This is from an interview on the BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/question_time/5388078.stm
Question from Stephen, London: As Leader of the Commons, how can having two Scottish MPs as the front runners for PM be democratic? Powers for most agencies including health, education etc have been devolved in Scotland, yet Mr Reid or Mr Brown would set the agenda for solely English matters when they represent Scottish constituencies.
Jack Straw: English MPs control all the money which Scotland receives - is that 'fair'?
England constitutes 85% of the UK's population and 87% of its wealth. It was English MPs who agreed to devolve some powers to Scotland in a Westminster Act of Parliament; but year by year controls over public spending levels for all of the UK continue to be exercised by Westminster. And power devolved is power retained, not ceded.
While the current Tory cry of "English votes on English laws" has a simplistic appeal, it is in reality unworkable, undesirable and dangerous. It would create a two-tier system of "ins and outs" that would be so complex and confusing as to be unworkable. How is it possible, for example, to distinguish between English "bits" of legislation and UK "bits"?
It isn't. The territorial extent of the clause in a bill - or part of a clause - cannot be conclusive, as so many "England only" decisions have plain implications for Scotland as well.
Hence, Vernon Bogdanor, perhaps the foremost constitutional expert in Britain, has claimed that the Tory proposals would "destroy the principle of collective responsibility, according to which government must stand or fall as a whole, commanding a majority on all the issues that come before Parliament, not just a selection.
It is difficult to see how Britain could be effectively governed in such circumstances." Moreover, it is difficult to see how the UK could remain united. The outcome of a break-up of the union would be calamitous. The United Kingdom - Great Britain and Northern Ireland - is a union which works to the equal benefit of all four nations of the union. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Historically, England called the shots to achieve a union because the union was seen as a way, among others things, of amplifying England's power worldwide. And the reverse would certainly be true.
A broken-up United Kingdom would not be in the interests of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but especially not England.
Our [England's] voting power in the European Union would diminish. We'd slip down in the world league GDP tables. Our case for staying in the G8 would diminish and there could easily be an assault on our permanent seat in the UN. [security council]
[Straws remarks reveal the truth. Firstly the British union then and now is a device for amplifying English power and without that union England's position will be substantially undermined internationally. Secondly Scotland and Wales voices in the UN and EU must remain silent to allow England to have a larger international role than it actually deserves. JOE]
Monday, October 30, 2006
This is from an interview on the BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/question_time/5388078.stm
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
First Minister Jack McConnell tonight claimed Scotland had "the best of both worlds" under the present devolved system. He called on politicians to make "the fullest possible use" of Holyrood's existing powers before demanding more. And he declared the improvement of education to be the most important task facing politicians.
Mr McConnell set out his argument for the constitutional status quo in a lecture in Haddington, East Lothian. The lecture was in honour of Labour MP and devolution campaigner John P. Mackintosh, who died in 1978, just before Labour denied Scotland devolution despite a majority vote in favour.
The speech was the usual rubbishing of the SNP's case for independence, coupled with a dubious warning of the perils of letting Scotland sink into a collective "inertia" by continuously debating more powers for Holyrood.
Mr McConnell's lecture came as the SNP claimed that renewed calls for greater fiscal autonomy showed a positive political tide turning towards independence. Former Presiding Officer Lord Steel last night called for greater power for Holyrood to raise the cash it spends.
A think-tank set up by the Tories called last week for Holyrood to get more tax-raising powers and two leading economists today re-stated their case for greater fiscal freedom. But in a TV interview today, Mr McConnell insisted: "My job as First Minister and leader of the Labour Party in Scotland is to say what's right, and not necessarily is the current fad."
In his lecture tonight he argued that the most important task for the third Scottish Parliament was to take the necessary steps to improve Scottish education. "Scotland has the best of both worlds - a democratic home rule Parliament and a union dividend from the UK," he said.
"Government is about priorities. And my first priority must be to act in the interests of Scotland."
"That interest is best served now and in the future by a united national effort to create the best education system in the world."
Mr McConnell came under immediate attack. SNP leader Alex Salmond said his party trusted Scots and a referendum would offer the chance to choose "a new and better relationship with Britain."
Mr Salmond went on: "Labour, on the other hand, run scared of such a debate. They are the wee fearties of Scottish politics. Their unionism is backward looking and inward looking.
"Labour want Scots to believe the incredible proposition that we are the only country in the world that isn't capable of flourishing with independence."
The First Minister has also been arguing the bizarre notion that Scotland receives "a union dividend" in the form of higher public spending and in areas like family connections, business, and the universities and a shared aim of abolishing child poverty by 2020.
"We can put the governance of Scotland in the hands of those who, in their desperation to go it alone, will happily countenance years, even decades, of constitutional upheaval - with all the divisiveness, rancour and strife such upheaval is bound to bring," he said.
"My appeal to Scots everywhere, is to reject the old arguments from those who want a separate Scotland, regardless of the consequences; but also to end talk of subsidies and dependence."
Mr McConnell seemed to happily ignore the fact that by arguing that a 'union dividend' meant higher public spending he was in fact making the same argument that Scotland was subsidised himself! Are family connections anything to do with the British union? Perhaps child poverty could be changed quicker with the normal powers of independence!
Posted by Joe Middleton at 12:10 PM
Thursday, October 19, 2006
You couldn't make this up. If ever anyone required absolute proof that David Blunkett was unfit for his job, here it is:
Blunkett 'gave order to gun down rioters'
FORMER Home Secretary David Blunkett told the Prison Service to machine gun rioters at Lincoln jail, it was claimed today. Martin Narey, who was director general of the service at the time, said a "hysterical" Mr Blunkett told him he did not care about any loss of life after inmates took over the prison in 2002.
Mr Blunkett has denied the claims, but today the former prisons chief stood by his allegations. He said if Mr Blunkett had insisted on retaking the prison without care about possible deaths, he would have resigned.
Mr Narey described Mr Blunkett as being "reckless not positive" during a furious late-night telephone call. And he said the only reason he had published his account was to rebut Mr Blunkett's claims that he was "dithering" over the riot and that he and his staff were not up to it.
Mr Narey said: "He shrieked at me that he didn't care about lives, told me to call in the Army and 'machine gun' the prisoners and - still shrieking - ordered me to take the prison back immediately.
"I refused. David hung up."
(from the Scotsman)
Posted by Joe Middleton at 9:25 AM
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Despite ten years of Labour rule at UK level and Labour domination of almost every council and their control of the Scottish Executive (with the Lib Dems) the gap between rich and poor continues to grow ever larger.
Labour have failed to make any difference in the situation of the working class because they have sold out to Conservatism. The Blair Government was more right wing than the John Major Government and spent considerably less on health and education. Labour have failed to deliver any improvement in the circumstances of the poor throughout the UK, and have made no impact whatsoever in Scotland.
As the figures released today by the Scottish Executive reveal the situation has actually got worse. The obvious answer isn't the Conservatives under David Cameron (Tony Blair mark II with a nicer smile but the same right wing policies).
No, the answer is independence and a fairer socialist or at least social democratic Government afterwards.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 2:27 PM
Presiding Officer George Reid has said (today at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin) that devolution within the UK and EU provide the mechanism for more direct and mutually beneficial "Celtic connections" between Ireland and Scotland.
This kind of misses the point.
The real Celtic connection is of course that independence has benefited Eire despite the British state illegally stealing a large slice of Ireland. It would obviously benefit Scotland as well to end British rule here.
Ireland will benefit from Scottish independence when it happens because the end of Britain will no doubt herald the end of British rule in Northern Ireland as well.
Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall should work together for our mutual and complete freedom from England and the English dominated Westminster Government. JOE
Posted by Joe Middleton at 2:20 PM
"Don't judge Brown by his accent" says Cameron as unholy Labour/Tory alliance continues.
Tory leader David Cameron has insisted that voters should not judge Gordon Brown on his Scottishness at the next General Election. [He might as well have added, don't think about Scotland at all! - JOE]
He said the Chancellor would replace Tony Blair as Prime Minister and that electors should judge the Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath MP on what he says rather his accent. [Judging by what he says he's a plonker who supports the English football team, he's desperate for power and would be no better than Tony Blair - JOE]
Speaking on BBC1's The Politics Show, he said: "I think people should, will judge politicians on what they say, what they do. I think the British public are pretty good at working out who does what, who says what. That's what they should do with Gordon Brown and that's what they should do with me."
Mr Cameron, who is to make a speech in Edinburgh, said he would prove to people that the Tory Party had changed for good.
"This party is in the centre ground, that's where it's going to stay," he said. "The old policies, the old approach are not coming back and people need to know that change is for good. I think people see a politician changing his party and they want proof. They want to see it's for real and I'm going to prove it's for real."
The Tory leader said London-based politicians often made the mistake of coming north of the border and boring Scots with speeches about "institutional architecture" such as devolution or the Barnett formula, when voters cared much more about the state of their public services.
Mr Cameron said he would show Scots that he led a party which shared all of their concerns.
He continued: "And when they see that I think we've got a real opportunity because you've got the big failure of Labour and the Liberal Democrats and the independence option, which is the 'stop the world, I want to get off', which I don't think most people in Scotland want."
[Funny but he sounds just like every other UK Conservative politician and he himself was slagging Brown off a few weeks ago for saying his favourite goal was Gazza's . When push comes to shove though, he supports his fellow Brit. What a hypocrite. JOE]
Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, told the BBC1 show Mr Cameron had equivocated over the matter.
He said: "If you're going to argue that you're now committed to Scotland and the Scottish Parliament, to equivocate on the number of MSPs doesn't necessarily indicate a clear sensitivity towards Scottishness and demonstrate that the Scottish Conservative Party is committed to devolution."
Posted by Joe Middleton at 2:10 PM
Monday, October 16, 2006
Gordon Brown has been trying to stress his pride in being British, but he is viewed very much as Scottish
The Chancellor has worked hard over the past year to project himself as a British, not a Scottish, politician, stressing his commitment to the Union and his pride in being British.
The poll, for the More 4 show Starkey's Last Word, provides the first real evidence of just how strong anti-Scottish feelings are in England.
The anti-Scottish feeling was even more pronounced among older people. Of the English pensioners who would be influenced by a Scottish Labour leader, 97 per cent said that influence would be negative.
Mr Brown is well aware that he cannot afford to lose the votes of any wavering voters in England. Of the 75 Labour marginal seats - defined as those where the party's majority is less than 10 per cent - 71 are in England.
[This proves that Scots are not considered equal within the British union. It's taken the absurd actions of carpet bagger Brown to show this up but obviously post devolution the English don't want a Scots PM even if he's willing to sell his soul, pretend to admire Gazza and waves the Union Jack till his fingers bleed.
If they react like this to a sell out Scot like Gordon Brown how would they react if one who was actually proud to be Scottish had a chance of becoming British PM?
Posted by Joe Middleton at 12:08 AM
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Posted by Joe Middleton at 1:17 AM
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Alex Salmond - SNP LeaderScottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has delivered his vision for victory at the Scottish election. Addressing the annual conference in Perth, he said the party was "alive, kicking and winning".
Mr Salmond, who is bidding to return to Holyrood as an MSP, also claimed that support for Scottish independence was at an all-time high. He set out his plans for health, education and the economy in a hall packed with more than 1,000 delegates.
Mr Salmond told the conference that the party had a "dramatic six months" ahead, before the Holyrood elections next May as he pointed out a string of local by-election victories.
The MP said: "Today we ride on the crest of a wave - this time, in our time - there shall be change for Scotland."
He continued: "Two years ago when Nicola (Sturgeon) and I came to lead this party, I told this conference that I was not here to go through the motions, but back to rid Scotland of a small-minded managerial administration and to deliver a vision capable of touching the very soul of Scotland. "I am standing for first minister and we are running to win."
Mr Salmond, who was given a standing ovation before and after his speech, said an SNP government would give everyone a fair chance and make Scotland an international economic player. He said the burden of debt would be removed from Scottish-domiciled students and graduates and floated the idea of dedicated class teachers at secondary school.
He also raised the prospect of every home and school having a wind generator, solar panels or insulation system and gave backing to the world's first commercial carbon-capture hydro power station.
On health, Mr Salmond promised an inquiry into the problems surrounding Holyrood's flagship free personal care for the elderly policy and said there would be direct election of health board members. And he again criticised the "illegal" war in Iraq, calling for British troops to be brought home.
He also launched an attack on Labour, branding its vision of Britishness "narrow, bland and boring" and criticised Jack Straw for having the "temerity to instruct his constituents on what to wear". "Jack Straw - Alf Garnett without the braces," said Mr Salmond.
Then it was the chancellor's turn: "Gordon Brown wants to be British prime minister so he tells people to plant a Union Jack in his back garden and that Paul Gascoigne's goal against Scotland was his favourite moment," he added.
And Mr Salmond criticised First Minister Jack McConnell's often-used slogan that Scotland was "the best small country in the world".
"That one phrase encapsulates everything that is wrong with the first minister, with the executive and with our national tourist agency," he said.
"It combines the worst of what's like us with the worst of an inferiority complex. "Scotland's only small to those who think small. It's time to think big."
See a video of the speech here
Posted by Joe Middleton at 11:36 PM
Friday, October 13, 2006
ALEX Salmond unveiled plans yesterday for Scotland to have its own Olympic team, whether or not the country is independent.
The SNP leader said that if he became First Minister next May, he would immediately start the process for Scotland to field its own team for the 2012 games.
Speaking on the first day of the SNP annual conference, Mr Salmond said there were already 13 states and territories which were not independent which had their own Olympic teams, so there was no reason Scotland could not join them.
Mr Salmond acknowledged that there might be some athletes who preferred to compete in a British team but that is why he wanted to consult the sports administrators, to find a way through. And he argued that more Scots would have the chance to compete at the highest level with a Scottish team. He claimed that polls had shown that 78 per cent of the population backed a Scottish team.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 2:17 PM
Plaid Cymru president Dafydd Iwan has called on Scotland and Wales to keep working towards "freedom" from Westminster. Addressing the SNP conference currently under way in Perth, Iwan said the day was approaching when both Scotland and Wales would be free nations.
He used his keynote speech on Friday to reveal statistics from the latest opinion polls carried out on behalf of Plaid which show support for Plaid is still growing ahead of the assembly elections next May.
And he said it was evident that the SNP had a "great chance" of success at the Scottish elections, also being held in May. "People in Scotland and Wales have had enough of Labour spin, the undermining of local democracy and civil rights, increasing centralism and warmongering," Iwan told SNP delegates.
"And as the day approaches when Wales and Scotland will be free nations, we must not let the trappings of power diminish the dream of freedom, or tarnish our vision.
"What the SNP and Plaid Cymru are about is the most exciting of all political projects - freeing the potential of our respective nations for the benefit of all our people.
"And this new freedom will mean the creation of a new dynamic relationship between all the nations of the British Isles, which will be to the benefit of all who live in these islands.
"When we are all free to be true to our own identity, we can then work together to help create a world where humanity triumphs, and wars and oppression will be things of the past."
Posted by Joe Middleton at 12:03 PM
Thursday, October 12, 2006
The Scottish Labour and Lib Dem parties both decided in the constitutional (devolution) convention that broadcasting powers should be devolved to Scotland.
Those powers mysteriously disappeared when the bill went through Westminster and Tony Blair specifically interfered to stop a Scottish 6 O'Clock News programme.
This story explains why we need broadcasting to be controlled in Scotland and the only way this will happen is by voting for independence. - JOE
Why BBC's political show refused Scottish question
THE BBC last night defended its decision to prevent a Question Time audience member from making a point about Scottish politics on a programme being filmed in Glasgow.
Martin Grey, of Motherwell, was chosen to join the audience for the show, which is being broadcast tonight.
But when he told a researcher that he planned to ask the panel about the Scottish Liberal Democrats' pledge not to enter a coalition with the Scottish National Party because of its commitment to an independence referendum, he was told his question would not be allowed.
Mr Grey said: "[The researcher] stated this question would not be appropriate as Question Time is aimed at a UK audience and requires questions to be both timely and relevant to the UK.
"Asked if there was any room for a Scottish-specific question with interest to the whole of the
UK, on a programme filmed in Scotland, [the researcher] answered 'No'."
Last night, a spokesman for the BBC said: "Every week on Question Time, we have to ensure that the discussion reflects the big national UK and international stories.
"Unfortunately, when there is a busy news agenda, it is not possible to ask every question that those in the audience would like to ask," he added.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 11:59 AM
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Lloyd Quinan's speech
Tommy Sheridan's speech
See more at : http://www.youtube.com/group/independencefirst
Posted by Joe Middleton at 6:07 PM
Shot from Kev Williamson's phone.
Here's another video of the march featuring SNP rep. Aileen Campbell's speech.
First of a set of three videos of the march, there's a lot more on : http://www.youtube.com/group/independencefirst
Posted by Joe Middleton at 5:30 PM
Monday, October 02, 2006
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:24 PM