Austerity

It is perhaps not surprising given the power and reach of the Neoliberal uber-rich that in the UK, the EU and USA Austerity has become the orthodoxy.  In the UK it is taking on an extreme form in our political life.  So much so that the neoliberal Tories are regarded by many voters as a centre party. They have been bamboozled by the idea that the finances of a country are best managed like a household budget. Margaret Thatcher famously started the idea but George Osborne and Cameron are the real practitioners. Prof Steve Keen in an interview explains the absurdity of such theories. It is not surprising that his views and similar views of other serious economists are hidden under a blizzard of spin and invective by the powerful uber-rich who stand to lose if austerity is abandoned.

This has resulted in Labour becoming a right of centre party also enamoured of austerity which they dare not refute. That is the case with all their leadership nominees apart from Jeremy Corbyn. He is being taken apart by the neoliberal main stream media, not surprising in view of who owns them, and there is a desperate campaign to stop his bid for the labour Party leadership.

However, there are growing signs of at least some of the electorate realising the fact that they have been hoodwinked. Jeremy Corbyn is the popular candidate of the grassroots of the party, Greece elected a left wing party, Syriza, and there are movements in Spain and Italy.

Prof Steen mentioned the economic policy of the SNP in Scotland as going in the right direction.

Migrants are People too

The EU and particularly France and the UK have a refugee problem which is rapidly getting out of control. Let’s say that in Calais the French and UK police manage to stop any migrants getting near the Channel tunnel. This will lead to a steady build up of more and more people squatting in and around Calais. The flow of refugees from Africa and the Middle East is accessing the EU far away in the South so stopping the flow at Calais is not going to stop the EU ingress.

However doing nothing will only make the flow increase. Apparently millions of people around the world are on the move filling refugee camps in the Middle East and elsewhere. It is like an unstoppable force of nature. Maybe not stoppable but it can be better managed like the rechanneling of a river. Taking in refugees at one end, preparing them for another life elsewhere and then letting them move on.

I can only tentatively suggest that Europe has to create accommodation for refugees, work with their existing skills and add to them through education and training to make them citizens that other countries will wish to take on. For example the UK is importing huge numbers of nurses from countries which can ill afford to lose them. If the UK created a surplus of nurses through refugee training, those countries might not lose out so badly.

As it is the current UK and French policies are counterproductive, absorbing huge resources of money and manpower and not solving the problem.

Review of The Caveman Rules of Survival

The Caveman Rules of Survival by Dawn C Walton discusses the role that our subconscious plays in ordering and governing our lives.

Dawn herself is a business woman turned practising Cognitive Hypnotherapist so much of the book is based on her own experience of counselling. It is remarkably jargon free, giving straightforward simple explanations for what are complex psychological situations. She postulates the theory of three Caveman instincts which govern much of our non-conscious lives, the fight, flight or freeze condition, the need for parental love and the necessity to be part of a group. Childhood incidents add what she calls rules to each of these categories. The rules then keep the person safe by avoiding similar situations. For instance an embarrassing confrontation may lead to a person being a loner, not wanting to get into a similar situation which will cause embarrassment again.

This picture of our inner selves does set a scene which is readily understandable. The many examples in the book can no doubt be identified by many readers and the explanation is satisfyingly straight forward. Dawn then explains that by using hypnotherapy she can find the hidden childhood event and by suggesting a different interpretation of the scenario can rewrite the rule and thereby release her client from domination of the rule in adult life.

All this certainly hangs together and thus makes the book very readable and one that might help some people cope with some of the phobias and hang-ups which spoil their lives. Furthermore the book has received a commendation from Professor Trevor Harley, Chair of Cognitive Psychology at Dundee University. This adds a certain credibility to the book.

The State of the Parties

I am amazed at the shambles of the Labour Party. Surely losing Scotland should have been a wake-up call. However what is happening does probably fit a wider picture. Neoliberals have taken over the lunatic asylum. The Labour Party would do well to read Richard Murphy’s book the Courageous State which can be ordered through the blog. There is an alternative to Austerity. More and more respected economists and financial institutions including the IMF have come to that conclusion.

Jeremy Corbyn could win a general election. That is why the neoliberal elite have mounted such a fierce, violent and scurrilous attack, going to the extent of calling in Tony Blair. It smacks of Gordon Brown’s intervention in the Scottish referendum. Except that up to that point Gordon did at least have some credibility. The present anti-left campaign within the parliamentary Labour Party has the same provenance as the anti SNP campaign which incidentally shows no sign of abating. It is the deadly dread that the English electorate might wake from its slumbers as happened in Scotland and actually realise that, in spite of the rhetoric about the working people, the Tories are totally focused on furthering their neoliberal objectives. And it would seem there are enough fellow travellers in the parliamentary Labour ranks especially amongst the leadership contenders to make sure that no alternative economic plan is given credence.

The upshot is a parliament which is made up of two major neoliberal parties. In some countries both parties would be regarded as right wing. This leaves the SNP’s 56 MPs as the only substantial party with opposing views. And they will be vilified at every turn.

We are in five years of neoliberal mayhem and major negative campaigns against any alternatives.

SNP and the Main Stream Media

A number of newspapers appear to be shifting to the political wind or hurricane caused by the election of the 56 SNP MPs. In particular Mhairi Black’s maiden speech has even caused Time magazine to sit up and take note.

Not so apparently the BBC in Scotland who reported that the 56 MPs had been rebuked by the HoC Deputy Speaker for clapping Mhairi’s speech without reporting what she said. This is actually disgracefully poor quality reporting from the national broadcaster which is starting negotiations for its continued existence.

However I can only speculate that BBC Scotland is determined to do everything it can to show the SNP in as poor a light as possible so that voters in Scotland will continue to believe the pre Election Unionist and Tory message of hate for the SNP. Any suggestion that SNP MPs and MSPs are actually working for the good of Scotland and the UK as a whole might look like a degree of credibility which the Tories and Labour could not stand.

Remember there is a Holyrood election next year so the obviously the dirty campaign has already begun. Whether it is BBC Scotland policy or the work of rogue individuals with the organisation is not clear. Wherever it stems from, other media and the Social Media should get together to put a stop to it or at least counteract it.

Problems for Scottish MPs

Our SNP MPs have a real problem with a Tory majority. They are very unlikely to achieve anything substantial in the next five years or even anything which might grab the headlines. They are left to show themselves as responsible, thoughtful hardworking members of the Westminster parliament. This they have so far managed to do very successfully. This will almost certainly not be enough for their supporters. The extra devolved powers in the Scotland Bill will surely be a nightmare, a poisoned chalice of apparent freedoms designed to hamstring any rational alteration of the Austerity set by the Tories. So the SNP will be fettered in Westminster and even hung out to dry at Holyrood.

Pete Wishart in his speech in the Emergency debate on Standing Orders to give English MPs the veto on English only legislation floated the idea of federation. Such is the fear their own propaganda has instilled in English MPs the very idea met with almost hysterical condemnation, the slippery slope to the breakup of the Union. Nevertheless it is a way forward. Federations in Germany, Canada and the USA have not led to any breakup.

The present devolved arrangements are a minefield which could end in independence for Scotland. No two devolved parliaments are the same. A Royal Commission or similar national convention could allow sanity to prevail and at the same time bring about a logical structure for the governance of the United Kingdom. Independence in today’s world is proscribed in any case. France  is independent but also circumscribed by the EU treaties. It is a proud nation which in no way thinks of itself as subservient or a colony Scotland in a properly federated UK could have most of the freedoms that France enjoys without some of the undoubted problems which full independence would bring.

The EU itself talks of subsidiarity. That implies governance from the lowest tier upwards; anything which can be done at a lower level should be done there. A federated UK would see each part fully in charge of its own internal affairs while contributing money and elected representatives to a central authority concerned only with external affairs. I deliberately use vague terms as the final set-up should be the subject of  the convention.

This might not be the independence craved by hard-line supporters of the SNP but it could deliver the kind of decent society in Scotland that many SNP voters were and are seeking.

SNP MPs in Westminster

I mentioned the effect that a full complement of SNP MPs were having in an earlier post https://robthill.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/hardworking-mps/ . I highlighted that almost every SNP MP was in the chamber for most debates.

Watching Dr Paul Monaghan’s maiden speech on Parliamentlive.tv just now I did regret that there were fewer colleagues to support him. Still of course more than from other parties. However, If as many as possible of the 56 SNP MPs can attend the chamber as often possible they will send a powerful subliminal message about the work of the MPs of other parties. I know it will require an effort but one that I am sure will reap a rich reward.