Friday, 31 October 2014

The Paradigm Shift.

So, it’s finally started.

The movement that will lead to independence for our nation has truly begun, and I suspect it’ll not end for a few years, but history will show the referendum of 2014 as being the time when the death knell reverberated loudly over the Union corpse. It not only tolled, but vowed it’d continue.

Gazing retrospectively at what’s inspired this blog, it became apparent to me that even while working and sincerely hoping for a ‘Yes’ in the 2014 referendum, at a deeper level I never really expected one. The most obvious reason being, our media isn’t our media. The Daily Record, Sun and the rest are either London or foreign owned. Ultimately, I was as devastated as anyone when we’d come so close only to fall in the last few days, almost entirely as a result of that same media’s trumpeting of the now ‘Disavowed Vow’.

The paradigm shift ultimately comes down to that ‘Vow’, because that ‘Vow’ moved the goalposts; it changed the debate utterly in the last week where ‘Yes’ was building to possible/probable victory.

Suddenly, folk weren’t choosing between ‘Independence and Westminster’, they were choosing between ‘Independence and Devo-Max’. Not only that, they were choosing ‘Devo-Max’ with a defined and very tight timeline. Gordon Brown even declared it’d be as near as damn a Federal solution resulting in a new UK.

Now, excuse me being blunt here, but there’s really no other way to put this.

Let’s face it, if you’re a unionist politician and leader, and not actually a worthless piece of sh*t, you were free to disavow that full page printed vow, but only if you did it publically as soon as the damned thing hit print. That and you’d better be demanding a retraction on the day. Failing immediate corrective action before the vote, folk of honour and integrity have no choice but to keep that Vow afterwards. It doesn’t matter if they actually made it, by their silence they assented and adopted it.

That vow made many voters switch back to support for the Union and consequently, the failure of follow through plus the distancing from it that’s taken place since (and is set to continue) has shocked quite a few ‘No’ voters; there are many who’d change their vote today if they had the opportunity to do it all over again. It’s a safe bet with the revelations since, it’d be the same numbers in the referendum; it would simply flip to a yes result.

That’s what’s behind the building paradigm shift within ‘No’ voters. It is pointless to say “We Told You So” now. They heard what we were saying, but on the day the paradigm shift was just a step too far for them to make, especially when offered the ‘comfy’ alternative of ‘Devo-Max’.

Life in the Union may be not be brilliant, but for many of the ‘No Voters’ it is bearable. Put that up against project fear and the ‘spectre’ of independence that was painted by Union controlled media, the only way a ‘Yes’ vote was going to be secured was by a massive swing in the Unionist vote. It still almost happened; it’s still necessary, however, not quite so massively this time. Except, there doesn’t need to be a ‘next time’. Everything can be accomplished through the ballot box at elections.

I actually didn’t expect the swing to be as rapid as it currently appears, but the event that gets people to change a lifetime’s habits is by necessity something fairly significant. In this instance it is lies and betrayal. Even then, opinions don’t change overnight, but it’s almost guaranteed they’ll change eventually. It’s a realisation event followed by processing time, and we all need different amounts of it.

Consider our average Scots’ voter. Now narrow it to the average Scots Unionist. Die-hards among them might even change now, although that’s less likely. On the other hand, the average ‘No voter’ saw three English parties come together with the weight of the media and eventually see off the ‘nasty Nationalists’ with a “Vow”. However at least a third, perhaps as many as a half of that ‘No’ vote wanted those extra powers. That equates to somewhere around 25% of the total electorate that wanted the substantial constitutional change they were promised. Consequently, these people were comfortable, content and happy in their vote. However, they weren’t specifically voting for ‘Westminster’, they were now voting for a stronger, better, more representative and democratic Scots parliament. It’s how many justified that ‘No’.

Essentially that 25% voted for almost the same as the 45% who voted ‘Yes’. They just didn’t want to throw away the security blanket; not yet anyway, not when they’d been promised ‘the best of both worlds’.

Except, they've now literally been told “What Vow?”

And surprise, surprise, they’re not happy and dissent is now beginning to peep over the parapet. They had a set time frame placed before them, it’s already been missed. Many of them, perhaps as much as 10-15%, have already gone from disappointment through regret to acknowledgement of betrayal and are done processing. They’ll never vote for a Unionist party again. It’s also ‘safe’ to do that now, the referendum is over and they don’t have to feel guilty about making that personal vow against Unionist parties.

Unlike those Westminster politicians, I’d expect these folk to be serious in their intent and it’s already showing. SNP and other pro-independence party’s membership have grown exponentially since the referendum. The latest IPSOS/MORI poll shows a near wipe out for Unionist parties at the next UK General Election, while the current ‘You-Gov’ isn’t quite so radical in its results, but has a similar overall conclusion.

There you have it; 25% of an electoral franchise who’ll not vote for the Unionist parties again, ever.

That’s a lot of betrayed people to have on your hands.

This is what happens when the average person is so fundamentally lied to, and then comes to realise it.

It’s also what happens when the average person in Scotland comes to understand what many of us who supported independence have seen for years; the media in Scotland has shown itself to be largely useless when it comes to balanced investigative and unbiased reporting around Scottish Politics. It means the media was largely a single use tool, like a tube of glue, and now it’s mostly full of air, it doesn't work so well.

However, the media can’t be discounted, but it can be anticipated its future impact will be significantly reduced.

These folk have that have just pushed the SNP vote share to 52% in the polls have had a paradigm shift. For many of them it’s no longer possible to vote for a Unionist Party and they've altered their world view, deciding on a party supporting independence or to simply not vote again. For many of them it may not be a conscious thought yet, but it’s coming.

The SNP for its part needs to capitalise on this to form an ongoing, broad but loose alliance with Scotland’s other independence supporting parties. They need to stand on a manifesto for the next election which loudly proclaims that it supports the democratic will of the Scottish people as expressed during the referendum.

This also requires the SNP to have a paradigm shift to match that of the referendum result and capture the awakening ire of that 25%. They need it this year. They need to deliver the results of that adjustment as they stride purposefully into the 2015 elections. The message needs to be that the electorate can always trust them to be sufficiently flexible so as to respond to its express will.

The SNP can then declare to follow the peoples’ desires and bring to Scotland and her parliament the powers contained within “The Vows” which Westminster has now reneged. Furthermore, they can affirm that one principle they will hold to, should the people elect a majority of Scots MPs from their party, is that these MPs will put Scotland first. After the ballot, Holyrood will extend an invitation to its Scottish colleagues who would be then based in Westminster requesting them to attend a vote in Holyrood.

It’ll be an invitation not just to attend, but an Act will be passed to permit them a vote on a single issue. Holyrood will pass that Act, having been spelled out before hand as the accepted will of the people as expressed through the result of the referendum. This is almost an identical circumstance as that which led to the referendum itself; democracy in action.

Folk will vote for such a message because they’ll not see it as ending the Union, simply holding the political feet in London to the fire and forcing honesty, and that’s how the 2015/2016 campaigns need to be portrayed to capture that additional 25% i.e., democracy has spoken; vote for us to force honesty from the democratic process even as we deliver good government.

The question is; what the contents of that Act should be.

Quite simply, it should authorize Holyrood to renegotiate all articles of the Treaty of Union with four notable exceptions. It would restore the full rights and responsibilities of the Scots Parliament excluding the areas of Foreign Affairs, Monetary Policy, the Monarchy (excluding the need for Royal Assent) and Defence. Passing of these Acts can be expressed simply as a combination of forcing honesty from Westminster, of assisting the many Scots who voted “no” in getting what they were promised by way of a Devo-Max or Federal solution, and lastly helping those who voted yes to reconcile themselves with the outcome of the vote. This would then be portrayed as putting the entire nation in a position to grow with harmony and cooperation as we walk forward. Essentially it would be an exercise in re-unity and reintegration following the referendum.

Effectively this is campaigning on a platform of the democratic exploration of the concept of nation building while remaining within the over-arching framework of the Union, which 55% declared they desired in the referendum.

In all practicality, this is the best way for some 70% of the franchise to obtain what it desired – or at least very nearly so. It’s a political compromise – for now, of where the party promised to go and where the electorate told them it needed to be.

The ball will then be very firmly in Westminster’s court, and how they decide to return it will prove interesting indeed. They may even decide to scrap what remains themselves.

Regardless of Westminster’s desires, with a majority of SNP MPs and MSPs under these circumstances Holyrood can then pass Acts under the banner of the democratic will, repealing or rejecting Westminster’s primacy in everything - except the reserved issues we, the Scots allow.

Effectively, the only primacy Westminster would retain would be in the areas of defence, currency and foreign policy with a sort of shared obligation on the fourth, the Monarchy.

Moreover, it would be done as the will of the people, an exercise in democracy; a beautiful thing.

The SNP should therefore enter the 2015/2016 elections with a shift in stance, specifically limited to these campaigns, to not be a party seeking independence, but rather Home Rule. A sensible party might also promise a Constitution to protect the rights of our Parliament, our citizens and legal residents, while declaring that although David Cameron may have promised this, if we vote for the SNP they will actually provide it. A truly intuitive party might even put a time-frame to it.

With that type of mandate delivered in a Westminster election following on from the referendum, respecting the Union yet holding it to account, Scotland’s parliament at Holyrood can have a secure democratic justification for passing the legislation for enacting this in Scots Law.

By right and accepted broadcast precedent, the SNP could even dissolve the Union with a majority of either Scots MPs or absolute majority at Holyrood, so long as they inform the electorate that was their intent. However, to do so this closely after a referendum result which in effect demanded Devo-Max that may just be a bit disingenuous.

The nicest part is it is all about honesty, honour and integrity. That’s a simple campaign platform. It is also a campaign platform with which Westminster cannot compete.

Should this transpire, it promises to be an interesting development; one which hasn't happened in many centuries. 

an entire cadre of Scottish based Westminster MPs who’ll simply put Scotland's needs first. 

The only clear way under the present scenario to upset that dynamic in any moderately close election, would be an alliance between Labour and Conservatives. Any other alliances with smaller groups of MP’s e.g. UKIP, BNP or Liberal Democrats would only open more eyes in the North, with the certainty of greater issues in London. It’s either that or Westminster tries to pass an act preventing the expressed democratic wish of the Scottish people, and that will not sit well north or south of the border.

Either way, the endgame is now set and the outcome is relatively assured.

I only have to wonder if this wasn't Alex Salmond’s ‘Plan B’ all along. If it had been, then it was a master strategy of playing the long game. All it needed was just one close poll, and the reactions were all entirely predictable from that point on. Win today, or win tomorrow, either way, it’s a win for the nation he cherishes. If it’s a win tomorrow, in Nicola’s hands’, with her lengthy apprenticeship, it’ll be fine.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Guest Writer Steven McBrien on Ms Lamont's Resignation.

Writing something nice about Johann Lamont for me is akin to trying to present herpes in a positive light, but I will finally bite the bullet and admit that I admire her actions today, even if the almost Juvenalian irony of this woman stating that UK Labour treat Scottish Labour "like a branch office" is neither lost on me or anyone else. It's funny, but it seems like just yesterday that she was gloating over Salmond's resignation and looking forward to locking horns with his successor... now, Salmond has outlasted her. She stands down immediately; he doesn't stand down until November. By my calculations, that means he's now seen off four Labour leaders during his tenure as FM, and five since becoming leader of the SNP. Not a bad hit rate.

It also seems like just yesterday that Westminster politicians were swarming their way through the cities and towns of Scotland like termites, promising more engagement with the people here. Needless to say, apart from a ludicrous Lib Dem conference in a swanky hotel, we've seen neither hide nor hair of them since the referendum. A simple equation will tell you why: if one multiplies the sum of the principles these creatures have, and then divides the result by the amount of promises they've actually kept, the result will be equal to the number of fucks they give about us.

But what the hell, Johann, gaun yersel hen. Well done. You've shown people throughout Britain what we in YES already knew: Labour are utterly finished in Scotland. Behold Blair's works, ye mighty, and despair. His true legacy is right here for all to see: thousands of dead bodies, and a dead party. The bastard has more than blood on his hands, but karma's a bitch.

If these people have genuinely reached the stage where they imagine that anyone in Britain, never mind Scotland, wants to see a single sweat-soaked wrinkle on Gordon Brown's golem head, they are beyond insane. As for Jim Murphy, the very fact that he is being touted as leadership material shows just how irrelevant and out of touch these fossils really are. They are pathetic, and their century-long stranglehold on the city of Glasgow is about to end forever. Fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen: this is going to be a very bumpy night.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

TV Political Debates; Conundrum or Not?

I’ve watched with interest as the SNP have been once again excluded from the General Election debates.

It’s actually been with a great deal of interest since they effectively won a case in 2010, that judicial review stated it was inappropriate to exclude them.

At the time, the arguments used were marginally credible.

The first statement was that they weren’t a ‘UK’ party, but a regional party. The argument then was that as they only contested seats in Scotland, then they’d no part in a UK wide debate.

The second argument actually held a bit more water, at least until this years’ debacle, sorry debate schedule was announced. Both those arguments are now relatively simple to defeat, but before that, we should examine another aspect of the debates.

No actually, I was correct in the first instance for now it is a debacle of democracy which is designed to perpetuate a two party system. The fact that it’s already been ‘pre-ordained’ that the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties will share a head to head excluding all others, is surely a debacle; it makes a laughing stock of any pretence of democracy.

In a true democratic system, in an honourable one, all prospective candidates would be involved in the first debate in any election. The representation would then be whittled down until only the best two or three candidates remained. For these to be selected in advance by the media shows a system beyond corrupt. For it to be accepted largely without question shows a populace who for the most part is simply apathetic and doesn’t care. The referendum in September was a democratic awakening in Scotland, it shows we now care. And we care a whole lot.

As to rebalancing some of that media and Westminster engendered democratic deficit, especially following on from the judicial review in 2010, surely now with being the third largest party in the current UK, the SNP should have a seat at these debates?

The establishment will still fight to prevent it, because the establishment is about perpetuating the UK. With the SNP as the third largest party, the only argument for the establishment to now fall back upon, and it’d be a delaying tactic only, would be that the SNP aren’t a ‘national, UK wide party’. The ‘nation’ part falls to bits when we consider that Cameron, Miliband and Clegg all went on record last month to declare ‘Of course, Scotland is a nation’. That essentially and defensibly, from their perspective, only leaves the ‘Not a UK wide party’ argument.

The issue for the SNP is that it has a policy of not contesting seats in a GE which are not ‘in Scotland’.

Historically there’s a delicious irony here, for their own policy has gifted their opponents the whip with which to flay the party before the electoral masses.

How and ever, the solution could be achieved easily; and it would leave the opposition in a place somewhere between a quandary and a cleft stick.

Contest the seat held by Alan Beith; namely, the constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Legally, although adopted into the area of Northumberland by statute, the town of Berwick upon Tweed actually belongs to neither country, and we’ve just had that affirmation that we’re both countries.

Legally, the SNP can’t be prevented from doing this, which gives the Westminster cabal one of two options; they can retain their claim that the SNP aren’t actually a ‘UK Party’ and effectively concede that Berwick’s a Scottish town, or they can recognize that with seats being contested south of the current border, the SNP are a UK party, they just have the stated goal of dismantling the UK and returning true power to at least some of her people.

The SNP also have the justifiable stance here of claiming Berwick-upon-Tweed as historically a Scottish town, they can even put hands on hearts and smile with a tongue in cheek attitude as they point to the fact it’s actually internationally recognized as such, nodding in the direction of FIFA and reminding everyone that Berwick Rangers play in the Scottish League.

The fact that much of Northumberland is attached to that seat is rather irrelevant for this exercise; it’s about what the seat’s called.

Scotland’s nationalists don’t have to win the seat, but if handled properly there’s a good chance they could. No, all they have to do is wrong foot the establishment, and an announcement such as this would surely do that, especially as they could rightly point out, that unofficial polls have shown a majority of the townsfolk there would rather see the border moved anyway?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

‘You Lost – Now get over it’

The truth will out, the old saying goes. And by jings, I think we’re seeing the evidence of that now.

My-oh-my. How little they understand, it’s just that in this case, the truth will take time to permeate, to insinuate itself into the consciousness of almost every ‘NO’ voter. If the NO side or the NO voter believes there was a loser in this referendum, they are absolutely correct. The identity of the loser is very easy for them to uncover, they just require a mirror.

The cry of “You Lost - Get over it” is one I’ve seen times almost without number in the two weeks since the referendum result was announced. The truth of the matter is, although I would have been delighted with a ‘Yes’ vote, and campaigned and worked to try to gain one, I suppose deep down, I never really expected it. What I did get has exceeded almost every expectation I had. It’s a pity that those who voted ‘NO’ from either a false sense of allegiance, or I suspect more often from simple fear, will have to wait until anywhere from a day to a decade to realize it. Of course by then many who did vote ‘NO’ will no longer be among the living, but before they leave us, they’ll have been privileged to see ‘Austerity’ really bite. I just wonder if they’ll be able to admit their voting error before their personal final curtain drops.

You see, those relying on state pensions voted to perpetuate a virtually bankrupt state, as opposed to a vibrant, energised and resurrected one, one which needn’t have hamstrung their retirement, one which needn’t have continued to pay about the lowest proportional pensions in Northern Europe.

But what about those cries of ‘You Lost!’. Obviously those elderly who voted to ‘protect their pensions’ lost, because with both governments guaranteeing them, how could they not have won?

For the rest of us, here’s where those gloating, troublemaking Unionistas essentially have it backwards.

They themselves are the ones who ‘Lost’; they lost the opportunity to increase the personal value of their vote ten-fold.

They lost the opportunity for a sovereign parliament, answerable only to us, the Scots, and I include every Scot who holds nationhood dear to heart, resident, ex-pat, it’s irrelevant.

These individuals, on the face of it, have lost the opportunity for a constitution to enshrine their rights; their own personally-tailored Bill of Rights. That those self serving careerists in Westminster might be discussing a UK version is immaterial because, let’s face it, they’re even afraid of and desperate to duck the obligations of the European Human Rights court. However, I’m willing to bet their “bill” will protect both their and their bankers’ rights.

Therefore, let me examine exactly what their NO vote guarantees.

Their NO vote will guarantee more broken promises, more London centric policies.

Their NO vote will see politics as usual, Scotland and its referendum is already a footnote to Westminster’s perspective.

Their NO vote will not guarantee any significant extra powers, on the contrary, it can’t. To change things more significantly, they need an English Parliament, if they get that, the UK is over, or it becomes fully federalised with each nation demanding and having an equal say. However, when one nation controls over eighty percent of the population, they’re not going to accept that. To be in the position of having to agree with representatives of the other nations will be intolerable for them. If you doubt it, just research why ‘The West Lothian Question’ has never been resolved.

Their NO vote will guarantee increased taxes and reduced benefits as the extra income is required to pay for England’s debt. When these No voters are poorer and have seen inflation run rampant again, that’s when they will really understand what the NO vote will have won.

Their NO vote has guaranteed as part of a unitary state, the NHS in Scotland has no protection. While NHS England opens the door to privatisation, the same will come to Scotland. We simply don’t have adequate funding to protect it, unless London decides we should.

Their NO vote guaranteed you the right to have Weapons of Mass Destruction parked on your doorstep.

Their NO vote has already put your children in harms’ way again, as we walk the path back to a war in the Middle East. This time it’s the Islamic State. Last time, Iraq, before that, Aden, Palestine, Egypt; where will the next conflict drain the blood of our children into those hot unforgiving desert sands?

A NO vote lost you the immediate right to control those oil revenues, which within few days of the vote you were told had been ‘vastly underestimated’ just the week before. The only real difference, the referendum was over. Those who cared to look had known this for months or years. If that was false, you’d have seen the pound rise, not fall that week.

These are just some of the things those who voted NO have lost.

For myself, I think we won. No, we didn’t get the big prize, as a whole, nor did we bite the apple, but what else did we expect? Believe it; Westminster controls the media, that’s the one power it’ll never willingly give up (Media Bias During The Referendum). It might privatise the NHS, Education, the Mail, Water, Railways, Utilities, but it’ll never give up its propaganda machine. Think about it, the broadcast media are all beholden to Westminster for their licenses – at the minimum. Literally every paper in Scotland is either Union controlled or foreign owned. Glasgow/Sunday Herald/Evening Times Owners 
(Any thinking individual or Scotland's vaunted media - including the BBC - could easily have explained to the Scottish electorate that Westminster could no more keep the promises published in the Daily Record's "Vow" page than it could have produced rocking horse shit from thin air. Simply another example of how our media failed us.)

We won because we exposed that propaganda machine.

We won because we took that vote, which had been hovering sometimes in the 20’s, to over 50. It failed on the day, but it failed through lies and gullibility, not our efforts which will be re-doubled next time.

We won, because the politicians in England were forced to make promises that will destroy the status quo, the Union or both. It’s that or be proven liars. That they will keep those promises is unthinkable, that we would vote NO a second time is unimaginable.

We won because already, after just a few weeks, many ‘Noes’ would change their vote. While I have no sympathy, you can do so in perpetuity, a majority of independence MP’s elected to Westminster or Holyrood, with that proclaimed goal, can easily still deliver the result.

We won because the notion of a free, resurrected and resurgent Scotland is viable, it’s normalised, and it’s desired.

We won, most of all, because we realise that we’re in a world class boxing match, and against us we’ve a world class opponent, at least when it comes to the mechanics of holding others in thrall as it pursues its fading dreams of imperial glory. On the morning of September 19th, the announcement was clear, that in round one, Scotland had failed to deliver the knockout blow, but we know our enemy, for such is the only description of one that would take the food from your mouth and force you to rely on charity. 

Round two is just starting, it’ll end with the Westminster elections; if we hold the balance of power there by returning pro-independence supporting MPs we can proclaim independence. Round three, if needed, will see us at the next Holyrood Elections, again where the stated intent of the MSPs returned will and must be independence.

We must grab the thistle, we must grab it firmly, and we must protect both ourselves and those who come after from this incredible act of what is now self-harm that we call ‘The Union’.

Quite simply, we owe it to the unborn.