Posts Tagged ‘British politics’
Power to the People not the Political Class
Sunday Mail, March 1st 2015
The airwaves this week have been filled with the sound of politicians crashing and burning.
Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw were caught in yet another ‘cash for access’ scandal, while on the next day, English Green leader Natalie Bennett found it impossible to offer the most basic costings of her party’s housing policies.
These instances – and the reactions of politicians and public to them – raise questions about what kind of politicians voters want to represent them. And what kind of politics. Once upon a time both parliamentarians and public felt they knew the answer to this. No longer.
People can talk about the sad state of the Westminster Parliament and the quality of debates and representatives. But there is a much deeper set of issues. If we look closer to home to the Scottish Parliament or across local government, who beyond a couple of the prominent figures in the main parties shine and connects to people? Read the rest of this entry »
Can Ruth Davidson persuade us to listen to the Scottish Tories?
Sunday Mail, February 22nd 2015
Two of Scotland’s established parties had a good independence referendum: the SNP who are now prospering in the polls and the Scottish Tories who have been gathering this weekend in Edinburgh.
For once the Tories have something to cheer about. In Ruth Davidson the party have a personable, likeable leader who is comfortable and growing into the job.
Her Conservative video released this week was another talking point – modern, relevant, human, showing her with her parents – and her partner, Jen.
There is more. On several issues the Tories have been scoring hits. Take John Swinney’s stamp duty reforms. The Tories have hit a political home run and forced the Scottish Government to retreat. Read the rest of this entry »
Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP and the Age of Anti-Austerity Politics
Sunday Mail, February 15th 2015
It has been a week filled with economic news and controversies.
There was the imploding crisis of HSBC’s secret Swiss bank accounts and tax avoidance; the on-going Greek-German Governments European stand-off which threatens the future of the entire euro zone; while Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, is getting people ready for a year of flat or even falling prices.
At the same time after years of public spending constraints and cuts, across large parts of Europe there is a widespread movement and force for anti-austerity politics. This can be seen in the rise of Syriza in Greece, the newly created popular Podemos in Spain, and – this week – in Nicola Sturgeon laying out the SNP’s position in a major London speech.
Sturgeon’s speech attracted lots of London media interest. And whether people agreed or not they took her and her agenda seriously. It was a considered and timely intervention, and seen as that by even her opponents. Read the rest of this entry »
The Battle for Britain 2015
Sunday Mail, December 28th 2014
Britain has had a tumultuous year. And 2015 will be as dramatic and difficult to predict.
The UK general election will take place on Thursday May 7th. None of the three established Westminster parties are popular and nor are their leaders. Cameron’s poll ratings at least run ahead of Tory support, whereas Miliband and Clegg are massively unpopular with 22% and 13% satisfaction ratings respectively; and Miliband is more unpopular in Scotland than the Tory Prime Minister.
At the last UK election in 2010, the Conservatives finished 20 seats short of a majority, but 48 seats ahead of Labour. Combining with the Lib Dems in coalition produced a comfortable majority, but any Labour-Lib Dem potential deal would have been scuppered as they were 11 seats short of a majority.
The politics of parliamentary arithmetic matters. 2015 may well see both Labour and Tories unable to form a majority by themselves, or in association with the Lib Dems. This will produce either a three party coalition government, or more likely, a weak minority government of either Labour or Tories needing to win individual parliamentary votes on an issue-by-issue basis. Read the rest of this entry »
Message to the Messengers Part Two: Where next after the indy referendum?
Scottish Left Project, December 12th 2014
The winds of change are without doubt blowing through Scotland.
There is the decline of traditional power and institutions, the hollowing out and, in places, implosion of some of the key anchor points of public life and a fundamental shift in authority in many areas.
This is Scotland’s ‘long revolution’ – which the indyref was a product of and which then was a catalyst of further change. It is partly understandable that in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, expectations have risen, people have thought fundamental change could happen in the period immediately following the vote, and timescales once thought long have been dramatically shortened by some on the independence side.
Popular expectations, pressure and demand for change are a positive, not a negative. Yet, there is the potential pitfall of playing into a left-nat instant gratification culture which poses that all that is needed for change is wish fulfillment, collective will and correct leadership, and hey presto Scotland will be free! This is a dangerous cocktail because when change doesn’t happen quickly, many of Scotland’s newly politicised activists may turn away in disappointment.
The times they are a-changing, but they are still messy, complicated and full of contradictions. For a start, the power of establishment Scotland is still, for all its uncomfortableness and nervous disposition in the indyref, well-entrenched and deeply dug in across society. If brought under scrutiny and challenge, from land reform to a genuine politics of redistribution, they will fight bitterly and with powerful resources for their narrow vested interests. Read the rest of this entry »