Categories
Podcasts

Protest, policy, politicians  and political mistakes

https://youtu.be/Dm1-3EeAFpo
  • Self ID & the law & public opinion 
  • Public policy making – leading or following the law 
  • Protests & politicians 
  • FM – memoirs – is the final political chapter nigh? 
  • New politics emerging? Independent Voices move from protest to politics 

Available on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon via: https://anchor.fm/vive-ecosse

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Articles

Glasses full and empty

Before I start I should point out this blog starts fairly depressing, however, I believe in coming to a solution to any problem we must first fully understand what the problem is.

The ideas I propose near the end are more positive and dare I say more hopeful so please do read to the end.

I would have liked to start this blog by saying Happy New Year to one and all and let’s hope its a better one, but from what we have seen in the short time in 2023 it saddens me to say that it seems to be shaping up the same, if not worse than previous years.

However, as a glass-half-full person I do in hope wish you all a Happy New Year, as I do think with the right determination and the right strategic, tactical thinking we can change the course those in power are steering us on.

I and as I suspect the majority of readers here, are not in a position to change anything alone, but together we can either change the course of those in power or if they won’t change, we can replace them with those that will steer us on the right course to our rightful destination.

Let me first start by explaining why I think it’s not been a great start to the year and as always these are only my opinions that I hope can be discussed, then either forgotten if not good, taken on if good or used to progress other ideas.

In the first week of 2023, we have already seen severely worrying signs coming out of the UK Government that they will bring in a policy that basically attempts to ban strikes.

It has been fairly obvious that would be their next move when we look at how the Government and media approached last year’s strikes in attempting to exhaust us and direct anger towards the strikers.

If the UK Government decide to railroad ahead with this, I would hope that the UK public will stand up to it, whether it is through an organised general strike, through the unions or through civil disobedience organised by the people.

We should never forget that the unions and strikers strike to find solutions for us – the workers, whether it’s rail workers, teachers, NHS workers or postal workers. IF THEY WIN, WE ALL WIN.

And I say this next part with no apologies – if you stood on your doorstep clapping for our NHS workers and key workers through the Covid pandemic, while they put their lives at risk on the front line, but now won’t support them as they demand not just better pay but better, safer working conditions, I’d suggest having a serious word with yourself.

Let’s also not forget what is likely going to be the next Tory attack on the people in replacing the Human Rights bill with their Bill of Rights next year that could remove the worker’s rights we have become accustomed to, such as paid holiday leave and 48 hour working weeks to name a couple.

Think about that for a while, ban strikes this year, strip workers’ rights next year…. You would be forgiven for thinking this was a severe strategic attack on the people of the UK.

So with all this going on in the UK Government only months after the abomination that was the Boris years and Truss weeks, you would think Independence for Scotland would be an inevitable choice for anyone living in Scotland (obviously excluding hard-line unionists). 

This is where the half-full glass empties.

When we established our devolved parliament it was agreed by the SNP at the time as a part of their strategy towards independence, to show the public how Scotland could govern itself better, even with limited powers and ignite confidence and ambition in what they could do with full powers.

I am sorry to say that this current SNP and Green Government is doing anything but the above and if they are to continue on this course, it will not only damage independence support, but it will also damage Scotland.

In the first week of 2023, a paper has been released showing what the Scottish Government are planning under the gaze of their GRR and Ending Conversion therapy bills.

This paper is hard to believe to be true, but given that only last month the Scottish Parliament rejected an amendment to block convicted sex offenders from gaining a gender recognition certificate, which will afford them a new birth certificate, access to women’s prisons and refuges it really should not surprise us.

The paper released shows that there are plans and discussions taking place that would make it illegal for parents to give parental advice to their children and ban balanced advice being given to people, including children, struggling or confused with their gender identity.

As an example of why I say balanced if a female child was going through the common tomboy phase and was advised that they should change their gender medically to match how they felt, this paper suggests it would be illegal to advise that they were a normal female child going through a tomboy phase that they would likely grow out of.

The paper was brought to attention by Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland and as Scotland’s top KC Lawyer and Dean of Faculty of Advocates Roddy Dunlop states, whatever you think of Wings, his articles are backed up with factual reports.

https://twitter.com/roddyqc/status/1611115315932561408?s=61&t=TXI_NDV3fm93m6LXnW0hCw

If you want to read more on this report you can read wings blog here

Or if you prefer you can read the full report here

Again, all of this after the controversial GRR debate only a couple of weeks ago, you could be forgiven in thinking it is all a strategic attack on women’s rights as well as parents’ rights. 

So the question is WHAT NOW?

Some may be tempted into thinking that a Labour Government at the next general election could be the answer.

They would be wrong.

Three examples of why – Labours lack of support for unions and strikers, to extent of punishing MPs for attending picket lines, Labour have already backed the damaging GRR policies, both in Scotland as well as the bosses in London voicing support, and of course, Labour support keeping the UK and Scotland out of the single market.

For me, British Labour has become a poor man’s Tory party and is just as entwined in the establishment’s control over the people as the Tories are and “Scottish” Labour are nothing but puppets to their London masters.

This leads me to why we find ourselves in this mess, I believe it to be all down to us being under the control of the millionaires and bankers, that runs the British establishment, and their infiltration both in Scotland and London!

Moving forward though, and getting back to that half-full glass.

I believe all of this makes the case of why we in Scotland need independence and need it now.

However it is now evident independence in name will be good, It can be better, but real independence and real change are what we need.

When we reclaim our independence, why would we stick with the structure of our government the way it is now?

The structure as we know it was negotiated with the UK government under the Scotland Act 98, and it was their intention that it would fail and recent evidence shows it can fail very easily.

Independence is for many about breaking free and making a new start as a country, so let’s do the same with our governance, let’s have a complete overhaul.

Independence gives us the chance to do just this.

It has been suggested by some that there will be a two-year transition period between whatever ballot box event we use, and our actual independence day.

Tim Rideout and the Scottish Currency Group have an excellent timetabled plan, of how we can move to our own currency, between the vote and independence day

We should do this with our governance as well.

Use the two-year transition period for a citizens assembly to work alongside a Scottish Independence Convention, and come up with a system of governance that best suites Scotland, including where our government building or buildings are located, what voting system we use, who can stand for election, who can vote etc.

Personally I have been looking at the Swiss style of governance and really like how they govern themselves, by putting democracy at the heart of their governance.

I have also considered the thought, that we should have a maximum two-term policy for those sitting in the main Parliament, that votes on policy, and then have parliamentarians that get elected to an advisory second chamber that would only advise and not make policy.

This, I believe, would avoid careerist politicians from making decisions, but also avoids losing good long serving parliamentarians that are in politics long term because they are good at what they do, and not for a wage packet or comfy seat.

I also enjoyed Chris Hanlon’s latest blog on here Coriolis where he writes of a Citizens Assembly chamber.

All these ideas and others could be looked at and combined to form the best outcome to suit our newly independent nation, and on Independence Day, or week,  we could have our first General Election (or whatever the assembly decides to call it).

If this was done right, I think would remove the risk of the mess we now find ourselves in, and could even encourage support for independence from those we might not expect.

All of this can only happen when we become independent.

I recognise that the above idea posed, is for a post-independent Scotland and I have missed the small matter of how we get our Independence, you can see my views on that in my previous blog which I’ll possibly update next, but to be honest, my opinions have not much changed,

No more cap in hand

My reason for writing this blog is basically to say that Independence is and should always remain a priority for us in Scotland, no matter what the current governments do, they can be replaced.

The Scottish government can be replaced when the people of Scotland decide and the UK government can be replaced when the people of England decide. Still, the British Establishment will remain and for me, that is the main reason Independence will always remain the answer.  

So it is over to us now, we have to re-navigate the course of those in power, directly towards Independence, at full steam ahead, avoiding their Iceberg collisions of damaging policies, and if they won’t change their course, we will need to remove them, and replace them with those that will and those that can.

To summarise, while 2023 may have gotten off to a worrying start, I remain hopeful, it will be the year we make the change that is needed on our route to independence.

The time has to be now.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

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Articles

Coriolis

Image shamelessly borrowed from this interesting article: https://oikofuge.com/coriolis/

When I was a bairn there used to be a wee round-a-bout like this one out the back of my house.

It was a bit of a team sport and it wasn’t often that you really got much chance to play on it and get the full experience. By today’s standards it was horribly dangerous and many of the other examples dotted about the town were of the more modern health and safety conscious type and were simply no fun to play on.

We used to play all sorts of games designed to rip arms off or result in a variety of life threatening head injuries. One that was less deadly but more interesting was when you got your mates to spin it as fast as they possibly could and you would hing on for dear life in the middle, facing in the way, and try to kick the central pillar. I mean, how hard could it be?

Well it was near impossible in reality and the faster they span you the harder it got. There’s something about the visceral experience of intellectual knowledge that really hammers home the realities of the way the world actually functions, even when that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

I couldn’t have told you about the Coriolis effect or frames of reference when I was 8 but I knew intellectually what was going on. The experience of not being able to put your own leg where you told it to go no matter how hard you tried was something completely different to that knowledge.

The more I study modern democracies the more I am reminded of that round-a-bout. The closer you get to the centre of power the harder it is to actually do what you came there to do. Make no mistake, even in a total authoritarian dictatorship, the will of the people is paramount. When the Leviathan awakes it’s Guillotines all round for anyone that stands in its way. So political elites the world over have learned to try and maintain the slumber of that popular Leviathan.

One of the most powerful groups in any society are the press, those that distribute and share information with the masses. Most of the time they keep that Leviathan safely snoring, placated with a steady diet of football and celebrity gossip. Occasionally, however, they break out the pots and pans and start screaming ‘Fire, fire!’ loud enough to wake the dead.

So political elites are very much beholden to those that control the spigots of information in the ‘free press’ lest they lose their minds and wake the beast.

The same is true of all the little factions it is necessary to placate to gain and hold power outside of populist politics, which is a different sort of straight jacket. Compromises are inevitably made in building the fragile coalitions necessary to attain power.

The irony is that those that have power are often paralysed by the fear of using it for fear that they will lose it again.

The War on Drugs is a classic example of this. A moral panic was stirred up, mostly by the press in America, in the 20’s and 30’s. At its source it was a veneer of moral rectitude over unreconstructed racism but it spread around the world like a plague. Drugs were evil and needed to have a war waged against them. That narrative has persisted for decades with most of the mainstream press ready on a hair trigger to vilify any politician who dares suggest that this Emperor has no clothes.

It’s properly stupid, everybody and their dog knows that most ‘drugs’ are much less harmful than alcohol or tobacco and that the vast majority of the harms that do exist are directly related to the criminalisation of drugs rather than the drugs themselves. And yet the dance continues decade after decade. Nobody that would do anything to fix it is ever allowed anywhere near power because it is an easy stick for the press to beat an aspiring political leader with and it is easier for their political opponents to cynically let the press do so because winning is more important than being right.

Almost every political leader with two brain cells to rub together knows that the War on Drugs is moronic but they either lack the power to do anything about it or will never say they will because that will prevent them ever getting the power to do something about it.

It is a classic catch-22 situation and it is structural to the way our democracies and ‘free’ press currently function.

What we really need is a War on Stupid rather than a War on Drugs. A war on the stupid structural failures of our democracies and in particular our ‘free’ press because there is nothing free about a system of distributing a tsunami of lies and misinformation that is owned by a handful of billionaires who use it to maintain and entrench their own wealth and power.

Away back in 1999 Amartya Sen wrote

“elections can be deeply defective if they occur without the different sides getting an adequate opportunity to present their respective cases, or without the electorate enjoying the freedom to obtain news and to consider the views of the competing protagonists”

by which he meant that if you don’t have a free press, that actually provides a balanced presentation of all the facts and opinions in a manner that maximises the opportunity of the electorate to come to well informed and rational conclusions, you not only don’t have a ‘free’ press you don’t actually have a democracy either.

The War on Drugs and any number of entirely irrational policy dogmas that blight our world are the result of our structural democratic failure to create a truly Free Press.

The press is not the only structural failure in our democracies but it is an existential one. We won’t truly have something that technically qualifies for the description democracy until we genuinely have a Free Press.

A Free Press is necessary but not sufficient. Money, lobbying, pressure groups, and structural corruption within political parties all have similar effects and need fixing if we are to have any hope of benefiting from Scotland becoming independent.

Those that are rich ought to have proportionally less influence than those that are poor, otherwise financial inequity becomes self-reinforcing and necessarily harmful to society. Only registered voters should be allowed to donate to politicians or political campaigns, including registered lobby groups, and there must be strict caps and preferably tax incentives for those least able to do so. There exists anti-corruption best practice recommendations for political parties that should be implemented, one way or the other.

Representative democracy has pretty much reached the limit of what it can do for us by way of improving how we are governed. The next step is integrating more direct democratic processes into our representative democracies to overcome the structural limitations they have demonstrated.

Citizens’ Assemblies have shown great promise. Twenty years ago nobody would have even dreamed that politicians in Ireland would be able to change the law on abortion in Ireland. Like the War on Drugs the issue was too toxic and no party proposing change was ever going to have the power to do so. But by handing the issue back to the public to examine it and decide on how best to proceed the Dail was able to sidestep that structural limitation and make progress. Scotland’s first Citizens’ Assembly recommended that we implement a permanent Citizens’ Chamber in Holyrood tasked with oversight and possibly some form of revision. Personally I think that is a manifestly good idea. Checks and balances are what are needed to overcome the structural failings of representative democracy and those checks and balances are going to have the same structural failings if they are not based on a fundamentally different system of democracy. The direct democratic foundations of a well designed Citizens’ Chamber are the best solution I have yet to see presented.

We need to make a change or our politicians are going to continue making the same mistakes and intentionally smashing everyone’s faces against the same brick wall forever, even after independence.

This moment, where we find ourselves in the eye of the democratic storm, poised between being subjects and citizens, is the ideal one to take stock and to plot a different, better, path forward.

Categories
Podcasts

Podcast: Welcome to 2023

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjwTTJKeVlM

Welcome to 2023

On this ViveEcosse podcast we have a chat about some of the big issues in Scottish Politics this New Year:

  • Gender Recognition Reform 
  • The NHS, Railways, Medicine
  • The Economy
  • Independence

Available on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon via: https://anchor.fm/vive-ecosse

Categories
Podcasts

Podcast: December Deliberations

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7q9lb6NONNo

December Deliberations 

On this ViveEcosse podcast we have a chat about some of the big issues in Scottish Politics this December;

  • Gender Recognition Reform 
  • Harry & Megan
  • Strikes and the economy 
  • Independence and the £20m budget item

Available on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon via: https://anchor.fm/vive-ecosse