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Showing posts with label ConLib tuition fees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ConLib tuition fees. Show all posts

Thursday, 2 February 2012

“The overwhelming opinion in Scotland”–two versions in the education debate 2nd Feb 2012

It gets interesting at the 13.40 minute mark.

“That dreadful, anti-Scottish, anti-education  trap” is an accurate description of  the Tories/LibDem Coalition, and their Scottish puppets, Labour are edging towards it – let’s not be afraid to say it …

Say it again and louder.














Friday, 28 January 2011

Tavish the Evasive - no principle is sacrosanct if a coalition deal is on offer.

Although the Gaelic forename and surname belie it, it has occasionally been suggested that Tavish Scott had some Viking blood in him, presumably because of his Lerwick roots and launching his candidacy for the LibDem leadership among a group dressed as Vikings at Up Helly Aa in 2008.

I must say that, as a short-legged and once black-haired, wee Glaswegian, I would not have been in the least intimidated if Tavish had jumped off a longboat and ran up the beach at me in a horned helmet in days gone by. The instant assessment of the opposition required by a Glasgow east end childhood and young manhood would have instantly classed him as big safty - nae problem, Jimmy …

He’s a nice big guy, but niceness is something I value in people only if they don’t have difficult decisions to make that affect my life, in which case I readily sacrifice niceness for decisiveness, integrity, principle, and bluntly, cojones. And so to Tavish Scott, faux Viking and putative coalition member in the post May 5th Holyrood.

I never know whether to attack the LibDems or not, in these confusing political days we live in, since some evidence suggests that disillusioned Scottish LibDems are shifting their allegiance mainly to Labour. Presumably the closet Tories among the Scottish LibDems are not disillusioned, and are rather like CofE people creeping towards the Church of Rome in search of ultimate certainties. But who knows?

What adjectives come to mind in describing Tavish? The ones that jump to my mind are nice, diffident, ineffectual, vulnerable, uncool, lacking in street savvy. But he got elected and leads his party, you say - he must have qualities other than these? Well, maybe not, since these are the very characteristics that define a certain kind  of LibDem and presumably appeal to a certain group of LibDem voters.

I don’t like pulling the legs off flies, or watching them being pulled off, and my toes curl when I watch Tavish’s attempts at humour in Holyrood, reading his laborious jokes and bon mots intently from his notes, flanked by equally nice, nodding colleagues, smiling bravely as their Leader dies the death, but with no hook coming from the wings to drag him offstage. Alex Salmond tries not to make it look too effortless as he swats him away at FMQs.

But here he is on Newsnight Scotland with Gordon Brewer, who is only too happy to pull the wings off anything that moves, and regards Tavish as light exercise, a limbering-up before the main bouts with other, more worthy opponents.

The LibDem leader deploys his limited arsenal of pea-shooter and water pistol against the Brewer Magnum, with the inevitable result - the diffident smile, the engaging laugh, the please-don’t-hit-me-again body language and the self-deprecation are no match for the Brewer neo-Paxman assault.

But unlike many of these often sterile encounters, this one actually illuminates an essential political truth of LibDemmery in the Coalition era - nothing is sacred, expediency is everything, and every value and principle may be sacrificed, every promise broken on the altar of power in coalition. Tavish will do what he has to to get into the big boys’ gang, just as Clegg, Cable, Alexander, Martin and the rest did.

Just tell me what I must do to join the club …

Of course, a pretence of Scottishness must be maintained. The beaming Tavish, on the studio backdrop image, sports a saltire badge, and in the interview he claims his independence of Westminster - “I'm not one of them …”. Nonetheless, he lists the Coalition ‘achievements’ that “didn’t happen under Laaaybah …” And so Tavish ducks and weaves, and dances round the ring on tiptoe until Gordon Brewer is ready to hit him, and then the principles fall, one by one.

Brewer asks, in essence - what are the deal breakers? Give me one policy, one principle, one value that you won’t trade for a place in government. “Can you give me a single Liberal Democrat policy that you would commit tonight - personally - that you would not sell in a coalition deal?”

The opposition to tuition fees, or any form of student charge, dies painlessly under the questioning, and incredibly, so does the refusal to rule out a coalition with the SNP despite the heretofore implacable opposition to Scotland’s independence. Tavish’s desperate and feeble attempts the throw up a smokescreen over the Scottish Government’s ‘failure’ to present an independence bill (to witness its inevitable defeat by the united unionist opposition presumably) is blown away effortlessly by Brewer pointing out that independence is going to be central to the SNP’s campaign.

So Tavish goes off home to don his Viking helmet with the marshmallow horns, make fierce faces at himself in the mirror, and dream of coalition after May 5th with - well, anybody, really …


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Scottish Secretary of State – a colonial governor in an ignoble role


Another sordid chapter in the history of Scottish Secretaries of State - a sad procession of men who, with a very few remarkable exceptions, consistently betrayed the interests of Scotland in favour of the Union, but benefited personally from having held this colonial governors post, even if only briefly.

In the period of the closures of companies and the destruction of entire Scottish industries in the video, three Tory Scottish Secretaries were in post -

Malcom Rifkind, now Sir Malcom Rifkind, now cosily ensconced in the safe Tory seat of Kensington, as far as possible from his electoral failures in Scotland

Ian Lang, now Baron Lang of Monkton, safely ensconced in the House of Lords.

Michael Forsyth, now Baron Forsyth of Drumlean, a sworn enemy of Scottish devolution and the Scottish Parliament, also safely ensconced in the House of Lords

The Labour Scottish Secretaries, with a couple of notable exceptions - exceptions that prove the rule - have been as bad as the Tories, and have tended to have a close, sometimes intimate association with defence matters and defence companies.

Why? Because the UK exists to perpetuate the concept of war as the operating principle of the state, and war and armaments are very profitable businesses.

(Jim Murphy, last Labour SSforS but one (the brief Danny Alexander), is now predictably Shadow Minister of Defence, following the template closely.)

And what of Michael Moore, the current incumbent? He is quoted as saying -

"I've just done (sic) the worst crime a politician can commit. It's one of the reasons most folks distrust us as a breed"

Brian Taylor, BBC, asked him today what on earth he was doing in coalition with the Tories in the light of Moore's previous criticisms of them?  Moore glibly replies that he was talking about the situation 30 years ago. Will he resign? Of course not - there's the ministerial salary car, the illusion of status and the guarantee of reward at the end of it all.

Join the ancient and contemptible club, Michael - you deserve the perks. But Scotland doesn't deserve you or your ilk.

Rachel Johnson (Boris’ sister) and the Haggis – happy tweeting time …

A cordial exchange of tweets with Rachel Johnson over the Scottish national delicacy and its alternative use as a missile.

I have to hand it to Rachel – she has a sense of humour and the family quality of not taking herself too seriously. I like her in spite of myself …

clip_image001moridura Peter Curran

@TheLadyMagazine @RachelSJohnson Will you be sponsoring a haggis-throwing contest in Scotland, Rachel?

clip_image002RachelSJohnson Rachel Johnson

@moridura yup. Will be in stocks outside the clootie dumpling on the main street waiting for the haggis-pelting to commence

clip_image001[1]moridura Peter Curran

@RachelSJohnson I've asked them to reprieve you, Rachel. You have rendered an invaluable service to the cause of Scotland's independence.


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Tuition fees – a defining issue for Holyrood elections May 2011

The student vote is vital for a number of obvious reasons: they are young, in the early stages of political awareness, intelligent and articulate, sceptical, new media savvy – and the future belongs to them.




The tuition fees debate has captured the imagination of students and catalysed student protest in a way that has not been seen for many decades. The young have a powerful sense of justice, and of right and wrong, something that many lose as the pressures of adult life and career exert their often insidious grip on the conscience, sometime recovered in late maturity, sometimes never …

And bluntly, the tuition fees debate affects their interest very directly, both economically and socially, and has the power to cross family political allegiances and traditions.

A political party that cannot capture the imagination of the young and appeal to their idealism must question its policy and thrust: a nationalist party that cannot legitimately secure the allegiance of the youth of its nation by appealing to its intellect and emotions is not worthy of the name. If we do not want an independent Scotland for our young people, who hold the future in their hands and their hearts, what do we want it for?

Let’s get a few facts straight -

The commitment of Scotland to free education is fundamental to its history and its national character, and charging for education is alien to Scots.

The establishment of fee paying educational institutions is, and always has been, an attempt to buy privilege, while paying lip service to excellence. Fees automatically discriminate in favour of the those with money, are inextricably related to class and perpetuate and widen class divisions.

The smokescreen of the poor but worthy parents struggling to raise the money to educate their children is a self-serving myth, but a myth rooted in a small reality. A minority undoubtedly do this, but they shouldn’t have to, and the majority give up and accept their allotted subordinate role in the system. The same myth and same tiny reality exists in relation to the poor student taking second jobs and scrimping and saving to go to university. Some do, but they damage their education in so doing, and shouldn’t have to do it. A significant proportion give up the unequal struggle, and some never undertake it.

This myth is also deeply rooted in the American psychology – of the poor boy working his way through college. The American reality is that of a privileged elite buying their education, perpetuating their class, and dominating the professions and the entire political and economic system, regardless of inherent ability. It is a trick they learned from Britain, where the domination of money and privilege in securing an Oxbridge education ensures the dominance of Oxbridge graduate in our deeply flawed and unequal society.

Every analysis and all the statistics support that. Look at Parliament, the House of Lords, the Law, the City, the banks, medicine, the churches, the media and the upper echelons of the armed services if you doubt it. The figures are unchallengeable, and the inequity unspeakable. Only in sport and the performing arts does the the model fail, and the reason why is clear. Mediocrity and incompetence can be concealed in almost any profession, but in sport and the arts, there is nowhere to hide, although the administration and control of these direct contributors often falls into the hands of the elites.

If you doubt any of this, look at the background of those who regularly spout the self-serving poor boy, poor family myth – they are invariably the privileged, usually privileged over several generations. They must perpetuate the lie to defend that privilege – equality of education is deeply threatening to their class.

What can be said with absolute certainty is the the ConLib policy on education will limit access to higher education to the rich and privileged, with few exceptions and that is what the Tories intend it to do, aided by the criminal folly of the their LibDems partners.

Just as their distaste for the public services manifests itself as concern for the nations finances, so does their distaste for equality of opportunity hide behind the need to balance the books. This is a predominantly rich and privileged Government, containing a few token self-made men and women, conducting an ideological class war against ordinary people and their legitimate aspirations under the cloak of the national economic interest.

THE CURRENT SITUATION

1. It is Scotland’s responsibility to offer free education to Scottish students and students permanently living in Scotland.

2. It is not in Scotland’s economic interest to offer free education to students from Europe or the rest of the UK, however, present EU legislation compels us to offer free higher education to EU students – the Umbria/Cumbria rule. It does not, however compel us to offer free education to students from the rest of the UK, since the UK is regarded as the state by the EU.

3. It is in Scotland’s interest to attract paying students from the rest of the world, and ideally we would also like EU students to pay.

4. The demands from the UK that Scotland should offer free education to Students from England in the interests of ‘fairness’ is nonsense – it would negate the whole purpose of devolved government’s freedom to decide how its money should be spent in areas of expenditure over which it has discretion. If English students didn’t pay, some other area of Scotland’s expenditure would suffer, and in the light of the draconian fees (up to £9000 per annum) that the ConLib UK government is imposing, there would be a flood of English students to Scottish universities at the expenses of places for Scottish students.

WHERE THE REAL PROBLEM LIES

The real problem is twofold. Firstly, it lies with the fact that the UK government not only wants to charge students for their higher education, it intends to radically increase the charges.

Secondly, the UK government has not yet come to grips with the reality of devolved government in Scotland. Blair and the Labour Party, and the British Establishment thought it would be an event, not a process, one that would kill the aspirations of the Scottish people for independence.

But the contradictions within the devolved settlement – which is being extended under Calman – will ironically prove right the diehard unionist critics of devolution like Lord Forsyth and Tam Dalyell. It is a process that will lead inevitably and inexorably to full fiscal autonomy and ultimately to full independence, however long it takes, and however many reverses and staging posts there may be along the way.

Sooner or later, the Scottish people will be free of the crippling burden of UK defence and deterrence policy, enslaved as they are to US foreign policy – a policy that has led to half a century of perpetual conflict and war by America on the rest of the world, and the associated crimes against humanity that are more widely recognised every day, by Americans as well as the rest of the world.

(If you doubt the above assertions, watch the John Pilger documentary, ‘The War You Don’t See’ – see link)

Wikileaks has rendered an incalculable service to humanity by releasing that which the military/industrial complex that dominates the US and the UK wishes to keep hidden, so that they can continue in the lunatic policy of eternal war as the operating principle of their respective states, masquerading as free democracies.

The War You Don't See - John Pilger

Scotland, a small northern nation, but one with a unique place in the world’s history, must be free of that poisoned alliance, and the sooner the better. Tuition fees will be a defining issue in next years Holyrood elections that will take us closer to that ultimate objective.

The Scottish National Party must speak with a clear, unequivocal voice on the issue before May 2011.

Saor Alba!