The day it all changed

The fate of the Scottish Parliament was decided on Wednesday 16 May 2007. On that date, the first SNP administration was sworn in.

On that date, the British establishment realised the measures to keep Holyrood firmly and permanently under the control of the British parties had failed. On that date, the British political elite determined that the Scottish Parliament would have to be reined in – or be destroyed.

The Scottish Parliament can survive only as Westminster’s obedient, servile appendage, or as the Parliament of an independent nation.

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What will we wear?

Peter A Bell

empty_wardrobeWhat will we wear? That’s the big question facing Scotland’s separatist movement. People need to know what clothes they will have after independence.

SNP insiders admit that uncertainty about apparel was a significant factor in the humiliating defeat suffered by separatists in 2014. Critics say that failure to address the question of dress was a major blunder by the campaign to break up the UK.

John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, points to research indicating that voter uncertainty about what they would wear after independence had a measurable impact on the outcome. He said,

“My research indicates that uncertainty about what they would wear after independence had a measurable effect on the result of the 2014 referendum.”

Adam Tomkins MSP, Tory constitution spokesman, was scathing.

“It seems the Nats expected the people of Scotland to go around naked after separation. People I spoke to on the doorsteps were…

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Brexit limbo

scotland_eu.pngDavid Davis may well be “thinking of STARTING negotiating a trade deal with the EU“. And, to the sane people, this may seem extraordinarily belated. But it’s not at all clear that any meaningful trade negotiations with any country are even possible while the UK is neither fully in nor entirely out of the EU.

With that self-serving exceptionalism that so grates on sane people, the British political elite wants the UK to be regarded as either – or perhaps both – an EU member and a third country as suits the purposes of the British state. It is very difficult to see why the EU, or anybody else, should go along with this.

Britannia may waive the rules. Others don’t have to waive back.

What should be causing sane people across the nation to share Stu Campbell’s very evident frustrated annoyance is, not the fact that the UK is only now considering trade negotiations with the EU, but that the British political elite dragged us all into the Brexit mincer either dumbly unaware or recklessly heedless of the fact that the UK would be left in a negotiating limbo; entirely dependent on the goodwill of those that Brexit was always bound to alienate and naively reliant on the graciousness of those who have no reason to serve the UK’s interests.

This frustrated annoyance is bound to afflict anyone who tries to discern some order and purpose in the pond-life twitchings and squirmings of the British government. The problem with the analysis offered here is that is assumes Davis, Fox, May and the rest are actually aware of what a “catastroshambles” Brexit is. There is little evidence of this. They all seem to suppose that everything is going quite swimmingly.

There is no plan here. There is only what can be portrayed as purposeful, and what must be blamed on others.

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New referendum! New mindset!

Peter A Bell

If an independence referendum were to be called today and the SNP go it alone and be the official ‘Yes’ campaign and it’s SNP versus everyone else, we will lose based solely on voting history. – Chris McEleny

referendum_2018_petitionIf the Yes campaign is to succeed in the coming independence referendum we urgently need a fresh mindset. Sorry, Chris! But this is not it.

Let me say first of all that, having seen him perform in two Depute Leader contests, I have considerable respect for Chris McEleny. I have not the slightest doubt that he is destined to play a major role in Scotland’s politics. But I would suggest that he might benefit from shaking off some of the more conventional thinking that is evident from his views on the new independence referendum.

In some respects, Chris has already done this. He has been prepared to break from the herd…

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A British accommodation

Peter A Bell

leonard_rennieThe latest bit of British jiggery-pokery with the EU power grab represented a potentially tricky situation for Richard Leonard and Willie Rennie. There first instinct, as always, is to blame the SNP. But the sheer brazenness of the Tories’ cack-handed chicanery made things somewhat easier for the other British Nationalist parties. Not even with the worst #SNPBAD will in the world could Leonard and Rennie enthuse about the latest addition to the BritSpeak dictionary redefining ‘consent’ as… well… anything said or not said. To do so would leave them looking foolish as well as treacherous. And they prefer to do just one at a time.

Spare a thought for Ruth Davidson. She gets no choice in the matter. Looking daft and despicable is in her job description.

It would be folly, however, to mistake the position taken by Leonard and Rennie for anything akin to an honourable defence of…

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Who are these people?

Peter A Bell

tomkinsFor many, I feel sure, the shock revelation coming out of the Hansard Society’s 15th annual Audit of Political Engagement is the discovery that as many as one in seven people in Scotland is “broadly satisfied” with the British political system. Who are these people? What do they see that the rest of us don’t? What do they fail to see that is painfully obvious to the vast majority?

What is the thought process which leads to the conclusion that the British political system is, from a Scottish perspective, even remotely acceptable far less broadly satisfactory?

What does it take to be a Unionist in Scotland today? What percentage of one’s intellect must be forsaken? What portion of one’s conscience must be denied? What part of one’s self-respect must be sacrificed?

How much must Scotland endure before British Nationalists begin to question their allegiance to a British political system which…

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A stagnant system

Lot’s of excitement about Amber Rudd’s resignation. I’m not sure why. What has changed? What is different now that she’s gone?

The witch-hunt is surely one of the more unedifying spectacles of the British political circus. Taking a scalp has become an end in itself – particularly for the media. Being able to force the resignation of a government minister is a display of power. In the context of British politics, destroying – or at least interrupting – a political career is supposed to represent democracy in action. The only thing the British media likes better than elevating some populist bladder to unearned status (Nigel Farage?) is knocking them off their papier-mâché pedestals.

It is, of course, right and proper that politicians should be accountable. And I don’t for one moment doubt that Rudd deserved her ignominious fate. But there is something shallow and impoverished about a system which equates accountability so entirely and exclusively with removal from office. The forced resignation is the prize. There is no discernible concern with improving the system itself. No lessons are ever learned. Nothing changes.

Amber Rudd has gone. For the moment. But the British state has an endless supply of Amber Rudds. And a seemingly limitless capacity for rehabilitating those who have fallen from grace. The ink isn’t dry on Rudd’s resignation letter and already her departure is being represented in some quarters as a tragic loss to the nation. Doubtless she will be recycled, reused or repurposed just as soon as the media have found a new villain du jour to focus on.

The system itself remains unaffected. The structures of power, privilege and patronage remain unaltered. British politics is stagnant. It cannot learn. It cannot change. It cannot evolve. Whoever is appointed to replace Rudd as Home Secretary will get the job because they fit the existing system, not because they are likely to try and make the system fit to exist.

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