Category: Scotland

Are the SNP going Off -message?

This is not a SNP bad article more an SNP not great article.  The SNP is likely to be the most popular non-unionist party in Scotland for some time,  while the Tory and Labour comeback was not that impressive considering it was the product of the tactical voting of the Unionist side. The Labour Party siding with the Tories in this matter represents a continuance of their role in the referendum which was the very thing that brought their demise about in Scotland.

Siding with the Tories is not a popular thing in Scotland, this is why I felt some off-message consternation when the SNP decided to do that very thing over the so-called “Russian spy poisoning”.  I am beginning to sense that a Blairite type arrogance is beginning to develop in the top layers of the SNP, that is, a disregard for the feelings of those who support them.  It was bad enough to go along with the blatantly dishonest anti-Russian hype but to prove that you were less independent in this important matter than the UK Labour party really stuck in the craw. The reputation of the SNP as a party of peace took a knock and frustrated many of its long-term activist support.

Further signs of Blairite type arrogance appeared in the replacement of New Zealand over Norway as an economic model  but as Lesley Riddoch noted

“The SNP officially made “no comment”. So was the New Zealand line a misunderstanding by journalists, a deliberate SNP leak to test public reaction towards a possible rightward move in economic policy or an attempt to discredit the Growth Commission by internal party critics? Who knows.”

 https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/lesley-riddoch-scotland-can-follow-wee-country-template-for-success-1-4720785

The worrying thing here is that the off-message SNP appear to think that we need to appeal to the Toryism of Tory-voting Scots and not strengthen the anti-austerity message by showing that the systematic war on the poor that is at the root of neo-liberalism is not only bad for the economy but uneconomic if we define economics properly as the “inclusive and careful management of available resources ”

The next referendum is prefixed by the wording  “Circumstances would have to “materially” change, such as Scotland’s being pulled out the EU against the vote in Scotland”.

Ostensibly, the Tories are in negotiations to achieve this very circumstance.  It is fair to ask the question “Why are we waiting?”.  The only answer here can be clarity.

It is unclear whether or not the Tories want to leave the single market in that they like the Labour party have their eyes on “frictionless borders”.  This contradiction is an impasse and the hiatus point of much of UK politics.

“The Brexit negotiations to date have been an exercise in avoidance. As much as government sources say that things are progressing nicely, in reality it has either had to accept the majority of the EU’s demands or simply postpone the difficult issues to a later date.

A key example of this is free movement of workers – something the government had previously promised would end on 29 March 2019, and which it has now committed to maintaining until the end of the transition period in December 2020. Equally concerning is the fact that discussions around the border issues between Ireland and Northern Ireland appear to have been simply kicked into the long grass for another day.

Of course, Theresa May is in an impossible position – she is trying to negotiate the UK through a process that nearly half of the electorate are opposed to, with a weakened government following the disastrous General Election, whilst also trying to appease the minority of Brexit fantasists that appear to be dictating policy from within.

Once again, the entire process highlights the arrogance and unpreparedness of those at the forefront of this process.”        Gary McIndoe   Latitude Law

The utter mismanagement of Brexit summed up.  What is clear is that clarity, itself, is not on the Tory agenda.

The question of why are we waiting?  Becomes why are we letting the Tories away with this freezing of UK politics; while austerity is not being frozen; discrimination against EU residents is not being frozen,  and the defence budget has increased by hundreds of millions as pro-war hysteria is being fuelled by cold war propaganda.

Waiting for polls to secure a victory neglects the more important campaigning principle to strike while the iron is hot. Everything that was promised by the “Better Together” has been proven to be a lie.  The Tories are a sinking ship and Labour has too much to do to regain the trust of the Scottish people.

There was a relatively low turnout for the Declaration of Arbroath Commemoration which was a great day out. It was sad to see this important historical day by-passed by our high heid yins as they can bring many of their supporters out( as they could have with our relatively successful Hands Off Our Parliament rally.)Yet there was much consensus at both events for an on-message campaigning Yes movement.

 

 

 

 

 

For Scottish Independence and Irish Unity! by Paul Anderson

The relationship between  Scotland and Ireland has never been far from my thinking.  I am the offspring of a Scottish mother  Isobel and an Irish father Freddy. Both of them left the Catholic church and theism for atheism and became revolutionaries in that they were deeply influenced by the events surrounding the Russian revolution.   I would term them “gut” socialists in that their own experience of life led them to socialist ideas, not the dry reading of theory.   The poetry of “The Communist Manifesto” was powerful enough in itself.    Even today it is a striking call for human liberation.   Freddy was a propagandist.  I often saw him as a one-man political party.  He never waited for any party line.

It was him, more than my mother who was a very well read working class woman, who had more than a working knowledge of both Scottish and Irish culture and history.  It was his life. He produced a novel, many plays, and numerous poems, but this I will leave for another day.   I am only trying to relate the importance of the subject matter to my life.

There are core similarities between Scotland and Ireland that not merely have to do with the Gaelic language and its traditions.  Frederick Engels in his  “Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” points to the structure of the clan system and even to “mother right” where goods were passed along through the female line.  The relative closeness of primitive socialistic economic structures which bypassed much of the feudalism that had developed in England for centuries, (for a time both systems coexisted), caused John Maclean, the pioneer of  Scottish socialism to create the slogan “Back to Communism, Forward to Communism!”

In my own studies of the Gaelic language. I found that there is no basic concept of ownership, like the Red Indians who could not grasp at least initially the idea of land ownership. it was alien to their thinking,  The Gaels do not have possessive terms like my, his or hers,.. they say things are at, or on, or by. That is indeed one of the charms of learning the native tongue.

The beauty of Celtic culture is the stuff of legend, in this, it shares much with other aboriginal nations.

However, like large swathes of aborigine culture, it shares a great tragedy that has led to the Diaspora.  We can find pockets of Irish and Scots all over our planet. Both the Irish famine and the Highland clearances, being prime culprits.  Some of the saddest and most angry writing in the world’s poetry and song reflect these events. Not to mention other forms of literature. There are many great plays and novels on these themes.

Another aspect of  Irish and Scottish history has been the “auld alliance”  with France, in which successive  rebellions against  the British empire added misery to misery through failure and partial victories but not without much impressive heroism that has come to be a huge cultural force in the rise of the national consciousness in both Ireland and Scotland.   This is the cultural backdrop to both countries relationship with Europe. It may not explain the pro-European affinities of both these Celtic nations but it cannot be dismissed as an influence.  There is the radical influence of the French Revolution and its slogan of “fraternity, equality and liberty”  which still haunts the financial oligarchies of this earth. The European Union ever more usurped by neo-liberalism has moved to the right with the notable exception of  Portugal which has implemented some anti-austerity measures. European states do not all use a single social model, but welfare states in Europe do share several broad characteristics. These generally include a commitment to full employment, social protection for all citizens, social inclusion, and democracy. Examples common among European countries include universal health care, free higher education, strong labour protections and regulations, and generous welfare programs in areas such as unemployment insurance, retirement pensions, and public housing.  Austerity is damaging this social model but even in Greece, it is at least ostensibly what is being rebuilt.

This social model contrasts with the American “way of life” which has a much weaker commitment to the welfare state. The so-called  “special relationship”  between the UK and US has been criticised because many US neo-liberal policies are transmitted to Europe by this route.  There is a great fear that Brexit will be used as cover to allow whole scale privatisation of the NHS in England which will do untold damage to the funding of Health Service in both Scotland, Wales and the six counties of Northern Ireland.

The sterile debate about the EU has its root the Irish border.  Both the Tories and the Labour Party want to leave the single market and have frictionless borders.  Essentially they want to stay in the single market and leave it at the same time.

Traditionally, “England’s weakness has been Ireland’s opportunity”.   Scotland too can take advantage of this historic moment.  Both Sinn Fein and the SNP  are looking for referendums.  Sinn Fein is calling for a referendum on Irish unity.   The SNP are saying that leaving the single market is the cue for Scottish independence.

I agree.  There is no doubt in my mind that a hard Brexit will be an economic disaster and break the law when it comes to the Good Friday Agreement.

Arguing that the EU is merely a capitalist club just corrupt as the UK is like not seeing the wood for the trees.  The EU is the world biggest trading partnership, which if we leave, it will leave the UK competing with the EU.  That is utterly insane, from a capitalist point of view.  Socialism is a relatively weak force on our planet. We have a long distance to go before we have the basis of a  needs-based democratically planned world economy.

What will help is Scotland and a United Ireland fighting for a truly social Europe.  As Lenin said, and that doesn’t make it sacrosanct “Politics is the art of the possible”