Thursday, 7 September 2017

Andrew O'Hagan

Good lord, a real shot in the arm for the Nationalist Project - the esteemed Andrew O'Hagan, novelist, announced at the Edinburgh Book Festival that he's noo all for separation.

But from his speech, how do you square this -
"I have never believed writers should have anything to do with governments, and should never hitch their intellectual freedom to the shifting agendas of political parties, or the careers of those looking for votes.
I believed Alexander Solzenitzyn, many years ago, when he said that governments should be nervous of writers because each writer is a government in himself. The egotism of writers and that of politicians could scarcely be more different. What politicians want is power and what writers want — if they’re any good — is the truth beyond the facts, and to increase our capacity for wonder."
 and this - 
"If Mr Salmond had thought more about the currency question and less about how to unfurl a saltire flag over the Centre Court at Wimbledon, we might be standing now in the independent republic of Scotland"
with what follows in his own speech?
It's a quite remarkable imaginative tract, but that's all it is. Looked at rationally, it's all too easy to condemn it as a mass of woolly thinking, with huge dollops of romanticism. I don't expect O'Hagan to think about the currency question, but if he sets himself up as a seer and a leader we might expect that he at least gives it a bit of thought.
Enough of that, let's have some nuggets!

In my view, in the Internet of Things, Scotland is due to become one of the world’s strongest digital republics, a place whose institutions are daily enhanced and purified not only by the life of the country but by the life of all countries. We could one day be part of a neural network whose strongest boundaries are decency and goodness. The laws of Scotland will one day be both discreet and universal; right for the people of Leith, augmented by brilliance, and right for the people of Calcutta, restored and revised every minute in according to what we know and decide. 
That'll be a hard one to get through the Holyrood sub-committees - decency and goodness! Bless!

Scotland, your Scotland, is in the earliest days of a digital renaissance, when its greatest thinkers — David Hume, Adam Ferguson, Adam Smith, Francis Hutcheson — are redeployed to address the questions of rights and responsibilities in the coming age of artificial intelligence, and where new thinkers, as yet unborn, will address what it means to be a Scottish person with Scottish instincts in a world of code and algorithms and digital money, in an endlessly open society of nations, Scotland teaching the world perhaps how to author a new Gettysburg Address for Peace; showing the globe — with historical examples — how to author a Vindication of the Rights of Robots.
 Look, I'm going to stop there - the above is just lovely but as close to meaningless as it's possible to get. "Scotland" can author a new Gettysburg? If it's possible for a nation to author speeches (I'm not clear about that) then what exactly is stopping us now? You want to bring back a border across an island to errr become endlessly open? As for Scottish people, with Scottish instincts ... so very inclusive, dontcha think?    

Monday, 12 June 2017

The missing half million

Well what a turn up for the books - Corbyn storms across the finishing line! Not as winner but that gap fairly came down. As for the hapless May, if she had few allies before, well, she’s got fewer noo.  What a fabulous fuck up. From hubris to humiliation, as the Guardian said.

 Up here of course, the main result was the SNP down from their historic high last time to 37% - and a remarkable upsurge in the Tory vote. I guess that’s a bit different from down south - Sturgeon remarkably continued overplaying her hand pushing another referendum and suffered the backlash. Why that is, when surely her own focus groups told her that it was a vote-loser, is something of a mystery.
Her diehard supporters might have liked her boasting in Leith the day before the election that the SNP was the party of Corbyn, but that really isn’t a message that goes down well in the Mearns, shall we say. And of course, the said same diehards were quick out the traps to lay the blame. After their vote collapsed by nearly half a million votes. Where? Kezia Dugdale of course! She told Labour voters to vote Tor! And so another nationalist narrative is sent off running, garnering momentum. Absolute nonsense, of course.  She'd previously said this -

KEZIA Dugdale wants Tory and LibDem supporters to help Labour oust SNP MPs, but not the other way round.
As she launched the party’s Scottish Manifesto, Ms Dugdale said in seats where Labour is the best placed to defeat the SNP voters should “think before they vote”.
However where where the Tories or LibDems are in a better position than Labour she told her party’s supporters to still vote Labour.
Clear enough?
Later in the campaign, when asked specifically how voters should best vote to defeat the SNP, she answered Sky News - 

“The reality is the vast majority of seats across Scotland, it’s only the Labour party that can beat the SNP. There are a few differences in the Borders and the Highlands where the Tories might be better placed but right across Scotland’s centre belt, where the vast majority of Scotland’s population lives, the only party that can beat the SNP is the Labour party.”
And that becomes Kezia telling Labour voters to vote Tory!


Those Local Elections May 2017

I recall them well - not as bad a result as we feared and indeed, clear signs of something more, as I posted on the Herald at the time (I know, I'm a bore) -

To be serious and reflective, don't the results show that NS's strategy of building independence by converting the SNP to a social democratic Party has reached its limit? In other words, she's done a good job at getting labour voters on board, but a sizeable number of labour people will stay with the UK Party for all sorts of reasons.
Meanwhile that strategy has to demonise the right wing faction in Scotland who only have a home in the Tories. How does she propose to win these fiscally and socially conservative elements to independence? She has no strategy for this at all, and her supporters, by vilifying their fellow Scots, are being hugely counterproductive.
She's shown her limitations - brought up in Glasgow, she thinks that all she needs is to garner labour votes. She's gone right up a dead end there.

Of course, I was wrong, she's from Ayrshire.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The God Parallel

Not that this post is about him, but it's such a toe-curler it had to be included -

What is the real problem with the Nationalist upsurge in Scotland? There are some who genuinely believe that it has kicked politics into life in Scotland, brought involvement and engagement. It's certainly brought involvement and engagement, but in politics? What we really need to talk about? I would say exactly the opposite - that it's smothered and obscured the real issues.

Everywhere across the developed world there is a growing problem - simply it's the impact of globalisation; on our productive capacity, which impacts our revenues, which impacts our ability to properly fund our welfare system. Hence the crisis in social democracy and the rise of extremism of left and right.

Now, this challenge is the number one issue everywhere except in one place. In our sad homeland, we don't need to worry about it! Because it's all Westminster's fault. We need look no further. We just need to agitate against Westminster. 

Hence the God parallel - intelligent people may wish to attempt to answer the question as to how the universe began. With scientific endeavour, we can look at sub atomic particles, at the very fabric of space and time.  But is we posit a God, we need look no further. Just worship God.

And the question as to where God came from - *blank looks* It's rather like saying once we have independence how do we address the impact of globalisation? Sorry, we don't do that sort of thing - this is Scotland. Indyref2 is what we discuss.


Well, congratulations indeed to MS Sturgeon for getting on a list of the leading global thinkers of 2016 in "respected" global affairs magazine Foreign Policy.  Apparently this was in recognition for 'weathering Brexit.' I'm weathering it myself, though I modestly won't expect a gong.

However, I strongly disagree. This woman is not in any way a global thinker. She's someone who joined a nationalist party at 16 to bang on and on about her nationalist cause and there she's sat. She hated Westminster when it was run by Tories, when it was run by Labour, and when it was run by an alliance of Lib Dems and Tories. Her 'global thinking' goes no further than Carlisle. #parochialthinker

Sunday, 16 October 2016

That Norwegian Oil Fund

To Noroway! to Noroway!
to Noroway oer the faem!
this blog is a visual stunner
OK, that's enough of that.

I'm talking about the Norwegian State Oil Fund - a marvellous marvellous thing apparently, whereas us feckless Brits have just spent the lot. On booze and fags, probably.
Well, let's just have the tiniest bit of democratic scrutiny. We start getting oil rich in the 70s. We'd already had a balance of payment crisis in the 60s. Our infrastructure needs investment. Our public service demands are growing and growing - we want to build new universities; there are demands to dual the A74.
So as an elected politician you have a choice - do these things or else set up a wealth fund. That's right, put your money into foreign equities, like Nestle and Micrsosoft - as Norway has done. You money effectively invested abroad, instead of in your own country. Sure, in good years you'll get a dividend.
Of course poor old Norway had no choice - it had to invest abroad - it only has 5m people and too much money. It's like Qatar - reduced to buying up prime real estate in London.

Labour's Terminal Crisis

Well, that's the title of a piece by Kerevan in the National on 26th September. And I think it's deserving of a bit of scrutiny as Kerevan is no fool. One could quibble with the title of course as Labour are now the largest political party in Europe, but few could argue that the additional text - "crisis is shared by social democratic parties across Europe" was inaccurate.

Kerevan nails it (no marks for orginality but it's bang on) -
The central cause of this international eclipse of traditional reformist parliamentary movements lies in global economic change – and the failure of mainstream social democracy to adjust. In the last quarter century, manufacturing jobs shifted to Asia while the dizzying rise of financial capitalism in Europe and America created a need for hordes of well-educated service workers. As a result, the industrial working class base of the traditional mass social democratic parties was destroyed.
What is astonishing about the rest of the article is how quickly it runs into sand. It goes absolutely nowhere. Rather, he just want to delight in the 'demise' of Labour (a bitterness somewhere in that psyche?).

He states that a new progressive voting alliance could have been sought by the traditional social democratic left ....   and bingo....  just such a movement was created very successfully in Scotland, by the SNP.

Well no one is going to argue that the SNP aren't a successful voting alliance. An alliance of people who want to do something but they're not sure what. Once George has marched at the head of the flag waving gang to the top of the hill, what's going to happen?

Here's a clue - Blair and Brown’s Faustian pact with the bankers and neoliberalism has led to electoral doom – a fate shared by most Western mainstream social democrats. Now the global neoliberal model is on life-support, held together only temporarily by quantitative easing.

OK, no more Faustian pact! The SNP are a Socialist Party. Real Socialism. State control. Funny that they keep that quiet. I think I'd like to hear more of this programme. Should I submit a FOI request?