Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Independence’
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 »
Games with Shadows: Living in Thatcher’s Scotland
Open Democracy, April 10th 2013
We live in Thatcher’s Britain, yet that statement is obvious, contentious and deeply divisive. And this is all the more true of Thatcher north of the border.
Thatcher is simultaneously both history and present day. You can hear this in the differing accounts on TV and radio; with conservative figures claiming she remade the modern world from knocking down the Berlin Wall and freeing Eastern Europe, to preventing a future ‘socialist Britain’; while elements of the left wail in pain and agony at how events have turned out and their inability to come to terms with the country and politics she created.
We live in an age as much shaped by Thatcher as the previous political era: the so-called ‘post-war consensus’, a phrase seldom used in that era, and only invoked at its fag end. The date of Thatcher entering office, 1979, is exactly halfway between 1945 and today. Therefore, we are 34 years from Thatcher’s first victory; and 34 years from then to Clement Attlee’s historic mandate. And given that there are detailed studies of ‘the post-war consensus’, we should be able to begin to do the same with Thatcherism, but instead we are still arguing over what it means. Read the rest of this entry »
What do we do when we talk (and don’t talk) about Power?
Scottish Review, April 9th 2013
The story of modern Scotland is an obvious one: we are a nation and a community, increasingly defined by these two terms and from this comes our sense of difference and identity.
Beyond that it begins to get complicated and contested; our prevailing account of ourselves is that we are centre-left, egalitarian, inclusive and radical, and the missing word in front of each of these is more; meaning more than England, which for many is the crucial ingredient.
All of the above contain elements of truth but they are also our modern myths, the stories we tell ourselves to understand who we are, which are part-fact, part-fiction, but which make us who we are. And to fully comprehend this we need to try and have some honest, reflective conversations about this, the nature of our public life, and the challenge of power, namely, who has it and who doesn’t, and how we understand it.
Let’s start with power. It is one of the central ingredients that makes the world go round. There are at least three versions of it in modern Scotland: hard power, intermediate power, and soft power. And for some reason we don’t want to talk too much about these in modern Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »
Mind the Gap: Gender and the Debate over Scotland’s Future
Open Democracy, March 29th 2013
The debate over Scottish independence, its constitutional status and wider future, is an important one, both north of the border and across the isles of the UK. It is also one which elicits as much sound and fury as it does reflection, as well as a significant amount of adversarial, tribal, binary posturing and point-scoring.
In the last week a Panelbase poll found on the question to be used in next year’s referendum, ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’, 36% supporting independence and 46% opposing (1); however, underneath this it found that among men, 47% were for independence and 40% against, and among women, 25% were for independence and 52% against. That’s a 7% men lead for independence and 27% women lead for the union; a whopping 34% gap between the sexes (and while only 13% of men were don’t knows, 23% of women were).
There are numerous questions which flow from these findings. First, who are pro-independence Scotland, which groups and places do they come from? Generally they are younger, in poorer socio-economic groups, and with significant footholds outside of the Central Belt; and obviously in each, more male (in the most recent poll all men under 55 years old showed 51% support for independence). Second, who is pro-union Scotland? They tend to be older, with the over-55s and over-65s pronouncedly pro-union, more affluent, and more female. In short, the first increasingly looks like (gender apart) excluded Scotland, and the second, entitled and entitlement Scotland; this maps onto trends found in the 1997 referendum but accentuated. Read the rest of this entry »
Let us recognise that we are One Scotland: The Vision of Self-Government
The big day was finally announced.
It was, when it came, an emotional moment and I will admit I had a tear in my eye but then I am a bit of a quiet sentimentalist, aided by it all occurring on my birthday.
There has been a long journey to get to this point; but it is about us as a nation, what we aspire to, how we see our future, our values, and importantly, how we get on with each other even when we politically disagree. But it can be said that this says something about who we are, and what we have so far collectively decided as a nation.
There is also an immediate backdrop of division and sniping with the trading of insults between Labour and SNP dominating ‘the Big Day’. This illustrated that part of this debate is still about who speaks for the soul of anti-Tory Scotland.
At First Minister’s Questions, Alex Salmond cited Labour MP Gordon Banks as having agreed with George Osborne on something, while Johann Lamont retorted by alleging that SNP MP Stewart Hosie had said something suspiciously pro-Tory. Read the rest of this entry »