Sunday, 15 May 2011

SNP Building momentum in Holyrood race. (Written 04/04/2011)

As Labour’s Iain Grey faces an increasingly uphill struggle amongst progressively more questions about both leadership and policy the voting public appears to be steadily turning its back on the red rose.

With the most recent polls showing the SNP overtaking Labour and a report in the Mail on Sunday showing that another Lib-Dem candidate has quit the race, the SNP have published further polling evidence showing that the they have the big momentum, Labour’s lead is wiped out, and former Lib-Dem voters are displaying a tendency to switch in favour of the SNP

The Mail on Sunday reports that Eddie McDaid has dropped out of the Central Scotland list for the Lib-Dems, while core data from the ICM poll of 14-15 March gives the first indication that LibDem voters are breaking in favour of voting SNP

This in spite of the fact Labour entered the campaign with poll leads that could only be described as devastating for the nationalists, many in the media proclaiming the keys to Bute House were already as good as in London’s hands once again. In some cases the poll gap was predicted to be as much as 15 points clear, however as the campaign has progressed and issues have clarified this chasm has steadily been filled.

In terms of those who voted LibDem at last year’s General Election, only 25% were sticking with the brand of the yellow rose at the time of polling, though even that number may be lower now, while 40% remained undecided. Those who declared an intention split as follows:

SNP: 16%

Lab: 9%

Green: 2%

Con: 1%

The SNP’s reported canvass information on the ground backs these numbers up. And as the Lib-Dem vote is melting away, the SNP are focusing on a number of seats where they believe gains are possible, such as the two Highlands seats where Jamie Stone and John Farquhar Munro are standing down, and Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale.

Commenting, SNP Campaign Director Angus Robertson said: “The SNP have the big momentum in this campaign, and we believe that we can win the trust of voters”.

Certainly by the way the polls are trending so far the Nationalists positive message of their record in office [over 80% of manifesto pledges kept], strength of team, and their vision for the future is going down well on the doorstep.

An SNP source stated “Iain Gray’s negative approach has definitely registered with people, and we are finding that former Lib Dem voters who are looking for something better are switching to the SNP rather than Labour by a factor of two to one – which is a very encouraging feature of the early stages of the campaign. We are taking nothing for granted, and will continue to work hard to earn every vote.”

Additionally with the Lib-Dem campaign falling apart Iain Gray also found his own problems compounding into in a leadership crisis, as Labour MPs built on criticising his performance on the first televised leaders’ debate on STV.

Commenting on today’s Panelbase poll for The Sunday Times John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said the poll highlighted the key weakness of Labour's campaign as "the lack of a

personality capable of reaching out to voters". He further stated: "Iain Gray is little known and not much liked, even amongst those who actually voted for the party last time.”

The divisions opening so swiftly within the labour ranks have been precipitated by Iain Gray flunking his first televised debate as an STV survey concluded: Of the 991 people polled by ScotPulse – STV’s online polling system - 87% thought Alex Salmond won the debate with only 5% siding with Iain Gray.

This devastating critique of the Labour leader’s performance was followed by 74% of respondents saying their perception of the Labour leader changed negatively after watching the debate whilst 53% of respondents went on record acknowledging that they had a more positive view of Alex Salmond following the debate.

In the days following the televised Labour debacle, the Scotsman reported several Labour MPs have admitted they are "very worried" about the party's campaign referring to Iain Gray's lacklustre performance(s). Yesterday's poll which saw the SNP overtake Labour on the constituency vote is compounding Grays’ issues.

This has been enhanced by the mainstream Scottish Media who despite a reputation in some quarters for regurgitating Labour press releases are going on record with policy and performance issues for Labour, specifically on three key areas – Council Tax, Tuition Fees and Funding Public Projects

Reflecting the fact Labour increased Council Tax by 60% when they were last in office, on the STV debate Iain Gray said it was likely that the Council Tax would have increased under Labour if they had been in office since 2007.

As the Evening Times of 30th March 2011 reported: “Gray caught out over council tax .. Labour leader Iain Gray has admitted his party may have put up council tax had it been in power..."

Also in the STV debate he let slip that free tuition may not be a firm pledge for Labour after all. As Iain Macwhirter wrote in the Herald of 31st March 2011: "Iain Gray added the weasel words “if we can find a way” to his promise to keep higher education fee-free, which allows him a get-out if Labour wins in May. Students take note."

Interviewed on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on 29th March Iain Gray said he would scrap the Scottish Futures Trust funding scheme on "day one" which is currently building 43 schools, 3 Colleges, 2 major hospitals, 9 major transport projects as well as millions of pounds worth of other investments and working with 12 councils to build affordable homes.

Such an action would at least delay those projects and at worst could see them cancelled if it was taken. Delays would also put at risk the jobs being created in construction from this scheme.

Scotland’s majestic beauty to be England’s nuclear midden? (Written 4/3/2011)

In recent months much has been said and written about the Scotland Bill, AKA Calman “lite”. It gives little and presumes to take much. There are two aspects in this subversive legislation that should truly create cause for alarm. One is the presumption of “UK Law” and the other is the “resumption” of planning permission.

Two fists in one glove.

Planning permission opens a plethora of issues that appear not to have been fully considered when the original devolution agreement was settled upon more than a decade ago, however it was settled. The first and most obvious being refusal of the “new” Scottish government to accede to requests for new Nuclear power stations.

The press and media came out for and against, the nation was mildly or not so mildly divided and yet another formal policy was born in Scotland. Nuclear free - SNP. Only time will tell if it will be maintained, though of a certainty Scotland herself does not need new nuclear power plants.

One thing was obvious in their reaction to this, the mandarins in Whitehall now realized their error on the planning permission issue and would rectify it at the first opportunity. Ditto the Megrahi affair and Scots’ Law, irrespective of guarantees written into the 1707 treaty.

For almost every aspect of a “Scotland Bill” power claw-back there is a corresponding incident post devolution. Each claw-back is overtly designed to teach us Scots to “know our place”. The saddest aspect of the whole “claw-back” affair is that many of these “amendments” are being proposed by those who may once have been acknowledged by all their fellows as Scots.

The planing permission aspect is important, vitally so in fact, and it’s all about Nuclear. However it’s also all about smoke and mirrors.

What seems to have been forgotten, or is deliberately being overlooked, is not where to put the new reactors (allowing they can afford to be built). That’s already been decided with the possible exception of two in Wales which may now have a question mark hanging over them, with the Welsh Assembly largely following the Scots nuclear stance.

The proposed new reactor sites are

• Bradwell in Essex

• Braystones

• Kirksanton

• Sellafield in Cumbria

• Hartlepool

• Heysham in Lancashire

• Hinkley Point in Somerset

• Oldbury in Gloucestershire

• Sizewell in Suffolk

• Wylfa in North Wales

Only two of these are completely new sites. None are in Scotland.

So why the worry about new nuclear plants in Scotland, we’re obviously not scheduled to be getting any.

The planning permission grab apparently isn’t about putting new nuclear generation facilities in Scotland, although Westminster would probably much prefer to keep us focused on that aspect.

Logically why would any nation spend £4.8 Billion per facility (E’ON’s Wolf Bernotat to the UK Government) for perhaps three new facilities of the most advanced design in the world to then potentially watch the ties with that nation dissolve and fade like the last spring snow.

Especially when that stated price is before cost overruns and inflation.

With dissolution of the Union being a foremost planning concern in aspects relating to Scotland, at least on a “what if” basis for decisions made in London, why “give us” these reactors just to be forced to pay for the electricity produced in ten or twenty years time. Better by far to build new reactors in England where they will always serve English needs. This stance fully explains the proposed sites above.

But what about the waste?

Where to put all that mid and high level radioactive waste that’s built up over the last half century and more?

The plans at UK level appear “on hold” until they [Westminster] at least get planning permission back from Holyrood, possibly because in 2007, the UK government committee on radioactive waste management recommended the use of a deep geological repository policy – Scotland is the ideal location for these sites. Then the SNP were elected in 2007 under a “no nuclear” platform.

No planning permission is now available in Scotland for these “repositories”

New nuclear plants are now under a government “policy hold” until a long term storage solution is determined.

Then if the Scots eventually go their own way, they keep the UK’s biggest environmental problem, and if they don’t, well it’s still “out of the way”.

With the theft of planning permission by London from Edinburgh, Westminster has the power to achieve a permanent solution to its longest term, and possibly most pressing environmental problem. It can also release the “policy hold” against building new nuclear plants.

For the SE of England it’s a rather elegant solution to a very complex problem indeed.

Scotland’s majestic beauty becomes England’s forgotten midden.

At a minimum Scotland requires guarantees from England that no nuclear waste sites or generating facilities will be opened in Scotland without the permission of the Scottish people. Either we’ll get these undertakings and the planning permission demand will fade, or we won’t and it won’t.

Iain Gray. More wobbles than a Weeble.

Ian Gray continues to come under heavy fire, with a dismal performance in the first televised leadership debate. The general perception of his position as probably the poorest Labour leader in living memory was thrust firmly into the public psyche during the first live televised debate. It could only be described, at best, as remaining unchanged through the Johnson Press stage managed affair.
And that he had finished last or close to last in that event was upheld by polling results taken on behalf of STV after the debate which had 87% of respondents stating Alex Salmond had won the debate, against only 5% for Ian Gray who trailed even the Tories. There was a second question which asked respondents if their perceptions of the leaders were better or worse after the event, again the news could only be described as dire for the labour leader with some 74% who had altered their opinions negatively towards him.

The Scotsman had a similar online poll, largely reflecting the same data, while the outcome of the debate was so dire for Labour and its leader that the BBC refused even to acknowledge an item of such national significance with so much as a mention.

These issues may be what led to yesterdays report of a severe grumblings in the Labour ranks with the following remarks attributed to Westminster MP’s, as they raised concerns over Iain Gray's leadership and questioned the direction of the party's election campaign strategy. The grumblings appear to be getting louder by the day following the exceedingly poor start that has seen Alex Salmond's team eliminate the Labour lead in the polls.

Multiple Labour MPs are reported to have [significant concerns] and be “very worried” about the direction of the party's campaign. Mr Gray's bland performance in the first televised leaders' debate this week coupled to yesterday's Scotsman poll that saw the SNP overtake Labour on the constituency vote have no doubt exacerbated this situation. Westminster’s’ Labour MPs are also understood to have been rather critical of his first live hustings, acknowledging he looked less accomplished than Alex Salmond.

"Iain Gray looked very poor in the TV debate," one MP went so far as to tell The Scotsman, while other comments included remarks like "He's coming over as angry and I'm not sure if that's the right thing. Salmond is coming over as reasonable, saying 'I'll work with anyone for the benefit of Scotland'. That's hard to tackle and Iain Gray doesn't seem to have approached it in the right way. He (Gray] is not a big hitter and whatever you think of Salmond, he is."

The seriousness of the situation as viewed by London is evidenced by comments in message boards of London based Laborites already being parachuted in, three reported as arriving in the Kilmarnock area alone today.

The message from London presently seems to be summed up by one MP’s reported comment: "I'm not sure if we have got the strategy right. We're struggling to get the message over." Meantime the polls, twitter [where Ian Gray trended for all the wrong reasons], comment boards and large sections of Facebook are being less than kind.

It might appear that this entire drop in satisfaction levels has been building for some time. A starting point could reasonably be highlighted as the most recent Holyrood Budget, during which we saw Mr. Gray’s Labour vote against everything they’d requested and been granted under the accusation of the party leader being led by “immature elements” within the Holyrood branch of the Labour Party. This largely tied in time wise with the surprise resignation of Wendy Alexander from the party, ostensibly to focus on more “family time” although rumors of other reasons have been rife.

Mr. Gray meanwhile dismisses the fact there might be any difficulty with the labour campaign, going so far as to remark "The story is absolute nonsense. This campaign is being fought in constituencies the length and breadth of Scotland, and Labour is out there fighting harder than anyone else”. An odd statement indeed unless Labour are shipping in activists from England as the Nationalists are acknowledged to have by far the largest membership and broadest activist base in present day Scotland.

Mr. Gray was further quoted yesterday stating "Our message is the message that Scotland needs to hear. At this moment, Scotland needs a First Minister who will be focused on the things which really matter - above all on jobs, growing the economy and opportunities for our young. And that is the message which is resonating with the voters." Apparently he’s correct, as by reading the wires and message boards the general voter is happy with the nationalist record here.

Unionists leaders acknowledge Scotland is financially sound (Written 3/31/11 NNS)

The Holyrood campaign has been underway at full steam for less than ten days after the official kick-off point of the dissolution of Parliament. There are about 34 days remaining, so we’re about 20% of the way into campaiging.

We’ve now had some live leaders’ debates. There was the STV prime time exhibition that some could call an SNP/Tory draw, but most gave the edge to Alex Salmond by a nose. This was followed within 48 hours by the Scotsman’s debate with a hand-picked audience. The apparent political bias of the Johnson Press group is well advertised through its reporting; therefore Iain Gray should have had a much better outing. Sadly it was evidently not the case, although Iain Gray again avoided a major meltdown.

Being kind to Mr. Gray the most credit that could be given him for the last 24 hours would be state that he apparently managed to limit any additional harm to his party’s cause. These live debates are being marked by multiple photo ops each day with the leaders and their most significant lieutenants being paraded for the media. Visibility is increasing, for some not a good thing perhaps.
The highlights of the Scotsman debate were relatively simple, kicking off referencing housing in the opening remarks and returning later in depth, Auntie Annabel stated she believes in social housing but wants to introduce a modified right to buy scheme – something of an apparent contradiction. Tavish wants shared housing amongst other options. Certainly there’s a few who would enjoy his back room, but will he give up his privacy? Alex and Ian are apparently relatively quiet on the subject, only acknowledging something’s required, but without giving specifics.

Iain’s opening remarks made an attempt to paint Labour as the party of small business, choosing to neglect the tax breaks initiated by the SNP. Alex was up next and set a different tone referring to Scotland as a “lucky country” through her abundance of natural resources and continued positively by stating how those resources could be best used by Scots. If we had the appropriate powers of course.

The debate continued on this theme, with the pledges and assertions largely following the party lines previously laid out. The next point made by Bella is lack of banking expertise in Scotland without Westminster support, ignoring the fact that it was that Westminster support and lack of oversight (de-regulation) that precipitated the crisis.

With everyone except the Tories now apparently following the SNP lead on the free education bandwagon, the only differences are Lib Dem’s largely copying the SNP, and Labour inferring that it might only apply to certain courses. The SNP are the main group who appear to have data backing their position on this firm commitment. The Tories are still proposing a graduate contribution that’s earning’s based, apparently not realizing that’s already paid. It's commonly called income tax.

Bella and Iain are both supporting nuclear, Tavish is wobbling around the middle ground trying to find something acceptable to the voting public, while Alex is throwing hard numbers stating Scotland can soon have ten times its energy needs provided by from green sources, so why bother with nuclear. Gray wobbled again in closing by trying a middle tack without promising anything.

Surprisingly as the debate winds down Bella acknowledges Scotland “isn’t being subsidized” but wants Calman to be the framework for more fiscal powers, which she supports. Alex agreed with her simply asking, “Why else do they want to hang on to us?” Neither Iain or Tavish disagree with the fact that Scotland needs no subsidy, but are both of a like mind: “We all need to share [Scotland’s resources] inside the union”.

In the closing statements Gray tried a few, failed, final shots at Salmond. But the highlight was the question of an SNP-LAB coalition. Alex saying, “although he wouldn’t rule it out it wasn’t likely”, but Iain just simply “wouldn’t bet the mortgage on it”. Again an inference that one will do what is best for Scotland, while the other will most likely do what they are told.

The Scotsman debate was worthless in many ways as it was so stage managed and limited. In my opinion it was significantly more of a publicity stunt for Johnson Press than a worthwhile informative exercise for the nation. That said we do now know this vital item of information, the Tories are pro-nuclear, as is Labour, and a Union vote will put new English nuclear plants in Scotland. This is why Westminster wants to claw back planning permission.

Certainly there was nothing in this stage managed damage limitation exercise to provide a Labour upsurge.

So where does this leave Ian Gray and the Labour Party in Scotland in general, or could they simply be preparing to lose a general?

Through a purely Labour perspective, from the viewpoint of Gray’s London overlords, the campaign here in Scotland is progressing woefully. When the campaign started, his party were odds on favourites to form the next government. The bookies are now in the process of reversing the bias in the odds. Parachutes from London are already reported to be opening over Scotland.

In the weeks leading up to the dissolution of Parliament the worst poll showing for Labour was a report of the SNP “closing the gap”, the best had them nearly fifteen points ahead – an absolute landslide in the political world. A clear ten percent margin seemed about par for the course. At this level, London was content, weddings could be planned in Scotland and celebrations ensue to show we’re all just one big happy family. The latest count in Scotland was dire on two fronts – only a handful of street parties are planned to celebrate “the Royles” and Labour is now showing to be trailing in the polls.

This is Scotland sending a very unequivocal message to London, firstly a royal wedding isn’t a big deal here, though many will enjoy the day and most won’t wish the couple any ill will. Secondly that in politics Scotland is very different from the UK. The major worry for Whitehall is that Holyrood voting trends will cross to UK voting trends or that if polling trends continue we’ll end up with a majority of our MSPs who will favour renegotiation of the Union Treaty at a minimum.

Weighing these aspects, what does the Union in general and Labour in particular do about Iain Gray? Stick with him, or just cut their losses and parachute in a heavyweight? It should be safe to say that discussion has taken place several times over the last few months at Labour HQ. Unfortunately Labour in particular and the Union parties in general have several conundrums.
Alex Salmond is certainly continuing to demonstrate he’s in a league apart from Iain Gray. Sadly for Labour he’s also operating in a different stratosphere to anyone else in the Labour Party in Scotland, and at least a head in front of almost any MP in Westminster. That fact alone, more than any other, should allow Iain Gray to keep his job, until at least May 6th.
In the event that May 5th produces a Labour victory of any kind, Gray will then likely retain his position until just before the next election. Barring gross stupidity, which can’t be discounted. Gray is exactly what the real body politic within the party need – a yes man in Scotland. It’s not that Labour don’t want to replace Iain Gray, they simply don’t have a sacrificial lamb pre-groomed and ready for the task. If Labour do win in May, look for a new Labour Leader before the next Scottish election, with Gray probably resigning at the end of his term to take up a position in the Lords.

It’s a reasonable chain of events as it wasn’t so long ago that Ms. Goldie was reported to be in trouble with her London lot. The media abounded with tales of leadership elections in the Tory camp. But who would they choose, as Bella is probably their most capable. Certainly based on her demonstrated debating skills and simply being able to say “I’m just telling you how I see it”, while actually managing to sound sincere, Auntie Annabel can be said to have survived for the same reason that Gray should make it through the campaign. The difference is she’ll likely be around after May 5th.

The Social Housing Dilemma (Written 3/31/2011)

Scotland has a problem, following the imposition of Tory policies in the later part of the 1970’s through the 1990’s, many council houses were “sold off”. As a nation we are discovering we can no longer home our own people in emergency situations.

One of the saddest facts is that decades of neglect in this area can’t be fixed next week, and even long term fixes aren’t always possible in these times of Westminster imposed austerity cuts. We Scots must then arrive at our own solutions through our creative abilities and resourceful application of political policies.

We do have the potential to legislate at least one policy, an almost no cost, voluntary, short term fix and use the proceeds for new social housing, it just requires a little bit of forward thinking so don’t expect all political parties to adopt it.

Before I get deeper into the solution, it’s worth taking a good look at the problem. Typically in private housing an eviction takes place when mortgages go unpaid. Mortgages go unpaid for a great many reasons, foremost among them being involuntary unemployment and long term disability.

With eviction come a string of social issues, finding alternative accommodation (often at public expense), relocation and re-housing of children, disturbance, stress and breakdown of family units, and delays in the current council housing lists. All of these have both hidden and direct costs to society as a whole. In the case of the children the damage can sometimes last for decades, if not a lifetime.

The solution could be as simple as a small piece of legislation, likely to be violently opposed by the banking lobby, which would go a distance in solving these issues.

When a mortgage is in default, the Scottish Government can legislate itself the option to purchase and clear the loan from the mortgage holder at face outstanding value. All the current homeowner has to do is to fill out a simple form to ask for this to be done stating the circumstances. The wheels are then set in motion for some very simple tests. If the property meets the tests the home is bought by the government (us) and the running of the home is handed over to the local council.

These tests could be required to be performed within 30 days, at the end of it the mortgagor gets a cheque, or the homeowner is told they don’t qualify. In the interim the entire repossession process stops. At a minimum this buys the family time, and in these cases time is often precious.

The tests are simple – does the property have at least 25% equity, if not will the mortgage holder accept 75% of value in cash. Can the “homeowner” pay the flat council rent for the area from any combination of income(s). That’s it. In the first case it’s a flat pay of the mortgage by the state (us), and in the second a negotiated settlement with the mortgage holder by the state (us).

Why would the lender accept less than they are owed? If they had a £100,000 house on the books, but knew they couldn’t sell it quickly for that, but perhaps only get £90,000 at auction, and are owed £80,000 then they stand to make £10,000. Why give that away. That £10,000 goes very quickly in unpaid council tax, legal fees, repossession costs and any required minor repairs. Take off agents’ fees and now the bank gets less than the 75% it would get from the government. In these cases the lender has the choice, and the homeowner is always encouraged to get to and maintain that 25% equity thereby removing this option from the lender. Fiscal and social responsibilities are encouraged.

If the property meets these criteria, or is negotiated, the ownership transfers to the government and becomes part of the social housing bank, except the original homeowners now become “council tenants” at the same address. They pay the same rent to the local council as is prevalent in the area from the same income, subsidies or benefits; they just don’t have to move. No social upheaval, no emergency housing, no additional extended waiting lists, no impact to the children.

Who loses? The banks do, they no longer get to call in a loan with massive equity and profit immensely through subsequent retail selling in cases where this is enacted. The homeowner does, their equity is effectively gone, they’ve traded it for security for their family and keeping the same roof over their heads, it would be lost either way.

Who wins? The homeowner, they’ve gone from losing their home and being homeless, with possible bank and repossession costs figured in, destruction of credit, the costs of moving and stress on top, to simply no longer paying a mortgage and knowing, for most, rent is not an issue. The local council who get the rental income without having to build or buy the house. The government (us), but that’s delayed, and society on both the long and short terms. The banks do as they make from interest payments and in many cases do not have the grief of extended eviction processes.

What happens when the family no longer requires the home, how can this be a no cost solution?

When the family or individual move the home is sold. Period. The home is sold at market rates (remember that 25% minimum equity?) and the profit is returned to the central government to be placed in a fund from which future government social housing programs can be built.

In these harsh economic circumstances it’s really rather a simple and elegant solution, of course the banks and certain of our political parties may not think so, after all this voluntary program would be good for the people.

The first debate is over – where will the votes go? (Written 30/3/2011)

The first Holyrood leaders debate is over. All in all it was well managed, choreographed and provided the spectacle that politically involved Scots have grown used to.
Salmon & Goldie reasonably split the honours on the night, Scott was his usual self while being hamstrung by Clegg and Gray surprised us all by not actually descending into some form of total meltdown.

What it most likely has managed is to start focusing opinions among that 35% or so of us who are not strongly politically involved, and who often make up the “swing” vote which truly decides elections.

Based on last nights’ showing, likely to be repeated as an overall trend, it’s reasonable to assume that Salmon and Goldie will pick up about 4/10 swing voters each, with Scott and Gray getting 1 apiece.

Then we have that weighting thing – too many won’t vote either Tory or SNP, for the remembrance of the “Maggie” years on one side and the “MSM Fear Tactics” on the other. They’ll probably just stay home, that’s could be as many as about 4/10. The undecided’s then are now looking at SNP +2, Tory +2, Labour +1 and Lib-Dem +1 for every 10 voters.

When that is expanded to the electorate at large, working on an approximate mean of the last months’ or so polls, looking only at the four primary parties we get a before rating of SNP 35%, Labour 40%, Lib-Dem 10% and Tory 15%, as against an after rating approximating SNP 37.1%, Labour 36.9%, Lib-Dem 12.5% and Tory 20.8%. The SNP may just narrowly edge the 2011 election.

Now we’ve also got to factor in the recent trending towards the incumbent government that polls were demonstrating, offset by the mainstream Scottish media “spin” efforts and a likely result is that the Nation is now looking at a nominal 3% to 5% SNP win in May.

Where does that put the seat count for direct elections – who’s vulnerable [the incumbent in square brackets], just based on the numbers? The SNP might reasonably anticipate gains in:

Aberdeen Central, [LAB]

Aberdeen South (additional Lib-Dem collapse through oil levy), [Lib-Dem]

Caithness, [Lib-Dem]

Cumbernauld, [LAB]

Dumbarton, [LAB]

East Kilbride, [LAB]

East Lothian, [LAB]

Falkirk East, [LAB]

Glasgow Kelvin, [LAB]

Linlithgow, [LAB]

Midlothian, [LAB]

Ross/Skye, [Lib-Dem]

Strathkelvin, [LAB]

Tweeddale, [Lib-Dem]

The following could reasonably be described as knife edge seats for the incumbent with the main challenger in brackets () –

Airdrie & Shots [LAB] (SNP),

Eastwood [LAB] (Con),

Edinburgh South [Lib-Dem] (Con/SNP),

Edinburgh West [Lib-Dem] (Con/SNP),

Renfrewshire West [LAB] (Con).

Thirteen of 20 seats above are Labour, the loss of which would severely marginalize the party at Holyrood, reducing its constituency seat count alone to 24, losing over 1/3 of its sitting constituency MSP’s, and a loss of such proportions would make its 2010 UK GE failure seem like a tap with a feather duster. Should the departure of these constituency MP’s be compounded by a failure to significantly increase the List MSP’s the situation would be dire indeed.

A loss of this magnitude would in all probability create issues for the main party in London, and might potentially spark a leadership crisis there – for if Labour can-not “control their own heartland”, then where next?

The bigger question is if you are a party determined to get back into power, and may be within a reasonable margin of attaining that goal, which seats do you focus on? Where do you bring all your available resources to bear so that you’ll see the maximum return on your investment?

It will be of great interest to see the voting intentions displayed on May 6th for these 20 constituency seats, the vast majority of which should become labour losses at the time of writing. Which will swing to another party, which will swing because of postal voting, which will be saved for the incumbent by this voting method? Will voter participation suddenly increase in any of these aforementioned seats, with the voting percentage suddenly bursting through that often elusive 60%. Will the postal vote be reasonably consistent within each constituency with the non postal vote?

The interesting feature recently is that significantly increased postal vote requests have been noted in the comments sections of “Newsnet” from certain constituencies during recent weeks. Without exception those named constituencies/areas are listed above.

With the SNP slowly and steadily giving at least the appearance of developing as “hard” a core vote as Labour, under present trends this seems to allow the assertion that their incumbent seats are currently reasonably “safe”. However a postal vote “swing” of around 5%, or in all cases far less than the 6,000 filed in Glenrothes would also put at least the following SNP seats in jeopardy from a strong Labour challenge.

Cunningham North,

Dundee West,

Falkirk West,

Glasgow Govan,

Kilmarnock & Loudon,



Western Isles.

May 5th will bring to us the government we either vote for, or deserve through lack of electoral vigilance, let us profoundly hope that it’s the first, for based upon voiced suspicions developing from recent historical events surrounding the postal voting issues in Scotland, not only is everything still to play for in this election, everything is still to be watched for!

The 101 Declaration.(Written 03/02/2011)

Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit.
'It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.'

• A petition to our fellow Scots, at least 101 in number, to assert and declare their rights before Parliament.

• A declaration to Parliament that the only sovereign body in Scotland is the Scottish people.

• A demand that Parliament recognises that our elected representatives possess power in our name and by our consent, and that we can withdraw our consent.

• A notification to any elected individual they can be recalled by us, 101 in number, if they vote against our expressed will in constitutional matters.

• An instruction to Parliament to protect our democratic rights as embedded in the Declaration of Arbroath.

This petition to the people of Scotland requires our parliament in Holyrood to declare an end to the erosion of our historical and democratic rights as sovereign individuals. It instructs our present Parliament to do this through the authority vested in us by one of our principle founding documents of nationhood. A document created by the people of Scotland to assert their sovereign rights and to define their relationship with the state and the crown.

That we can stop the slow wasting away of our democratic rights is a given, peoples throughout history and almost beyond counting have claimed their rights, time after time and century after century. One such instance was here in Scotland. On April 6th 1320 we created and then entrenched in our history a document that came to be a shining light of international sovereign democratic principle which came to be known to history as the Declaration of Arbroath.

This document, although so distant in time and space, is only a stepping stone for individual rights. The argument that the 1320 Declaration was not created by the people is irrelevant. Who instructed its creation is irrelevant. Who signed it, excepting that it was signed and sealed by many, is irrelevant.

What is relevant about the 1320 Declaration is that it was an international diplomatic document, recognised by the highest legal authority of the day. It was signed and sealed by multiple signatories “on behalf of the entire community and realm of Scotland,” it was a civil contract between the citizen and the state. What is also relevant is that it was accepted internationally. Of even greater relevance is that it has never been repealed or set aside by a Scots Parliament, with the assent and agreement of “the entire community and realm”.

We’re speaking about the Declaration of Arbroath as an interesting discussion followed on from a previous article I wrote, an article called the Democratic Will of the People. In this article I simply stated that across the UK there is only pretence of democracy. This pretence will remain until we, who are Scotland, choose to stop it.

In England the people must accept the will of their Parliament and they must abide by its decisions, this is not democracy. In England they can only petition or request and thereafter be ignored, unless perhaps by a change of Parliament laws are reversed. In Scotland we have the sovereign right to require. In Scotland the voice of the people is guaranteed paramount. In Scotland it is our right, in matters of constitution at least, to demand this.

This declaration was in fact one of the earliest codified constitutions. It set forth the rights of the crown as against the rights of the “community and realm”, forever separating the two. It endowed the individual Scot with rights which have never been revoked, although many have tried to usurp them through the years. Now is the time to re-declare our individual rights.

There is a phrase integral to this declaration “for as long as but one hundred of us remain alive” which has come to be interpreted through this modern day that so long as one hundred Scots choose, they will defend their nation and their rights. The interesting aspect of the 1320 Declaration is that it states quite simply that our leader, or leaders, will follow the desire of the people in the defense of our realm or they will be removed. This defense naturally includes our civil liberties and constitutional rights.

This then is the source of the request for the 101 Declaration, a request to our fellow Scots to make a demand of our elected representatives. To require our present Parliament, not to humbly beg or politely petition, but to force them to follow our will as is our right, that they do as we instruct. Based upon the numbers required in the Declaration itself, it was determined at least 101 signatures be collected to give the demand constitutional force. More would enhance the fact but are not required. We are exercising our right to demand our Parliament declare and display the fundamental tenets of our constitution.

The challenge is quite simple then, we need sufficient signatures to require Parliament to pass a present day resolution that the 1320 Declaration, a principal document of our nation, has never been repealed and that it has always been a principle binding constitutional document of our land, and will forevermore remain in force. They may even wish to declare April 6th “Arbroath Day”.

Nothing more do we require of our Parliament at this time – for much of the remainder of our protections are contained within the Declaration itself, a declaration which certainly does not exclude Unions or Alliances, yet specifically notes freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination, freedom from dominion.

The only question that remains of us in our present day is do we have the courage of our ancestors, the courage simply to tell our elected representatives to do our bidding – and to stand and be counted as they do it, so that we can choose well and fairly their fitness to continue to serve. It is us that they exist to serve and not we who exist to serve them, yet somehow many of us have lost sight of that. Or are we just too lazy to care anymore. Do we simply find it easier to talk and complain than walk tall and act.

There’s a petition outline below – feel free to comment, or just download and collect signatures.

This petition, this 101 Petition is not about politics, it’s not about any party or platform, it’s quite simply about us, the Scots, and the ongoing assertion, protection and maintenance of our centuries old basic rights. In this upcoming election “do you support this petition and my democratic rights” should be a foremost question of every potential candidate. Give the candidates an opportunity to sign; let's see who signs and who baulks. Publicise it. Advertise it at the polling stations.

If we cannot even manage this, that 101 of us would not rise and be counted to make a demand of those we employ, then we deserve to suffer anything which is inflicted upon us. We would not be deserving of democracy as to all we would seem to no longer care about it.

If we can manage it, what then? What do we do with the signatures we’ve collected? Our electronic age makes this task simple, just keep the originals safe, but scan and email them as an attachment to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it we’ll collate and tabulate them.

Volunteers, feel free to email offers of help there too. We have a few weeks before Parliament ends, are we capable in that time? The answer is in our hands. They’ll be submitted both electronically and in person if we make it happen.

Whatever our choice in this, from the highest station to the lowest in our land, the truth of our character, goals and ambitions will be laid bare, as always, by our own actions.

The Democratic will Of The People (Written 27/02/2011)

At the end of the day it’s what we’re all fighting over, arguing about the world over. The personal aspect for us that Scotland should have the right to “reap her own harvest and ring her own till”. Yet with the deep conservatism towards change so often displayed by the Scots’ voter the biggest question is perhaps how best to get there!

We also need to be clear that there is no real democratic right in the United Kingdom for its peoples – to get to vote every half decade or so and have no say whatsoever in between is what we’ve been trained to, like performing seals, but it’s certainly not real democracy. We vote, but there’s no way to make those we vote for keep their promises, and they know that. This is not democracy. It is the system being copied in Scotland today.

In Scotland we need a democratic independent nation, one which represents itself with quiet dignity on the worlds stage once again, but which path to take to get there, and how best to walk it. How best to define that democracy so that the expressed will of the people is the path of the nation?

One area it seems most agree on is that the gradualist approach to independence is working, for the present, with each peak advancing just that little bit higher and each valley not being quite so deep as the last. The ideal might be put as how to best combine the two approaches gradualist and instant, but in a way where we use both as a cohesive strategy rather than the apparent haphazard one we have just now.

Perhaps it’s already underway by default, every time there is an upsurge in the instant, the gradual movement inches along a little bit more, but while its certainly working for now it looks set to take another three centuries of fiscal servitude at achieve the real goals with Westminster clawing back whatever it can every opportunity.

I’m talking another three centuries as it’s a very common thread and most seem to agree that Westminster will not “give” Scotland her rights until oil has pretty well run out in somewhere between thirty and seventy years. Basically Westminster needs Scotland’s energy. With Scotland poised to be the renewable energy warehouse of Europe for the foreseeable future it’s simple to see how the energy need of Westminster won’t change after all and by extension that Westminster will never “give” Scotland her freedom, Scotland will have to take it!

But how does Scotland take her freedom in a gradualist way, while working for the instant gratification of full autonomy with or without the approval of Westminster, for it is an illusion that “Westminster must give” in a democratic system. All that’s needed in a true democracy under international law is the approval of the Scots people. How do we who really care and are invested in our nation shake a multitude from apathy.

One thing that’s been a common theme in my journeying through this world is that wherever I meet folk who know of Scots they have some very strong impressions of us, rarely bad. Amongst the strongest themes are that we’re contentious and stubborn, or to put simply we’re not afraid of an argument but once we entrench our position that argument’s largely wasted because we’ll find ways to just push back. Although I rarely hear it mentioned I also know there’s a very strong sense of right and wrong that runs deep in the Scots’ psyche. Loyalty is the other aspect that often comes up.

We certainly can lay claim to understanding ourselves as much as anyone can, and as change comes mainly in two ways, that of force or through accepted democratic will, perhaps we need to look at what that understanding of our own nature can lead to socially and politically for us. How can we change our own politically entrenched positions to ensure the needs and futures of our children and grandchildren are best served either within or outwith this Union. It is indeed by looking at our next generation we have the truth of our three centuries of defined betrayal and what we must protect them from.

As we the Scots argue and fight over Independence, would we not be better served by opening up the engagement on more than one front, take the fight for self determination to the point that Westminster is constantly on the wrong foot. We should pick our arguments wisely and sensibly as we march towards Independence but get straight to the heart of the matter in individual points as we progress. We have enough proof that Scotland mainly benefits when Westminster is wrong footed by Scotland.

I noted a post to the “Fair and Free Elections” article that said we can demand a referendum “as long as 100 of us remain alive”, a cornerstone statement of the Declaration of Arbroath. In our modern day should this not remain our right? At the earliest opportunity should we not put a petition before the Parliament with 101 signatures demanding the declaration be formally acknowledged by our present Parliament as a founding document of the Scots Nation? If that’s refused then garner popular support for a wider petition. Have that document officially recognized in our present day as it’s a document few politicians could vote against re-entrenching without being caught in a cleft stick. Simply asking the party leaders if they support the same would likely provide some interesting and very entertaining answers!

Petitions for referendum(s) could follow, but we choose the subject wisely. Not for FFA or Independence for the first, but to set and entrench our rights to demand a referendum on any subject the Scots see as required. This a “neutral” issue until now, one that Scots can choose freely in, where there are little pre-conceived or entrenched ideas of loyalty, other than the common misconception of “I have a right to a vote”. This is a perceived right of the Scots, a right where the establishment must fight against what is obviously be the will of the Scottish people for if we were to be allowed annual or biennial referendums on subjects of our choice what on earth might we exercise our democratic rights to demand? Perhaps one day we’ll demand a referendum on Independence or FFA, and that can’t be allowed to happen? What if we said NO to bank bailouts or higher taxes, PPI or Trident?

Petition Holyrood to reaffirm our rights to be a sovereign people with a voice, nothing more is needed for now, unless we vote en-mass for Independence. Simply reaffirm that we the people are sovereign and require this modern parliament to re-entrench our ancient rights. Politically it will difficult to argue against, for to argue against such a petition is to argue against democracy itself. Follow the corporate lead on this, wherever you place your bet, simply make certain as best you can that even when you are seen to lose you win your way to the final outcome. The Unionist Parties can’t accept an expansion of democracy in Scotland, for such loosens the Union stranglehold, and there’s no telling where it would lead to afterwards, we might actually start demanding a say on the “reserved” issues of the original Scotland Bill, voting them out one by one, starting perhaps with broadcasting and energy before working our way through the rest of the list!

Isn’t it time we started using our national traits to our benefit, instead of chasing the Union psychologists and their less than subtle but very effective broadcast propaganda. We must engineer a change in Holyrood to re-affirm at least a portion of those ancient rights. Use the umbrage and our democratic power to shift existing loyalties and entrenched positions as we claw our rights back from Westminster on our way to our rightful place of a nation with a voice once again. For nothing is more certain than that Westminster will never voluntarily return those rights to us.

What the Credit Crunch means to you. (Written 02/26/2011)

We’ve been told it was lax regulation, bad loans, overinflated home prices, easy access to credit. All of these are good and valid reasons in their own right, but what was the one item that really sparked the banks’ downfall. To me it was the City/Wall Street/Corporate greed. Now I’m no financial analyst, but basic math works well for me and here’s how that math answers a few questions.

Corporations are REQUIRED to make money, pay dividends and increase share prices to keep their investors happy, they exist for no other reason, otherwise the investors leave. Quite simply they take their money somewhere else. Wall Street and the City are simply middle men who rake of an exorbitant profit and have inserted themselves between the Investor and the Corporation.

Easy credit and lax regulation in the US and UK, Ireland and Iceland, who as four principle players were major contributors to this worldwide economic catastrophe had a great deal to do with it, but in and of themselves they could not have engineered this complex disaster. That took the assistance of Wall Street and the City, the “markets” in general, which had to know the margins were unsustainable, yet the investors could not be disappointed. It all worked well until this greed hit those nations who had permitted their economies to be financially centered, where their “money burden” exceeded their “real wealth” in land or manufactured output by many times, and an event came around which stopped the money flowing.

The fact that credit was inappropriately available was a direct desire of Wall Street / the City to make more money, people in debt give a decent return as long as they can afford to pay it. To make certain they would pay it, bankruptcy laws were strengthened. More than once I have been told “the bank always gets its money”. The problem with this attitude is that you can’t just print “more money”, money only has value when it’s backed by something tangible, like work or goods, if you do print more without value behind it, you simply devalue what’s already in circulation.

As long as people could pay their debts, there was no obvious problem, and from about 2000 to 2008 for the most part the world ambled along in blissful ignorance to mantras like “No more Boom and Bust”. Then in 2007 there came that speculative increase in the price of oil. Petrol in the US went from $1.86 in 2005 to $4.12 in 2008, that’s an increase of $2.26 / gallon or <120%. The world demand for oil did not increase by <120% in three years, and David Malone’s articles demonstrate better than I can how this happens in a “free market” speculative system. The issue is that the USA is energy hungry, it’s also a good part of the consumer engine driving the world economy. They consume more per capita than anyone else. People in the USA could no longer afford to get to work, pay the bills and spend their disposable income as the disposable income was no longer disposable. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to pay bills or were badly intentioned, they simply couldn’t. They bought fuel, but stopped spending on much else, businesses closed and the economy ground to a halt, creating judgments and foreclosures over the following months, with the banks now being deprived of income the credit crunch hit. The timeframes are not unrelated, as a high incidence of severe fuel price drops, to about 30% of previous levels has historically seen a knock on effect in bank failures over the next few years. People lacking funds could not drive or even sustain the inflated goods and property prices. The crunch spread worldwide as fast as the 1918 flu. A “correction” took place, but unlike other corrections in the past, those who engineered the inflation did not suffer in any remarkable way – they’d ensured we put systems in place to protect them!

Interestingly when we examine the last century, if you lay a graph of banking failures over the top of oil prices there’s three distinct periods where oil prices collapse by about 2/3 and lagging a couple of years behind on each occasion bank failures multiply. So historically energy prices climb, people can’t pay for extras, markets collapse, banks can’t recover debt and banks fail. This indicates that today, banking viability is tied directly to big oil / energy.

We’re an energy hungry world, and as the above chart shows to maintain our energy consumption as prices escalate we will need to sacrifice other items, and when we do that economies literally collapse, and that energy price is swinging upwards again! The base norm price for energy in a balanced supply/demand system is actually only about $20/barrel, though that has naturally increased somewhat recently as we pursue harder to get at resources.

These events led us all to live through the instigation of “The Great Bank Bailout” years, which history should rightfully record as 2008/2009/2010, but why do I say the “instigation” and can it happen again?

Breaking it down we should look at what really caused the period of the “Great Bank Bailout” in our modern history, what it’s got the potential to cost each of us individually and briefly examine the reasons that have been popularly spread by media and government, even the banks themselves. It’s certain that the lax financial laws have not yet significantly changed, the City, Wall Street and Corporate interests still reign supreme, so that next perfect storm appears waiting in the wings with the seas still boiling from the last one. Indeed the Arab world is already experiencing it.

The man in the street should understand that in this worldwide banking and commerce system, pretty much everything is interdependent. I’ll use some hypothetical examples to illustrate the probable or potential scenarios, ones that most of us don’t really relate to when we hear figures on the news.

A bank fails in Hong Kong or Singapore, so what, to us it’s just an article of news that we may or may not bother reading, we sympathize with the people who lost their life savings, but it couldn’t happen to us could it? You bank with the Abbey Building Society, then you discover that the Abbey is owned by Santander which had a 50% share in these failed banks, which are now worthless. This basically means Santander / Abbey / You just lost money.

The problem is that you made no bets and just put your money there for “safe keeping” until you needed it. If you can’t get your money from your bank, because your bank just gambled with your money and lost it, how do you react? Of much greater importance to the UK and other governments, how do your neighbours react as their money is still in another bank – but is it safe? The chances are a good portion of your neighbours will pull their money, creating a “run” on the banks and the whole system collapses. Banks only keep enough money on hand to cover slightly more than what they perceive as their short term operating obligations.

The only way the system really collapses is if the banks themselves are insolvent, basically bankrupt, and can’t afford to meet their obligations. Surprisingly to most people that’s exactly how modern banking operates, for the most part they never have enough assets on hand to cover their obligations. As long as the perceived value of the assets increases, this system works, but when those assets fall in value the system collapses. Banks avoid bankruptcy by continually borrowing from each other through a process known as interbank lending, and when the banks run short, they borrow from governments who can print more money. The part most people seem to miss here is that WE are the government, the government gets its wealth from US, without US there is no wealth and it’s OUR money they’re lending to the Banks.

So where does that leave us, say an average individual who according to a recent Times article has about £3,600 pounds saved in the bank. With most of us not being paid any interest these days every year we’re losing between £100 and £200 just through that invisible tax, inflation, and for those of us that did earn a little interest, income tax is always waiting.

Now we need to add that bailout cost in, officially at £850 billion, but put it into real numbers and that’s £850,000,000,000, in anybody’s world that’s an awful lot of money. So in the real world where the UK has an average per capita savings of about £3,600, that puts the cost of the bailout to each of us at £850,000,000,000/60,000,000, now that we’re using the US numbering system. This means the UK government just spent ~£14,166, on behalf of every man, woman and child in the UK, basically to protect £3,600 of savings. That’s a bit like saying I’ve just insured my £3,600 car and paid £14,000+ for the privilege. We’re not even touching the national debt here!

In the most simplistic of fashions, where we’re ignoring corporate assets and debts, the banks were able to go to the government (us) and initiate the following conversation:

Banker representative: You know those laws we paid you to get rid of after we helped you get elected?

UK Government: Yes, but not so loud, please!

Banker representative: You should’ve though it through better.

UK Government: What on earth do you mean?

Banker representative: We’re in trouble, we need money!

UK Government: OK, how much?

Banker representative: £850,000,000,000,

UK Government: That’s almost £15,000 for every human being in the UK, what do they get?

Banker representative: They can still withdraw their £3,600 each. We’ll give you some shares in our bankrupt companies too, but not too many. Maybe they’ll still be able to get the money next year too!

UK Government: That’s crazy – why would you expect us to agree – you’ll bankrupt us!

Banker representative: If you don’t, we throw people out of the banks; they throw you out of office.

UK Government: OK then, but maybe someday if things work out you’ll pay it back?

Banker representative: Sure. If things work out, now about that new legislation we don’t want, and that bonus thing?

UK Government: Just give us a bit to figure out how to get the money, after all it has to come from the people, or we have to borrow it, and they have to pay the interest of £42,500,000,000 or about £700 each in the first year alone. By the way, will you need any more?

Banker representative: We’ll let you know.

That is how modern banking works in essence, banks borrow our money, and when things get tough they gets us to give them many times our original investment just to make certain we can still get access to our original “loan” to them which they promised we could have returned whenever we needed it before we agreed to give it to them in the first place.

And in England they wonder why the government wants to sell of the forests, it has precious little else left for the auction block!

So, what did this Credit Crunch mean to you, quite simply of your £3,600 you had saved last year you paid ¬£140 in tax (inflation) and £700 in interest for this year or about £840 after the markets finally adjust. The net cost in the most simplistic of terms is you just spent over 20% of your savings to support the banks for a year.

Banking laws are well overdue for an overhaul, not just a dance around the edges of current legislation. I don’t think we can stop the next fuel or legislative induced banking crisis, but we can certainly reduce its impact for the common person, but then that’s not really in either a Union or Corporate interest, is it?

This is the broken UK political system.

Independence or FFA and a basic Scottish banking charter might just help as well.

FFA – It’s time to turn the tables! (Written 02/10/2011)

Full Fiscal Autonomy: Is it possible in the near term for Scotland?
On the surface it would appear the first reaction is no, not with all three Unionist, London controlled parties having a very significantly vested interest against it. It presently appears the best Scots can hope for is some type of modified Scotland Bill with “inherent damage control”. This mainly because the individual party members of the Labour, Tory or Lib-Dem political organizations have a tendency to proclaim that service to the electorate may well come a very distant second to personal advancement. This advancement has been clearly demonstrated by many in these parties to be local politics, followed by regional politics, then national politics, with regional equating to Scotland or Wales, and national being perceived as Westminster. For many in these parties the benefit of the constituents, as most recently demonstrated by Mr. Devine is certainly not foremost.

Let’s then put the Scots voters, and their wishes, back at the heart of our electoral system, rather than the callousness and self interest of puppet political parties.

The issue becomes how to get the Will of the People (who in Scotland are categorically Sovereign) to be internationally recognized when even its own London centric dominated Parliament will not permit legitimate questions to be asked of its constituent populace. Certainly this cannot be a sign of a parliament representative of a sovereign people, when poll after poll demonstrates their wishes for more autonomy, and yet their elected representatives refuse to consider, en masse, such a proposal to be put to the very people who elected them? A London centric media with an almost universally acknowledged bias is certainly no assistance to the rights and political engagement of the average Scot, and when added to entrenched dogma as clearly demonstrated in historical voting trends and styles, creates a trifecta that is nearly impossible to overcome. I say nearly impossible as it has been done once so far, with the current SNP administration being elected; it’s time to do it again!

It’s time to use the Ballot Box, in May 2011, but simply not as London dictates.

Initial appearances show that in this approach there may well be a way to stop the Scotland Bill in its tracks, and expand the current proposals that are being shamefully expounded in Holyrood by tactics including intimidation, railroading and ambush of committee witnesses who might voice another opinion. What’s being proposed here is an approach that has no guarantee of success, nor is it likely be a simple process, but at a minimum the brief sub-campaign outlined below would certainly cause consternation in Westminster and may even go a long way help stopping the perceived Con-Dem [Dis]respect agenda(s).

It is time to turn the tables.

So – FFA, is it possible in the almost immediate future, it has to be a resounding YES it is! Scotland at this particular, possibly unique instant in her present history, has been gifted just such an opportunity to express her collective will. Due to the recent election results in Westminster and her forced merger of parties [however temporary or fluid] there’s a need for a referendum on Alternative Voting. That referendum has been set [the respect agenda issue again] for the same day as the Scottish Government Elections. This in effect means that there is a threefold opportunity for Scottish self awareness, with no obvious potential downside. Instead of complaining about the disrespect, its time Scots started using it, demanding its use, for their own benefit.

We should be examining holding a referendum within the referendum

The first obvious question is how this is achieved without spoiling the paper itself, and to answer that we first need to look at what constitutes a “spoiled” paper. Simply put it’s by not marking the paper in a way that the voters’ wishes are made clear, and as stated by Alex Ferguson in Parliament after the 2007 debacle.

“My key message is that the voters themselves should be at the heart of our electoral system. In 2007, we got it wrong because the complex ballots and time-saving counting methods were there to make things easier for those of us involved in the political process, not necessarily for the voters.”

It’s significant to note that electronically rejected or “spoiled” papers were/are hand counted in an effort to understand the wishes of the voter: It’s therefore reasonable to infer that no matter what one puts on the paper is largely irrelevant as long as the line item is marked in the correct way and that line item remains unaltered – it’s a valid vote! One can even mark the ballot paper on the reverse side, completely voiding any accusation of it being “spoiled” or “de-faced”

Should this thought gain popular support, what type of media spin would be placed upon this act, will attempts be made to outlaw “spoiling” or “defacing” of referendum papers in any fashion. Is there even time for such legislation? How does any government outlaw the potential mark on the back which will obviously not impact the result on the front without de-legitimizing democracy itself? One thing governments fear, and this is no weak statement, is the unified voice of the people. What may be even more intriguing, and depending upon the viewpoint possibly entertaining, would be the reaction of Westminster and the London centric media as word of this grass roots campaign spreads, which it will – after all how does one suppress it without drawing attention to, and yet as it’s something which can’t be ignored there’s a bit of a cleft stick involved.

The next stage is implementation, and that’s where a probably unique opportunity arises as we know all the main parties will have activists at almost every household in the country, and there’s a probable good cross section of these people in any political party who think FFA is a good thing. As activists go door to door they can promote this, or spoil the paper in protest should the voter wish, but spoil it indicating FFA. Emphasize though that the vote need not be spoiled, and their voice will still count – but twice over. The only foreseeable advantage to “spoiled” papers is an almost instant count.

Of much greater importance is that these papers are in an official referendum – that count will be an official count, even if slightly delayed. The ballot papers will be preserved. The Government must act or be guilty of a failed Democracy.

A recount (sanctioned and engineered by whatever means) could be required in Scotland to include the FFA statements, and the results would be interesting at the very least. It would certainly appear more productive than simply spoiling a paper or refusing to vote.

In an ideal world there would be a simple small sticker available to be placed on the reverse of the ballot paper – they’d all be the same and indicate uniformity of action, which would be fundamental. Even writing FFA could suffice.

FFA would probably satisfy the average Scots’ voter, after all no one is arguing for Independence, and they’ll not be breaking any laws per-se, but what they will be doing is expressing their OWN sovereignty saying they expressly want something. The fundamental question(s) could be as simple indeed as “Do you believe your family should be shielded to the maximum extent possible from the austerity cuts? Should Scotland only give the money to England that she can afford to and decides is appropriate, after she cares for you, her own?”, if so mark FFA somewhere, anywhere on the AV paper. Any opposing factions would then have to provide a constructive believable argument as to why Scots should suffer when they’re in surplus?

At the very least, if the above campaign is enhanced by Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter, email etc, it will give our voters who have entrenched their voting styles an opportunity to think, consider and reflect. Most will probably not alter their parliamentary vote, after all there’s no need to do that here, but enough might to surprise us all. Even if the main election result is unchanged from what history would otherwise record, it certainly serves notice to Westminster in general and Labour in particular, that politics in Scotland will no longer be “business as usual”, with the SNP but a temporary “Blip”.

Can it be done? – A question that can only be answered by us Scots ourselves, we who have en mass consistently demonstrated that entrenched voter apathy enhances the establishment. Estimating there’s about twenty thousand confirmed Scots who would support this and work for it as a viable next step, a concerted underground campaign should mean that if each person contacted just a few dozen, and each activist who believes this (of whichever party) spread this message during campaign season, there’s no doubt the message will be heard. After the message is delivered, Democracy is most certainly in play!

The English have been quoted to say “Scots vote with their pockets” – Time for truth?

The only certainty – if we don’t try, we’ll never succeed.

The Ancient and Noble Scottish Constitution (Written 02/07/2011)

1. The People are Sovereign and Enfranchised. [1318,1320,1357,1429,1445, 1557, 1587,1689]
2. The people acting jointly cannot be guilty of treason. [1436-1689]

3. All men and women are equal. [1320]

4. Freedom of Religion. [1320]

5. No taxation without representation. [1424]

6. Scotland’s borders are enshrined and entrenched. [1328]

7. The Court of Session is the supreme civil authority in the land. [1532, 1689]

8. All honest People of the community of the realm have the right to speak for it under the protection of Parliament [1320-1436]

9. Rule from England is prohibited. [1320]

10. The official language of Scotland is Scots. [1424]

11. Any person to be found to be considering English (Foreign) rule is not to be considered “honest”. [1320]

12. Scotland and Scots will forever be free. [1320]

13. The right of regal Succession is vested in the honest people. [1320, 1357,1689]

14. Establishes when a monarch may be replaced. [1320, 1689?]

15. Parliaments [of the Estates] are empowered to act for the People within these Parameters. . [Multiple convention and Act]

[Denotes the year of Proclamation, Declaration or Act]

How was this constitution derived, and from what authority is the first question to be asked, as the base tenants of this Constitution appear neither widely known nor commonly taught. It would be open to amendment or addition by the will of the Scots People without doubt, but current research states the above is, in fundamental aspect, the Constitution of the Scots Nation.

How this Constitution was derived is a fair and reasonable question, and as there appears to be substantial confusion in the area, which is evidenced by efforts as disparate as those of the SNP on its website to propose a constitution, posted in the middle of the first decade of the twenty first century, to this papers and groups which diametrically oppose concept of the Community of the Realm. This opposing group would include the acts of individuals to dispel the existence of such a Constitution in entities such as “web forums” as well as individuals and groups which proceed to make attempt to draft such Scots constitutions as recently as February of 2011. All apparently are lacking legitimate authority to draft or amend this basic constitution. In the present day, lacking the existence of the old Parliament of the Estates it would be conceivable to add or amend these articles in one of two ways, firstly by uncovering other compatible articles in Scots statute or proving voidance of these articles by constitutionally appropriate revocation of right before 1707. Lacking either of these first methods of due process it would appear in the modern day that a referendum of the Scots people would be required, and absent indications (not found to date) to the contrary a simple majority would suffice for an alteration. Articles 1, 3, 4 and 11 appear particularly fundamental and inviolate. There are other articles which are open to inclusion, such as no standing army in times of peace [circa 1682], however the above appear the most salient and fundamental.

This document purports to show, without qualification or intent of ambiguity, that the above Constitution, open to supplemental amendment or re-ordering, was developed and derived from the Authority vested in the Royal and Ancient Community and Realm of Scotland and specifically contains only such proclamations, declarations or acts as made by it, either directly or by incorporation within its proclamations, declarations or acts, and of which there is no evidence [to date] uncovered of these Acts, Proclamations or Declarations having been constitutionally repealed or set aside.

The first question to examine, what is a constitution, then we must seek to examine if the stipulations of constitution can be adequately fulfilled and if they (as they apply to Scotland) have any precedent or antecedent which can be cited in national or international law. Based upon these reasonable questions we can factually derive that, In so far as current research has been able to determine, Scotland unquestionably has a Constitution, it is simple, written (Codified) and clear as extracted above – it has not been amended in any significant way since inception of the various sub-components or articles (unless our research uncovered items where specific clauses were legitimately struck out, in which case the article is so noted, or simply omitted). We do acknowledge there may be aspects or articles unavailable to the researchers at this time which could add to, or amend specific portions of the above constitution.

The first item to be considered therefore is simple – what is a Constitution?

A Constitution is defined as, by, and others in better fashion than these researchers can:

“Semantics of the word constitution: unwritten constitution, no constitution?

Strictly, the term unwritten constitution refers to a constitution where none of the sources of the constitution are written down. Such a constitution would obviously be very difficult to interpret. However, the term is sometimes used incorrectly when referring to an uncodified constitution. For example, the relationship between the different branches of government and the relationship between the government and citizen (the governed) may be unwritten or only partially written down and therefore unclear.

To say a country has no constitution is a common mistake sometimes made when referring to a country that has an uncodified constitution. Every country with a government must have some form of constitution; there must be conventions or documents that attempt to define how the country is governed.”

And from the Merriam-Webster dictionary

“a : the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in i.t

b : a written instrument embodying the rules of a political or social organization”

Therefore each and every Nation must have a constitution, irrespective of codified, un-codified, oral, guaranteed, enforced or obscured by events or design. Scotland therefore had and has a constitution, it simply requires extraction by examination of proclamations, declaration and laws made through the ages. Then it, or any article thereof, may have enforcement required by Law.

This categorically and indisputably means that Scotland, like all nations, since her inception as a nation, continues to have a constitution, and that any act or law pertaining to the Nation was either performed in agreement with the Constitution (Constitutional and Lawful) or in opposition to the Constitution (unconstitutional and unlawful), and to examine cases where the constitution may have been legitimately amended to permit new acts to be lawful that would otherwise not be permitted.

That it [the Constitution of Scotland] was largely an oral and flexible constitution which varied with the current incumbent of the throne during her first centuries of current recognized Nationhood is somewhat outside the current remit of this article, with the vast quantity of documents originating between the mid 800’s through the early 14th century being lost to us through the combined ravages of time and Wars of Independence. In effect Scotland rose back to prominence and modest influence on the world stage as a result of the culmination of the first War of Independence, effectively ending in June 1314, though not actually ratified in law as over until the treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328.

Utilizing 1314 as a “starting point” there were several Parliaments by the King of the day, Robert I, between 1314 in the aftermath of the battle of Bannockburn and 1328 (Dec), however we’ve only focused on those, and successive parliaments over the centuries that may be germane to this discussion, or cases where documents of constitutional note are produced. If an update law obsolete an earlier version, then when it appears Constitutional (ie – the earlier was amended or struck to permit the latter) we have referenced the latter statute, proclamation or declaration.

It is notable that much of the base constitutional awareness as presented here stems from parliaments of Robert I, and the Declaration of Arbroath. Much of this Declaration was codified through the remainder of Bruces’ reign, it remains recognized as the founding document of the Sovereignty of the Scottish People, and neither it, nor sections of it, appear to have ever been amended to alter the base founding principles of modern nationhood contained therein. It is interesting to observe some historians make attempt to interpret this document as “Royal Propaganda” and that which was written was not that which was meant, however this is given very clear refute by the interaction between King/Nobles/Parliament/People over the subsequent centuries, as detailed below.

It should also be considered if it is a valid stand alone constitutional document in its own right [Declaration of Arbroath, 1320], and if it has any peer documents in international law or historical context. The researchers quickly uncover both in the founding document of the United States Constitution, more commonly known as the “Declaration of Independence” in which sovereignty also initially resides with the individual citizen as denoted by it’s opening “We – The People”. It a reasonable consideration therefore that if either document has validity, both do, each lending itself directly in support of the other. It may also be unique in the annals of history that over so many disparate centuries and such a divide of distance that both documents are children born of a need and desire to enshrine the rights of the individual and the nation which is struggling for its freedom against the same aggressor country.

Acts or pronunciation years are denoted XXXX. Below is an expanded version of the articles above, with a plain English lay interpretation of the applicable portion of statute, proclamation or declaration.

1. The People are Sovereign, not the King or Parliament. 1318 Parliament it established the following: It was declared (codified) that every person of the community of the realm with the net worth of one cow shall lend arms to the defense of the Realm [This appears a critical departure from feudal norm, as the individuals were not to provide armed service to a noble or king, but to the Realm, irrespective of who lead the Realm or issued the call on behalf of the Realm. Furthermore by inference it codifies a person of worth and value who could/shall contribute to the Realm as anyone having the value of one cow, effectively it can be interpreted absent clarification of the day as enfranchisement to that level]. 1320, “we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King”. : “..and the whole community of the realm of Scotland..” 1357 – The first surviving record in Scotland using the term “Three Estates”, which referred to the three groups that made up the Parliament, the clergy (churchmen), nobility and the burgh (town) commissioners [to make up a balanced Parliament on behalf of the Community and Realm], 1429 Theoretically any tenant-in-chief was permitted to attend [Parliament], providing the potential for a far wider and less crown-controlled attendance than a system of shire representatives, 1445 King James II was required to swear an oath not to alter legislation (laws) without Parliament’s (the peoples) consent. The 1445 oaths reflected the perception among many members of the three estates of the de jure authority over the crown that was invested in them when assembled in parliament. 1557, Three become four Parliament passed an act regulating the attendance by commissioners from the shires (rural areas). Although they had attended Parliament in some numbers in the past, their presence was not made official until this act, which allowed each shire to elect two representatives. 1689, Parliament issued a declaration stating its right to remove any monarch who violated the law and threatened parliamentary/civil liberties.

2. It confirms the people acting jointly cannot be guilty of treason to the crown. 1436 Sir Robert Graham, speaker of the Estates, attempted to arrest James I ‘in the name of all the Three Estates of your realm’, but received no support from the Parliament. Graham was put in prison, but was released and later took part in the murder of the king at Perth on 21st February 1437. [It is Indicative that any single enfranchised person in Scotland could bring charges against the King – again signifying the sovereignty of the individual as against the sovereignty of the Monarch] – et al, 1436-1689

3. All men and women are equal – irrespective of nationality. 1320 “there is neither weighing nor distinction of… Scotsman or Englishman”

4. Freedom of Religion. 1320 “there is neither weighing nor distinction of Jew and Greek”

5. NO taxation without representation.- 1424 [-1490 et al] Between 1424 and 1496 parliament played a much more prominent role in political affairs, exerting sustained and substantial influence over the Stewart monarchs. This power was based on the reduced military threat from England and the decentralised nature of the Scottish kingdom. No king could force his subjects to pay a tax, or enforce a law, or go to war, without the genuine consent of a cross-section of society (and especially the leading lay and ecclesiastical magnates)

6. Scotland’s borders are enshrined and entrenched in the Constitution 1328 Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton - Recognized by England: Scots’ sovereignty, with her borders set as in Alexander’s (III) time, this was re-affirmed at later dates.

7. It confirms the Court of Session as the supreme civil authority in the land 1532, 1689 Founding of the Court of Session in 1532 by James V, concurrence by Parliament. Parliament then passed an act setting up the Court of Session, the supreme civil court in Scotland, for the “universal well-being” of everyone. This was a major step forward towards a fully developed and modern legal system, the rights of the Court of Session were amended in 1689 to permit appeal of sentence to the monarch.

8. All honest men and women of the community of the realm are entitled to speak to or on behalf of the realm. 1320-1436 – 1320:”…Eustace Maxwell, William Ramsay, William Mowat, Alan Murray, Donald Campbell, John Cameron, Reginald Cheyne, Alexander Seton, Andrew Leslie, and Alexander Straiton, and the other barons and freeholders and the whole community of the realm of Scotland..” “which no honest man gives up but with life itself [potential to argue that the honest man quotation is inappropriate, however to this day, by custom and standing prisoners in Scotland have no right to vote and thereby “no voice” in the affairs of the realm.]. 1436 Sir Robert Graham, speaker of the Estates, attempted to arrest James I ‘in the name of all the Three Estates of your realm’, but received no support from the Parliament. Graham was put in prison, but was released and later took part in the murder of the king at Perth on 21st February 1437. [It is Indicative that any single enfranchised person in Scotland could bring charges against the King – again signifying the sovereignty of the individual as against the sovereignty of the Monarch].

9. It definitively outlaws rule from England 1320 “Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours…… never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule”

10. The official language of Scotland [government and law] is Scots. 1424 Acts of parliament from the reign of James I, written in Scots rather than Latin. Before this date, most of the surviving documents are written in Latin, which was the language of official documents at the time. King James I, however, began to keep his parliamentary records in Scots, a language that most people could understand.

11. Any person to be found to be considering English (Foreign) rule is not to be considered “honest”. 1320 “. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

12. Scotland will forever be a free nation 1320 “for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule”

13. The right of regal Succession is vested in the honest people of the Realm. [This is continued today whereby prisoners do not get to vote]. [Noting the term “Honest” in inserted as it has never been statutorily or constitutionally removed as a prerequisite for voice, nor has it been farther defined in so far as the researchers could uncover] 1320, “we [The people, defined as the Community and Realm of Scotland] should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King” 1445, King James II was required to swear an oath not to alter legislation (laws) without Parliament’s [the Community of the Realm] consent 1689 After voting to remove King James VII, Parliament issued a declaration stating its right to remove any monarch who violated the law and threatened liberties.

14. It establishes the circumstances under which a monarch may be replaced [There is question if 1689 was Constitutional]. 1320 “Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy. 1346 Under the policy of an English succession favoured by David II after 1346 –In opposing David’s plans, the Steward and the estates turned to the rhetoric used in Robert I’s reign of threatening to select another king if he went against their wishes

15. Parliaments [of the Estates] are empowered to act for the People within these Parameters (Various & multiple).

Fair and free elections – will they ever be possible for us? (Written 23/02/11)

There has recently been a lot of highlighting on political party donations, and it’s likely to come in for more than a little extra scrutiny as we approach the election itself.

Building on the “Sainsbury Sting” article I wrote recently, and in light of other press releases and news items both before and since, [including Mr. Soutars offer to the SNP] the previous/ongoing “political donations” press releases simply serve to re-enforce the “pounds for laws” perception and culture. Examining this intrusion into our democratic process which seems to apply across the entire party political spectrum what becomes obvious is that Scotland is looking to tread the path of England, which is demonstrably scurrying along behind America as quickly as its Parliament can manage to prod its entrenched political and financial systems.

Perhaps this is not a course we’d want to follow, as in America, corporations are legally “people” – however in many cases they appear to have far more rights than people. America is a land [having in the past spent some years there] that cherishes the corporation and corporate wealth apparently more than individual liberty. One of their most famous leaders, Abraham Lincoln, with the end of the American Civil War imminent voiced his concerns. "… As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed…”

Interestingly his words bear the mark of prophecy, one which has come to pass in the last decade alone through the stock market “bubble”, the real estate “bubble”, the credit “bubble”, all of which for the large part stripped the wealth of the average individual. The process looks set to continue with future “bubbles” in food and energy now looming on the horizon, and no concerted political will being applied to stop this cancer on humanity. A cancer where, for the most, part large the corporations and financial institutions get wealthier or uncover methods of bleeding the taxpayer to cover any paper losses.

Yet how is this possible?

Why do we [who are supposed to be in control in a Democracy] let it happen?

One need look no deeper than the fundamentals of how politics are played in Westminster and Washington to uncover the grim truth. Industry bodies (like the chemical manufacturers’ association and its derivatives or successors) typically have a few dominant players, each dominant player will back at least one party. Often they will allocate the “political war chest” to more than one party with the most frequently going to the likely victor. Big players in the Chemical field include Bayer (now cited in Bee Colony Collapse disorder), and Monsanto (cited for its genetic engineering and sales of seed that can’t reproduce) as highlighted here:

“[NaturalNews] At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.”

Others in the industry such as Exxon, have like seeming agendas. How are these companies permitted to do this and why aren’t they stopped from doing it? It should be illegal! And yet it appears they are politically protected. How can it be that the same organization which manufactures chemicals noted to be a prime cause of asthma also manufactures asthma medication?

The foremost thought for the average person should now be “how can this happen?” It’s relatively simple when the electoral process states (quite clearly by practice) that one must have money to get any message out – and to get elected “you” must get “your” message out. The situation is simple, anyone wishing to “serve” requires money. In Washington and Westminster that money often comes from corporate donors or “the City/Wall St.”, each afterwards getting for the most part, what they bought and paid for with their “donations”.

This is certainly not “government of the people, for the people, by the people”, which is a democracy – it is an illusion. It is essentially government of the Corporation, for the Corporation, by the Corporation. The individual casts the vote – the corporations, with their money, can easily influence both the message and the result. After the elections as the Tory, Lib-Dem, and Labour Parties so ably demonstrated by opposition to the [Tesco] tax recently in the Scottish budget, they [the Corporations] also have a tendency to get what they pay for.

Then we have our “paid politicians” themselves – what qualifications do they have to have in our “democracy”, apparently none at all, or almost none. Just get yourself ensconced in the “party political machine” for a while, prove you’ve got the “gift ‘o the gab” and march your way to fame and fortune as a political “apparatchik”. What nation in its right mind would endorse such a thing – shouldn’t we in Scotland set the bar at least a little bit higher and say, for example that anyone considering to be a member of the Scottish Parliament has to have served at least five years in private industry so that they can figure out, at least in part, how the real world works away from the insular existence of politics?

The other demonstrated major aspect of public dissatisfaction with politicians is their “jobs for life” culture, where even after their time in office they often get very lucrative positions for nominal input with those same companies they “assisted” during their time in office ~ perhaps we require a one or two term ban after leaving politics on working for or receiving funding through any organization they were materially associated with during their time in office?

Imagine a different world, a world that the next Scottish Government could so easily legislate, one where individual party members can only contribute, say £50 in a month of their own income, where it’s illegal to gift third party donations to your party, and where any donation of £50.01 or more goes to a communal government election chest, and where that election chest is distributed pound to pound against the private donations received either by a candidate or an Independent. The most popular party will naturally get the greatest amount of donations, and directly by the will of the people the greatest state subsidy. As to that “election chest” – just as an example, any candidate with more than 250 signatures on a petition could be entitled to a “share” before Holyrood elections, disbursed perhaps 60 days before election day. The Parties get their support, the Independents get a voice and opportunity for change.

It would also be quite simple to “codify and entrench” the salaries of MSP’s and ministers, making certain we, the people, get value for money and hopefully a better nation. Imagine what would happen [as an example] if the salaries were ALL tied to the median wage in Scotland, with the First Minister getting 3 times, the deputy 2.75 times, the ministers getting 2.25 times, the rank and file MSP’s getting 1.5 times. If they perform well, the median salary increases as do their salaries, however should the economy suffer and the median drop, we all share in the pain and discomfort – a simple annual adjustment is all that’s required.

As to the biggest prize of all “airtime” – perhaps each electoral party contesting more than 20% of the country’s seats is entitled to a place in live debate, and that debate must be carried by all channels, unedited, and there should be four debates, one in each of the weeks leading up to an election. One could be on the Economy, one on the sitting party manifesto, and two open for the most current affairs of the time.

Lastly, perhaps above all else, we require [and I do mean require] two things, the first is to ban corporate lobbying which by and of itself does only one thing – it serves the corporate interest, and secondly legislation is required that quite simply returns power to the People of Scotland, a thing which could easily be expanded from the vestige already in place. It would be a wonderful democracy indeed where the Scots People could petition their parliament for an Act, with a set threshold of perhaps 25,000 signatures of registered voters, and parliament must act upon it. In cases where Parliament does not act, or acts inappropriately, any citizen would have right to garner four times the base quantity of signatures and force a referendum on the issue presented within (perhaps) two years, and a set period before any repeat referendum could be held (possibly) 10 years. This could also apply to repealing any laws or acts already passed by parliament. Oddly this small adjustment alone really adds teeth to “government of the people, for the people, by the people”.

Any party proposing the simple measures above I’d see as advancing democracy – it wouldn’t simply be “quite a vote getter” it would get my vote.

Then we would truly have an opportunity for democracy, a democracy that could fire the imagination, when our representatives act in our true interest rather than those of their real present paymasters, a democracy that might again fire the imagination of the world and echo through future history as a certain other article of paper has since 1320 – will it happen, probably not, after all, it’s not really in the corporate, or the Union interest.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful?