2007 - 2020

Unpeople

This is the stuff of Burroughs not Orwell. The media elite have created an ‘unpeople’ governed by an invisible party only seen in fleeting glimpses of the ‘campaign’. These ‘unpeople’ also have certain ‘unmentionable’ topics, and this is the reason they are not allowed on your screens.

These ‘unmentionables’ are ‘Trident’, ‘ID cards and the database state’ and the abolition of ‘the House of Lords’ (the pinnacle of feudalism still remnant in the 21st C). Oh, and don’t mention the war, it’s all going well.

These ‘unpeople’ join other forgotten and marginalised who’s only role is as a source of collective vilification. These include ‘immigrants’ and the ‘poor’.

Gerry Hassan wrote recently of subsets. There is a forgotten people within the unpeople: “What is left off the political agenda is the challenge of “forgotten Scotland”, the scale of exclusion, poverty and welfare dependency across the nation. Glasgow has one-third of its working-age population on state benefits, with huge groups of the city trapped on incapacity benefit. Male life-expectancy in the Calton ward in Glasgow is 54 – the lowest in western Europe. And all of this is not exclusive to the west of Scotland, with over half of all households in Dundee having no one in paid work.”

To the undecideds – here is who you should vote for according to the press:

Herald: “The Herald does not presume to tell its readers how to vote. All we would say is this: listen to your head as well as your heart. Above all, go out and vote.”
Scotsman: David Cameron has “made a considerable effort to reassure Scotland he respects the country’s distinctiveness … has recognised the need for a rapid reduction in Britain’s indebtedness and has the desire to loosen the shackles of state dominance which so limits Scottish ambition”.
Scotland on Sunday:
Daily Retard: Labour
Daily (Hate) Mail: “Why we must vote DECISIVELY to stop Britain walking into disaster … and give the Tories their chance.”
Sun: “Sixteen Page 3 girls in all their glory represent the very image of freedom in this country. But if Labour or the Lib Dems win the election, this could be the last time they are allowed to pose together.”
Independent: “There is a strong case for progressively minded voters to lend their support to the Liberal Democrats wherever there is a clear opportunity for that party to win.”
Daily Telegraph: Conservatives
Sunday Telegraph: Conservatives
Daily Express: Conservatives
News of the World:  Conservatives
Gruniad:
Liberal Democrats
Times: Conservatives
Sunday Times: Conservative
Economist: Conservatives
Independent on Sunday: Liberal Democrats
Observer: Liberal Democrats
Mail on Sunday: Conservatives
Financial Times: Conservatives
Mirror: Labour, but urging tactical voting for Lib Dems

Feel free to add your own media allegiances as (and if) they uncover themselves tomorrow.

But enough of the terminally dull unionist & corporate press, as we said in our #scotlandspeaks campaign it’s time to become the media. So what are independent writers and bloggers saying?There’s a dozen new blogs, here’s two:

Tocasaid has it: “…I would encourage people to vote for anyone but London.” Adding simply: “You don’t have to vote for a variety of xenophobic right-wing heidcases.”

Scott’s Republic writes: “Soon the British Government will be meeting in London – to determine Scotland’s future. The names may be different, but it will be the same government. It will keep Trident – in Scotland – and go ahead with its replacement – in Scotland. It will stay in Afghanistan – where young Scots will die or or otherwise suffer physical and mental injury – and soon enough it will find Afghanistan’s replacement – where young Scots will die or otherwise suffer physical and mental injury.”

The Tories have now (twice) been quite explicit that they feel the need for no mandate from Scotland.

As one commentator put it: “No Westminster Government has a democratic mandate to rule Scotland. It’s the reason that there is a Scottish Parliament.”

What’s the best we can get out of this election?

1. Rogue Tory point-scoring initiates fiscal autonomy for ‘subsidy junkie’ Scots. As the Cameron victory unleashes the pent up fury of the right in England expect anti-Scottish prejudices to come off the leash.
2. Liberal influence (if there is any) could deliver aspects of Calman. Sounds deeply dull but devolution of broadcasting could be the digital Stone of Destiny.
3. A Tory free zone and the return of the Feeble Fifty undermines credibility of Labservatives in one fell swoop.  A TFS (Tory Free Scotland) would mean the spectacle of an ennobled Scot from England returning in full colonial glory. It’s got to be Riffers.
4. The activities of Bonnie Prince Charlie are not yet over.
5. The likely exposure of the dissembling Liberal radicalism as soon as true interests are aligned. The likely fall-out of New Labour and its concomitant feedback in Scotland could get interesting.

All of which could lead to progressive gains in 2011 and the shifts that could lead to the break up of the British State. That’s a lot of ifs and many more buts. But what we know we are seeing tomorrow and in the following days is the death of New Labour. As Tom Nairn wrote presciently in 1970 (!):

“The Labour Party set up to build a new world in the crumbling mansion of British Conservative imperial hegemony. It has ended up as chief caretaker of the ruins.”

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  1. ratzo says:

    A couple of things in particular emerged at this election:

    1. Folk are voting ‘Unionist’ for straightforward reasons – the money is in Westminster.

    There is already a consensus in Scotland that we repatriate the money, including the oil revenues.

    There is no sentiment for the Union.

    2. The BBC had a lousy war in Scotland: it is ready for a major review, and reform.

    Fiscal Autononomy & Devolution of Broadcasting bring Scotland near to the point of de facto Independence; even if those are powers that are not particularly exceptional by comparison with other sub-state polities.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      It does raise the question of where the SNP goes from here. You shouldn’t take part in an election you cannot win.

      1. ratzo says:

        Yes, one of the logical niceties of the Smith verdict was that from the perspective of the unitary state [sic], the SNP & Plaid are essentially pressure-groups rather than political parties, because by constitutional definition they can never command a sufficient number of seats to be in the position of realistically contesting the Westminster election, and thereby the PM function.

        Rendered explicit, such logic is manifestly absurd, so it will be interesting to see how it is fares under scrutiny.

  2. john says:

    Whatever the outcome of the election, the BBC has major questions to answer. And these questions are linked with the decisions on who leads the country. Apparently civil servants will decide what happens in the event of a hung parliament and their main stated aim is to avoid difficulties for the monarch. These good folks – and the monarch – are unelected. So an unelected broadcaster (paid out of public funds) provides coverage that is inadequate to Scotland’s needs (according to most objective observers). This produces a result in which another bunch of publicly-funded unelected people determine what the voters have decided. This insult to democracy can be addressed from Scotland with devolved broadcasting as a start.

  3. Tearn says:

    I remember seeing on twitter that the Scottish Sunday Express supported SNP. Dont know if its true or not since i dont read the paper.

  4. Tocasaid says:

    The quote from Gerry Hassan sums it up well. How much real progress has been made in the areas of poverty in the past 3 decades under both Tory and Labour?

    As to the ‘Daily (hate) Mail’. What could you mean?

  5. Minerva's perch says:

    I agree with what the other posters say here but let’s not get waylaid here by the BBCs marginalisation of Scotland, important as that is. This article is addressing bigger issues. Should the shamelessly opportunistic Liberal Democrats find themselves in the position of power-broker tomorrow the first thing that will happen is that a rotten and corrupt two-party British political system will be replaced by a rotten and corrupt three-party British political system. Whatever the actual result of the British general election the most likely outcome is an alliance of the anodyne. You can change the furniture in your room as often as you like but, at the end of it, you’re still going to be living in the same room.

    But it’s not the just the British parliament that’s rotten and corrupt and that has nothing to offer Scotland except more of the same. It’s the British state and its institutions. Whether it’s the Bank of England’s MPC who make their decisions without so much as an afterthought for their impact on Scotland’s economy, whether it’s the BBC, for whom Scotland is the land that time forgot, whether it’s the Ministry of Defence who send our soldiers to war with no reference to the strength of opposition to that war in Scotland – Jesus Christ, even our own judicial system can’t even bring itself to recognise the legitimate claims of our own government – all of these institutions of the British state have the purpose of keeping us in our place and neutralising dissent! Surely now, more than ever, it’s time for us to move beyond the limitations of the politics of (British) recognition to the politics of (Scottish) transformation.

    We, the “unpeople” of this article have allowed the British to do this to us. Whatever the reasons for us allowing this – manufactured consent, dominant ideology, false consciousness, ‘common sense’, fear, feelings of helplessness, powerlessness or personal inadequacy it’s as if we have got used to thinking of Scotland as a virtual place, a democracy-free zone full of unpeople sleepwalking into yet another lost decade of Tory/Labour/Lib Dem Britishness. Things happen to Scotland, don’t they, Scotland isn’t a place that makes things happen is it? We Scots don’t do revolutions, not even velvet ones, but something is stirring, you can feel it and it’s not just about the illusion of change that’s currently being orchestrated by the British media and other agents of the British state.

    This isn’t about politicians ‘giving’ us anything. Nor is it about us ‘taking’ anything from politicians or the ‘authorities’. This is about something much more fundamental and much more far-reaching. It’s about us, the “unpeople” of this article, reclaiming what we have allowed ourselves to lose. We have allowed ourselves to lose Scotland and it is Scotland that we need to reclaim. We can’t do anything about changing Scotland’s past. But we can do a great deal about reclaiming Scotland’s present and staking our claim for Scotland’s future.

    We can start by organising a mass demonstration against Mark Thompson’s arrival in Edinburgh during the Festival. This man should not be allowed to strut in and out of Scotland, pontificating to us about the ‘democratic’ BBC or the future of broadcasting in Scotland without being left in no doubt about the strength of our feelings. We should make as much noise and cause as much inconvenience to him as we can, to restrict his freedom of speech in the way that his British Bullying Corporation restricted our government’s right to fair treatment. The difference is that Thompson’s actions may have the consequence that, even in Scotland, a bunch of unprincipled Lib Dem parvenus part-financed by an Iraqi billionaire, convicted criminal and sympathiser of Saddam have had their position in the opinion polls inflated, possibly at the expense of the SNP. Wouldn’t this be the cruellest of ironies, the British kicking us when we’re down?

    Let’s also organise a march for independence. I don’t mean next week or even next month. I mean a well-planned, well-organised mass demonstration where we carefully engage as many people in Scotland as we can, people of all parties and none, people of all ages and backgrounds, people who’ve never attended a demonstration in their lives before, that kind of demonstration. Let’s not wait to see what happens, or what the progressive gains in Scotland might be after the British have decided what’s good for us (though I agree wholeheartedly with the tone and content of this article).

    This is our Scotland and this is our lifetime. In reclaiming the one, we reclaim the other. We are not living vicarious lives and we mustn’t defer Scotland’s future to some future generation. We are not helpless and we are not powerless as long as we act collectively and show the self-awareness that every small thing we do in this direction is creating a momentum for change in Scotland. Independence is not a panacea but Scottish independence can deliver the type of change to our lives which, in the US after more than eighteen months after Obama’s election, millions of Americans can still only dream about. That’s the kind of change that I can believe in.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Well said, lets talk again after tonight.

  6. Minerva's perch says:

    Just a quick thought, it’s been a long night, will try to come back later this evening.

    I hope that Alex Salmond is making arrangements to announce, sooner rather than later (i.e. asap), that SNP and Plaid will support a Labour-Lib Dem anti-Tory coalition at Westminster.

  7. Minerva's perch says:

    Bella, do you think that anyone is up for these demos? It looks like this thread hasn’t generated any interest but I’ll certainly be there to hassle Thompson when he comes, even if it’s a demo of one! As for the march for independence? Would the Independence Convention or anyone else be interested? Would you be interested in helping to organise this – don’t want to impose on you guys but I’d be happy, through you, to hook up with anyone who was serious about pursuing this? Like everyone else I don’t have much spare time but I’m more than happy to do what I can to make this happen.

    The blogosphere is full of the dead hand of psephology and I don’t want to add to an already congested area except to say this. We’re going back to the 1980s now in so many ways. For example, even if every single voter in Scotland had voted Labour it wouldn’t have made any difference to this result – even a Labour-Lib Dem coalition, in these circumstances, would still have been short of an overall majority! Same as in 1983 and 1987, the vast majority of Scottish voters have been disenfranchised no less than those poor souls who got turned away from the polling stations yesterday.

    I see that Salmond has come out in favour of a Labour-Lib Dem coalition, with great timing as well. This is good politics.

    Of course the SNP doesn’t exist to prop up the British state but it does exist to defend Scotland’s national interests, that’s why Salmond made this announcement and that’s what this announcement will consolidate in the minds of the Scottish electorate.

    It was also good politics because, clearly, this election result has left the SNP with not many cards to play. When you’re in that position you need to make the very best of your bad hand. To continue with the casino metaphor, as an old mate of mine said to me once when I was reluctant to contact a previous employer for a job reference: “It’s ok to cash in your chips, as long as they’re your chips”.

    More to the point the election that counts, for the SNP, is next year’s Scottish Parliament elections. It’s true that that the SNP does not have a sympathetic Scottish press to remind Scottish Labour voters of Salmond’s announcement, but that’s no reason for the rest of us not to amplify it. Indeed, it’s not difficult to see how this announcement could be adopted as part of the SNPs campaign strategy next year. If the SNP is to dedicate itself, as I believe it must do now, to out-manoeuvring Scottish Labour, it needs to wholeheartedly embrace a progressive agenda and position itself as the locus of progressive politics in Scotland. The SNP needs to appeal to Scottish Labour voters now as never before. Gordon Brown, in the last few months made pledges about, among other things, a minimum wage of £7.00 per hour, restoring the link between pensions and earnings, New Labour even re-discovered class. Obviously, these pledges etc were born out of expediency, even desperation. But this is the kind of territory that the SNP needs to enter now if it is to deepen and broaden its appeal to Scottish Labour voters.

    It was good politics also because what the SNP can do now, and what they must do now, is constantly remind Scottish Labour voters that this election takes us back to the electoral arithmetic of the 1980s and the disenfranchisement of the majority of Scottish voters. Hence, the only way to guarantee that Scotland is never again governed by an undemocratically elected Tory government at Westminster is with independence. The flip side of this, is that Scottish Labour voters need to be constantly reminded that, for the ‘Scottish’ Labour Party, just as in the 1980s and 1990s, eighteen years of Thatcherism was a price worth paying to keep Scotland in the union so, for Scottish Labour in the 2010s, another decade or more of Cameron’s Thatcherite revisionism would also be a price worth paying to keep Scotland in the union.

    Finally, it was good politics because what this election demonstrates is that it’s not just the UK parliament that’s been hung by this general election result, it’s the UK itself that’s now dangling from a rope. It’s astonishing that these people advertise themselves as the oldest ‘democracy’ in the world. Here we are, placing constitutional authority, in the twenty first century, in the hands of a monarch, with people queuing for hours to vote being turned away, with eighty per cent of the Scottish electorate voting against a Tory government who are going to wreak more damage in Scotland than even Thatcher did. If this is democracy in Scotland what would a British dictatorship look like?

    On a lighter note. Let all of us who support Scottish independence give our full unreserved support to England in the forthcoming World Cup. Why? Even if our disenfranchisement, an archaic, elitist and undemocratic constitution, a heinous bunch of Tories whose policies, I suspect, by the time they’ve finished with us and if we let them, might encourage us to look back on Thatcher with nostalgic affection in comparison, even if all of this and so much else doesn’t encourage Scottish Labour voters in Glasgow and Edinburgh to support Scottish independence, England winning the World Cup, on top of all this, will mean that independence is in the bag!

    Off to bed now. All the best.

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