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Saturday, October 14, 2006


Last week Scotland on Sunday did an article about independence possibly being inevitable. Written more in terms of relaxing to the inevitable than pleasure:
Such a scenario is currently being painted by former SNP MSP Mike Russell who, along with businessman Dennis MacLeod, has written 'Grasping the Thistle', a 250-page prospectus charting a new way forward for the independence movement. The pair contend that the gradualist approach is the only possible route. "What we may need," they argue, "is devolution stage two, a necessary staging post on the way to the future. Some might call such a staging post a New Union - a constitutional watering station which allows Scots to continue to move forward, works as a means of persuading those who are still reluctant and opens up new opportunities by removing the economic disadvantages of the old Union."

All matters reserved to Westminster would be devolved to Holyrood, apart from foreign affairs and military command, they suggest. By doing so, the Scots - and the English - would have a chance to test the waters before deciding whether to make the break.

I put up a comment
The status quo is not an option if only because the English correctly feel that Scots voters have more power than English ones.

A fully federal system whereby England had its own Parliament, or better yet several regional ones would be best. Federation allows each unit to try different solutions to similar problems & find which works best (this is known as the scientific method). In that case unsuccessful solutions can be as useful a learning experience as successful ones. Despite the complacent Labour view that our economy is somehow doing well, we have been very successful at providing 'orrible warnings.

The SNP also believe in federalism it is just that their federation would be led from Brussels & Scotland would be an even smaller & more powerless part of it.

Which is pretty much my position. I do not exclude independence from England if it is clearly to our advantage or we are forced into it by English Tory intransigence (many southern Tories are licking their lips at the thought of a UK without Scots Labour voters), but believe we have so very much more in common with England & Wales than the EU states that a Federation of Great Britain is the preferable solution. I do not see the point of a Scotland as a "separate" part of the EU.

Yesterday I got an email from Scotland on Sunday saying they were producing a follow up article tomorrow using some email comment & that mine were "among those that stood out". I'll look forward to it.

My letter is reprinted on the letters page. It is quite prominent under a photo of a sltire & a headline calling for independence?


Previously I have done reviews of the policies submitted to the SLD conferences. On a previous occasion I mentioned that an unintended result of my participation in politics is that the SLD had ceased publishing their conference motions well in advance because I had been publishing commentaries on them

Today the conference is being held & the most I can say about what is being considered are the motion titles:

10.00 Tackling serious & anti-social crime
I think it should be tackled
11.20 Scotland's Towns, Burghs & communities
Yes we should have some
16.25 Emergency Motion this is a regular feature allowing the conference to vote in favour of niceness on some topical subject & get a headline
16.40 Raising the minimum purchase age of cigarettes to 18Not necessarily bad thing but more nannying & will it work?

Note there are only 3 1/2 motions as opposed to about 10 previously. Note also that once again there is no discussion of improving the economy (despite Nicol being , correctly, in favour of reducing business rates this has never been submitted to conference). What we are seeing is the total irrelevance of conference or indeed the members views. Remember that legally conference is the sovereign body of the party & the only way the membership have a voice - technically it isn't official till conference have confirmed it. What we are seeing here is the ever faster hollowing out of political structure & ending what was once the mass participation in party politics. This is a very bad thing for democracy, moreso because an increasing number of political leaders have spent their lives as politicians or advisors to politicians, with the occasional person who worked for a few years as a lawyer or political journalist.

Note that this is not a particular dig at the SLD, it is merely that I know their history It is happening everywhere indeed the national Tory conference was admitted, even by the media, to be so vacuous they had to invent a fight between Boris & Jamie Oliver.

Somebody on the radio recently said that anybody who joins a political party nowadays is either mad, ambitious or has a family history. He ignored middle aged ladies who form an uncomplaining backbone of many local parties, & generally don't cause the splits. Nonetheless looking at party members I have known I was extremely glad that my father had been a prominent party member before me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


This hasn't been published by the Herald so I am putting it here. It is a response to some correspondence on gun control, in particular mentioning that in Switzerland, where the army consists of a militia of all able bodied men (& even Hitler never messed with them) they all have an inordinate amount of military hardware at home.
The question of whether having an armed citizenry is a worthwhile price to pay for liberty is an interesting one with no absolute answer.

Alan Clayton (letter Friday) uses the example of Scotland in 1707 as an example of a disarmed citizenry being unable to defend themselves. In fact Scotland then was not disarmed as the risings in favour of the Stuarts in 1689, 1715 & 1745 show. A very good argument can be made that the existence of a heavily armed citizenry, particularly in the Highlands ultimately played a major part in making the Union popular because heavily armed Highlanders were not popular in the Lowlands. There was a strong movement immediately after 1707 for repeal which collapsed in 1715 with the rising & the strongest period of support of union probably started with the defeat of the '45. The people of Scotland on the whole clearly found a society built on the rule of law, from Westminster, much preferable to the chaos in which clans upheld their liberty to choose a catholic Stuart king by the sword.

The US constitution defends the right to bear arms but only in connection with "a well regulated militia". The fact that US has a far higher murder rate than Switzerland, despite the Swiss having, if anything, heavier weaponry, may be because the Swiss hold their's only as part of such a militia while the US has forgotten their onstitutional qualification
The US constitutional amendment reads
Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

& I think my interpretation of the intent of the Founders is as defensible as any.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I am not a football fan but by God this is amazing. Scotland, who fairly recently were being thrashed by the Faroe Isles have just beaten France, the runners up in the world cup (& a country 12 times our size)!!!!!
Just a few weeks ago France beat Italy, the new World Champions in a Euro 2008 qualifier. Yesterday, in a remarkable result at Hampden Park in the same competition, Scotland beat France 1-0, a scoreline which the loveable logic of the fan now dictates puts the Scots at the top of the global footballing tree.

Frivolity aside, it ranks as one of the best results in Scottish footballing history, putting Scotland on top of Group B with nine points and no defeats.

Hampden erupted in the 67th minute when a corner swung in from the right and landed at the feet of Celtic defender Gary Caldwell. Under pressure from a defender, he still managed to swing his right leg and ram the ball home from eight yards.

For a split second the ground was almost silent. Then there was a general realisation that Scotland were in front. Even Caldwell seemed stunned when he wheeled away to celebrate his strike. Hampden went crazy. Saltires and Lions Rampant emblazoned the stands in a display of Scottish passion not seen since the rugby squad beat England at Murrayfield earlier this year.

And then on Wednesday Ukraine gubbed us 2 nil - which, in ordinary circumstances, wouldn't have been unexpected but is probably a useful bucket of cold water.

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