Surely there must be a change in electoral rules to prevent behaviour such as that displayed this week by the Labour Party (Scotland Branch), in that they waited until postal voting had opened before they published their manifesto. How can voters make an informed choice about who to vote for when they either can’t or won’t provide a manifesto? That is what they are asking to be elected on for goodness sake! Not endless clips of Kezia Dugdale posing in the few schools which remain open in Edinburgh, not the massaged soundbites on BBC Radio Scotland, not on the puff piece spreads in the Daily Record, but the manifesto. I would suggest that all parties are given a deadline which is well in advance of the date on which postal voting opens, and their manifesto’s must be published no later than that date. No manifesto, no place on the ballot.
One thing that was finally clarified by the manifesto was Labour’s commitment to stand against a future referendum, no matter what the EU referendum brings. While Airdrie Labour candidate Richard Leonard was touting a resolute No on his electoral mail, Kez (as she likes to be known in the manifesto) floundered in interviews, hovering between mibbes aye, mibbes naw, och well it’s up to the individual, ah’ll no stand in their way. Now that the manifesto has confirmed it’s a firm No this should kill off any future Labour recovery as it leaves her party scrabbling around for a third of a share of those 55% who voted No. No matter what way you cut it, a third of 55% is never going to beat that almost combined 45% So no matter how many policies they adopt which are similar to those of the SNP they aren’t going to persuade many people to switch from a Yes stance to an anti-independence version with similar policies. Which leaves her in the unenviable position of having to trawl around for the hard line unionist vote. Unfortunately for her Ruth “clank, clank, ah’m a tank” Davidson has cornered this market with her penchant for armoured vehicles and union flags. So much so she doesn’t even NEED a manifesto. Never mind the policies, look at the pretty colours. Maybe the next Labour Party (Scotland Branch) leader will have better luck…
Letter to The National: 29/04/16
In the immediate aftermath of the Hillsborough verdict there was a concerted attack on blogger Stuart Campbell regarding views which he initially made in 2012 and which he still maintains, which blamed Liverpool fans for the deaths of 96 of their fellow supporters. I’ll neither endorse or refute his views here, Mr Campbell can speak for himself on that score and it would only distract from my point. Some individuals were calling online for people to withdraw support and funding for his Wings Over Scotland blog, and these calls overwhelmingly came from those of a unionist bent. Wings has consistently made the case for independence, has shredded the lies of unionist media and politicians alike and has been probably one of the best resources available to those who support Scottish independence, pre and post referendum. His Wee Blue Book was handed out by Yes supporters and SNP politicians by the boxload. Wings Over Scotland is one of the reasons the Labour branch in Scotland is in tatters and so long as it remains a trusted source of information is a threat to their slim hopes of any sort of recovery. So it’s unsurprising that Unionists and Labour in particular should attack Mr Campbell on his Hillsborough views with a view to destroying Wings. A classic case of playing the man, not the ball. By all means argue the case with him directly about his personal views, but when you try to use the deaths of 96 innocent football fans for cheap political gain then you have dropped below gutter politics and into the sewer.
Letter to The National: 24th April 2016
We are not even two years down the line from Indyref and in that time while the SNP have managed to attract a large and vocal contingent of the Yes vote, as well as many people who have come over to support the SNP possibly out of a sense of shame at their No vote, especially after seeing what it delivered; EVEL and the pig in a poke of the Scotland Bill. But the main concerns which failed to convince the floating No voter remain. Competent and effective government is simply not enough to convince them.
The SNP have spent the time since September 2014 focussing on consolidating their position in government, some would say to the detriment of the independence campaign as a whole. This is set to continue until after the council elections in 2017, and I see no major move towards a referendum before that date, regardless of the EU referendum result. The SNP manifesto which launched last week cited the UK voting to leave the EU as a possible trigger to a new referendum on Scottish independence. It seems to me that many, many Scots are pinning their hopes on this happening, however should this happen I believe however that it is no guarantee that a referendum could be won. Imagine if Scots overwhelmingly vote Remain, while RUK votes Leave and this is used as reason to trigger a referendum. Should Scots subsequently vote No we would be in the most bizarre limbo, where the only possible interpretation of that result would be that we wish to be in the EU with the UK, or out with the UK, but not independent within the EU! We cannot be bounced from one extreme to the other, and I believe that a Scottish Remain vote should not be viewed as a possible referendum trigger, but as a de facto referendum vote, and that the Scottish Government should view this as such. If we vote Remain and the UK votes Leave then declare our independence. No Indyref 2 please, just independence.
Letter to The Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, 24th April 2016
I was priveleged to receive an election mailshot from Alex Neil this week which stated that there would definitely be a new Monklands Hospital built. May I suggest building it next to Plains Railway Station? Whoops, silly me. There isn’t one. Only a few weeks ago, on the 23rd March in fact, it was reported that the options being looked at included a redevelopment of the existing site or a brand new hospital on another site, possibly near the “proposed” A73 bypass which would move it out of Airdrie and more likely nearer Cumbernauld! It was also claimed that this project would cost around five hundred million pounds, yet there is no mention of this on the NHS Lanarkshire website either, and as parliament closed shortly after this was released it has to be asked where are these figures from and where will the hospital be located? We are being waved the vague enticement of a shiny new hospital to vote for Mr Neil and his list colleague Sophia Coyle only a few weeks prior to an election. In the run up to the last election Alex Neil promised to deliver a new railway station at Plains, a development which was outwith his remit to promise and which remains unfunded and undelivered. I suspect that with the amount of money which has already been invested in the existing Monklands Hospital including the newly built Beatson Centre, that the new development will be pared down to a renovation and paint job on the existing hospital and an improvement on parking facilities. That’s hardly an election winner though, is it, and I’d rather vote for someone on what they have actually delivered, rather than what they have promised.