GMB – a Cockney Clique

The allegation of anti-Semitism being hurled at the author of this blog are entirely malicious. It is time to take a stand against the lying British media.

Grouse Beater

373.jpgSomehow a wholly unnecessary strike turned into an elevation of Rhea Wolfson

The GMB union held a two day strike in Glasgow on behalf of equal pay for women. It is valuable to look at its motivation and what it achieved. They were paid up to £3 an hour less than council staff in male-dominated but broadly equivalent roles such as bin collecting and street sweeping. Some estimate they’re owed hundreds of millions of pounds in back pay.

There is nothing as bewildering than a union that holds to a tenuous belief in anarcho-syndicalism and yet regularly settles for a great deal less faced with employers it is affiliated to, such as the British Labour Party, the party that governed Glasgow for over twenty years.

You don’t demonstrate greater theatrical grandstanding than continuing to shout for equal pay long after it’s promised, scheduled for implementation. That’s essentially the cockamamie position of the anti-Scottish GMB, the General…

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Crying Wolfson

I have nothing to add to what I wrote a month ago, other than to point out that the SNP has had opportunities aplenty to put right this situation. The party officials concerned have chosen, instead, to tarnish a man’s reputation for no good cause.

rhea_wolfsonWhen I first saw the Tweet in which Rhea Wolfson claims to have been the victim of anti-Semitic abuse, I didn’t immediately recognise the article about which she was complaining. I had read Grouse Beater’s blog earlier, but had not found anything particularly memorable about the way in which the author uses the example of the Nazis to illustrate the point that trade unions are a target for unscrupulous politicians. As the author observes in the very passage which has so scandalised Wolfson,

A labour union is the chief mechanism by which a democracy guides the distribution of wealth at a local level. It’s function is to organise collective bargaining. Elected governments are meant to do the same job at a national level, but for wider social benefits such as sustaining infrastructure and institutions.

Trade unions are a source of cooperation and community. They exist to achieve wage equality. Their function is to protect workers against economic vicissitude. According to fascist policy – which we see arising everywhere in the UK and abroad – unions must be smashed to render workers isolated, prepared to accept whatever is offered.

This is hardly the “attack” on trade unions that Wolfson claims. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of the economic and social value of trade unions and a recognition of their essential role as part of our democracy. It is also what many would consider to be a timely and entirely justified warning about the threat to trade unions – and therefore to democracy – posed by a widespread resurgence of far-right ideologies.

The article is not an attack on the trade union movement. It is, however, strongly critical of a particular trade union – the GMB. Misrepresenting the piece as an attack on trade unions in general is nothing more than a rather transparent device by which to divert attention from the specific trade union under scrutiny. Just as the attempt to characterise the criticism of Wolfson herself as being concerned with the fact that she happens to be Jewish is intended to distract from scrutiny of her role in orchestrating the ‘equal pay’ strike in Glasgow.

I was totally unaware that Wolfson is Jewish. It seems likely that Grouse Beater was also unacquainted with this detail. I’m fairly sure neither of us affords a person’s religion the overriding significance that Wolfson does. That she is Jewish isn’t even relevant, far less of central significance.

Wolfson also rails against “horrendous sexism in the Scottish ‘left’” and accuses “trolls” of trying to “deprive” the striking women of agency. What she fails to recognise – or hopes others won’t recognise – is that it is perfectly possible for the women to be acting of their own volition and for their own reasons while the likes of Wolfson and the GMB are driven by very different, and far less worthy, motives.

It detracts not one iota from the righteousness of the women’s cause to observe that others are seeking to exploit that cause for base political purposes. Much as Wolfson would like to deflect from the reality with her nonsense about anti-Semitic abuse, that is what Grouse Beater’s article is concerned with. The attempt to use shrill accusations of sectarianism to bludgeon into silence those who speak out against this kind of exploitation is also disturbingly reminiscent of the methods deployed by fascists.


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Solutions and prohibitions

blockchainThe only thing I find more irksome than the plethora of claims to have discovered the secret to securing independence is the incessant stream of warnings about things that are guaranteed to ensure that independence never happens. In aggregate, this presents us with a daunting list of prescriptions – many of which are conflicting, contradictory or mutually exclusive – combined with a catalogue of proscriptions so comprehensive that, were we to adhere to it as assiduously as we’re told we must, we would never do anything. Except for the fact that doing nothing is also prohibited.

No sooner have you finished reading about how we must find the positive case for independence that will convert the young / old / working class / middle class / business operators / consumers / women / the gender diaspora / farmers / industrialists / rural communities / city dwellers / environmentalists / financiers / foreign governments / uni-cyclists etc. then you turn the page to find some stern lecture on things we must not do and say when trying to advance the independence cause for fear of ‘putting people off’.

Don’t mention this! Don’t talk about that! Mind your language! Mind your tone! Stop marching! Stop demonstrating! And put down that bloody flag!!! The dour, purse-lipped, tut-tutting, finger-wagging self-appointed stewards of the ‘One True Yes’ would reduce the lexicon of the independence campaign to the vocabulary of a pre-school story book voiced by some professionally inoffensive CBeebies presenter so nondescript that as soon as they’re out of sight you’re not sure you’ve seen them.

The solution pedlars are marginally less irritating. Although those hawking blockchain are providing strong competition for the naysayers. Their worthy enthusiasm for what is supposedly a totally secure and tamper-proof voting system blinds them to a couple of rather significant issues.

Firstly, they are addressing a non-existent problem. There is no evidence that vote tampering was a significant factor in the 2014 referendum. There are plenty of stories. Plenty of claims. Plenty of conspiracy theories. But no actual evidence of the system being manipulated in a way and to an extent that would affect the result.

And it really doesn’t matter how secure and technically sophisticated their alternative voting system is. All that counts is public confidence. It’s a question of trust. People tend to trust what they can understand and what is familiar. The need for action to resolve the constitutional issue is urgent. Very urgent! There simply isn’t time to sell the idea of a new voting system to the public. Blockchain, if it is to be adopted and accepted, will have to be introduced gradually. People will need time to get used to the idea of it before they even start getting accustomed to using it.

Blockchain isn’t a magical solution. There are no magical solutions. Blockchain should not be presented as such. Most of all, it should not be promoted at the cost of undermining public confidence in the existing voting system. At the risk of sounding like those who presume to approve the independence campaign’s every word and deed, we really shouldn’t be deterring people from voting – regardless of which way their vote might go.


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The People’s Vote

peoples_vote_logoI have previously made it clear that I am extremely sceptical of the whole #PeoplesVote thing. Crucial questions remain, to the best of my knowledge, entirely unanswered. In this putative referendum, what would the options be? How might these options be made clear, concise and unambiguous? Who would be entitled to vote in the proposed referendum?

What would happen to the Brexit process while the #PeoplesVote was being conducted? Would the result be binding on the British government? What might be the EU’s reaction to each of the possible outcomes? the Would Scotland’s vote be treated with any less contempt than previously?

Would a #PeoplesVote referendum be capable of producing, not just a result, but a decision? Could this decision possibly be decisive enough to draw a line under the whole EU membership issue for a generation – even if only a ‘political generation’?

Despite this lack of clarity about whether a new EU referendum is useful, or even possible, huge numbers of people took to the streets to demand a #PeoplesVote. Those people cannot simply be ignored. Unless you’re the British political elite. In which case, contemptuously disregarding the wishes of the people is pretty much the mission statement. A new EU referendum isn’t happening unless Westminster allows it. And there is vanishingly little cause to suppose that the necessary level of support for the idea exists among MPs.

This poses yet another Brexit-related problem for Scotland. If a second EU referendum isn’t going to happen; or if it cannot be decisive; or if Scotland’s voice is to be ignored again, then the whole campaign is no more than a distraction from the increasingly urgent business of extricating Scotland from the Union.

Diversion and delay may well suit the British establishment. The British Tories are glad of any misdirection which takes attention away from their woeful handling of the whole Brexit fiasco. They might even suppose that the possibility of a new referendum lifts their bargaining power with the EU above zero. Pretty much the only advantage that the British side has is that both staying and going can be deployed as threats.

British Labour can’t make up their minds about how indecisive they are and so having even the vague possibility of a referendum that would take the burden of decision off their shoulders relieves them of the need to take a position on… what was the question, again?

Then there’s that fly in in the ointment of the British political system’s two-party purity, the Liberal Democrats. They are openly supportive of the #PeoplesVote thing. So you’d think they’d be keen to have MPs vote on it. But, given the likelihood that such a vote would go against them, maybe they’re not so eager after all. So long as nothing actually happens, they get to strike a pose as the people’s champions. They will want to enjoy the posturing as long as possible.

The issue has to be forced. And the only ones who might force it are the SNP group at Westminster. Hence, this Tweet from Angus MacNeil MP,

angus_macneilWe need to get this #PeoplesVote nonsense out of the way. We have to focus on defending Scotland’s democracy against the British Nationalist onslaught. Brexit is England’s choice and, therefore, England’s problem. The #PeoplesVote campaign is a desperate, flailing and all but certainly ineffectual attempt to deal with that problem.

The issue for Scotland is, not Brexit, but the Union which, by denying the Scottish people full and proper exercise of our sovereignty, allows the British state to impose Brexit on us – along with austerity, and Trident, and fracking and all the rest – in blatant, arrogant, imperious defiance of our democratic will. A #PeoplesVote does not address this issue in any way.

Let’s shrug off the distractions and get back to the serious business of bringing Scotland’s government home.


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Don’t juggle jobbies!

brian_wilsonCarolyn Leckie writes in The National about one of the British ruling elite’s most dutiful servants. I haven’t read any of Brian Wilson’s bilious outpourings for at least a year or two – possibly more. I do, however, recall the shrill nastiness of columns pulsing with a hatred so visceral one could almost taste and smell it. The animus oozing out of the page like a noxious miasma rising from some putrid bog made even Alan Cochrane’s demented diatribes seem like light reading. I remember thinking that, if even a tenth part of Wilson’s snarling, spittle-flecked rage was genuine, this was someone in urgent need of counselling. And an individual in even more pressing need of being avoided.

This is what I determined to do. I simply stopped reading that stuff. It’s not as if it was informative about anything other than the workings of a mind afflicted by virulent British Nationalist fanaticism. One doesn’t go to the likes of Brian Wilson looking for insightful analysis or thoughtful commentary. The only reason for consuming such bitter fare is to replenish stocks of dumb prejudice and recharge the batteries of bigotry.

I am better off without it. Because that kind of obnoxiousness is pernicious. It contaminates all who come into contact with it. Wilson and his odious ilk write purposefully to provoke an extreme reaction. The mindless hate rubs off on you as you read. You may be tempted to respond in kind. But even if you simply turn away from the vitriol in disgust, you will be tainted by it. The stench of it will cling to to you. The poison will seep into your mind.

I have lately learned the benefits of ignoring British Nationalist propaganda. Being aware of its methods arms one against its manipulative power. Disregarding it completely renders one immune to its effects. I don’t read Brian Wilson’s column any more. I used to take some satisfaction from writing acerbic below-the-line ripostes to the likes of Wilson and Cochrane. Then I realised that this was clever in the same way that juggling jobbies is clever. The skill may be impressive. But the stink lingers.


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Something fishy

iscot_promoBritish Nationalists make a big fuss about getting out of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). What we don’t hear from the likes of David Mundell is any detail on what is to replace the EU quota system. We know that there will have to be a quota system. We know that this new quota system will continue to involve negotiation with the EU. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea requires countries sharing maritime borders to jointly manage shared fish stocks. The EU and the UK share more than 100 fish stocks.

We know that existing independent coastal states such as Greenland and Norway continue to be effectively bound by the CFP. The latter negotiates annually a quota swap just as EU member states do under the CFP. The former institutionalises the CFP quota system in exchange for various concessions.

All the evidence, then, suggests that the new UK quota system is unlikely to represent a dramatic departure from the CFP. Which leads one to wonder why Mundell and other British Nationalists attach so much importance to getting out of the CFP. They certainly aren’t explaining their reasoning. We can be certain that it has nothing to do with what might best serve Scotland’s economic interests. Mundell has made it abundantly clear that his overriding priority is the preservation of the Union at whatever cost to Scotland and its people.

This being the British state, and Mundell being a Tory, might we find a clue to their motives in a recent Greenpeace investigation which found, among other things, that –

Five families on the Sunday Times Rich List own or control a third (33%) of all Scottish quota. When taking into account minority stakes, companies wholly or partly owned by these families hold close to half (45%) of all Scottish quota.

Not for the first time, we find something very fishy about Mundell’s attitude. Ask yourself, how easy is it to believe that this man and the regime he represents are looking after Scotland’s interests? Or that they are concerned with the welfare of ‘fishing communities’? How much easier is it to believe that their sole concern is to preserve the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. How easy is it to believe that, whatever replaces the CFP afer Brexit, it will be part of the corrupt British political and economic system which serves the few at untold cost to the many?


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Crazy talk

escher.pngThe language here is all wrong. Both Theresa May and the media are talking about her extending the transition period as if it was something she could simply choose to do. In fact, she would have to secure the agreement of the EU for any such extension. And it shouldn’t be assumed that such agreement would be forthcoming.

As is their wont, the British political elite behave with that vaunting sense of entitlement that others find so ugly and irksome. If it’s what they want or what suits them then, on that basis alone, it must be their due. And should they not be afforded, immediately and without question, that which they arrogantly assume to be their entitlement, petulant tantrums will ensue.

There is another problem with the language. Something which speaks, not to the British establishment’s sense of entitlement, but to the delusional stupidity of the British political elite. Note how May refers to an extension of the Brexit implementation period as a “solution” to the troublesome matter of Northern Ireland and the British state’s land border with the EU. One very obvious reason the EU might well refuse such an extension is that, of course, it solves nothing. All it does does is further postpone the moment when the British Government is forced to admit that it has no solution to offer. Because there is no solution!

Actually, that’s not quite true. There is a solution. Membership of the EU is the solution. As the British establishment is belatedly realising – having fallen into the trap of believing its own Europhobic propaganda – the EU has been the solution to a raft of issues over the past four or five decades. Not always a perfect solution. But a working solution. The Mad Brexiteers decided to throw away all of those solutions having given not so much as a moment’s thought to what would replace them.

Dragging out the Brexit process is neither a solution nor a path to a solution. To claim it as such is like insisting you can make three dimensional sense of a two dimensional Escher drawing if you just stare at it a bit longer. It is the claim of an idiot. It is the language of an imbecile.

It is the language of British politics.


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