Politics, Scotland

If you listen hard enough…

You still won’t hear the silent majority.

Prepared to be amazed though? Lend Scotland’s Big Voice your ear.

Secret enemy: Meet the shady group fighting the SNP

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“The wheel isn’t perfect…” Apparently this isn’t a joke.

Wait, what? I thought only if Scotland became independent would it be a ‘one party state’! It beggars belief: Tory asking you to vote Labour; Labour asking you to vote Tory; Lib Dem asking you to please listen; UKIP… I actually don’t know what to make of this, it’s right up at the #PatronisingBTLady level of incredible. For how many elections do they intend to flaunt the lack of difference between their parties? Would they commit to 10 or 20 years of voting against themselves just to spite their preciously hated SNP?

Unlike some conspiracy obsessed numpties I don’t doubt their grassroot credentials, in fact I wonder if this is the belated grassroots unionism that was almost non-existent last year. Too little too late much? I also feel sorry for anyone who finds their ‘secrecy’ ‘really irritating’ though, because why not respect a little privacy? Any YeSnpCyberNatsyCommieFanatics should surely be reassured that when the hegemony of unionist power at Westminster is (barely) threatened, these genuinely motivated activists conclude that the best reaction is not to up their political game. Instead they abandon any pretence of convincing arguments for their respective parties altogether. I mean wow!

The response of Scotland’s Squeaky Wee Voice to a Labour councillor losing his job for sharing their Wheel of Misfortune should give any potential sympathisers pause for thought. Calling your own supporters stupid for supporting you? At least they’re managing to keep the arrogance and contempt of Better Together alive, along with the portrayal of Scots as either rabid nationalists or stoic loyalists. I mean if you’re seriously more passionate about despising the SNP than about your own principles and policies then why even bother?

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Why?!

At least the one remaining Lib Dem supporter I know still intends to vote Lib Dem for fuck sake.

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Britain, England, Independence, Northern Ireland, Politics, Scotland, Wales

To be or not to be… What about something in between?

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‘You don’t even have to be elected by an elite council? And your country is still considered a democracy?!’

Following is the text of my submission to the Smith Commission. I could have gone to great lengths studying the submissions of others and constructing something more solid, but let’s be honest – we are writing to a Lord about vague assurances made before a weak democratic decision. That’s not to say this is a futile exercise. Refusing to express your views to the Smith Commission is about as useful as refusing to vote at general elections. Yes, you can look on it as collaborating in a hopeless process, which it just might be, but right now I don’t see any better options.

So by playing along we can at least make our feelings felt, whether by reiterating to Lord Smith that we want nothing less than complete autonomy, or by voting for parties that aren’t Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative or UKIP at elections. Hence I urge you to submit your own demands, regardless of how you voted in the referendum. I have not met many people who are completely satisfied with their UK experience, so even if you still have faith in some form of union it seems safe to assume that you do want change. ‘Have your say’ here.

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In his announcement following the referendum result David Cameron stated that “just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish Parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland”. I completely agree, which is why I voted yes to independence. The Union of 1707 served Scotland & England well in an imperial age, to the detriment of many around the globe. Yet it was never designed to serve the needs of the majority of these nations’ citizens. Nothing haphazardly developed from feudal systems can serve a democracy. After all, what sort of democracy has more unelected legislators than elected one?

With 1,617,989 people in Scotland firmly rejecting the arrangements of the United Kingdom this cannot in any way be construed as a ringing endorsement of the UK. Many only voted to remain in the UK on the condition of radical change, but the Prime Minister’s decision to make a last minute Vow to the people of Scotland without consulting his own parliament is only the latest sign that the United Kingdom has no hope of survival. What we have now is a constitutional mess that is already making politics within the UK increasingly bitter and divisive; I don’t just mean between people in Scotland.

So until the day that this anarchic political system is scrapped my demand is that the leaders of Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats do deliver on their promise, however vague. If they do not then the number of people in Scotland demanding independence can only continue to grow; and that means that any half-measure of ‘60% control of taxes’ is not enough. Neither is 100% control of tax good enough if spending decisions are so dependent on what the UK government decides, as with the NHS.

I agree with David Cameron that Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales need 100% control of all resources, taxes and revenue raised within their shores, as those boundaries now stand. They also need 100% control of spending on welfare, education, etc. with the caveat is that each must contribute some amount to maintain a reduced UK parliament primarily concerned with foreign policy and defence, concerns about which I understand were the main reasons for many people deciding to maintain the Union. This obviously creates a multitude of new complications, which is why I wanted nothing less than complete independence.

As it is a majority did decide to continue with some form of union, yet the Union as we knew it is finished. What is required now is radical change and I do not believe that the Westminster establishment can ever deliver change of that magnitude for reasons of understandable self-interest. It would simply be counter-intuitive for the Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat parties to concede such a reduction of their centralised power, however damaging the long-term consequences of that instinct will be.

Therefore I challenge that establishment to prove me wrong and I demand that we dissolve the Union of 1707 in favour of a federal arrangement and a new constitution for the 21st century; negotiated not between parties at Westminster, but between representatives of all four nations. I can see no other way to bring the people of Scotland together as well as everyone within the UK. Hence I also demand that England, Wales & Northern Ireland each be allowed to hold independence referendums of their own.

To do otherwise would be counter-productive and although Scotland was the first to make this democratic decision it should not be alone in choosing the fate of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. Only if all four partners agree can any form of union be justified between four nations; yet until then the people of Scotland have been promised a far higher degree of control in their affairs and that cannot be delayed.

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‘Radical change? What?’

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Britain, Independence, Politics, Scotland, Socialism

No left turn.

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So Scotland could have ended up like Spain, eh…

I was fully on board to hear some criticism of the SNP or the Yes campaign, because I like criticism – it’s healthy and often helpful. Carol Craig actually does make plenty of good observations about different aspects of the referendum in her explanation of why she intended to vote no. Yet quite quickly this other piece went all wrong – the stand out statement for me was early on: “I’ve shuddered every time I heard folk talking about how indebted the UK is”.

Is this because she recognises how unnecessary a lot of the UK’s debt is; how entrenched vested interests have skewed the political and economic priorities of our governments; how that debt is being used as an excuse to arbitrarily punish the most vulnerable? Nope! Carol shudders because to her this complaint reflects the selfish, nationalist optimism of those who pointed it out. Conveniently she ignores the constant assurance that the Scottish government would seek to take its share of the UK’s debt, whether legally required to or not!

I don’t doubt that she did find the decision agonising, and I sympathise with plenty of her concerns. Yet she doesn’t veer far at all from the “SNP dictatorship” perspective and her claim that Scotland would somehow be less safe from corporate interests out-with the UK is pretty bizarre… More perplexing still is her claim that “I’d rather be on the same side as radicals like Andy Wightman, young activists like Zara Kitson and cultural figures like Janice Galloway and David Greig whose work I admire hugely. Instead I’m on the same side as the bowling clubs, old footballers and the British Legion.” Yet Carol did indeed choose that side in the end.

What worries me is that, while lamenting the rise of nationalism in Scotland (mhm), she seems to find being on side with bowling clubs, footballers and the British Legion more troublesome than being on side with: the actual ethnic nationalists (BNP, Britain First, UKIP); the morally bankrupt establishment (Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats); and, you know, everyone else who is patently anti-leftwing within the UK. I could go on, especially about the blind optimism of her hopes for a grass roots, left-wing resurgence within the UK (although she doesn’t talk about that too much). Thankfully Stephen and others who commented on her article said most of what I wanted to say.

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“I have dreaded writing this reply because as someone who has two of Carol’s books I was extremely sympathetic to her account of how our country and its people have been damaged by the forces of economics and history, and yet on this matter I believe she has not only spectacularly mis-judged the opportunity for national advancement that was on offer, but she has besmirched a movement, which had at its heart social justice, not selfishness, as she posits.

Like every independence movement that has gone before it, and there have been over 100 since 1945, the over-riding question on offer is this. Do citizens of a nation prefer to govern themselves or would they prefer to be governed by another country? Contrary to what Carol would like us to believe, independence as a route to self-enrichment, was never dangled in front of the populace as some kind of “get rich quick scheme”. Yes, of course, people wanted to know if they were likely to be better or worse off, than being ruled from Westminster, and I am sure the Czechs and Slovaks, Estonians, Lithuanians and all the rest of those middle-European nations who became independent in recent time had to inform their citizenry on the economic viability of becoming self-governing, but it wasn’t the main issue.

So when Carol says that the ” core reality of the official Yes campaign – its appeal to selfishness.” or “Essentially the official Yes campaign was not about heart, but pocket” .I just think what campaign have you just witnessed? It wasn’t the one I saw as I chapped doors. No-one was ever told by me or anyone I was out with to tell people that the good time were on their way post-referendum. Yes, I told many a person not to believe the doom and gloom from those who would wish us to believe that financial doom was awaiting us on the other side of a Yes vote, but I believe that to be the case. Sorry Carol, but if you are basing your argument for a No vote on the basis that the other side were trying to bribe the electorate with lucre then you are dreaming.

In my opinion, and this isn’t a leap of political imagination, just a recognition that Noam Chomsky and George Orwell have told us how this goes in class-riven societies, a large part of the population were cowed by the arguments that there is not alternative to the status quo of neo-liberal British mantras. Scotland will be punished by the markets, the man in the big hoose will take his favours elsewhere, your mortgage will sky-rocket, Asda will bump-up your bills for the hell of it and lets be frank, we are all not really cut-out to make a go of things. We’ll just get it wrong!

Readers of Carol’s will know that the fear of “getting it wrong, and being “found out” are huge impediments to risk-taking and self-expression that many Scots feel based on the hand that history and economic forces have dealt them. It is ironic, but more importantly, deeply saddening that she has based a lot of her justification for supporting the No campaign on the proviso that the market-makers, spivs and masters of the universe of the City are going to punish Scotland for wanting to build a nation state that espouses social justice at its core.

And on those ” 55 of the UK’s lead academic economists wrote to the Financial Times independently of the No campaign, to say that independence was ‘ a gamble with very poor odds’. Which of those geniuses predicted 2008’s cataclysm? None of them and their benevolent wishes for a nation wishing to remove itself from the City of London’s vice-like grip, are conspicuous by their absence.

I will still recommend Carol’s books for those who would like to know why many of the their Scottish grandparents, parents, friends and relatives, feel unable to express themselves as fully autonomous individuals and why society abuses or ignores them for this lack of confidence. However her denigration of the Yes campaign as one based on selfishness and bribes, suggests to me that she has given-up on any possibilities for social advancement for Scotland’s working classes that does not involve kow-towing to financial capitalism’s big sticks.”

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Britain, Politics, Scotland

A broken promise; a promising start.

Never thought an (almost) unadulterated Tory poster could be so true.

Never thought I’d so heartily agree with an (almost) unadulterated Tory poster.

If the SNP Dumfries East Branch impressed with 150 members at their meeting two weeks ago then the about-to-be inaugurated SNP Mid and Upper Nithsdale Branch amazed with 30 people at short notice. The contributions tonight from members old and new were thoughtful, compassionate and forward looking. Whether I join a political party or not, the things that I am seeing even in conservative wee Dumfriesshire are extremely encouraging.

Remember, and point this out to people you know: while Scottish Labour say “Don’t vote SNP, because it will let the Tories in” up here, English Tories are saying “Don’t vote UKIP, because it will let Labour in” down there. The fact is that both parties have been betraying their traditional supporters for many years and are paying the price. And as well as the continuing duplicity in what information is shared with Scottish and English voters, they continue to pander to UKIP’s stupid, racist agenda rather than offer intelligent, fair policies.

So voting SNP, or Green, or SSP, or for anyone else, isn’t going to automatically give the Tories the keys to the kingdom again; and the truth is that Labour are not even pretending that they won’t pursue many of the same regressive, short-term and self-serving policies that are punishing so many of our most vulnerable. It’s time that, whether you voted yes or no to independence, we all begin fighting for the real change that most of us do want – in Scotland AND in the rest of the UK.

Red and Blue Tories aren’t offering options for ordinary people any more; so unless they deliver the full federal, home rule package by March 2015, as was promised, we have to make our voices heard in May’s Westminster election.

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Even 38% of members said “Fuck this for a laugh.” Just might be a clue!

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Politics, Scotland

Poll Position

The independently minded Daily Mail. (Owned by a billionaire viscount.)

Until 2014 I hardly followed Scottish politics, because I was more interested in international than domestic policy and knew that those powers were held by London. Until this year I didn’t know much about Alex Salmond either. Yet the more I learn about him, the more infuriated I become at people who disregard his economic, intellectual, political and arguably moral qualities. I’ve met some who have made valid criticisms, but those are very rare.

Most of the time I find that a person’s distrust or dislike stems from newspaper articles they’ve read or what others have told them; not actually reading or listening to what the man himself has said or intends. When asked they are rarely able to tell me what exactly their problem with the First Minister is. Not why David Cameron, who has no mandate from the people, is somehow better to represent Scotland on the world stage; nor why George Osborne, who has no economic knowledge, is best placed to direct Scotland’s economy.

So here is Alex Salmond intellectually challenging Aberdeen Council leader Jim Giffnock on Radio Scotland over claims that the council will seek unpaid poll tax from those recently registered to vote. As both Salmond and host Adams point out, the council’s intention is clearly to discourage any recurrence of our recent democratic outburst. This is why I am annoyed to be losing a rarely respectable politician in our First Minister, even as a non-SNP supporter. David Cameron? Fuck sake.

The unusual world of Greg Moodie. Often too painfully real.

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Britain, Independence, Politics, Scotland

In it Together. Big Society. So much Better. Wow.

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Just fancy that! Hello, Private Eye…? Oh. I see.

“Scots Are *Very* Unimpressed By Irishman Geldof’s Thoughts On Indyref”

So unimpressed. It’s difficult to rub your hands with glee and shake your fists with rage at the same time, but I almost am! Another clumsy attempt by, not outsiders, but the completely ignorant to tell voters in Scotland what matters. I have no problem with people from anywhere in the world commenting on our referendum. I appreciate foreign input, even if it isn’t the usual “Go for it, Scotland!”

What I resent is people commenting who not only have little connection with or understanding of Scotland, but have little connection with or understanding of ordinary people. Geldof, Izzard and Snow are prime examples of this. Millionaires 4 Dependence, and once again the fact that Dan Snow’s father-in-law is the Duke of fucking Westminster, third richest man in Britain, is completely overlooked. ‘Worried about your lands in Scotland, my friend?’ ‘No, no! I just really love the country. Er, I visit the food banks all the time – getting to know the locals and that.’

It’s a relief to see people in Ireland and all over calling out the absolute horror that is an Irishman bearing a Knighthood of the British Empire telling another country altogether that ‘Scotland is a feeling; the United Kingdom is one of the greatest ideas ever invented for the modern age.’ Other great ideas that pre-date the Union of 1707 include democratic government; liberty and equality for all; and sovereignty lying with the people, not a monarch.

So many unanswered questions about dependence...

Two centuries later and still so many unanswered questions about dependence…

If Bob & chums had been holding rallies to secure all of that for the United Kingdom during the past, I don’t know, 30 years, then we probably wouldn’t be so desperate to dissolve the Union of 1707 and have a bash at achieving democracy and equality without them. Reclaiming sovereignty for the people of Scotland is only the first step. It certainly is ‘a question for humanity and eternity’. We want a government that has some humanity and we don’t want to spend eternity living like this.

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