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.

Referendums or Even Referenda

The time would appear to be ripe for further government by the people. In spite of being a representative democracy the UK members of parliament have decided to honour the result of the EU referendum whatever their own positions on the desirability of Brexit; this even though the referendum was advisory.

While Westminster is in the mood to meekly accept the result of any referendum how about some more…

  • one to ban drinking on Sunday
  • one banning Fox Hunting
  • another to abolish the House of Lords
  • another to bring back the death penalty
  • even one to turn the UK into a republic so we can have a Trump like president of our own.

Brexit

I have not posted to my blog for months. Instead I have sat back appalled by events.

However It seems to me that those little Englanders who voted for us to  leave the EU under the illusion that England could once again be Great Britannia have actually put the final nails in the coffin of that pipedream. They will find that while the UK could delude itself that it was somehow special while part of the European Union once on its own they will find that England has suddenly become part of a offshore island of little consequence to the giants of world finance. Having to renegotiate from a weak position all the EU treaties we presently take for granted will take years and will at every turn demonstrate how insignificant trade with England will have become. Perhaps at last the little Englander world view will be dead.

Meanwhile Tory Prime Minister, Theresa May, who was a Remain supporter has capitulated to the extreme EU sceptics in her party. In a parliamentary democracy, there should be no such thing as a binding referendum, certainly not on something which has the potential to sweep away 300 years of history and leave England on its own in an increasingly hostile world. It should be parliament that decides the way ahead, taking into account the marginal majority of the referendum voters. Instead May has compounded the facile, lazy way in which Cameron brought about the referendum by cow towing to the vociferous hardliners in her party in a populist fashion worthy of all the worst populist parties in Europe. The Conservative party has become overnight virtually indistinguishable from UKIP.

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.

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.

Scottish Independence – World Cultural Climates

The Internet has facilitated a new culture which does not always place a monetary value on everything. It has spawned an attitude for many people of helping those less fortunate than themselves.

At the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow there were a million donations of £5 to UNICEF all done by text messaging. This is just one small instance.

On the other hand there are the uber-rich who are totally absorbed in making themselves ever richer to the detriment of the rest of world population and the planet itself. If a buck can be made nothing should stand in the way, rain forests, the climate, the Great Barrier Reef.

And I am very sorry but I think the Westminster Parliament is a major facilitator of this culture, selling the NHS, the Royal Mail to the benefit of their own kind.

Does Scotland want to be part of this huge wealth grab? It is not nationalistic but radical to want to go our own way to help make a better nation and so in the long run a better world.