Here we go…

Well she did it.  Stealing thunder from Theresa Mayhem’s expected announcement on triggering Article 50, Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she will be seeking Holyrood’s permission to hold a second referendum for Scottish independence.

So what now?

The first thing that I hope to see is that people, regardless of who they vote for, realise that this referendum is not about a vote for the SNP but it is a vote for a democratic Scotland.

Secondly, I hope that the Yes movement encompasses those who believe in independence but vote; Tory, Labour and LibDems.  Can you imagine a movement that boasts voters and members from all the main parties in Scotland?  I can, and it’s an awesome thought.

Thirdly, I want to see a much better co-ordinated campaign that is inclusive of not only Bella Caledonia and the likes, but also Stu Campbell of WingsOverScotland.  Like him or loathe him, he can produce some brilliant journalistic pieces that shreds the arguments of those who back the Union.

Lastly, let’s not get involved in any mud-slinging.  Let us focus instead, on uniting and ultimately winning the democratic right to govern ourselves…and yes, get out of this rotten-to-the-core political union.

We can’t scream and shout and call people names when they still, for reasons known only to themselves, cling to the UK.  We all need to show them that there really is a better way.

I don’t think the BBC, Sky or most of the media have learnt anything since 2014, and certainly going by last night’s evidence I would say it might be even worse.  So folks, we need to hold fast, rise above it and win, but win with a smile.

Alba gu bràth!

 

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Clowns and queens

There was strong competition over the weekend for the most farcical performance from a British politician. As ever, Willie Rennie was a strong contender. He challenged the field with his insistence that the Scottish Government isn’t really the Scottish Government because three-legged zebras rarely juggle custard thimbles (or something like that, I wasn’t really listening).

It could have been worse. He could have spouted this insult to logic, reality and respectable tea-pot impersonators in public. Instead, he chose the seclusion of the Scottishesque Liberal Democrat’s conference-like assembly in a disused curling broom storage cupboard at the Dewars Centre in Perth. But word of Willie’s gibbering was leaked by The Herald’s North British political correspondent who stumbled on the gathering while he was researching a piece on Nicola Sturgeon’s personal responsibility for the crisis in Scotland’s curling broom storage facilities. Much Twitter-based hilarity ensued.

Willie Rennie might have been upstaged by a great effort from British Labour in Scotland (BLiS), who found themselves faced with a serious dilemma. Should they agree with their own leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who says he’s “fine” with Scotland having another independence referendum. Or should they side with the clean-shaven half of the Tories’ tartan team, Ruth Davidson, who is very far from “fine” with the people of Scotland being permitted to exercise their democratic right of self-determination.

Unfortunately, the BLiS performance lacked the essential element of surprise, as they followed their natural inclination to meekly fall into line behind their Tory allies. Corbyn may be their boss, but Davidson is the Queen of the British nationalists. When she pumps out those red, white and blue pheromones, Dugdale buckles at the knees.

So, it’s another win for Willie Wanka. And another sad loss for Scottish politics. Just when folk were starting to take it seriously, here we have the British parties doing their utmost to turn it all into a clumsy circus.

Happily, this week sees the start of the SNP’s Spring Conference in Aberdeen, and a chance to enjoy political theatre of a more uplifting variety.

Meanwhile, we are left with one rather intriguing mystery. If the British parties in Scotland are as fervently opposed to a new independence referendum as they make out, why are they not calling for Westminster to prohibit it? When they are prepared to make complete fools of themselves in a hapless effort to delegitimise the SNP administration at Holyrood, and suffer the public humiliation of favouring their rival party’s leaders over their own, it’s difficult to understand why they would baulk at the additional embarrassment of formally requesting that a Westminster government the people of Scotland rejected imperiously overrule the government those people elected.

Maybe they’re saving that for the finale.


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Blair McDougall’s stale pish

toryblair-460x332Only this week Project Fear architect, Blair McDougall, was once again peddling the stale pish about Scotland being expelled/excluded from the EU. It seem to have escaped the notice of this particular monomaniacal British nationalist that by far the biggest threat to Scotland’s European status is the British state to which he owes such absolute allegiance.

The claim that Spain would pander to the petulant malice of British nationalist fanatics by ‘vetoing’ Scotland’s EU membership was always vacuous nonsense which ignored the political and constitutional realities for the sake of some scaremongering propaganda.

When we voted No in 2014, we put extraordinary power over our fate in the hands of people whose most satisfying fantasies involve Scotland being rendered a pariah state as punishment for asserting our right to that status and those powers which other nations assume to be theirs by right.

It’s time to rectify that mistake. It’s time to bring our government home.


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The millstone

Correlation is not causation. Most of us, I expect, are well aware of this. And economic growth is neither the only nor, some would argue, the best measure of a nation’s health. But, when we are confronted by such a stark difference between Scotland and comparable countries, it is perfectly reasonable that we should look first to the most obvious factors that make us different from those other nations. We cannot help but note that Scotland is the only country in the group to be burdened with the millstone of Westminster.

When we are told that revenues from Scotland’s oil industry entered negative territory while Norway was still able to earn £12bn, then we are entitled to question the wisdom of leaving management of this still valuable resource in the hands of a British political elite which has proved itself adept only at finding novel ways of screwing things up.

Scotland’s economy lags because it’s on a choke-chain held by the British state. We won’t even know what our potential is until that tether has been broken.

Let’s bring Scotland’s government home.


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Vote smart! Vote Scottish!

It’s always good to see Scottish parties better represented on the ballot. Eventually, it will be gratifying to have more Scottish Greens and others representing communities on Scotland’s Councils. But we must not lose sight of the fact that these local elections are extraordinary. This is not a normal council election.

The British parties, and particularly the Tories, were always going to treat the local elections as a vote of confidence in Nicola Sturgeon and a ‘stealth’ plebiscite on whether there should be a new independence referendum. Anything that could be spun as a ‘blow’ to the SNP would be presented as ‘proof’ that the independence movement was finally evaporating – as it was supposed to do after the 2014 No vote.

All that has changed is that it is no longer so ‘stealthy’. Theresa May has come right and declared that British nationalist should use the local elections to ‘send a message’ to Nicola Sturgeon.

Let’s do that!

Let’s send a message to our First Minister. But not the message that the British establishment wants. Let’s tell Nicola Sturgeon that we are totally behind her as she fights to defend our right of self-determination. Let’s give her a big stick to wield as she goes up against the Tories.

Use your votes wisely. It is essential first of all to maximise the SNP vote. As far as the British parties and the British media is concerned, it will only be SNP votes that count as a slap-down to Theresa May. But we know better. We know that votes for other pro-independence parties (OPIP) are also important. Not least because placing them after the SNP serves to push the British parties down the rankings – where they belong.

The great thing is that we can do this, we can give Nicola the vote of confidence she needs and deliver a stinging rebuke to Theresa May, without compromising local government. Those SNP and Green candidates are at least as capable as anyone representing the British parties. And the priority of those SNP and Green candidates is to serve the community, while the British nationalists are intent on hijacking the local elections for their anti-independence campaign.


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That voice! That face!

There’s something familiar about Theresa May.

We’ve heard that lecturing, hectoring, condescending tone before. The voice of privilege. The voice of assured economic security and social status. The voice of a ruling elite that is as alien as it is ancient.

It is the voice that orders. The voice that demands. The voice that lies with the practices ease of long practice and unassailable self-righteousness.

The voice that has never known doubt. Never questioned its inherited, assumed authority. The voice that never expressed a genuine emotion. The voice that can speak only of the basest human urges.

It is the voice of the British state.

We’ve seen that practised, patronising, patrician smile before. Thatcher had it. Blair was the master of this form of duplicity. Cameron never quite got it right. Brown tried it and only managed to look like a bad actor feigning a stroke.

May’s facial contortions mask the face of established power. Cold. Heartless. Avaricious. Jealous. Vindictive. Arrogant. Entitled.

That is not a smile. It is the expression which results from trying to control and conceal the sneering, snarling grimace beneath.

It is the face of the British state.


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Hail to the leeches!

scotlands_parliamentI feel somewhat vindicated by their Lordships’ having passed an amendment to the Article 50 Bill which would guarantee the right of EU nationals to remain in the UK regardless of what other EU nations decide about the residency status of UK ‘ex-pats’. To the great annoyance of some of my more left-wing comrades, I have always expressed severe reservations about their demands that the House of Lords should be abolished forthwith. Indeed, it has long been my contention that we should be extremely wary of any plan to do away with the upper chamber. And for very good reasons, which have just been demonstrated.

There are few enough checks and balances in the British political system. For all the glaring and unarguable flaws of an assembly which epitomises the unelected power, unearned privilege and unaccountable patronage of the British state, the House of Lords does occasionally have its uses. For all the chamber may be populated, for the most part, by ermine-clad spongers, troughing, farting and snoring their way to a daily per-sponge stipend that would feed an entire ‘Benefit Street’ for a week, it may be better than any alternative that we’re likely to be offered.

It is illuminating that the Lords themselves have a term for the exceptions to the rule of leeches wrapped in the skins of dead stoats, emitting the odd animal bray or grunt as they sleep off the taxpayers’ unoffered largesse lest some flunky in a Liberace costume panic and have at them with a gold-plated defibrillator. They call these exceptions ‘Working Peers’. Far be it from me to suggest that this is to distinguish them from the more common ‘Parasitical Peers’. You must draw your own conclusions.

Suffice it to say that, every once in a while, the normally detestable House of Lords redeems itself in some meaningful measure by serving as a corrective to one or other of the more vaunting idiocies or iniquities of an executive which, being drunk on power, rather than (or perhaps as well as) subsidised port and brandy, is even more of an affront to our democracy than the largest unelected legislature outside totalitarian China.

Don’t get me wrong! I am all for getting rid of the House of Lords. I recognise that, here in Scotland, it will soon cease to be our concern. But, so long as we remain part of the UK, I have to take an interest in the purposefully arcane workings of the British state’s archaic institutions. And, disgusted as I am by the concept of hereditary privilege and the corruption of political patronage, I fear for what might happen if this final, flimsy constraint on executive power were to be abolished, only to be replaced by something designed by those who have designs on unconstrained executive power.

Be careful what you wish for is ever a useful adage.


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