Not settling for less

Peter A Bell

bbc_union_at_any_costIt’s like being promised a new house only to find that what you’re actually getting is a garden shed. Not a top-of-the-range garden shed, but the smallest, cheapest, flimsiest, most low-spec garden shed on the market. It looks great in the brochure. But the one you’re getting isn’t painted. And, if you look closely just below that image in microscopic lettering are the words “Not shown actual size”. The attractive young lady in the bikini pictured gazing up in delighted wonder at the imposing edifice is actually only four foot three inches tall. You feel disappointed. You feel cheated. You feel Scottish.

Even if you don’t fully comprehend all the stuff about budgets and production costs and all the jargon of the TV industry, it’s easy to understand the difference between standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD). Anybody who has a fairly modern TV can appreciate the fact that…

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Vive la difference!

Peter A Bell

jackie_baillieThe deal to save BiFab is, of course, wonderful news for the communities that would have been severely affected by closure. It is also a bright day for Scottish politics. There is no doubt at all that this deal would not have happened without the intervention by the Scottish Government. And every reason to suppose that it would not have been achieved, or even attempted, by the British parties. The Tories would have shrugged off the suffering of people and families, insisting that their lives were a necessary sacrifice on the altar of ‘market forces’.

British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) would have been paralysed with indecision and riven by internal squabbling. One faction would want to throw taxpayers’ money at the problem. Another faction would quietly relish the closures and ensuing devastation of communities as a useful example of capitalist failure. They’d have held lots of meetings and marches and…

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Doubts are traitors

Peter A Bell

doubts_traitorsHow gratifying it is to hear Carolyn Leckie speak out for a new referendum “sooner rather than later”. It’s a pity she regards “sooner” as fully a year away. It’s perplexing that she doesn’t seem to think a two-year delay is “later”. But at least she’s showing some of the sense of urgency that has been so pitifully lacking in others.

Of course, Carolyn doesn’t identify the reasons for urgency. She writes of the need to “get the show back on the road”. Which is fine, as far as it goes. But there is no mention of the threat to Scotland from ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism which is what actually makes “sooner rather than later” an absolute and pressing necessity, rather than merely a personal preference.

It is possible, I suppose, that she is oblivious to this threat. After all, most SNP politicians who have offered their views on the…

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Tipping the scales

rbs_gaelicI must admit to having had a modicum of sympathy with RBS over its plans to close some branches. If we accept that the way NHS Scotland and Police Scotland deliver services must be responsive to the way their clients use those services, then we would be hypocritical to disallow that same argument simply because RBS is a profit-taking enterprise rather than a public service. But there is a problem with the way RBS goes about responding to an increase in the use of online banking by closing branches. The change in the way people access bank services is general. The closures are specific to communities.

Every branch is affected by the changes in the way people access bank services. But only particular branches are being closed. There is, as far as I am aware, no persuasive evidence that branches being closed are more affected by technology-driven change than others. And, in many instances, there are factors relating especially to rural branches which seem to have been afforded little or no weight in the process of deciding which branches to close.

All banks are facing the same issues relating to changes in the behaviour of customers. All branches are affected. But only selected branches are being closed. And it’s far from clear that the criteria used in selecting branches for closure is related in any way either to the extent to which they are affected by behavioural changes or their utility to the local community. The suspicion must always be that the principal, if not the only criterion is cost-saving.

Hence the perception of unfairness. It is all but impossible to avoid the conclusion that, in weighing up the arguments for closure against the case for retention RBS has been very selective about what gets put on the scales.

And now we find that they’ve also had their thumb on those scales. The argument for closure has evidently been augmented by assurances about mobile banking services that had neither substance nor weight.

But why should RBS care? They are already despised. Is it possible for anybody to think any less of them? They have been liberated from any requirement to maintain their good reputation and are now free to act according to their true ugly nature.

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The shackles are ready

Peter A Bell

shackles_by_gengen35-d50v113I suppose eighteen months is, at least superficially, better than the indefinite postponement of a new independence referendum being proposed by Pete Wishart. And I know Pete Wishart will protest that indefinite postponement is not what he is proposing. But the “optimum” time cannot be defined – not even by Mr Wishart or any of his supporters – and it most certainly can’t be predicted months or, if some have their way, years in advance. If the time-frame lack any identifiable fixed point then the timescale is, by definition, indefinite. Pete Wishart’s protestation won’t change that, no matter how engorged with indignation they are.

Another thing those advocating this indefinite, or protracted, delay are unable or unwilling to explain is how they intend to deal with the actions of the British government during this period of procrastination. The British Nationalist ‘One Nation’ project is not going to be put on…

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The options

Peter A Bell

procrastinationI am aware that many in the SNP and the wider Yes movement want this debate about the timing of a new independence referendum to just stop. Pete Wishart may be one of those who wish it had never started. Or so it would seem from his flat refusal to answer questions about his own highly controversial position or to engage in any way with those responding to his call for indefinite postponement of the referendum. On Twitter, there has been a steady drip of people urging an end to the discussion. Apparently, we’re not supposed to entertain any difference of opinion. Pretty much everybody agrees that timing of the referendum is critical. So critical that we must avoid talking about it. No, I don’t get it either.

Personally, I’m glad the issue has come to the fore. Unlike Pete Wishart, I am more than happy to have an open…

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Open goal missed

We need a change of attitude within the Yes movement.

Peter A Bell

The question over what currency an independent Scotland would use dominated the campaign in the run-up to the 2014 referendum. – The National

pexels-photo-358643And that was the problem. It was the wrong question. It was the British state’s question. It was posed in order to create a particular narrative. A narrative which followed the pattern of grinding negativity which characterised Project Fear. A narrative of doubt. And arguably the greatest mistake made by the Yes campaign was allowing the narrative to be controlled by the British state and its propaganda machine. The so-called ‘currency issue’ exemplifies this failure to seize the agenda perhaps more depressingly well than any other aspect of the first independence referendum campaign.

What currency? The very act of responding to this question validated it. By accepting that it was a pertinent question, the Yes movement gave the British media an opening to foster the notion that…

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