Category Archives: Politics

A better nation…?

Scotland's FutureWhen I published Leaning Towards No, I expected reaction from Yes voters who’d been hoping I would come down on their side of the fence.

I wasn’t expecting the reaction to be so supportive of the SNP. From the reactions, [hardly anyone]* who plans to vote Yes intends to challenge the SNP’s plans to install devomax “currency union” in place of our present devolved system, and while some actively support the plan, many simply don’t see changing the SNP’s policy as possible.

*Not quite “no one”, as I initially wrote.

It therefore seems likely that – much to my annoyance and disappointment – I really don’t have any choice but to vote No. I don’t support devomax. I never did. I won’t vote Yes to have devomax replace status-quo devolution, and that’s what the Scottish Government’s White Paper says is going to happen.

Let me go through the various objections I’ve received to this, beginning with the silliest. (None of these are direct quotes from anyone, so if you recognise yourself in them, it’s purely coincidental.)
Continue reading

28 Comments

Filed under Currency, Indyref White Paper, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Politics

Tolerance and politics

There were two big arguments going on in non-party-political politics the past two years: lifting the ban on same-sex marriage (England and Wales, 29th March: Scotland, sometime this autumn after the Commonwealth Games and this other thing: Northern Ireland as soon as they lose the court case).

Scotland: the 17th Country in the world to lift the ban on same-sex marriageMaking it legal for same-sex couples to marry, matters hugely to people in same-sex relationships, obviously, but to everyone else aside from a small number of seriously homophobic fanatics, it’s no big deal: two-thirds of the population of Scotland agreed that gay marriage should be made legal in a 2012 poll.

This other thing that is happening in Scottish politics: the referendum. In the US, where they have referendums whenever they can get enough voters to sign off on one, they went through a phase of holding referenda in which voters were invited to agree that “marriage is between a man and a woman”, which was then held to mean that marriage between a man and a man, or a man and a woman, was unlawful. In the UK we referend much more rarely, and only – so cynics say – when the government thinks they can get the public to vote the way they want.
Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Currency, LGBT Equality, Scottish Politics

Leaning towards No

Scotland's FutureI am undecided between devolution and independence.

But I am leaning towards a No vote on 18th September, because the SNP are pushing currency union. And currency union is not independence. Currency union means that key decisions about the Scottish economy will be made by the Bank of England in the City of London.

The SNP are fond of asking, how many countries which have become independent have ever wanted to go back? But if they asked instead “How many countries which have given up control of their economy to a bank in another country have regretted this?” they’d get a much different answer. And that’s what the SNP are offering.
Continue reading

86 Comments

Filed under Indyref White Paper, Oil, Scottish Politics

Nigel Evans: accused

Nigel EvansNigel Evans is a conservative and a Conservative.

He’s been a Conservative politician since 1985, when he was elected a councillor for West Glamorgan (the former administrative county in Wales that is now Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot). In 1992, he won Ribble Valley in Lancashire for the Conservative Party, and held it for them until last year when he lost the Tory Whip and became an independent. He held it through the 1997, 2001, 2005, and 2010 general elections.

From June 2001 to November 2003, Evans was Shadow Secretary of State for Wales: he was appointed a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party from November 2004 to December 2005: from June 2010 to 10th September 2013, he was First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means – that is, the second deputy Speaker of the House.

He is also, as I find from his Wikipedia page, a disbeliever in man-made climate change and was a fan of The Great Global Warming Swindle.

Nigel Evans is on trial for rape, indecent assault twice, and six counts of sexual assault, and it is further alleged by the prosecution that the following named, senior Conservatives knew of his record of sexual assaults at least since 2003. Evans denies all charges.
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Elections, Justice, Politics

UKIP: gamechanger?

Last night the political reporter for the Nottingham Post tweeted:

The Bus Pass Elvis party is in the great British tradition of Screaming Lord Sutch. And they polled more votes than the LibDems.
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Elections, Racism

Just think: this could be your next MEP

David Coburn, who is UKIP’s London Regional Chair, is the leading UKIP candidate for Scotland in the European elections in May.

This being Scotland, UKIP are polling better than the LibDems, who are still sliding into their slow electoral wipeout for giving Scotland a Tory government at Westminster again. (It’s not that we’re vengeful. It’s quite possible that LibDems will recover in Scotland. After the last of the current batch of politicians has lost their seats, MP, MSP, and MEP, and Nick Clegg is kicked out and the LibDems after 2015 start pulling themselves back together again and trying to figure out what they’re for, well… sometime after that, Scotland might start voting them again. It’s not that we’re vengeful. It’s just that we think cheating politicians who put Tory governments into office should suffer humiliating electoral defeats until morale improves.)
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Elections, European politics, Scottish Politics

Does the SNP really want independence?

I know that sounds like a silly question.

Back a couple of years ago, one of the ideas being proposed about the referendum was that it should include a third option – devo-max or devo-plus. In July 2012 I noted the multiple reasons why – though undecided on the Yes/No question – I was against these options, and moved on: there seemed no reason to dwell on what was not going to be voted on.

Tom Gordon outlined the difference between the two, and who was supporting them, in the Herald:

Devo Max Devo Plus

Devo-plus was supported by LibDem Tavish Scott, Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson and Labour’s Duncan McNeil plus Reform Scotland, a think-tank based in Edinburgh that is, it says, independent of its parent think-tank Reform based in London:

devo plus could be a credible alternative to independence, if that option was rejected in the referendum.

Devo-max was floated as “full fiscal autonomy” and was supported primarily by the SNP:

Devo Max is intended to make Scotland more accountable for its spending. At present, Holyrood is responsible for 60% of all public spending in Scotland but has a say in setting and raising just 6% of it, through business rates and council tax.

Under Devo Max, Edinburgh would be responsible for raising, collecting, and administering the vast majority of taxes and benefits, and would receive a geographic share of North Sea oil revenue. EU rules mean VAT would stay the same across the UK, and financial regulation, employment, and competition law would also remain reserved.”

Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Currency, Scottish Politics

Cameron in Aberdeen

David Cameron is bringing his Cabinet north to Aberdeen today “to highlight the importance to Scotland’s oil industry of staying in the UK.”

Presumably you have to be Scottish to understand why this is such a ludicrously bad idea. Or at least, not an English Conservative who was 25 and working for the Conservative Research Department in London in 1992.

In the 1992 general election, the Conservative Party won 5 seats in Scotland.

It’s been 22 years and that victory remains the highlight of their electoral achievements in the past quarter-century. (Yes, they do have 14 MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, but most of them are “list” MSPs – they represent a region, not a constituency.)

The most effective thing David Cameron could do to win a No vote for independence in Scotland is to stay in England and repeat some variation on “Of course the Scots have a right to hold a referendum on independence: naturally I want Scotland to remain part of the UK but we will respect the democratic will of the Scottish people whatever happens.”

I actually respected Cameron’s decision not to debate Alex Salmond; I assumed his advisors had let him know it would have done neither Cameron or the Better Together campaign any good in Scotland, however well the English Tory Prime Minister comes across in his own electoral territory.

The notion that a Conservative Prime Minister visiting Aberdeen to tell the Scottish people that we’d never be able to cope with our own oil industry if we were independent so we’d much better stay part of the UK…
Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Oil, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

Safe sex and Julian Assange

They fell asleep and she woke up by his penetrating her. She immediately asked if he was wearing anything. He answered: “You.” She said: “You better not have HIV.” He said: “Of course not.” 12th July 2011

The longer Julian Assange delays his return to Sweden to be questioned by the police, charged with rape and sexual assault, and for the Swedish justice system to decide what to do with him, the less likely it is that he will ever be tried at all. It is already three and a half years since two women went to the police to discover if they could force Julian Assange to have an HIV test and, in the process of describing what had happened, gave evidence that Assange had attempted sexual assault on one woman and raped the other woman.

Since 19th June 2012, Assange has lived in a room in Knightsbridge, a guest of the embassy of Ecuador, his request for asylum accepted by the President of a nation who has little concern for free speech. Assange has, in effect, sent himself to jail without trial under much more unpleasant conditions than he would have been subject to in Sweden: where he would have been unlikely – even if found guilty – to have been sentenced to more than three years. If he intends to imprison himself in Knightsbridge until the statute of limitations expires in Sweden, he will stay there til August 2020.
Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Healthcare, Justice, Women

A “Hutton style” inquiry?

rebekah brooks and tony blairOn Monday 11th July 2011, the day after the News of the World published its final issue, Tony Blair spoke to Rebekah Brooks in what Brooks says was an hour-long phone call, and Brooks summarised the phonecall in an email to James Murdoch:

“1. Form an independent unit that has an outside junior counsel, Ken Macdonald, a great and good type, a serious forensic criminal barrister, internal counsel, proper fact checkers etc in it. Get them to investigate me and others and publish a Hutton style report,”

“2. Publish part one of the report at same time as the police closes its inquiry and clear you and accept short comings and new solutions and process and part two when any trials are over.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corruption, War