Tuesday, 18 April 2017

How can we best fight for democracy?

For me this General Election vote is about how can we best fight for democracy? The real fact is we DO NOT have democracy in the UK.

The Tories get elected on 30% of the vote in England and only one MP in Scotland, and with only around 60% bother. Many feel their vote doesn’t count, what kind of democracy is that? We have a first past the post rather than promotional representation – they have had PR democracy in Scandinavia for the past hundred years.

**The system in the UK has historically always been about a small elite dictating to the rest of the country**. 

According to Turkish author Elif Safak – there is now no left or right in politics – rather bridge builders or wall builders; humanists or tribalism.
Democracy requires - Rule of Law/ Separation of Powers/ Free Media/ Independent academia.

And do we really have democracy here, with no proportional representation, an unelected second chamber, few people voting, a controlled press?

All this constitutional wrangling, what does it all really mean?

Brexit looks likely, according to expert (??) David Davis we will loose out – although he has no figures so far! – Passporting rights for financial services, open skies cheap air fairs; access to the the biggest trading block and their partners; research and arts collaborations; skilled medical personnel; even football will suffer with a lack of transfers; UK farming and fishing will collapse.

Labour are not providing any kind of opposition at all.
Remind me – what are we gaining from Brexit so far? The big question is – is Brexit in the national interest?

And for Scotland this in-between limited devolved government is obviously unworkable. I don’t understand why some in Scotland don’t want what all other successful small countries have and take control at a local level their own government - and that no voters prefer to have an undemocratic right wing elite destroy lives here?  So far no one has explained this defeatism.  

Scottish Nationalism #scotref opposite of UKIP! We are Bridge builders, humanists, believe in Nordic values of local democracy. Not achievable Westminster!!

At this time it is most crucial that young people get out in BIG numbers to vote – because young people care about jobs, and the future ….. and NOT about harking back to a deluded past of empire 2.
Beware the Dictator offering simple solutions! 
Coalitions, that happen in most other countries, leads to fairer legalisation, more consultation and co-operation. How wonderful if people vote for democracy and stop Empress May from getting her evil right wing agenda done!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Why ScotRef is not about Nationhood it is about fighting the Rich Elites!

Yes it is about ‘grievance’ – not at the lack of ‘powers’ for Scotland – ‘grievance’ about the shameful ignorance, arrogance and greed of the rich establishment who fight against change every step of the way. Grievance also about the Unionist or rather British establishment media.

They are the real powers behind the Unionist charge. They keep their heads down but if you dig deeper you discover their hands on every lever – where its all about keeping their hands on the greasy tills and their back pockets getting richer.  I would like to bus these ‘quiet elites’ to the estates in the West of Scotland to spend a day with the young people there – young people with little expectations or hope, who live in dreadful poverty in a rich country. It’s a shameful disgrace.  

I lived abroad many years and I really noticed this ‘hidden rich elite’ on my return here to Scotland and the way they fight change of any kind, as it threatens their position on the greasy poles. I became convinced change could and will never occur in Westminster.  Its impossible.

 **As Cat Boyd in the National March writes –
“If we loose #Scot Ref – the British State will be stronger – there will be ever great inequality, more austerity, more detention centres.”
I agree with her sentiments. This time it cannot be about ‘Continuity Scotland’ – we need to be more radical. We must not only put forward a positive case for self-determination, but also the strong case against control by the British State and by the ever richer Elites.

“‘In 2014 Scotland moved to the centre of the radical imagination. We must be radical now... What we’re fighting for is too important - we’re fighting for Democracy, peace and equality...
This is also a fight against authoritarian Brexit.”  

Now we are safer and freer tied to a Europe that needs reform than the entrenched British establishment – but my preferred preference is to be in efta.
The question really is - how radical should we be now along with working to grow our economy for ALL citizen not just the few!?

Monday, 20 March 2017

Investigative Journalism is crucial

Investigative Journalism is crucial. More than ever in turbulent times it is essential to read competent investigative journalism. 

There is ‘mass media persuasion’. – which is from ‘Rulers’ who want power and don’t want dissent. Newspapers or tabloids like Daily Mail or Daly Express or Sun are emphatically NOT about presenting balances views (as some older voters believe) and they are controlled by the British establishment. They present only one point of view.

Literature is also about many diverse voices. Excellent article on the importance of the Arts and literature is particular, by Glasgow university professor Alan Riach on the Power of Mass Persuasion – The National March

The New York Times and the Washington Post have had a recent surge in subscribers as Americans seek to find out what is really going on.

The National Newspaper has Investigative Journalism.
Some may falsely believe the National is only one point of view – it is not! It carries right and left articles, in depth articles by Professors and experienced political journalists.

Channel Four news uses investigative journalist – in recent days they have been interviewing non-politicians and commentators, to look seriously at the issues around Scot Ref and Brexit. Rather than empty Political Rhetoric.

As a direct result of the 2008 economic crash, after which nothing has changed in the UK, people are desperate for change, any kind of change!  The trouble is the far right has taken over arguments with blaming immigrants!   

The best way to have debate is through informed discussion, and NOT by throwing around insults. Politicians need to learn this too and they dont' in Westminster that's for sure!

*We need Mature Debate: Nastiness in Press and Media

 These are real peoples lives in Scotland that we are considering with Brexit and Scottish independence -
And not just numbers on s spread sheet. Can we ever have a Grown up Debate??! On the NHS, children, old, disabled, entrepreneurs and on what really matters is –

In the mainstream press there is a great deal of “SNP bad, Nicola evil”! All this narrow rhetoric looks immature and childish.
These are very serious issues – shameful child poverty (the worst in the developed world) – limited infrastructure, investments, crumbling health service –

Meanwhile in Scotland they have pursued a joined up approach to health care and social service and I know my father had good at home care.

How are we best governed here? Scotland is simply asking for something that is normal – to have self-determination or home rule and to make our own decisions and to decide how best to use our resources. To hope for a “United Nations of Britain” – instead of an unequal, uncaring, bickering Union. This is not even a partnership, never mind a union!
This UK is NOT a union – it is control from London!

Unionists say this is the most successful ‘Political, cultural and economic union in global history! This is blatantly not true! Yes its wonderful if you live in London where all the resources go! This is not even a partnership, never mind a union!

Don’t ever, ever suggest otherwise. London sucks in all resources and keeps 70% - so while Londoners become rich, the rest of us must suffer in silence, I think not.

We have to ask – why are a few Etonians so well qualified as to make decisions for the rest of us? They believe if London is thriving, the rest of UK benefits. The trouble is their Casino roulette is built on quick sand and will surely collapse again.

I remember wondering back in the 80s, was the EU the best way? I even lived in America for 10 years. I returned here  to Scotland and I now believe our ties to Europe are much stronger and deeper. Unfortunately the extreme Europe sceptics of the Conservatives have followed an alterative path and see Britain future being tied to America. I have lived there and don’t believe America is a place Scotland should aspire to being.

Right to self determination

People are desperate for Change

We In Westminster are seeking back our own sovereignty, but we will not consider Scotland having its self determination or sovereignty.  

Brexit may take 10 years. SNP has 46% of the vote.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

United Nations of Britain

Thoughtful article Sunday Times 5th March, by David Goodhart on his new book ‘The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. He writes of the ‘Somewheres’ and the ‘Anywheres’,
I understand when he talks of the Liberal left of 2004, who believed (and still do) in the global good rather than the national good. I believe in crossing borders and seeing the bigger picture also. I also believe there are more against impersonal globalization and against the greed and destruction of the multi-nationals.

I guess some of us are both ‘Somewheres’ and the ‘Anywheres’. My parents are Irish, I was born in Manchester, grew up in Edinburgh and lived ten years in Chicago in my thirties. I returned to live north of Glasgow where my third son was born.

Recently I’ve been studying the fascinating history and culture of Scotland and I think its very important to have a sense of place and understand our heritage – so we can build a positive future. Ireland might be a good example with Brexit looming – where is their future? And have the Brexiteers thought what leaving Europe means for the farming, universities and industries further north?  

A United Nations of Britain?

When I visited the Dublin Irish writers museum I picked up a card that listed the best of them.
As I looked at the illustrations list I thought of all the great Irish culture and how much the world has benefitted from these Irish voices.
Which made me think also of Scottish voices – our innovations, our Scots songs, the Scottish Enlightenment. Then there are the wonderful Welsh choirs. I thought of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Turner, Wordsworth too and the great English writers and artists.

I thought of the nations of Scandinavia – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark – they were also once joined through a royal marriage.
For the past hundred years each nation has been able to offer the world its own unique voice and are stronger for it – while they are still the nations of ‘Scandinavia’. In fact their voices are an even clearer, unique and positive force in the world than ever before.
Finland offers one of the world’s best education system with highly trained teachers. Norway, Iceland and Denmark too offer a more collaborative approach to running society, that favours equality, fairness and hard work at its heart. All Scandinavian countries are flourishing as independent nations. There is no point looking at the US – the story there is so different - a newer place where each state is fairly autonomous and is more comparable to the EU.

Then I look at us here in this disunited kingdom of islands – the routes of division and discord, misunderstandings, wasteful squabbles, power sharing, disharmony, extreme inequality and class divisions. Many of these wounds run deep and will not easily heal, disappear or ever go away. There is really only a simple answer – to look over the North seas to our Scandinavian cousins and learn lessons of how self-determining nations are working in a healthy way both independent and together.

Perhaps we too on these islands, can be a United nations of Britain and I hope Britain does not only mean England? England has historically been reluctant to offer Scotland real federalism. This half way house of 30% tax and limited control of welfare is unworkable and for sure something has to give. This doesn’t compare well to other devolved nations or states in America  - such as Quebec, Catalonia – who control their immigration and taxes and broadcasting. Catalonia alone has four tv channels!

Knowing that Ireland used the pound sterling for 50 years after its independence, it was demoralising for our supposedly fair and equal union to hear that England would not allow Scotland to use the pound and also knowing that if the Bank of England refused to allow the use the pound, it would also have to refuse other countries access to do business in pounds sterling and was like shooting itself in the foot! Scotland felt bullied and told off like a naughty child told to go to its room to play with only the toys assigned to it.. 
Why would Scotland be like Greece – rather than Iceland, Norway or Denmark? We have more resources than Greece, better universities and R & D. Fear is not a good way to cement a happy union. Let us try to look forward with positive expectations.

It is strange Gillian Bowditch Sunday Times 5th March, sees Scotland as diminished by wanting what other nations have – I see Scotland instead as empowered and flourishing in the belief we are as confident, capable and able for self-determination as any other peoples!