Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
What Kind of European and British Union is Emerging?
The Scotsman, May 18th 2013
Prague Spring. Two words which evoke a certain feeling, the hopes of a generation, European idealism and the past.
Today Europe could not be in a more different place and frame of mind, the brief optimism of 1968 and 1989 long gone.
All across the continent, European political, elite and civic conversations are underway about ‘whither Europe?’ and ‘what future for the eurozone?’
In the last two weeks I have participated in two of these, attending the Prague Press Forum and before that speaking to ministers, officials and advisers of the Irish Government in Dublin.
Europe is worried about itself, its future, the European project and Britain – with in many places Euro-realism falling over into a deep-seated pessimism. German broadcaster, Jurgen Kronig, believes part of the problem is the ambiguous nature of German leadership. Read the rest of this entry »
Who Speaks for Scotland and Where are the Empathy Makers?
The Scotsman, May 11th 2013
These are baffling times – of big issues and challenges, but of a politics and political conversations which are increasingly problematic, not just in Scotland but across much of the world.
How many times have we been told that the independence debate is a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ or ‘a historic moment’?
Funny that, because it doesn’t feel like that too many people outside the ‘bubble Scotland’ that lives and breathes politics. There have been comedy wars, twitter spats, stupid interventions, and a politics shaped by ‘fans with typewriters’ and worse. There hasn’t been much insight and light so far.
Douglas Alexander’s recent speech was something rare: an interesting, original rumination on many of the important issues. Whatever you think of Labour and Alexander, he is trying to raise the level of debate, and that is surely, desperately needed. Read the rest of this entry »
What Difference Does It Make? Making Explicit the Change of Independence
The Scotsman, May 4th 2013
It has been another fast-moving week in Scotland’s constitutional conversation even leaving the comedy controversies aside.
There was Denis Canavan, chair of ‘Yes Scotland’, distancing himself from SNP policy in suggesting Scotland that should have its own currency; while the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee made the startling observation that independence will involve shaking things up for the UK.
Then there was Alex Salmond’s announcement that an independent Scotland would not have a central bank. This is part of the ‘don’t frighten the horses’ approach of ‘continuity independence’ which sees the maintenance of the pound sterling as Scotland’s currency, with Treasury and Bank of England oversight, and Scotland remaining in the UK Balance of Payments. Read the rest of this entry »
Can Ed Miliband’s Labour Challenge the Westminster Consensus?
The Scotsman, April 27th 2013
Ed Miliband does not have to seek out his troubles and much of it seems to come from his own side rather than from opponents.
This week Len McCluskey, head of Unite laid into Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander claiming that if Miliband listened to them, ‘he’ll be defeated’ and ‘cast into the dustbin of history’. Worse, George Galloway endorsed Miliband for PM, just the sort of thing to scare off marginal voters.
Labour’s poll ratings are on average 9% ahead of the Tories producing a predicted Commons majority of 96 seats, but most people think it should be further ahead at the moment.
The electoral system may aid Labour and hinder the Tories, but underneath the headline figures there is a lack of conviction in Labour. 66% of voters think Miliband isn’t ready to be PM with only 24% feeling that he is ready. Only 12% of the public thinks Labour are the most capable party to take tough decisions, while 48% think this of the Conservatives. Read the rest of this entry »
Seven Suggestions for Scottish Labour to be the Party of Change
The Scotsman, April 20th 2013
It seems to be the age of seven questions as Tony Blair once again acts as an uncomfortable sage for Labour and Ed Miliband.
With Labour meeting in Inverness this weekend and the party’s Devolution Commission interim report out, it is time for Scottish Labour to assess where it is and what it needs to do to change and to start shaping the political weather.
Here then are my seven observations and suggestions for you Johann:
1. Careless Talk Costs Political Lives
Your ‘something for nothing’ speech has gone down in political mythology; not quite the ‘Sermon on the Mound’, but cast that way by opponents. There was a point to your argument, but strategically and tactically, it was ineptly executed. There was no preparatory work, of building advance positions, and signing up significant allies prior to the speech.
The language was counter-productive and damaging to Labour. ‘Something for nothing’ might work as a soundbite from your spin-doctor Paul Sinclair or in a ‘Daily Record’ editorial, but it deeply hurts Labour by embracing right wing populist rhetoric. Read the rest of this entry »