If you're as technically challenged as me then the idea of even COMMENTING on someone else's blog is daunting. So I plan to approach this from the standpoint of the 'tortoise and the hare': ie, that in seven years, when I've learned to download photos, fiddle with captions and insert seismic special effects, I might actually have created something of interest. In the meantime, treat this as a life, er work, in progress...With any luck it might all add up to something one day.
I'll kick off with a few thoughts on the fracas over Scottish Independence which has overtaken the press in recent weeks since it's a subject close to my heart. The impression I get is that no one really saw it coming Down South. Indeed, everyone I know is treating the situation like some sort of extended April Fool's trick on the part of Scottish voters. Unfortunately, the circumstances which have lead up this point are the very definition of serendipitous.
The West Lothian Question has been an issue since devolution first raised its head in 1977. These days, however, the Tory platform on 'English votes for English laws' means the knives are drawn over Scottish MP's voting rights. That should satisfy the radical left and the Lib Dems as well, since it was Labour's Scottish Mafia that have pushed through most of England's controversial legislation in the last few years. Foundation hospitals, tuition fees, private finance this and that - no problem if you are a Scottish MP since none of these affect your constitutents. Indeed, one might well ask whether anyone in Scotland really knows what their elected representatives are up to these days (including the MPs themselves) since anything of any real importance to voters is now a devolved competence.
This tension, coupled with the Hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath's prospective premiership, the kind of anti-Englishness demonstrated by the 'We'll support Trinidad and Tobago in the World Cup since they've a player called Jason Scotland' mentality of the First Minister, and strong dissatisfaction with Blairite policies is likely to manifest itself in votes for the SNP in May's Scottish Parliament elections and a Conservative Government in Westminster next time.
All that is pretty obvious I would have thought (so if you were rolling your eyes over my facile political prognosis, worry not, we're moving on). But it is due to its sheer obviousness that I am so surprised by everyone else's suprise. What did we think was going to happen when the Parly came into being? That Labour would reign forever on either side of Gretna Green?
Whether the devolution deal was short-sighted is hardly the question though. I think Holyrood is legitimate in the eyes of most Scots and is doing a reasonable job. Indeed, there is an argument for saying that it should have more powers, rather than fewer. What worries me, though, is that NOTHING GOOD will come of this independence debate. I'm seeing a kind of 'vive le Quebec libre' situation emerging, where independence is hyped up over several years, investors run for the hills, the percentage of Scots reliant on the public sector (read the chancellor's exchequer) escalates, and then we all go and VOTE AGAINST INDEPENDENCE.
I'd hope that we have the sense to either kill it quickly or grit our teeth and go for a new settlement (federal or independent). Otherwise, it's going to be one big economic wasteland up there (and lest we forget, with the slowest GNI growth of any region in the UK its not all roses in that department now)
If we want a 'smart, successful Scotland' then, fellow citizens, we need to start THINKING SMART. Anyway, here's an article i did on the subject in today's Herald: it's partisan, natch, but all comments welcome
And for the benefit of general merriment and national pride, the parly website in Scots...