Thoughts on BBC News

Here’s some not entirely worked through ideas about broadcast, radio and TV news.  In the past month the BBC News operation has become the story in Scotland because it issued ‘Take Down’ requests to YouTube over the use of what it claims are it’s clips on channels run by two pro-indy blog/news sites. This got me thinking a bit about copyright and ‘news’ reports.  And how we find ‘news’ and stories from the past.

Newspapers have been filed in major libraries for decades and decades.  It  used to be that you could go to a major library and search micro-fiche copies of practically every newspaper ever printed to find the stories you were looking for.  And there you had the ability to read a story as it was being reported,  over a period of time, by various journalists and newspapers.   So the  ideas of how  copyright should operate for printed newspapers has been well developed over decades and  decades.  And now  we have a scandal involving the BBC’s broadcast news.   Why is this?  We have only relatively recently developed a capability for broadcast, as opposed to published, news to be recorded and stored.  Previously anything broadcast, radio or TV, was ephemeral. So a news report was gone as soon as the broadcast was over. The only possible copy of that broadcast was with the broadcaster.  So if I wanted to find out what the BBC was broadcasting on the day I was born the only place I could perhaps  find out would be from the BBC.   But now we have technology available  for all of us, in our mobile phones and laptops, which lets any  one of us easily record whatever broadcast we want.  Then, thanks to blogs and YouTube, we can publish the recorded news.  The BBC’s broadcast News operation is having to face a problem which printed news operations solved years ago.   Copyright is claimed to be a problem for the BBC news operation, yet it’s obviously solved for print media.  The ease with which audio and  even video can be edited is something to be considered though.  But, for me,  broadcast news should have no more copyright than printed news.  I can search for archives of newspapers, I should be able to search archives of broadcast news just as easily.  So either the broadcaster has to provide this facility or I should be freely permitted to to do it myself using either my own tools or common freely available tools.  i.e. I can record news broadcasts and keep them for as long as I like or I can search somewhere like YouTube.

Pat Kane (@thoughtland on Twitter) has written an interesting article about the ‘Digital Public Space’ .  I like the idea.  It would solve many of the issues I’m thinking of.  You can read Pat’s article here –


BBC Radio Scotland John Beattie show, Scott Arthur interview

Just for the record, in case you missed it, here’s a recording of the interview with Councillor Scott Arthur by John Beattie on his BBC Radio Scotland show from today – 3rd Aug ‘18. 
No edits, it’s the full 15 minute interview.    Am I now in breach of BBC copyright?

A Spaceport for Sutherland

The news in the last day or so has ben full of the announcement of the Spaceport is going to be build in Sutherland.   So I  thought I’d provide a little background and context for anyone who might not be so sure of where Sutherland is.  You see, despite it’s name, its actually the very top part of the United Kingdom’s  land mass.   John O’Groats is in Sutherland.  Sutherland distance

I’m typing this just outside Perth and I thought I’d see how long Google Maps reckons it would take me to get to Wick – which isn’t at the top of Sutherland.

It tells me it’s a distance of 213 miles and that it will take me some 4 and half hours to drive there.  For context, Manchester is 264 miles from Perth.  Or I could take a train, for mere 5 hour 49 minutes  (That’s got to be wrong.  Surely??)  Maybe not, train services north of the Glasgow-Edinburgh central belt in Scotland are not that great really.  I’m not sure that Wick has a station.  Bus?  Aye. Right.  So Scotland’s quite big really…

So I’ll get in my car and drive up to Wick.  Just get on the motorway and zoom along. Well err, no.  Not exactly.  There are no motorway class roads north of Perth – well not on that route.  So It’ll be the A9 then, a fabulous dual carriageway.  Again, not exactly no.  Many sections of the A9 are still single carriageway.  So getting to Sutherland is not as easy as say getting from London to Manchester, which at 208 miles is a comparable distance.   And this is where the grand Spaceport for the UK is to be built.  The centre for Space tourism for the UK is along a load of single carriageway roads

So the first thing the Spaceport in Sutherland’s going to need is a spaceport to get you there!  Pardon me for thinking this is not  really likely to happen….

Take Me To Your Leader…..


If an alien landed here next year and said “Take me to your leader”

who would you take it to? (a short blog with more questions than answers)

With all the problems piling up in the (dis)United Kingdom as it hurtles towards leaving the EU this is a problem which doesn’t seem to be being talked about much. Where’s the leader? Theresa May holds the position of Prime Minister but has never shown any leadership qualities. Even last week, when taking a decision which has the potential to spark World War 3, she was running away from scrutiny and failing to show leadership. Jeremy Corbyn seems to have to wait until the public lead him to the positions he should take. Vince Cable is liable to be the beneficiary of the “Anyone but Labour&Tory Leavers” campaign in the forthcoming by-elections in England. But he’s not a leader either.

The UK is now less than one year away from leaving the EU and the need for leadership has never been more pressing. And, if you think forward one year, then the question about “who will be the leader?” becomes more worrying. The UK as a minority Tory Government kept in place only by a deal done with the DUP of N.Ireland. (The DUP have their own problems with “Cash for Ash” still dogging them). So logically the ‘Leader’ ought to be someone from the Tory Party. But who? Theresa May got the job when David Cameron cowardly ran away from the consequences of his actions. She was the least offensive/divisive candidate to the Tory Party – when no-one else wanted to take the poisoned chalice from Cameron. Since then we’ve had Boris Johnson strutting around making troublesome pronouncement after troublesome pronouncement. Jacob Rees-Mogg is in the frame. Really? Only a right wing Tory could ever think of him as a leader. A year from now the UK is likely to need someone who can truly unite the country as it finds its place outside the EU. Again, logically that will be someone from the Tory party. But who would you take the Alien to? Who is there that will have the trust of the people in the UK and just as importantly the trust of the rest of the world whom we are seeking trading relationships with? Who do we think the German Government, French Government, EU officials will trust? I can’t see anyone in the Tory party who can do this.

Labour might be different – but they are not in Government and there’s no current possibility of them being so.

But Scotland and Wales are different. In both countries there is leadership being shown. Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones have formed an unlikely alliance to protect the devolution arrangements for their countries. That looks like leadership. As I write this, the UK Government is reported to be going to take both the Scottish and Welsh Governments to court. Astonishing. If the Supreme Court (which was created by Tony Blair!) judges that the Scottish and Welsh Governments are acting within their legal powers then the Tory Party’s whole approach to Brexit is likely to be holed beneath the waterline – in terms of the future trade deals they hope to arrange. If the court rules in favour of the UK Government then the devolution arrangements are destroyed. Such a result might be the trigger the SNP has been waiting for to start up “Indyref2” in Scotland. I’m not sure where this will leave Wales.
So, to answer the question “Take Me To Your Leader” – I’d take the alien to Bute House in Edinburgh to meet Nicola Sturgeon.

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.

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 : 


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. 



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…..

“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 – – 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)







Finance and Constitution

I am a sad economics/tax/policy geek. I’ve been watching and listening to a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Constitution Committee while doing other stuff this morning. The interactions of businesses, employment, tax policy is fascinating.  If you want to understand the “powers” the Scottish Goverment has over tax watch this Committee Meeting from the Scottish Parliament. It’s only about 2 hours long…..  Then you’ll understand just how little control the “most powerful developed parliament” in the world really has….


I’m feeling gobsmacked and more than a bit surprised.  I didn’t see the snap election coming.  Once again we have the Tory party putting the good of their party before the country.  How many times did Theresa May say she would not call a snap election?  And what was it she said about the Scottish Parliament’s democratic request for #scotref?  “Now is no the time”.  Well if we don’t know enough about Brexit’s implications now to hold a #scotref, we sure as hell don’t know enough to hold a General Election.  I have never in my life seen a political party behaving with such casual disregard for the people in the country.  It’s dystopian. It’s Orwellian.  It’s just downright depressing.

Electoral Fraud.  Let’s not forget about it. The Tories were given the largest fine possible by the Electoral Commision. They were found guilty of breaking the rules.  There are 20+ cases still with the Crown Prosecution Service. And yet they are getting away with it.  The evidence is compelling that they acted fraudulently and now they’re going to do it all again. Wonderful.

Brexit.  That’s what this is all about. The Tories have to get their electoral win secured before the really bad news of how catastrophic Brexit will be hits the general public. There’s been a drip, drip drip of bans and financial services companies relocating functions and departments to within the EU.  When this drip turns into a flood then the economy of the UK is in deep, deep, trouble.   Only a starry eyed optimist would think otherwise.  Will it run into a flood?  Some commentators think so.  The Tories are may be many despicable things but they are not stupid.  They see the writing on the wall and are desperate to secure their power before the rest of the population reads it and blames them.

So where do I stand on this?  This is Scotland versus the Tories. We can all be certain the Tories will win in England.  They will once again be fraudulent (why not? it won them the last election and no-one went to jail) and Labour are not fit-for-purpose as an opposition party.  So the Tories will waltz home.  In England.

Scotland is a different matter altogether.  As is Northern Ireland.   In Scotland the unionist politicians could be made extinct. It will be a tough fight though as we can expect Trump-sized lies and chicanery in the media for the next 8 weeks.  (yes – that includes the BBC, particularly BBC Scotland).  Northern Ireland is going to be a problem for the Tories too as the Unionist parties will surely be rejected there.  So quo vadis the *United* Kingdom?   Do the Tories even care?    I’m not sure if they do.  I can’t remember as i type this if “The Great Repeal” Bill has been passed by parliament yet.  If it has, this isn’t about a General Election is a coup d’etat.  The Great Repeal Bill (oh was anything so badly and tragically misnamed) hands decision making on almost every aspect of EU law as it is brought into UK law to the Goverment.  Read that again.  The Goverment will decide what of 40+years of laws will be applicable in the UK. Parliament won’t be doing this.  The Tory Government will. Still thinking the UK has a functioning democracy?


So,  Scotland.  As one very famous Tory leader said “There is no alternative”.   She was right. But just a bit out of context.