Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Nationalists’
Why Scotland needs to stop living in the past
The Scotsman, November 14th 2013
Who do we have such a powerful propensity to live much of our life backwards?
This can be seen in the power of the past – from mythical wrongs and injustices, to symbolic, psychic triumphs and disasters – the latter ranging from the Darien scheme to Ally’s Tartan Army’s ill-fated expedition to Argentina.
One defining moment of recent history which operates as a lodestar and hinge year politically is ‘the Year Zero’ of 1979.
There are several versions of this. The most visible and noisy is the Labour-SNP contest of who did what to whom all those years ago. There is the accusation of who brought down the Labour Government, and the counter-charge of who inaugurated the era of Thatcherism. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »