Selling Out To The Tories – For A Flag

​Rally round the flag. One Britain. Undivisible. The rhetoric from the Tories is one of right wing British Nationalism. In a world where Britain is portrayed in the right wing press such as the Daily Mail and the Daily Express as being at loggerheads with the EU and under threat from Muslim Extremism, and at risk of losing control of Scotland and Northern Ireland, it’s easy to simply wave the flag, demand unity in the face of adversity and to slyly coax people to put their differences aside, invoking the Dunkirk spirit and “Our Boys” imagery to do so.
As politics go, these are legitimate tactics.
But is it not up to us to see through the jingoism and rhetoric and to point out what is coming through the back door unseen?
The Tories are undoubtedly purveyors of avarice and enemies of the working people. Friends to big business, to shareholders and financiers, to arms dealers and privateers, the working people of Britain are nothing but fodder to be be fed to big business and discarded when no longer productive.

The sick, the disabled and those too old or infirm to work are a burden, to be managed at the lowest cost, in the most degrading and inhuman way possible. State assets are seen as short term generators of profit to prop up failing budgets; to be sold off to any bidder who’ll join in the crusade to strip workers of rights, and to reduce the ordinary working folk to commodities, minimum wage slave labour to generate profit for the shareholders.
Look around you and tell me you DON’T know people who have been shafted by them. How many of you see people unable to afford prescriptions and being forced to choose which of the drugs they need to keep them alive they can afford? How many of you see pensioners robbed of their dignity before being robbed of their savings and their homes to pay for “care” where they are treated like animals, fed on slops on a 36p a day budget, while the profits run into the fat cats pockets? 

You see schools struggle with budget cuts, education suffer, libraries close, dirty streets strewn with litter that no one has the money to pick up, meanwhile private companies rob the public purse with inflated contracts where they spend other peoples money without a second thought, because they can always put the squeeze on them some more.

And all the time the bankers get greedier, the fat cats get fatter and the Daily Mail blames the immigrants and the unemployed and tells you to keep voting Tory.
I am bewildered how after all these years the working class of this country seem blind to how Thatcherism is alive and well and living in Westminster. I am bewildered how the working class of this country seem so willing to turn a blind eye to the rotten beating heart at the core of the Tory party. I am bewildered at how so many people are willing to ignore all that they have done, because they are waving the flag. The “I’m alright jack brigade” now hold sway.
Some of you are doing alright. Compared to some you have good wages and compared to some you have reasonable conditions. But they are under threat from a party that wants to rip every last one from you. When you vote Tory you sell out everyone in this country who is struggling, everyone who needs a hand from the system, everyone who hasn’t had the breaks that many of us have.
Above all, when you vote Tory the person you sell out most of all is yourself.

Can Someone Tell Elaine (Not C) Smith: Foreigners ISN’T a Dirty Word…

Letter to the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, 16th March 2017
Dear Sir,
There has been a lot of xenophobic sentiment displayed over the last few years in England and this has led us to the point where it is highly likely there will be a referendum on whether Scotland wishes to be an independent nation and EU member or a region of Britain outside of Europe. Last week I was unfortunate enough to see a video released by the British Nationalist campaign group Scotland in Union in which former football commentator Archie McPherson stated that he did not want to see Scotland as a normal country which runs its own affairs as this would make friends and family in England “foreigners”. Unlike Archie, I have no fear of “foreigners”. Over the last few years I have been very lucky to travel across Europe, to France and Italy and more recently to Denmark and Sweden and have to admit that we have much to learn from these countries but we also have much to offer in return. The freedom to move and travel across Europe with the same ease as if I were to travel to Glasgow or Inverness is one which I value and do not wish to see thrown away.
In this weeks Advertiser Elaine Smith MSP complained about how our railways are in private hands and that they are now a “cash cow for Dutch state-owned Abellio” and that they are “passing profits abroad”. I fully agree that our railways should be nationalised, but why does Ms Smith draw attention to which country that money will go to? There are numerous privatised Train Operating Companies operating in Scotland, Arriva and Virgin to name two which aren’t foreign owned, yet Ms Smith specifically singles out the one where the privatised profits don’t go into British pockets. Alluding to foreign companies taking “our” money might resonate with some, but not me. If privatisation of public services is wrong then make your case on that basis Elaine. Not by the nationality of the pocket the money ends up in.
Yours Sincerely,
James Cassidy

Popular Misconceptions No2: Scots Knew There Would Be An EU Referendum

On Question Time last night a lady piped up with her opinion which received rapturous applause from the audience in Bognor Regis: Why are the Scots demanding a referendum now, because when they voted in 2014 they KNEW there was going to be a Brexit vote.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this stated. It’s nonsense of course and anyone with decent powers of recall or even better, access to google should be able to establish a few basic facts. But let’s give the good lady from Bognor the benefit of the doubt and say she wasn’t following the situation in this country as closely as we were here and look at just why she’s mistaken.
Joanna Cherry MP had a decent stab at addressing all the points put to her and to be honest it could have been an hour long show with just Ms Cherry, David Dimbleby and the audience of Bognor Regis, but the question above was one she didn’t respond to and in my view should have.
In the lead up to the September 2014 referendum Scots were being told by the print, radio and television media and by Labour politicians that if they voted No a Labour government was just round the corner. That if they voted No, in less than a year they could sweep the coalition from power and that Ed Miliband would become a Prime Minister who would hold Scotland in high regard. Indeed Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson deliberately played down the Tories chances of returning to power to reassure Scots voters that they should vote for the union. I was one of many warning that this wasn’t the case; that Ed Miliband was unelectable and that the Tories would not only take power but seek to emasculate Scotland in the process. I was correct on every single point.
From The Guardian, September 2014
“Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader in Scotland, highlighted fears of a yes vote when she told a cross-party referendum debate on STV on Tuesday night that the Tories are on course to lose the UK election. This was seen as an attempt to reassure wavering voters who are more likely to vote for independence if they believe the Tories will win the UK election, according to the former Labour first minister Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale.”
“Citing unguarded remarks on Monday night by Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, that the Conservatives were unlikely to win the general election, Miliband will insist that Labour would win in 2015 – a year earlier than Scotland could become independent.”

But I digress. In the lead up to September 2014 the Tories were having internal rows and were under pressure from UKIP and David Cameron was floating the idea of an EU referendum to quiet the unruly within the party and to stop wavering voters from switching to UKIP. The EU referendum bill was actually introduced to the UK parliament in October 2014, just over a month after the Scottish referendum. It passed its first hurdle then floundered, before David Cameron included it as a manifesto pledge for the May 2015 election, and it was confirmed as going ahead later that month.
So in the pre-Indyref campaign the possibility of an EU referendum was certainly there, but it was being played down in Scotland by the Tories, Labour and the Lib-Dems, with all three campaigning on the same message: voting Yes was a sure fire way of taking Scotland OUT of Europe.

At the Labour Party (Scotland Branch) conference in March 2014, Margaret Curran made a conference speech in which she said:
“Because Alex Salmond knows Scots don’t really want independence.
What they want is a Labour Prime Minister and a Labour Government.
And rest assured, Conference, Alex Salmond know that his biggest threat is Ed Miliband is throwing David Cameron out of number 10.”

While the main thrust of the No campaign was squarely behind the Project Fear approach the one positive aspect that they did try to sell was a tenuous house of cards. If any one aspect was removed it all fell apart. Everything hinged on No winning, then hapless Ed Miliband winning the general election, so that there would be no EU referendum. Even the dog’s in the street could see that Ed was the weakest link in that chain, yet he was talked up by Labour as the best of both world’s. And still no one was willing to admit what anyone with any sense could see: that he was a short term solution to a long term problem, and that even had he by some miracle won that the Tories at some point would be back, vindictive as ever. The plan fell at the second hurdle and left Scotland facing another Tory government.
As we saw afterwards, once Scotland was secured within the union, focus returned to Europe. The Conservatives, ran their campaign with two major themes; that they would deliver a referendum on EU membership (which Cameron fully expected to win) and that Ed Miliband would be a puppet Prime Minister worked from the back by Alex Salmond. Having told Scotland it would be a valued and equal partner, within months Scotland was the enemy within, and while Labour tried to blame their loss of seats to the SNP for their defeat, simple mathematics showed that Labour had been roundly defeated by over a hundred seats and even had they retained their Scottish seats would still be languishing effectively a million miles behind the Tories.
Having brought in English Votes for English Laws which stripped Scottish MP’s of some voting rights the UK parliament has now moved to reduce Scottish MP’s by scrapping 6 seats. With a now tried and proven system in place for the election in the form of whipping up anti-Scottish sentiment and insinuating that Labour will (if they remain as one party) enter coalition with the SNP to deny the English electorate their rightful government, we have a recipe for Tory government in Scotland for years to come. So if there’s a way out of Brexit and from another lost generation of Tory rule, I’d grab it. Margaret Curran might think otherwise though…


Edited to add: Murdo Fraser caught red handed trying the same line with Andrew Neil today…

Davidson plays down Tory chances
Tories commit to EU Ref

Yoon Arguments No 146: Handing Power to Brussels

“Why would you want to leave one union to be ruled by another in Brussels?” asked an audience member on Question Time last night… “because you can’t be independent in the EU”.

Unfortunately David Dimbleby didn’t allow Joanna Cherry MP to respond to that particular point, but it’s one that needs addressed.

The idea that the UK is a benevolent “partnership” while the EU is an overbearing dictatorship seems to strike a chord with some people, however this avoids one blatantly obvious point.

When the UK wanted to hold a referendum on EU membership the UK held a referendum. It didn’t have to seek permission. Because it is a sovereign nation.

When Scotland stated it’s intention to hold another referendum on UK membership it has to seek permission, because it’s not a sovereign nation. It has to ask the permission of the largest nation in the “partnership”. And that nation said No.

So the idea that Scotland would be recovering it’s sovereignty only to “hand it back to Brussels” is one of the greatest fallacies of the whole debate, and one which may have to keep countering for some time to come. “Luckily” Theresa May has given us a blatant example of this in practice. Lucky us, eh?

Yoon Outrage Tactic No 376: The Twitter Retiral

Former Better Together activist Claire Heuchan wrote one of the most inflammatory attacks against the Scottish independence movement in the wake of Sadiq Khan’s ill fated attempt to kick start Project Smear on behalf of Kezia Dugdale.

I her article in the Guardian she wrote “The relentlessness of nationalists’ need to distance Scotland from the rest of the UK on the grounds that we were not like them filled me with anything but hope. The message of difference, that it must lead to separation, forced me to question how people of colour and migrants fitted into their idea of Scottish society at a time when purism governed understanding of Scottish identity and belonging.”

Purism? That old “Blood and Soil” line pushed by Alistair Darling now being delivered again, though this time not by a white, middle aged suit. I’ll leave you to read the responses which eloquently and passionately dismantled her argument and showed it up for what it was, a bilious attempt to tar those who believe that Scotland should be like other normal countries and govern itself as racists.

Having suffered the mother of all big riddies, Claire has apparently had to retire from Twitter “for her own safety” according to ultra-unionist hack Guardian hack Severin Carrell. In reality she will be following in the footsteps of the likes of the Herald’s David Torrance, who pulled the same stunt a while back. It gives their media chums an easy headline attacking Vile Cybernats for little or no effort and can be relied upon to be referenced for years to come (if not at FMQ’s on Thursday).

In a week or so Ms Heuchan will be back on Twitter. By then the debate will have moved on and we’ll have forgotten that we never even knew who she was in the first place…

Letter to The National: When You Are In A Hole, Why Not Ask A Friend To Grab A Shovel…

Letter to The National (27/02/17)
Dear Sir,
As someone who had tweeted my support to Sadiq Khan when he was enduring racist attitudes in his bid to become Mayor of London, I was utterly sickened by his ignorant attack on supporters of Scottish independence, branding them as no better than racists. He can’t claim to have been misquoted as his office no doubt supplied the text of his speech to the Daily Record in advance. His attempt to play down the row was utterly sickening too, where he stated that he was a proud Brit and a proud Londoner. This was reinforced by the increasingly desperate Kezia Dugdale who tried to play down his xenophobic comments by trying to compare racist hatred with having a different view on political policies. Here’s news for you Kezia: politics is divisive by its very nature. It requires you to pick a side. If you think that division is wrong, and that once defeated you should meekly accept that your opponent was right all along, then what on earth are you still doing in your job? You lost the last election and by your own ill thought out logic should have walked away, or joined the SNP because they won. Instead you are pocketing the cash while twisting this way and that, taking doublethink to previously unheard of levels.
Kezia is one of the worst type of Scot. She is the type who will not only talk Scotland down whenever she can, but will defend anyone outwith Scotland who does likewise, no matter how vile their comments. If she truly stood up for Scotland she would never have allowed Sadiq Khan to be fed such a bile laden script to read, but as it was no doubt created with her approval all it reveals is how much of a British nationalist she really is, and that’s where the doublethink kicks in. Because being a proud Brit is good and that’s where it ends. She’ll accept borders, if they are British borders, she’ll accept division, if it’s British division, and she’ll accept pride in one’s country, so long as that country is Britain. The one thing that she won’t accept is that Scots can take pride in their country, want it do well and have the balls to stand up, be counted and work to make that happen. Just because she and her cronies lack the vision and the self-belief to see that an independent Scotland could thrive doesn’t mean we should succumb to her petty, spirit sapping ideal of a neutered Scotland.
Yours Sincerely,
James Cassidywp-1488306322362.jpg

Letter to The National: Labour Party Doublethink

Letter to The National (23/02/17)

Dear National,

Last weekend The Labour party (Scotland Branch) took to the streets of Airdrie to campaign against the recent rises in council tax which were imposed by the Scottish Government. Labour have been demanding an end to the council tax freeze since the SNP introduced it, except in the immediate run up to elections when they have flip-flopped and supported it just in case it cost them the election. In 2008 they helped to scupper the SNP minority governments Local Income Tax plan; now almost ten years later they are making the SNP’s failure to scrap the council tax a major thrust of their attack for the 2017 council elections, despite being instrumental in ensuring that didn’t happen.

The 2008 defeat for the SNP was a solid one and as we have come to expect, the unionist parties were strongly backed by the press and other media, meaning that any attempt to reintroduce a Local Income Tax would receive a hostile reception. The SNP in an attempt either at testing the waters for change or simply trying to be seen to do something formed the cross-party (sans Conservatives, who declined to contribute) Commission on Local Tax Reform in 2015, which was tasked to explore alternatives to the council tax. Part of their recommendations were to end the present system of council tax and to explore introducing an income based element alongside a property based element, however there were no hard and fast recommendations, and the report acknowledged that each party was liable to have a different answer to the problem. In the meantime, it recommended a transitional approach and acknowledged that a long term solution would not be done overnight. The recent end to the council tax freeze has possibly seen the first move towards that, with the higher rated bands (E-H) seeing rises of between £2 and £10 a week. That’s between 28p and £1.42 a day. Or if you are Labour that can be summarised as a 22% hike which will cost you £517 a year. Because what they are concentrating on is that top figure. Some council tax payers WILL pay an extra 22%, but I’m concerned that this is the only figure they’ll be using. Telling people on the doorstep that their council tax will rise by 28p a day doesn’t make people’s blood boil. Telling them that the Scottish Government is hiking their “council tax” by 22% (or £517) possibly will, even more so when you aren’t ascertaining if they are affected or not. According to Scottish Government statistics from 2011, 1% of householders in Scotland are in Band H homes which are valued (at 1991 rates) at over £212,001. For North Lanarkshire that was 120 homes, and unless there has been any great change, a spate of lottery wins for example, that figure isn’t going to be radically different, perhaps (and I’m being generous here) there are around 200 homes valued at over £212,001. That’s the reality. 1% of what may be broadly viewed as the wealthiest households will see a rise of £10 a week. Yet Labour are saying this figure so often that one might be mistaken for thinking that everyone is being hit with a 22% rise.

From the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 until 2007, Labour ran the Scottish Parliament. At the same time Labour were in charge at Westminster and controlled the majority of Scotland’s local authorities. In that time council tax rose year on year. In 2007 the average Band D council tax payer, on average income in a middle of the table house was paying 30% more council tax than they had in 1999, while some of the higher bands apparently saw as much as a 60% hike! We aren’t talking 120 homes here, we are talking about every council tax payer across the board, paying more every year to keep Labour local authorities in the manner to which they had become accustomed to. Had Labour remained in power that pattern of continual tax rises would have no doubt continued, hitting everyone, across the board, rich and poor alike. I’d say that a 22% rise after 10 years to 1% of council tax payers is pretty good going in comparison, and I wonder how Labour can complain about such a rise to the top rate, considering they spent years stating that the freeze only benefited the richest in society!

The term Doublethink was coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984, and it refers to the ability to hold and espouse two contradictory views at the same time. Scottish Labour are demanding that the general rate of income tax be raised for everyone in Scotland by 1p, while simultaneously complaining that the four highest council tax bands will see a rise of between 7.5% and 22%. So someone on a salary of about £30,000 a year would pay around than £4 a week (£208 a year) extra under its plan, and someone on the same wage as the First Minister would pay an extra £28 a week (£1,447 a year). So Labour are comfortable taking an extra £208 off someone earning about £30,000 a year, but are outraged if that same person has to pay an extra £2 on council tax? Or that someone earning £140,000 a year is paying an extra £10 a week council tax yet fail to mention that they would pay an extra £28 in income tax if Labour were in government? I wonder if their outrage is more at the fact that they see people not being squeezed for every last drop of cash they can get or if their outrage is because they simply aren’t in power and can’t effect change to the extent they would like.

Since losing power in Scotland, then in the UK, Labour have become the most petty of oppositions. While in Westminster they will happily support the Tories on many issues, or abstain when not wanting to appear to be openly supportive, they have no such trouble in Scotland. If the SNP propose it, we’ll oppose it is their mantra. Opposition for opposition’s sake is as bad as unrestrained majority government, and their opposition in 2008 to council tax reform killed off what was a real chance to radically change the system. Their hubris is a major stumbling block to reform, and if they could overcome that then it’s possible that we could see a more progressive and radical form of taxation introduced in Scotland. Unfortunately there appears to be no sign of that day coming any time soon, and it looks as though decoding Labour doublethink will be a necessity for some time to come.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy