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Showing posts with label Murdo Fraser. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Murdo Fraser. Show all posts

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Clash of the Experts – What is the “optimal currency arrangement" for Scotland and the rest of the UK (rUK)?

UK’s answer isThe present arrangement is the best. Stay with the UK and keep the present arrangement – vote No!

Scottish Government’s answer isWe like many aspects of the present arrangement but we don’t like a host of other aspects of UK – let’s keep the best of the present currency arrangement, improve it - and vote YES to Scotland’s independence!

Murdo Fraser put this question to five experts on 12th March. They disagreed on the answer. This on the same day that the Treasury Committee was grilling Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and doing their level best – unsuccessfully - to bounce him out of his neutrality and objectivity on the the shape of a currency union after a YES vote, and on Scotland’s independence, as re-confirmed and re-asserted to Stewart Hosie MP.


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Monday, 17 October 2011

Tories – does Scotland need them?

The Scottish Tories, by any criteria, are in deep trouble. They have one MP at Westminster, and his seat is now set to disappear. Without proportional representation in Scotland – which their Westminster party has recently venomously and successfully opposed for the UK – they would be in an even worse state, and Annabel Goldie wouldn’t have been their last leader. The party only has a UK Prime Minister courtesy of the LibDems, who are in worse trouble nationally than the Tories. David Cameron has suffered two major scandals in his year and a half in office, and has lost one key adviser and one minister.

Almost six months after the May 5th Holyrood election, they have still not managed to elect a new Scottish leader, are unable to reach a consensus on what party exactly it is that he or she will lead, and the campaign is dissolving into acrimonious anarchy and bitter recrimination. As Margaret Mitchell said recently in a televised campaign speech, they’re “down to the bare rump”. If they’re not careful they will also be gone with the wind. Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell

A party that likes to think that its defining qualities are loyalty and leadership is strikingly deficient in both. The Scottish Tories are in the shit, the merde, the deep, deep doo doo.

I don’t like the Tory Party or what they stand for, I have never voted Tory in my life, so I should rejoice. My schadenfreude should be unbridled – but it’s not. This has baffled some of my SNP contacts, who, in common with many Labour supporters (who knows what the LibDems think about anything these days?) look forward eagerly to the extinction of this endangered species, the Dodo of Scottish politics.

I must say that the unfolding Fox-Werrity scandal, as well as confirming all my worst fears about the corrupt nature of the UK Establishment, the military/industrial complex and the M.O.D. (covered at length in my blogs on defence) gave me cause to think that perhaps the UK and Scotland would be better off if this pernicious creed ended, not with a bang, but a whimper.

But I still think that Scotland – and England and Wales and Northern Ireland – needs a party of the centre right – and here is why I think that …


The answer to my question – The Tories – does Scotland need them? – is answered in part by saying Scotland already has them, some 420,000 of them, perhaps even half a million. That is about the number of voters who voted for them. They voted for a party that espouses centre right values and a centre right programme. And the result is that in Scotland, they are almost disenfranchised.

Where exactly do those who look forward to the extinction of the Tory Party in Scotland think these voters are going to go, in the absence of a party to vote for that reflects their political views?

The answer is clear enough from politics in any country in the world – they will either go to parties with more extreme right wing views and programmes, or they will embrace non-democratic solutions, and there will be no shortage of these on offer.

That’s my view and that’s my answer, and it encapsulates my fears. But there is another answer, another scenario, and it is worth setting out.


Many SNP supporters and many Labour supporters dream the impossible dream – a Tory-free Scotland. They share this dream, as indeed they share almost all of their core social democratic, egalitarian values.

The only worm in the apple, a worm on the scale of The Lambton Worm of Penshaw Hill is the Labour Party’s doomed commitment to the Union – the great irony of an internationalist party of the common people locked into the rump of a faded colonial empire, one that ruthlessly exploited the peoples of the world, and in its death throes, continues to oppress them.

But if the Scottish Labour Party (and the English and the Welsh and the Northern Irish) manage to slay this worm, the shared dream would become a reality, in this scenario.

In a Tory party-free Scotland, the political spectrum would range from the SNP to the Labour Party, with perhaps token spear carrier roles for a tiny number of Greens and LibDems, squeaking entertainingly at the sides of the stage. There would be policy differences, but within a core social democratic consensus: no one party would dominate, although one might be the government, or there would be semi-permanent coalition government.

This impossible dream, this Utopian vision is attractive to me also, in the way that being thirty years younger, five inches taller, better looking and richer is attractive to me. But it’s no gonnae happen …

It also carries the very real danger of a drift to a one-party state, something I am diametrically opposed to.

The 420,000 centre right voters with nowhere to go are not going to suddenly see the light and vote SNP or Labour. They are not the Scottish Socialist parties – tiny, heroic and almost irrelevant. The centre right will demand a voice, demand that someone speak for them. In a democracy, they have a right to that. Deny them it, and the Scottish body politic will have potentially something malignant at its heart.

So I say to my SNP contacts – and to my Labour contacts – look around you at the people you know. Unless you are living in a sanitised bubble, a cult-like social enclave, you have family, friends, social contacts, business contacts, neighbours, and political opponent who have centre right views, are probably dispirited Tory voters – and are also decent, caring human beings who want the best for the families, their children and for Scotland.

Don’t deny them their political voice. If you do, then your ideals, SNP or Labour, are hollow and worthless.

I will continue to bait the Tory Party, to dislike its policies and its behaviour – but I make a sharp distinction between a political party machine, whether it is an SNP, Tory, Labour or LibDem machine, and the real people that offer it their often shifting and temporary allegiance.

And I say to those real people that their hopes of having their centre right voice and their values reflected in the new Scotland, in the best way possible, lie with Murdo Fraser and his vision, not with the three candidates who collectively represent the past. I only hope that my endorsement doesn’t weaken his case!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Scottish Tories wait nervously for the Great Schism – but hyphens could help …

What the Tories in Scotland - and this contest - need is more hyphenated surnames. A Tory without a hyphen is not a real Tory. But there's a hyphen on this panel, and one lady who sounds posh enough to have a hyphen but hasn't.

My suggestion is Murdo Fras-Er, Jackson Car-Law, Ruth David-Son, etc. - like Sir Malcolm Rif-Kind.

You'll never manage without a hyphen, Ruth ...

And David, it's not enough to put the stress on the last syllable of Mundell - it has to be Mun-Dell.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Union and Kenny Farquarson

Kenneth Farquarson – now there’s a resounding Scottish name.  Kenneth, a  Pictish forename (Cinoid) linked to the Goidelic Cináed, meaning firehead or born of fire. And Farquarson – son of Farquar, the dear one.

The Farquarson clan were Jacobites, staunch supporters of the Stuarts, and fought in many battles against the British state, including  Culloden.

One might expect that those bearing this great name might put Scotland first, but strange things happened after the Union, especially among the High Heid Yins of the clans.

The present chieftain of the Clan Farquarson is Alwyne Farquharson of Invercauld, and sports a nice coat of arms with heraldic lions, a couple of daggers and two coniferous trees. But where is his seat – the seat of the clan chief? Why, it’s Valley Farm, Norfolk!

But he has a nice little business in Invercauld, one that the family have owned since before 1432 – a sporting estate in the Cairngorms, with all the huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ and holiday cottages and properties for sale and rent. Chief Alwyne was educated at Eton and Magdalen College Oxford, served in the Royal Scots Greys. He has been around a long time, born in 1919. He is on Person page 8051 of Burke’s Peerage.

With that pedigree, my guess is that he is not a supporter of Scotland’s independence, but it’s only a guess …

Coming right up to date, our very own Kenneth Farquarson, Deputy Editor of Scotland on Sunday is not a supporter of independence either. He is a Unionist, and here, I don’t have to guess, since Kenny amiably and articulately argues his case for the Union in trenchant articles in SoS, and on Twitter. He is the kind of unionist one can have a rational debate with, one without acrimony, but vigorous nonetheless. I think, despite our political difference, that the New Scotland needs people like Kenny – so there …

I’m sure Kenny did not become a Unionist because of his clan chief – he is not fond of all that old emotional history stuff, and neither am I. If Scots followed their clan chiefs’ politics these days, the Tories, not the SNP would be in power, and Annabel Goldie would be well on her way to being a Baroness, or maybe a Dame – there is nothin’ like a dame!

Why do I cover this ground before coming to Kenny’s article in SoS last Sunday – Why Union’s fate depends on Fraser ?

Because the opposition to Scotland’s independence can only be understood when one looks squarely at that powerful, entrenched bastion of privilege, unelected and undemocratic – the British Establishment – and the Scottish dimension to it, to fully appreciate the forces that have everything to lose and nothing to gain from independence.

The Scotland on Sunday article

Kenny proposes that the fate of the Union hinges on whether Murdo Fraser gets elected as the new ‘Tory’ leader or not, a proposition that he recognises will be greeted with scepticism, if not derision, by many. Well, not by me …

I think that Murdo’s decision to face facts about the Tory Party and the future of the centre right in Scottish politics was brave and principled. A politician who does not take big risks when the game demands it is no politician at all. I hope he wins, because I think it is unhealthy for the centre right not to have a significant voice in Scotland, because without that voice, we head for the extreme right and neo-fascism.

I also understand and agree with most of Kenny’s analysis of the situation, with qualifications. The unionist parties are moving inexorably towards devo max – greater autonomy from the UK, both in constitutional and party terms, with a greater focus on Scotland and Scottishness. Labour, of course, is moving more slowly than the Murdo camp, but if we listen to Tom Harris, they’re pretty well there too.

Kenny says that the election of Murdo Fraser would recalibrate Scottish politics, a phrase that exactly captures what the consequences would be. The LibDems don’t really matter much, but to the degree that they do, they are a federalist party, so they are basically devo max as well.

KF says that his friends in the SNP (by that I assume he means MSPs or party insiders) assure him that Alex Salmond is still determined to offer voters three options – independence, devo max or status quo. Since I have no insider information (the party are wary of independent bloggers) I can only take what he says at face value.

So it seems assured that Scotland will – at the very least – get devolution max, with the enthusiastic cooperation of all parties. What is devolution max and how does it differ from full independence?

These are easy questions to answer for a supporter of full independence, or for a supporter of the Union, but not only do unionists not answer it, they carefully avoid the question. Home Rule, an ancient phrase from my childhood, now is in vogue again, to deflect attention from this real, crucial difference.

And Kenny is no different – nowhere in his article does he say just what it is he and other unionists are trying to preserve after devo max, not because he doesn’t know, but because it starkly exposes what the Great Game is all about.

It’s essentially defence and foreign policy – the ability to send Scots to war and to die without the consent of their devo max Parliament, or their first Minister, or Scottish voters, or Scottish mothers and fathers.

It’s the ability to make war with weapons of mass destruction called the ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent, one that is patently not independent, since we need the instruction and consent of the US to launch it.

It’s the ability to continue with a Ministry of Defence where incompetence often cloaks corruption, one that enriches favoured politicians and armaments manufacturers, the merchants of death,  a Ministry with a revolving door to lucrative directorships and advisory consulting posts for some of its salaried officials.

It’s the ability to allow political mediocrities to strut on a global stage, to interfere in the affairs of nations far from the UK, and to become obscenely rich in the process, while the democracy that elected them goes to the dogs.

This is the unionist vision, masked by sentimental nonsense about Britishness and shared values. This is the ugly, lethal, venal, inhuman heart of the Union that’s left after devo max. This is what those who profit from it will defend to the death – someone else’s death, preferably a Scottish soldier.

I want no part of it – I want to live in a truly independent Scotland, one where the SNP, the Scottish Labour Party, the Murdo Centre Right Party, the Scottish Greens, and the Scottish minority parties are all Scottish parties, with only the interests of the Scottish people as their primary focus, but a Scotland that cooperates in fully and intimately with its newly free neighbours, the great nations of England, Wales and Ireland, and exercises its international responsibilities through free association with the free nations of Europe and the world.

That’s the Scotland I want to see – that’s the Scotland I will vote for. I hope enough of my fellow Scots agree with me to make it happen.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The new Tories and the Centre Left – but what’s Left of Labour?

The Scotsman cheered me up briefly this morning – House prices in Lothians fall by up to 5.3%

I live in the Lothians, so why the glee? Ah, well I live in West Lothian, which has bucked the trend of the last three months and is up by 7.5%. I examine The Scotsman’s little coloured tabulation of stats, but – what’s this? It refers to Jun-Aug 2001. Have I lost a decade? On the upside, am I ten years younger? Alas, no – it’s a typo, one that shouldn’t occur in a reputable newspaper. But no harm done. Naughty Scotsman!


Twitter brought this to my attention The Way of All Tory Flesh by Alex Massie in The Spectator – well worth a read. A few quotes caught my eye -

“… the party has spent thirty years saying No to everything at a time when Scotland has been minded to say Yes.”

“But a modern and mature Unionism need not be afraid of nationalism. Nor must it continually pretend that independence is an impossible or lunatic dream.”

“It is hard to think of a successful right-of-centre party in Europe that is not in some way identified as the patriotic party. The Scottish Tories have lost the ability to make that claim or be identified with the national interest.”

“At present why should any young, ambitious right-of-centre would-be politician join the Tories? Why not join the SNP and work for centre-right policies from within the SNP's capacious tent?”

Another Massie, Alan Massie of The Scotsman, whose nostalgic Britishness and anti-independence articles usually have little to offer me, offers comments on The Wee Laird o’ Drumlean, Michael Forsyth, who opposes Murdo Fraser’s plans for the Scottish Tories, and Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG, QC, MP and Tory grandee - he of the strange, tortured accent, failed Scottish politician, a former Colonial Governor – sorry, Scottish Secretary of State – who supports the Murdo Plan.

“Tory former Secretaries of state are divided. Sir Malcolm Rifkind now (safely) MP for Kensington, is in the Fraser camp. Michael Forsyth, now (safely) in the Lords, is against him. Nothing surprising there. Lord Forsyth has always been a last ditcher, while Sir Malcolm has always been a Vicar of Bray : pro-devolution, anti-devolution, pro-devolution again.”

The decimated ranks of the Unionist Opposition in Holyrood today face a strong, confident SNP Government as it “unveils a record 16 bills”, to quote The Herald. Gone are the heady days of the SNP’s vulnerability, as a minority government, to the collective dead hand of Tories, Labour and LibDems as they blocked the SNP’s attempts to actually tackle the endemic problems of Scotland, e.g. minimum pricing for alcohol. Now they are reduced to squeaking plaintively, as Willie Rennie does on behalf of his massed ranks of five MSPs – “I hope that the SNP show today that they are the listening government that they make themselves out to be and make sure that the bulldozer is left in the garage.”

They are listening, Willie – to the people of Scotland who elected them, and to the voice of reason coming from the NHS, the Police, the nurses, the BMA – need I go on?

The CBI and various UK government spokesperson went on at length last week about the need to maintain ‘critical mass’, i.e. the Union, reflecting their blind panic at the prospect of losing Scottish revenues, taxes, a third of the UK landmass and 69% of the UK coastline. (I am indebted to Bruce Moglia of Kilmacolm in todays Herald Letters for reminding me of these crucial statistics.)

Critical mass is a term to describe the existence of sufficient momentum in a social system to make it self-sustaining and creates  growth.

It is also a term in physics, where it describes the smallest amount of fissile material necessary for a nuclear reaction, i.e. in a nuclear weapon of mass destruction such as the Trident weapons system, currently based in Scotland.

And be in no doubt, it is the loss of this critical mass when Scotland achieves its independence that bothers the UK and the military/industrial complex.


John McTernan continues his work at the seam of What the ****’s to be done about Scottish Labour?, a nice little earner for him. Today, he poses one of the great questions of the age -

Have we really reached the stage in Scottish politics where the Tories are more interesting than Labour?”

Yes, we have, John. Murdo Fraser has made a courageous decision to risk all on recognising the reality of the way things are in his native land, and try to provide a party that really speaks for 450,000 or so Scottish voters who hold centre-right values. The Centre Left now belongs to the SNP, and Labour is a discredited, failed centre right party that is has always been anathema to Scottish Tories, and is rapidly in the process of becoming anathema to the Scottish Left.

What is Scottish Labour for, John? What is Labour for? Keep on asking, John – there’s a good living in it, even if you are out in the cold politically.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Glasgow, Labour, the SNP, and carpetbaggers …

I have had my moments with Gerry Braiden of the Herald, mainly over the reporting of the Dalmarnock outrages directed against the Jaconellis and other families, businesses and of course the shocking callousness of Glasgow City Council over the closure of the Accord Centre for disabled children.

But I believe in crediting good, objective journalism when it makes its rare appearances in the Scottish Press, and Gerry Braiden’s exclusive yesterday – Labour axes ‘old guard’ – was an example of that.

It reflects the inchoate panic of Glasgow Labour as it faces the terrible prospect of its control of Glasgow City Council being wrested away from them in next year's local elections, a fear that must be exacerbated by  the recent Ipsos MORI poll on Scottish Public Opinion and voting intentions.

However, Labour might take a crumb of comfort from alleged infighting among SNP Glasgow councillors, if Tom Gordon’s piece Fresh blow for SNP bid to take over Glasgow in today’s New Sunday Herald is accurate.

I can forgive my party many things, but if they blow their chances to remove Labour from the GCC, and wreck the last best hope of the people of Glasgow, I will find it hard to swallow. Maybe someone will reassure me …


I have had some fun on Twitter over Murdo Fraser’s plan for a new Scottish Greed and Privilege party -

moridura Peter Curran

Murdo Fraser's New Unionism sounds a bit New Labour-ish. Could he not have called it New Imperialism? New Jingoism? NeoConism? Naechanceism?

moridura Peter Curran

Murdo Fraser will outline plans to "kill independence" and "break the SNP" at his campaign launch next week. Who, the Tories? Aye, right …


However, Rosanna Cunningham calls for due seriousness, in case he is on the ‘right’ lines, to coin a phrase. David Mundel, on BBC News today, looking even more rabbit-in-the-headlights than usual over a grainy, out of synch link from Skype, clearly doesn’t like Murdo’s big idea. The virtual death of his party is as nothing to him compared to the fact that, as the sole Scottish Tory MP in Westminster from a party contemptuously rejected by Scots, he nonetheless is taken seriously by the big boys, and thinks he plays a significant role in government.

I have always found David Mundel to be faintly risible, and he did nothing to dispel this today. Quotes -

Membership of the Union ---- is a very strong suit in our armour ---“

A new party is not a silver bullet that turns the problems round …”

Wearing a suit under your armour is not to be recommended, David, although if anyone can carry it off, you could. Silver bullets are for killing werewolves, and they were used to great effect in recent years at the ballot box to kill off a great threat to the Scottish people, namely, the Scottish Tories.

Back to Scottish Labour, who, if the Glasgow SNP can get their act together, will face a hail of silver bullets at the 2012 local elections. Murdo Fraser’s New Unionism leaves the way clear for Scottish Labour to re-brand itself as The Scottish Labour and Unionist Party, under the leadership of one or another of the carpetbagging hacks from Westminster. The name change would simply formalise things, for this is what they have been for some time now.

For those not versed in American history, the carpetbaggers were cynical and opportunistic politicians who move from the North to exploit the South. Labour is busy reversing the compass in this respect.