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Scottish Elections

So, we’re in the electioneering period now for the Scottish parliamentary elections and the press is going full on unionist.

I have been a LibDem voter and member my entire adult life. There is only 1 election which I haven’t voted LibDem and that was the Westminster GE in December 2019. That time I “loaned” my vote to the SNP.

I will be doing similar this time. I will be voting SNP in the representative column and Greens in the Party list PR column.

Since 2016, hardening in 2019, I see Scotland’s brightest future outside of the UK. UK politics is dominated by England. This is obvious because it has far the largest population. However, the direction of travel, apparently, for the English electorate is further to the right while I am firmly a social democrat. I believe I the Scandinavian model of high taxation/high investment which I believe creates a happy, healthy, supportive society.

I am opting for SNP/Greens as they are overtly campaigning on an independent independence ticket. I think there has been a fundamental shift since 2014 and the question needs asking again. I value my European citizenship, stolen from me, far more than I value by UK citizenship so the break up of the UK is, in my opinion, necessary and due.

I hope the SNP manage an actual majority in Holyrood and that the momentum for independence continues. The Tories are worried. They have no viable political leadership in Scotland now. They have a liability in London and have broken promise after promise.

The claims that now is not the time for a divisive referendum I think is wrong. If not now, when? We’re coming out of a worldwide shock. The whole world needs to change. Surely now is exactly the time. Surely independence now means we can forge the path we want as we rebuild from the double whammy of Brexit and Covid.

Now is the time and now is the hour.

To people who argue the SNP have been incompetent. There are many areas in which I agree. But, incompetence in trying to do the right thing is better than incompetence when trying to line the pickets of the rich! Until we achieve Independent nationhood we will have an SNP government. Once we achieve independence, we can re-address who we want to lead us and I suspect, the major centrist parties will embrace the new status and will see power spread across the board. I don’t believe an independent Scotland will have permanent SNP government, I see a rising Lab/Lib support kicking I’m very quickly as the differences between the parties focus on policy not ideology.

The Tories, I suspect, will still struggle to have relevance. Possibly even more so.

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H&M

The Royal family is dysfunctional. No question. I have deep admiration and respect for the Queen. She was born in a different age and had conducted herself honourably for her entire life. But . . .

Do we need a monarchy? No. Is the monarchy truly representative of modern Britain? Well?

I think there is a significant difference in opinion based on age. No surprise there. And I think I am at the age where things start to change. I think most people younger than me wouldn’t call themselves. Monarchists and don’t see the value in them. Those older than me probably couldn’t countenance the idea of becoming a Republic.

Surely this whole debacle with Harry and Megan shows how impossible the Royals position is. Harry has served his country in combat, has worked hard to promote veteran support. And fell in love with someone who didn’t fit the mould. They have had nothing but negative press since and have been driven out of the UK and still hounded. They can’t live normal lives because of who they are so the opportunity to interview with Oprah would be too good to miss. The utter vitriol they have been subjected to has been disgusting.

I suspect it is another area where the English electorate in general differs from the Celtic nations and is another reason why the political union is under strain and needs to be broken before serious harm is caused.

I certainly have no respect for Charles and fail to see how and why he should be our Head of State. And the idea of a man the age of my nephew being my “ruler” purely because of birth is ridiculous.

I have always thought of myself as a “soft” royalist. I’m not especially keen on the institution but couldn’t see how an elected Head of State (political or figurehead) would be better or cheaper. Now I’m not so sure and I do think that when the Queen dies I suspect I’ll move over to the replicas camp. Hopefully Scotland will be independent by then anyway so it won’t be an issue.

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SNP Implosion?

It’s been a while so I wonder if anyone is still listening? Anyway, I’m back and will, once again, try and post regularly.

Since I last posted we have had the debacle of Christmas, the continued mishandling of the pandemic by the Westminster government and the calm assurances of the First Minister.

Just recently, the press has been full of the ongoing saga of the Alex Salmond inquiry. Last week Nicola Sturgeon spent 8 hours in parliament answering questions on this total non-story. Interestingly, the papers, and the BBC (Bravely Broadcasting for the Conservatives) were full of commentary about how, if she was found to have mislead parliament she would have to resign. This was being pushed by both Tory and Labour leaders!

Really, The Scottish Tory leadership calling for the resignation of a politician who may have made some procedural mistakes! After Priti Awful’s bullying and recdent 6 figure settlement, Matt Hancock’s breaking of the law over procurement, Gavin Williamson’s basic incompetence and Boris’s constant lies, untruths and exagerations. How can they be so hypocritical?

Oh, that’s right, they’re Tories. Do as I say, we are the natural party of government and all the plebs should no their place. Is it purely coincidental that this is all coming a couple of months before the Scottish elections? Hmm, let me think.

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BBC News: Higher exams to be cancelled for Scottish pupils

BBC News – Higher exams to be cancelled for Scottish pupils https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-55230774

At last, the decision we were expecting. In my case, my students would have been ready for the exams in summer but another covid case causing students to lose 2 more weeks would change that in an instant.

I think this is a good decision and is better to have been made now rather than in February but would have allowed us to better organise arrangements if it had been made in October.

I’d really like this to signal the start of the end of formal exams as the main method of qualification and allow us to move down a more balanced mix of coursework, extended supervised assignments, on-line tests and traditional exams. A hybrid that allows students to demonstrate their skills across a range of assessments and doesn’t disadvantage those who really struggle with exams despite having solid knowledge, understanding and skills. There’s a whole lot of people out there who have been labelled failures simply because their style of learning doesn’t allow them to pass exams.

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Tory misgovernment

When he was elected with an “oven ready” deal why has it come down to the wire to agree our future trading relationships with the EU. I remain absolutely appalled by the ideological cavalierism of the current Tory government. For the sake of fishing, an industry which brings a few hundred million into the economy at best producing a product which few Britons consume, they’ve abandoned the automotive industry, the commercial aerospace industry, the banking, insurance and business services industry, the performing arts industry and the tertiary education industry.

They are charlatans of the greatest magnitude and I am tired of hearing the blame for the disaster to come placed at the feet of the EU, Remainers or the Opposition.

There’s a meme going round at the moment showing the political aims of the National Front in the 1970s and it is a frightening sign of how far to the right our country has drifted that they are unseperable from the current Tory aims.

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The Great British illusion

So, this week I have hit rock bottom in my despair over this nations fixation with our exceptionalism.

It started with Matt Hancock trumpeting the vaccine approval as a triumph of Brexit and statements about Britain leading the world. The vaccine is a result of international collaboration and we have used existing EU regulations around emergency procedures to fast track the approval.

The vaccine is something to celebrate. In the words of WLSC “it is not the end of the virus, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it might be the end of the beginning”. But, it should not be a reason to parrot nationalistic “we’re better than you” playground taunts.

Following this I have just noticed the number of programmes on TV which are titled “The Great British . . . ” we’ve got Bake Off, of course. But there’s a whole raft of other Great British programmes which may once have been a fun play of the geographical name of these islands but now, to me, seem to be aimed at giving permission to narrow minded people to continue to think they’re somehow better than others. The problems facing the world will not be solved by countries trumpeting their own greatness and living on their fading pasts but of nations putting difference aside, celebrating our shared values and working together for the betterment of everyone.

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BBC News: Newspaper headlines: ‘Tiers of rage and disbelief’ as ‘north sees red’

BBC News – Newspaper headlines: ‘Tiers of rage and disbelief’ as ‘north sees red’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-55096416

Well, that announcement went well for him didn’t it! So much for levelling up. So much for his Northern wall seats.

The sad thing is, tough lockdown rules are needed now because he’s been too late to act several times in the past and I see a full, or near full, lockdown coming in the new year due to the Christmas easing. That’ll go down really badly and will be resisted by the lunatic right wing of his party but, again, wi be the right call even though it’ll be a direct result of his government’s failings up to now.

Scotland isn’t much better off but at least we have a leader who is calm, clear, detailed and humble when explaining the rules.

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Spending Review

So, Rishi Sunak presented his spending review and the Tories revert back to their attack on the public sector. A pay freeze takes money out of the pockets of millions, reducing their ability to spend within the economy and thus stilting any possible recovery. The justification? Those in the private sector have had difficulties. Yes, they have. But many have received billions in dodgy contracts for PPE and other services. It’s not about fairness, it’s about a hatred of public service.

He said at one point that this is the biggest government spend in 40 years. That takes us back to the start of the Thatcher years so he accepts government investment has been low since the rot set in under her.

He avoided any mention of the economic hit coming from Brexit, Covid will provide the cover they need for the destruction they are causing.

The national debt rises massively under Tory leadership. This has been the case right through austerity and shines a light on the lie of economically responsible Tories as opposed to wasteful Labour.

There’s no chance, in my opinion, that this government will do anything that genuinely helps Britain recover. I think they’ll all end up running away when the real damage happens next year and someone else will have to pick up the pieces.

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Vaccine priority

Here’s my thoughts for the vaccine priority :

  • NHS staff (including ambulance service staff)
  • Care workers
  • The most vulnerable groups
  • Public transport workers
  • Teachers
  • Food shop workers
  • The general population in descending age order.
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Winter of Discontent?

Are we perhaps heading towards a winter of discontent? A perfect storm of disappointment and dissatisfaction in this dogs breakfast of a government? Why do I think this?

  • Priti Patel has been shown to be a bully and was protected during anti-bullying week.
  • Brexit is going to hit the country hard in January.
  • The virus could very well hit back hard in January if restrictions are lifted for Christmas.
  • Any vaccine will be rationed, initially, and there’ll be discussion, debate and anger over the allocation
  • Unemployment will continue to rise due to the double hit of the pandemic and Brexit
  • Food prices will rise due to Brexit
  • Public sector pay freeze will hit key workers hard.

Boris is not going to get his feel good bounce for some time yet. It will only take a few angry protests to spark of poll tax type riots in the Spring I suspect.