Meet Sore Alba – a new addition to Vodka Soda Magazine

September 11, 2008

Actual photo of Sore Alba writing a rant….no one knows how he manages to transmit paper and pen thru the internet

Dear Readership:

It is with great pleasure that I announce the addition of a new full-time writer to Vodka Soda Magazine: Sore Alba. Based in Scotland, Sore Alba will give us a unique perspective on all things British (and especially Scottish). Read his introduction here to get a better sense of what he will be bringing to Vodka Soda. Sore Alba will be contributing a weekly article/post to Vodka Soda in exchange for drinks :)

We also plan on adding another writer soon to our stable, so be on the lookout for that as well. In the meantime, we will be updating our About Us page to reflect the new changes once Sore Alba sobers up enough to write a bio :)

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Sore Alba has arrived!

September 11, 2008

Sore Alba
Sore Alba plants his flag at Vodka Soda

In a galaxy far, far away …

On the distant edges of Europe the small resource rich nation sits uneasily within a larger political entity dominated by its more populous neighbour. A swelling separatist movement preaches oil-fuelled American style free markets when the suits are in town yet promises the population cradle to grave socialism when the cameras stop rolling. And while the smaller people laud their blood-soaked heroes of yore, and hail the Olympic standard bearers of last month as symbols of proud nationhood, the question is still to be answered: do they have what it takes to break away and go it alone?

Is this one of those tiny countries somewhere near Russia you’ve never heard of and have even less chance of pronouncing correctly, where centuries old stagnation of the donkey and cart variety rapidly meets ultra modern weaponry? Nah, not even close. Think closer to home. Real close to home. Place that spawned many of you moose-shaggers ancestors, and where your current head of state resides.

That’s right! It’s the United Kingdom, or more pertinently, England and Scotland, the two largest constituent nations (Ignore the Welsh, they don’t count and Northern Ireland; aw jeez, let’s really not start that up …) of said United Kingdom.

You may have heard, but it probably didn’t sink in, that Scotland not only now has its own Parliament, but is actually run by the Scottish National Party. The SNP being the lads and lassies who want to make Scotland independent. And in their leader Alex Salmond the SNP has what could well be the most gifted politicians in the western world. Barack Schmarack, Wee Eck would eat him for breakfast if the American system allowed for anything so dignified as an actual opportunity for party leaders to go at it under parliamentary privelege.

While a small but persistent majority of Scots still say they wouldn’t vote for independence in a referendum – Salmond’s planning one for 2011 – there is no denying the political wind is filling Nationalist sails. And the English? They are champing at the bit to get rid of their Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who just happens to be er, Scottish, and the man they blame for all their credit crunched troubles. Could yon bairn gan oot wi tha bathwatter like? Translation: could the English decide they want nothing to do with the Scots before the Scots decide they can live without the Sassenachs?

Does this mean anything to you? Is it at all interesting? If you in any way care and want to know more, this column will be back next week and every week after that until its humble author gets on the wrong bus on a wet Glasgow night and meets a sticky end on the point of a sharpened screwdriver. Welcome to Auld Reekie: All things Scottish, some things British and a few things by the by. Sore Alba, the newest, and bestest, and most able to handle it’s boozest, addition to Vodka/Soda.

…which is by the way is a lassie’s drink.

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Are the Cities of Northern England Doomed?

August 14, 2008

North Englanders
A UK conservative think-tank suggests that cities in the North of England are declining without a chance of recovery

The conservative UK think-tank Policy Exchange has sent a shockwave through English politics by suggesting that England’s northern cities are declining without hope of recovery. Furthermore, they propose that residents of cities such as Liverpool and Sunderland move to the more prosperous Southeast of England and that government help this internal migration by building three million new homes to house these people.

The outrage is compounded by the fact that Policy Exchange is tied to UK Tory leader David Cameron and will no doubt have an affect on Tory support (what little that they do have) in these post-industrial cities.

As for these northern cities, Nigel Morris reports:

In its report, the think-tank said: “We need to accept above all that we cannot guarantee to regenerate every town and every city in Britain that has fallen behind. Just as we can’t buck the market, so we can’t buck economic geography either.”

Policy Exchange said many large coastal cities had lost their raison d’etre with the decline of shipping and raised the alarm over the future of Liverpool, Sunderland, Hull, Scunthorpe and Blackpool. It said it was unrealistic to expect the prosperous cities of Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle to regenerate less well-off neighbours such as Liverpool, Rochdale, Bradford and Sunderland. It said such places were not “doomed” and could not be abandoned, but people had to face up to the fact that they had “little prospect of offering their residents the standard of living to which they aspire”. The think-tank said all three million new homes earmarked for England by 2020 should be built in the South-east, making it easier for people in less well-off areas to move. It also called for massive building in Oxford and Cambridge, taking advantage of their high skills base and favourable location.

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