A Labour of Lust

I noticed this Labour leaflet the other day when it popped up on my Facebook feed, shared by an SNP-supporting friend. It’s from the now imminent Dunfermline by-election. 

image

At first I thought it was just a bit desperate – the usual kind of playground nonsense that most of us have come to expect from Labour these days. And it is that. There’s nothing of meaning in it, no substance, no vision. Nothing but negativity. But there is something slightly odd about it.

It struck me in the shower this morning, which sounds like a terrible cliche, but it’s true – I do all my best thinking in the shower: here are Labour, sworn opponents of independence, using one of the main reasons FOR independence AGAINST an advocate of it!

Look at it:
‘Labour’s candidate, Cara Hilton… Lives and works in Dunfermline’

…whilst:
‘the [nameless] SNP Candidate… Does not live here AND (if you can possibly believe this scandal) works for Yes Scotland’!

Are Labour saying that they believe that the best people to represent somewhere are people that live within that community? I think that’s what they’re saying. In fact, it’s there in black and white (well, black and red/yellow) – that is what they’re saying.

It also emerged last night that Labour also seem to believe that they are the SNP.

image

Again, notice their interest with ‘local’ politics. 
Such is Labour’s total and unrelenting hatred (jealousy) of the SNP, that they seemingly can’t see their own desperate hypocrisy. They don’t know how to defeat them using actual policy or ideas, so they just throw a bunch of words at a piece of paper and hand them out. Their contempt for the electorate doesn’t waiver – it actually grows bigger and deeper.

I used to think an independent Scotland with a healthy Labour party would be a good thing, but today’s Labour is anything but healthy, and at the moment, I wouldn’t value them at all, in any constitutional arrangement.

The Suspension of Disbelief

Today’s Daily Torygraph has an ‘exclusive’ interview with the OPEC Secretary General, one Mr Abdalla el-Badri. You can see the original article here (http://archive.is/DZnOw) where I’ve archived it so you don’t have accidentally give them any ad-click revenue.

In this obviously totally objective piece (obviously!), titled ‘Opec head blow to Salmond: Scotland should stay in UK’, the article makes much of what is, we are assured, Mr el-Badri’s ‘own personal view’, stating that to him an independent Scotland would be ‘unthinkable’.

We’re introduced to el-Badri as ‘The head of the cartel that represents the world’s 12 oil-producing nations…’. Really, only 12 countries produce oil? Perhaps they meant ‘the world’s 12 BIGGEST oil-producing nations’, but I’m pretty sure that that perfectly innocent typo wasn’t meant to scare readers into thinking that the rest of the world will be against us. OPEC actually represents countries producing one-third of the world’s oil.

El-Badri is quoted as stating that North Sea reserves are “depleted”. It’s so depleted that one of the UK Governments many faces keeps telling us about record investment in the sector. Oil companies are known to do that of course, frequently investing record amounts in non-existent oilfields…

We are then treated to the fact that a rather large proportion (16%, according to them) of Scotland’s tax income would come from the oil, and are reminded of how ‘volatile’ that pesky substance can be. I don’t know why we don’t just give it all away, to be honest – it’s such a burden!

What surprised me though was the omission of several rather key facts. Facts which I would have expected such a ‘respected’ broadsheet to cover in an article on this subject.

…like the 16% of tax figure. What they don’t mention is that Scotland is the wealthiest part of the UK outside London/SE England, and that’s without the oil. They also neglect to mention that, again without the oil, Scotland’s tax income is almost exactly the UK average – around 99%, per capita. So that “depleted” oil is over and above that. If you add that 99% and the 16% (which you have to figure out in reverse, as it’s 16% of the total, not 16% of 99%) you get roughly 118% of the UK average tax per head. That’s close to a fifth more wealth.

For some reason, they don’t mention those things. But they do inadvertently admit that they’re true by quoting that 16% figure.

The levels of extractable oil still under the North Sea are disputed, but with estimates ranging from £1.5-4trillion worth (that’s twelve zeros), and with the previously untapped North Atlantic reserves just off the west coast (which could be 2-3 times what the North Sea has provided), anyone who says we’re about to run out of oil is frankly lying through their back teeth.

In their article, the Torygraph also fails to mention Mr el-Badri’s own background. Whether or not you feel it’s relevant is up to you, but I believe we should have been told that he held a variety of ministerial posts, for 15 years, under Libya’s Gadaffi regime. Indeed, he even became Deputy Prime Minister in 2002. Why wouldn’t they mention that? Surely his ministerial posts would lend an air of respectability to his words…

And why are we supposed to believe the words of the leader of the world’s biggest cartel anyway? This organisation exists purely to fix oil prices and make money for its member states. They’re like an unarmed mafia with a stationery budget.

Far be it for me to suggest that the Torygraph would ever spin a story so much just to keep true to their ‘God Save the Queen’/Rule Britannia/Thatcher’s-not-dead agenda. No, that would be quite wrong of me. And there’s no evidence to suggest that they’re prone to that sort of stuff, of course. Anyway, the piece was written by not one, but TWO trained (I assume) journalists, so both the facts and integrity of the piece must be rock solid…

Coffee and a chat

I was just sitting outside my favourite coffee shop when a friend of a member of staff came and sat beside me, falafel panini in one hand, peppermint tea in the other. An older guy than myself, probably in his fifties, and a little disheveled looking.

He started chatting to me, so I reciprocated. He was charming, polite, thoughtful, concerned both about what he ate and how we treat the planet and one another. A decent bloke, who it turned out, was homeless.

“I’ve been a bit of a nomad” he said, “…but all I need is a wee break… someone to let me use a wee room to get me started in a better direction. Five years out here now – can’t do it anymore”.

He wasn’t talking crap or dropping hints – he was just being honest.

We chatted some more about this and that, and then he said “…I’m hopeful for when we become a proper country again.”.

I mentioned to him that I was all for that and actively campaign for a Yes vote, and the chat quickly evolved into a discussion about the benefits of independence and the possibilities to create a better, fairer society: no nuclear weapons to pay for – the ones we don’t even want; the benefit of having people making decisions about the place they actually live in; the fact that Scotland is actually “stinking rich”, to quote a Yes voter at a recent BBCr5 debate – and the chances being that you probably wouldn’t know that from looking around you. These things and much more.

A charming and educated guy, with optimism for the future, despite having been down on his luck for so long. I have some experience of that myself, and it’s not easy to think positively in that situation.

Just think what a difference having the full powers that only independence provides can make for people like this guy and others like him. No, independence in itself does not address these issues, but it does give us the tools to do so. No longer will an endless succession of Westminster Tories, and Tory-Lites, line the pockets of the wealthy with the misery of the struggling. Enough of that.

We’re often told by the Tories and their imitators that we have slipped into a ‘something for nothing’ culture. No – we’ve been pulled into a ‘something for the misery of others’ culture by those selfish enough to continue to tweak it and improve it’s efficiency – to hell with the consequences for those at the bottom.

But we can put a stop to that next September, and thereafter. And there must be a thereafter, because a Yes vote is just the beginning. But without it, we are effectively pissing in the wind.

Third Time’s a Charm…

In 1979, 51.6% of voters chose to change the way Scotland was governed, to pull back some powers to Scotland itself. But it didn’t happen because of an amendment by George Cunningham – a Labour MP representing a constituency not even in Scotland – which required that that majority had to be above 40% of the total electorate.

Some chose apathy – they won.

In 1979, the then UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, said of even a No vote: “It will open a way for all parties to explore together a lasting alternative arrangement…”.

image

The Herald, 28th February '79

The Tories actively campaigned for a No vote, claiming devolution would be too expensive, too bureaucratic, too bothersome…

Despite the pro-assembly side actually securing a majority, Cunningham’s amendment meant it was defeated, and Thatcher slammed the door shut on that ‘open’ ‘way’ as soon as the results were in. 

EIGHTEEN YEARS later, a change of government sees New Labour elected, and the promise of a new referendum.

The Tories again campaign en masse for a No vote, only this time they really lose. But they’re happy enough to take seats at Holyrood, of course… and they say “oh, it’s not all that bad after all!”.

In 2011, Scottish Tory leadership hopeful, Ruth Davidson, says that the current devolution arrangements are a “line in the sand”. She won’t support further devolution if her party pick her to lead them. They picked her.

In 2012, Cameron says that further tax powers cannot be devolved to Holyrood.

It’s 2013 now, and both Cameron and Davidson have changed their tune. A full 180 degrees in 1-2 years. Now they’re ‘looking into’ further devolved powers for Holyrood, knowing full well that the overwhelming majority of Scots do want at least increased responsibility at Holyrood. Cameron doesn’t seem to know if he’s in the debate or not, and Davidson’s ‘line in the sand’ is all at sea.

So it’s “Never!”… a quick glance at the polls… a ‘promise’.

Just like in 1979.
Just like in 1999.

Third time lucky?

Or how about three strikes and you’re out?