Monday, 4 September 2017

It’s a family affair……

  ‘We have achieved a great duty in these critical times…we have been the first to revive the spirit of our country and give it a national existence’ (Thomas Muir, 1798

It’s become something of a family traditional, attending the Thomas Muir Lecture, so  I was delighted to be in the audience , listening to Tommy Sheppard’s giving the Thomas Muir Lecture 2017 Lecture (St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh August). 

If you missed it, tough. No seriously, but I would urge anyone interested to get a back copy or link into The National which provided a full write up two days later, 26th August .
The range, scope and observations from the MP enthused my partner to remark that
it was quite some time since he’d heard a politicians speak with such passion, vision and strategy!

With so much to mull over, there were a few particular points for me as ‘take aways’, not least the knowledge that that in the region of 14 million UK voters didn’t vote in the 2017 UK general election. Why? Apathy? Disinterest?

Here in Scotland  there is  a realisation that no matter how we vote in a UK election, the UK  government of the day is determined by votes cast out with Scotland.  But if you set that against the knowledge that the SNP got 37 % of votes cast and won 60% of seats in Scotland, doesn’t that demonstrate the desire for independence hasn’t dimmed. 

But where did those previous, now missing, SNP voters go in June?
Did they stay at home?
Were they caught in the push-me-pull-me of the actual EU question?
Was it the exclusion of the younger age range?

The reasons will be multiple, but it is obvious we require to win back those missing voters. For me, that means focusing on the continuing  need to bring about social-economic change, and the demonstration that  such changes will be achieved through independence and not from Westminster governments formed by voters from rUK.  

The changes will have to be more than aspirational, but demonstrable,  practical and tangible. Not set up for the advantage of  organisations, institutions, ‘businesses’, conglomerates, but for the people of Scotland.
To achieve this, I believe we need to see we social change, brought about by social engagement advocating for  

a Prosperous Scotland one of the four areas defined in the lecture by the MP, followed by a Democratic Scotland, a Caring Scotland and an Open Scotland.

We know that the powerful don’t give up power, willingly, and if we are to achieve political change we need to win back those voters!

The continuing fracturing of the Tory party openly disagreeing over Brexit, almost rudderless due to its weak leadership, is a sight to behold. 
That ‘with immediate effect’  announcement from Kezia Dugdale as out-going leader of Labour in Scotland has opened the door for further warfare: pro and anti Corbyn factors, or ashe put it…’I want to give the next person space…’
Call me a political simpleton if you will, but we can’t wait for others to sort themselves out whilst pretending to have our best interests at heart. After all, this last visit by Corbyn showed he didn’t understand the difference between Scottish and rUK legal systems. What else doesn’t he know? Their (latest, how long will it last) stance on Brexit? 

But, you know, I could work around those four broad, encompassing  ‘headlines’ as defined by Tommy Sheppard.   

I can see where discussion and debate would flourish again, since we’d  not be bogged down in the likes of policies, statistics, the manipulation GERS figures that scream doom and gloom instead of ‘get me out of here’.

But we’d be back to discussing the bread and butter issues that sparked a  multitude of interests across the multitudes in  the lead up to Sept 2014. We’d be back to designing our Scotland, fashioning our future. We’d be back to transforming every day dialogue into every day politics, and from there to the ballot box. 

So what’s not to like, what’s stopping us, when you think of A. Sarwar, MSP hoping to be next Labour leader, telling John Beattie, today, 4th Sept ,’indeyref2  is off the table’?

This isn’t the way to go, no way,  so I think my partner was right: we heard passion, vision and the outline of a strategy, another step towards indeyref2 and indeyscotland!

Sorry, Sarwar, .it ain’t off the table, no way Interview with Tommy Sheppherd, Thomas Muir 2017 Lecture.

OK, it’s the Daily Mail, I know, but……  SNP mock Jeremy Corbyn as he ends a campaign tour with a gaffe over Scotland's separate legal system

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Ruth Davidson, a Future PM?

Headlines like that are bad for my health, so no wonder I spluttered out my coffee, bespattering my copy of The National, and Kevin McKenna’s article July 2017

Apart from the fervent utterance, no, no never that day’s copy was pertinent on various levels. Just imagine that over the coming months, we see May’s continuing decline and ‘when the cat’s ways’ stance taken by the power hungry members of her Cabinet, combines to  produce more angst in the Tory hierarchy. The 1922 Club must be in overdrive with meetings at the moment.

And then there is the pushme-pullme directionless stance of Labour throughout the UK, not just here. Student loans, fees. Maybe aye, maybe nae. Corbyn’s attitude to a 2nd IndyRef, who’s with him, who’s agin him on this that and everything else? And where does Kezia Dugdale fit in all of that? But then there is that creeping realisation within the Tory party that there will be an election. Whether sooner, or later, it’s a- coming. Even they can’t derail democracy to that extent.

When and how to dump May?

To ensure the chance of an outright majority next time round, should they go with what they have or go for new? But, just who could that be? The stale, pale, males? Not again, surely, so step forward Davidson, OK, everyone realises she would have to be engineered into a Westminster seat  and  preferably an MPs seat here in Scotland. What if there was the added bonus of the chance to take an SNP scalp at the same time!  Watch out then, in the coming months. Any deaths, scandals, resignations, needing to spend more time with the family, moving on to pastures new, and bingo! It wouldn’t be unusual for a wannabe MP  to step aside to let a big beast in to try, so let’s be honest, she’d probably find a constituency with ease.

But if it were here, and if it were an SNP scalp?

What a coup! Two birds, one stone! The glee, the gloating over the unseating, but imagine:  ‘save the Union, bring cohesion to a disunited kingdom’: ‘deliver’ Scotland back into the fold!  You can see the trajectory that some would really, really want to see.For a few then,  dream on, but for me, wake me up from this nightmare.
The rebalancing we have seen with the 35 SNP seats, Gen Election results 2017, is just that, a rebalancing post 2014 referendum, and not the resurrection of the Tory party back into power in Scotland.  It’s a confirmation of the political mandate given to the SNP by the majority of voters, across Holyrood, local authorities and Westminster.

So, will we ever get past the politics of the personality……

…………..And acknowledge the inequality that stalks the land? In-work poverty now goes hand in hand with food banks. We regularly see donations of food/sanitary/toiletry products.  We hear about food loss in children during the holidays as they miss their one hot school dinner meal. We applaud councils that open their kitchens during the holidays and run courses for parents, carers and their children: learn cooking on a budget then leave having cooked and eaten your ‘lesson’. 
But how much press scrutiny is there in relation to Tory domestic  policies, how much criticism is there in relation to the obvious lack of domestic  policies and the febrile attempts by the Tories to ‘manage’ Brexit? 
Two years of dithering, internal counter arguments. Two years in which to bury bad news-no news of continuing UK decline.

But then, is backwards looking better?

Years ago, were they halcyon days when I sent my kids off  to the ‘play schemes’ complete with a packed lunch? Did I imagine all those sun filled days? Happy children, waving good bye? Have I forgotten the windswept, Scottish summers? Probably, but hey, all you need is: layers, more layers, and can survive all Scottish summers, honest.

Image result for non copyrighted photos of toys

But really, was that past much better, or much worse than now?  
 I may have rose tinted glasses (just) occasionally, but I do know that in the 1980’s and the peak of play scheme attendance in the Rahman family, we saw the creation of that lost Thatcher generation. 

So, with visible rising inequality now, there is the chance of another lost generation; lost to the rigours of austerity; knowing the loss of hope, vision and aspiration. We have to make the future better, and I for one, won’t listen to those who say I am divisive by wanting another referendum. 
It’s not contentious to want to leave a dysfunctional union that evidences its inability to tackle inequalities on a mid – long term basis. 
It’s not provocative to note the Government has no coherent plan to secure withdrawal from the EU, and the multitude of hazards this will ensure. 

Promoting Davidson  ** to (Honorary) Col-in-Chief and watching her on the Ayrshire Dundonald
Golf Links (July 2017)  may make for continuing good photo ops, her forte being  - photos before policies , but it doesn’t make for entry to No.10 or to Bute House . 
Think about that one, no think about it, please.

And even if she did fancy a shift to MP/PM, she’d better pick a constituency some place else.

Scotland will be long gone before she ever inhabits No. 10!

** Scottish Conservative leader and MSP for Edinburgh Central. Mostly personal musings, but for policy, quotes and releases see @ScotTories

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

We're not just living in interesting times.........

I have to admit it, I’m excited. We’re not just  living in interesting times: we’re making interesting times, but even more, we’re making history.

Last week  (March 29th 2017) we had  the triggering of Article 50, and the Scottish Parliament’s vote for a 2nd independence referendum, (28th March 2017)  not now, not today, but when the time is right for Scotland, this is history in the making. That the UK PM should visit Scotland, last month March, not meet in Bute House, not hold a press conference, far less a joint press conference, nor issue a formal, agreed communique, smacks not just of disrespect, but has a whiff of being ‘feart’! This PM, unelected, with a small majority in Westminster, is currently presiding over a constitutional crisis that might be deemed ‘unprecedented’. NI potentially returning to direct rule, not voted for by the electorate in the recent elections there; Wales beginning to flex its political muscles, and with a failure to discuss and negotiate with Holyrood, we clearly see a government in disarray. And that’s before we consider their (lack of) preparedness to actually conduct Brexit negotiations.

Oh, did I forget the wee matter of war with Spain.

So, what did the PM’s visit achieve when she shuffled into Scotland and left, rather hurriedly? Virtually nothing, except perhaps a kick in the teeth for Northern Ireland . She felt  it was sufficient  to leave NI out on the periphery, being dealt with by her MP, Brokenshire, (Broken? Aye, probably a foretaste for rUK) but not sufficiently important for her to go there, to demonstrate a caring belief in the future of NI and its ability to manage its own affairs from Stormont.

At least though, NI has been spared another glib phrase, such as ‘now is not the time’.

The PM has no rationale for continuing to state the obvious. We know now is not the time:  that’s why our FM Nicola Sturgeon laid out a time table that follows the rationale of 18 and 6 months. Rationale and pragmatism in action. From my memory of 2014, one accusation thrown at pro inde people was the romantic view we were adopting with regard some mythical, utopian rosy future, lacking resources and sustainability. So I must ask, how more pragmatic do we need to be, as we witness the failure of the PM to halt the slide into inward looking protectionism, obviously centred on London and the Tory shires Actually, it’s not a failure on the part of the Tory govt; it’s their aim and objective: survival at any cost, and at the cost of others, including ours.

The vote in the Scottish Parliament 28 March 2017 is our history in the making, Either we make it work this time, or we slide into the abyss of Tory mis-rule for years to come, and the almost certain diminishing of devolved powers hard won. I know what I would want to see.

But as the plates shift on the island of Ireland, and with the Spanish Foreign Minister  Alfonso Dastis, showing movement, we hear the same negativity from unionists here. ‘She should be doing the day job’ Well,

The FM has been in the USA with news of a climate change agreement with the Governor of California and a £6.3 million deal for jobs here on the first day of her visit

Please note: This is the day job!

So with the May elections looming, will unionists really band together with tactical voting in certain constituencies and local authorities?
Is the visceral hatred (or fear?) of the word ‘independence’ such that (some, nay many) Labour voters will hold their collective nose and vote Tory just to keep the SNP out?
Why do (some) Labour voters ut Tory ideology before the socialism that Labour espoused for so long?

Since I can’t answer any of that, the least I can do is welcome the revitalisation of
Labour for Independence and others such as
Pensioners for Independence and these are pensioners from all political party persuasions and none.

No matter differences along the way, surely the time to debate the particulars of political parties and their policies should be an independent Scotland.
We all appear to want to fight austerity, and protect workers’ rights.
We all appear to agree that a hard Brexit will be detrimental to future prosperity.
We all realise that the future could be so much better and the best way to achieve that is  if we decide our future, and not have it decided for us by others.
There is a role for Labour in Scotland but in the future and in an independent Scotland.

Labour, it’s just not now.
Now is not the time for Labour in Scotland
so please

look to Labour for Independence

WFI Logo Edinburgh.jpg 

Labour for Independence  

Scottish Government votes for 2nd referendum

Scottish Pensioners for Independence