Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Saturday, 31 December 2022

Our Year of Chaos 2022

 

Talisk Celtic Connections

And Politics!! Its become impossible to keep up or understand the chaos at the heart of the UK system! With the cost of living crisis, public sector strikes, the Kwertang budget – we have to wonder the UK government is prepared to spend billions on strange projects, wars etc but not on the workers. We are hit with strikes after our 10 years of Tory austerity – workers have had enough! – of paying the price for financial services failures and the UK as masters of war.

It has been great to see concerts return after the long months of the pandemic – the Edinburgh festivals were back in August with, while reduced programs, at least the return of the buzz of in person events.  

CELTIC CONNECTIONS music festival Glasgow 2023 will return this January with a full and in person program, celebrating its 30th year! Celtic Connections 2022: A highlight was a top concert with the Skye band Niteworks backed by the RSNO, who performed original material with their fusion of Gaelic and Scottish traditions. Another highlight as always was the Transatlantic Sessions led by Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain and featuring American singer 

REVIEW - http://www.musicfootnotes.com/2022/02/celtic-connections-highlights-2022.html

  

Edinburgh International book fetsival 2022 returned with in person events. Outlander author Diana Gabaldon gave an inspiring talk – as did Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole; Yi Lea from Albania spoke of freedoms; along with Oliver Bullough on his book Butler to the World - http://www.musicfootnotes.com/2022/09/edinburgh-international-book-festival.html

 

PLUS in October I enjoyed seeing another artistic stalwart, Bob Dylan in Glasgow, who has written one of his best albums at 80 and still going strong - http://www.musicfootnotes.com/2022/09/edinburgh-international-book-festival.html

 

Bob Dylan Clyde Auditorium Glasgow

Rab Noakes
*Music Loses  
We lost several top artists this year, including well kent folk music legend Rab Noakes, I will miss his concerts  Its now the passing of the baton to a new generation. Rab believed in the organic way to learn your craft, through the live performance. I am glad I attended his last concert here Milngavie folk club, last June. My Chats & Tribute to Rab Noakes here - http://www.musicfootnotes.com/2022/11/goodbye-to-scots-legend-rab-noakes.html

PLUS the songbird Christine McVie – Rumours is one of my top ten albums of all time.


 
**Do Scots have equal rights in our unequal union?

Balfour Report: It appears that British dominions are considered “equal” – what exactly does that mean?! The Balfour Reports of 1926 was an important development in Canada’s evolution become a fully self governing nation .the report declared tat Britain and its Dominions were constitutionally equal. The findings of the report were made law by the British Parliament in the 1931 statue of Westminster.

 

**ARTS funding

Many of the arts continue to struggle due to reduced audiences and increased energy costs. The Edinburgh film house has closed along with a major Edinburgh art gallery. I can understand focus on sports, but for the aspirations and long term to me the ARTS are very much not a side issues but the essence of who we are. 

 

In Switzerland they speak High German in lectures at university and the local German dialect is spoken in the common rooms – but one is not considered of higher value than the other. 

 

The skill of being able to see the Big Picture amongst the chaos.

No time for standing still. Some have no time for taking notice and they miss so much. 

Arts and culture I believe, are crucial in our lives – they express who we are, our stories, aspirations…Perhaps new crossroads lie ahead. 






#Scotland and #EUROPE. Many across the UK are now turning against Brexit, while the Tories continue to battle to keep the extreme right wing at bay. 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 extremely 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.  http://www.musicfootnotes.com/2022/11/scotlands-ties-to-europe.html


  

Dependency Supporters

Choice between Scotland’s independent sovereignty and the politics of DEPENDENCY 

Language really matters. I agree with the Wee Ginger Dog we must stop calling those who “advocate dependency” - unionists, which implies a positive working together, when this is not happening  at all. Scotland is ignored, Scotland’s resources have been plundered, and her voice suppressed. Its crucial we stop using the false term “unionist” and instead call those who want to hold Scotland back – “dependency supporters.” This UK is very much not a partnership – the term unionist is fake and  misleading. A union refers to a partnership (or marriage) one in which each partner has an equal say - of compromise, collaboration, negotiations. 

 

Culture and language drive and are ahead of our politics. This is about Scotland’s voice.

The policy makers in London are using derogatory language against those who believe in Scots sovereignty. – they use terms such as ‘separatist’ and ‘nationalists’ to imply Scots are driven by ideological greed, ignorance, selfishness, divisiveness. While they know full well most Scots want to work in an indy nation in the EU trading block and be international, left of centre and outward looking. 

For centuries Scotland has been a seafaring international and trading nation with our great seaports (now mostly closed apart from apart from Aberdeen). Scotland does not need to trade via the bottleneck of Dover - we can trade direct to Europe as Ireland does.

 

Succession actor Brian Cox suggests the British isles can be a “Federation of sovereign states, one in which we can all b citizens and participate, and have an equal say and pull together for the common good of all.” At the moment this is not happening here UK, because this is not a partnership. Its about 3 smaller nations being dependent on all rules, policies and decisions set in London, for the benefit of the south of England, in a highly centralized monarchy/ parliamentary sovereignty/ power structure, where the Crown is used to assert power, for the benefit of the empire state not the people. And operates its dirty money London Laundromat. Much more centralized than a century ago.

(Please note – Labour and Conservatives are English political parties. After Scotland’s indy Scotland needs its own political parties, which would naturally evolve here, to cover differing views. Scotland’s indy is about more local and accountable government.) 

 

Some refer to England as the “parent state” and they believe they own Scotland. By contrast most Scots believe that back 300 years ago in 1707, Scotland, as one of the oldest nations in Europe, with its rich diverse history, and deep lasting connections to scholarly learning in Paris from the time of Reformation - as explorers, as mercenaries, and innovators. - that Scotland entered into a voluntary partnership with England for trading reasons. At that time Scotland had 1million people, England had 4 million. Historians tell us Scotland was never a colony – yet if surveys asked the English or Scots if they believed Scotland is a colony, they will surely say yes – as we do not have self government but are ruled from the capital of another nation. 

 

There’s been a general ignorance of Scots history and Scots culture is not celebrated by Dependence supporters. That’s if Scots know any of their history, after decades of being only taught English history in our schools. Scotland was not conquered in 1690, even though Cromwell tried and got as far as Dunnottar castle. In fact Charles II was crowned firstly at Scone on our Stone of Destiny. Culloden was the last pitched battle here UK – there were Scots on both sides, as well as French and Irish. These were religious battles. Crucially at Charles III ascension he pledged the freedom of Scotland’s church. 

The big question is, how efficiently does Devolution work – with civil servants in London making decisions? What does devolution mean, when Scotland is allowed to run only some of its affairs? 

 

It’s a confused, messy picture. Do dependency advocates think that devolution works well, because most Scots are totally confused - what is reserved, what’s run here? Does Scotland run its own energy policy (no, the UK runs energy but has had no energy policy), does Scotland run its economy and tax (no). After leaving the EU, the London government now interferes in many devolved matters. So its even more confusing. Tories appear intent on wrecking devolution settlements. 

 

Back before WW1 Scotland ran more of its own affairs. This isn’t about Edinburgh becoming another centralising London either but about greater local control. This isn’t about personalities – its about the wider yes and civic movement. A good plan is for a Citizens Assembly to grow our ideas for the way ahead, organically from the ground up. That’s the only way to grow support for our independence. It appears from studies that many Scots are very confused over what devolution means, what independence means in todays world of interconnections over trade (as in the EU). I believe it would be very helpful for all sides, ideas and views, to clarify what both these arrangements really will mean. 

 

It all depends on whether you see the UK as a free democracy or an empire state more concerned with the global empire – than the people who live here. The UK requires radical reforming on all levels and to put people first! This is a struggle between Westminster sovereignty and the sovereignty of the Scottish people. Since union 1707 Scotland has always been run separately with a Secretary of State. Of course the uK likes confusion and has no constitution. We need clearer and simpler details of what devolution and independence means for us. Most voters are confused and I am sure the UK encourages confusion just as there no clear constitution. 

 

 

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 extremely 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.


Friday, 30 September 2022

Edinburgh International book festival 2022 Review

Edinburgh Art college


Celebrates the enduring power of books. 

The bicycle racks are full at the book festival. Its now the second year at its new venue the Edinburgh Art college. With more of its usual buzz, with both in person and online events, there’s better children’s play area with a pirate ship and garden play area, and with more seating. It was a shock last year to move from Charlotte square gardens, where the Edinburgh International book festival took place from 1983 to 2019..

 

This year there were talks both in person and online.

In 2019 there were 900 events and now in 2022 events 600. With more streamlined events as expected less interest – as a result of the cost of accommodation and the pandemic.

 

Talks. At my first talk Edinburgh book festival, Irish writer Fintan O'Toole explored Ireland’s turbulent history from 1958 and whether Ireland might reunite. People wanting change while wanting things stay the same. But if we want things to stay the same things must change! The known and the unknown. 

American author Diana Gabaldon's talk was packed out and what an interesting lady! She was there to promote her 9th book in the Outlander saga - Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone. She was emotional when she spoke of working to protect the Gaelic language. 

Noam Chmsky explored the corporate press, and encouraging debate in his book Chronicles of Dissent 

Lea Yi, from Albania, spoke of her book Free, Coming of Age at the end of History.


Diana Gabaldon

Ocean Vuong

Good Grief
Omar Musa


*My EIBF talks included - Diana Gabaldon, Fintan O'Toole, Brian Cox, Oliver Bullough, Lea Yi, Good Grief, Noam Chomsky,

Bigger names – Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Maggie O’Farrell, Irvine Welsh, 

(No talks by historian Tom Devine this year unfortunately.)

 *Music

PJ Harvey, Martha Wainwright, Stuart Cosgrove, 

James Runchie, The story of Bach’s masterpiece

 

*Politics

Imagine a country, Val McDermid & Jo sharp. 

Murray Pittock, Old Scotia Grandeur springs

Yasha Mounk, The Great Experiment

Franks Dikotter, The Rise of a superpower

 

*EIBF encourages us to debate, question, and look for truths, via a wide range of writers from to academics, novelists, historians, journalists, politicians, artists, poets and more. 

Some might claim Edinburgh festivals are not radical enough. But the talks I’ve attended at the book festival this year covered many challenges – freedom in Albania, turbulent Ireland since 1958, challenging debates, and encouraging Scotland language and culture. 

 



**BOOKS

Maggie OFaarrell, The Marriage Portrait

Murray Pittock, Scotland’s stories now, On this day. Part of the year of stories 2022.

Irvine Welsh, The long Knives

Alan Riach – Scottish literature an introduction (Iain banks, Irvine welsh, Alasdair Gray, Hugh MacDiarmid, Dunbar, Robert Garioch, WN Hubert, Burns Scott, Hogg, romanticism marginalized look in.



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”


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


Sunday, 29 September 2019

Is Scotland Ready?


Irish Times writer Fintan O’Toole is an excellent, creative thinker and I enjoyed his essays, in the Sunday National. He writes that we must not idealize what independence will mean. Unlike Brexit, we have given Scottish Independence careful consideration, both by past artists and also in recent times.  

In the years leading to the historic 2014 vote on Scotland’s indy, one of the most significant changes that occurred was the rise up of renewed, energised and enthusiastic debates on all aspects of our views on how to build a healthier democracy, and with all walks of life here being more engaged. These debates led to creative imaginings of the type of country we might build here. This progress has been totally missed by the London based press. (And as Angus Robertson well points out, little attention is paid by the UK press to the UK regions, nations or to the European press) 
  
The twenty years of the Scottish Parliament has brought renewed confidence in our ability to govern ourselves, even while history tells us Scotland has always had some form of self government. Another big change was with young people. For the first time 16 and 17 year olds were given the vote, which meant political debate was considered in schools. Young people also take their news from diverse sources online. There has also been a reworking and recreating of Scotland’s arts, heritage and history. According to leading historian Tom Devine, until the 1960s Scottish history, particularly from Union to the present day, had been seriously neglected by academic study. 

My impression is all these discussions greatly moved Scotland on, with new creative ideas on how to make our own nation. Its been clear for decades now (as the polls point out) that Scotland has been moving in its own and different trajectory to those in England. 

Re Brexit – I’m getting worried now for the state of things here UK. Gerry Hassan, who has a new book, Scotland the Brave, thinks we’ve come to the limits of devolution and where do we go now?  The new guy Adam Price leading Plaid Cymru in Wales is very interesting too. He’s lived over in the States and believes we might all be stronger here with 4 diverse nations working together, as comparable to the Benelux countries of Netherlands, Luxemburg and Belgium which thrive independently but also co-operatively. Perhaps we need to define better what indy means and that the four British Isles nations would work closely together to build security, trade etc.  In todays internet world its such a different business to the days of ship travel! Worryingly UK politics appears in melt down, and with the hoping Brexit is some impossible quick fix.

On our social challenges. My view is we need to close private schools. The trouble is a big shift in culture like that can't really happen over night. After centuries of empire building and a Them versus Us culture, real social change will take some time I believe. We should seriously look at the Finnish education system - which believes in a "co-operative culture" rather than a "survival of the fittest" of creaming off an elite you nourish while the rest are disregarded. Because Scots history tells us we thrive when we are all given a chance, re libraries and education here.

There was an interesting write up in the Sunday Times June 21 (I like to read the right wing press also!) on Dr Geetha Marcus, professor of education Glasgow who advises the Scottish government. She advocates abolishing private schools in favour of a high-quality comprehensives model, and in line with the approach by Finland after the second world war, as required to reduce our nations attainment gap.Marcus argues segregated education is holding Scotland back. She also advises masters degrees for all teachers. Finland with a similar population, is recognised as an education success story since it replaced private and selective schools with ‘common’ schools on the basis that a society divided by class and poverty would weaken the country.There are 30K pupils in 74 independent schools in Scotland, around 4%, which encourages a privileged few.

It is vital we close the attainment gap. This can only be achieved, through a radical shift in attitudes. All children deserve a fair chance in life. We must also have mixed ability groups in primary schools and a Montessori type of education with mentoring. 

Worryingly the establishment and media continue to be run by private school elites. They want to protect the status quo and are rigidly against change, but this flies in the face of progress and of a real future of younger generations. So the question is, what do they really stand for? Those in London need to listen to more diverse voices, and not only to an isolated Tory party or a dysfunctional Labour. Huge changes are coming and I certainly don’t see the Brexit party or Lib Dems as an answer.

We need to look for the bigger pictures. Too many are only concerned for the personal and party issues. Why are the unionists running away from discussing Scotland’s pressing issues in a Peoples Assembly/? What are they scared of? Those on all sides of Scottish politics agree we need control of our immigration, drugs policies, and are against any Westminster power grab. We must find consensus – we can have an ever stronger British isles, just not one where all is controlled at Westminster. 

I am presently reading Fintan O’Toole’s recent book, Heroic Failure, on the Brexit carry on, and what an excellent story teller he is in this well researched tale of this highly confusing break down. He states that Brexit is really not about the EU, but an existential crisis. 

Scotland sits on the edge of Europe and for centuries has been an outward-looking nation. We must embrace this now – and become the welcoming, non-hostile nation, most who live in Scotland wish to be part of. 

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. 

Friday, 19 April 2019

Four Hundred Years of the Scottish Parliament

St Giles
The Scottish Parliament,sat for 400 years ( 1230 - 1707 ) influenced by the Reformation, Enlightenment and great scholars. It set many precedents that were eventually incorporated into the British parliament. It worked to reduce the power of the monarchy. The great scholar George Buchanan, who based his writings on the Scottish clan system and the father of democracy. He wrote that all political power resides in the people, and it must reside in the people: and that it is lawful and necessary to resist kings (or queens) or (we might say all rulers) if (or when) they become tyrants. There were many attempts to suppress his work and he foresaw where stupid Stewart vanity would lead.  

It bothers me that the British media portrays the British or English democracy as if it’s the oldest and best in the world. It is not. And while the contributions of the Scots are simply swept aside. Also Britain lagged behind other countries with universal suffrage (votes for all men) and crushed the Peoples Reform movement late 18thcentury, in Ireland and Scotland. 

The Scottish Parliament was begun in 1235 under Alexander II and had a political and judicial role. It sat for 400 years and incorporated The Three Estates – clergy, nobility, Burghs – who all sat together in a single chamber. Which contrasts to the divisions in the English parliament with its House of Commons and House of Lords. And the parliament travelled across the country. Later it sat in St Giles 1563 – 1639, and the nearby Parliament Hall 1639 – 1707.
The Declaration of Arbroath


The Declaration of Arbroath (1320) - Arbroath was the place that the Arbroath Declaration of Independencewas signed by lords, commons and the clergy of Scotland in 1320.  In it they had affirmed our right to be free to live our own lives in our own way.  Six years after Bannockburn.
There is a clip of Ian Hamilton, who led the students who stole back the Stone of Destiny 1951 from Westminster abbey, at the Arbroath visitors centre, speaking of his quest to awaken Scotland from its long slumber, his voice chokes as he speaks.. 

...for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

The Scottish Parliament determined the religious orthodoxy but at this time more power resided with the church and the monarchy. James Stewart V was Catholic.  
The Protestant Reformation happened in 1560, and Bishops were excluded after 1567 - abolished by the Covenanters1638 – 1651.
George Buchanan

Under James VI and I of England, (1603 Union of the Crowns) who was tutored by the highly respected scholar and the father of democracy George Buchannan. Buchanan was one of the most significant literary and political figures of the 16th century: poet, playwright, historian, humanist scholar, teacher to Mary Queen of Scots, and later to her son James Stewart VI of Scotland and I of England. He wrote one of the most important books in literature. A Dialogue on the Law of Kingship among the Scots, a critical edition and translation of George Buchanan's 'De Iure Regni apud Scotos Dialogus 

The Lord of the Articles was often appointed by the Crown, and parliament therefore became less independent. There was the War of the Three Kingdoms (not English civil war) and The Thirty years religious war in Europe, 17th century. 

Turbulent Times.  Oliver Cromwell invaded Scotland in 1651, after Charles I was executed and he went as far north as Dunottar castle, looking for the Scottish crown. (which was hidden elsewhere) 
Ten years later in1661, saw Charles II restoration. He sent Commissioners to rule his northern kingdom. His brother Catholic James VII fled into exile 1689. This period is called the Glorious Revolution, but why is it glorious but other revolutions are only ordinary? And this led to divisions Northern Ireland begun under Henry VIII.

The Scottish Parliament nominated William of Orange and they disposed James Stewart VII under the Claim of Rights, and they offered the Crown to William and Mary, with limits to royal power. .

The Union of the Parliaments – was a Trading Treaty - but by 1801 England began colonising Scotland. 
After years, the Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999, to Robert Burns song A Mans a Man for a That. Can we live up to these expectations and hopes?
The NEW Scottish Parliament 1999  to 2019 
'When on 25 march 1707 James Ogilvie, Earl of Seafield, Chancellor of Scotland, signed the Act of Union, ending Scotland's ancient independence, and merging the two parliaments of Scotland and England into the United Kingdom Parliament, he threw down the quill with these words: 'Now there's the end of an auld sang.'   

Ian Hamilton on taking back the Stone of Destiny. "It may be, it just may be, that on Christmas Day 1950 four young people wrote a new verse to that old song. Whatever we did, the song is still being sung."