YES for an Indepe...
Follow
Find
17.0K views | +0 today
YES for an Independent Scotland
2014 will be a referendum on relocating power from London to Scotland. 2016 will be an election about the policies of a free Scotland
Curated by 3MenInABlog
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Fair warning

Fair warning | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
 Fair warning
Posted on May 29, 2013 by Rev. Stuart Campbell

The Herald today reports officially (or at least semi-officially, quoting “a senior Treasury source”) what we’ve been telling you for months:

    “Scotland’s annual block grant is set to be cut by hundreds of millions of pounds in a knock-on effect from George Osborne’s attempt to find £11.5 billion of extra savings across Whitehall budgets.”

The cuts will be implemented in 2015, if Scotland votes No to independence. Labour has repeatedly refused to commit itself to higher spending in the event it wins the 2015 election. The net effect on the Scottish budget of both up-front and hidden cuts like those described in the links above will be likely to run into billions of pounds.

When Johann Lamont says that universal services for Scots are no longer affordable, she isn’t basing her calculations on Scotland’s own finances, because Scotland can afford them and will be able to afford them for decades to come. She’s basing them on the reduced pocket money that Scotland will receive from Westminster regardless of who wins the next election, because that’s the true meaning of “One Nation Labour”.

If you like cuts, vote No for more. Lots more.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Would Blue Labour end the welfare state?

Would Blue Labour end the welfare state? | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
The Labour leaders who believe the welfare state is doing more harm than good
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Westminster fears losing Scotland’s oil money | Holyrood Magazine

Westminster fears losing Scotland’s oil money | Holyrood Magazine | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
Westminster politicians are “worried stiff” about independence leading to the UK losing Scottish oil income, a former Chancellor has claimed. Speaking in
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

George Kerevan: UK Treasury in choppy waters - Comment - Scotsman.com

George Kerevan: UK Treasury in choppy waters - Comment - Scotsman.com | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
 George Kerevan: UK Treasury in choppy waters
Treasury analysis suggesting an independent Scotland would be weaker is a 'tendentious and mendacious'.
.
By GEORGE KEREVAN     Published on 24/05/2013 00:00
.
In questioning Scotland’s ability to weather an economic storm the Treasury is sailing rather close to the wind, writes George Kerevan

THIS week both sides on the independence debate were firing off economic broadsides at close quarters. There was a lot of shouting and the sound of wood splintering, but when the smoke clears will anyone have scored a decisive hit on the opposition’s main mast?

First shot came from the UK Treasury with a 113-page analysis purporting to prove that “the exceptionally large and highly-concentrated financial sector of an independent Scotland would be likely to increase the risks, to markets, firms and consumers, of financial services firms operating in an independent Scotland.”

As an economic argument, this is frankly tendentious and mendacious. The argument that size should confer greater risk is not found in any economic textbook I’m familiar with. Nor has a large, concentrated banking sector been bad for, say, Switzerland or Luxembourg.

The Treasury paper argues that in an independent Scotland, the assets of domestic banks would equal 1,250 per cent of GDP. That random statistic is there to frighten the unwary, especially if compared to bankrupt Cyprus, where the comparable figure is circa 700 per cent. Of course, safe, dependable Luxembourg has bank assets worth 2,500 per cent of GDP, or double the Scottish figure. In fact, Luxemburg has enjoyed social and economic stability since 1945.

Sensing the Luxembourg case undermines their argument, the Treasury spin doctors clutch at straws. They claim Scotland “would require to run large… current account surpluses” in order to emulate Luxembourg’s economic strength. But an independent Scotland would run a very large current account (trade) surplus. Oil and whisky would generate circa £50 billion in exports annually. The rest of the UK – having lost Scottish export earnings – would see domestic interest rates rise in order to borrow the foreign currency needed to finance its massive trade deficit.

The point is that the size and concentration of a financial system is not a problem per se – the real issue is how well regulated it is. And the effectiveness of the regulatory regime has nothing to do with size and everything to do with the public authorities. Glaring example: it was the UK Treasury that, as part of the triumvirate of British regulators, failed miserably to head-off the 2008 banking crisis. The self-same Treasury that now has the unmitigated gall to lecture on financial prudence.

Had Scotland stuck to its traditional banking model, which eschewed banks borrowing on the wholesale money markets to fund their own investment gambles, we would not have had the credit crunch. Indeed, the Canadian banks – still operating on those traditional Scottish banking principles – came unscathed through the global financial meltdown of 2008. The best reply to the Treasury nonsense is that an independent Scotland will ban such proprietary trading.

The Treasury document does its best to frighten the horses by constantly referring to the financial crisis in Cyprus. It makes scant mention of the reason the Greek Cypriot banking system imploded: because it converted the massive influx of Russian funds into imprudent loans to the neighbouring Greek government, which was in no position to pay back. The loans to Greece – the main ally of Cyprus in its conflict with Turkey – were political.

I can’t see the banks in an independent Scotland taking it into their heads to finance a Cameron, Miliband or Farage administration.

My favourite bit of jiggery-pokery in the report is the bold statement: “There could be questions about an independent Scotland’s ability to stabilise its banking system in the event of a future financial crisis.” As proof, the report cites aid to RBS, noting that bank “received £275 billion of guarantees through the UK Government’s Asset Protection Scheme. This combined support from the UK Government to RBS is equivalent to some 211 per cent of Scottish GDP”.

Folk are meant to draw the conclusion that wee Scotland can’t protect its domestic depositors. The truth is that the Asset Protection Scheme did not involve any cash at all, far less multiples of Scottish GDP. It was an insurance scheme forced on RBS for which the bank paid to the Treasury (i.e. which RBS depositors paid). In fact, RBS never called on a cent of the insurance payout because it was too expensive. If it had, the Treasury would merely have borrowed the cash on the financial markets and lent it on to RBS at a higher interest rate, thus making a whopping profit.

However, I accept one key point repeated throughout the Treasury paper: that there is a “tight relationship between the sovereign and bank’s credit risk”. In lay terms, if a government is imprudent in borrowing, the markets will worry about the implications for the domestic banking sector. The result is higher bond insurance rates and lower credit grades for private financial institutions as well as for the government. And the bigger a country’s banking sector, the bigger the likely negative impact.

The Treasury ghost writers interpret this as meaning Scottish banks will move their HQs to London to enjoy lower risk ratings and lower borrowing costs.

But note the Treasury sleight of hand: the paper implies that an independent Scottish Government would be imprudent and so trigger a negative market reaction.

Here we come to the other economic document published by the SNP Government. This includes an interesting compendium of statistics showing that over the period 1980-2012, an independent Scotland (with oil) would have had an annual average budget surplus of 0.2 per cent of GDP.

As for banks moving their HQs, the real threat comes from the likelihood that an alliance of the Tory rightwing, the London tabloids and a populist Ukip will take the UK out of the European Union. Then just watch City banks flee to Frankfurt taking their £17bn trade surplus with them.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Video | First Ministers Questions Review | 230513

Video | First Ministers Questions Review | 230513 | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
Slam Dunk by Salmond. An interesting FMQs and our review is also a winner. Lamont stoops low into the gutter again using cancer patients as political footballs. Disgusting. Davidson peddles lies an...
more...
Jim Arnott's curator insight, May 24, 2013 1:58 PM

Lamont and Davidson are doing the Bitter Together campaing no favours.

 

Vote Yes in the 2014 referendum on independence for Scotland

Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Musician's anger after newspaper is cleared in Saltire Swastika row

Musician's anger after newspaper is cleared in Saltire Swastika row | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
Scottish News, News Scotland - Politics, Referendum, Economy, Culture and intelligent opinion | Newsnet Scotland, uniquely Scottish
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

The 2% Gang

The 2% Gang | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
UKIP and George Galloway are the 2% gang - statistical anomalies in Scottish politics. Here Alan Smart reports on their collective nonsense. "I’ll tell you what would happen when an independent Sco...
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

VIDEO | First Ministers Questions from Holyrood | 160513

VIDEO | First Ministers Questions from Holyrood | 160513 | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
Alec Salmond holds his own against Daily Mail/Sun tactics of Joanne Lamont. Ruth Davidson in EU kamikaze attack on Salmond Margo holds her own on prisoner voting rights. Parliamentarians continue t...
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

VIDEO | "Nigel is a Bawbag" Farage Edinburgh Protest

VIDEO | "Nigel is a Bawbag" Farage Edinburgh Protest | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
The anti-UKIP protest by RIC. Farage addressed media and UKippers in a calm pub then bizarrely exited to confront protesters inflaming matters. Was it all contrived? http://youtu.be/q1tWGh5HrRY &nb...
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Natalie McGarry: Time for female views to be heard - Scotsman

Natalie McGarry: Time for female views to be heard - Scotsman | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
Time for female views to be heard
By NATALIE McGARRY
Published on 15/05/2013 00:00
.
FOCUS groups and second guessing, writes Natalie McGarry, are not methods of engaging women in a vital debate

Women are not a minority group. At 52 per cent of the Scottish population women, should be the driving force of social attitudes. However, that influence of simple majority is impeded by a minority in representation; in the media, in political organisations, civic Scotland and elsewhere. Women, quite simply, have poverty of influence.

We are living through a period of intense self-examination and endless discussion of minutiae which will determine the democratic legacy we will leave to future generations, and this is too important to allow the wrangling over dry statistics by pale men in suits to wring the neck of good and proper discourse.

If we want a democratic settlement which best reflects the attitudes of the tapestry that comprises our society, we must ensure that all groups contribute fairly and equally to the debate. There is an onus on both the Yes and No campaigns to seek to redress the lack of minority groups, women and the disenfranchised in crafting that narrative.

For YesScotland and their political and civic partners, the regularity and reinforcement of gender imbalance in attitudes to independence must be galling. If facts are chiels that winnae ding, the Yes campaign must have bats instead of bells in the belfry.

It is only recently – and perhaps as a result of work done by pro-independence campaign groups like Women For Independence – that much cognisance has been given to data imbalance. Lazy psephological – and I use the word advisedly –babble about “Salmond’s women problem” and suggestions that women are desirous of the protective arms of a big burly UK are, frankly, insulting. These have been blown apart by the data in the most recent Social Attitudes Survey. This isn’t a Salmond problem; it is a Yes problem.

We are a long way from the ultimate and definitive poll, but given the existence of YesScotland for almost a year, the failure to make any real impact upon women’s attitudes to independence should prompt a thorough assessment of the relationships and understanding between women and the Yes campaign.

Women have genuine questions about the independence debate and women are not a homogenous group. Women voters are not just important to the Yes or No campaigns simply by their sheer number, we are important because we form the backbone of our families, our communities and societies.

If YesScotland want to offer women the real opportunity to be front and centre in the determination and constitution of our future, they have to be much more proactive. It is simply insufficient to aim simple narratives about childcare and welfare toward women and hope they find a foothold. If the Yes team wants women to engage with the campaign it needs to talk to real women, and they need to do this quickly.

Why women are not currently in favour of independence or as engaged in the debate are questions which only women can answer. Women For Independence is currently doing just that; asking thousands of women across Scotland for their thoughts and concerns on independence, and listening to what they need to hear from the debate.

A concerted effort must be made by the Yes campaign to ditch focus-group led initiatives and instead engage with women across the spectrum; from the impressive women at the forefront of the trades unions movement and business women, to stay-at-home mums and part-time workers.

We need to ditch the lip service and utilise the talented women already engaged with YesScotland to speak to other women. It will be women who convince other women to vote yes, and that will only be achieved if the vision they offer is based on the information that women tell YesScotland that they need to hear.

YesScotland are not ignorant of this; they are have started to really engage with the imbalance. The initial seeds sown show they are taking this very seriously indeed. Much work needs to be done, but it is clear that YesScotland has every intention of ensuring that they too are listening.

Whilst the No campaign must take succour from polling data on women’s attitudes, they should be very wary of their current complacency, because they too have failed to canvass women’s opinions, but seem happy to take them for granted. A vote for a default position is not necessarily a vote of support, and is vulnerable to persuasion. The context of the referendum campaign coinciding with pernicious welfare changes at Westminster, which disproportionately affect women, means that the choice between the two potential futures is increasingly stark.

When this debate finally moves on from the bombastic phoney war typified by bluster and raised voices, and respects the public’s desire for a more mature, respectful and informed debate; women will undoubtedly become more engaged. The suggestion that women are more emotional or scared of independence ignores totally the reality that women are the thinkers, economists and providers.

If many women remain to be convinced of the benefit of independence it is because the argument is not being made or doesn’t contain the information women need. Canniness is no bad thing, and the Yes campaign will have to work very hard to overcome this natural caution.

There is a lot to be done, but If YesScotland and its partners can find the right way to sell that vision, they will win this referendum.

• Natalie McGarry is an SNP activist and co-founder of Women For Independence
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Scottish Review: Who wants to be part of a xenophobic UK? Alasdair Galloway

Scottish Review: Who wants to be part of a xenophobic UK?  Alasdair Galloway | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it

Who wants to be part of a xenophobic UK?  Alasdair Galloway  Scottish Review
.
I was surprised by Angus Skinner's (9 May) view of Scotland's future 'global engagement' as an independent state, giving that it gave the impression that if independent we would become a sort of North Korea of Europe, when what it would offer Scotland is the capacity to determine our own relations with the wider world, rather than as a minority shareholder of the UK.

He asserts that 'Our future lies in our relationships with others' and I would be among the first to agree with him on the importance of this. Thus I was struck by the article in the same edition by Tessa Ransford (9 May) which suggests a redevelopment of the Auld Alliance – a relationship with France which predates our unification with England in 1707 by a good many centuries. As she notes: 'If the Scots collège founded by Patrick Geddes in Montpellier is also re-established as an international forum, there might be some elliptical exchanges in France, drawing together from Europe and beyond those who seek the kind of interactive dialogue and creative exactitude of thought that has distinguished Scottish scholarship at its best'.

Scotland has a long history of trade and collaboration with other European countries, which is an easily verifiable part of our history, as is Scotland's contribution to world affairs and a willingness to explore future engagements. Independence will allow us to do this again on our own account, as Scotland in Europe and in the world.

No one is denigrating this history of engagement in other countries and in world affairs in any way, as Tessa Ransford's article demonstrates very nicely, both historically as well as looking forward. Indeed, I might suggest that Mr Skinner's concern that we only undertake these relations through the medium of the UK is what is denigrating of Scotland's history and its past successes in relations with other countries.

However, perhaps most ironic of all, is that the trend at Westminster – the link Mr Skinner clearly wants to continue – seems to be, and particularly on the basis of the vote received by UKIP candidates in the recent English local council elections, for the UK to leave the EU and adopt exactly the sort of isolation that Mr Skinner is arguing against. So if isolation is what you want, vote for what Mr Skinner refers to as 'forward'. Paradoxically, since I don't see being part of a UK outwith the EU and significantly influenced by UKIP as any kind of progress at all.

It is a great pity that Mr Skinner considers the independence debate 'silliness', particularly as the kind of progress that he seeks – achievement in the US, in India, China and Africa – seems more likely in an independent and outward-looking Scotland, rather than the inward-looking, and to some extent xenophobic, course that the largest part of the UK seems set upon just now.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Craig Murray » The Denial of Justice | Gibson Inquiry

Craig Murray » The Denial of Justice | Gibson Inquiry | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it

 The Denial of Justice  by Craig Murray on May 29, 2013
.
I don’t think any single person who has considered the matter seriously, has any real doubt that Jack Straw was complicit in torture in an active and involved way, and has lied about it continually. There are some who would argue he was ethically justified, but that is a different argument. It is not worth engaging in ethical argument with anybody who maintains that the facts which are the basis of the argument, should not be known.
.
The Gibson Inquiry was set up by the Government precisely to get to the truth of these matters. It was then cancelled precisely in order to hide the truth of these matters, which is one Hell of a U-Turn. The real reason for the cancellation of the Gibson Inquiry was that it became evident from its initial inquiries, firstly that Gibson was not a vicious calculating placeman like Hutton, and secondly that the number of very senior ministers, diplomats, security service agents and civil servants who were directly implicated in criminal activity was very large.

I confess that the cancellation of the Gibson Inquiry, at which I was determined to give evidence, came as a staggering blow to me. The official excuse for its cancellation was that there are a number of law cases pending over torture of individuals. This was very strange as public inquiries are generally into incidents likely to result in law cases, and the notion that the inquiry cannot run in parallel with law cases is a novel one.

Anyway, I collected myself and I quietly after several police interviews gave my formal, sworn, eye-witness evidence to the Metropolitan Police to assist the police investigation against Jack Straw, Mark Allen and others in the kidnap and torture of Abdel Belhaj and others. That was some years ago, and it is now absolutely plain to me that the very decent and genuine policemen whom I met are being blocked from ever going anywhere with that case.

Now we have the news that the new Justice and Security Act is to be used by the government to ensure that the facts of Belhaj’ civil case against Straw and Allen are forever hidden from the public. It is quite extraordinarily Orwellian that the systematic and deliberate denial of justice is through something called the “Justice and Security Act”.

What an appalling country.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Being There

Being There | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
Seems Margaret Curran is early for the Don’t Know Week – this level of feigning ignorance is unacceptably stupid. By Citizen Smart

DEREK BATEMAN ( BBC Radio Scotland): What do we make of Denis Healey admitting that when [North Sea] oil was discovered, Labour – a Labour government, ahead of a referendum, interestingly, on the constitution of Scotland – misled, deliberately misled the Scots about the value of oil?

MARGARET CURRAN MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland) : Well, Derek, I don’t know anything about that, those times, I don’t know the basis on which Denis Healey said that, I don’t know the argument, I don’t know the papers around that.

DEREK BATEMAN ( BBC Radio Scotland): But you’re the shadow Secretary of State for Scotland! You’re a senior Labour figure, I mean, he was a Labour chancellor.

MARGARET CURRAN MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland) : I know I’m getting on a bit, but I wasn’t around in Denis Healey’s days.

Oh yes she was.

Unless it was another Margaret Curran I met who was Secretary of Glasgow University Labour Club, the biggest in the UK, when Healey was Labour Chancellor in the Callaghan Government. This would have been in 1978, two years after Healey had made global front page news and labour movement noteriety after he went to the IMF for a bail out in exchange for huge public spending cuts.

Indeed not only did 20 year Margaret know who he was, but was sufficiently angry with him to be calling for his resignation. Because, difficult though it may be to imagine, Margaret was at that time was a prominent supporter of the Labour left opposition . And her, “not around” line is as credible as David Cameron claiming he was “not around” when Thatcher introduced the Poll Tax: As credible as would the current Secretary of Oxford University Conservative Association claiming in 30 years time he was “not around” when George Osbourne slashed welfare budgets.

So what is it about today’s Scottish Labour Party that makes decent enough people, spout such untruths on Scotland’s national radio station? Deny their own past? Be “not around?”

I think on this one it is obvious. Because Margaret well remembers that, in addition to being in the middle of an economic crisis in 1978, the Labour Party in Scotland, and grassroots activists like her in particular, were under immense political pressure from the SNP, which with 11 MPs at Westminster and opinion poll rating s touching 40% threatened to wipe Labour out whenever the next UK General Election came around. It had already near done it in the Council elections on May 1977, where for the first time in decades Labour had been swept from office in Glasgow. Or were you ‘not around” for that either Margaret?

Like, me she will certainly remember spending the best part of the Spring of 1978 campaigning for Donald Dewar in the knife edge Garscadden by-election, where the SNP started as clear favorites to take Labour out in one of its west central Scotland heartland seats, a success that would have left every last one of them vulnerable. The SNP rallying cry at the time? “It’s Scotland’s Oil”, backed up by detailed proposal on how a national oil fund in an independent Scotland could transform our country and deliver prosperity and social justice for folks in places like Garscadden and beyond. Folks like Margaret indeed.

Scottish Labour, with an able candidate in Donald Dewar, set about the nationalist claim with some gusto and effectiveness, and as a participant, I went along with this, genuinely believing the SNP claims were way over-hyped. I am sure Margaret then was little different from me in this respect.

But we now find – 36 years down the line – not only that the SNP was correct, but that the entire Labour Cabinet at the time, Healey, the Chancellor of the Exchequer especially, knew this but decided not to tell anyone, including Labour activists like me and Margaret.

Now I am long out the Labour Party, and have been lied to so often by Labour that I feel I am kind of immune to being shocked or outraged. But this one is so close to the bone, so central to my first experiences of serious political campaigning that it has shocked even me. “I spent all that time, all that energy, money I barely had, took all those early morning buses to Drumchapel, missed out on all these social events, that Elvis Costello concert in Edinburgh, to campaign on a lie, a lie known to the people who led that campaign?” And not just the 1978 Garscadden by-election, but the 1979 Referendum too. Our best argument was denied to us – by our own side.

But Margaret was “not around”.

Yet she most certainly was. Because I do remember, even if she chooses not to. At that time Glasgow University Labour Club, with over 300 individual members, was the largest in the UK by far. It was “on the circuit”. Everyone who was anyone spoke there – Tony Benn, Neil Kinnock, Michael Foot all regulars, as were all the leading lights in the Labour Party in Scotland. And Margaret, as Labour Club Secretary was their first point of contact, the facilitator. But according to her”not around”. Maybe she organised it all on the internet!

One other detail I must mention before I conclude. Margaret was a leading light on campus in the “Labour Yes” campaign for the 1979 Referendum. The “Labour Yes” campaign mind, not “Yes for Scotland”, the all party campaign, where those pesky “nats, liberals and commies” were also involved. But her direct university and Labour club comrade and friend, Johan Lamont was not. She was a leading light in the “Labour Vote No” campaign. You read that right: Johan Lamont, in 1979 actively campaigned against the ever so modest measure of devolution her own Labour Government offered the people of Scotland.

Go ask Johan. Or maybe she was “not around” either.

But believe me, they both were, and very much so. Key Labour student activists, earmarked as ones to watch by Helen Liddell the then Scottish Secretary of the Labour Party, situated in Keir Hardie House just 5 minutes walk away from Glasgow University. And Margaret and Johan, even in these days were on relaxed first name speaking terms with Donald Dewar, John Reid, Brian Wilson, Robin Cook, John Smith, George Foulkes, Bruce Milan……the list goes on. “Not around?” They were part of the show.

Which comes back to my initial question. Why is Margaret denying this?

Simple to answer: Because she needs to. Without that denial, her credibility and the credibility of her entire generation that is now running the Labour Party in Scotland is shot. They were mugged. We were mugged – because I was part of it too. Scotland was mugged. Poor working class people in Garscadden were mugged.

Some folks learn from history.

Others deny it. Repeat it.

One is the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Alan Smart. Glasgow University Labour Club 1976-82. Chairperson Glasgow University Labour Club, 1980-81, Chairperson of Scottish Organisation of Labour Students, 1981-82. President NUS Scotland 1984-86, (elected on Labour Student ticket)

Margaret Curran: Glasgow University Labour Club, 1975-80. Secretary Glasgow University Labour Club. 1978-79. Chairperson Scottish Organisation of Labour Students 1980-81

For Margaret (That history degree she got don’t seem too have done her much good) :

Denis Healey. Chancellor of The Exchequer, 1974-79. Deputy Leader of the Labour Party 1980-83.

Here in full is what Dennis Healey told Holyrood Magazine in May 2013:

Footnote: Many have commented that, with the exception of the bold Derek Batemen on his BBC Radio Scotland programme, and unlike the rest of the media, including STV, BBC Scotland’s coverage of this major admission by arguably the most important Labour politician of the late 1970s early 80s period has been near non existent, especially on TV. There may be many explanations for this.

Here is a possible one:

John Boothman, Present Head of News and Current Affairs, BBC Scotland: Chairperson of Strathclyde University Labour Club 1979, Chairperson Scottish Organisation of Labour Students 1980. Chairperson of the National (UK) Organisation of Labour Students 1981.

Around at the time? For sure.
3MenInABlog's insight:

Resign Margaret Curran

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

What's behind Scottish Labour's latest cancer concern?

What's behind Scottish Labour's latest cancer concern? | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it

What's behind Scottish Labour's latest cancer concern?
Monday, 27 May 2013 06:37
By a Newsnet reporter
 .
The last two sessions of First Minister’s Questions has witnessed Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont focus on cancer treatment, specifically the availability of drugs in Scotland.
 
The focus by Ms Lamont has epitomised what Labour in Scotland have become, a party that will use anything in order to mount an attack on the SNP.

Central to Labour’s attack on the Scottish government is the apparent variance with England when it comes to the availability of some cancer drugs.  One drug that has featured prominently is a drug called Cetuximab.

The company who manufacture the drug, Merck KGAA, issued guidelines in 2010 to the Individual Patient treatment Request (IPTR), they advised against prescribing the drug to Scottish NHS patients who had already undergone chemotherapy.

The IPTR was set up in order to open up a channel for access to drugs that had not been sanctioned by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) - the body which approves new medicines for the NHS in Scotland.

However, the IPTR has come under attack from Scottish Labour who are claiming that the system in operation south of the border is leading to cancer patients in England having far greater access to these drugs than those living in Scotland.

On May 16th, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont attacked free prescriptions and suggested some of the money could be better used paying for drugs such as Cetuximab.

In her opening question, she said:

"A packet of paracetamol costs 19p in Tesco.  To dispense it on a free prescription costs the NHS £3.10 per prescription.  The NHS spends £7.2m a year dispensing paracetamol.

"For that amount of money two hundred Scottish cancer patients could get Cetuximab to treat their condition for free for a year.  While that treatment is free in England, Scots cancer patients have to pay around £3000 a month for it."

She added: "In the First Minister’s Scotland if you have a headache your prescription is free, but if you have cancer your prescription costs £3000 a month."

One week later, the Scottish Labour leader again brought up cancer drugs, this time describing the system in Scotland as "unfair".

Following Ms Lamont’s initial attack on the system that operates in Scotland, BBC Scotland online decided it should be the top political story in Scotland that day.  Incredibly, when the Scottish Labour leader repeated the attack one week later, BBC Scotland online did exactly the same thing again and made it the top story.

Four days after the initial attack, BBC Scotland Radio phone-in programme Call Kaye covered the issue.  In an uncomfortable broadcast, cancer victims were urged to phone in and detail how the system had let them down.  The programme also highlighted Johann Lamont’s attack on free prescriptions and challenged SNP Minister Alex Neil to defend the SNP's free prescription policy.

What neither of these reports mentioned was the actual stance taken by Scottish Labour on both the Individual Patient treatment Request and the ending of free prescriptions to pay for more cancer drugs.

In 2011 Scottish Labour MSP Mary Fee openly attacked a suggestion from the Scottish Conservatives that the cost of cancer drugs in Scotland should be paid for by scrapping free prescriptions in Scotland.

Speaking in a debate on cancer drug availability, the Labour MSP attacked the Scottish Conservatives for planning to re-introduce prescription charges in order to pay for cancer drugs.

Ms Fee said: "I find it worrying that the Conservatives would pay for the cancer drugs fund by bringing back prescription fees.

"To me this is a tax for certain illnesses to pay for others."

The apparent support for free prescriptions and the rejection of a Tory plan to re-introduce prescription charges - to pay for cancer drugs - lasted less than two years.

As ever, the Scottish Labour party are being less than honest with those cancer sufferers on whose plight they have hitched their latest anti-SNP campaign.

Scottish Labour are already on record as opposing the cancer fund system that operates in England.  Indeed speaking in September 2011, the party’s Health spokesperson Jackie Baillie didn’t just rule out an English style fund, she confirmed her party supported the very system – IPTR - they are now criticising.

Speaking in a debate in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Baillie described IPTR as:

"…an innovation to improve our existing system which we absolutely approve of.  It does enable clinicians to make judgements in the interests of their patients."

The Labour MSP added that the IPTR was supposed to "make the medicine available to those who will benefit it most" – a key phrase.

Baillie also warned that there appeared to be failings in the system and urged the Scottish government to provide a measurement of how many requests for drugs were being made and what the success rate of these requests were, citing claims of routine rejections.

There was one other aspect of Ms Baillie’s speech that day when she said: "We value the work being done on value based pricing of medicine."

Value based pricing of medicine is a method of establishing the value of a drug based on whether the additional health expected to be gained from its use exceeds the health forgone as other NHS treatments are displaced by its additional cost.

In short, if the cost of one drug means that more patients will suffer because another cannot be purchased then this has to be factored in.

So, in late 2011 we know that Scottish Labour absolutely approved of IPTR.  We know that they were not calling for a blanket approval of all IPTR requests, but only to those who would benefit most and we know that they were concerned about the rate of success of requests.

The Scottish government collated the figures of successful applications to those submitted and found the success rate of requests stands at two thirds - a high figure by any standard.

So is this enough to satisfy Scottish Labour?

Apparently not, for in February 2013 Scottish Labour who had previously "absolutely" approved of the IPTR system, according to Ms Baillie now considered it "no longer acceptable".

Coinciding with Scottish Labour’s new found ‘disapproval’ of IPTR, the party began highlighting individual and sometimes desperate cases of cancer sufferers whose requests had been refused.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Jackie Baillie also ruled out the cancer fund system operating in England.

She said this was because Labour: "genuinely believe there are other equally serious conditions that required improved access to medicines too".

She also said the cancer drugs fund in England had led to "a bit of a postcode lottery" in some places, "which is not desirable".

The Labour MSP then highlighted the case of Ann Fisher, a mother-of-three from Greenock who suffers from cancer.

"She can't get access to drugs here that would be available if she lived in England,"

It’s this aspect of Scottish Labour’s stance that is most distasteful if not confusing.  Using patients who are quite understandably desperate is unbecoming to say the least.  But to encourage these people to fight for a system that Scottish Labour itself describes as "not desirable" is beyond belief.

The attack on a system they initially supported, despite the improvements already carried out and the reviews still taking place, is typical Scottish Labour.  We see this behaviour time and again on issues such as the council tax freeze and free University education.

They get away with it because the Scottish media refuses to police the party.

But why attack the IPTR system now?

The highlighting of individual patient cases is usually reserved for the period of election campaigning where parties are allowed to politicise any and all issues.  Most people remember the infamous ‘glue ear’ case raised by Labour in the 1992 general election that highlighted the length of time a young girl had waited for an operation.

It remains to be seen if Scottish Labour are employing this tactic in an attempt at encouraging the Scottish media to use the issue in the weeks leading up to the Aberdeen Donside by-election to be held next month.

The Sunday Times ran a story this weekend based on Scottish Labour’s attacks.

We will be watching closely to see if this issue is indeed used by the media to attack the SNP in the lead-up to the by-election.

If it comes to pass that this does indeed become a media campaign then, given the reasons behind the need for a by-election, it will mark a particularly unsavoury signpost on the Scottish Labour road.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Breaking free of London-focused growth

Breaking free of London-focused growth | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
The new economics foundation is an independent think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being.
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Joan McAlpine on using oil lies to rig the independence debate

Joan McAlpine on using oil lies to rig the independence debate | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
 Joan McAlpine: Stop using oil lies to rig independence debate
.
JOAN McAlpine debates whether the treasury lied about the Scottish oil wealth and believes nothing it says can be considered impartial.
.
THEY say age brings wisdom but we should also add honesty.

There’s nothing to lose once you’re past 90, so you might as well tell it like it is. That’s why the interview with former UK Labour chancellor Denis Healey is so important.

The man whose bushy eyebrows once entertained millions courtesy of the impressionist Mike Yarwood is now aged 96 and still very sharp.

He says the Treasury covered up the extent of Scotland’s oil wealth because they were terrified the truth would give us the confidence to become an independent country.

This says a lot about the present, as well as the past.

The British state will go to any lengths to preserve itself and the privileges of the people who run it.

That includes Westminster MPs and Treasury mandarins.

If the Treasury told lies for decades about the oil, are they likely to change their habits now, with a referendum on independence next year?

The Treasury is a branch of the No campaign run by the Tory-led Government at Westminster – with Labour’s Alistair Darling as a frontman.

Nothing it says can be considered impartial. This week it published yet another “report” claiming this time that savings will be jeopardised if we take control of our own affairs.

A first draft seen by the Scottish Government was based on scaremongering about an independent Scotland losing its triple-A credit rating and paying more for mortgages.

Then the UK lost its triple-A credit rating because of London’s economic mismanagement – so the paper was quickly rewritten to focus on savings.

In fact, world bank reforms mean that deposits will be protected across national boundaries.

And Scotland is less dependent on financial services than the rest of the UK – they contribute 8.3 per cent to our national wealth compared with 9.6 per cent in the UK.

We are perfectly capable of guaranteeing savings. The Treasury paper is pure fiction – just like their lies that under-value massive oil reserves.

In the 1970s, a government economist called Gavin McCrone wrote a report saying an independent Scotland would be as rich as Switzerland – but it was kept secret for 30 years.

Now Healey, who was chancellor during the “It’s Scotland’s Oil” campaign of the 1970s, says: “I think we did underplay the value of the oil because of the threat of nationalism.”

He says it was Margaret Thatcher who reaped the benefits and used oil wealth to fund her destructive policies that threw millions out of work. Healey doesn’t think much has changed: “I think they [Westminister politicians] are concerned about Scotland taking the oil, I think they are worried stiff about it.

“We would suffer enormously if the income from Scottish oil stopped but if the Scots wanted it (independence) they should have it and we would just need to adjust. I would think Scotland would survive perfectly well, economically.”

Lord Healey adds that accusations Scotland is subsidised by the rest of the UK are wrong and that we pay our fair share. He thinks keeping the pound as the currency of an independent Scotland would benefit England too.

Healey is of Irish descent and considers independence a “natural desire”. He might have also added that it was the “natural desire” of the privileged British establishment to stop the Scots. And there is nothing they will not do, no lies they will not tell, to achieve their ambition.
more...
Jim Arnott's curator insight, May 24, 2013 1:56 PM

The bombshell revelations that the BBC steadfastly refused to broadcast.

 

Vote Yes in the 2014 Referendum on independence for Scotland

Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Education, education, education

Education, education, education | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
Johann Lamont used to be an English teacher. We presume she was a conscientious and caring educator. We imagine she's as horrified and embarrassed by this press release from the train-drivers' unio...
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Labour should cut its ties with the illiberal Henry Jackson Society

Labour should cut its ties with the illiberal Henry Jackson Society | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
Labour should cut its ties with the illiberal Henry Jackson Society

Born of a desire to tackle totalitarianism, the society is increasingly intolerant, yet some Labour MPs still support it

Share 72 inShare1Email James Bloodworthguardian.co.uk,Monday 20 May 2013 11.12 BSTJump to comments (149)Former foreign secretary Margaret Beckett in 2007. She is one of 11 Labour MPs to sit on the Henry Jackson Society's advisory council. Photograph: Dimitri Messinis/AP

Ever since the Iraq war, and to a lesser extent prior to it, popular perception has had it that humanitarian intervention is a cause célèbre of the right rather than the left.

One might even go so far as to say that, until the 2008 financial crisis hit and reignited the squabble between Keynesians and austerity hawks, the single biggest area of disagreement between left and right was on foreign policy.

"Hawks", "neocons" and "imperialists" were invariably of the right whereas "doves", "peaceniks" and "stoppers" were, with a few exceptions, on the left.

Douglas Murray, the Henry Jackson Society's associate director. Are his politics becoming the politics of the society as a whole? Photograph: Mary Stamm-Clarke/Demotix

As with most attempts at compartmentalising political ideologies there were of course glaring exceptions. While many on the left were instinctively uneasy at the concept of George W Bush's "war on terror", others conceded that, to paraphrase American author Peter Beinart, liberal principles could be threatened by forces other than western conservatism.

In other words, totalitarianism – whether in its Islamist or secular guise – required a firm, and where appropriate, military response.

When it was first created in 2005, the London-based Henry Jackson Society (HJS) appeared to offer a base for those on the centre-left and right who believed in a variant of "muscular liberalism". Much like the senator after whom it was named, the HJS sought to fuse a concern for social justice at home with a hardline approach to totalitarianism and autocracy abroad.

As a result the organisation attracted broad parliamentary support, including 11 Labour MPs, who continue to sit on the organisation's advisory council to this day.

In February, Labour's shadow secretary for defence, Jim Murphy, even gave a speech on policy at an event organised by the HJS.

According to those who've worked behind the scenes at the HJS, however, in recent years the organisation has degenerated into something that is anything but liberal.

The associate director of the HJS is Douglas Murray, a columnist for the Spectator and Standpoint, who joined the organisation in April 2011. In March, Murray wrote an article following the release of the results of the 2011 census in which he bemoaned the fact that in "23 of London's 33 boroughs 'white Britons' are now in a minority".

It wasn't so much integration that Murray wanted to talk about, however, but skin colour:

"We long ago reached the point where the only thing white Britons can do is to remain silent about the change in their country. Ignored for a generation, they are expected to get on, silently but happily, with abolishing themselves, accepting the knocks and respecting the loss of their country. 'Get over it. It's nothing new. You're terrible. You're nothing'."

In 2009 Murray also described Robert Spencer, the leader of a group calling itself "Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA)", as a "very brilliant scholar and writer".

A number of years before Murray saw fit to praise this "brilliant scholar", the latter wrote that there was "no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists".

And just to keep you up to date, this week Murray effectively endorsed Ukip in an article for the Wall Street Journal.

The spirit of intolerance at the HJS appears also to extend to those who have taken issue with Murray's rhetoric.

Marko Attila Hoare, a former senior member of the Henry Jackson Society who left the organisation in 2012, told me that his opposition to Murray's anti-Muslim and anti-immigration views saw him driven out of the organisation.

"It rapidly became clear that Murray had not tamed his politics, and that actually they were becoming the politics of the whole organisation," Hoare told me.

Murray's boss, HJS executive director Alan Mendoza, has form too. In March of this year he claimed that the increasing European Muslim population was to blame for Europe's "anti-Israel feelings", adding that the voices of Muslims "are heard well above the average Europeans".

Eleven Labour MPs are still associated with this organisation. How, one wonders, do the views of the Henry Jackson Society sit with one-nation Labour?

I wrote to all 11 Labour MPs with my concerns about the Henry Jackson Society but none were available for comment.

 

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

VIDEO | Leith Noise Up Show | 160513

VIDEO | Leith Noise Up Show | 160513 | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
Alex Grant, Stewart Lochhead and Phil Attridge discuss: Gordon Brown, good for Labour in Scotland or maybe better for YES Campaign. Continuing saga of Scotland and Europe, will we/won't we, can we/...
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

The Framing of the Scottish Independence Debate: A Tale of Two Referenda

The Framing of the Scottish Independence Debate: A Tale of Two Referenda | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it
By Gerry Hassan Two independence campaigns are now running in the UK: one on Scottish independence; the other which has become more public in the last week, on the UK’s possible exit from the Europ...
more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

Ian Bell | Brown shows how to make enemies of so-called friends | Herald

Brown shows how to make enemies of so-called friends  Ian Bell
Published on 15 May 2013
.
IT is fair to say, I think, that the elephant in the room just went rogue.

If that sounds harsh, perhaps we could speculate that the biggest of Scottish Labour's beasts was misinformed. In any event, someone forgot to tell Gordon Brown that goring members of your own herd might count as counter-productive.

Or have we missed something about the meaning of the phrase Better Together? Perhaps we were misled by that tricky customer, the English language. Perhaps we should have ignored all the stuff about Labour, Tories and Liberal Democrats setting aside their differences for the sake of the Union. Then – but only then – the former Prime Minister's first big speech since leaving office might have made sense.

Far be it from me to tell the No campaign how to conduct itself. Standing shoulder to shoulder at daggers drawn is a tricky manoeuvre. But having heard so much about "the biggest decision in three centuries", and so forth, it was faintly surprising to read our report of Mr Brown devoting a part of his keynote address at the Glasgow launch of United with Labour to anti-Tory knockabout.

Not that I disagreed with his statements, as such. The Tories are indeed wandering where only Enoch Powell used to dare to tread in their dementia over immigration and Ukip. Within the limits of Labour's universe, Mr Brown's intervention was excellent stuff and more cogent, interestingly, than anything Ed Miliband has managed thus far.

But isn't there a risk that the message sent to Scottish voters, not necessarily a subliminal message, might be: "For the purposes of pacifying Scotland we in the Labour Party are in alliance with a contemptible bunch we otherwise despise. Stick with the Union for more of the same"?

That could be dismissed, no doubt, as a partisan point. The response would be fair if someone could explain why Mr Brown's intervention made sense in terms of the united front Better Together is supposed to present. Arguments over two referenda are becoming entangled, as they must. Europe and immigration are salient, let's say, to the decision over independence. Brown could not or would not make the connection.

He spent a good deal of his time, of course, in advertising the benefits of Union. He posed those benefits in terms liable to matter to Labour voters: solidarity, social justice and the welfare state. But that in itself was revealing. It explained why United for Labour has been created. Better Together is supposed to provide unity and all the answers. But United only exists because there are plenty of Labour people who won't be see dead campaigning with the Tories.

You can't blame a person for that. You can ask them, as you could ask Mr Brown, which comes first: party politics or the defence of the Union? Or is the entire anti-independence campaign just an attempt to make Scotland safe for political business as usual? Whatever the answer, it is of precious little help to Better Together. The slogan "We all hate one another, but we hate independence more" is not be found on its website.

This column is at the risk of going blue (with a nice Saltire effect) in the face over this issue. Independence, for or against, is not, or should not be, a party political matter. Nicola Sturgeon's attempt to win more women voters for the Yes campaign by advertising the SNP's welfare policies is a case in point. As the Deputy First Minister knows as well as anyone – in fact, as she said – such policies will be a matter for an independent government. The SNP might not form that government.

The parties, perhaps inevitably, are incapable of behaving as anything other than political parties. But if that's the case, they should stop pretending they are dealing with "the arguments" when all they are doing is arguing, as ever, over competing party programmes. The public appetite for something solid in the independence debate is now conspicuous because, quite simply, it is not being met.

In several reports of Mr Brown's speech, to take a typical example, it was said that the former Prime Minister "hinted that more power could be devolved to Scotland if voters reject independence". How does a hint help anyone to make a choice? And was it a hint simply because Scottish Labour MPs, MSPs and others cannot agree over something as fundamental as taxation?

One answer might be that these days, for well-known reasons, there is a limit to what Mr Brown can promise. It is also self-evident that despite the public's demand for "facts", there is a limit to what anyone can say with certainty. That has not hindered both sides from throwing "facts" around like custard pies.

Mr Brown said, presumably as a matter of fact, that the benefits of Union include, as shared resources, UK-wide pensions, national insurance contributions, the funding of health care and the minimum wage. Has he managed to bind the present Government to these? Will he be extracting a commitment to preserve such benefits from a Tory-Ukip coalition or, come to that, Ed Miliband? The facts of party politics are fragile things.

That being the case, what hindered Mr Brown from making a few arguments of his own? He has thought long and hard about Scotland's relationship with the UK. He was supposed to be defending a devolution settlement he helped to create. Instead, he managed a hint and a lot of the usual warnings about the benefits that could be lost if Scots decide to shape their own future. It hardly amounted to an argument.

I mentioned an appetite for "something solid", yet he argued that much, if not everything, would depend on the nature of a future Scottish government. That's contradictory, surely? How does it help the growing number of North Sea companies telling Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce that the referendum is now a factor in their planning? The first response to those firms is simple: it should be a factor. Secondly, if uncertainty over tax regimes and the like is the issue, ask yourself about George Osborne's behaviour towards North Sea industries, then ask how many promises for the future he is prepared to offer.

A third answer, with luck the most solid of all, depends precisely on what the No camp likes to call uncertainty. The other word for that is opportunity, whether for North Sea firms, or for Scots who are out of work. The hard fact is that an independence referendum offers a range of possible futures. Some of those, the better ones, will only becomes available with a Yes vote.

The parties own no copyrights on the future. The No campaign is deeply averse to that reality, but the SNP is not too keen either. Political parties are like that. It comes to this: the public will only get the kind of answers it craves when the parties stop telling people what will happen and begin to ask the voters what, as a matter of fact, they want.

Has anyone thought of attempting that exercise? How hard could it be? Gordon Brown's contribution to Better United Together (But Not With Them) was not a good start.

more...
No comment yet.
Scooped by 3MenInABlog
Scoop.it!

An Open Letter to Labour Voters | National Collective

An Open Letter to Labour Voters | National Collective | YES for an Independent Scotland | Scoop.it

An Open Letter to Labour Voters   Rob Connell   National Collective
.
May 12, 2013 05:23 pm
.
In a scene replicated in many Scottish workplaces I’m sure, I was recently party to a lunchtime conversation on voting intention. One colleague stated that they would always “vote for the red rose, my family always has”. I thought this beautifully stated a very popular position, and that it would be interesting to explore why.

Scottish Labour stands on the great egalitarian tradition of the Labour movement, with their website evoking Keir Hardie’s “new and radical force in Scottish politics” and remembering the first Labour Government in 1924 “legislating for the first major programme of municipal house building”.

It records that Labour administrations “changed the face of Scotland and Britain, introducing the National Insurance Act and the National Health Service Act in 1946; the Town and Country Planning Act in 1947; the Children Act in 1948, establishing a comprehensive childcare service, reforming services providing care to deprived and orphaned children; the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act in 1949; extended the minimum school-leaving age from 14 to 15; and oversaw British withdrawal from India.” In the 1960’s Labour “liberalised the laws on censorship, abortion, divorce, and homosexuality, outlawed capital punishment and created the Open University.”

This is a proud and progressive record for a party which governed for only around a third of the relevant half-century. What is remarkable is that from the early 1970’s until the present day, the only thing that Scottish Labour even lays claim to as progress is devolution. And its support for devolution has been intermittent and essentially reactionary – Labour effectively blocked it in 1979 with the unprecedented and unrepeated ‘40% of Electorate’ qualifier, and it openly only supported devolution in 1997 to “kill nationalism stone dead”. It seems instructive that having painstakingly recorded Labour’s progressive achievements in government in the 50 years up until the 1970’s, the Scottish Labour website lists none since.

When Labour came to power in 1997 it had the pure good fortune to find itself at the beginning of global phenomenon that economists have retrospectively dubbed ‘The N.I.C.E. (Non-Inflationary Constant Expansion) Decade. Essentially, it was boom time – the coffers were full, and Labour had the opportunity to make serious investment for the long-term benefit of Britain, or indeed to build up a substantial rainy-day fund for leaner times to come. So what did Labour, our great hope for a progressive Britain, for prosperity with responsibility, achieve with this unprecedented bounty?

Rather than spending public money on public works, Labour hugely expanded the PFI system of funding public projects initially used in the latter years of the Conservative government. Labour bears responsibility for the vast majority of these 717 completed projects, and for the bills being paid by ordinary taxpayers for them over the next 30 years or so. The capital cost of these projects was £54.7 billion, but they will earn the companies who carried them out more than £300 billion in public money.

It is true that during the good times Labour increased spending on the NHS, but much of this actually went on the huge swathes of the service which Labour sub-contracted out to private firms, much more so than the Conservatives ever felt they could get away with. When Labour is in power, there’s no-one in opposition to cry foul. Labour ‘NHS spending’ includes the £12.7 billion it gave to the private sector to fail to computerise personal health records, and the fees of the management consultancies Labour called in, which were running at £300 million per year.

Labour of course also dragged the country into an illegal and ill-conceived war in Iraq, costing £8.4 billion by conservative estimates, and up to £30 billion by some more inclusive measures. (Before anyone takes exception to the “illegal” description, it is simply a fact in international law. If you think that the invasion of Iraq was justified, that is your right. Your opinion does not make it a legal war.) The human cost is even more staggering, with the figure almost 5,000 coalition forces casualties (including almost 200 UK troops) dwarfed by around 120,000 Iraqi CIVILIAN casualties, just from direct coalition attacks. Estimates of total deaths caused by the conflict range from 500,000 to over 1 million. Justified at the time to us by Labour as necessary to eliminate “chemical and biological…weapons of mass destruction…which could be activated within 45 minutes”, it is only a revisionist history (created in the inevitable absence of made-up WMD) which says we waged this war to remove Saddam Hussein. That false history is repeated constantly, including recently by Johann Lamont, in direct contradiction to her statements from the time.

Unfortunately, this is in keeping with the complete lack of differentiation between Westminster Labour and its counterpart in Scotland. From Peter Mandelson being “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”, through Jack McConnell taking ermine as Baron McConnell of Glenscorrodale, to Lamont’s horribly divisive and judgemental “something for nothing culture” speech, Labour have long been busily proving the truth in David Cameron’s statement in reference to the political class, that “we are all Thatcherites now”. As the recent slap-down of Johann Lamont by Labour HQ in London over the mere suggestion of further devolution proves, even if Scottish Labour wanted to be progressive it is completely dependent on the will of Westminster Labour, and powerless to effect change without their agreement.

The gap between richest and poorest grew on Labour’s watch, with those in the bottom 20% seeing their incomes stay broadly flat, while the top 20% benefited from an increase of fully one-third. The top 1% could celebrate their incomes almost doubling. These gaps grew faster under Tony Blair than they had under either Margaret Thatcher or John Major. Then Gordon Brown arrived and bailed out the banks in the biggest transfer of money from public to private hands in our history, much of which we will never see again. The banking crisis itself was a direct result of Labour continuing the Conservative’s ‘light touch’ attitude to the banks and financial markets – ask no questions, hear no lies, jobs for the boys and champagne all round.

The UK’s Gini coefficient (the commonly used measure of inequality of income) rose consistently under Labour, to the point where only Mexico, Chile, the United States and Italy among OECD countries have more unequal societies. In the same period, studies consistently found the UK to be have among the worst, or the worst, social mobility of any developed economy, finding that 50% of a British child’s chances of success in life were determined by the income of their parents, compared with less than 20% in countries such as Denmark, Finland and Norway.

What I want to ask of Labour voters is, are you happy with what has been done in your name? What do you hope for when you vote? Is your vote for a progressive society, social mobility, and true equality of opportunity? Has ‘New Labour’ represented your hopes?

Inevitably, there will be a sensible, progressive choice of government in an Independent Scotland. Probably, there will be a few parties offering this, as the political spectrum settles along the norms of Scottish society. So if you usually vote Labour, these are your options: stay in the UK and get the same governments we have had for the best part of 40 years or, become independent and elect a succession of governments which are everything Westminster administrations are not: progressive, what you voted for, and surely even now, not too far removed from Keir Hardie’s vision “to dethrone the brute god Mammon and to lift humanity into its place”.

Incidentally, my colleague who had mentioned that they would always “vote for the red rose” clarified that they would be voting ‘Yes’ in the referendum, and then vote Labour in the “actual elections” thereafter. Her reasoning was simple; she didn’t hold much for the news, but when she listened to the arguments from the parties she thought that it would be better for the people of Scotland to decide Scotland’s governance. Also, Independence would mean that she would probably get broadly what she hoped for when she voted, which she felt didn’t happen at Westminster.

It’s my opinion that only Independence will force Labour in Scotland to reinvent itself (or perhaps to re-find itself) and become a Scottish Labour which is actually progressive, rather than the defensive, conservative shell of a party we see today. But I don’t vote Labour, so it’s not my party to change. Comments are open – what’s your opinion?

more...
No comment yet.