Killing politics

I am 65 years old. In the, slightly more than, half a century that I have been politically aware, I cannot recall a time when ‘we’ were not in the midst of an economic crisis; on the verge of and economic crisis; or struggling to recover from an economic crisis. In all circumstances, the measures commended as the solution to the economic crisis; the means of avoiding it; or the way to ‘safeguard the recovery’ varied, not according to the nature of the crisis, but in line with the personal and partisan interests of the person doing the commending.

There’s rarely anything new in politics. There’s just different ways of presenting the same old crap. The faces change… slightly. But the message remains the same. Be afraid!

Be afraid that you will lose whatever you have. Be afraid that you will lose relative to some other individual or group. Be afraid that things will get worse. Be afraid that you will miss out on an opportunity to make things better.

Be afraid to choose. Be afraid to decide. Be afraid to act. Be afraid to do none of these.

Politics, which should be a contest of dreams, hopes and aspirations has become, instead, a battlefield of nightmares. The dreamers, whose visions of a better community, a better society, or a better world, once inspired endeavours to realise that better community, society or world, are now mocked as woolly-minded fantasists or vilified as dangerous radicals.

To speak of such things as hope and aspiration is to be relegated to the fringes, well away from the ‘real’ politics. Politics has become the near-exclusive province of the pedlars of doom. Once we might have been lifted up by ambitious reformers – bright of eye, big of heart and bearing bold messages of promise and potential and possibility. Now, we are daily brought down by the purveyors of despair and their pebble-eyed, abacus-hearted priesthood of economic orthodoxy.

Alistair Darling is an arse. I guess that’s what I was leading up to. But the statement that this or that British politician is an arse is such a commonplace that some preamble seemed to be required. He’s an arse.

During the first referendum campaign, Darling’s role was to present blatant lies and patent nonsense with a desperately dull, desultory, droning delivery that his operators hoped would lend the authority of a dispassionate automaton to the dishonest drivel oozing out of his head. Many of you will recall that his favourite gobbet of untruth as being the maliciously inane fiction that an independent Scotland would have been liable for the full cost of bailing-out the nominally ‘Scottish’ banks. A plainly false claim that was, of course, never challenged.

The British establishment rewards its loyal servants, and Darling has now been moved from storage in a dusty cupboard at British Labour HQ to the rather more salubrious surroundings of the home for discarded political whores within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster. From whence he can be dragged to recite some portentous scripted pish at the press of that button located just below the slot with the sign saying, “Insert thirty pieces of silver here!”.

What words of wisdom is the ‘Arse That Saved The World’ bestowing on us now? What pearl of profound witlessness is he casting before the plebeian swine? Turns out ‘wur doomed’ again! Who would have thought it? If we don’t do what Darling has been instructed to tell us to do, a bad thing will happen that is worse than the bad thing that will happen if we do (or don’t do) the other thing which some other Darling-thing is telling us is the only way to avoid bad things happening that are worse than the bad things that are going to happen regardless of what we do – or don’t do.
Specifically, the cost of your mortgage will rise if you vote to leave the EU.

Are your knees jerking yet?

A question occurs to me when I hear this. It’s a question that often popped into my mind during the first referendum campaign when I heard the latest pernicious propaganda from Project Fear. Does Darling know that he’s talking nonsense? Or does he actually believe this stuff? Is he a liar? Or is he just unbelievably stupid?

Just as it was obvious to any thinking person that independent Scotland would NOT have been burdened with the cost of rescuing criminally incompetent bankers (for reasons I long since wearied of explaining), so it is just as glaringly obvious that mortgage rates are going to rise regardless of anything else that happens. That’s because there is no other way for them to go. The only way really is up.

Is Darling aware of this? Has it occurred to him? Does it matter? Would he read the script supplied for him anyway?

It’s of no consequence whether there is any truth in the script. It doesn’t even have to make sense. The only consideration is that it is a message of fear. For such is the language of a politics that has been left a dessicated, hollowed-out husk, sucked dry of all dreams, hopes and aspirations. A politics that has been stripped of any relevance to people. A politics that is lost to us – unless we seize it back. And soon.

This article was first published at Indyref2.

The immaculate innocence of journalists?

A recent piece on the excellent Lallands Peat Worrier blog contained the following less than flattering assessment of mainstream political journalism,

Understanding the politics of devolution increasingly demands that we understand the law of devolution. Regrettably, most of our key commentators and opinion formers still haven’t the nearest, foggiest clue about how the powers and reservations of devolution are delimited. And more frustratingly still, they tend not to stir themselves to find out. Instead, they spend their time discussing political tactics, impressions, aspirations, court politics — and as a result, allow politicians to peddle guff unchallenged.

On Bella Caledonia, Peter Burnett begins his review of George Gunn’s book, In The Province of the Cat with a justifiably scathing attack on an article in The Economist,

These attempts to portray a lawless government north of the border in an article supposedly about the crofting industry in Caithness and Sutherland are not reportage, but are unsubstantiated and un-referenced opinions reliant on undemonstrated assumptions. Nobody is interviewed and the article quotes nobody, cites no external sources and presents no evidence that its author, Jeremy Cliffe, has even been to Scotland.

I, too, have found cause to write of “toxic media” and “the agenda-serving distortion of facts and downright dishonesty that is increasingly commonplace in the British media, and increasingly resented by audiences”.
All of which is by way of providing context for something which caught my attention in one of Kenneth Roy’s increasingly bilious columns for Scottish Review. Bemoaning the declining fortunes of newspapers in general, and what he inexplicably regards as “quality” Scottish newspapers in particular (The Scotsman!?), Roy remarks,

What surprises me is that this is the case at a time when Scotland is supposedly politically conscious and active as never before.

The entire piece is pretty much one long whine about how awful it is that the public are being derelict in their duty to provide secure and lucrative employment for self-regarding, self-important scribblers by purchasing newspapers in the quantities that once they did. But this one sentence seems to encapsulate both the dumb refusal to accept that journalists themselves bear any responsibility for the decline of the print media, and a telling illustration of the kind of observational and analytical failure that has contributed to that decline as surely as any social, economic and technological factors.
It simply doesn’t occur to Kenneth Roy that the new political engagement in Scotland, far from being anomalous in relation to the decline of newspapers, goes a long way to explaining why people are abandoning traditional media in droves. He has found something rather puzzling. But he declines to reflect upon it. He utterly fails to ask the obvious questions about the possibility of some kind of causal link between rising political awareness and diminishing interest in what people such as himself have to say about politics.
It’s not as if such a link is at all implausible. It makes perfect sense to suppose that, as political awareness and engagement increases, so does the capacity for more critical consumption of political messages, including those served up by “key commentators and opinion formers”. Indeed, one wonders what political engagement might look like if it did not include an  ability and readiness to actively scrutinise the perspectives and interpretations offered by political journalists.
And it seems perfectly reasonable to suppose that, should more critical consumption of media messages lead to dissatisfaction with the product, then consumers will turn to alternatives. A proposition made all the more credible by the fact that such alternatives have lately become available in the form of what Kenneth Roy rather contemptuously dismisses as “social media”, but is in fact a range of online sources of information, opinion and analysis which is growing in size, diversity, sophistication and, crucially, authority.
There is a train of reason here which appears to have totally eluded Kenneth Roy. If I can immediately identify this gaping hole in his analysis, so can others. Having found what he has to offer so badly flawed, why would we not seek something better elsewhere?
As others have noted, this kind of inadequate, inept and often maliciously biased commentary is hardly uncommon. It makes up the larger part of the content of the politics pages of what Roy, however laughably, deems to be “quality” newspapers, as well as other “respected” publications. But it no longer goes uncontested. “Her Majesty’s Press” no longer pontificate with impunity. And, all too evidently, they aren’t happy about it.
The road to ruin
Of course, failure to identify (or determination to deny?) the role of journalists in plummeting newspaper sales, as described in the first part of this article, is only part of the story. If you omit one highly pertinent question, such as “who?”, then you miss other highly relevant questions that arise from the answer to that question – such as “how?” and “why?”. Seeking answers to such questions would take far more space than is available. But, with all the usual caveats about the risks inherent in over-simplification, there is no harm in offering a few thoughts on the matter.
It’s something of a chicken-and-egg question whether it was budget cuts which precipitated declining standards and falling sales, or some other permutation of these three things. What is reasonably certain, however, is that political editors became increasingly reliant on material fed to them by the political parties to fill the spaces between advertising. That then becomes the norm. Genuine insightful analysis and commentary gradually becomes the increasingly rare exception. Because it is effortful.
In such an environment, political contacts are ever more valuable commodities. Until a point is reached at which these contacts are all but totally dictating the content. No political writer can risk losing the “inside sources” which were once mere accoutrements of their trade, even if very useful.
The need to pander to the machinery of the “major” parties, being common to all political journalists, a cosy consensus develops among them based on what is required to satisfy the beast. Newspapers now have a political agenda which is indistinguishable from that of the British establishment. Dissent or challenge is only possible to the extent that this is within the bounds of the faux rivalries between and among the parties of the British establishment.
This situation might dodge along for a fairly long time. But something happens to disturb the comfortable arrangements between the political press and the Westminster elite. There arises something which is perceived to be a serious threat to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. Structures in which the mainstream media are inextricably enmeshed.
The Scottish National Party wins an outright majority in the Scottish Parliament and a referendum on Scotland leaving the UK becomes inevitable.
This is seismic! Among many other effects, such as the explicit acknowledgement that the rivalry among the establishment parties was all but entirely a façade, newspapers were put in the position of having to choose sides. Not that this posed much of a dilemma for them. The media, being part of the British establishment, was bound to defend the British state.
At first, this makes little difference as the threat posed by the referendum is not taken too seriously. The line taken by the British establishment – and, therefore, the British media – is a kind of paternalistic, lightly mocking condescension which, nonetheless and not in all cases or at all times, sought to at least pay lip service to the fact that this was a democratic process.
Then we saw the rise of the Yes movement, mass political engagement by people determined to challenge the status quo, and an inexorable narrowing of the polls. Within the British establishment, complacency turned to concern; then to fear; then to panic. The mocking condescension of the early weeks and months devolved into a campaign of increasingly vicious smear, lies, distortion, scaremongering, threats and empty promises. A campaign in which the vast majority of the British media colluded eagerly.
Prompted by the need to defend the old order and the old ways that served them moderately well, newspapers abandoned any pretence of impartiality or balance or reasonableness or even honesty to conduct what history will record as arguably the most savage peace-time propaganda campaign since the darkest days of the Cold War.
The newspapers had given themselves over to be transparent instrument of established power. Political journalists had abandoned professional integrity. The media had given itself licence to behave in all manner of reprehensible ways on the grounds that it was being done in the interests of “the nation”. Conduct which would otherwise have been universally condemned as deplorable was held to be justified in defence of the established order. While everything said by the Yes campaign either went unreported or was grotesquely distorted, nothing said by Better Together, the British parties or the UK Government was ever in any meaningful way scrutinised.
It worked! Enough doubt and fear was engendered amount Scotland’s voters that, when added to the hard core of ideological (and ultimately violent) British nationalists, led to the tragic No vote.
The British establishment thought that would be an end of things. There would still be the “nuisance” of the SNP to be dealt with and, obviously, the threat from Scotland would have to be neutralised by various means, such as undermining confidence in major institutions seen as symbolic of Scotland’s distinctive political culture and using devolution legislation to effectively cripple the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government. But it was anticipated that it would soon be exploitative business as usual.
Some see the election of a Tory government in London as significant. But as far as “dealing with” the situation in Scotland is concerned, it made no difference which of the British parties was in power at Westminster. All shared the same imperative – destroy the SNP, and put the people of Scotland back in their box.
It wasn’t going to prove so easy. Events in the wake of what had at first appeared to be a calamitous referendum outcome showed that, far from subsiding, the tide of democratic dissent in Scotland was stronger than ever. Project Fear, rather than being wound down to a background hum of grinding negativity and denigration of all things Scottish, had to be kept spinning at full tilt.
Newspapers had no way out. Having committed to Project Fear, they could not now abandon it. Having chosen the path that they did, they could not now change course without acknowledging their willing collusion in the shameful campaign mounted by the British establishment against the peaceful, lawful, democratic movement to normalise Scotland’s constitutional status.
Unable now to retrieve any semblance of the professional integrity which was abandoned in order to defend the ruling elites of the British state, the British media are predictably artful. They move to make their present condition the new benchmark for journalistic professionalism. Hence, we have an episode of journalistic debasement so despicable that even some journalists were moved to condemn it elevated to nomination for a prestigious award.
The submission by The Telegraph for the accolade of a PressGazette British Journalism award of the iniquitous smear against Nicola Sturgeon in which Scottish Political Editor, Simon Johnson, conspired in the most scurrilous manner imaginable with the then Scottish Secretary and now disgraced but tenacious Liberal Democrat MP, Alistair Carmichael, and its acceptance by the panel of judges, marks the point at which the shark is well and truly jumped.
Whether or not the “story” wins, the very fact of being an accepted nominee gives the journalistic profession’s stamp of approval to the complete absence of any professional standards involved. The bar has been lowered to accommodate the gutter-crawlers of the British press. On a good day, The Scotsman and even the Daily Record might aspire to this new standard.
The political press has failed the people of Scotland in the most abysmal manner. It is dealing with this ignoble failure by redefining it as noble success. Is it any wonder that, as Keneth Roy acknowledges – while blaming everyone except journalists – the decline of newspapers in Scotland appears to be terminal?
Is it at all surprising, given the depths to which the old media has sunk, that people are turning to alternatives such as blogs and independent online news websites?
Whether this is to the detriment or otherwise of democracy and society is a question for another day. No matter how obvious Kenneth Roy imagines the answer to be.

Lib Dems: SNP could gain independence by back door

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The SNP could still gain “independence by the back door” through an “ultra extreme” form of devolution in a post-election deal, Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will say tonight.

Peter A Bell‘s insight:

Willie Rennie is known as someone who is a considerable way short of being the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. But, continuing the light-bulb metaphor, he now seems to be indulging in an “ultra extreme” form of energy saving. What I’m trying to avoid saying is that this latest outburst from Willie Rennie is quite stunningly stupid.* I’m also trying hard not to mention yet again the fact that British nationalists appear to have a compulsion to make utter fools of themselves in the name of defending the old order and the old ways.

But what else is there to say about Rennie other than that, if he actually believes the drivel that he spouts, he is stupid beyond measure. And if he doesn’t believe it and is only mouthing inanities to order, then he is every bit the fool that he has chosen to appear.

Where to begin? How about some simple arithmetic? Just one of the areas where Rennie completely fails to shine. He claims that the anti-independence cabal of vested political and economic interests won the referendum by “almost half a million votes”. The actual figure was 383,937. This represents “rounding up” by some 30%. To put that in perspective, if we applied the same “ultra extreme” rounding to the Yes vote then the campaign to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status would have won by 293,427. Or, according to Willie Rennie’s “special” arithmetic, 381,456.

If you’re thinking that all of that sounds a bit silly, I would only ask that you remember who started the silliness.

For a further example of Rennie’s vaunting silliness, how about his artlessly feigned righteous indignation on realising that the SNP aims to contest every seat in Scotland as if they intended to win. Or his spluttering outrage at the SNP’s determined adherence to the party’s core aim of independence.

Here’s yet another example of Rennie’s idiocy. He has been involved in Scottish politics since the 1990s and has been an elected politician since 2006. And yet he can’t figure out that the election of 59 MPs who explicitly support independence would be a clear and indisputable mandate to sue for independence and not, as he calls it, an attempt to win “independence by the back door”.

Think about that for a moment. Rennie is explicitly denying the legitimacy of the very political/electoral system which he and his fellow British nationalists insist that we accept. The system which decides who will govern the UK. He is saying that the British political system is only legitimate so long as it produces results favourable to the British parties and, by extension, the British establishment.

For the sake of brevity we’ll skim over Rennie’s dumbly dishonest misrepresentation of what Alex Salmond said about a second referendum. Suffice it to say that, however much British nationalists lie about this, the SNP at no time ruled out another vote on independence. And even if they had attempted to do so, it would have been meaningless as it’s not their decision. We will have another referendum when the people of Scotland say so. Nobody voted to relinquish our right of self-determination. That was not on the ballot.

Which brings us to Rennie’s fine blend of hypocrisy and idiocy on the subject of “redefining” what a vote is about. Hypocrisy in that the British parties unabashedly redefined the meaning of a No vote in the referendum. And not just once. They started off insisting that the referendum was a straight choice between independence and nothing. Then, when they belatedly realised they were backing the least popular option, they started to claim that a No vote was actually a vote for the “more powers” option that they had refused to countenance having on the ballot – and still refused to define in any way. Finally, as soon as the result was in, they went back to saying that a No vote was an unequivocal endorsement of the union and petulantly demand that independence campaigners abandon what in many cases is a lifelong aspiration.

The idiocy of Rennie’s drivel about the SNP “redefining” what the coming UK election is about lies in the fact that every party gets to define what the election is about. That is arguably as good a definition as you’ll get of a party’s election manifesto. Just how cretinous do you have to be to miss this glaringly obvious fact?

But perhaps Willie Rennie’s greatest stupidity is his own personal take on the inherently daft Bain Principle – simply stated as the dogma which dictates that the British parties in Scotland are compelled by mindless hatred to oppose any policy which is espoused by the SNP, even if it is an obviously good policy, and even if it is a policy which one or more of the British parties has itself promoted. The Bain Principle – named after another woeful Willie – may even apply to policies which continue to be supported by the party or parties which, nonetheless, rail against it as the work of Satan when it is enunciated by the SNP. Think double-think.

The Liberal Democrats have been “Home Rulers” since Noah threw Ming Campbell off the ark for boring the shit out of the sloths. But it only needs Alex Salmond to hint that Home Rule might be acceptable to the SNP at this juncture and, instantly, this long-cherished objective of the LibDems is transformed from the reasonable and viable constitutional settlement that they have pretty much always insisted it was into an unthinkable form of “ultra extreme” devolution – whatever that means.

Can we take anything from this, other than the fact that Willie Rennie is really, really stupid – or stupid enough to be happy to appear really, really stupid? We can surely assume that the LibDems were never actually serious about Home Rule. It was just a bauble to dangle before voters in Scotland secure in the knowledge that they were never going to be in a position to deliver, and had no intention of doping so even if, by some miracle, they had found themselves in power.

We can be even more certain than previously that, for the British parties, devolution is all about withholding powers from the Scottish Parliament. Even those powers which some of them had pretended to be willing to hand over.

Perhaps most importantly, it confirms what the coming election is really about for voters in Scotland. It confirms that the battle lines are clearly drawn, not along the increasingly blurred divide between Tory/Labour/LibDem, but between British parties representing the interests of the ruling elites of the British state, and Scottish parties representing the interests of the people of Scotland – principally the SNP.

Willie Rennie is a headline-hungry buffoon. But we yet have cause to be grateful to him for his role in helping us see the true face of British nationalism.

See on scotsman.com

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Major city devolution summit to be held in Glasgow

A MAJOR summit on devolution to UK cities will take place in Glasgow next month, it has been announced.

Peter A Bell‘s insight:

If we were not already justifiably wary of the new-found enthusiasm for localism among British politicians then Gordon Matheson’s ill-judged remarks should serve as a warning. Unable to conceal his hatred of the Scottish Parliament and the SNP, Matheson clumsily reveals that this Core Cities “initiative” is driven by a British nationalist agenda that has absolutely nothing whatever to do with empowering local communities, and everything to do with giving the British parties in Scotland the means to undermine the Scottish Government and drive a wedge between the people of Scotland and their parliament.

Let us be very clear about this. The British political parties, and particularly their branch operations in Scotland, are driven by a single imperative – the preservation of the British state and, thereby, their own power and privilege. Their overriding aim is to get the Scottish Parliament back under their control and to install an “executive” in Scotland which will be Westminster’s lapdog. Everything that the British parties in Scotland do must be seen in this context. Many would prefer to abolish the Scottish Parliament entirely.

It is hardly unknown for politicians to take a popular policy and pervert it to some nefarious purpose. And that is precisely what Matheson and his cronies are up to here. There is broad agreement that local devolution is highly desirable. But it MUST be done for the purpose of improving democracy. We MUST NOT allow localism to be hi-jacked by the ruling elites of the British state for the purpose of securing their grip on power to the detriment of democracy.

Local devolution in Scotland must be implemented solely under the auspices of the democratically elected Scottish Parliament. Better trust a snake in the grass than a British politician bearing a gift purporting to be power for the people.

See on heraldscotland.com

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Brian Wilson: SNP government underspend is a waste

THE Scottish Government’s huge £444m underspend is an absurd waste of resource and opportunity, writes Brian Wilson.

Peter A Bell‘s insight:

If I repeatedly remark on the eagerness of British nationalist fanatics such as Brian Wilson to make fools of themselves in the name of defending the ruling elites of the British state it is only because they persist in plumbing new depths of foolishness in their frenzied lashing-out at the SNP.

Wilson and his sickening ilk have leapt with unseemly glee on the collapse of oil prices with no thought whatever for the stress and suffering that this is likely to cause those employed in the industry and their families. Neither do they care at all about the impact on the UK economy. As with the threat to abolish the currency union, their nasty, vindictive nature bids them disregard any damage to the UK/rUK economy so long as they can convince themselves that Scotland will suffer more. They will happily cut off their nose to spite the people of Scotland.

That nobody foresaw the current oil price slump is an inconvenient fact as readily ignored by British nationalists as the wider implications. They see only something which, with a bit of well-practised distortion and the customary unquestioning collusion of the British media, can be fashioned into a stick with which to beat the hated SNP. Nothing else matters.

More thoughtful people than Brian Wilson – which is a big list – will recognise the extraordinary geopolitical factors which have led to the extraordinary fall in oil prices. Those less intellectually crippled by mindless hatred of political opponents will realise that the present situation is unsustainable. The price of oil will bounce back from this blip. And it will bounce back to around the level used by the SNP in its projections.

What will buffoons like Wilson have to say when, at the date scheduled for the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status in early 2016, the price of Brent crude stands at $120? Given the inherent volatility that the British parties are so fond of banging on about, this is entirely possible. And certainly more likely than the price still languishing at $50 fully a year from now.

Perhaps the greatest idiocy of British nationalist propaganda is that it both exaggerates the volatility of oil prices AND assumes that oil prices will remain at the same abnormally low level for an extended period. It is a form of depraved double-think in which they glory in whatever implies the outcome that is most detrimental to Scotland, even if this means believing two contradictory things simultaneously. The similarity with fundamentalist religion will not be lost on dispassionate observers.

Just as British nationalists like Wilson try to falsely portray the oil price figures used by the SNP as “dishonest” (despite the fact that everybody else got it just as wrong because they were using the same range of projections) so they dishonestly try to peddle the idea that the Scottish Government’s underspend is evidence of fiscal incompetence. In another of those contradictions/inconsistencies which litter British nationalist propaganda, they do so at the same time as Jim Murphy calls for the Scottish Government to set aside money to deal with extraordinary situations such as the drop in oil prices. (That would be the same contingency fund which only a few months ago these same British politicians were ridiculing as a fantasy when it was proposed by the SNP.)

The reality is that this underspend is a normal and inevitable consequence of the way in which the Scottish Parliament is funded. The Scottish Government cannot budget for a deficit. It must ensure that spending stays within the the limits imposed by Westminster. That can mean nothing other than that there should be an underspend. That is why there is an underspend every year.

Admittedly, last year’s underspend was slightly higher than the usual 1% of the total budget at 1.3%. But, to put that in perspective, the previous year’s underspend was below the norm by an even greater margin at only 6%.

The voluntary stupidity of these British nationalists is evident not least in the fact that they whine so pointlessly about this underspend having devoted themselves to a campaign of distortion, disinformation and downright dishonesty intended to preserve the arrangements which make the underspend inevitable. If Wilson was genuinely incensed by this, then why was he so fanatically opposed to the Scottish Government having the same powers as any other national government to deal with unforeseen fluctuations in revenues?

But, of course, Brian Wilson is perfectly well aware of the inanity of what he is saying. Were he not the bigot that he is, and had somebody else written this article, he would dismiss them as a drivelling fool. Not being a bigot myself, I have no reason not to be just as dismissive of his demented ranting.

See on scotsman.com

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Oil crisis: SNP under fire over forecasts refusal

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THE SCOTTISH Government has come under fire after appearing to rule out the publication of any fresh oil forecasts in the near future as the crisis continues to engulf the industry.

Peter A Bell‘s insight:

This is infantile stuff from the British parties. Forecasting oil prices and revenues is fraught with problems at the best of times. In the present situation it is pretty much the definition of a futile exercise. Especially as we are still waiting to find out what the UK Government is going to do – if anything.

But, of course, Gavin Brown knows this perfectly well. The demand for pointless projections is no more than a device to give the unionist media an excuse to repeat yet again the propaganda line that it was the SNP alone which failed to foresee the price of oil falling off a cliff. You would never know it from reading The Scotsman, or any of the rest of the British media, but NOBODY foresaw this massive drop in oil prices.

And what happens in three months, or six months, or nine months when the price of oil normalises at around $110? Will the British parties and their friends in the media allow that the SNP was actually right? Or will they, as usual, expect us to helpfully forget articles such as this and the petty, opportunistic point-scoring of the likes of Gavin Brown?

See on scotsman.com

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Scottish Government in record £444m underspend

THE Scottish Government ended last year with a record underspend, despite repeated complaints from the SNP administration about Westminster austerity cuts squeezing its budget.

Peter A Bell‘s insight:

This article certainly raises questions. Principally, why does The Herald feel the need to take a very trivial piece of information about the Scottish Government’s finances and spin it into yet another of those interminable petty attacks on the SNP?

Any moderately intelligent and informed person will immediately see through the crass sensationalism. They will separate out the information from the propaganda and recognise that this underspend is a perfectly normal – in fact, inevitable – consequence of the way the Scottish Government is funded. They will note that this underspend happens every year.

They will note that it is higher than usual, but by a margin that could aptly be described as unremarkable. Certainly, this year’s 1.3% underspend is no more remarkable than last year’s figure of 0.6%. Does anybody recall headlines in the British press trumpeting the fact that the “underspend” was 4 percentage points LESS than normal? No! So why all the fuss when it is a mere 3 points more than what we are assured is the usual 1%?

Indeed, why any fuss at all. The Scottish Government cannot budget for a deficit. Therefore, it must always have an underspend. One of the advantages of independence is that the Scottish Government would be able to spend right up to its budget knowing that unforeseen circumstances could be covered by borrowing. It is sickening, but all too typical, hypocrisy for British nationalists to whine about a system they campaigned to preserve.

So, if people are likely to see through the spin, why do it? What audience is being addressed by this kind of thing? Could it be that, in a moronically over-simplistic reading of the referendum result, the British media have concluded that a small majority of people in Scotland are committed British nationalists who will be more than happy with blatant distortion so long as it is done in the name of preserving the old order and the old ways?

Are No voters really content to be treated like fools by the British nationalist propaganda machine?

See on heraldscotland.com

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Salmond as Deputy PM? That scares the bejesus out of me, says Ruth Davidson

RUTH Davidson has said the idea that Alex Salmond might be the UK’s next deputy prime minister “scares the bejesus out of me”.

Peter A Bell‘s insight:

The British parties in Scotland really are a disaster zone. Why is Ruth Davidson talking about British Labour forming the next UK Government, with or without SNP support? Why is she not talking up her own party’s chances of victory? Her minders must be in despair every time she opens her mouth.

As for the idea of Alex Salmond as Deputy PM, she really would have been better shutting up about that as well. Quite apart from the sheer improbability of Salmond being offered and accepting the job, not everybody is going to find the prospect quite as terrifying as Davidson does.

Davidson makes a mistake that is all to common among British nationalists. When she refers to Alex Salmond she is not talking about widely respected politician that most of us see. She is talking about the laughable caricature of Salmond as an evil mastermind concocted by the British nationalist propaganda machine. The reality is that a great many people across the UK would, at the very least, be able to contemplate Salmond as DPM without soiling their undergarments.

But it is a massively unlikely scenario. It is much more likely that the two main British parties would come to some arrangement between them so as to thwart the very electoral process that they lately demanded we content ourselves with.

But if Ruth Davidson is just silly, British Labour in Scotland are quite insane. That they should still be peddling Murphy’s incoherent “x + 1000 nurses” undertaking after the pounding this idiocy has taken from all sides simply shows how unaware the pretendy wee “Scottish Labour Party” is of what is happening outside its own little bubble. And how tragically impoverished their thinking is.

See on heraldscotland.com

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SNP attacks ‘insensitive’ Union flag on UK driving licence – Telegraph

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The Scottish Nationalists have been accused of ignoring the independence referendum result after a senior SNP MSP described as “insensitive” plans to put the Union flag on new UK driving licences.

Peter A Bell‘s insight:

How is it possible to see this move by the UK Government as anything other than, at best, insensitive and, at worst, wilfully provocative when it is entirely unnecessary and an exception has already been made for Northern Ireland? What other reason can there be for putting the union flag on driving licences?

If the reaction in Scotland and Wales was predictable then so too was the evidently well-rehearsed and carefully coordinated response from the British parties. All of which adds to the suspicion that the whole situation has been engineered by British nationalists.

As for the patently feeble plea from the DVLA that respecting the sensibilities of people in Scotland and Wales would be “extremely expensive and complex”, I would point out that cost was evidently not a consideration when the UK Government decided to impose the union flag regardless of the offence that this would cause. And the “complexity” of imprinting licences with different flags was plainly not so great as to prevent this happening in Northern Ireland.

The union flag does not represent either a nation or a people. It represents a political construct. An artifice. A contrivance. It stands for the British state and, of necessity, the union that most people in Scotland want to end or, at least, drastically reform. Like it or not, the union flag is the emblem of a political cause – the cause of preserving the structures of power and privilege which define the British state.

Who but a complete fool would be surprised that people in Scotland object to their personal documents being emblazoned with British nationalist propaganda.

See on telegraph.co.uk

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Nick Clegg Pledges To Stop Alex Salmond And His "Ragtag Mob Of Nationalists"

“Even people as self-important as Alex Salmond have to win over the electorate,” said the deputy prime minister.

Peter A Bell‘s insight:

Nick Clegg just called over 90,000 SNP members (more than the LibDems in the whole UK) and somewhere in the region of 45% of the electorate in Scotland a “ragtag mob”. Does he really think this will make him and his failed party any less unappealing to voters?

See on buzzfeed.com

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