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Showing posts with label Elites running the UK. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elites running the UK. Show all posts

Friday, 2 March 2012

Consultation, devo this and devo that …

The factoid has taken root, and is now stated as fact – Alex Salmond wants a second question, and is happy to accept devo-something as second best – a consolation prize if independence fails to win a majority. The Scottish electorate are now safely marginalised - having shown disturbing signs of being a sovereign democratic voice – and the future of Scotland will be determined by Civic Scotland, Reform Scotland, and the outcome of the referendum consultation. In fact, there is no real need for a referendum at all, since a series of unelected bodies, representative of nothing but the agenda of those who lead them, and the outcome of a self-selecting online questionnaire will determine how we are governed.

When we get right down to it, anyone who wants to start up a body that they claim represents Scottish opinion can launch their own consultation on Survey Monkey. All this is very heartening – we can dispense with all the political parties, manifestos, elected officials, etc. and simply claim to speak for the people, whom we can rely on to remain safely silent.

Well, not quite – the forms of democracy must be maintained so as not to frighten the horses, so a referendum will be held, with a ballot paper so confusing that the outcome will be contentious enough to be dismissed, unless of course it gives the right answer, namely – anything but independence.

The world will be safe for WMDs, Trident will stay in the Holy Loch: death in foreign fields, the Labour Party gravy train and the House of Lords will continue, the poor, the vulnerable and the sick will still be the scapegoats for all our ills: the Tory conspiracy against ordinary people can press on relentlessly to destroy the NHS and the welfare state, and the military/industrial complex can expand the killing machine again. The parade of coffins draped in the Union Jack can continue, fat old men in berets, blazers and badges can revel in the death of the young, and the Last Night of the Proms will acquire a new resonance.

The scales have fallen from my eyes – I see it all clearly now, and can spend my declining years reading old copies of Boy’s Own Paper and singing Rule Britannia. Oh, happy Empire day!

Friday, 3 February 2012

The butterfly emerges, flaps its wings and triggers – what?

Autumn 2014 starts on the 23rd of September, so  the earliest date for the referendum is 23rd September 2014, and the latest date before the winter solstice is 20th December 2014. Seasons calculator (Don’t ask me about the shortfall of two days 2012-2014 – ask an astronomer.) So we have between  32 months and 35 months to go until the most important decision facing Scots since 1707 arrives.

It will also be the most important event facing the United Kingdom, a highly significant event for the Republic of Ireland, an event of vital interest for the European Union, and an event major interest for the rest of the world. It may spell the end of Britain as a nuclear power, and therefore the end of the US/Britain links on the so-called ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent, it will have a fundamental and incalculable effect on NATO, and on the perception of the rest of the world of ‘Britain’, in the sense that it still exists, as a world power.

Is this responsibility one that is too great to bear for a little nation at the north end of Europe with a population of just over 5 million?

Chaos theory often uses the metaphor of the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, Lorenz having postulated that this tiny event could lead to a hurricane.

Already there are those in the UK - and on the right-wing of American politics - who are asking if this emergent butterfly should even be allowed out of the chrysalis, much less flap its wings.

A coalition of the British right-wing - that is the Labour Party allied to the Tory/LibDem Government - has formed to frustrate the efforts of Scotland to achieve self-determination as a nation.

But because of a highly inconvenient commitment to at least the semblance of democratic politics, in nations that have long since neutered the voice of the people in a conspiracy of wealth, privilege and power, this is proving hard to do.

And the global financial crisis, allied to the manifest failure and incompetence of the UK government, and the increasing tendency of the US government to retreat from international entanglements and put its own shaky house in order, not to mention the great upheaval of the Arab Spring haven’t helped. Confusion reigns in the corridors of power.

And so there is to be a great public debate. But behind the scenes, the profoundly undemocratic forces of patronage, threat and bribe, the military industrial complex and structurally undemocratic organisations and ad hoc groupings formed for this purpose alone, will exert an insidious influence on that debate.

What will counterbalance this? The crisis of capitalism has now arrived with a vengeance, and the brutal impact of the attempts of the rich to solve it by attacking the poor and vulnerable are just beginning to be felt, with the full horror yet to unfold. The UK Party that should have been poised to be the defenders of the ordinary people, the Labour Party, has for half a century or more instead been a fundamental part of the power structure, and is impotent because it has fundamentally and fatally compromised its core values.

England is left bereft of a political voice, and has only the trades unions, themselves compromised by their links to Labour, as their last best hope. There are some welcome signs that the trades unions recognise this, and are beginning the painful process of extricating themselves from the Labour Party’s dead grasp.

Scotland, in contrast, has a political voice, has a political party, and a vibrant new spirit is emerging, a new awareness, and a new resolve to embrace the spirit of the age - the zeitgeist -and make a new nation.

This butterfly will flap its wings, will fly freely, and its flight will not trigger a destructive hurricane, but a great, cleansing wind of positive change.

Saor Alba

Friday, 13 January 2012

One of my contributions to the Guardian online debate on Scottish independence

COMMENT 13th January 2012 Guardian debate

Response to RobCNW6, 13 January 2012 9:22PM

Sorry you saw my comment as a rant. I wasn't seeking to get warm friendship, cooperation and support, but to offer it. The UK is a political entity, not a country or a nation, or a people. That it is failing is abundantly evident from the events of the last few years, a failure which politicians from my country played a major and cynical part in.

The Scottish Nationalist are not 'secretly about' anything - there's no hidden agenda, no conspiracy - it's up there for all to see and judge. But bluntly, at the moment, we are doing things better than the rest of the UK, because we have had a government for almost the last five years that, despite the limitations of devolution, and the concerted efforts of the UK parties to frustrate it, has focused on the people and their needs - on all of the people, especially the old, sick, poor and vulnerable - not just a privileged, venal elite.

Our young men and women in the armed forces are dying, as are those of the other nations of the UK, in foreign wars that we did not choose. Their coffins return draped in the flag of the Union. We have lethal weapons of mass destruction in our waters that we do not choose to have.

We are indeed no better as a people than anyone else in these isles, and Scots played their full, brutal, oppressive part in Empire as you say. Our focus is changing that, on the future, not the past. But the empire suited a minority of Scots right down to the ground, not the mass of the people, who were brutalised and impoverished by it, as were the mass of the English people. The most brutal and cynical of oppressors of the Scots were Scots who embraced that corruption and greed, and we still have them.

That's what we want to change - and will. England must make its own change, and I am confident that they will. Again, I wish you well.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The referendum, the Law–and Gordian knots …

I have run the risk of late of wandering into legal territory that is beyond my expertise and competence, and defeats my aim of offering clarity to ordinary voters rather than political anoraks. I felt it was a risk worth running. But let me say this again -

The law is a process which now and again delivers justice and equity, but often doesn't. We can expect the kind of war of legal experts that has erupted recently to intensify until the debate proper starts.

The thrust towards independence by any nation is not driven by law, nor is it determined by law – it is determined by the will of the people, however it manifests itself. The law is a necessary adjunct to the negotiations after independence becomes an inevitability.

I fervently hope that we can determine the will of the Scottish people by a referendum properly conducted by the Scottish Parliament at a time that is right.

When the chips are down – and they may well be – no one needs a legal licence to determine the will of the people.

There is at, the very least, a critical mass of people in Scotland – call it a significant majority if you want –who passionately want - and will demand - their independence. Every indicator shows that. They will not accept their aspirations being buried in legal jargon and posturing.

The United Kingdom is a deeply socially and economically divided nation, with gross inequalities and injustices, and the legal system has often failed – some might say endemically failed – to remedy that, because in far too many areas, the law is the tool of a rich and powerful Establishment.

Claiming to know the mind of silent majorities and challenging the validity of democratic mandates is the instant resort of dictatorships, whether cloaked by the trappings of democracy or not, when they get a democratic result they don’t like. This has been done repeatedly in respect of the clear and unequivocal mandate delivered by the Scottish people to its present government.

Silent majorities – and that includes non-voters – are usually silent because they have nothing to say. The fate of nations is determined by those who are active as voters and individuals in the political process. By definition, the majority of them are not political sophisticates – but they have a vote, a voice, and they will be heard, come what may.

But the present crisis of capitalism, for that is what it is, represent a great wind of change blowing across the UK, Europe and our planet.

The political Left are in disarray worldwide and have nothing to offer in this great crisis, one that they forecast for a century or more but are now totally ill-equipped politically to handle.

There are great threats to democracy within the crisis, and both vested Establishment and financial interests and vicious neo-fascist interests that have both the will and the means to exploit it.

No amount of learned legal analysis will deliver either independence or the maintenance of the Union, because the people will either speak and act or they won’t, and the legal analysis will be meaningless to most of them. The ballot box has already sent a clear signal of their will, and the referendum will send another.

The UK Government is running grave risks in the negative and aggressive threatening way, with thinly-concealed threats to destabilise the Scottish economy, in which they are politicising the independence debate, in exactly the same way as the previous Canadian Government.

Scotland will not accept this.

The Scottish Government has relied to date on the process of rational debate and conventional politics, with spectacular success, to keep the independence debate on a rational footing. I hope we manage to keep it that way. The alternative are best not contemplated …

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Eejits out in force today–Herald Letters and Starkey

I mentioned in my last blog that among the most ridiculous suggestions by unionists as they tramped their sour grapes after the May election results –still advanced by a few eejits - was that the SNP didn’t have a mandate, despite the landslide vote, because of the turnout. Right on cue, we have in Herald Letters today one FG Hay from Largs, whose favourite word seems to be gullibility. And there’s a bit more name-calling, in best unionist speak from two others.

But they’re more than balanced out by the Rev. Archie Black, who offers some calm facts about the Union, the UK, independence and Europe.

Dr. David Starkey, the British Empire personified as spluttering indignation, was accused by some academics of politicising a debate on the teaching of history in schools. The Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, Richard Evans suggested that Starkey and his enthusiastic fan Michael Gove were “advocating myth and memory rote learning … to feed children self-congratulatory narrow myths of history”.

Starkey also appears to believe that most of Britain is “mono-culture” and a lot of it, especially where he comes from, is “absolutely and unmitigatingly white”.

I can’t imagine you living anywhere else, Dr. Starkey, given your views. It’s a pity Niall Ferguson has gone back to America in the huff, and can’t help, but take heart – you still have Andrew Roberts

A valuable mind-cleanser after listening to Starkey, Roberts or Ferguson is always Norman Davies, historian and author of The Isles, and fortuitously his new book Vanished Kingdoms arrived today with a satisfying thud.

A quote from the early pages already says a great deal – I’m just getting into it now …

“ … the British risk falling into a state of self-delusion which tells them that their condition is still as fine, that their institutions are above compare, that their country is somehow eternal. The English, in particular are blissfully unaware that the disintegration of the United Kingdom began in 1922 and will probably continue; they are less aware of complex identities than are the Welsh, the Scots or the Irish. Hence, if the end does come, it will come as a surprise.”

But not to Dr. Starkey or Michael Gove – that’s what prompts them to ever greater flights of rhetoric. Rule Britannia – while you can …

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The smell of the newsprint, the roar of the racks

I went into the paper shop this morning, and the newspapers stared at me reproachfully from the rack. “You’ve betrayed us,” they seemed to say plaintively, "we’ve served you for decades, and now, when we’re at our most vulnerable, you attack us … You’ve had circulation problems yourself, you should know how it feels.”

I tried to resist the seductive smell of the printer’s ink as I reached down for my Sunday morning supply, and sent a subliminal message to them – “You’ve betrayed the Scottish people – but I live in hope …”

I crossed the road, in what passes for a sprint these days, with the Scotland on Sunday and the Sunday Herald (among others!) under my arm, firmly in what I call car jack mode.

(Carjack mode refers to the old joke of the motorist who gets a flat tyre on a lonely country road late at night. He finds he has no jack to change the wheel, and heads for a lonely farmhouse to see if he can borrow one. On the way up to the farmhouse, he reflects on the hostile reception he will get from the farmer, wakened by a stranger in the middle of the night. He knocks on the door, an upper window opens, the farmer looks out and says politely “Can I help you, sir?” The motorist looks up and shouts “Stick your ******* jack up your ****!”)

I have good reason to be in car jack mode over The Scotsman’s shameful week, where every story, however flimsy, was converted into an attack on the First Minister. But I am falling into the old trap of thinking of Scotland on Sunday as simply a Sunday clone of The Scotsman, when it patently is not, with the key difference being Kenny Farquarson.

I skimmed the headlines and got rapidly to KennyFarq (see @KennyFarq on Twitter – always thought-provoking and relevant), ready to shout “Stick the UK up your ****, Kenny.” But I am instantly confounded, not to say dumfounded, by a brilliant, visually arresting cartoon on a Glasgow zombie theme by Brian Adcock and beneath it, an attention-grabbing headline – Home truths for the new Unionist party with Kenny’s pic and by-line beneath it.

My normal approach to Kenny’s pieces in SoS of late could be categorised as hostile dissection. But this piece speaks clearly and utterly authentically for itself and says something that has never been said in quite this way, although many turgid analyses have infested the media lately on this theme.

So I have nothing to say, because Kenny Farquarson has said it superbly and concisely, and he deserves to be read, not quoted. Go out and buy Scotland on Sunday for this article and this cartoon.

Brad Pitt – eat your heart out! Sorry, Brad – it’s the other way round, isn’t it?

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Westminster lectures the people on decline in morality


This is the political system that tells the people their morality and values are deficient, and blames the young, their parents, teachers - everyone but themselves ...

Monday, 4 April 2011

Andrew Neil advances the arguments for Scotland’s independence

Andrew Neil, of whom I rather prematurely made some complimentary comments on my blogs recently, has entered the arena with all gun's blazing last night on Newsnight and today in The Daily Politics.

All pretence at objective journalism has gone in the lead-up to May 5th, and his native Scottishness is forgotten - the Union is under threat again, not to mention screw-the-poor, favour-the-rich Toryism, so the glove are off. The London media suddenly remember the postern gate to their failing empire, the Disunited UK, and scrabble vainly to understand Scotland

But, as with so many attacks on Scotland's commitment to serve its people through first-rate public services and social benefits - coupled as they always are with sneers at the UK block grant to Scotland, and cries of "How will they pay for it all?" - it is self-defeating, because it reminds Scots of what they have and how they differ fundamentally from the UK, and manages at the same time to infuriate English voters at the perceived 'unfairness' of it all.

This creates a gradual groundswell for an independent England - all grist to the Scottish independence mill.

Keep going, Andrew, keep digging in your Tory hole - and keep trotting out the bearded one, Alan Cochrane, growling in his basso profundo,  shaking his head and expressing his bewilderment at why his countrymen don't embrace Tory values of screw the poor, suck up to the rich and privileged.

Andrew Neil also says there is nothing between Labour and the SNP - no real issues. Nothing that is except Scotland’s independence, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, WMDs in Scottish waters, and the unelected House of Lords, etc.

Of course these are minor issues to metropolitan media types, especially rich ones like Neil. They are also just a little inconvenient …

You're doing a grand job, Andra - keep it up!

Saor Alba!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Elites in UK politics - the Public School PPE degree - Passport to the Establishment

Last year, I wrote about the UK Establishment versus Scotland’s independence and also about the insidious infiltration of UK democracy at the highest level by a privileged elite -public school (Oxbridge, Fettes, Roedean etc.) PPE degree holders, often from rich, privileged, and sometimes politically dynastic backgrounds - using their connections and their PPE degrees as a Passport to the Establishment. (Andrew Neil has now caught up with me in his recent documentary Posh and Posher on BBC television.)

The UK Establishment versus Scotland's independence

Elites at the top of the Labour Party - PPE degrees

After various indignant outbursts from PPE degree graduates and undergraduates, I made it clear that I had nothing against the degree itself - indeed, if I had gone to university it would possibly have been my degree of choice, since it offers three subjects that are essential to a functioning democracy, politics, philosophy and economics - but only to its use, especially by well-connected public school graduates as a direct entry, fast track  route to the highest jobs in politics and government, and in the process, without any direct exposure to the real life of the nation, effectively marginalising or excluding from high office people from less privileged backgrounds.

In the process, a narrow, self-sustaining elite that is profoundly undemocratic and unrepresentative of the people is created,with a shared view of life and society that totally fails to understand the needs of the people and is inimical to their interests.

This is not, as will instantly be claimed by those with a vested interest in this insidious perversion of democracy, the politics of envy.

It is a burning resentment of the way in which the democratic processes of the United Kingdom, and therefore Scotland, a nation with deep egalitarian and democratic instincts, have been high-jacked, notably and contemptibly by the upper echelons of the the thing the Labour Party has now become - a party utterly alien to the people it claims to represent and to the aspirations of the Scottish people to control their lives and their futures.

We are currently being misgoverned by an unholy coalition of wealth and privilege, a Tory Party reverting to its atavistic instincts to destroy public services, dismantle the NHS for profit and attack the living standards of ordinary people while protecting the rich, supported by a compliant, principle-free and largely impotent partner, the Liberal Democrats, now effectively a subordinate part of the Tory Party, all liberal and democratic values abandoned.

Labour - having misgoverned the UK for 13 wasted, blasted years, betraying every principle they ever espoused, mismanaging the economy in the lead-up to, and during a global recession, and leading the UK into disastrous foreign wars in support of the most right-wing government the United States has seen in generations - are now trying to induce a mood of collective amnesia about their failure, while criticising the appalling coalition that they effectively put in power.

Don’t let any of these people back into power in Scotland on May 5th.

If the Scottish National Party is returned for a second term after the Holyrood elections, they will have a difficult task ahead of them in the most challenging economic times. But the Scottish people will be governed by their ain folk, not by an alien, rich privileged elite, whether it calls itself ConLib or Labour, nor by their puppet party leaders in Holyrood, the Three UK Stooges.

If the Scottish National Party is not returned for a second term, then Scotland and Scots face a bleak future. That is the stark reality.

Make the right choice on May 5th, Scotland!