Oh, and one more thing!

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Righto then. One more time with feeling. This is going to be short and sweet, but I think it’s an important issue. So listen up!

In my post Mushroom farming the population, I stressed the need to support Scotland’s emerging new and traditional media sources. iScot, Independence Live, Phantom Power, The National, Truly Scottish TV and of course, your fav indy sites/blogs. They’re going to be needed and needed soon I’d say. So giving what you can will, I’m sure, be greatly appreciated.

Why will they be needed soon? I’m guessing because, (one way or another), political actions taken over this summer and autumn will define and determine a LOT about the Scottish population’s future and future choices. People will need to hear the opposing and alternative view to the mainstream diet of Westminster narrative and the ever more frantic and reactionary bumtrumpetry of the metrocentric opinion shapers.

Scottish news IS NOT made in London. It’s made in Scotland by you the people(s) of Scotland. It’s time we viewed the world through a lens of our own making. ‘Course it’s not just about Scotland’s population talking about Scottish news and events. It’s also time we discussed and listened to our own views on world events. It’s time we read our own views on world events.

If we want to ‘stop the world because we want to get on’? If we want the world to listen to us and to what we have to say? If we want to join in? Then as a population we’d better start having our own opinions to put forward. Mmmm… Probably also an idea not to have other people offer an opinion on our behalf, write cheques on our behalf and sign us up to… stuff… on our behalf.

It’s a big ask given hardships going on around us right now. Money is tight and it’s going to get a LOT tighter. But if ever there was a year in which those outlets for our voices and opinion were needed? Well, you can fill in the rest for yourself.

 

This is my last post before our host comes back from his well earned break. As ever, I’d like to thank the readers for bearing with my ramblings and for contributing below the line. Also? Make sure you tidy up the mess and get rid of the bottles before Paul gets back, or I’ll be in bother.

 

You get what you give

A guest post by Samuel Miller

You know, I still can’t get my head round it. So many questions and so few answers. Especially given the headlines of the past few weeks. Questions are good though. For instance, just what makes some people put others in harms way? Why mislead to manipulate opinion, when you know others will suffer? When the political class sit down for their triangulation sessions, debate their tactics and strategies over tea and biscuits and such, (or is it latte and biscotti these days? *shrugs*). Do they even for an instant consider the impact of their actions? Is winning the argument, the power, the advantage, so important that they forget the why of ‘government of the people, by the people for the people’?

When did it become a competition, a sport? When did win at all costs include laying waste to the prize? Make no mistake, the population IS the prize. The population is the nation and a nation… is only as good the sum of its parts.

The point of government is to care for your ALL of your population without fear or favour. To put bread on the table. If you’re a civilized, even progressive, society? It’s about how you care surely? How you care for your elderly and your infirm. Keep safe and free from harm those in your charge. To legislate and create laws that don’t cater for the advantage of demographics, but protect, nurture and provide freedom of choice for ALL. It’s a covenant, a contract between the people and their choice of legislation. THIS is what generates confidence, pride, community, empathy and … unity. As a concept, it doesn’t appear to be rocket science. You get what you give.

Does any of that resemble today’s UK? Is today’s politics really what the Conservatives, Labour and the Libdems consider the traditional and acceptable rough and tumble of the adversarial system? Are their actions toward the populations of the UK, in any way, the actions of responsible government? I mean, these parties have formed the backbone of the system of UK government for generations. Their practice of politics, their management of the responsibilities and powers of government, ARE what shaped the UK we see today.

So what happens when what you give is mired in self interest, greed, demographic exclusion and a less than considerate approach to mass manipulation? In our own experience here in Scotland. When the political establishment or their more committed chums in Meejaland assault the Scottish government and essential services with questionable figures, or out of context claims. Y’know, their version of what they laughably term ‘holding to account’. Is that what we want them to do? Is that how we feel politics should be practised? What does that do to us, d’you think? What does that say about us?

When you misrepresent, mislead, break trusts and undermine. When your tactic du jour is to inspire fear, mistrust, even hatred of others amongst your population. When you place the rights and democracy of your population at risk. When you treat others with arrogance, ignorance and disdain. Well? You WILL get what you give.

As we’ve pointed out previously. Maybe it’s about time they stopped for a second and took a look around themselves. Take a look at their precioussss, precioussss, political union. REALLY look and marvel at their works. How much societal unity is there to be had out there about now d’you reckon? Seems to me their practice of the dark science of politics has done a bang up job of fracturing any hope of uniting the populations of the UK. Maybe they should ask themselves one or two more questions. What is more important, the political union or the social union of these islands? In their drive to secure the one, for their own selfish reasons, are they truly willing to sacrifice the other?

It really doesn’t have to be that way. Scotland’s population have already seen that there are other ways to govern. Only a taste so far to be honest, but it’s a glimpse of something yet to be fully realised. Something with the potential to revitalise and repurpose the politics of all the nationalities of these islands. Redraw the nature of our national political relationships, our system of politics and secure the future of a social union. In my view, the only one that truly matters. Personally, I’ve never required any politician’s permission to care for friends or family wherever they are on the globe.

About that potential though.

Asking questions of those who have held power over our lives for so very long is a good first step. Reminding them that eventually you get what you give is another.

How bad could it be?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

They say timing is everything and given the nature of my previous post, this Q.E.D. moment couldn’t be allowed to pass. It appears that some folk yesterday were quite concerned about Scottish economic performance lagging behind the UK. Others? Not so much.  Very much a glass half empty or glass half full kinda story. Four quarters of continuous but modest growth, or why aren’t you doing as well as…etc? Depends on your outlook really. Regardless, what really caught my eye were the statements made by Mr Mundell, oor Secretary of State for not being consulted very much.

“It is good news that today’s GDP figures show that Scotland’s economy continues to grow. I note a modest improvement in Scotland’s important services sector, and encouraging growth in production industries.” (Super so far)

“However, it is increasingly concerning that a significant gap persists between Scotland’s economy and the rest of the UK. The Scottish Government has the powers to boost productivity and strengthen the economy, and must use them to close this gap. By making Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK, the Scottish Government risks damaging, rather than growing, our economy.” (Aaaand there we have it. Also? My bold)

Which begs a question or two now doesn’t it?

Those unspecified powers Mr Mundell mentions must be quite the package. It’d probably be helpful if the Secretary of State for… whatever… could tell folk exactly what they are right enough. Also safe to say that there are folk out there who might disagree on whether the Scottish government has the powers it requires. How and ever, and for the sake of clarity, you’ll find who has competence over what HERE.

You’ll note where the responsibility for the economy of the entire UK rests pretty rapidly and don’t let tourism and economic growth fool you either. The Scottish government can invite investment, but it relies on Westminster to set favourable economic conditions. The SG can also stimulate growth in certain sectors, but again this relies heavily on the budget granted/available and those economic conditions set elsewhere at the time. The SG have only a percentage of tax raising powers and zero control of essential resources and revenue streams. They have no treasury and therefore no control over monetary policy. No control of employment legislation or benefits and clearly no control over foreign policy, borders, trade, immigration and so on.

I’d say they’re doing pretty well all things considered. In fact it sounds very much to me like a case of tackling some fairly severe economic challenges with the legislative equivalent of having one arm and both legs tied behind your back. Personally I’d have thought it perfectly reasonable to assume that when a Scottish government in full control of ALL of the above powers fails, then folk could have a wee gripe. Mibbies it is just me though. (shrugs)

Just to put things into further perspective given the impending Brexit. HERE is a link to a list of UK recessions and their effects on the overall economy, with 2008’s crash on the bottom. Worst Q was -2.2% in Q4.

So, just to be clear. It’s taken a central government, in full possession of all economic levers, ten years NOT to have ditched austerity ideology. A period which has seen unprecedented wage stagnation, draconian changes and swingeing cuts to the UK’s benefits system, massive growth of food bank culture and cuts to services reported across the board. A state legislature in FULL possession of ALL economic levers. Personally I’d say that’s worthy of a gripe or two, but then I would.

Anyway, now we get to the interesting question on the subject of those economy growing zooperpowers. Given both HMG and Scotgov’s impact assessments consider a 2-2.5% contraction is currently the best case (soft Brexit) scenario for Scotland. Also taking into account the all too evident hardships which the recession of 2008 has delivered over the past ten years. Just what do you reckon the effect will be of a 9% contraction of Scotland’s economy in event of the worst case scenario?

Readers, of course, can decide for themselves whether they consider the economic powers of the Scottish parliament sufficient for the challenges ahead.

After all… how bad could it be?

Mushroom farming the population

A guest post by Samuel Miller

From the lack of serious Scottish political news out there you’d be forgiven for thinking that bugger all is happening. Not to mention you may be feeling a bit frustrated, anxious or downright borderline paranoid. Perhaps worth remembering, that one way or another this is going to be a fairly important year for Scotland’s population. There is a lot going on in political and legal circles people aren’t normally privy to and won’t necessarily understand the necessity of, (there always is). It’s also WHY we have a political class. They are there to administer and manage the process/procedures of government. They are there to deal with and within these legalities, adhere to their mandated pledges, and work in the best interests of the population in their care. That is to say, a duty of care without fear or favour. The REAL day job.

This lack of knowledge does NOT make the public stupid. A little explanation now and again can go a long way for people who aren’t anoraks, but who do feel anxious or afraid (bit of a theme of mine this week). You can see why it is also where the less altruistic, or less ethical, elements of establishment parties and the mainstream media find this lack of knowledge or engagement fertile ground. Mmmm… and by less altruistic and ethical,  I mean pretty much all of them and the horse they rode in on. (And do we really need to revisit every scandal, fib and theft in parliamentary history followed by a blow by blow account of the Leveson inquiry? Not to mention the sheer animosity displayed over the past several years by the vast majority of the UK media toward the concept of independence, the Scottish government and YES movement?)

Ignorance is their friend as we’ve seen time and again. They use people’s lack of political engagement and knowledge on say; constitutional law, the Scotland bill settlement, devolved and reserved issues, the nature of the Barnett formula, to basically confuse at best or make shit up at worst. They also create memes, project definitions and narratives to harm or hinder demographics and opposition as required (see under ‘Nat’s’ and YES movement’s major motivation apparently being hatred of the English and generally just being unpleasant, blood and soil, tartan terror, most dangerous wummin, blah de blah… sigh). Like chimps on a sugar rush, they chuck pooh in all directions knowing some will stick and become a set myth. Finally, these reckless, (some might say idiotic), elements have apparently limitless access to similar elements within a mainstream media which appears only too willing to disseminate and/or give credence to their guff. Oh, and the popular market saturation to spread it far and wide. The detrimental effect this has on wider society? Well, they don’t seem too bothered about that. A win’s a win and they can always create another narrative to sweep the scraps together at a later date when they need a vote or two. People will understand. It’s not personal. It’s just politics.

Charmers one and all really.

So here’s the pitch. People fear the unknown and as we’ve previously noted, not everyone is interested in politics or will be engaged by it. They just want it to work and have someone to blame when it doesn’t. These are the people who need to hear the opposing view and be provided with access to information and opinion which is counter to an often alarming mainstream narrative. New media sites like this, video media sources such as Phantom Power, Livestream, Truly Scottish TV and hardcopy voices such as the National and iScot, are the only balance and representation near half of Scotland’s population have at their disposal. The only opportunity to shine some light in those dark corners and dispel needless or callously engendered fears. Spookily though, even with all their power, access and wealth, the establishment are still fearful of such relatively small voices. That should really tell you something.

I mean, could it actually be that this new media does have a knack for cutting through wonk speak and metro babble? Might it be that butterfly effect thingy has some legs right enough? Clearly for some that would never do. Tut! Maybe also worth a thought readers, but with knowledge fear of the unknown lessens. Once you have seen or learnt a thing for yourself, it cannot be unseen or unlearnt. I’d say that without question and if it was at all possible, there are political and media elements who would deny people even this route to representation and self expression. Some folk apparently don’t like competition for their narratives. Who knew?

This year, of all years, with Brexit looming, austerity ideology still in full effect and a central government seemingly set on deconstructing a devolution settlement IT created to suit its own ends. This year, we need to focus on keeping these lines of communication open. Call it a hunch, but I think we’re going to need every means of reaching people we can get our hands on and in the not too distant future.

Without them? We go back to the days of mushroom farming and sleepwalking toward that cliff edge. Now I don’t know about you readers, but other than the aforementioned fungi, I can’t think of anyone who would appreciate being kept in the dark and fed on sh… manure.

To whom it may concern…

A guest post by Samuel Miller

To most folk it must seem that the world has gone a bit on the pure mad mental side out there at the moment. Our political systems? Our government and practice of politics? Y’know, those institutions we look to for the administration and management of our needs and our safety? Seemingly in free fall. Gone off reservation. Absent without leave and apparently dead set on taking a wrecking ball to their own population.

Confusion seems to be the only policy on offer throughout the UK and people are quite rightly concerned that there is nothing and no one they can turn to, or rely on, to make it all stop. By people I don’t just mean the ever increasing numbers of those already engaged, but also the vast majority who aren’t. Those who aren’t party members of any kind and whose general attitude towards politics is either grumpy, ambivalent or outright apathetic. People who pay their taxes, just want shit to happen and generally get on with their lives as best possible under normal circumstances. All they know is that it’s all gone terribly wrong somehow and why the hell is that?

Seems like as good a good time as any to pause, take stock and re-focus. Remind ourselves who we are, why we’re here and where the responsibility for this current crop of epic screw ups should be laid.

So in no particular order… The latter responsibility is, without doubt, currently owned by the party of central government. That is the day job, yes? A job which you’d think includes a duty of care and responsibility for administering to the needs, interests and protection of the populations within said institution’s care. Brexit? Austerity ideology? The rise of intolerance and demonisation of demographics by an ever more extremist media? A fair chunk of this belongs to the party that made naked greed and such intolerance socially acceptable (some might say popular). A party who made the ideology of ‘me masel’ and I’ a national pastime. That would be yer Conservative party.

Next we come to the Labour party, who had more than a little culpability in making this epic galactofuck happen. They are currently still going through that long soul search thingy. They’re not only looking for an identity to call their own, they’re looking for a policy, an ideal and a set of ethics t’boot. ‘Kinder and more honest’ they are NOT. Half of them forgot what they stood for and the other half deliberately ditched their moral compass in favour of just winning for the sake of winning. They embraced wholeheartedly the practice of politics UK style. They embraced the system they were created to fight and reform. Two words… Labour peer. Historically and as a party, they’ve proven time and again that they can mislead, cheat, steal, demonise, patronise and brown nose with the worst of them. A party mired in tribal hatreds, self entitlement and internal strife.

TBF, I do have some sympathy with their current media woes. Yet this does beg a question. A question which highlights their hypocrisy on the issue of being hounded by a biased media narrative. Where were they when half of Scotland’s electorate were on the receiving end? You know? Ordinary people who harmed no one. Their people. Their population. Where were they when the Scottish government were being pounded day after day and week after week by this self same media? Was that media honest one day and then suddenly and for no apparent reason, cruelly biased the next? No. No, they were always the same media and for decades Labour were just peachy with dropping in content, editorials and official party releases to do the dirty on both their opposition du jour and their own population. Maybe they should take some time to think about that these days, though I doubt they will. They are the party that doesn’t do responsibility or apology. They, much like their Tory opponents/partners, do scapegoating followed by extensive historical airbrushing. It’s a thing with UK political practice apparently. Never say you’re sorry. It’s a sign of weakness etc. So not epic twattery and ignorance at all then.

Then we come to the Libdems…. and frankly? I can’t be arsed. They are where they deserve to be these days. They were ever and always perceived by many as enablers, but you always hoped they were also what they claimed to be. A middle way. A calming influence on the other two. As it turned out? Not so much.

Laydeeeez an ginnamin. Hay give yooz, the political establishment of the UK. A trio of parties who have enjoyed decades of your support and personally I doubt you could slide a fag paper between them in terms of ethics and practice. You want to know why we are where we are? Then look no further than those who had total control of the economy, legislation and constitution (unwritten) of the United Kingdom. Look no further than those who have control of the narratives that shape your choices and opinions through a media that has more than just a common stake in keeping things exactly as they are.

When you cut through all the bullshit. All the spin. All the airbrushing of history and the truly massive amounts of myth creation. The buck stops with those who had the power and the responsibility which WE gave them. Their worst crime though? That would be convincing you that you didn’t matter. That you had no opinion and no power to change things.

The following is a comment from below the line on another forum and reposted here by kind permission of the author. It also speaks for me and so far as I’m concerned, it should be sent as a letter to every self entitled, ignorant and arrogant party leader, policy gonk and over opinionated metrocentric media pundit.

To whom it may concern

What do I want for my country?

I want the young to have free education and the freedom to travel the globe learning how others live and how different cultures treat the world.

I want the poor, the vulnerable protected and the old to enjoy the last years of life in safety.

I want the entrepreneurs given the chance to develop ideas and businesses.

I want a country that has a decent infrastructure and takes care of its beauty.

I want a country with friends around the globe .

I want decisions made in Scotland with the option of marching on parliament when they mess up.

I do not want WMDs on my doorstep polluting the beautiful Firth of Clyde.

I do not want the young of my country sent on illegal wars in distant places to kill and be killed – defend Scotland by all means but do not take the word of a third country that war is ever necessary.

I do not want a health service which only services the wealthy.

I do not want the BBBC, STV and so called Scottish newspapers to pretend they are the bringers of truth and cannot be challenged – in fact I do not want them at all. (ends)

The only thing I’d probably have added would be: NOW GET IT SORTED! Yours Love n’ hugs etc. (Maybe not kisses though.)

So why are we here today? Why is public contribution and engagement on the issue of self determination for Scotland’s population so very necessary?

Because you do matter. Your opinion matters and you do have the power to change things for the better. Because if we focus our collective will on the real source of our problems. If we drop the small differences, the rosettes and the politics which others would turn into ideological chasms, then we can make that change happen. Because you do have the option of determining the kind of country you want to live in.

That’s why.

You’ll have had your unity then

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Yesterday oor PM, Treeza of the ‘strong and stable’ party, marked the Uk’s one year to Brexit countdown with what was called a whistlestop tour of the UK. This apparently, in order to promote unity within her presiousss, presciousss union. By whistlestop what they mean is basically back hame in time fer tea and a spot of cabinet whack a mole or Brexit bingo.  No public walkabouts, no unscripted public questions and no fanfare. Selected venues, photo op, meeja questions only and a hard day of pure uniony unifying over and done with. Quite the speedster.

Oh, and so far as the devolved legislatures are concerned there’s no such thing as a power grab. Treeza sez –  “Let’s be clear, there is no power grab, we are not taking back any of the powers that are currently devolved to the Scottish Government, indeed the Scottish Government will be receiving more powers as a result of us leaving the European Union,”. (my bold)  Which, y’know, is weird. As I understand it those powers currently are not in the remit of UK gov either, nor are they covered by the current devolution settlement. They have been exercised by the EU and again as I understand it, those powers not specifically reserved by Westminster government should revert to the devolved legislatures on repatriation.

Question: If there is no power grab, then why the need for a negotiation process with the Welsh and Scottish governments? Certainly sounds like a power grab, doesn’t it? (shrugs)

Moving on and in a further show of unifying unity. Mr Mundell, our Secretary of State for something or other (squirrels, wildebeest, who knows?), insists there’s no need for Scottish Government representation on the Migration Advisory Comittee. Seems the SoS for small cuddly toys didn’t take too kindly to being pressed on the issue by the SNP’s Pete Wishart either. When questioned on Scotland’s particular population needs and demographics. Mr Mundell, in a blistering display of unity replied, “We do take a different approach, Mr Wishart, because  I don’t want to see Scotland in a separatist manner, that everything in Scotland has to be separate and different if that is not the best way to deal with it”. (my bold) He doesn’t want to see Scotland in a separatist manner? He doesn’t? Righto.

As both an aside and yet more comic relief, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes reply to Mr Wishart’s questioning also merits a special mention. This is Ms Nokes view on Scottish Government representation.  “I do not think there is any greater case to put a Scottish Government official on it than one from the Welsh Assembly or indeed any county council who wanted to come forward pointing out there was a specific shortage in their area.” (my bold)

Can you feel the luuurve readers?  That is just the past few days and of course the latest in a long line of what many would consider a litany of casual arrogance and ignorance by representatives of the Westminster establishment.

Good God! They’re still spinning like a top over what is widely perceived the recent betrayal of the fishing communities of the UK. An action which displays, for any reasonable observer, the complete lack of Scottish Conservative representation at ANY significant consultative level on Brexit negotiations. Apparently they were pure ragin’. Ignored mainly by the PM, but still, pure ragin’.

For the removal of doubt though, let’s have a look at that word unity. Just in case there’s some misunderstanding of the concept.

UNITY: NOUN: oneness, being one or single or individual; due interconnection of parts; harmony between persons etc; thing forming a complex whole; Math: the number one.

Any part of that definition resemble today’s UK to you readers? Are you feeling a particular oneness or harmony?

It’s been three and a half years since Scotland’s indyref of 2014. Had the British state been remotely interested in the concept of unity, of promoting unity, it’s had ample time and opportunity to put words into practice.

Smith Commission, Scotland bill debates, general election, Scottish elections, Brexit, another general election. Throughout ALL of the above, the parties of the Westminster establishment sought to belittle, to punish, to alienate the Scottish Government and its support. All with the seemingly willing aid of the Uk’s media. The current government have seriously endangered standing agreements with devolved legislatures. They’ve broken pledges and assurances made to Scotland’s electorate throughout their indyref and as for their assurances to demographics of the UK electorate post EU ref? See under CFP, N.I. border issue and settling financial commitments to the EU. Oh and don’t forget impact reports.

There hasn’t been a day without some Essenpee badness, some Scottish service or institution undermined and portrayed in deepest crisismageddon. As for the alienation of half Scotland’s electorate? What can you say that hasn’t already been said?  If you are a supporter of Scottish self determination, it’s safe to say that there’s been a positive dearth of olive branches out there from Unionist politicians and their more vocal support. You’d be forgiven for believing that you pretty much live on the same level of popularity as the infamous fart in a lift. But, y’know. That’s politics as it is practised… apparently.

The United Kingdom is anything but united. There are serious divisions along political and societal lines. Divisions created by the same political establishment that now wants you to forget their appalling narratives and unite to save their arses and the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. Unite to save the UK from what has been described as “an extraordinarily painful process of national self-mutilation”.

Personally and after the past three and a half years? I’d say you’ll have had your unity then.

 

The season of good will

A guest post by Samuel Miller

This’ll be short and sweet, so pay attention at the back. 2017, the year where Brexit, austerity legislation, societal disenfranchisement and the empowerment of the nastier side of right wing demographics started to really deliver on it’s inevitable payoff. The economy of the UK, so far as the vast majority are concerned, is doing a swirly in the lavvy and is on the verge of disappearing round the U bend. The politics of the UK have meanwhile descended into a farce resembling nothing so much as a group of cartoon chimps on a sugar rush throwing poo at each other whilst the rest of us wait for something resembling a competent central government to make an appearance.

All of this as the UKs former closest trading partners and international political allies, decide whether it’s worth their while, or even whether they can be bothered, holding out yet another lifeline to the ungrateful boneheads who used them repeatedly as media scapegoats only to tell them to take a hike in a moment of colossal self harm. Safe to say, things have pretty much gone as a lot of bods in the YES movement feared back in 2014. So close to their worst nightmare they become desperate maybe?

Quite the year to be sure and another beaut promising to follow in 2018. You can see why frustration, recrimination and not a little desperation might creep into some people’s thinking. Some may start to wonder on the reasons why they were deprived of a different resolution three years ago. Who voted no to self government and why? How can they be persuaded or… ignored? Been more than one conversation over the past year on incomers v natural born, aged v youth vote, rich v poor etc., and there’ll probably be more as 2018 proceeds and things get a little more desperate (which they will). For many, it won’t just become an imperative that there is another referendum, but that it must be won at all costs. All costs though? Right or wrong? Fear’ll do that. Pretty understandable and all too human.

How and ever, people should perhaps consider that economic ineptitude, bad or punitive legislation, resultant poverty and loss of life chances and rights, much like natural disasters, don’t care where you were born. They don’t care what colour you are. How you worship. How old you are. Who you love, or indeed what part of spam valley your bungalow rests on. Just like the natural disasters of flood, fire and quake they’ll impact your life regardless. Once enacted, they don’t discriminate. Only people do that.

Some people will never change their vote of 2014. For good or ill, no matter how bad it gets and no matter the suffering of others around them, they will vote out of loyalty and belief that their system and worldview will come right in the end. They are entitled to that choice and that opinion. They are also welcome to it.

Here’s some political reality though. If Scotland and its electorate are to become self governing and make our own choices in the near future, we’re going to need some of those who voted no in 2014 to change that vote.  Around 6% would do, but I’m greedy and would prefer more. A great deal more. Oh, and residency is the criteria for voting eligibility. You live in Scotland. You pay your taxes in Scotland. You contribute to life and community in Scotland, then you get to vote on Scottish matters. Call it the Karmic balance to those disasters which don’t care who you are. Voting based on residency is a human being’s way of saying we don’t care who you are, your opinion matters. Does it make winning a YES vote any easier given voting breakdowns from 2014 onwards? No, not really. Then again, no one said winning the right to govern yourself was ever going to be any easy thing. In some parts of the world and throughout history, it’s been downright dangerous.

In my own opinion? Vote by residency is also the right thing to do. Scottish self governance… I’d say it’s not simply winning it which matters, but how you win it. The foundations for the society you want must be solid. The establishment parties and their practice of politics really should be a heads up as to the shit storm you build up over time when winning by any means necessary. When you divide and rule. When you win without care or consideration for others.

Seems to me that Brexit, austerity, fractured society, political elitism, bigotry, intolerance, exceptionalism and isolationism might be seen as reason enough NOT to repeat their mistakes? You govern for ALL in your care, or maybe you shouldn’t be governing? Just a thought.

What we see in the UK today is a direct result of the politics of societal division. Me? I’m more of a hugger. I’ll hold my hand out and welcome folk from any point of origin or walk of life who want to work for a more socially just Scotland.

In the season of good will and given all that 2018 may bring our electorate, it’s maybe worth remembering that a little good will and understanding can go a long way.

Are we there yet?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

2017… It’s a bit of a badly written disaster movie, isn’t it? What is it they call them? Mockbusters? Politics and its institutions falling apart and brought into disrepute near daily. Economy teetering on the brink of brexitmageddon. A society constantly having their frustrations, anger, fears and uncertainties stoked by the next horror headline. Headlines mainly supplied by policy wonks looking to snag a vote for their agenda du jour, or a motivated meeja themselves looking to make a quid and support their party sociopath of choice. Oh, and after two referendums, the winning slim majorities and campaigns of both tainting the whole of UK society with the nasty stank of intolerance, exclusion and isolationism. Just to add a degree of difficulty we really, REALLY, needed in our lives about now. As for trust? In any major institution of central government? Do NOT get me started. It’s more than taken a kicking in the recent past. Welcome to Brexit/Austerity UK. The inevitable destination of the politics of me, masel’ and I.

No, I’m not seeing many laugh out loud moments in this particular mockbuster script either.

People aren’t born to hate or fear you know? No, that gets taught. It’s what you experience. It’s driven by outside forces in your life. It is also what I find most unforgivable about politics as it is practised UK style. Democracy cynically managed. Democracy undermined. Democracy and identity defined by the powerful, managed to favour a parliament and political class, then re-branded and marketed for public consumption. Politics and government for the population made worthless. The tail wagging the dog as it were.

Establishment parties in our own system made it ‘OK’ to hate someone. They ensured that the politics of greed, envy and self was the norm. The messages they sent out through their media chums made it acceptable to demonise and disenfranchise whole demographics for political gain, that the ends justified the means. The normalisation of the worst in our natures. Parties with decades of Westminster entitlement, preaching loyalty and unity, paying lip service to tolerance, whilst telling people who to exclude, hate and punish. Dehumanising your intended victims is where it starts. Where it ends? Historically… rarely any place good.

This past year in politics has been one long Q.E.D. moment. Lot’s of folk, especially in the media, telling us who to include on their exclusion list. Well, big whoop! They’ve succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. So, how is Brexit working out for everyone? Everybody just peachy in Better Together’s pooling and sharing union of equals? Is this the vision of the UK going forward you thought it would be?

Put it another way. If you’re poor, disabled, a supporter of Scottish self government, a person of furren origin living in the UK, furren in general, a remainer, or any number of other ‘minority’ groups*, are you all feeling the lurve of one nation unity about now? Do you feel wanted, included, significant? Do feel as if your views are valued, respected… heard even? (*Yes, I know. Not really insignificant minorities. Pretty much fairly major demographics)

If you don’t. If you feel that the language and practice of our political class has been less than honest or caring. If you feel the rhetoric and publicity generated by the mainstream media has been less than conducive toward the creation of a cohesive and tolerant society,  then where does the buck stop? The source of the message? The ever so willing messenger, or those the message is aimed at?

Back in August 2016 I posted the piece Who needs a sword (fades to wavy lines);

“The written word is powerful. People can be moved to acts of great kindness and humanitarian aid, or they can be moved to acts of intolerance and great inhumanity. They can be motivated to feel true empathy, humour, regret, hope, aspiration even. Or they can be made to feel doubt, uncertainty, anger, fear and hatred. In the hands of a true wordsmith it is a tool or a weapon that can influence the emotions and opinions of individuals and populations alike for good or ill.”

As I said, the whole year seems to have been one long Q.E.D. moment. Right wing politicians and media have gone to town on major demographics of the UK in pursuit of Brexitmageddon. The reborn ‘kinder, more honest’ Labour party have gone to war with seemingly everyone else in politics whilst searching for political relevance and a long lost soul. The Libdems have sat on the sidelines and learning from their betters, now speak fluent hypocrite demanding a referendum ‘do over’. BUT NOT FOR YOU SCOTLAND! Seems you’re either not far right enough for some, or you’re not left leaning enough for the other, and both extremes would still sell their granny for a sniff of the big chair. Their hypocrisy on tolerance and inclusion, loyalty and unity is basically a complete insult to any reasonable human being’s intelligence. In reality their idea of ‘unity’ is to seemingly shout at you a lot through their respective meeja channels, demand your loyalty, your compliance and a blind acceptance of their respective narratives. Apparently speaking to you like a human being and earning those things through actions are for lesser mortals.

Maybe just me, but given their respective narratives, strategies and ideologies, I’d say they’re going about this whole reaching out and unity thing in the wrong way.

The casualties, as per usual, are a general public who simply want a meal on their table at the end of the day and a roof over their heads. A public who want their servants to do the jobs for which they are amply paid, ensure that they are cared for and just as importantly… be respected and listened to. Doesn’t seem much of an ask, now does it? Seein’ as how we kinda do pay the wages and all. Most folk don’t want to hate anyone. They don’t want war or strife, or argument with their neighbours. Life’s hard enough thanks. They just want to cut along with their lives in relative peace and security. What they have though, is a system of government, political parties and a practice of politics which drives their opinions and emotions through fear, uncertainty and doubt on a daily basis. Who does that to the people in their care? (answers on a postcard etc.)

This ‘practice’ has done incalculable damage to the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. It has fractured society, outraged partners, alienated friends, dragged an economy to the brink and generally scared people shitless. When people are scared, they get angry, frustrated. They look for targets to unload their fears and frustrations upon. Cue the never ending cycle of spin, misdirection and scapegoating. Something the current Scottish government and the wider YES movement are all too familiar with.

So, are we there yet? Have we hit rock bottom with no way out? Well, no. No we haven’t hit bottom yet (hard to believe, I know), but there is a way out before we do.

Politically, all the electorate of Scotland have ever needed to do is empower and mandate a willing Scottish government to seek a dissolution of a treaty. Take their powers back from those currently misusing them and start doing what all normal countries do. Live. Make choices. Screw up sometimes and be a credit to the world at others. Do what grown ups do. That example stands a chance of starting something better throughout these islands. No more than that, but a chance nonetheless. Aspire to be better than we are and as good as everyone else.

On a personal level? I’d say that so long as you remember what caring and tolerance is really all about. So long as you refuse to be defined or pigeonholed by some political sociopath, or an out of control media, then you retain the power to choose. You can choose to not walk on by those in need. You can choose not to hate on demand. You can choose how you live. You can choose to think for yourself. You choose.

Sounds a bit like self determination really.

 

Normal sarcasm will be resumed after the artisanal baps, filled with (organically reared) turkey, have been consumed. All the very best of the festive season readers.

 

Good for the goose…

A guest post by Samuel Miller

(Alternatively titled: Karma in action)

This’ll be a short one.

I’m guessing that by this point most readers will be aware of Prime Minister May’s very own bad hair Monday? No? Well it turns out our intrepid PM toddled over to Brussels with a proposal which her best buds in the DUP hadn’t really agreed to. This would be Treeza’s bid to kick start the phase 2 Brexit talks and hopefully avoid economic carnage for the United Kingdom of London. Oh and the baying of the UK public for Tory and more particularly, her blood.

Let’s face it, Cammo dropped a complete and utter wreck of a situation in Ms May’s lap and absolutely nothing has gone right for the new PM from that day forward. I’d feel sorry for Treeza, but, y’know, a. Tory and b. Tory PM. (shrugs)

Aaaanyroads, back to the meat of the matter. The proposal, so far as we’re led to believe, would allow that “the British government would commit to maintain the full alignment of single market and customs union legislation that might potentially create a border.” The DUP, for their own reasons (not going there), didn’t like this idea and before the PM could even finish her pre lunch aperatif, the anchors had been applied and the proposal removed from the table (Did it even make it as far as the table?). So far, so straightforward.

Now it gets interesting, because as you’re all no doubt aware, the very fact that Northern Ireland had been granted an exceptional status deserving of a custom brokered solution made a few bods sit up and take notice. Not least us obviously. Now comes the bit we’ve all been expecting from pretty much day one. The looming constitutional crisis.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan made a pitch for exceptional status as did First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones. How and ever, it should be pointed out to Mr Khan that London is not a country, it is a city within a country. A country which voted for Brexit. Equally Mr Jones should be aware that Wales also voted for Brexit. I have every sympathy for their position and only the most reclusive hermit living in a cave in Cape Wrath could fail to have noted that the economic ramifications of Brexit are going to be fairly grim to say the least.

No. I’d say there are only three bodies that Ms May will have any real worries over in the immediate aftermath of this remarkable clanger. The DUP natch, since her government relies on their… support? The hard line Brexit lobby of her own party and of course…

… First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government.

Whichever way you cut it. Northern Ireland required an exceptional status to square a circle and one was drafted to suit, even if currently rejected.

Scotland, unlike London, is a country and unlike both England and Wales did vote to remain. The whole current situation is so convoluted, with parties, cliques within parties and cliques within cliques, the permutations for outcomes at this point would give a mathematician a migrane. Reminds me of something…

Cue the popcorn.

 

Our host should be returning in the next couple of days so this will be my final post. As always, I’d like to thank the readers for bearing with my rambling and for all the great comments. See you below the line.

They’re not using what now?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

There’s another theme running through unionist political releases of recent times which may bear a little closer scrutiny. Basically, that Scottish Government, critical institutions and services are seemingly always on the brink of catastrophic failure/crisis. More crucially, that the Scottish Government has the powers to deal with these crises, but for some unknown reason they choose not to use these pooowwwweeerrs to fix stuff.

“Our parliament is now more powerful than ever, with all the powers it needs to reverse Tory austerity. – But despite this, our services are still facing £327 million of cuts.” Kezia Dugdale (former) Labour in Scotland leader, January 2017

“Despite the Budget falling on international women’s day, 86 per cent of the austerity policies of Theresa May’s government fall on women. And Nicola Sturgeon could act to help stop this, but she refuses to stand in the way,” John McDonnell (Labour shadow chancellor) March 2017

“The SNP government has the powers if it wants to use them to mitigate the effects of austerity, they chose not to.”  Jeremy Corbyn (Labour Leader) August 2017

“The Scottish Parliament was delivered by Labour to be a bulwark against Conservative cuts, not a conveyor belt for them.” Richard Leonard (current) Labour in Scotland leader, November 2017 (‘delivered as a bulwark’… Uh Huh! So, not home rule as a point of principle then.)

Plausible? Would the Scottish government refuse/neglect to use their office and powers to alleviate hardship? This goes beyond the usual too wee, too poor, too stoopit meme we’ve seen endlessly regurgitated over the years into a whole new territory of shark jumping surely?

There is also a unicycling pachyderm in the room of course with this argument, but our media never quite seem capable of pointing it out to Scotland’s general public for consideration. (Spooky, I know). We’ll get back to that pachyderm shortly.

So, are the current Scottish government sitting on their hands when it comes to using the powers of Holyrood and devolved government to make life better for Scotland’s electorate?

Well, if you listen to the right wing meeja, then you’re constantly bombarded with accusations that Scotland’s citizenry enjoy a great deal more relief than other parts of the UK. Oh, and all at everyone else’s expense too. Over the past decade: exemption from tuition fees, free care for the elderly, bus passes for pensioners, free prescriptions, freeze on council tax, infrastructure investment in roads, *useless* (sark) second bridges, investment in child care and just for Mr Leonard, retention of Scottish water in public hands (cough). All pretty easily verified either on the SNPs own site HERE or if you felt like generally just catching up on what the Scottish government are up to then visit the Scotgov site HERE.

Still, if we want to keep it simple on the whole ‘not using the poowweeerrrs’ theory. Perhaps Labour’s leadership(s) could explain away mitigation of the Bedroom tax, the creation of the Food Fund, introduction of the Scottish welfare fund or the Banning of fracking. Maybe they could also throw some light on Scottish government intervention in threatened closures including TATA steel, BiFab, INEOS Grangemouth?

Maybe just me, but it appears that the current Scottish government have been fairly busy exercising powers and mitigating problems created by others. In fact it appears the Labour leadership’s sweeping accusations don’t appear to be holding much water at all.

How and ever, we’ll stick with just a couple of points to question. Perhaps Labour heid office are merely confused as to the nature and function of devolved government. Firstly, the Scottish government and devolution. Devolution in general surely isn’t a ‘bulwark’ against the depredations of any damn thing. Devolution is about exercising a degree of autonomy on budgeted administrative competences in specific areas agreed between a central government and a devolved legislature. A devolved legislature is power granted/gifted, not ceded. That’s point one.

Secondly, central government (that would be yer Westminster UK government), kinda get paid to deliver effective primary legislation which surely should NOT require mitigation by anyone and least of all by devolved legislatures who have zero control of their own economies and are allocated budgets which are expected to pay for other things. Why should a population pay taxes to central government for, y’know, governing and then expect their devolved government to mitigate for poor legislation from a budget (handout) that’s become a moveable feast? Basically paying twice just to either get by, or get things right.

Still, just to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, lets be very clear on reserved and devolved powers here, or what our handout is expected to pay for.

Devolved = what we pay for and have some control over

Reserved = what we also pay for, but have no control over

Back to the unicycling pachyderm in the room.

This Labour meme of a Scottish government not using devolved powers to alleviate austerity passed down from nasty Westminster government. Putting aside the points just made and the links to varied sources, there is only one reason Scotland’s government is forced to mitigate or offset any damn thing today. There is only one reason that Scotland’s electorate have to worry about or suffer any ill effects of Westminster legislation at all really.

We are not currently an independent nation state.

Labour and more particularly Labour in Scotland, may recall they were quite insistent that Scotland remain party to the political union of parliaments. I certainly recall that Labour leadership, (past, the then current and future), were only too happy to lead the charge in fronting the case for Betterthigetherness in Scotland during 2014’s indyref. Weel kent Labour faces fell over each other to apply both carrot and stick (mainly stick) to Scotland’s population throughout the entire debate. They also appeared none too worried about working alongside Mr Cameron’s Conservative party, or Mr Clegg’s Libdems along with many another pro union grouping besides. Are they now implying that the system of government they worked so hard to endorse to Scotland’s electorate isn’t quite up to scratch? That they’re passing down *gasp* needlessly punitive or highly inept legislation? Shocker!

Personally speaking though, I’m finding this current narrative of Labour’s hard to take. In my book, you don’t get to dump in someones living room then demand they clean up your mess. You certainly don’t get to endorse a political union, impose a system of government and a practice of politics, then moan about how bad its all turned out to those who didn’t want it in the first place. Or indeed, how badly their representatives are supposedly handling the shit pile you’ve helped dump in their laps.

Just so Labour is aware? You also don’t get to rewrite history.

You know readers, it’s not hard to find evidence that reaffirms your world view in this day and age. If you want to hate a thing, you simply read or watch information streams where you know you’ll find like minded bods telling you stuff you already believe to be reality. Some folk call it living in a bubble. The YES movement are accused of this all the time as most readers of pro indy sites are aware, but we’re not the only ones. The mainstream party political orthodoxy and the media are no less of a bubble and yet should require just the same scrutiny by each and every one of us.

The real test, again as many in the YES movement are aware, comes when you venture out to ask questions of your own belief of a narrative and of the people and institutions you have invested your trust in.

Just sayin’ like, but there’s a lot of YES voters out there today who weren’t always independence minded. These people still check out the mainstream media and its narrative near every day too, they just look at what is being said through new eyes and are prepared to consider the alternative viewpoint. Doesn’t seem such a difficult ask, but in this day and age it’s most certainly a radical and refreshing concept.

Something for the political class to consider. The days of mushroom farming the population may well be numbered. Tick tock.