Friday, 23 September 2016

Six-Party State

Westminster is befuddled about Brexit.

It is now 91 days since England voted us out of the EU, and there appears to be no plan, no action, and a divided Parliament.

We now have a six-party state:

  1. ToRemain
  2. TorLeave
  3. Labomb
  4. Labairns
  5. Libwhos
  6. SNP

ToRemain is the not-so-far-right part of the Tory Party, who would really like to forget the EU Referendum and stay in the EU, whilst tinkering mildly with the rules on free movement. These ideas are supported by all kinds of people including Martin Wolf, chief economist at the Financial Times, who calls the Referendum 'consultative.'

TorLeave are the crazies who are currently in the lead in the Cabinet, who want a hard Brexit. BoJo wants out, now, whatever the consequences.

Labomb supports the renewal of Trident. The UK Parliamentary party at Westminster wants to blow £100 billion on the bomb, whilst keeping it upwind of Glasgow (just in case the Branch Office revolts).

Labairns is the tiny Scottish Branch Office of the former Labour Party. It is opposed to the renewal of Trident, favouring #BairnsNotBombs. As the very irreverent Wings Over Scotland pointed out this week (a) the bomb is a reserved issue and (b) the tiny wee Scottish Branch Office can't outvote the big boys and girls in Westminster - the numbers just don't add up.

Libwhos are the hirsute rump of the LibDems or Liberals or whatever they used to call themselves. They have no policy apart from reminding us that they didn't enjoy being in bed with the Tories last time.

Which leaves just one coherent, effective, political party at Westminster. A party that turns up for debates in the Chamber, that makes good strong points about policies that matter - Mhairi Black's continuing battle for women's pensions is a great example - and that is clearly against the Bomb, and the bombs. It's a beautiful irony that the SNP is the only functioning political unit in the English Parliament.

There is a parallel with the situation in Spain; Madrid is unable to form a government because it also has multiple parties which are unable to agree with each other; PP, PSOE, Ciutadans, Podemos, and others including the Catalan parties Esquerra Republicana and the Partit Demòcrata Català. The two Catalan parties have their differences, but both stand for one clear policy; independence for Catalonia.

Scotland needs to free itself from the horrible mess that is Westminster - to free itself from Westminster's wars and its Trident bomb, from Westminter's neoliberal politics and from the inequalities that creates. 

We must do this before a confusion of Tories, led by an unelected Prime Minister, drags Scotland out of the EU.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

One More Munro

We have one more hill to climb. It's a Munro, old and craggy, with boggy burns blocking our path, impossible cliffs and dangerous scree slopes.

This Munro is right in the middle of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Stirling, Inverness and Perth. It's all over the Fife and Ayrshire coasts, and it's out in Gullane and St Andrews.

It is the Munro of the older Scots. The population over 55 who appear to be voting as much as 80:20 against independence.

We can stand at the bottom of the hill and rant and rage at it, shouting at the people on the top that they are not thinking about the bairns, about their grandchildren and the future. But that's not going to get us up there.

We have to study this mountain, listen to it, look for the climbing line that will get us there.

The SNP's listening project is a good start, but we will have to do more. Think about the concerns of the 75 year old who voted 'No' two years ago, her fears for her home, her pension. But also the image she has of a Great Britain that survived the threat of invasion and fascism, of the  people in her and her parent's generation who rebuilt Britain.  That pride in a unified British response to threat. And years of postwar Westminster governments that genuinely tried to bring the white heat of technology to every corner of the British Isles.

When she was young and interested in politics - like you are now - Britain under Labour and Tories felt like a fairer place. By the time the real unfairness arrived, as neoliberalism took hold of both main parties at Westminster, she had lost interest.

Her views haven't shifted much in the last thirty years. For her, today, independence means breaking up a place she still thinks of as 'Great'. Great enough to stand alone outside Europe - yes, she voted Leave in the EU Referendum.

She is the mountain. How do we help her to understand that the country she remembers has been ravaged by Westminster? How do we show her that she, and the weans, will be better off in an independent Scotland?

We start by listening to the mountain. Her concerns and her prejudices,
in the positive and negative sense of that word. Then we try to give her an answer; help her understand that the Westminster that provided for her when she was young has lost interest in Scotland, that it has lost interest in anyone who is poor or dispossessed, and that Holyrood has taken on that mantle. That Scotland has been caught in another war, a hidden war, a battle of the classes in which, inevitably, the wealthy of South East England won. Now we have to rebuild Scotland, just like she and her sisters did after WWII. We need her help to do that.

One more mountain. From the top, I can see freedom.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Cha-ching! The HInkley Bonus

Thank goodness for the Conservative Party. Without them, Scotland's independence cause would be so much poorer.

The potential independence bonus just got £1.8billion bigger, thanks to the Tories and their utterly ridiculous Hinkley Point decision. That £1.8bn is the approximate population share of the cost that people in Scotland - a country which is now generating more than half its electricity from renewables - will pay for building a madness of a £18bn nuclear power station. 

That's £18bn at current prices. You may rely on the cost going sky-high (just like you can rely on the roof of the reactor going sky-high at some point, blighting Somerset and Western England for generations).

If Scotland were independent it would not have to pay for Hinkley Point.

Add to this the Scottish population share of the equally nuclear but horribly more murderous Trident missile system (our share would be around £10bn-£20bn, and rising), and you are looking at an independence bonus of perhaps £12bn-£20bn. 

That's an independence bonus of between £2,200-£3,750 per person.

It is equivalent to the total expenditure on health, wellbeing and sport in the 2016-17 Draft Budget for Scotland, planned for £13 billion. 

Independence will make everyone in Scotland better off. And by pulling Scotland out of the Tories' mad nuclear plans, we will be richer, more sustainable, and safer.