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Showing posts with label UK foreign policy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UK foreign policy. Show all posts

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Stream of consciousness … and the BBC

I like to have a specific topic to address, but today I haven’t. But since I didn’t blog yesterday, and since some regular readers rapidly reach the reasonable conclusion that I’m dead if I don’t blog for a couple of days, I feel obliged to give proof of life …

So I sit at the keyboard with no plan, in the hope that something will come from the Id at least as far as the Ego and perhaps even reach the Superego. I’m not entirely certain that I have an Ego or Superego anymore, but I’m in regular touch with my Id, something closely resembling its manifestation in Forbidden Planet.

Today’s Radio Times confidently states on page 56


12.00 The Politics Show  Analysis and debate. Includes News at 12.00 and at 12.30 Scottish stories.

Good old reliable BBC - my trusted public service broadcaster, telling the truth to the four nations of Britain, calling the rich and powerful to account, champion of the ordinary people of these isles, in this great united kingdom - Dunkirk, Churchill, muffins for tea, cricket on the lawn, stiff-upper lips, guardian of the free people of the world, men in fancy dress in great cathedrals, monarchs, Royal weddings, knights, Lords, Ladies, colourful ritual and spectacle, stronger together than apart, etcetera, etcetera. You know the rest …

No need to consult the online guide on my television - after all, it’s not a public holiday, although something called Pentecost has knocked The Big Questions out of its 10.00 slot. The Andrew Marr Show was the predictable load of old Westminster village pap it has become since not-so-super injunctions have killed the mojo of its eponymous host.

I switch on just before midday and wait expectantly, laughing in sardonic delight because the tennis has been rained off. May it piss down on that tedious game for evermore, a game that is healthful exercise and a legitimate pursuit for those who actually get off their arses and play the game, but an exercise in mindless voyeurism for those non-players who watch it …

I should have been warned by the fate of The Big Questions. Midday passes, and the mindless chatter of those under the umbrellas continues, with the kind a vacuous gossip and idle speculation that characterises acres of sporting commentary. Panic-stricken, I switch to BBC2, only to find more crap, so I belatedly consult the online guide. Nae politics today, mate. If we can’t have tennis, you’ll have to be content with Country File, or some such rural idyll.

So at the end of a week in which we have seen the care of the old and vulnerable across the UK threatened by the rabid greed of speculative capitalists, the continued revelations of criminal behaviour by our UK newspapers, a week in which the implications of the behaviour of the UK Supreme Court for the Scottish Justice system becomes even more worrying, a week in which more young men and women are dying in misconceived foreign wars, a week in which we contemplate yet another involvement in Syria, and a week in which the Brian Rix Whitehall farce that is called the UK Government - the ConLib Coalition - move seamlessly from one disaster to another, a week in which Miliband Minor’s relevance to his party and to the nation is placed under question, the main political vehicle for examining events and placing the powerful under scrutiny - and where Scottish affairs get a real discussion platform - is sacrificed to a tennis match that didn’t take place and some countryside rambles.

I’m your long-term friend and defender, BBC - but when you behave like this, I shout aloud for independence, for  a free Scotland, with its own public service broadcaster, employing the fine journalists, presenters, creative artists and technicians that make up the present BBC Scotland, but freed from the dead hand of London.

And by God, we’ll have it, sooner rather than later …

Here to the Scottish Broadcasting Corporation - the SBC!

Roseanna Cunningham tweeted me to say it (?) was broadcast at 11.30 am. If so, I kick myself for missing it - but the criticism stands.

Stop press: I've now checked - it was broadcast at 11.00 am - now watching on the iPlayer. Will I apologise to the BBC? Will I ****! You ruined my morning - am I suppose to plan my day on not believing the Radio Times and cross check the transmission time of every programme if there's bloody sport on?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The new Scotland - where to from here?

There’s a concept among jazz musicians - woodshedding - that expresses where I need to be at the moment. Going to the woodshed is what a jazz musician does when he or she needs to come to grips with something fundamental - technique, conception, tone, etc. Legendary jazz woodshedders included Charlie Parker who entered the woodshed as a primitive young musician and emerged as a fully-fledged genius, with a formidable technique and with a new musical language, and Sonny Rollins, already an established musician, who famously woodshedded on a public road bridge and re-invented himself and his music.

The woodshed is a metaphor, but I’ve got a real one - the Hut, as we call it, our little summerhouse at the back of the garden, an invaluable retreat from the distractions of the house.

I urgently need to woodshed on the big questions that face Scotland and all Scots, old and new, now that the election is over, and we are basking briefly in the new Scottish Spring - independence and the referendum that might lead us there.

But before I disappear, I have a couple of things I want to say -

I have been struck over the last week by the virtual absence of any discussion over foreign policy in the media and in the press - the Trident in the room, rather than the elephant in the room.

For me, independence means Scotland having control of its own foreign policy, of its own defence - of deciding in what circumstances and for what cause Scottish young servicemen and women must be placed in harm’s way by the state and give their lives if necessary, depriving Scottish families of their children, their partners, their spouses, their fathers, their mothers, their brother, their sisters, their friends - and Scottish servicemen and women of their comrades.

Fundamental to that control of foreign policy is the rejection of nuclear weapons and the concept of the nuclear deterrent.

Why is this topic being quietly sidelined by all parties, both those opposed to independence and those in favour? Why is all the talk confined to economic control, social policy, various options all the way through to devolution max, to constitutional monarchy, to somehow retaining the concept of the UK while freeing Scotland of the dead hand of Westminster and the Treasury?

Well, I have a view on why.

It is because control of foreign policy is the truly fundamental issue that no one wants to speak its name, lest they frighten the horses.

It is because it is believed that it was not a particularly important or defining issue in the election campaign,  other than in the context of the cost of Trident, and the job creation scheme argument that is often used to justify military expenditure.

It is because it impacts directly on the ancient link between monarchy, the military and organised religion - all three potential minefields for politicians, whatever their core beliefs and allegiances.

It is because it is believed by politicians, with some justification, that the voting public don’t really care about it, don’t understand it, and are made uncomfortable by it.

Nationalist politicians are wary of putting it centre stage because it might not play well with the voting public when they enter the independence referendum polling booths.

Unionist politicians must play canny with it, because it is in fact their fundamental reason for opposing full independence, and is linked inextricably with the the idea of British identity - an imperial identity - the United Kingdom’s perceived role in world affairs, the whole rotten edifice of undemocratic, unelected privilege that is the British Establishment and the Peerage and the House of Lords, the unionist’s latent or overt anti-Europeanism, and the subservient, client nature of the UK’s relationship with US foreign policy.

So now the nationalist politician may be entering an unspoken consensus with the unionist politician in the two years or so before the Independence referendum bill that, together, we won’t frighten the military horses, the monarchy, the Church, the Establishment or the electorate, and will concentrate on the economic and social arguments, and that something that falls just short of full independence that includes control of Scotland’s foreign policy may be a happy outcome all around.

On my way to the woodshed, let me say that while I will make my contribution to the economic and social argument, and to the principle of gradualism and softly, softly catchee independence monkey, nothing short of full control of Scotland’s foreign policy will ultimately satisfy me.