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Wings Over Scotland

Various occurrences

Posted on May 08, 2013 by

We got up late and we’re a bit bleary.


So here are some things to catch up on while we pull ourselves together, particularly for those of you still too scared of tractors and television sets to follow our Twitter feed.

“Labour is going backwards. Or, if you prefer, Labour has spent the best part of the last three years going precisely nowhere.”
Labour’s Dan Hodges in the Telegraph with a coruscating attack on the apathy and paralysis of Ed Miliband’s party more than halfway to the 2015 election.

“Over the last 50 years economic growth in Scotland has been 40% below that of comparative small European nations”
Such a good piece from Business For Scotland on how Scotland has suffered from successive UK governments focusing on London and the South-East that we’ll even forgive them saying “comparative” when they mean “comparable”.

“Over the next few years fresh investment will bring a mini-bonanza that will boost output from the equivalent of under 1.5m barrels of oil a day to 2m, according to Oil & Gas UK, a trade body (see chart). That should mean a handy boost to government revenues, already over £7 billion ($10.9 billion) in the 2012-13 fiscal year.”
That notorious bastion of Scottish nationalism The Economist noting that there’s a North Sea oil bonanza on the way, even before taking likely price rises into account. Damn that volatility!

“This is called playing the race card. It is one of the most dangerous things an individual can do in any context, and of course normally done by politicians of the far right. But for a Labour blogger to do it in Scotland, where there is a hard worked for  and commendable cross-party and cross-society consensus against racial prejudice, and inject it into the highly charge debate on independence is despicable.”
Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, Ian Smart’s brother weighs in.

“One in five UK households borrowed money or used savings to cover food costs in April, a Which? survey says. It suggests the equivalent of five million households used credit cards, overdrafts or savings to buy food.”
Thank heavens for the security and stability of the Union.

“The problem with wonks is that they can’t deal with emotion and feeling, and they don’t like stories. It means that they cannot connect at all with the feelings and imaginations of the voters. Yet the think-tankers have built a sarcophagus of economic discourse around Westminster.”
Adam Curtis, brilliant as usual on the reality of Mrs Thatcher.

“George Osborne should abandon the tribal morality of austerity and, like Japan, print money not for banks but for people”
Austerity isn’t the only answer, but we don’t get to hear much in the UK press about the alternatives. This Guardian piece is the most comprehensible one we’ve read on how Japan is tackling chronic stagnation.

“Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said the policy of giving the benefits, including free TV licenses, to all older people regardless of their wealth “needs to be looked at”. Later, Labour aides said the policy had not changed and that Mr Miliband would ensure that the benefits were paid to all, regardless of income.”
“We don’t know what we’re doing.”

“A jobless father has taken his own life following a battle with benefits bosses, his heartbroken family revealed last night.”
Just the latest of many. How many more?

Right, back to work. The seaside already seems a million miles away.

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20 to “Various occurrences”

  1. handclapping says:

    The Which piece reminds me why I want to be on the lifeboat not the Titanic.
    Britain is bust and Westminster isn’t working

  2. tartanpigsy says:

    At huge risk of being quarantined can I ask everyone to support Illuminate the Debates next rally on 18th May. We are in need of as much publicity as possible. We are in need of more volunteers to distribute leaflets. And most importantly we need as many of you as possible to get to the rally. This will with all your help be the biggest, expose of the media’s shallow, substandard, and totally imbalanced coverage of the referendum to date.

  3. Jiggsbro says:

    We are in need of as much publicity as possible
    You’re in need of media coverage, which of course you won’t get.

  4. The Man in the Jar says:

    That bit of seaside in your link doesn’t look half as good as a Scottish one. Where are the mountains / hills in the distance?
    Having had to live in a flat landscape for many years I longed for some decent scenery. Even worse when I visited Alberta “The sky was way too big!”
    Also when returning from a tour of duty in the Falklands that took us away for five months, including one month spent at sea. On the bus from Glasgow airport to Kirknewton it was strange to see grown men getting excited at seeing trees.
    Strange how the mind works. Anyway I hope that you had a very well earned rest.

  5. Seasick Dave says:

    On the bus from Glasgow airport to Kirknewton it was strange to see grown men getting excited at seeing trees.

    A YouTube moment.

  6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “That bit of seaside in your link doesn’t look half as good as a Scottish one. Where are the mountains / hills in the distance?”

    To be fair, Weston-super-Mare’s closest Scottish equivalent is probably Portobello, so it’s doing not too bad 😀

  7. handclapping says:

    Rev, can I use that recommendation for the Porty Reporter?

  8. Caroline Corfield says:

    Totally off topic sorry….I spent 6 weeks offshore of Angola and after the half way part I put up a picture of the trees in Glasgow Green by way of a refamiliarisation with land training bit of daft, above the photo is said “What are these objects?” And there is nothing can beat the smell of soil after six weeks at sea.

  9. tartanfever says:

    Thanks for using the Adam Curtis quote (you know I’m a fan) – follow the link provided by the Rev. and you will be able to watch the hour long film ‘The Attic’.
    Curtis films, although being made some years ago, are extremely relevant to our referendum debate because he deals with perceptions of history, politics and institution. How our society is constructed through myths and how this affects our perception of ourselves. Never dull, never boring, his films are eye opening.

  10. Yesitis says:

    Kind of OT.
    I see over on the Better Together Facebook page that the ‘likes’ are coming in faster over the last six hours than they had been in the last six days (a drought of just 12 ‘likes’ yesterday). 560 ‘likes’ so far today, not bad considering the most likes on a single day during the last six days was 40.
    I have a feeling we are entering one of those BT 1000-a-day ‘likes’ periods.
    Something to do with Yes Scotland beginning to open up a near 7000 ‘likes’ lead, perhaps?
    Can`t have that, can we?

  11. lumilumi says:

    Thanks, Rev Stu, for documenting the daily reading. Even if you were a bit frail after your day at the seaside.;-)

  12. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Thanks, Rev Stu, for documenting the daily reading. Even if you were a bit frail after your day at the seaside.;-)”

    I’m still knackered, actually. The seaside takes it out of you, and people are NOT making it better today by squabbling like children on a sugar high. Your fascinating comment about the Finnish electoral system helped keep me sane, so thanks for that 🙂

  13. lumilumi says:

    @Rev. Stu
    I didn’t even explain all the ins and outs of it, and how simple and more democratic it is.
    To soothe your knackered evening, I’ll tell how the voters, yes, actually the voters, decide the order on party lists.
    The parties put forth candidates but they’re listed alphabetically and given a number (in a PR system, all constituencies are multi-MP constituencies), voters write the number of their preferred candidate on the ballot card and whoever gets most votes on a list is in top position to get elected in our d’Hondt propotional representation system. Sometimes partybüro favourites are left licking their wounds while popular local candidates win. Oh, and Finnish MPs are required to actually live in their costituency, nobody can be “parachuted into a safe seat”, as happens in the UK.
    Well, that’s only democracy. Nothing the grandmother of all Parliaments would want to do with.

  14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    I’ve always liked Finland, and now I like it more.

  15. Morag says:

    Lumilumi, do you mean your actual elections use the d’Hondt system? Can you tell me whether the Finnish parliament has equal numbers of constituency and list members, or if there are more constituency members as there are in the Scottish version?

  16. lumilumi says:

    The Finnish parliament has 200 MPs, one of which becomes the Speaker and has no vote, so in effect we have 199 MPs = no vote can ever be a tie. BTW, when the Finnish unicameral, full suffrage parliament (yes, women had the vote and could stand as candidates, a cousin of my great-grandfather’s was one of the first ever woman MPs in the world) was set up in 1906 – 11 years before our independence – the population was less than 3 million. Now we’re 5.2 million but still have only 200 MPs and no plans to change that.
    Finland is divided into 15 electoral districts and all MPs are elected from these districts on a d’Hond’t system. There are no FPTP constituency seats. The electoral districts mainly follow old “county” boundaries but are also defined by population. Electoral districts in northern Finland (Lapland), northeastern, eastern Finland tend to be very large geographically but small populationwise. South and southwest, west are more populous. The north/northeast have slightly more MPs than they’d be entiteld to populationwise – I think that’s only fair, to make their voice heard over the southern masses. I think most Finns think so, because it’s fair. Most Finns are also happy to pay high taxes to help others less fortunate, we still have this idea of our common home, although globalisation, neo-liberalism etc. are eroding that sense of community. Finland is not the perfect place but is hell of a lot better than the UK. Our mainstream right-wing party is well left of British Labour!
    The “problem” with the Finnish system is that you don’t have your “own” local MP that you can complain to about potholes or the local health centre or whatever, because all MPs are regional list MPs. Finns don’t see this as a problem, though, it’s always (well, since 1906) been like that, and our local councils have a lot of power (they raise and spend half of the tax). The political culture in Finland and Scotland/UK are just so different. All Finnish governments are coalitions, a one-party government would be an abomination in Finland – right now we’ve got six parties in our coalition government! 😀

  17. Morag says:

    Thank you for that.  Obviously there are more variations on the d’Hondt system than I was aware of.  I quite like the version that was imposed on us, after having lived with it for four elections, but I’m interested to hear about others.

  18. lumilumi says:

    It’s just a question of political culture. Scotland now has a partly PR, partly FPTP system and people seem happy with that. To have their “local” or “own” MSP and then list MSPs making it sort of proportionally representative (= reflecting the popular vote).
    One thing Scots will have to learn, especially if/when Scotland votes YES in 2014, is that all future governments will likely be coalitions. The thing about coalition governments is that no party can keep all their manifesto promises – not that UK single-party governments have kept theirs.
    Finns know this, and don’t expect the party they voted for to keep all manifesto promises. Everybody knows that you have to compromise, find common ground, find a consensus. It’s a totally different political culture, and Scotland and Scots can’t be expected to suddenly get away from the UK-style bipartisen style of politics.
    I find it deeply ironic, and sad, that the two countries in the world that make the most noise about democracy, are actually deeply undemocratic countries, with their FPTP and bipartisan politics. US, UK, Better Together, aye?

  19. Morag says:

    Can’t argue with that.

    I think the SNP majority is an aberration, right enough.  An aberration caused by the persistent fielding of a bunch of complete incompetents by the other parties leaving voters with no alternative.  Right now there is a problem with partisanship and refusal to work with others on the part of the usual suspects, but hopefully it’ll all settle down and the parliament will work properly before too long.

  20. Davy says:

    Here’s one for the books, on yesterdays STV six o’clock news the labour candiate for the Aberdeen Donside by-election “Willie Young” was interviewed on the street, what a balls-up he made of it. The interviewer just asked him if he supported student tutition fee’s like his leader Johann Lamont and he would’nt answer, he even tried to say its a complex question to answer, but the interviewer immediately replied it was very simple to answer “did he support tutition fee’s for students or did he not”. We are still waiting for an answer !!! I believe he will be needing Lamont ‘speech trainer’ before his next interview.
    Vote No – get nothing, Vote YES – get a country.

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