Thursday, 13 December 2012

This HAS to change.

Yesterday, I read the online account of Prime Minister’s Question Time. I also followed some of the Twitter response to the so-called “clash” between Mssrs Balls, Miliband and Cameron. The immediate thought that struck me was:

“How can this 18th century bullyboy-style mockery for government debate really come up with solutions to 21st century problems? I don't think it can, it's no longer fit for purpose, and possibly it never was. A complete and radical change is required; unfortunately, no-one has a clue how to think beyond their limitations within Westminster.”

The foundation of the establishment, Parliament, is based in the old French word, parley. Simply put it means to talk, discuss amicably, to resolve to mutual benefit. There is little in Westminster’s “Parley” or Parliament that gives any hope to a resolution of the trench warfare and inimical party points scoring that persists and destroys our democracy. The only surprise so far is that it’s been only jibes and insults that cross the no-man’s land of Westminster’s plush carpet, yet the effect on our economy has been as destructive as the bombs and bullets that crossed the Somme.

How can a culture become adult and mature in its outlook when it has to witness the “cream” of society behaving like spoilt brats at a Sunday-school picnic? When these “elders and betters”, these rule makers, cannot actually debate subjects without delving for insults, cheap jibes and point scoring off each other? When it sees the true policies on which we could thrive mown down before they ever manage to climb from the trenches?

Nothing is discussed or debated, no common ground is found, no compromise is ever achieved. This crock of nonsense is purely for show, and does nothing to benefit the people who voted these men and women into such powerful positions. Westminster did manage a ‘Christmas truce’ from 1939 to 1945, and they achieved remarkable things. However, since then their ideas and decisions are increasingly set in stone, polarised and already made, long before they come to the “debating” chamber. There is absolutely no point to PMQ’s – other than strutting, preening, grandstanding and point-scoring. It is an inane exercise. And sadly, First Minister’s Questions is going the same route, thanks to the Unionist parties attempt to mimic all things Westminster.

It is human nature; when someone poses a threat to us, we fight back. Therefore, rightly or wrongly, the parties who might put Scotland needs first will attack in return. Ultimately, the Union parties in their aspirations for Westminster-like adversarial conflict guarantee the useless and destructive spiral will continue.

Returning to the Twitter “debate” it really did not improve any of the events that took place in the chamber; in fact it merely continued the pathetic score-keeping of “my politician was better than your politician”, as if this type of political non-achieving is something of which we should be proud.

How is this example of non-cooperation, insults, bully-boy tactics and the rest setting any sort of example to youngsters in society? Politicians are saying it’s perfectly ok to behave likes this, but you kids have to behave in quite a different manner. Instead of leading by example, they’re yet again meting out more of the “do as I say, not as I do” nonsense that most people resent. Then these politicians become all confused and befuddled because there is a lack of respect for any of them.

Westminster is so deeply entrenched in tradition I think it is beyond them to alter the mindset. They have to be dressed like 18th century guisers to open and close the sessions, and they require the anachronistic presence of HRH Queen Elizabeth to sanction the proceedings. Now I could go on at this juncture about HRH and family being the biggest benefits scroungers out there, something for nothing layabouts, whose influence is beyond the pale, and how can you expect people to work for a living when they see this crowd at the peak of society living off tax-payers money, but I won’t. The monarchy is a different debate for another time.

So what to do?

Personally, I believe there is nothing that can be done for Westminster; this cause was lost generations ago, stuck in the mud of tradition going back centuries. It had, at best, a brief twilight renaissance between 1945 and 1950. Therefore, we must look to Holyrood to beat a path to mature, consensual politics.

The Unionist supporting parties, as I mentioned previously, appear to advocate, promote and thrive on the Westminster style of rabid, party-led, point-scoring attempts, without much consideration for any constituents during FMQs.

Our reconstituted parliament in Holyrood, having retained few of the relics from the 18th century, is arguably one of the oldest parliaments in Europe. Moreover, having only been reinvested very recently, it isn’t mired in tradition like London and it should therefore be very simple to change ways of doing business BEFORE they become rooted in the mists of time as some weird, immutable folklore defining how a parliament should function. Changes are required in the system in order to ensure we have politics that represent the people and not the party. With an absolute majority, the SNP should be looking at this as a matter of extreme urgency.

While the way Holyrood’s debating chamber is set out physically, (i.e. semi-circular instead of sitting in opposition to one another) is a good start, it is undermined as each party continues to sit in its own little clique or block thus perpetuating the tribal mentality of “Us versus Them”.

More must be done to alter the way these politicians think about their role in parliament. That means altering the entire mind set. It is time to move away from “Party Politics” and start choosing people on their individual merits and promises. For example, while I support the SNP in many, many issues, there are some things with which I do not agree. But it doesn't mean they’re not the best all around choice for me as a party. By the same token, individuals may represent my core beliefs more closely and I’d be more prone to support them. All our politicians should be in the chambers to represent those people who cared sufficiently to attend polling stations and vote for them. To play the game along party lines is nothing but a slap in the face to the voter.

Changing the mind set is probably not achievable among many of the current crop, but surely they are not so blinkered that they are unable to see how damaging this type of so-called debate is on their standing, politics in general and the nation in its whole.

All the “ya-boo-sucks” hollering does nothing to advance people’s interest in how their country is governed, and in fact alienates them from the process. Perhaps this is the true goal of those who prefer the adversarial type politicking. Put sufficient numbers of people off voting, bring about such apathy towards the process, that the politicians can do whatever they please with impunity. Literally giving us what we vote for.

Alternatively, Holyrood could simply pass legislation that makes every vote  in its chambers a secret ballot - at the time of voting; consequently, every vote becomes a conscience vote. In addition to this, the voting record of every member of the Scottish parliament would be published following the dissolution of each and every session, ensuring they are immune from pressure by the party system. Subsequently offering the sovereign people of Scotland the opportunity to see how their parliamentarians voted, before having the option to re-elect them.

Now, wouldn't that be a wonderful and brave new world?


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Knowing the Enemy. A very Personal Blog.

Folks have been asking what I'm up to at the moment, why haven’t I posted anything recently. Well, in all honesty, I've had a hard time blogging of late. I've been angry, despondent, elated, annoyed ... you name it; I've been there and back again. The question troubling me has been “Why”?

Frankly, it has taken me weeks to work through this. It began with a journey back home for family reasons, throughout September and October. During the time there I took the chance to catch up with old friends that I hadn't seen in almost seven years. This visit also gave me the opportunity meet and mix with supporters of independence. Many of whom I had become friends with through the medium of the internet or my music, during the intervening years I've been travelling overseas. 


For me, my favourite experience and excitement came at the very beginning of the trip.

I attended the March and Rally for Independence on September the 22nd. It is one day of my life I won’t forget. My young brother was my companion (and chauffeur), and we were on a high from the outset. As we approached The Meadows (Niall chose to park as far away as possible while technically remaining in the same universe), I was overcome with a feeling of anxiety. What if my brother and me and ten other worthies were the only people to show up? What if all that stuff on Facebook and Twitter had been all so much bluster – "a’ talk and nae action"?

However, as we know, those fears were wholly unfounded, and the march was a complete success – although references to it in the media were sparse and underwhelming.

Meeting many contacts I’d only known as faces and names on the internet was for me, one of the highlights of the day.

Additionally, the fact that thousands turned out in peaceful family groups, walking their dogs and carrying picnics was the cherry on the icing of a wonderful cake. I listened to the speeches and cheered and waved my very large, extremely noticeable Scottish Naval Ensign. I was reeling with adrenalin, while at the same time mentally noting the numbers of younger parents with children who were attending.

Scotland’s future was rosy and in the bag.

The following week was filled mainly with family issues and making sure everything that required attention was being dealt with, and I had very little to do with independence matters.

The middle week of my expedition was spent in my old beloved stomping ground of East Lothian. This was a week full of gigs and music and radio interviews; one with my friend Madelaine Cave on East Coast FM – where I even managed to mention my partisanship in politics, as well as doing a live session. The other interview was with Stewart Lochhead at the North Berwick Sea-Life Centre for Three Men In A Blog . All in all, it was a fulfilling and fantastic time.

However, I think it highly likely I may have peaked too early.

By the end of the week I was beginning to get a weird feeling about the cause of independence. I had been speaking to many friends, and none of them are slouches when it comes to intellect, but there was a pattern emerging, and it wasn't pretty.

There were overtones varying from “if it ain't broke, don’t fix it” to “eh, independence, ach I haven’t thought about it!” to a few doses of “too poor” to outright and total antipathy. My cosy, rosy feelings from barely ten days previously were steadily evaporating in a cloud of doubt and confusion. My illusions were beginning to crumble down around my ears.

I eventually left Scotland in mid-October, filled with mixed emotions. The problem which had beset the family had been worked out satisfactorily and I was missing my husband and my pets. Yet I still carried this peculiar feeling within that all was not right in the independence garden.

Sure enough, since getting back, there seems to be nothing but increased amounts of negative feedback in the ever-unreliable mainstream media concerning the SNP and its goals. I can’t remember them all, but it began with the NATO vote at the conference. Then there was the “lying about legal advice” in respect to the European Union, to the apology just the other day by Salmond in Holyrood over inaccuracies in figures concerning education budgets.

Throughout this time I’d been throwing my hands in the air, despairing at what was going on, sinking further and further into an angry depression with regards to Scotland’s future. It was even causing a little “domestic dis-harmony” ... as my moods swung up and down with the “good-news/ bad-news” see-saw. And sure enough, it reached a bit of a crescendo this afternoon when my long-suffering husband eventually blew a small gasket.

When the harrumphing and grumbling had died down, and I’d returned from wandering the dog through his usual admiring crowds, a few thoughts had settled out and fallen into place.

There are two main problems as I see it.

One is the lack of support among women for independence. I'll come to that in a paragraph or two.
Meanwhile, although Unionists are still unable to come up with one single, solitary, sensible, non-patronising reason why we should remain part of this union of unequals, they are winning the Battle of Obfuscation and Confusion.

All they can continue to do is use the MSM to smear and malign and nit-pick at every little thing the Scottish Government does. Unionists are attempting the tactic called “death by a thousand cuts”. They repeatedly and frequently screach and scream foul; even when there isn't one; or take events and either invent negative stories around them, e.g. the Euro Legal Advice debacle, where it was shown Westminster would equally have not revealed any such information either; or they exaggerate erroneous or mistaken information to appear they are full-blown lies, spoken with the deliberate intent to deceive.

Moreover, their aim is to equate a post referendum independent Scotland with Alex Salmond and the SNP in power, in perpetuity; thus resulting in a sort of Shortbread Dictatorship, with no room for any democracy.

The problem here is, if you throw enough mud, it will eventually stick. Currently in the polls, Alex Salmond is considered trustworthy. However, there are two long years for the Unionist to lock and load barrow-loads of mire for firing in the general direction of Mr Salmond and the members of the government.

If a week is a long time in politics, two years must be verging on an eternity. I'm pretty sure the SNP are fully aware of this situation; what concerns me right now is they seem to have their guard lowered, and the jibes from the opposition are beginning to add up in column inches in the dreadful MSM. And whereas before, any taunt was easily shrugged off and explained as the bitter trumpeting of the opposition, seeds of doubt must now be being planted in heads across the country.

Lamont, Davidson, Rennie, Darling et al, may not be able to string a coherent argument together, but they don't have to when the MSM is constantly playing their nasty little sound-bites on a loop at the Scottish public.

My next question is about the lack of female support for independence.

I can only assume that these women are comfortable with the direction of their lives today and the thought of the Union maintaining this “status quo” after the referendum. The Unionist propaganda of negativity appears to have succeeded with these mothers, wives, sisters and aunts in regards to how uncertain life will become in an independent Scotland in November 2014. They are relaxed and confident in their Union rut, but afraid and unsure of the new independence road.

How on earth do we get the information across that post 2014 Jam isn't going to arrive; that if Whitehall really did intend giving extra and meaningful powers to Holyrood, they could and should do it now as a mark of respect and trust; that the perceived “status quo” will be nowhere near similar to what will be the reality; that the cuts that are ravaging the social services, health services, disabled benefits and child benefits etc., will also become a reality in Scotland, as will privatisation-by-stealth. You can’t expect to run and maintain the current level of living standards on an ever-decreasing house-keeping budget – see Barnett Consequential. In addition, all of the Unionist parties will indeed squander billions of pounds on renewing nuclear weapons just 30 miles from the Dear Green Place, instead of spending it on care for our elderly or educating our children or ensuring our disabled and vulnerable are maintained safe and well. And what of our Service personnel being dragged into future illegal conflicts?

How can we get our message over crystal clear and without the Unionists obsessive insinuations and, at times, out-right lies? Those lies that I now know were even getting me down; I was beginning to think “what’s the point?” I realise now they had been the root cause of my gloominess ever since I came back. They were starting to wear me down with the drip, drip, drip of negative propaganda.

So, what can we do?

As the independence camp has no real access to fair reporting anywhere in the UK, surely to goodness some cash has been set aside for buying advertising space in newspapers and billboards. If not, why not? How would we go about arranging this?

However, I expect it we will mostly have to do things the old-fashioned way. Each and every one of us will need to take some responsibility in delivering these important messages door to door, person to person, blog by blog.

Sometimes I wish I were there, walking with my pup, delivering leaflets, talking to people and knocking down barriers one myth at a time.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

A single question, but we still get three choices.

I have spent a month back in the company of my fellow Scots, and a wonderful month it was, sadly like everything else in life it is over, for now. 

During the visit I witnessed Alex Salmond sign the accord with David Cameron, an accord which on the surface betrayed democracy in Scotland. The Holyrood Consultation results haven’t even been announced, and those who might have expressed a desire for a third question were being discarded.

The key is on the surface.

Scots will still have a multi option referendum, it’s simply that none in the UK Westminster centric “national” media care to investigate, or highlight it.

As Scots go to the polls in 2014’s referendum there is every possibility that they will do so not simply to decide upon Union or not, but which Union. Westminster is hoping the additional air of uncertainty surrounding what will then be our times coupled with the disgusting celebrations earmarked to herald the start of a war will scare the nation into keeping the existing “pocket money” set up.

What’s not trumpeted is that so far, referencing OMB (Office of Management and Budget) and media reports, over 80% of the cuts that are required by Cameron’s “austerity” have still to be enacted. They’ll bite between now and 2016. Westminster is holding off and praying for a miracle. Someone should tell Mr. Cameron, Scotland is a long way from 34th street.

What else isn't trumpeted is the Euro-sceptic Tory mindset. In recent days we’ve seen several major cabinet players come forward with such positions. It appears most of the Tory front bench are lining up behind Teresa May; a person quietly tipped as possibly the next Tory leader.

Where this leads us, and not just on the Tory benches, is to a probable referendum on EU membership, a referendum where once again Scots stand to have their wishes subordinated to that of England in our “democratic” system. Bet on it. We will either stand united with England’s electorate, or be trampled divided. Our voice will count for little other than a distant barely audible OK, or simply be drowned.

It will happen, believe it.

It will happen because the EU Euro nations are being forced into tighter unity. Merkel and the Bundestag want a federal Europe, a United States of the Euro.

Note the difference, there will be a two tier EU, and it will come about inside the next five years. Already there is talk of what amounts to full fiscal Euro zone integration coming on line in January, that’s this January, with the ECB bond buying and backstopping shoogly economies.

When the Euro zone begins direct intervention there will be a de-facto United Sates of the Eurozone, leaving nine nations, including the United Kingdom simply peering in from the outside. We will have no say.

This is because the vaunted veto isn't really worth diddly, as we've seen. David Cameron played the trump card and achieved a small delay, substantial ridicule, was shunned in Europe and received accolades from his back benchers, but not a lot else. The rest of Europe basically set up in another room and did their deeds anyway.

Laughing stock doesn't even begin to describe what took place following that action.

The markets are pressing for Eurozone integration, the member nations are largely pressing for Eurozone integration, even David Cameron is pressing for Eurozone integration. Everyone appears to acknowledge it’s about the only way the Eurozone can sort itself out. Integration.

There are calls for a unified foreign policy, police and armed services, each made up from constituents of the Eurozone countries in the first instance no doubt. Ms. May is already calling for “repatriation” of laws and another look at the EU arrest warrants. The blackout blinds are being pulled down in London.

Where this leads us to is the fact that the already largely worthless but much vaunted veto will become effectively redundant. Since the Lisbon treaty much, most, of EU voting is done by QMV, Qualified Majority Voting. This means alliances come and go, the sands shift, and on most days every constituent nation is happy enough with what it gets.

The issue with a formal Eurozone bloc is that it will hold a perpetual majority in QMV. There will be no further need of alliances, the sands will be scorched until they become a solid immovable block of glass, and that glass will bear the word ‘Eurozone”.

Within five years, the Eurozone will either fracture and disintegrate or rule the EU. With Germany, France and Holland backing the Eurozone, Westminster can already see the sands solidifying; the groundwork is being prepared to take the UK out of the EU to protect the City of London.

No one has yet hazarded a guess as to what the few states like the UK that are not presently in the Eurozone will do when the bloc solidifies its voting structure, but one can expect most to simply join the bloc. Those that don’t can either leave or live with the multitude of diktats that emanate from Brussels while having no true say in their formation.

This is something akin to Scotland in our current Union. Westminster appears to find that option unpalatable in Europe, yet believes Scots should be browbeaten into acceptance of such a situation.

Scots will therefore have a choice in 2014, not about Union or not, but about which Union.

A “No” vote gives them what they've had these last three centuries, a short spoon and a distant seat at Westminster’s table.

A “Yes” vote gives them the opportunity to see for themselves where they would rather be, they can enter into a more loose form of Union with England should they desire, a form outwith the EU.

They could opt to remain within the EU but tied to Sterling, effectively replicate the current situation but within a bigger, safer more cosmopolitan union than Westminster could ever provide.

They could opt to join the Eurozone, because with fiscal integration the Euro will be here to stay, and backstopped by Germany, France, Holland to which would be added Scotland’s resources it will become the currency of choice.

Or our fellow countrymen and women can opt for an independent Scotland, standing aloof but ready to assist.

Four choices, two boxes, one referendum.

Only one box opens up all the choices to every Scot.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Either Holyrood or Westminster must go.

That’s the problem with devolution – it just doesn't work. It’s either got to be an all or nothing scenario for any state, or some type of federal set up where the nations run their own affairs but contribute to a joint “Uber-administration” in which each nation has an absolutely equal say, like the US senate. 

Johann Lamont and her London bosses know this also, as do the Tories and Lib-Dem’s. If we understand that 2014 is ultimately, in Westminster’s eyes, an either / or referendum we can begin to understand the recent labour speech in Scotland, it was designed to bring our nation into line with England. If we vote no, the signal is strong, devolution is dead, there actually will be no need for devolution, and we’ll be just like England.

In the event of a “Yes” vote, Ms. Lamont’s speech of last Tuesday is irrelevant, we all know it.

If the insanity of a “No” vote comes to pass, we will simply be informed that we were very clearly told what to expect. Do not doubt it. It will come to pass.

This will happen because the UK and EU are not federal institutions; they don’t even pretend to be. It is therefore baffling why any small nation would sign up to either, effectively volunteering for a jackboot across the jugular.

Proportionate representation across nations just doesn’t work – folks don’t mind in the good times, but when the bad times bite the coin flips to a “who are they to dictate?” type scenario. Fractures erupt.

That either Holyrood or Westminster must go is self evident. As a glaring example, and there have been many from the Megrahi affair to planning permission, and not including Ms. Lamont’s apparently insane speech last week, please look at just one headline in the latest Sunday Herald concerning the amalgamation of Scotland’s police forces.

More important for the purpose of this article is the lead in sentence from the headline.

“SCOTLAND's single police force is facing "horrendous" cuts worth £300 million over the next three-and-a-half years, according to official figures leaked to the Sunday Herald”. 


Wow, now that’s an attention grabber and no mistake, thousands of jobs must go to make that type of saving possible. The implication, wrongly, is that it’s Holyrood’s fault.

Frankly the cuts to the police force where services are duplicated can only be a good thing, it saves the taxpayer money. Accelerating the cuts is a very bad thing, John Swinney knows this, but he can’t avoid Westminster’s diktat.

In this amalgamation every reasoning Scot must surely applaud the Scottish government. A single police force for a nation of five million is eminently sensible.

The speed of the cuts and their human consequences is certainly not a good thing; that is a direct result of devolution.

With the austerity measures being forced upon us by decades of Westminster bungling, corruption and ineptitude, resulting in Holyrood budget cuts, John Swinney was put into an impossible position. His budget has been reduced; he has to make efficiencies and cuts.

The problem is that there’s a human side to these efficiencies and cuts, and it can and will have dramatic individual consequences. Take the USA for example, the recession/depression hit in 2008. They do counting tricks like Westminster, if you’re not actively looking for work, you’re not officially unemployed. If you give up, you don’t count.

This has allowed the US to keep its official unemployment figures from reaching outlandish levels; meantime for young adults suicide has just passed vehicular accidents as the leading cause of death for the first time ever.

There is always a human cost.

John Swinney has been put into a position where he has to pass the human cost onto Westminster, to hope that they take care of it, because he simply can’t. With devolution he doesn’t need to worry about social security, Westminster simply won’t allow him that luxury.

These thousands of newly unemployed, from the police merger alone that will hit the dole must still be cared for in the greater context of our societal obligations. Or not, but the “or not” is not John Swinney’s concern – it’s not his budget responsibility.

This is a glaring example of why devolution simply doesn’t work, why anything but a partnership of equals simply doesn’t work.

Conversely, this is why independence does and will work.

Under devolution we now have a situation where the governing Westminster party’s ineptitude and ignorance is forcing cuts. Swinney can impose cuts of this scale simply because it’s not his budget that has to underwrite them.

Really, really think about this for a minute, it’s devolution in action.

Westminster is incompetent.

Westminster forces Holyrood to enact savage cuts as a direct result of Westminster’s incompetence.

Holyrood, which has absolutely no choice, passes along these cuts. The police forces [in this case] are merged at a grossly accelerated rate and thousands are unemployed.

These thousands become unemployed so fast the private side can’t accommodate.

There’s a labour glut which gets worse, this helps drive salaries backwards in real terms.

Holyrood meets its budget as imposed upon it by Westminster.

This is a devolved settlement. This is Westminster control. Holyrood has no options.

However, what isn’t obvious is that the responsibility for these thousands doesn’t go away and as private industry can’t absorb that many that quickly, what exactly is their fate?

Under devolution the answer is simple, they go on Welfare, support, buroo, social, call it what you will. These multitudes have just become Westminster’s responsibility.

It’s why devolution doesn’t work and independence must happen. Westminster just forced Holyrood to meet its budget.

Except in forcing Holyrood to meet its budget, Westminster just ensured it can’t live within its own budget.

Westminster must now cut benefits or borrow more – either way it’s doing things a nation or the impacted individuals can’t afford. London’s kick-started a vicious cycle, the casualties will be many, but is acceptable in London because their voices are small.

What existed under devolution was hidden in the times of plenty, but when famine strikes the cracks yawn wide.

Westminster is well aware of the situation, so is Holyrood. One government or the other must go, there’s no option except mutual bankruptcy unless devolution consists solely of a puppet administration.

As there is no longer a puppet administration, neither Westminster nor Holyrood wishes to see bankruptcy. Both are banking on 2014. Both must secure Scotland for themselves. That is the truth of referendum 2014. Only with Holyrood is there an opportunity to ensure we will look after our own interests.

In an independent Scotland as with any prudent nation, budgets would be somewhat controlled; it is probable we will not be as heavily impacted by fortune’s variables. Irrespective we know one thing. If Holyrood had to make the choice between a slower more orderly and better managed draw down of surplus staff, or be faced with the welfare bill for those it had just made unemployed, we could expect any sane administration to opt for the more orderly draw down.

The current police amalgamation is providing a snapshot of the reality of devolution; it doesn’t work. The only point to suffering the ignominy of a devolved or supported administration is if that administration is but a step on the path to a rightful reassertion of statehood.

If the path leads anywhere else, it’s pointless.

Holyrood or Westminster – 2014 will be the year of decision, the choice is that simple.

Unless you are advocating the end of Holyrood as anything but a parish council, unless you want an end to Scotland’s parliament, there’s only one option.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Perspectives – Something that is Lacking in Labour.

At the end of the day life is about perspectives. The interesting thing about perspectives is that they’re personal. It’s why we don’t always [or often] all agree, and it’s why on those rare occasions that most of us do agree it’s called a common perspective. 

The common Scots political perspective is social democracy, we don’t all agree with that all the time, but it’s reasonably accurate for most of us, most of the time. It’s emphasised by our voting tendencies.

To any individual capable of thought and wishing to secure an elected position in our nation it means any policies pursued should fit into the realm of being social or democratic. Those who can tick both boxes you might just be approaching a sure thing, deliver and watch the trust build. Fail to deliver, as the Liberal-Democrats discovered, and there will be a price for the betrayal.

Johann Lamont, Labour’s latest leadership incumbent north of the border went out of her way the other night to ensure she didn’t check either box. In fact she went so far as to take a rubber and remove the options of either social or democratic from the paper itself.

This was her effective promise to us.

It didn’t matter that she didn’t actually wield a piece of paper with strikethroughs over these two words, Social and Democracy.

Collectively that’s what we perceived she did. Twitter and Facebook lit up with it, a great many column inches were dedicated to it. People in the streets, including the average committed and dedicated Labour voter are left sadly shaking their heads. Shaking their heads and for the first time for many of them, though they may not yet realise it, they are now considering a “Yes” vote.

Ms. Lamont’s Newsnight announcement of future Labour policy was announced in dictatorial fashion, like a manifesto it has been embedded in our collective consciousness. There was no consultation of Labour members we heard of, no party conference discussion, no apparently collective decision making.

It was a decidedly Stalinesque media announcement by the red party that certainly wasn’t socialist and it assuredly wasn’t democratic.

Our perspectives are now in the process of being shifted again, but this time they’re not being nudged just by a fraction, this time our perspectives are taking the full brunt of a 10’ long 2x4 beam across the forehead. And it’s not being wielded gently.

New Labour, Scotland’s traditional party will be removing social equality from our land.

Cut away the fluff, strip the dressing, and dump the salad and desert, that’s the basic statement from Labour in Scotland. The meat in the oratory was “Just like England” and “Death to social equality, death to opportunity”.

That’s as blunt as it gets, like the individual hit by the 2x4 the average Unionist Scot has to absorb the blow, overcome the pain and shock, they have to comprehend what’s happened and they have to rationalise it as part of their healing process.

That rationalisation falls into three roughly even categories, “they didn't mean it” will account for a small amount of voters, those who refuse the evidence of YouTube, the media or their own often neglected research. Fundamentally these are the deniers in any society.

Then there are the justifiers, those who will look for any reason to accept the actions just perpetrated on them, and they’ll come up with everything from “it’s really not needed” to “we just can’t afford it anyway” through “It’s really my fault, you know”.

Over the coming months as the impact is processed we can expect the deny-ers and justifiers to make up the smallest portion of these previously “secure” Union votes.

Lastly we’ll have the realists, the ones who look into what’s on offer, and they’ll see that where Scotland’s Labour Party would have them walk is down the path of social inequality, of unbridled capitalism and of relative deprivation for most individuals.

For the majority this vision will not sit well with their perception of a fair, free and socially democratic land.

These are the ones who will realise that the raft of services proposed for elimination will not only remove some fundamental and unique aspects of our culture, but they will hurt us all universally.

Consider the average taxpayer, if we have no children our taxes still go for schools, we accept that, it’s a cultural and social necessity. That’s just one example.

We all pay in to support the common good of society, those who don’t pay their fair share are criminals or sociopaths; there really are no other words for them. These individuals reap our hard bought benefits and don’t contribute. That’s abhorrent.

Now consider Johann Lamont’s proposals, they’d lead to the re-introduction of means testing on an across society basis, that would be hugely expensive, demeaning and just as abhorrent.

Ms. Lamont proposes that those who can’t afford to pay, whose means tests prove they’re poor, deprived, or otherwise “worthy” of state aid will still have free access to services.

Ms. Lamont’s just alienated the poor, just as effectively as ATOS alienates the disabled. She has erected barriers in our society.

Ms. Lamont’s also put Labour in a place of alienating the rich. She’s telling them that their extra taxes they pay on their extra income will now be used to help the poor, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but she’s also telling them they’ll be taxed again, because the benefits they’re paying their extra taxes for will not be available to them or their children. They’ll have to pay again if they want those benefits.

Not only will the rich pay more, they’ll pay twice and then some. There’s no world in which that’s a fair shake. It’s a shakedown.

Ms. Lamont’s also alienated the middle classes, because she’s introducing uncertainty. Where will elderly care go? Where will the levels be set to qualify? Will my band D home suddenly have to pay for rubbish collection while the band C is exempted? Why should I pay £10,000 more for my daughter’s education than the McDonald’s next door when I only make £2,000 a year more?

As soon as we create a society of “I get but you don’t”, we create societal fractures. In Ms. Lamont’s world the poor could get free university without encumbrances, the middle class can scrimp and save and endure decades of debt so that their children have “equal” opportunity. This policy is proving a disaster in England, why bring it here unless you've simply been ordered to?

Mundane to extreme examples perhaps, but these are perceptions that are being created.

A fair tax system is where taxes are paid universally, with an increasing but not undue or inappropriate burden on the wealthy, and all share equally in the benefits of the taxes. VAT can’t be removed from children’s shoes only if you make less than twice the average wage.

Society has arguable obligation to provide food and shelter to all, at a basic level, with some limitations that society allocates. There’s no question these should be income based provisions.

Everything else in society should be provided as it is paid for, to every citizen. That is a fair society.

An unfair society will expect the folk in the band D house to pay more tax, to support charity, to invest in their children’s future as they also have to save for that education while being taxed for another child’s school.

Members of a fair society should simply expect severely unfair treatment to cause these supporting individuals to move. It’s like any relationship, if we perceive we are being treated inappropriately, we first tend to try to work out the issues, but if irreconcilable differences are there then we’ll tend to leave the relationship.

Scottish Labour just gave every appearance of reaching the “irreconcilable differences” point with many of their supporters; it will spill over into the referendum vote and future elections.

Labour achieved “irreconcilable differences” through proposing severely unfair treatment across Scotland’s franchise. The visit to the “decree absolute” stage may take time for many, but it is road they will travel. Even Tory London didn’t dare go so far so quickly.

Even Tory London would be aware that if just 1/3 of Scotland’s defence under-spend was used in Scotland then all these programs could not just be maintained, but increased, and we’re not even touching the savings through scrapping Trident.

Even Tory London would be aware that not only could these programs be expanded by doing this but that we’d be able to increase our military substantially, reversing London’s cuts.

Tory London also knows that even after all that was achieved there’d be money remaining to invest in either infrastructure or begin a sovereign wealth fund. Just from the defence under-spend.

Tory London appears to know something that formerly Labour Scotland doesn't  and that’s why Labour in Scotland is working so hard to alienate all social levels of Scots society. Then again perhaps they have also been left wondering where that 2x4 came from, because it certainly doesn’t seem to have helped the “Better Together” cause at all.

“Better Together” is now severely compromised, because no matter the future damage control, no matter the policy or leadership changes in the next two years, the memory of the words uttered by Johann Lamont will remain fixed in the perception of many an average Scot.

The average non-politically inclined Scot now knows fully what’s on offer from the Union, and judging from the media and street reaction, they don’t like what they perceive at all.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Britain’s Unequal Society – where you can be stopped from marrying.

Didn't we all have a wonderful day at the march in Edinburgh on Saturday? I know I did. However I’ve decided I won’t blog about it as many others will and I reckon they will do it admirably. Therefore, back to the blog in hand.

No, the title is not a typo. The United Kingdom, David Cameron’s vaunted golden land, home to the latest Olympics, proclaimed as a beacon of democracy, the “Mother of Parliaments”, and a place of freedom and enlightenment.

What Westminster projects, acclaims and espouses continues to walk farther and farther from reality as each new initiative passes. Administration after administration, Labour, Conservative or coalition, the steps made to equalise society between 1945 and 1965 have been eroded.

When it comes to inequality, we in good ol’ Blightey universally rank in the top ten, it really doesn’t matter which indices are checked, the butcher’s apron is right there nudging the top of the list.

This is not the dream of the average person.

The latest raft of policies and proposed new immigration laws being brought to the legislative table proposed or under serious consideration includes such issues as special immigration lines for “high value individuals”. The only time that any individual should gain precedence in any system is for either a medical emergency or a credible threat to wellbeing.

Saving twenty minutes because your cheque book is fatter should never be a consideration.

Then there’s the new immigration laws, they amount to an obscenity of inequality. A system whereby Scots are additionally unfairly treated in comparison to the South East. In fact, this is a situation where everyone else in these unequal shores is treated in a discriminatory fashion with respect to London.

The laws appear equitable on the surface, setting basic income thresholds for certain immigration criteria. That appears fine at first glance until one understands that there’s no national or regional differentiation allowed.

The unequal aspects that need addressed, but will not be, aren’t those where someone willing to put £5 million into a UK bank gets two years shaved off their residency requirements, or 3 years off for really good behaviour, AKA a £10 million deposit.

No, the unequal aspect that really needs addressed is the effective marriage ban on anyone making less than about $22,000 a year. That’s right, meet, love, marry whomever you want, but if you make less than £22,400 a year you won’t be living in the UK. 


Home Office

This overall provision makes even the United States draconian immigration laws look positively benevolent.

Where it gets worse is that £22,000 isn’t the same dependent upon where you live. Londoner’s have much higher salaries, employeebenefits.co.uk notes that salaries paid to Londoner’s are £10,000 higher than those paid to the rest of the UK.

In simple English, or in Westminster speak if preferred, a mechanic in Putney can get married to his Sweetheart, a mechanic in Peebles, Powys or Peterlee can’t. A hairdresser in Southall has no issues with her beau, but stylists in Saltcoats, Saltney or Skipton are pretty much left without a hope.

These are real people, real lives and real discrimination.

How long will it be before the human rights act gets invoked over this legislation is a question worth asking, until one considers that the initiation of any legal action takes money, and in the case of human rights law usually a lot of money, and the legal aid budget is being decimated.

So the Tory, Lib-Dem coalition is again targeting those who are the most vulnerable in our society while effectively working to prevent them having the means to defend themselves.

The Cameron-Clegg message is clear, if you go on holiday, volunteer overseas, or simply like to travel, don’t date.

Democracy in action, equality in action, big society in action, Westminster style.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

What about the children?

At times it is worth a visit to the twilight zone, a look into an alternative reality whereby our politicians only did what is right, what is in the best interests of our society, what is good for the children. Not what is often simply in their own self serving interest.

It is surprising, very surprising that no one in any political movement has examined this issue, more precisely “is it good for the children?”

A simple suggestion indeed, but what if it became our guiding legislative principle, we are, after all only caretakers for the next generation, and caretakers can be good or bad. Westminster is a stark example of bad caretaking with rising, soaring child poverty.

Take for example NHS privatisation, service cuts and PPI/PFI. As these issues continue to impoverish and dismantle our social contract by an exponentially soaring debt burden that has transferred to the unborn, can we honestly argue that this is good for the children?

Consider also that the UK is at the forefront of the world’s list of most unequal nations, and consider if that can possibly be good for the children.

Imagine an updated proposed or implemented Scottish constitution, one that is yet to be written, but one that the current Holyrood government guarantees will include nothing that negatively impacts our children. Holyrood could pass such legislation in this or next year’s sessions.

Holyrood could guarantee to set up an independent body of perhaps a dozen randomly selected citizens from a pool of volunteers to examine each and every article of legislation passed or enforced in Scotland. If it is viewed as good for the children, neutral or wouldn’t affect them it continues the legislative process. Alternatively Holyrood could simply propose an act whereby legislation perceived as not good for the children could be challenged and struck.

This is the only principle that Holyrood need propose for inclusion into a future restored Scottish state, the only big bazooka as the financial gurus would call it that is likely to grab a nation’s attention.

Enshrine the sovereignty of the individual by protecting tomorrow’s citizens.

It will do so because such a proposal is almost unique, certainly in our modern western civilizations.

It will do so because virtually everyone will agree that if it isn’t good for the children, and we can demonstrate that it isn’t good for the children, then we shouldn’t be doing it, proposing it, or allowing it.

It will do so because it will shift the independence debate away from the SNP; from the same old, same old arguments, from the bickering, from the internecine party warfare to where the debate should be, what kind of Scotland we want for tomorrow, what kind of Scotland we want for our children.

Imagine the effect if this is put before Holyrood, as an overriding aspect of future Scots law.

The Union parties would have to vote for it, or against it. Expect their backers to want it to be killed. Big chemical, big pharmaceutical, big oil will all see drawbacks to a law protecting children. The City certainly would not support it because the fees and charges our pension pots currently suffer under as we stagger through crisis after financial crisis would need to be capped or moderated if proposed for future amendment. Parents requiring support from their children through usurious finance charges, is not good for the children.

The principle is simple; the objectors will be many, for today’s adults cannot be asset stripped unless it is deemed “good for the children”.

Imagine the cleft stick that Holyrood could place the Union supporters in. London will be unable to insist on legislation that could be deemed detrimental to the children. If it insisted it is not impossible that Westminster governments might fall.

The Union parties would have to oppose the proposal; they are likely to be ordered to do so. However, if the Union parties do oppose the proposal, it would strip their veneer, it would lay them bare to every citizen of these islands, and they would be perpetually seen as the parties who don’t care about children.

The effect would ripple right through Scots society, it would galvanise Scots as they realise this referendum isn’t about the SNP, it isn’t about Labour, or their more minor partners, the Tories. It would help people forget the irrelevance that is the Liberal Democrats.

It would, more than anything else conceivable, bring the focus sharply back onto the real purpose of this referendum.

That it is about nothing more or less than Scotland’s future, and the ability of Scots to shape it directly without any disastrous dilution of their democracy.

It will remind folk, or shock them into acknowledgement for the first time, that a vote which is diluted by over 90% is a worthless vote when it comes to writing your own story, to choosing the path that you need to choose.

It will do all these things and more simply because it is in the best interests of the children, and who among us except the predatory, the depraved and the simply evil wouldn’t put the good of the children first.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Of Scots, the Union and the EU.

This week there was a dramatic development in the world of European Nationalist Movements, and it wasn’t in Scotland, but the root cause will be the same vehicle of deliverance, yet the destinations will be wholly different.

Catalonia, Spain. More than 1 ½ million people took to the streets to demand independence this week. The support for independence is such that the province’s premier, and it is a province irrespective of aspects of nationhood, was forced to publically change his stance from one of more federalism to stating he’d have been on the march but for “other issues”.

Catalonia, like much of the rest of Spain was united by royal marriage in 1469, a little after that Granada was conquered and we’ve pretty much got the Spain of today. Prior to the formation of Spain there were fundamentally absolute monarchs in each area, afterwards there was an absolute monarchy.

The key aspect for Catalonia is there were no treaties involved outside betrothal contracts, no independent votes, and in the 20th century as the Spanish Civil War was underway Catalonia was forcibly retained within Spain. Spain is therefore categorically one country with one constitution which the Catalans also endorsed – arguably not in a fully democratic fashion; individual referendums were not held in each region. Spain is therefore one nation, and allegedly indivisible.

Against this is the popular will of the Catalan’s today. They indisputably fall under the UN’s definition of a people who can elect to choose their own path. Should they choose the path of nationhood it would be almost impossible for Spain to deny them, but they’d have to do it under present circumstances as a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. They would become a new nation state.

Here’s where the situation with Scotland begins to differ. Both entities are fundamentally fed up with a lack of democracy and with resources being siphoned off to “help others” when the deprivation at home should be addressed first. Catalonia is asking for a bailout from Spain, demanding it actually, no strings attached, but none knows the position of Catalonia without the “Spanish Drain”. Scotland does not require any such financial support.

Scotland is a historical and modern nation; a fact that most people don’t think about unless asked. However, almost all concede Scots are nationals of their country, Scotland. That we hold a UK passport is now little different than being Dutch and of the European Union. A main reason for the differentiation is that Scotland entered into a treaty with England to create a single state. Westminster might have us as regions, may prefer to view it that way, but Nations under a single state we remain.

If the Union of Scotland and England, circa 1707 is dissolved, then we become again individual nation States. Wales and Northern Ireland then have serious choices to make. It will be a case, in respect of statehood, where two became one then become two again. It’s really that simple.

In the easiest of applications, the “best fit” under international law, because of that treaty, we’d both become successor states.

Here’s the key, both Scotland and England should be successor states.

Spain and Catalonia are a different issue altogether; they’d be original state and new state.

A Mr. Bailly of the EU, not a noted constitutional expert by any means, and possibly much more familiar with Spain after her more recent constitutional struggles spoke out when asked about accession status. His voice echoed others as he spelled out the criteria for an accession state, but he was taken out of context (as usual) by the UK mainstream press which purported to show that Scotland would be “Out the EU” if “Independence is IN” – they created, as appears their wont, a major Bru-Ha-Ha for no reason. These “purported” journalists need only familiarise themselves with treaty law and they’d know there was no story here.

But then “no story here” suits neither Westminster, nor the need to sell copy. The truthful story that both Scotland and England should be treated identically is not a story they apparently wish to print.

Following the stramash in the Gee-Bee press, the same Mr. Bailly came forward and issued a statement that his comments were specifically NOT aimed at the Scottish situation, adding additional clarification by stating that both Scotland and the R-UK could face a situation of being treated as equals in an evolving situation by Brussels, where merely a majority vote was required for confirmation of member status.

In other words, Scotland and England would be identically placed successor states.

“No story here” appears to have been the order of the day again, it wasn’t reported.

Therefore the independence movement in Catalonia while having the same vehicle and drivers as Scots nationalism, both serviced by the UN’s convention on human rights, will take the individuals of each aspiring state to their respective destinations.

The destinations are quite different however, because each will travel the same path until they reach a fork in the road after a formal vote.

Catalonia will travel the path of secession and take the road to being a new state.

Scotland, under the Vienna Convention will simply dissolve a treaty, and will take the road to being a restored state.

England will also be forced to take the road to being a restored state – the treaty the UK existed under will simply no longer legally exist, the UK will no longer legally exist.

Both Scotland and England will be successor states.

England and the other nations/regions of the UK will need to decide on a new name, articles of Union, or affirm the old. Last time it took several years, most of the 1920’s in fact.

Westminster doesn’t want it because the people will be severely enfranchised, it will provide an opportunity for reform that has been perennially stifled.

For the rest of us, not much will change, not immediately anyway. We’ll still be inhabitants of Britain, we’ll still be “British” just like Swedes will always be “Scandinavian”.

We’ll both be in the EU until we decide otherwise or terms are simply renegotiated.

We’ll all still be EU citizens.

Freedom of goods and movement are unlikely to change.

For Scots, not too much changes at all, except that we remove an entire layer of government, we stop paying for Westminster and its imperial ambitions.

For Scots we’ll then decide if, how and when we wish to continue our subsidy’s of the other UK constituents.

Ironically it’s the referendum in Scotland that’s allegedly catalyzed the Catalans and Quebecois. The situation in Catalonia is much more immediate and dire, they argue they’re being bankrupted by Spain and are close to a demand for a resolution NOW.

The feedback loop might prove interesting indeed, for a success in Catalonia will breed increased desire elsewhere.

The big question after Scotland votes “YES” is what will the other parts of the UK do, and nobody, but nobody is addressing that where it counts, because Wales and Northern Ireland, like England’s Westminster will have more, much more, to think on than Holyrood ever will.

And that is only a good thing.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The real meaning behind Section 30.

We have all heard about Section 30 by now. It’s a small but important article of legislation we are told is required to be passed in Westminster to “authorise” Holyrood to hold the referendum. It’s supposed to be needed to make it “legally watertight”.

What the legal pundits are missing here is that, quite simply, law serves to exercise the will of the people. Law was not invented or created, in a democracy, to limit the will of the people.

Law on a societal scale follows the will of the people, it does not, must not lead it. If this is not the case we or any professed society do not live in a true democracy.

At heart here is the Union of Scotland and England, the respective parliaments in London and Edinburgh who three centuries and more past “agreed” to form a single parliament within a single state, amongst other items. Nationhood however remained distinct and unaddressed with laws and religion amongst other aspects at least partially ensuring the nations remained different.

What’s often overlooked is that the “Gee-Bee” nations were not like the states of the USA, but were totally dissimilar. It was a square peg / round hole scenario in the political extreme.

Scotland is and was a land where individual sovereignty is held paramount, England and her conquests or dominions is a land where sovereignty was/is vested in a single person, the head that wears the crown. All others were vassals or subjects, to give them the more PC term.

Over the centuries English perspectives evolved, today’s teenagers have seen their lives status elevated to citizens, but largely it was simply a name change. Sovereignty as it evolved in England is still held by parliament in Westminster, now representing the crown. In its barest and most brutal adaptation this makes David Cameron, in England, almost a de-facto elected “king”. With a strong parliamentary majority he could wield power of a type only dreamed of by the leaders of true democracy, where the will of the people is paramount.

The prime limit on Westminster’s PM to constrain such political power is the answerability to the electorate twice a decade. UK “democracy” is sadly limited to a tick in a box for the average person of perhaps a little over a dozen occasions in a life.

This brings the circle back to the section 30 orders, an act at Westminster that will “allow” what’s preferred by London to be a one time opportunity for Scots sovereignty to express itself.

This is a “gift” to Scots of something we already own, yet our media portrays it as something to be grateful for. The sovereignty we as individuals had has never been relinquished, it has been affirmed. From the original “Declaration of Arbroath” to 1689’s “Claim of Right”, another name for the reaffirmation, to the repeat of the same in the 1980’s and again after the 2011 elections in parliament.

Democratic will in Scotland has continually and forcefully asserted the sovereignty of the individual. Sovereignty of the individual is the round peg to parliamentary sovereignty’s square hole. They are fundamentally irreconcilable. One insists on a vote every handful of years to retain the democratic illusion, the other strongly suggests everything of significance be placed in open vote.

London is taking an inherent Scots right and proposing to loan it back to “make everything legally watertight”. It’s a bit like needing your next door neighbour’s permission to write a cheque, and they’re not even on your bank account. This cheque is drawn on the inalienable individual sovereignty of the Scots.

Everyone needs the referendum, whatever its outcome, to be watertight.

There is a simple solution, one which every Scot and Holyrood could accept. It would be a simple gesture by Westminster, but don’t expect it to be forthcoming, because London traditionally doesn’t give away anything. Even that which it doesn’t own or have legal, moral or just rights to, London will keep close. Labour has acknowledged they [Westminster] could clarify or reaffirm anything they choose with respect to Scotland, they just won’t.

Westminster could create a section 30 order, and Holyrood could accept it with good grace if it was constructed in such a way as to reaffirm, as both the courts and the Scots already have, the sovereignty of the Scots.

The section 30 order could read as agreement in cooperation, recognising such rights and citing the history and legal precedents of individual sovereignty, while proclaiming that it is an order of clarification alone.

The section 30 order could read that with Scots individually sovereign in their own affairs they may collectively, as an expression of majority will, alter, amend, change or otherwise select any system of governance they mutually decide to pursue.

The section 30 order could then conclude that this has historically always been the case and that both Westminster representing the Crown in Parliament and Holyrood, representing the collective sovereignty of the Scots, agree to this.

It won’t happen without a fight, because it opens the door, as it should, to future democratic decisions within Scotland on almost any subject imaginable.

If the Union was voluntary and cooperative this should provide no threat whatsoever. All parties would be delighted at such an opportunity presenting itself.

If the Union is oppressive and dictatorial the threat to its existence from such a concord, such a mutually appropriate agreement, is dire indeed and must be resisted.

The problem is that Holyrood should not, cannot accept much less than this, unless it’s simply alternative wording.

Should Holyrood accept less than this, agree to a section 30 order that somehow implies the referendum and devolution is in any way England’s gift, then the reality of vassal nation will be enshrined by mutually accepted acts.

By Holyrood agreeing to a Westminster diktat underpinning a section 30 order then the concept of our individual sovereignty, held so dear and fought over at great cost through most of a millennia will be severely compromised. The idea and the pride that accompanies it might well be destroyed.

Over the next few months as “negotiations” culminate around the 2014 vote we will discover exactly where our government in Holyrood stands – for this issue is but the first of many which are critical.

Democracy doesn’t need permission.

The democratic will of a nation isn’t easily denied, dictators through the centuries have discovered this.

David Cameron’s upcoming actions will define him here, as much as anywhere, presumptuous dictator or not.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon both, in the upcoming tussle will need to entice and excite the individual Scot, they will have to devolve power more than the average individual here ever imagined, and they will have to give their own future into the hands of individual Scots.

The leaders of Scotland’s party will need to constitutionally re-entrench the ideas and principles of individual sovereignty to such an extent that the ordinary person will be shocked from apathy and inspired for their future, their children’s future and their nation’s future.

The past is resolute, it cannot be altered except with Unionism’s revisionist type history, the referendum is for tomorrow, and it will take inspired individuals to build that tomorrow. The Union can’t inspire, the Union is about repeating the past and expecting a different outcome.

Nicola Sturgeon is now the person charged to fill the canvas with bright and vibrant colour. It is a heavy responsibility, time will tell if she can transfer and expand her competencies, for if she can she just might make the best First, First Minister that a Scotland newly resurrected to statehood could hope to find.

Nicola has an advantage as she enters this fray, for unlike any other in the “Yes” or “No” camp, from North to South and East to West she undeniably has something none others can hope to approach in either breadth or depth.

Nicola Sturgeon has a nation’s trust. It is doubtful that will change.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

My kind of Nation, not my kind of State.

Scotland: That simple word evokes a quantum field of emotions. Inter-Nationalist or parochial small minded Unionist - we have both. Catholic or Protestant - we have both. Highland or Lowland - we have both. This is my nation; it is a nation in which I take immense pride, for even as its achievements stand it out singularly in this world of ours, so do its divisions.

Living in a factual world I am extremely strong in my beliefs, I am also willing to change them if the facts dictate otherwise. This is where I have issues with all kinds of bigotry, irrespective of whether it is the Union’s London-centric policies or the religious type which has been used to divide us for centuries.

The issue is that at the end of the day, this is my Scotland; it is the bequest of those that came before me. Rightly or wrongly this is what I inherited. It is now up to each and every one of us to do what we can to pass our nation on to the new generations of caretakers. And to pass it on in even better condition than we received it.

Where each generation strives to better the next is my kind of nation. That is my Scotland. That is my pride. As I travel the world I express it whenever the opportunity shows itself, from the flag on my ship to the music in my soul.

I find the world at large to very receptive.

It also works to remove myself from the “Gee-Bee” state, definitely not my kind of state.

Democracy is an institution, spouted in Westminster, flouted in London.

Democracy is government of the people, for the people, by the people, all of the people.

Democracy is not giving the people a voice every few years with a limited voting choice and then catering to the 1% while milking the other 99. Democracy is not demonising entire sections of your own citizenry in order to enhance the prosperity of a few.

There was a peaceful demonstration in London this week, on the back of David Cameron’s Paralympics words “more than any funding can do, I think the Paralympics will really demonstrate to people some things about disability, some things about what these incredible people can achieve which can change their views and inspire a whole generation of people.”

First we’ll deal with Mr. Cameron’s language, and the real content. Basically he is saying funding was less important than achievement and what these individual competitors managing to excel at as having the ability to alter national perspectives about the disabled community.

I applaud these individuals, and I admire them, but I would not presume to put them in the same field as able bodied athletes. It’s why they have the Paralympics in the first place. Politicising the achievements of a minority is to demonise a majority. These are the “cream” of the disabled within their respective conditions. These are the individuals with that almost superhuman drive to overcome any obstacle as long as they draw a breath. There will always be such individuals, but it’s not the norm.

Holding up these few exceptional people as examples for the disabled is no different than expecting every “average” human being to outrun Carl Lewis or be a better executive than Richard Branson. It’s simply not going to happen; nature herself never designed it to be so.

There is the photo of the archer in a wheelchair, yet there’s not much call for archery in the workplace. Certainly there are jobs the wheelchair bound can do, but there are many places and situations where they find themselves excluded from “normal” life or occupations. For the most part they don’t grumble, they just get on with life – sometimes they need a little extra help to fit into our world, and when they do we should do everything we can to give them this assitance.

That’s what the demonstrators in London last week were trying to say – don’t hold these remarkable individuals up as an example of average, then judge us all on that unattainable standard. It’s no different than saying to the unemployed if you can’t run 100 meters in Olympic record time you aren’t eligible to obtain unemployment benefit.

The demonstration on Friday at the Department for Work and Pensions was dual focused, against both government policy and Atos interpretation and implementation. It’s not usual for the disabled to engage in violent protest; it’s rather awkward trying to outrun the authorities in a wheelchair.

The official response to the peaceful gathering was shocking; the police response can be very conservatively described as overzealous. There were instances of equipment damage varying from eyeglasses to wheelchairs and personal injury to the disabled demonstrators, including a broken shoulder. The police in a democracy are paid to protect and serve. The overriding question here is; who exactly were they serving when perpetrating violent acts against these people?

Furthermore, the police in a democracy are an extension of the state; they should be there for the good of the people, by the will of the people. Using brute force against those with a genuine or even simply perceived grievance over their treatment is not my idea of democratic rule, it certainly not my State, or at least one in which I will take pride.

Simply put, if such aggression was not sanctioned, it would not happen. The way was prepared by the mainstream media and Westminster in the ongoing demonisation of the disabled. The last record I uncovered of such a demonstration by the disabled in which extreme force was used to disrupt a peaceful event was in 1930’s Germany; the period following Kristalnacht.

The route being trod by the United Kingdom seems to be wrenching it from the opposition to persecution it displayed for much of the 20th century within Europe, to embracing the same in the 21st century under the guise of Austerity.

For the present Scotland appears to be somewhat peripheral to this change, thanks mostly to Holyrood, but the question hovers – how many more cuts can a nation endure before we will witness a creep of such policy northwards, especially if under a bout of collective amnesia the parties of the Union ever achieve a collective majority again.

Until that day, Scotland, warts and all, will remain my kind of nation. Gee-Bee is certainly not my kind of state.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Can a Nation suffer from Stockholm syndrome.

The Question is this:

Are the Scottish proponents of continued Union with England purely mercenary or simply suffering from a Stockholm’s type delusion – is there another possibility?

Before investigating the concept of a large section of our populace suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome, it is necessary to examine the background of the nation or nations involved.

Can it be so simple to apply Stockholm’s to our nation that it doesn’t even need, as in my case, either a psychology degree or convoluted logic to demonstrate how simply the facts fit the case.

Our present Union construct of four quasi-devolved nations, evolving since the legal construction of the UK in 1926 is simply an ongoing dialogue that’s principally between the Scots and English, Holyrood and Westminster. Key to this is in understanding that for a captive to exist there has to be a captor. If the traditionally disseminated Union story of voluntary assimilation by both nations into one government, of a benign rescue by London of a debt burdened near bankrupt Edinburgh is factual there can be no case for Stockholm’s.

The background

A look at the history behind the creation of this “Gee-Bee” perception and the psychology that maintains it proves fascinating.

Prior to our present quasi-devolved state construct of four nations there is the older Union by Treaty of two sovereign nations, that of England and Scotland from 1707.

That the Scots never wanted that treaty is self evident to any student of history. Anyone doubting this fact needs only to examine the facts. In Scotland it was signed in secret, with the supporters fearing for their lives. Daniel Defoe, King William’s paymaster and agent of subterfuge within Scotland in the lead up to the Treaty of Union also recorded in his journals that more than 9 in 10 Scots were against the Acts.

It is well documented that Darien was a failure, leaving many nobles near bankruptcy. Not so well acclaimed is the historical fact that it was English and Spanish collusion that were substantial drivers in the failure. Darien’s demise was engineered in London.

With the demise of Darien many Scots in opposition to Union perished, others of the ruling class were near destitute, and although the nation itself remained debt free and relatively wealthy, it was this ruling class which sold their votes to avoid penury.

Effectively we have a captive / captured situation.

There have been many attempts by the Scots to dissolve the Union that prove this, from rioting at inception to a parliamentary act some five years after, two open rebellions and other home rule acts, petitions and finally devolution.

On the oppressive side there have been “the clearances”, “the banning of name and dress” proscription of weapon, and educational acts prohibiting use of our native language. In all it leads to a picture of what can only be accurately described as cultural genocide.

There are examples in living memory, from the simple act of repression created by ignoring the 1952 National Covenant to overturning the 1979 referendum by invention and insertion of a “one time” constitutional hurdle. In the devolution settlement of the 1990’s Scots voted for a “Parliament”, Westminster then “granted” an “executive”.

Having set the background stage it is opportune to see if the current proponents of Union with England, claiming Scotland’s best interests as dear to the heart, still act simply from personal self interest as their forebears did, or are principally victims of the Stockholm syndrome.

On the surface at least it is apparent that those projecting vacuous or unsubstantiated reasons for Scotland remaining in this present union “stronger together” “Britishness is a state of mind” have no apparently hard credible arguments, but almost without exception these individuals or organisations have benefitted substantially from espousing that view. Arguably for them the captor has been kind; they have been elevated above their peers.

Stockholm or personal profit is for the reader to decide – for without a credible third argument appearing, it would appear to be an either/or situation.

No other viable explanation appears to exist, as Annabelle Goldie, ex leader of the Conservative party in Scotland publically confirmed to the UK Prime Minister David Cameron on the weekend of October 1st 2011, “Scotland is not subsidized, the UK would be poorer without Scotland”. The Union proponents have still failed to give Scots a hard and fast third option, they still, after three centuries and counting, have not given the average Scot a solid Union benefit.

Ms. Goldie herself here clearly states “Scotland would be richer” outside the Union, simple interpretation of her statement must mean that Scotland is poorer within the Union. Ms. Goldie therefore supports poverty to a greater degree than is required for her nation, asking why she and those like her take this position is certainly legitimate.

What is Stockholm’s Syndrome?

An accepted definition of the Stockholm syndrome: An extraordinary phenomenon in which a hostage begins to identify with and grow sympathetic to their captor.

Named for an episode that occurred in Stockholm in August, 1973 when an armed Swedish robber took some bank workers captive, held them for six days and stole their hearts. The Stockholm syndrome is not limited to Swedes.

Patty Hearst, heir to the publishing fortune, was kidnapped in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army. She later joined the SLA and participated in a bank robbery with them.

More recently, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped by a couple for 9 months. Elizabeth repeatedly had the chance to run away or ask for help but did not. It is now generally believed that she had the Stockholm syndrome, in which she formed emotional bonds with her captors.

Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, essentially mistaking a lack or perceived lowering of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness.

The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome. It also appears more prevalent among women. This therefore begs the question, “is this why Scots women consistently lag behind Scots men in polling for a Yes vote?”.

While there is still disagreement as to what factors precisely characterize incidents that contribute to the development of Stockholm syndrome, research suggests that hostages may exhibit the condition in situations where the following four factors are present:

· They feature captors who do not overtly physically abuse the victim.

· There is a long duration before resolution.

· There is continued contact between the perpetrator and hostage.

· There is a high level of emotion involved.

How it can apply in the case of Scots supporting Union.

Firstly hostages who develop Stockholm syndrome often view the perpetrator as giving life by simply not taking it. In this sense, the captor becomes the person in control of the captive’s basic needs for survival and the victim’s life itself.

It is relatively simple to place this into context, with Westminster controlling all taxes, welfare, pensions and much of criminal and social justice systems.

Secondly the hostage endures isolation from other people and has only the captor’s perspective available. Perpetrators routinely keep information about the outside world’s response to their actions from captives to keep them totally dependent.

Following three centuries of death, deprivation, clearances, execution, proscription and exile, dating from a time well prior to the signature of the Treaty Of Union through the present Scots now live in a reasonably just society, arguably more so than in England.

One should consider however that in the 20th century alone there was more than one occasion when censorship was rife and directed by London. This included the reported issuance of provisional orders for English armour to take to the streets in 1919 and in the 1960’s [Glasgow] through the ’74 gagging of McCrone. There were innumerable instances of atrocity that went unreported during the fall of empire to maintain the appearance of “benevolence” to the dispossession of the Diego Garcia inhabitants.

The condition of censorship continues in the present decade as we escape illegal wars and in the last week alone the attempts at suppressing the antics of “Prince Harry” are just a recent example. Corruption is endemic in the state, it’s rarely reported as such, and it’s only a miniscule percentage of offenders that is ever held to account. Even the state needs examples on occasion.

For three centuries and more, the people of Scotland have now largely obtained their information through Anglo centered, London based media, where censorship is rife, often simply by omission, and through the 20th century has been controlled, in disproportionate fashion by the BBC, with the greater portion of funds provided by the nation of Scotland directed towards production facilities in and around the English Capitol.

This was forcibly underlined during the recent Scotland Act, 1998, whereby the Media and broadcasting was specifically noted as a power reserved to the Westminster Parliament. At the Olympics we just witnessed the obliteration of anything with the potential to demonstrate to the world, during Westminster’s showcase, that there might actually be a nation called Scotland.

The message delivered through these media over decades, often subliminally, is that the Scots are now a race of “Subsidy Junkies”. Scots are also informed that they could not survive as an independent nation (while the UK attempts to simultaneously convince nations larger and smaller, from the BVI to India that they CAN survive), and that the voice of Scotland would be mediocre on the international stage. It omits to point out that within the Union presentation on the world stage the voice of Scotland does not exist.

Scots are also informed that as a member of the Union the international community views them with respect and dignity, which is obviously incorrect as demonstrated by such internal stories printed by the often perceived Scots sycophantic press. Everything is filtered through Westminster.

The Scots world view has therefore spent almost the entire time of Union being shaped by London. Scots see the world largely through London’s selective lens; even the weather maps on BBC television contain subtle minimizing psychology.

Thirdly, the hostage taker threatens to kill the victim and gives the perception of having the capability to do so. The captive judges it safer to align with the perpetrator, endure the hardship of captivity, and comply with the captor than to resist and face murder.

Clearly the attempt, almost successfully, was made to destroy an independent national identity and erase that culture from amongst the Brotherhood of Nations. Through encouragement of divisions along ethnic/religious divides, clearances, and two unsuccessful risings, the realm of Scotland was to be relegated to simply “North Britain” throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth and much of the twentieth century’s.

It is in fact not uncommon to still see the phrase “North Britain” used in print, video and other media post 2010. That it was largely successful on the international stage is evidenced by the fact that to the world community at large, England and Britain are interchangeable phrases for the same identity. Scotland is not perceived as a nation in its own right by much of our world.

Our voice is not “stronger within”, it is decidedly gagged.

The dominant faction of the Union (England) began apparent moderation of these policies as the twentieth century wore on. It is arguable the moderation took place after Westminster perceived the case as “won beyond redemption”. When Scots returned a Tory majority vote in the 1950’s that opinion was likely catalyzed.

The centuries of abuse also arguably left the most solid underlying impression in the national identity of the common Scot that both the ability and the will were present on England’s part for an attempt at utter extinction of the national Scots identity should it become a necessity. Endurance and compliance could, in large part, prevent this. Even in today’s Olympics, when Scots athletes proudly display the Saltire it is, for the most part, simply edited out – like the attempt upon Scotland herself from history through Westminster’s control of broadcasting.

With a referendum approaching the overriding theme from the Union is negativity. Scots have heard all the doom cries, possibly more than could have been expected. Everything from expulsion from Europe to bombing our airports, Scots have been promised fiscal and literal death. Perhaps NATO would be a good idea to give us allies and forestall English aggression – the overtone is unmistakable.

Lastly, the captive sees the perpetrator as showing some degree of kindness. Kindness serves as the cornerstone of Stockholm syndrome; the condition will not develop unless the captor exhibits it in some form toward the hostage. However, captives often misinterpret a lack of abuse as kindness and may develop feelings of appreciation for this perceived benevolence. If the captor is purely evil and abusive, the hostage will respond with hatred. But, if perpetrators show some kindness, victims will submerge the anger they feel in response to the terror and concentrate on the captors’ “good side” to protect themselves.

The captive nation (Scotland), from the apparent perspective of a mass of individuals within the nation could be said in many/most cases to observe the union as “Kindly”.

This is because it ensures in the present day and age that a roof is still available, as is nourishment. What appears more difficult for these individuals to understand is that these same mechanisms would in almost all scenarios still exist without the union, perhaps in greater plenty and with greater security.

The Union and its proponents self edit the atrocities, the abuses and the practiced cultural genocide, highlighting instead warm and fuzzy “better together” images, without ever explaining exactly how we are better together.

It remains to be seen what the outcome of austerity will ultimately be with respect to the Union as Scots witness the dismantling of the socially beneficial aspects of the United Kingdom. It may alter the “kindly” perception enough to create a substantial difference.

These scenarios are apparently subconsciously discounted by media and politicians alike, with phrases such as “Scotland’s wishes to be considered” (a statement by Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg with regards to Scots being forced to change the date of their national elections by Westminster).

The incredible issue here is that these statements can be portrayed as acts of benevolent kindness rather than an inalienable right in a democratic society! Somehow rather than generate a universal national anger, these comments instead are apparently seen by many less astute Scots with a type of “we’re being cared for” perspective.

Conclusion.

When only 3% of Scots residents view themselves as “British” foremost, it seems appropriate to enquire how this Union survives. Furthermore, what, if any, are the driving factors for its survival outwith the probability of the almost universally unhealthily decried Stockholm Syndrome or England’s economic need.

Throughout the last three hundred years there have been a great many notable cases which reflect the fact many of us, past and present, arguably, very strongly arguably, suffer from the Stockholm syndrome. There are very few equally notable exceptions.

In cases where Stockholm syndrome has occurred, the captive is in a situation where they have been stripped of nearly all forms of independence as well as their basic needs for survival, and the captor has effectively gained control of the victim’s life.

Some experts say that the hostage regresses to, perhaps, a state of infancy; the captive must cry for food, or in our case natural sovereign powers, or remain silent, and exist in an extreme state of dependence.

In contrast, the perpetrator serves as a 'mother' figure protecting the 'child' from a threatening outside world, including law enforcement’s deadly weapons. The issue with Stockholm’s is that it is insidious; it is invisible to the sufferer.

We can only conclude that, as a nation, it is past time for Scotland to take her position of responsibility in the global community. It is time for individual contribution, for individual recognition. It is time to cease being Scots in failure and “Brits” when triumphant. It is time to stand proudly once again.

This is where we stand today, but with a referendum due in 2014, and those who would vote “No” appearing to opt for decades more privatisation, austerity, asset stripping and social policy decimation is there any other ready explanation than that posed above?

For those who would vote “No” in the referendum, knowing that by common consensus they will be poorer if they do, they should ask themselves why they would deny their own Sovereignty, why they would further impoverish themselves and their children.

The definition of foolhardiness has been said to be repeating the action and expecting a different outcome. As the Union has undeniably failed most Scots, it is amongst the most unequal nations on earth. Individuals who would vote “No” must surely question their choice.

Therapy anyone?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Osborne is playing Cameron’s long game for the Union.

Tax revenues are down says the treasury; it’s been all over the news recently. Part of the blame we’re told lies with Scotland’s Oil industry, revenues are alleged to be plummeting. We’re informed it’s just a foretaste of what’s to come.

Every indication is that this current scenario is one with its roots firmly embedded in Westminster, originating with the budget following the Holyrood GE when a referendum during the life of the current Scots administration became a self evident fact.

Consider the thought process at the treasury; it was the lead up to the last budget.

Whitehall needed income to try to balance the books, at least a little. The red ink was too much of a reminder of that ongoing fiscal incompetence that Westminster has displayed for so many decades, administration after administration.

Long term policy also had to be accounted for; the newly matured elephant in the room was that impending Scottish independence referendum. If the books were full of red ink leading up to it, it’s nothing to what they’ll look like after 2014 if the Scots do what every indicator suggests they should, and vote with their feet to leave. This very obvious red ink might even help the Scots decide to leave.

There were small items that could be tackled, inconsequential things to London’s minions, like the demonisation of the disabled, things which can be used to divert attention from what’s really happening – the destruction of the social fabric of these islands.

Then there’s the big issue which will possibly hasten the realization that the fabric is actually being torn asunder – Scottish independence.

In the eyes of both Westminster’s UK government and the UK’s mainstream national media Scottish independence and Scottish oil revenues are inexorably intertwined – kill one, defuse the other, stifle independence, secure the revenues. It’s all about playing the long game for the money, resources and assets of the Scottish nation.

This tax raid on the oil industry is explained and planned behind closed doors of course. Let’s consider this little scenario with a hypothetical reconstruction of the chat between Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the treasury and David Cameron. In case Danny Alexander is credited by too much intuition through this article [in the opinion of some readers] we should recall the treasury has exceptionally well educated, intelligent and paid analysts at its beck and call.

Danny: Dave, we need a tax raid on Scotland’s oil revenues.

Dave: We need money to balance the books – we’ve got to have income to stop the country falling apart now, and the oil industry won’t like another tax hit.

Danny: But the fields already in production will keep producing – we get the extra money anyway.

Dave: What about future investment, we need these marginal fields and the lot that probably lies in deep water West of Shetland (got the name right – yes?) developed, we need that future income.

Danny: Dave, look, slam the tax in NOW, stifle development, and as older fields go offline the revenues will decrease – we’ve got a home run for the referendum, we just need to tell them “look at your vaunted oil revenues – they’re going south, and fast”.

Dave: But Danny, we need money NOW.

Danny: Dave, we get more until these fields go offline or get mothballed, add that to a lower demand from the global economy and we can expect the North Sea data to look quite dreadful by the time the referendum comes around – but the oil will still be there, the markets will know that, and it should be worth even more.

Dave: rubbing his chin – Keep talking.

Danny: So, we’ve got money in the bank, a nice reserve, potentially vast untapped oil reserves out beyond Rockall, and because we can terrify the damned Scots into voting “No” when they see what’s happening to their vaunted oil revenues, we insure we get it for decades to come.

Dave: Danny, that’s a great idea, get George here and we’ll have him include it in the budget – we’ll paint it as plummeting revenues if it does happen, and just take the revenues if it doesn’t – brilliant Win-Win Danny boy. Teach those darned Scots not to mess with us, eh.

George Osborne enters:

Dave: George, let me explain Danny’s idea - (witterings ensue) - Now, what’s your opinion.

George: after unfolding a towel and using a marker to on it to outline his thoughts – Brilliant Dave, well done Danny, but what if instead of just complaining the Scots tumble to what’s going on, it might be harder to hide than even Coulson’s indiscretions.

Dave: Suggestions George?

Danny [interrupting]: George, let them eat cake got some queen or other over the channel beheaded, we need to behead the independence movement, I mean, without any kind of positive argument that can withstand even basic scrutiny we’ll only deflect attention from our hollow arguments for so long, and it might not be long enough.

George: I know – we’ll tax pies and bridies, they’re another Scots institution anyway, but we’d better call it a pasty tax in case the Scots get the idea they’re being targeted again. Get the papers involved, leak it, and create an uproar over something that’s meaningless. Divert their attention and they’ll forget by the time the revenues plummet and then, we use those against them as well.

Dave: Great, so we bring in money, and if we have to abandon the pie, sorry, pasty tax, well we weren’t exactly expecting it to make a difference anyway – Scotch pies or Scots oil and whisky. It’ll all take a year or so to percolate, and if we need to we can even use it as the reason to change economic policy at the next budget – the oil revenues are a disaster – it’s Brilliant, we save face and the Scots get the blame!

Danny: Even the City will want it, they’ll know with these reserves we’re good for our debts, then my people tell me we can make lots of noise about our credit rating as well, because this independence thingy, it’s not looking good for our credit rating, I mean, I’m hearing rumors we go down a few notches and they, erm, ahem, don’t.

Dave: I’m sold, but keep it quiet, mums the word.

George: I’ll go arrange the leaks, but I think Danny deserves credit for this.

And so it came to pass that Danny Alexander received the public acclimation for the partial destruction and dismantling of an industry in the short term, an industry which in our present age is one of the jewels in Scotland’s industrial crown.

He received that acclimation from his puppet-masters because, for whatever reason, he’s certainly playing Westminster’s long game.