About Me

Duncan McFarlane


 


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). 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 spent 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).

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 deserved to be elected, he was not, though he did get almost 1,000 votes.

 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).

I’ve lived most of my life in Braidwood in what was Clydesdale and is now the Lanark and Hamilton East Parliamentary Constituency.


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.


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 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).

 I campaigned for and voted Labour and was a Labour party member in 1997. The Labour government did make some 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.

I was strongly 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.

British government support for and arms sales to the Saudis, Mubarak and other foreign dictatorships – 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 leadership of the Labour party (not to mention the total lack of any real democracy inside the Labour party – ordinary members views are 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 the party leaders tend to be less honest and less decent and there are a large number of party hacks who are just in it for the money and status.


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 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.


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.