21 October 2012

Mushroom Cloud Over Perth

Over the years, I've been asked how I can square being a socialist with being a member of the SNP. It's really not difficult, the SNP has always existed as an umbrella group for those of us who, despite certain political differences, believe first and foremost in Scottish Independence - in my case, believing independence to be a necessary prerequisite for achieving socialism in Scotland (a view which to a large degree, has become standard across the wider Scottish left).

I have been active within the SNP all my life, delivering leaflets before I could tie my shoe laces. Like so many other long-time party members & supporters, I've been mocked, ridiculed and even taken abuse for my party allegiance, but have always stuck by it because I knew I was right to believe in independence. Whilst I have not always agreed with every policy the SNP has adopted, I have always been happy to accept that consensus is necessary for such an organisation to function and move forward, particularly considering that there is no greater example of internal democracy in mainstream Scottish politics than that which exists within the SNP. However, sometimes one has to draw a line...

Aside my lifelong commitment to independence, I am also a lifelong believer that the pursuit of power and profit via the means of warfare is wholly immoral. As such, I cannot support any political party which aspires to join an organisation such as NATO.

I have been accused of naivety by some who argue that there are strong pragmatic reasons for the SNP adopting this policy, namely that the policy change will boost the case for independence. Regardless of whether this is actually true (which is debatable), it is not only  unprincipled to allow one's beliefs to be held hostage by pragmatism, but also morally repugnant to seek NATO membership in the hope that it'll be a vote winner. I also agree with Sandra White in that it is highly hypocritical to adopt a policy which argues in favour of joining a pro-WMD organisation, as long as the WMDs are kept in someone else's backyard.

There are of course many within the SNP who have argued and voted against this policy change and it is my sincere hope that in time, they will be able to convince the party to re-adopt its anti-NATO position. However whilst the policy stands, I cannot put myself in a position where I have to advocate something which is fundamentally wrong, regardless of the perceived benefits it may bring about. I will always support independence and oppose the lies and slander perpetrated by unionists who would rather protect their vested interests than fight for equality and social justice in Scotland, but I can no longer do this from within the confines of the SNP.

After all these years, it is no easy thing for me to leave the SNP but in reality, the party has left me.

26 September 2012

Lamont Finally Admits What We Knew All Along

I was going to write something about Johann Lamont publicly announcing the death of the Labour Party in Scotland, but I've got a lot on tonight and can't be arsed. Here's a couple of blogs well worth reading on the subject though (they pretty much cover my thoughts on the matter anyway)...

This one gives good insight into the political consequences of SLAB's swing to the right - http://reidfoundation.org/2012/09/is-this-the-end-of-scottish-labour/

This one gives an excellent trade union angle on the traitors' abandonment of universalism - http://internationalsocialist.org.uk/index.php/blog/trade-unionists-wheres-the-labour-in-scottish-labour/

Otherwise, I'll just give a brief summary for those who missed it. Johann Lamont has announced a rejection of...

1. The Council Tax freeze
2. Free education
3. Free prescriptions
4. Free care for elderly people
5. Bus passes for elderly people
6. Apprenticeships
7. The Labour Movement

...well, she still hasn't admitted to the last one.

I've previously said that a yes vote in the 2014 referendum was as good a chance as Scotland has to get rid of the Tories, but it's also as good a chance as we have to get rid of Labour. Let's be very clear about this, the referendum is now a left v right battleground. Lamont has aligned herself with the right-wing's no campaign, so if you chose to vote no in 2014, you'll be doing the same.

Anyway, for more info read the blogs I've linked to above. It's well worth your time.


13 September 2012

I'm Very Sorry, It Was His Fault

As the new Hillsborough evidence is made public, Kelvin MacKenzie has "profusely apologised" for The Sun's infamous "Truth" article, printed shortly after the tragedy. So, just how "profuse" was MacKenzie's apology?

Amongst other things, the newly-released evidence shows that, in a bid to cover up their own failings, the emergency services (along with former Tory MP, Irvine Patnick) put about a story that the conduct of Liverpool fans was the sole cause of the crush, as a result of which, the emergency services could do nothing to avert the disaster and save lives. We now know this is not true - but we knew that all along anyway...

In 2006, MacKenzie stated he was "...not sorry then and not sorry now. All I did was tell the truth." The Taylor Report completely dismissed the fabrications which blamed the Liverpool fans; indeed, it has been a matter of public record for over twenty years that Kelvin MacKenzie did not tell the truth. All MacKenzie's 2006 quote revealed was that he was still not sorry and was still a liar.

So why his sudden change of heart? Why his profuse apology? Whilst the newly-released evidence demonstrated the lengths to which the emergency services went to cover up their failings, it only served to reaffirm the fact that Lord Taylor was entirely correct to dismiss the aforementioned fabrications. There is no reason why, after ignoring the Taylor Report for so long, MacKenzie should pick this moment in time to change his tune.

Robbie Fowler made a brilliant statement when he said that "For twenty-three years, fans were effectively branded murderers." MacKenzie knows that this is no small part due to him, so even if we give him the benefit of the doubt and accept that he genuinely didn't realise how wrong he'd got it when he printed that article, we can see how sincere his apology is when he states that "I too was totally misled..." before going on to blame everyone else for The Sun running with the article.

Yes Kelvin, you're clearly just as much of a victim as the fans who died that day.

The Liverpool fans have completely rejected MacKenzie's apology and they're quite right to do so - MacKenzie clearly doesn't care about what he did and merely sees this as an opportune moment to make a tactical retreat. Before printing the article, MacKenzie apparently deliberated for an hour over whether the headline should be "The Truth" or "You Scum". I can only assume he ran with the former because he realised the latter described himself.

9 September 2012

Getting Old

I recently turned thirty. I decided I would adopt the saying that "you're only as old as you feel". On Saturday night, I decided not to drink so that I wouldn't spend Sunday having to do housework with a hangover. That is all.

You Don't Have To Be A Nationalist To Support Independence

I've always been highly suspicious of the motives of the old left in Scotland (be that Labour, the SWP or anyone else). Whilst they claim to be on the side of the working class, they have always argued in favour of Scotland (and as such, the Scottish working-class) remaining part of a UK which they otherwise would view as crypto-fascist and imperialist. I can only conclude that they do this for one of two reasons - either they are a) stupid or b) have vested interests in maintaining the status quo.

Whilst I am not an activist within Scotland's new left, I've greatly welcomed their emergence. The old left has always celebrated Scotland's strong socialist tendencies, but it's taken the new left to point out to them that the only way these tendencies can truly flourish is via independence. If you're a socialist, surely it's obvious that the prospect of Scottish-wide socialism is far better than the reality of British-wide capitalism?

So, how does this tie in with the title of this article? Well, the new left hardly shares common ground with the SNP. Whilst the SNP's stated ambition is to promote the economic and cultural wellbeing of an independent Scotland, the new left is much more interested in undermining the UK's ability to wage war against the working-class both at home and overseas, arguing that via independence, it can do this. As such, I wouldn't describe the new left as nationalists and I don't think they'd thank me if I did. What the new left's position demonstrates is that independence is not the sole preserve of nationalists, but rather it can be a means to an end for a variety of political positions.

So whether you're a nationalist or not, before you cast your vote in 2014, unless you want to explain to your children why you stood by and did nothing while the ConDems destroyed their job prospects and public services, you need to seriously consider the fact that independence is the only mechanism we have to throw off the shackles of austerity and create a better future for ourselves and our children.

A Tale Of Two Houses

I wrote this a while back for a friend who's active in Plaid Cymru, hence referring to the AV vote...

After the debacle that was the AV referendum, everyone will be delighted to hear the Liberals are at it again - this time with plans to reform the House of Lords. A draft bill introduced by the UK Government proposes that 80% of the house will be elected on a fifteen-year, non-renewable mandate via the STV method. Whilst this in itself will doubtless appear reasonable to the vast majority of the UK electorate,  of the actual powers granted to the house, the bill's foreword summarises...

"We propose no change to the constitutional powers and privileges of the House once it is reformed, nor to the fundamental relationship with the House of Commons, which would remain the primary House of Parliament."

And herein lies the problem. Whilst the UK electorate is largely opposed to the nepotistic means by which most peers have taken their seats over the centuries, in times when an increasing proportion of the electorate feels disenfranchised by the scores of traitors & miscreants who abuse their positions in the Commons, it's hard to believe that the electorate will engage in a process which seeks to elect more of the same to a house which serves barely any legislative purpose. By whichever means members take their seats in the reformed House of Lords, it is and shall remain nothing more than a place where political careers go to die.

Whilst this inconsequential bill, which lacks political support in both houses, will serve only to plunge the Liberals further into the hole that they've been desperately trying to dig themselves out of since they joined the coalition, it does pose an important question to nationalists in both Scotland and Wales.

As the Lords is little more than a hangover from the days of feudalism, with its functions & powers subject to the whims of the government of the day, it is regularly used by unicameralists to repudiate the adoption of a multicameral legislature in a post-independence scenario. Not only is this argument spurious, but its also dangerous - in keeping with the notion that "the only problem with a one party state is that it's one party too many", it can't have escaped the attention of nationalists in both Scotland and Wales that unchallenged, the Labour Party will loot, pillage and probably even sack the odd city or two.

After winning our independence, despite whatever confidence we have in our initial government, it would be naive to suggest that things would not change. We already know that when the UK economy is strong (as our independent economies would undoubtedly also be), the electorate tends to vote Labour. Whilst the Labour Party may not exist in its current form, the blackguards that constitute its ranks will still be here, so we need to ensure we have appropriate measures in place to stop them running amok.

The best way to do this would be for parliament to have two chambers - but unlike Westminster, both chambers would have real power. The system is simple - whilst only the lower chamber would have the power to introduce bills, before these bills could become law they would have to gain the assent of both chambers. Members of both chambers would be elected via the STV method - subject to a caveat whereby no party could gain a majority in the upper chamber.

Critics will immediately point to the likelihood that such a system would create political deadlock between the two chambers, but rather than being a flaw, this is the whole point. Independence is not simply about breaking the shackles of London-rule, it's an opportunity for our respective nations to shape our futures - and a future without entrenched Labour corruption can only be a good thing.

Being Pished & Cutting About

This wasn't actually going to be my first blog (I had some wankery about politics in mind), but since it's in my head anyway, here goes...

I was heading back from a do in the West End last night and saw a lassie, who was obviously pished, go arse-over-tit trying to pick up a chip poke she'd just dropped. I went over to help her up and found out she was a fresher who had just moved to Glasgow from Belfast a day or two before, didn't know where her friends were and didn't know how to get home. Literally, all she could tell me was the name of the street she lived in (which I'd never heard of). Thankfully, one of Glasgow's finest black hacks was on hand so I bundled her into the taxi and made sure she got up the road okay.

There's nowhere better to be a student than in the West End and by and large, folk in Glasgow are brand new and will always look out for you - but there are more than enough rockets about, so for all the freshers that have just moved up, don't be a fud about it.

Stay safe troops.