Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why I cannot find humour in Trump’s victory

I can understand why a lot of people want to use humour to deal with Trump’s win. It helps us to rationalise something that feels incomprehensible to any liberal. And yet I find the humour profoundly uncomfortable and cannot bring myself to see the funny side.

As with Brexit, racist abuse is already on the rise in the US, along with homophobia, Islamaphobia and sexism. There have already been violent attacks both here in the UK and in the US. These attitudes towards others is becoming normalised in our society.

Trump Nazi Salue

People angry at being left behind have been told for decades that it is fault of “the other”, with no evidence to back up this easy explanation. They now feel emboldened to openly voice and enact their misogyny, homophobia, racism, hatred & bigotry.

Nigel Farage feels free to call Barack Obama a loathsome “creature”, and to suggest that Donald Trump “should schmooze May but not touch her”.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamaphobia is now regularly voiced in public, radio and TV without being challenged. They are claimed to be legitimate grievances and dressed up as religious freedoms, concerns about immigration and support for family values. There is nothing legitimate about these attacks because they are baseless.

Many have been left behind in this recession, but they have been left behind by white, wealthy, middle aged, heterosexual men. Men like David Cameron, Tony Blair and George Osborn. White, wealthy, middle aged, heterosexual men like Donald Trump and Nigel Farage.

So I’m in no mood for humour. I am now an angry black man. I am now an angry feminist. I have a right to be angry. Hugely angry. I am in no mood to reconcile, be patient or unite with sexist, racist, homophobic bigots like Farage, Trump, Le Pen and their ignorant followers.

I have nothing in common with them, I find no humour in their ascendancy and am profoundly angry at the deceit, lies and self interest that led to their rise.

First hustings at D&A College in Arbroath a great success

I was delighted to be invited to the first General Election hustings hosted by Dundee & Angus College’s Arbroath Campus. The hustings, organised by students, took place on Wednesday at the Keptie Street Campus. I took the opportunity to meet with students on the Introduction to Construction course.

It was an excellent first hustings for the election campaign, with great chairing by Student President, Marc Winsland. It was also a real pleasure to meet the students on the Introduction to Construction course.

Sanjay visiting D&A College

Questions focussed on the job opportunities for young people, the impact of welfare changes, the lack of affordable housing and low pay. In addition there was a frank discussion about Further Education funding.

During the debate, I discussed the Lib Dem’s record in Government, delivering on our front page manifesto pledges from the 2010 election. We discussed the 1 million jobs created by the coalition, along with 2 million apprenticeships. To tackle low pay, we can point to the record increase in the minimum wage announced on Tuesday.

Lib Dems promised a £700 tax cut every year for workers. In today’s budget we announced that we have over-delivered, with a £900 tax cut every year from next April. I also pointed to our record on house building across the rest of the UK, with 190,000 additional affordable homes built.

I expressed disappointment that the Lib Dems have not been able to do more in blocking the Tories’ idealogical attacks on Welfare and Benefits. I called on the two main parties to end their rhetoric of treating those on benefits as being burdens on our society. Only then can we change the target culture in Job Centres which is leading to deeply unfair sanctions.

On Further Education funding, it was clear to everyone in the room that SNP could not lay the blame for massive cuts in College places and bursary funding on Westminster. The SNP Government have prioritised Universities at the expense of Further Education funding.

Colleges provide keys skills that Angus students need to get the jobs being created across the whole country. Skills that our local businesses desperately need to thrive. Colleges form a crucial part of the economy and education for Angus and Scotland.

That is why the Scottish Lib Dems have placed guaranteed education funding from nursery to College on the front page of our 2015 manifesto. As we demonstrated with the front page of the 2010 manifesto, the Lib Dems can be relied on to deliver on our headline commitments in government.

Referendum Campaign hits new low point

I was deeply disappointed to read today that Jim Murphy MP has decided to suspend his tour of Scottish Towns to take the Better Together message across Scotland.

Reading in The Courier that over the last few days Jim Murphy has received abuse from Yes campaigners in Glasgow, Dundee, Montrose and elsewhere, culminating in the egg throwing in Kirkcaldy has been very troubling.

Supporters of a stronger Scotland within the UK have been attacked viciously online by the CyberNats for a long, long time. The treatment of JK Rowling in particular has been disgusting. With the online abuse, we can at least keep it at arms length and step away from it.

However that nastiness is now being targeted at campaigners in public, with Jim Murphy, Gordon Brown and Willie Rennie all being abused by Yes supporters.

The Yes campaign has repeatedly moaned about bullying when supporters of the UK have simply expressed their opinions. They should have a hard long look a themselves to understand what bullying really is.

We have seen campaigners forced off the street and not allowed to have their say. We have been branded as traitors and second class Scots, which Angus Cllr Bill Duff still refuses to apologise for. We now hear that 100’s of companies are too scared to voice their opinion in case of recriminations from the SNP government.

The people of Scotland deserved a civilised debate that allowed everyone to have their say without intimidation, but many voters are now too scared to admit they are voting No.

Supporters of the Yes campaign have brought the whole debate to a new low this week. It is time they respected that others have a different view and have a right to express themselves without a barrage of abuse being thrown at them.

With less than 3 weeks left, I worry that the abuse will get a lot worse before the referendum is over.

Angus Voters deserve better from Labour’s selection process

The letter below was published in The Courier on Friday, 4th July, which you can find online by clicking here.

Dear Sir,
I was very disappointed to hear your report about the behaviour of Kathy Wiles, Labour’s candidate for Angus for the General Election next year.  Comparing the children of Yes Scotland campaigners to Hitler Youth and calling for Jeremy Clarkson to be shot are unacceptable.  It is welcome that she has resigned as candidate and apologised for her comments.
Angus Labour and the Scottish Labour Party need to be open about how Kathy Wiles was selected as their Westminster candidate, what vetting process was in place and whether they had made even some basic checks on her opinions and behaviour.  It seems they have had little regard or respect for Angus voters by selecting someone with such nasty views.
We have seen similar actions by the notorious CyberNats, such as the horrendous treatment of J K Rowling since her decision to back the Better Together Campaign and the heckling down of Willie Rennie MSP at a debate in Dunfermline.
The tone of the Independence debate has plunged in recent weeks.  Both Better Together and Yes Scotland should strongly condemn any personal attacks on supporters of the other side of the debate.  Angus and Mearns Lib Dems have maintained a positive, friendly approach to the debate throughout.
It is time we stopped the nastiness towards our neighbours and accept that we are all trying to find what is best for Scotland.  We may have a big difference of opinion on whether that is to stand united or split up our family, but we are all striving for the best outcome.
Angus voters deserve a better level of debate from both sides of the Independence debate and they deserve Westminster candidates who will respect all sides of the political debate.
Sanjay Samani

Ed Milliband risks being linked with deficit deniers

The Economist has a blog post about the timing of Ed Milliband’s speech to the March 26 rally.  Whilst there is an interesting analysis of why Mr Milliband spoke so early, far more interesting is 3 paragraphs that neatly sum up the range of opinion about how and when to get the public finances back under control:

I think Mr Miliband’s problem boils down to this. Most people in this country, including a lot of people I met on the march today, think that Britain faces a period of painful decisions and choices, because the country has been spending too much. Within that majority, there are people who are (for variously selfless and selfish reasons) attracted to a Keynesian argument that deep, front-loaded cuts are counter-productive, and so some painful decisions should be postponed. That is an intellectually respectable argument: this newspaper does not agree with it, but there are people of goodwill on both sides of the debate.

Then there is a hard core of people who simply do not accept that the money has run out. These flat-earthers think that there need not be any cuts, because if you only taxed the banks/bankers/multinationals/tax avoiders/the rich a lot more, you would unearth a hidden money pot filled with so many billions that we could keep spending as before. I don’t think Mr Miliband agrees with them. I don’t think most voters in Britain agree with them. I don’t think even most of the marchers in Hyde Park agree with that hard core.

But that hard core has a firm grip on Labour’s base, as could be seen on Friday in Nottingham. And Mr Miliband, by endorsing the wider anti-cuts movement, risks becoming associated with that hard core and their breathtaking lack of realism. He said again in Hyde Park that he was proud to be addressing the “mainstream majority”. But he did not look proud: his nerves gave him away. “It is so important that this be a peaceful protest,” he said at one point, almost pleadingly. The crowd seemed pretty indifferent to his presence, in return.

Read the blog post “Ed Milliband shunted off television news by anarchists” at The Economist website by clicking here.

Brechin Town Centre Regeneration Fund Meeting hijacked by politics

I attended the public meeting at the Mechanics Hall in Brechin to discuss the Town Centre Regeneration Fund project.

I would like to thank Jim Milne for chairing the meeting and Angus Council for organising it, in the hope of giving Brechin residents the opportunity to hear the background and delivery of the project and to raise their concerns.

I was disappointed that so few local residents got the opportunity to air their views.  With Councillors from all around Angus, MSPs and political party activists turning the event into a political circus.

I attended with a view to listening to the views of local people, and hoping to discover what lessons could be learnt.  My fellow candidates for Angus North and Mearns in the upcoming Scottish Elections, Nigel Don and Alex Johnstone, came to be heard, not listen.  Their questions demonstrated either their lack of knowledge of the project, or willful aim at political point scoring.  In particular Mr Johnstone suggested that a Compulsory Purchase Order could have been used when he knows full well that would never have been possible.

It is not surprising that politicians get a bad name, given that point scoring was more important for many who attended, rather than establishing the facts and learning lessons.

It would appear that the SNP in Angus, faced with justifying the SNP Government’s decision to withdraw funding promised to Brechin, have decided that offence is the best defence.  They have tried to throw mud at Angus Council’s handling of the project, which from my 15 years experience as a Project Manager, has been excellent.

In particular I was very disappointed at the deeply personal attacks made on Council officers who have clearly worked extremely hard to bring £1m of investment into Brechin and are clearly deeply personally disappointed at not having been able to secure the remaining £800,000 from the Scottish Government.

I was well aware of the issues in advance of the meeting and was very impressed with the council officers as they presented the facts, and it was very clear to me that they could not have done more to reach a satisfactory conclusion with the property owners involved.  The reality was that they were undone twice by property owners who broke their promises to sell to Angus Council.

Furthermore, it appears that all Councillors had the opportunity to raise their concerns throughout the period of the project, at various meetings both in Forfar and in Brechin, but did not do so.  As was said last night, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and all councillors, as well as those involved in the Brechin Town Heritage Initiative and the Brechin Area Partnership were given regular updates, as well as given the chance to ask questions and make suggestions.

Let us welcome the £1m of investment in Brechin, along with the private investment in the old Woolworths, and learn lessons for the future, rather than take every opportunity to turn Brechin’s economic circumstances into a political football.