Tag Archives: Scottish Greens

Undecided Leith

Undecided About ReferendumAt the beginning of October someone tweeted me a link to Yes Edinburgh North & Leith‘s first public meeting, on 3rd October in the Halls on Henderson Street.

Unlike most Yes events, this one was billed explicitly, both in the header and in the text, as for undecided voters – so, unlike with most events organised by Yes Scotland, I felt free to go along. When I got there, about five minutes before the start, I found some Yes activists who’d come anyway were leaving, and people identifying themselves as undecided were being let in on a one-for-one basis (the hall was packed). I got a seat at the front that had been vacated by a Yes voter and was sitting next to two Yes voters who weren’t budging and who didn’t know Leith votes Labour.
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Dunfermline, the last byelection

DunfermlineYou may think it’s a bit premature to dub Dunfermline “the last byelection” when there’s 11 months to go to the independence referendum and 73 MSPs on the wall. (Yes, there are 129 MSPs, but when a Regional MSP falls off the wall, he, she, or it is replaced by the next-senior name on the party list.)

Every time there is a Scottish byelection between now and next September, there will be the same drama. Only more so. And every time, the byelection will be dubbed “the last“, and deep significance found in the results.

The results were:
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BBC Question Time: why you should complain

Tonight at 10:35 the BBC will broadcast a very special edition of Question Time, from Edinburgh’s Cornmarket.

It’s special on two counts, one overshadowed by the other. Firstly, because the audience will all be 16 and 17 years old – the age range who will be able to vote for the first time on 18th September 2014. (Properly speaking it should have been an audience of kids with birthdays between September 1998 and September 1996, since anyone 17 today would have been able to vote in September 2014 anyway.) But, this means an audience of interested politically aware youngsters will be able to put questions to politicians directly concerned with the independence debate.

Except no.
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Margaret Thatcher, Kermit Gosnell, & #DingDong

One of these things is not like the others? After all, Thatcher’s sole political merit was that she was pro-choice. Let me explain.

Ding Dong

Ding Dong the Wicked Old Witch is a jolly song. As Angry Women of Liverpool note in their feminist analysis of how to discuss Thatcher’s death “there are so few songs you can sing joyfully about the death of somebody thoroughly deserving”:

Tough one. The history of witch persecution is fraught with the very foundations of modern capitalist and patriarchal oppression, as anybody who’s read Silvia Federici knows. But there are so few songs you can sing joyfully about the death of somebody thoroughly deserving.
You want a proper argument in defence? Give me a minute. Continue reading

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Charities and politics

A charity is allowed to engage in politics. A charity is not allowed to do party-political campaigning.

The distinction is made clearest whenever there’s an election. If a charity wants to comment on any one party’s manifesto, they have to comment on them all. They may possibly just get away with only commenting on the five major parties – the ones with seats in Parliament – but they cannot pick and choose.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is a registered charity. Their mission is “To support people to take voluntary action to help themselves and others, and to bring about social change.” Continue reading

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Making the LibDem Mistake

20 Scottish Labour, 18 Scottish National Party, 11 Conservative, 6 Scottish Green, and 3 Liberal Democrats. Now before the election all of the parties were talking about the necessity for “interparty cooperation”, but this is… well.

Dan Phillips at BetterNation:

So now comes the hard part. If you follow conventional wisdom, Labour gets to govern and SNP form the opposition, giving the Tories the mathematical possibility of getting in bed with the Reds while the Greens and Lib Dems are left in the cold.

For me that would be a crazy conclusion. Continue reading

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A more equal council for Edinburgh?

Brian Monteith wrote just before five o’clock today:

we may at last be seeing the beginning of a much needed realignment of Scottish politics.

But in one huge respect, Scottish politics is still aligned exactly the way it was before the elections.

From 2008-2012, Edinburgh Council had 15 women councillors out of 58. (Elizabeth Maginnis, elected to Forth Ward for Labour in 2007, died in 2008, and the seat was held for Labour by a man.) From 2012-2017, unless by-elections change this, there will be 15 women out of 58.
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Hyperlocal hustings – Southside

I’ve never organised a hustings before. But I may well do so again.

This one was almost impromptu. As I have mentioned, I’m backing Gordon Murdie – and he’s not standing in my ward. So instead of voting for him, I’m managing his blog: Gordon Murdie.

Southside/Newington hadn’t had a hustings at all: Steve Burgess, Gordon MacKenzie, and Cameron Rose, three out of the four incumbents, had been invited to speak at other non-local hustings. (And Rose had also subbed in for the Tory candidate for Leith Walk in the Spurtle hustings.)

This is by no means a formal, full, neutral report – I don’t take shorthand, there were two or three hyperlocal questions where neither question nor answer was fully comprehensible to someone from outside the area, and in all honesty, I took more detailed notes where the candidates’ answers interested me and rested my hand when the speaker wasn’t holding my interest. Politically, tribally, I’m pro-Labour and Scottish Green, anti-Tory, and (at least prior to the UK coalition) was prepared to consider voting LibDem and equally prepared to consider SNP, certainly in a council election. But in general I found at this hustings that my interest was held by the speaker rather than the party.

Place: The proprietor of the Braidburn Inn donated the use of his function suite and a few plates of sandwiches, very welcome since the hustings began at six. (I was last there for a Christmas Day lunch with family in the 1990s, but it’s the local pub/guest house for our chair and for Gordon Murdie. We could probably have fitted five dozen people into the room and it was small enough that microphones were not needed.)

Chair: Owen Dudley Edwards. He is a marvellous speaker and well-experienced in keeping a meeting pleasantly in order and keeping candidates to time. (One member of the audience said to me afterwards “He just radiates calm…”) Though I had to borrow an heirloom wristwatch off Gordon Murdie to let OWD keep time – I use my mobile phone for occasions like this, and Owen Dudley Edwards does not do digital technology.

Who Came And Who Didn’t: The hustings was organised on a week’s notice, on Tuesday 1st May, in order to give as much notice as possible while not using up a candidate’s time on the last night before election day. Proper hustings etiquette would have been to contact all candidates before fixing the date, but sheer pressure of time made that really impossible.

All of the election leaflets available for this ward are listed at Liberal Sellout.
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Male, Pale, and Stale

James Brinning, a 19-year-old student at Cardiff University, had only one obvious qualification for being a Labour candidate in the council elections: he’s male.

That apparently was good enough for the selection committee, who do not appear to have bothered to even look at his Facebook profile.

This came to my attention when a friend apostrophised this young man’s attitudes to women, ethnic minorities, and other “banter” as “Labour candidate suspended by being a 19 year old on Facebook”.

Young white men “banter”. That is, they engage in amusing-to-them abuse of others who are funny because they are not white, young, or men. This behaviour is widely regarded as perfectly normal and not deserving of any negative consequence. I’d agree that what a teenager said and did shouldn’t necessarily be held against them in their adult years… but this teenager was actually standing for election.

Meantime in the Scottish council elections:

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Tories admitted on Thursday that action was needed after two Edinburgh university academics disclosed – not for the first time – that fewer than one candidate in four on 3 May will be a woman.

It’s an issue raised forcibly too for Holyrood, and Scottish Labour – a party often seen as packing its benches with the male, pale and stale – has told the Guardian it has a target to make sure a full 50% of all its council candidates are female within the decade.

Despite Scotland’s first PR elections in 2007, using the single transferable vote, less than 22% of Scotland’s 1223 councillors in the last administrations were woman. That will not improve next month: the number of women councillors has flatlined at 22% ever since Scotland’s 32 unitary authorities came into being nearly 20 years ago, in 1995.

Of Scotland’s 32 local councils, only three are led by women: one Labour – Rhondda Geekie in East Dunbartonshire, two by Lib Dems, Jenny Dawe in Edinburgh and Anne Robertson in Aberdeenshire.

As Doctor Meryl Kenny (UNSW) and Dr. Fiona Mackay (Edinburgh) point out:

Change can happen when there’s a shake up of the system. Reformers had high hopes that the introduction of a PR-STV electoral system in local government in the run-up to the 2007 elections would rejuvenate local politics and provide new opportunities for women to be selected and elected. However, progress did not materialize, instead depressingly, it was more of the same. In fact, there was a marked drop in the number of women candidates selected and a small decrease in the number of women councillors elected.

As I asked on 13th April:

Why shouldn’t all five of the main Scottish parties have policies against excluding women from the candidates lists? It’s too easy for parties not to – to tell themselves they select on merit, and it’s just that women are less interested in politics than men.

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An equal council for Edinburgh

On Thursday 3rd May, Edinburgh goes to the polls to elect a new council for the first time since 2007.

In 2007 we had the guddle of the ballots, and in the five years since the last set of councillors took office, we’ve had an economic crash, LibDems propping up a Tory government, the tenement statutory repairs scam come to light, a serious effort by the Tory, LibDem, and SNP groups on Edinburgh council to privatise our city parks and services (foiled when the SNP group switched sides to vote with Labour and the Greens), and of course… the trams.

Normally you can look at the previous elections and have a fair idea how things are going to go this time. But no one should take the 2007 election results as a guide. All we can be really sure of is that this time as last time, most of the councillors on 4th May will be men.
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