what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A model for People Power??

I know that some of my (many) global readers who share my critical/sceptical stance on power structures have had their hopes raised recently by my homeland and will have been hugely encouraged by the electoral landslide in Scotland which wiped out the representatives of the British political system on May 7th – with all but 3 of the 59 Scottish parliamentary seats in Westminster being taken by the Scottish Nationalists.
For 60 years Labour has been the establishment party in Scotland – on 6th May they had 40 seats – reduced overnight to one. In many cases, rock-solid Labour majorities of more than 10,000 votes were transformed into Nationalist strongholds with majorities of equivalent size.
If ever there was an example of “people power”, is this not it?

I have been out of Scottish politics for 25 years; was never a “mainstream” labour activist (to put it mildly); and was never disturbed personally or politically by the upsurge of Scottish Nationalism which started in the 1960s with the discovery of North Sea Oil (establishment Labour figures clearly had a better "nous" than me - since they treated them viciously - I treated them as a bit of a joke) . Readers can therefore assume that what follows is as objective an assessment of that question as they are likely to obtain elsewhere…….. The basic facts are –

Just 8 months ago, a massive 85% of the Scottish electorate voted by a 10% margin to remain in the United Kingdom
- What reputation the Nationalist government which has ruled since 2007 enjoys for “social democracy” it actually owes to the Lab/Lib Coalition which ruled Scotland from 1999
- It was during this time that all the distinctive social democratic policies were developed and implemented such as community land ownership; free care for the elderly; free University tuition fees; and continued public water and health systems
- All supported by the block UK tax transfer which is made to Scotland.
- The Nationalist Government which has ruled Scotland since 2007 (initially a minority one) has never used the powers for marginal tax increases
- And refused to take part in the broad Scottish coalition which pushed (successfully) for the significant devolved powers enjoyed by the Scottish government and Parliament
- Far from articulating a social democratic position, their leaders until recently had policies for marginal taxation for multi-national companies and “entrepreneurs” such as Donald Trump
- The Scottish Nationalist Party (despite its soft leftist image) has never articulated a coherent statement of its political philosophy (the 600 page manifesto for the 2014 referendum published by the Scottish Government was pasted together by civil servants)
- The upsurge in Nationalist support came in the 12 months preceding the September 2014 Independence Referendum and seems to have been due in large measure to a an amazing outburst of independent leftist organisations in Scotland such as  Common Weal  and National Collective 
- the SNP candidates attracted 1.5 million votes on 7 May - compared with Labour's 700,000 - and took 50% of the overall vote  
- this compares with the SNP vote in the 2010 General Election of 491,300; and Labour's 1,035.000
- in 5 years, that is, the SNP vote increased by 300% (1 million); and the Labour vote declined by 300,000   

Let my English friend Boffy spell it out for you -
The SNP argument was that they would be able to blackmail a Labour government -but, the Tories were able to use that threat of blackmail to rally a large enough block of nationalistic sentiment, in England, behind them to win a majority. 
The SNP believed that they could blackmail a Labour government, and instead led their ctiizens into another Tory government, the SNP now have to try to delude them into a belief that this Tory government “must” listen to them.
But, of course, the Tory government has no reason to listen to the SNP at all. In fact, what the one-party SNP regime in Scotland has now created, ironically, is a situation where a Scottish voice in government is pretty much excluded. In conditions where there are a large number of Scottish MP's from Labour or the Tories, there is always a good chance that some of those Scottish MP's will themselves be Ministers. In fact, in the last Labour Government, it was Scottish MP's who occupied the position of Prime Minister, Chancellor and other top jobs.
Because, today there are virtually no Scottish Labour or Tory MP's, the chances of any of them being in government, is thereby automatically excluded! In more ways than one, the delusions of the SNP have led the Scottish people into a dead end that has also excluded them from any voice in government. SNP MP's in Parliament will just be onlookers.  If they really had the courage of their convictions, they would follow the example of Sinn Fein, and refuse to take their seats. 
The fact, that the SNP currently purport to be pro-European, whilst wanting separation from the rest of Britain, simply exposes the illogicality and contradiction of their arguments and position even more. If, as the SNP claim, their problems arise not from capitalism, but from the fact that decisions are made in Westminster rather than Holyrood, how much greater would their problems be if decisions were made in Brussels rather than Holyrood, and under conditions where Scottish representation in the corridors of power would be even smaller than they are now, in Westminster? 
The Tories understood these economic and political realities, which is why Cameron is already rushing to offer the SNP "fiscal autonomy".  Jeremy Hunt let that cat out of the bag on Newsnight, whilst Cameron and other Tories have tried to make out that they do not propose to give Scotland fiscal autonomy.  They intend to make the SNP demand it, so as to give it to them as an apparent concession, so the SNP will have to take the blame.  If the SNP have to raise the finance required to cover Scottish spending, particularly in conditions where North Sea oil revenues are declining, and the ability to use them to bolster state finances are likely to disappear completely, the SNP will have little more scope to actually change anything in Scotland than a sizeable metropolitan council in England. It will have less ability to do so than does London. 

I don't like to be the bearer of bad news - but be prepared for all now to go downhill in Scotland.....unless a serious strategy can be created by those outside the Nationalist ranks who have worked so hard in the last two years.....

Expect nothing from the nationalist MPs................they are an undisciplined rag-bag of troublemakers who simply have naivety in common......The E-book I published last autumn - The Independence Argument – home thoughts from abroad has a detailed list of  the most significant books, websites and blogs on the issue. Only one of the 8 books which might be said to be in the "pro" camp conducts a serious analysis of the issue - and that is "Arguing for Independence - evidence, risk and the wicked issues" by Stephen Maxwell whose voice is sadly no more,,,,,,,

Gerry Hassan is an independent Scottish commentator and reflects here on the possible reasons for Scotland now being a one-party state

The repro is from my copy of Frans Masereel's superb "The City - a vision in woodcuts" (1925)

No comments:

Post a Comment