Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Parliament’
Making the Debate on More Scottish Powers Real
Sunday Mail, July 5th 2015
Another week has seen more turbulence and uncertainty across Europe, north Africa and the Middle East. The unprecedented Greek vote on European Union intransigence will, whatever its outcome, have huge continental implications.
In this frenetic period, what have Scottish politics been dominated by, since the May general election? From nearly every corner and political persuasion – from the SNP to Labour, Tories, Lib Dems and Greens – the incessant talk has been of ‘more powers’ and whether the Smith Commission and ‘the Vow’ is being implemented in full, watered down, or even worse, betrayed.
Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA) is impenetrable to most people. It involves huge and contested sums of monies. It is about projections into the future. In a culture and politics, where most people are confused by the difference between ‘debt’ and ‘deficit’, and are unsure what ‘austerity’ means, that isn’t surprising. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Scottish Labour: The Never-ending Soap Opera That Matters
Scottish Review, October 29th 2014
Scottish Labour loves talking about itself. The evidence for this is everywhere in the last few days, in print media, TV and radio studios, and social media.
Organisations which have lost their way, which are in decline and crisis, often do this as a displacement activity. Think of the Tories ‘banging on’ about Europe, or the BBC post-Savile. Such behaviour is never a good sign. It makes people think their internal obsessions are important, and that the minutiae of such debates matter to the public.
The first lesson for Labour is that lots of what it is doing does not matter at the moment. Labour has become a soap opera, one with diminishing ratings. If it were say ‘Eastenders’, it would be one where most of the original cast and big hitters (Angie and Den) have left, it is reduced to the B, then C list, and no one knows who is in it apart from a few fanatics.
The only reason the show remains on the screen is that no one has the energy or interest to pull it. Scottish Labour is the longest running soap opera currently on the go in the country. It is longer running than its main competitor for attention, drama and inadvertent comedy – Rangers FC. That’s not an honour. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
The Scottish Press, Generation Gridlock and Living with Crony Capitalism
Scottish Review, March 21st 2013
The Scottish media and press are not exactly in a healthy state; facing pressures and constrictions from every angle, from the expectations and demands of an independence referendum, to disappearing audiences and revenues.
This is the backdrop to Leveson, the Scottish ‘expert’ response (the McCluskey report), and the debate so far.
Twenty years ago, the atmosphere was completely different, filled with the air of self-congratulation and smugness of everything being labeled ‘Scottish’ and the press defined by ‘Real Scots Read the Record’ versus ‘Rise Now and Be a Nation’ ‘Scottish Sun’.
How things change as Alex Massie’s poignant lament for a world slowly withering made clear. As he also pointed out, parts of the Scottish press with their limited, dwindling resources have been trying their best to do a decent job, unnoticed by large parts of their potential audience.
Yet there are many siren, certain voices who revel in the current situation. The most prevalent strand is that of a nationalist viewpoint who feel independence has not historically and still does not get a fair deal, from what has been until recent decades, a liberal unionist press. This allows them to embrace a rather unattractive schadenfreude and talk of the demise of a declining, failed industry. Read the rest of this entry »