The End of Times

Some good news to start…the relaunch of Newsnet is imminent. We’ve undergone a transformation – OK, a website redesign – and opened up the original site to more content with a heavy focus on reader-led content, both in citizen journalism and in being a forum for what you are thinking.

Details will follow but we are taking the successful template and broadening the output into all areas of current affairs, not just politics, while maintaining our commitment to the Yes movement. Our aim – to be an essential part of your information toolkit heading into the general election in May – all based at newsnet.scot.

We want a deeper engagement with the site’s followers including subscription (to keep us on the road), ideas, articles and images – both photos and video – and will issue invitations to events we will stage. I’ll keep you informed.

You’ll even find this blog on the site. (I think the marketing people call this cross-fertilisation and many of you have made plain you already link the blog with fertiliser).

On which point, there is much talk of a continuing rift in our politics and for the need to reach a rapprochement. Gerry Hassan has laid out a plan for how we conduct a new politics (some of which I even understood).

Now I agree with a lot of this. First, there clearly is a divide which is what the referendum was all about and that chasm cannot be crossed in any short-term amicable arrangement of ‘agreeing to disagree’. The divide was exactly what the referendum was about – some of us believe in Scotland and put it first and some of us believe Britain is pre-eminent and takes precedence. I’m not sure how you compromise on that because if you ask: are we supposed to believe that after a Yes vote, Ian Davidson, Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy and Michael Kelly would give up the Union and offer their efforts to making independence work, I think we know the answer. They would have to appear to do so, of course but isn’t it more likely they would point to every mishap and say they told us so? In fact, the truth is that Unionism is already doing that after a No vote by revelling in the falling oil price and linking it – inaccurately – to independence.

But we shouldn’t be afraid of core disagreements and instead embrace the areas where there is understanding by putting the acrimony to one side. Democracy decided that there will not be independence – until there is a material change in circumstance – and the job now is to get the very best deal and strive to make it work. But how do you ‘put it to one side’ when you read revealing detail in the Guardian and the Telegraph of how they constructed a programme of deceit and misinformation and deliberately used fear to win the day?

Has anyone – like the Daily Mail’s Jim Murphy – explained why they did that? Can they tell us why their love of – whatever it is…the British state, Westminster, Churchill, the Archers…is so important that they had to create what m’learned friends in the High Court used to call ‘a tissue of lies’?

Would it not make sense to have public hearings in which the key participants tell their side of the story to the people rather than the journalists and in a forum where they can be challenged. Did you know for example that Alastair Campbell (another Iraq warmonger, whatever his other credentials) was advising Better Together? Did he disclose that to Salmond before interviewing him for GQ magazine in which Salmond’s honest assessment of Putin was blurbed by the mag as a pro-Russian endorsement?

Can we have an explanation from the Palace for the Queen’s deliberate snub to constitutional impartiality by allowing a campaign group to put words in her mouth?

Will NATO officials unburden on how they agreed to follow UK diktat and pretend Scotland would be barred from membership? Would you like to know what was the genesis of the Barroso politicking now debunked by all informed observers?

Look how key institutions in public life have been debased and in some cases destroyed in our eyes as mere tools of the Establishment and pretty incompetent ones at that…the Civil Service, once revered for neutrality, now exposed as a political front for British interests against the Scots and awarding themselves prizes for so doing (confirming that this charade of neutrality is a trend dating back to McCrone); the Treasury, whose head publicly joined the Unionist Front politicians to deny the Scots access to their own currency; the CBI (I fall on the floor and I laughing); ‘The Business Community’, the men and women who put profit before people and country; the Financial Sector, ditto; the BBC, reduced under the spotlight to a steaming pile of self-preservation and threat; the Labour Party, too Establishment and too stupid to foresee its own downfall.

The kind of healing that is being sought involves forgetting what they did and forgiving a campaign that sunk to previously unknown depths of mendacity and intimidation in a toxic mix of self-serving, anti-Scottish gesture politics that temporarily saved their skins while destroying the credibility of all involved. Who emerged with credit and is now rewarded? Labour? The Lib Dems? The Tories? Is the British state enriched by the experience?

It is because their campaign was a revolting mess of corporate money, landowning interests, dodgy businessmen, careerist academics and supercilious politicians without principle that history is even now according them the contempt they deserve.

I will always work with anyone who wants genuinely to improve Scotland (although Smith, like Calman, is not nearly the answer – both suffer from foetal inadequacy syndrome). But it will be done with civility rather than warmth as the stench they created in the name of Union will linger long.

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Is That The Time?

Season’s greetings and good wishes to all – Yes, Don’t Know and No’s (but I’ll never forgive you).

I suppose we’re meant to be despondent as the year of opportunity passes and leaves us where we started…as a region of a country where all the major decisions affecting our lives are made by people for whom we are not a priority.

But I just can’t do it. My default mode is confidence and optimism, my only regret is that we didn’t leap free cleanly and decisively. But I am now part of something bigger, something creative which is weaving a serpentine pattern on our democracy and subtly rearranging it into shapes we didn’t previously imagine and leaving us uncertain of the final picture.

It’s clear that we won’t stay the same, that the earth tremors continue as aftershock, unpredictable and disconcerting. For example, I find it hard to believe the Scotland opinion polling giving over 40 per cent to the SNP will remain firm in a British election campaign. I just can’t. All my life experience has been that Labour commands an unshakable influence over generations of working class Scots many of whom voted out of peer-imposed obligation rather than support for policy. Sometimes it seemed to be a force of nature that drove staring-eyed followers to the polling station – 2010 when Cameron (sort of) won in England, the SNP were the Holyrood administration and yet in Scotland Labour ended up with exactly the same seats from 2005 (41).

And yet…even Professor Curtice is endorsing the numbers to the extent that they may be disguising an unusual blip which shows disillusion with Labour higher and deeper in strongly Labour areas which (follow me) means that the uniform swing may actually work against Labour holding seats, whereas normally it doesn’t allow for the individual character in some constituencies. If this holds true, then there is nothing to stop the dam bursting and places where even the local opposition are perennially sure of defeat will change hands. What then?

Here’s another. I have conflicting views of Labour’s chances across the UK because 1) when the heat is on, most voters follow the taste principle and forget all about policy, party and the past and simply have a sniff and a wee sip of the leader’s elixir. Is he fit for it? Will he do? And I am convinced Ed won’t do – in fact neither Ed will do.

2) I’m begining to think the Tories are now so extreme that even some of their own support might desert them. They have flipped from the green and consensual to the greedy and censorious. They are truly toxic again and have taken the bash-the-poor policy too far for what the Telegraph would call decent British people. How do these two ideas play against each other in the polling booth?

I think whatever shape Westminster government takes, there will be much talk of separatism and division – caused by infuriated English opinion with anti-Scottish and anti-European undercurrents. We will find out next year just who the real separatists are. Throughout the indyref any mention of England or English people was met with demands to know: Why do you hate the English? And You’re Anglophobic! Well, get ready for a torrent of nakedly anti-Scottish sentiment to make a ScotNat blush.

I believe we can finally wave farewell to the Lib Dems in 2015 – at least as any credible force because if those that survive enter an agreement with the Tories again (especially since they are now denouncing their Tory partners as extremists). I fear it will bring forth a new working class militancy which could rupture Labour and may well instead feed UKIP in the absence of any political home, while in Scotland feeding more fodder to the SNP beast.

Just how an SNP deal with Labour as biggest party would operate to their advantage is tricky because you become closely identified with the governing party and their worst policies and what may seem logical at the start can quickly become a liability. When votes of confidence arise you can be propping up not just a government but some pretty odious policies too. Mind you, it would keep Jim Murphy in a key role, if he stands again for Westminster and if he wins. He would be a key go-between for Edinburgh and London, a role he would relish as it keeps him in the public eye.

Since it is now five days ago I should say I tweeted about Murphy during the George Square tragedy because I found my hackles rising as I read he was being interviewed across the media about an accident he wasn’t involved in. He was on television and in newspaper online pages and appearing on Twitter so much I couldn’t get past his name to the story (or so it seemed). I don’t care what party he is, there is a gift in owing when politics is irrelevant and counter productive and in knowing what you’re role is and what it isn’t.

As far as I could see he was a minimum of 100 metres away and probably twice or three times that in a different street with no view. When he tweeted about it happening it was a full hour afterwards, leaving the question: What was the purpose of the tweet? The first thing it does of course is alert the media to his proximity. (This may not have been his intention which was to alert members of the public and express his concern). But it would be naïve of him not to anticipate a media reaction. What then should have been his response? Should he have agreed to interviews or should he have demurred on the grounds he wasn’t present, wasn’t in government, didn’t represent the area and had no locus?

Who has locus? Well, Gordon Matheson for sure as council leader, the transport or local government minister certainly, either FM or deputy FM or the local MSP/MP…all could reasonably have something meaningful to say.

The politicians who got this right in my view were Willie Bain who had walked through the square 15 minutes earlier and who gave a grave and respectful interview but didn’t place himself in the story as such, and Ruth Davidson who was quick to tweet from, I think Argyle Street, commending the emergency services and expressing sorrow but not heading to the area to get in the way.

I went on to the Herald site and the first story said roughly: Jim Murphy was carrying a load of Christmas presents in Buchanan Street when…(the crash happened). I found that unbelievable given the real story. This type of irrelevant detail is for a retrospective piece recalling what happened, not within hours of a mass tragedy. But it speaks to the symbiotic relationship Murphy enjoys with the media, as if he has a media identity larger than an MP. It is almost as if he has his own persona that transcends relevance and indeed so it proved with Sky News who billed him as the First Minister.

I don’t doubt for a moment the genuine human concern that a decent man like Murphy feels in this case, but there is a tendency for some to imagine themselves at the heart of public life irrespective of the occasion and to think that because reporters ask them, they must therefore seek out the microphone. This is a mistake as Alex Salmond will aver. Was it not the Unionists like Murphy who berated him for camera chasing? In his desire to dominate the airwaves, Jim Murphy must be careful not to outstay his welcome. No doubt in a day or two we will also discover what his favourite book of the year was or his recipe for brownies as the Hogmanay papers scrape the barrel.

The public quickly tires of the perennial publicity seeker. Still, a prosperous (but not too successful) New Year to him and to all of you. I thought 2014 was to be our year but it turns out it may be 2015 instead.

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A Lib Dem Writes

There is a tone of admonition in the air as vituperative Yes language lights up Twitter, often reflecting the deep distrust and naked dislike of Jim Murphy. Both Iain McWhirter today and Gerry Hassan think its going too far and is counter-productive because it fuels the idea that nationalists are either extremist or thugs – the perception ironically created by Murphy himself, among others. First he provoked and then ran away when he got a reaction. ‘Look – a mob organised by the Yes campaign’ he shouted in just one of many clear made-up slavers that are his hallmark. Wings captures another today from his havering on TV about SNP and Labour membership.

Jim can’t help himself because he has learned that he can say virtually anything he likes and he won’t be challenged by journalists. The trick is to get a message out there via STV, the BBC or the craven Press and by the time somebody does question it, it’s too late. He knows it works because his voters don’t bother to check and he knows Labour’s unspoken mantra – the voters never remember. That’s why Labour, as Paul Sinclair said, take Scotland (and Scots) for granted. It’s how it’s always been and former socialist George Foulkes was doing it again yesterday with a message on Radio Scotland for voters to forget the SNP in the General Election and vote Labour to get rid of the Tories. This tired and disproved slogan has worked for decades as Labour treated its support with contempt believing them too unintelligent to have minds of their own – or even to check if it’s true. But it’s not working so well now and that’s their bind – the voters have had their eyes opened to who really works with the Tories and whose major policies like macro economics, foreign affairs and defence are near identical.

I don’t like some of the terms of abuse I see. But, know what? I ignore them and move on, just as I do if there something on my television I don’t like, which is often. The fact is that people don’t talk like columnists or studio presenters and what you see on Twitter is much closer to the slang of the streets. Unattractive, maybe, but do we really need the Queensberry rules for our debate? Isn’t Murphy calling nationalists thugs just as bad? Isn’t Lamont terming us a virus worse than Red Tory? And if I’m not mistaken Nick Clegg launched a deeply personal and insulting attack on Alex Salmond, reported today. So why so coy?

Every organisation has outriders and people are wise enough to know it. No one voice, and certainly not abusive trollers, represents any one argument and I don’t believe any potential Yes supporters will be scared off. After all, is insulting a politician worse than a politician claiming, as Murphy does, that the Iraq war would have been different ‘if only he’d known the facts’? This is the coward’s way out – pretending ignorance when the UN, Hans Blix and a million marchers were screaming the truth at them. How many died in Murphy’s war? How many suffered? How damaged is a country? To wheedle out by select subterfuge is an insult to every Iraqi and to every dead soldier AND to Rose Gentle and the others whose families he helped destroy. Against that, who cares about ‘The 45″ or ‘Red Tory’ jibes?

Some perspective is required before we scorn and deter the newly-politicised who surf Twitter. And here  it comes not from a Nat but from one of Murphy’s Unionist friends, the Liberal candidate in  Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill, Andrew Page.  It was written in August and provides what I believe is the required balance.

http://scottish-liberal.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/jim-murphy-halts-speaking-tour.html

Jim Murphy halts speaking tour – a calculated over-reaction?
It has been announced that Labour MP Jim Murphy has cancelled his pro-Union 100 Towns in 100 Days tour of Scotland due to “intimidation”.

Murphy has been taking his message around Scottish towns for the last few weeks, in jingositic fashion replacing the traditional soapbox with a Irn Bru crate.

Yesterday, while addressing the public in Kirkcaldy, Murphy was hit by three eggs. A photographer was also threatened, on account of “being English”.

This should not be welcome in Scottish politics. Throwing eggs and threatening is hardly the hallmark of a healthy democracy.

Murphy told The Guardian: “What is happening is that the yes campaign is now organising to create a mob atmosphere at our street meetings. It’s co-ordinated, it’s determined and it’s increasingly aggressive. What started as individual passionate nationalists having their say has changed into angry mobs of nationalists coming along and making sure that no one else has their say… instead of undecided voters being encouraged to stop and take part in the debate, those who ask genuine questions are being interrogated by yes campaigners.”

It is an inescapable fact that the campaigning has often been less respectful that it could be. One the the first influences in determining my own decision to vote yes was a cartoon from my own party blackening up the First Minister. And we’ve experienced much worse since then, from both sides – and from none. it should be pointed out that individuals who feel strongly about issues do not necessarily belong formally to any of the rival campaign organisations.

The scenes yesterday were ugly, that much is true. But uglier still, from the viewpoint of furthering Scottish democracy, has been the attempt by Better Together to suggest that Yes Scotland have co-ordinated such attacks intentionally, and that such tactics demonstrate the undemocratic nature of what Scotland would look like if independent. The smears are no more civilised that the egg-hurling, but the difference is that those making accusations of Yes Scotland, and drawing unreasonable conclusions, are either officials of Better Together or people who I would normally credit with sufficient intelligence to appreciate that the actions of a tiny minority have little relation to the attitudes of the majority. It’s disturbing to see some buying into the myth that the idiotic antics of a few are suggestive of the nature of an independent Scotland. (I’d probably point out that, in any case, cultures and societal attitudes are generally not determined by constitutional arrangements, and that the same intolerant persons would still be here regardless of the outcome of the vote.)

We could all look at a picture of the Westboro Baptist Church, with their hate-filled slogans written on poorly constructed banners, and think “stupid Americans” or “typical Christians”. But in doing so we would, by resorting to such ridiculous simplicities, miss the bigger picture and the actions of the many in America and within the church who are working to facilitate a more inclusive society. The same is true in Scotland. There have been individuals supporting both Yes Scotland and Better Together who have behaved shamefully, but the respective campaigns (for all the shortcomings I’ve often documented on this blog) are not actively encouraging mob rule.
It must be said that this kind of thing is not exactly new to British politics. In the 1992 General Election, John Major took to the streets. Hounded everywhere by Labour supporters (who behaved in much the same way as Murphy’s detractors; hecking, shouting over him and generally making a nuisance of themselves) he too was hit by a well-aimed egg. His response, showing courage in the face of intimidation, (“I will not be shouted off the streets”) helped win him the 1992 election. Stunts like this are usually counter-productive, and usually only succeed in gaining public sympathy for the target.

Murphy understands this fully, and has the political nous to use it fully to his advantage. For all the talk of police concern for Murphy’s safety, the scenes in Kirkcaldy were no worse than previous attacks on politicians – and certainly not as concerning as the attack on John Prescott in Hull in 2001. Are the Yes supporters, for all their noise and bluster, really any worse than the Labour supporting mobs who followed the Tories around in the 1980s and 1990s?

Murphy thrives on conflict and the adversarial. He’s a hugely provocative figure. His personal style and outspoken nature means he will always be the kind of politician targeted by mobs. But he’s a man of tremendous strength, and the notion that he’s the kind of person likely to be intimidated is laughable. He does understand, however, the value of playing the victim and painting his opposition as tolerant of underhand and intimidatory tactics.

It’s important to maintain a sense of perspective and not to deduce too much significance from the fact that some people, irrespective of their political tribe, behave disrespectfully towards others. Hecklers have been a common feature of political discourse for centuries and actually are the sign of a healthy and thriving democracy. During the 2011 election campaign, as a candidate for Renfrewshire North and West, I attended a TUC hustings meeting at which there was both a healthy level of interjection and banter from the floor and a regrettable tendency by some to attempt to bully SNP candidate Derek Mackay. I’m not opposed to those who don’t share Murphy’s views challenging them in the most public of public forums, although there should never be a need for dissent to be expressed in uncivil ways. It appears that lines have been crossed, but to draw unfair conclusions about Yes Scotland and to overstate the security threat is an irresponsible over-reaction – albeit one that has undoubtedly been cynically calculated.

Willie Rennie claims that this shows the need to “stand up to the nationalist thugs”. It does not. It shows the need to stand up for a better way of doing politics. He could, and should, have used more temperate language. I have only once experienced seriously thuggish behaviour – when I was my brother’s agent in Blackburn in local elections that were essentially an straight BNP v Labour battle. The respective campaigns, and the inevitable animosity (culminating in brawls, allegations of voter intimidation and a ballot box somehow going on fire), were so poisonous as to make the worst cybernat appear positively tolerant by comparison. It does Willie little credit to resort to such loaded statements, when he could very easily have called for calm, reasonable and respectful conduct from all sides.

Hopefully Murphy’s tour will continue in a few days’ time, when the police accept he isn’t being targeted by seasoned terrorists; I also trust that Yes Scotland will distance itself from the extreme behaviour of a few of its more vocal supporters. This action from the Yes camp is, in my view, vitally important to rebut the claims being made by Better Together and Murphy personally. Perhaps then we’ll remember Jim Murphy in the same way as Brian Mawhinney, Ed Miliband, John Prescott and David Cameron – just another politician who’s had an egg thrown at them.

It could have been worse. At least it wasn’t blue paint…

 

 

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Not in My Name

I’m not sure I’ve done such a scary interview as today’s with Craig Murray, the former ambassador.

http://batemanbroadcasting.com/episode-26-shocking-tale-torture-indifference/

In it he casually describes forms of torture and how it is organised, who is behind it and how it is covered up by successive British governments.

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More than that, he reminds us how he blew the whistle on fingernail-pulling and immersion in boiling liquid (confirmed by forensic pathology in Glasgow) and how he was threatened by his employers – our British government. They first of all tried to maneouvre him out of Tashkent with the offer of a posting to cultured Copenhagen, then they threatened him with a list of 18 misdemeanours, none of which were true – including driving a Landrover down a flight of stairs!

It is extraordinary stuff which lets you see the British State in a new light – the dark, sinister and calculating uncaring British machine, not the honest broker of fair play and decency…old fashioned Blighty of popular imagination.

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What I like about this analysis is that it coincides with my own which has over the years changed from indifferent acceptance of the British brand to hostility to the whole idea of Britishness which, whatever its strengths, is a front for often brutal, inhumane, self-serving treatment of foreign interests and of our own people at home.

There are signs of a gradual awakening to this concept of the benign front for easy cynicism that is the British system from MP’s expenses to the castration of the Kenyan Mau Mau and the determined denial of wrong-doing until proven guilty in our courts – the last bastion of British values?

But the swing to the SNP and the rise of UKIP – never mind the diametrically oppose policy positions – are indicators of ordinary citizens grasping what the Establishment is really about. It ain’t pretty. We are no longer a country on the side of the angels and this interview provides a harsh and withering light on the morality of New Labour – progressive democrats(!) at home and bloody abusers and murderers abroad. As Murray explains, even Thatcher baulked at intelligence taken from torture. All it took for Labour to join the despots was Blair to fall in with Bush. From then on, no one was safe – not the innocent, not women (pregnant and otherwise), not children who were also rendered to undeclared prisons and not principled dissidents. Britain – our government – authorised their kidnap and detention in torture centres from which some would never return. Cruel Britannia indeed.

The-ice-bucket-waterboard-challenge-might-be-the-most-shocking-spin-off-idea-yet

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UK: Living Hell

I’ve had a sneek preview of the McWhirter book – Disunited Kingdom, how Westminster won a referendum but lost Scotland – which will start appearing in the Sunday Herald today. Iain emailed it to me in advance of tomorrow’s formal launch – probably to humiliate me with the quality of his writing…

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I started reading it in Living Hell, which is what I call the kids’ soft play area in Maryhill where my two birthday girls joined the rest of the demented chimpanzees. Even in the din, I was engrossed and raced through the early stuff. He does write with alacrity, marrying insight and narrative to drag you along and provides a depth often missing from thinner and often more pompous offerings. You kind of know, whether he’s on your side or not, that he’s still on the side of the angels – not a sense you get from, say, John McTernan, however relevant his scribblings.

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Iain reminded me of the emotional white water ride that we’ve just been through, the gripping anticipation, the total involvement, the astonishment at the mushrooming of support and the sense of national purpose that bound us. I haven’t felt like that before and it was contagious. He captures the sense that we were all in it together (sorry, Mr Cameron) and it created a shared sense of self and community to know you were part of the great movement. Every Yes badge was your side, every window sticker was with your cause, every single one of us was doing our bit. And losing did hurt. He brings it all back and I had a wee greet, more out of pride in the Scots than in regret.

I gave the David Torrance book on Salmond to an American relative last year to educate him so I think I’ll follow up this year by giving the McWhirter.

Talking of Scots to be proud of, I was speaking to the Edinburgh Central branch of the SNP on Friday and was struck by the quality of people who are now politically active. They have rooms in North St Andrew Street that were the hub of Yes in Edinburgh but have to relocate to hold their meetings because there are so many of them. My event had to be ticketed to keep down the numbers for safety reasons – response was so high. It’s all a bit scary.

But it’s the breadth of people who are stepping forward in the national cause that is inspiring – it isn’t just special interest groups or the ambitious. Here is middle Scotland, the educated, the qualified, the concerned and the polite. (The nuttier Unionists in the divisive mainstream papers are still peddling the myth of Nationalist mobs and of intolerance to demonise Scotland’s democratic movement. To me this is a form of denial in keeping with their inability to grasp their own failings).

We discussed the media and I apologised for the trade of journalism which let down the Scots at a crucial time – but which of course also spawned the new media which is now part of our daily lives. I find it impossible to say where this creative spring will lead except that there will be consolidation of outlets as the market takes effect and the objective is not to replace the mainstream – that is neither possible nor desirable – but to supplement with alternatives. We are trying not to compete against each other but to find room for all.

This blog and Newsnet aren’t trying to make money in the normal sense but to generate an income which makes continuing possible. Money pays for office space, admin, studios, equipment and, to a limited extent, professional fees for contributors. It is shoestring and it shows but my objective is to make it sustainable rather than ‘successful’ and the short-term plan is raise enough to get us through to the General Election when Scotland’s future will again be a major feature.

I thought Steven Purcell was interesting on batemanbroadcasting.com in saying Labour aren’t doing enough to change the political scene and electing a Jim Murphy isn’t in itself the answer. They don’t need more Blairite machine politics and empty mantras, they need a new story and a re-engagement with people – yet where are the members able to do that? The age profile is increasing and without new blood will go the way of the Tories. The sad and predictable Margaret Curran line is that you vote SNP to get a Tory government. And you can understand why this is what is left of a threadbare position. Vote Labour, not because we can do anything for you but because we’re not the other lot. Inspiring, it ain’t. It reminds me of the French presidential election when Chirac was up against Le Pen and people went on to the streets with signs reading: Vote for the Crook, not the Fascist…

In their thousands Scots did return to Labour last time in 2010, having put the SNP into power in Scotland and what did we get? A Tory government. We returned 41 Labour MPs – including my own – and it’s unlikely the party could win more of our 59 seats than that and still it wasn’t enough.

And if you do want rid of the class war Tories, do you honestly believe Miliband is the man to transform the country? There is no denying that across Britain, voters are sick of the whole Westminster circus and have lost faith and while we have a progressive alternative, in England they have only the right wing loonies posing as anti Establishment rebels that is UKIP.

The Autumn Statement has been exposed as the last throw of the dice for Osborne with OBR and the IFS challenging him and even the BBC taking flak for its reporting. The underlying truth is that Britain is bankrupt, living on sovereign debt and personal credit cards, buying imported goods instead of equipment for industry, creating low paid jobs which need benefits to eke them out, still borrowing massively because tax receipts are too low while opposing the immigration that can boost economic activity and dividing the country by stripping away the benefits that are the glue of British society.

I’d like to see a paper on how much of this can be changed if all the existing powers at Holyrood were fully used and supplemented by the Vow promises. How much could we really change out society with those powers and what would it cost us? Most of it seems to be predicated on raising your own revenue – hurrah – while your funding is cut accordingly and if income tax is the main cash generator, isn’t it bad politics just to take more from voters without being able to increase economic activity and take the additional revenue in business tax?

This was the Union’s chance to trump the nationalist case by delivering true Devo Max and making the Scots sit up and be impressed. Most of us can’t tell what is and isn’t devolved in an incoherent, piecemeal offering which shows just how much our Lords and Masters trust us with our own affairs. (I spoke to a Tory who expresses a widespread worry that Cameron panicked two weeks before voting because without the silly Vow and Brown’s mad meanderings, they really would have won and Scots would have no case to make for additional powers today. We’d have to take what we were given. They blew that by promising the earth in desperation).

This guarantees that our demands stay fresh and relevant and provides the campaigning platform for the next big push – in May next year. McWhirter concludes that independence is inevitable. I’m not so sure but I do think Devo Max will be realised eventually as the sinews that bind us weaken under the strain of inept London administration and social unrest which leads to a realisation that there must be a better way.

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