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And Scotland… May 1, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Scotland, Scottish Politics.
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UK Polling Report makes a great point on foot of the latest polling results in Scotland…

MORI’s Scottish poll shows, as ever, a huge SNP lead. Topline figures are CON 17%, LAB 20%, LDEM 5%, SNP 54% (tabs). This would be enough for the SNP to win just about everywhere. A measure of just how vast the change has been in Scotland is that we are no longer surprised by polls showing the SNP with huge landslide leads in Scotland – we should be. A thirty-four point lead for the SNP in an area that Labour has consistently won since the 1960s is astounding and appears to be a true realignment in Scottish politics.

And continues:

We end up paying to the rest of the country because England and Wales are on a knife-edge while the outcome of Scotland appears settled, it’s just a question of how colossal the SNP landslide is, but it’s good to sit back occasionally and gawp at the scale of the turnaround in Scottish politics since a year ago.

It is indeed astounding, and even if it doesn’t lead to a total wipeout of all others, and who can possibly tell at this point whether it will or will not, it suggests that there has been a fundamental shift in the nature of politics within the UK. Within the UK because, of course, Scotland remains within the UK.

There’s a lot of loose talk about the legitimacy of post-election governments, Nick Clegg has, rather self-servingly given he is about to see a first-hand example of the meaning of the term attrition applied to his own party, argued that the party with the largest number of seats is the only credible party for government – and this has obvious ramifications if say the Tories are a few ahead of the LP.

Those of us who live in more complex/chaotic/somewhat more representative polities will know that it ain’t necessarily so, that it is all about who can get the majority and in whatever way. Given that joint programmes of their nature distort the programmes parties go into elections hawking the idea of some sort of purity conveyed by more numbers is chimerical.

And it’s telling to see a sub-argument of this argue that a government supported either explicitly or indirectly by the SNP is somehow illegitimate being put about too. Of course that too is about shutting down options, and in particular making it more difficult for the LP to gain power.

But it makes no real sense (particularly) if the hegemonic party in Scotland is the SNP after the next election. Because Scotland remains, particularly after the referendum, a part of the Union. Nor is that likely to change soon and rather than playing games with Scotland a real engagement on the part of London and London based parties might actually go some way to redressing the issues that have brought us to this point. Again one has to recall that the recent referendum was shaped by Cameron and the Tories explicitly to prevent the option of devolution max – the option that would almost certainly have commanded greatest support had it been on the ballot and an option that the SNP could live with. Moreover since the referendum the actions of the Tories have been blatantly antagonistic to the sentiment that saw the referendum a close run thing and that will power the SNP to an historic result this coming month.

One can argue that all this is the result of the referendum, but I think that too pat. More likely it is the result of many years of indifference and neglect and a sense that for all the talk of a union the reality was one of a centre that dominated and a periphery that was – for all that it had instruments of its own – peripheral.

But one way or another London, England, the rest of the UK, has to wake up to this new reality. Telling too that the DUP, hardly renowned for its political sensitivity and tact, is aware too of the dangers implicit in the current Tory line. They, perhaps, more than most, are able to comprehend genuine threats to the union. Perhaps they too understand, more than most, what has to be given away in order to retain that union.

Scotland and the Irish Left. September 8, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Scotland, The Left.
12 comments

Interesting to do a quick roundup of Irish left parties and their thoughts on Scotland as of late last week.

The SWP had the following , the SP was a little further back in time from earlier in the Summer.

Nothing from the Workers’ Party, at least not easily accessible on their site. Nothing too from Sinn Féin. Nor was there anything on the Irish Socialist Network site. Or the WSM.

On a tangent. I’m not sure about the design about any of the sites above. There’s no particularly happy medium between too much content (SP) and too little (SF, and WP). Frankly, a lot of them look pretty amateurish.

Polls on Scotland September 7, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Politics of Scotland, Scotland.
28 comments

The gap narrows, or is overtaken. Is that the right way of putting it? Sunday Times has Yes 51%, No 49%. This must rattle many an individual in the rUK. Even when Don’t Know’s are included it’s 47% Yes, 45% No.

And:

…another poll carried out by Panelbase for Yes Scotland found that no is leading 52% to 48% when undecided voters are excluded.

But that too indicates a tightening of the gap.

And lo, having read these signs, what’s this?

…the Observer has learned that a devolution announcement designed to halt the nationalist bandwagon is due to be made within days by the anti-independence camp.

The plan, in the event of a no vote, is that people from all parts of Scottish society – rather than just politicians – would be invited to take part in a Scottish conference or convention that would decide on further large-scale transfers of power from London to Holyrood.

Which:

The move is designed to reassure voters that by rejecting independence they will not be left with the status quo – but that more far-reaching constitutional change and devolution will definitely follow a no vote.

But wait, as noted earlier in the week, who was it, who against the entreaties of the SNP was determined not to place Devo Max on the ballot paper? Ah, yes, that’s right. The present government of the UK.

And more on Scotland… September 4, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Scotland.
10 comments

The sense of chickens coming home to roost in relation to Scotland is now very great in light of the near panic that seems finally to have overtaken parts of the British body politic give the polls showing a narrowing of the Yes/No gap in favour of the former. The markets are belatedly aware there may be ramifications, there’s talk about postponing the British General Election and the campaign itself trundles on with accusations of one thing or another and a general unpleasantness. Well, as to the latter, that’s perhaps overblown, but this referendum isn’t a small thing, it’s not the minor blip that clearly most of the Westminster parties expected, with Salmond defeated and the question shelved for another day.

And it seems to me that even if he does lose there’s a solidity to the arguments this time out that can only work in his and the SNP’s favour in the future, not least in that ever increasing vote upwards for independence. Independence is no longer an abstract, but something with economic, social and political heft. It’s implications are still being worked out, but they are being worked out and by a range of actors.

But in relation to chickens coming home to roost one of the most obvious problems – and this predates the referendum by quite some time, is the sense that no strong left argument in favour of the Union has been put forward because there’s no strong left to do so. It’s almost tragic the way in which Labour is extending itself northwards, because decades now of a functional centre or centre right approach is resulting in them having little or no authority. It may overstate matters to say that Scotland is more left wing than the rest of the UK, but it doesn’t really matter what the actuality is if the perception is strong enough. And that perception is that the rest of Britain has abandoned values that it still holds dear. That’s a massive point of distinction, and what’s more it is a political distinction that feeds into support for independence in a way that should have all at Westminster sitting up and taking notice if the vote does go their way on the day. The alienation from Labour, and from Britain, is therefore based not only on national identity alone but on a mixture of socio-economic approaches and ideology. Granted that may be overstating it slightly, but there’s no question that there’s a potency to the Yes campaign that hasn’t been seen before.

This isn’t to say that had there been thirty years of traditional social democratic governments uninterrupted in London then the SNP would inevitably be much less popular – there are other pressures feeding into this, but it is difficult not to believe that there would have been no effect.

And in a way the retreat from Scotland by the Tories – consider the number of MPs they have there now, is matched by a slower retreat by Labour. All this has been coming for years. All of it is, in a way, predictable. That it is only now dawning on those in London how serious the situation speaks, as ever, to the sheer ignorance and lack of attention there is of and to such matters. The truth is, as any of us who are familiar with London know, that Britain is a remarkably centralised state and there’s much less interest paid to its constituent elements than one might imagine or than there should be. That of course is not unexpected. Large states have a habit of functioning in this way. But its curious how blind those who should have known better have been.

By the by, one wonders if those who were so adamant that the referendum had to be a Yes or No binary choice between the status quo and independence instead of also having Devo Max as an option are now ruing that particular decision.

If Scotland opts for independence are we ready on this island? And are we ready if it doesn’t? September 3, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Scotland.
37 comments

Reading Liam Clarke here I’ve got to admit to having to agree with his broad assessment, come what may, YES or NO, the status quo ante is about to be shot to pieces in relation to the nature of the United Kingdom. And the likelihood of a Yes vote goes up somewhat on foot of the latest YouGov poll which records the narrowest gap between the sides so far, a gap that is narrowing in favour of a Yes, albeit still one with a No majority.

As Clarke notes, part of this is because in order to save the Union the main UK parties have pledged jointly to offer something closer to Devo Max.

The joint commitment, signed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, says: “We support a strong Scottish parliament in a strong United Kingdom and we support the further strengthening of the parliament’s powers.” They pledge to act quickly to grant Holyrood more autonomy, whoever wins the next general election.

This may well inadvertently give Alex Salmond sufficient cover if the vote does turn out to be a No, in that he can point to having pushed the parties and UK government towards a position closer to that of the SNP by the very process of going for a referendum. It may not of course, but that’s as may be.

And what of the other issues and aftereffects? This from the BBC is quite useful as an overview.

Clarke suggests that Scotland might be able to gain up to 60% control of its revenue including corporation tax. Reading the positions of the other UK parties that seems a little on the high side. But 40% might be there or thereabouts and corporation tax – perhaps.

Though as Clarke suggests, if Scotland did get control of that it could play havoc for the North:

Imagine, for example, that Scotland got control of corporation tax and reduced it, like the Republic. How would we attract inward investment with two neighbouring regions that have lower rates of business tax, a better industrial infrastructure and a more stable political system whose leaders can actually take hard decisions?

Note that last, by the way. Everyone in the orthodoxy loves hard decisions, often because they don’t fall on them. But the central point is well made. There’s little doubt that Salmond’s approach of lower taxes increased spending is something that would bring massive unease to any of us who lived through the last decade and a half in this state but if Scotland does go down a certain route, well, it won’t just be a problem for NI either.

And as Clarke also notes, while the North might get similar powers it’s not really in great shape to make the best use of them, not least due to its size. Now some of us might argue that that is a strong (and entertainingly paradoxical, given the argument on the island of Britain) argument for closer North/South integration on such matters, but… will that happen?

In any event, on a political level:

The whole image of the UK would be changed and weakened in a way that would challenge unionists and encourage republicans and nationalists.

And this holds true in both a Yes or a No. The United Kingdom as we have known it is fundamentally altered. As noted by Clarke, a No with a strong Yes vote means that it remains upon the table in perpetuity.

I still think No will shade it. But I’m a lot less certain of that than I once was. And having long been supportive of independence (even this rather curtailed independence on offer) I’m increasingly tending to the view that a Yes would perhaps be good for the rUK as for Scotland, shaking it out of a decades, perhaps century or more, long torpor as regards its constitutional situation – about what it is and what it is not.

And by the way, what of this from the BBC?

A recent poll, the Future of England Survey, suggested English voters want the UK government to take a much tougher stance on Scotland if if decides to remain part of the Union. More than half, 56%, felt public spending in Scotland should be reduced. Nearly two thirds (66%) think Scottish MPs should be prevented from voting on English laws.

A tougher stance if it remains. Yeah, sure, that’ll work.

More on Scotland April 29, 2014

Posted by guestposter in Scotland, Scottish Politics, The Left.
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…from Colm B, a comment on the context in Scotland that I thought is perfect as a post…

Living and working in Glasgow, talking to neighbours and in-laws etc. and being involved in the Radical Indepedence Campaign, my impression is that a real shift is happening. This time last year, I think, most people felt that there was little prospect of a Yes victory but now theres a real feeling that its up for grabs and people have become much more engaged with the debate.

IMHO the reason for this change is two-fold: firstly the No Campaign has been abysmal, based almost entirely on establishment figures making increasingly ludicous threats about the catastrophy that will befall Scotalnd if we vote Yes. This has largely back-fired as more and more people are alienated by the negativity of that campaign and also by the way its treating the public as kids who can be scared by unveiling a procession of bogeymen.

On the Yes side while Salmonds undoubted skill as a politician, and the main Yes Campaigns largely positive message, have played a major role in the increasing support, the other factor has been the surge in ‘non-nationalist’ campaigning and arguments for a Yes vote. This surge has seen the growth of a dynamic youthful grassroots campaign spearheaded by RIC but also invlolves a multiplicity of organisations such as Women for Indepedence etc. The No campaign is about grandees making pronouncements and media campaigning but it is comprehensively out-matched on the ground in terms of canvassing, leafleting, public meetings etc. This is partly explained by reliance on Labour Party campaigners who seems to consist largely of councillors and their hangers-on: no match for the mass of enthusiastic Yes campaigners who go far beyond the pool of SNP members/supporters.

But a word of caution before you put your money on a Yes vitory: all the inidcations are that the No side is still ahead and one should not forget that we are talking about the break-up of the British state here and that state’s ruling class will not just sit back and let this happen, so the odds are still against a Yes vote winning. All Im saying is there’s a real contest on now.

BTW For most people involved in the RIC the real battle begins the day after the referendum when the shape of the new Scotland begins to emerge and hopefully we have a powerful radical left movement in place ready to play a decisive role in that process.

Meanwhile… in Scotland April 28, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Scotland.
8 comments

Reading this in the Guardian at the weekend…

Daniel and Janice McIntyre, 73 and 65, sitting in their silver Seat car with the Scottish lion rampant flying from the car aerial, were emphatic that neither they nor their neighbours would ever vote yes. But Mr McIntyre, a retired engineer, felt depressed about the direction and health of the pro-UK campaign – capturing a mood that many believe is behind a surge in support for independence. “I must admit that on the television, all the debate programmes, that yes come out on top. I’m sorry to say that,” he said.

“I think the no is very weak. They’re not putting it across and even when the prime minister … or some of the cabinet comes down to Scotland, they seem to say the wrong things: they’re just saying things that annoy the Scots.”

…it struck me that while it is somewhat dodgy to anthropomorphise political processes and dynamics the responses there (and after all perhaps given that politics is about humans therefore this is small surprise) are reminiscent of nothing so much as a relationship that has failed, that point where whatever is said however reasonable or benevolent in other circumstances will simply not be interpreted as such by those who it is said to.

That, naturally, doesn’t mean anything in relation to the numbers who are disenchanted with the union, but it does suggest a significant degree of alienation amongst many – albeit in different ways.

Matt Lygate – Scottish Socialist Republican January 24, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Scotland, The Left.
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Matt Lygate, Scottish Socialist Republican, died in the last few days. He had a fascinating career and more on that can be read here in a fine remembrance. He also was strongly influenced by Irish Socialist Republicanism. And as Jim Lane notes:

[he] supported Saor Eire in the 1960’s and spoke at a public meeting here in Cork under the auspices of Saor Eire in December, 1968. Meeting was held at our premises 9, St. Nicholas Church Place, Cove St. Cork.

Scotland, North Sea Oil and The Report that was brushed under the carpet…. January 13, 2012

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Scotland.
3 comments

There’s been a good bit of talk about a Referendum on Scottish Independence recently as the SNP came to power in Scotland.
It turns out that a report was written in 1975 at the UK governments behest and subsequently buried …

It was a document that could have changed the course of Scottish history. Nineteen pages long, Written in an elegant, understated academic hand by the leading Scottish economist Gavin McCrone, presented to the Cabinet office in April 1975 and subsequently buried in a Westminster vault for thirty years. It revealed how North Sea oil could have made an independent Scotland as prosperous as Switzerland

How black gold was hijacked: North Sea Oil and the betrayal of Scotland

 

Scottish Socialist Party Election Manifesto April 15, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Scotland, The Left.
6 comments

I’ll be looking at the Scottish Elections soon, but in the meantime here’s the Scottish Socialist Party Manifesto. [Many thanks to D_D for sending the link].

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