Source: Wing Over Scotland
It’s been impossible to know where to start today. Last night hundreds of angry protestors picketed a £200-a-seat banquet in Glasgow at which Scottish Labour “showcase[d] the party in front of donors and business figures” in a desperate bid to raise cash for the branch office (which survives on handouts from the UK party), and at which deputy leader Anas Sarwar, less than 48 hours after vowing he’d remain in his position, announced that he’d step down after all.
Despite being the deputy, Sarwar wasn’t stepping down to contest the leadership, but rather to smooth the path of Jim Murphy. Murphy is London’s preferred candidate, but even Labour aren’t dim enough to want to run Holyrood with London-based MPs in BOTH of the leadership roles, so Sarwar stepped aside to offer a potential “dream ticket” of Murphy and Kezia Dugdale, a Lothians list MSP who this week told the Edinburgh Evening News that she intends to leave politics within 10 years.
(Then again, in 2011 Jim Murphy told Labour List he wouldn’t consider running for Scottish leader for “maybe 20 years” and he’s only waited three, so who knows?)
But there’s so much more going on.
Firstly, there’s poor hapless Margaret Curran. Widely regarded as the person who stuck the long knife into the back of outgoing leader Johann Lamont, she seems unlikely to be rewarded. Several commentators have speculated that Anas Sarwar’s price for suddenly changing his mind will have been the promise of Curran’s job as shadow Scottish Secretary, with Curran tidily shunted into the dead-end international-development spokesman job currently occupied by… Jim Murphy.
(When Murphy was moved there in a 2013 reshuffle it was seen as a demotion, largely because international development is a brief where Labour and Tory policy differs even less than in other areas, and therefore offers little chance for a prospective minister to make an impact.)
All of this assumes Murphy will win, of course, an outcome this site remains sceptical about. But there are all manner of potential pitfalls along that path too, which Murphy attempted to skate around in an evasive and flustered performance on last night’s Scotland Tonight in which he avoided giving any direct answers.
Under Labour rules the Scottish leader has to occupy some sort of parliamentary seat, whether it’s in Holyrood, Westminster or Brussels. Murphy has pledged that he’ll stand for Holyrood in 2016 or sooner, but told Scotland Tonight that Labour would not force an early by-election by having a current MSP step aside.
(The alert Lallands Peat Worrier pointed out yesterday that to do so would cause the lucky “volunteer” to lose out on tens of thousands of pounds in resettlement grants.)
Adhering to that pledge will mean that Murphy HAS to run for Westminster in 2015 – if he doesn’t, he won’t be eligible for the post of Scottish Labour leader. So he’ll have to stand for election on the premise that he’ll quit just a year later. His East Renfrewshire seat ought to be safe behind a 10,000 majority, but a mischievous campaign of tactical voting combined with the inherent disrespect to the electorate of the one-year plan might yet bring about an upset.
Which brings us neatly to the elephant in the room – yesterday’s opinion polls. Two full-sample surveys, from Ipsos MORI and YouGov, both gave the SNP huge leads in Westminster voting intentions. Averaged out they put the Nats on around 50% of the vote to Labour’s 25%, a staggering movement of 40 points in just a few months and the sort of numbers that make the UK’s broken First Past The Post electoral system work FOR the Nats rather than against them, turning a shift into a landslide.
Indeed, uniform-swing projections by the two pollsters predicted Labour holding onto just four or 10 (respectively) of their 40 Westminster constituencies. In those circumstances talk of ANY Labour seat as “safe” seems almost absurd. So even if Murphy wins the leadership contest, it’s not inconceivable that he could be booted out in May, and then have to force some poor sap of an MSP to throw away a small fortune and fall on their sword so that Murphy can run for their seat.
Which could of course, for the same reasons as noted in the previous paragraph, lead to another embarrassing defeat. Especially as in a by-election the SNP could throw all their 84,000 members at it.
To have willingly set itself up for such a potentially catastrophic slapstick sequence of humiliations, then, it can only be concluded that Labour really REALLY wants Murphy to run the Scottish branch, and that it’s absolutely desperate not to have one of its own MSPs in charge. It’s hardly the sort of resounding demonstration of faith in the Holyrood D-team that’s likely to inspire the confidence of the electorate.
This circus won’t be leaving town for some time yet.
Source: Wing Over Scotland
Our favourite pundit, Scotsman clickbait troll John McTernan, 23 October 2014:
“Routed in their homelands. A leader so beleaguered he has had to resign. No credible domestic policy agenda. In danger of irrelevance in Scotland at the next General Election. These are disastrous times for Scotland’s party.
The first full Scottish opinion poll after this disastrous routing’s going to hurt, then.
STV News, 29 October 2014:
Keep ‘em coming, John.
Source: Wing Over Scotland
It’s my job to watch, read and listen to the news. First hand I see the trickle down effect of news coming in off the wires, to that particular event being covered by all major news outlets. From the guttural to the high-brow, one sets the agenda for the other and this becomes our rationalised understanding of the world, and of our own communities.
Some say the media only confirms that which we already hold a position on and some see it as wholly influential. Whatever the opinion might be on either side, the fact remains that our society allows us to have a diverse range of news and entertainment providers which are regulated through the Communications Act.
The act was implemented in 2003 and is controlled by Westminster and the UK Government, and much of the regulation is to ensure a diversity of views and focuses on the concentration of ownership. It has always been maintained that we should have a public service broadcaster, which of course we have in the BBC and we pay a license fee to sustain an ad-free service.
BBC productions in Scotland consist of token shows such as ‘Waterloo Road’, a programme with no real Scottish identity. I’m also certain that anybody who has ever tried to get into the ‘media’ in Scotland has at some point been told, ‘you know you will probably have to move to London to get anywhere’. Really, what should happen is that we have the resources to keep and draw talent here so our communities can be more educated about the things that matter to them. In doing so, people might feel more inclined to get involved in whatever way they feel they can.
It is widely recognised that the referendum motivated people on an unprecedented level through online, grass-roots campaigning from both sides. Vincent Mosco in his book ‘The Digital Sublime’ wrote, ‘all of the major social movements have developed communications strategies and policies’.
The internet and social media helped to ignite a fully formed debate which took place everywhere, from the playground to the pub. It involved the nation as a whole, and in some ways the internet filled whatever gaps there were in the mainstream media coverage of the referendum. This momentum needs to continue for democracy to thrive, and this can be achieved with a media that is representative of the variety of issues we have in Scotland.
The reason broadcasting is so important is because even in a digital world, it is our primary source of information. We can trust documentaries, current affairs programmes and 24 hour news as this is all quite familiar to us. It was even stated by Jürgen Habermas back in 1984 that when it comes to our trust in mainstream media, people can be convinced of anything, even ‘there is no such thing as true’.
As noted before, the media rationalises the world in which we live by placing certain events/issues in to the public sphere. A great example right now is the furore over immigration and asylum seekers.
Places such as Clacton have a lower than average proportion of immigrants but it is in parts of the country like this where immigration is the greatest concern. The prominence of the issue of immigration within the mainstream press and on our tellies gets us properly riled up. It is also in places like this UKIP are gaining ground.
John Kay put it nicely in his Financial Times column, he said on the matter, “citizens express dissatisfaction with the current state of modern politics by hostility to anonymous others”.
If people were more educated about the world they inhabit, they might not be so quick to make generalised assumptions based on media rhetoric. With more local and regional media, there can be a more informed public and therefore a public who are empathetic to the needs of the community around them, not a public who are suspicious of things they know nothing about.
For this to happen Scotland’s broadcasting industry needs to flourish and have greater autonomy from London. With that we can achieve better regional representation, putting us back in touch with our communities. This can only happen if we have control of our own broadcasting policy.
It was pointed out in another article on the National Collective website that in federal Germany, broadcasting is the responsibility of the states, therefore they have a total of nine public service broadcasters working alongside nationwide broadcaster ARD.
In the event of the Scottish Parliament being given primary power over broadcasting in Scotland, it would be possible to set up our own Scottish public service broadcaster while coming to an agreement with the BBC over their continued role in Scotland.
The media and online is our connection to the people in power, and this has become even more apparent over the last two years of referendum campaigning. It may be generally thought that social media, websites and blogs cancel out the need for the press or television news programmes but we need a balance. Good quality professional journalism, passionate citizen journalists and an engaged public.
Now I realise that this takes money and a public who are willing to invest in a proposed Scottish public service broadcaster, which is where it gets tricky, but we live in a democracy. Together we can debate the issue, come up with sustainable business models and education programmes which will encourage all of the above.
Let us have a voice and promote the idea of true optimism. Let our communities know what is relevant to them. Let us continue to take an interest in our own political and social affairs by having a broadcast media that actually works for Scotland.
Jenni Flett & Laura Richmond
Illustration by Laura Richmond
Source Article from http://nationalcollective.com/2014/10/30/the-future-of-scottish-broadcasting/The Future Of Scottish BroadcastingNational Collective
No Campaign Parties in General Election Meltdown
No Campaign parties would face annihilation in Westminster election if new poll is accuarte.
The demand for more powers looks set to dominate next years general election and to destroy the No campaign parties.
A new Ipsos Mori survey for STV shows that support for the SNP has surged to 52%, giving them a projected 54 seats at Westminster. The Liberal Democrats would have four and the Conservative party would be left without any Scottish MPs. Labour would poll 23% of the Scottish vote, leaving them with just four seats in Scotland.
I have been working on projections for a few days now prior to the poll and cannot see how the Liberals will maintain four seats. Personal votes do not seem that high and the YES vote in each Liberal constituency was strong enough to make it doubtful that any liberal will hold a seat if faced by a YES alliance / more powers candidate.
Compare the projection based on the STV poll with the current state of play.
Following the independence referendum the political reality in Scotland accepted by all parties is that the mandate that exists is for substantial more powers. In an act of monumental irony the No campaign fought tooth and nail to keep Alex Salmond’s Devo Max question off of the ballot paper and effectively added it back on when they realised that NO was going to lose.
Terms such as Devolution Max and something close to federalism were used, and that was enough to give the soft NO and undecided voters permission to vote No in the hope of something better. Some Yes campaigners were furious that the last minute vow meant that an option that wasn’t even on the ballot paper and wasn’t really examined during the campaign effectively won it. I think, looking back, future generations will see the referendum result as the time when Scotland decided to take a gradualist route to independence rather than doing it in one big jump.
Scottish voters are canny and have a track record on this: in 1997 we voted for devolution (dipping our toe in the self rule waters) and we have had a few more powers granted to the Scottish parliament since then with the 2012 Scotland Act (happily paddling away). Unhappy with the speed of progress more and more people moved to backing the SNP and now the balance of power sits with the devo maxers who are effectively looking to swim around in the shallow end before diving in for real.
Despite winning, as much as 20% of NO voters who actually want to close the Scottish Parliament and return all power to Westminster are going to be bitterly disappointed. The question is not if there should be more powers but where do we draw the line. The unionist parties are asking how significant will those new powers have to be to slow the drift towards independence and the Yes parties are asking what powers can we gain that will make a difference and convince the Scottish people that we can do better than Westminster with every power we are granted?
The Smith Commission
I can see two plausible outcomes from the Smith Commission:
- The commission recommends a significant set of powers that will help Scotland to address some key issues and these recommendations will be more than the unionist parties have suggested.
- The Commission recommends a weak set of powers, pandering to the Westminster parties who will try to dress it up as significant change when everyone in Scotland will know it’s a sow’s ear and not the silk purse they expected.
Option one will either be more than the unionists parties can stomach/get past their English-based MPs so they will water it down in implementation and risk a major Scottish voter backlash. A far less likely scenario is that Westminster will accept the report and we move a giant step towards independence with home rule, but I just can’t see that getting past English-based MPs and getting on the statute books.
So both of the above scenarios will backfire on the unionist parties. Even Devo Max, were it offered, is a boost to independence campaigners: a strongly defined term, it basically means everything devolved except Defence, Foreign Affairs and possibly Welfare. Imagine going into a referendum in a few years’ time with the No camp making the case that Westminster retailing the power to have nuclear weapons, get involved in foreign wars, take us out of Europe and implement benefits policies such as the bedroom tax would make us better together. Those are not the last powers Scotland needs to control – they are the first.
Against this very tricky political environment for the unionist parties Labour, the only one with any chance of winning an election across Scotland, is imploding. During the campaign Johann Lamont insisted that Scotland was not a second class citizen in the UK. Having argued this for more than two years it’s ironic that her stated reason for resigning is that the Scottish Labour Party was treated as a branch office and that her Westminster colleagues were dinosaurs who don’t understand Scotland.
Jim Murphy, a Westminster MP, is seen as the favourite for the labour leadership but he would have to nominate someone to lead Labour in the Scottish Parliament till he could be elected there himself in 2016. In other words, Scottish Labour would categorically be taking its orders from Westminster, which the SNP will have lots of fun and games with.
There is also the likelihood that having been selected as leader Murphy could indeed lose his Westminster seat at the 2015 General election. His seat, a three way fight with the Tories and SNP, could see a YES/more powers alliance candidate specifically targeting the new Labour leader and with more than 85,000 members the SNP will be able to target key seats with thousands of supporters, massive funding, street stalls and even a carnival atmosphere. If the Yes voting Labour supporters are convinced to vote for the alliance candidate then he won’t keep his seat.
Is this likely? Well in the rest of the UK the General Election will be a contest about immigration, EU membership and both major unionist parties trying to keep UKiP out. This is what Scottish TV viewers and newspaper readers will hear from Milliband, and in Scotland the election will be about more powers and who is best to fight for them. That wont be seen as Labour. Don’t take my word for it listen to:
Former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish who says many of Scottish Labour’s supporters no longer know “what the party stands for”, and said Labour had proposed the “least attractive” Unionist plan on more powers for Holyrood.
In General Election debates after debate in Scotland the issue will be who is best to deliver more powers for Scotland and the Scottish voter will have a stark choice. The SNP, who will not support a Tory Government, and if they have enough to hold the balance of power will grab all the powers Scotland needs as part of the coalition deal with Labour. Or vote Labour and rely on the party with the least interest in more powers to deliver more powers.
The full breakdown of the STV poll is SNP 52%, Scottish Labour 23%, Scottish Conservatives 10%, Scottish Liberal Democrats 6%, Scottish Green Party 6%, Ukip 2% and 1% support for others.
Today a YouGov poll continued the trend towards the SNP in Westminster voting intentions: SNP 41%, LABOUR 28%, CONSERVATIVES 18%, UKIP 5%, GREENS 4%, LIBDEMS 4%.
Let’s compare what Scotland’s Westminster MP constituencies look like now and how that would change if there were a General Election tomorrow and people voted as the YouGov poll suggests.
Now – Labour 41 seats, Liberal Democrats 11 seats, SNP 6 seats, Conservatives 1 seat
Now you have to add all sorts of caveats, there is not an election tomorrow and Labour and the Liberals may well recover somewhat, but it’s is hard to predict a result that doesn’t lie somewhere between the SNP gaining more than 30 new seats and a repeat of the Holyrood SNP landslide in first past the post contests.
Lets be clear, if the Smith Commission fails to deliver, or it gets it right but the Westminster parties baulk at implementing its recommendations or attach tax and budget traps, then there will be a huge voter backlash and support for independence will increase significantly to a majority position. Either way the political landscape has changed immeasurably and the 45% YES vote is enough, if it is motivated and correctly managed, to deliver more powers via the SNP presence at Westminster in May 2015. Off course, more powers is not a result, it is the second best solution for Scotland, but it is what the Scottish people have voted for – for now.
In years to come when you look up the definition of pyrrhic victory it will say ‘see Scottish Independence referendum’.
Original Source: BusinessForScotland
Submission to Smith Commission from BfS Edinburgh Group
The following statement is the submission from the business networking group ‘Business for Scotland’ Edinburgh Group. It supplements and supports the other submissions from Business for Scotland, including it’s Declaration and Vision Report.
This group has an overarching aim; to ensure that the best business and economic environment is developed and sustained in Scotland for the benefit of its people, through the delivery of a prosperous, engaged society that truly reflects the needs, wants, and will of the people of Scotland.
This particular report is not the official submission from Business for Scotland to the Smith Commission. Please keep an eye out for our official submission in the next few days.
Our Main Affirmations
1. We believe the fundamental principle that Scotland, as an economic, geographic, cultural and social construct as a Nation, would best serve its populace and prosper in direct proportion to its proximity to being fully Independent.
2. We believe that analogous to a commercial company and it’s strategic and operational requirements for necessary decision-making and unfettered operation, for Scotland to prosper it must have full control over its financial, economic, strategic and political affairs; requiring as with a business or company, those instrumental levers as a fundamental, necessary condition for good governance and operation and therefore having the fullest control over income and expenditure, tax, borrowing and investing. Essentially, having the strategic and fiscal capabilities to set and carry out its own affairs as it would wish, in line with the strategy and objectives that it has set. This makes good business sense.
3. We believe that the United Kingdom is a failed state; it is no longer ‘fit for purpose’, particularly as an efficient or effective economic entity. It is highly unbalanced economically, and is fiscally run to benefit only the few, not the many; where regardless of the origin of economic power or value, the delivery of benefit is almost wholly centred in one small geographical location around the South East. Radical change is required.
4. We believe that a better Nordic/Scandinavian-type society is both achievable and desirable, and indeed a superb starting point to create and foster a socio-economic system that is more progressive, democratic, fair and modern, and best serving the interests of the people of Scotland. Whilst we unequivocally believe that this can only be achieved through full independence, it is right to work towards achieving this vision within the current and developing political and economic environment, and we will thus continue to fight for the right for the Scottish people to secure the fullest
control over their own affairs.
5. That the suitably rapid expediting of, and acting upon, the Commission’s recommendations should not in any way be tied to, or impeded by, the issue or prospect of a restructuring of governance in other parts of the UK. Scotland is not a
region of the UK but is, and should be treated and respected, as a Nation within a collective of equal Nations. Whatever the outcome of the Referendum, it was not a vote for UK-wide change, but only for significant change in Scotland and its relationship with the rest of the UK. This is self-evident, but does need to be respectfully, firmly and indelibly scorched into the minds of those who make up this Commission.
6. It follows that any major change to Scotland’s place within the UK requires only the domestic Scottish-based representatives of Scotland and the assent of it’s people to make it so in terms of a democratic process and decision; in addition to any substantive change following this and other initiatives therefore, the Scottish Parliament structure and constitution should be unassailable and not prone to any change of Government, whim, or further Westminster interference that may block or indeed negate, future constitutional or legal arrangements agreed and authenticated by the people of Scotland (including the Scottish Parliament’s own existence).
7. All parties must now move forward in the kind of spirit and intention espoused by Treaty that is the Edinburgh Agreement (2012), and in good faith. The advent of a Yes vote would have held both sides to a binding agreement and covenant to progress together in a spirit of shared respect and generosity; the Commission now must ensure a binding resolution is similarly invoked to turn pledges and promises from the UK Government into deliverables.
Learning from Devolution
The current devolved Scottish Parliament within the framework of the United Kingdom has demonstrated, to good effect, what can be achieved when the basic but established tenet of good governance is followed: decisions are better made by the people that are most affected by them; those decisions are enabled and supported more satisfactorily in direct proportion to control over income and expenditure, and in tandem with the ability to set strategy.
The ‘devolution experiment’ showed conclusively that decision-making that is conducted closer to those that would wish to make those decisions, and whom they affect, results in altogether better outcomes. And in more popular Governance.
This Commission should be viewed and conducted in line with the spirit of the Edinburgh Agreement; that is, to work to remedy the fact that ‘promises and pledges’ made in the Referendum campaign period by the main UK political parties (including the ‘purdah’ period) are meaningfully delivered as a baseline foundation from which to deliberate further. Anything less than that will be an effrontery to democracy and justifiably render this Commission and its findings or recommendations void and justifiably precipitate legitimate political, legal and moral action on behalf of the people of Scotland, to deliver full independence.
The ‘No’ vote that prevailed in the referendum does not sanction or mandate the UK government to consider adding a minimum level of further self governance, to the existing devolution structure. It if anything, the vote sanctioned the opposite. It was given in anticipation of a maximum level of powers and capabilities and must therefore be seen as endorsing a position as close to independence as possible. This is in marked contrast to the prevalent view from London and the Media that the Commission should be looking to ‘add to’ the current devolution arrangement. This is not a simple principle of subsidiarity.
Everything should be devolved apart from specific, agreed, reserved items – but those items must be expressly agreed with, and by, the democratically elected representatives that are elected in Scotland, and hence must reflect the ultimate sovereignty of the Scottish people. It is not for those that populate London, Westminster or Whitehall to limit, decide or confer. Nor indeed is it within their competency. Again, anything less than a true reflection of will, that results in an express and sanctioned agreement will be a travesty of democracy, a stitch-up and a lost opportunity to produce something of profound and lasting merit.
The Democratic Deficit and the March towards a Modern Democracy
The Commission should meditate on the fact that the Referendum was proportionately the largest and most multi-faceted whole-scale engagement of an electorate in the UK for decades; it behoves the Commission to reflect on this and that this unprecedented degree of legitimisation and demonstration of democracy has ‘lifted the bar of expectation’ that the Scottish Electorate now has of its political systems and representatives, and they expect those now to deliver for them.
The current ‘democratic deficit’ is of course debatable, depending on perspective; yet what is clear is that things on both and all sides are not as they should be and any deficit needs to be addressed convincingly and completely. If that democratic deficit is not reduced to the point that most of the Scottish people would wish it (that is, the aspirations of the overall majority of the electorate, whether they voted Yes or No in the Referendum), then it should be clear to the Commission that the only way to resolve this would be when, and how, Scotland chooses to take the step to full independence unilaterally.
An elected majority of Nationalist MPs in the forthcoming Westminster General Election, coupled with the established majority Nationalist Government in the Scottish Parliament, could result in an immediate move to conduct another Referendum on Independence, based on an unassailable mandate whilst exposing the growing democratic deficit; and the Scottish Electorate’s full representatives would be rightly emboldened and their actions further legitimised by any failure of this Commission to deliver (due to the latter’s acquiescence to the primacy of the UK Government).
The Commission thus needs to ensure that it recommends substantively more that this ‘baseline foundation’ and any subsequent non-movement on the part of the UK Government will give the people of Scotland all the rights that they need to conduct another Referendum and take the last steps to Independence.
We therefore assert that a good starting point for the Commission is to work backward from full Independence to this baseline foundation; that is, taking an ‘Ockham’s Razor’ approach to the Commission’s challenge: to begin from an assumption that were Scotland currently independent from the UK, what areas should be shared that best suits Scotland, and indeed, all Nations within the UK? That would lead to a more equitable position and progress, and reduce the public cynicism related to this Commission. There are an infinitive number of permutations that the Commission could consider whether as a starting point or end, but the simplest of all hypotheses is one where Scotland is already
independent, and this starting perspective prevents discourse and deliberation becoming unnecessarily complex. Looking at where there are existing and likely competing agendas, aspirations and desires between the Nations making up the UK, is a fantastic and logical place to start. Where there are competing or different agendas, it makes sense to encourage and create distinct demarcation between the Parliaments and Nations along those lines.
Similarly, contradictions such as the much peddled and cognitive dissonance that is the ‘subsidy myth’ (yet if thought through, is actually a condemnation of the UK State, rather than a puerile view of Scotland’s place in it), and the ‘West Lothian Question’ could be ably and deftly mitigated by such an approach. All this needs is the courage and resolve to do something exceptional.
Likewise, any existing assets, debts and other ongoing areas relating to the ‘UK Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Account’ that have to be resolved due to any new arrangements, must also be negotiated on that premise; to prevent continuation of anomalies such as the incessant massive expenditure on projects that have no benefit to, or explicit agreement of, the people of Scotland. The UK Government’s Business Secretary Vince Cable described London as ‘a giant suction machine draining the life out of the rest of the country’ – and it much be asserted and recognised here that economically, and in business or industrial terms, London and Westminster strategises and creates policies that benefit that area, rather than the profile of industry sectors and interests that lie outside of that city.
The case for total fiscal and other political responsibilities and capabilities to be fully devolved, is therefore apparent and undeniable given the above statement from Cable and in reflecting not just varied interests outside of London, but the very different societal needs and make-up of the economy here in Scotland. Even the Liberal Democrats so-called Federal option does not give adequate powers on social welfare and pensions, an example of two areas of competence most certainly required to support and work with any devolved business and fiscal decision-making and control. There are too many additional examples of these differences, and the need for the levers to address them, to list them here (such as Energy production and policy, Immigration/Population levels, little control over the nature and funding major UK capital / infrastructure projects, Oil Wealth / Fund, and Broadcasting); yet each and every one of them make the unassailable case for devolving full powers to nurture Scottish businesses and its distinctive economy, and to maintain and grow its many existing and potential competitive advantages.
Retention v. Release
We maintain that progress must not be beholden to a ‘de minimis’ position or objective. Devolved power, as with Independence, should however be the construct of the people of Scotland, and they should choose what ‘devo-max’, or ‘fuller powers’ actually mean, unconstrained by dogma and the vested interests of those they would wrestle power from.
The scope of this Commission should not be a question, or deliberation, about ‘what powers and trinkets should be reluctantly given to Scotland’, but of ‘what progressive arrangements can we put forward to the Scottish people to sanction, within a mature negotiating environment that would enhance the society, economy and prosperity of Scotland’. It is not about what powers and levers should be retained by Westminster and the UK state, but what is required to be released to and by Scotland and in turn welcomed and revitalised by its people, so that they can progress, prosper, and be a ‘beacon for democracy and change’ for the rest of the UK. Indeed, it could lead to potent and popular ‘reciprocity’ between the Nations and the respective Governments.
This Commission can, and should, decide whether it is to truly provide a lead in advocating and revitalising democracy and subsequent prosperity and life-enhancement within these isles, or is simply constituted as a damage limitation exercise and instrument of a stagnating and over-centralised UK State.
It cannot be both.
David J, Hood for Business for Scotland Edinburgh Group, October 2014
Original Source: BusinessForScotland
Here’s a picture of Jim Murphy campaigning for a No vote a few weeks ago.
Except it isn’t, is it?
Alert readers will have noticed that almost every single person in the shot above, taken from Murphy’s tour of 100 street corners on an Irn-Bru crate, is already holding a No Thanks placard. It’s the literal definition of preaching to the converted, and even with the combined strength of Labour, the Tory and Lib Dem activists from the “Better Together” campaign to draw on he’s struggled to pull a crowd of a dozen people.
We know the story was the same all over Scotland (until some idiot hit him with an egg and unleashed a massive media blitz several days long). Discounting party workers paid to be there and often shuttled to several “events” in succession, the East Renfrewshire MP was speaking to audiences in single figures.
It’s not exactly box-office. Anthea Turner would have been embarrassed to pull so few punters. And yet to read the Scottish media this morning, you’d think that Murphy’s coronation as the new pseudo-leader of Scottish Labour was a done deal.
Former Labour adviser Catherine McLeod coos all over him in this morning’s Herald, dismissing opponents Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay with “both have strengths but few can imagine them surviving the heat of First Minister’s Questions” - apparently unaware that Murphy wouldn’t be able to appear at FMQs at all for at least 18 months.
(Unless a tame MSP could be persuaded to stand down and trigger a by-election, of course, which would be a strategy fraught with enormous risk. Murphy’s no gambler, which we suspect is why he waited to declare his intent until there were two other candidates standing who’ll split the “not-Murphy” vote.)
But while we’re no experts on the internal turmoil of Scottish Labour, we’re not at all sure we can see such an easy path to victory as most of the press and broadcast media. Murphy inhabits the extreme right wing of Labour – he sits alongside the likes of Tom Harris, a similarly sneery, abrasive Nat-basher who stood against Johann Lamont in 2011 and was roundly thrashed, securing less than 8% of the vote.
Scottish Labour still chooses its leader through an “electoral college”, with the vote split into three equal parts comprising rank-and-file members, elected representatives (MPs, MSPs and MEPs), and affiliated trade unions. And we’re having some trouble working out which of those Murphy could expect a lot of votes from.
The unions seem to offer slim pickings – they’re widely expected to heavily back the left-wing candidate Neil Findlay. And we’re not convinced that Labour’s rank-and-file are going to be super-keen on a pro-Trident, anti-Palestine, pro-war Blairite like Murphy – they certainly didn’t turn out in their thousands for his tour, and he doesn’t cut a likely figure as the man to win back the swathes of working-class Labour voters in places like Glasgow who voted Yes in the independence referendum.
That only leaves the M/S/EP group, and as a long-running factional war seethes between the party’s Holyrood and Westminster representatives it seems a stretch to imagine a great deal of MSP support for bringing about a situation where both Scottish Labour’s leader and deputy would be male Westminster MPs. Nicola Sturgeon, we’re certain, would be delighted to spend every FMQ right up to the 2016 Holyrood election mocking the fact that whoever was facing her was, at the very best, Labour’s THIRD-choice frontperson.
Even in the London redoubt there’s some pretty public distaste for Murphy among the party’s old guard. So while Findlay should be able to count on the left and Boyack occupies the favourable centre ground, for Murphy to get elected seems to be reliant on a very sizeable proportion of Scottish Labour’s remaining grassroots members being a lot more right-wing than most observers imagine.
The only other factor that could work in his favour is if the media succeed in painting him as “the man the SNP are afraid of”, winning over both rank-and-file and Holyrood support (and probably pointing to articles like this one). But frankly, if we were the SNP we’d be praying he won, and we’re not sure anyone’s going to swallow that line no matter how hard the Scotsman or the Spectator pushes it.
(Indeed, one could reasonably argue that a Scottish Labour leadership candidate needs the backing of the Spectator like they need an anvil dropped on their heads.)
The battle to save the soul of Scottish Labour has six weeks to run. There may yet be more players, although we’d be surprised if anyone else joined the fray now. In this site’s view Sarah Boyack remains the only sane choice, as we noted way back on Saturday morning when not a single other pundit was mentioning her name – both Findlay and Murphy, for different reasons, will only amplify the destructive tensions between Labour in Holyrood and Westminster, not soothe them.
But Scottish Labour has been a stranger to sanity for a long time now. Only time will tell if it regains its senses and turns back from the abyss, or whether it charges headlong and irretrievably into it, enraged by the shadow of the SNP on its walls.
Source: Wing Over Scotland
Jim Murphy has finally announced that he’ll stand for the leadership of the Scottish branch office of the UK Labour Party. Tonight he told the Daily Record that:
“I am not going to shout at or about the SNP, I am going to talk to and listen to Scotland.”
For any of you who might have forgotten, here’s some recent footage of how Jim listens to Scotland and avoids shouting about the SNP:
Source: Wing Over Scotland
Scottish Labour now has a leadership contest, with the (relatively) left-wing MSP Neil Findlay throwing his hat into the ring with that of colleague Sarah Boyack (assuming both can secure the necessary 10 nominations from M/S/EPs).
We thought we’d help him tidy up his press statement on the matter, as he appears to have accidentally left a few words out.
We’ve added them back in in caps below:
There we go, now it’s honest.
Source: Wing Over Scotland