Monday, 22 June 2015

Can We Have Affordable, Beneficial Housing in Scotland?

I think we can, but we need improve its associated costs while we’re about it.

The sad thing is it needn’t take public money, just public and political will. The pride it can engender, the ‘we can’ mentality could also be another incremental stepping stone towards a ‘yes’ in the next referendum.

We, the Scots, need to quite literally ‘get off our behookies’ and light a fire under our politicians. It’s irrelevant as to who those politicians are, they need prodded into action.

The first thing to understand is that housing, like anything, follows a supply and demand value structure. The second thing to understand is that a great deal of that value structure is dependent upon the pricing of land, which I’ll deal with later. The second part of the equation to create affordable housing is obviously directly related to increasing the market supply.

It’s really not that hard to do, but….

For now, the one big thing I have to ask is why folk are so scared?

For many of them they’re so scared they don’t even think, can’t even allow themselves to think of the obvious solution?

I’m referring them to building their own home.

I’ve talked to lots of folk, their foremost thought is where they can afford to buy and will they get a mortgage?

I can’t recall anyone who initially said “I’d like to build….but” – it has in point of fact become something of an alien concept, building a house. If you discuss the subject there are all sorts of objections thrown up – like buying land, building costs and then, for many, actually getting planning permission, hooking up sewers, power, light, streets. It’s all seen as something only government or ‘big builders or investors’ can or should do.

I hear and see the SNP encouraging immigration, they say Scotland needs people, and I’ve got to agree with that. My question is where are we going to put them without driving up house prices and creating another false ‘bubble’ that in the end will burst while still mostly benefiting the bankers, because, let’s face it, in the United Kingdom, banker’s rarely lose, even when they should be jailed for the human misery their greed so often creates.

Scotland needs housing – I don’t think anyone denies that.

Scotland’s government could draft a universally supported bill and pass the law which allows it to happen, for minimal cost. Land could be set aside, perhaps what’s known as ‘Brownfield’ land, or perhaps simply land that’s already in public ownership and meets certain criteria. (Land reform will be my next blog).

Our government could then set forward a competition with several architectural firms for home designs which are ‘uniquely and traditionally Scots’ in both design and build, homes which won’t be ‘just Barratt-boxes’, but places folk will be proud to help build, create, develop or maintain. These plans should be free to anyone wishing to build, and subject to automatic planning approval at designated site locations. By doing that, much of the perceived obstacle is removed. It’d be good to limit these plans to single family or semi-detached and no more than two story. Ideally there’d be several plan options available for each classification. As codes and requirements change, so they’re updated.

Another big issue is financing; there’s absolutely no reason that the government can’t provide interest free construction loans to qualifying individuals for, perhaps, twelve months, renewable (for a set percentage) for two additional spans. Sometime during those three years you’ll have to convert to a conventional mortgage, so you’d better be finished. If this was done, folk could live in their present homes without undue financial burden. There would simply be no re-payment due during the construction process – funds would be released after proof the last lot were used for the intended purpose.

A big issue is the infrastructure, that’s installed at present under the public purse, but unlike at present, some half of that cost could be re-collected when the home’s complete. It’s really not as much as folk imagine, often as little as one or two percent of the cost of the home. It’s simply rolled into the final mortgage amount.

Next, we need to look into population density. I have a husband that spent his later youth in Livingston, he could only describe it as ‘soul destroying’, so densely packed were the houses. I’ve come to understand that it’s even in decisions like that the pervasive ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’ is re-enforced, albeit subliminally. Force folk into what is in effect a commune and there is every chance you may destroy aspiration. Some will rise above it, not as many as should or could though. Imagine if we simply passed a law with two small considerations; that no home may be within ten meters of a boundary line, and that no window may look directly into that of another home within fifty meters. Effectively you’d ensure that homes were built on a staggered plan. Scots would feel they’d room to breathe. To see the sky, to expand their horizons with quite substantial ancillary benefits

In an advanced and wealthy nation like ours, these things shouldn’t be that difficult. When it comes to implementing this, there’d be challenges. Nevertheless I can’t accept that Scots can’t beat those challenges. For example the government itself, as part of the act, could set up a central hub for folk to register for these places. The government could underwrite the loans, and penalties could be severe for misuse. Folk who’s circumstances change, or who walk away simply lose the investment made, which could be as low as 5% funding lodged in an escrow account.

These communities can rebuild Scotland’s heart, a heart so wounded for so many by a recent referendum result, and they could truly do it if we abandon London’s egocentric, selfish and destructively capitalistic ways by limiting their size to perhaps a thousand homes, codifying a need for a mile or two of green-space between them and limiting the floor-space of any retail establishment to perhaps a hundred meters square, which could be very advantageously taxed, with penalties severely imposed on a sliding scale above that. We need to level the playing field between big corporate and the corner shop. Our new communities have to protect our independent trades-folk, for example the local butcher, simply being swallowed up by ‘Asda’ or ‘Morrison’s’, then discovering themselves unemployed on some future day through ‘corporate adjustments’. We can plan our new developments as we plan the future of our communal ‘high streets’.

If we focus on what we can do, with the powers we now have, we can rebuild the heart of Scotland’s communities, we can be a shining light, we can house any who need it. Like the next referendum, the changes required for a ‘win’ won’t happen overnight, but the can happen if we will it. They can also help to prepare the way for that future victory.

We do need more powers in Edinburgh because not all of those we’ve won so far are unusable.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Breach of Promise or Breach of Contract

Let’s consider a question I was asked recently, and to be honest, it sounded like it was a bit pointless at first blush.

The question was simple, and I’m reminding you I’m not a lawyer, but I was intrigued. The individual simply asked if Mssrs. Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and possibly Brown and/or their parties could be sued for breach of promise over ‘The Vow’ as it was published in the Daily Record in the dying days of the Referendum Campaign.

There was a second aspect to this – if it is possible to do it, did I think it could be crowd-funded?

Honestly, I’ve no idea, was my immediate and rather doubtful response, but it was worth investigating anyway. You see, my recollection of that ‘Vow’ at the time was that it could be read in multiple ways, have a dozen interpretations, and there were really no ‘cast iron guarantees’ built into it. It was, essentially, designed to take the switherer and give them a justification for not doing what they were then believing; that it might be right to vote ‘Yes’.

Interestingly, in spite of what others may say, do or argue every indication I’m discovering is that whatever impact the ‘Vow’ had on the referendum is irrelevant now. Many believe it was the deciding factor. I agree it had a major impact, so I was surprised, none of that is actually relevant. The Union parties seem to think it is though, that caused me to keep digging – what’re they trying to hide?

The starting point is simple; what was actually promised, or less solidly, what would be reasonable to construe was promised. The fact that their names were signed to it, and they de-facto didn’t deny or refute any of it and in actuality did publicly (as the legal’s state) ‘aver and affirm’ if not specifically using those words, implies a promise or contract, in which they could now potentially be in breach.

If they did enter into such a contract, then it’d have been one with the people of Scotland, or even more specifically, those amongst us that altered our vote from ‘Yes’ to ‘No’ based upon that ‘Vow’ ‘Contract’ or ‘Promise’, but it’s most likely that a suit brought by specific individuals lodged and worded something as the ‘people of Scotland’ might suffice.

The second aspect was ‘were they protected by parliamentary privilege’, essentially meaning they can’t be sued. Categorically, the answer here is no. The announcement, undertaking or feel-good fuzzy, call it what you want to, was made by means of a daily tabloid “news”-paper.

So – was there anything specific enough to constitute a contract or promise?

In looking through the Record’s page on the day in question, reading it carefully, helped by someone who used to help actually make laws in the United States (so note the qualifier – it’s not Scot’s advice, but I’m told that although Contract and Promissory law has nuances, it’s overall pretty consistent) what I heard fell out as follows:

1. It stated the three main party leaders had all signed up to the incorporated statements – they’re therefore all on the hook for anything that followed, as long as the specifics could be defined. No specifics, no hook. No ‘No’ vote – it’s all moot anyway.

2. They promised to transfer more powers to Holyrood. That’d have to be in addition to anything that went before. If they give Holyrood the rights over its janitorial budget, and it hadn’t had them before then the promise is fulfilled. It still might be open to argument on ‘reasonable expectation’ grounds, but a near certain win has dropped into rather dubious ‘coin flip’ territory.

3. ‘No one, other than the Scottish Parliament can cut vital public services such as the NHS’ – This is where it might get interesting, because they (Westminster) hold the purse strings, and there was no guarantee they’d not cut funding thereby forcing the Scottish Government to cut services. On the surface it’s a loss here, especially as they already told us we’d be getting more budget cuts, a loss except for the fact that it could be argued it builds on the first point as to right of expectation.

4. The powers were then guaranteed to be ‘extensive’. Still, they could give you the right to pick your nose in addition to those ‘janitorial services’, then they’d argue that was ‘extensive’ – it’s coin flip territory once more, except it again builds upon the umbrella impression of realistic expectation.

5. They agreed that the Scottish Parliament is ‘Permanent’, unless they try to abolish it, there’s no breach of promise there. Even failure to enshrine it constitutionally doesn’t breach that promise – effectively it’s been so declared. Once more it builds on that expectation thing.

6. They promised to improve government in the UK in the years ahead. This might be a ‘gotcha’ with the Alistair Carmichael thing. Arguably, not requiring or requesting resignation shows intent to abandon this pledge. It’s still too early to make a definitive point though. Getting rid of corrupt members could be claimed as showing good intent, avoiding the subject, not so much. Might be a solid argument in a decade, not today. Again it builds on the ‘right of expectation’ thing.

In short, with one exception, this was effectively a media publicity stunt, and that very important exception is the right of expectation.

It was explained to me like this, that if I buy a car, and I’m promised it will be red, three years old, with less than thirty thousand miles and in excellent condition both bodily and mechanically, with the reasonable anticipation of many thousands of happy motoring miles in front of me, then that’s what I should get.

If that car is delivered as described above, but I subsequently discover it’s had a governor fitted, or been ‘wheel clamped’ then the letter of the contract has absolutely been adhered to, however the right of expectation has been thoroughly trashed. The goods are not fit for purpose as one had been led to believe.

This falls under the fact that in law, and Scot’s law too, it isn’t actually necessary to define every detail, but broad expectations are enough. The folk simply need to be competent. Working through the result of the referendum to the landslide in May for the SNP, it’s almost an inescapable argument that many amongst Scotland’s electorate believed one thing, acted in one way (No Vote) and now believe they’ve been sold what would be commonly referred to as ‘a Lemon’, oddly enough, there’s laws against that too!

It would appear that in drafting this vow Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Brown had fairly good contractual advice, however it would appear they used English legal advice. However the offer was made through the medium of a Scottish Red-Top to the Scots electorate in such a way it could only be accepted in Scotland. Therefore Scots Law and NOT English Law would seem to apply and be the potential initiator of many problems for the “gentlemen” involved.

Effectively, using that massive vote swing as confirmation, it can be argued that a contract was offered, accepted and viewed as breached. In addition, that there was a poll showing a 51/49 vote split in favour of the ‘Yes’ vote with the ‘Yes’ vote steadily gaining momentum until that point at which the ‘Vow’ was made resulting a net six percent reduction in the ‘Yes’ ballot and a final 45/55 poll in favour of ‘No’ also speaks to the efficacy of the offer.

All aspects of this particular case say that, effectively, Scotland’s electorate was sold a wheel-clamped car.

On that, there is without doubt a case.

All that would remain to be answered would be if an unbiased judge heard the case, and on which side of the coin the result would finally land. Only the court itself could determine if it was a winning case.

As to other promises made during this time-frame, they could be viewed as ‘adjunct offers’ especially if not refuted in word or deed by the parties concerned before the vote took place.

One thing is certain, even if the case didn’t make it to court, even a moderately successful attempt at fundraising towards getting it there would prove intensely embarrassing to all the potential respondents.

Should the suit prove successful, and if properly worded, it could force anything from a re-run of the poll itself to utter upheaval in the constitution of the United Kingdom, for in an extreme case it’s entirely possible that a judge could (not would, could) order the establishment of a federalized governmental system.

Where it would go from there would be…..interesting.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

David Cameron - The man with no Honour.

Even Maggie couldn’t truly be accused of being that shallow, but the current leader of the United Kingdom has this week categorically proven himself a snake oil salesman of the worst degree, a cad and a bounder in the Oxbridge parlance and utterly dishonourable.

David Cameron has taken the already low opinion of politicians that’s almost universally shared throughout the electorate of Britain, and flushed what little remained down Westminster’s porcelain bowl.

I had a look to see if any of this was libelous, so Cad is defined as a man (I think he might fit that description) who behaves dishonourably, especially towards a woman. In this UK Scotland is often portrayed the ‘wife’, Nicola Sturgeon was essentially promised the ‘VOW’ would be kept (look upon the Vow as a re-dedication of that marriage). So, by voting down the permanence of Holyrood, something enshrined in convention, and where supporting a vote would have been of no consequence or cost, especially after what was printed against his name on the Daily Record front page and which he affirmed through not denying or distancing then and has promised to keep since, Cad is entirely appropriate.

Dishonourable; per Google, has these synonyms; disgraceful, shameful, shameless, shaming, disreputable, discreditable, degrading, debasing, ignominious, ignoble, blameworthy, contemptible, despicable, reprehensible, shabby, shoddy, sordid, sorry, base, low, improper, unseemly, and unworthy. Consider the refusal of the Scotland office to release full details of the ‘Carmichael Memo’, ultimately the Scotland office reports to him, the minister in charge does anyway. Cameron was notable by his voice being absent for those calling for Alistair Carmichael to resign. This can only lead to speculation as to whether he himself was in that loop which authorized the release of the (at best) inaccurate details or (at worst) a fabricated smear. We weren’t told he was, but just like Mundell, we certainly weren’t told he wasn’t. The leader always carries the responsibility to act. He did or he didn’t, either way, it was without Honour.

A bounder; that popped up as ‘dishonourable, nothing but a fortune seeking man’, doesn’t really need elaborated on, does it?

The snake oil salesman bit? As his own back benchers are discovering over the EU thing, the man really can’t be trusted. He certainly is proving that he peddled ‘snake oil’ with that Vow.

The best that could probably be said for him, he’s taken these very despicable traits of human nature and absolutely exploited them to gain his best personal advantage – he is PM after all?

Jim Murphy made a statement recently; essentially he said that David Cameron is such an idiot that he’ll sleep-walk Scotland into another referendum – the implication being that now he’s quite categorically proved himself all of the above, then he’ll not win it this time. If that wasn’t the implication, why bother with the statement?

I found it quite sad that Jim left what is perhaps his one comment which was worthy of preserving for posterity until after the time when things he says are more irrelevant than ever. He too, it appears, might no longer be Cameron’s political opponent, but he’s arguably supporting these words.

Sadly, we certainly suspected this before the referendum, before the May election. The evidence was clear though not fully unqualified.

In the end, in a very small way, I suppose my hat’s tipped to Nick Clegg for just one thing; it is becoming clear you did try to keep Cameron honest, though for whatever reason you had not publicly displayed the intelligence to articulate that properly, or the moral fortitude to walk away from an apparent shyster in 2010, 2011 or 2012, by which time you could have no doubt of the character with which you were dealing. You could have walked away with honour and respect back then.

As for Labour? Well, in or out of power, they’re irrelevant, and by this week’s abstentions and voting patterns alone (there are many more examples to select as well, like their refusal to condemn the ‘bedroom tax’ and support of the bankers, stripping of national assets, etc, etc …) they’ve condemned themselves to perhaps an eternity in the wilderness.

Labour could recover; they could act with honour and principle, with integrity and solidarity. That’s the way forward for them, they know it works too – just look at what happened in GE2015 when they ran up against such in Scotland. And no, the SNP isn’t perfect, far from it, but all the media spin, lies and dissemination still couldn’t fool the majority of the voters.

David Cameron is a product of his party, his society and of the London elite. It looks like the next Labour leader will be too. Everything emerging during the current Westminster and EU debates is indicating that David Cameron probably isn’t fit to lick Alistair Carmichael’s boots, and that’s some achievement by any measure. Perhaps it’s not one to be so proud of though?

In Scotland however, we can analyse these self-serving party and individual personalities, where we find them, we need to root them out from positions of responsibility or authority, because gods forbid we’d ever emulate, admire or elect them again!

Holyrood needs to pass just one law. It’d be a good, fair and just law, and I’d love to see any Westminster dominated party argue against it.

Simply, what you as a party or individual promise to win a vote, must be delivered or face being recalled.

End of.

Monday, 15 June 2015

They Gied Us Lemons.

FFA, Fiscal Autonomy, Federalism, call it what you will.

It started out that we Scot’s would be about a couple of billion a year in the hole. Westminster suddenly realized that was less than what we had to pay as a part of UK debt, heck, we’re getting up there on being charged our share of London’s Olympics, Cross-rail (they didn’t offer a hand out on Edinburgh’s tram’s, did they?), being charged a pro-rata for London’s new sewer system, and god alone knows what we’ll have to pay if the World Cup comes back to England?

It’s fine, I hear, we got the Commonwealth Games, look at the subsidies there? As in what subsidies?

Then of course, there are the massive energy penalties that all Scots pay.

The amount Scotland would need subsidised began to escalate.

Five billion, seven, in the Sunday Express, it was ten billion – any advances?


You see, the Unionists quite literally scared many elderly into a no vote, they convinced others through biased propaganda, and finally there was the “VOW”. Well, not so much a VOW, but more ‘THE CON’; however although that’s largely now irrelevant, what isn’t, is that Scots voted to stay. Scots voted to be part of this Union.

What the Unionists aren’t revealing is that FFA might in the worst case be hell in a hand-basket for Scotland, but being in the Union, Westminster would still be responsible for it.

The interesting thing is that these ‘new massive deficits’ aren’t what they seem. They’re all predicated on the status quo.

So, effectively, London and her media bubble are saying ‘you can’t have it, because you can’t handle it’ while saying simultaneously ‘that debt, by the way, you’ve already got it, and we’re already covering it’

You see, the biggest part of that referendum business last year, was the ‘better together’ and ‘pooled resources’ bit.

When you look at it deeply, you quickly come to understand that what it’s all about is Westminster’s awareness that they’ve truly screwed things up; that and their unwillingness to be seen to have done so.

Let’s look at the scenarios.

Scenario one is FFA for Scots. We decide to do things differently, it’s successful, and egg gets thrown all over faces in the Palace in London.

Scenario two is we blow it with knobs on. Scenario two will not happen overnight, economies just don’t change that fast, but if we did, Westminster steps in, removes FFA and slaps Scots for being idiots, perhaps by 2% more on income tax until we pay for ‘our folly’ – they could even propose that going in – it’s a bet I’d take.

Regardless, that extra levy couldn’t really be assessed, because Scot’s are only 10% of the UK, and the UK umbrella debt wouldn’t change by much. Even if we awarded all our underprivileged double benefits, and doubled the size of the NHS, it might only add 5% more to the UK debt burden. For me, that 5% isn’t a reason to say ‘NO’ FFA.

Imagine what Westminster would gain if FFA was achieved unfettered and implemented, without requiring the Governor General’s approval. Now imagine it failing, and that little penalty being imposed for a handful of years.

Effectively you’d do what George Robertson in fact claimed of Devolution, you’d kill the demands for ‘more’ stone dead, at least you’d do so in enough Scot’s eyes to stop the Nationalists movement in its tracks.

What will happen if FFA is an unmitigated success? You will end up with a thriving economy just humming along; an economy that benefits everyone, Scots and the Union alike.

If it’s just little different, then it’ll not cost either party more, if it doesn’t actually save money. Government is returned closer to the people, never a bad thing, and responsibility returns to a more local level.

Effectively, the only reason then for Westminster not following FFA is because they believe it will succeed. And they’re scared of that, because in that success they’ll see a demand for more powers and a lessening of their own prestige and influence.

Why should they believe that? They’ve every reason in the world. Just look at Holyrood, the ‘wee pretendy parliament’, which was just called an executive but is now in the eyes of the world an actual ‘Parliament’, with a respected ‘First Minister’.

We demonstrated with Holyrood that although they ‘gied us lemons, we made lemonade’. Westminster and her backers are truly terrified to see what we might achieve with FFA.

Friday, 5 June 2015

The Real Reason Why Labour Lost The GE.

I sat quietly, observing for most of the General Election campaign, partly because I was fairly confident that in Scotland there would be an SNP Tidal Wave and in England, a Labour Win.

As we well know, only one actually materialized. I innately knew immediately why the other didn’t, in fact, from about May 1st, I became certain it wouldn’t, but the polls said otherwise – right up until the exit poll.

Since then, I’ve watched the unfolding events in vague shock and awe.

In that vein I’m going to use some parallels and analogies, they might be unpalatable to some, but they’re accurate so deserve inclusion and use.

The Shock; that England could vote for and elect a party on a mandate which was arguably more right-wing than that which facilitated the election of Hitler’s Nazi’s in 1932/33, although they interestingly were elected on almost identical platforms of anti-foreign (Cameron’s ‘Scots’ and EU policies to Hitler’s internalized Nationalism [there really isn’t much difference between those two, the only kind of Nationalism that can be acceptable is the inclusive embracing type which seeks to look outwards in non-dictatorial friendship]). Both coupled this with restricting the rights of parts of their citizenship, in Hitler’s case, he attacked the Jewish community, academics, opponents and disabled; in Cameron’s case he’s attacking the vulnerable, the poor and the Scots, arguably also where much of academia of British Isles originated.

Amongst Hitler’s first acts was issuance of the ‘Fire Decree’, suspending Civil Liberties, essentially dispensing with a need to worry about Human Rights. David Cameron has literally issued his own vow – he wants the UK removed from the protection of the European Human Rights Act. He’s promised a ‘British Bill of Rights’, but who’s to say what’ll be in it? Or even who or what will be protected, or even if some will be “more protected” than others. Which I feel is a fair statement when you check on how unfair British society has become.

Incidentally, both Cameron and Hitler were elected with marginally 37% of the popular vote.

Hitler formed a secret police, the Gestapo. The UK didn’t actually need to do that; we’ve already got the Official Secrets Act (remember how the McCrone Report was buried?) coupled to MIs 5 & 6, our own secret courts and utterly compliant media – which were all Third Reich fortes. Now, our little cherry on the icing of our cake is the “Snooper’s Charter”. This permits those government organisations to go intelligence gathering on a level which couldn’t be conceived of in Himmler’s (head of the Gestapo’s) wildest dreams. He had to rely on neighbours reporting neighbours just as like Stalin did. Indeed, 21st century intelligence gatherers just use computer technology to collate their data.

Million’s died to defend us from this – those million’s sacrificed to build a socially inclusive state after their victory. It was a hard toil, yet they did it.

The Awe; Cameron was campaigning on this platform, campaigning to get rid of these securities that so many gave the ultimate sacrifice for, and Labour had an open goal. The ball was never kicked. The striker simply fell flat on his face, and then looked around stupidly hoping for a referee’s whistle.

Cameron refused to say where his cuts would fall and Labour failed to offer a single ‘most likely’ scenario with which they could have hammered the Tories.

Cameron and his compliant media demonised the Scots. He effectively promised to make them ‘second class citizens’ through hobbling all three legs of the stool; firstly - our ‘avowed’ and exceptionally diluted new devolution settlement by handing primarily useless powers north (Smith); secondly, reducing the effect our MPs will have in Westminster (EVEL); and thirdly by neutering our Parliament by introducing a veto wielded by the Governor General in the Scottish Office; an office that makes no bones about undermining and discrediting the running of Holyrood.

The tools for Miliband were there to be utelised.

The Snoopers Charter was an easy one for Labour to tackle. All they had to do was remember those who died for those rights and ask if those millions of deaths were to be in vain; especially in these years of the glorification of WW1.

The removal of the Human Rights legislation should have been right up there. Labour should have been screaming “foul” at the tops of their collective lungs. But a pin could be heard dropping in the hallowed halls.

The EU Referendum – I’m all in favour of referendums and I’m reasonably in favour of Europe too. I know it’ll never be perfect, but I also know it’s a hell of a lot better than being tied to Westminster. Labour could easily have pulled that from Cameron too, they just had to support the referendum idea on the basis of democracy, but tell everybody ahead of time, they’d be campaigning to stay in while negotiating the best deal possible for the UK.

Essentially, the opportunities for a soft tap in to win the game and lead the next government were almost without limit as the election race drew down.

Any one goal could possibly have seen the Labour Party home free.

Combined, I really doubt if they’d have needed any sort of coalition to hold power. Having said that, I didn’t want anyone in sole charge; I believed a coalition – whether formal or otherwise - benefits everyone.

Essentially then, the Tories, Cameron’s folk, didn’t win the 2015 GE, Labour simply decided to walk from the field.
The only question that needs to be asked after that realisation is why? That’s got an obvious answer, but judging from what I see of their current leadership contenders, none of them are capable of uncovering it or remediating it.

Cameron’s Conservatives, any extreme right wing party, has no defense against that type of argument.

Labour needs a leader who recognizes this and will contest the field, and they could’ve used any or all of these arguments to do it – because if they do or if they had, they’ll win.

The issue that I can see, they’ve largely the same paymasters, so even if they do manage to uncover a principled and socially minded leader, that person will be hobbled before they’re even allowed to leave the dugout.

Effectively England now needs a new center left party.

Labour UK – R.I.P. – May 2010

Yes, 2010, because Ed Miliband wasn’t why Labour lost. Labour lost because they lost their soul in forming ‘New Labour’. But it took until then for the public to come to this understanding.

I don’t know where souls go when things die – I do know they don’t return to the old body, or body politic.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Problems and Solutions

Well, I didn’t do much writing during the GE, nevertheless I can express my limited delight at the result. I say “limited” for two reasons. Firstly, because we didn’t win all the seats north of Tweed and Solway, however this is a very minor issue. Secondly, because the Tories still managed to secure a majority through English constituency wins; and for me, that’s a biggie.

The problem is that it’s pretty much always been that way. In this Union, Scotland is irrelevant. That’s a major issue. We are politically irrelevant anyway. The S.E. of England still needs our resources, human and environmental, and these are the real reasons they fought against our Independence campaign so hard, that and maintaining their perceived prestige.

What we did do in GE 2015, was put the wind royally up London’s establishment; arguably our 45 created more panic there than Charlie did with his effort in ’45, especially as our 45% accumulated a few more voters to give Westminster not just 55 this time (percent) but 56 (MPs). Moreover we all know but for Union Media lies, half truth and innuendo it would have been 59.

Scotland’s problem is that 59 still wouldn’t have mattered.

By the time of the GE, not much we could have done would have mattered, mostly because the SNP has a policy of not fighting ‘non-Scottish’ seats.

Subsequently, as long as Scotland is stuck with 59 MPs and EVEL looks to be on the cards, it would appear we’re going to be on the wrong end of the stick, unless we get exceptionally fortunate and the English Electorate chooses to gift us the balance of power, nothing is going to happen to change anything. Nothing will change especially because the English Electorate have clearly just stated, they’d rather suffer a bad dose of Tory medicine, they’d even be happy to give up their human rights, rather than see Scots hold power at Westminster.

We might be able, under current SNP candidacy policies, to legitimately contest Berwick upon Tweed and environs, giving us a potential of 60 MPs speaking in support of Scotland’s interests.

However, that will still not be much of a concern the Establishment.

No, what is required is a long term solution, and it needs to embrace an English component. No matter how you address the issue, the SNP or any progressive force in these Islands needs English MPs. They just don’t need them in the party. However, if they were closely tied to the SNP as a voting bloc on key policies – wouldn’t that be interesting.

For instance, what if the SNP offered to assist ‘Independent’ candidates in England? What if they appealed to potential candidates willing to subject themselves to the SNP vetting process and promise to support an independent voting bloc within Westminster? That scenario holds almost limitless potential. The offer for the next GE could be made immediately after a motion and approval at the next SNP conference. This would be a motion where the party would pledge to support English folks standing as independent candidates, still with their particular region’s interests and requirements foremost, but who are willing to put themselves forwards to become part of a ‘progressive alliance’ at Westminster’s next Election.

They’d start the process now; perhaps only going so far south as Scotch Corner. Additionally the Welsh Nationalist’s could do the same, targeting perhaps an alliance with the fifty closest constituencies to Wales. The promise made, the overriding policy, not to do much at first (after all, Labour, Tory and Lib’s have made such a mess these last fifty years) until a good look is had at the books, well, there’s nothing that anyone can really guarantee. That’s an easy sell. Implementing 5 years of progressive social justice, usually sells well also. Dump WMD and increase the regular forces, probably a winner. Open government, get points there too.

Just imagine the consternation within the establishment. It’d start immediately too. They absolutely don’t want the apple-cart upset any more than it has been. Especially if those English prospective members promise constitutional upheaval, like voting for abolishing the lords in favour of a proportionally representative senate. Oh my?

Imagine the political power that would suddenly and in the short term come the way of the SNP and Plaid.

We’d just have created one exceptionally big stick, and we’d be using it to poke a really large hornet’s nest that’s just about settling down to the fact it’s got 56 cans of blue and white bug repellent inside its belly. The problem is, those 56 can only give the hive a mild indigestion, make the insects scurry a bit more. We have to find a nuclear option to blow the two party system out of the water in order to bring power back to the peripheries. Our folk said ‘No’ on September 18th, but in view of how many wanted to say ‘Yes’ to Nicola and the SNP on May 7th and right across the UK as well, I’d bet we could manage it.

So – keep the Union for 2020 (unless other events bypass that), and extend the hand of Friendship to English Independents. Create a progressive alliance – or three, one for the North East, one for the North West, one for the Midland’s. We might not hold a majority, but we’ll potentially ensure that nobody else does either, and nothing scares the establishment more than that, for without a majority party, they’ll probably have to listen to us.

In the name of friendship, and true neighborliness, isn’t it beyond time that we helped our friends across the border, especially if we could help ourselves by doing that?