What is Independence?

A post in the Edinburgh Eye suggested that independence is only real when a country has complete control of its currency. Greece is an obvious example of what is meant. The author goes on to say that the SNP stance at the referendum of insisting on sharing the UK pound was not campaigning for independence. This I agree with. In fact I said it on my blog, The SNP presumes too much…, back in the middle of 2014. I also made the point that the SNP would not have an inherent right to form a government after independence nor to dictate the terms. The YES voters who campaigned outwith the auspices of the SNP were much more visionary, looking to create a better society truly throwing off the shackles of Westminster.

It is therefore with some dismay that I read further in the Edinburgh Eye post to discover that he had voted NO. If  many people voted that way because the SNP were too timid in their campaign it is a tragedy. To want independence and yet to vote against it because of one political party’s stance is frankly awful. What was he thinking to achieve?

Let’s hope that next time people accept the vision of a great nation able to look after its people.

July 3, 2015 at 10:16 am 2 comments

Evel and ScotvScotl?

Admittedly ScotvScotl does not exactly roll off the tongue.

Having instituted a degree of self government to NI, Scotland and Wales the Westminster government has in effect set the hare running towards much fuller self determination. This has consequences for the remaining nation, England. So naturally there is a demand for something of the same.

Cameron and his cronies are not strategic thinkers. Say anything to get out of a jam is more their way. So Evel was born on the back of the chaos of the September Scottish referendum along with a mishmash of “promises” and a vow.

However if at Westminster English MPs have some sort of overlordship of English only laws, is there not a two way street? In the interest of justice for all the constituent parts of the UK, Scottish MPs should also have some privileges in deciding Scottish only laws.

Is this going to happen? Of course not because the Tories and Labour in Westminster have a colonial mindset when it comes to Scotland.

July 1, 2015 at 11:04 am 1 comment

Hardworking MPs?

For many years we have been fed the line that the paucity of MPs actually visible in the HoC chamber is because they are all so frantically busy elsewhere looking after the concerns of their constituents. As the blog Ripped Off Briton points out the vast majority of MPs sit for safe seats and as their official voting record shows that 36% average do even not turn up to vote, are we being fed a line of misinformation?

I don’t know anybody who has ever consulted their MP. As a volunteer for a party a long time ago, I don’t recall any frantic MP surgeries or concern over the constituents’ problems. The new SNP MPs are managing to spend a lot of time in the Chamber. As newbies might they not be finding the burden of all their other duties too time consuming to also sit for long hours listening to the debates or are they exploding the myth?

June 9, 2015 at 9:58 am Leave a comment

Reactive Government

It seems more and more as if this Tory government makes policy as a reaction to any current environment.

The EU referendum was David Cameron’s answer to UKIP but the consequences of that promise have landed the UK in yet another confrontation with the EU and probably months if not years of distractions.

£12bn of cuts is a figured plucked from the air to look good in a manifesto and yet the IFS has stated (reported in the Guardian)

The cuts that the government announces later this year in next month’s Budget and the following Spending Review may turn out to be deliverable. But they certainly will not feel like is just 1% being taken out of each area of spending, nor will it require merely “£13 billion from departmental savings” as the Conservative manifesto described. While not inaccurate, these numbers give a misleading impression of what departmental spending in many areas will look like if the manifesto commitment to eliminate the deficit by 2018–19, largely through spending cuts, while not cutting spending in many areas, is to be met.

But we also hear that George Osborne is keen to sell RBS at a £13bn discount.

Where is the consistency?

June 4, 2015 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Better Together?

Anybody who thought that with the Smith Commission and the new Tory government Scotland would somehow get a Christmas hamper of devolved powers must be very naïve.  At last Iain MacWhirter in the Sunday Herald http://t.co/8zBWeFrJ4j has brought it to the fore. I first used the words “poisoned chalice” in relation to the devolution of taxes in August 2014 where I said that devolution of all taxes might be acceptable. Nobody should be under any illusion that the established parties, Tory, Labour and Lib Dem, will forego any opportunity to ambush the SNP.

Tommy Sheppard MP in his maiden speech set out the SNP position in a nutshell and it should be referred to at every opportunity. The video also highlights the very few members of other parties who bother to attend debates. A key weapon in the SNP 56’s armoury should be be their attendance. If they can keep up that level of attendance sooner or later discontented voters in other parts of the UK will begin to ask where their own MPs are? The SNP contingent must stick with it as a key ingredient of their Westminster campaign. Sweet reasonableness is another weapon. They should also always bear in mind that they have no friends in the House except just possibly Speaker Bercow if you listen to his remarks at the end of Tommy Sheppard’s speech.

May 31, 2015 at 11:14 am Leave a comment

What Now?

BBC Radio 4 Today programme allowed John Humphries to blatantly play the immigration card when interviewing Mark Carney BoE Governor about the poor productivity figures. Mark Carney refuted it with some figures but the damage was done, a UKIP message had been transmitted. Surely it is time Humphries went.

George Osborne wants devolved cities. Let’s be even more radical and devolve power to the English regions, Scotland, Wales and N Ireland. We already have historically recognised regions, the North East, North West, South East, Midlands etc. and while we are about it make London an international city state. In that way we can arrive at a federal UK.

If only the Tories had some imagination and were not so enamoured of big corporations and the uber-rich.

May 14, 2015 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment

Where Do We Go From Here? #GE15

The 2015 General Election result did not feature in any of the pre-election scenarios so the rhetoric of the various campaigns becomes in some ways redundant.

A Tory majority gives Cameron a free hand. An SNP landslide could constrain him but will it? Best for Scotland would be some form of compromise which would allow the SNP Scottish Government wriggle room to pursue some of their anti-austerity agenda. This would give the SNP some credibility and pave the way for electoral success in the 2016 Holyrood elections. Would that suit the Tories? At worst they could hand Scotland a totally poisoned chalice of an imbalance of powers which if they are used will make the social and economic climate worse but if not used will leave the SNP with a loss of credibility.

So what should the 56 MPs and Nicola Sturgeon be negotiating for?

First and foremost the approach needs to be entirely pragmatic. Bandstanding on issues such as Trident will get them nowhere. Even the emasculated parliamentary Labour Party will not support that. We need to reduce the poverty and  dependence of a significant proportion of the Scottish population. Not as Iain Duncan Smith would wish to do it. It will be a slow process but we have to start soon and somewhere. We need better education, not the academic variety but cultural and life-enhancing. Every young person leaving our education system should be kitted out with the skills to make a positive contribution and to be employable. It is a disgrace that we have so many young people unemployed or under employed. A decent society should have as a given that youngsters are able to find work when they leave education or training. Apart from their own well-being, leaving them unemployed for any length of time risks them becoming a permanent burden on society. Our population is getting older. We cannot afford not to make certain that all young people become usefully employed. It is in the self-interest of the older members of our society. Succeed with this and it follows that we can reduce the total costs of  some benefits.

Tax Credits are a subsidy to employers not the benefit recipients. Scotland needs to control its own minimum wage. The money not spent on tax credits can be used to attract socially useful employers and to keep them in Scotland. Essentially we need manufacturing industries in the broadest sense; industries that produce goods which can be sold. It is clear that financial services do not bring benefits to the whole population and can cause havoc.

We need powers to make sure that we can gather all taxes due. We need to be able to close the many loopholes that allow the uber-rich and international corporations to avoid taxes.Some may depart abroad but if they are not paying taxes we might be better off without them.

We should be addressing our chronic housing problems. Cameron mentioned One Nation Conservatism. MacMillan, a true one nation Tory, oversaw the building of 200,000 houses per annum.

We need powers to protect the NHS from the effects of TTIP. In a Tory regime it is certain that the NHS will become entirely privatised and insurance based. What is more it will cost more. Our present NHS is not an expensive health service but it needs to be protected and nurtured.

Recent governments have played havoc with the pensions of many workers. We need the power to make certain that on retirement nobody falls into poverty. In a decent wealthy society such as Scotland there should be no need for any individual to be without shelter and food. In particular anybody in full time employment should not need a subsidy from the state to provide for their own and their family’s needs.

None of the above is unobtainable or unreasonable. However our new MPs must make certain that the powers granted under new Scotland Act actually allow us the freedom to achieve them.

May 11, 2015 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

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