Tagged: Scotland

Eating My Words

Nicola Sturgeon is the First Minister of Scotland, and the leader of the Scottish National Party. She is a long-serving politician, and a staunch advocate for Scotland being an independent country, and remaining a member of the EU.

And she also bears a passing resemblance to the Scottish comedian Janette Tough, who performs as a schoolboy character called Jimmy Crankie.

For over twenty years, Sturgeon’s abrasive style and constant harping on about independence really got on my nerves. The sight of her popping up on a TV interview would have me reaching for the remote, either to change channels, or mute the sound.

Then along came Covid-19.

The British government waffled and delayed. The Prime Minister hid inside 10 Downing Street, before going to hide across the river in St Thomas’ Hospital. On his departure from hospital, he rushed off to his second residence in The Chilterns, to hide there. He left others to bungle the handling of the pandemic, hoping to get the sympathy vote for having been ill. That’s if he was ever ill to start with.

Contrast that with Scotland. Their leader, Sturgeon, has been taking control from the start. She gives detailed daily press conferences about exactly what is going on, and even tells the truth about how many deaths have occured in Scotland, and where they have happened too. She answers the questions from repoters without being evasive, or dodging the point. And she uses whatever devolved powers are available to the separate Sottish Government to do her very best for the people in that country.

I never thought I would say this, but she should be the Prime Minister of Britain. She would do a better job than the clowns currently in control.

Well done, Nicola. I am impressed.

So I am eating my words.

The Independence Game

We are hearing a lot about independence these days. Britain seeking independence from the EU, Scotland seeking another try at independence from the United Kingdom, and a lot of people in Northern Ireland seeking to join the republic of Ireland, and gain independence from Westminster.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Scottish people had their chance to leave the United Kingdom. They had a referendum in 2014, but chose to stay in, by a majority of 55% to 45%. We didn’t hear any rumblings from Northern Ireland either, not until the decision to leave the EU last year. Now the republican Sinn Fein party has had surprising success in local elections there, with its stated objectives of becoming part of Ireland, and remaining in the EU. They are calling for their own referendum to leave, just as the Scottish Nationalists are also demanding to be allowed a ‘second go’ themselves.

It is no secret that both these regions benefit greatly from being part of the EU. Huge grants and subsidies keep them going, and these are unlikely to be matched once Britain formally leaves the EU, in a few years from now. Pundits cry about the break-up of the United Kingdom, and the end of the Britain we have known for centuries. But I have a suggestion.

Just give them independence. Don’t waste money on elections and referenda, pick a date, and tell them from that moment that they are independent. If they want, they can try to become members of the EU in their own right. In Northern Ireland this will be easy, as Ireland is already a member. But let’s see how Scotland manages with the Euro as their currency, and a foreign country (England) along their southern border. Let’s see if Ireland is happy to pay the benefits for the 5.5% of unemployed people in the six northern counties, and to police the sectarian troubles that will flare up once all this happens. Let’s see if Scotland can get the EU to fund its own 5.3% unemployed, and manage to pay a membership contribution at the same time.

They would do well to look at some modern examples of ‘Independence’. All those Balkan countries who sought independence from Yugoslavia. The Baltic States who wanted to regain sovereignty from the Soviet Union, and so many more. Their people are now picking crops for less than minimum wage in Britain and other European countries. Living four to a room, and being exploited by gang-masters. Their young women are being trafficked into prostitution in Europe, to cater for the sexual appetites of Germans and Britons, as well as others. Talk to them about the wonders of independence.

It would not bother me if Northern Ireland became part of Ireland, or Scotland became an independent country. England may no longer be that ‘green and pleasant land’ immortalised in the hymn. It has its own problems to sort out, but I am pretty sure we can manage to do that without Scotland, or Ulster.

All over, bar the shouting.

Well the 2015 election is almost at a close. My worst fears have been realised. Another five years of smug Conservative rule, detrimental to the NHS, the youth of Britain, and the lot of the ordinary working person. The Liberals have paid the price for accepting to be in coalition with the Tories. They have lost almost all their seats, and their leader has resigned. As a political force in this country, they have ceased to exist.

Labour have also been punished. They elected a leader who had no personality, no leadership skills, and failed to connect with anyone, even his own party’s most ardent supporters. Writing off the surge of nationalism in Scotland has all but wiped that party off the map there, and many of the highest placed and most experienced Labour members have lost their seats. The few gains they did make were not enough to leave them in credible opposition, which will now depend on reluctant alliances with former ‘enemies’, and still not muster enough votes to force any defeats.

Scotland has spoken. Despite not taking the opportunity for complete independence in the recent referendum, the Scottish people have voted overwhelmingly for nationalism, by returning all but three members as representatives of the Scottish National Party. This country is now divided politically, if not by physical borders. UKIP failed to capitalise on their supposed popularity. By concentrating on a single issue, immigration and fear of foreigners, they lost their way. Even their leader failed to win a place in parliament, and resigned accordingly.

Miliband has also resigned as Labour leader. This is a prime example of too little, too late. He should never have been there in the first place, and Labour deserve the ignominy of defeat for ever thinking he could win them an election. Socialism in any form is now almost non-existent in this country. The defeated parties will move further to the Right, in the hope of attracting support, and the voters seem to have already moved there. The much-lauded youth vote failed to make any difference whatsoever, despite some increases in turnout.

Not only has Cameron won, he has managed to force the resignation of the three leaders of the main opposition parties on the same day. No wonder he is looking very pleased with himself. He has a working majority, and no credible opposition to have to worry about.

I now have to continue to live in another Right-Wing European country, run by the men in suits, for the benefit of international financiers, multi-national companies, the rich, and the aristocracy. Is Cuba accepting migrants, I wonder?

A Hung Parliament.

Next Thursday, there is a General Election here in the UK. It has been hailed as the most important election since 1945, mainly because no party is expected to win. I don’t get the comparison at all. Labour swept to victory unexpectedly after the war, winning the 1945 election with an unheard of majority of 146 seats. They nationalised industries, inaugurated the National Health Service, and greatly improved the lot of the ordinary people across the UK.

Whatever happens next week, nothing momentous will happen as a result. If either of the main parties secure a working majority, it will be nothing short of a miracle. Whoever wins will be compelled to arrange shaky alliances with parties that they would normally never get into bed with, no doubt making promises that they will break, and doing deals that they will renege upon. The rise of UKIP was talked up a lot, but it is unlikely that they will get many seats. The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, is so ineffective that even traditional party supporters are reluctant to vote for him. The Conservatives promise much, and may sneak ahead at the last minute, with the voters worrying about the economy, and embracing the politics of self-interest. But even if they win, getting enough seats to form a government seems unlikely, so the deals and back-door negotiations will begin on Friday.

Some will use their votes as a protest, or not vote at all. Turnout in many areas is expected to be low. New powers have emerged in Scotland, with the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon getting much praise for her determination and fighting spirit. Her success could mean the end of the Labour Party as a national force, as it is far too dependent on its many seats in Scotland. The gloomy outlook is that we could see Conservative governments long into the future, further reducing the value of the working classes, and heralding a return to the bad old days before that 1945 election. They may need those shaky alliances to keep going, but as long as the opposition provides no alternative, the hung parliament, propped up by underhand deals, looks to become the norm in the UK.

Scotland: A lost opportunity

Anyone in Britain could tell you that the referendum on Scottish Independence has dominated the news for much of the past year. Politicians on both sides of the argument have talked themselves hoarse, and unlikely bedfellows have joined together, in the hope of influencing one side or the other. There have been threats, propaganda, the instilling of fear and worry, and even outright lies. Big business all over the planet has lined up against the nationalists, pledging to withdraw most of the industrial and manufacturing base of this small country.  Pro-Independence pundits have made ridiculously optimistic claims about the possibilities for an independent Scotland, and the anti-lobby has countered with visions of doom and gloom.

The issues of currency, EU membership, Defence and a nuclear deterrent, and even the laughable threat of a withdrawal of NATO protection, have all been thrown against the arguments for an independent country. The Yes campaign has traded on tradition, Scottish flags and bagpipers, as well as the inherent distrust of the English, and the Westminster parliament, to rally voters to their cause. Famous actors and musicians, many not actually living in Scotland, have appeared on TV, urging a vote for ‘freedom’. The leaders of the nationalists have talked grandly of new international borders, a Scottish passport, and trade agreements with countries all over the world. Neither side really provided any hard facts. They did not answer most of the questions posed by ordinary voters. And they seemed to conveniently forget the fact that they already have their own parliament, albeit as part of a United Kingdom. This is very much a toy parliament though. Allowed to do such things as to not charge for medication, or require fees from university students. Anything ‘serious’ is still controlled and overseen by Westminster. Nonetheless, they do have one, which is more than we can say in England.

If I was a Scot, I would have voted Yes. It would have been for many reasons; none of them to do with economics, all of them to do with character and identity. Even as I ticked my ballot paper though, I would have known that it was a lost cause. It was never going to happen. Fear of the unknown would always prevail in the end. And those threats to withdraw industry, to remove the jobs and livelihoods, would always be at the back of the voters’ minds. Promises were made; vote No, and changes will happen. More powers will be devolved, and a better future secured for all in Scotland.  I would have known that this was a lie. Scotland has had scant representation in the UK parliament for many years now. They have not voted for the party in power, and as a consequence, have been sidelined. Their oil will run out, the fish stocks will dwindle, and nobody needs their heavy industry anymore.  They will just fade away. Their national identity will become a curiosity for tourists, and the country will be destined to be a place of holidays and whisky, an enormous service industry on a national scale.

The result is out this morning. Less than half of the electorate voted for Independence. It was always going to be so.

They threw away a rare opportunity. One they may well never have again.