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.

For what it’s worth

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Back in May of this year I wrote the post Survival of the fittest. In that post I outlined what I considered to be my own personal summary of the challenges faced by UK society and the nature of the forces ranged against the YES movement, or indeed any movement seeking a fairer, more just system of government. Basically my thoughts on why we are where we are.

I pointed out what I felt were a couple of reasons for that and as a refresher, here’s the second one: “The second reason we are where we are? That would be the fault of the electorate. You get who you vote for. You get the society you contribute to – or don’t, as the case may be. For generations the populations of the UK bought into the big lie of our governance, that it gave a shit, could be trusted, was just the way it was meant to be. We allowed ourselves to be reduced to ‘ists’, ‘isms’ and labels (Makes that whole dividing thing so much easier). We allowed our system of government to take our best and brightest, make over their idealism and turn them into ‘weel kent’ faces we would vote for, perpetuating the cycle of legislative abuse. Worse, we allowed them to tell us who to trust, who to vote for, who to alienate and who to hate.”

For the removal of any doubt. What people are up against today hasn’t become any less frightening:

Poverty, Hate Crime, Austerity UK, Democratic Deficit, Brexit, 

Constitutional Crisis, Eire/NI, Legislative Abuse, Food Bank Growth

That wee list could be endless. You could literally cut and paste linked examples all day and I haven’t even touched on the usual subjects of ‘politics as it is practised’, the meeja, or a host of individual policies and scandals over recent years. If people are looking for something that needs to be opposed. If they’re looking for baddies under the bed, or something to get outraged about, then there are plenty examples to be found. There are people and causes who need help in the here and now. Entire populations of these islands, fractured demographics, oppressed minorities. Y’know, human beings.

Me? I’m easily offended and outraged really. A big softie with the accent on the soft bit, which spookily gets softer and wider the older I get (cough). I get offended when those we literally pay to care for our wants and needs abuse the trust we place in them. I am also somewhat miffed when those we empower put their own population in harms way for the sake of party political advantage or pure greed driven self interest (see under any campaign ever, but more recently both the EU and Scottish independence referendums). When they steal from us, abuse their positions, sign our names on the dotted line for illegal wars, or selling arms to others for their wars and abuses of human rights.

I am particularly offended when I see families in 21st century Scotland go without. When they have to make a choice between feeding the weans or paying the bills. I get offended when those least able to defend themselves are preyed upon by empathy free bastards in government who won’t know a day of hardship in their pampered, besuited, public expense fiddling, thieving, entitled lives. Those … people…, who know full well what they do and why they do it, are a special peeve in my book.

Basically, I get offended by people who harm others because they can, or because it benefits themselves. There’s a name for them. No, don’t tell me. It’s on the tip my tongue. It’ll come back in a moment. To be fair though, you could probably use several descriptors forming extended sentences, so fill in your own preference (though not in comments, m’kay? There may be young impressionable folk under fifty reading).

The buck still stops in the very same two places though. It stops with your system of central government and with YOU. The one we have currently feeds off the other’s compliance, acceptance and division. It needs that mix to continue doing all of the above examples and keeping itself and its patrons in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. That and being nearly totally unaccountable to those in it’s care.

Now you can have a system of government, practice of politics and an establishment which demands your compliance, your loyalty and your obedience. Yes you can. You can have a system that uses intimidation, fear and uncertainty as political strategy and practice against its own population. You can live on a media diet of celebrity get me tae f*** out of here and vote this way because the other team’s ‘the wrong sort’ too. You can continue to be told who and what you are by folk you’ve never met, nor walked a mile in your shoes. You can stay on your knees and get kicked repeatedly for daring to think you’re as good as.

Or.

Or you can stand up and TELL them you’re as good as. You can have a system that earns your vote, your loyalty, your appreciation and is obedient to the mandate you give it. You can have a government which offers care and aid to all of your population without favour, where and when it is needed. You can have a system of politics that rejects the tools of intimidation and fear because that’s how you want it. You can have a government that’s within the reach of the toe of your boot when it steps out of line, or when it’s politicians feel like dipping their sticky digits into the public kitty.

That choice is entirely up to you.

In the run up to Scotland’s 2014 indyref, many pro indy writers and bloggers wrote of what they feared was the future of a Scotland which still remained a UK partner. Throughout the YES movement we all had some pretty dark thoughts on the potential of that no vote given the nature of UK politics tbf. Back then it was on the horizon, something waiting to happen, but which we hoped would not. Personally, even in the aftermath of the vote, I hoped we were wrong, that the worst wouldn’t, couldn’t happen. Well, it’s here now and happening all around us. I also very much doubt it’s even close to the worst of the hardships and challenges our electorates have to face.

It’s not rocket science. We do this together. We work together to fix this, or we lose more than you can possibly imagine. We dump the rosettes, the petty grievances, the chips on shooders. We win by celebrating our differences and knowing that we are accepted by each other as a whole package. That’s kinda what it means to be a community, a population. We come from every walk of life imaginable and these days a fair few points of origin, but we ARE Scottish citizens. We are Scots. Think about that for a second. Really think about what it means and what it could mean.

You either govern for ALL, or you’re not fit to govern. Equally you either want a system of government capable of that, or you don’t deserve one.

I’ll leave it to readers to make their own minds up of course, but I know what I’d rather have.

 

Who knew?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

A recurring theme running through the press these days is that the EU just keep coming up with unreasonable demands.  Indeed the narrative from certain quarters of government and the meeja paints a picture of beleaguered UK diplomats and ministers bravely fighting off unfair demands and tactics from dastardly furren agencies intent on punishing the UK because… reasons. So, not the more logical explanation of panic stricken politicians, hopelessly out of their depth, in a catastrophic situation of their own making and looking for a scapegoat at all then?

Y’know, it’s even been recently touted that Brexiteering high heid yins in cabinet are set to go off in a major stroomph because these unreasonable furriners don’t understand how this whole Brexit business should work (mainly in their favour dammit). Seems they don’t like the idea of having to put any possible new rules in place whilst they’re seeking to ditch the existing ones and that’s just not cricket. As I recall and so far as I know, whilst you’re still a memberor aspiring to trade with the EU, then you still have to adhere to their rules, but without voting rights or input to relevant bodies. 

So, yes. Yes it is a pain and I can even understand the frustration of having to administer any new legislation during this negotiation period, but there is a more important question here. Given that the Lisbon Treaty A50 is pretty clear on an exiting member’s voting rights and participation on voting bodies, why weren’t the government prepared or apparently aware of this possible eventuality? Did they actually think the EU would just stop legislating for its members because of Brexit?

As has been highlighted in a previous post: From the EU’s perspective, they aren’t going anywhere. They didn’t force anyone to do anything and didn’t kick anyone out, but they do have rules (as does any club). So far as they are concerned, those rules help ensure and facilitate peace, trade, access and rights between all of its member states. The remaining twenty seven nations agree to live by those rules and enshrined at the core are the four freedoms

Is it just me, or is there apparently a breathtaking lack of self awareness by UK government and sections of the media over Brexit? It’s either that or, and this may come as a shock to some readers, it appears some are being more than a little disingenuous on actual facts surrounding the nature of Brexit, its possible repercussions and the processes involved (cough).

Surely then, it is entirely reasonable for the continuing body to expect that you adhere to their rules whilst you are still a member, seek access to trade agreements, transitioning to exit, or are still locked in a negotiating process? Does it not also seem reasonable that the continuing body expects the rights of its member citizens, currently in your care, receive due consideration? Isn’t it reasonable that all the leaving member’s financial commitments are settled appropriately, to each party’s satisfaction and that a pressing issue which may have dire repercussions for current and former members achieve a desirable resolution?

On that note…

Just when your expectations of the Conservative government’s handling of Brexit negotiation outcomes couldn’t be any lower, they always seem to find new and interesting ways of limbo dancing under a tick’s bum with inches to spare. It’s a talent few would aspire to, but an absolutely essential trait when you’re a minister responsible for… something or other. Right down there with the empathy bypass, telling you the order of … things and backstabbing for the career minded. (There’s probably more you can add to that list, but for the sake of brevity and all that.)

So naturally, not to be outdone on the art of stroomphing and in an astonishing (sark) ‘hold my beer’ moment, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said that basically the Irish border issue should not be settled until after there has been a trade agreement with the EU. This, of course, flies in the face of the three issues which the EU have contended needed immediate attention from pretty much day one. Those being: Settlement of outstanding financial commitments, the rights of EU citizens and naturally the border issue between Eire and Northern Ireland.

I mean, what’s the worst that could happen when you use people who have home grown political and economic issues as bargaining chips in a trade negotiation? In fact, what’s the worst that can happen when you ignore agreements, assurances and guarantees given to members of your own political union?  Personally I’d say that the situation both for Northern Ireland and Scotland should never have arisen, but then I would. Bearing in mind the UK was the member who initiated the entire process, not the EU, you’d have thought UK gov would have prepared contingencies for Northern Ireland and Scotland. You’d have thought their electorates and their standing constitutional settlements and agreements might have merited some consideration before the whole thing kicked off, but apparently not.

All together now… WHO KNEW?

Seriously though, I believe the government and elements of media need to perhaps take another look at the combative/competitive tone they currently are intent on selling the public. The whole ‘them against us’ language doing the rounds may just have a down side is all ah’m sayin’. Certainly some of your actual diplomacy may not go wrong at this point. Seein’ as how, Brexit or not, the neighbours are still the neighbours and you may, at the very least, want to be on friendly chatting terms with them. It may also be helpful if the political class in general would, (just for once), come clean with the true state of affairs regarding Brexit. Not saying those impact reports (minus the redaction), wouldn’t come in handy for the public about now or anything, but y’know…

At this juncture, many would argue the damage has already been done. The UK’s economy, equally arguably and to put it mildly, is somewhat challenged over ongoing austerity and looming Brexit measures back to back. The government’s reputation on the international stage is not in its best shape ever and the practice of politics in the UK has seemingly descended into jingoistic, soundbite and media-driven, farce. In as little as three years since Scotland’s indyref, the nature of party politics as it is practised have brought the peoples of these islands to the brink.

Might be worth the movers and shakers asking themselves, do they really want to pursue a politically combative and societally polarizing strategy? Do we really need to make a potentially volatile situation any worse than it already is?

Their choice of course, but on track record to date? I’m guessing another ‘who knew?’ moment will be along in the very near future.

All you hoped for

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Two referendums in two years, the backgrounds of which this site and many another have gone over pretty extensively. Two winning campaigns roundly criticized for their negativity, lack of clarity, lack of honesty and ultimately their ability to deliver on their pledges and assurances. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m sure there’s a pattern forming.

Brexit is an unqualified and unquantifiable mess right now and that’s before the UK gets to the nitty gritty on how it plans to earn a crust in the world with a much reduced circle of trading partners and basically sweet fanny adams to trade with other than superb jam. The blame game is in full swing across the media at this point as you’d expect, with both sides claiming intransigence and only one of course being right. From the EU’s perspective, they aren’t going anywhere. They didn’t force anyone to do anything and didn’t kick anyone out, but they do have rules (as does any club). So far as they are concerned, those rules help ensure and facilitate peace, trade, access and rights between all of its member states. The remaining twenty seven nations agree to live by those rules and enshrined at the core are the four freedoms. They break those rules to accommodate the UK’s wish list and what point the EU?  So, no. No I can’t see them breaking the rules, that every other nation in the EU adhere to, in order to sort the economic, political and societal headaches which the UK brought upon itself. The simplest of questions – Why is that supposed to be their responsibility? Their responsibility is to the European Union and the remaining twenty seven member states surely?

But, y’know, the UK is back in control and it has sovereignty and … stuff. The world will queue at our door to do business (even though we told it to fuck off for being too furren) and the EU won’t just cut us loose because they need our trade (even though they’re furren too and we decided we didn’t want to play with them anymore). They’ll come round to what we want. Wait and see if they don’t.

That is the common perception of the Brexit vote you know? That it was, if not driven by, certainly tainted by more than just a hint of xenophobia, isolationism, protectionism and selfishness. It doesn’t matter whether, as a leave voter, that was your driving issue or not. THAT is how the Brexit vote is perceived and not just in our own press. You look at the comment sections beneath any Brexit story in today’s UK media (though dear God, do NOT go anywhere near the Mail comments) and it’s hard to argue otherwise. There’s a lot of that attitude on display.

‘Course no one seemed to consider the economic repercussions much during the campaign. Just what effect removing entire demographics from the tax and investment base might do to the UK economy? No one thought much about those furren firms who based their manufacturing units and their brass plaques in UK cities specifically because of those existing trade agreements or because they wanted access to EU markets. I don’t suppose it crossed many horizons either to think about research facilities, university programmes, subsidies, grants, even low paid industrial or rural economy jobs many wouldn’t do themselves. The perception is that few even considered the wider effect on society. On people, human beings.

Is it all they hoped for so far d’you think? The movers and shakers of the Brexit campaign/narrative. Is the reaction from the EU, the individual nations of the EU and near half of the UK’s population what they expected? It’s not done yet. Not by a very long way.

Across the UK there are around three million people of continental origin resident. Some 190k (119k from accession states), of those are resident in Scotland. About now, they have every reason to feel more than a little concerned. They have more than a little reason to feel betrayed by UK central government and the wider UK population. They absolutely have more than a little reason to wonder what comes next? They just had the ground ripped out from under their lives and their belief in some things they thought to be certainties has been more than a little dented. Those feelings sound familiar to anyone in the YES movement?

These people are Scottish citizens, new Scots if you will, but Scottish citizens. Individuals, families, people who have done us the honour of selecting our nation to either work or settle in. They chose us. They chose this nation and this land to make their home. It doesn’t stop there though, does it? What of nationalities from all over the globe who have chosen to make Scotland their home? People who have chosen to become Scottish citizens. How do you feel about Westminster parliament deciding who your friends are? Who gets to stay? Who gets told to leave? Who has rights and who doesn’t?

Don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not entirely happy on being labelled a bad host. I’m definitely not big on turning away friends or those in need. Maybe that’s just me though.

Scotland, Scottish citizens. Quite a concept, eh?

Maybe something to think about.

 

This will be my last post before our host and the dug return from a much deserved break. I’d like to take this oppurchancity to thank all the readers for bearing with the site and myself over the past couple of weeks. Your great comments and patience with yours truly are very much appreciated.

The footnote

A guest post by Samuel Miller

This will be short.

You know, it would be easy and very tempting to list the record of exiting leader Kezia Dugdale’s gaffs and errors over the past near three years. Just as it’s tempting to give in to jibes and jokes at her departure. So I’m going to stun readers by NOT doing any of the above. Those gaffs have been more than well covered by public record as and when they occurred.

Plenty of scribes will be penning both damning and praising pieces across the meeja today (dependent on their political bias). They’ll do plenty of lists full of histories that some of us/most of us won’t recognise, but we’ll remember and that’s the main thing.

Ms Dugdale is apparently leaving her position because she’s had some reason to re-evaluate her life and what she wants from it. There was also mention of ‘passing the baton’ and the party needing “a new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate”. That’s the bottom line straight from Ms Dugdale herself. There have been rumours of a coup in the offing of course, but then there’s always one of those knocking about the place and there may even be some truth to it (shrugs).

Some folk would argue Ms Dugdale’s term in office has been untenable for some time. Taking over the responsibilities of branch leadership from Jim Murphy in the wake of the 2015 election result was a bad enough start, but to continue in leadership through Labour’s steady decline in the pecking order over the past two years must have been painful. Public perception of Labour’s tacit partnership with the Tories and backing the wrong horse in internal conflicts will have had their toll too I suspect. An unsuccessful Scottish elections, council elections and only a moderately improved position after the snap general election couldn’t have helped. A party that fell ignominiously to third place in Scottish politics and despite the best sustained efforts of the media over the period (and its decidedly anti Scottish government narrative), remains rooted to that third place.

Then came the last big idea of ‘federalism’ and Ms Dugdale’s push to square the devolution dodecahedron. A chance to test some of that Scottish Labour autonomy (which was so autonomous by this point, it could have formed its own independent state on the far side of the moon), win some votes back, and save the union. It was, in my opinion, never going to work and the tin lid was firmly placed on that pot by the sainted Jeremy himself only a few days ago. So much for Scottish Labour’s autonomy. So much for federalism and so much for home rule.

The proverbial final straw? Who knows? That’s for readers to draw their own conclusions. The exiting leader has made her own statements on reasons.

Ultimately Ms Dugdale became leader of a party of growing irrelevance in Scotland. A party that had lost its way and its reason for being a long time ago. A party mired in ‘politics as it is practised’, a pointless hatred of opposition and a neverending sense of self entitlement.

So far as anyone can tell, there has been no marked resurgence of Labour under Ms Dugdale’s leadership. No clear policies worth the name, (other than ‘no second referendum’), though a great deal of policy confusion (actually completely bewildering). No renewal of purpose (Opposition for opposition’s sake still takes precedence apparently). No change of character or intent. No attempt to reach out with any olive branch to Scotland’s electorate.

Perhaps a change of leader, for whatever reason, is long past due. Will it really be a change though?

I personally very much doubt it.

Somebody say something

A guest post by Samuel Miller

In the past few weeks of the silly season we’ve seen some pretty weird articles out there folks. There have been twatter spats, reversals, exposures and even whistle stop tours by the perenially confused. Media darlings of yesterday become today’s pariahs and yesterday’s pariahs become today’s media darling. We’ve had snark fests between the UK and EU negotiating teams on the rolling omnishambles which is Brexit and through it all, running like an annoying background tinny whine you can never shut down, the usual pure Essenpee badness is pumped out on permaloop. I’m sure it’s added a few pennies to the meeja’s coffers. I’m also sure it’s given some notoriety and headline space to the odd (very odd) personality, some deservedly and others not so much.

None of which does a single damn thing to allay the fears of Jock and Jeannie public. None of it gives people something concrete to hope for or hold on to. It feeds both rational and irrational fears, making an already bad situation damn near chaotic.

People don’t really ask for much when the poop hits the fan. They only require to be kept informed and that their representatives constitute a safe pair of hands. That they are trustworthy and transparent. That they pass relevant, accurate information on to their employers (that would be us) as soon as is reasonably and responsibly possible and that they act swiftly and decisively when the need arises. What we currently tend to get however, is policy by soundbite, decisive actions and bothersome details to be worked out later. Confusion, I’ve found, is good for central government (especially when they screw up monumentally) and when sold to the masses with a smidge of ‘hold the front page’ panic or some fleg wavy false patriotism? Well that sells copy, attracts readers and viewers for the media. Yay! Win win (sarc natch). Those with their own agenda and an empathy bypass, use the confusion and the manufactured fear to their own political advantage. Pretty certain readers could draw up a fairly lengthy list of their own usual suspects who fit that particular bill.

Bottom line is lots of speculation, opinion and rumour in the mainstream, but very little solid fact. Plenty of pundits telling you what they think other folk are thinking, but no change there then. Only a very rare handful of the UK’s public representatives doing anything in the way of providing notable stability or leadership in what are patently worrying times for people. The only UK leader to have taken direct public and legislative steps in the past year to allay those fears has been Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. (see under Brexit commission, public statements on citizenship and moves to legislate for an independence referendum)

The cataclysmic actions of Westminster government and those of the establishment parties over the space of the past year haven’t exactly helped to be sure. The more misinformation, lack of information and confusion there is? The more fear, frustration and doubt can take a grip and work on the mind.

So far as Scotland’s population is concerned, natural born, new Scots and more particularly the YES movement, where are we at and what should we be aware of? What do we know for sure?

Well first off, we know that we are in completely unprecedented legal and constitutional territory. The results of both referendums and especially the triggering of Article 50 and its ramifications is quite literally a first. The fallout across the board is an unknown and the effects for citizens who are members of multiple unions and nations with decades of accrued rights are in a state of flux. Put it another way. If the politicians, their negotiating teams and all the expertise they can call upon are essentially making the rules up as this unwinds, then everyone’s opinion is at best a guess.

However, in order of appearance: We know that we are currently still part of the UK and the political union, which falls under the category of ‘no shit Sherlock’. As such and so long as we remain party to the political union, our devolved legislature is currently in the process of exiting the European Union. (NOW DON’T ALL SHOUT AT ONCE!)

It cannot be stressed enough that the Scottish government are NOT the government of an independent Scotland. A slim majority, but a majority nonetheless, voted to entrust our futures and loan our full powers to the parliament of Westminster. They cannot act how we would wish and when we would wish it. They cannot act without a specific manifesto mandate or unless under very exceptional change in circumstances such as… a needlessly manufactured constitutional crisis, which Westminster politics duly supplied in 2016. So they did what was in their power to do whilst attempting to ensure that ALL of the public’s concerns and interests were met. Considering the clusterfudge that’s been dropped in their laps? No mean feat. Most, I’d guess, would say impossible.

Logically, the Scottish government, (ANY Scottish government), are legally bound to act in accordance with the nature of it’s devolved legislature, the current devolution settlement (the Scotland Bill) and the parliamentary democracy they have been elected under. They are bound to act in accordance with the results of referendums 2014 and 16 (don’t get me effing started) and the GE/SE results of elections 2015,16,17. Which means yes, they really did have to investigate a Brexit plan which would constitute remaining in both unions and latterly looking at single market access compromise options. (even when those parameters stick in the craw). Does any supporter of self determination like this arrangement? No. It’s safe to say no indy supporter likes or wants this gawdawful arrangement, but it is the way it is and until we can change it, then it’s how the Scottish government are constrained and compelled to act.

So to recap. A commission of experts was set up to explore a means of retaining both unions, access to the single market and retaining the accrued EU rights of EVERY Scottish citizen. The report of this commission’s findings was made into a proposal which Westminster apparently binned out of hand.

Still attempting to square impossible circles, First Minister Sturgeon set two things in motion. A parliamentary vote on the legislation for a second indyref and the forwarding of a compromise position to Westminster on Brexit participation and retaining single market access. The timing of this indyref to be delayed until after the Brexit position of the EU/UK has been clarified, but before ratification. This with the intention of offering Scotland’s citizens a choice on their preferred future. (Yes, I’m aware that some would prefer after ratification, some before and some yesterday, but that’s individuals strategy and this is about what we know.)

Why is the timing so vague? The two year clock most folk thought to be the backbone of A50 talks appears to be lengthening and shortening with every twist and turn for one. That and the result from June’s snap GE gave the SG pause for thought no doubt. The unionist parties fought a no indyref campaign and voted tactically to gain maximum constitutional advantage whilst the SNP fought… well, a general election. The unionist parties threw cash, media and personnel into a single policy campaign which paid limited dividends for them. A miscalculation by the SNP Scottish Government? That’s up to the reader. Regardless, we are where we are right now and that is STILL with an SNP majority in Westminster’s Scottish benches and a pro indy majority in Holyrood and STILL with a government willing to offer their electorate a choice. Will this remain the case after the next Scottish elections? Unkown, (psychic powers and crystal ball predictions come extra m’kay?), but the numbers are in place right now.

For all the imposed constraints and legality, does any of the above mean that the SNP have lost their appetite for, or changed their opinions on, independence? Well no. I don’t really see why it would.

Maybe something worth considering. Politics, when practised properly, isn’t the art of manipulating or forcing public opinion through the bestest marketing campaign and the biggest fibs. It’s not about dragging people anywhere against their wishes. That is the practice of politics which brought the UK to this sorry pass in the first place. It’s the art of persuading and influencing through debate and consensus, trial and error, action and example. Near as I can see, that is what the Scottish government are attempting to do. Persuade through action and example and yes, given the current predicament, that is fantastically frustrating.

So cutting through all the media/policy wonk speculation an indyref is still on that table which Messrs Cameron and Corbyn seem so fond of (timing to be confirmed) and Scotland’s electorate still have an option. If they want it.

Events though, can change all of the above in a heartbeat and make a nonsense of everything that’s happened to date. When it comes to what the the Scottish government should or shouldn’t do? Maybe worth remembering the position they are in and what put them there.