Question time ( and the answers)

My application for question time in Dundee has been submitted.
The last time I was on question time was in March 1995 at the personal invitation of David Dimbleby. I took him and his team back to the airport after a question time in Dundee in November 1994 at which Alex Salmond was in attendance. I got into a prolonged debate with David who asked me if I seriously thought we would ever get the chance to vote for independence and if I though Alex Salmond could ever be a credible leader of the SNP. I told him that Salmond would be the man to lead us to independence. I still think that will have to be the case. When we got to the airport David asked me if I would like to come to Glasgow the next time question time was to be there and I told him I would, never thinking that it would happen.
The next day I had a call from David’s secretary asking if I would like to go and she subsequently sent me the official invitation.
At the question time, I got the chance to speak twice. There was a question from a member of the audience about a statement the chancellor of the exchequer (Kenneth Clark) had made the previous day. He had said that the policies he had put in place for recovery would take two years for the feel good factor to be felt. She wanted to know what he meant by the feel good factor. I put up my hand and David chose me to give an opinion. I said “it is quite obvious, what Mr Clark means by the feel good factor, because in two years there will be a general election and the Tories will be wiped out in Scotland, and everyone will feel a lot better”
Two years later the Tories were wiped out and as I have predicted, everyone did indeed feel a lot better.
The next question that I had an input to was regarding the breakup of the railways into different companies and the questioner asked what the reasoning behind this was. I again put up my hand and David chose me to put my view. I said “it is quite obvious why the railways are being split up into different entities because in a couple of years there will be an election and the Tories will be thrown out of government. They will therefore all require cushy directorships to slip into when they are thrown out of parliament”. David turned to Ian Lang who was at that time Secretary of State for Scotland and said to him “well Mr Lang have you a nice directorship lined up?”
The Tories as mentioned earlier were indeed thrown out of Parliament two years after that.
If I am chosen to be in the audience at this question time, I would like to ask David to cast his mind back to the debate we had in the car on the way to the airport and ask him just how near my prediction of independence came to pass.
I believe we are still on the road to independence, however, at the moment, I feel the SNP have lost their way. We need a road map to take us there

Back to 1999

So we now have the conclusion of the Smith Commission with the capitulation of the Scottish Government to an agreement of mediocrity. After negotiations, that commenced with the formation of the commission. This was set in place by the British government to in some way allow the Scottish people to believe that there was actually a vow, instead of the invention that was the editorial in the Daily Record a couple of days before the referendum.

The British government chose to string us along because they perceived an advantage in doing so and we have just discovered exactly what that advantage was.
The clue to that advantage is in what the Scottish government has been saying for the last few weeks. They have been telling us that this agreement had to be “without detriment to either party” well that is exactly what they got, and without detriment means exactly that and that is also, without advantage to either party.Well not quite true, because this “agreement is only for 6 years after which the British government will no doubt extract their pound of flesh

So we have been on a mission to stand still. Well not exactly, because what we will have is the blame for all of these taxes we are to act as unpaid tax collectors for.
So let’s speak about these new found tax raising and lowering (within limits) powers we are the new found recipients of.

Ok so let’s think about how we can use them, well we could put them up, (to the delight of Labour who we have been castigating for suggesting a penny increase to alleviate the effects of Tory cuts)to ease the burden of government cuts, and if the Scottish Government were in a suicidal mood, then I suppose they could do that. So let’s stretch the imagination and say that this might be something they would consider. So how much do you think they would dare to increase our taxes by? 1%, 2% or would you think 3% might be the amount?
Well, it might surprise many of you to learn that the Scottish Government have had the power to raise or lower taxes by 3% since their inception in 1999.Or, at, least they did until they voluntarily allowed the agreement with HMRC to laps in 2007.However, this could have been reintroduced with notice.

Now all this gives me the feeling of being given the responsibility of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, more so as the UK is heading for a financial crash that will make the one in 2008 ( aided and abetted by Brown and Darling, oops, sorry Lord Darling)seem like being hit by a snowball as opposed to an iceberg.

I am afraid the SNP’s negotiation abilities are somewhat limited and I feel that they should get back to doing what it says on the tin and that is striving for independence.
I for one will not be going out early and putting my beach towel on any of these deck chairs

The Times They are a changing

There is a malaise setting in to the membership of the SNP and there is only one source of responsibility and that is the top end of the party. There has been branch discontent in various parts of the country which has been dismissed by people like Peter Bell (who I have great respect for) as emanating from disaffected ex members of the labour party who were apparently trouble makers when they were Labour members. Well I feel that this line of defence is wrong and the problem goes much deeper than that.

Some time ago, I believe February of last year I cautioned against the seeming inaction in the SNP with regards to forwarding the cause of independence. I made the point that because of the huge increase in party membership there was a potential problem awaiting, if the inaction continued. I said that the SNP now had a huge army of willing volunteers and the worst thing you could do with an Army was to let it idle because it eventually starts fighting amongst itself and that is exactly what is coming to pass and the responsibility sits squarely at the feet of the SNP hierarchy and their policy of absolute control.

They tried to kid themselves that a good part of the increased membership were people who became members because the Scottish government were doing a good job of governing the country, which they were, but that was not in fact the reason that almost 100,000 additional members joined. No the plain and simple reason was that this was people who had been sorely disappointed at the result of the referendum and were disgusted at the way the Unionist parties had conducted themselves during the campaign and they saw the SNP to be the best conduit towards that goal. Anyone who thinks differently is suffering from self-imposed delusional behaviour.

The SNP have shied away from the independence cause in alarming ways and this manifested itself here in Dundee in several ways. Firstly, any approach I personally made to the SNP to find out what the plan was post referendum and to encourage a continuance of the campaign in a lesser way to ready ourselves for another referendum should the opportunity present itself was met with a blank look and a “what plan “ response.
In the run up to the general Election, Dundee and I suspect every other SNP branches were terrified of the word independence and went to great lengths to subdue any reference to it, to the extent of being instrumental in the moving of an event involving the Yes Bus team which included a rally and parade around Dundee, which was arranged for the week before the GE to the week after the GE. The reason being that, and this is the actual words of an SNP politician “we can’t have yes signs and Saltires in the City Square the week before the General Election”.

Late last year we again had organised a rally in the City Square at which we put out invitations to all of the pro-independence parties. This was to be a “Road Map To Independence” rally, as Nicola Sturgeon was at that time making weak noises about the Scottish people letting her know when they thought another referendum should take place. Now make no mistake, this rally was not about persuading the SNP to set a date for a referendum but to try to persuade them to set out a road map to independence, which seems in my mind to be the very basics to show intent.

Well what followed was distasteful to say the least. We had a concerted effort through the SNP to thwart our efforts in connection with this event. We had a local politician conduct a comical effort through Facebook to ask the people of Dundee whether he should appear at the same event as Tommy Sheridan. Of course as soon as he put up this posting there followed an orchestrated effort mainly by the local SNP office acolytes and employees telling him that he shouldn’t speak at the event. There also followed again an orchestrated campaign to discredit both me and several other people involved in the organisation of the event. We had the chairman of the licensing board ( SNP) refuse a late application , (probably for the first time in history ) to have a parade around our own City. Comically, the excuse he gave was that the last time I organised an event there was a late application, when in fact the event he was siting was the one that the SNP had persuaded the organisers (not me) to put off till after the General Election and it was in fact the SNP themselves who had submitted the late application, honestly you could not make it up , the SNP were at that point in time operating in a manner that would have not been out of place in Faulty Towers. This resulted in a torrent of hate filled postings by the mindless sheep that surround the SNP and which they seem to be comfortable with. What of course they didn’t realise was that every hate filled remark made on Facebook and twitter, received an answer which set the record straight. So at the end of the day I received far more support than I did criticism and the support was from quality thinking people. There is a lot more but I will not bore you at this point in time with the details. However getting back to my point about discontent in the membership. Because of this I resigned my membership of the SNP which I have had for over 30 years. I have heard from a source in the SNP that in Dundee the membership has dropped by around 11% . I could be wrong in this but I do not think so. So it is not just the West of Scotland SNP that are having problems at the moment but I believe, as I say a general malaise prevalent in the ranks of the membership and not just the membership but in potential SNP voters.

The SNP would do well to take note of this dissatisfaction and get back to doing what their membership and a hell, of a lot of the Scottish people want them to do and produce a Road Map to independence. At this point in time they are still probably the best means of heading on that road and I for one at this point intend voting, first vote SNP and second vote for another pro-independence party but I will be looking very carefully at the manifesto they produce and making a final decision on my first vote depending on what is in that manifesto.

The SNP seem to have veered off that road and they had better get back on it pronto.
We need to be back on the streets doing what we did so well during the campaign, we are becoming restless.
We are still on the road to independence
Our journey.