Category Archives: Scottish Politics

Blame Humza

Published in The Herald, 20/01/18

Is Scotland the only country in the world where the Transport Minister is required to resign if there is snow? As far as I can see from an internet search the answer is yes. It really shows how desperate British Nationalist politicians are, calling for Humza Yousaf to be sacked when they are reliant on the plight reckless drivers who ignored warnings not to travel in severe weather as an excuse. In December 2017 many drivers were stranded on the M25 in London and I can recall no calls for for Chris Grayling to be sacked. Mr Yousaf also regularly takes criticism for the cost and performance of the Scotrail franchise, which figures released by the RMT show is the third cheapest per passenger mile in the entire UK and is consistently one of the better performers in terms of punctuality. So why is there no clamour for the failing Westminster Transport Minister to be sacked? The hypocrisy is staggering.

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Rail Fare Rises

Letter published in The National, 07/01/18

Last Wednesday I was handed a leaflet by a Labour Party activist at Edinburgh Waverly Station entitled “the Great SNP Train Robbery: An SNP Party Production starring Humza Yousaf- Nicola Sturgeon”. The leaflet stated that:

  1. Rail fares rise again in 2018
  2. Since 2012 rail fares up by 12%
  3. Fares rising faster than wages
  4. The SNP are failing to stand up for millions of passengers

While number 1 is undoubtedly true, there’s no facts to back up point 2 or 3. Furthermore it’s my understanding that although rail franchising is devolved in Scotland, ticket pricing is not, and rises in fares are set by the UK government, not Holyrood.

The leaflet being handed out by the Labour Party was clearly printed in advance to tie in with the implementation of the annual fare changes and tied in with similar sentiment printed in columns by Labour members such as Tom Harris. Richard Leonard has been in the past accused of confusing the responsibilities of the two parliaments, and this is another example of the grey man of Scottish politics operating in the grey areas between London and Edinburgh.

Their propaganda fails to stand up to scrutiny, indeed when I pressed the Labour Party activist who gave me the leaflet on the accuracy of the leaflet he tried to back it by reaching for proof, and produced from his bag a crushed copy of the free Metro newspaper!

Isn’t it time that the Scottish Government raised awareness of who exactly is responsible for what on our rail network? Perhaps if they did Labou could finally be shunted off into a sidings somewhere.

The Rejected Elected: Scottish Government Final Response

I received the Scottish Governments response to my petition to make the Scottish parliament electoral system more democratic and accountable. It was, as I had long expected, a confirmation that the Scottish Government has no plans to act in this area in any meaningful fashion.

In their response they cited various reports from countries around the world which operate on a list system or variants thereof. One quote from a report produced in New Zealand encapsulated the reason why the SNP, nor to be fair, the other parties, wish to change the system:

The report states that there is “considerable advantage in allowing parties to both protect a limited number of their more valuable MPs in marginal seats and reward  superior candidates in unwinnable seats”.

That’s right. The evidence the Scottish Government cites in defence of the status quo basically says that the political establishment has the right to protect itself from the judgement of the electorate! In the recent UK election there was the slightest of chances that Prime Minister Theresa May could have lost her seat. From the lowliest backbencher to the occupier of No10 Downing Street, every seat was up for grabs and the people had the right to decide who gets to stay and who is to be shown the door. That’s the essence of democratic government. Yet the same party who rail against the undemocratic House of Lords are quite comfortable with a system which sees the political parties manipulate pre-determined lists to ensure that some of them are immune to the judgement of the electorate.

In the process of creating and submiting my petition I’ve become convinced that the party list system must be consigned to the bin and that the Single Transferrable Vote system should be adopted, putting the decision as to who makes it into government into the hands of the people, not the cliques who run a tight circle of control within political parties.

The Scottish Governments response was in two parts, reproduced below.

Civic Scotland: Are You Part Of It?

IMAG0071.jpgWe often use the phrase “civic nationalism” to describe Scottish Nationalism to highlight the difference between it and British Nationalism. So it seems odd to me that one area in which we are not making the inroads we need are is “civic” Scotland. On looking at a number of community initiatives in a local newspaper I couldn’t help but notice how many of the “weel kent faces” in community councils were known to me as members of the Labour or Conservative party. Likewise Trade Union groups and community pressure groups have a core of people who are rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty, working for the betterment of their communities. Yet I’m not seeing the Yes movement getting active in those areas and that’s concerning. I fear that we are often so concerned with organising and building a movement and speaking inwardly to each other that we forget that we need to be getting out there and involved in every aspect of community and civic life. Because at present the British Nationalists have it sewn up and have done for years; everything from charities to workplace representation, local environmental issues to parent-teacher groups. We need to change that. Similarly I can’t help but notice that when it comes to making themselves known in the community the SNP lag immeasurably behind Labour and the Tories. In my travels across the country I make a point of checking out community noticeboards, and what I see is disappointing. There are plenty of Tory and Labour representatives making sure they are prominent in the community, advertising surgeries; indeed in Edinburgh it’s as though the Tories in particular have a monopoly on them. So if someone has a problem and is told to go and see “their councillor” is it any wonder they end up with the Tories or Labour as a first point of contact. Ask yourself this: Is my Councillor, MP or MSP visible in the wider community? Are they active in the wider community? By this I don’t just mean turning up for photo opportunities, but actively participating in something locally out a genuine sense of wanting to participate. From what I can see many of them aren’t even active in the Yes community, far less anywhere else. To convince Scotland we have its interests at heart we must be seen at the heart of it, putting our money where our mouth is, not just calling for a better Scotland but building that better Scotland, street by street, community by community, until we can be seen as trusted faces who our fellow Scots are not only happy to follow but inspired to follow. So get out there and be seen as a civic ambassador for the Independence movement!

Moscow Calling?

Screenshot_20171110-143047.pngSince the 2014 referendum campaign many Scots have been using the Russia Today channel to obtain an alternative viewpoint on the news. I don’t think anyone is under any illusions that it exists to counter the news feeds of western governments.  Many people have been happy to share the content shared on RT when it suits their particular agenda. Labour politicians have appeared on it on numerous occasions, and in fact when questioned on their use of this platform stated that “Spokespeople appear on a wide range of outlets with a strong emphasis on domestic broadcasters to present our plans to transform Britain.”

The Tories aren’t immune either, with many Tory MP’s also appearing on the channel and taking the Kremlin’s ruble.  The SNP are also regular guests, much to the chagrin of Tories like Murdo Fraser.

So, to get this straight, Labour, the Tories and the SNP are all to varying degrees against using RT, except when it suits them to actually appear on it.

Which is why todays Yoonstream meltdown is all the more hypocritical. Former First Minister Alex Salmond has had his chat show optioned by the RT channel and will appear once a week giving his take on the goings on of the day. It’s thought that it will follow in the format of his recent stage show and will be produced by Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. This has sent unionists into a frenzy, there being much wailing and gnashing of teeth from across the Yoonisphere. One might have thought that this was somehow the end of days and not a chat show.  The Herald, the BBC, Ruth Davidson, Batshit Jill, Uncle Tom Cobley and all have united is despair; the hated Alex Salmond has been given a media platform which bypasses their control, to speak to the people. The campaign to make Ruth Davidson appear a cuddly, chummy figure has nothing on the campaign now running to decry RT as a tool of the Kremlin, Alex Salmond as a mouthpiece of the Kremlin, and Scottish viewers as the enemy within.

It seems to me that the British Nationalists in Scotland having worked together to remove Alex Salmond from politics are now demanding the rights to decide when, where and who this currently unemployed former politician can work for, and while they can cry out as much as they like, the fact is that for may of us it is no big deal. We’ve already started watching RT anyway. No media is impartial, it is simply a tool, and it can be used for you or against you. I’d prefer it to be used for us than agin us, and in the absence of an impartial Scottish broadcast media it would be remiss of Alex Salmond NOT to take the opportunity to use it, and to grab it with both hands and smash the British state media over the head with it.  Убирайся, Алекс!

Reform the Scottish Electoral System: First Committee Hearing

I attended Thursdays Petitions Committee meeting on Thursday for my petition being discussed and was pleasantly surprised that it was not dismissed out of hand.Johann Lamont who chaired the meeting stated that she sympathised with the aim of the petition and that she could see the strong argument for the need for a change.The committee pointed out that the Scottish parliament has called for a review of the Scottish Parliament electoral system and that this is due to take place imminently.Conservative list MSP Michelle Ballantyne did agree that where a sitting MSP lost their seat but remained an MSP due to their placing on the list was clearly undemocratic.

The committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government and the Electoral Commission and seek their responses, and I’ll post an update in due course.

Minutes of the meeting.

Video of the meeting (discussion of petition starts at 09:46

The official transcript will be available from 6pm on 30/10/17

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.