Saturday, 15 November 2014
Sunday, 7 September 2014
A few more powers
- if delivered(!)-
will give Scotland a few more powers
We won’t control our foreign policy
We won’t have the revenues from our own oil
The UK Supreme Court can still overrule our own Scots law and our own judges
We will have no seat at the United Nations
We will have no independent membership of the European Union
Our voice will be stifled, marginalised, ignored in international forums
The UK Parliament will still be sovereign, and can revoke any devolved power any time it likes
The UK Parliament will still decide when our young people are sent to die on foreign fields
We will still be forced to have nuclear weapons of mass destruction in our waters
Scotland won’t a be a nation in any real sense
Scots had their chance and they blew it
Osborne's Big Bribe Lie is the Union’s last throw of the dice to keep Scotland as a subject nation, to be bled of its resources and talent
If you vote for it, you will never again be allowed to vote for independence
Scots know exactly what they mean by independence – the UK Government knows exactly what it means by subjection and sovereignty
The Scottish Unionist parties know exactly what they are complicit in
HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH AS A FREE SCOT - REJECT BRIBE - VOTE YES TO INDEPENDENCE
Sunday, 19 January 2014
Eight calendar months from today, Scotland will know if it’s going to be an independent country or remain a region of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Eight months from today, Scots will wake up either to the realisation that they have made history and are privileged to be present at the birth of a new nation - one that they themselves have created - or to the realisation that a pivotal moment in history has passed, and they have decided to reject a unique opportunity, one that will not come again in the lifetimes of many of them.
Eight months from today, Scots parents and grandparents will know whether they have bequeathed to their children and grandchildren a new nation, with a chance to make a new and better future, or have left them in an old, tired, corrupt nation and in subordination to the last vestige of an old failed empire.
Eight months from today, the young will look at their elders and know whether they have given them autonomy and hope, or whether, driven by personal fear of change and selfish motives, they have denied them that autonomy, that hope, and have denied them their future.
Eight months from today, either the world’s nation will be beating a path to Scotland’s door, fascinated by the birth of a new world nation – in fact, the rebirth of an ancient nation – or will be shaking their heads in bewilderment and thinly-concealed contempt for a people that elected to reject their independence.
What happens eight months from today is in your hands, Scottish voters – you have the chance to make history or let that chance slip away like sand through your fingers, to be blown away for a generation, and perhaps for ever.
Make the right choice
The right choice is to vote YES
Thursday, 19 December 2013
Today was the second time the Herald rejected an online comment of mine. The common factor seems to be that both comments criticised the way the Herald was using headlines.
Today’s article by Kate Devlin was the case in point.
Here is the comment I posted, so far unpublished.
Your headline Cameron: no change to Barnett and the first line of the report DAVID CAMERON has ruled out making changes to the controversial Barnett formula are partial and misleading. The truth lies in the line "The Coalition announced that there were no plans to review the formula before the next general election"
The YES Campaign assertion (and mine) is that whatever government is in power after a No vote in the 2014 referendum will cut the Barnett formula. The pressures to do this from English voters and organisations, including local authorities - not to mention senior politicians - will be irresistible.
But with the referendum vote in September 2014, it is clearly impossible for the Coalition to do this before a general election in 2015. Labour is unlikely to include this in their manifesto, relying still on the Scottish Labour vote, but the Tories have little to lose by offering this vote winner to their English supporters, since the party is dead in Scotland.
A No vote in 2014 will not lead to more devolution - it will inevitably lead to, at best, devo zero, and at worse, a clawback, devo minus.
Sunday, 15 September 2013
Monday, 12 August 2013
Monday, 15 July 2013
"Will it really be independence?" stuff still touted by those hostile to Scotland’s independence, by the fearful and confused – and by quite a few prominent journalists and pundits. (The latter group are either fearful and confused – or they’re being ingenuous…)
Clarity of thought is vital at this point for independence campaigners, so turn it around - anything that leaves ultimate control with Westminster won't be independence. (e.g. federalism or any one of the multiple variants of devolution being touted – devo max, devo plus, full fiscal autonomy.)
While the Scotland Act is in force, Scotland is not independent - everything is in the gift of Westminster, which electorally means England. And it can be modified or withdrawn at any time … The Union remains intact, dominant, with total control over Scotland.
If Scotland decides on its defence policy, its foreign policy - including when to engage in armed conflict - elects its own Parliament and Government and makes it own laws, it's independent. Anything less and it's NOT independent.
The core principle is fully independent within an interdependent world – independence that recognises the reality of interdependence in a rapidly changing and unstable world.
Independence is the freedom to choose, with no limits or constraints on those choices, except ones we freely make and enter into - and can freely unmake and exit from.
Friday, 19 April 2013
Is this intellectual vacuity what Scottish Labour has to offer? A great Brewer wind blew through the space between Anas Sarwar's ears, the echoing space where his economic policy brain is supposed to be, on Scottish devolved tax powers.
The Brewer Rottweiler grip forced him into a repetitive loop of meaningless stock phrases, devoid of anything remotely resembling economic grasp or content. The economics of cash and carry don't translate to a nation, Anas.
Still, he should be grateful that there was no Swinney or Hosie to have him for a late night snack. This man is Deputy Scottish Labour Leader and an MP in the raddled old Mother of Parliaments, Westminster - the one that he and his Tory/LibDem allies want us to remain dependent on.
No, INDEPENDENT and independence are the words Scots will settle for in just over 500 days, Anas.
There is also the little matter that Scottish Labour can produce papers for more powers to Johann’s wee hearts’ content, but they can’t deliver them unless Labour is in Government after 2015, and almost certainly not even if they were after a NO vote. Devo Zilch will be the dominant theme in that horrific eventuality, perhaps even Devo Minus.POSTSCRIPT - The Johann Lamont Radio Scotland interview
Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Monday, 19 December 2011
It’s not often I’ll quote a lyric from song from what I think of as the modern songbook, which I define as from about 1955 onwards. I know that covers almost 60 years, but we’re talking history here, the perspective of over a century of popular song. From about 1890-1955 can reasonably be seen as the classic period at least of Western popular song, and in that period, that meant mainly American popular song.
This was the time when the songwriter - the melody man (it usually was a man, with apologies to the great Dorothy Fields) and the lyricist – the wordsmith – were usually different people, with formidable exceptions like Cole Porter.
So unashamedly, my tastes lie with BCCA music (Before the Crap Came Along) and with melodies that span more than half a diatonic octave, with harmonies a little more ambitious than four simple chords.
Take time out now to dismiss me as an old man out of synch with popular culture, then we can move on. Get to the point, for ****’s, Peter! I hear you –I hear you …
The Who’s little anthem embedded itself in my mind with the CSI series, and despite my earlier rant, I admire the Who for their longevity and formidable achievements in modern popular music, and there can be no doubt that their music and lyrics, for many, reflect the culture and the times of the last half century.
Their question – Who are you – Who? Who? Who, who? – resonates in Britain and in Scotland at the moment over national identity, and polls on perceptions of that identity, or multiple identities, pop up all over the pace, prompted by the resurgence of Scottish national identity and its questioning of Britishness, a cobbled-together identity designed to support an uneasy union of vigorous and distinctive national identities subsumed within an Empire, one now in terminal decline.
The Guardian has an interesting piece today by David Marquand, principal of Mansfield College, Oxford, author of The End of the West, which is not about the last days of Wyatt Earp, but a a rather bigger topic. Entitled England’s identity crisis - England's visceral Europhobia may break up the UK – it is a short, but important piece, and it has two paragraphs that contain fundamental insights and truth that are rare from south of the border -
“… The Scots and Welsh know who they are. For centuries, they have had two identities – their own, and a wider British one. They are unfazed by the discovery of a third European identity as well. They are at home in Europe, where multiple identities are becoming the norm. To them, it seems only right that Europe's once monolithic sovereign states now have to share power, both with a supranational union and with rediscovered nations, principalities and provinces within their borders. Along with Catalans, Basques, Flemings, Walloons, Corsicans, Sardinians and even Bretons, the Scots and Welsh are emerging from a homogenising central state of the recent past.”
“… Above all, the English of the 21st century no longer know who they are. They used to think that "English" and "British" were synonymous. Now they know that they are not. But they don't know how Englishness and Britishness relate to each other, and they can't get used to the notion of multiple identities. Until they do, I don't see how the crisis in Britain's relationship with continental Europe can be resolved. If it isn't, the most likely prospect is of further European political union and the break-up of the UK, with England staying out and Scotland and Wales going in.”
Any Scot who still thinks that Scotland is not now set upon an inevitable path towards independence – not separation - in a new, interdependent relationship with its European – and Scandinavian - neighbours is engaged in nostalgic self-delusion, and is on the wrong side of of an inevitable historical process.
Who are we? Who? Who? Who, who? We are the sovereign Scottish people, ancient and proud Europeans and good neighbours. And that includes our English neighbours, slightly confused about who they are at the moment …
Monday, 5 December 2011
The September 2011 figures are out today on attitudes to independence from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey conducted by ScotCen, part of the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).
The Herald carries a picture above the statistics of Michael Moore, who looks as if he had just been performing a strange dance – or even a strange act - with three other people who have suddenly been removed – probably David Mundel, Margaret Curran and Willie Bain, the Anti-Scotland Coalition.
As with all polls, the advocates for opposing sides rush in where angels fear to tread to offer their partisan interpretation of the figures, and lofty, disinterested academics lay claim to a dispassionate analysis. I am not always easily persuaded that those claiming heroic objectivity truly are objective: there are quite a few Scottish academics around who are anything but objective, not to mention one or two captains of industry, and it is true that an expert can usually be found to say whatever those seeking his or her services wish to be said, e.g. experts called as ‘objective’ trial witnesses for a fat fee.
However, over the years, there is at least one Scottish expert that I trust and that is Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University, who is also a consultant for ScotCen. He gives his objective view of the figures, one with which I don’t quarrel. It is that the appetite for a more powerful Scottish Parliament and for independence has grown in the last year, but it is still no higher than it has been on previous occasions since devolution, and the SNP has a long way to go before the referendum to persuade the electorate to vote for independence.
I will try to avoid the selective juggling with figures that goes after the publication of poll results, and simply focus on the three key facts, as I see them -
32% of those polled want full independence. So did 32% of Scots in 2004, and in 2005, 35% of Scots wanted out of the UK. Since devolution (1999) the figures have fluctuated narrowly around a low of 23% a year ago to the 2005 high of 35%.
58% of those polled want to stay in the UK with devolved powers to Scotland. Last year it was 61%. Since 1999, the figures have ranged from 44% in 2005 to that 61% figure last year.
Money matters – support for independence changes radically if voters believe they will be in pocket or out of pocket.
The poll has been properly conducted by a reputable organisation of integrity, and its sampling procedures and methodology are sound. (The sample size is significantly lower this time than in every previous years, under 1200 as compared with the 1500/1600 of all previous years.)
Repeating the core conclusion -
The support for a fully independent Scotland has increased since the same poll last year,
The support for continued membership of the UK and for devolution has fallen since last year.
Economic perceptions matter a helluva lot.
SOME MORE OBSERVATIONS
Over the last 12 years, somewhere between a quarter and a third of Scottish voters polled wanted full independence.
Over the last 12 years, somewhere between half and 60% of Scottish voters want to stay in the UK and have a devolved Parliament.
Those who want to go back to pre-devolution status and remain in the UK are in the minority, say around one in ten
The don’t knows are about one in twenty.
Something odd happened to preferences around 2004 and 2005, and anybody who claims to know why is engaging in speculation.
Some unknown factor or factors are at work when one tries to relate the figures to the election of a nationalist minority government in 2007 and the return of that government with a massive majority in 2010.
If this poll is predictive of how Scotland will vote in the referendum, the outcome would not be full independence.
Neither unionists nor nationalists can take unalloyed comfort from these figures.
THE BACKGROUND TO THE POLLS
The decade and a bit since devolution has been one of the most unpredictable periods in recent history, not just in the UK, but in Europe and globally.
Devolution, a radical enough event in its own right, designed by the Labour Party, still at their power peak after their landslide UK victory, to kill Scottish nationalism dead, failed in that primary objective, as forecast by the the likes of Michael Forsyth and Tam Dalziel.
On the 9th of September 2001, a single catastrophic event changed the nature of global politics, and led to the invasion of Afghanistan.
In 2003, the US and the UK launched an illegal war against Iraq, supported by an uneasy coalition of other nations.
In 2005, Tony Blair was returned as Prime Minister with Labour holding 355 MPs but with a popular vote of 35.2%, the lowest of any majority government in British history. (His popularity had been in decline even before the disastrous Iraq War.) Blair resigned in the same year, and Gordon Brown became Prime Minister.
In May 2007, the first ever Scottish Nationalist Government was elected by the Scottish electorate.
In 2008, the global financial and banking system went into near-meltdown, and catastrophe was narrowly averted by massive borrowing and effective nationalisation of some of the UK banks.
In May 2009, the UK Government and the UK Establishment finally failed in its long legal battle to prevent the British people knowing the truth about MPs – a blocking action led by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, a Scottish Labour MP - and the initial sordid facts of its investigation into MPs' expenses were published by The Telegraph, including claims by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw that they were forced to repay. The Speaker resigned in disgrace, and criminal prosecutions followed against MPs and members of the House of Lords, resulting in imprisonment in some cases.
In May 2010, a UK general election outcome created the potential of a hung Parliament, the radical difference between the voting patterns of Scotland and the rest of the UK became even more starkly apparent, with Scotland returning only one Tory MP. A Tory-led Coalition Government was hastily formed after John Reid, a Labour peer and others deliberately wrecked the possibility of a Rainbow Coalition involving Labour, the LibDems and the nationalist parties.
In May 2011, the Scottish electorate returned Alex Salmond and the SNP Government for a second term with a massive majority.
In England, serious criminal rioting that started in London spread to other English cities, but not to Scotland.
As of this moment, there is another European and global economic crisis that carries even greater dangers of economic meltdown than the 2008 crisis.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
All of the above is the context in which the Scottish peoples views on independence were canvassed. The Scottish electorate is one of the most sophisticated in the world. Having been betrayed by UK politicians, betrayed by Scottish Labour politicians and betrayed by the Liberal Democrats, they see a Tory-led government that they didn’t vote for attacking their living standards.
Sophisticated or not, they can be forgiven for being confused, and for feeling that no expert, media pundit or politician can be wholly trusted. But despite that, they made a massive act of trust in trusting the SNP, a party unequivocally committed to independence with their future for what will be five unpredictable and turbulent years. They also consciously and deliberately punished the Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish LibDems for their betrayal of their hopes. They never trusted the Tory Party anyway, and never will again.
Anyone who tries to confidently explain the narrow fluctuations in the support for independence in polls over 12 years such as these is either a fool or a charlatan.
But the latest poll seems to confirm this– it’s the economy, stupid! It won’t be Braveheart politics or nostalgia for an imagined vanished golden age that determines how people will vote in the referendum, nor will it be intellectual and emotional commitment to the principle of independence – it will be their perception of which party has their economic and social interests at heart, can protect jobs and incomes and has the competence and the resolve to shield them from the global storm that is raging around them.
But can such a question as the independence of the nation really hinge on whether the voter is £10 a week better off or £10 a week worse off? I hae ma doots on that one – answering a simplistically loaded survey question is one thing – making the huge leap to freedom is a much bigger question. I believe the majority of Scots will decide based on a more complex argument than a tenner either way, even though the real difference between a YES or a NO might be £20 – not inconsiderable to many, and to a working family, £40 a week or more.
Since voters will be subjected to a barrage of contradictory statistics, whose version will they believe?
Will they gamble their future and that of their children and grandchildren on a crude monetary criterion? The demonstrably economically incompetent Labour, Tory and LibDem parties, or the party in which they placed their trust in May 2011?
In uncertain times, people have an instinct to “keep a hold of nurse for fear of finding something worse” (Hilaire Belloc). But when they look at Nurse UK, they see something that all their instincts now tell them does not have their interests or Scotland’s at heart. Yet before they let go of that clammy embrace for ever, they will have to be certain that the new hand that they clasp will guide them through the storm.
The SNP has a window of somewhere over two years and a lot less than four to give the Scottish electorate the confidence they need to take that decisive step into an unpredictable, but exciting future.
The Scottish electorate will vote in the referendum as if their life depended on its outcome - because it does …
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
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.
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
The First Minister sets out his legislative programme.
Alex Salmond is a towering figure - a statesman, unlike the political pygmies of the Holyrood Tory, Labour and LibDem unionist opposition leaders Goldie, Gray and Scott.
The Tory Party is almost dead in Scotland, and the LibDems have shot themselves in the foot - if not the head - by joining the ill-fated UK coalition.
The real opposition is the Labour Party in Scotland - they represent the real threat in the 2011 election, despite their Scottish feeble leader, values-free political expediency and the legacy of their destructive policies while in Government at Westminster.
If the Scottish electorate don't recognise that the tsunami of cuts coming at them is the fault of Labour and Gordon Brown while in government, they will reap the social and economic whirlwind and undo all the real achievements of their ain folk - the SNP - since the historic election of 2007.
The Scottish Trades Unions at least understand the threat, especially the public service unions, but they don't yet appreciate the lethal irrelevancy of their affiliation to Labour, a party that no longer represents the Scottish people.