Thursday, 30 July 2009

God's politics

(Shock horror - a post on politics!)



There's been a heck of a lot of chat about SNP Candidate (for the Glasgow North-East by-election, whenever that is) David Kerr's religious views and whether they should impact upon people's intentions to vote for him. A lot of it has been pretty biased, partisan and snotty (and no, I'm not going to categorise those by linking to them).

But then I read Lallands Peat Worrier and his take on David Kerr, his beliefs and its role in informing his politics. And I agreed with pretty much all of it. It's a cracking article and well worth a read - on the basis that my summary (next paragraph) won't do it justice.

Basically, what Lallands argues is that David Kerr's religious views (that is, his membership of the Catholic organisation Opus Dei and its associated belief structure) may probably inform his views on issues such as abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage. Thus while his religious beliefs may be of no concern to the average voter in Glasgow North East (though, if I remember rightly, something like 60%+ of the electorate in that constituency describe themselves as Catholic) the impact of these beliefs on his political and moral views may well do. It makes voting for him a trade-off: do you support his views on independence and ignore his views on abortion for example (not that we know what they are given his framing that as a "theological question" rather than a political one) or will his views on abortion feature more strongly in a decision to vote for someone over constitutional preferences?

All voting is a trade-off. There's never a candidate with whom you agree with 100%. And if there is, chances are they are standing in a different constituency (or country... President Obama perhaps?). But the point is parties (supposedly) select the candidate they believe will represent the constituency best and when they are elected they (should) vote with the best interests of the constituency at heart - or, at worst, abstain where there is a distinct clash with personal moral views). Note the caveats in that sentence.

The problem with by-elections over General Elections is that every single aspect of a candidate's life - political, private, economic and, yes, religious - is examined and scrutinised in much more detail than ever before. More will be known in Glasgow North East about David Kerr and Willie Bain than even about David Cameron and Gordon Brown. And this is a good thing - it allows the voters to make a better judgement about the character of the candidate before they elect them.

Alastair Campbell famously said "We don't do God." But then his most famous charge converted to Catholicism. With all the respect that comes with being the country's most famous former spin doctor, I think he's wrong. Whether you believe in God, accept religion (or whatever faith) or simply recognise right from wrong, religion plays a part in every day life - and, most especially, in politics. Note I didn't say "Christianity" there. It is my belief that moral decision-making, the belief in right and wrong and acceptance of a need for a rule of law derives from the moral code of religion. And again, I stress religion - not one but many.

Now I don't profess that religion makes you a good person or that you have to be religious to know right from wrong. What I'm arguing is that religion has informed those moral decisions, moral choices, for generations, and that we have, as a society, derived our own moral compass from previous generations... right back to when religion was politics.

Basically, this is a long and winded way of saying that religion matters in politics. Of course it does. But it shouldn't be the only thing that matters when you go to the polls (if it ever happens) in Glasgow North-East. To make an informed decision about the candidates you should know as much about them as you can. But that should be limited to what will inform their politics I think.

Knowing that David Kerr is a member of Opus Dei is useful in as far as it gives you a rough idea of where his theological leanings lie - and thus how his politics (should he have to vote on these issues) will go. His membership of Opus Dei will not tell you where he stands on the economy, health service, defence spending, international relations, the constitution, education, refuse collection striking or anything else. For those things - if they matter to you - you'll have to ask him.

Read more...

Monday, 27 July 2009

My Top Ten Blogs of 2009

Took me a wee while thinking about this, but here is my selection for the Total Politics Best Blogs of 2009 poll. I don't think I'm breaking any rules by letting you know who I voted for - I think its an open and transparent way of voting. Plus, its not like I'm telling you who to vote for - just letting you know which ones I'd voted for - an opinion if you will (which is, in essence, what blogging is all about).

I've based my list on a couple of criteria: the frequency with which I check the blogs, the quality of the posting, the writing style and the reaction they evoke in me.

Apologies in advance to those that I have not included in my ten but the problem with a top 10 is just that: there are only ten spots available. Though there might have been only nine had I opted out of the honorable and chosen to vote for myself. At the end of the day though, for me that's just not cricket.

In reverse order then:

#10 Planet Politics
Stuart tells it as he sees it, doesn't really pull any punches, and has a way with words (see this post for a catchy title).


#9 Stephen's Linlithgow Journal
As much as I enjoy taking the wind out this particular Lib Dem's sails, the man's dedication to blogging/ tweeting is immense. Liberal and amusing with it - which is not always the case with these liberal types!


#8 Tory Bear
Right-wing political gossip, right enough. And good on TV. And in person too.


#7 Scottish Unionist
I know, I know. I mean, I don't really like the subject matter, or the fact that he is broadcasting it quite so loudly. But Scottish Unionist does a great job of exposing the dark side of politics and, when he's commenting and not just selectively quoting, the writing is pretty good. See for yourself.


#6 Iain Dale's Diary
The Blogfather. It's something he does so well that it is difficult not to pick him in my 10. There's something good on it 6 days out of 7. Or something like that.


#5 Caron's Musings
From politics to Formula 1 to trash tv, rounding up some good blog posts... oh yeah, and supporting my marathon effort, Caron's blog has everything you'll ever need to know about anything. Just a shame she's a Lib Dem really... ;)


#4 Yapping Yousuf
I've been really impressed with the progress Yousuf's blog has made in the last year. Yes, it is punctuated with the occasional partisan rant but Yousuf has really made Labour blogging in Scotland his own. Credit where its due - its not an easy job, especially at the moment, and the guy does well. Wee bit less partisan and he might have been a spot or two higher...


#3 J. Arthur MacNumpty
Credit to Will for having the patience to do what no one else can be bothered with and actually reading the official report. Every week. His weekly reports on votes are a good way of taking stock of how the week has gone at Holyrood and those posts are regularly punctuated with well thought out and provocative comments on the big political issues of the day. It really is an excellent read - I'd love to see him blog more frequently but I understand his problem on that score (I'm really not one to talk at the moment!).


#2 Two Doctors
James brings his own inimitable style to the blogosphere with a Green-liberal-left take on Scottish politics (and politics further afield). It's a cracking read and one which shows a maturity of thought not always associated with green politics. But then the Greens are not now the radicals they once were. Anyway, a cracking read and worthy of a high placing in this years listing.


#1 SNP Tactical Voting
There can be only one. No, not Tom Harris. I said when I voted for him last year that "
The sheer volume of posts (and the quality) make Jeff's SNP Tactical Voting blog essential dailly reading. Some thoughtful posts on wider society, Scotland and local politics make it an interesting mix." That hasn't changed at all. Apart from maybe pushing the SNP line a little more than he used to. Still my top Scottish blog.

So there we are. Those are my selections. Leanings: 2 Nats, 2 Tory, 2 Lib Dems, 1 Green, 1 Labour, 1 Anti-Nat and 1 Anti-Politics. I think I read a fair selection of blogs!

Honorable mentions to other blogs I read fairly frequently including Subrosa (who has apparently opted out of the voting) Holyrood Patter, Doctor Vee, Ideas of Civilisation (who appears to be on sabbatical), Lallands Peat Worrier, Kezia Dugdale (who took a brief break) and, of course, Scottish Tory Boy (who has just returned from his hiatus). All cracking reads too.

Again, these are my selections and I'm not telling you to vote for these or any other blogs. I just wanted to share with you my thoughts on the blogosphere and the quality within.

Read more...

Friday, 24 July 2009

Thank you!



The fundraising page for our Loch Ness Marathon run has been live for just over a week and already our friends have exceeded our modest target of raising £500. You guys are awesome! Thanks so much for the support - we really appreciate it, and so does the MS Society.

But we were thinking, with 10 weeks still to go until we undertake this huge challenge, why not try to raise more money? So we've upped our target to £1,000 in the hope that those of you who haven't yet sponsored us can help us meet this increased target.

If you have already sponsored us, thanks so much. Your donation means so much and until you have trained for marathon, you have no idea how much that support spurs you on to train harder.

If you haven't yet, please consider it. A couple of quid or a fiver could make all the difference! You can do so by clicking on the widget above or by following this link.

Thanks so much... M&A.

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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

What kind of week has it been?


I had this piece ready to post on Saturday, but I forgot about it, so I'll post it now and update it at the end:

Fans of Aaron Sorkin will know where I got the title of this piece from. He used it ("day" not "week" but I'm taking liberties here) as the title of the final episode in the first season of each of his three major tv series - Sports Night, The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. All cracking entertainment and highly worth watching.


So what kind of week has it been?

Well, Monday I signed up for the Loch Ness Marathon. Wednesday I set up the page for sponsorship. And Saturday we went on the first of our "long and hellish" runs which turned out not to be too bad.

By the numbers then:
28 miles run this week.
£245 raised for MS Society by 2pm Saturday.
Oh yeah, and I also wrote 3,000 words of the second chapter of my thesis.
And sorted out a week-long holiday.

Pretty chuffed with the way the week went. Hope next week works as well!

It's now Wednesday - one week from when I set up the JustGiving site - and we have now raised a staggering £438.20 and currently stand at 88% of our target. A huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored us so far. It really is awesome how quickly folks have dipped into their pockets for a great cause, even more remarkable in such difficult financial times. We really do appreciate all the support.

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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Film Review: Harry Potter 6


I went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince last night and was utterly disappointed with the film. On reflection, that analysis was maybe somewhat harsh, but I still think there was plenty more which could have been done with the film. Let me explain. (There may be spoilers ahead).

I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter franchise. I've read all the books. I queued (with a chatty Irish rugby player) for the seventh one until the midnight opening of Waterstones in Aberystwyth. I've started reading the first one in Spanish. And I've seen (and enjoyed) almost all of the films up to this point. So I do have a handle on what the series is about and what to expect from the films.

David Yates - who directed the previous film - returns to direct this one, and it is much darker than anything before in the series. There are a few lighthearted moments of humour - but those are almost always followed by scenes of the (excellent) Tom Felton's anguish as the tortured Draco Malfoy, drawing a contrast between the light (Harry) and the darkness. That contrast is well utilised throughout the film.

But for me, while I understand the plot of the book is extensive and works, in essence, as a bridge to the final installment, the film doesn't. Too much of the plot is left out. The film has stripped out all of the "unnecessary" plotlines in favour of simplicity - Malfoy's mission to take kill Dumbledore and Harry's attempts to prise a memory from new Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn (the rather good Jim Broadbent). That's really it. And even the second one lacks in detail, failing to establish the problems facing Harry and friends in locating and destroying the Horcruxes in the following films.

The adolescent relationships between Harry, Ron and Hermione (and I guess, Ginny Weasley too) have developed as the series has gone on, and are a strength of the franchise. And, knowing the plot of the following novel, I expect this will be a strength of the final two films also. But even that could not, in my mind at least, save the film from the lack of storytelling. Some crucial elements were missing in the condensing of the plot

This 15-year-old's review sums it best up for me:
The Half-Blood Prince is frightening, funny, romantic and entertaining but as the end credits rolled, I still felt disappointed. I had waited all year to see my second-favourite Potter book brought to life. If I wasn't a die-hard fan, I'm sure I would have loved it. My gripe is that the film was simply too different from the book - the writers inserted pointless scenes and took out others crucial to the narrative.

All in all, not quite the epic failure I had proclaimed it last night but not the masterpiece I'd been hoping for. 2/5. (Maybe slightly harsh).

Read more...

Monday, 20 July 2009

Total Politics Best Blogs of 2009

As you may have read elsewhere on the Scottish blogosphere, Iain Dale is looking for your votes for the best blogs in Britain again. Here are is Iain's spiel:


"It's that time of year again, when Total Politics asks you to vote for your Top 10 favourite blogs. The votes will be compiled and included in the forthcoming book, the Total Politics Guide to Blogging 2009-10, which will be published in September. This year the poll is being promoted/sponsored by LabourList and LibDemVoice as well as this blog.

The rules are simple.

1. You must vote for your ten favourite blogs and ranks them from 1 (your favourite) to 10 (your tenth favourite).

2. Your votes must be ranked from 1 to 10. Any votes which do not have rankings will not be counted.

3. You MUST include ten blogs. If you include fewer than ten your vote will not count.

4. Email your vote to toptenblogs@totalpolitics.com

5. Only vote once.

6. Only blogs based in the UK, run by UK residents or based on UK politics are eligible.

7. Anonymous votes left in the comments will not count. You must give a name

8. All votes must be received by midnight on 31 July 2009. Any votes received after that date will not count.

If you have your own blog, please do encourage your readers to take part. Last year, more than 80 blogs did so. We hope this year it will be far more than that. BUT, DO NOT list ten blogs you think your readers should vote for. Any duplicate voting of this nature will be disallowed. If you do not wish for your blog to be voted for please email katy.scholes@totalpolitics.com.

There are many ways of measuring a blog's popularity. Wikio and Technorati have complicated logarithms which measure the importance of incoming links and traffic. Google Analytics does it by measuring how many people visit. But the TP poll gives blog readers the opportunity to vote for the ones they like and visit most often. It's not scientific. It's impossible to achieve 100% balance and no one pretends it's perfect.

The results of the poll will be published in the forthcoming book the TOTAL POLITICS GUIDE TO POLITICAL BLOGGING IN THE UK which will be published in mid September in association with APCO Worldwide.

So, go to it. Email your Top Ten Favourite Blogs to toptenblogs@totalpolitics.com"

I will publicly list the 10 I've voted for just as soon as I've decided on which blogs they are. Please do not take that as a suggestion that you should vote for those same blogs, merely that those are my preferences/ favourites/ whatever. Oh, and if any of you feel that you wish to vote for Malc in the Burgh, I humbly appreciate your vote!

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Friday, 17 July 2009

Please help us!


As you can see from the note at the top of the page and the pretty cool widget at the top right, I've decided to run a marathon for the first time.

Obviously this is going to be a fairly tough challenge and one requiring a lot of hard training and a commitment not only to training but to eating healthily (and much more food than I've ever eaten before), drinking lots of fluids and talking about the charity we're raising money for as much as I possibly can.

I managed to convince my friend Audrey to run with me, assuring her that, despite having never done a marathon before, I knew what I was doing. Together we've set ourselves a modest target of raising £500 for MS Society Scotland. MS is a disabling neurological condition which affects young adults and in Scotland there are approximately 10,500 people with the disease - the highest proportion of a population anywhere in the world.

At the time of writing (and a litte under 48 hours since we started raising money) we're just under halfway to our total. For those who have already sponsored us some cash, we'd like to say a huge thanks. If you haven't yet, please think about doing so. We're not even asking for much - we know the financial situation at the moment. If you've a couple of quid or a fiver that is burning a hole in your pocket, please think about sponsoring us here.

Over the next 12 weeks we have lots of training to do. We'd like to share that experience with you. If you are on Facebook, we have a group there where we hope to upload some photos of the pain we're putting ourselves through, share some stories and (hopefully) get some words of encouragement from friends. (See screengrab below).


Big thanks to Caron (who has become our Chief Publicist!) for getting a blog post together before I had time to. Thanks also to Stephen for looking over the training programme we'd put together. And also to everyone's favourite former England captain Mr Will Carling for this:


Thanks again for the support.

Read more...

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Bargain!


Another one for the rugby fans... but one I thought I should share with you.

I've just bought a season ticket to watch Edinburgh at Murrayfield over the 2009-10 rugby season. Included in the price are a ticket for:

All 9 Home Magners League matches
All 3 Home Heineken Cup Group matches
3 Home Glasgow matches (including Glasgow v Edinburgh)
and a Home pre-season friendly against Harlequins.

Tot up how much you reckon that would come to. 16 games of rugby at what, 20 quid each? That's £320.

Edinburgh are offering the season ticket for half that - £160 for adults. And it gets better for me because - as a student - I qualify for the concession price. Half it again. £80. For 16 matches. That's a FIVER each.

Have to say, in the past (actually, in the present too) I have not been impressed with the SRU and their marketing strategy - particularly when it comes to Sunday Six Nations matches with late kick off times making it difficult to get back to anywhere outside the central belt before Monday. But on this, in light of the current financial climate, they've got it spot on.

If you are interested - have a wee look at the info here. It's as good a bargain as you'll find at the moment.

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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

EU Observation


On the same day that former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek was elected as President of the European Parliament, Britain's two BNP MEPs took their seats in Brussels Strasbourg.

Buzek, a Pole who lived in a region that shifted between Czechoslovak, Polish and German control during the Second World War and is the first EU Parliament President from the former Eastern bloc, is a symbol of that which unites Europe - a shared, if bloody, history and the ability to put the past behind and focus on the future.

The BNP are a symbol of what divides it, focusing on the differences between people, playing on historical hatred and uninformed rants.

Both, however, are part of the European project.

Toleration of that which we do not like. Side by side in an elected body.

Democracy. It's how we live.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Meltdown?


I guess there is no point in my pointing out the inaccuracies of The Scotsman's reporting of the SNP's candidate selection procedure in Glasgow North-East. I mean, why let the facts get in the way of a good Labour story? Presumably (if previous comments are anything to go by) I'll just be accused of being bitter. But for the benefit of those who may read the article, let me point out a couple of things.

The Scotsman claim that David Kerr will become the SNP's "fourth choice candidate" - thereby implying that there were three people in line for the candidacy before him. Those named by the Scotsman as ahead of him are current SNP MSP Anne McLaughlin, Glasgow Councillor (and former blogger) Grant Thoms and SNP leader on Glasgow City Council, James Dornan.

Where to start?

Anne McLaughlin was the SNP candidate for the corresponding seat in the Scottish Parliament - Glasgow Springburn - in 2007, but was elected an an MSP earlier this year on the death of Glasgow Region MSP Bashir Ahmad (just in case there is any confusion, Glasgow Springburn and Glasgow North-East, although they cover very similar territory, are actually constituencies for two different parliaments). She may have been in consideration as a candidate in the event of a General Election (which was never called) but after she became an MSP that was no longer the case.

Grant Thoms was, I believe, slated to be the the candidate for Glasgow North East in the event that a snap General Election was called by new PM Gordon Brown. SNP rules dictate that if a by-election is called in a constituency then the party must hold a selection procedure again. Grant Thoms at that point decided that he did not wish to put his name forward for selection, with speculation that he feared his sexuality would be attacked by opposition parties, and subsequently did not put his name forward.

Then the selection meeting occurred and James Dornan won the candidature. Subsequently, he decided that his previous financial difficulties may come to light and stepped down as a candidate, leaving David Kerr as the favourite for the post.

In that fact based telling of events, how many people can you count that were ahead of David Kerr in the selection procedure? I count only one - James Dornan - who was selected by the local SNP to fight the by-election (apparently against the hopes of the First Minster though not the Deputy FM - at least according to the above linked article).

Meltdown? Not so much. Labour propaganda? I'll let you decide, though here are some other posts which discuss the issue to help you make up your mind.

Read more...

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

+++ Scottish Tennis Champion +++


Pictured above is six-time Wimbledon Champion Roger Federer sporting his true national colours at a young age.

Said the First Minister:

"Forget about the grumpy guy that made the semi-finals, you know, what's-his-name. Roger is a true Scottish Champion, a credit to his country and a man who is proud to support his nation at any sport - even the ones that we're crap at."

"When I were a lad, I had dreams of standing on the moon like Neil Armstrong. I even had a spacesuit with a Scottish flag on the sleeve. If I'd worked harder at it, there's no question I could have been the first Scotsman on the moon."

*Disclaimer - there is of course no truth to the statement above (apart from the picture being of Roger Federer of course). Though you can just imagine...

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Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Elephants versus the Union

I haven't been hugely impressed with the Final Report of the Commission on Scottish Devolution (or, as it is more commonly known, the Calman Commission). I reckon it must have been full of vegetarians... it lacks anything in the way of meat. (I'm here all week... try the veal - unless, of course, you are vegetarian...)

Anyway, I had to laugh at this exchange at the House of Commons Scottish Affairs committee yesterday.


SNP MP (and former Runrig star) Pete Wishart:

"Was independence the 'elephant in the room' during the Commission's discussions?"


Sir Kenneth Calman, chair of Commission on Scottish Devolution:

"I think it is entirely inappropriate to describe independence as an elephant."

Nice to see some people still have a sense of humour about things.

Actually, apparently, the Scotsman has a sense of humour about spelling... check the title of this piece. Maybe all the cutbacks have led to less... proof-reading.

Read more...

Monday, 6 July 2009

The greatest sportsman of our generation?


In the wake of Roger Federer's epic 5-set win over the tremendous Andy Roddick to win his 6th Wimbledon title and his 15th Grand Slam trophy, the BBC have been inviting commentators and tennis greats to comment on two things: whether he is now better than the previous Grand Slam record holder Pete Sampras and whether he is the greatest ever tennis player. Sampras himself thinks Federer has now surpassed him and greats such as Bjorn Borg give him the title of "greatest ever."

I find it difficult to compare over generations on the basis that I never saw anything of Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver and McEnroe or that much of Sampras at his best. Equally difficult is to compare across sports - which I guess if I'm trying to work out the greatest sportsman of our generation I would have to do.

I reckon to narrow it down to a shortlist of 5, that list would include (but wouldn't be limited to):

Zinedine Zidane
Three-time FIFA World Player of the Year (1998, 2000, 2003)
European Player of the Year (1998)
World Cup winner (1998)
European Championship winner (2000)
Champions League winner (2002)
3 League Titles (2 in Italy, 1 in Spain)
3 Domestic Cups (2 in Spain, 1 in Italy)

Michael Schumacher
Seven FIA Formula One World Championships
(1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004)
91 Race wins
1,369 career race points
68 pole positions
76 fastest laps (All F1 records)

Lance Armstrong
Seven Tour de France wins
(1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005)

Tiger Woods
14-time major champion:
4 US Masters (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005)
3 US Open (2000, 2002, 2008)
3 Open Championship (2000, 2005, 2006)
4 US PGA Championship (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007)
Top 10 at a major - 17 times
68 PGA Tour wins
9 time PGA Tour Player of the Year
(1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007)

Roger Federer
15-time Grand Slam winner:
3 Australian Open (2004, 2006, 2007)
1 French Open (2009)
6 Wimbledon Championships (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009)
5 US Open (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
5-time Grand Slam Runner-up
21 consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearance (2004-2009)
World #1 Ranking for 237 consecutive weeks
60 of 82 career win record in finals (73.2%)

Obviously there will be plenty debate - folks missed out, folks included, real achievements etc - but for me, it really comes down to a straight shoot-out between Federer and Woods. I wouldn't include golf or tennis in my top 3 favourite sports, but watching both of these greats of their respective sports has, at times, been nothing short of magic. What they can do when they have an opportunity, when they are under pressure, when they are battling for records or titles, is simply phenomenal. Their records in their respective sports are incomparable with anyone else - Rafael Nadal and Phil Mickleson are worthy number two players, but when compared to Federer and Woods... don't get me wrong, they play their part, win some and lose some. But I really do think Federer and Woods are just a class apart.

As for the greater of the two... I'd go with Federer. His level of consistency is tremendous. He has made every Grand Slam semi-final in the last five years. His ability to deal with Nadal's improvement too - having lost 3 French Open titles and then his Wimbledon crown to Nadal in an epic final 12 months ago, he has come back stronger. Even after losing the Australian Open Final to Nadal in another epic, he has won the French Open and Wimbledon this year... aided - in small part - by injury to Nadal. Andy Roddick ran him close yesterday in Nadal's place, but Federer was able to step it up when required and close out another Grand Slam.

So for me, Federer is the greatest sportsman of our generation. Anyone think differently?

Read more...

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Show Must Go On


So, 38% of our MSPs could find something better to do on a sunny July afternoon than listen Her Majesty blether on. Most of them were probably watching Andy Murray at Wimbledon.

Can't say I blame them to be honest. I was invited to the garden party at Balmoral in 2002... and was all set to phone and give my apologies until my mother stepped in. Apparently it "wouldn't look good" not to attend, and so attend I did. Ate her strawberry sandwiches, some Mackies ice cream and tried not to look out of place. MSPs didn't really worry about it how it would look yesterday.

Political commentators are having a bit of fun with it though. It's everything from a "snub" to a "scandal" that only 81 of the 129 MSPs showed up to listen to the Queen deliver her speech celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the opening of the Parliament.

For me though, it demonstrates two things. Firstly, that the monarchy is obsolete and that the Queen has no place in twenty-first century Scotland. And secondly, that nearly 40% of MSPs agree - including, it should be pointed out, 26 from Unionist parties. Now, I'm not trying to conflate being unionist with being royalist, but I would argue that the monarchy is a large part of why the Union was made - and remains a fairly visible symbol of it.

The SNP have been at pains to point out that, in their vision of an independent Scotland the Queen (and her successors) would remain Head of State in Scotland. The party want to have a referendum on the constituntional future of the country - how we should be governed - but have no problems taking this decision out the hands of ordinary Scots.

Republican elements within the party (Roseanna Cunningham and Christine Grahame spring to mind instantly) disagree with the party line on this yet the party appear either to think that they constitute a minority of the population on the issue, or they don't think the issue is important. Either way, the Scottish public apparently will not be consulted on whether - post independence - they wish to remain under the crown or become a republic.

Based on yesterday's turnout, the second option may well have some support among MSPs.

UPDATE - Alan Cochrane has his own inimitable take on it here.

Read more...

Contact

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

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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.

Disclaimer

Regrettably, this is probably required:
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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