Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Labour Leadership Farce

I've been avoiding the usual 10:30pm current affairs slot on the telly but did tune in last night for Scotland Tonight's interview with the contender for Scottish Labour's Leadership, I'm still not sure who the other two people were. Scotland Tonight at least tries to be fair, it doesn't wear a sneer on its face like Scotland 2014. The BBC's flagship current affairs program is an exercise in snide, whether its accidental or because it's coming from the BBC - it loves looking down its nose at viewers.

During the independence campaign, the Yes Campaign was often accused of speaking mostly to itself - and there was probably some truth in that, although I don't think you can ever completely avoid it. Now though, Scottish Labour seems to be suffering similarly Neil Findlay - 

That would be me.

 - said when Nicola Sturgeon spoke this week in parliament; it was all rhetoric. He went on to back the claim up with - you'll never guess - some rhetoric. Much of what they say seems to be the result of focus group meetings stuffed mostly with Labour activists and staffers, their continuing mission is to boldly develop eye-catching policies that only make sense to Labour staffers and be rationalised by people like Duncan Hothersal.

While the SNP aren't perfect, one thing they've learned to do is listen; they try to be proactive. Occasionally they go off on an odd tangent (a good example is GIRFEC) but for the most part, they seem to know that leadership is conditional and the people who put them there aren't stupid. Scottish Labour are more used to setting the agenda for a disinterested electorate, they've held power without question for so long, they don't seem to know how to behave without it - ever since 2007 they've been flailing around helplessly and they're still doing it now.

I would feel sorry for Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack - 

- but all three claim they'll plough their own furrow free from interference from London HQ - it is a lie no one believes. Although the notion of Ed Miliband leading anything is difficult to imagine, Scottish Labour will always be subordinate because Scotland itself is subordinate - how can it be any other way?

That's the problem with the union, and its why it never works for Scotland. It doesn't matter how often Westminster rent-a-gubs bang on about the pooling & sharing of resources or of the UK being 'one big family of nations' - when it comes to British politics, the main parties work for the maintenance of the British State. If it happens to benefit the electorate - who mostly live in the south of England - its mostly incidental. Westminster's interest in Scotland begins and ends with what it can get away with taking and how little it can get away with giving back.

The Tories fell by the way side in the 80's and 90's and they dragged the Lib Dems with them in the noughties. And after the huge clusterfuck of spin and death that was the trademark of Tony Blair and New Labour - in Scotland, voters are beginning to realise Westminster-based parties don't work for them at all.

Labour has set itself up for the most opprobrium; with the Tories; you know where you stand - they're a bunch of hard-hearted, flinty-eyed bastards and they don't mind who knows it - the Liberal Democrats have simply become Tory enablers whether they meant to or not. Labour on the other hand did something different - they managed to hoodwink people in Scotland in to thinking 'Scottish' Labour was different from 'UK' Labour and that it worked for them.

The truth is, it never did. The steel works stayed closed, electronic manufacturing still died on its arse and more recently big finance was allowed to rule the roost to disastrous effect.

Currently Labour north of the border via Jim, Neil, Sarah and the Daily Record are saying there are two reason why things are so shit: 1) they're not in power and 2) the SNP are. Meanwhile south of the border, Ed Miliband is pushing policies that would keep Labour out of office even if they weren't a bunch of daft gits. We're not supposed to know that though, we're supposed to be transfixed by Jim Murphy's baleful stare while continuing to not realise just how much of a shitbag he is.

We should probably talk about Jim Murphy.

Last night he said (with breathy urgency and incredulous eyes) he would 'like to see' income tax devolved, with it he said he'd reinstate the 50p tax rate. He said if Scotland wanted to spend more money it would have to raise it. What's the problem with that statement? Scotland already raises more tax than it spends. We'd end up paying twice; once for things we don't want (foisted on us by Westminster,) then again for the things we do need (free personal care for the elderly anyone?) Income tax accounts for a small part of Scotland's total tax take, it being devolved is nothing but a sop and we shouldn't fall for it.

I think its fair to say here embodied in one man is all that is wrong with politics in Britain today. A Blairite warmonger with an expenses fetish, a lying revisionist with a grasping sense of entitlement to high office in Scotland. He's a spineless Trident fan-boy who'll say anything if he thinks it'll garner a few votes. Jim doesn't give a shit about Scotland, he only cares about his place in the great British state machine. 

Still, Jim is the anointed one, he's been touched by Ed Miliband. The serried ranks of Labour members - all 14 of them - some unions and most MSP's can vote with confidence knowing that Jim passed muster with Head Office in London.

He'll win this leadership contest, but in the long run Labour in its current form will lose Scotland.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Maggrit Curran: She down with da young team.

You'll have seen or at least heard about Margaret Curran's recent outpouring via Buzzfeed here. You might also see that I commented on it at length, what can I say, I was at a loose end.

You might also have noticed in the comments someone suggesting a vote for the SNP next year is a vote for the Tories, that if you don't vote Labour then Cameron will be a shoo in at the Westminster general election.

It'll be a common refrain over the next few months that totally ignores certain realities. First off; if you do vote Labour and they get in, you'll get Tory policy anyway because that is what Labour have to offer, and secondly - and somewhat cancelling out the first point - is the existence of Ed Miliband. You know sometimes you cross paths with someone who looks a bit dim but lurking behind that bovine stare is a lancet-like intellect? Well, that's not Ed Miliband, what you see is what you get - there is a void behind his eyes where Labour policy and some wit should exist.

Most Labour voters are not like Labour staffers, they don't have the dogma of the 'Labour Activist', those hard-nosed reality deniers who'll throw demonstrably provable fact out the window and put their bizarre Labour spin in its place.

Later on in that thread someone else said:

Another thing Labour activists love to do is judge others by their own standards. I wasn't sure exactly what Nathan meant with his comment, I assume he means during the SNP's first stint as a minority government, the Tories occasionally voted with them. It goes with out saying, Labour would never (ever) do that. The SNP could promise peace on earth, an end to world hunger and the reintroduction of Fruit Spangles and Labour would oppose it. Hard though it may be to believe; in Scotland, the Tories have a more progressive attitude than does 'Scottish' Labour. 

It also rather ignores the notion that the Lib Dems and Greens also voted with the SNP occasionally - I'm pretty sure there might even have been policies where Labour voted with the Scottish Government - ocht, lets just say it out loud; THE SNP. Its fast becoming the case that Scottish Labour agreeing with you makes you look more of a twat than the Tories agreeing with you.

I know I don't need to tell people to be prepared for this sophistry - as someone pointed out on Twitter, there are a gazillion photos of Labour drones shmoozing with their Tory counterparts during the referendum campaign. They'll try to convince people that while they agreed on the meat of the referendum they disagreed on much of everything else. However, their policies & statements in the press highlight the dishonesty of that claim - most folk know the gap between Tory and Labour policy is broadly similar to that seen between the cheeks of a gnat's bum.

I won't comment further on Margaret's wee rant on Buzzfeed, because the football is on. We're thirty minutes in and the score line is still love all. Shit, no its not. England just scored.

Oh well. Maybe we'll equalize in the second set?

Monday, 10 November 2014

Scottish News anyone?

A lazy but no less important blog this Monday morning. (as much as these articles are ever important.)

Today saw the launch of a new website - It comes from the same people who brought us Dateline Scotland during the referendum campaign - if you're not familiar with it, you really should seek it out on YouTube - it was the most honest of all referendum news reportage - a point I'd happily debate with any challengers.

What they're doing now is an altogether more serious look at the news in Scotland. Looking at news output on the telly today; we get some UK-wide news, English local news dressed up as UK-wide news, undisguised English local news then the news 'where we are'.

When put up against the turgid output from the BBC; Scotland 2014 (already near it's sell-by-date) the head-up-it's-own-arse Newsnight & Daily Politics etc and the slightly less plodding efforts from STV (Scotland Tonight) and Channel Four - Scottish Evening News looks like a refreshingly original take on the news in Scotland. 

Currently - even in Scotland-only broadcasts - our current affairs stories are often relegated to the 'and in other news' section. With this new set up, the 'English' news we get as headlines will make up the 'and finally' stories and Scottish current affairs - from where ever it comes - will be given the time and analysis it deserves.

I was donating £10 a month to Yes Scotland, its now going to Scottish News. I've never had a TV licence, if I did, I'd cancel it and give it to them. People hesitate to donate to these types of internet-based entities because of their intangible nature but think nothing of buying a daily or weekly news paper. While those publications are tangible, the contents are inevitably tainted by the political views of those who own the titles - which ever way they may lean. At least with this new set-up, Scottish news will be given the prevalence it deserves instead of being sidelined by stories that have no impact on Scottish Daily life.

There is broad agreement that what lost the referendum for the Yes campaign was a biased media - so this is an important step in the on-going journey toward independence. Plus, because of the unique way Scottish Evening News is funded - it'll behave pretty much exactly like how the BBC is supposed to but doesn't.

But then, I'm a bit biased myself, I'd happily pay cash-money to get Dateline Scotland back. It would still easily provide the most accurate & incisive assessment of the news in Scotland. Heck, the Dateline Scotland Ticker-Tape App is just waiting to be written. If you're watching the videos on YouTube, they're worth keeping an eye on, even if you have to watch the videos twice.