Category Archives: Scottish Politics

Turkey’s in “Not Voting For Christmas” Shocker!

So far I’m around 3/4 of the way through contacting every MSP on Twitter, asking them to sign my petition to reform the Scottish parliamentary electoral system. So far I’ve had exactly TWO responses from the individuals I have contacted, Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, both of the Scottish Greens. Not any other acknowledgement of any kind.

Our MSP’s in the main make great show of the fact they operate their own Twitter accounts. They’ll post pictures of themselves at surgeries, or meeting with residents, or any other activity that presents a photo opportunity. Seldom do they respond to genuine queries, especially contentious ones. It’s almost as if they are stuck on transmit and the receive setting is broken.

Our MSP’s clearly are of the mind that if they ignore the issue it will go away. One phrase I’m repeatedly told about this is that “turkeys don’t vote for Christmas”. So who exactly will push for electoral reform in Scotland if the beneficiaries won’t?

So far my petition has been covered by the following print and new media sites:

Autonomy Scotland

Indyref2.Scot

Scotland On Sunday

The National

The petition closes for responses on 28th August 2017.

Reform The Scottish Parliament Electoral System

In the 2016 Holyrood Election numerous candidates for election were resoundingly rejected by their constituents, yet due to the parties they represent placing them favourably on the regional list, they were elected anyway.
We, the Scottish people, are told that we have a democratic government/parliament. We are told that if we do not like the government or our elected representative we can vote them out. Clearly that is not the case.
It is entirely undemocratic that 45 MSP’s of all parties were elected to stand as MSP’s having been rejected by the voters in their respective constituencies. In some cases those rejected were the incumbents. The latter circumstances are of course the most insulting to the electorate, for no matter how poorly performing a sitting MSP may be, how out of touch they are with the local area, if they are valued by their respective parties they cannot be got rid of by the voters.
In my view, to prevent this from occurring constituency candidates should not be allowed to be placed on the regional list, and should gain office on merit. Furthermore, to prevent manipulation of the list, the ranking system should be removed. If a party gains for example three list places, those three posts should be drawn at random from the list submitted by each party, and not a from an order selected in advance; a pool rather than a determined list. This would in my opinion encourage all parties to make sure that they submitted only the very brightest and best to represent their parties, and by extension, the electorate.
In addition to the above, the actual system of regionally allocating members fails to truly represent the percentages of votes cast nationally, creating an imbalance to the detriment of the smaller parties, and this needs to be reviewed to reflect the national balance. For example in the May 2016 election the Scottish Green Party gained 6.6% of the vote share which equates to around 8 MSPs, and for which they only gained 6 seats. Similarly in the 2011 election they received 4.4% of the vote which should mean 5 MSP’s, and for which they actually gained 2 seats.
I feel that in the years since 1999 when the first elections to the reconvened Scottish Parliament took place there has been no examination of the system itself to ensure that it is delivering a fair and representative system which reflects the will of the Scottish people, and that such a review is long overdue.
To this end I have submitted a petition through the Scottish Parliament petitions system which is now live, and will remain so until the 28th August 2017.
If you agree that our Scottish electoral system is in need of reform then I would urge you to please sign the petition which can be found HERE.
You can also add your own comments and suggestions, all of which are welcome.
Thank You

Radical Independence Campaign, 20/06/17: Less Is More

I attended the Radical Independence Campaign meeting in Edinburgh’s Augustine Reformed Church last night. It was my first time at one of their meetings and with eight speakers given 10 minutes each over a two hour time slot, it was more akin to political speed dating than an in depth exploration of ideas. The discussion was supposed to be on Independence, Corbyn and the Future, and on two of those it hit the mark. Former SNP MP George Kerevan appeared to be on fast forward for his 10 minutes trying to pack so much in to so little time; so much so that it became difficult to follow. In broad brush strokes he felt that the SNP had retracted from the Yes movement and had focussed too much on its parliamentary profile, to the detriment of both Yes and the SNP. He said that he accepted that the SNP had suffered a setback in the election with the loss of so many seats, with the loss of votes being attributed to people moving to Corbyn Labour. He finished off by stating we needed to mobilise and radicalise, but unfortunately this wasn’t explored, which is a great pity, because this was an area where I know the SNP was (at least in Airdrie and Coatbridge) light on bodies.

Rory Scothorne of Roch Winds was of the opinion that that Kezia Dugdale’s main aim in the election was to return Ian Murray as an MP and anything else was a bonus, and that the additional seats gained by Labour were gained by Corbyn’s policies. That’s an over simplification; to use the Coatbridge seat for example, Hugh Gaffney increased Labours vote by 2000 votes, while Phil Boswell, representing a split SNP who have been suspended by the party dropped 11,000 votes. Had there been no such split, with an effective campaign the SNP could have retained that, and Labours vaunted magnificent seven would have been a less impressive six. Rory seemed to be of the opinion that the radical left should shift to backing Corbyn, to put the short term aim of getting the Tories out over independence. I did make a contribution which related to this in the discussion; that grabbing the short term achievable aim of putting Corbyn in power only gave us a potential stay of five years on being gifted another Tory government.

Pete Connell of RISE observed that the debates which took place in England around housing, immigration and austerity didn’t take place to the same extent in Scotland, overshadowed by the unionist parties combined focus on constitutional matters. He also said that without extra parliamentary groups keeping the pressure on parliament there would be no progress in many areas and where aims coincided, RISE would work with Momentum (which we really should acknowledge as a Labour party internal pressure group), and that’s laudable, so long as we bear in mind that what Momentum is doing is to advance the Labour Party and by extension, British Nationalism. Pete in fact mentioned that he was surprised to see that there was little acknowledgment of the concept of British Nationalism in UK discussion, nationalism of course being a quirky Scottish thing. He should know by now that Britons are of course patriots, not nationalists…
Hilary Horrocks of the Edinburgh TUC spoke for time about the Grenfell Tower fire and how the TUC was putting members of the community in touch with help from the Trade Unions to help with a number of housing and community issues: she pointed out that in Edinburgh alone there are 4000 high rise homes with no sprinklers fitted. Lynn McCabe, a local anti-evictions activist also spoke of housing problems, in Edinburgh social housing accounts for only 13% of the total stock, well below the 24% national average. She made the point that Tory ideology is that social housing is a short term solution, not a long term one, demonstrated by the selling off of council housing stock and not replacing it with similar levels of new housing.
Peter McCall of the Greens spoke about how across many parties there was an acceptance of capitalism but also a broad agreement that certain areas should be excluded from free market exploitation and influence: social housing and health being notable examples.
I found Jonathon Shafi to be one of the most relevant speakers as regards the debate title, pointing out the similarities between the Yes campaign in 2014 and Corbyn’s campaign in 2017, the role played by the media in both cases against Independence and Corbyn and how both appeared to grow organically from the ground up. His observation that Jeremy Corbyn and Angus Robertson were better at understanding such movements than Nicola Sturgeon rang true, and his view that Sturgeon’s response to such a movement was to ask how she could control it was spot on. Had there been time I would have added a further point, that there was an element who neither understood it or wanted to control it but actively deterred it. I also agreed with him that both Yes (as it loosely exists) and the SNP are not radical enough.

The resulting Q&A session was as scattergun as the debate itself, and a combination of a shortage of time and a few blawhards who clearly weren’t allowed to talk at home meant no exploration of anything in detail. One questioner asked how we could have a more democratic system of government, Peter McCall of the Greens summed it up perfectly: democratise the political parties, with the over centralised SNP a prime example. The evening concluded with Holly Rigby of London Momentum speaking about how her inspiration for campaigning came from the RIC during the 2014 independence campaign, and that with the media against them they relied on the enthusiasm and effort of activists to beat the media and the opposition, a lesson sadly lost on the SNP at present.

The British Nationalist Delusion

It really was ironic that Ruth Davidson used her invitation to the Orwell Society to display Doublethink in action. According to Davidson, nationalism is divisive, while patriotism is uniting. Yet by stating that “if it came to a choice between the country or the party, for me, it’s the country every day of the week and twice on a Sunday.” she demonstrates beyond all doubt that she is a nationalist, albeit a British one. For someone who apparently isn’t a nationalist she does a very good impression of one.

Up until now it has all been fairly harmless, if you ignore the use of terms like “fratricidal conflict” and ignore her parties courting of sectarian groups and right wing extremists. Ruth has played the fool, posed with any number of animals and armoured vehicles, all with a patriotic union flag backdrop. But now the gloves are off and Davidson is becoming clumsy. Her attempts to link support for Jeremy Corbyn with the IRA are seen by many as trying to stir up sectarian support ahead of the general election and are a new low in Scottish politics from a woman who should be mindful of the pool she is dipping her toe in.

Her u-turn on Brexit was a perfect example of her arguing on a principle, then abandoning it because it threatened her British nationalist perspective. Her announcement this week of a Tory u-turn on free prescriptions was a particularly ham-fisted abandonment of principle, considering that it was made to woo voters in a Westminster election, yet health is devolved to Holyrood- the parliament she actually sits in!

In short, Davidson is a woman who has no principles, other than her nationalism, and the more scrutiny she receives, the more apparent that is. The question the Scottish electorate have to ask themselves is; can we trust this woman? The answer among those who aren’t hard line British nationalists is no, we can’t. This is why there may be some gains by the Tories in the June election, but not enough to unseat the SNP. That won’t stop poor, delusional Ruth though; she will claim the few SNP scalps as an outright victory, and will no doubt use what scraps she gets as proof that Scotland rejects a second referendum, when in actual fact the SNP gaining a majority of seats again will be an endorsement of the decision the Scottish parliament has already taken: to support a Scottish referendum and to take us back into Europe when the rest of the UK has left.

That Tory Resurgence…

Before last weeks council elections I made a prediction about the Airdrie North seat. I said that there would be one SNP, one Labour, one Independent and one Conservative and I was bang on. The so called “Conservative Resurgence” is being painted as an end to any hopes that Scotland will become independent, and I’m sure that over the coming month in the run up to the General Election this will be repeated ad nauseum.

To those who are open minded this came as no surprise. I read many social media comments before the local elections which were not only gloating at the imminent demise of British Labour in Scotland, but scathingly dismissive of the Conservatives hopes of returning any councillors. The media seemed shocked too, with the Sunday Herald aghast that the Tories and Labour (though mainly the Tories) had been infiltrated by the Orange Order.
Those who are able to step back and see the big picture were less than surprised. The signs had been there for some time, and Ruth Davidson had been banging the drum (if you’ll pardon the pun) for so long that she was referred to as the Ruth Davidson Loyal Party for Ruth Davidson. So why didn’t everyone see it coming?

Everyone had seen for some time Ruth Davidson being the public face of attracting hard core British Nationalists to vote Tory. Davidson carried on with normal Tory policies and made no attempt to soften the image or play down what was once unpalatable to the majority of Scottish citizens. Instead she’s gone with a policy of ‘Never mind the policies, smell the flag’ and it has been devoured by the British Nationalists. In doing so she has attracted a new generation to the Tories and while she has been distracting us with her public sleight of hand, the real trick has been taking place just at the edge of your vision.

Something I had noticed with some of the Tory candidates was their surprisingly clean social media profiles. In this day and age when confronted with an unknown we find we can learn about most candidates from social media; in fact when I voted in the local elections I specifically ranked candidates with no social media presence lower. So to find numerous candidates with bare profiles sparked my interest. By chance I happened across one candidate entirely by chance, given that his social media profile was under a variant of his own name. While his profile appeared to be private he had liked some online content, so although what he had posted couldn’t be seen, his likes could:Loyalist flute bands. Follow the bands, follow the likes. Time consuming, but revealing. It shows a network of locked profiles and invitation only groups, mostly Loyalist in nature. This is the beating heart of the Conservative revival; hidden and protected. To get in you have to be known. There are no intruders, no lurkers. Those inside are often rabidly pro-Brexit, anti-immigrant, British Nationalists. The Tories didn’t have to build a network up, they simply leeched on to an existing network, and it’s huge. Unlike the Yes movement, it isn’t confined to Scotland and draws support from across the UK. Compare the likes /shares on a post on Bella Caledonia with a post on one of the more extreme British Nationalist sites and you can see the weight of numbers being utilised to spread pro-British/Anti-Scottish content. That pro-British content is by and large aggressive and negative, seldom positive, and is often accompanied by racist and sectarian imagery or comment. It’s a cesspit, and the Tories haven’t just dipped a toe in, they are now in up to their neck. The danger for them is that having targeted an organisation for support in the form of volunteers and votes, those people become members and inevitably stand for the party. Which is precisely what has been seen across Scotland as there’s a drip, drip, drip of new councillors and candidates exposed who have either expressed questionable views or shared unsavoury images. There’s only so many times you can share a Britain First image while feigning ignorance of who Britain First actually are.

So in light of the above Ruth Davidson’s miraculous Tory revival is anything but; it’s merely a repositioning of the less principled and more unsavoury element of the unionist support from Labour to the Conservatives. The Tories aren’t reducing the SNP’s support, they are reducing Labours, and so long as the combined British Nationist vote is smaller than the combined Scottish Nationalist vote then there are no grounds for claims that Scots have rejected another referendum. In fact, on looking at how the vote played out cross North Lanarkshire the unionist parties created a symbiotic relationship where by and large British Nationalist votes cascaded downwards, and where the candidate failed to win on FPTP was elected at a later stage- by Labour 2nd preference votes!

June’s election, like the local elections, will be played by the Tories as a defacto vote on the constitution, and if the SNP want to mobilise their voters in June then they have to respond in kind. They failed to do so in the local elections and failed to make the big gains that some predicted. It was the constitutional question which returned 56 MP’s in 2015, and will be in June if they want to come anywhere near that result again.

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…

Davidson, Mundell & Cleese: That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore…

Letter to The National, 03/10/16

Dear National,

I’m old enough to remember when John Cleese was funny and I had perhaps thought that his tweet about the obsequious behaviour of some Scots was the product of some new character he was trying out. Unfortunately the character was his own and while he clarified his feelings about Scots in general and displayed a broader ignorance of Scottish affairs, in the process he touched on an interesting trait which is prevalent among the more senior British unionists in Scotland; where they try to demonstrate their loyalty by trying to “out-anglicise” their London masters. David Mundell is one such “Union Jock” who would be best starting his sentences with “Theresa says you can do…” as he is no more than her messenger boy. Powerless and pitied to such an extent that his nickname ‘Fluffy’ displays how inconsequential he is, that Toom-Tabard would be more fitting. Ruth Davidson on the other hand is more venomous. Her recent comments that ‘Scots were usually placed where nothing could be stolen or broken’ were a new low for her. This is the woman who wants to be First Minister for goodness sake! If she want’s to be seen as an actual alternative government rather than a Quisling style puppet government then she has to stop behaving in this manner. She has to stop demeaning Scotland at every turn so that she can get a pat on the head from London. She evokes an image of some Union Flag bedecked Mr Punch puppet who says to the puppetmaster “No, don’t you get your pretty hands dirty, I’m so compliant I’ll stick my own hand up my own rear end and work it for you- and still have a hand free to beat the Scotch with my austerity stick!”
What shocks me more than anything is how a compliant media which explodes at the slightest gaffe or verbal slip from anyone of a pro-indy bent suddenly becomes deaf, dumb and blind to this. Had Salmond or Sturgeon made such a remark I’d expect at the very least a large swathe of the front pages and a Call Kaye specially extended edition! In Ruth’s case, it’s “Look, squirrel” and the headlines once again focussed on those nasty immigrants and how bet “we British” can identify them, marginalise them and get rid of them, and Ruth, being a proud British nationalist surely has no problem with that.

Yours,

James Cassidy