Tag Archives: Diamond Jubilee

Our constitution, July 2012: Head of State

“Defining role and duties of Head of State as a ceremonial figurehead”

There are really only three questions to be asked about a Scottish Head of State, but they have very complicated answers.

The SNP have claimed they wish the Queen to remain as Head of State if the independence referendum goes Yes in autumn 2014. Certainly this is not a dealbreaker for me: I don’t know how I’ll vote, but whether or not Scotland becomes a republic is not a factor in that decision. Harking back to 1603, the SNP say they wish to dissolve the Union of Parliaments but not the Union of Crowns: a circumstance that applied to James VI and I, Charles I, Charles II, James II & VII, the joint and multi-numbered monarchs William III & II and Mary II, and Anne.

That the current monarch is both Elizabeth I of Scotland and Elizabeth II of England matters enough to some people that the Post Office carefully do not use the EIIR logo in Scotland because if they do, it gets vandalised. It’s not a non-issue.

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Filed under Elections, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

Fraser Nelson: Dollar a day

Fraser Nelson doesn’t know much about the UK benefits system or basic economics.

Fifteen hours ago Nelson tweeted:

Why sneer at Jubilee stewards who wanted experience needed to be security guards? My column in tomorrow’s Telegraph

Alas for his argument, the “sneering” at the 220+ “apprentices” and Work Programme clients drafted to be stewards at the Jubilee seems to have come not from John Prescott, nor indeed for anyone else concerned about these people, but from the woman who sent them there, Molly Prince:

“The staff travelling to the jubilee are completing their training and being assessed on the job for NVQ Level 2 in spectator safety after having completed all the knowledge requirements in the classroom and some previous work experience. It is essential that they are assessed in a live work environment in order to complete their chosen qualifications.

“The nature of festival and event work is such that we often travel sleeping on coaches through the night with an early morning pre-event start – it is the nature of the business … It’s hard work and not for the faint-hearted.”

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Filed under Economics, Poverty

Workfare and the Big Society

Nick Clegg in April:

“From today, if you are 18-24 and out of work, you can get down to a Job Centre like this because they will be able to offer you the opportunities to either earn or learn, to either take up work, which we will part subsidise, or the expanded apprentice prospects or the increasing number of work experience placements.”

Over a hundred people spent the night of Saturday 3rd June under London Bridge. Some of them were being paid “apprenticeship wages” of £2.80 an hour, learning valuable rough sleeping skills. Many were working for free, though they’d expected to be paid. Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, says that £1.5 million was allocated for security at the Jubilee, and wants to know, among other good questions:

When Close Protection UK were awarded the stewarding contract, was this on the basis that they’d use unpaid labour (and if so, were the organisers happy with this?) Or were the organisers led to believe that the stewards would be paid, and the contract price fixed accordingly?

American blogger Atrios says (via):

Aside from the obvious “slave labor” element of this, using people like this for security by a private security is a complete scam. It’s just collecting a bunch of money from the government to pretend to provide security. Security people need to be trained, have authority, and actually give a shit to serve any legitimate purpose. The only purpose here is “take tax dollars [sic] and run.”

Possibly we have a different standard of large crowds in Britain than in America, but I have been a volunteer steward, and I’ve been at events with volunteer stewards. I didn’t watch the river pageant: it was a lovely sunny afternoon and, while I’m no monarchist, I don’t get a kick out of watching an elderly lady get rained on.* But it appears the main problem at the event was hypothermia, not security trouble.

You can see how it could have worked if the plan had been from the start to use volunteer stewards for the pageant crowds, with a one and a half million budget. Continue reading


Filed under Corruption, Olympics, Poverty

Sixty years? My dad’s worked for longer than that

My dad graduated in 1948, and, even then a committed pacifist, went off to work in India for two years as a volunteer for the Friends Ambulance Service. He’s worked for sixty-four years: teacher, Peace News seller, anti-nuclear activist, campaigner for peace and justice, parent and grandparent. No one will put my dad on a ten pound note for his exceptional public service and unwavering dedication to duty. (And he would be highly embarrassed if anyone were to suggest it, though I like the idea that I could always bank on my dad to buy me a cup of tea and a scone.)

I liked Patrick Harvie’s motion for debate

The parliament congratulates Elizabeth Windsor on the occasion of her diamond jubilee; expresses its gratitude for her exceptional public service and unwavering dedication to duty over sixty years in a changing world; affirms the respect that is held for all such dedicated public sector workers; and looks forward with anticipation to a broad debate about the best means of choosing a head of state in an independent Scotland.

and I am sorry the Scottish Parliament instead wasted parliamentary time in in a kneejerk yes-ma’am congratulatory fest for one of the richest women in the world. Alan Cochrane’s spite about Patrick Harvie’s affirmation of respect says a great deal about the Torygraph, but nothing we didn’t already know.

As others have noted: in Scotland, we’re mostly just not that keen on Royalty. Continue reading


Filed under Personal, Poverty, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics