Thursday 31 May 2012

Wednesday 30 May 2012

See no evil

Ignoring reality?
Alan Massie tends to be the voice of reason in all matters and at all times. But commendable as his reasonableness may be I fear he may have allowed it to stray into the realm of naivety with his article today in The Scotsman (Yes or No, we all want what’s best for Scotland).

Massie's appeal for good-humour, fairness and moderation from all involved in the referendum campaign is undoubtedly worthy. But I am surely not alone in observing that his entreaty comes a bit late. That ship has well and truly sailed. Many will note the heavy irony of the fact that this appeal comes to us courtesy of a newspaper that has come to be synonymous with blatant bias and infamous for some of the more reprehensible smear tactics of the anti-independence propaganda effort. Is this not the same rag that quite unashamedly rigged its own online poll because it contradicted the "evidence" of the failed UK consultation on the referendum? Just an example of the dirty tricks already being deployed by those desperate to preserve the British state at any cost to the people of Scotland.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Currency affairs

Patrick Harvie's impish grin
There's a rather curious little piece in the online edition of The Scotsman today. Don't get too excited! It's not an apology for being such a shameless unionist propaganda rag with arguably the worst newspaper website in the world. It's this - Questions raised about alternative currency for Scots.

At first glance it appears to be another contribution to the referendum debate from Scottish Green MSP, Patrick Harvie. The unwary reader is lured in by Harvie's impish grin (left) and the promise of some more of the inspirational good sense that he has been talking since becoming the de facto voice of the YES campaign. It is then that, to our dismay and alarm, we discover that Harvie makes only a brief appearance before the bulk of the piece is given over to yet another rancid rant from the shrill and far from impish Maggie Curran.

Monday 28 May 2012

Debate debased

Patrick Harvie MSP (Most Sensible Participant)
I notice that on Twitter there are a few people apparently keen to publicise the fact that they didn't watch the "Big Debate" on BBC1 Scotland last night. I did. And I find myself feeling a bit envious of those who didn't. It wasn't all that big and it sure as hell wasn't a debate.

The ringmaster was Isabel Fraser and taking part were Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens; Anas Sarwar for Labour; SNP Deputy Leader, Nicola Sturgeon; and Ruth Davidson embarrassing herself on behalf of the Scottish Tories - many of whom would wake up this morning sore from cringing.

And, of course, the real stars of the show, the live audience. Of which more later.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Getting cross about the saltire

Saltire no more?
There's a bit of a row brewing over the high-handed attitude of London Olympics organisers, Locog, to the display of flags other than the "officially approved" union jack along the route of the torch relay and at various venues - including Hampden. The multiple national identities within the artificial political contrivance of the British state always portended a plethora of potential presentational pitfalls for the organisers of the London Olympics. It seems that the corporate overlords of the Olympiad are determined to explore all the possibilities offered. (See a far from comprehensive list here.)

Saturday 26 May 2012

SNP: The political trinity

Salmond: First Minister, Party Leader, Campaign Figurehead
Amongst the dross that littered today's newspapers as they vied with each other to present the most negatively biased perspective on the launch of the referendum Yes campaign, there was one piece which stood out as being, if not a gem of political analysis, then at least a shiny bauble. Writing in The Herald, Ian Bell provides a timely reminder that what we are being offered in the forthcoming referendum is A vote for independence, not for Salmond's policies.

It may seem strange that  such a reminder should be necessary. But, as one of our more astute political bloggers points out in a recent piece for The Caledonian Mercury, clarification is very much required. (Does anyone understand what a referendum is? - Reverend Stuart Campbell)
A referendum, by definition, is not a device for deciding multiple policies. An independence referendum resolves one issue and one issue alone: who elects the next government. In Scotland’s case, the referendum will determine whether from that point on it’s the people of Scotland who get to choose Scotland’s government, or (as at present) the people of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. But the policies of that government – and every one that follows it – will be decided by regular elections.
 Ian Bell makes the same point,
...a plebiscite is not a General Election. This vote, when it comes, will settle only one issue.
He expands on this point thus,
The important point is that in 2014 we won't be voting on, for example, an independent Scotland's relationship, if any, with the monarchy. We won't be deciding whether we can or should remain within Nato or the sterling area. The referendum is about the right to choose, not about the particular choices contained within anyone's "vision" of self-determination.

And so it begins

A broad-based campaign
We've had the big media launch of the referendum campaign and, let's be honest, it wasn't all it might have been. Don't get me wrong! I'm not about to resort to the kind of sneering, carping, pantomime-cynical negativity that pervades the press. The general response of the mainstream media to yesterday's event has been as pitifully puerile as it was tiresomely predictable.

You could pretty much pick an article at random in order to illustrate the point. But David Torrance's bitter little diatribe in The Scotsman is fairly typical. (Amateur hour at Yes campaign launch). This is a man who is rapidly becoming almost a caricature of the bilious, bleating British nationalist naysayer. Alan "Poor Old Cockers" Cochrane had better look to his laurels. There's a potential new self-appointed anti-independence ranter-in-chief loitering in the wings.

Friday 25 May 2012

Here's the campaign! Where's the debate?

Inverness - October 2011
I write this on the day that sees the launch of the Yes Scotland campaign marking the start of the effort to secure a yes vote in the hard-won referendum to decide Scotland's constitutional future. Like the arrival of the minority SNP government in 2007 and the stunning election victory a little over a year ago, today marks a very real milestone in the history of our nation.

As I write my mind goes back to another significant occasion - the SNP Conference in October 2011 when Alex Salmond declared that the SNP would, "campaign full square for independence in the coming referendum". I knew, of course, that there was going to be a referendum. Among the many things signalled by the result of the May 2011 election was the end of the decades-long Labour/Tory/LibDem fight to deny the people of Scotland a say in the matter of their country's constitutional status. But it was at Inverness last October when the reality of the referendum was truly brought home to me.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Message in a ballot

Scottish local elections
The past week has been a busy time for the priesthood of political punditry as they dutifully descended upon the eviscerated corpse of Scotland's local elections to solemnly scrabble about in the statistical entrails seeking signs and portents.

Some of these seers sought that metaphorical gobbet of goat's guts that would allow them to declare a definitive victor in the electoral contest. The vagaries and vagueness of the voting system meant that various votaries were able to make diverse pronouncements in the matter with equal conviction and broadly equivalent plausibility. The arithmetic very much favoured the Scottish National Party, while Scottish Labour benefited from well-earned low expectations which, with a little help from their friends at the BBC, allowed anything short of ignominious defeat to be portrayed as a great leap forward. The nationalists got incontestable mathematical superiority. Labour got a much needed morale boost.

Monday 7 May 2012

Beeb, baby, bathwater

Spot the deliberate "mistakes"
The ongoing furore over the BBC's now all but explicit anti-SNP bias reached something of a crescendo in the aftermath of the Scottish local elections. The editorial decision to manipulate the figures so as to allow Labour holds to be represented as gains was met with howls of understandably indignant protest. More details of this can be found over at Newsnet Scotland - Questions over BBC Scotland’s election figure claims

The anger was further stoked as BBC coverage of the results on Friday night and into Saturday persisted in portraying a Labour "victory" in blind denial of all the evidence which clearly showed that, in terms of any metric not distorted by the BBC, it was the SNP which had advanced. On some fronts, to a very significant degree.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Analysis my arse!

Oops! That's not Salmond with Murdoch!
One might have hoped that the Murdoch circus would have moved on by now. Not the main event, of course. That still has a while to run. We haven't had the crowd-pleasing throwing of a minister to the lions yet. No! I refer to the side-show being staged specially for viewers in Scotland. The one that's featured in the latest, local election special, smear campaign against Alex Salmond.

These things usually have quite a short run. Partly because the public rapidly lose interest, having seen it all before. Mainly because the promoters, invariably the deceivingly named "Scottish" Labour, discover that their production is going to cost them dearly as the glare of the spotlight inevitably falls on them. (Remember Anas Sarwar, deputy to Ed Miliband's Scottish deputy, and the fuss about the referendum consultation?) This one is being dragged out because it gets an occasional publicity boost from the goings-on under the Westminster big top and because it is contractually obliged to pad out Labour's otherwise rather underwhelming council elections road-show.