Tag Archives: scottish independence

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:

 

 

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.

 

 

Citizens’ Assembly… a second chamber for Scottish parliament?

A few weeks back I read a CommonWeal policy proposal on the subject of whether we need a second chamber to complement Holyrood and if so what kind of chamber do we want? The proposal is to set up a Citizens’ Assembly. It’s written by Brett Heddig who set up the Sortition Foundation exploring how we can do democracy differently. 

Democracy is about elections isn’t it? Voters vote, give a group of people a mandate to govern and let those people get on with it for a few years. Those people are our representatives and if we’re not happy with they do in our name, we vote for someone else next time. That’s pretty well how I  would describe democracy. Mind you it also needs a raft of supporting institutions like a free press, an independent judiciary, freedom of speech, freedom of association (eg Trade Union rights), signing up to the UN Human Rights Charter, etc, etc. 

Continue reading Citizens’ Assembly… a second chamber for Scottish parliament?

Article 50 Delivered to Brussels :-(

Today saw Article50 with Theresa May’s signature at the bottom of it wend its way over to Brussels and in to the hands of Donald Tusk. In the House of Commons, our PM gave a statement to that effect and called for the ‘nation’ to pull together. We already heard from her the other day up here in Scotland that Britain is an “unstoppable force”. 

Here is Angus Robertson’s, leader of the SNP in the Commons, response to her statement. Angus is getting better and better …..

BBC Weather Maps of UK

Those of us who live in Scotland have become increasingly worried about the way in which Scotland is shrinking. What could be causing it?

  • Global warming perhaps? 
  • Has the earth titled on its axis recently?
  • Are the Russians the culprits? 
  • Could it be the BBC a fault? Surely not. 

To see what I mean, here is a photo – a photo, not a map – of the UK taken from the ISS, the  (International Space Station)

 

View from the window of the International Space Station

And here is a BBC weather map of the UK. Sorry Ireland, I took you out of the picture just to keep things simple.

BBC map which I’ve simplified by deleting Ireland…

 

And here they are again superimposed. I’ve kept the BBC map in its original proportions but aligned it so that it completely matches ISS photo of the south coast of England.

ISS & BBC comparison

As the Broons would say, Michty Me!! the BBC’s Orkney islands are only as far north as Crieff!! Now I know that BBC show maps that include an allowance for the curvature of the earth which means they have a fore-shortening effect as you look north. But crivens, the curvature effect isn’t as big as this.

#ScotRef: The Truth is Out There #1

I don’t mind journalists taking a devil’s advocate approach or even being downright antagonistic when they interview someone. It’s part of their job. But they’re meant to bring some creativity to their work, they’re meant to do some background reading, they’re meant to have a go at thinking things through. The best of them do all of those. 

Unfortunately many of them rely on social media and tweets for their inspiration. Or they memorise the memes associated with some topic and toss them out as their own words of “wisdom”. Maybe some don’t have much choice and they’re stuck following the dictats of their employers and their employers’ owners. Think Murdoch. 

Experience from the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014 showed time and time again that even the highest-brow media have their own agenda and if the facts get in the way of that then the facts will not be reported. The BBC’s agenda wasn’t to bring unbiassed reporting of our referendum to our screens. I thought it would be but how naive was that. The agenda was to defend and support the UK Establishment and the said establishment did not and does not want an independent Scotland.

But the Truth Is Out There!!! Sometimes it manages to slip through the defences. Sometimes you have to go looking for it. Second time round the independence arguments at least we know what to expect. And at least we now have a small but noisy section of the media supporting independence. And we have a great band of civic action action groups like Common Weal and Independence for Women working away in the background and coming up with new ideas and strategies to bring Scotland into her own once more.

Every now and then I’ll be posting examples of the truth out there. Here’s the first.

BBC reporter Jane Hill speaking to Elmar Broks, member of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs. She says – at length – what she thinks he thinks about an independent Scotland joining the EU. Then he tells her what he actually thinks. 

And just for a laugh, some of the questions lobbed at Mrs Mayhem during PMQs yesterday:

A National Anthem for iScotland?

iScotland = independent Scotland. It’s coming yet for aw that…. which is a neat segue into this video I found on YouTube of a French Army band playing La Marche des Soldats de Robert Bruce. You probably know it better as Scot’s Wha Hae. This is a quicker tempo.

Cette musique date de 1314.
A cette date Robert le Bruce, futur roi d’Ecosse, (Roibert a Briuis en écossais médiéval) défait les Anglais à la bataille de Bannockburn d’où cette marche. Plus tard il renouvellera l’alliance de son pays avec la France en 1429 au siège d’Orléans . Les volontaires écossais jouèrent cette marche lors de l’entrée de Jehanne d’Arc dans Orléans, et elle est restera le symbole de l’amitié franco-écossaise! . Cette marche et encore joué aujourd’hui par l’armée française.

So says a comment on YouTube underneath this video. Roughly translated as :

This music dates from 1314. At that date, Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s future king(Roibert a Briuis in old Scots) defeated the English at the battle of Bannockburn, this march’s beginning. Later in 1429 at the siege of Orleans he renewed his country’s alliance with France. The Scottish volunteers played this march at the entry of Joan of Arc into Orleans, and it continued on as the symbol for Franco-Scottish friendship! This march is still played today by the French Army.

There are quite a few recordings of the tune on YouTube. Here’s one from Bläserphilharmonie Rhein-Lahn.

Is Scotland Bankrupt? Pt 3 – HMRC Trade Surplus statistics

Same waiver as in Pt1 as to my lack of economic training. Oh and it’s probably better to read this series in chronological order. 

Despite the figures seeming to point to a Mr McCawber outcome of misery due to our public spending being about £3,000 more per person than our public income and a Ma Broon “Michty me” warning ringing in our ears, surely there’s other ways to look at it.

What does the HM Revenue & Customs say?

Very handily, HMRC provide UK trade info broken down into geographical regions. Here is one of their current graphs, showing trade info for the Year to end of September 2016. Continue reading Is Scotland Bankrupt? Pt 3 – HMRC Trade Surplus statistics

Is Scotland Bankrupt? Pt2: Yes, I already told you that.

“The aim of GERS is to enhance public understanding of fiscal issues in Scotland.”

Right then,  let’s take a closer look at GERS: As with any financial transactions, it pays to attend to the small print. Same waiver as in Pt1.

Here goes:

2015-16 Income: 

  • Including an illustrative geographic share of North Sea, Scottish public sector revenue was estimated as £53.7 billion (7.9 per cent of UK revenue).
  • Of this, £60 million was North Sea revenue.
  • The year before North Sea revenue was  £1.8 billion which just goes to show the effect of long-term falls in oil production and recent falls in oil price.
  • Scotland’s public sector revenue is equivalent to £10,000 per person, £400 less than the UK average, regardless of the inclusion of North Sea revenue.  

Continue reading Is Scotland Bankrupt? Pt2: Yes, I already told you that.

Is Scotland Bankrupt? Part 1: Oh yes, it is.

Waiver: I’m not an economist. But I can read a balance sheet, do arithmetic, and create nice graphs from government spreadsheets.

Every so often a set of economic performance figures is published which attempts to give us indication of the health of the nations of  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish ones are referred to as GERS. No, nothing to do with fitba’ or Ibrox. GERS stands for Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland. I expect the Welsh equavalent is GERW which does at least have the merit of looking like a Welsh word. Are the Northern Irish ones called GERNI,  I wonder.

Continue reading Is Scotland Bankrupt? Part 1: Oh yes, it is.

Mhairi Black – inspiring, wonderful and utterly wrong?

Lots of people have been waiting for Mhairi Black’s maiden Commons speech. When it came it was a cracker! Watch it here :

(If you don’t see the video appearing on this page, it’s likely because you’re using an iPad in which case use this link to go direct to ParliamentLive website and watch it there.)

There has been a hugely enthusiastic response to Mhairi Black, MP. She gained praise from all round the House of Commons which is no mean achievement in itself. Her speech has gone viral on social media. Ten million views on various online websites.

The press is giving us its views. Radio4 have done a Profile on Mhairi. I’m impressed that the presenter didn’t bother to define “blootered”. 🙂

Deborah Orr has written a piece in the Guardian entitled “Mhairi Black is inspiring, wonderful – and utterly wrong” saying that although she delivered a superb speech Mhairi failed to understand that Labour and the SNP cannot be allies. She starts off by saying:

“The hard problem, as Greece knows, isn’t promising to end austerity – it’s coming up with a credible plan to do so. If the SNP has one, and if it really wants to create an effective opposition in tandem with Labour, then it really ought to start spilling the beans on precisely what the plan is.”Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 20.46.56

This seems a tad ingenuous to say the least. In the run up to the general election, Nicola Sturgeon put a great deal of effort into spelling out just that – an SNP budgetary strategy for the UK which would allow small, 1%, but steady growth in the economy, while also making improvements and efficiencies to our public spending and diminishing the budget deficit although over a longer time period. She even went down to UCL to make the speech and in fact her criticism of austerity was fully reported in the Guardian! In a later speech at LSE , she expanded on this theme, comparing and contrasting the approach in Holyrood and in Scottish society more broadly with that in Westminster.

Orr also said

I don’t doubt Black’s sincerity in extending the hand of friendship to Labour. I share her disgust at Harriet Harman’s airy announcement that Labour will back the Tories’ benefit changes. But I also find it irritating that Black’s sincerity seems to include a sincere failure to understand that the SNP is not Labour’s most natural ally in Westminster, but Labour’s most insidious opponent. The vast majority of the UK electorate doesn’t want a Labour-SNP alliance to be the chimerical alternative to the Conservatives in Britain. And the vast majority of the UK electorate can only reject Labour to stop that from happening.”

 I think she has a point here. Rightly or wrongly, I think wrongly, the majority of English voters – and I do mean English – did not seem to want an allegiance, even informal, between Labour and the SNP. This leaves most  of us Scots scratching our heads in perplexity since there is a large overlap in policy between the two parties. And the SNP made it plain that a vote for them in the election was not a vote for Scottish Independence. And aren’t we all united in opposing the Tories?

But then consider the way the media covered this possible ‘arrangement’ before the election…FullSizeRender(2)

cartoons with Miliband in Alex Salmond’s breast pocket (this despite the fact that he had  stood down as SNP leader about six months before); of Miliband being led along on a lead by a little Scottie dog. A bit reminiscent of the Commonwealth Opening ceremony we all thought though it was drawn as if at Crufts;  of Miliband as a puppet with Sturgeon pulling the strings. Well, yes , they were funny. Actually they were very funny. But they weren’t fair. They weren’t informative. They played on undercurrents of English xenophobia. The Telegraph cartoonists enjoyed themselves. One was tweeted from Tory Party HQ.

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But does all this make the SNP Labour’s insidious opponent? Is it true that  any chimerical (great word that, by the way) alliance will be rejected by English voters in the only way it can, by voting Tory. I’ve trying to answer this and come to the conclusion that it can’t be answered from a UK perspective, only from a Scottish or English one.

It can be answered from a Scottish perspective, where it’s pretty straightforward really. We vote – predominantly – for left-of-centre political parties and even the Scottish Tories are a tad more left than their English counterpart. We’re well used to that strategy being thwarted as the English vote in the Tory & Unionist Party but we put up with it because that’s how democracy works and we’re part of the UK. Up here we have a choice between Labour or SNP.  Irrespective of whether we want Scotland to become independent, we know that the SNP will further our left-of-centre aspirations. We also know they are well used to working in alliance with other parties because they have had to do that at Holyrood. (So has Scottish Labour and Scottish LibDems) In recent years, UK Labour has moved further right than we like so we’ve been voting SNP  in increasing numbers for Holyrood, to the point when, in 2011, they gained an overall majority there. No mean feat with a voting system designed to prevent overall majorities.

Add to this background context a Labour Party which spent two years in the Independence Referendum Campaign on the same platform as the Tories working to keep the UK united. They all told us we were better together and that we Scots should not just stay in the Union but come and help lead it. So said Cameron while Darling and Miliband looked on and applauded. Actually most of us up here think we’ve been leading the Union, not to mention the Empire, for centuries. Certainly we’ve been sending our most talented politicians down south for centuries. But still it’s nice to be included and appreciated, isn’t it. Of course we didn’t like seeing Labour sharing platforms with Tories. And we didn’t like the underhanded tricks they got up to. And we didn’t like the biassed media coverage. So when they won, lots of us joined SNP or Greens just to remind them not to expect us to act as if nothing had happened in Scotland over those two years.

And we’re not daft.  We understand that the English electorate are not as left-leaning as we are. We understand that Labour policy has to reflect that. We understand that in an informal allegiance with Labour in Westminster, we wouldn’t get everything we’d like. We are also well aware of the acrimony from Scottish Labour towards the SNP for having intruded into their ‘traditional’ Scottish territory. We even understand that Miliband might keep his cards close to his chest on this until the vote was over. But still it seems a no-brainer to us that SNP people we send to Westminster would be well able to support and work with a Labour government. What’s the problem? Why would an English Labour supporter consider voting Tory (or UKIP for god’s sake) to stop Labour working in a Progressive Alliance with SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru in Westminster? Not to mention the Lib Dems, poor souls.

Swapping over to a possible English perspective. I suppose it’s true that if you want to stop a Progessive Alliance involving the SNP you have to vote Tory. The FPTP voting system doesn’t allow for smaller parties, like the Greens, gaining actual representation at Westminster. There’s no English left-of-centre alternative to Labour, unless you count the LibDems. (BTW I think they’ve had a raw deal from England for all the effort they made reining in the Tories whilst in the Coalition.) All this is only relevant when support for Labour is languishing in the low 30%s of course. The other way to avoid a chimerical alliance would have been to vote Labour in hordes thus assigning SNP MPs to the sidelines of a majority Labour government.

But why were English voters so against the idea of SNP having influence at Westminster? There was a lot said about the Scottish tail wagging the English dog. Or in Ed Miliband’s case the Scottish dog taking him for a walk. But nothing said about that small minority of English swing voters, those who have no allegiance to any political party and whose unpredictable decisions can swing the outcome of an election one way or another. When party support is very close that English tail always wags the democratic UK dog. And it is the English tail because of the vastly larger number of English voters, 85% of UK as a whole. And it did again in May though it has to be said that this particular tail was considerably larger than had been thought. Poor old ‘Ed.

Which gets us back to Ed. He’s an honourable man, no doubt about that, but I think he managed to get himself promoted above his level of competency. It was easy for the Right to ridicule the notion of a Progessive Alliance just because it was also so easy to ridicule Ed as a prospective PM. But why is an informal coalition with the SNP really so awful?

Scottish nationalist voters were called a lot of things in the General Election campaign by the Engish based media: fascists, nazis, spongers. This caused a problem for some of the red top press who ran scathing headlines running down Nicola Sturgeon in their English editions and positive supportive ones for her in their Scottish editions. (Do they think we don’t have access to the internet up here?) Analyses were done of how much more public money is spent per head of population in Scotland without going a bit more deeply into the figures – all in the public domain – explaining why that is and admitting that regions of England get equal levels of spending. In Scotland if the IndyRef campaign taught us anything, it is that mainstream media support the Establishment and they don’t mind spreading disinformation to that end. So we weren’t surprised when the same happened in the GE : the misogynist cartoons of Nicola Sturgeon; the completely made-up Frenchgate story in The Telegraph leaked from the Scottish Office (now there’s a misnomer if ever there was one); the misleading financial statistics.

 

But getting back to the point I had in mind at the start of this post……the English antipathy to any sort of alliance that involves the SNP. And isn’t it telling that it’s so hard to discern a UK perspective on why that is? By which I mean, when there isn’t a UK perspective that adds up, then isn’t that another nail in the Unionist coffin.

Going back to that great word ‘chimerical’. If you remember the Guardian article, it came in the sentence : “The vast majority of the UK electorate doesn’t want a Labour-SNP alliance to be the chimerical alternative to the Conservatives in Britain.” Just to be clear, here’s the definition: chimerical is an adjective that means produced by a wildly fanciful imagination. The adjective chimerical is sued to describe something that is wildly fanciful or imaginative — like the chimerical illustrations of unicorns in a children’s book.

So for the Guardian a Labour-SNP alliance, or rather a Progressive Alliance of Labour, Greens, Plaid Cymru, SNP, and possibly some of the NI parties is “wildly fanciful” like a unicorn.

Interestingly, the Unicorn is the national animal of Scotland! Last word from a Scottish perspective:

 

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Yes! Super Saturday – 13 Sept 2014

It’s taken a while to get my photos and videos from Yes! Super Saturday organised but here they are.

Yes! Super Saturday was 13th September 2014, the last Saturday before the Scottish Independence Referendum. Glasgow was hummin’. But very little of this was reported on mainstream media. While I was taking these clips, a London-based BBC reporter had coralled three Yes supporters at the other end of Sauchiehall Street and was questioning them whilst ignoring the noise of thousands of Yes supporters about quarter of a mile away from her. Funny that. Aye, right. Just what we have come to expect from BBC Scotlandshire. Not so much our  Public Broadaster as the Establishment Broadcaster.