Friday, 27 July 2012

A Little incident; the beginning of the end for “Team GB’.

Kim Little is a good point to focus a discussion about the issue around National Anthems; although she was not the only one involved, she serves as a case in point.

Quite rightly, she refused to sing what is recognised in these islands as England’s national anthem. She was firm in her refusal to participate although the British Olympic Committee had reportedly issued an edict that all athletes should learn it.

Let us consider the fact that there’s an English national anthem. That National anthem is “God save the Queen”. Also let’s consider that this anthem has never been formally adopted, like the Union flag, by either act of parliament or royal proclamation.

It has a verse, disused through “national sensitivities”, yet it has never been officially changed. It remains England’s national anthem; it is seldom sung in modern times in Scotland or Wales. Each nation has songs of its own that it prefers to use in various circumstances.

That unsung verse goes something like this.

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King/Queen.

The GB Olympics team organizers have traditionally adopted the English anthem as the GB Olympic team anthem. Surely this denigrates the history, allegiance and pride in heritage that athletes not from England might have.

Sebastian Coe, in large part an individual who has been credited with driving these games towards their massively overspent conclusion was said to have been “furious”.

Fatima Whitbread launched into the debate with comments based in the fact that athletes competing for Team GB should conform and sing/respect that anthem when asked.

Mr. Coe, Ms. Whitbread and others would do well to recall that these athletes have an inbuilt right of protest in any arena in which they are required to compete under a GB banner. These athletes had no choice; they were refused the ability to compete for their own nations.

The only really surprising thing about the entire debacle is that it has taken so long to surface, but like the small crack in the dam, it is without doubt only the smallest inkling of what is to come.

How long will it be, one wonders, before an athlete, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish becomes a medal recipient but refuses to take the podium because of their belief in the abominable history behind a song the London establishment would have us believe is an “official” anthem.

That day will mark a turning point indeed, for although we don’t expect it at these Olympics, who can say it will not happen.

The feats will stand attributed to the individual, for that can never be taken away. The ruckus that follows will fall squarely at the feet of the “British” establishment and the crown.

Such a public display from individuals such as Kim Little, Ryan Giggs and the others who will not recognise this song is but a prelude of what is to come. The public humiliation which the establishment will have to bear will know few bounds when that athlete refuses to take the podium, for it will signal most publically to the world at large that we are not one country.

It will herald to the billions of onlookers that we are four nations welded by the will and subterfuge of Westminster and its “British” associations, and it will tell them in so public a fashion that we are not what they wish, that we are independent peoples of proud nations who have been forced into a Union over which our individual constituents had neither consultation over, nor input.

It will highlight that Wales was a conquered land and that Scots were rioting and rebelling for years after the Union treaty. It will demonstrate it is and has always been, an uneasy alliance.

And it will effectively reduce or prohibit Scots and Welsh from participating in any “Team GB”. They will have little chance of being selected, without swearing allegiance first to everything the “UK” stands for.

Some may so swear, under duress, simply to compete, but when the first such recovers their principles on the podium, or after at the press conference – what then for the selection committees?

“Team GB” will not do what it needs to do, in its myriad guises. It will not divide itself and strengthen the opportunities of the individuals within these nations to compete for their own country. It will not allow two, or three or four qualifiers from Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland to each compete. This would have given a situation where Chris Hoy could have defended ALL his gold medals.

Instead Team GB will do as it has always done, and it will set itself up for the ultimate embarrassment that will be delivered by athlete with principles and belief.

In either case, following the breach in the dam at the 2012 London, no - not even British, or UK Olympics, there is no way back.

For the various “Team GB’s” who are not founded on a basis like the “Lions” but are force welded without the benefit of existing national teams there is only one path forward.

They will fragment, it will be up to history to record, decades hence, whether the decent was honourable retrenchment or simply transpired as a result of public embarrassment and ridicule.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

It’s time to achieve.

We underachieve because we’re taught to.

In all walks of life we, humanity, underachieve, and in Scotland a great many of us underachieve.

It’s something ingrained in us, the establishment tells it to us daily, it’s re-enforced at so many levels that we should underachieve, that we, the great majority, should not “get ideas above our station”.

This “education by our betters” is severely working against us in the referendum.

Scots from birth are taught to respect authority. Deference to royalty, to “the establishment” is bred into our very bones. Now some uppity nationalist types are trying to convince mainstream Scots to cut these ethereal shackles we’ve worn since early childhood and stride out into a brave new world with purpose, drive and determination.

So far, according to the polls, they’re not meeting with much success.

Consider the history of Scotland’s people. They’ve undergone three centuries of clearances. Apathy remains triumphant above all emotions after such an interminable scourge.

Certainly the clearances haven’t always been called such, nowadays the term would be politically incorrect, but they’re with us still in one way or another, and they’re all engineered from Westminster.

Consider the 1700’s, there were two armed rebellions followed by mass clearances. In the 1800’s clearances continued as people were evicted to be replaced by sheep. These are firmly enough in the past that they can safely be called such. The people had no choice, no hope, no future; they could emigrate or face a future devoid of hope and promise, with barely a subsistence living to be eked out for those that remained.

I grew up after two world wars had somewhat cleared the men of the previous generations of Scots, in the ‘60s there was a new term, the “Brain Drain” for those who like our predecessors had no option but to leave our shores. There was no future for them in Scotland, no perceived chance of excellence.

The numbers of dislocated Scots are close to 1 in 6, that’s far exceeding the norm for most nations with a long and prosperous history of academic innovation, invention and technical excellence. Consider, almost 1 million of the current generation of Scots will be forced from their land of birth as they seek better opportunities, opportunities that are not largely available to them at home.

The politically correct term these days has changed from “dispossessed” to “Diaspora”.

While there will always be human migration, this high percentage for such a sustained period from such a small and relatively geographically isolated nation as ours is almost unprecedented.

Ireland had such levels of emigration during the period of Westminster rule.

Emigration does not happen without severe drivers, the average individual does not just up sticks, abandon family, friends and relationships without severe social drivers. The impact of losing the best and brightest in such significant ongoing quantities will be devastating to any society. A small society, such as Scotland’s cannot bear it for many more years.

Of those left behind, many are herded together into a quasi underclass. They are told not to get “ideas above their station”, not to expect much more from life than “the social” and perhaps the bottom of a bottle or an empty syringe, both of which held escapism from their plight, regardless of the damage inflicted upon society.

This is the underclass, this apathetic and disadvantaged group for whom we must find a message. It is the folk of the schemes and high rises, the apathetic, that we must reach and convince if the referendum is to be held and won.

We must do this because we live in a democracy, because each of their votes is worth exactly the same as anyone else’s, and because above all the Union has failed them so dramatically and extraordinarily.

This is why the polls typically and consistently show that independence as a concept is a much more vibrant and alive amongst the lower socio-economic strata. They have already been let down by the status quo. They have been abandoned by the establishment.

The “No” campaign will never reach this group, they know only too well the problems of overcrowding, of ATOS, of reduced benefits and more stringent criteria forced upon them by the establishment. These votes are there for the taking, but the “Yes” campaign will never reach these people in a meaningful way with TV celebrities or talk show debates.

The biggest issue facing the “Yes” campaign is motivating the supporters of its cause in these demographics to actually vote. If 80% enfranchised themselves the result should be a landslide for the Independence movement.

The biggest mistake the Holyrood campaign for Independence could make would be to treat these individuals with disdain or promises of “Jam tomorrow”. These are individuals who are stuck in a trap of social deprivation and immobility; they see no future for themselves or their children, but they can see through false promises.

We need to give them hope, not so much for the immediate future, or for themselves, as the truth will not allow that, and these people may be stuck, but they are not stupid. Scotland needs to give them hope of a better future for their children than their parents had; a better future than they currently foresee.

If we can convince the schemes by and large to vote for independence it will outweigh any publicity the “No” camp can bring to bear. A “Yes” vote from Scotland’s largely forgotten underclass who have the same hopes, dreams and fears as the rest of us will deliver this referendum.

The “No” campaign is primarily relying on three classes of individual, those it can fool into voting “No” through wooly statements about “better together” without substantive arguments about how. It is relying on the votes of the relatively small minority of individuals who have actually personally benefitted from the Union, such as peers and MP’s, and mostly it is relying upon those it can scare into voting “No” with tales of doom and fear of the unknown.

The “Yes” campaign is stalled for the present because it is relying on the core independence vote, it has yet to expound the ideas of the Scotland of tomorrow, the Scotland where not just a referendum will be “made, built, tested and delivered in Scotland” but so will a future for all our children. It has yet to get the message out how it will achieve this, how it will provide opportunity to stop the present day deprivation or clearances. In the face of a hostile media the “Yes” campaign may never be able to deliver this message with any form of sustainable success.

It is because of this that the present grass roots approach must work, but right now it is far too limited.

There are venues appearing in high streets and shopping centers, and while these are good they are not enough.

There are venues appearing on the internet to raise funds and organise marches and events, while these are vital they are not enough.

We need venues like the Tupperware parties of yesterday, where the individuals supporting independence get into the schemes, lower the apathy levels, raise the flag and provide motivation to folk to break the cycle, to exercise their franchise and to show up at the polls.

There is one thing above all the inhabitants of the schemes, our youth, the drug dependent, the unemployed, and those who see life through the bottom of a glass all know, and that’d be that whatever the reason they’re there, the status quo simply doesn’t work for them.

It’s time to give them motivation, it’s time to at least organise a referendum day party on every scheme we can reach, in every neighborhood we can get to, on every block and in every street. It’s up to us to get people motivated and to turn out.

It’s up to our generation to begin tackling apathy, for the loss of apathy in the electorate is the one thing the establishment fears.

It is time to show Scotland will no longer settle for being dragged down by Westminster; that Scotland is not a Greece, a Spain or Portugal who is slowly dying within Europe’s other Union.

We have two years to succeed, and we still have the ability.

It’s time to achieve.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Could they or would they manufacture a collapse to save the Union?

One big issue surrounding Scotland’s independence referendum, one that might just swing the result in the nationalist favour come the day, is what is seen as the ultimate argument by many nationalists.

Vote Labour, get Tory.

This is a situation that rankles with many an average, nominally politically disinterested Scot. It is an aspect of the United Kingdom’s democratic deficit that could shape the decision of several percentiles of undecided.

The coalition is slowly dying, it was never a marriage made in heaven and chances are it will not even reach the stage of enduring until the next election.

The arguments over the Lord’s reform go some way to highlight the hidden fractures within the coalition. Menzies Campbell made it clear over the weekend that the Tories better bend on the issue, or their boundary changes will not see the light of day.

In response to his and various other comments from the Liberal Democratic Party, the Conservative response has been, to say the least, vitriolic. Adam Afriyie who was amongst the milder of the Conservative rebels, limited his statements to enjoying the visions arising for a new Tory manifesto saw his more placid stance offset by the likes of Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee, who called into question the potential future life of the coalition. Additionally, Tory backbenchers have gone as far as to tweet hostile warnings to the Liberal Democrats about the failure to support their boundary reforms. Stewart Jackson tweeted, “Memo to bolshy Lib Dems: Break deal on boundary changes and you’ll be out of government. That vote has consequences too.”

Consider the Conservative statement on Lords reform, that “it’s hardly the public’s priority” when its need has been self evident for over a century to ensure a properly functioning democracy. We are effectively being told the public’s priority isn’t a functional democracy, and the furore isn’t even over achieving that. If full Lords reform was a four course dinner, what the Liberal Democrats propose is just the appetiser, and then the Tory counter proposal limits us to the cherry on the top of the sundae. Ridiculous, however, should we expect anything else from an establishment which historically demonstrates that protecting its own is the primary reason for its existence?

The issues which are creating serious fractures in the underlying structure of the coalition relationship have prompted some on both sides to call for a re-negotiation of the fundamentals behind the agreement, even as the Lib-Dem’s have ordered work on a new accord for a next term of office to be suspended.

These problems and more have required both Cameron and Clegg to step from the shadows and declare that the coalition is here to stay. At best, this is papering over the cracks on a sandcastle as they watch the tide progress on its inexorable march. The only thing that will hold this coalition together, the glue behind the wallpaper, is the thought of electoral oblivion. The knowledge that as the polls currently stand they will, for Tories at least, be whisked from power for an electoral cycle and for the LibDems it might just herald political Armageddon.

However, with the real power simply oscillating between the Tories and Labour party, each safe and secure in the knowledge that it represents one face of the establishment’s coin, then these perceived political enemies can come together in near absolute amity to preserve the establishment. This then begs the question; what will transpire within Westminster’s murky halls on the day that independence shows a significant upturn in the polls.

It is not only possible, but probable that as the independence debate inches towards the day of polling in Autumn 2014 that the predicted (by many nationalists) dramatic rise in support as the day nears, we will see either a real or manufactured discontinuity of purpose in London.

In other words, in response to this upsurge in polling data, we should expect that if rumours of change in the UK government through a fractured coalition and threats of resulting market turmoil do not stop the predicted nationalist juggernaut, then at the last instant there will be a terminal rupture within the coalition leading to a UK wide GE right before the referendum.

Can there be any doubt that if it is perceived by the Westminster parties that a Labour government would hold the UK together and a Conservative one will not, that there would be no attempt at power transfer within Westminster? Expect this scenario to provide an opportune moment for the coalition to discover it is in a marriage containing irreconcilable differences, and to simply opt for a no-fault divorce.

It is entirely conceivable that the coin will be flipped and once again a Labour government will be elected. It will carry out the policies of the previous coalition almost to the letter while stating it is approaching power with desires for social projects to help the poor and underprivileged, i.e. business as usual.

In view of Westminster’s previous record in the decades leading up to this event, any significant London driven constitutional change is exceedingly unlikely. It can therefore be seen that one half of the establishment will stand ready to be perceived as sacrificing itself on a spurious unrelated event, such as boundary changes or Lords reform, rather than the reality of Scotland’s vote.

Meanwhile, the media will continue to propagate the myth that the parties actually have different policies. Everything possible will be done by all associated with it to protect the umbrella establishment that is the amorphous, tentacle-clad British state, to which each individual entrenched within London’s political scene owe their place at the trough.

We can anticipate as the crisis of the day becomes self evident and that the end of the UK as Westminster knows it is seen to be approaching, there will be many private, undocumented backroom meetings.

We should not stand by in slack jawed shock if the last or first act of the outgoing or incoming administrations at Westminster is to pass an emergency act, or at least attempt to do so, to prevent the Scots poll in such a (manufactured) “period of uncertainty”. They will seek to buy extra months to reverse the course of political opinion in Scotland by proclamation that our northern nation is no longer Tory ruled.

If any doubt, this we need only look to independence opinion polls. During the last sustained period of Tory devastation at Westminster, independence surged in the polls to over 50%, it fell again under Labour. London must gamble that the pattern will repeat, as the alternative may be bankruptcy or bail-out should the markets lose confidence in a Bank of England/Westminster establishment that’s already embroiled in controversy.

None of these issues should shock us, and only two items are really open to question if the nationalists are correct. That truth and facts will prevail with Scotland’s electorate, and that these can be effectively disseminated to create the swings anticipated, then it all comes down to Holyrood’s response to Westminster’s actions.

We can be certain that as austerity bites and information is dispersed, the independence vote will increase, after that everything is on the table. 

The only other answer we need will be resolved by the political actions in Westminster at that time; does London really give a toss about Scotland.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Our grandchildren may be United in a Kingdom of Austerity.

Austerity – it’s the byword, and excuse for dismantling the United Kingdom’s social structure, for ripping apart the fabric of society in these islands. Westminster’s OMB (Office of Management and Budget) predicts we’ll still be under UK wide Austerity in 2060, that’s two unborn generations away and more.

Unless we act our children will still suffer under Austerity’s yoke.

OMB paints a canvas, vividly and brightly, which demonstrates Austerity will be endemic, systemic and largely unrelenting throughout the next fifty years.

The reality of Austerity is that it is fundamentally required, needed because of the fiscal mess we find ourselves in, and that fiscal mess is one that has been created by a succession of governments, Tory and Labour, ably supported, aided and abetted by a largely compliant media and establishment [City] who all act in their own best interest.

Austerity is rooted in mismanagement. Governments at Westminster have for decades, if not centuries been what can only be described as criminally negligent in their fiscal obligations to the electorate.

In the last week there have been several such areas of UK mismanagement, though not portrayed as such by the media and with absolutely no highlighting by the Conservative/Libdem Coalition government. These instances ranged from armed forces redundancies to hospital trusts going into administration under the burden of onerous Westminster mandated PFI contracts.

Examining one case in point, the armed forces redundancies, shows how the fools in their palaces in Westminster continue to play roulette, swiftly becoming Russian roulette, with our finances.

20,000 armed services redundancies, at a time when the economy is recording contraction and rapid decline in historical terms makes no sense for even the most basic student of economics when the alternatives are examined.

These 20,000 will not be employed, unless it’s to the detriment of the others who are already unfortunate enough to be short or long term unemployed. What it will do is increase the pool of available labour helping to shrink or stagnate pay and employee benefits. There will be more chasing every job; they will be willing to accept less in fear the position will go somewhere else. We have just witnessed the same happening in the dairy industry, where the price received in many cases no longer covers the costs of production. Bankruptcy follows, the already wealthy creditors get the assets for pennies.

These 20,000 now ex-military personnel will require housing, they will require subsistence, and they will require the medical care that we all enjoy, but will now contribute nothing of value to society.

They will be a drain on the nation’s already overstretched resources. Many will not adjust. The savings will not be what the government projects, but may come close to 1/3 of the official number. Westminster doesn’t take into account in its trumpeted data the knock on effects of base closures on local economies either – it’s all about the quick fix to the MOD budget.

There is a potential that Westminster and the MOD may save £100 million or a little more each year with these redundancies. The 20,000 will each just be another hidden face of Austerity. The 20,000 are actually needed, the services require boots on the ground, the men and women in uniform are already stretched to the breaking point. Psychological issues and stress related disorders are on the increase.

This is a criminally negligent and foolhardy use of national resources. Consider instead adding 20,000 to the services, in a time of Austerity and contraction the extra demand will kick start several local economies and revive long standing traditions.

The forces personnel give the government back almost 50% of their pay in direct and indirect taxation, so the real cost to the government and us – the taxpayer, is minimised. The money must first be uncovered to pay these personnel before we can tax their earnings [rather than supplying non-taxable benefits]. The same department, the MOD, would be charged with finding the funding.

The MOD could scrap Trident – sell the assets no longer required, and raise what’s reported to be £100 billion over the next thirty years. The MOD would then have some £3 billion plus per year to put into service personnel, with these 20,000 additional troops estimated to cost some £500 million a year the nation saves some £2.5 billion while it stimulates the economy and enhances the recovery – that’s smart Austerity. Reduce the unnecessary and enhance the required.

Trident, that’s stupidity, that’s posturing, that’s criminal fiscal mismanagement under the current economic conditions.

Without intelligent financial management, so evidently lacking at Westminster, the OMB reports that Austerity measures will have to continue, they will actually be required to unearth an extra £80bn per year by 2061.

£80bn per year is close to three times Holyrood’s current annual budget.

In its yearly check, the Office for Budget Responsibility said Britain's public finances were "clearly unsustainable" over the next 50 years, despite George Osborne's round of spending cuts.

Even if the UK government succeeds in saving its hoped for £123bn over the next seven years, the OBR said it would need to impose permanent tax increases or reduce spending by 1.1% of GDP – about £17bn in today's terms – to return the national debt to pre-crisis levels. It will not eliminate the debt, or permanently reverse its upwards trending, simply put it back in historical terms to 2008 levels, and hopefully manage it from there.

If the government continued with current policies, and if those policies succeeded, the OBR said public finances would improve until the mid-2020s. But there would still be a long-term deterioration in the decades that follow.

The only way to achieve more is with additional burdens on the individual and accelerated dismantling of the social structures of the United Kingdom.

OMB had this rather ominous wording in its final report.

"On current policy, we would expect the budget deficit to widen sufficiently over the long term to put public-sector net debt on a continuously rising trajectory as a share of national income," the report said. "This is clearly unsustainable."

OMB is telling George Osborne and David Cameron, in no uncertain terms – “your policies are mince”.

Rachel Reeves, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: "The OBR's report sets out some of the huge challenges facing policymakers over the coming decades, including issues like the rising cost of social care, which this government has so far failed to grasp.

"But the failure of George Osborne's economic plan will make things worse. We are already seeing how the double-dip recession is causing borrowing to go up and an extra £150bn added to the debt. And Britain will pay a very heavy economic and social price if we continue to have years of slow growth and high long-term unemployment. That is why urgent action is needed now to get the economy moving again."

Intrinsically, Scotland has a referendum and a choice. It’s likely in either regard we will see Austerity in action. However, wouldn’t it be nice, wouldn’t it be intelligent if we awarded ourselves the right to make it an astute process, rather than an Astute class submarine?

Shouldn’t we put ourselves in the position of deciding for ourselves what our best path out of Austerity should be? Will we enhance our military as we eliminate toys that were designed never to be used, or will we strip our service personnel below any semblance of previously considered realistic levels just so we can point at some pictures and say “see what we’ve got” – ignoring the people who are required to man our regiments as they languish on the dole.

That this will be their life under present policies is certain, unless they choose to become the latest Scots forced from our shores by Westminster’s politically inspired clearances, for with benefit cuts to unemployment, housing, child support, welfare, disability and widows they will be in the same position as our ancient crofters. They will leave our shores or they will starve. Today however there is no new “promised land” awaiting them.

Should we allow another nation to choose whether our NHS survives, or if it is privatised, for with Westminster’s fiscal leverage they have that ability, or should we decide for ourselves?

Under Westminster, the Austerity in which we already find ourselves will dictate every aspect of our lives for years to come. Furthermore, according to Westminster it will continue to do so for the next half century. In a Scotland where London holds no sway we have the potential to escape from its effects in a few relatively short years.

Irrespective, the ability to decide where the cuts are made, the areas to be excised should be our choice and ours alone. To choose otherwise is to give London the scalpel and pray they take the right kidney.

The Art of Redaction and Open Government.

In reviewing the recent case where the commissioner found against the Scottish Government with respect to the fact that it must reveal whether it received legal advice on Scotland’s post referendum status on its EU membership, I can only find myself in agreement with the commissioner.

The minor problem is that the commissioner did not go far enough, and order the posting of all shades of legal advice by the government, or any other involved entity who sought such on this subject. The major problem is that any party of whatever hue thinks it either could, or should, be able to keep this type of information secret from the Scottish people.

Think about it for just two seconds – what we’re being asked is to give our support to legislation, acts, referendums or other binding mechanisms, but accept that the reasons and advice driving our decision, and the decisions of those recommending our courses of action can be lawfully withheld from us. We’re to do what we’re told and/or asked like good little boys and girls simply because someone who may perceive themselves “our better” demands it, cajoles it, or uses smoke and mirrors to get their way.

That is not the Scotland to which I aspire.

The information commissioner did not go far enough because the office was not used, albeit that it may have pushed the boundaries of its jurisdiction, to demand that all parties release their legal counsel on this issue.

The political parties in Scotland have for far too long emulated Westminster’s secrecy tactics. All of the major parties are equally guilty, all of the major parties are equally at fault and all of them can come together in a cross party bill in Holyrood which will lift this veil of secrecy, that Scots will actually appreciate.

When Holyrood was inaugurated it was promised that it would not be “politics as usual”, we were told it would be “open democracy” – it’s time to keep that promise, it is one reason Holyrood exists. However, we find that we still have to make “Freedom of Information” requests in order to gain access to the mechanisms of government. This doesn’t feel very “open” to me.

All commissioned legal counsel used within Holyrood must be published, irrespective of who or which political party requested it. Furthermore, it must be freely available to the public, without resort to an information commissioner. The only possible exceptions would be to protect service personnel in a time of war.

Rightly there is concern about abilities of those giving the opinion; it is after all just that, an opinion. The law can therefore be quite clear, only QC’s or those with “X” years standing in the specific area under the law society of Scotland, or their equivalent international bodies should be able to advise the government unless they are respected and tenured academics in their fields.

Then we enter the area where the opinion giver may wish their privacy to be protected. It would be appropriate for those submitting the opinion to have the option of requiring their names, locations and personally identifying aspects contained within their counsel or reports to be redacted. At day’s end who actually wrote the opinion can often be irrelevant as long as the opinion is one by an eminently qualified individual AND open to public scrutiny. If there are major issues with the opinion given, these will soon be uncovered by that public scrutiny.

After the opinion is published there should be a set period for professional comment, like any quality peer reviewed paper, and a place for qualified reviewers to insert their comments. The final document becomes the basis of the information to be used in government circles.

Individual Scots then get to review the data our lawmakers see and decide if they, independently, wish to reach the same conclusions. We get to better understand the quality, scope and content of the advice and information that our parliament is basing its judgments upon.

If this simple law applies to all parties then its implementation will eliminate much of the waste in time, money and resources that we presently see as the parties squabble amongst each other like unruly three year olds; for such squabbling serves only one apparent purpose – it screams “we’re hiding something” and trumpets aloud “we can’t agree” which mimics the antics of Westminster. I thought Holyrood would and should be different.

Quite simply, it’s time to act like grownups and protect the source [even Fleet Street can manage that] while we disseminate the data. Quality data.

Otherwise, what point is there claiming Holyrood is different, better than Westminster’s cabal when we need to continue the use of the Freedom of Information Act to access what should be public knowledge?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Crucial to America’s independence; it’s time to claim our own

It is time to learn from our ancestors, those forced to leave in the wake of Unionism.

There are many things that the British state immersed in Whitehall doesn’t like. Failure, and the reason behind it are two of the main issues it has a problem with. It has a tendency to whitewash these items in historical terms. It has whitewashed a failed policy of clearances that cost it a continent.

July 4th is a good day to write this blog, for on this day in 1776 a wee event took place which had the roots of its success thirty years earlier, 16th April 1746, when Union forces defeated the Stewarts and their supporters on Drumossie moor at Culloden.

England, with her sprinkling of vested Scots supporters had won a war; they then began an occupation, oppression and a regime of tyranny, horror and clearances that would effectively depopulate much of the Highlands over the next two decades. Either unable to support “the crown”, unable to accept the reality of England’s over lordship, or simply unable to pay its taxes, our ancestors were forced from our shores.

What followed for those who escaped death was mostly indentured servitude in the New World. The vast majority ended up in the plantations of the Virginia’s and Carolinas. From 1750 to 1770 there was a massive influx of predominantly Gaelic speaking Scots.

The taxes followed them to the new world, they worked off their servitude, they raised families, they won land and a small amount of prosperity, but still the taxes followed them. The first big problem was the stamp act of 1765, it was necessary as the crown had much need of money. It had just undergone a civil war, it was almost bankrupt, and it had cleared 1/3 of its British land of those who created the wealth. Those perceived as creating the issue, those Highland rebels, were still reachable in the colonies and the crown did reach.

The stamp act led directly to the formation of a Continental Congress. There followed the Declaration of Independence and the start of a new nation who’s constitution was largely written along the lines of the Declaration of Arbroath.

The struggle started well for the colonist’s militia, at the Battle of Concord, they won. The reversals began with the British capture of New York City, Howe forced Washington to retreat at White-Plains, and Cornwallis harried him through New Jersey. Philadelphia was abandoned and the Continental Army was set to be reduced to a mere guerilla force of about 1,500 by year end.

The displaced highlanders of the Carolinas, spoiling for a tussle with the English were ready and more than willing, responding to the call to arms they added some men to Washington’s ranks as he took to the assault across the Delaware River at Christmas. These Gaelic speakers were responsible for preserving the flank of the Continental army by beating royalist and British forces working in alliance in both North Carolina and South Carolina. Guerilla fighting was second nature to these men and they took to it well once again.

The only delay to peace was King George recognising the rights of the colonists. In the centuries between then and now, this lack of recognition has continued to be a major factor supporting ongoing death e.g. India, Kenya, Indonesia and more. London recognising individual human rights to nationhood and self determination has always been a process of delay and deny and denigrate.

In the thirty years from 1746 to 1776 London effectively solidified control of an Island, first by subterfuge then through military means in the above period, it largely destroyed an ancient culture and in doing so it lost the wealth of a continent and became embroiled in European wars that it could not afford. The Dutch, Spanish and French came in to support the colonists. The colonists won with their help, but it almost bankrupted the French and created what became an underlying cause of that nation’s revolution.

In Scotland, peace was forced by an iron clad jackboot, there were forts at William and George to subdue any future problems, the expense to the London exchequer was enormous, and for little to no return. They swapped a continent for a land they had impoverished.

That was then, this is now.

Scotland has the opportunity to assert the rights our ancestors fought for, and won, in another continent and in another time.

Our future remains bright, if more than a little delayed, but a vital part of the promise of that future remains missing. Many of us remain uninspired, we are on the wrong side of the Delaware and our numbers are not presently sufficient to carry the day. We need re-enforcements that are inspired to march with us on this road, but we need the message to reach them.

Many have thought that a constitution is the answer, a new constitution. What we need is not a constitution but something more like America’s document. We don’t need ten thousand words of legalese that will inspire no one but its authors. We can’t do a formal declaration in our present circumstances.

What we can do is draft and enact provisional legislation. It only becomes effective if the referendum passes. It updates Scotland’s constitution, nothing else. It may even be legal to enact without a timeframe, which is for others to decide.

What we are missing is a rallying call, a promise; the American Declaration had “No taxation without representation”, with several other issues that folks saw worthy of sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice if necessary. Scotland needs such a guiding document, a rallying declaration. We can create it, but Holyrood is the only entity that can credibly provide it. So far, Holyrood just doesn’t seem to have the will. And only Holyrood can show us that we will set our feet onto a better path.

This declaration must be short, the colonists managed it on one page, and it must hold the promise of what is to come with the guarantee that the details will be filled in by the community of the realm of Scots when the time comes. It must be a wholly citizen driven document and it must be democratically enacted. A child of ten must understand it, a child of seven must be able to repeat it. These are the ways we will win our nation back. These are the principles that can weld us together.

An example of such a document might simply revolve around the mnemonic “sovereignty” – it could as easily be encompassed by the letters of our nation “Scotland”.

Here is an example for “Sovereignty”, for without sovereignty, nothing else truly matters.

1. Sovereignty is individual: Every Scot is Sovereign and equal under the law. [1320]

2. Our collective will is paramount: We are a democracy, our collective will must be expressed (referendums).

3. Visual government, open and clear, “nae limits”. No Secrets acts, no FOI restrictions except in time of declared war, no behind the scenes lobbyists.

4. Expression and speech protected. These must be fundamental guarantees for all Scots.

5. Rights, human and basic, healthcare, food and shelter. There will be more detailed explanation of this, defined by others at some future time.

6. Equal chambers of government. Two chambers of government, both elected, a “construction” chamber and a “review” chamber. This can place Holyrood as the constructionary legislature with an as yet to be defined “watchdog” chamber, to uphold the constitutional and budgetary requirements. The second chamber will have a right to a line item veto or simple rejection. One chamber represented by population, the other by geographic area. Party politics must be excluded from at least one chamber

7. Innocent until proven guilty, is a foundation of the legal system, and that any individual accused of crime will have a right to speedy trial, and there can be no detention without trial. It is disappearing under Westminster rule.

8. Guarantee of currency, Viable, stable currency. It can be enshrined, we will operate under the pound Scots, and we can link it wherever we choose or let it stand alone, but it will be our currency. In the first instance it can be linked to Sterling.

9. Nothing unfunded: Our people must know that our politicians will only do what our nation can afford; every policy or program will require having a funding source. In these days of computerisation this is relatively simple. Every proposed program, every manifesto pledge must have identified funding. This will stop the Westminster mess of “politics as usual”, with its dramatic overspend.

10. Term limits, no premier may stand for more than three consecutive terms, governments limited to 5 years? There must be a right of recall, power abuse would terminate terms of office. Term limits to treaties also.

11. You are the guardian of our freedoms: This is vital, we must all understand it if we are to forestall another 1707, with anyone. It should be ingrained in our children at primary school.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A picture and a thousand words.

The better together, or “vote NO” campaign launched last week, one picture reverberated through the psyche. Lamont, Darling, Davidson and Rennie; all standing together, not one able to look at the other and all declaring, “Better Together”.

Time and again, it appeared there were words missing from the frame. The omitted words were obvious, justified, and so very self explanatory.

The liberty has been taken of filling in the missing words, consider what each representative of union stands for individually and collectively, arguably there can be no more apt and fitting banner than that pictured above.
The horsemen of the apocalypse, collectively that is what these individuals represent for Scots, Scotland and Scottish nationhood, if they can fool us into supporting them.

They are on a recruiting drive.

War, as represented by Ms. Lamont’s Labour party, they have led us into conflicts that we neither wished for nor approved, they have stripped Scots of foreign policy rights, rights that would allow us to decide where and when or in whose name our young should die. Ms. Lamont’s party has demonstrated little care for truth, legality or justice, but war is their credo when others demand. Today our soldiers are still returning home, in bags. The red horse of the apocalypse, the red rose of Labour, the red blood of our children, the red on the Union draped coffins.

Famine, the party represented by Ms. Davidson. The Conservatives are stripping the welfare state. Tory policies are demanding people are in employment even when there are no jobs. They are the party who are removing benefits from those unable to find work, letting charity or starvation run its natural course. The Tories are in Downing Street, cutting taxes at the top level while they cut child support and increase VAT. The party that is overseeing an increase in poverty and famine, an increase in those disabled denied sustenance if it is thought they may have six months more to live. The rich, the fat cats of the City are increasingly better off while the poor return to the workhouse in the Conservative world.

Pestilence, plague is ably represented by Mr. Rennie’s party of Union. They are the party that sold their souls for power, the party that has visited upon us a plague of broken promises from student fees to moderation of Tory excesses. The Liberal Democrats share the stage well with the others above; they declare they stand for federalism, they refuse to provide it. Power corrupts, and the almost absolute power of coalition government, the first time they’ve tasted any such in almost a century seems to have visited a pestilence of forgotten promises and backtracking footsteps upon the Liberal Democratic Party.

Death, Alistair Darling represents it most ably in this scenario, for as the de-facto leader of the horsemen above it can be no other way. Scots have a chance, the first in three centuries and more to bid farewell to the other horsemen unless they can be fooled into voting for war, famine and plague. Mr. Darling has the job of convincing Scots to support death and his compatriots; so far it looks like he might just manage it as the horsemen are ably assisted by the devil’s messengers in Scotland, a mostly compliant media.

Yes, in this scenario Alistair Darling represents death, just as he did for much of the UK’s viability when he was chancellor.

As chancellor he should have allowed institutions to fail and supported the individual saver. At the least there should have been new, stringent laws. Those potential protections met their doom under his fiscal watch.

As chancellor he should have ensured “too big to fail” did not exist in our lexicon, as chancellor he should have reigned in the excess before the fatal blows were delivered.

Alistair Darling represents death, because if his cause emerges victorious it can signal an end to Scottish aspirations for a generation, more cultural integration by the BBC and media, a nail in the coffin of Scots individuality and sovereignty.

The parties of the Union, like the horsemen of the apocalypse are focused on bringing continued death and misery to Scots, they don’t care about our areas of social deprivation, our unemployed, our industrial demise or our appalling health statistics. If they did, these things would no longer exist in our potentially prosperous land.

These individuals don’t care that our children are deprived and that youth unemployment soars faster than sales of cheap alcohol, they work for their paymasters in the City of London.

These individuals represent parties which are on record as stating that a Conservative Westminster is preferable to a nationalist Holyrood, they are on record as stating there could be a future need to bomb an independent Scotland, and they are on record as fomenting dissent in our land to achieve their ends – they would sooner create another Irish question with all that entails around Scotland’s islands than see an independent land. They are on record as stating that unemployment in the North is a price worth paying for prosperity in the South.

Who outside the south, in their right minds, could or would support such ideas. It continues as the horsemen strip our wealth and strangle our green future through unfair taxation, like grid connection tariffs, just another tax by yet another name.

Think of what these horsemen would have you support, individually and collectively. They would have you support poverty, they would have you support unemployment, they would have you support weapons of mass destruction; and they prefer any nuclear apocalypse to be aimed at Scotland.

Think more on what they ask, they demand that Scotland’s next generation is as bereft of opportunity as our present, where 800,000, one in six of us had to leave our homes or face a future as bleak as many of our ancestors knew. The clearances continue today, we just don’t call them that anymore, the horsemen have deemed that politically incorrect.

For three centuries and more Scotland has seen our best and brightest flow from our land through lack of opportunity, lack of hope, lack of promise, a lack of tomorrows. Many would return.

We cannot guarantee that turning our faces from the horsemen, refusing their empty words and ignoring their hollow promises will lead us to a better tomorrow, but we can promise our children and our grandchildren that we will give them, each and every one, the opportunity to decide for themselves the kind of world they will live in.

We can promise them they will no longer have to suffer under the united yoke of the horsemen as they seek to stabilize their extended kingdom. We can promise our children that the future will be their own, it will be theirs to forge and not another’s to dictate. We can promise an opportunity to achieve democracy.

That is the gift we give our descendants by turning our backs on the horsemen.