The Referendum Murders (paperback)

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Friday, 28 October 2016

The People and constitutional and political revolutions – and Scotland’s independence.

I’m a democrat. I believe in the ballot box as the prime mechanism for delivering political change. I don’t believe in violence or violent revolution as a mechanism, except as the very last resort, nor could any rational person with any shred of humanity in the light of the appalling price of change effected by violent revolution, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries, whatever the ultimate benefit. But there are revolutions and revolution – not all revolutions are violent, and some have been achieved with minimum violence and with speedy returns to democracy.

I have a deeply-rooted presumption against violence as a mechanism for change, but I do believe intransigent regimes and political systems sometimes have to be challenged in ways that are not violent, but which may provoke an extreme response. If I didn’t believe that, I would be denying, for example the necessity and validity of the independence struggle in the Indian sub-continent in the first half of the 20th century and the American Civil Rights Movement, notably in the 1960s.

If I rejected violence outright in extreme cases, I would deny the French Revolution, the American War of Independence, the struggle for democracy and freedom in South Africa under Mandela and many other violent independence upheavals. In other areas of violent struggle, I am conflicted, and cannot reconcile my abhorrence of violence in politics – or as a means of settling any conflict – with the egregious and inhumane injustices that led to its use. I won’t cite the obvious ones in our own time or the conflicts raging at this very moment across our world.

Scotland’s situation is not - in my view - of that nature, and the scale of the injustices inflicted on it by the Union, painful and unjustifiable as they are for sectors of the Scottish population and individuals (although arguably they were in the late 19th and early 20th centuries) are not of that magnitude and inhumanity. They have been remedial by the processes of democracy, and the failure has, at least in part, been the failure of large numbers of Scots to recognise egregious injustices and inequalities, and to use the tools of democracy to effect the remedies.

This short blog is a kind of preamble, a testament of my basic beliefs about constitutional change, set out as a marker against what I may say over the next few days, and, who knows, weeks and months on the Brexit negotiations, the Scottish Government’s strategy, the mood of YES and #indyref2.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

My letter on CommonSpace articles on anti-BBC billboard campaign

Common Space carried two articles yesterday on the crowd-funded anti-BBC billboard campaign. One of the articles, by Kirsty Strickland, questioned the wisdom of such a campaign at this time. I posted a comment in support, although my reasons differed in some respects. I thought it might be useful to reproduce it here.

Moridura

Wed, 10/26/2016 - 20:33

I'm with you Kirsty. I have been a trenchant and detailed critic of the BBC for over eight years on my YouTubeChannel, blogs and Twitter, but equally I have valued much of their excellent output, e.g. Parliament Channel, Holyrood and PMQs, Dateline London. 95% of my YouTube clips are BBC, and they [BBC] have provided a vital platform and information base for YES politicians and spokesperson and voters. Without the BBC, I would have no YouTube channel and would be infinitely less-informed.

Much of the anti-BBC stuff is blatant one-sided stereotyping - selecting one isolated example of bias as representative from an otherwise informative and balanced item, and entirely ignoring positive coverage. This has served to obscure much valuable coverage and debate and has alienated many Scottish BBC professionals simply trying to do their jobs.

The BBC is the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation - of course it has an inbuilt-bias to the status quo in a State of 65m people of whom 5m are Scots with about half of that 5m committed to independence. Some realism is needed as to how the BBC will inevitable behave, and much energy is wasted in attacks which change nothing. Our cause is independence, not BBC-bashing. Print media have much more to answer for.

Peter Curran (Moridura)

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Federalism, Brexit talks – and #indyref2

FEDERALISM

When former senior politicians, out of office, seek a great cause for themselves, they almost invariably pick the wrong one. Kenny MacAskill has just aligned with Kezia Dugdale and backed federalism for Scotland.

Here’s Wikipedia’s definition -

Federalism refers to the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a general government (the central or 'federal' government) with regional governments (provincial, state, Land, cantonal, territorial or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system.

From Scotsman report on MacAskill/Dugdale initiative - "federal government is left to focus on specific national issues such as defence and foreign affairs"

The key feature of federalism is that defence and foreign affairs are reserved to the central government, and that means control of defence spending, arms contracts – both  buying and selling - of military installation and bases and the ability to make war and initiate attacks and invasions of other countries.

And that's why I'll never back it …

Federalism is not a staging post on the high road to independence - it's the end of the dream of independence.

Key examples (Wikipedia) of federalism include Leading examples of the federation or federal state include the United States, Germany, Canada, Switzerland,Australia and India

But the component states of federal America and Canada, for example  (after the original native inhabitants had been either marginalised of exterminated)  were never proud ancient nations. Scotland is a proud, ancient nation.

Reject federalism. If you don’t, you say welcome to The United Federal States of Britain - and say goodbye to Scotland as an independent nation. You say Welcome, Little Pretendy North Britain!

Embrace federalism and you turn into the United States of Britain, with all real power and wealth concentrated in London and the South East, bled from the component federated former nations, now reduced to provinces.

If Scotland leaves defence and foreign affairs to a federal government it’s not a nation - just a minor state pretending to be free. Leave defence and Foreign affairs to Westminster and you commit to war as the operating principle of the State and to nuclear weapons of mass destruction and perpetual war, foreign adventures and conflict as the recurring norm.

I am totally against federalism. I remember Kenny MacAskill on NATO at the 2012 SNP Conference in the great NATO debate .

What would those words mean in the context of a federal Scotland? Precisely nothing, because the top table would be reserved for the Central Government – Westminster. Of course, ‘the right kind of Scot’ would find a place in that Centre, as Blair and Brown found a place in Westminster – but not as Scots.

See Dr.Wilfried Swenden's Scotsman comment Dr.Wilfried Swenden

BREXITS – HARD AND SOFT

As I said in my last blog, we are being taken out of EU against our will, regardless of any deal on  terms of exit, yet the SNP Manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood election specified that as an #indyref2 trigger.

Theresa May " .it will be the UK that will be negotiating with the EU our future relationship.."

Headline: "No 10 warned the devolved administrations not to “undermine” the UK Government’s Brexit strategy."

I ask “What ******* Brexit strategy?”

Can Scots endure much more progressive humiliation in the Brexit Talks? Will they? If they can, let's fold our tents and get awa' hame...

Theresa May is the Unionist's heroine -  and the woman Leave voters including Scottish Leave voters - and to me, incredibly, SNP Leave voters - gave more power to – power to drag UK to disaster and Scotland with it. Unless #indyref2 is called …

Are we just to continue to wait for Theresa's latest broadside on the dominance of UK?

FT yesterday "Britain must pursue a ‘hard Brexit’ to create a more open economy"

When does Theresa take Nicola into The Empire Room and astonish her with British power? (scene from stage and radio play All the Way to the Empire Room by TOM PAULIN)

The clawback of devolution and power from Scotland has effectively begun: we enter next stage - delay and progressive humiliation. Our willingness to cooperate is being thrown back in our face with reaffirmations of Union dominance over its Scottish province. We've been willing to listen, to talk,  to contribute positively. It's all been thrown back in our faces by Theresa May.

Canon Kenyon Wright at EICC 11th September 2014, one week before The Referendum: "it can be undermined at the whim of Westminster, at any time. Power devolved is power retained"

Iain Macwhirter nailed it in Wednesday’s HERALD. Some quotes from the eminently-quotable Iain, Scotland’s finest political journalist -

"Scotland’s Parliament is effectively diminished and made a “creature of Westminster

UK is a multinational state with devolution of legislative authority. You can’t behave as if UK were ..monolithic unit it was in 20th century

”There's an ugly mood in England over Brexit as lack of any plan becomes apparent and UK Gov resorts to ..lowest common denoimator of immigration.”

"I despair at this Brexit dialogue of the deaf…”

CODA

Nicola Sturgeon: “I won't allow Scotland to be driven over a hard Brexit cliff edge.”

Will Nicola return from the the Brexit Talks with the devolved Governments waving

“a piece of paper”?

or with a real breakthrough?

or to trigger #indyref2?

We must wait and see…


Federalism, Brexit talks – and #indyref2

FEDERALISM

When former senior politicians, out of office, seek a great cause for themselves, they almost invariably pick the wrong one. Kenny MacAskill has just aligned with Kezia Dugdale and backed federalism for Scotland.

Here’s Wikipedia’s definition -

Federalism refers to the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a general government (the central or 'federal' government) with regional governments (provincial, state, Land, cantonal, territorial or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system.

From Scotsman report on MacAskill/Dugdale initiative - "federal government is left to focus on specific national issues such as defence and foreign affairs"

The key feature of federalism is that defence and foreign affairs are reserved to the central government, and that means control of defence spending, arms contracts – both  buying and selling - of military installation and bases and the ability to make war and initiate attacks and invasions of other countries.

And that's why I'll never back it …

Federalism is not a staging post on the high road to independence - it's the end of the dream of independence.

Key examples (Wikipedia) of federalism include Leading examples of the federation or federal state include the United States, Germany, Canada, Switzerland,Australia and India

But the component states of federal America and Canada, for example  (after the original native inhabitants had been either marginalised of exterminated)  were never proud ancient nations. Scotland is a proud, ancient nation.

Reject federalism. If you don’t, you say welcome to The United Federal States of Britain - and say goodbye to Scotland as an independent nation. You say Welcome, Little Pretendy North Britain!

Embrace federalism and you turn into the United States of Britain, with all real power and wealth concentrated in London and the South East, bled from the component federated former nations, now reduced to provinces.

If Scotland leaves defence and foreign affairs to a federal government it’s not a nation - just a minor state pretending to be free. Leave defence and Foreign affairs to Westminster and you commit to war as the operating principle of the State and to nuclear weapons of mass destruction and perpetual war, foreign adventures and conflict as the recurring norm.

I am totally against federalism. I remember Kenny MacAskill on NATO at the 2012 SNP Conference in the great NATO debate (at 4m mark).

What would those words mean in the context of a federal Scotland? Precisely nothing, because the top table would be reserved for the Central Government – Westminster. Of course, ‘the right kind of Scot’ would find a place in that Centre, as Blair and Brown found a place in Westminster – but not as Scots.

BREXITS – HARD AND SOFT

As I said in my last blog, we are being taken out of EU against our will, regardless of any deal on  terms of exit, yet the SNP Manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood election specified that as an #indyref2 trigger.

Theresa May " .it will be the UK that will be negotiating with the EU our future relationship.."

Headline: "No 10 warned the devolved administrations not to “undermine” the UK Government’s Brexit strategy."

I ask “What ******* Brexit strategy?”

Can Scots endure much more progressive humiliation in the Brexit Talks? Will they? If they can, let's fold our tents and get awa' hame...

Theresa May is the Unionist's heroine -  and the woman Leave voters including Scottish Leave voters - and to me, incredibly, SNP Leave voters - gave more power to – power to drag UK to disaster and Scotland with it. Unless #indyref2 is called …

Are we just to continue to wait for Theresa's latest broadside on the dominance of UK?

FT yesterday "Britain must pursue a ‘hard Brexit’ to create a more open economy"

When does Theresa take Nicola into The Empire Room and astonish her with British power? (scene from stage and radio play All the Way to the Empire Room by TOM PAULIN)

The clawback of devolution and power from Scotland has effectively begun: we enter next stage - delay and progressive humiliation. Our willingness to cooperate is being thrown back in our face with reaffirmations of Union dominance over its Scottish province. We've been willing to listen, to talk,  to contribute positively. It's all been thrown back in our faces by Theresa May.

Canon Kenyon Wright at EICC 11th September 2014, one week before The Referendum: "it can be undermined at the whim of Westminster, at any time. Power devolved is power retained"

Iain Macwhirter nailed it in Wednesday’s HERALD. Some quotes form the eminently-quotable Iain, Scotland’s finest political journalist -

"Scotland’s Parliament is effectively diminished and made a “creature of Westminster

UK is a multinational state with devolution of legislative authority. You can’t behave as if UK were ..monolithic unit it was in 20th century

”There's an ugly mood in England over Brexit as lack of any plan becomes apparent and UK Gov resorts to ..lowest common denoimator of immigration.”

"I despair at this Brexit dialogue of the deaf…”

CODA

Nicola Sturgeon: “I won't allow Scotland to be driven over a hard Brexit cliff edge.”

Will Nicola return from the the Brexit Talks with the devolved Governments waving

“a piece of paper”?

or with a real breakthrough?

or to trigger #indyref2?

We must wait and see…


Monday, 24 October 2016

Brexit, Flexit, EFTA, indyref2, Nicola, Theresa - and that manifesto commitment

Political parties can review manifesto commitments if there's a material change of circumstances - but SNP's in 2015 on a possible Brexit is about a material change!

BBC News at One: #Nicola in Downing Street with devolved nations on #Brexit options Theresa May set to reject flexible Brexit deal for Scotland

I can live with EFTA and independence in a sovereign country free to join EU. I can't live with EFTA under UK. I want #indyref2 to be called. Scotland is being taken out of EU against my will as an SNP voter, and EFTA membership doesn't cut it for me. But I'm one voter, one voice

I voted SNP to remain in the EU, not to join EFTA Here's the manifesto commitment I voted on.

The SNP Manifesto commitment

Read it carefully - it's that 'or' word after the dash that's the essence - we don't need "sustained evidence" of a majority - just an EU Brexit

We ARE being taken out of EU against our will. I voted SNP to remain in the EU, not to join EFTA

The European Union is very much more than EFTA. I voted to Remain in the EU and for #indyref2 if UK took us out of EU against our will. I didn't limit it to remaining in the single_market.

Stephen answers the question that Angus Robertson sidestepped. Jo Coburn ".enough to say you wouldn't call #infyref2? Stephen Gethins "Of course …"

The Two Tier Brexit

JO COBURN: "Unrealistic demands"? Will it kill #indyref2?

STEPHEN GETHINS: “Of course …”

In the unlikely event that Nicola gets some kind of two-tier Brexit, will it kill #indyref2? If it does, does it mean we're in UK for ever? A flexible two-tier Brexit must be our minimum, Union-breaker demand.

But Theresa May knows that granting one is, de facto, the end of Union. She will almost certainly reject Nicola's bid for a flexible Brexit deal -  a Flexit or offer a meaningless fudge.The pattern was set during indyref1 campaign: UK and UK media ignore Scots until they're seen as a threat, then offer a bone, then pull the bone back when Scots settle down.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

A nuclear reflection – too big a topic to call a Witter …

Philips O’Brien, an American, is Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of St. Andrews. He has formerly argued for Scotland in NATO (2012) and for Scotland retaining nuclear weapons after independence. It would be unkind – and possibly inaccurate - to suggest that Strategic Studies (or ‘Peace’ Studies) in any of UK’s universities rarely attract anti-nuclear weapons unilateralist academics, and equally unkind to suggest that were there such academics, it would be vanishingly unlikely that they would secure a place in St. Andrews University.

Nevertheless, Philips O’Brien made an interesting and relevant point recently. It’s set out in a special report by Andrew Learmonth in today’s Sunday Herald, in a print edition headline that captures the essence of what follows (a rarity in these’' ‘spin-by-headline’ dog days of Scottish print journalism) - UK's waning influence in Europe 'may soften US independence view'.

However, Philips O’Brien position on the nuclear and the independence issues is clearly evident in this quote from his article on the SNP’s position on NATO and nuclear weapons during the lead up to the 2014 YES campaign and Referendum

“It [SNP] was torn between supporting a vocal section of its electorate that was so anti-nuclear and unilateralist that it not only worried many moderate Scots, who consistently are pro-Nato, but also many of the UK’s closest European defence partners”

I don’t quarrel with his summation of the SNP’s spring 2012 position, leading up to the knife-edged, passionate debate on NATO at the October 2012 Conference vote on NATO. I do take issue with the pejorative description of those in the Scottish YES electorate and in SNP membership opposed to weapons of mass destruction and Scotland’s membership of a first-strike nuclear alliance, NATO, as  “a vocal section of its electorate and those in favour of NATO membership, some of whom are in favour of nuclear ‘deterrence’ by WMD as “moderate Scots”.

Moderate? Are you serious, Philips O’Brien?

I regard them as, at best, seriously under-informed Scots, totally lacking in the ability to truly envisage the near-inevitable consequences of their position and, at worst, as Scots with no concept of ethics or morality about the potential mass incineration of millions of their fellow human beings in a mutually destructive global conflict that would almost certainly end civilisation as we know it and pollute the planet and all life on it for a thousand years or more.

Most informed political and military commentators at the highest levels across the globe believe we are closer to such a nuclear conflict than we have been since the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1960s.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Daily Witter Three - Seeing into the mind of Nicola on #indyref2

What’s Nicola’s game plan? Does she want #indyref2 or not? Will she call it or won’t she? Is her Holyrood Cabinet behind her? Are her Westminster MPs behind her? Is the Party of one mind or two – or more?

For the faithful, such questions are either dangerous or even shouldn’t be asked at all. Absolute loyalty and unquestioning trust is expected, even demanded. For non-SNP YES voters they are legitimate, but even there, some might consider them unwise.

Talking to people at Conference, where there is a certain pressure to show the flag and sustain a positive mood, there was a wariness to essay a view, but there were notable exceptions to this, including on the platform. There is by no means unanimity on Brexit and the single market, never mind on the strategy being pursued, and the Leavers among party members were a country mile away from recanting on their June 23rd vote, indeed the ones I talked to were resolute in defending their choice.

I do not claim to know the mind or negotiating game plan of Nicola – I can only speculate, based on her public statements going back to the 2015 Manifesto launch at the International Climbing Centre, the 2015 general election campaign, the 2016 Holyrood campaign, the 2016 Spring Conference and last week’s conference in the SECC Glasgow.

My speculative analysis was set out at some length on this blog and pursued on Twitter in the context of #indyref2.

But if you need certainty and reassurance, I can refer you to Wee Ginger Dug, Paul Kavanagh, who seems to know the mind of Nicola and expounds on it with total confidence in The National p16 October 19th – and he certainly expresses what large number of YES supporters want to believe, if my Twitter analysis of their tweets is accurate.

Paul’s analysis is what I too want to believe, but I lack his certainty because I believe it is inconsistent with much of what Nicola has said or signalled to date – as opposed to what many thought she said because that’s what they wanted to hear.

But I hope Paul is right – that Nicola is simply exhausting all avenues in seeking an accommodation on Scotland and the EU over Brexit with this appalling Tory Government and PM because she has to be seen to do so, but is in fact headed inexorably for #indyref2.

The scenario that terrifies me is that she is offered - and settles for - some kind of fudge on the single market, and in the process kills any prospect of Scotland’s independence for the foreseeable future - which is bleak and may get even bleaker.

I voted for independence and I voted for Scotland remaining in the European Union. I voted for a nuclear-free Scotland. 

I know that Nicola wants all of these things and I hope that, with all her superb statesmanship and pragmatism, she keeps those three over-arching goals as her guiding beacons while juggling the realpolitik.