Refusing to grant a Scottish independence referendum is undemocratic

Theresa May is saying that she’ll block any attempt to hold a second Scottish independence referendum before Brexit is done. May’s reason is she wants the ‘UK to work together’ and says it wouldn’t be fair to make an ‘informed choice’ while there’s so much uncertainty. Yes, that’s coming from the person who since taking over the job has said ”Brexit means Brexit” for months when asked for clarity.

So we’re in a fucked up situation. A democratically elected party (SNP) who forms the Scottish Government has been told it can’t hold a referendum when it wants (before the Brexit talks end to provide a lifeboat for Scotland) and Holyrood (which has a pro-independence majority with the SNP and Greens combined) has been told it doesn’t matter by a Tory PM who is running a set of policies nobody voted for and didn’t even have an election herself to become leader.

Next week Holyrood has a vote on whether to ask Westminster for the powers to hold a referendum. It seems that power will be refused. From there is anyone’s guess, but I hope May’s government is taken to court as I suspect this isn’t just about using Scotland and it’s assets as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations (especially with Spain who want at least joint sovereignty of Gibraltar) as well as ensuring that if Scotland does have a referendum after Brexit that she gets full control of it. As we should know by now, May is a harsh authoritarian and is listening to fuckwits like Liam Fox but this is such a hypocritically cloth-eared piece of politics that she clearly thinks she can hold the UK together via threats.

Of course  second referendum isn’t actually blocked by May yet. The vote in Holyrood isn’t til next week and we’ll find out then if May’s this much of an undemocratic authoritarian, or if she’s just a reboot of Margaret Thatcher.

If this clash brings about the end of the UK then bring it on.

The first Scottish independence referendum was held and lost two years ago today

Two years ago today the people of Scotland went to the polls to answer the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’. They said no, voting 55% to 45% to stay part of the United Kingdom and I’d imagine a lot of people went through that first weekend thinking that was it. Scottish independence was dead and Scotland would take whatever’s coming down from Westminster.

Then the day after, the celebrations started…

Looking at the video above is a fascinating glimpse into what spurred independence back on the agenda that weekend. The violence from No supporters that day remains something defenders of the Union have never, ever addressed mainly because they can’t. If they accept that then they accept the violent nature of the some Unionist supporters.

But within hours of the No vote the debate shifted from Scotland to England, and the likes of Nigel Farage decided to kick Scotland down to the ground in the early hours of the 19th September.

It’s interesting to see two years later hearing Farage’s comments as they paved the way for the debate from the more staunch defenders of the UK. ”Scottish MPs should shut up’ being one of many frequent mantras, as is the idea the independence campaign was violent and thuggish on the Yes side. Again, here’s Nigel Farage showing the way..

I’m an subjective commentator, but if you’re objective there’s no way to listen to Farage’s words without noticing the rather obvious dislike of Scotland and the hypocrisy of his own criticisms, but what’s depressing is how quickly these comments became assimilated into the anti-independence mantra.

Of course even on the weekend of the result people didn’t give up and for some the fight continued..

Fact is independence should have died that weekend. It should have resulted in people giving up, but it didn’t. The promises made to gain a No vote crumbled in the weeks, months and years after the result, benefiting not just the SNP who had seen Alex Salmond stand down and replaced by Nicola Sturgeon as leader, but the Greens to such an extent that right now in the Scottish Parliament there is a majority of MSP’s who support independence.

One of the last big promises made to keep Scotland in the Union was its membership of the EU, something now under threat thanks to the oncoming storm that is Brexit, the key Nigel Farage policy outwith of xenophobia and racism.


In the wake of the EU referendum polls showed an increase of support for an independent Scotland with even the staunchly Unionist Daily Record suggesting they’d back Sturgeon if she went for a second referendum.


There’s now a situation where a second referendum is on the cards with timing being the issue as after all, although polls now three months on from the EU referendum show support for independence to be fairly static, the polls in the few weeks after show that in the right circumstances and with the right arguments enough people will support independence. That’s something I imagine not lost upon Unionists or indeed, Brexit supporters who realise that next time the status quo is going to be whatever half-arsed cobbled together deal Theresa May will have gotten from the EU, and just how bad Brexit has spun out. There’s no way that the status quo won’t be a Tory one.

Before though anybody says ‘what about Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’? Well, what about them? Corbyn’s not impressed at all in regards to Scotland showing himself to simply have picked up exactly the same rhetoric Ed Milliband used but we have now a Labour leader who supports Irish unity, is a left winger and would tell you the history of the left and the current political state of various countries in Central or South America but is without a clue in regards a country a few hundred miles from where he lives. I’m more than sympathetic to how he’s being attacked by the media, but he’s not the messiah many on the English left think he is to revive Labour in Scotland.

As for Labour, they’re considering going into partnership with the Tories to help them retain Glasgow council next year, something which would kill off any remaining credibility the party clings to in Scotland.

There’s no sign Brexit will start this year. Theresa May’s said invoking the mechanism to start that process, Article 50, isn’t going to happen til 2017. Rumour is that may well be early in 2017, though the EU themselves are getting itchy and want the UK gone and countries like Japan and the US have made it clear they’re not going to hang around waiting for the UK to sort themselves out so are carrying on business with the EU without us. Any deal May might get looks set to be vetoed unless the UK grants free movement which won’t please racists like Nigel Farage, so Scotland faces a choice; stay in the UK and be dragged into whatever grim resurgent imperialistically xenophobic future awaits, or leaving the UK to make it’s own future.

That future won’t be won by aping the actions or rhetoric of Unionists, it’ll only happen if Yes voters channel that excitement, positivity, intelligence and drive towards speaking to No voters or undecided voters. That’s something happening today in Glasgow as the Yes Movement starts gearing up for what will be a very different campaign to that which was lost in September 2014. That time saw a 30-35% lead whittled down to 10%. This time sees the Union side with a 5-10% lead and a volatile situation out of their control with Brexit showing that the ‘stable status quo’ may well not be what people want.

Two years on a second referendum looks winnable if things slot into place right, or it could be lost ending any hope of independence in my lifetime, probably of the lifetime of the generation after me. The stakes next time are far too high to rush into a referendum where if lost, leaves Scotland at the mercy of people who like think Nigel Farage for generations and we won’t have the EU or human rights legislation to temper their worst excesses.

So today, two years on there’s hope. This could be the start of something amazing…

Good Morning Britain

This morning the UK has a Tory government. Not a coalition, but a full on Conservative government. All the polls were wildly wrong (bar the odd Guardian one that put the Tories six or seven points ahead of Labour) but those astonishing exit polls were spot on. Of course the possibility is that people were ashamed to say they were voting Tory, and right now apart from the diehards social media is curiously absent of people proclaiming that they voted Tory, but still that’s oddly not the story of the night.

The story of the night is the SNP. They’re on 56 seats out of 59 in Scotland. I think even the most optimistic SNP supporter expected the map of Scotland to look like this compared to five years ago.


One Tory, one Labour, one Lib Dem each left in Scotland. 56 anti-austerity MP’s united by a common message and all from a variety of backgrounds outside of the political bubble, and of course the welcome return to Westminster of Alex Salmond who should at the very least make the opposition to the Tories interesting. The SNP now have to live up to the massive mandate they now have at Westminster and will probably get next year at Holyrood.

Everyone else lost. Labour and the Lib Dems got hammered for failing to present an alternative vision and being attached to the Tories respectfully. Labour’s failure that started the moment Tony Blair got rid of Clause 4 is now complete and seeing MP’s like Douglas Alexander, Margaret Curran and Jim Murphy be kicked out isn’t just because they stood with the Tories at the referendum last year, but because they’ve failed Scotland and the UK to line their own pockets and put the party first. Labour have to realise they cannot ever come back from this by being a centre right party and this excellent blog by the journalist Paul Mason should be the first thing any new Labour leader reads. Labour now have to find out what they actually are as they’re not a party of the left, or the right, or the centre. Milliband could have headed up a united left but he failed. Fuck, he could have actually been of the left!

And then there’s the Lib Dems. They’re not even going to get double figures in terms of MP’s. They’ve failed on a massive scale and Nick Clegg only seems to have saved his arse thanks to Tory voters backing him. Liberal values are gone, lost because five years ago Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander and the rest fancied those big ministerial cars, the salaries, the expenses and the power. They enabled the Tories all the way and failed to pull them back so their destruction means little to me, but I do think there’s a need for a party of the centre.

That party could be the Greens but they too failed to get more than one MP. The same number as UKIP that couldn’t even get Nigel Farage elected, and frankly fuck UKIP. I don’t really want to think of the implications of today regarding UKIP.

But this morning we face five more years of the Tories, probably helped along with the bigots in the DUP, and thanks to the Fixed Terms Parliament Act, the only way of getting rid of them is a vote of no-confidence and I have no confidence that Labour will support one of those as right now the candidates for replacing Ed Milliband are equally uninspiring and reek of the same political class that so alienated voters from Milliband’s Labour. The Tories now stand to make £12 billion in cuts, spend £20 billion of tax cuts for the rich, privatise the NHS, demonise immigrants, the poor, the disabled or anyone that isn’t them.

On this morning the only hope is the SNP and their allies the Greens and Plaid Cymru. A larger anti-austerity voice poking and prodding the Tories (and there are some elected SNP MP’s outside of Salmond who are quickly going to become hate figures from the right wing press and the Tories) at every single opportunity. The one thing 56 SNP MP’s guarantee is that they’ll have a voice (and as the third largest party they get the right to be third in every single Prime Minister’s Questions) and it is going to be heard and it will change the UK as right now the Tories have no mandate to govern in Scotland, a point barely being mentioned right now because the implications of that are enormous.

But there is hope for the people of England and Wales. Plaid Cymru have seen their vote share rise, and local English parties like Yorkshire First have made their first baby steps at introducing a English regional form of the SNP’s social democracy and civic nationalism to counteract UKIP’s far right racism and the Tory/Labour Unionism. Leftish voters voting UKIP may be doing so because for all of UKIP’s obvious bigotry they provide an anti establishment voice, something Labour don’t do and don’t understand that a number of people have had their fill of the British establishment.

Labour can shed their skin too thanks to the electorate getting rid of some major figures. They can think about doing something new, not just aping Tory or UKIP ideas and that will mean a lot of pain but frankly even had Labour been put into power today, they’d still have to adapt but this gives them the jolt they needed because frankly, this is probably their worst defeat in a UK election in my lifetime. Perhaps if they’d supported electoral reform during the 13 years they had in government things could be different, but every single mistake Labour has made over the last 30 years has come back to punish them today. So those that still believe in the Labour idea need to stop throwing around blame, dry their eyes and sort it out because the people of England need them to.

See, five more years of the Tories mean lives being ruined and destroyed. It means the end of the welfare state. It means something terrible but it’s not all lost, but take today to drown your sorrows and start tomorrow to fight against the Tories and unite behind the progressive parties because right now they’re all we’ve got to fight the Tories on their own ground of Westminster.

One last word to the people of England from a Scot wanting a SNP sweep in the election…

It’s nearly the day of the general election and so much hinges on getting the Tories out as they with their Lib Dem or UKIP enablers will destroy lives over the next five years if they manage to form another government. In fact leaked coalition documents revealed in the Guardian today show that people, especially young people, the sick, the disabled and unemployed, are going to be hurt badly if Cameron gets back in. This isn’t to say I’ve had a Damascan conversion to Labour, I’ve not as a majority Labour government could be as terrible but in different ways as the Labour Party of today needs to be tempered hence my wish for the SNP (and their allies the Greens and Plaid Cymru) to get as many MP’s as possible.

I’ve had Labour supporters tell me ‘but you really want a Labour government so just vote Labour’, but as said, I don’t want a Labour government and I’ve outlined before why I’ll never vote Labour again a few months back. Ultimately because of the system we have either the Tories or Labour are going to form the main core of the government, and seeing as I think the Tories are scum. it makes sense to offer support to Labour in the hope that they listen, and possibly make things better for the UK.

Yet there’s been reluctance from many Labour supporters to even consider SNP support and rumours still persist that some close to Milliband would prefer to let the Tories back in than be put into government by the SNP. I’ve had friends on social media and in the real world voice their concern about the SNP, and yes, the word ‘nationalist’ is used purely as a pejorative with no understanding of Scotland’s old tradition of civic nationalism and how vastly different it is to cultural nationalism, which is what British Unionists pretend to be, but the problem is there is no shared British culture or identity. I can go from my home here in Bristol to Cardiff and experience a vastly different culture, heritage and idea of ‘Britishness’ there and the truth is that a form of conservative nationalism has been spawned that sadly the Labour Party buy right into as much as the right wing parties do.

Now there may be a confusion here as some readers will think there’s only one type of nationalism and that’s that nasty UKIP/BNP type, but here’s the thing: there isn’t and unless one believes in a One World government there will always be borders, and if there’s borders then one defines themselves in the nationalism they wrap around themselves. So you can be inclusive and welcome anyone to your country and they are effectively Scottish, or you can demonise immigrants/asylum seekers and Other them as the Tories, UKIP and Labour have over the last 15 years.

Then there’s the socialist argument that Scotland should still vote Labour in solidarity with their comrades in England, but that is easily shot down as Scotland has voted dutifully for Labour for generations. They acted according to old British Labour and socialist principles and barely got support from many on the left south of the border.  When Scotland made it clear they were rejecting Labour in massive numbers many on the left didn’t, and don’t bother to understand the changes in the political landscape or the fact that people may have socialist principles or ideas, but things have developed, and anyhow, a country like Scotland is never going to effect serious change waiting for the disparate left in England to pull the finger out of their collective arses to enact serious change. I’ve said before that many are locked into a binary battle to the death with the Tories that they miss the potential path Scotland offers.

England can find and develop its own socially democratic inclusive path just as Wales is starting too and they’ll find their closest allies in that will be the people of Scotland as although I feel the Union is dead, that doesn’t mean the three largest parts (I’m not even going to suggest a solution to the problems of Northern Ireland as that’s beyond my feeble mind) of the Union cannot form common bonds and create something new, positive and wonderful from the bloody mess of the Union. A close relationship of equals rather than an unequal partnership where England dominates due to it’s massive size in comparison to the other countries is more civilised, more befitting 21st century societies than one constantly looking to the past dreaming Imperial dreams of Great Wars that were never great, or continuing a bloodline that sees one family stand over the people unelected and unaccountable. The Union is a comfort blanket and it’s flag is a bloody shroud and for good reason the Union Flag is called the ‘Butcher’s Apron’.

Now for many people I’ve just written some pretty extreme things, and I imagine even Labour supporters may bristle at what they’ve read, but when you see Ed Milliband rebrand Labour as ‘One Nation Labour’ I only see Labour express their own nationalism and it’s that of everything that’s bad about the Union. This isn’t to say I’ve always felt like this. I’ve not, but on Sunday I was in London for a comic mart and while cutting through Victoria Station the Union Flag was hanging everywhere.


I felt revulsion not because of the flag itself but of what it represents. It represents a nation that’d rather cling onto ‘heritage’ than feed it’s people. That would rather it celebrate the deaths of millions of young men in pointless wars than house people, including the young returning from today’s pointless wars. A nation that has the disabled demonised and spat on in the street. A nation that is not colourblind but sees people that look nothing like them as a threat. A nation clinging onto the very idea of itself and that puts a small elite at the top of the pile and keeps them there.

Then yesterday I saw this picture over at Wings Over Scotland.


This was taken as people waited for the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Greenock yesterday. You’ve got the Rangers supporting Unionists (one of which allegedly has some serious form) representing the past both supporting a dead club and a dying concept and a wee girl holding a saltire proudly aloft representing the future. She probably gets it, so I ask my friends and those that don’t know me to get it too.

The SNP are not perfect, but they’re a tool to allow a large part of Scotland to effect change. Yes of course they’ll act for Scotland but because of the Westminster system their actions will aid the poorest,the weakest, the less able in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If they vote down tuition fees, help repeal the bedroom tax and force Labour not to just drop austerity, but roll back Cameron’s cuts then imagine a better country?

There is nothing to fear from civic nationalists like the SNP. There is nothing to fear about questioning the entire purpose and history of the Union. There should only be good people uniting to rid the UK of the Tories and making a progressive alliance of parties (the SDLP will also support Labour) representing all four countries in the UK work. This isn’t to say that Scottish independence isn’t going to happen as I think it will and within my lifetime, but for now there’s a chance for genuine reform and change but I implore people to drop their old preconceptions, open their minds and think. There might never be another chance like this in my lifetime so lets work together but in new ways to improve things once and for all.

So don’t vote Tory. Don’t vote UKIP. Don’t vote Lib Dem as they’re now Tories in all but name. Do vote SNP. Do vote Plaid Cymru. Vote Green in areas where they stand a bloody good chance. Vote Labour through gritted teeth if need be and hope they stay true even to the basic changes they’ve pledged themselves to. Hope Ed Milliband is smart enough to realise Nicola Sturgeon’s offer of a progressive alliance and if he is, then on Friday it could be a bright spring day for all of us, not just the few.

What I thought of The Leaders Debate

Last night was the first seven leader election debate last night and all sides are claiming their own victories. Truth is that depending upon your own political bias whomever you liked was always going to win but there’s some remarkable results in all the polls, forums, Tweets, and all and sundry after last night’s debate.

The first is that just the sight of three female party leaders, one of which is First Minister of Scotland, shook things up right away.As has been pointed out, Cameron, Clegg and Farage are all privately educated, and Cameron, Clegg and Milliband are spawned from elite universities. Sure Sturgeon went to Glasgow University but she’s from modest upper working class root, and Wood is from a similar background in Wales though Bennett has a different background but one removed from the London based political classes.All three women looked, sounded and acted differently to Cameron, Clegg and Milliband’s tired old techniques, and as for Farage, well Sturgeon and Wood did the most effective evisceration of him I’ve seen from a politician.

And Farage’s reply is to make a face. Here’s UKIP and Farage in it’s full anti-intellectual glory.

But all the leaders consolidated their core support, even Clegg as he flushed the last liberal bone in his body down the bog as he exposed himself as Cameron’s little lapdog. The interesting thing though are those people who’s eyes have been opened that the narrative of neoliberalism, austerity and constant blame of the sick, unemployed, immigrants, and all those that are the weakest in society is in fact, a false one. Sturgeon, Wood and Bennett showed that there’s another narrative, not an especially old or radical one but simply about accepting decent British values of equality, decency and fairness. It’s a debate that’s been lost since Blair dragged Labour lurching to the right creating a vacuum that’s enabled the likes of UKIP to slime its  way in and gain ground, but UKIP and Farage can be taken on headfirst as shown last night.

Also what was clear is how little, if at all, Cameron, Milliband and Clegg knew about Scottish or Welsh politics so were unable to speak about anything but the established London media/political bubble rhetoric about ‘long term economic plans’ rather than facts and details. They failed to paint a positive vision, as Sturgeon, Wood and Bennett did talk the UK’s parts up, as well as make it clear that most people aren’t bigoted little creatures like Farage.

It also brings England partly up to speed with a debate that’s seriously advanced in Scotland, and getting off the ground in Wales. Just from my English friend’s social media feeds it’s clear many were impressed with Sturgeon and would vote for her party if they could, so it’s broken the spell that the SNP are scary nationalists once and for all. It’s made Labour’s job in Scotland amazingly tough, and it’s oddly, probably helped Labour in England as the SNP have made it clear they’ll only support Labour, so people may well vote Labour in England hoping for the SNP’s support. That of course is going to hurt the Greens but I still feel they’ll add to their existing MP.

As for Cameron and Clegg, it really wasn’t a great night. Cameron spluttered and barely deviated from the script so he looked wooden and aloof, while Clegg is just a big liberal arsehole with his ‘good immigration and bad immigration’ line that made everyone instantly think of this.

Last night isn’t going to decide the result once and for all as there’s still weeks to go but is has changed things on the political landscape. Women are now seen as leaders of not only their parties, but countries. They didn’t use the same tired techniques. They engaged people on equal terms. That alone is magnificent for an English media struggling still to come to terms with the ramifications of the Scottish independence referendum.

I still think Scotland will be independent in my lifetime, but oddly enough the only result in the election that could save the Union in the next five years is a Labour/SNP government. A Tory/Lib Dem/UKIP one sees the UK die by 2020 but after seeing all the UK (bar the disgraceful lack of NI party leaders) in it’s political glory debate it’s over for the old Unionist idea that England=UK. The Union as we know it is done, it’s just the people of England don’t realise it yet, but Scotland does. After last night there’s a wee glimmer of hope that people now realise across these islands that the old order of tired middle aged men in suits arguing about the same straplines is dead, long live the future where all of us are treated the same and all of us can have the same chances.

The Labour Party have no plan for the future

I’ve just had an email from Labour asking me to vote for them in my constituency here in Bristol.


Thing is I’m going to vote for the Greens as they stand a chance of winning, aren’t mired in corruption, supporting illegal wars, voting for austerity, scandal ridden careerists many on Labour are. Also, the Greens are in an alliance with the SNP and Plaid Cymru, so it’s only way I can show my support for a progressive group of parties that should hopefully reform this country once and for all. Of course this is all wishful thinking and anyhow, I know all about my local MP having mentioned his actions previously.

The problem is that Labour aren’t campaigning here on a positive vision for the people of Bristol West, but using the same tactic they are in Scotland of negative campaigning to get the sitting MP out, or live on past glories or in this case, top all that with nothing at all about what Labour will do for this area, which as I’ve pointed out, is a pretty complex area mixing extreme poverty, middle class comfort, hipster-led gentrification and astonishing riches.

No, the astonishing thing is Labour trying to get cash and using this line.


Labour are painting a image of them making a new type of campaign, yet only a few days ago it was revealed they’ve got their own millionaire backer which is only one in a line of them.

Truth is both Tories and Labour are funded by a small group of millionaires as well as party memberships, but it’s these massive donations that allows both parties to have a iron grip on campaign spending and therefore what you and I see in the next few weeks before the election. Labour has no intention of fighting a different sort of campaign as anyone paying attention to Scotland can tell you, but the truth is that at the start of the election campaign both parties are going to lie, cheat, obfuscate and simply talk shite while all the time we get no positive vision of a country. Just this shite about voting to keep the other lot out and endless bouts of entitlement from the pair of them.

Be warned, this is only going to get worse in an election where Tory and Labour know neither stand any good chance of a clear majority so are going to pull every trick in the book.

Do you know who you’ll vote for in May?

This week on my Facebook I asked a series of questions in regards what people intend to vote for (assuming they vote at all) in the forthcoming general election. I asked about UKIP and got no reply yet I know one or two are thinking of voting for them. I asked about Tory and got no positive reply yet I know there’s several Conservative voters on my Facebook.

I expected nothing from these questions. One of the things I was trying to do is not only do a little experiment into confirmation bias when it comes to friends (in both the real and virtual worlds) as after all, someone like myself that’s very firmly of the left isn’t going to gather friendships with Conservatives naturally but I have done over the years. I’m certainly not too keen on Kippers as UKIP are of the far right so really wasn’t expecting anything positive from that but it’s the next questions that started getting responses. I asked if anyone was going to vote Lib Dem. Nobody said yes. They’ve hurt too many people and frankly pissed in their chips and the sheer sense of complete desperation from Lib Dems can be displayed by in this fumbling pathetic performance from dead man walking Danny Alexander in last week’s Question Time.

People that had previously voted Lib Dem were rightfully disgusted by them. A feeling I share for my local MP hence  my campaigning for the Greens over the next couple of months, and this brings me to the meat and gravy of the questioning as I asked who would vote Green/SNP/Plaid in May?

The answers were interesting. People in England would like to vote Green but think they’re not going to get rid of Cameron, yet there’s no real enthusiasm for what Labour stand for now. When asked who’s going to vote Labour people didn’t speak of the present but of the Labour Party of Hardie, Bevin and Benn rather than the party of Milliband, Balls and Murphy. There’s a longing of the past and that perhaps Labour might, this time, come good yet this myth is truly busted in Scotland where Labour are dying because the people of Scotland have discovered that the Wizard of Oz isn’t some great person looking out for us all, but a bunch of grubby career politicians spouting soundbites desperately clinging onto power.

This isn’t to say the SNP aren’t flawed. They are, but those on the left in England have to get up to speed with the debate in Scotland because as I said in the days after the referendum last September there’s many on the left in England being left behind by events in Scotland. Yet the Greens aren’t the answer for people on the left or centre in too many cases as yet again they’re waiting for Labour to come good (after 40 years does anyone seriously believe this?) or for a ‘true’ party of the left to come forth but the people of Scotland didn’t. They jumped on the SNP and it’s morphed from a party of the centre to one of the centre left, though under Sturgeon it’s looking to diversify even further to the left.

One of the other things I was trying to do is get people to challenge their opinions so that they don’t just blindly tick for Labour/Tory/SNP/etc because it’s what they always did, or that it’s to keep the Tories out.  People want genuine change but there’s still a reluctance for people to admit it’s not going to come from propping up the system which has caused people to become confused, and in some cases angry enough to vote for the far right UKIP.

Now the purpose of all this is to help me when I go door knocking for the Greens, or engage in debate for this party, and yet I’m not daft enough to use the line ”vote Green and you’re backing the SNP’ as people still cling onto the belief the Union is protecting and helping us when in fact it hasn’t for a long, long time, assuming it ever did at all. For change to happen the Union in it’s current form needs to die so that might mean Scottish independence, or a Labour Party dragged to the left by the SNP abolishing the Lords as they’ve promised for so long now, or something on the horizon that nobody has seen coming like the referendum was last year.

Once the Union dies then we can rebuild. Challenge your opinions on your belief in the system and think what it does to ensure the protection of the status quo so the needs of the few override the needs of the many when what’s needed is that all of us have the same chances and nobody is left behind. So come May there’s a chance, albeit slight, that a massive change is coming to the UK of a scale that is going to change the country forever. This won’t be a Russel Brand revolution, or Nigel Farage’s staid brown fascism but coming from the people of Scotland and seeping down to the rest of the country.

All I’m asking is to consider your vote in May and think of not just ‘getting rid of the Tories’ but using your vote in a constructive way that doesn’t sell your principles short, and to consider that the country you live in has to die for it to have a chance again. Look at this election as part of a movement that started with the referendum two and a half years ago and could end up with one of  the establishment parties relying upon the SNP. That a few years ago would have got you laughed at, but now is shaping up to be a reality and this could be the step the UK needs.

You need however to make your own minds up. Engage people, talk to them, even if they intend voting for the far right UKIP. Speak to others and get their views but always remember there’s a chance the establishment line could be dust in just a few weeks so challenge opinion. We might never get a better chance.

The Election in Bristol West isn’t as easy as people think

There’s an article in the New Statesman this week about the election in Bristol West, which happens to be just where I live and am campaigning for the Greens. Predictably they use Banksy’s Mild Mild West toi illustrate it so I’m going to be lazy too…


It’s a pretty fair piece for the New Statesman which normally cheerleads for Labour, and it raises an important point in this election.

Labour’s candidate for this seat, the exquisitely named Thangam Debonnaire, is very dismissive of the Greens’ apparent success here.

“A three-way marginal? Well, that’s what the Greens will tell you,” she says, as we walk along a shaded footpath beside the railway line in Lawrence Hill, the poorest ward in the whole of the southwest. “I actually think it’s a four-way marginal, because the Tories could do well.”

Debonnaire says this area, which is Britain’s 52nd poorest ward, “typifies why we need a Labour government”. Its greying terraces and imposing tower blocks tell the story of a completely different city than the organic cooperatives and artistic affluence of Stokes Croft.

The way Lawrence Hill residents have been left behind by the progressively prosperous centre is one of the main reasons Debonnaire is a candidate: “The effects of not having a Labour government here are keenly felt.”


Now I don’t think a pure Labour government is going to help somewhere like Lawrence Hill, but there is a point that areas likes that are ignored in the greater debate going on in the constituency that focus’s far too much on the Gloucester Road/Stokes Croft/Clifton scene and not in those run down forgotten areas that aren’t wealthy, full of students and gentrified.

Bristol West contains some serious paradoxes in that it has some extraordinary wealth in the likes of Clifton, while less than a few miles away there’s areas in the sort of poverty that’s become generational. As someone supporting the Greens I never hear Green supporters discuss these areas as much as say, Stokes Croft or Clifton.and that would be an extraordinary pity if the Greens lost a chance of a second MP if these areas were lost. Not that Labour are going to get an easy ride as although somewhere like Lawrence Hill is forgotten about, Labour had 13 years in government to help those areas and didn’t as it chased the middle class vote.

As current polls look to show that no party looks set to win a total majority (though this bizarre poll in the Observer suggests a clear Labour majority which looks like it’s totally ignored the situation in Scotland) so the Greens aren’t going to win an election, but they could well be important as a junior partner in the alliance formed between themselves, The SNP and Plaid Cymru. There is a way for the Greens to expand and that’s to follow what the likes of Radical Independence did during the Scottish Independence referendum and get out in the streets in places like Lawrence Hill and not just hammer the streets of Clifton and Stokes Croft. Bring these areas back in and play up the fact the Greens are going to be alone but we’re hopefully moving into genuine multi-party politics so the Green voice needs to be heard and that can only be done if the people of Bristol West return a Green MP.

Later this month this parliament is dissolved and every single one of our MP’s are no longer MP’s, which includes Bristol West’s current Lib Dem MP, Stephen Williams. Come the 8th of May I hope we don’t have him returning to prop up a vile and corrupt Conservative  Party that’s helped damage areas like Lawrence Hill.

I don’t think there’s ever been such a good chance to change the system and genuinely change things for the best, so this month is important as manifestos are released and the phoney war that’s been the campaign so far kicks into gear. The fight has just started in a seat that’s going to be bloody hard to predict……

What has my MP Stephen Williams done?

As regular readers of this wee blog know, I’m a Scot living in Bristol so that means my MP is one Stephen Williams, a Lib Dem MP elected on a wave of hope and optimism. Sadly he’s worked hard to extinguish as much of that early promise as possible and has ensured he’s thrown any liberal tendencies down the toilet in order to help prop up the coalition.

His voting record, is frankly, fucking shameful, especially when it comes to welfare.

  • Voted moderately for reducing housing benefit for social tenants deemed to have excess bedrooms (which Labour describe as the “bedroom tax”)Source
  • Voted very strongly against raising welfare benefits at least in line with pricesSource
  • Voted strongly against paying higher benefits over longer periods for those unable to work due to illness or disabilitySource
  • Voted very strongly for making local councils responsible for helping those in financial needafford their council tax and reducing the amount spent on such supportSource
  • Voted strongly for a reduction in spending on welfare benefitsSource
  • Voted strongly against spending public money to create guaranteed jobs for young peoplewho have spent a long time unemployed

Bristol West is a constituency that features some of the most affluent areas in the entire United Kingdom as well as areas of high unemployment, especially among young people.It’s also a seat that features a high student population, hence the strong Lib Dem support over the last decade or so.

It’s a seat being let down by it’s MP, unless of course, you’re wealthy or you’re so insulated to what’s happening to this part of Bristol that you don’t notice the people sleeping in the streets, or the young people trying to find work or the struggles most people have to go through. The situation is in the area that the richer areas are becoming richer and the poorer areas are being readied for gentrification as money flows in but as it’s not actually ‘trickling down’ to the poor sods kipping in the shopfront of Oxfam shops, or the family priced out of the area thanks to landlords letting to affluent Bristol University students. The cracks are evident and there’s two good things that come out of the fact Williams has been a compliant Lib Dem drone is that the support for the Green Party is increasing. Back in May  the area gained two new Green councilors and support is growing, especially with the  more  middle class residents of the area that have some sense of social responsibility as we cannot continue propping up a system where Tory and Labour argue about how quickly they’re going to impose more austerity and more cuts upon us.

The other bit of positivity is that UKIP spent a lot of money in the city last May and failed to make the gains they hoped, and indeed, they look to be stagnant in terms of support in Bristol.

So over the next few months I’ll be campaigning to get rid of Williams for the Greens, (I’m also going to be helping out in Llanelli to campaign for Plaid Cymru) in hope that perhaps the area gets a better MP that represents everyone, not just the wealthy who benefit from living here.

Also, as someone that wanted Scottish independence, and wants Wales and England to enjoy the same level of self determination as Scotland, there’s one more reason to campaign to get Williams out.

  • Voted moderately against transferring more powers to the Welsh AssemblySource
  • Voted very strongly against transferring more powers to the Scottish ParliamentSource
  • Voted moderately against more powers for local councils

So yes, come May, fuck you..

Why I’ll Never Vote Labour Again.

I haven’t voted Labour since May 1997 when Tony Blair’s Labour Party came to power in a bright, cheery spring day where people like me thought we’d got rid of the Tories and their ideology. In reality we hadn’t. We just saw it refined to an inch of it’s life. Around 1998 or 1999 I found myself unable to morally defend the Labour Party and at that point my eyes were opened as to what they’d become which is a right wing party obsessed with control and the retention of power at all cost.

The event which opened my eyes was when I was working in a club in Leicester  and was working during the day to tidy up the bars, and part of that was to dump a whole load of rubbish at the tip. Myself and Richard, one of the club managers, were chatting about the NHS and he was a Conservative asking me how I could defend Labour getting into power and not clearing out the managers infecting the NHS and how could I defend the fact that Labour were making the NHS more bureaucratic. I couldn’t. I just spluttered some half arsed lines about ‘giving them a chance’ and realised I was fooling myself.

The party which I’d been brought up to believe to be for the working people and the poor was in fact, just propping up a system which was failing. Yes, Labour did make some things more liberal initially and it did ban fox hunting while overseeing the Good Friday Agreement but the good was being overwhelmed by the oppressive feeling that the likes of Jack Straw wasn’t really of the left let along a social democrat in the European mold.  At that time living in England I considered a federal solution to the problem that is the UK would be the best way for us all, so I considered the SNP & Plaid Cymru nationalists and not worth talking about. In short I was a good Labour drone who’d suddenly woken up to realise that just voting for Red or Blue right wing politics wasn’t democratic. I foolishly dabbled with the Lib Dems but learned my lesson fast and have now settled on supporting the Greens with some reservations while I’m still living in England. Once I’m back in Scotland in 2015 I’ll be campaigning and supporting the SNP.

I can’t support a Labour Party which has been pushed to the right and has taken us to illegal wars, seen the likes of David Blunkett do his best to make protest harder, and we’ve seen the gap between rich and poor increase as Labour pushed harder and harder for the precious middle class vote in England while all the time it leaves behind the core voters who Labour should stand for. Those people no longer have a voice in much of the country and although the SNP have moved now into a serious socially democratic party (and look to become more of the left over the next few months) along with the Greens and SSP have moved into the vacuum left by Labour in Scotland, while Plaid Cymru looking increasingly impressive thanks to their vastly underrated leader Leanne Wood (they’ve even had a Labour candidate join them showing the cracks in Labour in Wales) are making inroads in Welsh politics, there’s nothing of the left in England. Yes the Greens are a solution in the short terms but there’s not a uniting socially democratic party like the SNP or Plaid in England  who has left wing goals at it’s heart. There’s Left Unity but they’ll never be the party the English need, so UKIP have pulled it’s far right arse right into the heartlands of Labour in the north of England and look like winning seats. Sure, they’ll nick seats from the Tories too but Labour should be hammering the Tories after four years of the most oppressive and restrictive government we’ve had since the previous one.

Labour offer no alternatives. They offer austerity, further restrictions on civil liberties and if you’re young, they offer an extended Work Programme so you’ll be able to work for nothing for Labour’s corporate mates in return to get enough money to barely survive. The people of Scotland have sussed Labour out and on Thursday polls were released showing that Labour could be down to as long as four seats in Scotland in May. I don’t think it’ll be that bad for them but I can see Labour losing half their MP’s in Scotland which would be a mortal blow for them. If they put Jim Murphy in charge of the Scottish Labour branch office, then that could be even worse and they really could end up with a handful of MP’s.

We’ve seen desperate idea following desperate idea, with the latest being that Ed Milliband would abolish the House of Lords, but there’s reasons why this isn’t going to happen as Wings Over Scotland explains here. And here’s where we are now; Labour are desperate to get anything to connect to anyone of the left in a sad, last attempt to firm up their vote for next year. I’m sure enough people who slavishly vote Labour will look at Milliband’s ‘promise’ (the people of Scotland know how much these are worth) and fall for it. They’ll think ‘well, this time Labour might do it’ as they return a right wing party of business in to replace a right wing party of business. Labour is a party who have lost the common touch and look lost when trying to buy a sausage roll because these are people who don’t need to eat sausage rolls.

These are people who sit at a £200 a head dinner in one of Glasgow’s finest hotels and give a bag of food to foodbank donations while encouraging policies which will see foodbanks grow. But hey. Ed dropped off some tins of Scotch Broth so everything’s fine.

Yes, I know there’s Labour voters there who will go on about voting SNP or Green will deliver a Tory government and they are possibly right but Labour offer no hope, no imagination, no spine and no courage to stand up for the ordinary men, women and children of this country. They’ve joined the race to the bottom to keep up with UKIP’s extremism so we don’t see the Labour leader taking on a chancer like Nigel Farage head on as Nicola Sturgeon has by calling on a veto for Scotland, Wales and NI in the EU referendum in 2017. Considering it offers Cameron a lifeline to stay in the EU as he wants it’s perhaps foolish of him to reject it but notice how Labour are nowhere in this debate. No ideas, no nothing. Just Ed Milliband gormless face looking increasingly lost.

So vote Labour and get nothing better. There are options and I cry out to Labour supporters to choose them wisely. May is going to be vitally important because there’s a very real chance that at the end of this parliament the UK will be split up and out of the EU. We cannot have more of David Cameron’s oppressive government, but neither can we have another shockingly poor and oppressive Labour government. So look at the options and think of the long term, and yes, I do know that people will suffer under a Tory government but they’ll also suffer under a Labour government committed to George Osborne’s austerity spending.

The politics of austerity cannot be supported any longer. You vote for Labour you support austerity when there are other options. It is that simple.