The fast changing dynamics of Scottish politics have changed yet again. Following Nicola Sturgeon being installed as First Minister, Jim Murphy has been elected Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
If things were ‘divisive’ before, they are going to be even more acrimonious now.
Jim Murphy has made it clear with every speech he has made he aims to become First Minister. Trouble is, right now he is not a Member of the Scottish Parliament. He is a seasoned MP in Westminster. With his direct way of dealing with things within his Party in London, he’ll no doubt find someone willing to give up their seat at Holyrood to let him stand a chance of reaching his desired objective.
Whether that would be enough for the much more informed Scottish electorate to vote him in when the time comes in 2016, only time will tell.
Before then, the high stakes are on the winner of the UK general election in 2015. With former First Minister Alex Salmond setting his cap at returning to Parliament in London to ‘hold Westminster’s feet to the fire,’ the intrigue of how the UK votes will shake out are keeping pundits and the public talking.
Known as a betting man who rarely loses, Alex Salmond will have calculated the odds not only of his winning a seat in May next year but of what is required by voters to make a coterie of SNP MPs – maybe with the Green Party MPs – hold the balance of power.
The repugnant UKIP cannot be dismissed. But their drop off record because of unacceptable conduct so far indicates many flawed individuals. Hopefully the electorate in England will take this into account on voting day. And Scots voters will probably give any who surface here, a wide berth.
Naturally the UK Labour Party – or is it the English Labour Party? – will have their calculations too.
An intriguing idea would be for a LOVE BOMB campaign in reverse to come from Scottish voters from the YES camps. If they targetted every person they ever knew in England, Northern Ireland and Wales and told them what an amazing, uplifting, reviving experience the YES campaign was, it might encourage local groups in the rest of the UK to form their own YES FOR DEMOCRACY groups. They could investigate issues, establish local needs and priorities and ask pointed questions of all constituency candidates. The camaraderie enjoyed could re-shape politics in England and Wales in the massive way such groups have done in Scotland.
In Iceland, some years ago, women set up a party from nothing a few weeks before the country’s general election. Their candidates won control and elected the incoming Prime Minister. Maybe there’s a message for women in the UK in the current situation: get moving!
Party conferences have a way of sweeping aside everything except what that party wants to talk about. But the populace in Scotland is still talking about the Referendum and the aftermath. Where do we go now? What do we do now? Those are the questions on many people’s lips and minds. There are no clear answers and no clear pathways to the future. That is unknown territory. Each Political party has its own route mapped out. And everyone knows the journey will be full of dangers from all sides. But there is no escaping the fact – we are all on that journey now.
Those who’ve been in Guides or Scouts will have the assurance of map reading skills, ability to use a compass, how to light a fire in the wilderness and eat, free, from the hedgerow. Party people have some, localised, knowledge of survival techniques. But street fighters – especially urban street fighters – usually need all those abilities and more to reach their promised land.
This is where people of faith have a role to play. Prayer and the power of prayer have an eternal influence over actions. Scotland was founded on Godly principles – love one another, do not kill, feed the poor. There are signs that those principles and beliefs are being re-awakened along with the sure knowledge that many, many, many more people are thinking about what they can do, individually and collectively, to change the things that are unsatisfactory.
Within a few hours polls will open for the most momentous vote in our lifetime. Yes or No. Should Scotland be independent?
No one can predict the outcome. The two sides seem to be neck and neck at around 52 for No – 48 for Yes. Allowing for the margin of error in such polls and allowing for those still unsure of which way to vote, there is still all to play for even at this late stage.
The No campaigners bring out big guns from the three ‘united’ parties to show solidarity. Mostly, they’ve met in places closed to the general public and accessible only by pre-registering.’ They promise, together, to work to a time-table to deliver more power to Scotland. The fact that the promise is made after postal votes have been posted has upset many.
The Yes people stage big rallies with singing and carnival atmosphere. They’ve not won – yet! But they have the confidence of years of weekly and sometimes daily public campaigning, of listening to the questions and anxieties of people from every walk of life and helping them find answers.
What is clear is that an astonishing number of people have registered to vote. This can only mean that the outcome will be democratic. In recent Parliamentary elections fewer than one in three citizens cast their vote. That is certainly not a democratic decision.
The aftermath will be interesting. Yes or No the one past the finishing line with the largest amount of votes will be the winner. The democratic thing to do then is accept the majority decision and work for a better future in whatever way is possible.
A prayer spoken in 1593 at the Convention of Royal Burghs meeting implored the Almighty: …may we do all things with sincerity, zeal and uprightness of heart…. May we seek nothing but Thy glory, the commonweal of our estate and the quietness of our country….
Let’s hope prayers like this are still being said, every day. Not just on 18 September 2014.
Tonight begins the last lap of the Referendum debate. With only 44 days to go before the vote many people have now settled on their Yes or No. According to the polls, a good proportion still remain to be convinced one way or the other.
So the debate at 8pm tonight between Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister and Alistair Darling, head of the UK Better Together campaign in the Royal Scottish Conservatoire in Glasgow may help make up minds.
Let’s hope it will be a true debate. With a balance of views being presented and questions from the selected audience of 350 being answered honestly. It would be a pity if it descended into the stairheid rammy of Nicola Sturgeon and Johann Lamont.
The setting and the format lend themselves to true discussion and open debate. STV’s political editor, Bernard Ponsonby will chair the session.
And before a word is spoken, the bookies are backing Salmond to ‘win’. But whether he does or doesn’t tonight. The critical factor is that both leaders tonight move more people to register to vote and persuade those who have a vote to use it.
Even before they’re finished, the Commonwealth Games have won gold for being the Friendly Games. That’s a tribute to the slick organisation, the careful planning and the decent funding the event has had. But it is also a true reflection on the character of Glasgow and it citizens. ‘Come on in! It’s nice to see you!’
And, of course, it hasn’t just been Glasgow’s Games. The whole of Scotland has been on show with sports events in Carnoustie, Edinburgh and at Strathclyde Park. Visitors have had to base themselves in places far from the sports venues because accommodation has been booked solid for years. But they have also come expecting to ‘see’ Scotland to whatever extent their time and budget would allow them to travel.
Now, as the finale approaches on Sunday 3 August, the great sports showcase wraps up for another four years before opening in Australia’s Queensland in 2018. Parting is such sweet sorrow…..
But by next week most of Scotland will be back to ‘auld clathes and purridge.’ The Scottish Parliament will be working from Monday 4 August till Friday 22 August. Then it will be in recess until after the Referendum on 18 September – returning to business on Tuesday 23 September.
Let’s home the shine of hard won medals, and proud effort over years spurs everyone on to do their best for Scotland in even bigger games we’re now playing in for our future and the future for generations yet unborn.
If you want to persuade people to vote FOR or AGAINST independence on Thursday 18 September you’ll need to have deep pockets – and move fast!
The Green Party and the SNP together have registered £1,494,000 to spend on a YES campaign.
The Labour, Lib-Dem and Conservative Parties have £1,434,000 to spend on a BETTER TOGETHER campaign.
If you plan to appoint an election agent then you have till Thursday 14 August to do that.
If you need to register for a vote – you have till midnight on Tuesday 2 September to do so.
So with 100 days to go there is everything to work for – especially if you are investing money in the process.
But what this is about, really, is investing in the future and the kind of future people actually want for themselves and for their children and grandchildren. Most people haven’t taken the time to sit quietly and envisage the world they’d wish to live in. So a few Dream-time sessions are called for. And dreaming is free!
Voter registration midnight on Tuesday 2
So Ukip got a seat in Scotland. Hardly surprising when the voting figures are examined. Only one person in three bothered to vote. Which means that two people in every three didn’t feel any responsibility for the consequences of their non-action. Either they remain silent or we institute what happens in Australia – impose a heavy fine on anyone who does not cast their vote.
Let’s hope more people turn out on September 18 to make the result then, truly democratic and therefore recognised as ‘the settled will of the people.’
When a building is destroyed by fire it is dramatic to say it is a tragedy. But that’s the only word to use as the Glasgow School of Art is hosed down tonight.
The unique place, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh was revered around the world. Now it is a damp, charred edifice. And the contents, including students’ work for their final degree show, have been lost.
Not till the embers stop glowing can any assment be made about items that might be salvaged.
The thing to be glad about is that no one was hurt. The thing to be sad about is that this unique work of art has gone.
What went wrong, and why sprinklers didn’t damp the flames quickly, will be discovered in time. What is clear is that this amazing School, used daily by talented people following in Mackintosh’s footsteps, has gone.
For reasons outwith my control, this website has been inactive for a month. Apologies to regular followers of www.localnewsglasgow.co.uk but now we’re back on track we aim to bring you the news that others usually don’t publish.
By way of a catch-up:
There are 15 days to the Euro Elections ! Wow! And the only bit of information through my door has been a Ukip leaflet and a Labour Party booklet. So I’m still looking for the names of the candidates to vote for on Thursday 22 May 2014.
There are 77 days to the opening of the Commonwealth Games in July. On Monday 12 May there will be another opportunity to buy tickets. Suddenly from no tickets being available last autumn and the disappointment of bidding and getting nothing, there are now an extra 100,000 available. Ticket prices are the same – starting at £15 for an adult (£7.50 for under 16 or over 60). The excitement is building up and a series of local events to advise communities of street closures, traffic disruptions etc is on the board. But as a local resident, nothing has come through my door to invite me or inform me.
There are 134 days to the crucial vote on September 18 for/against independence for Scotland. The debates are hotting up and more sensible analysis and in-depth consideration is being given to the multitude of major issues around the idea. With the declaration by the Sunday Herald newspaper in favour of YES, there is a slightly more level playing field within the print media arena.
But on that vital topic as on the Euro elections and the Commonwealth Games, the main place for most people to get their news, air their views and select data to support their stand, is on social media networks.
Old fashioned newspapers, balanced radio and tv programmes, in-depth studies of major issues affecting each one of us, are as remote at the remote control and much less powerful.
Death and moving house are two of life’s greatest traumas. So it is a high risk factor the Commonwealth Games Committee are employing in using the demolition of the Red Road flats as an opening spectacle.
Even for people unconnected with any buildings being demolished, it is an intense, emotional event. The months of stripping out. The preparation by experts setting the explosives. The methodical safety preparations of removing people out of harm’s way. Then the count down. A siren sounds. Everyone stops. Holds their breath. Crack! Silence. And in seconds as you blink twice, thousands of tonnes of concrete, metal and materials collapse creating a dust cloud as high as the buildings had been.
A huge pile of rubble is made from the very place where people’s hopes and dreams had once been created.
But Glaswegians – old and new – have witnessed such destruction many times. They’ve experienced dreams being demolished before. The main difference this time is that billions of other people will share the searing emotion of the last throes of life of those homes, hopes and dreams.
In some areas of the city where this was played out a few years ago, the new life, new community, new homes, hopes and dreams are growing nicely. In other neighbourhoods there has been nothing left of the old spirit because the fabric of the original society has been blown away with the buildings.
What the Games visionaries are planning is for the new to arise miraculously and instantly within the opening ceremony time. Aye! Right! But they might just have the brass neck to pull it off.