Saturday, 29 September 2012

Perspectives – Something that is Lacking in Labour.

At the end of the day life is about perspectives. The interesting thing about perspectives is that they’re personal. It’s why we don’t always [or often] all agree, and it’s why on those rare occasions that most of us do agree it’s called a common perspective. 

The common Scots political perspective is social democracy, we don’t all agree with that all the time, but it’s reasonably accurate for most of us, most of the time. It’s emphasised by our voting tendencies.

To any individual capable of thought and wishing to secure an elected position in our nation it means any policies pursued should fit into the realm of being social or democratic. Those who can tick both boxes you might just be approaching a sure thing, deliver and watch the trust build. Fail to deliver, as the Liberal-Democrats discovered, and there will be a price for the betrayal.

Johann Lamont, Labour’s latest leadership incumbent north of the border went out of her way the other night to ensure she didn’t check either box. In fact she went so far as to take a rubber and remove the options of either social or democratic from the paper itself.

This was her effective promise to us.

It didn’t matter that she didn’t actually wield a piece of paper with strikethroughs over these two words, Social and Democracy.

Collectively that’s what we perceived she did. Twitter and Facebook lit up with it, a great many column inches were dedicated to it. People in the streets, including the average committed and dedicated Labour voter are left sadly shaking their heads. Shaking their heads and for the first time for many of them, though they may not yet realise it, they are now considering a “Yes” vote.

Ms. Lamont’s Newsnight announcement of future Labour policy was announced in dictatorial fashion, like a manifesto it has been embedded in our collective consciousness. There was no consultation of Labour members we heard of, no party conference discussion, no apparently collective decision making.

It was a decidedly Stalinesque media announcement by the red party that certainly wasn’t socialist and it assuredly wasn’t democratic.

Our perspectives are now in the process of being shifted again, but this time they’re not being nudged just by a fraction, this time our perspectives are taking the full brunt of a 10’ long 2x4 beam across the forehead. And it’s not being wielded gently.

New Labour, Scotland’s traditional party will be removing social equality from our land.

Cut away the fluff, strip the dressing, and dump the salad and desert, that’s the basic statement from Labour in Scotland. The meat in the oratory was “Just like England” and “Death to social equality, death to opportunity”.

That’s as blunt as it gets, like the individual hit by the 2x4 the average Unionist Scot has to absorb the blow, overcome the pain and shock, they have to comprehend what’s happened and they have to rationalise it as part of their healing process.

That rationalisation falls into three roughly even categories, “they didn't mean it” will account for a small amount of voters, those who refuse the evidence of YouTube, the media or their own often neglected research. Fundamentally these are the deniers in any society.

Then there are the justifiers, those who will look for any reason to accept the actions just perpetrated on them, and they’ll come up with everything from “it’s really not needed” to “we just can’t afford it anyway” through “It’s really my fault, you know”.

Over the coming months as the impact is processed we can expect the deny-ers and justifiers to make up the smallest portion of these previously “secure” Union votes.

Lastly we’ll have the realists, the ones who look into what’s on offer, and they’ll see that where Scotland’s Labour Party would have them walk is down the path of social inequality, of unbridled capitalism and of relative deprivation for most individuals.

For the majority this vision will not sit well with their perception of a fair, free and socially democratic land.

These are the ones who will realise that the raft of services proposed for elimination will not only remove some fundamental and unique aspects of our culture, but they will hurt us all universally.

Consider the average taxpayer, if we have no children our taxes still go for schools, we accept that, it’s a cultural and social necessity. That’s just one example.

We all pay in to support the common good of society, those who don’t pay their fair share are criminals or sociopaths; there really are no other words for them. These individuals reap our hard bought benefits and don’t contribute. That’s abhorrent.

Now consider Johann Lamont’s proposals, they’d lead to the re-introduction of means testing on an across society basis, that would be hugely expensive, demeaning and just as abhorrent.

Ms. Lamont proposes that those who can’t afford to pay, whose means tests prove they’re poor, deprived, or otherwise “worthy” of state aid will still have free access to services.

Ms. Lamont’s just alienated the poor, just as effectively as ATOS alienates the disabled. She has erected barriers in our society.

Ms. Lamont’s also put Labour in a place of alienating the rich. She’s telling them that their extra taxes they pay on their extra income will now be used to help the poor, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but she’s also telling them they’ll be taxed again, because the benefits they’re paying their extra taxes for will not be available to them or their children. They’ll have to pay again if they want those benefits.

Not only will the rich pay more, they’ll pay twice and then some. There’s no world in which that’s a fair shake. It’s a shakedown.

Ms. Lamont’s also alienated the middle classes, because she’s introducing uncertainty. Where will elderly care go? Where will the levels be set to qualify? Will my band D home suddenly have to pay for rubbish collection while the band C is exempted? Why should I pay £10,000 more for my daughter’s education than the McDonald’s next door when I only make £2,000 a year more?

As soon as we create a society of “I get but you don’t”, we create societal fractures. In Ms. Lamont’s world the poor could get free university without encumbrances, the middle class can scrimp and save and endure decades of debt so that their children have “equal” opportunity. This policy is proving a disaster in England, why bring it here unless you've simply been ordered to?

Mundane to extreme examples perhaps, but these are perceptions that are being created.

A fair tax system is where taxes are paid universally, with an increasing but not undue or inappropriate burden on the wealthy, and all share equally in the benefits of the taxes. VAT can’t be removed from children’s shoes only if you make less than twice the average wage.

Society has arguable obligation to provide food and shelter to all, at a basic level, with some limitations that society allocates. There’s no question these should be income based provisions.

Everything else in society should be provided as it is paid for, to every citizen. That is a fair society.

An unfair society will expect the folk in the band D house to pay more tax, to support charity, to invest in their children’s future as they also have to save for that education while being taxed for another child’s school.

Members of a fair society should simply expect severely unfair treatment to cause these supporting individuals to move. It’s like any relationship, if we perceive we are being treated inappropriately, we first tend to try to work out the issues, but if irreconcilable differences are there then we’ll tend to leave the relationship.

Scottish Labour just gave every appearance of reaching the “irreconcilable differences” point with many of their supporters; it will spill over into the referendum vote and future elections.

Labour achieved “irreconcilable differences” through proposing severely unfair treatment across Scotland’s franchise. The visit to the “decree absolute” stage may take time for many, but it is road they will travel. Even Tory London didn’t dare go so far so quickly.

Even Tory London would be aware that if just 1/3 of Scotland’s defence under-spend was used in Scotland then all these programs could not just be maintained, but increased, and we’re not even touching the savings through scrapping Trident.

Even Tory London would be aware that not only could these programs be expanded by doing this but that we’d be able to increase our military substantially, reversing London’s cuts.

Tory London also knows that even after all that was achieved there’d be money remaining to invest in either infrastructure or begin a sovereign wealth fund. Just from the defence under-spend.

Tory London appears to know something that formerly Labour Scotland doesn't  and that’s why Labour in Scotland is working so hard to alienate all social levels of Scots society. Then again perhaps they have also been left wondering where that 2x4 came from, because it certainly doesn’t seem to have helped the “Better Together” cause at all.

“Better Together” is now severely compromised, because no matter the future damage control, no matter the policy or leadership changes in the next two years, the memory of the words uttered by Johann Lamont will remain fixed in the perception of many an average Scot.

The average non-politically inclined Scot now knows fully what’s on offer from the Union, and judging from the media and street reaction, they don’t like what they perceive at all.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Britain’s Unequal Society – where you can be stopped from marrying.

Didn't we all have a wonderful day at the march in Edinburgh on Saturday? I know I did. However I’ve decided I won’t blog about it as many others will and I reckon they will do it admirably. Therefore, back to the blog in hand.

No, the title is not a typo. The United Kingdom, David Cameron’s vaunted golden land, home to the latest Olympics, proclaimed as a beacon of democracy, the “Mother of Parliaments”, and a place of freedom and enlightenment.

What Westminster projects, acclaims and espouses continues to walk farther and farther from reality as each new initiative passes. Administration after administration, Labour, Conservative or coalition, the steps made to equalise society between 1945 and 1965 have been eroded.

When it comes to inequality, we in good ol’ Blightey universally rank in the top ten, it really doesn’t matter which indices are checked, the butcher’s apron is right there nudging the top of the list.

This is not the dream of the average person.

The latest raft of policies and proposed new immigration laws being brought to the legislative table proposed or under serious consideration includes such issues as special immigration lines for “high value individuals”. The only time that any individual should gain precedence in any system is for either a medical emergency or a credible threat to wellbeing.

Saving twenty minutes because your cheque book is fatter should never be a consideration.

Then there’s the new immigration laws, they amount to an obscenity of inequality. A system whereby Scots are additionally unfairly treated in comparison to the South East. In fact, this is a situation where everyone else in these unequal shores is treated in a discriminatory fashion with respect to London.

The laws appear equitable on the surface, setting basic income thresholds for certain immigration criteria. That appears fine at first glance until one understands that there’s no national or regional differentiation allowed.

The unequal aspects that need addressed, but will not be, aren’t those where someone willing to put £5 million into a UK bank gets two years shaved off their residency requirements, or 3 years off for really good behaviour, AKA a £10 million deposit.

No, the unequal aspect that really needs addressed is the effective marriage ban on anyone making less than about $22,000 a year. That’s right, meet, love, marry whomever you want, but if you make less than £22,400 a year you won’t be living in the UK. 


Home Office

This overall provision makes even the United States draconian immigration laws look positively benevolent.

Where it gets worse is that £22,000 isn’t the same dependent upon where you live. Londoner’s have much higher salaries, employeebenefits.co.uk notes that salaries paid to Londoner’s are £10,000 higher than those paid to the rest of the UK.

In simple English, or in Westminster speak if preferred, a mechanic in Putney can get married to his Sweetheart, a mechanic in Peebles, Powys or Peterlee can’t. A hairdresser in Southall has no issues with her beau, but stylists in Saltcoats, Saltney or Skipton are pretty much left without a hope.

These are real people, real lives and real discrimination.

How long will it be before the human rights act gets invoked over this legislation is a question worth asking, until one considers that the initiation of any legal action takes money, and in the case of human rights law usually a lot of money, and the legal aid budget is being decimated.

So the Tory, Lib-Dem coalition is again targeting those who are the most vulnerable in our society while effectively working to prevent them having the means to defend themselves.

The Cameron-Clegg message is clear, if you go on holiday, volunteer overseas, or simply like to travel, don’t date.

Democracy in action, equality in action, big society in action, Westminster style.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

What about the children?

At times it is worth a visit to the twilight zone, a look into an alternative reality whereby our politicians only did what is right, what is in the best interests of our society, what is good for the children. Not what is often simply in their own self serving interest.

It is surprising, very surprising that no one in any political movement has examined this issue, more precisely “is it good for the children?”

A simple suggestion indeed, but what if it became our guiding legislative principle, we are, after all only caretakers for the next generation, and caretakers can be good or bad. Westminster is a stark example of bad caretaking with rising, soaring child poverty.

Take for example NHS privatisation, service cuts and PPI/PFI. As these issues continue to impoverish and dismantle our social contract by an exponentially soaring debt burden that has transferred to the unborn, can we honestly argue that this is good for the children?

Consider also that the UK is at the forefront of the world’s list of most unequal nations, and consider if that can possibly be good for the children.

Imagine an updated proposed or implemented Scottish constitution, one that is yet to be written, but one that the current Holyrood government guarantees will include nothing that negatively impacts our children. Holyrood could pass such legislation in this or next year’s sessions.

Holyrood could guarantee to set up an independent body of perhaps a dozen randomly selected citizens from a pool of volunteers to examine each and every article of legislation passed or enforced in Scotland. If it is viewed as good for the children, neutral or wouldn’t affect them it continues the legislative process. Alternatively Holyrood could simply propose an act whereby legislation perceived as not good for the children could be challenged and struck.

This is the only principle that Holyrood need propose for inclusion into a future restored Scottish state, the only big bazooka as the financial gurus would call it that is likely to grab a nation’s attention.

Enshrine the sovereignty of the individual by protecting tomorrow’s citizens.

It will do so because such a proposal is almost unique, certainly in our modern western civilizations.

It will do so because virtually everyone will agree that if it isn’t good for the children, and we can demonstrate that it isn’t good for the children, then we shouldn’t be doing it, proposing it, or allowing it.

It will do so because it will shift the independence debate away from the SNP; from the same old, same old arguments, from the bickering, from the internecine party warfare to where the debate should be, what kind of Scotland we want for tomorrow, what kind of Scotland we want for our children.

Imagine the effect if this is put before Holyrood, as an overriding aspect of future Scots law.

The Union parties would have to vote for it, or against it. Expect their backers to want it to be killed. Big chemical, big pharmaceutical, big oil will all see drawbacks to a law protecting children. The City certainly would not support it because the fees and charges our pension pots currently suffer under as we stagger through crisis after financial crisis would need to be capped or moderated if proposed for future amendment. Parents requiring support from their children through usurious finance charges, is not good for the children.

The principle is simple; the objectors will be many, for today’s adults cannot be asset stripped unless it is deemed “good for the children”.

Imagine the cleft stick that Holyrood could place the Union supporters in. London will be unable to insist on legislation that could be deemed detrimental to the children. If it insisted it is not impossible that Westminster governments might fall.

The Union parties would have to oppose the proposal; they are likely to be ordered to do so. However, if the Union parties do oppose the proposal, it would strip their veneer, it would lay them bare to every citizen of these islands, and they would be perpetually seen as the parties who don’t care about children.

The effect would ripple right through Scots society, it would galvanise Scots as they realise this referendum isn’t about the SNP, it isn’t about Labour, or their more minor partners, the Tories. It would help people forget the irrelevance that is the Liberal Democrats.

It would, more than anything else conceivable, bring the focus sharply back onto the real purpose of this referendum.

That it is about nothing more or less than Scotland’s future, and the ability of Scots to shape it directly without any disastrous dilution of their democracy.

It will remind folk, or shock them into acknowledgement for the first time, that a vote which is diluted by over 90% is a worthless vote when it comes to writing your own story, to choosing the path that you need to choose.

It will do all these things and more simply because it is in the best interests of the children, and who among us except the predatory, the depraved and the simply evil wouldn’t put the good of the children first.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Of Scots, the Union and the EU.

This week there was a dramatic development in the world of European Nationalist Movements, and it wasn’t in Scotland, but the root cause will be the same vehicle of deliverance, yet the destinations will be wholly different.

Catalonia, Spain. More than 1 ½ million people took to the streets to demand independence this week. The support for independence is such that the province’s premier, and it is a province irrespective of aspects of nationhood, was forced to publically change his stance from one of more federalism to stating he’d have been on the march but for “other issues”.

Catalonia, like much of the rest of Spain was united by royal marriage in 1469, a little after that Granada was conquered and we’ve pretty much got the Spain of today. Prior to the formation of Spain there were fundamentally absolute monarchs in each area, afterwards there was an absolute monarchy.

The key aspect for Catalonia is there were no treaties involved outside betrothal contracts, no independent votes, and in the 20th century as the Spanish Civil War was underway Catalonia was forcibly retained within Spain. Spain is therefore categorically one country with one constitution which the Catalans also endorsed – arguably not in a fully democratic fashion; individual referendums were not held in each region. Spain is therefore one nation, and allegedly indivisible.

Against this is the popular will of the Catalan’s today. They indisputably fall under the UN’s definition of a people who can elect to choose their own path. Should they choose the path of nationhood it would be almost impossible for Spain to deny them, but they’d have to do it under present circumstances as a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. They would become a new nation state.

Here’s where the situation with Scotland begins to differ. Both entities are fundamentally fed up with a lack of democracy and with resources being siphoned off to “help others” when the deprivation at home should be addressed first. Catalonia is asking for a bailout from Spain, demanding it actually, no strings attached, but none knows the position of Catalonia without the “Spanish Drain”. Scotland does not require any such financial support.

Scotland is a historical and modern nation; a fact that most people don’t think about unless asked. However, almost all concede Scots are nationals of their country, Scotland. That we hold a UK passport is now little different than being Dutch and of the European Union. A main reason for the differentiation is that Scotland entered into a treaty with England to create a single state. Westminster might have us as regions, may prefer to view it that way, but Nations under a single state we remain.

If the Union of Scotland and England, circa 1707 is dissolved, then we become again individual nation States. Wales and Northern Ireland then have serious choices to make. It will be a case, in respect of statehood, where two became one then become two again. It’s really that simple.

In the easiest of applications, the “best fit” under international law, because of that treaty, we’d both become successor states.

Here’s the key, both Scotland and England should be successor states.

Spain and Catalonia are a different issue altogether; they’d be original state and new state.

A Mr. Bailly of the EU, not a noted constitutional expert by any means, and possibly much more familiar with Spain after her more recent constitutional struggles spoke out when asked about accession status. His voice echoed others as he spelled out the criteria for an accession state, but he was taken out of context (as usual) by the UK mainstream press which purported to show that Scotland would be “Out the EU” if “Independence is IN” – they created, as appears their wont, a major Bru-Ha-Ha for no reason. These “purported” journalists need only familiarise themselves with treaty law and they’d know there was no story here.

But then “no story here” suits neither Westminster, nor the need to sell copy. The truthful story that both Scotland and England should be treated identically is not a story they apparently wish to print.

Following the stramash in the Gee-Bee press, the same Mr. Bailly came forward and issued a statement that his comments were specifically NOT aimed at the Scottish situation, adding additional clarification by stating that both Scotland and the R-UK could face a situation of being treated as equals in an evolving situation by Brussels, where merely a majority vote was required for confirmation of member status.

In other words, Scotland and England would be identically placed successor states.

“No story here” appears to have been the order of the day again, it wasn’t reported.

Therefore the independence movement in Catalonia while having the same vehicle and drivers as Scots nationalism, both serviced by the UN’s convention on human rights, will take the individuals of each aspiring state to their respective destinations.

The destinations are quite different however, because each will travel the same path until they reach a fork in the road after a formal vote.

Catalonia will travel the path of secession and take the road to being a new state.

Scotland, under the Vienna Convention will simply dissolve a treaty, and will take the road to being a restored state.

England will also be forced to take the road to being a restored state – the treaty the UK existed under will simply no longer legally exist, the UK will no longer legally exist.

Both Scotland and England will be successor states.

England and the other nations/regions of the UK will need to decide on a new name, articles of Union, or affirm the old. Last time it took several years, most of the 1920’s in fact.

Westminster doesn’t want it because the people will be severely enfranchised, it will provide an opportunity for reform that has been perennially stifled.

For the rest of us, not much will change, not immediately anyway. We’ll still be inhabitants of Britain, we’ll still be “British” just like Swedes will always be “Scandinavian”.

We’ll both be in the EU until we decide otherwise or terms are simply renegotiated.

We’ll all still be EU citizens.

Freedom of goods and movement are unlikely to change.

For Scots, not too much changes at all, except that we remove an entire layer of government, we stop paying for Westminster and its imperial ambitions.

For Scots we’ll then decide if, how and when we wish to continue our subsidy’s of the other UK constituents.

Ironically it’s the referendum in Scotland that’s allegedly catalyzed the Catalans and Quebecois. The situation in Catalonia is much more immediate and dire, they argue they’re being bankrupted by Spain and are close to a demand for a resolution NOW.

The feedback loop might prove interesting indeed, for a success in Catalonia will breed increased desire elsewhere.

The big question after Scotland votes “YES” is what will the other parts of the UK do, and nobody, but nobody is addressing that where it counts, because Wales and Northern Ireland, like England’s Westminster will have more, much more, to think on than Holyrood ever will.

And that is only a good thing.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The real meaning behind Section 30.

We have all heard about Section 30 by now. It’s a small but important article of legislation we are told is required to be passed in Westminster to “authorise” Holyrood to hold the referendum. It’s supposed to be needed to make it “legally watertight”.

What the legal pundits are missing here is that, quite simply, law serves to exercise the will of the people. Law was not invented or created, in a democracy, to limit the will of the people.

Law on a societal scale follows the will of the people, it does not, must not lead it. If this is not the case we or any professed society do not live in a true democracy.

At heart here is the Union of Scotland and England, the respective parliaments in London and Edinburgh who three centuries and more past “agreed” to form a single parliament within a single state, amongst other items. Nationhood however remained distinct and unaddressed with laws and religion amongst other aspects at least partially ensuring the nations remained different.

What’s often overlooked is that the “Gee-Bee” nations were not like the states of the USA, but were totally dissimilar. It was a square peg / round hole scenario in the political extreme.

Scotland is and was a land where individual sovereignty is held paramount, England and her conquests or dominions is a land where sovereignty was/is vested in a single person, the head that wears the crown. All others were vassals or subjects, to give them the more PC term.

Over the centuries English perspectives evolved, today’s teenagers have seen their lives status elevated to citizens, but largely it was simply a name change. Sovereignty as it evolved in England is still held by parliament in Westminster, now representing the crown. In its barest and most brutal adaptation this makes David Cameron, in England, almost a de-facto elected “king”. With a strong parliamentary majority he could wield power of a type only dreamed of by the leaders of true democracy, where the will of the people is paramount.

The prime limit on Westminster’s PM to constrain such political power is the answerability to the electorate twice a decade. UK “democracy” is sadly limited to a tick in a box for the average person of perhaps a little over a dozen occasions in a life.

This brings the circle back to the section 30 orders, an act at Westminster that will “allow” what’s preferred by London to be a one time opportunity for Scots sovereignty to express itself.

This is a “gift” to Scots of something we already own, yet our media portrays it as something to be grateful for. The sovereignty we as individuals had has never been relinquished, it has been affirmed. From the original “Declaration of Arbroath” to 1689’s “Claim of Right”, another name for the reaffirmation, to the repeat of the same in the 1980’s and again after the 2011 elections in parliament.

Democratic will in Scotland has continually and forcefully asserted the sovereignty of the individual. Sovereignty of the individual is the round peg to parliamentary sovereignty’s square hole. They are fundamentally irreconcilable. One insists on a vote every handful of years to retain the democratic illusion, the other strongly suggests everything of significance be placed in open vote.

London is taking an inherent Scots right and proposing to loan it back to “make everything legally watertight”. It’s a bit like needing your next door neighbour’s permission to write a cheque, and they’re not even on your bank account. This cheque is drawn on the inalienable individual sovereignty of the Scots.

Everyone needs the referendum, whatever its outcome, to be watertight.

There is a simple solution, one which every Scot and Holyrood could accept. It would be a simple gesture by Westminster, but don’t expect it to be forthcoming, because London traditionally doesn’t give away anything. Even that which it doesn’t own or have legal, moral or just rights to, London will keep close. Labour has acknowledged they [Westminster] could clarify or reaffirm anything they choose with respect to Scotland, they just won’t.

Westminster could create a section 30 order, and Holyrood could accept it with good grace if it was constructed in such a way as to reaffirm, as both the courts and the Scots already have, the sovereignty of the Scots.

The section 30 order could read as agreement in cooperation, recognising such rights and citing the history and legal precedents of individual sovereignty, while proclaiming that it is an order of clarification alone.

The section 30 order could read that with Scots individually sovereign in their own affairs they may collectively, as an expression of majority will, alter, amend, change or otherwise select any system of governance they mutually decide to pursue.

The section 30 order could then conclude that this has historically always been the case and that both Westminster representing the Crown in Parliament and Holyrood, representing the collective sovereignty of the Scots, agree to this.

It won’t happen without a fight, because it opens the door, as it should, to future democratic decisions within Scotland on almost any subject imaginable.

If the Union was voluntary and cooperative this should provide no threat whatsoever. All parties would be delighted at such an opportunity presenting itself.

If the Union is oppressive and dictatorial the threat to its existence from such a concord, such a mutually appropriate agreement, is dire indeed and must be resisted.

The problem is that Holyrood should not, cannot accept much less than this, unless it’s simply alternative wording.

Should Holyrood accept less than this, agree to a section 30 order that somehow implies the referendum and devolution is in any way England’s gift, then the reality of vassal nation will be enshrined by mutually accepted acts.

By Holyrood agreeing to a Westminster diktat underpinning a section 30 order then the concept of our individual sovereignty, held so dear and fought over at great cost through most of a millennia will be severely compromised. The idea and the pride that accompanies it might well be destroyed.

Over the next few months as “negotiations” culminate around the 2014 vote we will discover exactly where our government in Holyrood stands – for this issue is but the first of many which are critical.

Democracy doesn’t need permission.

The democratic will of a nation isn’t easily denied, dictators through the centuries have discovered this.

David Cameron’s upcoming actions will define him here, as much as anywhere, presumptuous dictator or not.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon both, in the upcoming tussle will need to entice and excite the individual Scot, they will have to devolve power more than the average individual here ever imagined, and they will have to give their own future into the hands of individual Scots.

The leaders of Scotland’s party will need to constitutionally re-entrench the ideas and principles of individual sovereignty to such an extent that the ordinary person will be shocked from apathy and inspired for their future, their children’s future and their nation’s future.

The past is resolute, it cannot be altered except with Unionism’s revisionist type history, the referendum is for tomorrow, and it will take inspired individuals to build that tomorrow. The Union can’t inspire, the Union is about repeating the past and expecting a different outcome.

Nicola Sturgeon is now the person charged to fill the canvas with bright and vibrant colour. It is a heavy responsibility, time will tell if she can transfer and expand her competencies, for if she can she just might make the best First, First Minister that a Scotland newly resurrected to statehood could hope to find.

Nicola has an advantage as she enters this fray, for unlike any other in the “Yes” or “No” camp, from North to South and East to West she undeniably has something none others can hope to approach in either breadth or depth.

Nicola Sturgeon has a nation’s trust. It is doubtful that will change.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

My kind of Nation, not my kind of State.

Scotland: That simple word evokes a quantum field of emotions. Inter-Nationalist or parochial small minded Unionist - we have both. Catholic or Protestant - we have both. Highland or Lowland - we have both. This is my nation; it is a nation in which I take immense pride, for even as its achievements stand it out singularly in this world of ours, so do its divisions.

Living in a factual world I am extremely strong in my beliefs, I am also willing to change them if the facts dictate otherwise. This is where I have issues with all kinds of bigotry, irrespective of whether it is the Union’s London-centric policies or the religious type which has been used to divide us for centuries.

The issue is that at the end of the day, this is my Scotland; it is the bequest of those that came before me. Rightly or wrongly this is what I inherited. It is now up to each and every one of us to do what we can to pass our nation on to the new generations of caretakers. And to pass it on in even better condition than we received it.

Where each generation strives to better the next is my kind of nation. That is my Scotland. That is my pride. As I travel the world I express it whenever the opportunity shows itself, from the flag on my ship to the music in my soul.

I find the world at large to very receptive.

It also works to remove myself from the “Gee-Bee” state, definitely not my kind of state.

Democracy is an institution, spouted in Westminster, flouted in London.

Democracy is government of the people, for the people, by the people, all of the people.

Democracy is not giving the people a voice every few years with a limited voting choice and then catering to the 1% while milking the other 99. Democracy is not demonising entire sections of your own citizenry in order to enhance the prosperity of a few.

There was a peaceful demonstration in London this week, on the back of David Cameron’s Paralympics words “more than any funding can do, I think the Paralympics will really demonstrate to people some things about disability, some things about what these incredible people can achieve which can change their views and inspire a whole generation of people.”

First we’ll deal with Mr. Cameron’s language, and the real content. Basically he is saying funding was less important than achievement and what these individual competitors managing to excel at as having the ability to alter national perspectives about the disabled community.

I applaud these individuals, and I admire them, but I would not presume to put them in the same field as able bodied athletes. It’s why they have the Paralympics in the first place. Politicising the achievements of a minority is to demonise a majority. These are the “cream” of the disabled within their respective conditions. These are the individuals with that almost superhuman drive to overcome any obstacle as long as they draw a breath. There will always be such individuals, but it’s not the norm.

Holding up these few exceptional people as examples for the disabled is no different than expecting every “average” human being to outrun Carl Lewis or be a better executive than Richard Branson. It’s simply not going to happen; nature herself never designed it to be so.

There is the photo of the archer in a wheelchair, yet there’s not much call for archery in the workplace. Certainly there are jobs the wheelchair bound can do, but there are many places and situations where they find themselves excluded from “normal” life or occupations. For the most part they don’t grumble, they just get on with life – sometimes they need a little extra help to fit into our world, and when they do we should do everything we can to give them this assitance.

That’s what the demonstrators in London last week were trying to say – don’t hold these remarkable individuals up as an example of average, then judge us all on that unattainable standard. It’s no different than saying to the unemployed if you can’t run 100 meters in Olympic record time you aren’t eligible to obtain unemployment benefit.

The demonstration on Friday at the Department for Work and Pensions was dual focused, against both government policy and Atos interpretation and implementation. It’s not usual for the disabled to engage in violent protest; it’s rather awkward trying to outrun the authorities in a wheelchair.

The official response to the peaceful gathering was shocking; the police response can be very conservatively described as overzealous. There were instances of equipment damage varying from eyeglasses to wheelchairs and personal injury to the disabled demonstrators, including a broken shoulder. The police in a democracy are paid to protect and serve. The overriding question here is; who exactly were they serving when perpetrating violent acts against these people?

Furthermore, the police in a democracy are an extension of the state; they should be there for the good of the people, by the will of the people. Using brute force against those with a genuine or even simply perceived grievance over their treatment is not my idea of democratic rule, it certainly not my State, or at least one in which I will take pride.

Simply put, if such aggression was not sanctioned, it would not happen. The way was prepared by the mainstream media and Westminster in the ongoing demonisation of the disabled. The last record I uncovered of such a demonstration by the disabled in which extreme force was used to disrupt a peaceful event was in 1930’s Germany; the period following Kristalnacht.

The route being trod by the United Kingdom seems to be wrenching it from the opposition to persecution it displayed for much of the 20th century within Europe, to embracing the same in the 21st century under the guise of Austerity.

For the present Scotland appears to be somewhat peripheral to this change, thanks mostly to Holyrood, but the question hovers – how many more cuts can a nation endure before we will witness a creep of such policy northwards, especially if under a bout of collective amnesia the parties of the Union ever achieve a collective majority again.

Until that day, Scotland, warts and all, will remain my kind of nation. Gee-Bee is certainly not my kind of state.