Category Archives: Politics

“In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press.” Oscar Wilde

In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody – was it Burke? – called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time, no doubt. But at the present moment it really is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism.

Oscar Wilde. From The Soul of Man under Socialism

A few weeks ago I felt demoralised after watching First Minister’s Questions from Holyrood. Normally when I watch FMQs I’m not demoralised. I may be frustrated at the now-to-be-expected narrow party political point-scoring indulged in, by Ruth Davidson in particular. I may be recalling with nostalgia past FMQs when Annabel Goldie was the Scottish Tory leader because, although I disagreed with pretty well all of her political views, at least she articulated them in an honourable and truthful way. I think Ken Mackintosh, the Presiding Officer, should be stopping the misinformation and spin being indulged in by some questioners. But today I was just demoralised with it all.

Why? Some background ..

Continue reading “In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press.” Oscar Wilde

Baroness Wilcox’s Expenses

(Posted April 2018) This was doing the rounds of Facebook the other week, especially Scottish Indy group pages. This woman apparently claims our hard earned cash to pay for her travel to the House of Lords from her house just round the corner. This appeared on the Facebook group page Pensioners for Indy and it had been shared from another FB group page called Rolling Thunder.

Continue reading Baroness Wilcox’s Expenses

Indy Meme Culture: Passion, Reason & Debate

I’m linked in to a number of Facebook groups which support Scottish Independence. I see a lot of what’s posted in these groups. I reckon that there’s lot of overlap between me and the other people in the group in terms of our aspirations for Scotland. Also in terms of our sense of humour. Also in terms of our politics.  There’s a bit of mild abuse directed towards Tories in general and towards Ruth, Theresa and Boris in particular. On the whole we don’t think much of Labour’s new saviour Mr Corbyn. Nor his Scottish lieutenant, Richard Leonard. And mostly we don’t even bother to mention the Scottish LibDems or any other LibDem variety. But of course we like Nicola and her cohorts. And we also approve of the Scottish Greens.

It’s true that hese groups are echo chambers for like-minded independence supporters. There aren’t even many unionist trolls to be seen off. But we also inform each other, bring news from elsewhere to each other’s attention, promote events and fundraisers, and cheer ourselves up when yet another inaccurate mainstream media item hits the headlines. Some people in the groups are a dab hand at creating great posters. Some of us like me write on our own blogs and post to the groups.

But every now and then I see stuff that is completely wrong factually. Continue reading Indy Meme Culture: Passion, Reason & Debate

38 Degrees: Why I’ve Stopped Signing Their Petitions

Over the years I’ve responded to many a plea from the online petition organisers 38 Degrees and added my name to many of their petitions. And I’m sure that they have shone light on unfair practices, targeted unethical actions, and righted wrongs. But I’ve been getting more and more frustrated with them.

The Self Congratulations

It started about a year back when it seemed to me that they began sending extremely self-congratulatory emails with statement of this ilk:

We’ve done it! After months and months of campaigning by 38 Degrees members and many others, the Scottish Government have said: “Fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland“. (Link)

The one about fracking particularly annoyed me. It certainly implied that 38 Degrees with some months campaigning could take much credit for the ban . Whereas in fact the ban came about after some years of an interim moratorium on fracking, applied by the Scottish Government through its planning powers. During those years, ScotGov set up a body of advisers to examine scientific evidence on how fracking would impact Scotland given the particular geology of the fracking areas,  to identify any problems likely to arise from opening fracking wells, and to look into the  legal situation of imposing a complete ban. There was an official public consultation process so that anyone in Scotland, individual or group, could add their views. Local communities in areas likely to be impacted by fracking were consulted. So yeah, over the space of some months 38 Degrees organised an online petition and added it to the body of evidence being collected. But ScotGov hardly needed brought to its senses by 38 Degrees. 38 Degrees didn’t put up the money involved in all these years’ background efforts. And 38 Degrees won’t be paying the legal fees if fracking companies take ScotGov to court.

The Over-Statement

Then in January, they sent out an email implying that NHS Scotland was on it knees.  This is what it said (bold fonts as in email)

Dear Marlene

Scotland’s NHS needs our help. New figures show that in one week this year almost 1,500 Scots were forced to wait more than 8 hours – and some as many as 12 hours – to be treated in A&E departments. [1] That’s just not good enough.

The Scottish Government say the flu crisis is to blame. [2] But this is a problem that’s been bubbling under the surface for a long time. [3] Scotland’s NHS simply needs much more money to provide the world-class service our country deserves.

The Scottish Government is working out the details of its new budget at the moment. [4] That means there’ll be intense conversations behind closed doors to iron out the details of where money will get spent. If we can get our voices heard in those debates,we can make sure our NHS gets the money it needs.

Will you sign the petition telling the Scottish Government’s health minister to make sure our NHS gets the funding it needs?

SIGN THE PETITION
Things might not be as bad up here as they are down south. But that isn’t much consolation to someone stuck in a waiting room for 12 hours.

People in Scotland deserve the best healthcare possible – and right now, that isn’t what we’re getting. Whether it’s waiting times, or local hospital services facing cuts, it’s clear that our NHS needs much more funding that it’s getting right now. [5]

It doesn’t have to be this way. If enough of us speak up, we can show the Scottish Government that they need to take bold actionand give the NHS the money it desperately needs.

Will you sign the petition now to get our NHS the funding it deserves?

Notes:
[1] Daily Record: A&E 12-hour wait shame continues as flu chaos continues to strain NHS.
[2] The Telegraph: SNP Health Minister: Scottish flu cases have doubled but NHS problems here not as bad as England’s:
[3]You can read more about issues the NHS is facing in Scotland here:

The Independent: NHS winter crisis: Lanarkshire health trust drafts in office workers to help with cleaning amid soaring demand for A&E services:
BBC: Scottish NHS ‘urgently’ needs long-term staffing plan:
Scotsman: NHS Scotland staffing time bomb as one in five Scots nurses over 55
PlanetRadio: Highland hospitals closure threat sparks huge demonstration:
The Scotsman: Hospitals and NHS Scotland facilities ‘may need to be axed’:

 

[4] BBC News: What does 2018 have in store for Scottish politics?:
Summary of draft budget: Key points at a glance:
[5] The Telegraph: A&E chiefs from 68 hospitals warn patients are ‘dying in hospital corridors’ amid ‘intolerable’ safety risks:

I keep in touch with what’s happening in NHS Scotland, mostly via John Robertson’s excellent website “Talking Up Scotland”. I know that NHS Scotland is more than keeping to it’s targets for waiting times. It’s doing much better than NHS in other parts of UK. I get highly irritated with statements such as :

“Scotland’s NHS needs our help. New figures show that in one week this year almost 1,500 Scots were forced to wait more than 8 hours – and some as many as 12 hours – to be treated in A&E departments. [1] That’s just not good enough.”

Things might not be as bad up here as they are down south. But that isn’t much consolation to someone stuck in a waiting room for 12 hours.

Well, 38 Degrees, that’s just not good enough. The waiting times are not about being stuck in a waiting room. They are the time for the complete process of being admitted to A&E to be discharged after treatment or transferred to non-A&E ward. If the total admittances to A&E on some unspecified one week this year  were 1501, well yes then clearly, 1500 of them waiting more than 8 hours to be seen, treated, transferred or discharged would not be good enough. But if the total weekly admittances were 30,000 then 1500 is  5% of the total meaning that 95% of patients were seen, treated, transferred or discharged within 8 hours. And yes, 38Degrees, it’s good to give references but your reference for this figure is the Daily Record. Now, call me picky but if you’re going to bandy about numbers then OK you might begin by reading something in the Daily Record but you really need to delve into the official statistics to verify it.

For example here are the A&E statistics for A&E admittances in first three months of 2018:

To put that into perspective, in the week which began on Hogmanay, 21% of A&E admissions had to wait more than 4 hours before either being treated and sent home or being admitted to a non-A&E ward. That 21% corresponded to 5600 people. The other 19,700 got treated in less than 4 hours. Of that 5600 people, 1461 (about 6% of the total) had to wait more than 8 hours and of those 1461 folk 463 (about 2% of the total) waited more than 12 hours. So that first week of 2018 is roughly comparable to the state of affairs that 38Degrees is starting a petition about. But we know what we Scots get up to in and around Hogmanay. We get drunk. We fall over. We head out on office parties in the snow and ice. And the rest of us get the flu! Come on 38Degrees, Is it  fair to use statistics that are comparable to the effects of our favourite 2-day holiday break?

By the way the average NHS Scotland A&E performance so far this year is :

13% wait more than 4 hours.

2% wait more than 8 hours.

1% wait more than 12 hours.

And remember that’s not how long someone waits in the A&E waiting room. That’s how long it takes to get admitted, treated, and either transferred or discharged. You can check the figures at ISD Scotland. PS You won’t find them in the Daily Record

Context, Context, Context 

Context is important. It’s only fair that if you ask folk to sign a petition you tell them about the context for your concern. You know, like telling me that on one week it taking more than 8 hours to be discharge 1500 patients from A&E is comparable to what our A&Es has to deal with at Hogmanay! 

So let’s have a look at some other context about NHS Scotland. Oh look, it seem that we have twice the number of nurses per head of population as the rest of the UK.

What about GPs?

Not quite as good as the nurse numbers but still a quarter more GPs for us Scots than my English friends and relatives have access to.

The Nuffield Trust has done a detailed study of called “Learning from Scotland’s NHS“. Here are some of it’s conclusions:

  • Scotland has a unique system of improving the quality of health care. It focuses on engaging the altruistic professional motivations of frontline sta to do better, and building their skills to improve. Success is de ned based on speci c measurements of safety and e ectiveness that make sense
    to clinicians.
  • Scotland’s smaller size as a country supports a more personalised, less formal approach than in England. e Scottish NHS has also bene ted from a continuous focus on quality improvement over many years. It uses a consistent, coherent method where better ways of working are tested on a small scale, quickly changed, and then rolled out. Unlike in the rest of the UK, this is overseen by a single organisation that both monitors the quality of care and also helps sta to improve it.
  • There is much for the other countries of the UK to learn from this. While comparing performance is very difficult, Scotland has had particular success in some priority areas like reducing the numbers of stillbirths. Scotland’s system provides possible alternatives for an English system with a tendency towards too many short-term, top-down initiatives that often fail to reach the front line. It also provides one possible model for a Northern Irish NHS yet to have a pervasive commitment to quality improvement, and a Welsh system described as needing better ways to hold health boards to account while supporting them in improving care.
  • Scotland faces particular issues of unequal health outcomes, and very remote areas. There are pioneering initiatives to address these, like the Links worker programme and Early Years Collaborative to support people in very deprived areas, and use of video links for outpatient care on remote islands. These should be considered in other parts of the UK facing similar issues.
  • Scotland has a longer history of drives towards making different parts of the health and social care system work together. It has used legislation to get these efforts underway while recognising that ultimately local relationships are the deciding factor.  There is much for England and Wales to learn from this.

In the face of this in depth analysis, maybe 38Degrees should be asking us Scots to support a campaign to improve NHS England?

Is there nothing wrong with NHS Scotland then?

As the Nuffield people also point out, NHS Scotland is grappling with some hard pressures and has to make some hard choices. One is the pressure of providing care out of hospitals so that bed-blocking doesn’t add to waiting times for operations. That’s a pressure facing the NHS everywhere. Audit Scotland has quite a lot to say about taking action on integrating health and social care in its NHS in Scotland 2017 Report. Not heard of the Audit Scotland? Maybe 38Degrees haven’t either since they don’t include them in their references. Here are some of the Scottish Auditor General’s responsibilities are: 

  • examine how public bodies spend public money
  • help them to manage their finances to the highest standards
  • check whether they achieve value for money.

Have a look on page 6 and the following pages on their views on integrating social care.

Finance is the other problem for NHS Scotland. According to Audit Scotland

  • in 2016/17, the health budget was £12.9 billion, 43 per cent of the total Scottish Government budget.
  • Health funding continues to increase but NHS boards had to make unprecedented levels of savings in 2016/17, at almost £390 million, as operating costs also continue to rise.

Scottish health budget is primarily funded from the Westminster block grant to Holyrood. The amount calculated and allocated to ScotGov is a ratio which depends on the amount of NHS spending in the rest of the UK. That’s all and well, except that NHS England is privatising more and more of its services – eg a GP Practice may be owned by Virgin Health. So if the amount of public health spending is being reduced proportionately in England then that is reflected in the amount allocated to Scotland despite there being no such privatisation of NHS Scotland’s services. And on top of the effect of privatisation in health services, there is the general austerity policy of the Westminster government which beings about decreases in ScotGov’s budgets overall. 

All NHS has performance targets. Here is how NHS Scotland is getting on. It’s taken from the Audit Scotland report, page 22.

I’ve looked diligently for an equivalent chart for overall NHS England performance but I can’t find one. However here is a King’s Fund report on how England’s A&E Depts are getting with reaching their 95% target for seeing people in less than four hours.

 In December 2017, 77% of A&E admissions to Type 1 Depts had to wait longer then 4 hours to be seen. All Scottish A&Es are Type 1 Depts. Note that this report talks about  waiting to be seen. It doesn’t say anything about how long to be treated and discharged or tranferred. It’s possible that the performance is the same as in Scotland and it is about being seen, treated and discharged from A&E. I haven’t been able to find out. However it is clear that NHS Scotland reaching 90% is doing better on reaching the 95% target than NHS England is hovering around 85% on average.

Conclusions?

NHS Scotland is bearing up. It has problems. It also has a very proactive Government at Holyrood who are trying their damndest to support the NHS and help it stick to its original vision set up 70 years ago in 1948. That in itself is a big advantage over NHS England where chunks of its services are being tendered out to private interests who are in it to make money.

38Degrees people may be trying to support NHS Scotland. But they need to:

  • give proper context to their assertions. It’s not on to create a whole campaign on the basis of quoting one bad week for NHS Scotland.
  • make sure they know the definitions of the terms they are using. Waiting times in Scotland are not about how long someone is sitting in the A&E waiting room. They cover the whole process from arriving at A&E through being treated to being discharged. 
  • cut back on the emotive language. In other words don’t ‘Cry Wolf’ unless there actually are wolves.
  • provide accurate facts and figures to back up their assertions. It’s not difficult. I found the references in this post in a few minutes of googling.

I’ll stop there. Up your game, 38 Degrees, if you do I might sign your petitions again.

A Brexit Cat amongst the Scottish Parliamentarian Pigeons?

On 28 Feb 2018, the Scottish Government started the procedures for a Scottish EU Withdrawal Bill. A previous post, Holyrood’s Own EU Withdrawal Bill and Why We Need It
 has video coverage of Mike Russell, the Scottish Brexit Minister, introducing the Bill.  
 
 

However before the Bill 
proceedings began, the Presiding Officer, Ken Mackintosh, made a 
statement that in his opinion the Bill does not fall within the legal competency of the Parliament. And while the Presiding Officer does have a duty to say if he considers a Bill incompetent he has quite possibly released a Brexit Cat amongst the Scottish Parliamentarian Pigeons. Because of this the Lord Advocate of Scotland came to the Chamber to give his legal opinion. The video is further down this post.
 
Why bring in a Scottish Bill? The gist of why it’s happening comes back to the UKGov’s current failure to alter their own EU Bill at Westminster to safeguard the basis of the devolved governments of Scotland & Wales. (Possibly of Northern Ireland too but unfortunately Stormont has not been sitting since last year when DUP and Sein Fein could not agree to work together.) As it stands, neither Holyrood nor Cardiff are prepared to give their consent to the Westminster Bill. In their view, the Westminster Bill contains a “power grab” taking matters which are currently devolved back into Westminster’s remit. So both places have started the introduction of their own Bills which will bring all current EU Law covering devolved matters over into Scottish and Welsh law respectively. EU Law covering matters currently retained by Westminster will be dealt with under the Westminster Bill. 
 
Why now? Because it’s crucial that EU Law is transferred smoothly to Holyrood when UK leaves EU in March 2019 with no interruption of those Laws. If UKGov does not alter the Westminster Bill to Holyrood and Cardiff’s satisfaction then we run the risk of just such an interruption of legal continuity.. Both the Scottish and Welsh Bills prevent that possibility. But getting a Bill through takes time and if the process doesn’t start now it will be too late. If eventually UKGov alters the Westminster Bill in terms of the power grab section of it, then there will be no need for the Scottish and Welsh Bills and they will be revoked. 
 
Why is the Lord Advocate involved? It’s normal practice to take legal advice before introducing any Bill that Holyrood is competent to deal with it.  It needs to relate to something that is within Holyrood’s remit. The Lord Advocate (LA), James Wolff, was asked and gave his view on this Bill that it is within the legislative competence of Parliament.
 
What’s not normal is for him to come to the Chamber. This is unprecedented. He’s doing it because of the Presiding Officer’s very unexpected declaration. The Bill can still proceed but it is open to legal challenge by anyone so minded. We already know from the day before that Labour, Greens and LibDem MSPs support the bill. That only leaves the Scottish Conservative MSPs whose spokesman, Adam Tompkins, describes it as “unwelcome and unnecessary.” So it’s a fair bet that the Scottish Tories are probably going to be so minded to challenge it. But that’s for another day.
 
The video covers the Lord Advocate giving his considered opinion followed by questions deem MSPs. To make this easier to navigate through here are some times:
 
Lord Advocate’s Statement:
  • 14.11 He lays out the basics of how legal competency is decided. He also confirms that he considers it is with legal competency of the Parliament. 
  • 14.15 Any Bill has to be compatible with EU Law. Presiding Officer has said that this Bill is not so compatible. LA explains why he considers this to be wrong and why the Bill is compatible with EU Law.
  • 14.19 This Bill is modelled on UKGov Bill. If this Bill is not compatible, then neither is the Westminster Bill. 
  • 14.20 Nothing in this Bill comes into effect until we leave the EU. For this reason it is compatible and it is for this reason that the Welsh Presiding Officer has decided that it is compatible with EU and therefore that it falls within the legal competency of the Welsh Assembly

Questions from MSPs:

  • 14.22 to end.
 
 

#DebunkingUnionism_001: NHS Scotland

I’m a fan of John Robertson’s blog Talking Up Scotland. He scans stories in the Scottish media and where it’s needed – and it’s often needed – he debunks pro-Unionist propaganda: first of all by making it plain where the media outlets are using Labour, Tory or LibDem press releases verbatim and without any fact-checking and secondly by putting the information into context.

One of his posts  on NHS Staffing is about the run of anti-NHS Scotland stories about what a shambles the SNP is making of it. These stories are appearing all over  the Union-supporting Scottish media, which is to say most of the Scottish media.

I quite enjoy taking his info and putting it into visual format. Here are a couple I’ve just done. 

Denying the Facts

A couple of years back I did a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called Denial101x run by the University of Queensland. It is a very, very good introduction to how climate change deniers misrepresent and twist information about climate change to suit their agenda. Their agenda being that “it isn’t happening”, or at least “it’s not happening very quickly”, or “it’s not happening where we live”.  This will take you to my post on Denial 101X if you want to find out more.

These days that climate change denial industry has expanded to other subjects. Donald Trump is a master of using outright lies and misdirection to get his agenda across. Unfortunately social media allows his followers to spread that misdirection to a huge audience. In fact to a huu-uuge audience. Of course he has his own denial about climate change too: “It’s a hoax invented by the Chinese

Even more unfortunately, pro-Union supporters employ the same sort of tactics against the Scottish Independence campaigners. They’re just not so good at it.  Or maybe they think we have the attention span of a gold fish and won’t remember what they said on Twitter before they deleted what they said. Or maybe they just think our heid buttons up the back.

 

 

Wee Duggy Dug!!!

I have just discovered these wee videos made in 2014 by NewsNet.scot in the run-up to ScotRef and starring Duggy Dug. He knows everything about why Scotland should be an independent country. Thank you NewsNet.scot… Grrruff, grrufff.

Experts? Bah Humbug!!

Michael Gove is famously quoted as saying – during a Brexit campaign interview with Sky News on 3 June 2016 – that “the people of this country have had enough of experts”. In fact that was the first half of a sentence which the interviewer interupted. The whole sentence was :

“I think that the people of this country have had enough of experts with organisations from acronyms saying – from organisations with acronyms – saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong, because these people – these people – are the same ones who got consistently wrong.”

Gove got handsome applause from the audience for this statement. But then I don’t suppose many of them were experts… 😉

Continue reading Experts? Bah Humbug!!

The Brexit Escalator …. Going Down!

At a recent EU Heads of Government meeting (minus the UK) Michel Barnier used this graphic to show how the UK Gov’s current Brexit policies – inasmuch as there are any – compare with current EU arrangements with non-EU member States. (European Council Meeting 19Dec 2017)  

 

Bascially, Westminster’s own stated aims for Brexit rule us out of

  • EFTA/EEC, ie the Norwegian, Iceland and Lichtenstein arrangements.
  • a Switzerland type arrangement,
  • a Ukraine arrangement,
  • and a Turkey arrangement.

That leaves us with a Canada or possibly a Japanese type trade arrangement. But neither of those agreements  include services, ie finance, banking, insurance. Services make up 80% of UK’s trade and much of it is done with the EU. London wants some kind of passporting arrangement to enable its finance hub to carry on as usual. And no doubt Edinburgh would push to be included in any special deal. But on 18 Dec, Michel Barnier was explaining that passport rights depend on being part of the single market, so if UK Gov leaves the single market, then no special deal for London is possible.

“There is no place [for financial services]. There is not a single trade agreement that is open to financial services. It doesn’t exist.” He said the outcome was a consequence of “the red lines that the British have chosen themselves. In leaving the single market, they lose the financial services passport.” (Ref the Guardian)

Where does that leave us? 

Failing all else, it leaves us with a No Deal, ie World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules are all that left. They would mean trade tariffs between UK and EU. They would disrupt the business of manufacturers who are part of EU-wide manufacturing chains because free movement of goods in and out of the UK would have gone.

Budget Day at Holyrood

Yesterday was Derek Mackay’s big day – presenting the Scottish Government’s proposed Budget for 2018/19. 

Photo credit should read: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA Wire

The Scottish Daily Mail headlined their Front Page with their take on what the budget means for Scots:

Scotland’s working population was 2,604,000 in Jan2017 (UKGov Source). The Mail says that  3/4million of them will be “hit” with paying more tax,

  • that is a bit less than 30 % of the working population. The 30% who are the highest earners in Scotland.
  • The Mail could have put it another way : 70% of the population will pay less income tax and the other 30%, who are the highest earners, will pay a bit more.
  • I guess that’s too many words for a snappy headline though.

What does ScotGov say? “7 out of 10 Scots to pay less tax.” That’s actually quite snappy.

So are middle class earners going to be “hammered” like wot the Mail says?

Here is what the changes Derek is proposing will do to your income tax bill: 

To explain the green graph – showing the difference between income tax paid this year compared to next year when the changes come into effect:

  • overall Scottish income tax revenue will be realigned so that less income tax comes from lower paid workers and more of it comes from those with higher incomes. 
  • average income in Scotland is around £24K. If you earn £33K or less and your income stays the same next year, then you will be paying LESS income tax next year than you are this year. (Mind you if you’re a nurse currently getting less than £30,000 then your income will in fact go up by 3% but that’s another story…)
  • from £33K upwards, you will be paying more income tax.
  • At £40K you’ll be paying about £40 more. At £90K, you’ll have £315 less in your pocket. Over the whole year.
  • To put that in context, £40K a year is about £150 per working day and you’ll be paying 15p more per day in tax next year. £90K a year is about £364 a working day and you’ll have an increased daily tax bill increase of  £1.20 or about half  a cappuccino.

To explain the blue graph – showing the difference next year between income tax paid in Scotland and in rUK:

  • it compares what someone living in Scotland will pay in income tax next year compared to someone with the same salary living in England.
  • it’s not quite the same as the green graph because there will be differences in when the various higher tax bands come into play. But overall if you’re living and working in Scotland and earning about £90K then you’ll contribute about £1100 more in income tax than if you worked in England. Thats about £4.23 a day out of your daily earnings of £364. 

 

Hammered? Nah …

Just helping build a civilised, decent and fairer society, 

as ALL of the increased tax revenue is spent in Scotland. 

And as Nicola tweeted earlier today…

"There is no Grinch in the 'Nightmare Before Christmas'!! Is this more evidence that you can't believe what you read in the Daily Mail? ;-)" @NicolaSturgeon 

 

 

 

Scottish Political Parties: Social Media ratings

STV have just done an analysis of how good Scottish political parties are at using social media. I’m not surprised that SNP are way ahead of everyone else. I think that’s partly because they know that mainstream media do not accurately reflect the SNP activities, spokespeople and  policies. So they’ve had to get good at blawin’ therr ain trumpets!

But when I say they’re better than everyone else, I mean they are way, way better… Look at these comparisons:

 

 

Meet My MEP – Alyn Smith

The EU Parliament in Scotland runs regular events called Meet Your MEP. I went to one here in Glasgow with David Martin, Labour MEP. I really appreciated what he said and the Q&A session afterwards. The most recent event was in Edinburgh with Alyn Smith, SNP MEP. I’m on his weekly email list where he sends out a round-up of he’s been doing and what’s in the news regarding the EU, UK, Scotland…. These days most of that is dominated by Brexit. He posts links to the response to the Brexit negotiations in European media which I wouldn’t come across otherwise.

You can see me scribbling down some notes during Alyn’s talk and the Q&A afterwards. Most of what was spoken about referred to Brexit, its consequences for UK and in particular for Scotland. Here is the gist of my scribbles as accurately as I can make them.

Continue reading Meet My MEP – Alyn Smith

Richard Murphy’s Journey to Yes

Richard Murphy is a political economist. You  might have come across his blog TaxResearchUK which is much, much more interesting reading than you might guess from it’s title! For example “It’s time the BBC learned that all money is made out of thin air.” and “Has Carney taken leave of his sense?” Carney being the Chairman of the Bank of England.

Recently he wrote about the inadequacies of the GERS (Governement Expenditure & Revenue Scotland) figures. If you read my blog you’ll have spotted me trying to makes me sense of them and what they say about the Scottish economy. According to Richard, I shouldn’t waste my time as they are not fit for purpose. Or to be more precise not fit if your purpose is to make sense of the Scottish economy. On the other hand if your purpose is to obfuscate the likely state of an independent Scottish economy, they do an admirable job. He has written several posts about GERS, for example “Why economic data provided by London will not help the Scottish independence debate” and  “More on Why GERS might properly be called crap data” .

In this video he talks about he see sees leaving the UK as the only way for Scotland to reach its full economic and human potential.  The prize is a better Scotland. He takes about the economic forces powering the Yes movement, he dismantles the case for GERS and looks at the key issues of currency, investment and taxation that must be addressed to win the independence argument. Worth a listen….

Journey to Yes

In 2014 we Scots voted in a referendum. Either Yes! we wanted Scotland to be an independent nation once more after more than 300 years of political union with England. Or No, we wanted to remain in that union. At the beginning of the campaign opinion polls showed a Yes vote at about 25%. By 14 Sept 2014 the day of the vote it was 45%. That’s a big increase. But not a big enough increase. 

Since then the promises made to us by the Unionist politicians to get us to vote No have mostly been shown to be empty. In particular the No campaign took a strong line over EU: the only way to be sure of remaining in the EU was to stay in the Union; an independent Scotland wouldn’t be able to join the EU; Spain would veto us; we’d be out in the economic cold. Aye, right. It was not correct then and it sure as hell isn’t right now after England voted to leave the EU last June. Scotland voted to remain by 62% : 38%. That isn’t important apparently and we should just be quiet and let our kindly Westminster Government get on with sorting things out for us.

Not surprisingly, some people who supported the No campaign in 2014 have shifted their view and now support Yes. Here are some videos made by Phantom Power which tell the stories of those Journeys to Yes.