Archive for the ‘Short Essays’ Category
A Post-Nationalist Politics for the Nationalist Movement
The Scotsman, October 22nd 2011
The SNP gathering at Inverness is an historic occasion for the party with a discernable feeling that this is their moment and that nearly anything, including independence, is possible.
International dignitaries, corporates and lots of hangers on are evidence of the SNP’s importance. Even the UK media in one of their episodic fits have noticed Scotland and the SNP with various correspondents scuttling north and dusting down their clichés.
Inverness catches the SNP in transition. They have mastered the art of government and even more impressively, the balancing act of modern successful government. This entails, as Thatcher and Blair did, being in government and opposition at the same time; taking credit for all the good things, while blaming others (usually Westminster) when things go wrong.
The SNP were for years outsiders, defining themselves as not part of institutional Scotland and as an anti-establishment force. This still shapes the party’s attitudes; they don’t like the entitlement culture of institutional Scotland and bodies like CBI Scotland who think and act like they have an innate right to inflict their prejudices on the rest of us. Who they do like are independent minded, self-made people and entrepreneurs such as Jim McCall and Tom Hunter. Read the rest of this entry »
The Second Big Debate
The Scotsman, April 23rd 2010
The dynamics this week were very different: Clegg, the new favourite, Cameron, the previous frontrunner, and Brown, the supposed steady incumbent.
Nick Clegg had to navigate difficult terrain between being an ‘outsider’ and emphasising his experience, including drawing on his work for EU Commissioner Leon Brittan. When we got to Afghanistan and nuclear weapons, the temperature changed, and Brown told Clegg to ‘get real’ and Cameron said ‘I agree with Gordon’.
Brown was better than the previous week, avoiding mentioning no percentages or three point plans, and even cited the occasional human being. Cameron challenged Brown to withdraw ‘Labour lies’ in its leaflets alleging that the Tories would take away free bus passes from pensioners. Read the rest of this entry »
Who Benefits from Future Labour or Tory Governments?
Fascinating figures from YouGov’s Sunday Times weekend poll – which as far as I can find are only available online and not in the newspaper version (at least north of the border) (1).
When voters were asked who they thought would most benefit from a Conservative Government they responded:
The rich 47%
Married couples 37%
Hardworking men and women 30%
The poor 11%
Single parents 8%
Immigrants 7% Read the rest of this entry »
A Tale of Two Labour Manifestos: ‘Choice’ and the Absence of England
Open Democracy. April 12th 2010
The Labour manifesto has been launched finally today – the 25th British election manifesto according to BBC lunchtime news. It is a day of multiple Labour manifesto launches with the main British programme, and Scottish and Welsh versions, published.
I am going to focus my attention here on the British and Scottish editions, as these are the ones I am familiar with, so apologies to Welsh readers.
The British Labour manifesto, ‘A Future Fair For all’ (also the title of the Scottish and Welsh versions) has already won the battle of the pre-election slogans. The document itself is a strange mix, harking back in its images, colours and iconography, to a ‘brave new dawn’ and to the spirit of 1945 (as well as apparently the ‘New Jerusalem’ millennial hope of Labour in 1923 which had the theme, ‘Greet the Dawn’). George Eaton on the other hand in the ‘New Statesman’ thinks it draws from Maoist imagery (1).
Yet in content, this is a strange document with the sense of a transition from one age to another. In numerous places it makes the claim that we can no longer afford to continue ‘business as usual’, but its whole feel o is of a complacent Stanley Baldwinesque safety-first approach. Read the rest of this entry »
Go Brown To A Fourth Term: The Strange Story of Labour’s Comeback
The Scotsman, March 27th 2010
As the Scottish Labour Party meets today in Glasgow, the party now finds itself in the surprising situation of an open, competitive election with everything to play for.
Labour has been through a lot these last few years: recession, a banking crisis, three attempted coups against the leader, cash for honours, the expenses crisis, and that’s without mentioning Iraq and Afghanistan.
Labour is short of members, resources and monies, and yet it is still standing. Is Gordon Brown really ‘the Comeback Kid’? This raises the question of what Labour stands for after all this? What is the essence of the party’s soul? And what would happen if the party managed against it all to win an historic fourth term?
Senior figures in the party still command the ability to order their depleted, exhausted forces to mount attacks and counter-attacks, and to push every sinew and part of themselves to rise to the task of mounting one more challenge against the Tories. Read the rest of this entry »