Sunday, 19 October 2014

New Labour pressure group launches with pledge to listen to voters

JOHANN Lamont’s woes as Scottish Labour leader deepened yesterday with the launch of a new internal pressure group that wants the party to be far more radical than she does.

Peter A Bell's insight:

The problem with all this talk about listening to voters is that we’ve heard it all before. We heard it after the 2007 Holyrood elections, and again in the wake of the SNP’s massive win in 2011. But has anybody actually seen any evidence of this listening? Is there the slightest indication that British Labour in Scotland is even capable of responding to the voice of its own members and supporters, never mind the wider electorate. I don’t think so.

If British Labour in Scotland had been listening to the people it would never have entered into that unholy alliance with the Tories. If it had been at all interested in listening it would have consulted party members in Scotland before opting to oppose independence. Instead, we now have Maggie Curran doing a tour of {former) British Labour strongholds in Scotland telling Labour Yes voters that they were wrong and that they should re-affirm an unthinking allegiance to the party.

The reality is that British Labour in Scotland long since lost any capacity it might once have had for listening to the concerns and aspirations of Scotland’s people. The party elite are so absolutely convinced of their entitlement to power; so utterly persuaded that the interests of the party are synonymous with the interests of the nation that they are quite literally deaf to anything that challenges that world-view.

Lamont, Curran, Murphy and the rest demand a trust that they have abysmally failed to earn. And when that trust is not forthcoming, they insist that it is the voters who have got it wrong.

When British Labour politicians in Scotland talk about listening, what they are actually referring to is an exercise in trying to find a form of words sufficient to persuade people that they are sincere in their intention to reform whilst they get on with the business of preserving the existing structures of power and privilege within which they are embedded.

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Euan McColm: Think-tank gives SNP firepower

WHEN it comes to policies, the SNP has made a little go a long way in recent years.

Peter A Bell's insight:

Of one thing we can be absolutely certain. If - or, more likely, when - this new SNP think-tank is formed there will not be a place for Euan McColm. Why would there be when he clearly doesn’t understand the process involved in developing new policies. According to this buffoon, nobody should ever put forward an idea that is subsequently shown to be impracticable. The very concept of the think-tank is evidently beyond his grasp.

Perhaps if McColm was not quite so smug in his dullness and so misguidedly convinced of his own profound perspicacity, he might have paused to actually ponder the term, “think-tank” and what it implies.

Firstly, and rather obviously, it implies thinking. But, more importantly, it implies innovative thinking. Thinking unfettered by prejudices and preconceptions. Not an area, one suspects, where Mr McColm excels.

Less obviously, the term “think-tank” implies an environment in which innovative thinking is encouraged and facilitated. The environment of the mainstream British media, where Euan McColm makes himself so comfortably at home, does not immediately spring to mind.

Let’s face it! This article had little or nothing to do with examining the idea of a policy think tank that is at least open to the idea of independence. Organisations such as Scottish Global Forum, The Jimmy Reid Foundation and even Business for Scotland are already serving this purpose. Although McColm is either dumbly unaware of their existence or prevented from acknowledging them by his own prejudices.

In truth, this article was nothing more than a contrived excuse for a pitifully inept dig at the SNP. A party which, as most of us will have noted, has done very well out of declining to be guided by the “thinking” of the likes of Euan McColm.

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SNP deputy candidates back pro-Yes alliance

TWO of the three candidates for the SNP deputy leadership have raised the prospect of a pro-Yes alliance fighting next year’s UK election campaign.

Peter A Bell's insight:

Angela Constance and Stewart Hosie have accurately read the mood in Scotland in the wake of a referendum result which is increasingly difficult to regard as anything more than a temporary set-back for the independence campaign. The type of electoral pact that they are talking about normally faces the major obstacle of opposition from the members of the parties involved. But there are strong indications of widespread support among the rank and file of the three main Scottish parties.

It may be interesting to reflect on the reasons for this unusual enthusiasm for inter-party cooperation. Obviously, there is the motivation of advancing the cause of restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. But there is some thing more, I think. There is confidence among ordinary party members that electoral cooperation would be a worthy exercise.

Normally, it is party big-wigs who pursue such alliances - invariably against the wishes of party members - for the purposes which have more to do with political expediency than any worthy objective. They seek pacts in order to secure power and status for themselves rather than a desirable outcome for the electorate.

The reason people are confident that a “Yes alliance” would be different is that, as a welcome by-product of the referendum campaign, they have a new-found confidence in their own power. They have good reason to feel that they themselves would be in control. That they would be deciding the nature and purpose of the exercise. They don’t feel threatened by other parties because they have already found ways of working together with those parties.

This is all part of the new politics in Scotland. Something the British parties are still in denial about.

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Scottish Labour turns its back on Blair legacy

Labour in Scotland is to ditch the legacy of Tony Blair and return to its “socialist principles” as it seeks to ­counter the rising Nationalist threat and win power next May, one of the party’s most senior figures has said.

Peter A Bell's insight:

The notion of a “leftward shift” by Scottish Labour is as nonsensical as it is dishonest. It is nonsensical for the simple reason that there is no such thing as “Scottish labour”. There is only British Labour in Scotland. And there is no way that the party bosses in London are going to allow their minions north of the border to behave as if they were a real Scottish political party with distinct policies.

It is dishonest because Curran knows damned well that neither she nor any of her cronies who wear a “Scottish Labour” label when it suits them can actually effect any change of direction for what they continue to pretend is a real Scottish political party.

One thing is absolutely clear from what is being aid by the likes of Curran, Gordon Brown and Jack McConnell. It is perfectly obvious that their sole concern is, not the interests of Scotland’s people, but the restoration of British labour hegemony in Scotland and the preservation of the status and privileges enjoyed by British Labour politicians. It’s all about the party, and to hell with the people.

Curran is visiting those ten (former) British Labour strongholds in Scotland, not to listen to the concerns and aspirations of the Labour members and supporters who voted Yes in the referendum, but to cajole and browbeat them into going back to being unthinking party loyalists. It is a measure of Curran’s delusional state that she seriously imagines these people, having found a voice of their own and savoured genuine political power, will ever again be content to let the likes of her speak for them, or surrender their new-found political muscle to the party machine.

And if we wanted further evidence of just how detached from reality these “Scottish Labour” politicians are, we need look no further than McConnell’s ludicrous claim that the media have given the SNP an easy ride.

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Friday, 17 October 2014

Voters trust Sturgeon the most to deliver new powers

MORE Scots trust the SNP and its leader-elect Nicola Sturgeon to deliver extra powers to Scotland than any other party or politician, despite the Yes campaign losing the independence referendum, a survey has found.

Peter A Bell's insight:

That the British parties are generally distrusted - if not actually despised - in Scotland is hardly a revelation. How could it be otherwise after the way they behaved during the referendum campaign and that way they have consistently failed Scotland over far too many years.

Neither is it at all surprising that the SNP should be the most trusted party. They have a proven record in government and, at the very least, have been evidently striving to make good on their promises. Being closely associated with the glorious Yes campaign has also done the party no harm at all.

It may seem overly cynical, therefore, to see some ulterior motive behind the claim that Nicola Sturgeon is trusted to deliver more powers. The reality, of course, is that Sturgeon has no authority to “deliver more powers” for the Scottish Parliament. Those who voted No in September’s referendum decided that they didn’t want the people of Scotland or their elected representatives to decide what powers their parliament should have. 55% of those who voted in that referendum chose to throw away the massive political power that had been won for them by the SNP. They decided that they didn’t want to be sovereign in their own nation.

Worse! They decided that the other 45% were also to be denied their sovereignty.

Those No voters made what most of them would doubtless claim to be an informed and thoughtful choice to forfeit the right of the people of Scotland to decide what powers their parliament should have and hand that decision instead to a small clique of British politicians in London who have no electoral mandate in Scotland.

When the British establishment, as represented by this newspaper, promotes Nicola Sturgeon as the person who will bring more powers to the Scottish Parliament they do so in the full knowledge that she is bound to fail. She is undoubtedly the best person to speak for Scotland in the coming months and years. But when the British parties renege on their panicky pre-referendum promises and the UK Government declines to implement meaningful further devolution, it will not be Nicola Sturgeon who has failed to deliver. It will be the British politicians that No voters opted to trust with this task despite the fact that those British politicians are known to be unworthy of that trust.

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Devo deal will bar Scots from being PM - Brown

GORDON Brown has urged Labour to maintain its opposition to the devolution of all income tax to Holyrood because it would create “a constitutional crisis” that would be “a Trojan horse” for independence.

Peter A Bell's insight:

Is anybody listening to Gordon Brown? Is there any reason why they should?

I have long been perplexed by the attention that the nominally Scottish media affords this serial failure. I had attributed the amount of space Brown gets in the media to an admirably efficient press relations team. And some of the comments about him being a “commanding figure” and “highly respected” are very obviously the work of spin-quacks charged with the task of aiding poor Gordon as he pursues his obsession with emulating Tony Blair’s success as a high profile global parasite.

It only lately occurred to me that there might be another explanation for the media affording him such obviously unearned status. It may well be that this is not so much a measure of Gordon Brown’s worth as a reflection of the worthlessness of British Labour’s little clique at Holyrood. Gordon gets the air-time and the column inches, not because he has anything worthwhile to say, but because Johann Lamont is so incapable of saying anything worthwhile.

The nominal leaderette of “Scottish” Labour is such a vapid, voiceless creature that she leaves a vacuum which the media abhors and must fill - even if it is with nothing more than the wind and pish emanating from Gordon Brown.

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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Nicola Sturgeon: Rallying call from new SNP leader

NICOLA Sturgeon pledged to “build a better country” and ­engage with the cross-party commission set up to deliver more powers to Holyrood after it was confirmed yesterday she will succeed Alex Salmond as SNP leader and First Minister.

Peter A Bell's insight:

It is a testament to the Strength in depth of the Scottish National Party that a leader as outstanding as Alex Salmond can be so readily replaced.

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