Showing posts with label Britain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Britain. Show all posts

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Scotland’s Ties to Europe


One of the main reasons for Scotland’s enlightened thought  - reformation 1560 to the 1700s – was our close collaboration  , integration and trade with Europe. Our scholars studied in Paris and beyond, and also taught there.

 

When the UKs Brexit happened it was such a profound and distressing wrench for Scotland it was extreme hard to write about. Many of us thought the EU project had brought us peace, stability, security, and prosperity. Most Scots feel European of heart and mind and culturally. 

 

We didn’t understand what Brexit was for – was it a global Britain, to stop immigration, to be Singapore on Thames, with de-regulation and lower pay – or high paid jobs? Who knew? Those of us who lived through the 60s and 70s remember a UK in turmoil, a rollercoaster of financial crashes –  IMF, pound devalues, blackouts and strikes. 

 

Most Scots prefer the stabile European economy, to the insecurity of a Brexited Britain. We only have to look over the sea to Ireland. We have a major constitutional divide now in Scotland that will not be easily healed. How do we move forward? Half of Scotland has a vision of a new, greener and more successful Scotland.

 

The other half wants what they already know and prefer – to share resources with the rest of UK. The main drawback to the UK ‘centralising dependency’(not a union) is its extreme centralisation of power in London, which sucks and draws from the rest of the country.



Thursday, 31 March 2022

Reasons for Scotland’s Independence

Many write lengthy reasons for why they want to see Scotland’s independence, as I have too - and there are many reasons certainly. Many people don’t have the time for complex explanations. Here are my main reasons - Democracy, Economic, elites, Resources, Culture, History & Belief. 

 

Scottish Democracy.  Scotland does not get the government it votes for, for the past 75 years. This is mainly because of an out-dated first-past-the-post voting system.  On top of this the UK boasts the largest unelected second chamber (after China). The UK is a failed and superficial democracy. The first Parliament of Britain was set up as long ago as 1707, before universal suffrage or a constitution and crucially Westminster shows no sign of any desire to reform. The UK abuses the powers of the “Crown” with its highly centralised state.

Constitution. The UK operates with no constitution, so I want a new Scotland to set up a constitution to protect our human rights and protect democracy. 

 

Economic. One main reason is economic. The UK economy has been set up for decades to service the city of London – to increase its house prices and serve the finance centre. This holds back and sucks from the rUK, and means any manufacturing base is discouraged. Manufacturing business is the basis for a healthy economy. In order for Scotland to have economic control we require our own currency and central bank. 

Elites. Another reason is the unworthy elite, and the UKs proliferation of Boarding and Private schools. This 2-tier system holds back large numbers of children from future successes.

And leading on from this is Social Justice – so all children are given a fair chance in life. Otherwise our nation is held back .This is not about being equal, because clearly we’re all different, but about fair opportunities.

Resources. For Scotland to control our own resources and land. Our resources have been exploited and stolen for centuries.

 

Another is Cultural. 

To improve our knowledge of our past stories and our sense of place: to know our heritage in art, music, literature. Scotland suffered centuries of having our Scots language, culture and history suppressed. Scotland is one of the oldest nations in Europe and dates back to the 9th century – so its very important to protect our stories, culture and history. 

 

History. The teaching of history urgently needs improved and to continue history teaching throughout primary and secondary schools and to move on from projects on the Roman empire, to broader and more recent topics of Europe, America, and Scotland. Scotland was at the centre of the Enlightenment, Post Reformation with many top scholars taught in Paris and key figures such as - John Mair (1467-1550), James Dalyrumple (1619-1695), Duns Scotus (1265 – 1308),  Francis Hutcheson, 1694 –1746), George Buchanan (1506 – 1582), David Hune (1711- 1776), Adam Smith (1723- 1790). Scotland was a much part of Europe as France!

 

Scots Media and Broadcasting. To set up Scotland’s very own media. When the British broadcasting corporation BBC, was set up 1933, its strange that Scotland, an ancient nation begun 9th century, did not insist on its own media – when Scotland has always kept its church, law and education. Its been a cultural disaster for Scotland,

Security. To set up a proper defence system. 

Belief. In Scottish people and our ability to make our own decisions. 

 

What Scottish independence is NOT – it is not about nationality. Scotland is multi-national and international. Scotland welcomes all who want to make their home here. What Scotland independence is about, is making our own decisions for our ancient nation with a new de-centralised model and greater local government. Boris Johnson keeps calling those who want Scotland’s democracy “nationalists” – this is totally fake and WHY is he allowed to keep calling the SNP the ‘Nationalist party? He thinks this slow drip is very clever and the SNP must fight back with a SLOGAN – 

‘SNP for Scottish democracy” and make it much clearer what we are fighting for here. 

The National stands for the nations best interests. 

 

We might argue also in these times of turbulence Scotland needs the protection of independence more than ever before - to secure our energy policy, protect our resources and economy, protect our jobs, and futures and much more besides. We don’t need every detail decided ahead, only broad outlines, because the whole point of independence is to be flexible, innovative, creative and adaptable! 

 

There are no risk free options, rather we must consider what path is in our country’s best interests.  (OR a so-called union that holds Scotland back.) The Scottish independence movement must now make the Westminster supporters or the unionists defend their positions! Tory catastrophes – Windrush scandal, Grenfell, Brexit, Covid failure and deaths, bombs to Yemen, billions to PPI scandal. (Plus the Failures of the Labour opposition).

 

The UK portrays itself as a ‘benign democracy’ – when the reality is that the powers of the crown means a highly centralized government, that is often unaccountable, corrupt and elitist. I hope an independent Scotland gives us the chance to meet these challenges and to build a reformed and better Scotland.

 

Ultimately the Scottish Independence question becomes - is Scotland a nation with its own culture, history and stories distinctively and if so, how is Scotland best governed? The national interest is considered  a good thing around the world! The question returns to – is Scotland a distinct nation or simple part of Britain? It used to be Scotland was an integral part of the UK – but today the Scottish Parliament has less powers than a hundred years ago. The biggest issue driving a wedge into the UK right now is English nationalism.

 

Step back for the bigger picture with the crises of rising seas, loss of workers rights, drives to net zero and. It truly makes so much sense for Scotland to forge its own future in the 21st century. Any arguments to hold onto the past mistakes only ring hallow and false. We shouldn’t hesitate to vote for the future and not the past. Enlightened thought matters as much today as it ever did.

 

I don’t know if these reasons are in order of importance, because culture seems central and all about how we see ourselves. It is the smaller nations that are more successful and adaptable. With only limited devolution powers it is not possible to achieve these goals. Only with full independence. #¥esScots

 

 

(**In 2022 we see the passion and drive of Ukrainians. Theirs is a fight is between democracy, their rights and freedom AND autocratic dictatorship, that rules through fear. )


Thursday, 21 October 2021

COP 26, Glasgow



COP 26 takes place in Glasgow, Scotland 31st Oct to 12 November 2021, at the SEC Glasgow. Many road closures start on 23sd October. 

We are expecting great disruption to traffic, as well as demonstrations and all the extra security. 

 

I remember a drive in the natural forests of Fall in Massachusetts when I was blown away by the beauty and range of colours. Sadly the contrast in Scotland couldn’t be more stark, after depleting the natural forests to build trenches in the First World war, the UK Forestry Commission has built these squares of dark green conifers where there is dead undergrowth and no biodiversity can survive underneath. Some have burnt and nothing survives here.

 

Scotland has seen its resources depleted and destroyed over centuries. Like Ireland we suffered enforced emigration, particularly in the islands with the Highland and the Lowland clearances.  

In recent centuries humans have been disturbing the world’s natural habitats and wildlife – destroying forests, depleting fish stocks, burning fossil fuels, polluting our air. There are much fewer butterflies or insects and under many tress there is a dead undergrowth. 

Wonderful fall colours New England

Empty Glencoe

We’ve disturbed the habitat of bats, which has led to several recent world pandemics – SARS, Mers, Ebola, Swine flu and now Covid-19. This will continue, unless we all change our attitudes to selfishness and growth. 

In recent centuries humans have been disturbing the world’s natural habitats and wildlife – destroying forests, depleting fish stocks, burning fossil fuels, polluting our air. There are much fewer butterflies or insects and under many tress there is a dead undergrowth.

 

There are signs of hope – more people are cycling, more are reducing meat intake, more work at home, more people want to buy local. Its great to see families cycling on our quiet roads – is this the way forward? Any drugs or vaccines are only short term fixes, we must cure the source of these serious threats. More people die from air pollution, asthma and allergies than ever before.    If this virus has taught us anything, its that we depend on each other. We must urgently save our planet to save our own lives. 



 

**The Earth Shot award to Costa Rica – rewards landowners to restore forests and plant fruit trees. Celebrates its bicentennial of independence , a country of 5m able to build a sustainable future with healthy eco-systems.

*Food waste. A third of food is wasted. We need to go back to local shops for fresh foods. 91% live in areas of air pollution, at lest 7m are killed each year by air pollution. 

 

 **When is COP and when do travel restrictions begin?

 

COP26 will be held over two weeks from 31 October - 12 November 2021 at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow. Road closures start a full week before on Saturday 23 October, and last until Monday 15 November.

 

Some roads within the SEC campus site are already closed.

Some days are expected to be busier than others, with the biggest disruption expected on Saturday 6 November which has been designated as the 

Global Day For Climate Justice.

About 100,000 protesters are expected in Glasgow, with a march which begins at Kelvingrove Park at noon before making its way to Glasgow Green for about 15:00.

 

 The hope is for Carbon Neutral by 2040.

**We all benefit from being in nature. 

Scotland can join other world leading nations, with its vast natural resources, as a leader in renewables. We also need to urgently change our attitudes to the crisis – we all must change how we behave and take the climate crisis seriously.”

 

Every sovereign issuer in the world could agree to create up to 5% increase annual GDP in new  money and ring fence it for a revolutionary investment in referable energy generation, in carbon capture, climate science and protection of the worlds vulnerable ecosystems. This wouldn’t devalue the value of any single currency because if all nations act multilaterally the risk of an inflation crisis would be negligible. “

 

“Cop 26 means Glasgow can host the moment that the world changes direction and avert na environmental disaster and Scotland can be a leading light in helping realise the new global environmental zeitgeist.”  Gordon Macintyre Kemp

  

We must dare to dream we can build a better world – or we’ll have no planet left to save. 

 

Wildlife Photographer Peter Cairns


Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Politics today is complex


I read that Norway has nine political parties – (re a letter National). This is complex and there are online questionnaires listing say 30 of the main issues that concern people, and after voters rate the issues that matter to them, they can then decide which party to vote for. Coalition government leads to more consensual, co-operative government and NOT “chaos” as put forward by the English Tories.

Back 19th century it used to be the main concern of the English political parties was raising taxes to fight the French, over territory. Or how to get rich quick. (In the alternative reality, where the Jacobites won, Scotland would be looking for treaties and trade links across Europe. And 250 years ago Burns wrote – of the poison of untold wealth, and how we all deserve equal rights and opportunities. Nothing much changes!)

So this binary two-party, confrontational left or right English political parties, offers too simplistic a choice, with its out-dated first-past-the-post electoral system, that encourages this binary choice.

Meanwhile the English Labour party is seriously spilt between those wanting the elitist status quo and those wanting reform, as the party continues to hark back to the past rather than addressing the pressing issues of the present: and the English Tory party has morphed into Ukip!

The English Tories rather than co-operative, modern government, believe they have to Lord it over others! The Tory word is not its bond either: Johnson only signed the Northern Ireland Protocol to "Get Brexit Done" and get himself re-elected. Most insidiously the British propaganda machine implies an open, fair democracy, when its fairly obvious this isn’t the case.

BoJo claims he wants a high pay Britain by stopping immigration (??) – the real way is by closing private schools and greatly improving education and opportunities for all our children. It appears there is a serious lack of education of both History and Geography generally, never mind Business or Science! In English schools they specialize early to two subjects. In the Scottish system its long been considered important to have a broad education to better understand and have a wider outlook, before any later specialization.

Gerry Hassan writes of a ‘Progressive Alliance” that works seriously for reform of the out-dated UK political system, to get rid of first-past-the-post and embrace a PR (proportional representation) voting system. (This is how Tories can be taken out of government, National Oct 6, 2021) Of course in my view, there is too much tension and strain in this broken system of a “united” Kingdom, of enforcement rather than consent. The English Tories are dismantling democracy and devolution in the UK and working towards ever more destructive centralization. As this Westminster Tory government is not voted for by Scots, this is creating an unsustainable situation.

Today’s Politics is far more complex then in the past - with the environmental crisis, free trade deals, equal rights, security and cyber space, energy supplies, monetary and financial markets, trans rights, child protection, health provision, media and press, education systems, connectivity and infrastructure, industry and business, arts and culture, pandemics, welfare, pensions and social security, economy and tax systems, more I’m sure. Scotland’s independence is not about the English people butabout their out-of-touch ignorant elites.

The words of Burn’s song Scots Wa Hae were not merely about Bruce, but about all freedom fighters against oppression. Kevin McKenna (Its past time to open Pandora’s box) writes of the Tories as ‘extremists’ and of their control of the UK media and Press. Without control of news outlets, many will continue to be fooled by England’s Tory misinformation. And when Scotland gains its independence, we must ban foreign political parties. The biggest issue becomes how can we control the message? “Stronger for Scotland” is not good enough – who is stronger? HOW CAN WE BE “A NATION AGAIN”


Thursday, 30 September 2021

History of Scottish Home rule



Dr James Hawes BOOK ‘Speak for England’– LINK interview Independence Live

Hawes expects Scotland to be independent in 5 years after the hard Brexit. In the late 19th century there were pressures for Scottish Home Rule, which were debated 7 times between 1886 and 1900, House of Commons by the Liberal party. 

Home Rule for Scotland has been pursued since 1889, with many debates in the House of Commons. The Scottish Home Rule bill was passed in 1914, just weeks before the start of the first world war, by the Liberal party – it was recognised that most English politicians had little interest in Scottish affairs. 

 

In May 1914 – Westminster passed the second reading of the Government of Scotland bill 1913, supported by 85% Scotland’s MPs and passed by 204 votes of 159 – the bill established a Scottish parliament with greater powers than at present at Holyrood!




The Scotland Bill 1927 Bill cedes on the principle of self-determination. It proceeded on the basis of Scotland being a sovereign state. The most important reason, lack of interest by English MPs.

It included powers over pensions, national insurance, employment, broadcasting (only defence, Post Office, foreign affairs and coinage would remain under Westminster (real Devo max promised a 100 years later)  A few weeks after this bill passed the First World War broke out and the bill was never implemented. After the war new bills were presented 1920s, but failed because of Conservative opposition.

 

Of the multi national European states, 19th century – Austria-Hungary, Russian, Ottoman empires – only the UK remains. Multi-national states are unstable (except Spain that only recognises Basque and Catalonia as historic nationalities.

 

Monday, 30 August 2021

Tom Devine and Ciaran Martin: 'Our Nation’s Future', at Edinburgh International book festival 2021

With Clare English. Where next for the UK’s future? English said, “Since union 1707, 300 years ago, there has been a largely stable relationship?” (Mmm really? Apart from riots, rebellion, hangings, clearances, deportations, battles, 

“In 2014, Scots rejected indy by 55.3%. what now is the settle will? Scots have little affinity with Johnson’s government.” Questions: between votes and the law; what is the UK? Move away from union; control over indy vote; Constitutional chess.

 

Ciaran Martin: Civil servant, Oxford Professor, constitutional director for the Referendum 2014 and from Northern Ireland. We need trusted and impartial government. progressive unionism.  

Tom Devine – Eminent Scottish historian asked, How has the nation changed; concede nationalists? Is threat of nationalism receding. We need cool heads and rational thinking.

 

*Ciaran Martin – ‘Remaking the British State,’  He said there is now a lull but there will be soon be constitutional chess games. Holyrood will request a Section 30 request which will be refused and end up in court. Scottish government will loose. There will be stalemate and a clash of mandate and law, an existential crisis. Something has to give.

 

He asked, what is the union? There is a lack of consensus and understanding, and a lack of any constitution. He recommended Michael Keatings book, State and Nation in the UK. There is two competing sovereignties, and a contested Scottish narrative – one the source of authority; the other multi-national with Scottish nationalism considered self-indulgent.

 

With union, Martin claims Scotland retained a strong sense as a nation, and never became a region. After Ireland left, Britain has allowed itself to break up. Northern Ireland agreement 1998 allowed to vote to leave. Most “countries” will not allow any break up. (BUT is Britain a country, surely it is a state?) Serious ministers will block any meaningful path to break up and the union will be based on force of law. Still unclear, struggle between mandate and law. The stakes will then be tested in the court of pubic opinion. Union an imagined construct: a political construct first. 

 

Poll supporting Scottish indy show 48% support is a serious threat. Over the decade 2011-2021 shows an increase of 10-15% in indy support.  Long way to go, but there will be an existential reckoning. Votes not laws. He discussed the health of the nation and how to expand support for the union. George Osborne and his Project Fear treated  Scotland as a possession and worried about loosing face on the world stage, is not an enduring policy. 

 

1. Muscular unionism – British nationalism, cultural pageantry, views devolution as a disaster. The internal market bill and taking back devolved powers and the Scottish hubs, means a marginalization of Scottish voices. But don’t forget who is paying for the UK.

 

2. Federalism -  Is not achievable with the dominance of England. After Brexit there is no desire to spate into smaller pieces.

 

3. Progressive unionism - The English want to preserve status quo. Best of both worlds slogan 2014 – is devolution settlement still viable - BBC, NHS - ways of dealing with tensions. Does Westminster support devolution? Even Wales feels London is hostile to devolution settlement.  A British state remade?

 

*Tom Devine

May Elections 2021 – “The union is in greater peril than at any time in my life time,” Gordon Brown. Devine says, “ The union is in greater peril since Prince Charles Edward Stuart and his Jacobite army invaded England to remove Hanoverians and to break the union!”

 

August 2021. London press and media’s conventional wisdom is that Scottish nationalism is on the ebb. That the Scottish government is parochial and incompetent, on ferries to drugs, so how can they run a sovereign nation? There has been a slight decline in the Pro indy polls (vaccine bounce?)

 

There is a state of Armistice at present with no battle going on, a truce – no judgement. What is the long term for the constituent parts. I'm not sure this is entirely true, as the Unionist are plotting heavily how to undermine Scotland Devolution settlement of 1997. Scotland has always retained control of its education, health, laws and kirk.

 The UK, under the spotlight. Historians look at the long term view, the demographic one, shows 2020, those under 40, 70% regard the union as over. 


The Grim reaper is on the side of Scottish national party. Two major issues, one is the Brexit vote – the first time Scottish opinion on major issues was denied. The other is a demographic one 2020 – because of the under 40s, 70% regard the union as over.


Sadly Devine’s time was cut short, while he did cover other issues in the Q & A session and he was keen to allow time for that. Martin asked, what other country allows itself to be broken up? What does this statement mean? Ireland considers itself a nation with a long history and distinct culture – as does Scotland and England. But Britain is a state much like Scandinavia and not a nation! 


Tom Devine and Ciaran Martin: Our Nation’s Future EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL 2021 - https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/ciaran-martin-with-tom-devine-where-next-for-the-united-kingdom


Wednesday, 30 June 2021

MUSIC and creative industries badly effected by Brexit & Covid




Attending live concerts is so important to many of us – nothing beats the thrill, togetherness, emotional releases and well-being of an excellent, engrossing concerts -  either the energetic large stadium, music festival or the intimacy of the characterful smaller venues.


I’m very concerned, as are many others, over the destruction of many of our crucial industries due to this foolhardy and reckless Brexit. The Creative industries and music is a massive industry for the UK, and this is all a disaster. 

Brexit failings

The EU is by far the biggest touring market in the world–  in 2019 - with EU 20K tour dates, America 5K, and other countries much fewer. Plus it costs a fortune to tour say Australia with a much smaller population 

 

To tour the EU after Brexit now requires - Visa regulation and lots of red tape, instruments, lighting, sound equipment, rules on transportation, And only 3 stops in the EU!!  All the uncertainty now for mid-tier artists makes touring practically unviable, and there are no crews or tour managers. Devastating for artists. 

 


On top of the destructive Brexit there have also been the Covid restrictions on us all. However Covid Insurance won’t cover festivals or musicians. There is a Covid relief fund – and Festivals have been offered 35 million.

 

Sadly many artists are now quitting and leaving the industry. 

Among my hopes are that we might be able to return to the EU single market and customs union. Apart form our crucial cultural, economic and scientific connections the biggest benefit the EU has brought is “peace and prosperity”! 

 

I’m excited to have two concerts now booked for August – its 18months since my last concert at Celtic connections 2020!  - Tideines 8th August,Edinburgh Festival 2021 and Chrissie Hynde 24th August, Queens Hall Edinburgh!

 

 

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Peace maker John Hume 1937 - 2020



 Hume died August 2020
‘Until you agree on the problem you can’t agree the solution.’ 

 ‘This piece of earth, our divided people.’
‘He made hope and history rhyme, ‘Seamus Heaney.

He was instrumental in the Irish peace process, and won 3 peace awards – The Nobel Peace prize, the Martin Luther king peace prize and the Ghandi peace award. He will be remembered with other peace makers.
He paved the foundations for the peace and the Good Friday agreement, signed in April 1998 and agreed on by two referendums in May1998, which ended the 30 years of the Troubles (1960s – 1990s) Issues relating to sovereignty, civil, and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, demilitarisation, justice and policing were central to the agreement.
There are some visionaries who can see the bigger picture, join up the dots and offer new stories and hopes. John Hume was one. 
My parents were Ulster unionists and I remember well the despair and dreadful violence and indiscriminate killings every day on the news during the troubles. It was a scary time. I remember visiting my family in northern Ireland as a child and returning when I was older when there were army roadblocks and helicopters circling over head. And each day there were more killings. 

Hume saw past all that – past the old sectarian hatreds and divides. 
In the 1980s Hume gave speeches at universities around northern Ireland: at Queens university students union when he would say – 
‘I’m here to make the single transferrable speech.’
The place was packed, and Hume was heckled by both nationalists and unionists. He always had an answer though  ‘This is not a history lesson,' he’d say.’

‘Foxes and hedgehogs know one big thing, we are all different. Diversity is to be celebrated. How does that threaten anyone?’ 
You can’t eat a flag.’
On human dignity – ‘An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.’
‘Spill sweat not blood.’
 ‘It not our land, its our people.’

He played better outside than inside the inward-looking, insular Northern Ireland and he knew it was more important to get the message out abroad. He spoke with US President Bill Clinton, about the political process rather than the military one. 

He got both Paisley and Thatcher to agree, he changed minds - and to see Northern Ireland not as an occupied territory, but as one day liberated. 
He asked the UK government, for civil rights and equality, how could they refuse?

It was his peace solution based on the European Union – The European Parliament, the European Commission and European Council. 
John Hume’s speech at the EU Parliament Strasburg – He speaks of the EU’s philosophy of peace and to respect difference. He asks that the EU should send not arms but their philosophy of peace to places of conflict. All conflicts is about seeing conflict, because difference is only an accident of birth. We should respect difference. 

He never held high office but he moved mountains. 
His endless persuasion worked. 
‘This piece of earth, our divided people.’

‘He made hope and history rhyme, ‘ poet Seamus Heaney. 


John Hume (1937 – 2020) was an Irish nationalist politician Irish nationalist politician from Northern Ireland, widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the recent political history of Ireland, as one of the architects of  The Northern Ireland Peace process - with the Good Friday Agreement signed April 1998. 
A native of Derry, he was a founding member of the Social Democratic and Labour party (SDLP) and served as its second leader from 1979 to 2001. He also served as a Member of the European Parliament, and a Member of the UK Parliament, as well as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. He was named "Ireland's Greatest" in a 2010 public poll by Irish national broadcaster RTE to find the greatest person in Ireland's history. 
Gerry Adams, John Hume, Bill Clinton, David Trimble

Gerry Adams, Albert Reynolds & John Hume
The Good Friday Agreement (GFA), or Belfast Agreement (Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or Comhaontú Bhéal Feirste; Ulster-Scots Guid Friday Greeance or Bilfawst Greeance), is a pair of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that ended most of the violence of the Troubles: a political conflict in Northern Ireland that had been on going since the 1960s. It served as a major development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s Northern Ireland present devolved system of government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. 
The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, voters were asked in the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum whether they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and allow necessary constitutional changes to facilitate it. The people of both jurisdictions needed to approve   agreement in order to give effect to it.The British–Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999. 
Hume was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with David Trimble, and also a received both the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Martin Luther King Award. He is the only person to receive the three major peace awards. He was named "Ireland's Greatest" in a 2010 public poll by Irish national broadcaster RTE to find the greatest person in Ireland's history.[5]

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Remembering 2014!



I wish now I’d kept a diary during the 2014 referendum time – which was such an enriching and energised and enlightenment time. With the exciting exchanges of ideas of how we might build a fairer, greener and more equal Scotland. It was full of expectant hopes. We looked to other thriving small nations as a way forward – such as Denmark, Finland, Norway. Our northern neighbours. Scotland is as ancient and has equally excellent resources. Why wouldn’t Scotland thrive w thought? 

It wasn’t to be with the vote 45/45% spilt and sadly many Anglo Scots prefer being tied to a Tory administration. Then again Scotland has practically no independent media, so what else did we expect with British nationalist propaganda flooding our airwaves. 


Saturday, 31 August 2019

Fintan O'Toole Heroic Failure, Edinburgh book festival 2019


The theme this year was – We need new stories. 
One of the most original voices I’ve read in recent years over the present political madness of Brexit, is Irish Times writer Fintan OToole. 

His event at eibf sold out instantly when tickets went on sale - so I was surprised when I joined the long queue to see him, that he was doing his talk in the small Spark tent on George street – rather than the main New York Times tent. 

I am presently reading Fintan O’Toole’s book, Heroic Failure, on the Brexit carry on, and what an excellent story teller he is in his well researched tale. 

He feels Brexit is not essentially about the EU at all, but a British existential crisis. 

Things are badly off kilter and we certainly need well researched and original new voices.


Thursday, 25 April 2019

Brexit Questions - Change is Coming

 As water leaks through the crumbling Westminster roofs, and its labyrinth of corridors, it has been found greatly wanting and completely unable to deal with modern challenges. The Brexit debates, like a dangerous football, have thrown everything up in the air – with no written constitution, or interactive democracy.  Other leaders are aghast at how out-of-touch and not fit for purpose Westminster is. 

Three years ago 2016 before all this Brexit happened, few really cared about whether the UK was in or out of the EU, and I never saw anyone marching on the streets over this EU question. It was simply an institution like Nato or the Commonwealth – that was an important and accepted part of our lives. (People are marching though against climate change: we may only have 10 years to save our planet!)

Britain has suffered severe upheavals and ups and downs - before the dark days of war, the strikes of the late 60s, the Thatcher years, the Iraq war during Blair. The 2008 crash crisis worldwide. It seemed that the EU offered some stability and also peace and prosperity, surely important issues? So why did those in England want to leave the EU, and blamed the EU even, with the rise of Ukip? What was going on? Is this merely an uprising of populist far right bigotry as some argue? Or something much deeper? Or why some English voters believe England is not a sovereign country that is simply operating in at trading union?

An embarrassment. Its extremely worrying the decay, incompetence  and inability to govern this whole process has highlighted. Many appear to forget the boom and bust we used to suffer in Britain before we joined the EU 40 years ago. It meant high interest rates, inflation and all kinds of suffering and uncertainty. That’s what will be in store for us again once we leave the stability provided by being in the EU. This is partly driven by the fact that Germany in particular, always aims for a stable economy based on solid manufacturing, rather than the uncertainty and debt -ridden roulette of the London financial markets. 

The UK has been led by a poor leader, who is unable to empathize or collaborate? Why are MPs pursuing an ill-thought out policy that will make us all poorer? Why was there no real planning or idea of what Brexit really meant? What was it really all about?  Restoring past glories? Keeping the UK union together, when the cracks only get wider? Restoring Britishness’ and Union jacks? I'm really worried about the Americanization here in the UK and the privatising of health care and more. Where will it all lead?

The British Tory ship steams ahead, with no destination, no captain, and no map. What are we Scots to do? Can Brit Nats and Scots Nats exist side by side? Should we scramble for life rafts – or accept this laughable chaos? Or instead take control of our own Scottish resources? For now we need to let the anchors rise and the dust settle – and why does Nicola have explain her every move, when other politicians explain nothing?  Why are our respected MPs snubbed as irrelevant? Its insulting to the Scots nation.

Scotland needs to protect its significant resources by emulating countries like Norway (which is in EFTA) and also sets regulations to protect its environment, industries and by promoting Norway’s own oil company (which prevents multi-nationals exploiting their wealth). There are many examples of small, indy nations that operate very successfully in a larger trading block. There are no examples of a country operating successfully in a trading block, and then deciding to leave these treaties with no plan over its future! All we know is Brexit means leaving present agreements, but not what it actually wants! What a mess.

Why I want independence
I believe a nation is best served making its own decisions, in its own best interests – and that those in a foreign nation are not best able to make decisions for us. To flourish, Scotland must break free of the chains of English colonization and be an independent European nation once again. 

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Democracy and Universal Suffrage

It appears that the small island nation of Iceland led the way
Iceland is generally held to be the oldest Parliament, starting in 930. The oldest continuous Parliament is the Tynwald (Isle of Man), which started in 979, although its roots go further back. In 1188 Spain held one of the first parliament followed by the Netherlands in 1581. 

In the UK the Union of Parliaments 1707, brought about a more modern parliament, which limited the power of the monarch. 
After the Union of the Parliaments in Britain – which dissolved both the Parliament of Scotland the Parliament of England under James Stuart (VI Scotland and I England) to create a parliament of Great Britain, which sat in London. The modern concept of parliamentary government emerged in the Kingdom of Great Britain (1707 - 1800 ) and in Sweden during the Age of Liberty (1718 - 1722). 

**Universal Suffrage
Suffrage – is the right to vote in public, political elections. 
Britain was not one of the first countries to offer votes for all men, and later all women.

France - 1792 suffrage for all men (in 1850 excluded criminals and homeless)
America  - 1856 Voting rights all white males, and suffrage women 1920
New Zealand  1893 – full suffrage and votes for women. First self-governing country.
Finland - 1906 – suffrage all men and women (women could also stand for election) 

UK – 1918 – male suffrage, all men the vote
1928 – all women the vote. 

Voting Injustice
In 1969 UK closed a loophole where 7% got 2 votes!
Also in 1969 Northern Ireland  votes for Catholics after the civil rights movement. (under Harold Wilson)

In the US, some states exercise shared sovereignty to offer citizens the opportunity to write, propose, and vote on referendums. 
Referendums in the UK are rare. In the UK we have a passive, non interactive democracy.
and we have too large, impersonal council areas.