Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Chaos in a snapshot

Today's Scotsman is a complete snapshot of all the contradictory issues in collision, the whole smorgasbord of messing with we are getting from both sides.

"Salmond seizes high ground on welfare reform" its editorial says. Going for a campaign issue complete with mailshots to households, out of the welfare cuts process at British level. Going for the progressive consensus he keeps claiming exists in Scotland since the Tories ruined themselves here on constituional rather than welfare issues, and on the day when said fair minds will be alarmed by a result has been announced from the purge of Incapacity Benefit, when a third of its claimants have been pushed out of the benefits system into visibly much more precariously uncertain lives in the middle of a depression.

Intended message being - vote Yes if you have a conscience about benefits or a fear of being affected personally by their deconstruction. Yet news on the same day - the same day!! who managed that?!! - is that Salmond's government has passed the first stage of its undemocratic morally sinister Criminal Legal Assistance Bill, abolishing such a human rights basic as free legal defence against criminal charges, making criminal defence paid for. Even a proposal to refund the charge if you are found innocent got thrown out. Macaskill said it would make folks doubt the innocence of folks for whom the court decided not to refund it. But why would the court be given any power to decide that at all? That was not explained in the story.

Why was the story on this located under ordinary home news and away from the pages of referendum coverage? Do we have an elite wanting it not to become a referendum issue? After all, many lawyers and even the Edinburgh Bar Association were outside parliament demonstrating against the measure. As Salmond says vote Yes to protect the benefits system from getting destroyed, had he even noticed that the news on the same day said vote No to avoid living in a state to be founded with no tradition of a benefit of legal defence, where to suffer undeserved accusation of crime shall actually cost you money?

Who trusts a government capable of passing such a basic attack on human rights, with the human rights standards of a newly founded separate state?

This follows after Salmond's other recent show of ever so healthy ethics towards a question of law, his booboo on EU membership. This has affected the campaign oppositely than he wished. On the same day, in the same paper, a Labour No columnist, Brian Wilson, tells us that 60% of voters now appreciate that new state EU membership is not a bagged certainty, not "automatic" at all.

But what is the point of telling us that with the British EU referendum of 2017 hanging over us? Unless you can find a way to bring down the coalition and regain British government before the 2014 referendum and cancel the 2017 one, and be willing to cancel it despite its popularity with the racist vote? Assuming that hopeful scenario ain't in the offing and we are still stuck with these 2 votes in the wrong order, how you do even make a start on decide your vote by how to keep us in the EU when your vote is already being chaotically pulled opposite ways by the questions of how to protect our civil liberties and our benefits system?

How does a country with a progressive consensus end up with such an agonising and mucked up historic vote where there is no obvious progressive way to vote and either way will do nasty things to us? The civil liberty message to vote No has become, for safety in ordinary life, a pressingly urgent rival to the welfare message to vote Yes. While the EU membership message is no longer to vote Yes but may not yet be to vote No either. Who ever foresaw this scale of mess up?

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