Deal or No Deal?

DON-LOGO-STILL-REVERSE

That’s the question Noel Edmonds used to ask on his TV Gameshow.  Right now, it feels like the UK is on a gameshow just like that one. 

What kind of Deal is Theresa May pursuing?  One that is ‘frictionless’?  One that is ‘deep and special’?  One that ‘secured the place of Global Britain”?   It also depends who you ask.   is Theresa’s ‘Deal’ the same as Boris’s ‘Deal’, nd what ‘Deal’ is Jacob wanting?   Have any of them paused to think that to get a ‘Deal’, any ‘Deal’,  needs the other side/party to agree to it?    What kind of ‘Deal’ does the EU want?   Do you think they might have a view on the ‘Deal’ the UK will end up with?  

 

 

Sadly, whatever I type today will probably be wrong by tomorrow.  The changes and utter chaos which is surrounding the UK Government is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.    The Scottish Government has been consistent in it’s demands that Scotland needs to stay within the Customs Union  (at a minimum). The SG produced an analysis of the impact of multiple types of Brexit on the Scottish economy.   Predictably this was rubbished as scare-mongering by the Tories in Scotland and just ignored by the Tories in Westminster, including the Prime Minister.  But wait, then the UK Government Treasury analysis, which they had said didn’t exist, was leaked to the public.  And guess what?  It confirms pretty much exactly what the Scottish Government has been saying all along.   The impact of Brexit, of any type of ‘Deal’, will range from very bad to catastrophic for Scotland.  And it’s the same for many other parts of the UK too. Only the city of London looks like it may escape relatively unharmed.   (This puzzles me, because if the whole of the rest of the UK is contracting at the rates shown, 10%  to 16% reductions in regional economies, then it’s sure as hell going to hurt London too.)  

 

brexit impactAdjacent is a picture I copied from Paul Mason’s twitter feed.  It shows the HM Treasury regional impact analysis Brexit is forecast to have.  Paul Mason rightly points out that a logical explanation for the causes of the downturn in the different regions is easy to see. What could wipe 15% of the North East of England?  Easy – Nissan.     What could wipe out the NW – equally easy – BAE and in N.Ireland – Bombardier.  In the Midlands – it’s Jaguar Land Rover and Toyota.     What have all of these got in common?  They make stuff.  they rely on just-in-time deliveries as part of a pan-EU supply chain.  Brexit, of whatever ‘Deal’, will break those JIT supply chains.   Whereas the UK was a springboard to Europe post-Brexit it will not be so.  And this is before we get serious about understanding what trading under WTO rules actually means. 

To me, it looks like the Tories are returning to finish the job Thatcher started.  That is to finally destroy major manufacturing industry in the UK.  It just doesn’t look like they “get” the importance to a balanced economy of having a strong manufacturing sector.  I mean, I’m sure Germany would get along fine without Siemens, Bosch, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, BASF, Bayer, Continental, etc etc. 

What’s galling is that I wrote some stuff about this back in July last year and we really don’t seem to have moved on very far at all since then.  (Out, out damned Brexit) 

 

 

I started this post in the land of a TV Gameshow,  I think it’s more like we’re in a land of a hit musical number ……  I wonder if Lord Lloyd Webber had our current mind-bending circumstances in mind when he wrote it…….   me, I think it’s more of a nightmare than a dream….

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What can a movie teach us about why we are where we are? The Riot Club & Brexit

riot club

This is a movie I watched on TV a few nights ago.   I didn;t really plan to watch it, it was kind of on in the corner of the room. yet I found myself drawn into it, if only because it as showing something I just didn’t know existed.   It’s about a very private male drinking and hedonistic club at Oxford University.  It’s a film.  It’s fiction.  Here’s a link to it on IMDB.    

Now, there’s no clubs like The Riot Club at Oxford University are there?  Anyone who says it’s like the The Bullingdon Club is mistaken aren’t they?  Well I can’t say. I didn’t go to Oxford.   So who really knows if it’s fact or fiction?  

The Riot Club is about an exclusive club of 10 young men who have no trace of morality.  They believe money can solve everything and that is all that matters.  The clubs purpose is to eat, drink, take drugs and trash (totally) whatever restaurant has been daft enough to let them in. 

The scenes of the club members initiation rites are probably no better and no worse than many young male clubs.  But what stuck in my mind was the complete lack of morality shown by almost all the members of the club.   I’m not going to spoil it by describing scenes but there are many where the principle characters are almost unbelievable.  And yet……. this is the bit that’s got me writing this blog post.  While The Riot Club is fiction, The Bullingdon Club is fact.   And where do fact and fiction cross-over?  There’s a scene where a senior ex-member of the Riot Club, now a successful Conservative MP, is offering to guarantee the future of a young member of the Riot Club in return for that member taking the rap for something very bad which the club did.  “I’m not offering you a constituency, just a future” he says to the young man.   “The club goes on you know” .   And that’s the bit that struck home to me.  Whether the actual actions which occur in this movie are fact or fiction doesn’t matter.  It’s that the club will go on.  Every year the club is producing more ex-members.  As another line in the movie says “One day soon, these men will sit behind very powerful desks in the city. ” 

When you couple these lines form the movie with the Riot Club’s seeming integration with the Conservative Party you start to get a picture of why the UK is being driven over the cliffs to Brexitland.  Members of the Riot Club have no moral compass. They have no experience of life. They have been raised in an environment which is completely sealed off and remote from anything we know as reality.   Yet they are “the chosen ones” who are pre-destined to go on and sit behind those powerful desks.  And that’s the bit which stuck with me.   Fact or fiction?

In summary, I recommend this movie to anyone and everyone who wants to understand how we got to a situation where David Cameron, Gideon Osborne, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (and others) are given positions of leadership when the truth is that they happened by an accident of birth to have been sent to the right drinking club.  

Reforming the ‘List”

There’s a feeling that the way the ‘Additional Member’ system as it is currently used to elect MSPs to Holyrood is no longer operating in the interests of the citizens who vote.  It’s being abused by the Political Parties as a route for their loyal members to be rewarded with a position as an MSP.  This is surely not how it was intended to be used.   So here’s some ideas for discussion.  I’ve posted this as blog because it seems to be cropping up on several Facebook groups. Blogging it makes it far easier for me to find what I’ve previously written on FB.

I think a change is very badly needed. The list system is being played by the politicians to their personal advantage, not to the benefit of the people who vote. While Murdo Fraser is the most obvious example, there are others who do the exact same. Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar being examples of how the Labour party is abusing the List system. Labour’s leaders were elected on the List, technically no-one voted for them.   (And there are others too)

Points have ben raised on Facebook and social media about any of the changes proposed below meaning that the political parties would require a far wider pool of candidates than they currently seem to have.  In short, where would all the new MSPs come from if the ‘regulars’ were now to be barred from appearing time after time.   I don’t see this as a problem, I see this as a way of refreshing and getting much needed new blood and talent into Holyrood.   There’s also a problem to be thought through about how could the ‘List’ be used to support smaller or even independent  (with a small “i”) candidates.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could have people with real experience and subject-matter-expertise in our Parliament?  Maybe have someone like Harry Burns as a medical expert serve a term.  Maybe have some candidates who have real experience in the electricity/energy sectors to serve and guide Holyrood on such areas?   idealist I know, but if we are serious about reforming the ‘List’ system then why not think big blue sky thoughts? 

While it seems simple to suggest that there should be a two term limit on the number of times a candidate can appear on the list, there are other conditions we ought to consider too:

1) No candidate may serve as a ‘list’ MSP for more than two successive Parliamentary terms.

2) There shall be a gap of one Parliamentary term between any candidate being able to serve as a ‘List’ MSP.   (to break the cycle of repeat/career List MSPs)

3) In the event of a ‘List’ MSP standing down during a Parliamentary term, or any reason,  there shall be a by-election to replace them. Parties shall not simply appoint their next member. (To break the cycle of ‘List’ MSPs then standing in other elections, e.g. Westminster, and the party simply making it their next members seat automatically)

4) No candidate shall be able to stand as a ‘List’ MSP if they are also contesting a constituency seat. (To prevent the ‘List’ being used as a safety net for candidates who fail to win election in a constituency)

5) An MSP elected on the ‘List’ should not be able to hold the position of First Minister.

6) An elected ‘List’ MSP will not be allowed to be considered to stand as a candidate in any other elections while they are service in Holyrood. (To prevent a ‘List’ MSP from seking election and having the safety net of their ‘List’ seat if they fail to win whatever other election they are seeking to stand in)

There are probably more conditions we ought to be thinking of, but these are a start. There have been petitions on Holyrood to reform the List System in the past. They never reached the numbers needed too have this actioned in Holyrood though. Maybe it’s time to raise another petition and all get very solidly behind it?

We can make this change. We can force Holyrood to at least discuss it – but we all have to get organised to share this and to get a petition we’re all happy with

Please feel free to share this, to cut’n’paste it, to discuss it and post it wherever you like.  It’s time we got some democratic ooomph back into our ‘List’ MSPs.

A lot of good writing.

In the past week or so there’s been a few articles which have caused me to stop and read them more deeply than just giving them the passing glance.  So I thought I’d share them here.  Predictably they are all blogs and online articles.  The Main Stream Media just doesn’t cover these stories.  There’s plenty of reading for you in these linked articles. 

First is this one.  And it broke my heart when I read it because I’ve met the lady at the centre of this story.  Her artwork decorated the 2014 Indy Ref Campaign.  I knew she had problems but had no idea they’d take her to the very edge. So please read on and then you’ll understand this hashtag –  #UnicornsForBrave.    Where’s the coverage of this story in the MSM?   Where’s the outrage?

https://randompublicjournal.com/2017/09/08/trolling-wee-brave-scottish-unionism-at-its-lowest/

023

 

 

Second, and a logical follow on is this one :   How To Catch an Abusive Online Troll

https://thebutterflyrebellion.scot/2017/09/09/how-to-catch-an-abusive-online-troll/

 

scotland1

 

Third – an excellent piece from Grousebeater – all about democracy Bell Pottinger style…….

https://grousebeater.wordpress.com/2017/09/09/the-monologues-of-demagogues/

 

500

 

 

and Fourth, but by no means least  Craig Murray’s piece on the Appalling Pottingers

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2017/09/the-appalling-pottingers/

 

 

 

So. enjoy the links folks! 

A Letter Writing Campaign– Let’s do it !

 

If, like me,  you get wound up by the actions of our Government and feel powerless to change anything, maybe, just maybe we can.  There are many, many more of “us” and very few of “them”.  If we all start communicating with “them” then they might realise that “us” lot are not at all happy with their performances.   Yes my main main sources of irritation with the UK Government relate to their treatment of Scotland and the desire for it to be independent, but there are many other reasons for writing to your MP.  Take the whole sorry debacle which is Brexit.  What we have to do is to get smart about this, to get organised, and, just as a suggestion – lets start a massive letter writing campaign.  Let’s write a letter and an email every time there is something which is factually incorrect or is being ignored by the media.  We should write to every Tory MP and MSP and copy the letters to every newspaper editor and make it clear to the politicians that the letter has been cc’d to the media.  There are 14 MPs and 31 MSPs.  There are about 15 newspapers of note and four television broadcasters, so lets say about 60 addresses for letters.   You can make up a file for use in mailmerges for paper letters and I suggest we use the www.writetothem.com service for the emails.   We’re all sitting at keyboards so there isn’t any reason why we can’t all start writing letters. 

They say they work for us – so let’s keep them busy.  This might be a small action, but if enough of us do this and they end up receiving hundreds of letters and emails every week then we will at the very least be making them work.  We will also be creating solid facts to publicise if they fail to respond in a timely and courteous manner.   We can share template letters – although we should make an effort to alter them to make them not all the same  

Let’s make sure *we* are holding their feet to the fire.

 

Letters to the Editor

I’m grateful to a friend who wrote the guide at the end of this post on writing to the editors of the newspapers.  This is another source of pressure for us to put on Government.  I suggest you download this note and use it to guide you as you start writing. 

EMAIL TIP

If you are sending an email to a group of people and you don’t want each of them to know that it’s been sent to other recipients put their addresses in the ‘bcc’ field, not in the ‘to’ nor ‘cc’ fields. 

 

 

Let’s do it.  Let’s remind them that we expect them to be working for us every day, not just in the days before an election when they beseech us to vote for them.

 

Letter writing tips.

Dear Editor – A short guide to letter writing.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed an increase in anti-independence rhetoric from many in the mainstream media and from high profile politicians and commentators. This can take many forms, from strident Unionist MPs given ‘easy rides’ in political discussion programmes to skewed and misleading articles in newspapers. It seems every day brings with it another slew of SNP Bad stories – even more remarkable when the facts of the story are undeniably SNP Good stories! I’m sure we will all have our own examples. But there is a way we can address the more blatant scaremongering stories and badly reported stories. We can write to the Letters Page of what is left of the print industry. This is a great forum for confronting issues that get your blood boiling and putting forward a pro-independence and SNP point of view and moving the argument/discussion in a more positive direction. So with that in mind, I’ve drawn up a few pointers to help you in the art of letter writing.

Firstly, think on which paper you are going to contact. Each paper will have a different readership so tailor your letter accordingly and most importantly, don’t rant! You might feel churned up inside and really angry but a letter which comes over as rambling, angry, and ferocious will only find its way to the bin. Remember that one of the most important background players in the print industry is the lawyer. Anything remotely litigious or construed as a personal attack will not be printed. But there are ways around that. For instance, I had this printed in The Herald in 2014 “I notice that Culture Secretary Maria Miller is arguing that a Yes vote is a vote to leave the BBC. I think there are more reasons to vote Yes without the Rt Hon Member for Basingstoke offering up another one.” Just two sentences but it addresses a scare story, points out where Miller is an MP and gives the Yes movement a mention. Letters don’t necessarily have to be long and involved! In this case it addressed something that had been given plenty coverage and was written very quickly before the issue had gone away.

· You can actually start a conversation. If you have specialist knowledge or a keen interest in an issue, for instance wind farms, raptor poisoning or even what our National anthem should be, then fire in a letter to The Herald and The Scotsman. More localised issues should be directed to the Perthshire Advertiser, Blairgowrie Advertiser or your local paper.

· You can reply to a letter. Often the Letters Ed. Will ‘plant’ a letter that s/he knows will generate a lot of interest. Usually it will be a letter just on the right side of ‘a rant’ but this is ripe for replying to and getting over an SNP or Indy message. A classic of this sort would be the person who is repeating the old ‘Scotland would be lost without oil’. This is an easily destroyed argument and we should all be able to confront such nonsense!

· My favourite – address an issue a Labour or Conservative MP or MSP is stating as fact. The problem here is, of course, choosing which ill-informed MP or MSP to choose. I’d avoid choosing something Murdo Fraser has said as it is often difficult to see what you are writing through tears of laughter. Choose someone like the esteemed David Mundell who is a constant source of material. As I write (Feb 23rd) he is on record as saying Scottish tax rise will chase away immigrants. Blimey, where to start with that one. Firstly, there are no tax rises and secondly aren’t Tories clamouring FOR no immigration?

So, don’t let the stupidity of commentators who have little or no understanding of Scotland in general and the inability to look beyond their Better Together mentality get in the way of your well crafted letter.

The big problem might be that, like me, you refuse to buy a copy of any paper (except the National, of course) and you are wondering how to reply to something in the paper. I find Social Media is the place to go. You don’t have to have a Twitter account – you can follow certain ‘alternative media’ voices and rest assured if an article is causing outrage or wider discussion it will be there for all to read. All you do is write your letter as if you had bought an issue, just start ‘I see in your paper yesterday (date, headline or theme) that Joe Bloggs said..’ . I noticed on a Twitter feed that Patrick Harness had been granted a Thunderer column in The Times. What the paper and/or Harkness had left out from the CV was the fact he is a Director of Scotland in Union, a particularly nasty (but well financed) group of pro-UK voices. So I sent in a letter which started discussing his tone, which was bitter and divisive, before slipping in that such language ‘fits with his agenda as a Director of Scotland in Union’ before finishing off with a more positive view of Scotland. The Times had to mention this omission in the Clarification & Issues section the next day.

Don’t be put off. It is very easy and also helps with forming an argument which can be used when out canvassing. On a very positive note, I’ve noticed that there are more letters of a pro-independence tone leading the Letters Pages than ever before. I’d argue that this momentum has to continue as the anti-independence voices will only be getting louder. We have to counter all their arguments with facts, good sense and a little bit of humour. They know the tide of history is against them. The anger in their voices is there for all to hear. Let’s counter all the nay-sayers every way we can. So when you are next having a coffee break and are skimming the newspapers why not give letter writing a try?

Enjoy your letter writing.

A personal brush with Brexit

Brexit. Here’s a story to ponder.

I’m in the lucky position of owning a couple of rare bottles of whisky. So rare are they that I thought I’d get them valued at a local whisky auction specialist. One is estimated at about £2,000 and the other at about £3,000. So I asked the auctioneer (who is also the owner of the business) what they might do in the future. “Brexit” he said. Right now, he told me, people like me are getting a good price for such whiskies because of the Brexit caused devaluation of the pound. Overseas bidders are bidding in their own currencies and the weak pound helps my whiskies values. So far, so good.

“But” he said…. If the UK does not get a wide ranging trade deal with the EU his whisky auctions business will have to work under WTO terms. Such terms for many countries round the world will impose a 50% duty in whisky. So the value of rare whiskies like mine will take a hit. He was pretty sure that the Diageo’s and Edrington’s will get a deal of some kind from the UK Government, but that the small distillers and sellers will be very badly impacted, which includes his business.

This is the first time I can say I’ve had to make a decision which is very directly influenced by Brexit. So I’ll be selling these little beauties sooner rather than later.

 

Was Indyref2 the reason for the General Election?

Its not often I’ll blog twice in the same day, but there’s some interesting theories I’ve read today and wanted to bookmark and share. 

Both are suggesting that one of the reasons May was forced into calling a snap  General Election was to give the SNP a “bloody nose”.   

What were the circumstances a mere 50 days ago.  

  • She was about to go into negotiations with the EU over Brexit
  • She had a majority in Westminster
  • Holyrood had just passed a vote to formally request a further referendum on independence for Scotland – crucially to be carried out at the time when the details of Brexit were known.

Paraphrasing the blogs I’ve read today, May would not have been in a strong position to use any Scottish assets as negotiating collateral with the EU while there was a further independence referendum on the statute books.  The Scottish Government would have been able to ensure the EU knew that May was offering collateral which might not have been hers to offer.  And the EU would recognise that.    It’s not just the oil,  it’s farming and fisheries too and all of Scotland’s other resources and assets. 

May took the gamble of the General Election to get Scotland back under her control.  The polls said England was no threat and with the combined firepower of the BBC/STV/Newspapers supporting the “Ruth Davidson Party”  nor would Scotland be a problem.  But it’s not turned out that way.  The Scottish strategy was successful, just exactly as planned.  Possibly even more successful than planned.  But England didn’t play ball, catastrophically so for the Tories.    Does the SNP have a ‘bloody nose”?  sort of. The loss of 21 seats hurts, the loss of Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond hurts too , as do all the others.  Remember folks, they might not be in Westminster but they are still very much alive and kicking and working for the good of Scotland.   And we’ve still got all our resources – and the formal request from Holyrood to carry out the next Indyref.   That request might be the most valuable single act the SNP has yet undertaken for Scotland – as long as they don’t bottle out of making it happen.

 

So, my message to my fellow Scottish and independence supporters is do not be disheartened.   We are not down and out by any means.   We are still the dominant party in Scotland by a country mile – no matter how the media try to spin it   But we absolutely must stick to the stated demands and plans for a further indyref when the details of Brexit are known. 

 

Remember the spider in the cave!!

 

Go and have a read at this :  https://wildernessofpeace.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/the-downside-up/ 

 

and this is from a post on Facebook from the “Scottish Political Perspective”

 

The plot thickens…

It comes to mind that, purely from Whitehall’s point of view, in order for Brexit to go forward ‘the Whitehall way’, and to avoid the risk of a breakdown of law and order in England should Scotland’s wish for a second referendum come through and derail the negotiation, the only UK way to mitigate the effect of Scotref was to call a snap election and fight a two front campaign for the Tories.

The first, in England, was based on ‘strong and stable leadership’, four simple words, while the second, in Scotland, was based on the four words mantra, just as simple, ‘no second independence referendum.’

Clearly, May missed the plot in England, where she lost the little majority she had prior calling her snap election. England is literally facing an identity crisis. The little surge of New Labour UK PLC has destabilized the little political strength she had.

But in Scotland, with the rise of a toxic Toryism, we must realise that the mantra ploy clearly worked on quite a few. A surge of three hundred thousands voting Tory is difficult to explain, were it not the fact that, compare to 2015, 225 000 less people voted on June 8th, 2017.

Brexit is, of course, the key to it all. The mere idea that Scotland held a sword of Damocles over Whitehall by calling a second referendum during the Brexit talks would have weakened the Prime Minister, and strengthen the EU. Hence Theresa May calling the snap election, and hence the insistence of breaking the independence spirit on our side of the border.

The petard, however, just exploded back in her face. Had she reached over a majority, instead of losing the one she had, her plan would have worked fine but her situation is now worse than it was prior calling the snap election.

In effect, she did Scotland a favour. Let me explain.

As everyone is aware, I am a fervent supporter of Scottish independence. I believe that the quicker we gain back the sovereignty of Scotland, the better.

What this latest election did show us is firstly the apathy of many to vote (a quarter of a million Scots did not bother turning up at the polling stations compared to the 2015 GE), and, secondly, the fact that the ‘no second independence referendum’ mantra strategy worked in Scotland (as against the ‘strong and stable leadership’ one in England, how ironic!)

The SNP being given a bloody nose mid-term of this UK government, and all for the wrong reasons, in order to keep the UK whole at any cost, has set a sense of defeatism and of Scots losing any real sense of themselves as a nation. And that is exactly what May and Davidson hoped for. But that, however, will change very quickly. Once the Brexit negotiation are engaged, I think Scots will realize that the 80% vote emanating from England and taking us out of the EU against our wishes will indeed truly make us poorer on all levels.

Looking at the Southern agricultural map of Scotland, it voted Tory. Yet, they are the ones that will be most hit by Brexit, something that many farmers have yet failed to realize. The same will apply to the Scottish Fisheries Commission.

So, let me be clear to farmers in Scotland.

Defra will not take over the EU subsidies allocated to Scots farmers. There are two reasons for this. Notwithstanding the fact that the UK kitty is empty, it has always been the policy of Defra not to support the UK agriculture industry as a whole, and that of Scotland in particular. Even when previously negotiating for a EU deal on behalf of Scottish farmers, it negotiated for a bad deal rather than a better one. The truth is, the UK government prefers to import foodstuff rather than supporting its own foodstuff industry. That is a fact. And now that Brexit negotiation is looming, don’t expect the UK government to think about you.

The same, of course, will apply to the Scottish fisheries industry. It was deemed, years ago, as an expendable industry by the UK government, and they will do the same again. But, for some weird reason, that industry still hopes that this UK Tory government will stand by them. They will be, within a few weeks, very disappointed. You will be sold away without a second thought, do mark my words…

From my point of view, Toryism of the May or Davidson kind is toxic and a pervertion of sane politics. In fact, whereas the EU was helping Scotland, both socially and economically, to think of itself as a true country, Scotland being taken out of it against its will suits Whitehall to perfection. It means that mammoth institution will be able to squeeze our assets until Scotland bleeds. I kid you not. I am terribly serious about this. Even my friends in Europe are worried that because Scotland voted so overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the EU, the UK government will make us pay a very high price for it. And I tend to agree with them.

Whether May or Davidson, with their wholesale cuts in public services, of the Scottish Government total grant, of the rape clause, of victimizing the poor and the vulnerable, never mind the way the Tories will rape our side of the North Sea with regards to the billions of barrels of oil in it, we will pay the price.

Now, either we submit to this, in other words, we all lie back with our legs up in the air and let this UK government screw us all (a bit crude as an image but, sadly, precisely what they will do to us), or we rise and take a collective responsibility to tell May, or whoever will soonish succeed to her, that enough is enough and that they can get stuffed.

No more complacency. No more lack of motivation with regards to voting. No more thinking that the SNP will/can mitigate whatever the Tories will throw at us. Under a restrained budget, with no right to borrow, the SNP government can only do so much.

The only ones who can make a difference are ourselves by turning that toxic Tory trend and focusing clearly on the coming independence referendum.

The Tories think they have cracked that Scottish wall… I want that crack filled up, fast, and the parasitic Tory party in Scotland surrounded and checked from all sides. Let us be relentless with them over the next 21 months, the way they have been relentless against Scotland since 2010.

Independence is, in my view, inevitable, no matter how Davidson feels about it. And the Tory party knows it. That is why they have been so active to fight it.

Let June 8th be their last political battle in Scotland and let’s work to win the war. Give the tories no quarters. Run the tory party down to the ground. It has no moral rights within Scottish society, and no mandate to rape Scotland.

As for Theresa May, she is now alone, friendless and the laughing stock of the EU. She is neither strong or stable or even a leader of any kind. She is completely isolated, having linked herself with a party with paramilitary links and nothing less than a bigotted history. Theresa May is toast, while the SNP, even with a reduced contingent in Westminster, is still the 3rd party in Westminster and still the biggest party in Scotland.

I say ‘Scotland free in March 2019’ and the hell with the tories.

YAPP-ing again…….

I’m trying hard to avoid YAPP-ing. (Yet Another Political Post) but it’s not easy to do so……

We’ve just had the most appalling General Election in my lifetime.  So I’m YAPPing about the outcome. And it’s only a “so far” post as no-one can yet have a clue what the real outcomes from election for the United Kingdom over the next year, hell, even over the next month, will be.   I’m a Scottish nationalist through and through and yet, despite my party winning 35 seats which is a phenomenal result, I’ve been feeling like we lost.  We didn’t.  We achieved the second best result in our history DESPITE a unified campaign against Scotland coming from all 3 main parties and from the media. 

Go team GO!!

Theresa May & the Tories

Remember how Theresa May got the PM job. She was put in it, by the Tory party,  with no opposition. Look back on her older performances in Westminster as Home Secretary. Promoted beyond her competency? Yes. Clearly so. The Tories needed a neutral, harmless person to put in the top job when Cameron ran away. They had to find someone in a very short space of time. So they pushed her into the job. They were, as always, putting party first. May never ever displayed the human qualities needed to be a leader. And now it’s shaping up to be an absolute catastrophe for every single one of us.

The Tories *chose* to hold the EU referendum – with no plans at all for either outcome.

The Tories *chose* to put an incapable person into the position of Prime Minister.

The Tories *chose* to hold a General Election.

Every one of those choices made by the Tories was entirely to give their party an advantage. None of these choices were necessary, or for the good of the United Kingdom.

So we’ve got a zombie Prime Minister with a zombie Government which is going to have real difficulty in doing anything at all, never mind negotiating the biggest singe issue in my lifetime – yeah – Brexit.   Let’s not even go to deeply into the implications of the plans for the Tories to be propped up by the DUP.  That’s just beyond stupid. Especially for Ireland where the leader of the DUP is still facing serious charges of corruption from Sinn Feinn, so much so that for 3 months now there has been no Government in Stormont.  Do the Tories care? The evidence suggests they care more about saving their own skins than about the Good Friday Agreement (which any deal with the DUP effectively breaks) and peace in Northern Ireland.   This is not good, not good at all.   Add in the ongoing omnishambles about what the Tory party will be negotiating for as Brexit negotiations start and we are in a very poor position indeed.

Tories? Competent to govern? Not now, not ever.


 

Ruth Davidson & the (Scottish) Tories

She ran a campaign which was at best disingenuous.  More likely it was just dishonest. Yet it was successful.  Why?  The simple explanation is because in Scotland Ruth Davidson has no opposition whatsoever from the media. The BBC Scotland news/current affairs programming and indeed their equivalents in STV simply do not ever hold her to account or ask her difficult questions.  They give her airtime to say what she wants, when she wants.  The cleverness of her campaign though was that she made both the Local Council elections and the General Election about the singe issue of “Say no to Indyref2”.  Neither of these elections has any direct bearing whether or not there should be a further indyref.  Holyrood has already voted to request a further indyref.  Yet Ruth Davidson’s campaign was clever. It ran on this single issue for almost 4 months.  It ha full support form Labour and Lib Dems using the exact same message . When will those parties ever learn and spot when they’re being used by the Tories?  But the clever part was that every message was all about “Ruth Davidson”.   If friends in England thought that the Tory campaign in England was based on the cult of the May personality, the Scottish campaign was all of that and so much more.  It was all about “Ruth Davidson”. Her party. Her candidates. Her ability.  And it worked.  But as the whole Tory party is now engulfed in utter inward looking chaos so she cannot walk away from it.  Or can she?  Will she dare to cleave the Scottish Conservatives from it’s parent in London?  If the Tories are to be “in bed” with the DUP that’s going to give her some very serious personal difficulties.

 

 

The TV Media in Scotland

Has gone way beyond what any rational observer would think of as impartial. This collusion lead to some of the most disingenuous “Leaders Debates” ever broadcast as both the BBC presenters (Sarah Smith, Nick Robinson) deliberately invited questioning of Nicola Sturgeon during the televised debates on the SNPs record on education and health.  Neither of these topics were in any way relevant to a UK general election, yet they were made to be the focal points of the televised debates.  Why would they do this?  Bernard Ponsonby in the STV debates was no better.  This is an ongoing issue for the SNP to solve. 

 

Communications

They took a knife to a gun fight.  It’s got to be difficult when you’re trying hard to be honest with people when all your opponents are happy to be deceitful and dishonest, especially when you face far more rigorous cross-examination by the media than they ever do.  Yet the campaign the SNP ran was lacked focus and was far too often having to be responsive.  The SNP let the other parties choose the ground on which the battles were to be fought.  This was a strategic mistake by the SNP and meant that Nicola Sturgeon and all the activists on door steps were having to explain the Scottish Government’s positions when they ought to have been talking about the UK Governments positions.  That lost time, very valuable time.  On the doorsteps people only give you a few minutes of their time  (and if you’ve got a long street ahead of you as an activist you haven’t got all that much time to give either).  Having to use half that time to defend the the Scottish Government before being able to move the conversation to the relevant matters of the UK Government was a soul destroying task.  And it happened far more often than it didn’t.  (I know, I canvassed and leafleted and knocked-up, sometimes in the company of MSPs)

Somehow I can’t escape the feeling that the SNP were perhaps more affected by the terrorist atrocities in Manchester and London than any other party.  The manifesto launch was delayed by a week and TV interviews were also delayed.  This is not in an way a criticism, but a statement of reality.  While other parties had their messages out and about, the SNP did not and could not get their message out.  Until pretty much the week of the vote.  Highly unfortunate for us.

Our reliance on Nicola Sturgeon is both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because she is a remarkable lady.  She is human, yet has astonishing stamina. If we could bottle whatever she runs on and sell it our energy problems would be solved!  However, she was perhaps worn down and not as feisty as she has been before.  The TV debates, predictably, became 4 against 1 bear-pits (Lab+Tory+LibDeEm+BBC) with the result being that the following days newspapers headlined the “Sturgeon flops as nurse/teacher attacks”.  All the while Ruth Davidson got off scot-free.  Somehow or other, this needs to change.  How we change the behaviour of the BBC and STV I don’t know.  But taking a firmer stance, strongly refuting. We put Angus Robertson into one of the debates which was a great idea and he did as well as he possibly could.  Again in a 4 against 1 environment.  Somehow, that didn’t help him though as on the day he lost his seat.  However, we’ve not lost his skills and experience in Westminster and should be seeking to put them to good use, perhaps hounding the inexperienced new Tory MPs and helping us communicate every time they trip up in Westminster.  I’m put in mind of the Police song “Every Breath You Take”……  Having an experienced and astute man like Angus Robertson, with Alex Salmond too if needed, helping us see what’s going on could be a really useful thing to do.     

A long standing bug-bear of mine is that the SNP has another communications problem to overcome. There is no effective ‘horizontal’ messaging between members and branches.  In this day and age, where every ‘club’ one joins has extensive email and private on-line forums I find this difficult to understand.  But this is very easy and simple to fix.

How We Vote

Here’s a suggestion.  As we’re almost certain to be heading back to vote again really soon, maybe our 35 MPs ought to be tabling a motions for the very first act of whatever Government we end up to be the scrapping of FPTP voting system. Just use the AMS system used in Scotland. Then, and only then will we be able to move beyond the narrow, divisive, adversarial two party system which has served the UK oh so well.   A small modification, restricting “List” members to being only allowed to serve a single term as “list” might actually address much if its shortfalls as a system. A further modification to the AMS system as used in Holyrood would be that no member elected on the “list” should ever have previously served in any other parliament or parliamentary position. Make the “List” very clearly about bringing through new, fresh talent or about giving people who only wish to serve for a short time a very clear way of doing that. How to solve the bias against independents which is kind of inherent in a “list” system? Dunno. This is just an idea as a starting point.

 

This has been on my screen for a couple of days now, so although it’s not really as complete as I’d like I’ll press the publish button anyway.   Something I’m learning about blogging on politics is that getting stuff out quickly seems important.  Not sure how many people will read this anyway……

 

YAPP over…..

Manchester

I can’t begin to imagine the pain and suffering that parents and children who were at the concert in Manchester this week must be going through. That pain is with them now and for ever.  As a parent, it’s not supposed to be this way.  We’re not supposed to outlive our children.  We’re not supposed to have to arrange their funerals.  Of course accidents happen and some parents have to deal with this, but I don’t know how I would.  Especially if it was as a result of a mindless act of terrorism.  So my heart goes out to all those who have lost a child, and to any children who have lost a mum or a dad.  So, so sad.    We need to remember them not just today, and not just next week and next month.  But for the rest of their lives they’ll bear these scars and some will need our help and support for a long time to come.

 

But what’s happening now?  Two days afterwards.  We’ve got the UK in a state of fear with the alert level being at “Critical”.  We’ve changed our lives and our society away from what is normal.  Who benefits?   You can make a case for this being exactly what the longer aims of the terrorist are.  To cow and induce fear and division in our society.  This is surely the whole point of such attacks.  While we (sweeping generality here) in the West use our laser guided weapons and drones to destroy whole cities in the Far East, they can only retaliate with bombs in rucksacks.  And we’re (rightly) outraged when they do.  I’m not justifying terrorism in any way but maybe, just maybe, if our country wasn’t engaged in perma-war in countries so far away that few of us could reliably show where they are on a globe, there would be less incentive for anyone to attack our children.

 

I read many other bloggers writings and here’s a couple that have struck me as having made fair and valid points –

Policing – Mewsing Out Loud 

Why self-imposed political silence is a misguided reaction to terrorism

 

Politically we’re two weeks away form a General Election in the UK. Yet all campaigning has been suspended.  Parties have their (prospective) MPs and their activists on hold.  My favoured party – The Scottish National Party has been unable to publish their manifesto.  That’s a problem, a real problem for anyone who believes in Democracy.  A party being unable to launch it’s manifesto as the polling day gets closer is just wrong. 

Our Tory Prime Minister – who on Monday lunchtime was on the ropes and being exposed as “weak and wobbly” over her U-Turns on policies in her party’s manifesto has been given breathing space, if not thrown a lifeline.  And did anyone tell the media to suspend campaigning?  They’ve been in full-on attack mode on Jeremy Corbyn over his discussions with the IRA donkeys years ago.   Whatever way you look at it, this bomb has blown a great big hole in the UK’s democracy.  Respect for those who have suffered  (and are still suffering) has to be, and has been shown, but life – including campaigning – has to go on.  Otherwise the terrorist is winning.  Or one side of a democracy is taking advantage.  

 

 

 

 

 

“The Battle For (Brexit) Britain”

 

I wrote this phrase a while ago in a blog post and I’m using it again as it seems to me to sum it what’s going on politically now.  In three weeks we’ll have an election which will determine what Britain’s future will be.   There can be no doubt that this is the most important election of my lifetime.   One the one side there’s the Conservative Party and no the other side there’s pretty much everyone else. 

 

“Furtive”- what a great word that is. “Sleakit” – there’s another good word. In this election campaign it seems to apply to the Conservative Party candidates more than any other.  They just will not enter into any debates about their policies with anyone.  Theresa May is being wrapped in such a tight blanket of insulation that it’s s surprise she’d not suffocated.  The Conservatives are exemplifying those words – they are the very embodiment of furtive and sleakit.   Not meeting the public, controlling the media, avoiding all and any interactions with anything that might be a question.   It’s not a surprise that they are tightly controlling everything.  When they do let a journalist get on with their job of asking questions they seem to lose their plot.  Here’s Ruth Davidson being interviewed on Radio 5 Live – https://ayerightradio.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/ruth-davidson-car-crash-interview-radio-five-live/ – Not exactly coherent and accurate is she?  And that wasn’t an aggressive journalist at all.  Theresa May is avoiding any risk of anything like this by flatly refusing to be interviewed. Is that the way a “Strong and Stable” leader should behave? 

 

Labour have published a manifesto full of policies which, if people were given a blind choice they’d be most likely to support.  And yet the media hammers on and on about Jeremy Corbyn not being a leader. Maybe he is, maybe he’s not.   But it would be nice to think the public would be allowed to make up it’s own mind without the media

 

The Scottish National Party has yet to publish it’s manifesto, so the details on it are unknown as I type this blogpost.  The critical point will be what they say about holding a future independence referendum.  For sure, the SNP is at an interesting point.  Support of the party is at the worst level, if not still growing.  They got more votes than ever  before in the recent Local Authority elections and yet are being frozen out of many councils by coalitions between “everyone but SNP”.  That might strengthen their appeal in the GE because it casts this GE as “Scotland vs the Rest of You”.  To all intents and purposes there is no difference whatsoever between Tory/Labour/LibDem/UKIP.  None of them offer anything different for Scotland.  Remember that Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain in the EU. 

 

The Green Party are still not getting a fair crack of the whip. Maybe, hopefully, in an independent Scotland their time will come.

 

The Media I can’t remember anytime when the newspapers and in particular the BBC News and Current Affairs programmes have so openly and obviously protected the Tory party. There’s no scrutiny or questioning whats0ever of them.  And that’s not good for any of us.

 

So to the title of this post, “The Battle For (Brexit) Britain”, it’s well and truly on. The oncoming tsunami of Brexit is going to batter this country and re-shape our country in ways that we can’t begin to see yet and we’ve got to choose what we think will be the best direction to recover from this.   For me, for Scotland, that’s got to be doing all we can to break free from the dead-hand of the Tory party.  Independence will be essential if Scotland is to have any chance at all of prospering in the coming decades.  Theresa May is lying when she says that an increased mandate will strengthen her hand.  It wont.  the most important election in the whole Brexit carry on was that of Emmanuel Macron in France.  The EU is now far more “strong & stable” than it was before his election.  (Notwithstanding problems ongoing in Greece and Italy) It is their side of the negotiations we should be thinking about.  I am in no doubt whatsoever that the EU will be mercilessly blamed when the Brexit negotiations break down.   Has anyone seen anything in the behaviour of the May/Fox/Johnston team which suggest they are event remotely capable of holding complex negotiations?  So Brexit Britain is not going to be anything we can look forward to.  And it won’t be the fault of the Tories.  Nope. Not their fault at all.  They didn’t hold an unnecessary referendum.  They didn’t run away when the result wasn’t what they expected.  Their not going to throw their toys out their pram when the EU simply sticks to it’s fair and reasonable position that to get the benefits you must be a member of the ‘club’. 

 

It seems to me that we really are in a 3 week Battle for Britain.  And regardless of how we all vote the future doesn’t look very bright at all.   (Unless you’re in Scotland, as I am, when there is a ray of hope)