England and Scotland's flags.

Okay, over the past few days i’ve been the recipient of a lot of comments from UK unionists, or if you like call them British Nationalists, on the subject of why Scotland can’t stay in the EU despite recently voting 62% to remain in the European Union.
The main talking points have circulated around:

1) The idea that it was a “UK wide vote” so therefore the Scottish result is irrelevant
2) The fact that in 2014, there was 55% support for Scotland not becoming independent, as shown by an official referendum
3) The idea that there is no possibility of Scotland staying in the EU if the rest of the UK leaves the EU.
4) The claim that Scotland can’t have another independence referendum because the last one was only two years ago, and the outcome was “No”.

All of these ideas are at least partially false, so here is a little bit of informal exploration of these ideas.
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Kezia Dugdale MSP stands with a dozen or so campaigners on Leith Walk, near the Green Tardis (out of shot)

Labouring under false premises

The Green Tardis at Shrubhill really seems to be a hotspot for politicians to pose for photos. I suppose a good photo is better than nothing when you haven’t got any innovative policy ideas.

It also helps to have a good photographer who can make ten people look like an enormous crowd. You know the Leith Walk SNP team (which covers the area pictured) can muster up at least this many people on any day of the week just to do door to door canvassing in the tipping rain!

Incidentally I don’t suppose I need to point out that the only reason we have these tory cuts in Scotland is because

A) Labour abstained in parliament, effectively waving through the tory cuts by looking the other way

B) Labour campaigned for Scotland to remain in the UK at the mercy of successive tory governments that we have categorically rejected at the polls for forty years.

Until Labour face these facts, they will fail to engage the electorate.

Now, while I believe we must back the SNP to get independence I also think there is no chance of getting there without including any and all other parties and groups in Scotland, including the Greens and even the (nominal, in some cases) socialists.

I will vote Green this time (and SNP of course) because I’m in an area where many intend to vote SNP/SNP and also the polls show a good chance of an SNP clean sweep in the constituency ballot in this region. NOT ALL regions fall into that category, I hasten to add.

And of course though they make a lot of noise, polls still indicate that Solidarity,  RISE and other marginal socialist parties will none of them get enough votes to win a seat.  Ironically a “second” vote for Solidarity etc will probably be wasted.

Anyway, it’s polling day tomorrow and on Friday the papers will all be wringing their hands about how wrong the Scottish voters were to elect that dangerous SNP again, except The National, and I’m sure life in Scotland will quickly go back to “normal”, whatever that means these days!

Remember that time the queen, who is politically neutral,  casually muttered after church that she hoped Scottish voters would think very carefully before voting on the independence question?

And remember how it was shouted from every rooftop that this was NOT a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome, because that would be illegal?

Well surprise surprise it turns out the whole thing was carefully stage managed and scripted by the tory/lib dem Cabinet Office (click accompanying photo for the article on this subject).

Queen and Prime Minister

“And here’s our new secret weapon against those filthy Scots…”

I wonder how many other total lies the No voters still believe to be true, I wonder how long they can stick their heads in the sand and pretend the tory cuts won’t affect them. Read More →

Following Scotland’s independence referendum in 2014, there were a large group of people still determined to campaign for Scottish independence, and rightly so. A smaller group of people were determined that in the aftermath of the strong, but not majority, Yes vote, that Scotland should itself declare its own independence unilaterally, as many countries had done before it.

I understand this, and i join them in wishing Scotland could and would declare itself independent. A central tenet of the UDI advocates is the following six minute speech, made in the Scottish parliament by SNP MSP Christine Grahame. She is a very precise and thorough person, and an upstanding representative, and this speech is fascinating and very informative, and it includes reference to the legal document by which Scotland could apparently declare itself independent without showing majority support through a democratic referendum:

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On Sunday 23 November, Lesley Riddoch, famed broadcaster and journalist, came to South Leith Parish Church and addressed us on the subject of “Another Media”, discussing Scotland’s changing media in the aftermath of the recent independence referendum. I recorded the audio, with the permission of the organisers, Leith Walk SNP Branch.

You can listen to the talk here:

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“New brooms sweep clean” or so they say. On the other hand, what do “they” know anyway?

Labour’s Relationship with Scotland – It’s Complicated

Johann Lamont

Johann Lamont

The “Scottish” Labour Party will certainly be hoping to make a clean sweep of the 2015 General Election in Scotland, anyway, so perhaps that’s why it’s no coincidence that the “leader” and “deputy leader” of “Scottish” Labour have both stepped down this week, giving a full six months for whoever is elected to the roles to shake hands and kiss babies. Six months is, of course, long enough to do a lot of smiling, and get a lot of column inches written about you, but unless you’re completely incompetent, it’s too short a time to really stuff anything up too badly, especially if you’re not in government… isn’t it?    Read More →

Out Of The Blue

I recently attended an excellent panel discussion entitled “Changing Scotland’s Media” hosted by Word Power Books at the Out Of The Blue Drill Hall in Leith. The panelists were Sarah Beattie-Smith, Robin McAlpine and Dominic Hinde, and the discussion was chaired by Christopher Silver.

It was very interesting, and the main focus of the discussion was how Scotland’s media can and/or will change in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum, and why.

You can listen to the whole thing here:

 

The sound quality of the recording is a bit ropey because the place was packed to the gunwales, and the air conditioning was blasting away throughout. You should be able to hear what everybody says though, i hope. In the wake of the recent Scottish Independence Referendum that tested the media like never before, join a selection of journalist and thinkers for a panel discussion on how to build  a modern and dynamic media fit for the twenty-first century.   ROBIN MCALPINE is Director of Common Weal, Editor of the Scottish Left Review and author of No Idea: Control, Liberation and the Social Imagination. He is also the editor of Common Weal: All of Us First.   DOMINIC HINDE is one of the founders of the Post Collective, a translator, freelance journalist and doctoral student specialising in Scandinavia an Northern Europe. He is a contributor to Scotland 44: Ideas for a New Nation.  SARAH BEATTIE-SMITH is the co convener of the Edinburgh branch of the Scottish Green Party and co-editor of Bright Green. She is a former producer and presenter on Referendum TV and has written for National Collective.  CHRISTOPHER SILVER is a journalist and a film maker. With Jack Foster he has written an independent film about Scottish politics, The Fear Factor, and has produced a feature length documentary on the referendum campaign, Scotland Yet. He will chair this forum. Read More →

So as you’ll be aware, last week i emailed the Smith Commission, which anyone can do until 31 October, to voice their views about what should be devolved to Scotland in the wake of the immense promises of federalism and home rule that were doled out like sweeties to the No voters in the run-up to the recent Scottish independence referendum. Please do it now, if you haven’t already.

I thought some more about it and realised there were a few more things i wanted to suggest. I also read somewhere that since submissions from the public were likely to just be skimmed, it might make sense to send each point you want to make in a separate email. I just sent my additional concerns in one further email, but please feel free to send several emails if you wish.

I still think full devolution of all aspects relating to Scotland's oil fields, on and offshore, is the only way forward.

I still think full devolution of all aspects relating to Scotland’s oil fields, on and offshore, is the only way forward.

Incidentally i also read that on Friday 18 October only 4,000 submissions had been received by the Commission. To me this means that 1,613,989 people who voted Yes have not sent anything in, and that’s assuming all the submissions are from Yes voters (which is unlikely). Perhaps all the Yes voters think it’s a waste of time, and they won’t bother. I have also seen people saying they couldn’t possibly add anything to the what 4,000 people that have already emailed in have already said.

Look, we all know we’re not going to get anything like home rule, so when this process breaks down and Scotland gets stitched up, we need to show that Scotland engaged with the process. That means taking five minutes NOW, THIS WEEK, before it’s TOO LATE, to send in your submissions. ALSO, if it does deliver a better system for Scottish government, how can you honestly pass up the chance to positively affect that process?  Read More →

If you live in Scotland it’s pretty much your duty to email the Smith Commission and have your say on what you think increased devolution for Scotland should look like.The deadline for you to send your thoughts in is 5pm on 31 October so do it now, and don’t be late.

I just did, and here’s what i said (below). I didn’t mention every single thing, for example i didn’t mention fracking or borrowing powers, i didn’t go into detail about Education, Health or oil, for three reasons, firstly i know plenty of people will mention those issues, certainly there are plenty of petitions specifically asking the Smith Commission to consider each of these issues, and secondly issues such as fracking, which are very relevant at the moment, are certain to come up during the Smith Commission’s deliberations. While the SNP’s submission to the Smith Commission does not contain any mention of fracking specifically, it is a hot topic for the Green Party, and the news has been full of people’s concerns and more specifically the Scottish Government calling for a halt on fracking activities within Scotland until the outcomes of the Smith Commission are known. Thirdly, my position is pretty much that more or less everything should be devolved, and i spell that out quite a lot in my letter, so it seemed a little pontless to go into every specific area individually. Read More →