Ecstasy

[Due to obvious reasons, a number of sources that I have been in contact for this story wish to remain anonymous, so in some places pseudonyms are used.]

After the death of 17-year-old Regane MacColl after taking an ecstasy pill at the Arches nightclub in Glasgow, the club took the bold move to ban all under 21s from all nightclub events. Furthermore to this the nightclub is also subject to a review at Glasgow City Council over it’s license’s future. Although it is unlikely to lose its license for more than a few weeks, if at all, the point remains that there is a massive culture in this country of ‘pill-heads’, and believe it or not, it’s not new.

It’s pretty much opened a huge metaphorical can of worms (again) though – and that hurt me more than you can imagine to use that pun, but there’s hardly a better way to describe the sweaty writhing bodies inhibiting the clubs in Scotland’s towns and cities.

So, to get a better idea of what the situation is in this country in terms of the ecstasy issue I posted on Facebook appealing for people involved in that scene, from either side of the argument, to get in touch. An influx of information hit me; not only with people voicing their opinions on the fact that the Arches has increased its entry age to 21, but people came forward with stories from within the drug culture through years.

The most in depth interview I collected served to put the drug culture in our country into historical context.  Adam (pseudonym) is a self-confessed ex-user of drugs like hash, pills and acid. Not only does he have the experience of these substances from around 20 years ago he, now, has a son who will soon be of age to go clubbing and therefore be exposed to this culture. He claimed he wouldn’t want to be hypocritical with his son and for that reason would like to see a change in attitude from the government when it comes to club drugs. When asked whether he thought the drug scene is any bigger now than back in 80s and 90s, he said that the biggest issue really isn’t the size, it’s more that the media has taken it for a ride, so it’s more apparent. Further to this, however, he thinks that what young people are consuming in clubs these days is more dangerous than what he was exposed to. Adam said, “The quality of the pills was good, they were expensive, ÂŁ20 for one E and it would last you an entire night”

For this reason, maybe the logical solution is to introduce a regulatory system in this country, whereby, even if the drugs are illegal, testing kits should be readily available because no matter what line the government and police forces do there is still going to be consumption of these substances. The introduction of a system such as this would take a lot of heat off of the bouncers at clubs as there would be less situations where someone takes something sinister. Systems such as these are already in use in some of the big party islands such as Ibiza, so why not here?

When asked about the fact their children may be of age to go to these clubs they also gave startlingly similar answer both leaning towards wanting to avoid being a hypocrite by saying to their children they should avoid these substances, however also stressing the fact that the consumption of these drugs offered them admission into a whole new interesting culture that they admit has crafted them into the people they are today – be it through people they met or [places they got to experience being part of this scene.

However he was also – and urged they would be with their children – quick to stress that there are clear downsides to the culture. He has had friends that have been encapsulated by the negative side of the culture, some being admitted to mental institutions others being unable to cope with life. As Adam put it, “I guess it’s like crossing a road, it’s inherently dangerous, you can say don’t cross the road but that’s not going to work so you try to mitigate the risk.”

In speaking to a former Arches door-man, Lewis (pseudonym), I discovered a huge critic of the drug culture in this country. Being on the scene when the last (before Regane MacColl) death happened in the Arches, he has first -and experience of the sour effects of club drugs.

“I was one of the first on the scene and was treating him for over an hour before the ambulance came.

“In total, I think about 6 of us were giving him CPR and putting ice in his head to cool him down.

“I would rather every night club was shut down to stop stupid people (any age) being in a culture that kills them off.”

Although Lewis’ view is extreme, it gives an insight into how tragic the effect of these drugs can be. In my opinion, if the government was really serious about minimizing risk they should introduce their own regulatory system, where certain substances are legal and safer. Although that is wishful thinking.

 

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Alistair Darling accuses Salmond of blindfolding the electorate

Darling meets with members of the public in the Piecebox Café in Polwarth.

Darling meets with members of the public in the Piecebox Café in Polwarth.

Better Together campaign leader, Alistair Darling, today met with members of the public to discuss the most recent developments in the  independence debate. The meeting, at the Piecebox CafĂ© in the city’s Polwarth Crescent, comes days after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, dismissed any hope that an independent Scotland could share the pound with the rest of the UK.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer accused the First Minister of asking the people of Scotland to walk ‘blindfold’ into the polling stations 200 days from now. He said: “In the past few days the wheels have been coming off the nationalist wagon.

“Alex Salmond is not prepared to tell us what currency we will be using and cannot guarantee that if an independent Scotland were to join the EU that they would have the same deal as now.”

DSCN0608[1]Darling strongly emphasised the point that with thecurrency union completely off the table now there is no way to know what the pound in your pocket will be worth in an independent Scotland. This was reinforced by a representative from the Federation of Small Businesses present at the meeting who voiced concerns over the fact that many businesses rely on trade in other areas within the UK, an action that would be made difficult and expensive without a common currency.

He also warned that a change in currency could have dramatic effects on business in Scotland, and suggested that companies such as RBS and Standard Life would face a choice of a move down south in order to trade in the currency held by the majority of its customers.

Finally Darling warned not to take the decision of voting yes or no lightly, as the vote on 18 September is final: ”The result, whatever it is, will stand.

“People have to understand that there is no going back, and if the polls say yes? The result is binding.”

[ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE EDINBURGH REPORTER 17/02/14]

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Scottish Independence Debate Podcast

Stuart Johnston presents an independence debate with Ashtin Loughry and Cameron Bark. Will independence be a good thing for Scotland or not?

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The nation of Scotland could see dramatic adaptions this year, with the referendum  on Scottish independence taking place in the month of September, shortly after the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

For years now, Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond and his Scottish National Party have campaigned for the right to know the country’s viewpoints on the matter – and in the next eight months, the outcome will become a huge lot clearer.

There have been countless debates as to how low the minimum voting age should be, with the majority of people suggesting that it should be the same as current Holyrood and Westminster elections. However, on Thursday the 18th, Scottish residents as young as 16 will go to the poles to vote on whether our country should remain part of the United Kingdom or become independent.

Many advocates of the ‘yes’ campaign are quick to argue that currently, many of the powers to make decisions in Scotland are controlled at Westminster. By selecting independence, as a nation we would be able to make all decisions at Holyrood. It could therefore be argued that Scotland would become154151341-598x400 a more stable and secure nation and even a force to be reckoned with.

On the other hand, numerous people are of the opinion that by becoming independent, Scotland could lose global presence and influence it presently obtains as a United Kingdom. Furthermore, Scotland does not have military strength – so the decision to depart with the rest of Britain could lead to many attacks which the country would not be prepared to deal with.

With all the facts and statistics I have been embedded with, I find myself asking the question that a high number of people share – “Why fix something which is not broken?”.

Napier

All of us first

Asked to write a blog piece on Independence leaves me with the same feeling of erroneous responsibility that fills you up as you take the driver seat for the very first time after the L plates come off, tentatively turning the key and glancing for your absent co-driver. I have formed my own hazy opinions based primarily, I completely put my hands up and say, on my parents vibrant discussions on the debate. Despite having come to an almost definite conclusion regarding what i’ll vote, yes by the way, I definitely don’t feel armed or able to create solid arguments to involve myself in the discussions which are going on around me. And it seems that, yet again, for women across the country this is widely the case.

The current yes polls stand at around 30% of men and an estimated 22% of women. While of course polls aren’t the be all and end all, from my experience social media debates – and those had around a few pints at the pub – are too, male dominated. To me this demonstrates an issue almost as important as the very question of independence itself. Why are women not immersing themselves in the world we all share in the way that men are? For lack of a better word i’d describe myself as a feminist (although i’d prefer just a people-ist), but I definitely feel that if women are shying away and not getting involved in the current affairs which are going on around them how can we ever establish a world where gender equality isn’t a fight, but a given? Discussions with various female friends and relatives have lead me to a couple of conclusions, is it the adversarial set up of the debate (and debates in general) that puts women off? Or perhaps that we are relatively new to the whole voting system in the first place? Or, on a more intrinsic level, it could be that in general women fear contentious situations more than men, with anxieties surrounding separation – a yearning for togetherness.

For me, some of the most important issues rooted in the entire debate are in how the results will leave different groups within society feeling placed, for example English people residing in Scotland and how we guarantee they are as welcome as those born and bred in Auld Reekie.

So, while I feel completely unequipped to write a coherent and balanced piece on why my gut, heart and head are all telling me yes, I would happily get stuck into some of the remarkably pertinent issues being starkly highlighted by the Independence debate.

Scottish Independence- the infuriating campaigns

The Scottish referendum is set for the 18th September 2014, or as both campaign websites plaster all over there page- 233 days,13 hours and a couple of minutes because everyone is just dying to know that kind of information
 Anyway it’s coming up and us Scot’s aged from 16 upwards are going to have to decide whether we want to be free from the apparently obvious English oppression or stay in the warm and positively “cuddly” United Kingdom. Either way its almost guaranteed that no matter the outcome, as soon as things start to go bad everyone will claim that they are free from blame as they “wurney even near wan ae they votin hings” and the problems facing the country are all 





’s fault (insert A. Alex Salmond or B. David Cameron and the other one).

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No matter which way you’re leaning towards voting for in the referendum one thing is certain- the campaigns are infuriating. Every day we are bombarded by propaganda from both parties, either slagging the other off or inundating us with facts and statistics that are completely at ends with their rivals daily dose of useless numbers and “facts”. What’s possibly the most annoying thing is not just the lies and hate mongering told by both sides, but their frankly childish excuses for disagreeing with the opposition. To be fair I’m slightly pulled towards favouring the yes campaign at this point as they regularly detail how Scotland will be so much better without the English “oppression”, whereas the “better together” campaigns website only details three things that Scotland need from the United Kingdom- security, prosperity and interdependence. so basically without Britain we are hooped, to put it politely- and the blatant fear mongering for votes is something that I despise.

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The Yes campaign is no better in this regard however, with many of their campaigners claiming that England is the source of all our problems and if we don’t get rid of them immediately then our country shall become a totalitarian oppressive government such as the one seen in “V for Vendetta”.

Personally I think that no vote is a wrong vote, both sides have a valid point but the thing that many people don’t realise is that nothing is going to drastically change! it’s almost certain that the wealth disparity will get bigger, the Government will still continue to make cuts no matter how much money they save, and politicians will always be class A wankers.

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But a question still needs to be asked, where do the majority stand on independence? is it a good idea or will it doom us all to become a impoverished third world country begging Britain to be friends again? comment your opinions!

Scottish Independence

There are many valid questions surrounding the Scottish Independence Referendum. Will independence weaken university research in Scotland? What would independence mean for education? Would we have our own currency? What would happen to the NHS? How will Scotland become an independent member of the European Union?

I am in no way politically informed and part of me doesn’t really care for politics in general. For this reason I would just like a solid answer as to why Scotland should choose independence? What will we actually gain as a country and as a community? Why do we need to be independent? There is a lot of heavy political jargon surrounding many independence debates which is far too much for my brain to handle. So, for me, a simple answer would suffice.

A lot of Scots bring out the patriotic aspect to validate their reason for voting Yes. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy being Scottish, I do. I feel very privileged to have been born in this country. However I just don’t hate England. I don’t see why anyone would and I don’t think that patriotism is a good enough reason for agreeing to break up the Union.

In saying that, for some odd reason this particular discussion managed to bring about a small amount of Scottish rage within me. Maybe that’s just the effect Katie Hopkins has on us.