Independence and full fiscal autonomy

Keep Calm And Look Through Your Rose-Coloured SpecsTo me it seems obvious: an independent nation has full fiscal autonomy.

A devolved country within a nation does not.

In my view, and the main reason why I voted No in September 2014, the SNP plan for “independent” Scotland – to be a country without its own central bank – was not independence at all: the only way I think our situation could now be worse would be if Yes had got the majority and we were now facing a situation where both monetary and ultimately fiscal policy would be set by George Osborne from rUK to iScotland.

If you have rose-coloured spectacles you may suppose that Osborne would naturally make decisions that would benefit and profit iScotland.
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“Well, this is bad on so many levels.”

Alexis Tsipras - not wearing a tie

“One clue that the leader of Greece gives no f$$cks about his country defaulting: not wearing a tie as he addresses his government.” Rob Lowe, on Twitter, 29th June 2015.

Rob Lowe is an actor. Sam Seaborn is a character on the West Wing who played a lawyer who was also a Deputy Communications Director in President Bartlett’s White House.

Rob Lowe, 2012No one expects someone whose education began and ended in a US high school to understand or think or even care very much about the Greek and EU economy. But even so, Rob Lowe’s assertion that it’s all to do with Alexis Tsipras’s failure to wear the correct gentleman’s haberdashery must be in the running for Silliest Comment Made.

“We wear sweaters. It’s a Tommy Hilfiger ad.”

However, Owen Jones’s riposte was … not good.

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Abuse online

Men get attacked for their opinions and their actions.

Women get attacked for their opinions and their actions, and also get attacked for being women.

Leo Traynor was attacked by the son of a friend, viciously and horrifyingly threatened over a long time: when he met The Troll face to face, the 17-year-old boy – confronted with the human reality of what he had done – burst into tears and could only say

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m sorry. It was like a game thing.”

Internet TrollLindy West was and is repeatedly attacked by many men who are bitterly affronted that a woman should question whether rape jokes mocking rape victims are either funny or acceptable. One troll decided to set up a Twitter account in the name of Lindy’s father, who had recently died, to tweet his insults and threats: he used a photo of her father as his Twitter icon. Lindy didn’t block-and-report (both Twitter and Facebook are notorious for regarding verbal harassment as not a violation of their “community standards”): she wrote about how that attack made her feel on Jezebel. (Her troll emailed her the next day to let her know that it had only just occurred to him that she was a human being with feelings, that he was sorry, and that he was quitting.)

There is a living, breathing human being who is reading this shit. I am attacking someone who never harmed me in any way. And for no reason whatsoever.

One of the things Lindy West said:

One of the pillars of conventional wisdom about internet trolling is that internet trolling just happens. You hear this all the time, from even the most progressive allies: Oh, well, it’s the internet. There are trolls. Trolls troll the internet. Rape threats are like oxygen. Whatareyagonnadooooo. So, I’m just supposed to accept that psychological abuse is built into my job and I’m some thin-skinned rube if I complain about it? Easy for you to say, Señor Rando. Not only is that framework supremely unsatisfying for me personally, I’d go so far as to say that it’s a dangerous and patently false myth. Internet trolling does not “just happen.” It is not some mysterious, ambient inevitability that affects all internet users indiscriminately.

Internet trolling is a force with a political agenda.

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46 years after Stonewall

On the last Saturday night of June, 46 years ago, white New York police raided a queer bar in the Village, called the Stonewall inn, and the intended victims – black and Hispanic, trans and genderqueer – fought back.

That night and the name of the bar became a gay icon: not just the US, but around the world.

In 1969, in England and Wales, sex between two men in private if both were over 21 had been decriminalised. Police harassment had stepped up: the police now believed they had been given specific limits on where and who they could harass for being gay.

LGBT people would not be allowed to serve openly in the UK armed services until 1999: until 2003, it was completely legal for an employer to fire an employee for our sexual orientation. Last year the ban on same-sex marriage was lifted in Scotland: this year Ireland became the first country in the world to declare marriage equality by majority vote in a national referendum: Northern Ireland is the standout anti-gay land in the British Isles, but perhaps not for too much longer. (Although the Supreme Court decision overshadowed it, yesterday a Belfast high court judge granted judicial review to couples who wanted to be able to convert their civil partnership to a marriage.)

On the last Friday in June, yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that nowhere in the US can same-sex couples be banned from marriage.
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Swimming with the tide

Remember Leith Waterworld?

This was a unique facility at the foot of Leith Walk – a swimming pool with shallow areas and room to play. Edinburgh Leisure had nothing else like it. Leith Waterworld was closed in January 2012, and sold to a commercial property developer in May 2013. Nothing has been done with the site since: it’s just another greyzone area in Leith.

The decision to sell the site for a million pounds to a property developer was defended by the SNP councillor for Colinton / Fairmilehead, Richard Lewis, who is now the City culture and sport convenor, as “we had to be realistic” since a property developer will promise to develop the site as a soft-play area and generate 80 jobs [which did happen eventually…] whereas Splashback, the community campaign to re-open Leith Waterworld, was “a long punt”. (By December 2014, the main sign of that promised “substantial investment” in the area was a pile of dangerous rubbish left outside the Leith Waterworld building for over a week: the property developer, based in Glasgow, professed themselves entirely unaware of the rubbish heap.)

As I wrote in September 2012:

Leith Waterworld was a treasure: a pool designed for all children, for disabled adults, for family use. Closing it down means fewer children will be swimming regularly, learning to have confidence in the water, discovering they love to swim. It’s ironic that this should be Edinburgh’s Olympic & Paralympic memorial: closing a pool that fostered the love of swimming.

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Police accountability

Thirty years ago:

“At one point the police surrounded a coach and it stopped. A woman inside stood up and held her baby up – in a very melodramatic fashion, you wouldn’t normally hold a baby that way for fear of dropping it. But she did. She yelled at the police that there was a baby on board. “There was a pause of about five seconds, then from the back of the police ranks, whistling over our heads came a very large flint that exploded the windscreen over the baby.” Yet that was not the worst thing [the Earl of Cardigan] says he saw that day. “At some point in the crazy melee there was a heavily pregnant woman wandering around. Two policemen came up behind her with batons and clubbed her around the head and shoulders, and down she went.”

Wiltshire PoliceThese were travellers going to the Stonehenge Solstice festival in 1985, attacked by the Wiltshire Police. The police attacked the convoy using “police tactics used in the miners’ strike to prevent a breach of the peace” (such as mounted South Yorkshire Police attacking picketing miners in Orgreave, on 18th June 1984).

Ten years ago, in 2005, Tony Thompson, the Guardian’s crime correspondent, wrote with apparently sincere bafflement:

It remains a mystery why the police felt compelled to use such violence. With evidence that radio logs of conversations between officers on the day have been altered, the full story may never be known.

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Should UKIPlgbt march at London Pride?

The first Pride march in London was 1st July 1972, just three years after the Stonewall riots: the 2015 Pride will be celebrated on 27th June 2015.

Pride is not a demo and it’s not a party. Pride is a public celebration of being LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans.

Farage on ThatcherThe UKIPlgbt group had been intending to march in London Pride. (Contrary to their own claims, they were not “invited”: they applied, as many hundreds of groups do, and were originally passed through on the nod. In response to public protest against their inclusion, Pride London reconsidered and told the group they could not march.

“LGBT* in UKIP” have gamely tried to claim they have been invited to attend “many other” Pride events throughout the country, but this has been specifically denied by Kent Pride and queried by the UK Pride Network.

(No individual is banned from marching at Pride if they behave themselves: the only question is of groups with banners.)

Pride’s origins in the Stonewall riots are important here. Irene Monroe wrote three years ago:

When I look back at the first night of the Stonewall Inn riots, I could have never imagined its future importance. The first night played out no differently from previous riots involving black Americans and white policemen. And so, too, did its being underreported. But I was there.

On the first night of the Stonewall riots, African Americans and Latinos likely were the largest percentage of the protestors, because we heavily frequented the bar. For homeless black and Latino LGBTQ youth and young adults who slept in nearby Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn was their stable domicile. The Stonewall Inn being raided was nothing new. In the 1960s gay bars in the Village were routinely raided, but in this case, race may have been an additional factor, given the fact that so many of the patrons were black and Latino, and this was the ’60s.

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