Sunday, 26 June 2011

Unionists working together against Scotland

In May’s Scottish Parliament Election, the Liberal Democrats got what they deserved – next to nothing!

This is the party that eagerly jumped into bed with the Tories and signed-up to the most savage public spending cuts since Thatcher’s attack on ordinary men and women in the 1980s.  So keen were the Lib Dems to get their backsides on the backseats of ministerial motors that they happily ditched their principles and policies, including the commitment to not raise student tuition fees in England.

Also, we should not forget that through their coalition deal with the Tories, the Liberal Democrats ensured Scotland would be governed from London by parties that finished third and fourth, in terms of votes cast in Scotland.

Reduced to just five MSPs after May’s election – five too many – the Lib Dems had to seek a new leader in Scotland.  They didn’t exactly have a lot to choose from, which probably goes a long way to explaining how someone called Willie Rennie came to replace Tavish Scott.

Willie who?   Willie Rennie.  He lost his Westminster seat at the 2010 UK Election – having won Dunfermline & West Fife at a by-election in 2006.  He then managed to scrape into the Scottish Parliament this year, despite polling just 5.9% in the Mid-Scotland & Fife Regional vote.

Now Mr Rennie has decided he will defend the British Union and has taken it upon himself to ‘warn’ the people of Scotland that, “Because Alex Salmond is crafty, he may well get people over the edge before they know it.”

Apparently, Rennie is talking about independence and the proposed SNP Government referendum on the subject.  He, as a British Unionist, is against the Scots being allowed to govern themselves, and makes his position clear in a Sunday Herald interview when he says, “Our vote and the Tory vote are quite against independence.”  So, not only are they in bed with the Conservatives in London, the Lib Dems have also now fully signed-up to the Tory’s anti-Scottish agenda and will work with them in attempting to stop Scotland from becoming a normal, independent nation.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

No Team GB!

The announcement from the British Olympic Association (BOA) that it had reached an “historic agreement” with the football associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales regarding the fielding of a Great Britain team at next year’s London Olympics was a classic illustration of the problem with a Union of nations where the largest dominates the others.

Britain is not, never has been, and never will be a nation.  The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a union of nations, just like the EU is a union of nations.  Part of the indoctrination Scots have endured over 300 years within the British Union has been the instruction that our nationality is ‘British’.  It isn’t! We belong to the nation of Scotland, which means our nationality is ‘Scottish’.  Saying your nationality is British is as daft as claiming you belong to a nation called Europe and your nationality is ‘European’.

The BOA’s “historic agreement” also came as a shock to the football associations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, all of whom immediately issued press statements making clear they had reached no such agreement.  In fact, the three associations have consistently stated they would have nothing to do with a Great Britain football team at the Olympics.  The reality was that the British Olympic Association had decided to overrule them and attempted to bounce them into allowing Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh footballers to play as Great Britain.

Football is one of the areas where Scotland is recognised as a nation.  However, FIFA, world football’s governing body, has a number of members who resent the fact that Britain is allowed four separate ‘national’ teams.  A number of FIFA delegate countries have made clear their belief that if Britain is a nation, then it should have only one national football team.

The action of the football associations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, in not taking part in a Great Britain team, is to safeguard the footballing independence of each nation.

So, what is the answer?  It certainly isn’t to allow Scots to play football for a fabricated, pretendy nation called Britain.  Scotland is recognised as an independent nation in terms of international football, we should have the same status in terms of Olympic participation.

Team Scotland for the Olympics!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Downfall: The Tommy Sheridan Story

Between 1998 and 2004 the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) went from little more than a left-wing protest movement to Europe’s most successful socialist political party.

Building from one MSP elected  in 1999 – just a year after the party was formed – the SSP surged into Holyrood in 2003 with six members, having received the support of over 150,000 people at the ballot box.

To many of the general public the SSP was Tommy Sheridan, the party’s charismatic convener, but the reality was five other extremely hard-working MSPs, their equally committed staff and thousands of party members the length and breadth of Scotland.  Tommy was undoubtedly the high-profile frontman of the cause, but the SSP’s success was built on foundations created by so many other members who worked in the background, away from the limelight.

In reality, though, Tommy Sheridan’s impact on the SSP and on the public perception of the party was such that, were he to fall, the resultant crash would be of sufficient strength to severely weaken even the strongest foundations. 

Of course, Tommy did fall, in spectacular fashion, and the resultant damage to the SSP was almost fatal.

Much has been written about the ‘Sheridan trials’ – first when Tommy sued the News of the World, then when he was prosecuted for perjury arising from the first trial – and most people will have formed an opinion as to who was right and who was wrong.  Was Tommy right to take on the News of the World and the Murdoch empire over their salacious stories about his private life?  Were members of the SSP leadership right to refuse to lie in court?  Ultimately, who was responsible for actions that seriously damaged the cause of socialism?

One man who was at the centre of the devastation that befell the SSP in 2004 was Alan McCombes, a friend and political ally of Tommy Sheridan for twenty-years and formerly the party’s national policy and press co-ordinator.  In ‘Downfall: The Tommy Sheridan Story’, Alan McCombes sets out in detail what happened at SSP meetings and describes the two trials and their impact on those involved and on the socialist movement in Scotland.  It’s a fascinating story. 

I was an MSP through much of the time described in ‘Downfall’ and was relatively close to SSP MSPs on both sides of the divide that emerged in the party.  I, too, had formed opinions about what happened, but Alan McCombes’ book reveals just how little I actually knew.

It’s well worth a read.

Downfall: The Tommy Sheridan Story
Alan McCombes
Birlinn
ISBN:9781841587592

A modern democratic Scotland

This may be jumping the gun just a wee bit - given that we have yet to negotiate the Indpendence Referendum and a campaign that will see the British State unleash every dirty trick in the book to keep control of our country’s resources - but we really should start thinking about the kind of Scotland we want to see after we have retaken our independence.

Independence is the normal status for a nation.  It will give Scots the power and the right to govern our country in our interests, and not before time.  For over three-hundred years we have been a very subordinate partner in a British Union that removed power from Scotland and handed it to a ruling elite in London.  Don’t be taken-in by the facade of democracy that allows us to vote for Members of the British Parliament – the so-called United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is run by, and operated in the interests of the British Establishment, at the head of which sits the English monarch.  No amount of devolution will change that fact.

Within the current constitutional settlement we have a devolved parliament in Edinburgh, but that legislative body is entirely subservient to both the British/English parliament in London and the English monarch, Queen Elizabeth II (she’s the first Elizabeth Scotland’s ever had, so how come she’s Elizabeth II).  Every Member of the Scottish Parliament – democratically-elected by the people of Scotland – must swear allegiance to “Her Majesty the Queen, her heirs and successors” before they are allowed to take their seats.  Should any MSP decline to take such an oath, they would not be allowed to sit in the Scottish Parliament.  So much for a modern democracy!

Once we retake our independence and the right to govern ourselves, we really should drag Scotland into the 21st Century.  In a modern democracy there can be no place for unelected heads of state who live opulent and privileged lifestyles, paid for from the taxes of men and women, many of whom struggle to survive from day to day.  Today, if anyone tried to sell that idea from scratch, they would be told in no uncertain terms where to go.  Can you imagine: “Right, here’s what we’ll do.  We’ll pick this one family and we’ll all chip-in so they can live in a palace, maybe even two or three palaces.  Then we’ll give them an income that makes them amongst the richest people in the world, so they will never have to worry about a bill or how their children will be looked after.”  Aye, right!

In an independent Scotland we also need to put in place a social and political structure that prevents unscrupulous capitalists from gaining control of the nation’s economy – they would only bankrupt us again.  Take a look at history: the current collapse of capitalism is far from being the first.  Every time the capitalist system has crashed, ordinary working men and women have had to bail them out.  The lesson we should take into our modern Scottish democracy is that capitalism doesn’t work.

So, we definitely need to take control of our own country, and to do that we need to vote for independence when the SNP Government gives us the chance in its Referendum, probably around 2014.  But, when the dawn breaks on Independence Day, let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.  There is no point in establishing an independent Scotland just to build a Scottish version of the failed British model. 

Our modern, democratic Scotland should be a fair and equitable society that puts people before profit.  Our new country for the 21st Century should be a democratic Scottish republic.