Scotland V England

This Friday Scotland play England in the delayed Euro 2020 and if you watch ITV or BBC you’d get the impression that the only team people want to know about is the English team. IN fact even when other teams are playing at some point, England will be brought up and that fucking Gazza goal in Euro 96, but let’s remember the summer of 1977 and when an English goalkeeper was made to look stupid by a Scotland player.

England vs Scotland: Our favourite classic moments ahead of clash | England  football team, England football, Kenny dalglish

Now that should be shown every five minutes…

Scotland’s Euro 2020 campaign

It’s the delayed Euros and Glasgow is shaping up with the fanzone in George Square and the impending sense of doom as Scotland face our first tournament in 23 years (for the men, the women qualified a few years back) with some sense of optomism. Of course most people are prepared for things to fuck up because that would be the most Scottish thing our mens team can do.

But let us revel in this pre-tournament phase of joy and enjoy the fun of this before the usual glorious failure of a Scotland campaign…

The aftermath of the 2021 Scottish election

The Scottish election was won by pro-independence parties in the shape of the SNP and the Greens. True, the SNP failed to get a majority by itself but the Holyrood sysyem isn’t designed for single parties to win majorities, so this result is what was expected to happen but the narrative a second independence referendum hinged purely on a SNP majority started early.

There was never a tight contest. This was a lie but it is now the mainsteam UK narrative as the sheer, blind unthinking fear of Scotland becoming independent has been unleashed the last few days with even the eldtritch horror of Gordon Brown stomping around giving the same statements we’ve heard for ages.

The fact is an independence referendum is a long, long way away. The earliest we’re looking at is 2023, realistically 2024 as the SNP have said they’re fine with letting the Covid recovery happen, then putting together a bill, then waiting for the electoral commision to agree on the terms of the vote, including the question then give at least 6 months time to campaign and we’re looking some time just before the next Westminster election. This assumes as well of course there’s little legal action as the UK government are likely to dig in hard so we could see a second referendum going beyong autumn 2024.

Yet even so there is a blind panic because the Unionist side know that there’s 20-30% of the electorate who are ‘soft’ no voters last time who are more open potentially to voting yes this time, plus the demographic is changing as older no voters pass away and younger voters come through who are likely to vote yes. A good campaign for independence and a bad one for the Union means Scotland leaves the UK to stew in the forthcoming insanity of the Tories running riot so for now expect to see delaying tactics pushing this vote back til the next Westminster election, and beyond.

Basically we’re in a big, bloody mess and it’ll take a hard push to get where we need to go just as the post Covid world begins to shape around us and the reality of Brexit kicks in for most people.

2021’s painful Scottish election campaign

Being a political geek this year’s Scottish election campaign should fill me with excitement but with days to go I have to say this campaign is one of the worst campaigns I’ve seen in any election which speaks out as to how awful the thing is. Part of the problem lies with the opposition parties who haven’t a dash of vision or opportunity between them, but the SNP, as well as the Greens have also fought a frankly rubbish campaign in what is a vitally important election for Scotland and one which should beckon independence but won’t.

This election should be about not just the right of the people of Scotland to hold an independence referendum when they want, but also about holding to account the government as well as the opposition, but instead, it’s become a tiresome slanging match with Tories slanging SNP, SNP slanging Alba (Alex Salmond’s pro-independence party) with Labour’s dreary ‘hey guys let’s stop fighting but not really‘ approach. There is also a paucity of ideas not helped by the inter-party squabbles of some SNP and Alba supporters. I feel sorry for my fellow countrypeople in this vote trying to make their mind up.

As for myself I don’t think the SNP will use yet another mandate to fight for independence, far too much for them to lose, plus the Greens are happy in their current relationship so another indy supporting party isn’t a bad idea and indeed, many of those piously attacking Alba now were fully supportive of RISE (another attempt at an indy supporting party) last time around. As it stands my main vote will go to the SNP because there’s a very good candidate to vote for, but my list vote is up for grabs as voting SNP on the list is a waste in Glasgow, voting Green means supporting some policies I strongly disagree with, and Alba is a whole can of worms, so either I’ll hold my nose and vote for one of them or leave my list vote blank. This is not how it should be days before the most important Scottish election in my lifetime when we should be pushing hard for independence before Boris Johnson and the Tories strip devolution apart while further destroying people’s lives.

A quick word about the Alex Salmond/Nicola Sturgeon situation

Nicola Sturgeon today sat for eight hours being questioned by a mainly hostile comittee about whether she basically lied in the case of her predecessor Alex Salmond. The case is complex if you’re not an expert in constitutional law. Basically it’s a big old mess and it’s not going to get any clearer after today thanks to especially Jackie Ballie who asked not one sensible question and seemed more interested in pushing a personal issue than actually getting to the truth of the matter which may actually bring Sturgeon down, had Ballie been of course smart enough to realise this.

There’s a lot to digest but all that will happen is today’s questioning will reinforce opinions of those with an already set out position. So pro Sturgeon supporters will dig in, anti Sturgeon types will dig in and although there may be people who seeing the First Minister so relentlessly questioned for so long (imagine for a second Boris Johnson putting himself through that level of scrutiny? Nah, me neither) will even come out in support. But the truth will be lost and there does seem to be questions to still be answered however all that’ll happen after today is positions will be hardened and to most, this will boil over.

It does speak of the dreadful position of our MSP’s that most of them aren’t able to put their own positions aside and stick to their remit, and it does suggest the list system is in dire need of a revamp with time limits being imposed as right now MSP’s can ride to the top of their list and never actually be directly elected. That needs to change so a say, two term time limit is in order. It’ll lose the odd good MSP in the shape of Andy Wrightman who has been a massive asset to Scottish politics, but it’ll clear a lot of rubbish out so hopefully we get better overall MSP’s.

Return to lockdown…

Midnight tonight the city of Glasgow goes back into lockdown, except for me who have now been classed by my employer as an ‘esssential worker’ so I get to larp as Charlton Heston in the Omega Man going through deserted streets for the next fortnight.

Truth is I expect the lockdown to last longer as frankly, too many arseholes are ignoring the rules but they tend to be the first complaining loudly, but here we are again but in the cold, damp darkness that is a Glasgow winter as opposed to spring/summer. This time it could push people over the edge as after all, we were never designed to be this antisocial as a species and as Covid-19 loves people, it means Christmas could be cancelled for a lot of people this year. It could be bleak this winter indeed.

But I’m somehow promoted to a ‘key worker’ so clap for me…

It’s not bad being Scottish

For 22 years Scotland’s mens team have failed to qualify for any international competition. It has been agony. Last night it stopped thanks to a stupedous performance in Serbia and now, we’re going to the delated finals of Euro 2020 causing this reaction in Sky TV’s studio.

And this is fairly representative of living rooms across the country, mine included.

So it is no longer shite being Scottish. It’ actually quite fun.

Scottish independence support hits an all time high

A new poll for STV puts support for Scottish independence at 58%, the highest ever since probably there was an Act of Union 300 years ago. There’s a number of reasons for this ranging to the forthcoming horror of Brexit, to how the British state has failed over how it’s handling the Covid crisis through to Boris fucking Johnson and his cabinet of clowns but in reality the fact is people is people are fucked off with the British state, how it’s run and the failure of that state to live up to the promises of the 2014 independence referendum that won them the vote six years ago.

This of course is a great starting point for a second referendum campaign whenever that may be because it realistically ain’t happening this side of 2022, however there’s a real sense of panic from the Unionist side as they know the game is up. Their plan now seems to be to obstruct as long as possible or strip Scotland of powers and bring it back under central control which is a crap idea but this is the government of Boris Johnson.

So we shall see but we’ve hit a landmark. Where to go next is down to us.

Scotland’s proposed hate crime laws are an illiberal mess.

There’s a lot bout Scotland to praise from how the NHS is still free to its arts to attempts to make us more akin to a liberal Scandinavian democracy than whatever the UK is turning into. On the whole, the governing party of Scotland, the SNP, have guided Scotland in right directions over the last decade but they have a problem with well meaning, but legally troubling laws. The ‘Named Person’ idea was, and is, a great one but was badly put together legally as was The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act was an actual attempt to deal with sectarian abuse in Scottish football but again, it fell apart because it was well meaning but legally a mess.

The latest bill to come down the line in such a way is the proposed new hate crimes law which finally gets rid of blasphemy in Scottish law but replaces it with new types of blasphemies which a progressive 21st century democracy should not have. To quote from this piece

Offences are currently aggravated by prejudice against a victim’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or their transgender identity.

Hate crime can take many forms including verbal abuse or insults, assault and damage to property, but also online abuse on sites like Facebook or Twitter.

When a criminal is convicted of a hate crime, an ‘aggravation’ can be added to their sentence, meaning that if, for example, someone attacks an individual based on their race, then a racial aggravation can be added to the crime of assault.

The Scottish Government’s proposed legislation would incorporate the existing aggravating factors but also add the characteristic of age, with the potential to include sex at a later date so misogynistic harassment can become a standalone offence.

If passed by parliament, the Hate Crime Bill, will also make “stirring up of hatred” extend to all the characteristics, rather than just against race, which has been an offence in Scots law for decades.

The characteristics aimed to be protected under the bill are listed below.

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), or ethnic or national origins
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Transgender identity
  • Variations in sex characteristics

So far, so relatively uncontroversial though one has to ask why sex is not included in the list (it may be added at a later date) when we live in a time when misogyny is rife and other, more vague criteria is included.The issue rises when we hit what makes an offence which is the offence of ‘stirring up hatred’ which under these proposals would make it an offence for a person to behave in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner, or to communicate threatening, abusive or insulting material to another person where in doing so, the person intends to stir up hatred against a group of people by reference to race, colour, nationality (including citizenship), or ethnic or national origin. The problem comes when the offence is that someone is ‘likely’ to result in hatred.

This opens up the bills from one supposedly designed to update hate crime laws to one which suddenly closes down free speech and freedom of expression while opening up a Pandora’s Box where any group could easily abuse the act to suppress an opposing opinion. Imagine a group of highly organised people organising a campaign to get someone prosecuted because they don’t like what they’ve said? Removing religious blasphemy for secular blasphemy is not progress.

What marks criticism of this out from other bills is the level in which Scotland’s legal organisations themselves are providing warning and lead the opposition to parts of the bill which will limit freedom of expression and will criminalise people who may well be unpopular among a section of people, but offering a different opinion may offend but if as a society we limit offence then we’re heading towards a very controlling, bland society. So to take just comedy, this bill could criminalise Frankie Boyle, Billy Connolly, The Life of Brian and much of the rest of Monty Python’s output, the works of Chris Morris and pretty much any important work of comedy of the last century.

Juries will have to decide if a statement, or a work of art, or just a Tweet, is designed ‘to stir up hatred and as the bill excludes protecting “expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse” it seems as said, designed for small, powerful groups to target individuals especially, If we’ve hit a point where society is so weak, and arguments are so thin that they need to game the system then we are basically fucked.

So I hope the SNP listen, take the bill back and change it otherwise it’ll become law and a few high profile cases will show it to be a mockery, and the Scottish Government will have to rethink something which will not do what it may set out to do. We need a society where dissent is tolerated.

The strange world of George Galloway

Galloway is an odd figure. A once-respected (well, from some)  firebrand of the left managed to destroy his reputation and image by a succession of increasingly unpleasant steps into politics that involved him becoming the sort of person he’d once rally against. His latest stunt is to ally with Tories and Unionists to oppose Scottish independence as a talking head for the Alliance For Unity party, who are a motley mix of hard/far right types and Unionists desperate for anything to fight the rise in support for independence.

He’s somehow managed to become a figurehead for these people as he goes full Farage as he too becomes Steve Bannon and Michael Gove’s latest glove puppet. The thinking seems to be that Galloway is left-wing (which is dubious), and most folk in Scotland are leftish so the people will flock behind him and chase the Nasty Nats out of town.  The problem is Galloway has an image problem and not just related to this insanity from Big Brother.

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Galloway is the act of a desperate foe. An attempt to unify the Unionist cause behind a Farageist figure who they think will win. but many soft Unionists or genuine undecideds, or simply No votes from 2014 will be horrified at his suggestion only born Scots should vote in a second referendum, and that Scottish born immigrants in the rest of the UK should have the vote. Essentially full-blown ethnic nationalism, something the Unionists accuse Indy supporters of.

The fact is the only way it should be decided is by those living in Scotland eligible to vote. Galloway is a desperate sad act who exists only for the furtherment of Galloway and this is purely his latest grift. Remember this in the months ahead as a small minority pretend he’s some sort of giant killer.