30 Nov 2009

Independence White Paper

I think I will read it before commenting

In the meantime, happy St Andrew's Day and a wee word from the doyen of Tory bloggers Iain Dale!

Scottish Parties Are Blind to the Obvious
Iain Dale, 30 Nov, 2009

Blinkered. That's the only way to describe the idiotic decision by the three main parties to oppose a referendum on Scottish independence, which the SNP promised in their manifesto and are delivering on today, when they issue a white paper. If there's one way to whip up separationist tendencies Tavish Scott, Iain Gray and Annabelle Goldie appear to have found it.

The SNP have a mandate for the referendum. Perhaps I am missing something, and no doubt you will tell me if I am, but the SNP would lose a referendum of it were taken within the next year, so what have the three main parties got to lose by allowing the SNP to press ahead? If the vote is lost it would kill the SNP's electoral fortunes for a decade or more.

The simplest path when it comes to a vote in the Scottish Parliament is for the other parties to abstain. But it looks as if they will continue to act like ostriches and use the referendum as a stick to beat the SNP with. Alex Salmond may have had a bad year, but he is not to be underestimated. As a political tactician he is in a different league to his opponents, and they would do well to remember that."


26 Nov 2009

Jim Murphy's Calman White Paper - how nationalists should respond

Simply - "put to to a referendum vote."

Because Calman is radical - in terms of tax powers, a big change from what Scots were made to vote for in a specific question on tax in the referendum of 1997. So if you want to change these powers, have a specific vote.

In this regard the SNP is in danger of clouding the issue over its demands that aspects of the Calman Report over which there is "consensus" - those that relate to firearms legislation and speed limits - be implemented now. I see where they are coming from, but it's a confusing message.

"Give us all a vote Jim" is what we should be demanding loud and clear. This is about the sovereignty of the Scottish people, not a cosy "consensus" cobbled together by a self appointed committee and a bunch of politicians.

And of course they fear a referendum - on near anything.


22 Nov 2009

Labour's Next PEB?


19 Nov 2009

The SNP and a Second Term - What I am trying to say

I think in 2007 the SNP was right to take power, show there is an alternative to Labour and it that could run things competently. But it has done this and circumstances are now changing. So it might be time to consider tactical changes.

Getting a referendum , with the SNP as a party and a movement well placed to fight it, is I think where the focus must be. And whilst this is never going to be easy, having the Tories in Westminster with a small lead ( maybe a minority), Labour desperately looking for a way back to some sort of influence in Scotland , plus the lib dems keen on any slice of the action, might just see the SNP well placed to get a referendum - but neither as an incumbant government nor an irrelevance. But, unusually, and as a party on the front foot, Scotland's largest, one prepared to forgo office in order to win its principal objective. And this would not per se be independence, but rather a direct say in their future for the people of Scotland.

I would not condemn the SNP for what it did in 2007, but increasingly it looks like what it may have done - unwittingly but objectively - is traded power for forgoing a referendum: By this I don't mean a referendum was on offer (cause it was not), but rather that the Unionist parties have only let the SNP run a minority administration because they can block any referendum.

All I am suggesting is maybe - and only maybe - in 2011/12 there might be the opportunity to reverse the deal.

But power is seductive - for both the SNP who have it at Holyrood, and others who want it in London and Edinburgh. A potential trap, but a potential opportunity also.


17 Nov 2009

The Second Term?

As SNP activists digest the implications of the defeat in Glasgow North East and revise downwards that 20 plus Westminster seats target, they can still be comforted by the substantial lead the party enjoys in polls on Holyrood voting intentions.

So the second term remains on course.

But with the Tories in power at Westminster, Labour in opposition both sides of the border, and big block grant cuts inevitable, should the SNP want a second term?


13 Nov 2009

A Bad Bad Night for the SNP

Glasgow North East was a dreadful result for the SNP and a pretty good one for Labour.

Cast your minds back to last May when Michael Martin announced his resignation and ask yourself if there would have been a single person in Scotland predicting Labour would out poll the SNP by 3 to 1 in this by-election? Cast your minds back further to July 2008 when the SNP won in the neighbouring, and near identical seat of Glasgow East.

Some SNP bloggers this morning seem though to be turning their focus, not on a bad bad result for their party and the cause of Scotland's freedom, but on turnout, "unthinking" labour voters, the constituency itself, and on successful Labour candidate Willie Bain.

First of all let me say Willie Bain was a good candidate - local and plausible, and as far as I can make out a cut above the average Scottish MP, all parties. Why the SNP chose to make him an issue is beyond me. In almost every respect he topped the SNP candidate: Certainly on quite a few big issues - the Royal Mail for one - Willie was prepared to ( allowed to!) take issue with his party's line, unlike David Kerr.

But this was not a by-election won or lost by individual candidates, nor was the depressingly low turnout of 33% any surprise. ( no lower than should have been expected). The surprise - the thing that needs focused upon - is why the SNP did so badly: 20% of the vote in a "two horse race". Or indeed, not even 7% of those eligible to vote.

As for attacks on the "unthinking masses" who did vote labour - at least they voted. And I'm sure they mostly did think first. They just found what the SNP was saying to them, and how it was saying it, unattractive.

I was not there, nor do I have any pearls of wisdom to offer the SNP - other than this: Dismiss the implications of this result at Scotland's peril. Learn from it instead.


10 Nov 2009

A Final Appeal to the Voters of Glasgow North


4 Nov 2009

"Hash in the Attic" - or mince on the BEEB?

Last night I had the misfortune to watch BBC Scotland's much hyped "Hash in the Attic" documentary on home grown cannabis production. Or should I say the Scottish Police Service's documentary?

Because rarely have I watched such a blatant piece of establishment placed drivel of my TV set. "Propagandist" would be too mild a word to describe un-sourced assertion after assertion made in this programme - "a £100 million pound industry", ( apparently more than the total value of all Scottish vegetable production!) , and one with, of course, direct links to organised crime, illegal people trafficking and prostitution. Links which, in the view of the closing and unchallenged remarks of Scotland's top drugs busting plod, "should make people think long and had before they roll their next joint"

Aside from facts to back up any of this - but loads of police supplied video - the most obvious thing totally absent this "investigative report" was any alternative perspective, any questioning of why busting into people homes to seize hash plants was a police priority? ( I had to laugh as a council scheme in Leven was described by the BBC reporter as "suburbia"!)

And whilst we were told, totally unchallenged, the police view on all the valuable work they were doing to combat this evil "£100million pound industry", we got no information at all about the cost of the policing operation, its conviction rates, and the overall point of it - especially in light of epidemic in terms of hard drug dealing, to say nothing of alcohol abuse. particularly by under 18s.

But it was as a piece of investigative journalism, rather than the issues it purported to report upon, that most concerned me about this film. Is this police driven establishment propaganda the best BBC Scotland can come up with? And where was the "due impartiality? In the light of the litany of police driven urban myths to justify many of their high profile operations - "the 25,000 sex slaves" one most recently busted wide open by some real investigative reporting in The Guardian, is BBC Scotland operating in some sort of bubble of naivety, sold hook line and sinker this police placed mince ? In the same week as the UK Government's main drugs advisor was sacked for speaking some sense on the "war against drugs" it is genuinely depressing to find BBC Scotland, not just so craven, but so far off the pace.


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