Posts Tagged ‘Scottish politics’
Nigel Farage, the Scottish Debate and the Future of Europe
Open Democracy, May 19th 2013
This is an age of uncertainty, crisis and doubt. The UK is experiencing multiple crises: political, constitutional and economic, of the UK in Europe and of Europe itself as an idea and project. And underneath all of this is a deep-seated Western fear, of loss of confidence in Western modernity and anxiety about the future.
The lack of sureness now being displayed in Britain’s political elites is one manifestation, as is the rise of Nigel Farage’s UKIP. The Westminster village has been talking of little else since UKIP burst through in the English local elections winning 23% of the vote, humiliating the mainstream parties.
Cut then this week to the beautiful setting of Edinburgh’s High Street, its castle at one end, Holyrood Palace at the other, tartan tourist tat in between. This was the improbable setting for Nigel Farage’s northern sojourn and face off with Radical Independence supporters.
Insults flew back and forth; the protestors called Farage ‘racist scum’; he retorted by calling them ‘fascist scum’ and then attempted to taint the broad church of Scottish nationalism and the SNP by claiming the former had a ‘fascist side’; the next day in a combative interview on ‘BBC Radio Scotland’ Farage accused the interviewer David Miller of the same ‘hatred’ as the protestors and hung up (1). Read the rest of this entry »
Who Speaks for Scotland and Where are the Empathy Makers?
The Scotsman, May 11th 2013
These are baffling times – of big issues and challenges, but of a politics and political conversations which are increasingly problematic, not just in Scotland but across much of the world.
How many times have we been told that the independence debate is a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ or ‘a historic moment’?
Funny that, because it doesn’t feel like that too many people outside the ‘bubble Scotland’ that lives and breathes politics. There have been comedy wars, twitter spats, stupid interventions, and a politics shaped by ‘fans with typewriters’ and worse. There hasn’t been much insight and light so far.
Douglas Alexander’s recent speech was something rare: an interesting, original rumination on many of the important issues. Whatever you think of Labour and Alexander, he is trying to raise the level of debate, and that is surely, desperately needed. Read the rest of this entry »
What Difference Does It Make? Making Explicit the Change of Independence
The Scotsman, May 4th 2013
It has been another fast-moving week in Scotland’s constitutional conversation even leaving the comedy controversies aside.
There was Denis Canavan, chair of ‘Yes Scotland’, distancing himself from SNP policy in suggesting Scotland that should have its own currency; while the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee made the startling observation that independence will involve shaking things up for the UK.
Then there was Alex Salmond’s announcement that an independent Scotland would not have a central bank. This is part of the ‘don’t frighten the horses’ approach of ‘continuity independence’ which sees the maintenance of the pound sterling as Scotland’s currency, with Treasury and Bank of England oversight, and Scotland remaining in the UK Balance of Payments. 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 »
On Living in an Old Country: The Power of the Past after Thatcher
The Scotsman, April 15th 2013
The last week has effectively been an elegy on Britain’s recent past and present rolled into one.
This is not just about Thatcher, but the numerous references to the Churchill and Attlee funerals and how we marked these past titans. Is this who we really were, we ask with curiosity? Are we still that same people who dreamed dreams, stood alone against the Nazis, and built a welfare state, we ask, with a hint of anxiety?
Britain seems increasingly a place shaped by the allure of living in the past, by the power of previous generations and the combined cacophonous voices of the dead.
This is not just about the Thatcher moment. In recent years the British state has increasingly marked its numerous military and imperial triumphs and engagements. We have honoured Admiral Nelson’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar and the Battle of Britain; next year there is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Western Europe and the bizarre celebration of the 100th anniversary of the onset of the First World War. Read the rest of this entry »