European Elections

European Elections

As I write this on the eve of the European Parliament poll, Scotland is about to vote to elect its 6 Members of the European Parliament. On Monday lunchtime, we will know how Scotland has decided. I hope that the opinion polls are correct and that the D’Hondt system of allocating seats will reward the SNP and possibly the Greens with 3 and 1 seat. This would be an emphatic lift for the YES campaign – even though we say the European elections are nothing to do with the referendum.
The media will dissect the result to suit their own agendas. Three seats for the SNP will be a sign that there is everything to play for the referendum. Given that the Lib Dems are likely to lose their seat, this must call for the Scottish party to seek greater independence from the UK Federal party. A waste of time, of course, as many of the Scottish LD MPs are taking the government pay cheque as Ministers. Therefore, is it not time for ordinary Liberal Democrat members to reclaim their party in an independent Scotland?

As for Labour? Well Labour leader Johann Lamont said they would ‘put a focus on using the EU to create jobs, cut banker bonuses and scrap zero hours contracts’. You would think, therefore, their election communication delivered to every household in the land, would talk about how Europe is essential in protecting workers’ rights and creating a more socially-just environment.

Lo and behold, when I picked up Labour’s leaflet what did I find? An eight-page A5 leaflet dedicated to criticising the Scottish Government and only one page to talking about Scotland in Europe. Even then, that page was a distorted view of how Labour pretends that the 73 UK MEPs are a united bloc in the European Parliament standing up for British interests. Rarely has the 73 of them ever voted in unison about anything. Propaganda through and through. The European Parliament is divided into ideological pan-European groupings, where geography is the last thing that appears to unite them. When did the UK MEPs unite to protect Scottish fishermen? Never. Would more Scottish MEPs from an independent Scotland, a seat on the Council of Ministers, united with socially-democratic governments across Europe, not achieve more for ordinary Scots than myths that the UK Government cares a toss about Scottish interests. Sorry, expends valuable diplomatic time representing all the interests of the United Kingdom, some parts more than others.

Which brings me back to interpreting the European results. The Unionist parties will claim the European elections were never about the independence debate but every election communication they put out was anti-independence in their message. So, when they do badly, Alex, Nicola and the whole YES campaign will have every right to say Scots have rejected more Unionist propaganda and this is yet another step towards the Scottish people rejecting London-led government, especially the narrow ethnic nationalism of UKIP.

More and more, the conclusions being drawn throughout the United Kingdom is that Westminster is a failed political model whatever your interest: anti-poverty, equality, distance from power, etc. You just have to listen to the audiences on BBC Question Time each week. Far more disillusionment with all the parties than ever before. It’s time for England to sort itself out politically. An independent Scotland has the potential to show them, twenty years after Thatcher claimed TINA, that there is an alternative after all.

Jimmy Halliday’s contributions to the Cause

Jimmy Halliday – lifetime Nationalist

To put matters into context, in 1955 the SNP contested only two Parliamentary seats in Scotland. Dr Robert McIntyre fought Perth and East Perthshire and Jimmy Halliday fought Stirling and Falkirk Burghs.  Jimmy then became the youngest ever SNP Chairman and served 1956-70; in 1956 the entire SNP Conference delegates were photographed on the steps of the Allan Water Hotel, Bridge of Allan.

There will be a Referendum for Scottish Independence this year, which was unthinkable in the dark days of 1955.  Jimmy died on 3rd January 2013 at the age of 85, and we will be publishing all his articles in the Scots Independent, all those we have electronic input for. It is anticipated we will publish a book with all his contributions over many years but this will have to wait until after the Referendum.

 

“Yes we can” – SNP slogan years ago.

James Halliday SI June 2009

There is a great reservoir of goodwill towards Scotland in America

“Yes, we can” is an excellent political slogan – optimistic, reassuring, encouraging confidence and making people feel good about themselves. It is always desirable to find ourselves on the positive side of a debate as we did when urging “Yes for Scotland” in two devolution campaigns.

Let us remind our media, who paid little attention then and have totally forgotten now, that the SNP used the slogan some years ago. Not only that but it was devised and proposed by the present First Minister himself. Not that we grudge the slogan to Barack Obama. Let’s hope that having shared in its use we can find it sensible to strengthen the friendship.

I am told that Neil MacCormick hoped to see Obama elected and how good it is to know that he was spared to do so. Always active in seeking to make us take an intelligent and informed interest in the wider world, his guidance was always to encourage us to find Scotland’s best place in the world and to identify friends and consolidate friendship.

We must all have taken pleasure and satisfaction from the media coverage of the cordial meeting between our First Minister and America’s Secretary of State. Mrs Clinton is nobody’s fool, and she will remember to our advantage her meeting with Alex Salmond.

There is, after all, a great reservoir of goodwill towards Scotland in the United States. We are less visible than the Irish, and less deeply beloved, but we are generally well thought of by those who know us at all. We lag behind Ireland because the Irish have pursued American favour, support and protection for generations, feeling not the slightest need to excuse themselves for so doing. The enormous political influence exerted by Irish-Americans ensures that their close friendship remains unchallenged. Scots in America have been too nearly invisible in political terms. They tended to make their way in business and commerce, sometimes in the academic world, ignoring the potential advantages to be gained from holding levers of political power. So both here and in America Scots have been too stand-offish, and too often we have been bristly in readiness to make anti-American noises.

To some extent attitudes are determined by the dates of our births. Most of you will have no memory of America before Nixon. American political history in your lifetime has seemed a narrative of political corruption, diplomatic crises, bullying of domestic groups and wars whose justification in suspect. You have seen America’s Supreme Court declare President a man who was not elected. The eventual rejection by public opinion of George W. Bush is a fine and satisfying example of roosting chickens.

These are your memories and your impressions of America. Things were not always thus

What about leaders and movements who worked to help those suffering from injustices or from disasters both natural and man-made? Workless people in urban poverty who were living in famine conditions in Dustbowls? In these hard times migrant workers struggled to survive and made desperate attempts to create Unions in their own defence. Those who organised these Unions suffered attacks characterised by a brutality never widely experienced by their British counterparts.
These struggles were encouraged at popular level by writers and singers in ballads, giving to the 1930s a chronicle in music with which we were all once familiar. Woodrow Wilson Guthrie – named after a liberal President from whom much had been expected – became the voice of all who sought to remove burdens, material and social, from the downtrodden. Of the greatest President of these times, Woody Guthrie sang “The world was lucky to see him born”, Franklin Roosevelt worked to rescue America. He took office challenging those he called “malefactors of great wealth”, and when he was seeking re-election he reflected that in his first term these malefactors had met their match. In his second term he hoped they would meet their master. His most active assistant, Harry Hopkins, could say “People don’t eat in the long run, they eat every day”

When war came and days of desperate danger faced Britain the President of a still allegedly neutral America charged American warships to see British supply convoys as far on their journeys as could be achieved without causing political crises at home. When one of these destroyers fell victim to German torpedoes Woody Guthrie told in song the story of the “Reuben James”, and so helped to make more and more Americans ready to confront Germany in war. When the American broadcaster Ed Murrow entered the concentration death camp at Buchenwald it was a matter of hours after news of Roosevelt’s death. The newly-liberated half-dead inmates, he reported, blessed the name of Roosevelt.

These are the memories of an older generation of course, but there have been torchbearers in the meantime. John F. Kennedy, whom the whole world wanted to claim; Lyndon Johnson who ought to be remembered as the key link between Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama whose election was made possible by Johnson’s Voting Rights Act.

Neil McCormick was right. Alex Salmond was right. Obama’s America is a fit and proper friend for Scotland. Obama may be able to carry out Roosevelt’s prophecy “We may restore the temple to its ancient truths.”