Tag Archives: politics

McChange Of Plan

“Tonight on Newsnight Scotland, Scottish Politics takes a surreal turn, as Labour demand a referendum on indpendence”

Erm, right. I didn’t think that would happen.

So what’s Wendy Alexander up to? Apparently she’s listened to people. Now, it’s a fine time to finally listen to the people, after the SNP have been in power for a year. Maybe this is Brown finally cracking to a demand Wendy has made many times since taking power, certainly it doesn’t fit that Wendy would just come up with this and then be able to announce it.

Wendy claims the SNP are talking too much about independence without wanting to have the referendum. She’s even slated them for delaying the referendum, but in a way that showed she was basically unaware that the referendum was committed to 2010 in their manifesto. Further, Salmond himself was quoted a few days ago as saying that independence is not the matter in hand just now. Only thanks to Wendy is that the case.

There’s no turning back now, there will be a Scottish Independence Referendum. To steal Mr Dewar’s words. I Like That.

Shame the question will be a complete pain though. How on earth are Labour going to help draft a question? How can they do this positively? Wendy herself has ruled out a referendum on Calman Comission’s proposals, but she can surely change her mind on that – I’d hope for the sake of political sanity that she does.

The SNP, of course, already have their question out there, and more in the white paper that kicked off the national conversation. Indeed they’ve described a potential devolution max option which may well be what Calman and his commission deliver.

No-one wants to campaign for the status quo, and Labour are on a hiding to nothing if they have nothing positive to offer Scotland. A failed yes/no to independence referendum will not be an achievement for Labour, nor will it be the undoing of the SNP. It just confirms the position for a generation. No more, no less.

Meanwhile as I type this News 24 (up to the minute news from the BBC) are repeating a fascinating HardTalk interview with Alex Salmond.

BBC News 24 11:30PM Tuesday 6th May 2008 - HardTalk With Alex Salmond

I’m guessing they recorded it on Friday or Saturday. It seems a fragment of history already.

Why do Labour keep on losing?

I think it’s quite simple, they don’t understand that in bringing devolution to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London they’ve walked towards federalism – and that means giving power back from the centre, and sorting out the union. Something Labour seem terrified by.

Why did Labour lose in Scotland last year? Simple, they didn’t back extra powers for the parliament – if they had they’d have easily dealt with the growth in SNP support. But Brown said no. And yet now they’re on the back foot and scrambling to get Calman and co. to come up with a package of changes in powers to the settlement before the end of the year.

Why did Ken lose in London this week? Simple, Brown stood up to Ken and refused to let him run the tube his way. This stalled the modernisation programme, wasted billions, caused and nearly caused a dozen strikes, massively inconveniencing Londoners. On top of this, the vote has been really poor in the outer suburbs where the Department for Transport must take the blame for failing to act quickly enough on Ken’s requirements to roll out Oyster on suburban rail and ensure that suburban rail in London came up to the standards of the tube. Poor Ken had no option and no power to sort these issues. Neither will Boris, and it will be interesting to see if anyone suggests reform to the London settlement. It certainly needs something but no-one seems to have any ideas, a good start would be somehow getting the London Assembly noticed – to the average Londoner it doesn’t exist.

In both of these cases, had the understanding been there that devolution was a process not an event then people would not have wound up voting in local oppositions to central government in the fashion they now have. Further, the strange fascination with having a mayor has led to a somewhat pointless popularity contest. Were the mayor chosen by the assembly it is plausible that Ken could have still remained in power, Boris would have needed the vote of the BNP member and one other…

What I can’t explain is why with an increased turnout the BNP still got 5% of the London vote and a seat on the assembly. I can cope with Boris being mayor, but it really sickens me to know that some of my tax will pay salary to such a politician.

Us naughty Scots, how dare we…


Many’s the day I sat and chuckled with my Scottish mates back hame and laughed heartily at the deprivation we were forcing on poor Londoners by daring to be Scottish and hoping that investment from elsewhere in the union might raise the standard of living. Alas, I’ve now given in, headed south and I’m delighted that at least unlike the Eastern European migrants I don’t have to bother working hard to send money home cos the government does it for me. Perhaps that’s the benefit of being in the same union, if not nation.

Of course, the actual figures are somewhat interesting, but I don’t think London suffers for investment much, certainly not just now. And, the way things are going (with voters favouring independence) we’re probably well on the way to a federal UK. Which may actually be just what Salmond and SNP want:

The SNP is now urging Scots to move to the next level – full political independence. They seem to be nibbling, but there is a studied vagueness about exactly what full-scale independence would actually mean. The SNP propose to remain within the EU, retain the Queen as head of state, and keep sterling as Scotland’s currency, at least for the time being. This looks more like federalism, or perhaps confederalism than old-style 19th century nation-state nationalism. It could even be a form of “devolution max” that is being proposed by the Liberal Democrats.

Iain Macwhirter, The Guardian.

I’m not sure what exactly English Nationalists stand for, and I’ve never seen the SNP campaign in such a racist fashion, nor would I ever expect them to. I’ll voting Green first and Ken (Labour, natch) second come the election anyway.

Ironically, also years of the union hasn’t helped raise living standards much (as Macwhirter points out something like 500,000 poorly paid working class folk are going to lose out from the 10p tax rate), Scotland really needs quite substantial change much as London did, which Ken has delivered, but which can only happen with a government which, to an extent antagonises, and much more importantly challenges those in Westminster and takes advantage of what power it does have.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to Google the Commission For Racial Equality’s phone number.