About me - Duncan McFarlane - Independent candidate in Lanark and Hamilton East

About me

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I was born in Lanark, went to primary school in Braidwood and to secondary in Carluke. After that I graduated from Glasgow University with a 1st class Honours degree in Politics, returning in 2005 and 2006 to do a Masters Degree in International Politics.

In between I did some freelance writing for magazines including the Scottish Left Review and Tribune magazine (the magazine of the Tribune Group within the Labour Party - then edited by Mark Seddon). I was also proud to have worked as a part-time researcher for John Lyons MP (then Labour MP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden) who voted consistently against the Iraq war.

I stood as an Independent candidate in Lanark and Hamilton East in 2005 and was very pleased spending the first week of the campaign leafleting for Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon was killed in the Iraq war – and who was standing as an Independent against then Defence Minister Adam Ingram MP (now revealed to have accepted tens of thousands of pounds from companies getting contracts from the MoD). I stood as an Independent again in 2010 and lost my deposit, again, though i did get 670 votes.

In the Norwich North by-election in 2009 I greatly enjoyed leafleting for Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, who was sacked for criticising the government’s policy of accepting so-called “evidence” extracted by brutal torture by the dictatorship of Uzbekistan and for opposing the Iraq war. Sadly, though he was by far the best candidate and won hands down at every hustings debate, he was not elected, though he did get almost 1,000 votes - a respectable showing for a by-election campaign that lasted only three weeks and in which the big parties brought in volunteers and paid staff from all over Britain (while Craig had "the international brigades" - volunteers from around the world)..

 I also write my own blog and website on Scottish, British and international politics and have written online books on Iraq and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and am writing a third on the War on Terror in general (which largely continues under Obama, despite the phrase having been dropped from his rhetoric).

(My brother David - a professional website designer - has created a much more professional looking version of my website)

I’ve lived most of my life in Braidwood in what is now the Clydesdale West ward of South Lanarkshire Council.

My mother Jean and her sister Noreen were secondary school teachers (Noreen later becoming involved in running the Cornton Vale womens' prison visiting committee). My father, Duncan, and uncles (Jim and Malcolm) were originally boiler makers and fitters, mostly for Clyde valley tomato growers (my father designing the Talisman boiler), but later set up their own very successful gas firm - MacGas - which provided gas all across Scotland and the North of England. My uncle Kenneth was a union representative for UNISON and is the chairman of his local co-operative association.

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My father Duncan (in the lorry) and my uncle Jim, as their firm MacGas began to take off

I learned from all of them and others to see disputes from both sides and understand the problems faced by both employers running their own businesses and employees working in them.

My grandfather (on my mother's side) was Labour MP for the Western Isles from 1935 to 1970 , but died when i was very young. This led to my grandmother and parents beginning my interest in politics (though the leadership of the party eventually colluded in rigging selection meetings against my grandfather – Malcolm MacMillan – as he was mostly Bevanite in his views (a supporter of Anuerin Bevan), while the party leader was Harold Wilson – despite the fact my grandfather voted for Wilson in the party leadership election Wilson won).

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My grandfather, Malcolm Kenneth MacMillan MP, Labour MP for the Western Isles 1935 - 1970

My grandfather and grandmother on my father's side were supporters of Jimmy Maxton and the Red Clydesiders in the 1920s

 My whole family were Labour supporters for most of their lives (some still are) and I campaigned for and voted Labour and was a Labour party member in 1997. The Labour government made some significant progress, in the first national minimum wage, which has increased steadily since, in the 10p tax rate for lower earners (since scrapped by the same man who brought it in) and in beginning the first unconditional negotiations in Northern Ireland which have led to relative peace - and the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition is definitely much worse than even Blair was in my opinion.

I don't blame Gordon Brown for the entire financial crisis either. He was partly to blame for further deregulating the banks and other financial firms, but this was a policy started under Margaret Thatcher with the 1986 'Big Bang' deregulation of the City of London and backed by the entire Conservative party and much of the right wing of the Labour party. At least Brown accepted re-regulation was necessary after the crisis, while the Conservatives and George Osborne talked of the need to get the "dead hand of the state" off of the banks, despite the fact that it was the state and taxpayers that bailed the banks out and kept them alive.

I was opposed to many of Blair and Brown’s other policies though, which continued and extended Conservative party policies begun under John Major such as poorly regulated rail privatisation; PFIs (renamed ‘Public Private Partnership Programmes’ by ‘New Labour’) which lead to higher taxes and less beds and less fully trained staff in new hospitals than in the ones they replace; the ridiculously complicated benefits and tax credits system which results in many who are unemployed or on low incomes not getting the benefits and tax cuts they deserve.

I also opposed their joining in Conservative party rhetoric about the need to crack down on benefit fraud (less than 1% of all claims) while largely ignoring the massively greater losses due to tax avoidance and evasion by the wealthiest and big banks, hedge funds and companies through tax havens. Punishing the poorest for the dishonesty of a small minority of them while letting the wealthiest off with almost anything is a long way from "fairness" or "we're all in it together".

British government support for and arms sales to the Saudis, Mubarak, the Egyptian military regime, the Bahraini monarchy and Al Saleh (dictator of Yemen) even as they kill unarmed democracy protesters – a policy maintained by Labour and Conservative governments – is also wrong.

The above, arms sales to Indonesia even during the massacres in East Timor in 1998, indiscriminate NATO bombing in Kosovo in 1999 and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars led me to oppose the Labour leadership, though not all it's policies and certainly not all Labour party MPs, councillors, MSPs, members or voters, many of whom are very decent people (i was also dismayed at the lack of enough democracy inside the Labour party – ordinary members views and party conference votes are often completely ignored by the leadership).

Later, as a member of the Scottish Socialist Party, I became disenchanted with the factional infighting in that party and the extreme views of some party officials, though many of the members (such as Clive Malins, former Chair of the Constituency Labour Party) and their candidate (Dennis Reilly) and his supporters in the 2005 election are thoroughly decent, intelligent, principled and reasonable people.

This is true of every party (except the BNP); there are decent, honest, intelligent people in all of them - unfortunately some party leaders tend to be less honest and less decent and there are some of the people in some of the larger parties are party hacks who are just in it for the money and status. I do not include the Green party here - I've found the Green party to be made up of very principled people ; and whatever criticisms anyone might have of Tommy Sheridan or Colin Fox, no-one in the Scottish Socialists or Solidarity is in it for the money or the career opportunities.

I have some principles that I won't compromise on - but I will acknowledge if new facts coming to light from a reliable source prove me wrong on something, I accept that not everything is always clearly black and white and that good ideas should not be ignored just because they come from people with different political views or party affiliations.

I respect the views of people I disagree with completely on politics - even those completely opposed to my politics (such as Thatcherites) as long as they are honest and not racists whose focus is irrational hatred, like the BNP.

People struggling with unemployment in a situation in which there are at least six people unemployed for every job (even on the government's fiddled figures) and with trying to make ends meet by working on low wages do need to be listened to and helped though - otherwise they will turn in desperation to manipulators like the BNP.

I don't believe in a minority (or even a majority) forcing it's views on everyone without taking different interests and views into account. Everyone deserves to have their views represented equally. Anything else is undemocratic. That's why I believe in proportional representation for all elections.