Category Archives: Scottish Politics

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!

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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.

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.