Tag Archives: #politics

How UK Political Turmoil Influenced My Reading

A snap UK general election was called by Prime Minister Theresa May on April 18th 2017, giving less than two months until the polls on June 8th.  Completely fed up with the awful state of British politics, I’d already sought solace/reassurance from my book reading. I’ve come to realise just how much the state of affairs in the country, has directly influenced the type of books I’ve read in the last two years.

During the 80s I adored the British comedy satire Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister TV series, and had the complete works on my bookcase for years, though had never read them. I started “The Complete Yes Minister” at the end of February 2017 inspired by the awful state of British politics today. I was strangely comforted by incidents mirroring events now, and knowing we had got through those tough times and survived. I’m able in my late forties to see through the facade of the face of politics. As a result I found the dialogue even funnier, because it seemed to reflect what I was thinking about government in general today.  I finished Yes Minister just before the election was called, and as the campaigning intensified I read “The Complete Yes Prime Minister”. It was startling to find Jim Hacker had been elevated from Minister to Prime Minister in EXACTLY the same way as Theresa May. No public vote but by party manoeuvres, and like May the fictional PM spoke of having the country’s mandate to govern! I found it fascinating that a TV show from thirty years before, reflected precisely what had happened in the Conservative Party with regard to Theresa May. And at times the scenarios within my book gave uncanny explanations of arguments going on now. You couldn’t help see through the facade of political speak which was very refreshing, and I found my reading material much better than the ghastly party electioneering of the day. I finished it four days before the polls opened. Between these two books I read an original text copy of H G Wells “War of the Worlds”, mainly because I’d seen a staged musical of it and heard a radio play version as well. It was interesting to realise the artistic license used in both. But the irony of the book title and the undoubted artistic license of election promises made, were not lost on me either.

The day after the election I embarked on reading the complete Chronicles of Narnia, finding the idea of inhabiting a fictional land far better than listening about the real one I was in. Take what you want from that statement. I distinctly remember starting The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe as a kid but don’t recall finishing it, the others I had never attempted. So I decided to fill a gap in my childhood reading knowledge, and from 9th June to 30th October 2017 I enjoyed the adventures found in Aslan’s land of Narnia. As I read the seven books of C S Lewis I also studied Michael Ward’s “The Narnia Code C.S. Lewis and the Secret of the Seven Heavens”. A very absorbing book that helped me understand the symbolism and dynamics within the stories in a much deeper way. I rounded off my childhood fictional reading with Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows” another book I’d started but never finished as a child.

Since December 2017 I’ve enjoyed some adult fiction from authors Barbara Wilson, Maeve Binchy, Santa Montefiore, and Matt Haig. I’ve also re-read a childhood purchase of Wilson Rawls “Hunters of Cherokee Country” originally titled “Where The Red Fern Grows” an American classic I believe. But the rumbles of news from the United States especially with regard to President Trump’s policies, has focused my eye on the American book purchases on our bookshelves. As a devoted fan of the TV drama The West Wing with a fascination for the Kennedy era, its little wonder there is a distinct political slant to the American section. For several months of 2018 I immersed myself in “Happy Times” by Lee Radziwill; “Thanks For The Memories Mr President by Helen Thomas; “Say Goodbye To America” by Matthew Smith; The Kennedy White House Family Life & Pictures 1961-63” by Carl Sferrazza Anthony and “George & Laura Portrait of An American Marriage” by Christopher Andersen. All offered an interesting take regarding the business of US government and its effect on people, seen from the viewpoint of a family member (Radziwill sister of Jackie Kennedy), the press core (Helen Thomas), historical researchers and a biographer (Christopher Andersen).

In late October I returned to a very British subject matter, the diaries of Adrian Mole! Over three months I’ve followed Adrian from age 13 ¾ to 40, through teenage angst to treatment for prostate cancer, broken marriages, fatherhood, employment/lack of it and insolvency. Once again I’ve read about tough economic times and been reminded that the nation/people somehow managed to survive them. In this dark crazy turbulent world, it’s good to be reminded of that. The books act like a social commentary of the UK since 1981 which in itself is fascinating and deserves a blog of its own.

 

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A Hundred Years of Voting For Women in Britain

Today’s news (February 6th 2018) in the UK, marks the 100th anniversary of an act of parliament which gave some women (property owners aged 30+) the right to vote. Much has changed for women in the political landscape since then, to the point where the country now has its second woman Prime Minister in office. It is not lost on me however, that Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May both became figureheads in the Conservative Party, undoubtedly the predominant ruling class where those early women voters came from! Neither Thatcher nor May had particularly affluent beginnings, yet were drawn to a party historically steeped in privilege and wealth. Interestingly the other main contenders for political office, Labour and to a lesser extent the Liberal Democrats, have never had a female leader, yet are perceived (particularly Labour) to represent the majority of the country’s people.

My beloved maternal Granny was born in 1898 and passed away in 1976. Although I only had her in my life for six and a half short years, her influence on me has been profound. Having lived through a time when women had no voice, Granny rammed home her point “women died for us to have a vote. So ALWAYS vote, be sure to put your cross in that box whenever you can. You may think they are all a bunch of charlatans, but that cross matters. Use it”. And I have used it, never having missed a major election vote since I came of age at 18. At least by voting, I feel I can have an opinion on the state of the country, those who choose to stay away from the polling stations should shut up. I’ve lambasted my younger brother for his lack of voting, whilst being only too happy to take any state benefit going. I know of several countries where voting is compulsory and I’d happily go along with that.

 I don’t understand people who say they don’t know what they are voting for, or that there is no one party that they fully agree on, so they won’t bother. Granny always read the leaflets that were delivered during the run up to elections, all party policies would be considered, and then she would look to her conscience, and vote accordingly. I learned at a very young age that nothing was ever really ideal, and that much of the time it was a compromise between what you thought right and what was being “promised”. To this day I do the same as Granny, read all the pamphlets and make my compromise. I abhor households that bin most of the leaflets delivered, keeping only those of the preferred household political party. I can’t help but think the children in those homes are well and truly indoctrinated from birth, by adults who should know better.

Elections come in several guises, parish council, county council, police commission, general & Euro elections and the occasional Referendum. Each has a distinct difference of influence ranging from very local issues up to national and international relevance. At times I’ve voted with my head and made a tactical decision at other times emotionally with my heart. I’ve tried to discern between local elections and national/international ones because the manifest can be very distinct for a specific area and purpose. I’m always a bit baffled that so many people seem to confuse the two.

Referenda by their very nature tend to have a bit of an earthquake effect, the national foundations are rocked and damage is done to both sides of the argument, regardless of the result. Afterwards an apparent cleanup is made, but nothing ever feels quite the same again. Alas today the UK is still “rocking” from the seismic effects of the EU Referendum, and protracted negotiations continue toward our release from membership of the European Union in 2019. I wonder what the women voters of 1918 would think of the situation we face today, considering Europe was still tearing itself apart in the throes of a savage world war back then.  By 1948 another huge war had once again afflicted the world and from the ashes of a decimated Europe, a vision of an Economic Community was born, which offered perhaps a sense of shared stability and responsibility in a shaky world. Yet we are walking away from it into an unknown future, at a time when the world seems yet again to be more than a just little unpredictable.

In today’s political climate I have no real affiliation to any party as I feel Granny’s description of “charlatans” is quite accurate, the country is not in good shape. And as  I watch the debacle of the Brexit negotiations, and roll my eyes at the much lauded mantra that the government is carrying out the will of the people, I can’t help but think that the Tories  “want their cake and to eat it, whilst maintaining a slim line physique”. But like the country they rule that isn’t going to happen!

National Identity Abroad

It was exactly a year ago (Sept 18th 2014) that Scotland voted on a referendum for independence (see my views post), a mandate that was defeated by 55% to 45% (see my results post). British Prime Minister David Cameron at the time promised more devolved power to the Scots which may well have swung the vote to remain within the UK. He has not delivered on that promise yet and the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has spoken of the PM “living on borrowed time”, a view I can’t help but agree with. Both the referendum issue and the General Election result have had a profound impact on me, which I became acutely aware of on holiday in Brussels two weeks ago.

Ever since my first visit to Brussels in 2002 I have adored the place and felt very comfortable there despite my linguistic short comings. English is beautifully spoken, menus are in various languages and even I can negotiate the French part of the dual language signage (the other is Flemish) for the metro and tourist spots. You just can’t help but know that you are in a city that prides itself in being at the heart of the European Union, something I’ve felt very relaxed about.

But in 2015 on my fifth visit to the city I realised for the first time I was embarrassed by my own national identity, and it has all stemmed from my feelings regarding the political shenanigans that have gone on here for the last year. When politely asked which language I spoke I happily replied English. But the question “where are you from” stirred in me turmoil and I floundered to respond. Previously my reply would instantly have been Britain but this time I found myself saying that I had travelled from England but was a Scot, although basically we were all sort of British! I racked my brains to remember what we were called in the Eurovision Song Contest and of course it is the United Kingdom. The museum clerk who had asked the question smiled at my eventual UK answer and commented “ah yes the UK like Belgium we are all European”, to which I ruefully responded “well for now anyway”. I walked away disconsolately feeling utterly hollow inside.

England is where I live, but I had identified myself as a Scot in a mental attempt to put distance between me, the nationalistic UKIP party and David Cameron’s Tory England. The Prime Minister advocated the Scottish referendum debate, something I deeply opposed, because in my opinion it has begun the process where Scotland and England will separate in the future. His determination to have an IN/OUT vote to remain within the European Union could well be the catalyst for this to happen. Knowing all this made me somewhat hesitant and a little ashamed to admit my British nationality whilst in Brussels. But the internal political strife of this country is little known within the EU, for now anyway!

Before David Cameron relinquishes his tenure as British Prime Minister, he might guide the nation into sleep-walking out of the European Union and preside over the disintegration of the United Kingdom. My passport is for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but sadly under Cameron’s government I no longer feel the country is great, nor the kingdom united.

A British Scot in Europe. Image credit abmj
                     A British Scot in Europe. Image credit abmj

People Crisis in Europe

The massive flux of people travelling toward the continent of Europe from many troubled lands has made headline news in 2015. But the first week of September has seen an apparent seismic shift in how European heads of state deal with the problem. It seems that a photo of a small child from Syria drowned in the Mediterranean Sea and washed ashore, and hundreds of people walking from Budapest to the Austrian border have been the galvanising moments in the story.

I was on holiday effectively from the 1st to the 5th of September and did not take my smart phone with me, nor did I watch the news at my hotel in Brussels. On my return home the headlines emanating from Hungary, Austria and Germany were literally “news” to me. Suddenly with the situation becoming dire in Central Europe and Hungary seemingly throwing its hands in the air in despair, the rest of the continent woke up. The problems that Italy and Greece have been dealing with on their own for months almost buckling under the pressure, and pleading for help with the situation have come home to roost so to speak. Finally an attempt at a cohesive joined up effort to deal with the issue is taking place. Or at least that’s how it seemed watching reports on Saturday 5th September, but 24 hours later the political “goodwill window of opportunity” was already being talked of being suspended soon. But in the meantime, transport is being put in place to offer safe passage from Hungary to Austria and Germany (and perhaps beyond) for the thousands of displaced people seeking refuge.

Some may say that the open borders policy of the European Union enshrining freedom of movement has in part created the problem. However, the humanitarian effort today is only possible because of those same laws that bind the European Union nations. I don’t think the necessary diplomatic dialogue channels would be in place otherwise.

Germany looks to be prepared to take several hundred thousand displaced people, whilst early speculation has suggested that David Cameron may take in about 15,000 to the United Kingdom. I’m not overly enthused by the Prime Minister’s stand on this issue, as he only seems to have reacted because he has been backed into a corner. Looking bad in the eyes of other European leaders is no strange notion to the UK political leader, after all our demands for European renegotiation and rebates etc doesn’t make us popular. But if the UK appears to be not “pulling its weight” in this matter then why should our “bleating” be given a fair hearing. Yet if the UK doesn’t get some kind of rebate/new membership terms from Europe as Cameron has promised his electorate he will strive to do, he loses face with the very people who got him into power.

The brief amount of news coverage I watched on Saturday night included seeing Germans applaud the arrival of people disembarking from trains in Munich, and a chat with a Syrian family recently settled in a small German community of 1200 in size. The woman of the family spoke of gifts being given to them within days of arrival (TV, bikes for the children) and the warm welcome received. I was glad they felt safe and secure but couldn’t help wonder how different their story may have been here.

Germany as a nation has a general policy of wide scale social housing availability, home ownership not being the norm. Unsurprisingly then the Syrian family had a fair chance of being offered a roof over their heads once their asylum paperwork had been processed. The United Kingdom on the other hand has wide scale home ownership, has given away for sale most of its social housing in the last thirty years, and not replaced anywhere near the same amount lost. There are large waiting lists for social housing and many have become homeless due to the lack of suitable affordable homes. So when the news triumphantly reported that “many in the UK have volunteered to take refugees in” my views were a little less charitable I’m afraid. Home owners with room to spare are about the only ones able to offer an instant “roof over the head” solution. Local councils have to juggle their waiting lists with available housing stock, and anyone in housing authority properties or private tenants would be in violation of their tenancy agreements, to take anyone unauthorised into their home. Under those circumstances I think any refugee family housed by the council would probably be viewed with suspicion and could face having their windows put in! Not a very nice welcome.

Austerity measures in the UK have seen many basic services funding being cut back to a minimum. We hear reports of NHS difficulties in providing comprehensive cover at weekends, some areas with not enough school places, council subsidies for local transport being reduced, to name but a few. These issues show what a potent mix of “general disgruntlement” we have in this country at the moment, and that is without even mentioning “benefits” to provide a social income for displaced people.

Of course the UK should help people in need, but that does rather depend on our infrastructure being robust enough to provide them with all they require for a decent life. Looking at our society today I’m not all together convinced we are doing a decent enough job looking after those who are already here!

Throughout 2015 news reports have shown hundreds of thousands of people arriving on the European continent mainly through Italy and Greece. I can only assume that the bottleneck of people in Hungary occurred as a direct result of the natural travelling progression of those early 2015 arrivals. Something had to be done quickly to deal with the issue and this humanitarian intervention was the outcome. But if the “goodwill” is short lived the problem could well occur again because many more thousands are arriving on a daily basis in the southern Mediterranean states. Hopefully this wake-up call will result in a more long term cohesive plan being put into action

THE 2015 BRITISH ELECTION RESULT

Prime Minister David Cameron has more than the minimum requisite number of seats to hold a Conservative majority government. The outcome seems to have surprised the TV pundits who expected days of negotiations to form another coalition alliance. My more politically savvy husband Rob is absolutely crest-fallen at the election results, although he admits that I sagely predicted weeks ago the shock waves that have reverberated from this vote.

In 2010 Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg faired very well in the 3 party election debates, and gained far more seats than expected as a result. This enabled his party (third in size) to form a partnership with the Conservatives to govern the country. However, that un-holy alliance I believe caused the support harnessed five years ago to disappear. Thus the 57 seats from 2010 have diminished to just 8 today. Areas deemed a bastion for Liberal Democrat support have become mainly Conservative. It is a great shame, because Nick Clegg seems a very decent man and the middle of the road voice needs to be heard. When in coalition the Liberal Democrats were the moderating foot on the brakes, and no doubt stopped the more unpalatable policies of the Conservatives from going through. Oddly enough without Nick Clegg’s coalition support in this parliament, David Cameron now has the trickier task of keeping his own party MP’s happy!

All three main British political parties have just one representative each in Scotland after the rout of the SNP. Although the independence referendum from a few months ago voted (narrowly) to keep Scotland within the UK, it also ignited the desire for more autonomy and a better say within the Westminster parliament. Not surprisingly therefore SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon campaigned along these lines, perhaps even believing her party would hold the balance of power this time round. As figures go the SNP are now third in size, but the utter decimation of the Labour party in Scotland has undoubtedly worked in favour of a Conservative majority.

I realised this morning that David Cameron played a very shrewd game during the election campaign, using a FEAR FACTOR that worked very well. By constantly suggesting that a Labour government would be wagged by an SNP tail, Cameron probably scared a lot of voters in England, who may well have opted for the Tories instead of Labour as a result. This was a clever move, which effectively forced Labour leader Ed Milliband to totally dismiss the possibility of a coalition with the SNP. I have no doubt the consternation this may well have caused in Scotland, a nation taken for granted as a Labour stronghold for too long. Frozen out of any prospect of being in coalition, the Scots voted along nationalist lines rather than old socialist ones.

David Cameron has stated that as Prime Minister he wants to govern a one nation UK, but I think he began the Union breakup process by allowing the Scottish Referendum to take place. His fear factor rhetoric has heightened English/Scottish suspicions and the Northern Irish voice wasn’t even heard during the election debates. The Prime Minister’s actions in the last eight months speak far louder than the hollow words uttered this morning. And I’m sorry to say that the 2015 election results show just what a divided, fractured and un-united kingdom we now are.

UK CAMPAIGN COUNTDOWN 2015 DEBATES

On Saturday 21st March 2015 British broadcasting announced the final template for the UK political debates, which are taking place before the General Election on May 7th.  Weeks of wrangling finally seem to be over, and it would appear that both the political and broadcasting groups INVOLVED are by and large pleased with the outcome.

In 2010 the UK held their first ever election debates with the three main national party leaders taking part in three discussions. I’ve seen the viewing audience figures for these described as 22 million, but I’m unsure if this is an average number, the largest number for a particular evening, or a cumulative one.  Anyway the project was deemed a great success and the process considered from that point onward, as an integral part of the general election campaigns. Undoubtedly the biggest winner in 2010 was Liberal leader Nick Clegg the least known debating member, compared to Conservative David Cameron and the then Labour leader Gordon Brown. The Liberals could promise many things in their manifesto without the concern of having any real chance of winning power and having to make good on them. In the 2010 election the Liberals did better in the polls than usual, which gave Nick Clegg the leverage needed to broker a deal to form a coalition with David Cameron and the Conservatives. However, that coalition deal I feel has caused the Liberal party irreparable damage as their promises have shone less brightly working in the shadow of Conservative dominance.

Initially for 2015 the broadcasters tabled the proposal of three debates (all held in April), two of them with multi-party participation and one a head-to-head debate between Labour’s Ed Miliband and Conservative’s David Cameron. These two men are the ONLY ones with the party power and public support behind them to take the keys to No.10 Downing Street in May. Unlike Ed Miliband who declared he would debate anyone, anywhere at any time, the Prime Minister David Cameron began making demands to change the debate format. He would only take part if the Green (!) party were included, then he would not go head-to-head with Labour and finally he would only take part in one multi-party debate. Initially the broadcasters held out against these demands even suggesting the preposterous notion of an empty chair, or that an un-elected media minion could stand in for the Prime Minister instead. Finally though the media capitulated and reformatted the debate platforms to accommodate the Conservatives stipulations. So what are we left with?

On Thursday March 26th just five days after the debate deal was brokered, a question and answer session will be broadcast by Channel 4 and Sky News. This will feature David Cameron (Conservative) and Ed Miliband (Labour) SEPARATELY talking to a studio audience. On April 2nd ITV will broadcast a seven party debate where ALL invited representatives will be present, including the Prime Minister. Taking part will be David Cameron (Conservative); Ed Miliband (Labour); Nick Clegg (Liberal); Nigel Farage (UKIP); Nicola Sturgeon (SNP-Scotland); Natalie Bennett (Green); Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru-Wales).  The BBC will host a five party opposition debate on April 16th (excluding coalition partners Cameron and Clegg) and a special Question Time discussion on April 30th. The final programme will feature the Labour, Liberal and Conservative leaders, with the BBC reassuringly stating that other interested parties will have a presence of some kind to ensure fairness. I admit I found the “reassurance” statement utterly laughable to say the least.

Broadcasters should have had the debate format ironed out months ago and the whole negotiation process regarding the issue, has taken focus away from the actual election campaign “sucking the life out of it” to quote David Cameron. He has said in the past that these debates are essential to the political process in the UK, yet as Prime Minister has done nothing to ensure the smooth running of it. In fact his actions have only hindered the negotiations protracting them out far longer than was necessary.  And the final debate format is a smorgasbord of discussions that strike me as being a shambolic farce for democracy. I say shambolic because the whole negotiating process has been a bit of a nightmarish joke where the idea of seven leaders trying to talk over each other makes me think of “squabbling simpering school kids”.  Also, when one major group has been deliberately excluded from the debating forum it makes a mockery of the word democracy.

My British passport declares me a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Yet NOWHERE are the Northern Irish people represented in these debates, although their leaders have appealed to the BBC Trust against their exclusion to no avail. My initial research on the internet seems to suggest that David Cameron was initially keen that the DUP the biggest party in Northern Ireland be included. If this was the case however, the Prime Minister has had a distinct lapse of memory in recent weeks. It was the Green party he fought for inclusion in the end. The DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson heads eight MPs in the House of Commons the FOURTH biggest party representation in parliament. The Northern Irish contingent has more MPs than four of the parties invited to the debates. So WHY the hell is Northern Ireland being excluded I wonder?

It appears the BBC Trust has argued that the candidates in Northern Ireland elections do not have party representation in the remainder of the UK, and so should be excluded! Having never seen a Northern Ireland ballot paper I cannot comment on that, but if you can presume that the NI parties are vaguely aligned with the three mainstream UK party principles (left, centre, right for simplicity), then that argument is invalid. When you consider the SNP are only on Scottish ballots and Plaid Cymru on Welsh ballots the BBC Trusts stance becomes implausible. I can only think that there lurks a remnant of the old animosity toward Northern Ireland that stemmed from the troubles.

I’m disappointed that the leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru have not stuck up for their smaller national counterpart. I shake my head in disbelief when I hear “the British people want and need these debates” knowing that a small but significant cohort of my fellow British citizens are being DELIBERATELY EXCLUDED from the process. Considering the people of that region have far stronger feelings toward the Union flag (for and against) than many other parts of the UK, I find it shocking how easily Northern Ireland has been ignored for the election debates, and feel a lone voice in the wilderness.

A few short months ago I expressed the earnest hope that Scotland would not vote for independence but remain within the UK. I said “all for one and one for all”, yet this whole debate debacle has shown me that perhaps we are not as unified a democracy as people would like to think. It appears the Prime Minister can pull rank and manipulate the broadcasting media when it suits him. The media seem to have an underlying political agenda of their own despite the fact they are supposed to be neutral. And all those involved have colluded to exclude the Northern Ireland voice that has just as much right to be heard. Democracy…I think not, shame on you.

THE SCOTTISH REFERENDUM 2014: A Nation Decides

The referendum ballot boxes have been counted from an unprecedented electorate turnout of 84.51% and Scotland has decided to remain within the United Kingdom. The No campaign (against independence) gained 55.3% some 2,001,926 votes cast, whilst the Yes campaign (for independence) gathered 1,617,989 votes or 44.7% in the polls. From the 32 council voting regions only 4 had a majority Yes result (Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire & Dundee).  Personally I’m surprised the winning margin of votes was more than 10%, all along I thought there would be a narrow Yes decision for independence. My husband on the other hand felt a narrow No majority would prevail, so we are both glad the outcome was more decisive. I write this within a few short hours of the final result being declared, and I am personally relieved at the outcome. Having taken a brief look at the TV news reactions and social media forums (Twitter & Facebook), I’ve come to a few interesting conclusions I’d like to share with you.

Yes 4 No 28 Why?

In my last post I mentioned that Lady Scotland does not forget her Them (England) and Us (Scotland) arguments easily, and that old rivalries can simmer for decades or even centuries. It would seem the polls have endorsed that feeling emphatically. From social media referendum chatter I’ve seen the mention of Ravenscraig Steelworks, coal mining, ship building & poll tax (first practiced on Scotland by a Tory government in the 1980s). Many of these issues are decades old arguments but they still influenced the voters of Glasgow and North Lanarkshire, where the people were directly affected by the demise of these local industries. I’m not exactly sure how Dundee comes into this sphere, although I have a vague feeling a car plant debacle may be involved somewhere. Anyway, what is clear is that the ills of a fractured society from yesteryear still reverberate to this day, and remain influential in voting trends regardless of the ”nature” of the vote. I’ve also seen the notion that the outcome is a victory for the English Tories, and that “wealthier” Scots who voted No to remain within the UK, have effectively “spat in the face of the little man”. Throughout the world there has always been an element of “those who have” and “those who have not” and although most definitely not fair, is a sad reality. This Scottish referendum has heightened the feelings of injustice within her society, not only between the English power masters and a poor little nation, but also between the Scots themselves. The idea that “rich” Aberdeen voters are any less patriotic in voting No than the hard-pressed “poor” Lanarkshire guy who said Yes is absurd. But I have a feeling that many in the four Yes vote regions will think along these lines. I’ve said that the referendum created a schism in Scotland that will not go away easily, and initial views suggest I am not wrong in that viewpoint.

There Are More Questions Than Answers

The No vote success north of the border hasn’t given David Cameron and his “English Tories” any victory, in fact the whole process has opened up a “can of worms” that will be hard to contain. In the days leading up to the referendum vote, an increasingly worried Prime Minister frantically tried to ensure a No success, by promising a greater level of autonomy for the Scottish Assembly. He will have to be seen to honour those “last minute” guarantees or he will look a fool. However, what about England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Giving Scotland a larger share of the money distributed by Westminster will not go down well with Wales and Northern Ireland, who will be concerned their share will go down! At present Westminster votes involve all four nations’ MPs but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland vote alone on many issues regarding their own nation. So England has a more dilute influence on her own decision making powers than the other three. That can’t be right either, and so the “West Lothian” question arises, whereby English MP’s vote on issues involving England to the exclusion of the others. This spectre would undoubtedly terrify the Labour party in opposition at present who rely heavily on their Scottish Labour majority. It would raise the possibility of a future Labour government being able to make largely general decisions but being incapable of influencing more specific issues of government. At present they have 41 MPs from Scotland, and to lose that leverage in decision making with more devolvement for England is unthinkable. So the referendum question may have kept Scotland within the UK, BUT it will undoubtedly be a catalyst for a major upheaval, in how political decision making is achieved in the country as a whole.

A Parliament of Contradictions

Ever since the three smaller sized “home nations” gained their own voting Assemblies the winds of change began to blow. With the Scottish Referendum that reasonably amicable gentle breeze has become a full force gale that will not be appeased. With this vote Scotland has demanded to be heard, and her voice has sent shock waves that now reverberate throughout Westminster. Wales and Northern Ireland have been woken and will now demand the same courtesy that Scotland is getting. England may well decry the feelings of being “second class citizens in their own land”, something the Scots have felt for centuries. Considering the issues surrounding prescription charges and university tuition fees (to name a few) England can easily feel aggrieved. This could raise the prospect of an English Assembly residing in Westminster, with a clear majority Tory influence and a hint of UKIP thrown in for good measure, deciding on English issues. In my mind this is possibly an even worse outcome than Scotland going independent after all.

Although there are three major political parties in the UK, only two of them are real game changers, Conservative (Tory) and Labour. Sorry Liberals but it’s true, whatever clout you think you may have in the coalition. Labour was mainly created to represent the working class demographic from the factories, local industries (steel, coal, ship building etc), and the British majority who did not have land, titles or wealth. Sadly the industrial heartland that fed the Labour fire has all but vanished from the landscape. The majority remain without the “perks” of the upper classes, although with home ownership land issues may be slightly less relevant these days. Many however in the 21st century still suffer from the economic hardships brought about by successive governments both Labour and Tory. I know several “Yes” referendum voters who brought up the lamentable “bedroom tax” as a factor in their decision making. But people the length and breadth of the UK are suffering because of this legislation, not just the Scots.

All For One And One For All

The Scottish referendum has decided that Scotland will remain as part of the United Kingdom, and I strongly feel we are far stronger together than apart. The land of my birth has more say in her affairs today than in my youth, and with more devolved power will continue strengthen. To my mind this is an undisputed fact: each home nation needs the other three to act as a moderator in decision making. Only then can the voices of everyone have ANY chance of being heard, for any nation with an unchallenged party majority cannot be a healthy one, in today’s uncertain and dangerous times!