Podcast: December Deliberations

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:


Starmer concedes election to SNP

In a stunning expose of how Labour UK believe Scottish Labour will perform at the next Westminster General Election, Keir Rodney Starmer has conceded it to the SNP already.

As you can see reported by Theo Usherwood, Political Editor of LBC – that Starmer is already saying he won’t do a deal with the SNP, predicting an SNP win rather than his own branch office.

It further reveals how little Starmer has his finger on the pulse, as following a pro-Indy win at the next election, Scotland will be transitioning to independence, due to the Supreme Court ruling UK Parliamentary sovereignty is unbreakable and Scotland would have just won the vote that powers that particular engine.

In this example let’s say Nicola Sturgeon is the negotiator, she would be effectively playing both parties off against each other anyway, to get the best deal for Scotland. I don’t see why Scottish voters would care what rump UK gets left with once the deal is done. If they get left with another Tory Government, that’s what they voted for. Scotland is not responsible for poor decision-making south of the border.

Likewise, outside the Scottish Labour member & supporter voting pool – no one actually thinks Scottish Labour are ready to do anything useful. 72% of people disagree that Scottish Labour is ready to form the government. Will we cope without that lot in charge?

If we squint through and get beyond the fact Starmer forgot Scotland just became independent and is negotiating and transitioning due to the defacto-ref. Keir shows his naivety about how the UK Government and election system work.

You see in the event of a hung parliament, without a deal being done to have a workable majority, you enter confidence and supply. There are only a few outcomes here.

  1. The Prime Minister only resigns when a successor is apparent, otherwise, the UK Government largely trundles on as it was. It can’t pass new legislation but the old stuff just runs. Scotland can keep negotiating with whoever the UK Government of the day is. You see the King needs to change the PM, and can only do so if they know someone will command the support of the house. Paralysis in the UK Parliament is only a help to us.
  2. Keir Starmer would be the one gifting his ‘victory’ to the Tories because the SNP or pro-Indy party would have won the Scottish Mandate on solely INDEPENDENCE. Therefore of course there would only be one condition, it would have been the only party in the UK to have won the mandate it put forward – it would be an assault on democracy and the fabric of the unwritten constitution if it was ignored. If he can’t form government alone and needs help – he knows the price, up to him to walk away from it.

Let’s take that last example for a moment, if I don’t buy a donut at the stipulated price, I don’t get to complain when the next person in line buys the last one on some sort of ‘I deserve it more’ rampage.

Pay the price, get the goods. Rodney gets his donut if he pays the Scottish donut stall.

You will notice, Starmer has conceded the Scottish Election to the SNP, he’s conceded the UK election to a stalemate, he’s forgotten how we form the government, all while demanding the only party to have won anything – denies the only winning mandate – because otherwise, we would need to explain to voters why a party, that few of them voted for, isn’t getting to do the job, few of them had confidence it could even do.

Strategist Starmer or Ridiculous Rodney?


Perhaps one day…

You know when you go abroad on holiday, especially to somewhere you haven’t visited before, you get that momentary sense of unease? Things are different from what we know and experience at home. We can, if we’re not careful, fall into the trap of unfamiliarity breeding contempt. If only everything were the same, because naturally ours is better.

For those of us though who taken the next step and moved abroad, this initial response diminishes over time. Once we get a handle on how to carry out the basic tasks required to survive, it’s as if the scales fall from our eyes and we see things as they truly are.

Last week The Common Weal published its book Sorted: a handbook for a better Scotland. I haven’t read it yet, nor am I likely to do so until I visit home again and purchase a copy. Thanks to Brexit the import duties and taxes levied on everything entering the EU from the UK, mean that the costs are prohibitive. Well done Farage and Co.

The publication of Sorted got me thinking though. Based on my experience, which is far from unique, what are the things that I would like to see working differently in an independent Scotland. By that I don’t mean the highbrow, intellectually challenging issues, but those things which have a direct impact on our everyday lives.

I live in a country of 5,500,000 people, the vast majority of whom live in the south. Sound familiar? Well Finland is a bit like Scotland, only much much bigger, and of course colder. This weekend Scotland has been blanketed in snow. Where I live we have had over 40cms in two days but it’s as if it doesn’t exist. Everything runs as normal, there is very little, if any, disruption. Of course the Finns are experts in dealing with snow, everybody knows that. But they are also quite good at other things as well, things which could be equally successful in an independent Scotland. 

Let’s take public transport as an example. Here we actually have an integrated transport system. How novel is that? Okay, but what does that actually mean? Let me tell you.

I live in a commuter town about 23 kilometres North of Helsinki, just on the edge of the Capital Region. A ticket to travel into Helsinki on public transport costs me €5.70. Next month the cost of the ticket will decrease to €4.50. When was the last time you heard of a price decrease on public transport in Scotland?

So what do I get for my €5.70? Well, first off the ticket has a “lifespan” of 80 minutes. It is deliberately designed to allow customers to get to their destination within the Capital Region without having to buy a second ticket. The train journey into Helsinki central station takes 18 minutes and from there I can use the same ticket to take a bus, take a tram, take the metro or even take the ferry to Soumenlinna, the island fortress at the outer approaches to Helsinki harbour (a “must see” if you every come here). Imagine that, a system which actually puts the needs of the paying customer first.

If such a system can operate successfully in Finland, why couldn’t a similar system operate successfully in Scotland. What it needs is the vision, the determination and the political will to make it happen. Perhaps one day…


Who’s in who’s out

Stephen Flynn takes over as SNP Westminster Group leader and all of sudden it’s been a little bit of hype for some under-hyped and overly cosy now backbenchers.

It will be of no surprise to ViveEcosse readers who the latest resignations from the SNP front bench are, as they’ve featured in our coverage last week.

First up is Pete Wishart, who holds the title of longest SNP MP at Westminster, something that he seems remarkably proud of while arguing there was no need for a leadership change.

We understand that the change was demanded by SNP MPs who felt the leadership of Angus Robertson, and then through Ian Blackford, seemed to be less about settling up, and rather more about how to settle down.

The comfort and lofty titles of Westminster had an appeal to many MPs and they felt that they could be ‘Stronger for Scotland’ while in effect having no real output. Sure the UK Government has never been called out in so many words, or in so many vivid depictions of evil, however, the only time they were beaten – was when Joanna Cherry decided to go off-piste and take them to court.

Pete Wishart has served SNP well and is a loyal supporter of whatever the party decides each week, however, he is not, someone who will rock the boat. I can understand why he felt the change was not required in the world in which he inhabits – it seems all that can be done is being done.

The backbenchers however mostly disagreed. The Tuesday club decided the time had come. Amusingly choosing the Westminster leader is a very quick affair, the old kicked out, and the new one installed without bothering to ask anyone outside the group. Perhaps expediency is better – i.e Liz Truss, given the mess we see when the whole party gets a say.

Secondly, not to be outdone, certain to be ousted ‘Defence Chief Spokesperson’ Stewart McDonald chucked out his resignation before Flynn even had to ask. Stewart’s largest contribution was a sort of whinge letter to NATO, who had no idea he was, and those who do know who he is – largely thought it nonsense.

Joanna Cherry who would have actually been an asset to the front bench has decided to remain focussed in the Joint Human Rights Committee as chair, showing considerable skill in getting every opposition party to support her in the role. A loss for the SNP but a smart move for Cherry, who can keep tabs on progress from the side.

Nothing of value has actually been lost, as these two enjoyed the comfort of the green bench a bit much. We still await the actual output of the shake-up from Stephen Flynn, which is sure to be some excitement.


Strictly Scores Are In…

We’ve discussed a few times now, the democratic gap in how the electorate can judge whether our politicians are living up to their promises.

We thought it might be fun to try a bit of ‘Strictly’ style judging of some politicians who’ve been in the news this week on their ‘footwork and performance’.

So who tops the leaderboard by being Fab-U-Lous and who’s failed to impress the judges, leaving them a likely contender for the electoral dance-off?

Matt Hancock – following his decision this week to step down as Tory MP to seek,

‘new ways for me to communicate with the public’
Nobody Likes Me (Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms)

Service to the public – 0/10 – Drops his ‘passion for politics’ at first sniff of a TV career thinks, as he now thinks ‘he’s a celebrity so he’s outta here!’

Tenacity – 3/10 a few points for his humiliating determination for celebrity status that had him move from ‘licking political posteriors’ to ‘eating bovine butts, amongst other delicacies…

Integrity – 0/10 – He stood for re-election as MP for West Suffolk in 2019 and took key Ministerial Roles, including most recently Health Secretary during Global Pandemic but demonstrated he was incapable of either following his own rules or seeing through any commitment.

Credibility 0/10 – despite holding Ministerial Roles from 2013 largely under the radar, his performance as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care from 2018-2021 was what put him in the spotlight. His performance during the pandemic can be summarised by his ‘caught on CCTC camera’ kissing someone clearly not in his ‘immediate household’ during a global pandemic where he was leading on public messaging.

Trust – 0/10 – see above

Likeability – 1/10 – 1 point for the morbid curiosity factor of what he’ll do next.

YES (for Scottish Independence) positive impact – 6/10 – not really for his individual impact (does he even know where Scotland is?) but contribution to cumulative Tory repulsion score which is pushing more Scots to the ‘independence cannae be any worse surely?’ position.

Gordon Brown – following his cuckoo clock (re/re/re)entry to the constitutional debate when the ‘independence event chimes’ rang!

Broontervention Time!

The paper – titled A New Britain – says Labour in government would offer “economic, social and constitutional innovations that can make the UK work better for the Scottish people”.

Service to public – 8/10 – UN Special Envoy for Global Education (unpaid), Ambassador for Global Health Financing by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other work donated to Gordon and Sarah Brown Foundation to support charitable endeavours. He does not sit in the House of Lords and still lives in his former constituency.

Tenacity – 8/10 can’t knock his clockwork-like emergence at the sniff of an uptick in independence support. Gordon Brown, considered ‘a big beast’ of Scottish politics, is our very own Scottish groundhog Kirkcaldy Gordy whose emergence into the media predicts an Independence ‘Spring’ in the same way Punxsutawney Phil’s emergence from his burrow indicates an early spring if he doesn’t see his shadow.

Integrity – 2/10 – Kirkcaldy Gordy’s latest emergence is a ‘shadow’ of his former ‘broonterventions’ as he has either forgotten his 2014 promises of ‘as close to federalism’ and the ‘most powerful devolved parliament in the world’ or he thinks we collectively have in Scotland! He is going for a trio approach now, flanked by Sir Keir and Anas who, between them just screech ‘representative of the working class’ and ‘core Labour values’. Suggestions welcome on a name for the Labour ‘boy band’, perhaps ‘The Unelected?’

Credibility 5/10 – difficult one as a former chancellor for 10 years and anointed Prime Minister, there’s a mixed bag of success and abject failure. His credibility on Scottish democracy from his increasingly incredulous pronouncements has lost him points here. His ‘independence footwork’ makes Ann Widdecombe look like a prima ballerina!

Trust – 0/10 – fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, fool me three times, are you still here??

Likeability – 5/10 – An acquired taste I think it’s safe to say. Those who know him speak highly of his kindness, humour and loyalty. This suggests he needs a new PR team as it doesn’t cut across as he always seems to preach at Scotland, from an unelected pulpit, like we’re unruly parishioners for not believing in his personal faith in a broken union.

YES (for Scottish Independence) positive impact – 8/10 – Now there are undoubtedly Scottish indy supporters who are Labour at heart and would align with much of what Brown stands for but this is where it gets interesting. Will Labour values trump independence aspirations this time?

Are Labour values more assured in an independent Scotland that on the spin of a UK electoral roulette wheel, where they have a track record of snatching defeat from the jaws of a (predicted in the polls) General Election victory?

Stephen Flynn – on his new arrival on the front stage of the UK Parliament as SNP MP’s new Group Leader.

To Sunak at Flynn’s first PMQs as SNP group leader, “Far be it from me to offer advice to a near-billionaire, but he’s going to have to up his game.”
Promising youngster?

Service to public – 5/10 – not much detail is known yet about Flynn as he was only elected in 2019 so has not had a chance to be re-elected by his constituency. His previous election as a councillor on Aberdeen City Council in 2015 was also a one-term position. Interestingly he became SNP Group Leader on the Council a year later in 2016 and was also a political researcher for SNP at both Holyrood and Westminster, both common SNP political career paths. Re-election is a good test of public service but Flynn has so far not been tested in this way as he’s ‘upgraded’ before re-election. The jury is out but we’d welcome constituents’ views of Flynn as a councillor and MP.

Tenacity – 10/10 This boy doesn’t lack ambition!

Integrity – 2/10 – Hmmm this needs work, given the early announcement of his challenge of Blackford for the group leader role, then the retraction/denial (rumoured to be after ‘words from Bute Hoose’) before the retraction of the retraction when he reannounced he was indeed to stand.

The dance of both Flynn and Blackford was full of spins and pivot turns as they covered the floor with perma-smiles and shrieks of ‘unity’ to distract the viewers from the cracks!

Credibility 5/10 – difficult one, as he has stepped up to defend the interest of jobs in his North East Constituency against proposed oil & gas taxes, even while FM was gushing about it. Have we seen enough substantive action yet? His first outing at PMQs was as good as I’m sure he hoped for. Flynn was assured and clinical in his delivery although I’m sure he thought Christmas had come early with IPOS STV indy poll news while in the chamber that provided the collateral for his set piece second question! “In that context, can I ask the Prime Minister, does he consider that increasing energy bills on energy-rich Scotland by a further £500 will cause those poll numbers to rise or to fall?”

This question was clever as it was a 1-2 to both Tory and Labour.

“What does he [Sunak] consider to be the greatest achievement of the Conservative Party in government since 2019: leaving the single market and customs union, ending freedom of movement, denying Scotland her democracy, or getting the Labour Party to agree with all of the above?”

Trust – 5/10 – The jury is out but some feel his announced replacement of the chief whip (and friend) Owen Thomson with Martin Docherty Hughes, seen by many as an ally of Nicola Sturgeon is a breach of trust. The late announcement of ‘running mate’ Mhari Black was sneaky and I’d suggest unwise after MPs had already come out to support his leadership bid. Power is a funny old thing that can come back to bite you and if it does you need your friends…

Now his new front bench announcements will tell us some of his intentions so we watch with interest. Is he giving the whip role as a gesture but doesn’t intend to use it as aggressively as it has been used, to corral an SNP position directed from Holyrood as Westminster becomes the focus of a potential ‘plebiscite’?

Likeability – 7/10 – The Holyrood Magazine piece from 2019 showed an amiable young husband and new dad who liked footy and was ambitious for himself and Scotland. Let’s see how he handles his new position of power to keep true to his values.

YES (for Scottish Independence) positive impact – 8/10 – If from no other viewpoint than to fire up the damp, sooty embers of the SNP front bench for independence, then Flynn has scored here. Day 1 in a new job to receive a poll with 56% for yes, really is the dream start. This time the air must not be allowed to seep out the indy ballon so man the pumps and take a deep breath, as we need sustained energy now from the SNP and, creativity, not predictability. Game on!