Scottish, British, European

Today Ahmed Abdullah Ahmed is being deported, if a campaign to let him stay does not succeed. I was tweeted this link by an independence supporter who argued (she didn’t have to argue with me it would be wrong to deport Ahmed, of course it would!) that Ahmed would not be deported from an independence Scotland. Well, I hope he wouldn’t be: he has been a refugee from Somalia for 20 years, he has lived in Britain for 7 years, he has a sister who has the right to remain in the UK – he should not have to go. (Action today!)

But I haven’t yet seen a definite policy committment from the supporters of an independent Scotland that would ensure refugees and asylum seekers who needed to stay in Scotland would be treated decently and helped to stay. For this to be more than “the sun will shine more often!” happy thoughts, independence needs a constitutional convention, and needs it long before autumn 2014.

Ed Miliband said:

“People can be Scottish and British, it’s OK. And if they feel primarily Scottish that’s fine too. But if they leave the UK they won’t be British any more: it stands to reason.”

There’s a general lesson there. Any time you find yourself ending a statement with “It stands to reason!” you are probably wrong. It often doesn’t.

I have a legal claim to be Canadian, because one of my parents was a Canadian citizen. I am Scottish, though I don’t have a Scottish passport. I am European, I’m entitled to a EU passport (though my current one is a year out of date). I am British – and despite Ed Miliband’s confusedly national thinking, voting Yes or No in the referendum won’t take that away from me. The Swiss are European, though not members of the EU: Northern Ireland is Irish and British simultaneously, though not part of the Republic nor geographically part of Great Britain. We’re complicated. Why not?

On Saturday 9th June, the Scottish Green Party formally announced they would not be part of the Yes Scotland campaign, due to disagreements over organisation. Patrick Harvie said:

“We can’t just be there to wave the flag for someone else’s campaign. We’re either involved in shaping it or we’re not. We feel frustrated by the lack of progress towards a genuinely inclusive campaign, and concerned that a non-inclusive campaign will be less likely to succeed.”

While @YesScotland might manage to pick itself up and get going (it does have £2M in the warchest, mostly from a Euromillions win and Edwin Morgan’s will)

Their launch of Hollywood stars in a cinema put off some people. The attitude that the masses are an audience came across in more than one report of the event. Their white male line-up was a tad offputting even to supporters:
(Lesley Riddoch)

Especially the contention it was a very male line-up. There’s no point getting into a numbers game. The biggest impact is created by the people given the chance to make the biggest relevant connection with the audience. Those big connections are made by live speakers, present in person who tackle the issue of independence and say something memorable. They were almost entirely white men.

Even the social media campaign from @YesScotland has been a mess: adding people’s Twitter profiles to their website without permission , not fixing the problem until after it got to the mainstream media, and the utter failure of @yesScotland to be an interactive Twitter account.

But I saw people stopping by the Yes Scotland stall at Leith Gala day on Saturday. (Not crowded compared to the other stalls, but they had a lot of signatures by the end of the afternoon, though certainly not any significant proportion of everyone there.)

I agree with this blog at Better Nation:

And the SNP? For my money I believe their activist base to be sincerely committed to policy above all. They have a range of opinions on the rest of politics, from left to right to none, but achieving independence is the Holy Grail, the defining purpose, the eschatological moment itself. If you asked them to choose between independence with the dissolution of the SNP on one hand, and the status quo – the union with a rampant SNP – on the other they’d choose independence every time.

Which means that grassroots support for independence among SNP activists will need to turn away from the SNP, and, if necessary, from the well-funded but uninterested YesScotland campaign.

Patrick Harvie said:

Salmond had floated some ideas about the Greens and SNP working together, but “none of them seemed to be concrete”, leaving the Greens feeling shut out of the process.

“We have been knocking on the door and the door has not been opened,” Harvie said. “If Yes Scotland is going to be a broad and inclusive campaign, as it needs to be, it needs to implement shared decision-making about the direction of the campaign.

“I hope that’s what happens, and I would be keen to take a recommendation [to October conference] that we participate on those terms. But if those are not the terms then we will have to find other ways of campaigning for a Yes vote.”

[Update, Holywood Daily, clarifying:

Green MSP for Lothian Johnstone said: “I think it’s overstating the case to say that we’ve walked away from the ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign. We have not.

“The party hasn’t reviewed or reversed any decision. The party hasn’t actually made a decision yet. National Party Council met a week past Saturday and we had hoped to go to the meeting with details of what our working relationship within the campaign might look like, but that’s still to be worked out so the decision was taken, a unanimous decision, that we would wait until national party conference, which takes place on the 6 October, and make a decision then so we could have a democratic discussion between as many of our members as possible.”

Today’s clarification nonetheless came against a backdrop of concerns within the party over inclusiveness of the campaign with Harvie yesterday insisting the Scottish Greens “don’t want to end up simply cheerleading for the SNP”, intimating members could opt to help shape another pro-independence referendum campaign.

Johnstone added: “It’s absolutely the case that the SNP have the mandate, they have the cash and they have the people. But we’d really like to set an inclusive tone now at the earliest stage possible in the campaign. We certainly want to see a broad, participative and inclusive approach.

Added at 13:51: I didn't read the clarification from the Green MSPs till lunchtime.]

Either Yes Scotland becomes inclusive or it stays a minor campaign. whether or not Scots vote for independence in 2014 depends on so many factors outside Scotland, too – the motivator for a lot of people to say “Yes” is the depressing drift to the right of the Labour party in response to the mad rush to the right of the Tories. It is within Ed Miliband’s power to make the UK a country worth voting to stay in, but he shows no inclination to do so. (It is within David Cameron’s power to save the Union by calling a general election in May 2013 and making sure he loses to Labour. But he’s less likely to do that than he is to leave one of his beloved daughters behind in the pub. Oh wait.)

Insofar as Alex Salmond matters to the Yes campaign, the Leveson inquiry (and Salmond’s close relationship with Murdoch) could have an impact, especially if Salmond convinces loyal supporters he’s done nothing wrong while leaving the rest of us with a quite different perception. The problem for the Yes campaign is not keeping loyal supporters loyal: it’s convincing the sceptics and the undecideds and a sizable fraction of those now inclined towards “no”. This they are not doing.

From Burdzeyeview:

Yes Scotland is aiming to be “the biggest community-based campaign in Scotland’s history, designed to build a groundswell of support…”. The Sunday Herald takes a closer look and suggests that the campaign is borrowing heavily from the approach used by Obama to deliver success. At its heart is the intention to build relationships – through local and national ambassadors, groups, streetwork, local communities and communities of interest and “neighbourhood by neighbourhood and community by community“.

Barack Obama won in the US using this strategy, though also because the opposition was so hopeless. He also managed to present himself as a progressive candidate for change despite being a rock-solid conservative. That should worry people more, if the SNP are looking to his strategy to convince people without actually producing a constitution that would deliver.

And meantime. Today. In the middle of all our complicated arguments about nationality. Why does the UK government want to deport Ahmed Abdullah Ahmed?

That’s what his friends and colleagues are asking. That is what his fellow members of the Integration Network, the football team, the World Spirit theatre group and the Dialogue 4 Destitution group would like to know. Govan and Glasgow is where Ahmed has found a home, and made a new life. He has been a refugee since the age of 7, when his father was killed and the family had to flee their homeland. In 2008, Ahmed’s mother was killed in the ongoing persecution of the minority Bajuni people of Somalia. He has no connection to Tanzania, and would find nothing but danger in Somalia. Ahmed has been welcomed in Glasgow. But the government has targets to meet, so another Glasgow resident is targetted.

If nothing is done he’ll be leaving on a Qatar Airlines plane at 9:30pm tonight. Contact details for Theresa May and Qatar Airlines at the link. We need a policy change not a nationality change to ensure this never happens again. If the nationality change will deliver the policy change, well and good: but it’s for the Yes campaigns to show certainly that it will.

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37 Comments

Filed under Justice, Poverty, Racism, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

37 responses to “Scottish, British, European

  1. Peter A Bell

    “But I haven’t yet seen a definite policy committment from the supporters of an independent Scotland that would ensure refugees and asylum seekers who needed to stay in Scotland would be treated decently and helped to stay.”

    The independence campaign is not a political party. It does not have policies.

  2. Peter A Bell

    “On Saturday 9th June, the Scottish Green Party formally announced they would not be part of the Yes Scotland campaign, due to disagreements over organisation.”

    Factually inaccurate. As far as it’s possible to tell from the confused messages being put out by SGP and/or Patrick Harvie, the party has somewhat belatedly decided to start discussing participation AFTER participating. They most certainly HAVE NOT said that they will not be part of the Yes Scotland campaign.

    • I thought Patrick Harvie was quite clear and straightforward. If “Yes Scotland” want to be inclusive, the campaign has to stop being run by the SNP only. The SNP now have until October, when the SGP vote, to decide if they want “Yes Scotland” to be inclusive enough to let go of exclusive control.

      • Peter A Bell

        So you unquestioningly swallow the version of affairs promulgated by the anti-independence media. Maybe not such a good idea.

        • You appear to be confusing Patrick Harvie (a trustworthy & respectworthy politician with years of experience) with “the anti-independence media”. Also, you are foolishly assuming that because I trust and respect Patrick Harvie, tht means I “unquestioningly swallow” everything he says.

          Your knee-jerk attacks on Patrick Harvie, insofar as they represent feeling inside the SNP, don’t betoken well for @YesScotland ever being able to achieve multi-party and grassroots support.

          • Peter A Bell

            I have made no attack on Patrick Harvie. You chose to cite the anti-independence media spin on the issue rather than find out what harvie and his party were actually saying. Check your facts. And don’t treat the Daily Record as an unimpeachably impartial source. Try this http://bit.ly/MupD2q

          • Peter A Bell

            Why would you suppose my personal comments might “represent feeling inside the SNP”? You really are letting your imagination run away with you.

          • And don’t treat the Daily Record as an unimpeachably impartial source.

            I’ve linked to the Mirror in this blogpost, but not the Record.

  3. Peter A Bell

    “Which means that grassroots support for independence among SNP activists will need to turn away from the SNP, and, if necessary, from the well-funded but uninterested YesScotland campaign.”

    Huh? This just makes no sense.

    • Huh? This just makes no sense.

      It’s a question of whether the goal is to get a majority of people in Scotland to vote Yes in 2014, or to consolidate SNP grassroots support. At the moment, the apparent goal seems to be the latter.

      • Peter A Bell

        What is it about there goals that makes them incompatible and/or mutually exclusive?

        • In order to achieve a majority vote Yes in 2014, the @YesScotland campaign would need to present itself as a multi-party campaign. If it’s a campaign by, for, and about the SNP, it’s obviously not doing that.

          • Peter A Bell

            Again you unquestioningly accept the anti-independence media’s representation of the nature of the Yes Scotland campaign. Why would anybody do that?

          • Again you unquestioningly accept the anti-independence media’s representation of the nature of the Yes Scotland campaign.

            You’re making two assumptions here.

            One: that the Yes Scotland campaign has so far failed to make itself visible to the general public that the only source of information I could have about what it is doing is the “anti-independence media”. That’s an awfully negative view in itself. Much more negative assumption than anything I’ve said.

            Two: You seem to assume that a non-supporter would not have been following the activities of the Yes Scotland campaign, and would therefore not be directly aware of what it was doing – and not doing!

            But I have been following, on twitter, pro-indy and anti-indy and undecided blogs, and so have some idea of activities on social media. I read report from supporters and non-supporters on the launch. Your reaction to criticism of the @YesScotland campaign does seem to be typically SNP-ish – and doesn’t bode well for the future of the campaign.

  4. Peter A Bell

    “Even the social media campaign from @YesScotland has been a mess: adding people’s Twitter profiles to their website without permission…”

    Complete nonsense. Inclusion requires at least one positive opt-in and there was always a very clear option to specifically opt out. This is a story of people clicking without thinking and then trying to blame the website for their own mistakes.

    • Complete nonsense

      Heh. The @YesScotland campaign admitted themselves they’d goofed over that and had to backtrack.

      • Peter A Bell

        The only issue was that the rather innocuous default wording of the site template had been left in place. Users still had to authorise social media apps = positive opt-in. And there was always an option to disallow display of details. Fuss about absolutely nothing.

        • Users still had to authorise social media apps = positive opt-in.

          That was the spin put on it. Do you use Twitter yourself ? Are you speaking out of uninformed ignorance? I can’t tell. [Edit: Yes, as @BerthanPete. Odd that you don't know there's no "opt-in" or "opt-out" when one twitter account follows another, then.]

          Most campaigning Twitter accounts are happy to have people follow them on Twitter who are not supporters. @YesScotland’s silly move of harvesting Twitter profilles from followers who had done nothing but follow the Twitter account – who had never “opted in” to appear on the website! – really backfired. Even indy supporters – those more au fait with social media than whoever was managing the Yes Scotland campaign – saw that this was improper behaviour.

          The change has now been made. The @YesScotland campaign no longer harvests Twitter profiles without consent. But going the “we have always been at war wih Eastasia” line is just foolish: they did, it was a mistake, they now no longer do.

  5. Peter A Bell

    “Insofar as Alex Salmond matters to the Yes campaign, the Leveson inquiry (and Salmond’s close relationship with Murdoch) could have an impact…”

    Why would it? the referendum is not about Salmond. Or Leveson. Or Rupert Murdoch. Although British nationalists seem determined to muddy the waters with this kind of nonsense.

    • Salmond’s association with Murdoch will do him political damage. It’s a question of how far Salmond will remain associated with the @YesScotland campaign.

      • Peter A Bell

        What “association”? And whatever the “association” might be, why would it necessarily do Salmond and “political damage”? Even more tenuous is the claim that the independence campaign might be harmed. You are simply parroting the propaganda of the unionist press.

        • What “association”? And whatever the “association” might be, why would it necessarily do Salmond and “political damage”?

          A strong argument against voting Yes is that it would damage our valuable institutuions, like the BBC in Scotland. Murdoch isn’t being friendly with Salmond out of pure goodwill, he’s not supporting Scotish independence now for nothing. He wants something. Will he get it?

          • Peter A Bell

            A strong argument is one that is supported by evidence or rational analysis. In fact, there is absolutely no reason to suppose that independence would “damage” anything – unless you embrace the unionist perspective which holds that Scotland is less worthy and its people less capable than other nations and peoples. Because this is the assumption from which all such arguments proceed. It is an assumption I totally reject. You seem less sure.

            Once again I have to advise you to check your facts. Murdoch is not “supporting Scottish independence”. At best, he has expressed ambivalence on the matter. He has been supportive of Alex Salmond as FM. Which, if only you would think about it, is a very different thing. Many committed unionists freely allow that Salmond is the best man for the job.

            Nobody, least of all Alex Salmond I’m sure, imagines Murdoch to be acting out of “pure goodwill”. The very suggestion is ludicrous. But Salmond is no naif. Why assume that he must inevitable succumb to Murdoch’s wiles? From what I’ve seen of Salmond I’d say it’s just as likely he’s the one doing the manipulating. That’s grown-up politics in the real world. What Salmond’s opponents – particularly the British Labour & Unionist Party – cannot abide is the fact that Salmond is a REAL political leader of a REAL Scottish Government. That was never meant to happen. And it only serves to highlight “Scottish” Labour’s failings over all too many decades.

  6. Tony

    Thank you Peter, so many misinformed comments in the article. I do wish writers would do the most elementary of fact checking before putting “pen to paper” a quick check on appropriate web sites takes no time at all.

    • Quite. Unfortunately Peter doesn’t seem to have bothered to check.

      Or indeed grasped the point that the objective in any independence campaign isn’t to berate people who don’t share your views…

      • Peter A Bell

        Playing the victim card? Not very mature.

        • Playing the victim card? Not very mature.

          Projecting, Peter? Your comments here always tend to be angry, misinformed, and victimised. You don’t appear to realise that as far as the campaign for Scottish independence is concerned, I am not the enemy. I’m undecided. I’m open to be convinced, by either Yes or No. I’m willing to explain to either side how their attempts to convince me aren’t working, and why. To treat these explanations as an attack on the Scottish independence campaign would be a thoroughgoing mistake.

          • Peter A Bell

            My comments are just words. You add the emotion yourself from your own imagination. I call this “creative reading”. It’s a bad habit and as such does not get better with practice.

            For guidance, when you post a blog you are inviting comments – not all of which will necessarily compliment you on your brilliance and some of which might actually dare to dispute your assertions. Best you should get used to this and not burst into tears every time someone challenges what you have written – whether on matters of fact, such as your comments about the SGP/Yes Scotland, or on matters of analysis and interpretation – which doesn’t seem to be your strong suit.

            As to the latter, your comments regarding Salmond/Murdoch are a case in point. In fact, you offer no analysis at all. You simply echo the line taken by the ant-independence media. That line seeks to portray an extraordinarily close relationship between Salmond and Murdoch. Do you question this representation? No! You take it as established fact. It is not!

            How might we assess what constitutes an extraordinarily close relationship in this context. Only by comparison with other politicians of similar status. And such comparison indicates that Salmond was anything but extraordinarily close to Murdoch.

            The media and anti-independence parties also seek to imply that there is something improper about Salmond’s relationship and/or dealings with Murdoch and his companies. Do you question the evidence for this? No! If you did, you would find there is absolutely none. So what basis is there for your assumption that Salmond must suffer political damage? Also, none!

            By all means subject the SNP to scrutiny. Likewise the independence campaign. But try to remember that the anti-SNP, and anti-independence propaganda also needs to be challenged.

  7. My comments are just words. You add the emotion yourself from your own imagination.

    Oh dear. I think that may be the problem. If you haven’t grasped yet that words convey feelings to people, then I guess it’s no wonder you’re not very successful at communicating in a neutral, unemotional style. You have to be in conscious control of what you’re trying to communicate. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then you won’t do it successfuly.

    For guidance, when you post a blog you are inviting comments

    Yes, and I welcome that! And when you comment on my blog, your comments invite replies, not all of which will necessarily compliment you on your brilliance and some of which might actually dare to dispute your assertions! I get the impression that you’re not very used to that.

    As to the latter, your comments regarding Salmond/Murdoch are a case in point. In fact, you offer no analysis at all.

    Well, not in this post, no. I linked to a blog with an excellent analysis about Murdoch that I hoped people would go read, and I expect to be writing at more length about Salmond and Murdoch,as I have done before, on Wednesday. No one blogpost can contain everything.

    • Peter A Bell

      Words can convey feelings. But the fact that you so foolishly imagine mine to be infused with anger demonstrates very clearly that the reader can also add their own interpretation informed by their own prejudice. I am not angry. But I don’t doubt that you have very thoroughly convinced yourself otherwise.

      I will try to get around to reading some of your stuff on Salmond and Murdoch. Although what I’ve seen here doesn’t suggest I’ll find any great insight.

      • I am not angry.

        I take your word for it. But I gather you’ve had this problem with other readers besides myself. It is folly for a writer to assume that miscommunication is obviously all the readers’ fault..

        I will try to get around to reading some of your stuff on Salmond and Murdoch

        You already have. On that occasion, you decided unilaterally that although I had written far more about Scottish independence than Salmond’s relationship wih Murdoch, the few blogposts I had written about Murdoch / Salmond were “evidence” that I was getting obsessive about Murdoch.

  8. I have made no attack on Patrick Harvie.

    You claimed “As far as it’s possible to tell from the confused messages being put out by SGP and/or Patrick Harvie, the party has somewhat belatedly decided to start discussing participation AFTER participating.”

    If you find Patrick Harvie’s and Alison Johnstone’s commments “confused” perhaps you should consider whether the confusion lies with you understanding? They seem to be sending a perfectly clear message.
    You chose to cite the anti-independence media spin on the issue

    Again, you’re confused. I chose to quote Patrick Harvie. That you define this as “anti-independence media spin” is your problem. (I had already discovered the update/clarification in Holywood Daily over lunch, but thanks for your link.

    Why would you suppose my personal comments might “represent feeling inside the SNP”?

    Why would I assume you’re a special little snowflake whose personal comments are unique and unusual? You’re a committed SNP supporter: I doubt your views are wildly diferent from other commiitted SNP supporters. Though
    obviously there’s room for personall variation.

    In fact, there is absolutely no reason to suppose that independence would “damage” anything

    Again, I think you should take this argument over to A New Claim of Right for Scotland. Unsupported assertions that of course everything will be OK after independence don’t sit well with me.

  9. ““But I haven’t yet seen a definite policy committment from the supporters of an independent Scotland that would ensure refugees and asylum seekers who needed to stay in Scotland would be treated decently and helped to stay.”

    Nope, that’s because when we have our own country its for us to make our policies. At the moment New Scots: women, children, toddlers, babies can be dragged screaming from their beds, shoved into vans and driven hundred of miles away from their communities, families and supporters by the UK Borders Agency with so much as a by your leave from the Scottish Government.

    • At the moment New Scots: women, children, toddlers, babies can be dragged screaming from their beds, shoved into vans and driven hundred of miles away from their communities, families and supporters by the UK Borders Agency with so much as a by your leave from the Scottish Government.

      And your reason for believing that this won’t happen in an independence Scotland either is … what?

      Nope, that’s because when we have our own country its for us to make our policies.

      There are plenty of people of goodwill across the UK who find this appalling. But they don’t get listened to.

      Where are you getting your surety from – when the Scotland Act may not apply, we won’t have human rights/equality built into the Scottish Parliament’s legislative capacity? This is an important question, and one worth answering.

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