Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalists’
What is the point of Scotland’s Westminster Politicians?
The Scotsman, November 2nd 2013
Once upon a time Scottish politics meant one of two things: what your local council got up too, and Scottish MPs standing on College Green talking on BBC and STV about what often seemed far-flung issues.
The latter were our only articulation of national party politics. And while it now seems a long time ago it did produce a sort of effective politics and a range of ‘Big Beasts’ – from Tom Johnston and Willie Ross to George Younger, Malcolm Rifkind and Gordon Brown, to name but a few.
This was the age of what was called in polite circles, ‘the Scottish lobby’, but which also went privately by the names, ‘Scottish’ or ‘tartan mafia’. The romantic version of this is the folklore of ‘Red Clydeside’ and the 1922 general election when the city of Glasgow saw ten of its fifteen constituencies return Labour MPs for the first time. Upon their departure from St. Enoch railway station with crowds singing the ‘Red Flag’ they went south to change the Commons, but in the eyes of left-wing critics were more changed by parliament themselves. Read the rest of this entry »
Time to Be Bold in Making a New Scottish Democracy!
The Scotsman, October 19th 2013
We hear all the time that a ‘historic decision’ awaits Scots next year but so far this has seemed like a typical Scots campaign as nervous forces of change face a techy displaced establishment and a media unsure of its role.
All this in the context of traditional institutions declining, new ways of organising and social media emerging, and a country dramatically changed in the last three decades, which ‘official Scotland’ finds difficult to fully grasp.
Our traditional politics struggle with this. The SNP may exude confidence as they meet this weekend in Perth but their Fabian style nationalism – hesitant, incremental and conservative with a small ‘c’ – has so far made the party political weather but not yet convinced on independence.
The pro-union campaign has been aggressive, evasive and harking back to a past Scotland which doubted itself. Last weekend a ‘Better Together’ spokesperson even called pupils in schools singing Scots songs ‘propaganda’. Read the rest of this entry »
The Independence Debate is not a Non-Event but Changing Scotland
The Scotsman, September 28th 2013
How often have you heard it said: the independence referendum is a non-event and as boring as paint drying?
This has become the uncontested view of part of mainstream Scotland and many in public life and the media. Last week ‘Newsnight Scotland’ anchor Gordon Brewer stated as fact that the whole thing was ‘dull as dishwater’, while others regularly pronounce that it is ‘turning off voters’, ‘deadening’ and ‘never-ending’.
It is a cliché, caricature and articulating a world-weary, cynical, Paxmanesque attitude of condescension. It also just happens to be deeply and utterly wrong.
Interestingly, this ‘its all boring’ perspective hasn’t learned from the recent past. Two years ago in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election campaign a chorus of the mainstream media, often the same people as today, called the whole thing predicable and dull with Alf Young dismissing it as ‘the biggest yawn in living memory’ and ‘depressing’. Read the rest of this entry »
Fighting Poverty is about more than the Bedroom Tax
The Scotsman, September 14th 2013
This week’s Scottish Government Budget for 2014-15 and 2015-16 saw battlelines drawn on who and how best to mitigate the worst effects of the bedroom tax.
Now in a week when the UN special rapporteur Raquel Rolnik weighed in against the measure, it has to be recognised that this is not the main challenge facing welfare in Scotland.
In terms of the UK government’s recent welfare policies, the new guidelines in relation to the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) with their harsh regime of sanctions and withdrawing all JSA from a person for in the first place one week (with the ultimate sanction withdrawal for 156 weeks), have got next to no attention compared to the bedroom tax.
Political posturing and heated public discussions are all about this current, controversial policy. What is left silent by SNP, Labour and even some Lib Dem politicians is a wider, more informed set of contributions about what we do about hardship and social justice, including those in poverty and those who are the very well off. Read the rest of this entry »
Minority Report Scotland: Politics and Ideas in a Substance Free World
National Collective, September 6th 2013
A week in Scottish politics. Two discussions and two long-term, deep challenges in the independence referendum debate showcased. These are how we address social justice, poverty and exclusion, and the way the mainstream media and broadcasters in particular are portraying this debate.
The two examples I wish to draw from are a ‘Newsnight Scotland’ ‘special’ on Monday (September 2nd) and a ‘Scotland Tonight’ ‘special’ on Thursday (September 5th). Both addressed, if that is the right word, the subject of welfare and pensions; the former having Jackie Baillie, Jamie Hepburn and Alex Johnstone, and the latter, Nicola Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar in some strange kind of face-off.
The ‘Newsnight Scotland’ discussion illustrated the paucity of what passes for a welfare debate. No politician of any persuasion seems to have a single major idea of what to do apart from abolishing the bedroom tax, or fighting over who is best placed to oppose the bedroom tax. Or in Tory MSP Alex Johnstone’s different take, giving us the option of defending the bedroom tax. Of course, I am being unfair; SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn came up with the idea of bringing back Direct Payments of housing benefits which is another policy of returning us to that golden era of welfare of pre-April 2013. Ah, yes, that was a time when it was wonderful to be alive, er, five months ago! Read the rest of this entry »