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Negatives and Positives

September 19th, 2014 (07:09 am)
current location: KY16 8SX

Oh Scotland. I think you’ve made a big mistake.

But you made it clearly, on a fantastic turn out. And while 45% isn’t enough for the change I wanted to see, that’s an enormous percentage that voted not just for a bit of change but for actual independence. It wasn’t half the population, but it’s close. The percentage who want to see significant change short of that is greater still.

And you’ve been promised that change, albeit in vague terms by politicians you don’t think much of, who don’t currently seem to have much of a clue of how to deliver it. The next step is to make sure they deliver, and don’t take your No vote as a blind acceptance of the status quo.

Alex Salmond’s concession speech was a great example of how to continue the positive attitude to change that’s brought us this far.

On a more personal note, I expect the political content of this blog will now go down. You may be relieved to hear that! For me, independence was a project for improving my country that was worth breaking my political silence for. Having got here, I won’t be giving up on that, but it’s now a change that won’t be coming soon. Now, whatever side we were on yesterday, let’s work for a better Scotland within the United Kingdom.

New Media for a New Scotland

September 18th, 2014 (09:14 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

A short documentary about the role of the media:

Two Futures

September 18th, 2014 (01:14 am)
current location: KY16 8SX

Any vote is a choice between two or more futures. The referendum on Scottish independence is a choice between two (or more) futures.

Two, because the choice on the paper is a simple Yes or No. More, because each choice is supported by multiple parties who have different views of what should occur after a Yes or a No.

But today we focus on making our choice of one of two futures; by saying Yes or No to whether Scotland should be an independent country.

You wouldn’t know it from the campaigns though. Despite two and a half years in which to prepare and make a case, only one campaign has had anything much to say about building a future that’s better for Scotland; for the people who vote today. Only one campaign actually deserves to win.

It may not turn out that way, of course. The flawed AV referendum was lost to a campaign that didn’t deserve to win. (Unfortunately Alternative Voting, the version of proportional representation on offer, probably didn’t deserve to win either – it was a tough decision for me to vote for the proposal on that occasion.)

I don’t have children, but I want to leave the planet a little better than I found it when I go, and giving Scotland a better go at running itself is probably the biggest, most positive project I can contribute to in my lifetime, even if that contribution boils down to a single X on a bit of paper. And this may be my only chance to do that.

It’s taken an extraordinary set of circumstances to bring us to this point. There’s majority support for independence in a parliament that was designed to prevent it. Those circumstances that may not be repeated in the next twenty years, or ever; and in twenty years I’ll be approaching 70 and perhaps the end of my life (though I hope for a bit more!).

Yes campaigners don’t share a single vision for the future of Scotland, but at least they all have one, and almost all of them envisage a more egalitarian Scotland that deals more kindly with the less fortunate and makes sure that the citizens of the future can benefit from a high quality education with less debt. We can probably get some sort of blend of those proposals through coalition our proportionally elected parliament.

The No campaign have little in common but their opposition to change. The three main parties couldn’t come together to make an alternate positive proposal for Scotland’s future. If they had, they could have put it on the ballot paper and almost certainly won – the SNP left the door open on that for a long time, while making it clear it wasn’t their responsibility to come up with a proposal they didn’t support*. The Scottish electorate has waited even longer for them to come up with something worthwhile, but it’s become clear they have nothing, and large swings to Yes show patience is running out. In the case of a No, what we get depends on who gets in at Westminster, and it’s likely to be just one party’s version that gets enacted. Not to mention they’re all pretty rubbish. Take a look at this graphic to see how significant the proposed changes are:

Click through for source and more information

Click through for the source and more information. The Westminster parties are offering S1 through to S5. Polling suggests most of the Scottish population wanted S9; independence is S10. Which of those looks closest to S9?

“No” may win, but frankly I think that would be a bit of a disaster for democracy and Scotland, and deeper entrench the cynicism and disgust many people already feel for politics and politicians. I won’t be helping them, as I’m voting “Yes”. If you’re reading this and have a vote, I hope you’ll consider it too.

My friend who prefers not to be linked closed his “Yes” post with this video. I recommend it too:


* This may not be how you’ve seen it reported, with delusional commenters suggesting that the party of independence somehow didn’t want what it’s always campaigned for, and that Cameron had manoeuvred Salmond into a corner. Really? It was a win-win for the SNP – if the Unionist parties came up with a credible third option for the ballot paper, it would have romped home with a safe, large majority that independence-minded voters could have accepted as a significant step in the right direction. As it was, they made it clear there was nothing much on offer and forced waverers to consider whether independence was really the only game in town. The Unionist behaviour was, sadly, predictable. It’s a gamble for the SNP, and not guaranteed to win, but it was always likely to push more people into supporting independence.

Did Alex answer Nick’s second question?

September 12th, 2014 (11:28 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

Nick Robinson’s second question to Alex Salmond in the video clips I embedded yesterday was (in full) “…on a more general point, John Lewis’s boss says prices could go up, Standard Life’s boss says money will move out of Scotland, BP’s boss says oil will run out; why should a Scottish voter believe you, a politician, against men who are responsible for billions of pounds of profit?”

Some people, including Nick Robinson, are claiming that he answered the first question (about RBS), but not the question I’ve transcribed above. Here’s the clip again, followed by my breakdown of the answer with regards to Nick’s second question:

Alex starts addressing the second question, at 1:50, making it clear that that’s what he’s doing by saying he’s moving on “to the generality” – the same sort of language Nick used when describing it as “a more general point”. He doesn't say why we should trust him more than the businessmen, which was the literal question (would anyone believe it if he did?), but he sets out a couple of reasons why the businessmen's announcements might be seen in the same light as claims from a politician:

  • He suggests they were coordinated by David Cameron's business advisor.
  • He states that the "new" announcements from two of Nick Robinson's three examples (BP, Standard Life) were repeating things they'd already said months ago. (He doesn’t mention John Lewis.)

He then goes on to make a detailed comparison with RBS (not one of Nick's examples in the second question, although it’s relevant to the first) where the reporting was substantially more alarmist than the Chief Executive of RBS's portrayal to his staff, leading in to his criticism of the Treasury's (and the BBC's) role in the reporting.

In fact, he spends nearly four minutes working on reducing the relative credibility of the announcements from business and their leaking and reporting before he first tries to move on to the next question, which is pretty much (if not literally) what Nick asked him to do.

Finally, at 7:00 he mentions two witnesses from the business world (Martin Gilbert and Sir Angus Grossart) who've made statements more favourable to the case for independence, thereby introducing a positive argument as well as the preceding negative ones.

It wasn't a soundbite answer to the soundbite question, but (IMHO, obviously) it was as reasonable an answer as any politician in that situation could give.

The BBC’s has published a response to complaints.

This article started out as a comment on andrewducker’s post. Both videos were captured by Wings over Scotland.

Team Building

September 12th, 2014 (09:51 am)
current location: DD2 1EG

One of the team who’s leaving today created these:

Insights Core Development Team - in Lego

See if you can spot which one’s me…

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