Raymond Soltysek's Blog

Scottish Review: “The subtext of the jubilee is a celebration of serfdom.”

Posted in Politics, Social justice, Society by raymondsoltysek on June 8, 2012

I have a piece in today’s “The Scottish Review” prompted by the jubilee but which brings together a few threads I’ve been thinking about over the last few months concerning the increasingly vociferous “let them eat cake” attitude emanating from the power elite.  All comments gratefully received, you can find the article here:

“The subtext of the jubilee is a celebration of serfdom.”

Here are the opening paragraphs to whet your appetite.

Okay, I can’t help it. I have to comment on the jubilee, not because I object to it as such – although, being a Republican, I do – but because of the story that is hitting some of the headlines that clearly indicates the ‘let them eat cake’ attitude that is dominating discourse in Britain today.
     The Guardian reported that 30 jobseekers – along with 50 others on apprentice wages – were bussed in to steward the Jubilee celebrations. Working in ridiculous conditions under London Bridge with no access to changing rooms and toilets, these people were apparently offered payment when they got on the bus. That promise was later withdrawn and became merely the possibility of employment by the firm Close Protection UK during the Olympics, coupled with the very real threat of losing benefits; the managing director, an ‘entrepreneur’ called Molly Prince, said ‘the stewards who performed unpaid work did so voluntarily because they wanted to continue to claim benefits’. Does that sound like volunteering to you?
     Of course, these ‘work experience’, ‘intern-ship’ programmes have been a running sore for the government, especially since the fall of Cameron’s buddy Emma Harrison. Apparently, her firm A4e is merely the tip of the welfare-to-work market scandal floating off the government’s bows.
     But the whole rotten core is much, much greater than that. We have seen over the last few months an increasingly virulent condescension of the poor by the entrepreneurial classes that demonstrates just how much distance lies between us and them, a gulf almost as wide as that between French peasants and Marie Antoinette herself.”

Finally, please consider becoming a sponsor and “friend” of the Review: it’s a very significant space for Scottish thought.

Scottish Review: “The ratings agencies are behaving like financial terrorists.”

Posted in Politics, Publications, Social justice by raymondsoltysek on January 17, 2012

I have  a piece on the Credit Ratings Agencies in today’s Scottish Review.    Given the catastrophic effect these bumbling, incompetent and dishonest financial players have had on sovereign governments and the lives of ordinary people over the last month, I thought it was time to update and develop a piece I blogged last year.

Why anyone believes these flim flam merchants, I’ll never know.

No – I do know.  Some people believe them because they can make a killing out of it.  And we suffer.

Scottish Review: “Why I went on strike last week. And why I’m on a loser.”

Posted in Politics, Publications, Social justice by raymondsoltysek on December 7, 2011

A version of “The anger behind the public sector pension strikes” has appeared in today’s Scottish Review under the title, “Why I went on strike last week. And why I’m on a loser.”

Find it here:  SCOTTISH REVIEW

Scottish Review: Is the civil disorder political in origin, or just hooliganism?

Posted in Politics, Publications, Society by raymondsoltysek on August 11, 2011

I have a piece in today’s Scottish Review on the civil unrest in England.

It was prompted by an interview on the “Today” programme with Boris Johnson, a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth, a man who seems to walk into any job he wants regardless of his apparent lack of qualifications to do the job, and a man who, along with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, is a former member of the Bullingdon Club, famed for acts of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage.

When Johnson, without a trace of irony, accused kids from backgrounds blighted by inner city deprivation and who have little chance of anything but the most menial employment of having an “endless sense of entitlement”, I just about choked on my cornflakes.

Thanks to the Scottish Review for publishing my thoughts on the matter.

My Great Scot is Jim Clark – who’s yours?

Posted in Society by raymondsoltysek on June 29, 2011
Jim Clark

Jim Clark

What a wheeze!  Scottish Review reports on the “Who’s Who in Scotland” opinion poll to find the greatest Scot of the last 25 years.  Lots of politicians, a few writers, a couple of musicians, no actors or sportsmen, The Review asks for nominations for your own personal choice of the Greatest Scot of the last 25 years.

I’d need to think about Great Scots since 1986 (such a bland lot, it seems, and so little history to consider), but my immediate response would be to redefine the exercise by considering the Greatest Scot in my lifetime.   A knee-jerk reaction – and I may change my mind, but I doubt it – would be for World  Formula One Racing Champion Jim Clark.  Hell, I even sent off a nomination to The Review before I realised I’d got my dates all wrong!

Dashing, handsome, quiet and apparently a real gentleman, he thrilled the world with a new form of driving that revolutionised motor sport.  And yet, he was always happiest away from the track on his Berwickshire farm, eschewing the playboy lifestyle of the Monte Carlos of the world.  He was typical of a thrawn Scottish mindset that turns up in wellies and rolled up sleeves and just damn well shows them how it’s done, then heads off back to the sticks, mission accomplished.  It’s the attitude that seemed to epitomise what Graeme Obree brought to cycling, or that prompted the Scottish rugby team to walk – shock horror, walk! – out onto the pitch at Murrayfield to stuff the English in 1990.

I now have no time for motor sport – it’s boring, it’s elitist, it’s technical – but in Clark’s day, when death was a constant companion on the track, racing drivers were the most dangerous men on the planet working in the most dangerous profession.  I still remember writing a news report on his accident for my Primary school class newspaper: for all its inevitability, it was up there in the top ten tragic deaths of the 1960s, just a  short head behind all those horrendous political assassinations that blighted the USA.

So that’s My Lifetime Great Scot: any suggestions from you?

Even Japan feels the need to ‘calm nervous markets’

Posted in Politics, Publications, Society by raymondsoltysek on March 30, 2011

Here’s a link to an opinion piece I wrote published in today’s “Scottish Review”.

Even Japan feels the need to ‘calm nervous markets’

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