Search topics on this blog

Google+ Badge

Showing posts with label Scotland and the SNP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland and the SNP. Show all posts

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Key Facts – all you need to know about Scotland’s independence and the referendum …

I am an individual Scottish voter, I have no role within the SNP, and my opinions are my own. I am an SNP supporter but no longer a party member. I first published this in November 2011

Here are the facts that I have heard from the SNP, in publicly available statements, from printed material, newspapers, periodicals and from the broadcast media – they have been freely available to every member of the Scottish electorate.

I have no trouble understanding them, and I cannot imagine that any adult voter would have trouble understanding them. Frankly, a moderately intelligent 12-year old would understand them. But clearly the large sections of the media, politicians and spokespersons for unionist parties are either unable or unwilling to understand them.

THE KEY FACTS, AS I UNDERSTAND THEM

The SNP stated in its manifesto that, if elected, it would hold a consultative referendum on Scotland’s independence, with a YES/NO question. If the answer is YES, the Scottish voters will have mandated the Scottish Government to negotiate the timing and terms of securing Scotland’s independence with the UK Westminster Government.

The Scottish Government will be fully mandated by the sovereign Scottish People to reach agreed terms in those negotiations, subject to core stated major policy positions, e.g. non-nuclear.

The SNP has defined independence in exactly the same way as every independent democratic country in the world defines it – total freedom to act in the interests of Scotland in every aspect of Scottish life – law, defence and foreign policy, taxation and fiscal policy, public services, relations with other nations, etc.

(No other nation in history has ever felt the need to explain to its people what independence meant in more detail than that, nor has any free people, even when suffering under non-democratic regimes, ever been in doubt what independence meant.)

Only Scottish voters - as defined by normal criteria of eligibility to vote in Scottish and UK elections, plus new provisions for 16 and 16 year-olds - will be eligible to vote. Scottish, in this context, does not refer to country of birth or ethnic group but to eligibility to vote in Scottish elections.

The referendum timing, legality and how other key questions will be handled have now been agreed in the historic referendum agreement with the UK Government.

The SNP will establish relationships with other nations through normal diplomatic means, and will seek to be a part of relevant interest grouping with other nations, such as the European Union and the United Nations. There is no doubt whatsoever that one of the world’s oldest nations, one that has had made a major contribution to that world in every field of human endeavour, with a distinctive history and culture that is recognised instantly in every part of the globe, would be accepted into the European Union and the United Nations.

The SNP will maintain a Scottish defence force and will protect the traditional identities of Scottish defence groupings. Serving members of the armed forces will be offered a free choice to either join Scottish defence forces or remain in UK defence forces.

The SNP will be part of defence alliances that it considers relevant to Scotland’s defence interests, and to the maintenance of our democratic way of life, and will take part in international operations as part of a coalition of forces in pursuit of objectives with which it agrees.

The SNP is committed to retaining the Queen -and her natural successors - as the constitutional monarch of Scotland.

The SNP is committed equally to a strong, vibrant private sector and to first-rate public services, properly funded and supported in an independent Scotland.  The SNP sees the private sector and the public sector as being complementary vital parts of a civilised nation, of equal significance and status, and not as in competition for recognition or resources.

The SNP is committed to supporting businesses large and small, and to the re-industrialisation of Scotland significantly based on alternative sources of renewable energy. The SNP is committed to supporting a strong, properly regulated and controlled financial and banking industry in Scotland. It is committed to supporting tourism and leisure. It is committed to free higher educations, and to fully supporting our world-class educational institution, ancient and modern.

The SNP will retain sterling as its currency until such time as it may seem in the interests of Scotland to change that, and such a change would be put to the Scottish people in a referendum.

The SNP will not join the Euro until it is in the interests of the people of Scotland to do so, and only after a referendum on joining the Euro.

The SNP asserts that the Scottish People are sovereign.

NOTE: In my original version of this, I reflected the anti-NATO policy.

The policy on NATO membership changed on 19th October to one of seeking NATO membership, providing rUK and NATO accept a non-nuclear Scotland and the removal of Trident weapons systems from an independent Scotland.

SUMMARY

That’s all I really need to know to determine how I will vote in the referendum. My thanks to the Scottish Government and the SNP for keeping me and every other Scottish voter so fully and frankly informed.

My reason for choosing the Scottish National Party to vote for in May 2007 and in May 2011 is that they are the only major party committed to delivering the independence of Scotland.

(I have heard no coherent case for the preservation of the Union. Such conflicting arguments as have been offered have relied on a combination of vested interest groups, unelected bodies and individuals, nostalgia and emotionalism, scaremongering, indefensible statistics and a staggering lack of belief in and contempt for the Scottish people and their ability to run their own affairs.)

My reasons for wishing to be independent are -

the inability of the Union of 1707 ever to deliver equity and justice to all of the people of Scotland

the fact that the United Kingdom is not, and never has been a true democracy, but a coalition of unelected wealth, power, privilege and special interest groups, notably the military/industrial complex allied to and controlling a compliant political class and legal establishment

the staggering incompetence displayed in recent times (which I define as the last forty years) of all of the three main UK parties when in government, exemplified by the spectacular financial, fiscal, social and foreign policy incompetence displayed by the Labour Government 1997-2010 and currently being displayed by the Tory/LibDem Coalition since 2010.

A core policy reason for my support for the SNP and independence is that it is the only way we can have a nuclear-free Scotland, and only the SNP and Scotland’s independence will deliver that.

It therefore follows that my nuclear objectives cannot be delivered by anything short of independence, and therefore remaining in the UK but with radically increased powers – the devo max or full fiscal autonomy option cannot meet my requirements, nor that of many Scots voters.

Friday, 13 January 2012

One of my contributions to the Guardian online debate on Scottish independence

COMMENT 13th January 2012 Guardian debate

Response to RobCNW6, 13 January 2012 9:22PM

Sorry you saw my comment as a rant. I wasn't seeking to get warm friendship, cooperation and support, but to offer it. The UK is a political entity, not a country or a nation, or a people. That it is failing is abundantly evident from the events of the last few years, a failure which politicians from my country played a major and cynical part in.

The Scottish Nationalist are not 'secretly about' anything - there's no hidden agenda, no conspiracy - it's up there for all to see and judge. But bluntly, at the moment, we are doing things better than the rest of the UK, because we have had a government for almost the last five years that, despite the limitations of devolution, and the concerted efforts of the UK parties to frustrate it, has focused on the people and their needs - on all of the people, especially the old, sick, poor and vulnerable - not just a privileged, venal elite.

Our young men and women in the armed forces are dying, as are those of the other nations of the UK, in foreign wars that we did not choose. Their coffins return draped in the flag of the Union. We have lethal weapons of mass destruction in our waters that we do not choose to have.

We are indeed no better as a people than anyone else in these isles, and Scots played their full, brutal, oppressive part in Empire as you say. Our focus is changing that, on the future, not the past. But the empire suited a minority of Scots right down to the ground, not the mass of the people, who were brutalised and impoverished by it, as were the mass of the English people. The most brutal and cynical of oppressors of the Scots were Scots who embraced that corruption and greed, and we still have them.

That's what we want to change - and will. England must make its own change, and I am confident that they will. Again, I wish you well.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Lies, damned lies and stats - UCAS and student fees - and post hoc ergo propter hoc

There are still a few innocent souls out there who believe that such a thing as an objective media report exists, free from all that nasty politics thing. Aye, weel …

The ancient logical fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc -that because one thing follows another, it was therefore caused by it - has been much in evidence, partly out of the mouths – and the pens – of those stupid enough to believe in it, but mainly from political parties and their media mouthpieces, who find it convenient to adopt the fallacy even when they know it is nonsense.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc abounds in religious thinking, e.g. everybody else’s house fell down in the gales, mine didn’t, therefore God loves me, or alternatively, natural disasters are God’s way of punishing  mankind for homosexuality, etc.

It is also highly evident in much right-wing thought: right-wing American republican presidential candidates seem addicted to it, as they do to fundamentalist religious doctrines. Post hoc ergo propter hoc is in fact primitive thinking that preceded logic and the scientific method – a desperate attempt to explain apparently arbitrary events and avoid their negative consequences, by both propitiating supernatural powers deemed to have caused them and finding some scapegoat believed to have provoked the supernatural power, i.e. a god or gods.

TUITION FEES

Tuition fees have become a highly political issue since the LibDems abandoned their principles, the Tories underlined the absence of principles in their pernicious creed, and the Labour Party continued their search for their principles, which went missing somewhere in the last generation or so. The SNP, who actually have principles and are prepared to put them into action politically (e.g. Megrahi Release, minimum pricing for alcohol, access to education by ability to learn, not ability to pay, etc.) very definitely regard tuition fees as a political issue, and indeed a defining issue for Scotland.

Politicians of all political hues have been waiting either eagerly or apprehensively for the UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UK) interim figures on application for university places, post hoc ergo propter hoc arguments ready to hand, together with a large statistics hammer to render the truth malleable and shape it to their ends.

The Coalition is desperate to justify their decision to increase tuition fees. UK Labour, devoid of any clarity in policy terms, simply wants to attack the Coalition. The scurrying rump of the Coalition parties in Scotland have a dual interest – to support their UK bosses and to attack the SNP. The Scottish Labour Party, perhaps the most confused of all - in their values, their policies and their split allegiance to Westminster and Scotland - will do anything to serve their only real allegiance, which is to their careers and the Westminster gravy train.

And so to the reports today -

The UCAS report costs money to access, so I have no access to the original figures – the interim report. (If anyone can point me to a free version of it, I will be obliged.)

My first intimation was the following paragraph from Reform Scotland -

Studying at Scottish universities: Figures released by UCAS show overall applications to Scottish universities rose by 0.8 per cent in December compared with the same time last year.  The rise includes a 0.1 per cent increase from Scottish students, a 7.6 per cent increase in applications from the EU, though applications from the rest of the UK fell.

Reform Scotland went on to refer to press reports, but whether their figures were drawn from the press, or from the original report is unclear. They draw no conclusion from the figures, at least in this summary.

The Courier -Dundee and Tayside - mysteriously reads the UCAS report to mean that the December figures are ‘down only 0.8%’ but comments that it was the best performance in the UK, which it notes was down by 8.3%.

The Telegraph claims the UK figures are ‘down by almost 8%’  and notes that there has been ‘a sharp drop in demand from candidates from mainland Europe who pay the same fees as their British counterparts.’

Note that British. Clearly, the Telegraph either no longer regards Scotland as British, or intends that phrase to mean that in Scotland, the EU candidates pay the same as Scottish students, i.e. nothing. But the Telegraph still reports UCAS insisting that ‘figures showed a late surge in applications as many students take more time over decisions’.

What UCAS actually said was that the mid-December figures did not reflect the likelihood of a late surge by the deadline for most course, January 15th, and that this late surge was already emerging.

The Financial Times is about as objective a print medium as one can find, since, as I observed in a recent blog, “money ain’t funny”., and their hard-eyed readers want the facts, man, not political spin and prejudice.

The FT reaches a conclusion from the figures – that school leavers have not been deterred from applying to university because of higher costs, but older students have. It also notes that the number of British 18-year olds applying for a university place in 2012 had fallen by 2.4%, but that this fall was in line with the demographic decline for people in that age bracket.

The FT also accurately reports the UCAS comment on the likely late surge as the January deadline approaches. It also concludes the previous increases in fees hadn’t affected applications.

THE SCOTTISH PRESS – Herald and Scotsman

Now we come to the gentlemen of the Scottish ‘quality’ press, Latin scholars to man, to whom the post hoc ergo propter hoc argument is often a matter of journalistic necessity when real life and real data tell a politically inconvenient story.

The Herald is in no doubt what the figures say and what the story should be. A large chunk of page 8, under the heading NEWS, a label that sometimes has to be approached with caution when reading the Herald or the Scotsman – a case of caveat emptor or maybe caveat lector. The headline is Fall in applications from rest of UK to Scots universities, with the sub-header Concern as tuition fees look to have had impact on potential students’.

The first two paragraphs give Andrew Denholm’s understanding of the UCAS figures -

“SCOTTISH universities have seen a decline in the number of applications from prospective students from other parts of the UK after moves to charge them higher fees.

“Official figures from Ucas, the universities admissions service, show applications from England, Wales and Northern Ireland have dropped by 5% over the past year from 24,979 to 23,689.”

Note the gentle lead in to post hoc ergo propter hoc – after moves to charge them higher fees.

The third paragraph rather hammers home the sub-agenda -

The decline follows the decision by the Scottish Government to allow universities north of the Border to introduce fees of up to £9000 for students from the rest of the UK (RUK).”

Aye, right, Andrew, we’ve got it, OK …

They quote Mary Senior, Scottish Official of the UCU lecturers’ union, who is worried by the drop, but has no doubts about the cause. (The UCU is not affiliated to the Labour Party. Mary Senior is a former Assistant General Secretary to the STUC.)

It is still concerning that the introduction of significant tuition fees is having an impact in this way,” says Mary confidently. (Watch out for that old post hoc, etc. Mary!)

Have a word with another Mary, Mary – Mary Curnock, UCAS Chief Executive, who says

"Evidence of a late surge as the 15 January deadline approaches is now emerging. Applicants are taking longer to research their choices but the applications flow has speeded up, as these statistics show."

Or Nicola Dandridge, CE of Universities UK, who speaks for vice chancellors and says -

As expected, December saw a significant increase in applications. This suggests that people have been thinking carefully about their choices and are waiting longer to make their decisions. It is very possible that the increase in applications will now continue right up until the 15 January 2012 deadline.”

Or look at the FT report, which noted that applications to Scottish institutions were only down 112, year-on-year, from 14,729 to 14,617.

Mary, however, has an ally in Robin Parker, President of the NUS Scotland, who also confidently claims the decline in English students on fees. No wishy-washy waiting around for January 15th deadlines for Robin – he just knows

But Robin does note that Scottish students heading for English universities “might be put of by the trebling of fees south of the border ..” Now there I think you might just have a point, Robin. I didn’t need a degree to reach that tentative speculation.

The Scotsman, in marked contrast, majors on the late surge - Eleventh-hour rush by Scots to study at ‘home’ universities – and provides a fairly comprehensive report that includes the Mary Curnock comment on the surge. It largely avoid post hoc propter hoc. Every ready with a quote, NUS Robin Parker pops up again, this time to congratulate the Scottish Government for”the right decision by the Scottish Parliament to keep education in Scotland free”, but repeats his Herald post hoc conclusion – “The same can’t be said for students from the rest of the UK, though, as we again see a decline in numbers, due to the imposition of fees and the reckless decision by some Scottish institutions to charge the highest amount in the UK.”

And what does the SNP have to say?

Commenting, SNP MSP and Member of the Education Committee, Marco Biagi MSP said:

“These figures, which now represent a very large proportion of applications – showing a rise in applications to Scottish universities by students from Scotland, in stark contrast to the position south of the Border – are a vindication of the Scottish Government’s policy of no tuition fees.

“We are fortunate that – thanks to the SNP Government – the betrayal of students by the Lib Dems in coalition with the Tories at Westminster does not apply to Scots students studying in Scotland.

“The SNP’s investment in our universities and maintenance of our policy on no tuition fees means that young Scots have free access to some of the best universities in the world – universities that draw applications from around the globe. The English higher education sector by contrast faces an uncertain future, and according to UCAS’s figures have seen a 7% drop in the total number of applications this year.

“Within England there has been a staggering drop of 8.3% of English students applying to study, while in here in Scotland there has in fact been an increase in Scots-domiciled students applying to Scottish universities, as well as an increase overall.

“Its abundantly clear that the Conservative/Lib Dem UK government’s tuition fees are damaging English universities and reducing opportunities for England’s young people.

“The message has clearly got across to Scotland’s young people that the ridiculous and damaging policies of the UK Government don’t apply here, and that they continue to have the opportunity for tuition free education in Scotland’s world class universities.”

 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Dalmarnock property deals - the polis - and some links to remind you of what was done in the name of The Commonwealth Games by GCC

If you think it’s over, Glasgow Labour City Council – think again …

http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/4019-glasgow-council-facing-police-probe-over-commonwealth-games-property-deals#comment-106368

http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/4037068/Cops-probe-Commonwealth-Games-deals.html

http://www.heraldscotland.com/owner-of-2014-games-village-site-could-have-made-more-1.874567

MORIDURA BLOG LINKS

http://moridura.blogspot.com/2011/01/tale-of-two-newspapers-herald-and.html

http://moridura.blogspot.com/2011/01/great-bulwarks-against-corruption-in.html

http://moridura.blogspot.com/2011/01/margaret-jaconelli-fair-compensation-or.html

http://moridura.blogspot.com/2011/01/glasgow-city-council-and-glasgow-press.html

http://moridura.blogspot.com/2011/01/snp-must-act-now-on-margaret-jaconelli.html

http://moridura.blogspot.com/2011/01/margaret-jaconelli-and-glasgow-city.html

http://moridura.blogspot.com/2011/01/unhappy-tweeting-time-margaret.html

http://moridura.blogspot.com/2010/11/margaret-jaconelli-caseanother-crichel.html

http://moridura.blogspot.com/2010/11/margaret-jaconelli-case-injustice-in.html

http://moridura.blogspot.com/2010/10/donald-trump-glesca-granny-and-scope.html

Language and nationalism - Expolangues 2012

A vital element in the nationalist’s awareness and in the movement for independence is language – languages in the case of Scotland. Siôn Rees Williams is a Welsh patriot, academic and teacher, and has maintained a keen interest in Scottish nationalism and Scottish affairs. He has something important to say about Expolangues, and I am delighted to reproduce his comments in full below -

From Siôn Rees Williams -

Expolangues 2012

A call to patriots everywhere -

Some of you may remember my previous articles after my visit to the international language fair, Expolangues, which has been held yearly in Paris, France since 1982. My activities there and the role I have played as an unofficial ambassador for Wales since 1998 can be found at -

 http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/1836-expolangues-a-special-report-by-the-welsh-cultural-ambassador-and-exhibitor.html.

This year sees Expolangues celebrating its thirtieth birthday, and coincidentally, my tenth year as my country’s sole exhibitor and representative. The homepage for the Expo is www.expolangues.fr. The event will be held from 1 – 4 February 2012 in its usual home of Porte de Versailles, in the heart of the French capital.

The first day is traditionally for professionals only, but the subsequent days are open to the language interested public, who may want to understand the latest developments in language studies, book a foreign holiday with a family element attached, peruse the latest software, textbooks and audio-visual material for language learning, or just spend one hour getting to grips with the basics of a new language.

This latter activity involves professionally qualified teachers delivering lessons in the Classroom or Language Kiosk without charge. Pens and paper are supplied and students enabled to speak basic Japanese, Tibetan, Catalan, Arabic or Welsh. (Or for the serious student – all the above!)

You will see therefore where I fit in. Not only do I ‘walk the talk’ as the Expo’s sole roving exhibitor, I also give a language lesson in my mother tongue through the medium of French. This year, I am due to present and involve students from 12.00pm to 1.00pm on Friday 3rd February.

For further details, see http://www.expolangues.fr/animationsELgb/theclassroom.html

I would therefore be very grateful for any show of support from kindred spirits who read this, be they from Scotland or elsewhere and who would like to share with me the experience of promoting their homeland and its culture to a wider, more appreciative, international audience.

If you require any further information  you may contact me.

Come one, come all and reaffirm your auld alliance!

Thank you in advance.

My email is  sionees1@yahoo.co.uk

Siôn Rees Williams (Welsh Sion)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Who are You?–Who?Who? Who,who?

It’s not often I’ll quote a lyric from song from what I think of as the modern songbook, which I define as from about 1955 onwards. I know that covers almost 60 years, but we’re talking history here, the perspective of over a century of popular song. From about 1890-1955 can reasonably be seen as the classic period at least of Western popular song, and in that period, that meant mainly American popular song.

This was the time when the songwriter - the melody man (it usually was a man, with apologies to the great Dorothy Fields) and the lyricist – the wordsmith – were usually different people, with formidable exceptions like Cole Porter.

Anything Goes - Cole Porter

The singer/songwriter was a comparatively rare bird back then, and I have to say I would have been a happier man for the last fifty years or so had it remained a rare species. There was a kind of brief renaissance of quality popular song in the mid-sixties to the seventies, and since then the great musical desert, with the odd oasis and many mirages.

So unashamedly, my tastes lie with BCCA music (Before the Crap Came Along) and with melodies that span more than half a diatonic octave, with harmonies a little more ambitious than four simple chords.

Take time out now to dismiss me as an old man out of synch with popular culture, then we can move on. Get to the point, for ****’s, Peter! I hear you –I hear you …

The Who’s little anthem embedded itself in my mind with the CSI series, and despite my earlier rant, I admire the Who for their longevity and formidable achievements in modern popular music, and there can be no doubt that their music and lyrics, for many, reflect the culture and the times of the last half century.

Their question – Who are you – Who? Who? Who, who? – resonates in Britain and in Scotland at the moment over national identity, and polls on perceptions of that identity, or multiple identities, pop up all over the pace, prompted by the resurgence of Scottish national identity and its questioning of Britishness, a cobbled-together identity designed to support an uneasy union of vigorous and distinctive national identities subsumed within an Empire, one now in terminal decline.

The Guardian has an interesting piece today by David Marquand, principal of Mansfield College, Oxford, author of The End of the West, which is not about the last days of Wyatt Earp, but a a rather bigger topic. Entitled England’s identity crisis - England's visceral Europhobia may break up the UK – it is a short, but important piece, and it has two paragraphs that contain fundamental insights and truth that are rare from south of the border -

“… The Scots and Welsh know who they are. For centuries, they have had two identities – their own, and a wider British one. They are unfazed by the discovery of a third European identity as well. They are at home in Europe, where multiple identities are becoming the norm. To them, it seems only right that Europe's once monolithic sovereign states now have to share power, both with a supranational union and with rediscovered nations, principalities and provinces within their borders. Along with Catalans, Basques, Flemings, Walloons, Corsicans, Sardinians and even Bretons, the Scots and Welsh are emerging from a homogenising central state of the recent past.”

“… Above all, the English of the 21st century no longer know who they are. They used to think that "English" and "British" were synonymous. Now they know that they are not. But they don't know how Englishness and Britishness relate to each other, and they can't get used to the notion of multiple identities. Until they do, I don't see how the crisis in Britain's relationship with continental Europe can be resolved. If it isn't, the most likely prospect is of further European political union and the break-up of the UK, with England staying out and Scotland and Wales going in.”

Any Scot who still thinks that Scotland is not now set upon an inevitable path towards independencenot separation - in a new, interdependent relationship with its European – and Scandinavian - neighbours is engaged in nostalgic self-delusion, and is on the wrong side of of an inevitable historical process.

Who are we? Who? Who? Who, who? We are the sovereign Scottish people, ancient and proud Europeans and good neighbours. And that includes our English neighbours, slightly confused about who they are at the moment …


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Money ain’t funny – The Financial Times

Once upon a time, back in the days when nobody had a home computer, laptop, mobile phone or iPad, my daily newspapers at work – paid for by my employer, Goodyear - were The Financial Times and The Glasgow Herald (it didn’t become The Herald until 1992). At home, I took The Guardian, which I had read since my teens, when it was called The Manchester Guardian.

Goodyear, notoriously parsimonious in peripheral expenses, nonetheless required its managers, especially those in finance and and employee relations, to stay up to date with both local and national issues and current affairs. I maintained a clippings file from both papers of items I considered relevant. (I remember specifically in June 1972 cutting out a small, obscure item at the bottom of an FT page reporting a burglary in a Washington Hotel called the Watergate, which housed the Democratic Party campaign HQ.)

I was highly politically aware back then, primarily because of the dynamically changing industrial relations scene and legislative context, polarised politically between the Tories and Labour. What struck me forcibly about the Financial Times was its total objectivity about politics. It had to be objective, because those engaged in the hard-edged business of money didn’t want the facts to be spun – they could get political bias from The Telegraph/Guardian polarity, but as my American bosses used to say – money ain’t funny, Pete – got to be able to tell shit from Shinola.

(One prime reason for the global financial mess that we’re now in is that international bankers and financiers, especially the formerly hard-eyed Americans, lost the capacity to tell shit from Shinola. Either that, or they ceased to care …)

I rarely buy the FT these days, because it’s not cheap, but yesterday, fed-up with the Christmas trivia in my usual papers, I bit the bullet and forked out £2.80 for the familiar pink pages. I had quite forgotten the superb quality of the typography and illustrations, both artistic and graphical, and the content didn’t disappoint either.

Among the items that caught my eye were these -

Hedge fund partners earn $3bn amid crisis –Amid the eurozone debt crisis and a stuttering UK economy, three of London’s biggest hedge funds are on course to pay their tiny clique of top managers more that $3bn dollars this year”

Needless to say of the three only one remains domiciled in Britain. Don’t let anyone tell me these people are worth it or that they add to the sum total of human happiness.

Unions pushed to agree pensions deal …. Frantic last-minute negotiations raised the possibility that the alliance of more than 29 unions that brought more than 1m workers out on strike on November 30th could fragment.

“… The government has threatened it may withdraw its latest offer, including protection for those within 10 years of retirement and a more generous rate for accruing pensions benefits, unless a preliminary agreement is reached by year-end.”

We need religion in politics to provide morality that society lacks, says Cameron –God needs to be put back into politics, David Cameron has argued, treading into an area usually studiously avoided by politics.”

Big Society is ‘damaged’ brand – The Big Society has been irreparably damaged as a brand through government spending cuts and a failure by politicians tosell the idea to the public, according to one of the most prominent figures in the charity world.” (Sir Stephen Bubb)

Churchill is a poor lodestar for Cameron’s isolationism.”

This article by Peter Clarke, former professor of modern British history at Cambridge, closes with these words -

“ … Nothing he [Churchill] said or did in 1940 justifies appropriating his name for a policy of isolation from Europe. His own speeches about the importance of the European idea reveal his own sentiments. And his hardheaded political realism, as Britain’s wartime leader, meant that he never chose to stand alone.”

I stood in Duke Street, Glasgow, at the wall of the cattle market just opposite Dunchattan Street during the Second World War, to boo Churchill as he sped past in his open-topped car, wearing a siren suit and giving the V for Victory sign.  We Dunchattan Street boys, street urchins, gave him the sign of the archers at Agincourt right back. Churchill's visits to Glasgow WWII

Maybe we were too harsh to Winnie. And maybe God – or the Archbishop of Canterbury - could have a word with the hedge fund managers about their $3bn bonanza. But I won’t live in hope. After all, somebody once said “the poor we always have with us …”

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Douglas Alexander at Stirling–the final ‘What Labour Must Do’ speech?

I pose the question in the title, but the answer, sadly,  is no – Gerry Hassan could not resist, and yet another example of the genre is up under his name in The Scotsman today – Scottish Labour must find a new, dynamic story. Perhaps Gerry is encouraged by the fact that the doyen of the genre is off to the antipodes and the field is clear. However, Gerry is always worth reading and his heart and his heid are in the right place, and his voice is and will continue to be a powerful one in the new Scotland.

And so to Wee Dougie’s speech

In my estimation, Douglas Alexander is the most intelligent unionist politician on the UK scene from any party, and therein lies his tragedy, because he is also a Labour careerist whose brightest prospect has always been the high road to England, to Westminster and to an international stage. I have no objection to him being any of these things – the Scottish lad o’pairts whose ambitions are not bounded by national boundaries is a recognised historical figure, prominent in the British Empire and world affairs, including, regrettably, in some of that crumbling empire’s worst excesses.

I just don’t want him to have anything to do with the future of Scotland, or to pretend that he somehow speaks for that future or advances Scotland’s interests in any way by being part of geopolitics based on the US/UK military/industrial war machine and the pretence that the UK is a player of significance on the international stage.

He is a Scot out of the same mould as George Robertson, John Reid, Jim Murphy and Liam Fox, not the infinitely superior mould of Donald Dewar, Robin Cook, John Smith and Henry McLeish.

Fortunately his penetrating intelligence is not accompanied by charisma, his persona being that of a young Minister of the Kirk. We have seen what the lethal mixture of unbridled ambition and charisma can do in Tony Blair, and one of those in a generation is more than enough to leave a trail of death, misery and destruction across half the globe. I also believe that he has a core of genuine values, rather in the way that Gordon Brown does, values that conflict with ambition. In both cases, greater fulfilment might have been achieved by pursuing a career in the ministry. (They both are sons of the manse.)



THE SPEECH

Douglas started his speech with a reference to Dunsinane, and posed the question “Stands Scotland where it did?”

As I observed in my clip of his Newsnight Scotland interview with Gordon Brewer, he seems oblivious to the fact that the wood of Dunsinane was advancing on a murderous king who had lost his moral compass, and the closest analogy to that is of the Scottish People, represented by the SNP Government that they placed their trust in so decisively, advancing on the party, Labour, that lost its moral compass by associating itself completely with a murderous regime, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The only question is who will play Banquo’s ghost in this new version of the Scottish play?

Douglas then ranges widely in his metaphors, dragging in General Custer with the unlikely figure of the Wee Laird O’Drumlean in the role of the blonde, charismatic Custer in his last stand.

But he goes on to a sober, clear-eyed recognition of the scale of Labour’s Scottish humiliation, and takes as his main theme “Scotland’s political future and Scottish Labour’s place therein”. (The old cadences of the manse and the pulpit echo!)

He claims that the great debate on Scotland’s future will not be “an exercise in accounting but ruefully acknowledges his central role in just such an exercise – Divorce is an Expensive Business 1999 and says that he does not resile from those fears.

Douglas is being disingenuous – he knows that he is now dealing with a sophisticated and informed Scottish electorate who have experienced directly what thirteen years of Labour economics and eighteen months of Coalition economics have done to their lives and their futures. And he is dealing with a Scottish Government who are able to cut through the miasma of scare tactics and media distortions that the unionist parties and their compliant media have traditionally manipulated to misinform the Scottish people. And of course, the exponential growth of the new media has cut through the lies told by the powerful across the globe like a laser beam.

His campaign in Scotland was fronted by a beaming Tony Blair, with the slogan New Labour – New Scotland, an association that now indelibly and fatally tarnishes his campaign and his party. The voice of the Scots who have died since 1999 in pursuit of that vision cry out for justice, as do some of the bereaved.

The facts – and history – having betrayed him, Douglas moves rapidly on to emotion, philosophy and historical allusions to Plato, David Hume, Ivan Illich, Old Uncle Tam Cobleigh and all.

He focuses on Ivan Illich’s concept of telling an alternative story, and recognises belatedly that “ the stories we tell about ourselves, our communities and our nation are thankfully not the exclusive domain of politicians: writers, musicians, poets and artists help shape our sense of self and also our sense of our nation’s story”.

What should sit uncomfortably with him is that most of the writers, musician, poets and artists tell a story of Scotland, its history and its impending independence, a story of freedom, a story of peace and justice and equality and the common man -  a story that Labour has forfeited all right to tell. Of course, he can always call on Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly, or Niall Ferguson – or maybe Lord George Foulkes to tell their stories and sing their songs.

He goes on a great length about the idea of Margaret Thatcher as villain, as though she was the SNP’s villain, not Labour’s villain. She was certainly the enemy of Scotland, of the Scottish people and of an independent Scotland, as are her Westminster coterie and her Scottish acolytes to this day. What sits uncomfortable with Douglas is that the Scottish people have progressively recognised that Margaret Thatcher was just the figure head and poster girl for a greater, deeper villainy – the villainy of the UK and the British Establishment, and that one of the Iron Lady’s greatest admirers and sedulous imitators was one Anthony Lynton Blair, a Scot of sorts when it suited him, who became her natural successor.

And the Scottish people also recognised that far from delivering them from this exploitative 300 year old tyranny, Labour was and is totally committed to perpetuating it.

The careers paths of Douglas Alexander, of Tony Blair, of Gordon Brown, of John Reid, of George Robertson – and of the likes of Baron Martin of Springburn, of Jim Murphy, of Margaret Curran et al would not be possible without that poisoned Union, and Labour will be condemned to permanent opposition in UK Minus once Scotland goes.

Douglas refers to the “old Labour hymns” becoming increasingly unfamiliar to the Scottish people. They are not unfamiliar, Douglas, they are all too familiar in the tune that they have become – the Dies Irae – the hymn of death, under the flag of blood, the Union Jack.



All the analysis and remedies that follow in your speech are dust and ashes against these facts, Douglas -  a voice crying in the wilderness of Labour values. You and your party - indeed you and your political breed - are on the wrong side of history, on the wrong side of humanity, and certainly on the wrong side of Scotland’s future.

You, and the army of What Labour Must Do voices cannot, and will not offer the real solution to Labour‘s troubles, but the solution will be there for you in Scotland’s independence. On that first joyful day of Scotland’s independence as a nation state, politicians such as yourself will have a clear choice – stand as a candidate under your party banner for a Scottish Parliamentary constituency, or fold your tent, head south and find an English, Welsh or Northern Irish constituency party that will adopt you as their candidate for the UK Minus Parliament, Westmister. In practice, that means an English constituency.

After Scotland’s independence, that won’t exactly be an easy task for you or your ilk, Douglas. You know it, the Jim Murphys know it, the Tom Harrises know it, the Margaret Curran’s know it.  You have made your bed with Westminster and the UK – soon you must lie on it.

As for all the Scottish Lords – aye, weel, there’s a tale to be told …

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Black Gold

Scots – are you prepared to have your oil revenues stolen for another 40 years by the United Kingdom?

what must the answer to the referendum question be?

You know the answer – get ready to give it!

Yes to freedom

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The terms of Scotland’s independence - the great debate …

STOP PRESS

I have been commenting for some time on the deliberate playing down of the defence issue by both pro and anti independence camps, especially the nuclear weapons and bases aspect, which I regard as the crucial issue. As recently as last night’s Newsnight Scotland, this was being skirted around.

But it has now erupted on to the front pages, as it was inevitable that it would, sooner or later. We’re down to the nitty-gritty with a bang, so to speak. Today’s Herald -

SNP anger over Tory warning on defence - Backlash as Fox brands Salmond’s policy on the military nonsense

And some still say the YES/NO referendum campaign hasn’t started! You could have fooled me …

WHERE WE’RE AT

Just a few short weeks ago, Labour was going to win the Holyrood election, the SNP would be out, and Scotland’s independence would be off the agenda for the foreseeable future because the people of Scotland would not be asked what they wanted.

Now we have the SNP in power, with full control of the Parliament, the referendum now certain, with the debate now shifted to the terms of independence.

As an indicator of just how much things have changed, I refer you to the perception of a European now studying in Aberdeen - Ferdinand von Prondzynski - on his blog.

His last paragraph reads -

What do I think? I’m new here, but I have now spoken with a fairly large number of Scottish voters, and I am getting a very consistent message, so consistent that I am going to discard the normal caution of suggesting that this really isn’t a sufficient sample to be useful. Almost everyone I have spoken to who voted SNP has said the same. And to explain it, I might refer to the comment of a BBC commentator on election night, who suggested that the Scots had ‘lost their fear of independence’. That seems to me to get it absolutely right. It doesn’t mean they voted for it when they voted SNP. But it means that they knew that, by voting SNP, they were making independence a live issue. They might still voice caution when polled. But they are there to be persuaded, and expect the persuasion to come. They are not yet all in favour, but they are no longer determined to be against.

It often takes the clear-eyed perception of an outsider (meant in the very best way, Ferdinand - we are delighted to have you in Scotland!) to encapsulate the mood of our nation, and in this paragraph Ferdinand (@vprond on Twitter) has done just that.



There will be no referendum called until the second half of this Scottish Parliament, but we are already in the YES/NO campaign whether we like it or not (some in the SNP feel it is premature) because the NOs are already in full voice. And those who voted SNP but are cautious about independence are, to echo Ferdinand’s words “there to be persuaded, and expect the persuasion to come. They are not yet all in favour, but they are no longer determined to be against.”

THE UNIONIST POSITION - the NOs in full voice

The Unionists’ many positions on the referendum over recent times may be summarised as follow -

PRE-ELECTION POSITIONS

Scotland doesn’t need a a referendum on independence - each UK general election is in effect a referendum.

“If the SNP wants one, bring it on …” The Wendy position.

A referendum would be a needless distraction from the urgent business of sorting out the economic mess “left by Labour” (Coalition position) or “created by the Tory-led Coalition” (Labour position.

The SNP government will be out of office on May 5th 2011, so the referendum is off the agenda.

LATE ELECTION CAMPAIGN POSITION

The SNP is marginalising the independence question - we demand that they bring it up front, so that we may terrify the voters with it.

POST ELECTION POSITIONS

We demand that the new SNP government call a referendum right now. Bring it on …

We demand that the UK government call a referendum right now.

We demand that the referendum be extended to the whole of the UK.

We may give you everything except defence and foreign policy if you abandon the referendum.

No referendum is needed - England (i.e. the UK) should just throw Scotland out of the Union unilaterally.

The SNP has abandoned any real concept of independence, led into the Unionist Promised Land by Jim Sillars

The SNP is split right down the middle over independence - this is the SNP’s Clause Four moment.

This contradictory, confused and intellectually dishonest range of positions reflects the confusion and disarray in the NO camp. The electorate recognised that before the election, and probably recognise it now. They won’t be voting for a new government of Scotland for five years, but they will be voting for Scotland’s future, something of infinitely more significance - and they know it.

THE KEY ISSUES

A few things need to be re-stated. The Scottish government can - and will - introduce a referendum bill to Holyrood in the second half of this Parliament and it will be enacted, given the SNP’s overall majority.

The exact question or questions that will be asked on the referendum ballot paper has/have not yet been decided, but ideas have been floated. The essential choice is between a single question  - will you authorise the Scottish Government to negotiate the terms of independence on your behalf with Westminster - YES or NO, or two or more questions on a range of options, e.g. full independence or something less.

If the answer is NO to any change to the status quo, there is no immediate problem, other than an acrimonious debate about how long it should be before the question is asked again, e.g. a generation (Unionist  position) or not for a while, unspecified (Nationalist position.

It must be clearly understood that a YES vote does not legally bind the UK government to agree to the outcome, but there is a near-consensus that the moral and political force of a YES vote would compel Westminster  to accept the democratic decision of the Scottish people.

But a number of key questions arise from the referendum in addition to those above.

Q1. How much detail on the Scottish Government’s position on the exact nature of independence must the electorate have to make an informed choice, i.e. what are the implications of voting YES? 

Q2. What is the case for voting NO, i.e. for the status quo - no change to the present arrangements?

Q3. If there is a YES vote, should there be a second referendum to ratify the heads of agreement reached by the Scottish Government team and the UK Government?

There are more questions, and sub-sets of questions, but let’s look at these three first. I approach them from the standpoint of a negotiator, but in the context of political realities and the history of other successful independence movements.

Individual negotiators or negotiating teams fall into two broad categories - those who are answerable only to themselves and those who are mandated to negotiate on behalf of others - their principals.

For example, someone negotiating the price of a car with a dealer is usually in category one, and a commercial negotiator acting on behalf of a company, or a trade union negotiator or negotiating team is in category two. The commercial negotiator usually has a single principal, e.g. the purchasing or sales director, or a team of principals, i.e. the Board of directors.

The closest parallel for a Government negotiating team is the trade union example - one might think - with the trade union membership parallel being the electorate. However, this analogy doesn’t hold up in the face of political reality. MPs and MSPs are elected as representatives of the electorate, not as delegates or passive mouthpieces. They are elected on the basis of a manifesto - their prospectus so to speak - but once elected they have - or arrogate - considerable flexibility and discretion on how they exercise that mandate.

The alternative is clearly unworkable, namely to seek democratic ratification of every policy detail by consultation and mini-referendums. The electorate is expected to trust their elected representatives to get on with the job as best they can.

That trust has, of course, often been shamefully betrayed by elected representatives once in office, the most egregious recent example being the betrayal of their supporters by the Liberal Democrats in coalition with the Tories. But even before that betrayal, there was another example which, it can be argued, was simply realistic democratic politics, although some would disagree, namely the negotiations with the Tories about forming the coalition, led by Danny Alexander for the LibDems.

Neither the Tories nor the LibDems spelled out in detail in advance to the people who had elected them the rationale for a coalition (some would say it was self-evident from the election results) and neither party told the electorate what their negotiating objective were in detail. They took their mandate to mean that they had the right to exercise their best judgment without referring back to the electorate, and however unfortunate the outcome, my personal feeling is that they had that right.

Where does this leave us on the three questions posed above? Let’s take them one at a time -

Q1. How much detail on the Scottish Government’s position on the exact nature of independence must the electorate have to make an informed choice, i.e. what are the implications of voting YES?

My simple answer to that is - more than they have at present, despite the SNP’s considerable efforts to conduct a national conversation and to spell out  a great deal of their thinking in writing. This is especially necessary  on defence matters and the nuclear question, nuclear in more sense than one. Liam Fox’s outburst - spontaneous or calculated - has catapulted this question to centre stage in the debate, and the referendum campaign, which has already started, despite protestations to the contrary by some.

I have always regarded the defence issue as central, both in my personal priorities, and to the real nature of the opposition to Scotland’s independence, while recognising that it is not necessarily the issue at the forefront of the electorate’s priorities. (Professor Tom Devine said last  night on Newsnight Scotland that economic issues have determined the outcome of every election, but, with great respect, this ignores the fact that the electorate have never had a clear-cut defence and nuclear option put to them in any of the elections he cites - except by fringe parties - because every major party has effectively been committed to nuclear weapons and the nuclear deterrent.)

The SNP’s position on the status of the Scottish component of British armed forces must be clarified. They are either Scottish forces voluntarily ceded to overall UK co-ordination and control, but with the capacity to veto their participation in any initiative that the Scottish government disapproves of, or they are not. All governments participate in coalitions of forces under a central military control  - the UK forces were under Eisenhower and American control for the D-Day landings, and the UK is presently in a coalition in Afghanistan and in Libya - but national sovereignty reigns supreme.

On the nuclear issue, I have already stated my understanding on this, on Sunday May 15th, as follows -

The First Minister says clearly that an independent Scotland would have the ultimate decision on when to go to war, i.e sacrifice the lives of Scottish servicemen and women – and would not, for example, have supported the invasion of Iraq.

He also says there could be some sensible sharing of military bases. But if that were to extend, for example, to leasing the Trident nuclear bases to UK Minus (The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) after Scotland has achieved independence, then the Scottish Government would have to have a veto on when nuclear weapons were used from its waters, or from a submarine in international waters that was based in Scottish waters.

Since Scotland does not support the use of nuclear weapons or WMDs in any circumstances, UK  Minus (effectively the US) would be leasing bases and owning weapons of mass destruction, e.g. Trident submarines that could never be used.

This would be untenable, therefore Scotland can never lease the nuclear bases to UK Minus.

We cannot reasonably expect the Scottish electorate to vote in an independence referendum without a clear idea of how their new nation is going to be defended.

There are other significant aspects of independence, most of which have been clearly explained by the SNP, verbally and in print, if the unionist opposition and lazy media commentators would take the time to do their homework. For example, the SNP’s commitment to a constitutional monarchy has been clearly stated, and the ancient model of the Union of the Crowns has been cited.

The SNP’s position on the key levers of fiscal responsibility, on control of borrowing, on tax raising powers, on Scotland’s natural resources including oil are clearly set out. We already have our own legal system, and the present status of devolution has already ceded a number of areas of control to the Scottish Parliament. But the nit-picking on detail by the NO camp - the unionists - is patently ridiculous, e.g. what about the DVLC etc.

No rational person can expect the electorate to be buried alive under the minutiae of government  administration, and no reasonable member of the electorate wants to be asked to ratify every detail.

So my answer to Question One is that the electorate must know what is meant by independence on the big, fundamental questions,and my belief is that they already know most of the answers, but that they must be re-stated in clear an unequivocal terms.

The exception to the above is defence and the nuclear issue, as already stated. The electorate must be given clarification now on these fundamental questions by the government that they so recently and decisively elected. They will undoubtedly get - and are getting - answers from the NO campaign, answers that will be at best a distortion of the truth, and at worst, plain scaremongering lies.

That was the unionist parties’ shameful record in the election campaign, and they won’t change now.

Q2. What is the case for voting NO, i.e. for the status quo - no change to the present arrangements?

The answer is that this is the business of the unionists - the NO campaign - and they are already sedulously engaged in it.

Q3. If there is a YES vote, should there be a second referendum to ratify the heads of agreement reached by the Scottish Government team and the UK Government?

My answer is an emphatic NO. 

No other nation negotiating the terms of their independence has done such a thing, or been expected to do it.  If anyone has examples to the contrary, let them bring them forward. Once the electorate of a nation has been offered and accepted the choice of demanding their independence, they have trusted their elected representatives to get the best deal the can, in the context of broad understanding of the fundamental of their government’s position.

The demand for a second referendum, like the demand that the minutiae of independent government should be spelled out in advance should be seen for what it is - an attempt to muddy the water, confuse the electorate and to bury the core issues in mass of detail.

It is an attempt to second guess an outcome to the independence referendum that the unionists don’t like.

Reject it completely.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

War, the monarchy, the poppy – blood, death and glory?

I had, in common with many others, a wonderful day in Edinburgh yesterday, courtesy of Political Innovation, Slugger O'Toole, Mick Fealty and Paul Evans. I hope to cover it in more detail shortly.

This morning, Andrew Marr interviewed the new Chief of Defence Staff UK Sir David Richards, in the news because of  a Telegraph headline today, Al Qaeda can't be beaten. Military chiefs make a rapid appearance on television after such press headlines to protest that they never really said it, or that it wasn’t quite what they meant. Sir David is no exception to this rule, as the interview shows.



(Just before this interview, we had heard from a Battle of Britain veteran, 90-year old Peter Ayerst, a former spitfire pilot, bright, alert, and looking no more than seventy to my eye. This fine, unpretentious man -who had fought in a just war, a war that was truly a war of defence of the nation against an undoubted evil, Nazism - clearly did not see himself as a hero in 1940, in spite of the fact that, if that much misused word has any meaning left in 2010, he was a true hero. When asked if he had anticipated the war when he joined the RAF as an enthusiastic amateur pilot, he said, light-heartedly, that if he had anticipated a war, he probably wouldn’t have joined … But when the challenge came, he rose to it, and placed his life on the line daily in defence of the nation.)

Sir David Richards, resplendent in khaki dress uniform, sprouting gleaming buttons, medal and insignias of rank everywhere about his person, nonetheless managed to look like a friendly bank manager, or headmaster. He slid quickly from Remembrance Day and just wars (WW2) into celebrating the monarchy’s role in militarism, then segued even more smoothly into Afghanistan, re-casting expertly his unfriendly Telegraph headlines, and managing to claim a link between the sexism and brutality of the Taliban, offering this as some kind of justification for the war.

Back to yesterday’s excellent event mounted by Political Innovation in Edinburgh. In the plenary discussion and two sub-group discussion I was involved in, among the key questions on the new media’s (blogging and Twitter) impact on politics and political awareness, we debated fruitfully the significance of hit counts, what made for high visibility, were we preaching to the converted, and was a low hit count to real opinion formers more important than high hit counts that could be meaningless in terms of political impact?

There was no mention of YouTube in any of the discussion I was part of (except by me), something that puzzled me in the light of the very active political sector of YouTube and video blogging. I freely admit that my blog hit counter often baffles me, and my YouTube hit counter (TAofMoridura channel on YouTube) even more. My current recent YouTube viewing figures range from low double figures (typical) to 8,438 for Living with the Taliban – Afghanistan Conflict and 5,817 for Douglas Murray and the delights of living in Gaza.

Among the possible explanations are of course the traditional techniques for increasing hit rate – catchy title, key words in title, good tags, etc.

A key choice, however, for any blogger or YouTube poster is how to handle comments, which sometime become threads – a topic that turns into a debate. Early on, I took the decision to pre-moderate, i.e. have the ability to review and approve comments before publishing, together with the necessary verification procedures for identity to deter the spammers and the frivolous or malicious. I had seen what post-moderation did to, for example, the Scotsman’s online postings – good comments buried alive by an abusive, superficial and sometimes incestuous rabble. As for no moderation …

(Some bloggers clearly love this kind of attention, because no moderation or post-moderation clearly increases the hit rate.)

But another problem – a conundrum – remains -

Why is it that post-moderation of my YouTube channel seems to permit a reasonable volume of comment and vigorous debate and post-moderation on my blog almost kills comment stone dead?

One possible explanation, which I will investigate, may be that my blog comments are not visible under the main blog – they have to be selected by clicking on a link. I may change this.

The other is that the YouTube audience is a very different audience from the blog audience. Based on yesterday’s debate, this seems plausible on the face of it. I know I have many blog readers who never view the YouTube videos on YouTube, but on my blog, where I also place them. (If you simply click play on the blog video, it will play on the blog – if you double click, it will take you to the YouTube channel.)

Whatever the explanation, here is an example of the contrast – my blog and YouTube video on

 Does the poppy glorify war? Has the poppy been hijacked?

The comments on the blog are two in number – one comment and my reply. But here, reproduced below, is the comment dialogue to date on the YouTube video. If you have any thoughts on the disparity, I would be delighted to hear them …

EXTRACTED FROM YouTube video comments -

rickelmonoggin

It's a good point- people say that we should remember soldiers fighting 'for our freedom', but it's a pretty big stretch to say that soldiers in Iraq are fighting for our freedom - obviously they aren't, they're just fighting because of a flawed government policy. Should we therefore not remember them, or not?

 

TAofMoridura

replying to @rickelmonoggin

Our illegal and immoral involvement in Iraq is over. The the soldiers who died or were maimed didn't start the war - they did their job. Of course we should remember them - the dead, and the survivors, whose lives have been affected by their injuries. We, the UK electorate, put the war criminal Blair in power, and returned him to power twice.

England, sadly, has three warmongering, nuclear-obsessed main parties to choose from. Scotland however has a choice in 2011 - the SNP

 

rickelmonoggin

replying to @TAofMoridura

I agree we should remember them. But we can't say that we are remembering them because 'they fought for our freedom', because they didn't. So why make a distinction between 'good' wars and 'bad' wars. Soldiers don't get much of a choice which ones to fight in.

Much better to say, let's remember soldiers, but without all the British imperialist window dressing.

 

TAofMoridura

replying to @rickelmonoggin

I am in full agreement (read my blog moridura.blogspot)

The soldiers died, not for Blair and the UK but for their regiment, for their comrades, for their duty as soldiers. We mustn't make their deaths meaningless - they died because the UK electorate betrayed them. I don't want any soldier or civilian anywhere in the world to die in vain, but I can't achieve that now by a UK vote. I want out of the UK. I can ensure that Scots don't die, by my vote for the SNP in May 2011.

 

boundlesslife12

Well done to Celtic for calling out the war machine.

Blood-stained Poppy.

I'll start wearing a Celtic jersey next poppy season.

 

kellystone84

The only way to stop war is not to have it!

 

69salford69 replying to @kellystone84

"The pioneers of a War-less world are the youth who refuse military service" - the current economic crisis means ARMED FORCES offers higher-than-average salaries and training opportunities that cost thousands in society. The fact that every job vacancy out there has 10x as many applicants is forcing Army recruitment up.

The Government has done EVERYTHING possible to ensure it has plenty of recruits for the future

 

TAofMoridura

replying to @69salford69

I am not a pacifist, and believe in defending my nation - Scotland - and in the concept of a just war. I have only seen one just war in my lifetime - WW2. It was truly a war of defence - the nation was under attack – and the attacker was the truly evil creed of fascism and racism. Such circumstance are relatively rare.

I do not support empire, foreign adventures, involvement in American imperialism nor do I support wars over resources, e.g. oil. I believe in defence forces.

  • 69salford69

    replying to @TAofMoridura

    "I do not support empire, foreign adventures, involvement in American imperialism nor do I support wars over resources, e.g. oil. I believe in defence forces."

    - Didn't Glasgow airport nearly go up in flames a few years ago after an ATTACK by Muslims?

    So defend your country. Your Scottish, I'm English - I understand why being English would make you want to stamp my head in but what about the Muzzies?

    Someone you know could have been killed in the Glasgow attack

  •  

    TAofMoridura 

    replying to @69salford69

    There were no such attacks in the UK before Afghanistan and the illegal war in Iraq. The UK's ill-conceived, and illegal wars led directly to terrorism in Britain.

    Secondly, aircraft carriers, WMDs, and nuclear submarines would not have made any difference to such attacks - they are a police and security services matter.

    I have no animosity whatsoever towards the English - I have friends and family who are English.

    Lastly, your use of the term 'Muzzies' points to a racist mindset.

    69salford69

    replying to @TAofMoridura

    So on one hand you are standing up for our country by speaking against those who are doing harm to it. But on the other hand every ex-service man who survived the War has been deeply offended.

    Yes I'm racist, I also don't like gays and my favourite colour is red.

     

    TAofMoridura

    replying to @69salford69

    Don't post here again - find a BNP site to express your views - bigots homophobes and racists aren't welcome here. Red is the colour of blood - and the Labour Party. It used to mean something different for Labour, but now they are steeped in it. For fascists, red and black have always been the colour choices - blood and death.

     

    Rochie2K8

    Blood Stained Poppy

     

    gregsyswilly

    deeds that would shame all the devils in hell, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ireland. Keep your blood-stained poppy off our hoops.

     

    TAofMoridura 

    replying to @gregsyswilly and Rochie2K8 and kellystone84

    The poppy once meant something to a generation that fought and died in a war - WW1 - that they came to see as meaningless. WW2 was a just war.

    The poppy has been hijacked by the UK establishment, and they have distorted its meaning, as they do with every thought of remembrance, of pity and of sadness, and of support for servicemen and women. But the Parkhead protest did no service to any cause - it was badly misjudged and harmed the cause of peace.



    rickelmonoggin

    replying to @TAofMoridura I couldn't care less about the British army or their regiments. I care about the people. The British state and its politicians have blood on their hands as far as I am concerned, but they have hijacked Remembrance day so that it's about paying tribute to them rather than to the people who died.

    TAofMoridura

    Replying to @rickelmonoggin

    Well, I do care about them, especially since there are a number of Scottish regiments serving the UK, as they have always done. Soldiers are people, and a very special kind of people - we need them, we will always need them. That's why we mustn't allow ambitious and greedy politicians to sacrifice them needlessly.
    I want out of the UK so that Scotland can concentrate on sensible defence forces and a sensible defence policy for its own independent nation, incl. EU deployment.


    rickelmonoggin
    Replying to @TAofMoridura

    I do care about the soldiers, I don't care about the military paraphernalia that goes with them.

    Tuesday, 2 November 2010

    Scottish Labour and Defence–follow the money

    Some correspondents have taken me to task by private email for alleged hyperbole in the following extract from my blog The speech that Iain Gray should have delivered at Oban to the party faithful, a fictional version by me of what I felt Iain Gray should have said at Oban.

    Public spending in this country prior to the global financial collapse was not just out of control under our stewardship, it was totally corrupted by large scale rip-offs on expenses by Labour MPs and ministers under the protection of their shop steward, Michael Martin, now the noble Lord Martin of Something or Other, and by a combination of incompetence on defence procurement at the MOD, and obscenely fat profits for armament companies, which contributed significantly to the fortunes of former members of our government who were also directors of such armament companies, or consultants to them. Meanwhile, our brave soldiers died because of equipment failures.

    That there was - and is - incompetence on defence procurement at the MOD is not a proposition that anyone seriously questions, after a barrage of documentaries and exposés. That defence companies and armaments manufacturers profited from this is undeniable – poor procurement practices always benefit certain suppliers.

    That former members of the Labour Government profited from directorships and consultancies that they held because of their experience of defence matters while in government can hardly be seriously questioned.

    I do not suggest corruption or illegal activities in such relationships – the really sad thing is that it is all completely legal, above board and open to public scrutiny.

    A single example will suffice to demonstrate this – Adam Ingram, Labour politician, former Member of Parliament (he stood down at the May 2010 general election) and the longest serving Defence Minister in British history – 2001 -2007. A former trade union official and computer analyst, he entered politics in East Kilbride District Council in the 1980s.

    A few facts of interest about Adam Ingram, derived from the excellent They Work for You site - link -

    How Adam Ingram voted on key issues since 2001:

    Voted strongly for introducing student top-up fees.

    Voted moderately against laws to stop climate change.

    Voted strongly for introducing ID cards.

    Voted very strongly for replacing Trident.

    Voted very strongly for Labour's anti-terrorism laws.

    Voted moderately for a stricter asylum system.

    Voted moderately for allowing ministers to intervene in inquests.

    Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.

    Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.

    Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence (11 Jun 2001 to 28 Jun 2007)

    Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (5 May 1997 to 11 Jun 2001)

    Register of Members’ Interests

    Remunerated directorships -

    Non-executive Chairman of SignPoint Secure Ltd. emergency communications. (£45,001-£50,000)

    (My note – a Freedom of Information Request to the MOD in 2008 on the MOD, contracts and Adam Ingram

    08-09-2008-071953-008 06/10/2008

    Copy of RFI 20-05-2008-094922-004

    (Details of any communication and/or meetings between MOD/Adam Ingram and Signpoint Secure Ltd and details of any contracts between the MOD and Signpoint Secure Ltd made in the last two years.

    The purpose and outcome of this FOI request is unknown to me at this time.)

    Adam Ingram Advisory Limited, set up May 2008, to undertake consultancy work, to which is payable income from the following:

    Non-executive Chairman of Argus Scotland Ltd; design and construction services in the urban environment. (£20,001-£25,000). Payments to be made on an annual basis.

    Director, International School for Security and Explosives Education (ISSEE) (non-executive). Address: 3 Wesley Gate, Queens Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 4AP. Attend meetings and offer advice. (£10,001-£15,000).

    Received payment of £1,150 (including VAT). Hours: 3hrs. (Registered 31 August 2009)

    Consultant to Argus Libya UK LLP; design and construction services in the urban environment. (£20,001-£25,000). Payments to be made on an annual basis.

    Consultant to Argus (Scotland) Ltd, Ravenstone House, 4 Ravenstone Drive, Glasgow, G46 6AL. Attend meetings and offer advice.

    Received payment of £2,300. Hours: 5hrs. (Registered 31 August 2009)

    Consultant to Electronic Data Systems Ltd (EDS); provision of IT services to public and private sector clients in the UK. (£50,001-£55,000)

    5. Gifts, benefits and hospitality (UK)

    28 June 2009, visit to Biggin Hill Air Show as guest of BSkyB. Overnight stay, dinner and entry to the show for my wife and I. (Registered 30 June 2009)

    6. Overseas visits

    23-26 February 2009, to Bahrain, to participate in Bahrain Security Forum as speaker. Return flight, business class, and three nights accommodation in Bahrain funded by RUSI and the Kingdom of Bahrain. (Registered 3 March 2009)

    Register last updated: 12 Apr 2010. More about the Register

    March 2010 – The Telegraph

    A story that broke under the Lobbygate scandal, around the time Adam Ingram decided to stand down as an MP. Telegraph link

    Sunday, 29 August 2010

    Megrahi’s life expectancy

    The controversy rumbles on, fuelled in significant part by indignation (in reality, secret delight) that Megrahi has not died within the three month prognosis.

    The arguments that follow from this fact, from the critics of the Scottish Justice Minister’s decision, usually include one or more of the following statements -

    1. This proves the medical evidence was flawed.

    It doesn’t – what it demonstrates is that offering a prognosis of death from a terminal illness is not an exact science, as abundant examples from medical statistics demonstrate. A rudimentary knowledge of statistics and probability show that forecasts based on probability include percentage confidence levels and confidence limits. In other words, doctors don’t have crystal balls, even though some of their critics have wooden heads and hearts of stone – they offer the best forecast they can, based on the evidence they have and their best clinical judgement.

    2. This proves that Kenny MacAskill was selective in the medical evidence he chose to act on, in pursuit of some unknown political agenda of his own – or the Scottish Government’s - to release Megrahi.

    This is patently nonsense. Kenny MacAskill took the decision in the full knowledge that, if he released Megrahi, he would be subjected to a wave of hostility that could well be electorally damaging to the Scottish Government and the Scottish National Party and to relationships with some sectors of American political and public opinion. The First Minister was fully aware of these implications and of the price that would have to be paid for a legal and principled stand, but rightly allowed his Justice Minister to do his job, free from interference or political pressure.

    3. The decision was a dirty deal cooked up with the Scottish Government by Jack Straw, BP, Tony Blair and the Libyan Government after their abortive attempt to secure release under the PTA (Prisoner Transfer Agreement).

    The idea that the SNP Government, Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill would be part of such a deal is nothing short of risible to anyone with even the most superficial understanding of the relationship between the Scottish Government and the UK Labour Government, especially with these particular representatives of it.

    Not even the promise of immediate independence for Scotland, the refund of all stolen oil revenues,  full restitution for the havoc wreaked in Scotland by Thatcher and the Blair/Brown/Mandelson gang, and a full apology to William Wallace would have bought such a deal.

    4. The decision was taken because the Justice Minister secretly knows that Megrahi was innocent of the Lockerbie bombing, and is defending the Scottish Justice system, the Scottish police and the shadowy US interests who perverted the course of justice.

    Kenny MacAskill has indeed said that he took the decision in the belief that Megrahi was guilty – he could not have done otherwise and remained Scottish Justice Minister. If he ever entertained such doubts, he could have, should have and would have thrown his considerable authority behind calls for an enquiry into the Megrahi conviction. He certainly would not have chosen such a ludicrous and risky route to righting a judicial wrong and overturning an unsafe conviction.

    (For the record, I believe that Megrahi did not act alone, and that the US bought, and may thus have compromised evidence advanced at the trial. I believe on balance that Megrahi was guilty, but allow for some possibility that he is innocent.)

    However, it would appear that the only solution that might satisfy some of the more extreme critics of compassionate release based on medical prognostications of death in terminal illness would run as follows -

    The dying man must sign a document saying that, if he does not die within three calendar months of the medical judgement and subsequent release, he will either return voluntarily to be executed by the releasing authority or alternatively have all medical care withdrawn. The doctors who made the initial prognosis should be struck off the medical register and the law officer who ordered the compassionate release should publicly resign in disgrace, wearing a sack and scattering ashes over his head, with full media coverage.

    Any leading cleric who supported the release decision should be reduced to the lowest rank of their denomination and sent to a remote, and ideally dangerous and unhealthy part of the world.  All who contested the release decision in the UK should be given a lifetime subscription to the Daily Mail. The leading opponent of the decision in the UK should be given a life peerage (Lord X of Vengeful) and the leading opponent in the US should be given a position as a Fox News presenter, thus ensuring that he or she will be a Republican Presidential candidate for the next election.

    Provisions such as the above would provide conclusive proof that the United Kingdom and the USA were still Christian countries, and that their Christian/Judaic values were still intact.

     

    PORTIA:

    The quality of mercy is not strain'd - it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
    'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
    The throned monarch better than his crown;
    His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
    The attribute to awe and majesty,
    Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
    But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
    It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
    It is an attribute to God himself;
    And earthly power doth then show likest God's
    When mercy seasons justice ---

    William Shakespeare - The Merchant of Venice