Katie Grant on Kenneth Macdonald’s Headlines:

Kenneth Macdonald's Headlines with Katie Grant and Sergio Casci

Kenneth Macdonald’s Headlines with Katie Grant and Sergio Casci

Everyone who hasn’t listened to this week’s Headlines on BBC Radio Scotland should catch it on the iPlayer here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0403p36#programme-broadcasts. It’s available for a few more days and I’d urge everyone to listen if you haven’t already. And I’m not just talking about Scots of either persuasion. English bastards ought to give it a go too

Before I move on, let me spell out for the hard of thinking that when I referred the English as bastards, this was self mocking. When I say some of my best friends of English, I’m lying: I don’t have any friends. But if I did I’m sure I’d tolerate the English bastards too.

Scots with a sense of humor mock stereotypes, including the notion we hate the English and call them bastards. Truly, we do not. We only do this when we know our audience can take a joke. Or when we know we’ll have a chance to spell out the bleeding obvious joke to Better Together propagandists who pretend they think we really hate the English. No, we fucking don’t, you lying Tory bastard. Scots do hate Tories and call them bastards. And that is not a joke.

Before moving on, let me spell out that although what you have just read is intended as humor, there is a serious point, one that will have to be dealt with by both sides of Scotland’s independence campaign.

Katie Grant had enormous fun on Sunday’s Headlines, and although she is a Tory, this fact wasn’t held against her by Sergio Casci. All Kenneth Macdonald‘s guest not only laugh at each other; they all make me laugh too, even the ones who on Twitter can be exceptionally vile.

Those on the No Campaign complain about so-called ‘cyber-nats’. The reality is there genuinely is a problem on both sides. And both sides should work to rein it in. But what we are dealing with are excesses, over-exuberance, light-hearted banter that can escalate when either side genuinely didn’t realize their leg was being pulled, as some of the English might have been when I referred to them as ‘bastards’. It is a joke, for Christ’s sake!

The Telegraph’s Alan Cochrane is focusing on these excesses. He appears to be genuinely anxious about what is going to happen after the referendum result, regardless of which side wins. I will add my voice to his concerns. This debate may have left a lot of the electorate cold. There may be an enormous number of undecideds still, those who cannot penetrate beneath what appears to be gobbledygook. But the activists on both sides are often being polarized in a way that has the potential to be dangerous. I readily concede that.

However, it is not the Yes Campaign that is the problem here. Really, it is not. As I explained in my previous blog post on Kenneth Macdonald’s Headlines, we in the Yes Campaign are having a ball: http://derekthomas2010.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/scottish-independence-referendum-and-twitter/.

In significant part, the Yes Campaign activists in cyberspace and on the streets, in the factories and offices, in public meetings up and down Scotland are enjoying ourselves because we are engaging in genuine debate. And we are thriving on it. And we are enlivened by each others experiences and take on what is going on.

The Yes Campaign activists are are having fun because we are proud of having all Scotland’s creative community with us – virtually unanimous, and that is a fact!

The Yes Campaign activists are having fun because the overwhelming majority of Scotland’s best comedians are with us. We have a vision of a positive future, and optimism. And we are up for a good debate, if Better Together can be arsed putting someone up to debate with us. But they keep running away. That cannot but increase our confidence as the undecideds who turn up to listen to the arguments naturally draw their own conclusion as to who is and who is not chicken, speculating about why that might be.

It takes two to tango. And it takes two sides to debate. It also takes two sides to debate rationally and with respect. It is, in the main, not the Yes Campaign who refuse to debate rationally. This is primarily a problem with Better Together leadership who are failing to inspire their troops, who have united all Better Together supporters in collective pulling their hair out at just how bad their campaign is being lead. But whose fault is that? They have the rich and powerful behind them. They have the Tories, Lib Dems, Labour, UKIP, BBC, SKY News, Channel Four News, ITV and Channel Five. Why can’t they find a group of leaders who don’t have everyone falling about laughing at incompetence worthy of the Keystone Cops?

Better Together have not been entirely unsuccessful in dragging some of us, from time to time, including some who ought to have known better, down to their level. Most notoriously, we witnessed this during Scotland Tonight’s scream-fest between Johann Lamont and Nicola Sturgeon, which I blogged about here: http://derekthomas2010.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/nicola-sturgeon-should-ask-for-a-rematch-with-johann-lamont/.

By the way, I think one possible explanation for why so many women are unconvinced by the appeal of Scottish independence might be related, at least in part, to the atrocious spectacle of Scotland’s two most prominent women politicians behaving this badly. Everyone in the Yes Campaign knows that Nicola can do better. She is one of the stars of the Yes Campaign, and should definitely ask for a rematch to prove it, as many as she can get. Johann Lamont, by contrast, cannot do any better. She is delighted that she dragged Nicola down to her level. And that is why she won’t agree to any rematch.

Whatever the reason for the differential between Scottish men and women opting for independence, clearly this has to be addressed, and the sooner the better. It is a sign of how desperate Better Together is that Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson attacks Alex Salmond for insulting women by promoting two women to his cabinet days after her leader – Prime Minister David Cameron – removed one of the last women in his cabinet. Monty Python stuff.

However, as Sergio Casci pointed out to Katie Grant on Headlines, the really interesting appeal of Salmond’s speech was not to women. What struck me was Salmond and Nicola’s powerful appeal to Labour voters. I want to address this, but before I do there is something else that is important in Salmond’s speech that was not addressed by anyone on Ken’s program, nor in the broadcast media generally: the tone of Salmond’s speech.

Alex Salmond clearly pitched his appeal in a tone to send out a similar message to that of Jimmy Reid during his famous piece of oratory about how disciplined the Upper Clyde Ship Builders would be during their ‘work-in’:

“There will be… NO… BEVVYING!”

For fairly obvious reasons, Alex Salmond doesn’t want to see supporters of the Yes Campaign descend into the gutter. We are being lured there by many in Better Together. But we will leave them to that. Traps are being set for us, and we all have to resist the temptation.

When Better Together behave like trolls on t’internet, remember the first rule: do not feed the troll. If they won’t let it go, we have to block them on twitter, Facebook or whatever. Don’t let them drag you into a shouting match on the streets, while canvassing etc. We are better than this. Let them expose themselves as the irrational people they are. This is how the undecideds will climb off the fence.

And when the referendum is over, we will do everything we can to bring civil society back together again. The smartest way to heal wounds is not to act so recklessly that we open them up in the first place. And a very important part of Alex Salmond’s tone and message in his Conference speech was about this. Humor yes. But irrational screamfests? Let’s not, eh?

It’s taken me quite a detour to get round specifically to what Katie Grant said that I found worthy of blogging about. Here goes…

Katie Grant said she didn’t know that the Scottish referendum had anything to do with getting rid of the Tories? Oh really? That passed you by, comrade? Pull the other one.

Getting rid of David Cameron’s Tories and a Blairite Labour Party that is becoming progressively right-wing is precisely why I recently climbed off the fence and after decades of either outright, and very public, opposition to advocating independence or, at least, indifference towards it.

I am now an enthusiastic supporter of Scottish independence. In the real world, we have to choose from the options available to us. And every lefty in Scotland has to deploy his or her vote intelligently. And that means he/she has to vote for Scottish independence.

I will be voting for Scottish independence notwithstanding my deep and enduring commitment to the majority of my English brothers and sisters who deserve everything that we are on the verge of winning in Scotland on 18ths of September this year.

Counter-intuitive though it might be, for left and right alike in England Scottish independence can in fact be good for the left on both sides of the border.

Katie Grant is not so deluded that she doesn’t know why independence will help the left in Scotland. That is not an issue. Everybody knows this. And it is precisely because everyone knows the left can only benefit from independence that the rich and powerful on both sides of the border are doing everything they can to destroy the independence movement. But Scottish independence can help the English left too.

Firstly, a Scottish government brought to power by an overwhelmingly left-of-center movement can act as a beacon to the left in England after the event. But, crucially, we will have exposed the fatal flaw in the project of the left in England: the role first-past-the-post plays in destroying any radical alternative to the United Kingdom’s Tory establishment.

In Scotland, the Tories and Lib Dems have been wiped out, and UKIP are nowhere on the political map. Only Labour and SNP have any real traction, with others to their left having made a bid in the past, with more to come in the future. Proportional representation denies the rich and powerful their ‘right’ to tell voters your choice is David Cameron or Ed Miliband. That is not inspiring anyone either side of the border.

First-past-the-post gives voters no incentive to change anything. The BBC, SKY, Channel Four News tell voters that any alternative merely means that by voting for the candidates you most want, you will help those you least want get elected, a problem Tory broadcasters now face with the rise of their own Frankenstein monster: Nigel Farage’s UKIP.

The English voters don’t like the polices shoved down their throats by Chris Patten and Rupert Murdoch’s Tories. However, those who can speak for the majority of voters, such as Dave Nellist, Ken Loach, Mark Serwotka, Matt Wrack, John McDonnell etc are being denied access to the media. So the BBC’s Tory broadcasters are being subsidized by OUR license fee to peddle surreal nonsense that fails to convince any of those who live in the real world.

Public funds are being wasted to keep Tories spirits up. They pat each other on the back. Chris Patten’s carefully selected bullshit merchants can’t get enough of this stuff. Day by day they get more and more out of touch with the voters. No one capable of bursting their bubble is allowed anywhere near a BBC television studio these days.

And the same Tory lies are echoed across all five of the United Kingdom’s television networks. All this insulation of these Tory broadcasters from the world the voters inhabit is making them ill-prepared for explosions of the alienated in the increasingly dangerous pressure cooker society that is Tory Britain. Scotland’s referendum can prove a relatively painless way of releasing a lot of that pressure before it’s too late. And that is what most of the left in Scotland intend to do. We are doing it for everyone.

Katie Grant says it is daft of Alex Salmond to call for a Tory free Scotland as we pretty much have that already. This misses the point. What we want is not a Scotland bereft of Tory MPs. What matters is liberating Scots from the values of those who control the levers of power in everything that really matters to the people: tax and spend, and whether to invest in welfare or warfare. These are not particularly Scottish values. I am of the firm belief that Alex Salmond’s conference speech is precisely the kind of speech that English Labour voters would love to see from Ed Miliband. Alas, comrade Miliband is incapable of delivering such a speech for two reasons. Firstly, Ed’s powers of oratory and ability debate have gone absent without leave, as has his ability to think on his feet, answer a direct question, organize a piss-up in a brewery.

But Ed Miliband’s failing are no mere personal problem. The values that tick all the boxes of Labour voters are no longer those Ed thinks can be used to win an election in England. Ed Miliband knows the broadcasters hate these values. And Ed Miliband and his front bench, without a single exceptions these days, are queuing up to denounce these fairly uncontentious social democratic values as outrageously ultra-left.

Let me repeat that I am not a Scottish nationalist. I have never voted for the SNP, and I don’t see any prospect of my ever doing that. I am not turning my back on my English, Welsh or Northern Irish brothers and sisters. I want for them exactly what I believe is there for the taking in Scotland in five months time. However, we have to work with what we have. And I will join five million other Scots, not just the adult population who have the vote, to seize our moment of liberation from the United Kingdom’s dungeon. And then I will work with the rest of those trapped behind in the United Kingdom to liberate themselves also the very first chance they get.

Here is what a Scotsman looks like while he’s making fun of the English while pretending he’s really only making fun of Scottish stereotypes like himself:

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Complaint to BBC Scotland about their Nuclear Cartoon


My complaint to the BBC about their Better Together propaganda

My complaint to the BBC about their Better Together propaganda

I have submitted a complaint to BBC Scotland about the latest piece of outrageous Better Together propaganda. It appeared on their Scottish section of Sunday Politics yesterday afternoon, and is being shared online here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-27002723. Here is the text of what I sent them:

  • Former BBC broadcaster Lesley Riddoch drew the attention of her followers on Twitter to what she referred to as your “weird & patronising cartoon of nuke-free iScotland”. This was nothing less than a Better Together cartoon that was being shared by the BBC on the internet. Lesley provided a link to make a complaint to the BBC. And I am following her advice. I do this not because she told me to. I am doing it because I share her attitude 100%. I felt every bit as insulted as she did when I saw that tedious piece of propaganda, tweeting how I felt at the time. I hope the BBC editors start to get your act together because you lot are descending into the gutter. You think that by using cartoons, and by self-selecting ‘experts’ who share your prejudices, the Scottish people will fall for your insults to our beliefs and to our intelligence, doing so on behalf of David Cameron, Johann Lamont, Nick Clegg and Alistair Darling. You are fooling no one. You are just wasting OUR license fee on a politically motivated attack on the people of Scotland. And we are not prepared to lie down and let you get away with these lies. Heads should roll at the BBC over this.

My complaint to BBC Scotland was triggered by this tweet from Lesley Riddoch: https://twitter.com/LesleyRiddoch/statuses/455693340848451584

BBC editors are investing OUR license fee in lying to the Scottish people.

BBC editors are investing OUR license fee in lying to the Scottish people.

If anyone shares my disgust at this particular item and/or the BBC’s propaganda on behalf of the anti-Scottish independence campaign in general, why not register your own complaint? The BBC does go out of its way to make it extraordinarily difficult to make a complaint online. But it is not impossible, if you have a little patience. Here is the link you will need. I am providing the link to a page that helps you over a couple of hurdles. From this point on, you are on your own. You have to confirm that you know what will happen to your complaint after you make it, and a link to a page to explain this to you. Good luck.

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Scottish independence referendum and Twitter

Politics can be fun

Politics can be fun

Kenneth Macdonald, during his wonderful Sunday morning program on BBC Radio ScotlandHeadlines – referred to why he ended up reading more tweets from Yes Campaign supporters than from the No Campaign, or ‘Bitter Together’, as they prefer to be called: we are the ones who tend to use Twitter. Does anyone know why this is?

To the best of my knowledge, there has been no attempt to explain this interesting phenomenon. This blog post is my attempt – first attempt – to address this. Feedback would be welcome.

I won’t waste anyone’s time rehearsing how I ended up on Twitter, but when I did this initially I dismissed it as a bit of a joke. All it was for me was an opportunity to indulge my mischievous side. What can we say in 140 characters that anyone is interested in? What about jokes?

Initially, I found that the best thing to do with Twitter was to engage in wit. I did it with a handful of cyber-friends. And then, as I climbed out of a tomb of anonymity, I started to use twitter to engage with real time events in the world of politics. Hashtags let me engage with everyone glued to the television – or radio – sets as we all listened attentively to the justifications for what is going on in our name, or the speculations and analyses of allegedly objective broadcasters.

We all make, or try to make, serious points. And we all spice up our individual take on what is going on with humor, with wit. At any rate, the most popular tweeters tend to rely on this a fair bit. And this is in my opinion key to explaining why Better Together are nowhere on Twitter. The Yes Campaign is made up of those who are enjoying ourselves, notwithstanding our still being significantly behind in the polls. Given how much time we have to turn things round, we’re having a ball. Better Together provide us with hilarious entertainment. They are our court jesters.

One of Kenneth Macdonald’s guest on his show yesterday - Sergio Casci – said he thought this was a terminal problem for Katie Grant’s side: everyone is laughing at the Better Together leadership, including all their own supporters who appear on Ken’s show.

Headlines has been accused of bias against Better Together. This is totally unfair. What it is is fair to both sides. This one hour program between 9:00am and 10:00am on Sunday morning is the only program on the BBC – television or radio, on either side of the border – that is fair towards the Yes Campaign. Every edition of Headlines has supporters of Better Together. However, they tend to have as much fun as the rest of us because they find the running of their campaign as bizarre as the rest of us.

It is good that Ken’s guests are now identified as pro or anti-independence at the start of the show. This is the only way to prove that those who are attacking Better Together are their own supporters. If Better Together want to put unapologetic cheerleaders for their campaign on Headlines, they too would become the butt of the jokes. And my guess is they wouldn’t like that one little bit. Their problem is a total sense of humor bypass.

Does the dominance of Scottish independence supporters on Twitter depend solely on better understanding of how to use wit? Actually, no. There is more to it than that.

There is a second reason why the Yes Campaign is dominating Twitter. We are united on everything we need to unite on. BBC Scotland’s Glenn Campbell and Brian Taylor revealed themselves to be absolutely livid with Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon and the entire SNP membership for not focusing on their divisions at their last annual conference before the referendum. These people are desperate. Hilariously so.

The Yes Campaign are divided over so many things, and have never pretended otherwise. We have real differences over a shared currency, over membership of NATO, over the Monarchy, the timescale for getting rid of nuclear weapons, economic policy. Do any of these differences matter? They do matter for us after the referendum on 18th of September this year. Assuming Scotland becomes independent, those who won and who lost the referendum will see many realignments within both camps. I am up for that. Every supporter of Scottish independence is up for it.

I do not expect to convince every single socialist to vote alongside me at the referendum. Nevertheless, I do expect the many I do convince before the referendum to fight alongside socialists who didn’t vote for independence to fight for similar positions on the other side of the referendum. I am more than happy to work with others to secure Scottish self determination, to bring within the ambit of all democratic decision-making everything that matters: tax and spend, welfare or warfare.

Only proportional representation mushrooming out from Holyrood’s devolved straightjacket to embrace the entirety of politics will safeguard the Scottish people from the nightmare visited on us at every United Kingdom general election. David Cameron or Ed Miliband? You must be joking.

The Yes Campaign are patient. And we are, if we know what is good for us, respectful to everyone who shares our willingness to let the Scottish people decide everything, including whether they want the SNP to form a majority government, and whether they want Alex Salmond to be First Minister within a Scottish government. These are questions for the voters. That is what democracy is all about. And that brings me to the relationship between Better Together’s absence (relatively speaking) from twitter and their virtually total absence from the world of flesh and blood human beings.

Better Together are unable to engage with the arguments on twitter for the same reason they are unable to set up public meetings. They know that if they do that, the Yes Campaign will turn up to challenge their arguments, to subject them all to careful scrutiny. And we would wipe the floor with them, as would be revealed by the switch of voter intention from before and after the meetings. Better Together’s leaders are, in other words, chicken. But there is even more to it than that.

Even if Better Together could get away with excluding supporters of the Yes Campaign from their ‘public meetings’, which they obviously cannot, they would prove unable to sing from the same hymnsheet, descending into bitter acrimony, an electorally damaging and very public civil war? Aww. Bless.

Johann Lamont tells voters to vote against independence because Ed Miliband will liberate all Scots, as well as the English and Welsh and Northern Irish, from the hated Tories and their Liberal Democratic lapdogs. Not an easy sell when David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s cheerleaders are sharing a platform with you, ready to shout you down. Any attempt at a united message will fall at the first hurdle: the first question from a member of the audience. And it is all downhill from there. And Better Together know it. So they run away from their own campaign.

Johann Lamont, Alistair Darling, Lord Robertson, George Foulkes et al run away from public meetings. They rely on the broadcasters to do their work for them. This won’t save them. At any rate, I don’t think it will. Having said that, we are talking about generations of deeply embedded United Kingdom propaganda. There is a built-in inertia that the Yes Campaign has to chip away. This is what explains the slowness with which we are making progress. We are witnessing a snowball on the verge of precipitating an avalanche.

To the extent that the biases of the BBC, SKY News, Channel Four News, ITV and Channel Five are exposed by a Yes Campaign that is taking to the streets, in tandem with Better Together getting more and more angry and irrational, attacking each other for their latest faux pas… It is possible that the dam will burst and the Yes Campaign will cease to be fighting for the majority. It is possible that very soon, we will be fighting to remain the majority with months still to go.

One of the reasons the Yes Campaign have for being confident is that the undecideds can see that of the two campaigns ours is the only one that is having fun. And laughter is infectious. And laughing at the Better Together court jesters is enormously entertaining. Come join us. You won’t regret it.

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Why I am voting for Scottish independence:


Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond

I have never voted SNP. I probably never will. Alex Salmond (in his speech at the last SNP’s conference before the referendum) this afternoon appealed for the votes of those on the left who have never voted SNP to join him to secure independence. He’s preaching to the converted in my case. I am a late convert, but climbed off the fence a few months back, after decades of opposition, or at the very least, indifference to independence.

Alex Salmond wants the votes of those who don’t particularly like him and/or don’t particularly want an SNP government. This is exactly the right thing to do. Nicola Sturgeon adopted the same approach in her speech yesterday. It is an approach every supporter of Scottish independence has to adopt, regardless of how long they have campaigned for this.

Did I agree with every word of Alex Salmond’s speech? Nope. But I was surprised how much I could echo enthusiastically. Am I surprised at how pissed off BBC Scotland’s political editor Brian Taylor is? Or his equally right-wing colleague Glenn Campbell? Do I find it odd that they are foaming at the mouth at the so-called ‘desperation’ of the SNP for daring to woo Labour voters, an eminently sensible and politically sophisticated approach by the SNP leadership? No, I’m not.

Better Together are all at sea. They’re up shit creek without a paddle. They cannot and will not unite. They hoped to win by default as the pro-independence campaign turned in on itself. In reality, the many differences within our campaign are being handled with considerable maturity. More than I expected.

On NATO, the Monarchy, Sterling, economic policy… Of course there are differences. And these will reemerge in time, especially during the post-referendum negotiations. Nevertheless, we are prepared to grant sovereignty to the Scottish people. Let them decide on matters like a shared currency, timetables for getting rid of nuclear weapons, whether we can tolerate an hereditary head of state or not, or membership of NATO or not.

All these things are matters for the post-independence settlement. Supporters of Scottish independence are happy to put them all on the table, as we all trust in our ability to convince the electorate, or to abide by the wisdom of crowds if and when we are all individually told by the voters to go home and think again.

However, despite Alex Salmond and others making a very good case for democracy, he underestimates the attractive power of what is being proposed. He, Nicola Sturgeon et al are actually missing a trick or two. We want to win the Labour voters who feel in their hearts that Johann Lamont, Alistair Darling, Ed Miliband et al are letting them down. Badly letting them down. And they are right.

Alex Salmond and Nicola both set out the stall of the SNP with policies that Labour voters are passionately in favour of. These are policies that Labour politicians on both sides of the border no longer support. At best, they only pay lip service to supporting these polices. Every single one of these highly popular polices are to be negotiated away by Ed Miliband and by Ed Balls. They are mere bargaining chips to be negotiated away to secure a coalition with Nick Clegg’s toxic no-hopers. Alternatively, a majority Labour government will tear up its manifesto policies to appease the very same big businessmen who brought the global economy to its knees a few years back.

To the extent that prominent Labour MPs or MSP do support these polices still, they refuse to put their heads above the parapet given that this is now deemed electorally unpopular with a Tory establishment that Douglas Alexander is out to court.

The reality is that the speech that Alex Salmond made today is the kind of speech that Labour voters would like to hear from the lips of Ed Miliband and his front bench, a speech they refuse to endorse despite the fact that this would actually inspire sufficient Labour voters to reverse the decline in Labour’s poll lead over the Tories.

The reasons Scottish Labour voters need to endorse independence is not just because the polices that are being offered by any government that stands a chance of winning elections under independence are the ones they want. More important than that is the fact that the Scottish people need independence to liberate ourselves from the tyranny of first-past-the-post that denies voters on either side of the border anything more than Hobson’s choice.

David Cameron or Ed Miliband? Why on Earth should the Scottish people, or the people of England and Wales for that matter, have to settle for a choice like that?

On 18th September this year, Scotland’s Labour voters can join hands with everyone who supports the right to self determination of the Scottish people.

Do we grant the people of Scotland the right to decide how to prioritize investment in everything by bringing everything within a genuinely democratic system? We would then be able to use tax and spend powers to pay for education, health, pensions, affordable homes, health and safety, decent wages, jobs based on social need not private greed?

Or, alternatively, do the Scottish people seriously think we are better together with corrupt war mongers like Tony Blair? A Prime Minister who did nothing in his years of office but camouflage the increasing polarization of wealth until five rich parasites owned more wealth than the poorest twenty percent of society?

Do the Scottish people want to cede sovereignty to those intent on destroying the welfare state to allow them to cut more of their taxes, while wasting a fortune on obscene weapons of mass destruction? Let the people decide. But how can we do this when the United Kingdom’s first-past-the-post electoral system, in combination with a broadcast media that denies the left any real access to the voters, transforms general elections into the sickest of sick jokes?

One last point. There will be a broad, united campaign to bring all of Scottish civil society together to draft a constitution to take society forward. All the parties of Better Together promised the right to recall in their manifestos. This proved one more betrayal of the electorate. But Scotland can put this into the constitution. No more Maria Millers. No more corrupt politicians who overstay their welcome. Let’s win our freedom, and in the process set an example to our English brothers and sisters to join us in a truly civilized democracy fit for the twenty first century. And our Welsh brothers and sisters too, of course.


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Nigel Evans has been found not guilty? Society needs a mature debate on sex crime allegations:

Jury finds Nigel Evans not guilty. Time for society to debate?

Jury finds Nigel Evans not guilty. Time for society to debate?

  • Scotland will enter the world of free nations on 18th of September with a blank sheet. The thousand flowers blooming will become a beautiful garden of five million. We will unleash the creativity of children of all ages. We will think outside the box. And we won’t reject ideas just because they are proposed by people with no track record, older people whose initiative and self confidence had been crushed out of them at school and by elitists and disciplinarians working within a narrow Union Jack straight-jacket. Everyone can have a good idea. I think I might even have two of them!
  • One of the ideas I would like to propose to the Scottish people, and also to those further afield, relates to how civilized societies can deal with sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence.
  • There are two sets of opposed rights that all democrats need to cherish, values that seem to conflict when it comes to allegations of rape and sexual harassment. We are faced with a problem that seems to divide progressives into two warring factions, ferrets in a sack who refuse to even listen to each other. Civilized people need to accept that each of these groups champions one key element of the solution. Nevertheless, both of them generally insist on removing one pillar to an all-rounded solution. On the contrary, they all too often wield it as a weapons, swinging it wildly to knock down the other side’s house of cards. I think I can see a way out of this disaster for progressives. I may be wrong, and am okay with others telling me I’m talking nonsense. Anyway, here is my idea…
  • Cyber-mace as mobile phone app

  • Society will never solve the problem posed by rape and sexual harassment until we identify the problems with the two main approaches to these scars. There are two injustices that have to be dealt with simultaneously. The ‘debate’ on this question has become so polarized that it resembles a long drawn-out version of Scot Night’s notorious Johann Lamont-Nicola Sturgeon scream-fest. No one is prepared to stop talking, to so much as take time out to breath and listen to what the other is saying. This is depressing beyond measure.
  • The two injustices that all democrats have to prioritize are, on the one hand, securing justice for all those who have suffered any form of sexual abuse (regardless of their age, gender or sexual orientation), but also, simultaneously, securing this without opting for a ‘collective punishment’ that is indifferent to targeting innocent men. No serious democrat can object to this proposal. However, no one seems to have any idea how to do both of these things simultaneously. Well, I am arrogant enough to suggest that maybe I do see a way out of this dilemma.
  • A section of society insists that all the accused are by definition guilty. They insist that the courts should exist simply to rubber stamp the accused going to jail, inevitably to be gang raped by gangsters, including fascists they may have dedicated themselves to putting in jail over a number of years, if not decades. Sorry, comrades, but there is nothing in the least bit democratic in such an approach. Watch Twelve Angry Men or The Crucible if that is how your mind works.
  • Anyone who is content with collective punishment of all men has taken leave of their senses. I do not say that as a man, but as a human being, someone who shares the same values as every opponent of sexual harassment.
  • Collective punishment of innocent men for the crimes of other men happens to be an attack on mothers of sons, sisters of brothers, loving wives of loving husbands, loving daughters of loving fathers. Even if we are not men, not heterosexual, even if we have no living male relative who could be in danger of being subject to summary justice without a fair trial, that is besides the point. We all have workmates, and neighbours. We are all human beings. We are humane. We are civilized. We do not tolerate the Nazi concept of ‘collective punishment’, whether it is of men, Jews, Muslims or anyone else.
  • Believing someone who says they’ve been raped is essential to get justice. That is a fact. However, when it comes to the trail, the accused needs to have the evidence scrutinized with the greatest of care, if they deny the charge. The accuser has to be subject to fair cross examination, just in case there has not been a crime. Only a jury can settle the guilt or otherwise of the accused. And trial by media or any vigilante group helps no one secure justice.
  • Corroboration in the real world

  • What about corroboration? This is what I want to discuss. When it comes to rape, the jury will be faced with the problem of who do you believe. Was the sex consensual or not? No one seems to have a solution to this. But I think I might. What I propose is not necessarily a solution to every act of sexual violence or sexual harassment. But it might address many of these these crimes, might force the guilty to plead guilty more or less immediately. Even more important, it just might lead to offenders realizing they are not going to get away with it, so they may as well not consider becoming a barbarian in the first place. What I propose may help almost all men grow up, in the process protecting most women from the threat of any form of sexual abuse, including sexual harassment in the form of offensive ‘jokes’, or so-called flirts that many men are encouraged (by Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid garbage, The SUN) to think is ‘just a bit of fun’.
  • What I propose is that woman are universally granted the right to use an app on their mobile phone at the very first sign of any threat of sexual abuse, including harassment, verbally, groping or whatever. The phone could record the voices of both parties, uploaded to a server that is secure and encrypted. A recording that would be available to a jury in the event of this going to court. Men would soon learn when any flirtation is unwanted, that they have been told is unwelcome, constitutes a crime. Unless they cut it out they’ll find themselves in court, possibly in jail, and most certainly sacked. And managers and employers won’t be immune to this neither. Every man would be treated equally.
  • While a mobile phone app would only record voice, is it not possible that the harassment may take a more physical form, and that this may not be detectable by sound recording alone? Yes. That’s perfectly possible. To deal with this, maybe there could by an app that can send a signal to a nearby CCTV camera, alerting it to focus on the woman with the phone.
  • This may not work on every single occasion. But it may create an environment where workplace sexual harassment becomes a thing of the past. What I am proposing is certainly a set of restrictions on my liberty that I would happily surrender to ensure that sexual violence is minimized if not eliminated. Men realize they won’t get away with it, so they may as well not even think about it. And it will make it virtually impossible for innocent men to be falsely accused. Everyone’s a winner, right?

That is an extract from an even longer blog post that can be found here: http://derekthomas2010.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/cyber-mace-solves-sexual-harrasment-in-scotland/

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There is a specter haunting Yvette Cooper; the specter of Iain Banks:

Which side are you on, Yvette Cooper? Which side are you on?

Which side are you on, Yvette Cooper? Which side are you on?

Yvette Cooper scrambles ever rightwards to appease Nigel Farage and the Thatcherite clowns who infest BBC’s television news, politics and current affairs output with barely a single exception these days. How desperate can you get?

If Ed Miliband’s front bench had a brain cell to rub between the lot of them, they’d realize there are no votes in it for them to engage in this obscene orgy of xenophobia. All Yvette Cooper secures is the upping of the ante. The personal ratings of all Labour politicians will suffer as a consequence of dignifying this nasty politics.

Having bowed down before the reactionaries who salivate as they attack foreigners, they merely reward Miliband and co by demanding more and more. And more and more and more.

These xenophobes quench their thirst with salt water. With the eating comes the appetite. Yvette Cooper will never win a game of chicken with these people. She merely betrays the most oppressed victims of the society that gave us five families owning more than the poorest 20% of society, and the bankers who gave us global economic catastrophe.

When Tory broadcasters and UKIP groupies attack Yvette Cooper for being hypocritical, for being sufficiently authoritarian towards the poorest men, women and children on the planet who are good enough to bomb to smithereens in the hundreds of thousands, but are not good enough to escape the squatter camps and economic nightmares that NATO has built for them, in search of jobs… Remind them all of this poster by Scottish literary giant and beloved humanitarian, Iain Banks.

Never tire of reminding our English brothers and sisters of what Iain Banks said about the causes of the misery of the majority of the voters, those who can’t be arsed voting for any of these corrupt politicians.

Remind Penny Laurie, Eddie Izzard and Helena Kennedy – as well as the majority of Left Unity’s annual conference – how this nasty xenophobia is now deeply embedded in all the parties of Better Together, bar none.

Remind English socialists that this xenophobia is poisoning democracy on an all-Britain level, and if the only option open for the Scottish people, at least in the short to medium term, is the setting up of an independent Scottish state, then so be it.


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David Cameron’s government is imploding? Aww. Bless.


Did Maria Miller jump or was she pushed? What do you think? She was pushed, obviously. When will the truth come out? Too soon to say. Elements of the truth are already leaking.

Michael Gove pretty much gave part of the game away. He definitely was part of those who pushed for her to go. Rumors are now that George Osborne headed the movement to get rid of her, apparently against David Cameron’s wishes. That’s interesting.

If a split has emerged between the Cameron and Osborne on such a key matter as the durability of Maria Miller, it can only be a matter of time before rival camps emerge, crystallizing into personalized factions. Implosion immanent?

How could George Osborne have been so careless as to let rumours get out about a division between him and David Cameron on what to do about Maria Miller? That is playing for very high stakes indeed. It is obvious that from the point of view of Tories, Osborne was representing the sane strategy. Maria Miller was dragging the Tories down in the middle of an election campaign that they were destined to lose to UKIP anyway.

Craig Oliver’s defense of Maria Miller after the Telegraph’s ex-editor accused her people and the Prime Minister’s director of communications himself of menace… The Tory press were not about to back down, and in this game of chicken, it was David Cameron who had no option but to surrender. But that begs another question: why on Earth did David Cameron go to the wall to defend Maria Miller? That does need an explanation.

Betty Boothroyd and Kay Burley made Maria Miller and her parliamentary aid – Mary McLeod – appear utterly ridiculous less than 24 hours before her ‘resignation’. But David Cameron wanted to bury his head in the sand. How come?

I could answer that question by making a reference to Craig Oliver’s predecessor as David Cameron’s director of communications. However, that man is innocent until proven guilty. In the eyes of the law. Technically speaking. And similar ‘allegedly’ waffle. So I’ll just flag up the possibility that George Osborne, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and others might be scared that this Prime Minister is coming to end of his natural life as a free man.

Enjoy your stay at her majesty’s pleasure, you corrupt son of a bitch.


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