Posts Tagged ‘David Cameron’
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 »
The Framing of the Scottish Independence Debate: A Tale of Two Referenda
Bella Caledonia, May 15th 2013
Two independence campaigns are now running in the UK: one on Scottish independence; the other which has become more public in the last week, on the UK’s possible exit from the European Union. Strangely they operate in near complete isolation of each other, with the Euro referendum being talked about as if we still lived in the high days of untrammelled Westminster parliamentary sovereignty.
In the last week, the front page of the Scottish edition of The Times reported a fall in support for Scottish independence of 3% as, ‘’Yes’ vote hits trouble as support crumbles’ (May 9th 2013). The same week it began its campaign for the UK to embark on EU withdrawal, lining up a chorus line of Tory grandees to declare their support for exit; successive front pages declared, ‘Lawson: It’s time to quit EU’ (May 7th 2013) and ‘Voters tell Cameron to cut Europe down to size’ (May 8th 2013); and were followed by Michael Portillo coming out of support of withdrawal, ‘We don’t share Europe’s vision. So I want out’ (May 9th 2013). The front page of the Scottish edition on the day of the Lawson announcement also included a headline stating, ‘Independent Scotland may struggle to keep lights on’ (May 7th 2013).
One has the language of ‘separatism’, ‘separation’ and is filled with risk and negativity; the other the language of ‘a new relationship’, ‘renegotiation’ and greater choice and flexibility; the first about Scottish independence, the second British withdrawal from the EU. When I asked Angus Macleod, editor of The Times Scottish edition why he used pejorative language on Scotland in one of the pieces cited above he answered, ‘Independence is in in the intro and elsewhere. Separation is used for variety. It’s called journalism’ (twitter, May 9th 2013). Read the rest of this entry »
Four Nations and a Funeral: The Demise of the British Welfare State
The Scotsman, March 30th 2013
The British welfare state is meant to be one of the ties that bind us together; along with the NHS and the BBC representing our common strands of citizenship.
Each has been remarkably eroded in recent years but on Monday April 1st huge changes will occur in the first two – the welfare state and NHS in England – which will have massive consequences for hundreds of thousands of people up and down this country already hard pressed and vulnerable, and for the very idea of Britain itself.
A host of benefit changes are away to occur: the bedroom tax, the abolition of Disability Living Allowance, the housing benefit cap and a real cut in most benefits. At the same time, there will be the biggest overhaul of the NHS in England in decades, with private health care providers the world over drooling at the prospect of getting their hands on the NHS billions.
This is not the mandate David Cameron and Ian Duncan Smith stood on in 2010. Cameron impressed on people that he was a different kind of ‘compassionate conservative’, stressing the perils of inequality and poverty, and citing the work of Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s influential ‘The Spirit Level’. Read the rest of this entry »
Scotland’s Place in the World and the Problem with British Isolationism
The Scotsman, November 3rd 2012
Europe has been in the headlines in the last two weeks. There was Salmond’s little legal controversy on EU matters, followed by David Cameron’s problems with his backbenchers on Europe, while some Labour politicians charged Ed Miliband with opportunism for siding with Tory Euro-sceptics.
If it is possible to rise above Scots insularity and petty partisanship which we have seen in the last week, it would be helpful to note the wider European and international dimension in which the Scottish self-government and independence debate, is now located.
This is about how Scotland sees itself and its geo-political position, or to put it more simply, how it sees its values, relationships and alliances across the European continent and globally. Read the rest of this entry »
The Strange Death of Tory England
The Scotsman, August 11th 2012
The Tory Party was once the party of Britain and a British-wide party. They were the main force of emotional, instinctual, and lest we forget, intelligent unionism, which contributed much of the glue and credos which gave the UK its sense of shared values for so long.
No longer can we say this about the Tories. They are a British-wide party no more , bringing far-reaching consequences for British politics and democracy and with it the future of the union.
People have seen that the Tories have stopped being a British party and became increasingly an English party. This account rose to prominence in the 1980s with Thatcher’s English nationalism.
In 1979 the Tories won 339 parliamentary seats and an overall majority of 43 seats whereas in 2010 they managed 307 seats and were 19 seats short of an overall majority. Over the same period in England their parliamentary support remained constant: 306 seats in 1979 and 298 in 2010. In Wales they won eleven and eight seats respectively, with the big difference being Scotland’s 22 Tory seats in 1979 and solitary Tory in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »