Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Song Remains the Same

The Sun has decided that 12 years is long enough to support Labour, and has come out in favour of David Cameron's Conservatives, as this picture shows:

Most of us will still be able to remember the headline below, a mere 6 weeks prior to the 1997 election, when The Sun decided they'd had enough of the Tories, and supported Tony Blair's Labour party - who then went on to win a landslide election after 18 years of Tory rule.

Prior to 1997, the party had been a staunch supporter of the Tories. This was no clearer than in 1992, with this headline (and no, I'm not old enough to remember seeing it):

John Major went on to win a narrow victory, and The Sun claimed it had been the protagonist, with the headline "It's the Sun wot won it."

From the early 1990s on, The Scottish Sun lent support to the SNP while other versions continued to support The Tories. But then, after switching allegiance to Labour in 1997, on the day of the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary election, The Scottish Sun printed this cover:

Which begs the question: does anyone at The Sun actually have any entrenched political views? Or are they, as their headlines suggest, all over the shop?

Obviously The Sun is in the business of selling newspapers. They're not selling as many as they used to, granted, but it is still a business. The mood of the country has apparently shifted towards the Tories (according to most opinion polls) and so they've decided to tap into that mood by switching to the Tories (again).

In Scotland (arguably) opinion is still divided between a (relatively) popular SNP Government (a piece on that to come soon) and loyalty to the Labour party. This will make The Scottish Sun's decision over who to support interesting (and Will has a good take on it here).

On thing is for sure though - you can count on The Sun for a sensationalist headline. My money is on Super Tories Go Ballistic, Labour Are Atrocious.


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Double-act have no x-factor

Iain Gray and Jim Murphy spoke at the Labour Party Conference yesterday. What's that? No one noticed?

I think the Scottish press did.

The Herald headline reads:

"Scottish Labour leaders (sic) attack political enemies whose 'sole creed is self interest'"

Now, I'm not one for being pedantic (okay Yousuf, I am!) but one must point out the glaring error in their title.

As James will tell you, Iain Gray is the "Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament (LOLITSP). He is not the leader of Scottish Labour. Especially if you ask some Scottish Labour MPs.

Jim Murphy is Secretary of State for Scotland (SoSoS). Which means, at government level, he is Gordon Brown's "holding midfielder" - the link between his defence at Westminster and his attack at Holyrood (see what I did there?). He too, is not the leader of Scottish Labour. Gordon Brown himself is.

But that's just a minor point.

The Scotsman has an interesting take on Iain Gray's speech to Labour conference yesterday. He is obviously their Scottish Labour leader of fancy:

"Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has signalled he could hold a referendum on Scottish independence if he becomes First Minister, in a dramatic shift from official party policy."

reads their first paragraph. And that's kind of what he said. Except not really. And certainly not in so many words. I checked the speech - not once did he use the phrase "if I was First Minister." Which is a shame, because I always find it funny when he does. Kind of like Fiddler on the Roof's "If I were a rich man," it makes Iain Gray look like a dreamer.

No, his speech was designed to attack. The problem was, he was trying to attack two distinct "enemies" - nationalism and conservatism. Ironic then, that Labour have fallen to third, behind the the Liberal Democrats, in the latest Ipsos-Mori poll. Looks like he was turning his fire in the wrong direction.

Ach well, with the 2010 election looking like a write-off, there's always the 2011 Scottish Parliament election. Just think Gordon Jim Iain, if only you were First Minister...


Monday, 28 September 2009

Review: Edinburgh v Leinster

When you welcome the European Champions to town, perhaps you shouldn't be expecting to win. However, with Edinburgh having won their opening 3 games of the season (and the last six of last season) expectations were high that we could make it 10 in a row against Irish province Leinster, despite their British & Irish Lions returning to the side for the first time this season.

And we ran them close. So close. A last minute Chris Paterson missed penalty (I know, he doesn't do that often) was all that separated us from a victory, going down 21-19 to the visitors after a frantic last 10 minutes which saw us edge into the lead 19-18 through two Paterson penalties only to lose out to a Jonathan Sexton drop goal immediately after the kick-off. We had Paterson's chance to win it - which would not have been unwarranted - but it slipped agonisingly wide. It just wasn't our night I guess.

The game was as close as the final score suggests. Edinburgh dominated territory and possession in the first half, but went in tied at 6-6 at half time. We just couldn't find the killer final pass. Ill-discipline really cost us as Leinster took their penalties early in the second half to lead 12-6, but a fine Ben Cairns try put us briefly in the lead 13-12. Another penalty for Leinster saw them lead 15-13, and yet another extended it to 18-13 before the frantic finale.

The sizeable 5,700 crowd enjoyed a cracking effort from the lads, and were pretty gutted at the finish - an indication of just how far Edinburgh have come that a two-point loss to the European Champions really hurts. I guess we were all a bit annoyed at some questionable refereeing (the touch-judge on the crowd-side line was particularly poor) but, having seen the highlights on STV's rugby show, I'd probably put that down to some "street-wise" play (as in, quite close to breaking the rules but not quite) from the Leinster forwards. Who knows, maybe we're not quite as smart at the breakdown.

Anyway, more cracking entertainment from Edinburgh. Next up is our first Heineken Cup game, at home to Ulster on 17th October.

Edinburgh 19
Try: Cairns
Conversion: Paterson
Penalties: Paterson 4

Leinster 21
Penalties: McFadden 6
Drop Goal: Sexton

I should also mention that I went to watch another game of rugby earlier on Saturday, as my mate's Murrayfield Wanderers made the trip to Peffermill to play Edinburgh University. Being me, I did get a little lost on the way, but I did end up finding my way to watching a cracking game of rugby. A 20-20 draw was probably a fair reflection of the match, though the Uni only scored a try with a minute to go to tie it up. A huge brawl just before the end - sparked by a few Uni forwards setting upon the wee Wanderers scrum-half - encapsulated the intensity with which the game was played. Have to say, I was fairly impressed by some of the forwards play - particularly the catch and drive for Wanderers third score - as well as the speed of recycling possession and some of the passing out of the tackle. Cracking effort from both sides.


Thursday, 24 September 2009

10 days to go!

As regular readers will know, I am running the Loch Ness Marathon in October.

The race is now only 10 days away and it can't come soon enough. I've totally sickened myself of running and I'm starting to feel minor twinges and aches and pains a wee bit more now. I think I know every street, cycle path and hill (the hills - ouch!) in Edinburgh now. That's what training for a marathon does to you! But the training (the hard part?) is nearly over, and the race is nearly upon us.

Audrey and I are running for MS Society Scotland who do terrific work for those 10,500 people with MS in Scotland - the highest proportion of a population anywhere in the world. To date we've managed to raise just under £1,400 - having set an original target of £500 - and we're absolutely thrilled and stunned at the generosity and support of friends, family and those who barely know us (this means you, dear blog reader!). It really is amazing - thanks so much!

A piece like this wouldn't be complete without a wee plea though. Our original aim was £500 - and you helped us smash that target. We haven't changed the target or anything, but we'd love to raise another £100 for a total of £1,500. If you feel like you can help at all - a couple of quid, the price of a pint - then please do sponsor us using the widget at the top of the page, or by visiting our JustGiving page here. I guess as some smart marketing guy/ girl said - "Every little helps."

Anyway, there have been times throughout our training when neither of us have been particularly enthusiastic about running, or have wilted dramatically when we were out on a long run. And I can honestly say that, at times like that, I started thinking about the money that we'd raised to that point, the support folks had given us and how much it would mean to those it would benefit and that kept me going.

What I mean is, your support is not only valuable to the charity and to those they will help, but it has helped us enormously as we tackle this challenge. So thank you for your continued support, and we'll let you know how it goes!


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Gerry Adams MLA, MP, Blogger

I've been away for a few days, and missed all types of political news and stories, and this is the first real opportunity I've had to have a wee look at a couple of blogs.

When I did, I had a wee look at the newly appointed "Best Non-Lib Dem Blog of the Year voted for by readers of Lib Dem Voice" Slugger O'Toole. Congrats to Slugger, commiserations to Will Patterson (a blog I always find interesting) who was also shortlisted.

Anyway, to the point. By way of this piece on Slugger, I found the blog of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams. I had a read of it last night and found some of the pieces quite interesting and, indeed, quite insightful. Indeed, it isn't every day you stumble across a blog written by someone whose place in history is assured - as much for good as bad (depending, I guess, on your starting point).

So, last night I did some thinking. On the one hand, Gerry Adams is now, and has been since 1983, the President of Sinn Fein, a (semi)respected (or respectable) politician, helped to bring about and restore devolved politics to Northern Ireland and move Sinn Fein away from being the political wing of the IRA into a professional political party. On the other, Adams allegedly played a key role in Bloody Friday and was allegedly (according to Ed Maloney) a high-ranking member of the IRA (a claim vigorously disputed by Adams). He has, however, more recently, aided the devolution settlement by meeting Ian Paisley (in 2007) for the first time and helped to shape the power-sharing agreement thereafter.

For me - and this might get me pelters from some who know more about the situation than I do - Gerry Adams is symbolic of the transition that all politicians must go through when faced with the situation that both he and his country found itself in. That transition is from hard, abstentionist, narrow-focused, uncompromising black-and-white politics to a more consensual, compromise-based pragmatic style, willing to negotiate over short-term goals but never losing sight of the long-term.

I have no particular attachment to either side of the political situation in Northern Ireland. I have read, extensively, around the IRA and Sinn Fein as comparative studies for my Masters' thesis on the Basque Country and ETA and wrote, without bias (or with as little bias as anyone can manage) about it from an academic perspective. In that respect alone, I find the progress made in Northern Irish politics fascinating.

So, I thought about this for awhile and, based simply on that final point - that the transition from conflict to cooperation is fascinating and Gerry Adams' role in that incredibly interesting - I decided I would add his blog to my blogroll.

If anyone does have issues with it, please let me know and I'll consider your comments. But do bear in mind I am very much a libertarian democrat when it comes to freedom of speech.


Monday, 21 September 2009

Scottish MEP Website Directory

And finally, all six Scottish Members of the European Parliament have websites:


Friday, 18 September 2009

Scottish MP Website Directory

The following is a list of Scottish MP websites. List of MSP websites here.

(52) MPs with websites:
Danny Alexander LD ~ Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey (Twitter)
Douglas Alexander Lab ~ Paisley Renfrewshire South
Gordon Banks Lab ~ Ochil & Souh Perthshire
John Barrett LD ~ Edinburgh West
Anne Begg Lab ~ Aberdeen South
Russell Brown Lab ~ Dumfries & Galloway
Des Browne Lab ~ Kilmarnock & Loudoun
Malcolm Bruce LD ~ Gordon
David Cairns Lab ~ Inverclyde
Menzies Campbell LD ~ North-East Fife
Alistair Carmichael LD ~ Orkney & Shetland (blog) (Twitter)
Katy Clark Lab ~ North Ayrshire & Arran
Tom Clarke Lab ~ Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill
Michael Connarty Lab ~ Linlithgow and East Falkirk
Alistair Darling Lab ~ Edinburgh South-West
Jim Devine Lab ~ Livingston
Ian Davidson Lab ~ Glasgow South-West
Brian Donohoe Lab ~ Central Ayrshire
Frank Doran Lab ~ Aberdeen North
Nigel Griffiths Lab ~ Edinburgh South
David Hamilton Lab ~ Midlothian
Tom Harris Lab ~ Glasgow South (blog) (Twitter)
Jimmy Hood Lab ~ Lanarkshire and Hamilton East
Stewart Hosie SNP ~ Dundee East
Eric Joyce Lab ~ Falkirk (Twitter) (blog)
Charles Kennedy LD ~ Ross, Skye & Lochaber
Mark Lazarowicz Lab ~ Edinburgh North & Leith (blog)
Thomas McAvoy Lab ~ Rutherglen & Hamilton West
John McFall Lab ~ West Dunbartonshire
James McGovern Lab ~ Dundee West
Anne McGuire Lab ~ Stirling
Rosemary McKenna Lab ~ Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East
Ann McKechin Lab ~ Glasgow North
John Mason SNP ~ Glasgow East
Michael Moore LD ~ Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk
David Mundell Con ~ Dumfrieshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale
Jim Murphy Lab ~ East Renfrewshire (blog) (Twitter)
Sandra Osborne Lab ~ Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock
Anne Moffat Lab ~ East Lothian
Alan Reid LD ~ Argyll & Bute
John Reid Lab ~ Airdrie & Shotts
Willie Rennie LD ~ Dunfermline & West Fife (blog) (Twitter)
Angus Robertson SNP ~ Moray (Twitter)
John Robertson Lab ~ Glasgow North-West
Frank Roy Lab ~ Motherwell & Wishaw
Mohammad Sarwar Lab ~ Glasgow Central
Jim Sheridan Lab ~ Paisley & Renfrewshire North
John Thurso LD ~ Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross
Gavin Strang Lab ~ Edinburgh East
Jo Swinson LD ~ East Dunbartonshire (Twitter)
Mike Weir SNP ~ Angus (Twitter)
Pete Wishart SNP ~ Perth & North Tayside (Twitter)

(7) MPs with no website:
Gordon Brown Lab ~ Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath
Adam Ingram Lab ~ East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow
Angus MacNeil SNP ~ Na h-Eileanan an Iar
Michael Martin NA ~ Glasgow North-East
Lindsay Roy Lab ~ Glenrothes
Alex Salmond SNP ~ Banff & Buchan
Robert Smith LD ~ West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine

Again, if I've missed any, let me know.


Thursday, 17 September 2009

MSP Website Directory

The following is a list of MSPs with websites and a link to their site (as well as a list of those without websites/ those who have websites that haven't been updated for a year or the link is "under construction"). Hope it is useful. Let me know if I've missed any, or if you discover any more Twitterers... they're often interesting...

UPDATE - thanks to Haley for pointing out Dave Thompson's website, to Montague for pointing out Mike Russell's new-er site and to Holyrood Patter for Tavish Scott's Twitter...

They're also in the sidebar on the far-right of the page.

(101)MSPs with websites:
Brian Adam SNP ~ Aberdeen North
Wendy Alexander Lab ~ Paisley North
Alasdair Allan SNP ~ Western Isles
Claire Baker Lab ~ Mid Scotland and Fife (Twitter)
Richard Baker Lab ~ North East Scotland
Sarah Boyack Lab ~ Edinburgh Central
Ted Brocklebank Con ~ Mid Scotland and Fife
Keith Brown SNP ~ Ochil
Robert Brown LD ~ Glasgow
Derek Brownlee Con ~ South of Scotland
Bill Butler Lab ~ Glasgow Anniesland
Aileen Campbell SNP ~ South of Scotland
Malcolm Chisholm Lab ~ Edinburgh North and Leith
Cathie Craigie Lab ~ Cumbernauld and Kilsyth
Bruce Crawford SNP ~ Stirling
Margaret Curran Lab ~ Glasgow Baillieston
Nigel Don SNP ~ North East Scotland
Bob Doris SNP ~ Glasgow
Helen Eadie Lab ~ Dunfermline East
Fergus Ewing SNP ~ Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber
Linda Fabiani SNP ~ Central Scotland
Patricia Ferguson Lab ~ Glasgow Maryhill
Alex Fergusson PO ~ Galloway and Upper Nithsdale
Ross Finnie LD ~ West of Scotland
Joe FitzPatrick SNP ~ Dundee West
George Foulkes Lab ~ Lothians (Twitter)
Murdo Fraser Con ~ Mid Scotland and Fife
Kenneth Gibson SNP ~ Cunninghame North
Rob Gibson SNP ~ Highlands and Islands
Karen Gillon Lab ~ Clydesdale
Marlyn Glen Lab ~ North East Scotland (Twitter)
Charlie Gordon Lab ~ Glasgow Cathcart
Christine Grahame SNP ~ South of Scotland
Rhoda Grant Lab ~ Highlands and Islands
Iain Gray Lab ~ East Lothian
Robin Harper Green ~ Lothians
Christopher Harvie SNP ~ Mid Scotland and Fife
Patrick Harvie Green ~ Glasgow (Twitter)
Hugh Henry Lab ~ Paisley South
Jamie Hepburn SNP ~ Central Scotland
Jim Hume LD ~ South of Scotland (Twitter)
Fiona Hyslop SNP ~ Lothians
Adam Ingram SNP ~ South of Scotland
Cathy Jamieson Lab ~ Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley
Alex Johnstone Con ~ North East Scotland
James Kelly Lab ~ Glasgow Rutherglen
Bill Kidd SNP ~ Glasgow
Johann Lamont Lab ~ Glasgow Pollok (blog)
John Lamont Con ~ Roxburgh and Berwickshire
Kenny MacAskill SNP ~ Edinburgh East and Musselburgh
Lewis Macdonald Lab ~ Aberdeen Central
Margo MacDonald Ind ~ Lothians
Ken Macintosh Lab ~ Eastwood
Paul Martin Lab ~ Glasgow Springburn
Michael Matheson SNP ~ Falkirk West
Stewart Maxwell SNP ~ West of Scotland
Liam McArthur LD ~ Orkney
Frank McAveety Lab ~ Glasgow Shettleston
Tom McCabe Lab ~ Hamilton South
Jack McConnell Lab ~ Motherwell and Wishaw
Jamie McGrigor Con ~ Highlands and Islands
Alison McInnes LD ~ North East Scotland
Ian McKee SNP ~ Lothians
Christina McKelvie SNP ~ Central Scotland
Anne McLaughlin SNP ~ Glasgow (Twitter)
David McLetchie Con ~ Edinburgh Pentlands
Stuart McMillan SNP ~ West of Scotland
Duncan McNeil Lab ~ Greenock and Inverclyde
Pauline McNeill Lab ~ Glasgow Kelvin
Nanette Milne Con ~ North East Scotland
Des McNulty Lab ~ Clydebank and Milngavie
Margaret Mitchell Con ~ Central Scotland
Mary Mulligan Lab ~ Linlithgow
Elaine Murray Lab ~ Dumfries (Twitter)
Alex Neil SNP ~ Central Scotland
John Park Lab ~ Mid Scotland and Fife (Twitter)
Gil Paterson SNP ~ West of Scotland
Peter Peacock Lab ~ Highlands and Islands
Cathy Peattie Lab ~ Falkirk East
Mike Pringle LD ~ Edinburgh South
Jeremy Purvis LD ~ Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale
Shona Robison SNP ~ Dundee East
Michael Russell SNP ~ South of Scotland
Mary Scanlon Con ~ Highlands and Islands
Tavish Scott LD ~ Shetland (Twitter)
Richard Simpson Lab ~ Mid Scotland and Fife
Elaine Smith Lab ~ Coatbridge and Chryston
Iain Smith LD ~ North East Fife
Margaret Smith LD ~ Edinburgh West
Stewart Stevenson SNP ~ Banff and Buchan
David Stewart Lab ~ Highlands and Islands
John Swinney SNP ~ North Tayside
Dave Thompson SNP ~ Highlands and Islands
Jim Tolson LD ~ Dunfermline West
Sandra White SNP ~ Glasgow
Karen Whitefield Lab ~ Airdrie and Shotts
David Whitton Lab ~ Strathkelvin and Bearsden
Bill Wilson SNP ~ West of Scotland
John Wilson SNP ~ Central Scotland (Twitter)

(28) MSPs with no website or real web presence:
Bill Aitken Con ~ Glasgow
Jackie Baillie Lab ~ Dumbarton
Rhona Brankin Lab ~ Midlothian
Gavin Brown Con ~ Lothians
Jackson Carlaw Con ~ West of Scotland
Willie Coffey SNP ~ Kilmarnock and Loudoun
Angela Constance SNP ~ Livingston
Trish Godman Lab ~ West Renfrewshire
Annabel Goldie Con ~ West of Scotland
Andy Kerr Lab ~ East Kilbride
Marilyn Livingstone Lab ~ Kirkcaldy
Richard Lochhead SNP ~ Moray
Tricia Marwick SNP ~ Central Fife
Jim Mather SNP ~ Argyll and Bute
Michael McMahon Lab ~ Hamilton North and Bellshill
Alasdair Morgan SNP ~ South of Scotland
John Farquhar Munro LD ~ Ross, Skye and Inverness West
Hugh O’Donnell LD ~ Central Scotland
Irene Oldfather Lab ~ Cunninghame South
Mike Rumbles LD ~ West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
Alex Salmond SNP ~ Gordon
John Scott Con ~ Ayr
Elizabeth Smith Con ~ Mid Scotland and Fife
Nicol Stephen LD ~ Aberdeen South
Jamie Stone LD ~ Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
Nicola Sturgeon SNP ~ Glasgow Govan
Maureen Watt SNP ~ North East Scotland
Andrew Welsh SNP ~ Angus

Depending if this is useful, I may do the same with Scottish MPs.


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Dublin today, Edinburgh tomorrow?

21 people have been injured, three seriously, after a collision involving a Luas tram and a bus on O'Connell Street in Dublin.

The driver of the Luas had to be cut from the wreckage by emergency services. The accident occurred just after 3pm this afternoon.

There is widespread traffic disruption in the city following the accident and gardaĆ­ are diverting traffic away from the O'Connell Street and Parnell Street areas.

Luas Red Line services are only operating between Tallaght and Smithfield as a result.

Most Dublin Bus services, that would usually use O'Connell St, are diverting via Gardiner St instead.

O'Connell Street northbound is closed and will remain so until at least 7.30pm this evening.

However, the southbound side of the street has re-opened.


Higher education as a "privilege"

Debate raging over at Jeff's blog on a comment the great man made about higher education. I say raging, it is mostly just me who is taking him to task for it.

Comment made by Jeff in his post:

Making students pay. Abso-bloomin-lootly. I find it bizarre that students get such an easy beat. I remember very well how skint I was back then but if we're going to keep the free tuition fees (which we shouldn't if we're serious about long-term investment in our universities), I think the least the youngsters could do is pay their way for water, sewage and rubbish collection. They certainly use their fair share of each.

And subsequent comment in the comments section:

I think my bottom line is, a university degree should be a privilege and not a right. And that should be reflected in the price, somehow.

From that comment, I took Jeff to mean that university should not be free, that it was a privilege and not a right to go and (perhaps unfairly) I thought it also meant that if you couldn't afford it, you couldn't go. To which, I said this:

Are you seriously saying that only those who are privileged enough to have parents that have cash should be allowed to go to uni?

From his comment, I considered that was a fair assessment of his position. However, he subsequently put me right in saying:

You seem to be suggesting that my philosophy is that only people that can afford to go to university should go. That's not what I'm saying.

The privilege should be reflected in the cost but for those who can't afford it, and are motivated, enthusiastic and have sufficient intellectual capacity, that cost should be borne by the Government.

Then there was some name-calling, some needling about PhD candidacy and general good-natured banter.

Anyway, the exchange raised for me what is an interesting point. Should students have to pay for their degrees?

The SNP (with help from the Lib Dems) have obviously abolished the graduate endowment, which means that higher education at undergraduate level in Scotland is essentially free. Now, I'm probably with Jeff in thinking that students should have to pay something for their tuition at university (and given I'm a PhD student and I DO have fees, I understand how financially difficult that might be). But I'm not sure how that could be done. Anyone have any thoughts?


Does "You Lie" indicate a racist backlash for President Obama?

I've had a couple of lengthy posts about the SNP Government and the National Conversation in recent days. But my attention has been turned overseas to the big issue of the day in the US.

No, not President Obama's intended healthcare reforms. The other one - whether opposition to President Obama is based on race. (Former Democratic) President Jimmy Carter says so, so it must be true, mustn't it? This New York Times Opinion Piece thinks so. The Washington Post concurs, calling Representative Joe Wilson's (Republican, South Carolina, who shouted "You lie" during Obama's speech to Congress) actions the "escalation" of racial tension.

Now I wrote during the Presidential Campaign this time last year about the potential racial dimension the contest might take. And it is clear that some of those who voted for Senator McCain did so on the back of clearly racist views. And those views are probably still prevalent today.

However, for me there is something inherently dangerous to democracy in suggesting that if someone disagrees with Obama's plans - on whatever level - then they are racist.

It diminishes the responsibility of opposition to government. It says that opposition politicians cannot be trusted to judge the executive on their policies and cannot see beyond skin colour. It diminishes the debate itself by reducing the discussion on healthcare reform - as serious as serious, nation-dividing issues get in the States - to an argument about skin colour. And, most importantly, it diminishes the democratic system. Resorting to "you're just saying that 'coz you're racist" is the apparently grown-up equivalent of "you smell".

I get that race still divides like nothing else in the States. And that some don't like Obama as President because of his skin colour, and that is and will remain a huge problem. But the whole debate needs to grow up some. I'm not in a position to judge whether Congressman Wilson's comment was racially motivated or not. But neither, really, is anyone else. Only the Congressman himself will know for sure whether he has a prejudiced view of the President based on his skin colour, and only he will know whether that influenced his outburst.

It has taken 9 months for any opposition to Obama to be branded racist, and I'll be honest, I'm surprised it has taken that long. But American politics has to realise that when Obama was elected it was not on 100% of the vote and it did not cure all divisions in American society, whatever his message of change was. Yes there are some who maintain their views based on race. But there are also those who disagree with him on an ideological, practical or partisan position. That is where the debate needs to reside, and not on the colour of his skin.


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Worthwhile reading

Further to my post yesterday (have a read of some of the comments for a good discussion of the points I was trying to make) and as it forms a good part of my research at the moment, I thought I'd post a few links to Scottish Government documents which comprise their National Conversation.

I'm currently listening to the podcasts of National Conversation events around the country from the past year, and what is interesting to note is the balance of questions. At some of the events, questions regarding the constitution are in the minority, maybe as little as 10-15% of the questions. At others, questions are more finely balanced, 50-50 between independence/ constitutional change and other policy concerns. Nevertheless, the Cabinet members present at the events are happy to engage in the discussions - about whatever issue - and the public seem quite happy to be asking the questions. I guess people really do like to be consulted about things.

Anyway, National Conversation events aside, I've been looking at several Scottish Government documents as well. They are (in pdf format):
Obviously each of the documents provides the Scottish Government's position on their preferred constitutional option - independence - but they also discuss other options, such as enhanced devolution, fiscal autonomy and minor tweaking to the current arrangements.

Whether independence is your own preference or not, I'd suggest the documents are well worth a read, if only, in the case of some, as opposition research. I have to say, I'm not totally sold on some of the stuff myself, but one question I have been considering with regards the Oil Fund paper is that if so much can be made out of such a relatively small investment, why hasn't the UK Government set up such a fund? I reckon - assuming the working is all correct of course - that this is a cracking idea, particularly in light of the current economic position we find ourselves in.

Anyway, have a read - and let the Scottish Government know what you think. For their consultation is one which is keen to hear all views - whatever people think. Not like some we could mention...



Feel free to get in touch with me if you have an issue with something you've read here... or if you simply want to debate some more! You can email me at:

baldy_malc - AT - hotmail - DOT - com

Comment Policy

I'm quite happy - indeed, eager - to engage in debate with others when the topic provides opportunity to do so. I like knowing who I'm debating with and I'm fed up with some abusive anonymous comments so I've disabled those comments for awhile. If you want to comment, log in - it only takes a minute.


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This blog is my own personal opinion (unless otherwise stated) and does not necessarily reflect the views of any other organisation (political or otherwise) that I am a member of or affiliated to.
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