Even though the media are officially sooking right up Brown's b*ckside at the moment, he's not going to last long because England is officially sick of Scotland.
To distract attention from this uncomfortable fact he's giving a few fresh faced boys top jobs in the cabinet, even if (like Douglas Alexander) they are way out of their depth, as long as they can say "yes sir, thank you sir!" they can work for Brown. Ed Miliband is getting his prize (Foreign Secretary) for not challenging Gordon even though he's not quite left school yet.
A previously unknown woman becomes Home Secretary so we won't mind so much when she reduces our civil liberties, while various Lords have been given various daft jobs and Jack Straw has been made 'Lord Chancellor' even though he's not a Lord at all.
He's also today announced new 'Secretary of States' for the English regions, a daft idea which will achieve as little as our own Secretary of State, a part time (and totally unnecessary) post which is now tacked to any old cabinet post as long as a Scot has it.
Des Browne the accident prone former defence secretary becomes the new 'Scottish Secretary' and is going to 'fight' Alex Salmond, great plan Gordon, but I thought the point of a Secretary of State was supposed to represent 'us' in government?!
I look forward to Salmond slapping this fool's chops live on TV. Brown clearly has contempt for his own nation to send in this proxy buffoon (he's 'too busy' at the moment to have any interest in his own country apparently) and I'm sure that's the message the Scottish public will hear loud and clear.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Even though the media are officially sooking right up Brown's b*ckside at the moment, he's not going to last long because England is officially sick of Scotland.
A very interesting article in the Times by Magnus Linklater, bear in mind that Magnus is a died in the wool unionist but even he is apparently sick of Scots being unfairly labelled as subsidy junkies.
Before you start laying into those subsidy junkies . . .
Defending the Scots against English bile
Even more illuminating are the nasty xenophobic remarks underneath it...!
Magnus isn't the only Unionist Scot to begin to chafe at the anti Scottish tone of much of the English media even Peter MacMahon (yes, the ex Labour spin doctor himself) felt obliged to set the record straight:
Don't blame Alex Salmond - blame the whingeing from Unionists
THE Union is in peril. The very idea of the United Kingdom is under threat. The spectre of separatism haunts the land. And we know who is to blame. Alex Salmond, of course. Well, no. The greatest threat to the Union could be from Unionists. Take the exchanges this week in the Upper House at Westminster, where the noble Lords Forsyth and Baker...
The truth is of course that McMahon, Linklater and all those of their ilk have been castigating their own people for years and pretending that we are sooking away at England's teat because it suited their political purposes. England, not unnaturally has swallowed the lies and thinks "well b*gger off then".
Now of course it's not actually true. When North Sea Oil is taken into account we don't just pay our own way we pay a hell of a lot more and we don't get most of the spending either. However the English aren't going to believe it after all these years of lies from Labour/Tories/self serving unionists from Scotland and if they don't like the thought of 'paying for Scotland' they won't like dear old Brown either, oops!
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:43 PM
Friday, June 22, 2007
Within a hundred days of the new Scottish Government the SNP will produce a bill setting out the benefits of Scottish independence and calling for a referendum on the issue. The SNP plans to hold this referendum in 2010 (possibly after a Conservative Government victory at Westminster).
I hope there will be a large public response to the consultation process and all organisations which support Scottish independence should do their best to make sure this is the case.
It would be a massive boost to this process if the SNP and other parties were willing to fund a leaflet setting out the basics of the bill and asking for comments. Of course it would be preferable if the Scottish Government itself paid to advertise the process, after all if the unionist parties can use the SP budget to insult our intelligence about washing our hands, some advertising about Scotland's constitutional future seems appropriate (including TV and bus adverts), however if this is not felt to be possible our parties should fund a leaflet themselves, with a view to doing something bigger prior to the actual vote.
The reason for this is to stimulate a massive public response to the SNP's bill that will dwarf all past public consultations. This will generate massive positive publicity for the independence referendum cause.
In those circumstances if the unionists then turn around and say no to a referendum in the Scottish parliament then I believe there could be a substantial public outcry. If that happens then we are in Scotland United territory with the mass demos for devolution which forced the British Government (eventually and grudgingly) to finally legislate for a devolved parliament.
The SNP could then site legitimate public interest in independence and hold a referendum on independence as soon as is required (possibly in conjunction with COSLA or other public bodies who might be willing to share some of the costs).
Obviously we (in the independence movement) want to win a referendum and the timing of it will be important however lets remember that most polls before the election showed large support for independence and it is still far higher than the unionist media are trying to claim.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 9:09 AM
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Ha ha ha, no of course not, though it would be an interesting thought.
I was amused to read about the Scottish Conservative Party supporting a referendum 'to shoot the nationalist fox' however I suspect the real reason some Tories want a referendum is because they instinctively realise that Scotland would be a lot better off with independence! (They are not alone btw a large number of Labour and Lib Dem voters also support independence).
Old stick in the mud Annabel Goldie has already slapped down this enterprising suggestion however it is good to see support for a referendum from any quarter (Both the Scotland on Sunday and Evening News are supporting the Tories short lived argument) even if it is for the wrong reasons.
Ultimately the Scottish people will demand a vote on independence and when they do anyone who opposes that logical democratic demand will be annihilated at the Ballot box. The Tories were on the wrong side of the devolution debate, no doubt most will be on the wrong side of this one as well but at least some of them are thinking that the Scottish people deserve a vote on independence.
A pity the 'party of home rule' (the 'Scottish' Liberal Democrats) have completely turned their back on the aspirations of the Scottish people, I can guess how their poll ratings are going to go, f-l-u-s-h! and it will be richly deserved.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:30 PM
Unionist arguments against a referendum are not constitutionally valid.
Firstly no matter what Tony Blair wrote in his devolution bill Scotland has a right to self determination under international law.
This was accepted by all parties in the Constitutional (devolution) Convention which incidentally proposed a far stronger Assembly (including broadcasting powers) which was watered down by the London Labour Government in their eventual bill.
The aforementioned bill cannot legislate away our right to self determination, no national Government has the right to do that, no matter what bill they pass.
Let's remember that we are outvoted 10-1 at Westminster so any bill they pass is hardly likely to represent the views of the people of Scotland!
Secondly the Scottish parliament has the capacity to hold a referendum if it chooses. It may choose to do so in conjunction with another body like COSLA, but if our parliament really wants to hold a referendum and that decision is supported by a majority of our MSP's the UK could not interfere to stop it without ultimately adding to its eventual success.
The position of the UK Government is that it is sovereign and only it has the right to decide on constitutional matters. This is not technically the case the Scottish people are sovereign and this is universally accepted by most politicians in Scotland.
If the people are sovereign we have a RIGHT to a referendum on independence and that referendum should ask simply "do you want independence (or 'normal international powers' or 'self determination') for Scotland", anything else is not acceptable and the Scottish SNP Government should call the UK Labour Government's bluff and put this simple question to the Scottish people.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:18 PM
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Billy Connolly recently commented (on the election results and the prospect of independence) :
"I don't like it. I don't like chauvinism, I don't like nationalism. I think history proves it to be an incredibly dangerous thing. I think it's time in the world for getting together, not separating."
So Connolly doesn't like nationalism even when it's of a civic type like Scotland's. Strangely enough however in the same interview he adds that he is very proud of his CBE which entitles him to the title of 'Commander of the British Empire' and a place in Burke's peerage.
So Scottish nationalism is bad, but British nationalism is A-OK! Clearly Mr Connolly loves the idea of posing as an imaginary Commander in a long dead and fundamentally racist British Empire but is rather less keen on the idea that his own country might like to run their own affairs.
It's rather sad that just because people have a comfortable lifestyle with the status quo, they feel threatened and alarmed by change even when that change reflects an important democratic advance. While Connolly is entitled to his opinion it is grossly hypocritical to wax lyrical about an honour from the Queen that represents Britain's imperial past and at the same time claim to dislike nationalism!
Connolly obviously quite likes jingoistic nationalism of the British type, even though this is exactly the type he affects to despise. The civic nationalism of the SNP and others however is somehow worthy of contempt. While one is tempted to suggest that Mr Connolly suffers from a post colonialist mindset, I think perhaps its simpler than that.
The British state has bought Connolly cheaply with a second class honour (he's not even a Sir) and now his head is so big that he thinks he can look down on Scots who want something more for Scotland.
In fact he should realise exactly what he is - a hypocritical court jester who laughs at his own folk and sneers at their ambitions. In this regard he has a lot in common with his fellow celebrity Brits, Michelle Mone, Alex McLeish (if the British state had got their way completely there would be no Scottish team for him to manage!) , Ian Rankin and Duncan Bannatyne. Comfortably rich they all want to keep their pot of money and want 'no change'.
What they all share is a stifling lack of ambition for their people and their country. Independence is normality. Scotland is no better than any other country and nor are our people. However we should be EQUAL to every other nation and we have the absolute right to demand that equality at every opportunity.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 11:01 PM
Excellent article in the Herald which backs up what Independence First have been saying for some time.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:56 PM
by Ewan Crawford
The issue is not whether England is subsidising Scotland, but how the Scots can address their country's persistent low economic growth.
Watching and reading the UK media over the past few days it seems that the Westminster overseas aid budget had been re-directed from Africa to Aberdeen.We in Scotland are apparently living the high life in terms of health and education spending on the backs of hard-working tax-payers south of the border.
Writing in The Guardian earlier this week, Tory higher education spokesman Boris Johnson took time off from his goodwill tour of English towns and cities to claim that English tax-payers are shelling out £2 billion to enable Scottish students to enjoy free university education.
Today the SNP Scottish Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, announced yet more largesse for the Scots - an expansion of free personal care - at a time when English pensioners are still having to flog their houses to pay for care. Oh, and Alex Salmond's government is also committed to helping out Scottish businesses by cutting their rates bills.
But there's something very curious about all this. If the Scots are being funded so generously by those of you who live in England, why is the SNP so keen on independence - which by definition would mean an end to any south-north transfers. Even more curious, why is it that those - such as the Tories - who complain the loudest about Scots subsidy-junkies, are also the staunchest opponents of Scottish Independence?
The answer perhaps lies in the fact that the whole "England is subsidising Scotland" argument is total nonsense. During these periodic discussions of public spending allocations in the constituent parts of the UK, something called the Barnett Formula is often put forward as the means by which the Scots perpetuate their huge unfair advantage.
But the reality is somewhat different. The Barnett Formula is actually a convergence mechanism through which Scotland's share of UK spending is designed to fall. Percentage increases in public spending in England have in fact outstripped those in Scotland in recent years.
What is happening now is that the new SNP government is spending money on what it believes to be priority areas. This has involved making difficult decisions - for example rejecting a huge project to provide Edinburgh airport with an expensive rail link.
And before anyone complains too loudly, the incredible sums of money generated by Scotland's oil should be remembered. As Andrew Marr detailed on his BBC programme on post-war Britain this week, the fact that North Seat oil and gas basically kept the UK economy afloat during the 1980s has been airbrushed out of contemporary history.
In 1997, the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, William Waldegrave admitted that between 1978 and 1995 Scotland generated a surplus of £27.6 billion (£34 billion at today's prices). Moreover secret British government documents written in the 1970s and uncovered by the SNP through Freedom of Information, revealed that with Independence: "(Scotland) would tend to be in chronic surplus to a quite embarrassing degree."
However, in Scotland at least, the debate has now moved on. The issue is not about who is subsidising who, but about how Scotland's persistent low economic growth, poor health record and appalling life expectancy figures can be turned around.
The answer is increasingly clear - equip Scotland with the tax and other economic powers we need to compete in the global marketplace. In other words - independence. This would have the added benefit of ending the silly name-calling of this week. Boris Johnson and his friends can rest happy that English taxes are being spent on useful things like Trident and the Iraq war and not on fripperies like Scottish public services. And we in Scotland can get on with the business of using our resources to turn our country into the prosperous and just society it deserves to be.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 10:23 PM
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Cardinal O'Brien to Britain: Let Scotland Make its Own Laws on Abortion
EDINBURGH, Scotland, June 12, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, stated yesterday that the Parliament of Scotland should be able to decide important national issues such as abortion for itself, the Scotsman reports.
Cardinal O’Brien indicated that the recent turn-over in the government of Scotland reflects a growing dissatisfaction among Scottish citizens about the limits that are currently in place on the Scottish Parliament. He was referring to the May 3 elections in which the Scottish National Party (SNP), the party working for independence from Britain, was voted into power, replacing the formerly popular Scottish Labor Party.
Since the Scottish Parliament was re-established after a 1997 referendum, ending a 300-year-old merger of the Scottish and British parliaments, the parliament has been limited in the issues it may decide to areas of education and training, local government, economic development, health and environment, sports and the arts. Even within these areas the United Kingdom Westminster Court has the power to over-rule decisions and to decide major controversial topics.
Recently, Cardinal O’Brien called for the local Scottish parliament to be able to rule on abortion within the country as well as to have an official say on Trident, UK’s nuclear armament system. Both issues have caused a great deal of controversy within Scotland.
The Scotsman quotes the Archbishop saying, “It was as if Scotland wasn't grown-up enough to deal with something like Trident, adoption or abortion, and I think voters were fed up of that.”
“In many ways, people have been disappointed with what has come out of the Scottish Parliament... and they are looking for a greater lead from our Scottish Parliament and Executive.”
Less than two weeks ago, the Cardinal also spoke out against abortion in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh. During a homily on the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act, he said that pro-abortion politicians who call themselves Catholics may not expect to receive Holy Communion. Condemning abortion as an “unspeakable crime” and the “wanton killing of innocents”, he also described the misinformation that has spread about abortion, saying, “We were told a pack of lies – lies and misinformation masquerading as compassion and truth.”
Posted by Joe Middleton at 2:24 PM
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Kirsty Wark - biased towards Labour. Wark was forced to publicly apologise for this interview.
Hostile interview shows Labour has failed to grasp new political reality
Kirsty Wark's brusque treatment of Alex Salmond on BBC's Newsnight (your report, 9 June) is another illustration of the difficulty the Labour Party and its adherents find in accepting that an era has ended, and that their cosy world of power and influence has vanished. An independent political commentator should have been able to analyse these trends instead of reacting with personal hostility.
The fact is that Labour's stranglehold on Scottish public life, including and especially the media, has been broken, and there is no way back. There will be no repetition of blatant pro-Labour propaganda like The Gathering Place, and it might even be possible now to reveal the whole truth about how the restoration of the Scottish Parliament came about.
With the SNP now bidding fair to replace the already moribund Labour on the left side of the Scottish political spectrum, and with the ongoing decline of the London parties likely to steepen in the foreseeable future, the main strategic objective now is to consolidate the centre-right of Scottish politics on an exclusively Scottish basis. This process is already under way, and should be completed before the 2011 election.
(DR) JAMES WILKIE West Clyde Street Helensburgh
We learned over the weekend that Kirsty Wark, in her e-mailed apology to Alex Salmond's constituency office (why not go directly to him on his mobile) asked him to "agree" that her Newsnight "interview with him was conducted in a fair and robust manner".
I hope he doesn't agree, because that would put him in a minority of one. Fuelled by bias and antagonism to an SNP First Minister, this figure in what can only be described as the broad Labour establishment that was our overlord for generations went revealingly over the top and everyone knows it.
JIM SILLARS Grange Loan Edinburgh
The appalling treatment of Alex Salmond, by Kirsty Wark is indicative of a lack of judgment and understanding of Scotland and devolution. .
To have Ms Wark, who has holidayed with the former first minister Jack McConnell and his family, interview his replacement was a crass and naive judgment by the BBC and reeked of bias. At least the editor of the programme, Peter Barron, has had the decency to apologise.
ALEX ORR Bryson Road Edinburgh
Kirsty Wark was out of order in her rude and biased questioning of Alex Salmond over the proposed Westminster deal regarding the Lockerbie prisoner exchange debate.
Given her friendship with Jack McConnell and other Labour ministers she is clearly not fit for purpose as an independent political reporter.
DENNIS GRATTAN Mugiemoss Road Bucksburn, Aberdeen
Posted by Joe Middleton at 12:19 PM
Rather a nasty little column, I think the only 'fit of pique' here is that the Times don't like the idea of anyone at all standing up for Scottish interests. JOE
Peak of Pique
Is there no perceived slight too small to test Alex Salmond’s temper? Alex Salmond is growing into a parody of the gruff, chippy, fight-picking “Hey Jimmeh!” Scotsman from central casting.
Scotland’s First Minister roams the world like a Saturday-night drunk looking for excuses to bruise his knuckles.
For his latest brawl he has accused Tony Blair of ignoring the Scottish Government and its legal system by signing an agreement with Muammar Gaddafi over prisoner transfers from Britain to Libya – an agreement, hissed Mr Salmond, which could lead to the Lockerbie bomber, Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, being switched from Scotland to his homeland.
It marks the latest of myriad whinges from a man famous for having a temper shorter than a Paris Hilton jail stay. Mr Salmond can be relied upon to find three new things to beef about before breakfast.
He has whined about Scotland not having its own Olympic team, has demanded a separate Scottish version of the BBC TV Six O’Clock News, bleated about getting Trident out of Scotland, criticised Tony Blair for sending troops into Kosovo, demanded a fat Scottish share of North Sea oil revenues, and queried why Scottish ministers cannot lead the British delegation at EU meetings.
If there is an opportunity to moan self-pityingly about how cruelly Scotland is oppressed by its southern neighbour, then Alex Salmond is the man to grab it. No doubt Mr Salmond is already exploring reasons to grow indignant about yesterday’s snubbing of the Munro Society by surveyors who declared a Scottish mountain not tall enough to join the Munro list of 3,000ft-high mountains.
Would that mark the peak of Mr Salmond’s pique? Unlikely. Mike Tyson may soon be the only opponent left who is worthy of Mr Salmond’s sparring skills. Now that is a bout we’d all pay to watch.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 12:13 PM
Staff at [English firm] Thomas Cook's Bangor shop in Gwynedd have been told all work conversations must be in English. The firm said it must ensure "clear communication at all times."
The Commission for Racial Equality in Wales says it will write to Thomas Cook asking the firm to explain why staff have been asked not to speak Welsh. The firm told staff they must conduct business conversations in English, as it is the UK's common language. The Welsh Language Board said it was "disappointed" and it would ask the company to change its position. It emerged last week that staff at the Bangor store - one of the areas of Wales where Welsh speaking is strongest - had been asked to use only English in business.
A Thomas Cook spokeswoman confirmed the policy applied to all non-English languages. Concerns were raised in the Bangor travel agent A company statement said: "Thomas Cook requests that all staff speak English when discussing work-related matters in the work place. "This ensures clear communication at all times and is respectful to team members who do not speak other languages." Thomas Cook employs staff from many cultural backgrounds, therefore the company appreciates its staff may want to talk to colleagues in other languages for anything that is not business related".
The Commission for Racial Equality in Wales has warned that the policy might be in breach of the Race Relations Act. Wales Commissioner, the Reverend Aled Edwards, said the promotion of good relations was their "paramount concern". He would not comment on the particular case, but added: "The Commission for Racial Equality does have a power to investigate through its legal committee and also if it sees fit to start a formal investigation but I think common sense and courtesy would be the best option."
Meri Huws, chair of the Welsh Language Board, said there was "disappointment" that a large private sector company had decided to take this decision. She said the Welsh Language Act does not cover the rights of the individual in the work place. But she added it was "a very surprising decision, in the light of the number of private sector companies, large and small, that are choosing to use the language in terms of marketing, in terms of services to their customers, and generally in day-to-day work place activity".
Posted by Joe Middleton at 12:02 PM
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Article by Alex Orr. I think the SNP have given up on a single issue referendum a bit too easily. The clear choice is between independence and the status quo. Most calls for 'more powers' are ill defined and no more powers can be granted for the Scottish parliament without the agreement of Westminster.
The devolution conventions oroginal proposals included broadcasting powers however these were removed by Tony Blair (he also personally sabotaged plans for a 'Scottish six' 6 O'Clock News).
Scotland's oil wealth won't last forever and the idea that we can have a few more powers and that will sort our problems is wrong. We need independence immediately. If we can inch a few more concessions out of Westminster along the way then fair enough but the SNP should not be talking up vague calls for more powers as a valid option for the Scottish people when the only real opportunity is independence.
Time to take issue out of the hands of politicians
By Alex Orr, SNP MSP
BOTH THE SNP and the Liberal Democrats have promoted the need for some form of constitutional change and have talked favourably of a constitutional convention, yet the Liberal Democrats are refusing to sit down or even negotiate with the SNP unless they give up their policy of a referendum on Scottish independence. Given this seemingly insurmountable roadblock, the time has come to take this issue out of the hands of the politicians, who have failed to get their act together, and pass it to the people.
Perhaps the most significant achievement of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which from the late 1990s prepared the way for devolution, was to entrench popular sovereignty as the founding principle of the new Scottish politics. Popular sovereignty belongs, simply, to the people. In democratic regimes it embraces a right for voters to place before their peers for their judgement a proposition of its own choosing, as in the "citizen's" or "popular" initiatives that operate in Switzerland, New Zealand and some of the American states.
The launch of a citizen's initiative to hold a multi-option referendum - offering a choice between the status quo, greater powers for the Holyrood parliament or full independence - is an eminently achievable way to end this current constitutional impasse and represents an exercise in participative politics as promoted by the Scottish Constitutional Convention.
A citizen's initiative, where the voter petitions for the holding of a referendum, would put pressure on the Scottish parliament to bring it forward. On the model of the Swiss popular initiative, numbers would have to be significant (around 100,000) and there would need to be some agreement on the use of e-petitions and other mechanisms and checks on the validity of the petitioners.
But if a sufficient number of Scottish citizens petitioned for a multi-option referendum on Scotland's constitutional future, then, in the name of citizen empowerment and faced with an already largely politically apathetic and disillusioned electorate, it is difficult to see the parliament defying the will of the people and the principles on which it was itself established.
Such a citizen's initiative might also have a particular relevance to the circumstances in which Scotland now finds itself. Proportional representation is justified on its own democratic merits, but it is no secret that part of its attraction for some champions of devolution was that it would create an additional barrier to the advance of political nationalism. A power of citizen's initiative could challenge this by giving a sufficiently large number of frustrated voters an opportunity to intervene in politics on terms of their own choosing rather than on the terms dictated by the politicians' club.
This would not only serve to tackle voter apathy and cynicism towards the political system, but has the potential to revitalise democracy, re-engage people in the political process and make politics work for people, a valuable prize indeed.
Posted by Joe Middleton at 9:51 AM