The Point
Last updated: 19 September 2017.

...red sky thinking for an open and diverse left

Visit our Facebook page

Follow us on Twitter

 

Recent Articles

In Praise of Beethoven

Arthur C Clarke - A Very Modern Odyssey

Tackling Private Landlords

Investigating the Value Form

The Eternal Dark Heart of Empire

If You Build Them, They Will Come

Three weeks to go, an appeal to fellow citizens of Scotland: the Greens

 

The Point marks the 21 days to go till referendum day, with a magnificent seven appeals to undecided voters from both rank-and-file activists and leading figures in the YES movement.

 

Scotland’s Future – A Green Perspective

James MacKessack-Leitch, Green Party Convenor in Moray.

The debate on which we have embarked upon is about far more than whether decisions should be made at Westminster or Holyrood. We have the opportunity to ask ourselves what kind of country we want to live in; what kind of society we want to build; what kind of economy we want to run; and how to do so while protecting the environment around us.

Few generations have the opportunity to answer such defining questions, and it’s a crucial time to do so. All of us - Scotland, the UK and the whole of humanity - are facing unprecedented challenges in the 21st century, largely of our own making.

For decades, the world has been dominated by an economic model which has allowed the exploitation of people and natural resources on a scale never seen before. As a result we’re seeing a return to levels of inequality not seen for nearly a century. This same economic model is systematically destroying the environmental conditions on which our civilisation depends. And over recent years we’ve seen this economic model begin to fail even in its own terms – yet most politicians can’t see beyond the simplistic mantra of getting back to business-as-usual.

Greens around the world have been making these arguments for years. We’ve been leading the 21st century case for transformational change in our economy, our society, and our politics. What’s different now is the opportunity Scotland has to take control of that future and build a political culture that’s capable of transformation.

We live in an uncertain world. Much of that uncertainty is a result of the damage we have done ourselves. Voting Yes to Scottish independence will not reverse that damage overnight, but it will open the door to a better future, if we choose to step through.

Right now, I am sad to see the utter dominance of the debate by the economy and currency, because to my mind the solution is both simple and obvious.

In the short term of course we can use the pound, but it’s not a long term option, and it’s clear that Scotland will only be able to exercise full economic independence if we stand ready to develop our own currency. That’s it.

Continuing in the vein of slaying the elephant in the room, there are those who still make the case for a Yes vote with tired old slogans about “Scotland’s oil”. Even if there was no environmental consequence from burning fossil fuels, Scotland’s remaining reserves would only offer an economic future for a few more decades. I want an independent Scotland to be successful far longer than that!

Instead we must support a more diverse range of petrochemical uses which don’t involve greenhouse gas emissions. Scotland has the skills to do that, and with the remaining portion of oil and gas income funding public investment in renewables to replace future revenue, we have the opportunity to make this transition rapidly. The UK will only ever see North Sea oil as a revenue source; Scotland could see it as a springboard, taking us from reliance on polluting and finite energy sources to the clean technology of the future.

But what really drives me is the opportunity to create a true democracy.

Our politics is too often conducted in a polarised, confrontational atmosphere and in a situation remote from those that it affects. This is very much evidenced by the present London-centric system, and people feel disconnected with the decision making that affects our everyday lives.

Greens want to see that power returned to the people, not just from Westminster, but from Holyrood, and Local Authorities as well – independence is a first necessary step on that road, because the best decisions are made by local communities that are fully engaged, not in offices dozens, or hundreds, of miles away.

After all, our local authorities provide the public services we value most highly and use daily: children’s education, road repairs, care-homes, social housing, planning, public transport, parking, waste collections, cultural events… the list goes on. Despite this, less than 40% of us vote in elections and local government has been largely ignored in the debate on Scottish independence.

The referendum debate gives us the opportunity to rethink how all our powers are distributed. Whether we form a new country or remain in the UK, a stronger local democracy must be delivered in Scotland. A Yes vote will resolve the long-standing question of whether more powers should come from Westminster to Scotland, but also opens up the space to decide how we should share those powers across the country. A Green Yes vote in September is for a ‘double-devolution’ of power - bringing far more power to local communities, and recognising that power is granted from the people, up, not the government, down.

This isn’t wishful thinking, the unprecedented grassroots movements in the referendum debate show that people can be engaged in politics, that we can debate the issues that affect our future, and that ultimately, we can find the solutions ourselves and in our communities, without the need for a distant and centralising parliament.

There is no doubt that we have the ability tread a progressive path in the world, and if we can take this opportunity there is a chance to build a new political culture that is capable of transformation, and that provides future generations with the basis of a fair, just and sustainable society.

Can it be done?

I cannot predict the future any more than you, but there are two things I have learnt that helped me make my decision: hope beats fear, and nothing that’s worth doing is ever easy. 

That’s why, on the 18th September, I’ll be voting for a Green Yes. 

Three weeks to go, an appeal to fellow citizens of Scotland: John Finnie MSP

The Point marks the 21 days to go to referendum day with a magnificent seven appeals to undecided voters from both rank-and-file activists and leading figures in the YES movement.

John Finnie, Independent MSP and prominent supporter of the Radical Independence Campaign

 

People say ‘why take the risk? I agree. The most important debate our country has faced is full of unknowns. So what do we know?

We know that if you vote no all the unionist parties are committed to continuing the austerity programme and we know that 60% of the cuts are still to come.

We know the Labour Party are committed to 96% of those cuts, however, plan new  further ‘benefits attacks’ on the under 25s.  After all it was Alastair Darling who, in a rare moment of Blairite honesty, promised ‘deeper and tougher cuts than Thatcher’.

We know that the most vulnerable in our communities; the disabled, women and young children will feel the greatest effects of the austerity programme.

We know that the unionist parties will all replace the obscenity that is the Trident missile programme. We know that will cost over £100 billion and that £1.4billion has already been spent on the early design.

We know that, in the 4th most unequal country in the developed world, the unionist parties all voted to cap welfare payments.

We know that the three unionist parties are pandering to UKIP. Indeed Labour, desperate to lure ‘middle England’, complained the recent Con/Dem Queen’s Speech contained no immigration bill.  That would perhaps seem surprising unless you recalled that it was Gordon Brown who uttered the shameful phrase “British jobs for British workers”.

We know that there is a very high chance that the much promised ‘in/out’ referendum on membership of the European Union (EU) could result in the UK leaving.

We know that with the limited powers it has, the Scottish Parliament has built on our nation’s broad social democratic consensus and delivered real social benefits.  Benefits like free personal care for our older people, removing the worry for them, their families and communities about how they will be looked after.  Benefits like free prescriptions, removing the ‘tax on sickness’ and the obscenity of citizens presenting themselves to a pharmacists saying they can only afford two of the five items on the script, asking which two are most important. Benefits like free university education with access on the ability to learn rather than the ability to pay.

We know some people are concerned about the alleged challenges an independent Scotland would face such as currency and membership of the EU.

I’ll declare I favour a separate Scottish currency, however, there is no doubt that, whether in the long-term or as a pragmatic temporary measure, sharing the pound is a viable option.  Don’t take my word for it, Alistair Darling and Blair MacDougall, leaders of Better Together and Professor Jim Gallagher one of their advisors are all on record supporting that approach. Currency is about trade and, as should be clear to all, trade takes place regardless of currency and perceived boundaries. 

We hear a lot about ‘plan B’.  It’s a good question.  What is Better Together’s ‘plan B’ when Tesco, Amazon and Starbucks tell them they want a single currency for Great Britain?  This is all posturing by a failed state whose last two Chancellors, Alistair Darling and George Osborne have between them racked up an astonishing debt of £1.45 trillion.  Those are not the kind of guys I’d recommend taking economic advice from!

I have a European Union passport now and will still have one under independence. The EU is an expansionist organisation and if Ukraine, with all the challenges is eligible for Membership, then does any credible voice suggest that Scotland wouldn’t be admitted?

Then there’s the ‘problem’ of having vast oil reserves requires to be addressed too.  ‘Investment will dry up’, except it hasn’t.  Why would it? Corporate greed will ensure that the money will go where the profits can be harvested and the North Sea, with or without the mysterious Clare Ridge, is a rich source of profit.

So I’ve no doubt , with the necessary work, we can persuade our fellow residents that supporters of YES have a vision, indeed various visions, of a better future whilst those who encourage you to vote No have nothing to offer but threats and more of the same. I don’t want more of the same under the UK and I most certainly don’t want more of the same under an independent Scotland.

The growing inequality which is the hallmark of the UK must be replaced by a concerted programme to remove health, wealth, gender mobility and fuel inequalities.

The UK’s National Health Service, once the jewel in the rich crown of public services, has now been singled out to be plundered by the millionaire politicians’’ mates.

The position of the Labour Party in Scotland is entirely out of kilter with their colleagues in England and wales who rightly see the Health and Social Care Act as the death knell for a free NHS. Only independence can save the NHS.

So, which of the UK’s four millionaire public schoolboys Party Leaders do you want to form your government 2015? Or, do you want to elect a government in 2016 to control all your affairs?

Hope over fear. Vision over greed. ‘A different Scotland can be ours’ only if you vote ‘YES’! 

 

John Finnie                                            Iain Ó Finnaí

Member of the Scottish Parliament     Ball Pàrlamaid na h-Alba

Highlands and Islands                          A' Ghàidhealtachd agus                                                                    na h-Eileanan

The Greatest Financial Scam of All Time?

Derek Stewart MacPherson takes a fresh look at privatisation, why it directly affects you, and why it is an issue in the referendum debate.

 

Well, somebody has to say it, so it might as well be me. Privatisation is very probably the biggest financial scam of all time. It dwarves anything else I can think of. LIBOR? Fiddling small change. The original Charles Ponzi? Amateur! There has been renewed talk of privatisation recently, as the coalition government seek to use it to help balance the books, the Royal Mail and the NHS being the principle targets. It has become an issue in the Scottish referendum campaign, so it’s important to understand what it’s really all about.

It’s a scam, and here’s why: not only does it not always do what it says on the tin, it’s actually impossible for it to do what it says on the tin. I call it ‘magic pudding economics.’ Here’s the theory: You take a publicly owned organisation that is providing a service, let’s just take the example of a utility company, and you sell it off. Now of course that means you get the proceeds of that sale now. Which makes this year’s figures look better. But this is when, we have been told, the magic happens.

We are expected to believe that after the sale, the magic of private enterprise, the wonders of competition, will deliver a better, more efficient service. At a lower price. Not only has this never actually happened, if you think about it for five minutes it’s clear that it cannot possibly happen.

Read more...

T in the Park - Rocking with YES

 

Earlier this summer, the Indy Girls took the YES message to T in the Park. Sharon Anderson tells their story.

 

Being veteran TITP goers, this year was always going to be the place to be for us, in the year that we fight for self-determination. The Summer of Independence was upon us.

The experiences we have all shared in past years, through good times and bad, were our indicator on how this year would was going to pan out. We were going to see old friends, some we only see once a year – at TITP. This year, more than any other, we were desperate to feel the vibe on INDY. To really find out what the people were thinking and feeling, as the media had constantly bombarded them with negativity and attempted to say that we had no right to discuss our futures at a social event.

Read more...

Profit before People

 

Conor Cheyne is a young activist in Highlands Socialist Alliance and the Radical Independence Campaign. People getting involved in the movement often hear phrases they are not familiar with. Here Conor gives an introduction to the right wing ideas we all currently live under – commonly known as neo-liberalism.

 

It has often been said of fascism that it is just “Capitalism with the gloves off”.  This phrase though is perhaps  better attributed to a different system - one that most developed western powers have used for more than 30 years. This system has resulted in massive economic booms and individual wealth growth like that of no other period in time, though that isn't even half the story. On the other side of the coin it has caused the worst recession the western world has seen in nearly 100 years, poverty levels have increased dramatically, inequality has risen to mind blowing percentages, and despite being responsible for the World Banking Crisis those at the top of this system have continued to prosper, they even gained.

This is Neo-Liberalism.

I congratulate you on these remarkable achievements, an era that history will record as the beginning of a new golden age for the City of London. I believe it will be said of this age, the first decades of the 21st century, that out of the greatest restructuring of the global economy, perhaps even greater than the industrial revolution, a new world order was created

These were the words of Gordon Brown, addressing some of the most important people from the City. This also happened to take place just weeks before the 2008 world financial crash. Brown had once claimed the end of “Boom and Bust” yet as we have seen, this was pure hubris and ignorance.

Read more...

The Invisibles


 

Dermot Hill is a 56 year old Railway Engineer who works night-shift on the tracks. Homelessness is a problem that he has seen first hand for many years, particularly in the past few years after the financial crash of 2008 with many facing job loses and massive cuts to the welfare they receive from the government. Rising rent prices and a lack of social housing have also contributed to the problem we are facing. In this article, Dermot explains the setting up of a group designed to help combat homelessness.

 

We all saw the money being spent on the Commonwealth Games. So much for austerity! It was bad timing by GCC and although I won't get too political, public money could have been far better spent than homeless spikes to prevent the homeless sleeping in certain areas. How cruel can we be to one another? Hopefully the public outcry will make companies think twice before putting them down again.

Read more...

Framing the Debate - kicking off a discussion on how we use words.

Ashten Regan-Denham looks at the language we use to frame the debate about Independence and progressive politics

In the very interesting book 'Don't think of an elephant - know your values and frame the debate. An essential guide for progressives' G. Lakoff a linguistic and cognitive science expert describes how the political right (he writes about USA politics but the general principles are relevant to us) are much better at 'framing' the narrative, creating a frame or picture using values to present their arguments and make them understandable and compelling. I suggest that more attention needs to be focused on this by the pro-indy campaign. What can we learn from this type of approach?

Read more...

Achieving gender balance in an Independent Scottish Parliament

 

How it can be done, and why it should be done.

Liz Walker of Women for Independence and Radical Independence Inverness, and Steve Arnott, co-ordinating Editor of The Point, argue that progressives in Scotland should begin preparing now to take the case for a 50-50 gender balance in the Scottish Parliament to the post-independence Constitutional Convention.

 

The drive and desire for social, civic, legal and economic equality lies at the very heart of socialism; at the very centre of progressive thought.

While there is no room for complacency, and while much remains to be done, it would be self-defeating not to recognise that there has been a qualitative change in public perception and public support for many issues of equality over the previous generation – the recent public support for and passing of legislation enabling same sex marriage is just one striking example (but not the only one) of what can be achieved.  The traction gained by Brian Soutar’s campaign against the abolition of Section 28, the Tory gag on teaching about homosexuality in schools, in the early life of the first Scottish Parliament seems to belong to a different era in comparison – yet it was scarcely over a decade ago.

Read more...

Scottish Labour may only be saved by independence

Derek Durkin of Trade Unionists for Independence looks at Scottish Labour and the Independence referendum, and says there's an argument undecided Labour voters need to hear loud and clear.

With an ever increasing number of Labour members/supporters, both prominent and otherwise, declaring in favour of a YES vote in the referendum, now is a good time to look at the official Labour Party position and pose a few questions as to why they adopt the position they have, and what will be the consequences, whatever the outcome of the referendum, of their decision.

Read more...

Let's all get behind the COPS

No, not those cops. Following a series of shocking revelations, the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance was launched in London at the end of February. Harvey Duke was there.

 

Over 100 people crammed into a room in the UNITE union HQ in London, on 27th February, 2014. It was the public launch of the Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS). True stories told that night, sometimes funny, and often moving, were largely from people targeted by undercover police. A few years ago, the speakers may have been seen by many as 'conspiracy theorists'. Not now.

COPS was pulled together by socialists, trade unionists in the Blacklist Support Group, environmentalists, anti-racists (including the family of murdered youth Stephen Lawrence), and others. All were calling for an independent public inquiry into police spies.

Read more...

External links:

Bella Caledonia

Bright Green

George Monbiot

Green Left

Greenpeace

The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Laurie Penny

New Left Project

Newsnet Scotland

Richard Dawkins

Scottish Left Review

Socialist Unity

UK Uncut

Viridis Lumen

Wings Over Scotland

Word Power Books