All over the country a mass movement for independence has formed organically over the last year. Toni Vastano of YES Badenoch Strathspey recounts the YES adventure so far in the shadow of the Cairngorms
YES! Badenoch & Strathspey formed in September 2013. Some of us had been on the Independence March & Rally, Calton Hill, Edinburgh and we were amazed by what we saw and felt there. A real sense of community. People from all over Scotland and from many other countries too. All races, all ages, all backgrounds. It didn't matter. We saw a glimpse of what our country can be. People representing their own communities, meeting together to celebrate a vision of Scotland as national community. Elaine C. Smith's words "What we need to talk about now is the kind of place we want to live in."
I thought "Well, there must be other people living in my local area who would like to have exactly that sort of conversation. We should start our own YES campaign group." I asked the local branch of the SNP for advice and they offered us the use of a room they'd hired for a routine meeting. There was no advertising, word just got round that there was to be a YES campaign group in our area. The response was overwhelming. We had over thirty people, most of whom were not connected with the SNP and many of whom had quite different ideas about how we should proceed. Everybody did agree on one thing - independence. They then all agreed to have me as Chairman.
Gregor Gall deconstructs the argument that Scottish independence would break trade union unity and solidarity across the UK.
There are a number of red herrings in the debate within the left about what the consequences of and motivations for independence. Amongst these are the equation of independence with nationalism and the notion that an independent Scotland would see the peoples of England consigned to permanent Tory rule. This article will focus on another one: that independence will split the unity of the working class in Britain, because this is one of the most potentially damning arguments on the left.
Tradition has it that the European elections don’t really count. And yet, whatever the case in the past, the received wisdom has never been further from the truth than this year.
Perhaps because of a combination of the proportional voting system and the perception that the Euro-elections are different, voters clearly feel freer to vote the way they really would like to in other elections but for various reasons don’t. Consequently, if you review the previous Euro-results, the so called main parties have frequently performed extremely poorly even when they have come first for example, in 2009, the Tories “won” with barely 27% of the national vote.
But this year more than ever we see a political class in crisis as the Euro-vote threatens to make a major and lasting impact on the British political scene.
Homelessness in England has increased dramatically since the UK coalition government came into power, with a 37% rise in rough sleepers in the country since 2010.1 This is in stark contrast to Scotland, where the Scottish Government has introduced the most progressive homelessness legislation in Western Europe2 and homelessness is steadily decreasing. Given that homelessness in Scotland is falling even in the face of harsh Westminster Government policies is a testament to the progressive, forward-thinking ethos of the Scottish Government.
By Graeme McIver
Earlier this morning I watched the BBC Breakfast News as they crossed to their political correspondent at Westminster to discuss the recently announced death of Tony Benn. "So just how divisive a figure was he?" asked the presenter. Divisive is not a word I immediately think of when I consider the life of Tony Benn. I inhabit the often harsh world of left politics where invective and the bitter dismissal of alternative views and those expressing them are the normal currency. Yet this elder statesman of socialism was held in almost universal high esteem, respect and affection within the left and progressive movements. He was a unifying figure. This is an achievement and accolade that is afforded to only a select few.
In the midst of all the doubt and uncertainty over the outcome of the September 2014 Referendum on Scottish Independence one thing is for sure…there’s never a dull moment on the campaign trail with George Galloway. The Respect MP for Bradford and his anti-Independence road-show, “Just Say Naw” rolled into Edinburgh at the beginning of February. The Point sent along Graeme McIver to listen to the arguments and dodge the brick-bats.
Green Left activist and blogger Adrian Cruden looks forward to a positive debate on Scotland's currency future
The Scottish Government has launched a far reaching white paper, Scotland's Future, outlining its plans for a new, independent country if Scottish voters say Yes next September. In a polished performance, as well as presenting the proposed constitutional settlement and complex division of assets and liabilities between Scotland and the remainder of the United Kingdom, First Minister Alex Salmond and his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, outlined a range of key policy objectives should the SNP be successfully elected as the government of a newly independent country.
The SNP's plans are mildly left of centre, with economic growth at the heart of their plans for a settlement along a vaguely Scandinavian type model of mixed ownership and social welfare - an objective probably reflecting the broad political consensus within Scotland but something increasingly alien to the gradually harsher, neoliberal approach of the two and a half main parties south of the border.
Only the hardest of political cynics could have walked away from Saturday’s second Radical Independence Conference (RIC) unimpressed. The size of the conference said it all. 1,000, maybe more, ‘radical’ campaigners gathered in the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow for a day of speeches and workshops. The workshops were actually so big that they felt like mini conferences. One delegate said to me, could you imagine how many supporters Better Together (labelled Bitter Together by RIC) would get if they had organised a conference? My silence said it all.
IPCC REPORT SHOWS RADICAL POLICY SHIFT NEEDED, SAYS PATRICK HARVIE
The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that the world, and the Scottish Government, must embrace radical policy shifts.
The report, which cites almost 10,000 scientific publications, concludes that concentrations of greenhouse gases are at levels unprecedented in 800,000 years and that human influence on the climate system is clear.
It also projects that global temperatures could rise by up to 4.8 degrees by the end of the century.
The tone of the report is clear - the need for action to reduce emissions has never been more urgent. Scotland has apparently "world-leading" emission reduction targets, but we've failed to achieve them two years running. The government's policy response has so far been feeble.
Former care worker Graeme McIver argues that the system of home care in this country is at crisis point. Preventing the whole rotten system from crashing down is a thin red line of care workers whose kindness and humanity stand in stark contrast to the ignorance, greed and avarice of those who design and implement policy.
There are currently around 10 million people over the age of 65 living in the UK. By 2050 that number is expected to almost double to 19 million. (1) Successive governments have moved the responsibility of providing care services to our senior citizens from the public to the private sector and that process shows no signs of being reversed by any of the main parties. Under the guise of providing a better, targeted and more cost effective standard of care the reality is that our pensioners and those tasked with delivering those vital services are being failed and exploited in the name of profit.
For almost a year I worked in the home care sector delivering care to the elderly and those with specialist needs. My experience opened my eyes to the crisis that exists in the industry and to the way that worker’s rights are routinely attacked and undermined in a way that might have shamed the owners of the dark satanic mills of William Blake’s Jerusalem.