low point of support for independence in May, women do now seem to be moving towards a yes vote.  And there are still plenty who have yet to make up their minds. ICM suggests that when they do, they are largely deciding to vote yes. Again, these undecideds are still genuinely undecided for the reasons outlined above. Few can be categorised as not voting because most I meet absolutely intend to do so. Once they’ve had a chance to think about it and get hold of information because they’ve not had anything much, is a frequent refrain. (Note to Yes and No folk – try harder!)

There are many factors at play, of course. But the visibility of a campaign working so enthusiastically at the grassroots to encourage more women to vote yes, will have made a contribution. When women who support independence get the chance to expound the benefits of independence to other, undecided women – benefits for themselves, their families, their communities and the country’s future – those messages resonate.

Moreover, the issues matter. Women have been most affected by Westminster’s cuts. They are concerned about the future of the welfare state and NHS in Scotland as they see the privatisation of the NHS South of the border. More and more women are realizing that only independence guarantees a fairer and more prosperous future for them and their families.

Last week, I met a woman in her thirties, who despite the draw of a warm, balmy summer evening, sat on a hard seat in a village hall for two hours and listened. I watched her throughout and she was listening hard to everything that was being said: her attention did not waver, not even for a minute. I spoke to her at the end and asked her why she had come.

With tears shining in her eyes, she replied that she wanted to make sure she was making the best choice for her children’s future. That how she voted really mattered and she wanted to make sure she got it right. She did not want her children to be denied a better future because she got her vote wrong. She has been undecided throughout, swinging from undecided to yes, back again and over to no, before landing up firmly back on the fence for the last month or so. Since then, she has immersed herself in the debate, in gathering and reading information, on turning out to meetings like the one I met her at, because she absolutely wants to make sure she is doing the right thing by her children. 

She’s finally made up her mind.  She’s voting yes.


Guest post: An American explains.. I became a UK citizen to vote Yes

To mark American Independence Day, I’m posting an article from a friend and colleague, Dr Jonathan Sher. The article originally appeared in the Herald which has another great piece from him today. His is a lovely journey to yes and one that makes me smile, at the extraordinary lengths Jonathan has gone to, to participate in our referendum in September.

Americans have form on the issue of declaring independence from the “powers that be” in London.

Despite this, it is not surprising that America’s leaders support the status quo in the UK. They are content with Washington’s dominance of the “special relationship”. Scotland’s best interests are not their priority.

But they have become mine.

While I voted for President Obama, I am going to cast my vote for Scottish independence. In fact, I have become a British citizen to vote Yes. The journey to this decision has surprised even me.

When I moved to Scotland in 2005, I was undecided. Each side has valid points and arguments. I was, and remain, deeply distrustful of nationalism. It has often been used to excuse the inexcusable: racism, xenophobia, dictatorships and violence. However, such abhorrent nationalism has been conspicuously absent among mainstream Yes supporters. Originally, I thought Scottish devolution would transform into a federal UK. Understanding how deeply entrenched the UK’s power and money are in London, this outcome no longer seems feasible.

So, what led to me withdrawing £900 from my (meagre) savings to become one of the millions of Scots with the privilege of voting in September’s referendum?

First, it matters to me that Scottish votes and voices make a difference in what our government does (and does not do) to, for and with us. Secondly, the direction of travel within Scotland towards a more Nordic, egalitarian society has much more appeal than England’s rightward drift toward the American model of inequality with which I am all too familiar.

Scotland’s long-standing inclination towards fairness and progressive politics is part of what attracted me here. For example, Scotland is explicitly beginning to include children’s rights in legislation, policy and practice. That speaks powerfully to me since America is one of only two countries (along with Somalia) rejecting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Our Children’s Hearings are not perfect but this distinctive Scottish system remains a far better model than the alternatives south of the Border or in the US. Similarly, Scotland’s current determination to improve the NHS, rather than dismantle it, makes good sense.

The impulse toward self-determination is strong everywhere but Scotland has the rare opportunity, with Westminster’s agreement, to achieve a democratic ideal through a fair, non-violent voting process.

Enjoying true self-determination and becoming an increasingly progressive society seem an unlikely outcome if Scotland remains within the UK. Westminster has long bowed reflexively in favour of Washington’s wishes and keeps moving toward a more American society, even when doing so clashes with Scotland’s preferences and interests.

America has numerous wonderful qualities but it is not the model to which Scotland should aspire. Voting Yes opens the door for us to make a different set of choices than Westminster (or Washington) are likely to choose for us. It will enable Scotland consciously and confidently to travel in a fairer, more compassionate and positive direction. The referendum is our opportunity to show the world that we can, and will, turn our inspirational egalitarian rhetoric into reality so that this country can become “the best place to grow up in”.

We can awaken on September 19 to the hard but wonderful work of building an ever-better Scotland. On that happy day, we should take Margo Macdonald’s advice to heart and, with the eyes of the world upon us, put aside the passions of the referendum and act co-operatively to enhance all that unites us as Scots.

Of course, there are uncertainties. But we should remember that America started with a Declaration of Independence, not a guaranteed-to-succeed business plan.

Similarly, Dr Martin Luther King rallied the world with “I have a dream”, not “I have a blueprint”. These are the American precedents that have, to my surprise, ‘Yanked’ me into voting Yes.

Dr Sher is Scotland director of WAVE Trust. He writes in a personal capacity.


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