Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Posted by Joe Middleton at 1:12 PM
Have I missed something? Has the election already happened? Surely we need to actually wait for the results before deciding that a majority of independence supporting MSP's won't happen? The SNP are running very high in the polls and could easily be the biggest party. The Scottish Socialist Party and Greens traditionally actually poll much better than their poll rankings. Sheridan's Solidarity is well organised and has the most powerful speaker in Scottish politics at its helm.
The Scotsman's current editorial stance seems to have been inherited from Andrew Neil, an individual who has never had any keen interest in Scotland and has always (like many others) been dazzled by the power of Westminster.
The fact no-one wants to positively back the union on your website might be an indication that you are backing the wrong horse.
Why remain in thrall to London rule? Why not put Scotland first? Like the Scottish people, what do you really have to lose?
Posted by Joe Middleton at 1:06 PM
This got in the Evening News but was chopped a bit.
The Evening News
I am an admirer of Ian Swanson. I think he is an excellent journalist and I was therefore a little disappointed to read his column about the SNP's flagship policy of a referendum on Scottish independence.
Whoever the SNP anonymous source is that Swanson quotes he must be aware that he is doing the party no favours with his suggestion that the SNP might renege on their commitment to a referendum. I therefore doubt this unnamed individual's genuine commitment to the Scottish independence cause. Who does this idea benefit? Only the SNP's adversaries in the Scottish parliament.
It is unfortunate that our politicians are amongst the most mistrusted individuals around. To a certain extent of course they have only themselves to blame, however by making speculations like this and suggesting that the SNP would betray their supporters in this fashion, effectively the Evening News is encouraging the public to view the SNP as untrustworthy before they have even tasted Government!
The SNP's raison detre is independence and it can reasonably be expected that the party will do everything to achieve that goal.
By all means castigate the SNP (or welcome their change of heart) if they do decide in Government to waive the referendum idea (and commit political suicide) but please don't insult our intelligence by suggesting it just now simply because it suits the Scotsman group's political prejudices.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 12:59 PM
Douglas Fraser in the Herald writes:
This pre-coalition courting ritual between LibDems and SNP - Nationalists doing some rough wooing, while the LibDems play hard-to-get - will see Nationalists deflated after this weekend.
Why? The childish claims of xenophobia towards the SNP are rank hypocrisy. The imperialist nationalism favoured by the British state is indeed xenophobic however the desire for liberation of Scotland is a civic based nationalism ie including everyone who lives here.
You know that I know that and the public are not daft enough to believe anything different. This is something which is recycled regularly by the unionist parties but it is not new and it¹s certainly not true. I think the SNP will be satisfied that the Lib Dems have shown themselves to be political hypocrites.
Call them whatever else, but don't even hint at a link between the Scottish independence movement and the ethnic nationalists in other parts of Europe, often on the ugly, anti-immigrant far right. There's nothing Alex Salmond hates more, having worked hard to prove it wrong.
Of course they don't like the implication because it's not true. In any case most independence movements in Europe are on the left not the right. Look at Wales, Ireland, Catalonia, the Basque Country.
Mr Fraser replied:
Thanks for your response. While you make strongly partisan points - and you're obviously entitled to do so - I don't think your arguments are at odds with what I wrote in the article to which you refer. You're welcome to make these same points through the letters page or on our website.
To which I replied:
Thanks for your comments.
It’s beyond dispute that British nationalism has a xenophobic character based on its imperial roots unlike Scottish nationalism. There is clearly an anti immigration agenda which has been pushed by the Daily Mail and other right of centre tabloids and which has been aped in Government by the Home Office and by the statements of leading figures in the Conservative Party and that’s before you even get to the BNP.
Also most nationalist movements in Europe which are roughly equivalent to the SNP ARE on the political left. Don’t you agree? If so why are you suggesting the SNP will be damaged by the language of the Lib Dems? Is it not more logical that the Lib Dems will be damaged for their hypocrisy in saying one thing about having a nice campaign and then promptly doing the exact opposite?
My good friend Ray Bell also sent me over this:
So the Scottish Lib Dems label the SNP "xenophobic", but meanwhile it's alright to vote members of a fascist party into council positions south of the border. Beggars belief!
"Despite repeated public statements that the Lib-Dems would never work with the BNP, or support BNP representatives gaining senior positions on decision-making bodies, two Lib-Dem members of the council voted for the BNP candidate to become a board member of Padiham Life. The Lib-Dem members who voted for Cllr Wilkinson being Cllrs Jones and Sumner."
Posted by Joe Middleton at 12:52 PM
Friday, February 09, 2007
Andrew was a massive and lasting inspiration to me and all the other SNP activists in Midlothian. He was a very fine speaker and a staunch socialist. He was one of the first people who really inspired me in politics and he had the fight and heart to take on Labour in their heartland.
Andrew believed he could win in Midlothian and he convinced his young team of activists that we could win as well. Even though the SNP didn't win the election we saw a massive increase in our vote (from around 4,000 to over 10,000 votes) and the series of public meetings that he spoke at and organised were very influential in later local government successes in the area.
The Free by '93 campaign was a watershed one for the SNP, it was extremely hard fought and Andrew was our candidate for a full three years before the election during which he tirelessly worked to build up the party in the area.
Andrew helped local miners in their successful bid to re-open Monktonhall colliery he took their campaign to the European (he was always a very strong advocate of the benefits of independent EU membership) and Westminster Parliaments and while their campaign was led by the miners themselves Andrew made a massive political push on their behalf and he joined the consortium when the pit was re-opened.
Along with Jim Sillars and Alex Neil he spoke at Miners clubs right across Midlothian and he gave the Labour party a real fright. He exposed the closure of Greenhall high school and we made school closures a central part of our local election campaign just after the general election in 1992.
Andrew was by far the best SNP candidate we ever had in Midlothian and we have never seen his like again. He was a massive inspiration to everyone who met him and his socialist values combined with his strong political nous had a lasting impact on us all.
Andrew and Alex Neil wrote an influential joint paper 'Poverty Amidst Plenty' about the economics of independence that can be read here: Poverty Amidst Plenty
I have enclosed a couple of Andrew's Press Releases from the Advertiser (see this page) It really was an amazing campaign in Midlothian and Andrew encouraged me (and others like Dave Moyes and Brian Archibald) to support him by writing press releases and letters and he gave us free reign to write anything we liked on the campaign's behalf.
His faith in my abilities was a great boost to my confidence at the time and his astute political advice over many years afterwards was invaluable to me personally. The funeral is being held next Wednesday, 14th Feb at Cloyster Chapel, Warriston Crematorium at 2.30pm. His wife Sheila can be contacted by Email: email@example.com
Posted by Joe Middleton at 11:20 PM
The way Westminster treats Wales tells us a lot about their priorities. Wales was offered a drasticaly reduced version of the powers in the Scottish Parliament. Since then Westminster has had to re-visit the Wales Act to provide more powers however it still falls far short of Scottish levels.
Plaid Cymru undoubtedly want independence but they have obviously decided to work on a gradualist basis building support for more powers for the existing assembly rather than going straight for independence.
However given that Wales like Scotland is a recognised country what justification do Labour have for providing different powered assemblies?
Quite simply it is because England gained power over Wales earlier and they feel that Wales can be more easily ignored. Labour are ignoring Scotland as well because polls are showing majority support for independence however it's all part of the same game.
Wales is at least better off than Cornwall which has been almost completely absorbed into England and while Cornwall has an active independence movement as well (Mebyon Kernow) Cornwall is completely ignored altogether with zero provision for devolution there despite a massive 50,000 petition in favour by Cornish nationalists.
Nationalities within the UK occupy a ladder of respect. Independent Ireland is treated with the most respect by the UK though for a long time their people were treated the worst and were victims of appalling levels of racism (Irish 'jokes' anyone?)
Scotland are lower down on the ladder but the success of the SNP has pushed the independence argument higher up the agenda and we have gained a stronger parliament. Wales is lower still and Cornwall is at the bottom.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:19 AM
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
The news that the BNP are having a party political broadcast and their leaflets distributed with public money is disturbing and there is no doubt that this so called party is in reality a racist organisation which is intended to stir up hatred against non-white people.
Sadly however the other British parties are little better and have played the race card when it suits them. Remember the comment that asylum seekers should be "sent to an island far, far away"? It wasn't the BNP who said that but Oliver Letwin of the Conservative Party during the last elections.
It's not hard to work out why various skinheads and right wing groups love to wave the Union Jack. The British Empire was utterly racist in it's attitude towards other cultures and effectively exploited almost every country on the planet. Hitler was on record as greatly admiring the British Empire.
If we want to end the British imperialist culture of imagined superiority towards other nations and the xenophobic attitudes which feed of this then we need to break up the union which pushed this distorted world view in the first place.
Scottish independence supporters want equality with other nations. This Labour Government wants something more than equality.
Tony Blair says Britain must be prepared to use what he terms 'hard power' or military force against other nations, rather than what he describes as 'soft power' ie democratic negotiations. He recently told MP's: "You have to be prepared... to be engaged with hard power where it is right and necessary to do so. You only get the ability to use 'soft' power properly if you are prepared to do the other difficult things."
The end of Britain would signal the final end of imperial ambition. It would be a reality check for our sadly out of touch Labour Government and would allow Scotland to adopt a rational position on world affairs. This would almost certainly not include wasting money on buying a new generation of Trident or letting our young soldiers be killed in an illegal war which has inflamed the Middle East and led to the deaths of around half a million Iraqi civilians.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 11:28 PM