About that equal partnership…?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Over the run up and course of the first independence referendum a great deal was made of equality, partnership and latterly of a union family by some weel kent faces.

“Today we are equal partners in the United Kingdom. With independence Scotland’s budget would have to be approved beyond the border. That’s not freedom. That’s not independence. That’s serfdom.” A. Darling 2012

“And speaking of family – that is quite simply how I feel about this. We are a family. The United Kingdom is not one nation. We are four nations in a single country.”  D. Cameron 2014

(As an interesting exercise, when reading the entirety of Mr Cameron’s speech via the link supplied, try replacing Scotland with UK and UK with EU where relevant.  Then try not to have an irony overload.)

Over the weekend a couple of stories have received some coverage which shed a bit of a different light on those statements from our recent past. Bear in mind those statements were made by the man who would lead the Better Together campaign and the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron.

The first story concerns Trade Secretary Liam Fox. Aye, apparently Mr Fox feels including representation from devolved legislatures on certain decision making processes might be a tad problematic for UK trade. Mainly because…. reasons. OK?

Although, given Mr Fox’s recent enthusiasm for a trade deal on imported food stuffs, you can see why said devolved legislatures may have a concern or two of their own and not least on the constitutional front.

The second piece, very much on the topic of partnership, was lead story of the Sunday Herald found HERE. Oh, and yes it concerns oil. That stuff which is a positive boon for other countries, but for some uncanny and unfathomable reason is an absolute curse for Scotland. Having said that, I’m reasonably sure the reader can draw their own conclusions as to the nature and the source of those problems (cough). There has after all only ever been one steward managing the resource since its discovery.

The point of the exercise is trust. Statements and pledges by parties and leaderships toward populations are either worth something or they’re not. Management of the affairs, interests and resources of those populations is either fit for purpose and reflective of those statements and those pledges or it is not.

Now that’s not to say extenuating circumstances don’t play their part in the affairs of politics. Events can sometimes, and I do mean sometimes, interfere with a leadership’s ability to deliver on their pledges. How and ever, when those pledges are proven to be systematically undelivered and undeliverable, the average bod must then consider the intent behind the original statements. Most especially when you consider there are comparable examples and standards to examine out there in the wider world. You know it’s entirely possible that some other nations may have different and indeed more desirable methods of running their politics and caring for their society. Curiosity and puzzlement are also entirely understandable when you know for an absolute certainty that others somehow manage their affairs on a given issue with some degree of success. The average bod may also justifiably ask on such occasions, why can’t we?

It’s up to the readers of course at this point, but given HMG’s and Better Together’s record of delivery on the spirit and substance of their promises to date? They may perhaps be forgiven, (after a little light reading on links provided), for questioning the intent behind the statements and the record behind the rhetoric, also perhaps the nature of the politics and political process which drove them.

What kind of country do you want to live in?

A dead water feeling

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Dead water is the nautical term for a phenomenon which can occur when a layer of fresh or brackish water rests on top of denser salt water, without the two layers mixing. A ship powered by direct thrust under the waterline (such as a propeller), traveling in such conditions may be hard to maneuver or can even slow down almost to a standstill. Much of the energy from the ship’s propeller only results in waves and turbulence between the two layers of water, leaving a ship capable of traveling at perhaps as little as 20% of its normal speed. (Source Wiki)

Scary, isn’t it? The waiting.

It can certainly play bloody hell on the nerves with folk who are just getting their groove on again with politics after a few decades, or even for the first time ever. So much happening to us in the form of Brexit, austerity ideology, unashamedly reneged pledges from indyref 1, the collapse of political institutions, the rise of intolerance, isolationism and such. Worse. It can appear that no one is listening to our concerns, or cries for action, fairness or explanation. Most reasonable sane people just want stuff to happen now (if not sooner) and our government should get it fixed and WHY THE HELL ISN’T IT? Didn’t we just green light another majority? What are they waiting on? Somebody say sumthin’!

Also seems there are plenty of people telling us what to think with their ‘hot take’ du jour t’boot. So many talking ‘at’ us and not enough talking ‘to’ us. So, yes, plenty to be concerned about if truth be told. It’s also a perfectly understandable and perfectly human reaction to all of the above.

Fear, uncertainty, doubts and confusion creep in about friends, political allies, their motivations and commitments to this that or the next thing. People who put a great deal of their personal agendas and time aside to work together with others and tackle a greater issue, begin to remember their differences of opinion on whatever and question why they should have placed faith or trust in another to begin with. Frustrations and differences buried in time of immediate action surfacing because, well mainly because there’s seemingly no forward motion, no momentum or impetus to direct those energies. Focus on direction and purpose drifts, or is made to drift. Sound familiar? A time of ‘Dead Water’, wasted energy, deflected effort, enforced inactivity.

‘Course it doesn’t help when some twisted bastirts from the true source of the problem feed those doubts on a daily basis. When you are bombarded 24/7 and 365 days a year with said FEAR, UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT. It doesn’t help when they actively sow doubts between friends, undermine trust (in just about everything), foment frustration, seemingly deny you redress and a platform to clear the air or inform accurately and in context. It doesn’t help when our public guardians of the fourth estate are apparently guardians of THE state and orthodoxy. Makes it hard for those they don’t approve of to get that fair hearing don’t you think? Yes, they’ve been making good use of this period of enforced inactivity, because they know it won’t last forever and you better believe they are more than acutely aware it does have an end.

Regardless, at such a time as this it’s easy to forget why we all came together. Why we’re here at this place and at this point in time and why we put all that other stuff to one side to work together.

I remember.

As I recall, it’s the belief that the peoples of Scotland are best placed to make decisions affecting the peoples of Scotland (and no the plural isn’t accidental). Self determination. You don’t need to come from any particular part of the political or societal spectrum. You just need to believe in that simple principle. All parties and no parties. All levels of society. All creeds. All points of origin. All of us together. Natural born and new Scot. It’s the very thing that will provide you with a representative government willing to govern for all and not simply a demographic. It’s kinda what makes you a population and will make you a country.

Personally, I’ve never worried over whether you voted SNP, Green, SSP, Conservative, Labour, Libdem, independent or didn’t vote at all in the past. It never mattered to me where you were born, how much you earn, (or don’t), what colour your skin is or whether you wear Buchanan plaid troosers with a Paisley pattern shirt combo on dance night at the local Pally (though…. DANG!).

YOU are a Scottish citizen and you need only remember what makes you, and what made you, a YES voter. So cutting through all the stuff people are throwing at us from every direction, about now I’d say we’re beyond the party politics stage. That patch of dead water we’ve found ourselves in won’t last forever. It does have an end and it’s very much in sight. Pointless arguments, twatter spats, snark and other hi jinks need to be put in their proper place and perspective. They mean nothing, NOTHING, compared to the societal and economic hardships we can help avert if we all pull in the same direction. We can do it. We’ve done it before and gave those and such as those a challenge they never thought they’d face from ‘ordinary’ Jock and Jeannie public.

The establishment had and still have so many advantages on their side and yet we let them know where the true heart of a nation lies. We let them know what makes a country, a country and it’s not borders or landmass. Its not the trappings of state. It’s not military might or pomp. It’s not patronage or how much of the corporate world and media you can call on when you’re in a bit of a bind either.

It’s the people.

Only the people have the power and the right to decide their own future and form of governance. No single party can deliver that. No party EVER could. The ONLY thing a party of government could ever do is be willing to offer you the choice and facilitate YOUR decision.

We are, I believe, going to be given that choice again in the not too distant future and it’s worth remembering that a referendum doesn’t belong to any party. It belongs to you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. So right now, if you don’t do politics, or don’t normally support the SNP, then fine. I think we can all get behind why most of us wouldn’t vote for one party or another in ‘normal’ circumstances. It’s a deeply personal choice. What’s happening to the politics and society of the UK right now though, aren’t normal circumstances. What is happening to Scotland, because of that political and parliamentary union we’re currently enjoying, is nowhere near normal, or right, or just. This is no longer about voting for the SNP or any other party, it is about supporting the Scottish Government in their efforts to avert economic and constitutional calamity for the population of Scotland. That would be all of us mainly.

If it helps folk who normally place their support and their trust elsewhere, don’t look at them as a political party, but as a means to an end. You do not need to be an SNP member or supporter to recognise that right now, at this particular period in time, they are the best chance, the ONLY chance the people of Scotland have of being given a constitutional choice. Safe to say we won’t be seeing an orderly queue forming to offer Scotland’s electorate any choice from the other mainstream parties. You’d think though, since their politicking dumped this epic galactostooshie in our laps, they’d at least say sorry. (shrugs)

You know, it’s often said that running your own country is for grown ups. I fully agree. I think it’s time for all of us to grow up now. If we want a system of government where our voice will be heard, with a written and codified constitution, a progressive, inclusive and outward reaching internationalist aspect, and an accountable legislature, then it’s only going to happen one way.

ALL of us together.

The SNP are the key to a locked door. All folk need to agree upon is turning that key and stepping through the door. What folk do on the other side is the grown up bit.

G.Y.V.O.

A guest post by Samuel Miller

In the posts of the past week or so I’ve written a goodly amount on concerns over a Conservative ideology dominated future. I’ve provided a fair few links on not just current examples of policies to date, but on policy pledges which should provide the reader with a real concern as to the direction of future UK government, our democracy and our society.

Thing is, are we beyond caring now? Are we beyond acting on those concerns? Have the political class and the media won? Have they dumbed down, brow beaten and manipulated the populations of the UK to the point where we no longer worry over what kind of country we want to live in?

Watching the goggle box, listening to radio, or reading a paper, the sheer saturation of mainstream political narrative is immense. There is a real danger of people switching off to the world around around them. There is a danger that they’ve become so fatigued with a seemingly never ending stream of political carpet bombing of their senses, that its gone beyond white noise. People simply want it to stop without knowing how to make it stop. Or rather, that they feel powerless to make it stop. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.

If you’re not being faced with the laughably, (yet creepily controlled), robotic and stage managed appearances of Prime Minister May, then in the northern province you’re faced with the manic, pointy, shouty mini me of Ruth Davidson attempting to hide the fact that she’s a Conservative. An angry persona who, with not another single policy or initiative to her name, has dined out well on STOP THE ESSENPEE! No answers. No suggestions. No alternative policy. No real reasoning behind why they may require stopping. Just STOP something or other and a whole lot of anger management issues.

That’s the thing though, isn’t it? It’s stage managed, choreographed, monotonous, loud and repetetive. A vertiable deluge of substance free blandness which, as everyone should be aware, is always a great way of hiding evil and unpleasant deeds in plain sight. Make no mistake, the omnishambles that is austerity UK, Brexit Britain was created by successive UK governments. Their handling of politics as it is practised, ‘the day job’, ALL of it. No one did this to the UK. A big boy didn’t do it and run away. The buck stops with the government and the system of government. The same people who want your vote right now are the people who placed all our futures and freedoms in jeopardy in the first place. They did it and not for you, but for themselves. For good old fashioned self interest. (Readers should be made aware that the ‘day job’ in Scotland differs in that our government is required to mitigate and offset the legislative bumtrumpetry of central governmenent.)

It occurs to me that seemingly the only time people get the heads up that the unthinkable has actually happened, is when it strolls right into their living room and slaps them in the face. Y’know, when people have lost their job because no one fought for their rights, or those rights no longer exist. When the benefits and services they’ve paid for their entire working lives aren’t there when they are needed most. When their pension and fuel allowances are pilfered or slashed. When their next door neighbour and friend of many years is deported for not dotting an ‘i’ or crossing a ‘t’, or simply for being furren. When their right to complain is crushed and their voice is taken away. When they are considered ‘extremists’ for even daring to complain.

It’s only when you discover what being out of a job and having your income slashed means in austerity UK really. It means relying on the charity of others. A charity and empathy that is slowly being choked out of our society by the likes of May, Davidson and all their Tory kindred. Oh, and after their atrocious actions of recent years, Labour and the Libdems don’t entirely come out of the wash sparkly clean either. They did their bit in both creating and supporting this appalling travesty.

It means that YOU will rely on the charity of people who care. All you need do is hope beyond hope there are enough people left who do.

Or, you can put a stop to it now. Stop it NOW before it comes to this for you and yours.

You have and always have had the power to make it stop. THIS is the reason for the blanket repetetive narrative. This is the reason they want you to stop thinking. Stop asking questions and stop complaining. They’re terrified that if you are fully and properly engaged, you’ll do some something radical and vote their arses out of office and out of your lives. They’re terrified of your anger, your engagement, your questions and your judgement on their actions.

They’re terrified of you.

Put aside the soundbite. Look past the vacuous, metro bubble bullshit streamed into your living room. Bin the horrific, empathy free headlines of a hopelessly politically compromised press and look around you at your family and communities. Look at their lives, consider their future and imagine how much worse it could be if Scotland’s newly discovered voice were either extinguished or never present. Imagine if the right to choose were denied you altogether. Imagine handing the political establishment of Westminster a blank cheque on your future.

A simple request.

Get Your Vote Out!

Show Tories of all shades that you’re better than a soundbite or a stage managed photo op with a buffalo. Show them that you deserve, that you have earned, better than austerity UK or a soulless, intolerant Brexit Britain. Show them what the right to choose truly means and choose a different path.

Today will be my last post before our host returns folks. I’d like to thank the readership for bearing with me for the past week or so and for contributing as enthusiastically as ever in comments.

See you below the line.

Survival of the fittest

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Apparently the UK faces ‘challenges’ according to the Conservative manifesto released on Thursday.

‘Challenges’

That’s one word for it I suppose. There are of course others, but none the weans could read before the watershed.

Brexit Britain, austerity ideology, UK populations and society in general fractured along so many fault lines. A society so divided that all the kings horses and all the kings men… Well, I’m sure we know how the nursery rhyme ends.

How did it come to this you might ask? Two reasons near as I can tell. Firstly, the buck stops with our politics and its relationship with the media and corporate world. Y’know, good old fashioned greed and self interest. The naked manipulation of the populations of the UK and the division of their demographics for political and financial advantage. Exploiting and expanding small differences into the chasms which divide and where none exist? Create them.

Out of the 30 OECD countries the UK has the 7th most unequal distribution of wealth and has the honour of having the 4th most unequal in Europe. With the fifth largest economy in the world (as Treeza and co. keep reminding us), that should tell you all you need to know about our system of government and what its priorities are. Its not and never has been the governance and care of the populations of the UK. I’d say it more resembled an asset management exercise and some of those assets, those that aren’t strong, fit or prosperous enough of course, would be expendable assets. Survival of the fittest by any measure.

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. The pen proving itself every bit as destructive and effective as the sword over a great many years.

The voting electorate let it get this bad and they allowed the fox to convince them it was a good idea to leave him in charge of the hen house. The majority allowed themselves to be convinced they were powerless to change the way things were.

Most readers will have had a few days to absorb extensive commentary on the contents of the Conservative manifesto by this point. In times of plenty, with a stable body politic and a more or less stable wider society, such a manifesto would unsurprisingly be binned out of hand. A party attempting to sell the public on the concept of emergency measures which would effectively grant them the divine right of kings would not only set off warning klaxons of extremism, they’d also be quite rightly ‘labelled’ themselves as dangerously unhinged.

Today though? With a massively dominant right wing Conservative government and societal narrative. The willing support of an equally massively dominant right wing media to sell their narrative. Oh, and let’s not forget the nature of the democratic deficit inherent in the political make up of the United Kingdom, it’s not only possible the Conservatives can pull this off, it seems entirely probable.

The Conservatives dominate current UK politics on 36.9% of the vote. They seek a mandate to extend austerity measures, stifle democracy and silence dissenting voices (see under internet policy). If they should extend their vote share and representative presence in Commons, does anyone really doubt what their idea of ‘strong and stable’ means in reality by this point?

This is the government that turned sanctioning and benefit cutting across the board into a national sport and has been found to be in violation of human rights for same by the United Nations. This is the government that removed motability vehicles and personal independence for thousands of disabled citizens. This is the government which has seen wealth disparity and food bank culture grow exponentially for every year it has been in office. We have people starving on the streets of a 21st century United Kingdom. We live in a state where government policy has been cited as being linked to an increase in mortality rates. The world’s 5th largest economy remember? Pretty certain readers can and WILL add a lot more to this list.

This government wants your permission to extend its own powers. THIS government.THIS system of politics.

In Scotland, we have only very rarely had any influence over who will eventually take office behind the door of number 10. We will never have enough MPs in Commons to form a partnership of equals. Simple arithmetic dictates this stark fact. What the majority in Commons decides, Scotland historically and meekly accepted. Brexit and the nature of Brexit being a perfect example of the UK’s and Westminster’s democratic deficit.

Today though, we have an opportunity and one we created for ourselves. We can decide who we wish to represent and defend our interests as a nation. We can decide who best represents and reflects our body politic. We can decide when enough is enough. We can choose to take a different path. We can refuse to be labelled, reduced to ‘ists’ and ‘isms’. We can decide what kind of country we want to live in and we can instruct our representatives to act accordingly.

We can choose who we want to be and how we wish to be viewed by others in the world. We are potentially two votes away from having the government we vote for at every time of asking.

Most people after the past few years are probably sick to the back teeth of politics. Understandable to say the least. But if we don’t fix a patently broken and societally destructive system, then who will? If we don’t do it now, whilst it is still possible, then when? Decision time is almost upon us. What kind of country do you want to live in and what legacy do you want to leave for future generations?

Two votes.

Coming home to roost

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Today’s the day we saw betterthigitherness coming home to roost in all its pooling and sharing glory. Are we surprised that a Tory government finally came for you where you live? ‘Forward together’ with ‘strong and stable’ government in the national interest. “Stronger, fairer and more prosperous than ever before” is the claim. And if you don’t agree with that leadership? Presumably yer agin’ the national interest I suppose.

Today was Tory manifesto day and it’s a helluva document for yer average Joe Public to peruse. Full of the usual policy wonk doublespeak (as are most manifestos tbf), and robbing Peter to pay Paul economic waffle, which basically means we’re still skint and I’m passing round the hat to those who can least afford it. There are however, subjects that stand out to almost everyone who takes an interest. Even if you don’t understand in depth everything your’re reading, you’ll find something that catches your eye and hits you right where you live. This latest offering from the Conservatives has a fair amount to struggle through and more than a few hot chestnuts for the clever clogs out there to be chewing over. How and ever, a wee taster to be getting on with:

The repeal of the Fixed Term Parliaments act (Translation: If any PM or government finds itself in the shit, as now, call a snap election and try to extend your term in office).

The end of the triple lock for pensions post 2020 (You really, really don’t want a translation for that one).

Scrapping stage 2 of the Leveson inquiry (Translation: keep your best buds sweet and onside).

Enactment of the Great Repeal Bill to proceed (Translation from Bond villain speak: Mwahahahahahaha!)

Fracking to be actively pursued as a revenue stream (Translation: see under Great Repeal Bill)

Immigration in general to be cut to 100k across all nationalities and a focus on reduction of immigration from Europe after Brexit (Translation: Vote for me ’cause I’m jolly difficult!)

As I say that’s just a taste, but let’s move on to the devolved legislatures. Obviously we’re particularly interested in Scotland at this point which, as everyone knows, is still part of Theresa’s preciousss, preciousss union. Just so folk are crystal clear on the current state of the Scottish parliament and its powers:

“It was the Conservative and Unionist party that delivered the 2012 and 2016 Scotland acts, and only the Conservative and Unionist party can deliver further powers and the best possible deal for Scotland as we leave the European Union” (page 32 Conservative manifesto)

Should we thank Theresa for control of the awesome powers of APD, aggregates levy, road signage and responsibility for collecting a percentage of income tax now or on June 8th? Also, I’m wondering if Labour and the Libdems should feel relieved that the PM has expunged them of any complicity in the current settlement or not? The dears did work so hard before, during and after the last indyref to bring the current constitutional omnishambles to everyone’s doorstep. Gordon, I’m sure, will probably feel terribly hurt and left out. It’d seem a shame not to give them their due place in the big show, or perhaps the PM has? Now that is a thought for their current leadership to ponder.

Moving on though, we find on page 36 and 37 the meat on the bones. The enactment of the Great Repeal Bill. The good news? EU laws and protections won’t end overnight (honest). There is however a ‘but’ to that statement:

“The Bill will also create the necessary powers to correct the laws that do not operate appropriately once we have left the EU, so our legal system can continue to function outside the EU. Once EU law has been converted into domestic law, parliament will be able to pass legislation to amend, repeal or improve any piece of EU law it chooses, as will the devolved legislatures, where they have the power to do so.” (Uh huh!)

“As powers return from the EU we will be able to determine the level best placed to take decisions on these issues.” (Uh huh with knobs on! Oh, and who is this we Kemosabe?)

“We will not bring the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law. We will not repeal or replace the Human Rights Act while the process of Brexit is underway but we will consider our human rights legal framework when the process of leaving the EU concludes.” (The knobs now have knobs)

Oh and “No deal is better than a bad deal”, “Brexit means Brexit” and the sun always shines on TV. There’s something in there for everyone, from the youngest in our society to the oldest, NO ONE gets missed out for special treatment. That you may not want to go forward together with Treeza is understandable by this point. That, haud the phone, you might not agree that she presents either a strong and stable leadership, or a vision of a fairer, more prosperous society could mark you as a dangerous extremist acting against the ‘national interest’. Pure divisive this politics lark, so it is.

Make no mistake though, this is Theresa’s idea of moving the UK to a fairer, stronger, more productive society and country (don’t get me started on her use of the singular). That would be a fairer, stronger, more productive Conservative society then. A society where you better not be a third child. A society where you work till you die. A society where you daren’t get ill, or through no fault of your own become jobless. Theresa’s society is a society for those strong enough, fit enough, lucky enough.

The rest of us? The poor, the disabled, the jobless, the disenfranchised, those who don’t conform, don’t think the way Treeza does? Well she did say this was a Conservative manifesto. The PM’s vision of the UK going ‘forward’ doesn’t sound very forward at all to me, but then I’m not big on the whole survival of the fittest school of political ideology.

You can change this future with only two more votes.

Think about that.

Hypocrisy thy name is…

A guest post by Samuel Miller

I honestly don’t know who or what is worse; Corbyn and his wannabe Kezia Dugdale, or May and her mini me Ruth Harrison (Fallon, the gift that keeps on etc.). Today was a benchmark day for both teams in hypocrisy and shear disingenuous cobblers.

Let’s start with Ruth Davidson shall we? It seems Ruth gave a speech to the George Orwell Foundation (irony klaxon). Aye, apparently people get confused between nationalism and patriotism and they’re really quite different you know. Nationalism, especially Scottish nationalism, is bad. It’s all that ‘bullying and hectoring’ the Scottish government and their supporters do. Patriotism however, especially Ruth’s fleg wavy, tank riding, buffalo wrangling variety is good. So some folk who wrap their bigotry, their violence and their hatred in flegs will be delighted to find out that they’re not bad nationalists, but rather good patriots. Who knew?

Just for the removal of doubt and of course to prove that both hypocrisy and irony are dishes best served cold, I’d suggest Ruth looks up both words in a dictionary.

Here’s the thing though, patriotism and nationalism are just words and a flag is merely a piece of cloth with bright colours. What gives words weight and a coloured symbol meaning are associated actions.  The extremes of both those words have led to some of the greatest crimes in humanity’s history, equally some of the worlds greatest criminals hid behind the symbol of their country.

Of themselves there is no harm in feeling patriotism or national pride,  a sense of belonging in your community, your country, your population. Taken in the extreme to a sense of exclusion, exceptionalism and even xenophobia? That is a different and darker path altogether. Which politics in the UK reflects the latter more accurately today? That’s one for the reader to decide.

A final thought for Ruth (in case she’s confused you understand). ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’ Samuel Johnson

Then we come to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour manifesto.  Well what can you say?

This is the relevant quote from page 104 of Labour’s 2017 manifesto:

Labour opposes a second Scottish independence referendum. It is unwanted and unnecessary, and we will campaign tirelessly to ensure Scotland remains part of the UK. Independence would lead to turbo-charged austerity for Scottish families.

‘Unwanted and unnecessary’ … says who?  Last I checked the Scottish government is the only legislative body in the UK with an overwhelming public mandate across all elections and under three completely differing balloting procedures. ‘Independence would lead to turbo charged austerity’. On two counts this is pushing the boundaries of credibility. Firstly, that is an untested and unquantifiable opinion. No one has any idea what measures an independent Scottish government would take to grow their economy, marshall their resources and revenue stream or indeed who that government may be. Secondly, Scotland was already promised a great deal of security, pooling and sharing, broad shouldered better togetherness a little over two years ago. What Scotland received was somewhat less than that, as thousands of newly unemployed folk can attest to. We were also promised guaranteed membership of the EU, that we’d be living in a near federal state, that our state pension arrangements were safe and that job security was assured only by voting NO.

Safe to say that Mr Corbyn’s idea of ‘unwanted and unnecessary’ may be somewhat different to anyone else’s. Jeremy’s big catchphrase this time round is ‘For the many, not the few’. So far, he’s doing a damn fine job of protecting the entitlement of the few to decide the fate of the many. Also worth noting Mr Corbyn’s well publicised stance on leaving the EU. Regaining full sovereignty is good for only the goose apparently.

Just so he’s aware?

The UK is ‘notionally’ a union of nations. Scotland is a nation, a partner, a signatory to the treaty of union and the people of Scotland have the inalienable human right to self determination. The principle… is that we have the right to choose.

We decide.

The difference a week makes

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Y’know, you’d be forgiven for wondering what you have to do to get a balanced interview on any current issue were you a member of the Scottish government. Yesterday’s Andrew Marr show provided a perfect example as Scotland’s First Minister, ostensibly invited on to presumably answer questions on the upcoming general election,  spent a fair chunk of the interview discussing the devolved issue of education in Scotland. Again, you’d be forgiven for expecting the issues of Brexit, the constitutional question and perhaps the performance of SNP MPs over the past two years may have been on point, but hey ho, different strokes for different folks.

No question, the fall in standards in literacy and numeracy within the P4, P7 and S2 are poor over the period specified. No one should take a drop in educational or child performance standards lightly. Quite rightly, the First Minister held her hands up right away and said exactly the same thing, not once, but a number of times throughout the interview. The buck does indeed stop with those responsible for budget oversight and curriculum. Mr Marr was expecting what precisely after the second and third repetition of the same question? I’m not entirely sure he was used to a politician coming back with an honest answer and accepting responsibilty.

Still, if we’re going to be picking facts out of performances it’s surely also worth taking these on board. Attainment for school leavers over the same period has also markedly risen. It may also be worth noting that there are some things both the Scottish government and even the local authorities, (tasked with maintaining and staffing of the schools within their communities), may find beyond their ability to alter. Poverty for instance, has long been linked closely with educational attainment or lack thereof.

You know it’s true enough that if you throw enough money, manpower and resources at a situation, you can solve almost any problem. What happens though, when you can’t? What happens if you don’t have the money, the manpower, or the resources? What happens when you can’t generate the things you need, make the alterations you want, provide what you desperately want to provide, because you don’t have the latitude you require with your own economy? Because… you don’t run your own economy?

Bit of a rule of thumb, but there’s never an easy single answer to highly complex questions. Just a thought.

Still, not to be deterred from all things devolved, Ruth Davidson stuck her own oar into the paddling pool on this self same issue recently, with the broad claim that “The SNP has been in sole charge of education for a decade, and these failings are inexcusable. One in five children leave school functionally illiterate.” So how did that truly stack up then? Well, according to Ferret Fact Service, not so much as it turns out. This IS an election period. If something has a poor result or record, you better believe that by the time a party politician has finished spinning it, that poor result will be released as a biblical catastrophy beyond endurance.

(Keep an open mind. Do a little digging and decide for yourself whether a headline or a soundbite has gone a bit too far. Don’t let the meeja and the spin doctors lead you by the nose.)

Not content with merely the one tack on devolved issues, Ms Davidson then moves smoothly (cough), on to the subject of ‘free prescriptions’. Forgetting for a moment that this is one of the most colossal U turns by any Scottish Conservative ever, there is the teeny matter of competency involved here. Once more this would fall into an area of devolved government. On a few counts this may be a tad problematic. Firstly, she’d clearly have to go and ask the PM, (very nicely), if this is okay to pledge as a general rule and secondly she is NOT Scotland’s First Minister.  The next Holyrood elections are a wee bit far off at this point and let’s face it, there’s also the small issue of trust involved here. Neither Conservative government as a rule, or Ms Davidon in particular, has proven the most trustworthy of individuals on pretty much anything in terms of policy.

Worth listening to this recent radio interview to get a taste of how Ms Davidson’s views, on any given subject, change according to the weather. (LINK)

Then we get to it. THE question. Why aren’t we talking about general election matters? Why aren’t we discussing the issues generated by Westminster legislation and Conservative government? Could Ruth’s widely publicised support of the Rape Clause have anything to do with it? Or could it be the recently publicised revelations over the  improper and abusive social media behaviour of some of her party support and indeed new local authority councillors?  It must seem to the casual observer, when watching or listening to Ruth these days, if someone so much as mentions the ‘R’ word or Brexit, the subject changes faster than you can say ‘delete history’.

The gaffs on devolved issues are bad and bad enough, but having the media or the public look more closely at the legislation and nature of Conservative government and Conservative support in Scotland? Drawing people’s attention to what lies beneath the spin, the photo op and the soundbite? Don’t look over here, look over there springs to mind. Manipulation by media and soundbite. A time honoured sport in political circles.

Some say a week is a long time in politics. In a little over a week Ms Davidson has come dangerously close to proving that adage accurate beyond all reasonable doubt.

The Tory party aren’t the nasty party. That’s the message Ruth wants to send. That’s the face we are to be presented with. If there isn’t a convenient photo op to hand, then the focus is to be upon devolved issues and a shouty, pointy fingered and pure dead serious Ruth being all concerned about folks welfare.

As far as yer average policy wonk is concerned, people having short memories? They’ll never be any the wiser… etc.

In my opinion ‘nasty’ seems somehow a little weak and inadequate. Conservatism to me, through words and policy, unreservedly stands full square behind societal division along lines of whom they deem worthy. In fact I’m pretty certain that their idea of unity may not exactly conform to the norm (sarky).

What we in Scotland experience today? I reckon this IS their idea of better togetherness. This IS their idea of union and unity. Their UK, their Britain, is a ‘know your place’ Britain. It is a deference Britain, a dog eat dog Britain, an isolationist Britain, but y’know, proud for all that.

Near as I can see, the defining traits appear to be fear, suspicion, envy and intolerance. Intolerance of anything that doesn’t fit, ain’t from around here, doesn’t conform. Under those terms I’m afraid I simply don’t qualify and for that I am profoundly and eternally grateful. I refuse to live constantly with fear and suspicion of our neighbours and friends. It’s not in me to feel envy or intolerance simply because I don’t or won’t understand.

I personally never have and never will vote Tory. They are the party of deference and exclusion, of ignorance and arrogance. They are the party of self. Don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve never been one for conformity or ‘knowing my place’ and today I mainly feel like standing on my feet and holding out my hand to new friends.