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The First Post

The time has come. For years I’ve thought about blogging without ever quite getting around to it. So here it is, The First Post. Not quite sure I’m fully across the mechanics of it, but I suppose I’ll probably figure it out later. For now I should probably say a few things about myself and what I intend to write about.

My name is Derek Stewart Macpherson. I was born in Glasgow in 1965. I was brought up in Scotland. I have been an Australian citizen since 1985. I should probably mention at this point that I remain a dual-national and I reserve the right to speak as a native in the political debates of both countries. Some will no doubt have a problem with this and feel the need to tell me so, but if that’s you I can clear the matter up right now by explaining that you clearly have me confused with someone who gives a shit. I’m Scottish and Australian. Deal with it. Since coming to Australia I’ve lived almost all of the time in Melbourne, so I’m definitely a Victorian, as well as a ‘Weegie’ and a ‘Bankie’ (born in Glasgow, brought up in Clydebank).

I’ve been a political animal since I took part in my first general election in 1974 (yes, just shy of my ninth birthday). It is, however, an interest that I have mostly pursued in private, with occasional exceptions – I was involved in student politics with NUS Scotland in the early 80s and I was a National Councillor with the CPSU in the mid 90s. Since then I have pursued my politics through a great deal of thinking and reading, punctuated by bouts of shouting at the television or radio. Obviously with my background I’m on the left politically. I am a rationalist, a humanistic atheist, a self-educated generalist, an environmentalist, not because I’m a tree-hugging romantic, but because I’m the son of an engineer and I understand the science, an amatuer economist who understands Adam Smith, Marx and Keynes (yes, that’s extremely rare) and a devout student of history, anthropology and the arts of politics and, most importantly, leadership.

So I got sick of talking to myself and I finally cracked and joined Twitter. Some may know of me from there. If not, I’m @TheBabelFishDSM. I resisted for a long time, but eventually the temptation to get a few things off my chest became too much to resist. Of course there are some things you really can’t say in 140 characters. I had originally planned to write a blog on the Scottish independence debate. I have some original ideas on the subject that I need to explain and promote. I’m passionately in favour of independence and I will also be busting a few myths being perpetuated by the ‘No’ campaign, particularly on the economics of independence. I will be doing all that, but I find I have some unfinished business with Australian politics that needs to be taken care of. And for me, there is one issue that stands out above all others – our shameful treatment of asylum seekers (there is, of course, an overlap on this issue. I am, and will remain, an advocate for refugee rights in the Scottish context too).

There is absolutely nothing to be said in favour of offshore processing. It breaches our treaty obligations, it traumatises future Australian citizens, it costs an absolute fortune compared to any form of processing in the community, it’s a massive over-reaction to a virtually non-existant problem, and it doesn’t act to deter anyone (even if that was a valid aim, which it isn’t) because; 1. We’re still more attractive than Afghanistan to a Hazara or Sri Lanka to a Tamil; 2. Pull factors are a complete myth anyway (our boat arrivals are in proportion to the total number of refugees in the world at any given time, have been for 50 years), and; 3. Most asylum seekers who come here know very little of Australia other than that it’s a place you can go where you might not get killed.

I’m not letting this one go. These policies will not stand! Not in my name! So the two major parties are against us, but all the thinking people are on our side. I’ve had worse odds. I’m going to have to insist. I will see this policy changed! I will have your admission, ALP and LNP, that you were wrong and we were right. I’d give in gracefully now if I were you, every day the evidence is mounting. Numbers will not go down in 2013, they will go up. Take note, I’m calling it now. They will go up because hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians are waiting in camps and next year they will begin to filter through. Nothing, absolutely nothing we can do, no policy we can implement, will have any effect whatsoever. Pull factors are a myth! The only two pull factors that matter are peace and democracy, and we, the people, have no intention of giving up either of those. So we’re stuck with being a desirable place to live. What a burden, eh? Harden the fuck up Australia!

And by the way, if you found that last sentence more offensive than the thought of desperate people self-harming and attempting suicide on Nauru, then I give you fair warning – my blog probably isn’t going to be for you. Your priorities are in need of adjustment. I want to bring what Douglas Adams (the inspiration for the ‘Babel Fish’ name) would have described as a glass of perspective and soda. I only ask readers to bring one thing – an open mind.

  1. Rick Allardice permalink

    About time you got round to blogging! Means I don’t need to I can, just let you say it for me, with the odd exception, no doubt 🙂
    Peace and enlightenment


    • Hadn’t realised you were blogging, now that I know I’ll have a read. Might save ME repeating a few things you’ve already said 🙂


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