Just for the Record

I am not sure why I feel this way but I do have a feeling that the June 8th election may well see Theresa May lose her overall Westminster majority. At the same time I think the SNP will lose several seats in Scotland.

This will make an already chaotic situation even worse as it will put Brexit negotiations and the second Scottish independence vote into areas of even more uncertainty.

Why Keep the Union?

I am more and more puzzled by the attitude of the Westminster pro-Unionists? Why do they want to hang on to Scotland? It’s full of pesky people always whinging, always demanding more and costing the English taxpayer a fortune or so we are told; Nicola Sturgeon arguing with the PM about what she wants from Brexit. Why not just let the English have a referendum to get rid?

Firstly I supposed there is sentiment. Maybe the UK PM does not want to end up as the rUK PM and go down in history as the one who lost Scotland, a bit like Lord North losing the USA.

It seems more likely knowing the present Tory government that it is about money. So do they know something the Scots don’t. England has few natural resources and has only a small manufacturing sector. Scotland has oil which England always points out is about to run dry. Is that the clue? Is it actually that Scotland is a useful economic milch cow for rUK? It certainly would explain the hysterical blasts of invective and downright misinformation that accompanies any attempt by Scotland to break free.

Scotland’s Brexit

Mostly the media commentary about Brexit is conjecture. However as far as Scotland is concerned there is a fact that should not be ignored. The devolved government in Holyrood was set up by a UK Act of Parliament and could just as easily be done away by the MPs at Westminster as Pete Wishart MP writes. The Tories have a majority there and Theresa May could get rid of the thorn of the Scottish Parliament if she judged that to be in her interests vis a vis Brexit. That would leave Scotland unable to influence or decide its own future.

Brexit at the moment is all politics, nothing decided and all to play for so Nicola Sturgeon’s Brexit plan is part of the political chess game she is playing with the UK government. So are her visits to European leaders and to Dublin. By giving Scotland such a high profile on the Brexit scene she is hoping to make any foul play by Theresa May more difficult to carry out. To date her reasonable and practicable ideas and plans have found much favour and will be hard to ignore. What is more she is keeping alive the sense of destiny that grips many Scots at the present time.

Commentators saying she will not achieve what she would like are probably right but better to play for high stakes than tamely give in to a lifetime of Tory rule direct from Westminster.

For a very detailed look at the Scottish parliaments powers and the fact that in UN terms the UK is defined as two countries read the Grouse Beater.

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.

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.

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?

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.