Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Who cares where charity begins; it ends at Bute House

'Civic Scotland', the self-styled voice of a nation and drop-in cafe for the natterati  launched themselves to widespread apathy and collective 'so whats?' yesterday. Named by the First Minister and directed by his propaganda chief,  the launch was short on detail and long on platitude and was notable only for the confusion over what exactly 'civic Scotland' meant and who they imagined they represent. There were many questions they couldn't answer the main one was what are they actually for? 

The churches and STUC said they had no intention of coming to any kind of conclusion at the end of this process. The Thatcherite hard right  think tank, Reform Scotland, tried to present themselves as reasonable while smirking at the prospect of savage cuts to Scotland's public sector. 

The SCVO,  however, found themselves in a less emphatic position with their leaders contradicting each other. Alison Elliot claimed that "This is not about making the case for independence, devolution, status quo or anything in between. We do not have a fixed view about the outcome of the referendum." which was news to many after some of her colleagues admitted privately that they had already settled on DevoPlus and have a timetable (around about November) for the announcement agreed with the SNP. 

The church groups and trades unions involved should be aware with whom they are dealing: this is a front organisation some of whose members are funded and directed by Bute House.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

This was the week that wasn't...

This should have been a momentous week in Scottish politics. Should have been but wasn't. Instead, it's been a week of dreary bickering, first ministerial egotism, bombast and clumsy vote-rigging. The launch of the Scottish Executive's referendum consultation paper revealed (to no-one's great surprise) the SNP wanting weans to vote, to delay the referendum for a thousand days, a laughably biased question and a plea to 'civic Scotland' to come up with a second question.

Within hours a self-selecting group popped up, declared themselves to be 'civic Scotland' and started briefing that they were the voice of Scotland and they demanded a second question on the ballot. The problem these folk have is that they have no democratic mandate from the people of Scotland. 'Civic Scotland' in the '80s and '90s was a rainbow alliance of political parties, churches, trades unions and community groups which drew its democratic credentials from the votes of the political parties. Any grouping without support from political parties better explain where its democratic mandate comes from.

However, the biggest problem this new grouping has is its relationship with the Scottish Executive. The SNP make no secret of their belief that: 'He who pays the piper calls the tune', and it's beginning to look like a deal has already been struck amongst some of those organisations which rely on Scottish Executive funding and their paymasters.'The Scotsman' carries a story today warning that there are fears that 'civic Scotland' is being leaned on by the SNP. The truth of the matter is that 'civic Scotland' is not being leaned on by the SNP; they are being directed by them. A second question along the lines of Reform Scotland's DevoPlus  has already been agreed by some of the folk in 'civic Scotland' as has a timetable for announcing such a decision - making the meeting planned for Monday nothing but a sham. Those organisations who genuinely care about  Scotland would be well advised to steer well clear of this travesty of democracy.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

This joke isn't funny any more.....

When the SNP were elected in 2007 it was with some amusement that I watched the antics of Mr Salmond and his jolly bunch of swivel-eyed loons take over the Scottish Executive. Within weeks the buffoonery had started. Calls for a Scottish olympic team brought a smile, demands for the return of 'our' chessmen had me chortling and I was rolling in the aisles at the complaints about cricket on the telly. These people were nutters and nobody could take them seriously, could they?
Fast forward five years and now Mr Salmond has started the formal consultation period on separation things are no longer quite so amusing. The opposition parties in Scotland are in disarray and the SNP, with total control of Holyrood, have enjoyed an easy ride from most of the print media and pretty much no scrutiny from the broadcast media.
It's time for folk like me who have watched our country sleepwalk into this disaster do something positive and make a contribution to what will be the most crucial debate in our country's history.
Over the next days, weeks, months and years this blog will be my own  small part toward that debate.