Friday, 30 January 2015
British Labour and their Tory allies are desperate to get back to business as usual They are desperate to get back to the cosy duopoly that has served the British parties so handsomely whist serving the people of Scotland so ill.
They are more terrified than ever that Scotland's Yes campaign-inspired break from the British two-party system - with its faux rivalries providing only token cover for a shared neo-liberal agenda - will infect England's politics and threaten to bring down the structures of power and privilege which define the British state.
We should be aware of what is implied by these attacks on the SNP. We should be aware of what it is that is being challenged by the people of Scotland using the SNP as the agents of change. We should be aware of what it is that Miliband, Murphy and the rest are defending when they lash out at their SNP rivals.
It is not Labour principles which are threatened by the increasing rejection of British Labour in Scotland. British Labour has not represented those principles in decades. It is the British establishment which is being challenged. And that challenge comes from the people - the grass-roots masses who found their strength and their voice through engagement with the Yes campaign. The SNP is merely the tool which the people of Scotland will use to break free from the stultifying grip of the old order and the old ways in order that they can build a new politics and a renewed nation.
The British parties are bent on denying this renewal. They are determined to preserve a system which guarantees them patronage, power and privilege in return for unquestioning service to the ruling elites of the British state.
A few months ago, the people of Scotland held in their hands such democratic power as is only vanishingly rarely afforded the people of any nation. We baulked at seizing that power. We chose to relinquish it. We opted to hand that power over to those who had denigrated us and our nation at every opportunity. People who insulted us with ludicrous scaremongering and abused us with lies. We threw ourselves on the mercy of a political machine which knows neither honour nor principle. There was always going to be a price to pay for this folly.
The coming election is our opportunity to make a stand against the destructive grinding of that machine. It is not a second chance at restoring our nation's rightful constitutional status. But it is the best chance we're going to get to make it clear that we are not content to go backwards. That we are determined to move Scotland forward following the torch that was lit by the Yes campaign.
The British parties in Scotland are the obstacle to that progress. Thursday 7 May is our opportunity to sweep that obstacle aside. Let's not screw it up again.
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Monday, 19 January 2015
But still Torrance tilts in characteristically inaccurate, ill-informed and ineffectual fashion at the caricatures concocted by a British establishment fearful for the future of its power and privilege rather than addressing the reality that is apparent to those less fatally disconnected from Scotland's politics by ideology and intimate association with a media clique bound in service and servility to the ruling elites of the British state.
Thus, Torrance drones on about entirely imagined claims of the moral and attitudinal superiority of people in Scotland from those who advocate independence for Scotland. His assertion that demands for the restoration of Scotland's rightful constitutional status are "premised on irreconcilable differences" in the attitudes and priorities of people is entirely informed by a bitterly prejudiced unionist perspective and owes absolutely nothing to any rational, objective analysis of Scotland's independence movement.
It is undoubtedly significant that Torrance has chosen to write at length about recent polling carried out on behalf of the widely respected alternative media organ, Wings Over Scotland without taking the minimal trouble to contact its editor, Stu Campbell. Not only is Torrance totally uninterested in Campbell's actual reasons for commissioning the survey, or his actual views on the findings, he is arrogantly convinced that he is better qualified to enunciate those reasons and views than Campbell himself.
Similarly, Torrance is not only unconcerned about the reality of Scotland's independence movement, he is arrogantly convinced that the reality is whatever he says it is. He is not being dishonest when he so ludicrously misrepresents the motivations of those who challenge old order and the old ways. He genuinely believes that he knows the content of their minds better than they do. Which probably means that he is more to be pitied and condemned.
Torrance is almost certainly too convinced of his own superiority to read any critical comment on his writings. So it is for the benefit of more open minds that I offer the following explanation from an actual Scottish nationalist.
I would contend that the most important factor in the rise of Scotland's progressive independence movement has been the fact that a distinctive political culture has evolved in Scotland because the democratic processes and institutions native to Scotland have been more effective in translating the attitudes of the electorate into public policy.
This is NOT to say that people in Scotland have different attitudes to people elsewhere in these islands - as per the simplistic pseudo-analysis offered by the likes of David Torrance. It most certainly is NOT to claim that these attitudes are in some sense "superior". It is only to say that the way in which politics works in Scotland - the electoral system, political parties, parliament etc - is better at giving effect to these attitudes. Marginally so, perhaps, but still enough to allow a distinctive political culture to develop over time.
The fact that many of the differences in attitudes and priorities between Scotland and the rest of the UK (rUK) are small is completely irrelevant. Even the tiniest difference can be massively significant if the political culture is such as to allow this difference to be reflected in policy.
Without independence, this distinctive political culture must always be subordinated to the dominant political culture of the British state. A culture which is increasingly divergent from and aggressively opposed to the political culture in Scotland. The subordinate culture must be denied and, at some point systematically, suppressed.
Which is, of course, the objective which David Torrance and his ilk seek and serve.
Trident is an obscenity at any cost. Decent people will always object to it. They will naturally seize on any and every opportunity to register their disgust at the criminal profligacy of squandering resources on weapons of mass destruction while children go hungry.
British Labour's decision to boycott a House of Commons debate on the issue, for the pettiest of reasons, is very far from meaningless. It means that they are turning their backs on those decent people. It means that they are snubbing, not just their political rivals, but all of those hungry children.
In the eyes of voters, British Labour's opting out of this debate means that they put small-minded party politicking before their duty to the electorate. It means that they are happy to put that which is politically expedient before that which is morally right.
It means that they are afraid to participate in a debate which would risk exposing the deep divisions within the party on the matter of Trident and the fact that British Labour offers no alternative to the Tories on this key issue, as on so many others.
British Labour dodging this debate is not meaningless at all. We know exactly what it means.
Sunday, 18 January 2015
What is more interesting is the contrast between the political awareness of respondents in Scotland and the ill-informed analysis offered by pollsters observing from within the London bubble. This is exemplified in the comment about, "the way in which the Scottish National Party have turned the disappointment of the referendum result into a nationalist surge". As any of those 66% could have told Sunder Katwala, the "surge" to which he refers was totally spontaneous. It was neither engineered nor anticipated.
The SNP has, without question, very effectively ridden the wave of that post-referendum surge in support for Scottish - as opposed to British - political parties. But the idea that the SNP somehow created and managed that surge is a fallacy derived entirely from the British nationalist propaganda line that the referendum was all about the SNP and/or Alex Salmond. A little gobbet of idiocy best represented by the inane depiction of the entire independence movement as one man's "vanity project" by some of the less intellectually acute commentators.
The near-total failure to comprehend the true nature of Scotland's independence movement is telling. It is as if a genuine grass-roots political movement is so alien to those immersed in the British political system that they neither know how to deal with it or even recognise it.
But we must must give credit where it is due. At least the report from British Future recognises that voting patterns in Scotland have changed. And that the difference between voting in Holyrood and Westminster elections is diminishing rapidly. Whether there is any awareness of the underlying reason for this isn't clear. Given the excessive focus on the SNP previously noted, it seems likely that this change will also be attributed largely to the one party, thereby missing the crucial point that there has been a fundamental shift in which Holyrood is now regarded as the locus of all Scotland's politics.
Hard as it will undoubtedly be for British nationalists to accept, even in a UK general election Westminster is increasingly regarded in Scotland as peripheral. In the eyes of a growing number of people in Scotland, Westminster is viewed as a largely superfluous entity that is associated with incompetence, corruption, venality and an arrogant disregard for democracy. There is a rising tide of feeling that Westminster does not serve the interests of the people of Scotland. At the very least, it is held to be an obstacle to progress and the realisation of of Scotland's aspirations.
And nobody imagines that will change. Which is why two-thirds expect Scotland to rid itself of the burden of Westminster in the medium to long term. It also explains why, in the short term, voters in Scotland are abandoning the British parties in droves. The British parties in Scotland are no longer trusted to represent the interests of the people of Scotland. At best they are regarded as having failed Scotland. At worst, of having betrayed Scotland.
The people of Scotland have decided that they've had enough. And the Yes campaign has given them the confidence to act.
Saturday, 17 January 2015
Aberdein Considine partner, Rob Aberdein, said the referendum took up “a lot of internal resources” in financial services in contingency planning for independence, as well as “causing uncertainty” for customers.
He said: “Does the continuing narrative around a referendum and further devolution make this a bad place to do business?”*Rob Aberdein of Aberdein Considine seems to feel that democracy is OK only so long as it doesn't inconvenience his business in the slightest. Doubtless he would prefer that we do away with the "uncertainty" of elections.
However outlandish it may seem to those of us who adhere to fundamental democratic principles, the idea that democracy should be subordinate to the needs of business is not at all uncommon. There is a widespread belief that all of society should be so ordered as to serve profit rather than people. It is a pernicious dogma which, towards the extreme, denies altogether the very concept of society and holds that all individual suffering is a price worth paying in the service of an economic elite. Like a religion, it demands total subservience to the gods of the neo-liberal economic imperative.
Fortunately, we have not yet totally succumbed to this cult. As has been so magnificently demonstrated by the Yes movement during and after the referendum campaign, the people still have a voice. We still have power, despite the fact that 55% of us decided they would prefer to surrender power to the ruling elites of the British state.
We still have the power that won us the referendum against concerted anti-democratic opposition from the entire British establishment. Nobody voted to relinquish our right of self determination. When the people of Scotland demand another referendum, the British state can no more deny us now than it could before.
So, Kenny MacAskill is perfectly correct. There will be another referendum. We need not concern ourselves with the question of whether a suitable cause will arise. By its very nature, the British state simply cannot avoid providing such cause. We need only concern ourselves with ensuring that, when that cause provides the necessary momentum, we have the required political voice.
Simply stated, we must choose our elected representatives exclusively from the Scottish parties which will respect the demand for another referendum, rather than the British parties which will surely show the same contempt for democracy and the people of Scotland that they did when they tried to block the last referendum.
Kenny MacAskill is only half right, however, when he says that the political battleground will be “home rule not independence”. It would be more correct to say that home rule has now become part of the political battle for independence - in the same way that the fight for a Scottish Parliament and the fight for a referendum were part of the battle for independence. Home rule is simply the next phase of a gradualist approach which, notwithstanding the whining of absolutists such as Jim Fairlie, has been remarkably successful in advancing the cause of restoring Scotland's rightful constitutional status.
Both independence fundamentalists and (somewhat absurdly) unionists complain that the SNP's support for home rule signals abandonment of the policy of independence. This is nonsense, of course. The SNP has been totally consistent in stating that it would go along with anything that meant more powers for the Scottish Parliament. The party recognised many years ago that all or nothing inevitably meant nothing.
And unionists would have complained even more if the SNP had declined to support the idea of home rule. Blind to their own hypocrisy, unionists would have accused the Scottish Government of reneging on the Edinburgh Agreement. Because, despite the duplicitous efforts of British nationalists to pretend otherwise, home rule is what was promised to the people of Scotland in return for a No vote. At the very least, it is what they were led to believe would be delivered.
Despite the doubts which have subsequently been raised as to the provenance of "The Vow", while the British media was trumpeting it, all of the British parties were content to allow the impression to be given that they were committed to home rule or devo max or something akin to federalism.
With characteristic duplicity, British nationalists are now trying to portray home rule as something that the SNP came up with subsequent to their "defeat" in the referendum (Whose devo max plan?). The truth is that the Scottish Government is doing no more than demanding that the British parties honour the panicky pledge that they gave to the people of Scotland in the last days before the vote.
Let there be no mistake. Whatever support the SNP may give to home rule at the moment, it is not and never can be a substitute for independence. However it is formulated, a home rule settlement will turn out to be no more acceptable or viable in the longer term than any of the other devolution packages that have been cobbled together by British politicians whose overarching imperative is the preservation of the structures of power and privilege which define the British state at whatever cost to the people of Scotland and, for that matter, the people of the rest of the UK.
Whatever else home rule may mean for Scotland, it must mean that it will be easier to hold another independence referendum. For that reason alone, we should embrace it wholeheartedly, confident that our democracy is still working and will continue to serve us on our journey to independence.
* Second indyref ‘in a few years’ - Kenny MacAskill
Friday, 16 January 2015
Wednesday, 14 January 2015
Like all British politicians in Scotland, Murphy is desperate to get back to business as usual. Their fervent hope and foolish expectation was that a No vote in the referendum would destroy, or at least cripple, the SNP and kill the independence movement "stone dead". They wanted the coming UK general election to mark a return to the politics that they understand and are comfortable with. They craved the familiar faux rivalries of British politics. Needless to say, things have not worked out as they hoped.
Ironically, one of the reasons that the referendum remains an issue in Scottish politics is the fact that unionists have continued their campaign of distortion, disinformation and dishonesty. While they bleat futilely about how independence supporters should now shut up and go away, they continue to run the propaganda machine that they labelled Project Fear on account of the interminable stream of increasingly frenzied scare-stories that it churned out.
Look, for example, at the British parties' sickeningly gleeful reaction to the collapse in oil prices. Reading their contrived, contorted comments on the imagined implications of this blip one might be forgiven for thinking that the referendum was this September, not last.
We do not forget that Jim Murphy was an enthusiastic participant in Project Fear. We do not forget that he happily aligned himself with the Tories, Ukip and numerous other even more disreputable parties. groups and individuals. We do not forget the viciously slanderous attacks on those who dared aspire to the restoration of Scotland's rightful constitutional status and the creation of a better, fairer, greener nation.
Murphy's efforts to reinvent himself as some kind of modern-day Braveheart figure are as crass, clumsy and cringe-worthy as his attempt to associate himself with the traditional values of the Labour movement. We do not forget that, as an unapologetic Blairite, Murphy is marked as one who contemptuously disavowed those values, spitting on the legacy of the Labour movement's great social reformers.
So, what are we to make of Murphy's claim that he is not a unionist in the same mould as the British nationalists with whom he stood shoulder-to-shoulder during the referendum campaign? He belatedly tries to distance himself from those narrow, insular British nationalists by resorting to the entirely specious and frequently derided "solidarity" argument. It is an argument devoid of ambition in that it assumes working-class solidarity is constrained by political boundaries. It is a defeatist argument which states that if we cannot improve the lot of all the disadvantaged everywhere then we are somehow betraying the cause if we so much as attempt to improve the lot of any of the disadvantaged anywhere.
Most notably in the context of Murphy's insistence that he is not a unionist, it is an argument which assumes that the UK is acceptable as a limit to solidarity whilst vehemently rejecting any suggestion that solidarity within he nation of Scotland is just as legitimate. If that is not a unionist position, nothing is.
As Murphy tells it, he is not like the British nationalists with whom he lately allied himself because he is a trade unionist. A claim which will be met with gape-mouthed incredulity by those who are aware of his record as President of the National Union of Students. And with extreme scepticism by those who pause to wonder why this supposedly staunch trade unionist did absolutely nothing when in power to rescind any of the anti-union legislation that was a legacy of the dark days when Thatcher squatted over the land.
If I was asked to come up with one word which defines the fundamental issue in this election campaign in Scotland that word would be TRUST. Who are we to trust to truly represent the interests of the people of Scotland in a British parliament which is increasingly hostile to Scotland's political and social institutions; intolerant of our distinctive political culture; and contemptuous of our aspirations?
Jim Murphy's brazenly disingenuous denial of his unionist credentials confirms that he is unworthy of that trust.
Tuesday, 13 January 2015
The SNP could still gain “independence by the back door” through an “ultra extreme” form of devolution in a post-election deal, Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will say tonight.
Willie Rennie is known as someone who is a considerable way short of being the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. But, continuing the light-bulb metaphor, he now seems to be indulging in an “ultra extreme” form of energy saving. What I’m trying to avoid saying is that this latest outburst from Willie Rennie is quite stunningly stupid.* I’m also trying hard not to mention yet again the fact that British nationalists appear to have a compulsion to make utter fools of themselves in the name of defending the old order and the old ways.
But what else is there to say about Rennie other than that, if he actually believes the drivel that he spouts, he is stupid beyond measure. And if he doesn’t believe it and is only mouthing inanities to order, then he is every bit the fool that he has chosen to appear.
Where to begin? How about some simple arithmetic? Just one of the areas where Rennie completely fails to shine. He claims that the anti-independence cabal of vested political and economic interests won the referendum by “almost half a million votes”. The actual figure was 383,937. This represents “rounding up” by some 30%. To put that in perspective, if we applied the same “ultra extreme” rounding to the Yes vote then the campaign to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status would have won by 293,427. Or, according to Willie Rennie’s “special” arithmetic, 381,456.
If you’re thinking that all of that sounds a bit silly, I would only ask that you remember who started the silliness.
For a further example of Rennie’s vaunting silliness, how about his artlessly feigned righteous indignation on realising that the SNP aims to contest every seat in Scotland as if they intended to win. Or his spluttering outrage at the SNP’s determined adherence to the party’s core aim of independence.
Here’s yet another example of Rennie’s idiocy. He has been involved in Scottish politics since the 1990s and has been an elected politician since 2006. And yet he can’t figure out that the election of 59 MPs who explicitly support independence would be a clear and indisputable mandate to sue for independence and not, as he calls it, an attempt to win “independence by the back door”.
Think about that for a moment. Rennie is explicitly denying the legitimacy of the very political/electoral system which he and his fellow British nationalists insist that we accept. The system which decides who will govern the UK. He is saying that the British political system is only legitimate so long as it produces results favourable to the British parties and, by extension, the British establishment.
For the sake of brevity we’ll skim over Rennie’s dumbly dishonest misrepresentation of what Alex Salmond said about a second referendum. Suffice it to say that, however much British nationalists lie about this, the SNP at no time ruled out another vote on independence. And even if they had attempted to do so, it would have been meaningless as it’s not their decision. We will have another referendum when the people of Scotland say so. Nobody voted to relinquish our right of self-determination. That was not on the ballot.
Which brings us to Rennie’s fine blend of hypocrisy and idiocy on the subject of “redefining” what a vote is about. Hypocrisy in that the British parties unabashedly redefined the meaning of a No vote in the referendum. And not just once. They started off insisting that the referendum was a straight choice between independence and nothing. Then, when they belatedly realised they were backing the least popular option, they started to claim that a No vote was actually a vote for the “more powers” option that they had refused to countenance having on the ballot - and still refused to define in any way. Finally, as soon as the result was in, they went back to saying that a No vote was an unequivocal endorsement of the union and petulantly demand that independence campaigners abandon what in many cases is a lifelong aspiration.
The idiocy of Rennie’s drivel about the SNP “redefining” what the coming UK election is about lies in the fact that every party gets to define what the election is about. That is arguably as good a definition as you’ll get of a party’s election manifesto. Just how cretinous do you have to be to miss this glaringly obvious fact?
But perhaps Willie Rennie’s greatest stupidity is his own personal take on the inherently daft Bain Principle - simply stated as the dogma which dictates that the British parties in Scotland are compelled by mindless hatred to oppose any policy which is espoused by the SNP, even if it is an obviously good policy, and even if it is a policy which one or more of the British parties has itself promoted. The Bain Principle - named after another woeful Willie - may even apply to policies which continue to be supported by the party or parties which, nonetheless, rail against it as the work of Satan when it is enunciated by the SNP. Think double-think.
The Liberal Democrats have been “Home Rulers” since Noah threw Ming Campbell off the ark for boring the shit out of the sloths. But it only needs Alex Salmond to hint that Home Rule might be acceptable to the SNP at this juncture and, instantly, this long-cherished objective of the LibDems is transformed from the reasonable and viable constitutional settlement that they have pretty much always insisted it was into an unthinkable form of “ultra extreme” devolution - whatever that means.
Can we take anything from this, other than the fact that Willie Rennie is really, really stupid - or stupid enough to be happy to appear really, really stupid? We can surely assume that the LibDems were never actually serious about Home Rule. It was just a bauble to dangle before voters in Scotland secure in the knowledge that they were never going to be in a position to deliver, and had no intention of doping so even if, by some miracle, they had found themselves in power.
We can be even more certain than previously that, for the British parties, devolution is all about withholding powers from the Scottish Parliament. Even those powers which some of them had pretended to be willing to hand over.
Perhaps most importantly, it confirms what the coming election is really about for voters in Scotland. It confirms that the battle lines are clearly drawn, not along the increasingly blurred divide between Tory/Labour/LibDem, but between British parties representing the interests of the ruling elites of the British state, and Scottish parties representing the interests of the people of Scotland - principally the SNP.
Willie Rennie is a headline-hungry buffoon. But we yet have cause to be grateful to him for his role in helping us see the true face of British nationalism.
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Monday, 12 January 2015
A MAJOR summit on devolution to UK cities will take place in Glasgow next month, it has been announced.
If we were not already justifiably wary of the new-found enthusiasm for localism among British politicians then Gordon Matheson’s ill-judged remarks should serve as a warning. Unable to conceal his hatred of the Scottish Parliament and the SNP, Matheson clumsily reveals that this Core Cities “initiative” is driven by a British nationalist agenda that has absolutely nothing whatever to do with empowering local communities, and everything to do with giving the British parties in Scotland the means to undermine the Scottish Government and drive a wedge between the people of Scotland and their parliament.
Let us be very clear about this. The British political parties, and particularly their branch operations in Scotland, are driven by a single imperative - the preservation of the British state and, thereby, their own power and privilege. Their overriding aim is to get the Scottish Parliament back under their control and to install an “executive” in Scotland which will be Westminster’s lapdog. Everything that the British parties in Scotland do must be seen in this context. Many would prefer to abolish the Scottish Parliament entirely.
It is hardly unknown for politicians to take a popular policy and pervert it to some nefarious purpose. And that is precisely what Matheson and his cronies are up to here. There is broad agreement that local devolution is highly desirable. But it MUST be done for the purpose of improving democracy. We MUST NOT allow localism to be hi-jacked by the ruling elites of the British state for the purpose of securing their grip on power to the detriment of democracy.
Local devolution in Scotland must be implemented solely under the auspices of the democratically elected Scottish Parliament. Better trust a snake in the grass than a British politician bearing a gift purporting to be power for the people.
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Saturday, 10 January 2015
THE Scottish Government’s huge £444m underspend is an absurd waste of resource and opportunity, writes Brian Wilson.
If I repeatedly remark on the eagerness of British nationalist fanatics such as Brian Wilson to make fools of themselves in the name of defending the ruling elites of the British state it is only because they persist in plumbing new depths of foolishness in their frenzied lashing-out at the SNP.
Wilson and his sickening ilk have leapt with unseemly glee on the collapse of oil prices with no thought whatever for the stress and suffering that this is likely to cause those employed in the industry and their families. Neither do they care at all about the impact on the UK economy. As with the threat to abolish the currency union, their nasty, vindictive nature bids them disregard any damage to the UK/rUK economy so long as they can convince themselves that Scotland will suffer more. They will happily cut off their nose to spite the people of Scotland.
That nobody foresaw the current oil price slump is an inconvenient fact as readily ignored by British nationalists as the wider implications. They see only something which, with a bit of well-practised distortion and the customary unquestioning collusion of the British media, can be fashioned into a stick with which to beat the hated SNP. Nothing else matters.
More thoughtful people than Brian Wilson - which is a big list - will recognise the extraordinary geopolitical factors which have led to the extraordinary fall in oil prices. Those less intellectually crippled by mindless hatred of political opponents will realise that the present situation is unsustainable. The price of oil will bounce back from this blip. And it will bounce back to around the level used by the SNP in its projections.
What will buffoons like Wilson have to say when, at the date scheduled for the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status in early 2016, the price of Brent crude stands at $120? Given the inherent volatility that the British parties are so fond of banging on about, this is entirely possible. And certainly more likely than the price still languishing at $50 fully a year from now.
Perhaps the greatest idiocy of British nationalist propaganda is that it both exaggerates the volatility of oil prices AND assumes that oil prices will remain at the same abnormally low level for an extended period. It is a form of depraved double-think in which they glory in whatever implies the outcome that is most detrimental to Scotland, even if this means believing two contradictory things simultaneously. The similarity with fundamentalist religion will not be lost on dispassionate observers.
Just as British nationalists like Wilson try to falsely portray the oil price figures used by the SNP as “dishonest” (despite the fact that everybody else got it just as wrong because they were using the same range of projections) so they dishonestly try to peddle the idea that the Scottish Government’s underspend is evidence of fiscal incompetence. In another of those contradictions/inconsistencies which litter British nationalist propaganda, they do so at the same time as Jim Murphy calls for the Scottish Government to set aside money to deal with extraordinary situations such as the drop in oil prices. (That would be the same contingency fund which only a few months ago these same British politicians were ridiculing as a fantasy when it was proposed by the SNP.)
The reality is that this underspend is a normal and inevitable consequence of the way in which the Scottish Parliament is funded. The Scottish Government cannot budget for a deficit. It must ensure that spending stays within the the limits imposed by Westminster. That can mean nothing other than that there should be an underspend. That is why there is an underspend every year.
Admittedly, last year’s underspend was slightly higher than the usual 1% of the total budget at 1.3%. But, to put that in perspective, the previous year’s underspend was below the norm by an even greater margin at only 6%.
The voluntary stupidity of these British nationalists is evident not least in the fact that they whine so pointlessly about this underspend having devoted themselves to a campaign of distortion, disinformation and downright dishonesty intended to preserve the arrangements which make the underspend inevitable. If Wilson was genuinely incensed by this, then why was he so fanatically opposed to the Scottish Government having the same powers as any other national government to deal with unforeseen fluctuations in revenues?
But, of course, Brian Wilson is perfectly well aware of the inanity of what he is saying. Were he not the bigot that he is, and had somebody else written this article, he would dismiss them as a drivelling fool. Not being a bigot myself, I have no reason not to be just as dismissive of his demented ranting.
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THE SCOTTISH Government has come under fire after appearing to rule out the publication of any fresh oil forecasts in the near future as the crisis continues to engulf the industry.
This is infantile stuff from the British parties. Forecasting oil prices and revenues is fraught with problems at the best of times. In the present situation it is pretty much the definition of a futile exercise. Especially as we are still waiting to find out what the UK Government is going to do - if anything.
But, of course, Gavin Brown knows this perfectly well. The demand for pointless projections is no more than a device to give the unionist media an excuse to repeat yet again the propaganda line that it was the SNP alone which failed to foresee the price of oil falling off a cliff. You would never know it from reading The Scotsman, or any of the rest of the British media, but NOBODY foresaw this massive drop in oil prices.
And what happens in three months, or six months, or nine months when the price of oil normalises at around $110? Will the British parties and their friends in the media allow that the SNP was actually right? Or will they, as usual, expect us to helpfully forget articles such as this and the petty, opportunistic point-scoring of the likes of Gavin Brown?
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Thursday, 8 January 2015
THE Scottish Government ended last year with a record underspend, despite repeated complaints from the SNP administration about Westminster austerity cuts squeezing its budget.
Any moderately intelligent and informed person will immediately see through the crass sensationalism. They will separate out the information from the propaganda and recognise that this underspend is a perfectly normal - in fact, inevitable - consequence of the way the Scottish Government is funded. They will note that this underspend happens every year.
They will note that it is higher than usual, but by a margin that could aptly be described as unremarkable. Certainly, this year’s 1.3% underspend is no more remarkable than last year’s figure of 0.6%. Does anybody recall headlines in the British press trumpeting the fact that the “underspend” was 4 percentage points LESS than normal? No! So why all the fuss when it is a mere 3 points more than what we are assured is the usual 1%?
Indeed, why any fuss at all. The Scottish Government cannot budget for a deficit. Therefore, it must always have an underspend. One of the advantages of independence is that the Scottish Government would be able to spend right up to its budget knowing that unforeseen circumstances could be covered by borrowing. It is sickening, but all too typical, hypocrisy for British nationalists to whine about a system they campaigned to preserve.
So, if people are likely to see through the spin, why do it? What audience is being addressed by this kind of thing? Could it be that, in a moronically over-simplistic reading of the referendum result, the British media have concluded that a small majority of people in Scotland are committed British nationalists who will be more than happy with blatant distortion so long as it is done in the name of preserving the old order and the old ways?
Are No voters really content to be treated like fools by the British nationalist propaganda machine?
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RUTH Davidson has said the idea that Alex Salmond might be the UK’s next deputy prime minister “scares the bejesus out of me”.
The British parties in Scotland really are a disaster zone. Why is Ruth Davidson talking about British Labour forming the next UK Government, with or without SNP support? Why is she not talking up her own party’s chances of victory? Her minders must be in despair every time she opens her mouth.
As for the idea of Alex Salmond as Deputy PM, she really would have been better shutting up about that as well. Quite apart from the sheer improbability of Salmond being offered and accepting the job, not everybody is going to find the prospect quite as terrifying as Davidson does.
Davidson makes a mistake that is all to common among British nationalists. When she refers to Alex Salmond she is not talking about widely respected politician that most of us see. She is talking about the laughable caricature of Salmond as an evil mastermind concocted by the British nationalist propaganda machine. The reality is that a great many people across the UK would, at the very least, be able to contemplate Salmond as DPM without soiling their undergarments.
But it is a massively unlikely scenario. It is much more likely that the two main British parties would come to some arrangement between them so as to thwart the very electoral process that they lately demanded we content ourselves with.
But if Ruth Davidson is just silly, British Labour in Scotland are quite insane. That they should still be peddling Murphy’s incoherent “x + 1000 nurses” undertaking after the pounding this idiocy has taken from all sides simply shows how unaware the pretendy wee “Scottish Labour Party” is of what is happening outside its own little bubble. And how tragically impoverished their thinking is.
See on heraldscotland.com
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The Scottish Nationalists have been accused of ignoring the independence referendum result after a senior SNP MSP described as “insensitive” plans to put the Union flag on new UK driving licences.
How is it possible to see this move by the UK Government as anything other than, at best, insensitive and, at worst, wilfully provocative when it is entirely unnecessary and an exception has already been made for Northern Ireland? What other reason can there be for putting the union flag on driving licences?
If the reaction in Scotland and Wales was predictable then so too was the evidently well-rehearsed and carefully coordinated response from the British parties. All of which adds to the suspicion that the whole situation has been engineered by British nationalists.
As for the patently feeble plea from the DVLA that respecting the sensibilities of people in Scotland and Wales would be “extremely expensive and complex”, I would point out that cost was evidently not a consideration when the UK Government decided to impose the union flag regardless of the offence that this would cause. And the “complexity” of imprinting licences with different flags was plainly not so great as to prevent this happening in Northern Ireland.
The union flag does not represent either a nation or a people. It represents a political construct. An artifice. A contrivance. It stands for the British state and, of necessity, the union that most people in Scotland want to end or, at least, drastically reform. Like it or not, the union flag is the emblem of a political cause - the cause of preserving the structures of power and privilege which define the British state.
Who but a complete fool would be surprised that people in Scotland object to their personal documents being emblazoned with British nationalist propaganda.
See on telegraph.co.uk
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Wednesday, 7 January 2015
"Even people as self-important as Alex Salmond have to win over the electorate," said the deputy prime minister.
Nick Clegg just called over 90,000 SNP members (more than the LibDems in the whole UK) and somewhere in the region of 45% of the electorate in Scotland a “ragtag mob”. Does he really think this will make him and his failed party any less unappealing to voters?
See on buzzfeed.com
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Labour MPs, English Tories and Ukip have attacked Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy’s plan to pay for 1,000 extra nurses through taxes on mansions south of the Border.
I really do wish people would stop referring to Murphy’s “1000 nurse” thing as a “plan”. The term implies that the matter was given significant consideration. All too evidently, it was not.
The “1000 nurse” undertaking is every bit as idiotic as it appears. The main purpose was, as ever, an attack on the SNP. If anybody thought any further than that at all they might have supposed that they had accidentally hit upon a good example of the “pooling and sharing across the UK” that they are always banging on about - making it a double-barrelled electioneering salvo.
Both barrels backfired disastrously.
The attempt to wrong foot the SNP was catastrophically ill-thought with an undertaking which handed them the power to define the most crucial part of the promise - the number of nurses. It wasn’t a promise of 1000 nurses. It was a promise of 1000 more nurses than an entirely unknown figure.
Not only is there no way that this promise could be costed, there was no way it could be delivered. Health is fully devolved. It wouldn’t matter how many British Labour MPs were returned to Westminster from constituencies in Scotland, they would have no power to implement this “policy”. Unless, of course, Murphy’s mob are fantasising about British Labour taking power again at Holyrood in 2016. In which case, they seem to be envisaging that British Labour administration taking its instructions from an equally imaginary British Labour government in London.
So much for the “autonomy” that Murph The Mendacious has been mouthing-off about.
The “pooling and sharing” bit (supposing it was even considered) has backfired for the simple reason that nobody in England - and certainly nobody in London - is the slightest bit interested in any form of resource redistribution which does not work to their advantage. And, as we have seen all to clearly, they are vehemently opposed to any “pooling and sharing” which so much as looks as if it might work to Scotland’s advantage.
All Murphy’s mob have done is expose the utter vacuousness of their whole “pooling and sharing” argument.
British Labour in Scotland, assisted by much of the media in Scotland which had elevated Jim Murphy to the status of “Protector of the British State”, are now desperately trying to salvage something from this “1000 nurses” fiasco by portraying it as a bit of clever political gamesmanship worthy of Alex Salmond. It isn’t! It is a clumsy mess which exposes the petty, intellect-crippling anti-SNP obsession of the pretendy “Scottish Labour Party” and the yawning emptiness of all their “One nation” rhetoric.
See on heraldscotland.com
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Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Johnson: Labour's vindictive plan to pay for nurses with mansion tax funds will set one part of UK against another
Labour’s “vindictive” plan to tax London millionaires to pay for nurses in Scotland will set one part of the country against another and create resentment, Boris Johnson has claimed.
It is difficult to tell who are the biggest idiots here. British Labour in Scotland for coming up with such a totally incoherent “policy”. Or rabid British nationalists whose eagerness to vent their excess of righteous indignation precludes rational thought to the extent that they utterly fail to realise just how incoherent Jim Murphy’s “Big Idea” actually is.
Listen up, Boris and assorted Little Englander dullards! This is a UK election. Health is fully devolved. Stop those knees jerking long enough to consider the implications. There is no way that British Labour MPs could implement their “plan” to spend Mansion Tax revenues on hiring an unlimited number of nurses.
And, of course, that is what they have committed to. In an act of quite staggering political stupidity, they have handed their political opponents the power to decide the crucial element of this “policy”. This in addition to the arguably greater stupidity of undertaking to hire nurses regardless of whether they are needed or not.
The question we must ask is whether Jim Murphy’s idiocy is matched by those who have been so witless as to imagine that this was a serious policy announcement and not a moment of comically panicked bluster in the face of pending electoral humiliation.
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David Younger looks at the mass of contradictions ahead of the SNP at the next general election and questions the strategy many on the Yes side have moved towards. No disrespect to the pollsters he…
The key word here is “options”. The most valuable commodity in politics. To put it as simply as possible, voting SNP opens up options for Scotland. Voting for any of the British parties closes off options.
Given that we cannot possibly know the precise outcome of the coming UK general election, we have to play safe and vote SNP. Imagining all the possible outcomes is pointless exercise, even if entertaining in the way that speculation always is for a certain breed of political anorak. We cannot possibly vote in such a way as to cover all possible outcomes. And if we listen to all the pundits urging us to vote according to their favoured outcome we will end up with nothing more than a headache.
There is no doubt that a substantial contingent of SNP MPs holding the balance of power at Westminster would present the party with some serious conundrums. But the alternative is to go back to business as usual with the faux rivalries of the British parties and Scotland being, at best, ignored and, quite probably, punished. To vote for the British parties is to abandon the gains that have been made as a result of the referendum campaign. A vote for the SNP is a vote to consolidate those gains.
See on bellacaledonia.org.uk
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In bleeding England to fuel traditional spending giveaways, has the Scottish Labour leader signalled his surrender to Scotland’s unsustainable status quo?
Health is devolved. While Henry Hill touches on the fact that MSPs at Holyrood cannot possibly ring-fence any part of the so-called Mansion Tax for spending in Scotland, he fails to acknowledge that a British Labour government would also have no power to dictate health spending in Scotland - other than indirectly through Westminster’s stranglehold on Scotland’s budget.
I do not chastise Mr Hill for this omission. Murphy’s “pledge” is moronic on so many levels and in so many ways that it is well nigh impossible to keep track of every individual gobbet of idiocy.
But Mr Hill misses another point, and is certainly culpable in this instance. Murphy may have reduced the banal game of election promise trumps to a new level of inanity. But it is still the game which characterises all of British politics. British Labour’s Tory allies have no right to be smug.
See on conservativehome.com
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Like most people, I suspect, I saw this latest piece of campaign material from British Labour in Scotland and immediately dismissed it as a spoof. A rather clever spoof, admittedly, but a spoof nonetheless. Imagine my slack-jawed wonder when I discovered that it was genuine. They really did say that!
If there is one form of campaigning that gets people’s hackles up it’s the “Christmas List” of promised goodies. Nobody believes any of it. And they resent being taken for the kind of fools who would succumb to such vacuous blandishments. So what does Murphy’s Mob do? They come up with the most grindingly, toe-curlingly awful manifestation of the political promise ever seen. Surely a candidate for one of those TV “list” shows - “The 100 Worst Ever Campaign Promises!”.
In the puerile game of manifesto trumps that is politics as the British parties understand it, British Labour in Scotland have sought to contrive the ultimate trump card. Just take whatever our opponents are offering, they say, and add a big number. That’s it! That’s their idiot’s offer to the people of Scotland.
As political cmpaiging goes, it is profoundly embarrassing and an insult to the people of Scotland.
As the ultimate Santa, Jim Murphy simply doesn’t cut it.
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Monday, 5 January 2015
See on peterabell.blogspot.co.uk
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Saturday, 3 January 2015
NEW Year’s Day meals served in some Scottish hospitals cost less than half those dished up to prisoners in the nation’s jails, it has been revealed.
Let’s take the most obvious difference between a prison and hospital - security. The cost of trained staff to supervise the preparation and distribution of meals must inevitably add considerably to the cost of meals in prison.
Any thinking person could come up with several more reasons why prison meals might be more expensive than hospital meals. None of them having anything to do with the quality of the food. Murdo Fraser seems to want us to believe that he is too dumb to even think of one such reason.
But is he really as stupid as he tries to appear? Probably not. Yet again we note the willingness of British politicians to make utter fools of themselves in the name of some petty, pointless attack on the Scottish Government and/or any part of the infrastructure for which they are responsible.
Fraser’s little rant has nothing whatever to do with caring for patients. It is entirely about lashing out at the SNP. And, of course, undermining public confidence in NHS Scotland to prepare the way for privatisation.
See on scotsman.com
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Ian Birrell: The two parties have more in common with each other than with the insurgents. A national government would prevent a constitutional crisis
A few days ago there were a small number of people, including myself, positing the possibility of a Tory/Labour coalition after the UK general election. I initially asked the question in a spirit of half-mischievousness. But, having broached the idea, I became increasingly convinced that it is a very real possibility.
Now we have this possibility being explored in the British media.* It isn’t a joke any more. Kites are being flown. Elbows are being dipped in the waters of public opinion. A Tory/Labour coalition is now being discussed openly as a readily imaginable scenario.
More imaginable, I suspect, for people in Scotland who have the recent experience of seeing British Labour standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their Tory allies in a desperate effort to preserve the structures of power and privilege which define the British state. and from which both parties benefit greatly. The inexorable rise of the SNP and other Scottish parties is, in part at least, explained by the fact the distinction between the main British parties has been all but blurred out of existence.
Scotland has pretty much shrugged off the old politics of faux rivalries and interminable spin. In Scotland, politics is now much more about policies than parties. It is about issues, not sound-bites. It is about people, not personalities. The old Tory/Labour division is barely relevant. Increasingly, the division is between the British parties, which represent the old politics; the old order; and the old ways, and the Scottish parties, which represent the new, progressive politics that has arisen out of the positive, aspirational grass-roots Yes campaign.
Ian Birrell tries to put a gloss on this possible Tory/Labour coalition by portraying it as “government of national unity”. A nice bit of spin in itself. But he gives the game away with his use of pejorative, emotive and, some would say, downright insulting terms such as “insurgent” and “militant” to refer to those who are doing no more than using lawful democratic processes to challenge an unacceptable and untenable status quo.
By his use of such language Birrell reveals a British establishment that sees itself as besieged by political forces it neither understands, nor wants to understand - only to obliterate. The ruling elites of the British state are under threat. It is only to be expected that the British establishment will close ranks to defend the established order. Under such circumstances, a Tory/Labour coalition becomes not only imaginable, but almost inevitable.
But let there be no mistake, for all that this alliance will be represented as being for the benefit of the people of these islands, it has but one purpose. It is entirely about thwarting the democratic will of the people of Scotland. It is all about stopping the SNP and the tide of dissent that success for the SNP is likely to unleash.
British politicians are scared of the people. And that’s just the way I like it.
See on theguardian.com
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Friday, 2 January 2015
As we begin 2015, there is the customary air of gloom, dread and uncertainty.
Reasons to be cheerful. We might also add the fact that Scotland is now closer to independence than ever.
See on heraldscotland.com
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Thursday, 1 January 2015
The 2015 General Election campaign is about to begin in earnest.
The result is difficult to predict but in the closing days of 2014 Ladbrokes offered 7/4 on Labour winning the most votes. The Tories were on 1/2.
If wishful thinking, self-deception and vacuous sloganeering could be weaponised then British Labour in Scotland would have in Catherine MacLeod a device to rival the obscene Trident system to which they are so devoted; or the WMD that they lied about in order to engineering their murderous imperialist assault on the sovereign nation and people of Iraq. It would take all day to catalogue the lies and fallacies in this diatribe fuelled by mindless hatred of the SNP. I’ll content myself with a couple of points.
MacLeod asserts that the “SNP are desperate to capture the Labour vote in Scotland”, evidently oblivious to the fact that this has already happened. The evidence to which her prejudices blind her include the 2011 election result and all current polling as well as the fact that, in September’s referendum, large swathes of British Labour’s core support rejected their British nationalist dogma and voted to break the system to which British Labour is wedded.
Most comical, however, is McLeod’s drivel about the SNP’s sole priority being “a border between Scotland and England”. Wakey! Wakey! That border already exists. It is one of the oldest national borders in the world. Scotland is a totally separate jurisdiction. We even have our own parliament and democratically elected government. The only problem is that British Labour never intended that this government should actually be effective in representing the needs and priorities of the people of Scotland. And they conspire with their Tory allies to ensure that powers are withheld that rightfully belong to the Scottish Parliament.
But we should be grateful to Catherine MacLeod for one thing, She nicely encapsulates all the hateful attitudes and erroneous thinking which will contribute to Murphy’s mob suffering a sound thrashing at the hands of the electorate in the UK elections. As she says in a telling echo of Wendy Alexander (politically deceased), roll on May 7.
See on heraldscotland.com
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