I was at a Scottish Socialist Party organised meeting on the independence vote in Kirkintilloch Miners’s Welfare club last night. The event was well attended with about 100 people and nearly full. Jim Sillars was speaking as well as the SSP leader (Colin Fox) and knowing Jim is strongly against wind, I was interested to hear his other political views.
Colin Fox was the first speaker. Whilst not entirely boring, it was largely what one would expect. I would sum it up thus: “The English working class can’t possibly get control of government in England, but with independence we socialist in Scotland might”. An interesting insight into their mindset, but one lacking credibility as Scotland would undoubtedly shift dramatically to the right as the majority in Scotland see the effect of having left of centre governments controlling Scotland.
However, when Jim Sillars started speaking he turned out to be an excellent speaker making pertinent points. So I started taking notes and ironically the only bit of paper I had on me was one entitled: “the future of UKIP Scotland”!!
Jim made the point that he read the Torygraph (my joke) because it told him how “middle England were thinking”. He described how reading the paper meant he had read what Ed Milliband was saying out of hearing of the left in Scotland to the English middle class. “Vote labour get Tory” was a joke made from the floor as Jim described the how labour are working toward an “English middle class agenda” and how “[Scottish] Socialist dreams are destroyed by the London connection”. I do not know if he was making a pitch to what was undoubtedly a left-leaning audience, but if not, it seems his main reason for independence was an overwhelming desire to get a socialist government. That seems completely the wrong reason for voting for independence.
But, he made a number of good points:
- Private schools which are a business are given charitable status when they are not charities.
- The 32 local education authorities cost a staggering “£500million” (surely not?)
- PFI is bad (then why do socialists always advocate borrow-to-boom-to-bust?)
- Scotland got oil and got poorer (or perhaps more accurately London got richer)
- Reducing the price of petrol would create a dramatic boost to the Scottish economy.
- The power axis of the modern world has changed from Atlantic axis to Pacific (China).
Jim was suggesting more power to community councils. An admiral aspiration, except for one small flaw – I’ve seen them on the inside! They are usually populated by a mixture of people who have little interest in politics but just like helping with local events and those who have an axe to grind. So, for example, when I last went along to view our local community council (not the done thing) there was for a long-time a “Liberal Democrat” whose main aim for many years seems to be to put down as many double yellow lines as possible apparently to stop anyone else parking anywhere near the station. As far as I can see this is because he owns a big house with plenty of his own off-road parking near the station and doesn’t like the cars spoiling the view. I think he would rather the station close down entirely than let the rif raff park in his street. So a hypocritical “I’m alright jack” NIMBY. And likewise the Socialist Chair at the Miner’s Club meeting made an admirable case for restricting community council control by recounting how they had tried (and failed) to take over the Campsie Community Council.
Like Jim I think the situation on payday loans is scandalous so I was interested to hear his views. He seemed to be in favour of capping interest rates to around 3x the average interest rates and/or credit unions as they have in Ireland and Germany. personally, I’ve seen the proliferation of adverts – and I know these companies are raking it in from the poor – and perhaps more ironic, it is these poor paying for these adverts that now fund the programs I watch – because the BBC is so stuck up its own …[snip]
One of the last question in the evening was on Europe. “How can Scotland be independent when it is still in Europe?” I was interested to hear what they said, because I assumed they would come out with a pat answer about the “wonders Europe has done” through the working time directive or freedom of movement for immigrants.
Instead both Jim Sillars and Colin Fox described the EU as undemocratic, run by powerful interests and basically corrupt. So, after a meeting in which they mentioned UKIP many many times, and criticised it endless, they basically endorsed UKIP’s main policy on Europe.
The independence vote
Last year I predicted the Tories, despite having supported wind, would take a risk and attack the SNP energy policy Game set and match for Scottish Independence. But remarkably, rather than follow through on the serve (More tennis), I’ve seen very little action on energy since then … except a promise … to promise … to stop onshore wind … sometime … after the next election … if (which seems increasingly unlikely) … the Tories get re-elected.
The public have turned against wind and this gives any party coming out against wind a clear electoral advantage. The SNP have an economically suicidal obsession with wind and again coming out against wind would allow the Tories to give the public the facts showing how economically suicidal the wind policy would be. This would undermine the SNP energy policy. That would undermine the economic policy built on energy which the SNP have created supporting independence. And so coming out strongly against wind would allow the Tories to demonstrate the general economic incompetence, arrogance and delusion of the whole Scottish government from the top politician down to the lowest civil servant. So why are the Tories are holding back on this killer policy? Why???
Either they don’t care about Scottish independence or they already know they have won.
I’ve toyed with the idea the Tories don’t care about an independent Scotland, but it does not ring true. It might seem to be in their electoral advantage, but realistically, the Tory leadership that lost Scotland would never again get elected. It would lose its credibility within its own party and within England the Tories would be forever blamed for losing the economic benefits for England of North Sea Oil and the last semblance of imperial power in Scotland.
Which suggests the Tories are not worried – so they must already be predicting that Scotland will vote no.
Why? Surely those most passionate about independence are more likely to get out and vote? Apparently not. And now I know why. According to the speakers last night, it is older voters that are very likely to vote no, and generally older voters turn out in greater numbers than the young. This means that Salmond needs to be well ahead in the poll to even contemplate victory.
The Tories are already more concerned about the next general election than they are about the independence referendum.
And this rings true, because walking back from the meeting, it occurred to me that despite all the rhetoric about “winning”, the Yes speakers lacked the enthusiasm expected of a winning side.