Preserving the Union

Michael MooreBy Mike Small

Today we’re jammin’ with Michael Moore and Douglas Alexander.

What exactly is the point of even discussing the Liberal Democrats you might ask? A party that was dipping at 3% in Scotland only in 2011and who spent their limited time in Glasgow) talking to a media and an electorate in a far off land.

Two reasons: first, difficult as it is to actually believe, they form part of the government that rules this sceptic isle. Second, they need to be actually held to account for this week’s performance.

Michael Moore’s childish and ridiculous comparison between UKIP and the SNP was a low point even beyond Willie Rennie’s moaning. Is this really the remnants of the party of Joe Grimond or even David Steel?

Iain Macwhirter has pointed out the failings not just of the party that has safe-delivered tuition fees, the bedroom tax and managed to spike it’s own raison d’etre – electoral reform – and now even the parties own policy of ‘federalism’ (‘Flodden is the only history unionists want repeated’). So what of these union preservationists? What jam is promised the day after? Macwhirter points out:

Given the fact that the majority of Scots repeatedly tell opinion polls that they want an enhanced parliament with tax-raising powers, why don’t the unionists just get together and deliver devolution max?

It’s kind of a good question but it’s predicated on three really dodgy ideas. One is that everyone knows what Devo Max is, and sorry, ‘more powers’ isn’t good enough, it’s all massively vague and flabby.

Second is the idea that the ‘unionist’ parties actually want this at all. We know that at least one of the three are only very recent converts to the idea (remember Ruth’s red line?). If the Liberals and Labour actually wanted this they could have easily put this on the ballot. They didn’t.

Third Iain’s analysis is based on the notion that Willie Rennie, Ruth Davidson and Johann Lamont actually have power within their wider UK parties. This doesn’t really stand up to any scrutiny as Jackie Baillie’s Bedroom Tax slapdown, Ed Miliband’s who? moment and, well, Ruth’s life experience testify to. At Westminster these Three Amigos are Branch Managers.

The reality is that further devolution isn’t a gift these leaders have to give. Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron will decide on future constitutional policy and they will be trying to sway Mittel Ingerlund not Little Scotland.

The truth is that these parties are themselves in terminal decline. Almost half of Tory members have quit the party since David Cameron became leader in 2005 and Scottish Labour membership is thought to have halfed in 10 years.

This week a survey showed that even the dreadful Clegg was considered to be ‘a more natural leader’ than Miliband was. Unfortunately that was at a ratio of 4% to 2% (‘Ed Miliband sinks below Clegg’).

_67596210_alexanderJam Tomorrow (and the next day)

It’s in this context that Douglas Alexander tonight will put forward claims that the parties that opposed a referendum, that opposed votes for 16 year-olds, and that have spent the last year deriding Scotland will – magically – become our saviours and deliver a united, coherent and effective set of  new powers for Scotland.

In his speech (‘With a year to go it’s time to go deeper’) Alexander cites Barack Obama, the black civil rights movement in America, women’s suffrage in the Netherlands and the Saffron Revolutin in Burma, before arguing for decades more of business as usual under Austerity Unionism. It’s as compelling a case of constitutional Stockholm Syndrome as you’ll see anywhere.

In an extraordinary case of constitutional procrastination, Alexander is now proposing a Scottish National Convention (Jam Preservation Society)  where these failed politicians will gather (again), endlessly – whilst ignoring the ACTUAL process we are in the middle of.

This is a deeply cynical politics dressed up as Christian Socialism. In the Third Way magazine last month Alexander wrote:

The referendum is a an opportunity to reaffirm the shared endeavour of sustaining a just and tolerant society and to uphold the idea of neighbourliness – being our brother and sister’s keeper.

This is a lovely bit of Kumbaya spin.

But it jars a little with The Breadline Britain Poverty and Social Exclusion report from earlier this year, the largest and most authoritative study of poverty and deprivation ever conducted in the UK suggested that levels of poverty in Scotland are worse than they have been for 30 years. It claims 29% of Scots lack three or more of the necessities for basic living.

Speaking to 2700 people in Scotland and more than 14,000 across the UK, a team including urban studies experts at Glasgow and Heriot-Watt universities, identified a list of the essentials members of the public thought everyone should be able to afford and which no-one should have to go without, such as money for a winter coat and shoes, a warm dry home, or the ability to eat an adequate diet.

This grim reality can’t really be made to sit side by side with the picture of ‘neighbourliness’ and a ‘just and tolerant society’ painted by Douglas Alexander. It just doesn’t work any more to equate Britain with justice and fairness.

Alexander’s commentary is not only wrong and deceptive, it’s wrapped in language that just doesn’t make any sense. Answers on a postcard for anyone who can de-code this line: “As a nation, the choice is ours: to be shaped by the future based on our vision of the common good, or to go back into the future bound by the continuing patterns of what has been.”

The aim is to preserve the union and the powers and privileges that these politicians have become accustomed to. With consciousness rising I don’t believe anyone is stupid enough to believe them any more.

The now widely understood failure of the union and unionist parties shared economics is probably why today according to Ipsos Mori those in the most deprived areas of Scotland are almost twice as likely as those in most affluent areas to vote Yes (42% v 22%) - see here.



Categories: Commentary

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16 replies

  1. And of course D Alexander kicked this all off in March, the full speech below, in that speech he said

    ‘So this evening I ask: Could we in 2015 gather together a National Convention – “Scotland 2025″ – to chart a new vision for an old nation for the next decade?’

    Long, long grass indeed.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/03/douglas-alexanders-speech-scotland-full-text

    PS Just received Closer, excellent.

  2. It really is getting to the comic-cuts situation when these dimwits try to spin black to be white knowing that the same black will be staying just as black as ever.

    If it’s possible to be cynically asinine they sure are doing their damnedest to hit all time lows. Michael Moore’s comparison between UKIP and the SNP, just about sums it up and you can bet your boots there’s more of the cr*p to come.

    Con-men, carpetbaggers, snake-oil salesmen, you name it, they’re all of them – they’re certainly NOT acting, nor should they ever be considered again as Scots!

  3. Nice picture; Kermit is as Kermit does. I’m tempted to photoshop him green…

  4. I’m sorry but these people have had numerous opportunities to lay out further devolution for Scotland and have refused to do so at every turn. The Edinburgh Agreement could so easily have been used to put this on the ballot paper with a clear understanding of what further powers were on offer.

    It wasn’t and simply because none of the parties in London (and let’s face it they pull the strings, not their Scottish underlings) would allow it to happen. There will be no “Devo Max” because the rest of the UK population WILL NOT allow it.

    If your an undecided reading this, please do not be drawn into this like a moth to a candle. It’s not going to happen simple! The only way to change things for the better is to put your mark in the Yes box.

  5. Read this nonsense and any time, anybody, says we are anti English, let them read it. With friends like this who needs…..potted hough, potted shrimps, a field of linseed or enemas? it’s like they don’t want us? I do not remember invective like this at the height of Civil War in NI?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2424713/Scots-MUST-vote-independence-Itll-save-rest-fortune-says-SIMON-HEFFER.html

  6. A page devoted to the liars only problem is getting all or most of the people to see them for what they are.A very difficult task as the media is against us,and why are they? simply put greed selfishness and the magic of power,and those that serve the liars maybe a wee gong sometime tin the future! I also think that it goes much deeper than Scottish independence,I think its about England being kept under the thumb,England would have a revolution the day after Scottish independence(metaphoric). The aristocracy (British) during the French revolution saw that if they fed the peasants they could be controlled and would not revolt.That is when they set up soup kitchens and workhouses,and their “charitable trust funds) was self preservation and they keep the people under control.A full belly stops a revolution,cant remember who said it or when nor where,but its true.Now we have so many empty heads that need filled with knowledge and this is another problem for the ruling elite,how to fill the heads,Oh! I don’t know how to either,but I am certain that an independent Scotland will be the catalyst for an overdue English revolution and that is the biggest fear from Westminster.

  7. Meant to tick the reply box.

  8. The primary reason none of the unionists can come up with even a mediocre vision for a better Scotland- and instead embrace the conventional folly of tinkering around the edges of the present malaise- is that they have no real interest in Scotland. To them its all about kowtowing to the big boys statesmanship back at Westminster who play at realpolitik and not the kid on stuff you get at diddy-HQ-Holyrood. They will not speak up against their London masters as they’re a bunch of ruthless narcissists too mired in Bismarckian party machinations, feathering their own career nests and positions in the hierarchy as well as being just too plain craven to offer an alternative ( even if they privately disagree with the guff issuing from the big mouths down south). They put themselves, their party, and Westminster all before Scotland or its chance to create a better society based on traditional Scottish enlightenment principles and progressive Social Democratic values. What’s more is that they all secretly dream of being part of the big boys playground some day and so don’t dare speak a word that might upset the schoolyard bully.

  9. Joyce McMillan in today’s Scotsman puts it well:

    “… there is, or should be, a huge political dividend waiting for the first Unionist party with the courage, and the intellectual energy, to put a well-developed plan for enhanced devolution on the table, and to guarantee its presence in their manifesto for the 2015 UK general election; such a guarantee certainly would remove the doubts of many uncertain No voters. And this week in Glasgow, the Liberal Democrats made a serious bid to present themselves as that party, with both Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, and the leader Nick Clegg, talking of the Lib Dems as the traditional party of UK constitutional reform, the party that would drive forward the cause of enhanced Scottish home rule following a No vote.

    There are at least three profound reasons, though, why those who care about the future of Scotland should handle these promises with care. The first lies in their vagueness; for despite all their fine talk, the Liberal Democrats have not finalised their proposals for enhanced devolution. Indeed in his Glasgow speech, Nick Clegg was still talking about seeking a 1990s-style cross-party agreement on an enhanced devolution scheme; as if a cross-party policy process that took almost a decade 20 years ago, at a time when Labour and the Liberal Democrats were in close political alliance, and the whole of Scottish civil society was mobilised in support, could now somehow be fitted into the eight months between the 2014 referendum and the 2015 UK general election, when the two parties will naturally be at each other’s throats.

    Then there is the question of how, exactly, either the Liberal Democrats or the Labour Party – in the event of their producing a credible plan – could guarantee that those plans would be implemented. If the Conservatives win an outright victory in 2015, then we can certainly forget the whole business, for at least five years. If the Lib Dems once again enter government with the Conservatives, then there is nothing to stop them trading away the devolution commitment as part of the coalition deal; with the SNP still regrouping after a referendum defeat, and Scottish civil society bitterly split after 2014, there will be many policies supported by lobbies that look far more formidable. And even a centre-left Lib-Lab coalition would have many higher priorities to deal with; as well as a hard core of backbench MPs reluctant to waste any more time on the constitutional affairs of a nation that does not, when the chips are down, really wish to govern itself….”

  10. The Tories and the Lib Dems are in power at Westminster right now. If they seriously want to offer us more powers, why don’t they just do it – why do they need to wait for a “No” vote? They don’t even need a new talking shop – they could just have implemented the full recommendations of the Calman Commission – but they refused to do so. They’ve had the commission, they’ve had the chance to implement its recommendations, they have the power to make it legal right now, they’re under pressure from the referendum next year…..yet they still refuse to carry out the recommendations of their own commission. So what chance does anyone really think they have of getting more powers out of them once we’ve given up our most important leverage by voting No? Just how daft do they think we are?

  11. Calman Commission was Labour, not the Tories though, so I doubt they would go for the opinions of a Labour led think tank.

    People should think of it this way, in the event that some miracle occurs and we are ‘promised’ more powers, when they subsequently fail to materialise, we then have an argument to get another referendum on the go.

    As 50% of the nation are undecided it could be argued that they have been conned into voting No….ergo another referendum, this time a whole new generation of Scot’s will have suffered from 1979ism……..

    But that’s all rubbish anyway, Scotland will vote Yes and finally the long road to sovereignty, will be over.

  12. The proof lies in the inactivity of the Coalition government. They could have practically killed a YES vote by amending the terms of The Scotland Act to deliver Devo Max. Instead, in my opinion there will be a YES vote. I think they are just starting to realise this, hence their deception regarding more powers. The problem BT have is they don’t have any credible individuals to promote their case. Labour was their only chance and they have started to commit political suicide.

  13. ‘Answers on a postcard for anyone who can de-code this line: “As a nation, the choice is ours: to be shaped by the future based on our vision of the common good, or to go back into the future bound by the continuing patterns of what has been.”’

    I’m willing to have a go.

    As a nation, the choice is ours: to vote Yes for a better future for all in Scotland by making our own decisions about how we spend our own money or vote No and continue to fume impotently on the sidelines as Westminster drags us back into the same old spiral of depression.

  14. That’ll be the Douglas Alexander that pretends he is a St Mirren fan but only ever saw them play at Ibrox…

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