Tuesday, 26 April 2011

if Labour says the Union is an election issue, feedback on SNP policy must matter

The Labour campaign has now declared the Union potentially at stake in this election. Hence they too should agree that it matters that public consultations on the independence policy should not be censored, and responses withheld from public access, by the SNP.

Granted Labour says nobody cares about the constitutional issue, but if the SNP wins the election it is certain Labour will care in opposition to the issue.

Meanwhile the Greens don't sound anything like as total on independence, in their manifesto, than the SNP. Though they support it, they support a multi-option referendum that might just bring stronger autonomous powers.

I have been quite against the Greens for years, for telling us to use public transport but refusing to take positions on specific injustices to passengers and bad operating done by particular transport services. That line was exploiting us. You don't tell the public to do something potentially inconvenient and kick away all question of doing anything to ameliorate the inconveniences. During the election last year I had a letter published in the Metro making this point. But in the present Green manifesto I acknowledge progress and movement on this issue. Perhaps it is because Scottish level is the level where they feel most empowered to actually do anything with their electoral successes, hence more ambitious? Or have they actually responded to concerns like mine?

This time they are not just giving us their old waffle. Most importantly for my previous discontent, they are calling for "greater regulation of bus services". This will make some difference to all the aggro and shoving around that the giant private sector bus companies now give passengers with impunity, and even the consulting on that policy will be an opening to press those issues in detail and how the public have been left in the lurch by the Greens not getting drawn on this issue before. They also want to subsidise reductions in transport fares, and we know how those have rocketed and are some of the most extortionate in Europe. They propose specific railway reopenings, they will keep the bus pass system which the Tories and Lib Dems both want to cut back which would make some folks' lives significantly less free, and to budget for facilities for physically "active travel" which is some shift away from their former line that it rigidly always must be public transport. Come to think of it, maybe those extortionate fares are what have forced the Greens to shift their demands on us?

They have shifted. They are also taking the strongest anti-cuts agenda, universal right to a bank account, and good left wing taxing of big business, also motivated by trying scale business away from bigness again in the face of the the peak oil problem. So I'm voting Green this time.

This means voting for the other pro-independence party besides the SNP, which according to Labour's warning, might swing the difference for the SNP to get the referendum through this time round. Presumably, the Greens too won't want to have the referendum if they think they will lose it, and that might remain the case for the whole of the next parliament as it did the last. Or it might not.

I have no grounds to believe the Greens will necessarily be any fairer than the SNP towards consultation feedback. But knowing how the SNP has handled it already, it will be better to have 2 parties than 1 behind the process, just to spread our bets and try to give voters more leverage on both for how they treat us in all further consultation process. This thought, realistically sceptical about the Greens and not putting faith in them, is further good reason to vote for them.

Monday, 25 April 2011

minging towards the AV referendum

Given the fact that we are in Britain and nobody can forsee when we might leave it, our access to accountability and half-decent treatment by decision makers is affected by the Alternative Vote referendum, open endedly into the future. The SNP has always, always except 1974, been disappointed with its results in British elections, and been a squeezed smaller party, so it has an obvious interest in AV.

So it is completely stupid that SNP flyers are ignoring the referendum. After urging you for their vote, they just mention, there is a third ballot paper which is on the British election system this has nothing to do with the Scottish election. Not a word about voting Yes, just this has nothing to do with the Scottish election. Just contemptuous.

That does not show caring about your interests, for all of the unknown future duration of the Union. There is no gain to the independence campaign made by doing this, nothing would be lost to it by supporting a Yes vote in this other referendum. They are just being emotional and minging because it is a British issue.

The censored referendum this blog was concerned with was the independence referendum: but it is worth mentioning that the AV referendum is also effectively censored, in the balance of its reach to households all over Britain. No provision has been made for the Yes campaign to get literature sent to every household, and that is not happening, it is being left to volunteer leafletters to reach where they can, while the No campaign has been amply funded by the Conservatives to do a national mailshot of a booklet to every household. This is not parity, and it will pose a challengeability to how the referendum has been conducted. It breaks the precedent of the EU referendum in 1975, when both the Yes and No campaigns were resourced to mailshot a booklet to every household.

As one of the volunteer leafletters, I have had to make a complaint to the NHS in Fife, [update: who have made a proper check and now confirmed these nurses were not NHS] against a nurse who was arriving at a house to do a home visit at the same time as I reached it in my leafletting, and who put on authoritarian airs trying to stop me leaving a leaflet, entirely on her own without the householder knowing let alone authorising it. The Yes campaign is up against illegal interference like that, to No campaign is not.

Friday, 1 April 2011

the other referendum

This blog is about responses to the consultation on the independence referendum, getting suppressed from the public record.

That referendum is the one that never happened, which the SNP are asking for a second go at making happen. At least today someone from the SNP attended the Yes campaign launch, in Glasgow, for the other referendum, Alternative Vote. it was only one ex-MP from them, John Mason, not much of a showing. The SNP as a whole seems to be no more united than Labour towards this issue and is giving the campaign a lot less effort. Seems they prefer to make an issue of the polling date clashing with the Scottish election, than over the outcome, though they are a party with a fairness interest in a Yes win too. They have always got squeezed in British elections.