Monday, 27 June 2016

Boris' Balls

This could be the nightmare scenario.

Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister, Theresa May the Foreign Secretary, and Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Boris confesses to feel 'jolly sorry' about the the idea that Scotland would leave 'our wonderful United Kingdom.'  He delays enacting Article 50, and then delays it more, and finally decides not to pull out of the EU at all, saying that 'losing Scotland would be too high a price to pay,' and, 'we voted to escape from Brussels, not from Edinburgh.' Boris dismisses Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum for Scotland. 

Boris does not have the balls to exit the EU and lose Scotland.

But then the nightmare gets worse. Because now, after an EU Referendum that was just a very complicated way of choosing a new Tory leader, we have a further right Tory Government (as Nicola Sturgeon warned us) with more austerity cuts and a lock-down on migration. The Labour Party does another round of back-stabbing, and continues to be wholly ineffective as an opposition.

Poor people and people with disabilities have their benefits cut further by 'Super-Austerity' Chancellor Michael Gove. Migrants are made to feel thoroughly unwelcome with discriminatory legislation put in place by Theresa May. The Human Rights Act is revised to make it 'more flexible.' Read 'V for Vendetta' and you'll see where my nightmare comes from.

Westminster, the London media led by the Daily Mail, and a xenophobic campaign of fear have combined to persuade the voters of England to leave the EU. They have brought on a sharp right turn in the Tory party. 

And they have once again imposed all of this on Scotland, against Scotland's express will. How long can we live with this nightmare?

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Scotland, Spain, Catalonia

Do you want to help promote Scotland's position in the EU? Do you live in Spain, Catalonia, Galiza, Euskadi, or one of the other nations of the Iberian Peninsula?

With Pilar Aymara, I'm reaching out to anyone who wants to help keep Scotland in the EU. We'd like to talk to you about:

How to best support Scotland's case to remain in the EU
What we should do to maintain our own position as EU citizens

Please pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested.

Twitter; @serosedker



Friday, 24 June 2016

Goodbye, Little England

It has been a long relationship, with lots of good stuff and lots of not so good. But now it is time to say goodbye.

Not to Europe, but to England. 

Scotland has voted to Remain and that is precisely what we should do. Whatever weirdness happens in Westminster, and it is going to get pretty weird (Farage for PM, anyone?), we should be backing Nicola Sturgeon as she fights to keep Scotland in Europe. 

We have voted for the workers' rights, for the openness, for the wider international view that Europe offers. We must not be denied that, whatever happens.

Three further points:
The vote in England illustrates the divisive politics of Westminster, which coddles London and the South East and abandons the rest. The demarcation between the people Westminster cares for and the people it does not is marked by the Leave/Remain divide in England.

Scotland's politics and its politicians have been much more inclusive. The gender equal cabinet, Nicola Sturgeon's response to the Belgian bombings - she gave her statement in a mosque, next to the Imam, to emphasise Scottish inclusion - the range of sexualities of our leaders, all of these help to ensure that more people feel that Holyrood represents their interests. When you feel that a parliament takes an interest in you, you take time to listen to what your politicians say.

Nicola's campaign in Scotland was outstanding. She was the only UK political leader who stated clearly, and repeatedly, the positive benefits (workers' rights, women's rights, travel, business) of EU membership. She never tried to frighten us. And she won. Perhaps there is a lesson there for the Westminster scaremongers.


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Breaking, Catalonia

Remember before the September 2014 Independence Referendum in Scotland, when there were rumours that MI5 was undermining the Yes case? I thought it was all conspiracy hoo-haa.

But the news, today, from Catalonia is that the Minister of Justice in Madrid, Jorge Fernandez, and the head of the 'Catalan Antifraud Office' in Barcelona, Daniel de Alfonso, had a conversation in 2013 that was secretly recorded. The tape has been released, and it is clear (a) that both men were searching for a way of finding leading pro-independence Catalan politicians guilty of fraud and (b) the Spanish President (Mariano Rajoy) knew that this was going on.

This news comes just 3 days before Sunday's state-wide election. It will not damage the right-wing Partido Popular (their voters seem immune to the corruption and bad government of their party) but it will finish any hope in the short term of a reconciliation between Madrid and Barcelona.

Anyone got a tape of Theresa May talking to MI5 about dropping a corruption charge on Alex Salmond, around late summer, 2014?

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Nicola's Right

The EU Referendum turns out to be a simple vote. Here, electors, are your voting choices:

David Cameron, Tory Right

Boris Johnson, Tory Further Right

Both of these splendid fellows studied at Eton. Both live comfortable, wealthy lives at the top of English society, so they are ideally placed to lead their fellow citizens and then to receive the Knighthood they so richly deserve.

It's not much of a choice, but as Nicola Sturgeon pointed out yesterday

 "a ‘Leave’ win would be a victory for politicians who actually believe George Osborne and David Cameron are moderates, and it would leave Scotland at their mercy. Outside the EU but within the UK, with most economic power still concentrated at Westminster, Scotland would be left vulnerable to the most right-wing Tory government in modern history."

This new government, created out of a vote which on the surface is about the EU, would be right-wing in every respect. 

Austerity and cuts that would affect poor people, not the rich. The removal of employment laws that protect the street-cleaner, not the banker.

And the horrible undertone of racism that has been central to the Leave campaign, where 'immigration' is the vote-winning ghoul that Johnson, Gove and Farage invoke. 

If you, dear reader, are like me an EU migrant then you can expect to be pilloried by a Boris Johnson government. And if you are Ahmed, or Reem, or Rajshree or Aliyah or anyone else that Leave can paint as an 'immigrant' then you can expect much worse from a right-wing Westminster government untroubled by human rights legislation, workers' rights or any other of the pesky EU regulations.

The EU Referendum is a vote about the Tory Party. I am only going to ask you to do this once in my life; 

"Vote Right, not Further Right."


Monday, 6 June 2016

Dear Aymara

23rd June 2036

Dear Aymara

Happy 20th birthday!

When your dad - my son - met your Mum in that refugee detention centre in Greece back in 2015 her situation was desperate. She had escaped with her sister from the cluster bombs of Aleppo and then spent three months walking across Turkey trying to avoid the kidnappers and the people-traffickers.

You were born on the day that Britain voted to stay in Europe.

Thanks to a massive vote in Scotland in favour of staying in, the UK voted 51% to 49% to remain. It was horribly close. The campaign for the EU Referendum was particularly nasty, focusing on migration in a way that hinted at, even if it did not directly condone, discrimination. This was especially ironic in Britain whose islands were populated by migrants who had settled there after the last ice age, and then by endless waves of peoples - Romans, Vikings, Normans… after that. Britain had been the source of huge migrations to Canada, the USA and Australia, and then had taken back the people of the world either as refugees (the Jewish children and the Norwegian resistance during WWII) or because it needed the labour force. The result is that the Glasgow I know and love is a wonderful mixture of Vikings and Pakistanis, of Picts and Italians (Mr Nardini in Largs always made the best ice cream!), of Afro-Caribbeans and Irish.

I am a migrant, one of the hundreds of thousands who has taken advantage of the EU to move to Catalonia (remember your tenth birthday, when we cerebrated Catalonia becoming independent? That was a p-a-r-t-y!!!) You spent last year as an Erasmus student in Paris being a migrant. You and I know that migrants are good for their adopted country; you were able to help your new friends in Paris to understand what happened in Syria all those years ago and I saw the lovely pictures of the dinner you cooked for them; dolmades from Greece, Kebab Halabi from Aleppo and cranachan from Scotland!!

In the end the EU referendum was not about migration. It could never be about migration in a country made by migrants. It was about beliefs.

The closeness of the vote, like the Referendum in Scotland two years previously, made us all think. What did we believe in? Did we believe in a US style of capitalism, focused on individual freedoms? Or in the European style of welfare state that protects people who are poor, in pain or in need?

Thanks to the EU Referendum our special European model, the welfare state, was revived.

That meant the end of a set of political beliefs started when I was about your age by a Westminster leader called Margaret Thatcher. She believed (it sounded reasonable at the time) that if you cut back on the state's responsibilities and cut taxes, the rich would be encouraged to be more entrepreneurial, building new businesses and creating new jobs. The result would be that the wealth would 'trickle down' to the poor.

By the time you were born (under a different prime minister called David Cameron - but I doubt you know his name, he left no mark in history) it was obvious that this idea, called 'neoliberalism', did not work. The gap between the rich and the poor had widened. Not only had neoliberalism made hundreds of thousands of people in the UK poorer, it had allowed people of wealth to stash away billions in secret hiding places, including many former British colonies. The wealth was not trickling down. It was bleeding out.

The people of the British isles - migrants all of us - voted for our belief in a welfare state.  The revival of the welfare state has finally started to close the gap between wealth and poverty. You and I and 500 million other people across Europe have benefited in the last 20 years from the results of that choice by the people of Britain. We have had opportunities - from your education to my pension - that we might not have had, had Britain voted itself out of the arms of Europe.

Enjoy every day of that - your birthday especially.