Friday, 20 December 2013

trust a journalist?

Joyce Macmillan is no star of positivity in referendums. It was me whose letter against her chairing of the Edinburgh launch of the Yes-Yes campaign in 1997 was published headed "Worse than Westminster?" in Charter 88's journal Citizens, an edition from early 1998. Frustrating it is no longer online to link to, it was once, since Charter merged into Unlock Democracy. She slapped down speakers who made any point from their personal life experience in support of the campaign and proposing the campaign could use their point. She showed she just wanted it to be an elite class's safe controlled campaign pushing out anything so unpredictable as real life.

Already before this, at a day event by Oxfam in 1996 that she chaired, when I raised the constitutional case against rent and mortgages she chose not to make the 2 politicians beside her (Menzies Campbell and George Foulkes) respond to it on grounds that "I don't think anyone know what you're talking about" without making any opening for me to explain in full where it comes from so that she would know what I was talking about, and without expressing any concern that her newspaper colleagues had not made it known to her.

Within this year she was writing in her column that a No win is inevitable and getting cornered by electoral luck into holding the referendum at all was tragic for the SNP. But last night she was on Newsnight, with a totally changed position, saying the No campaign is too negative about the country's virtues and predicting that if it continues their support will evaporate, i.e. a Yes win. This from a position of declaring as Yes-inclined now herself.

This is selective. It should follow equally that Yes support will evaporate if that campaign continues not taking voters seriously:
  • by having policies that require the agreement of some party outside our new state, Britain or the EU, that has already said it won't agree.
  • and By spivvily not responding to enquiries for clear positions on items like the citizenship item raised here already.
If we are just faced with 2 spivvy campaigns both messing us around and not addressing details seriously, the winning side may be the side of not voting at all.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

twin dilemma

A Better Together paper just came through my door, a lot of its content over several pages focused on British overlapping feelings of nationhood. It's good that after the White Paper they are seeing a chance to force the campaign's emotive level to start focusing more on that question. Among all the to and fro claims about economics there had seemed a risk of both sides slipping past us the due focus on this basic fairness question of making sure you get to belong to your own home. With the Yes side being slippery and spivvy on the issue, will it take the No side's pressure to make them address it more properly?

But will voters notice how selective the No side is being? They mention a lot about how many folks in the British countries are from each other's country. They select to mention nothing at all of the same about EU countries - when exactly the same arguments apply to them.

They feature a Scottish father who was born in exile with a family with a multiplicity of births, and they quote figures for how many folks in Scotland were born in the rest of Britain and vice versa. But this statistic is misleading, if you are a Scot who was born in the rest of Britain there is every good chance you disliked your exile and are pleased to be home, it does not make you necessarily want to keep the Union at all. Only if there is a weakness on the Yes side here, only if there are enough holes in their citizenship policy to cause there to be any exiles whose return to Scotland independence could make harder and any less of an automatic right, should this No argument have any effect. At present, after the shambles of the White Paper contradicting itself on citzenship and being full of gobbledygook about forbears and where they lived on independence day and its unclairty on where to deem thast they would have resided if they had not died, the Yes side is choosing unecessarily to be weak enough on this issue to constitute a betrayal of Scottish history, and deserves to have the No side attack on this. But our EU citizen residents don't deserve to be put in more danger, by it, of right wing British nationalism turning on them after Scotland fails to vote itself out of that process.

They feature a family with twins born on each side of the border because of the circumstances when the mother's labour began during as journey. It's an excellent case study against birthplace racism, the evil of all bigots who would deem these twins to belong to different countries if they don't personally identify so. It's morally right that it should turn anyone against loopholes in the citizenship policies, on both sides. But what is the No side's answer to the case, you could have just as easily, of twins born one in Britain one across the Channel? Do they agree with their own argument's implication that we should not vote to belong to a country that leaves the EU in an ugly mood of nationalist racism?

Friday, 6 December 2013

no bitterness no peace

The BBC was at its cultic drip-drip mind-wearing worst over its repetitive Mandela obituaries, which all other news was simply abolished to make way for. On radios Scotland, 4, and 5 last night, all of them alike, the so-called news consisted of only this one event and lofty top folks' remarks on it. Even when they paused to say, now the headlines, so you thought you were going to get something else, even the headlines consisted only of this one single item repeated again.

Yet the same day, we had had our strongest wind storm for years, with a startling total closure of our rail network, and the major bridges, stuff falling through the roof of Glasgow Central station, and a lorry blown over. You would think we wante to know about the immdeicate local situation of our own lives?

A dissenting blog here:, and Medialens who linked to it, shows that the reson why Mandela is getting so deified now is because during his government South Africa was bogged down into the neocon world economy and totally failed to solve the racially disparate poverty inherited from apartheid. Can well remember the serious papers, at the time, reporting about continuing ill-treatment of white employed black farm workers. John Pilger on interviewing him in 1996 on breaking his word on privatisation: .

As Pilger mentions, Mandela portrayed expedient deals with the old white economic elite as part of "reconciliation". And this totally illuminates why the BBC line has been all about how wonderful he was for choosing against "bitternesss" and "revenge". One BBC headline report, which is supposed to be fact not opinion, stated as a fact the opinion that Mandela saved South africa's peaceful outcome this way. All the while, because he is in such media favour, they choose to make no mention of Winnie Mandela and the necklace atrocities in 1986, and how though the Mandelas divorced it was ambiguous whether Nelson ceased to be aligned with her on that and certainly his death announcements treated her as a linked and a perfectly fine figure in the face of that savage history. Same as with Churchill, which this selective deification is similar to, they chose to forget that he had believed in forced sterilisation of the poor and in a lower grading of the races ousted by colonial white societies worldwide.

The fad for talk of reconciliation processes and anti-bitterness propaganda, and the age-old anti-revenge line by the major religions, are about taking away fairness and even its expectation. Their purpose is to acculturate ordinary people into a state of passive fatalism with whatever an unjust course of events has given them, away from expecting feeling any entitlement or claim to redress and the writing of wrongs. It is a way for political elites to avoid bothering with any outstanding injustices at ordinary people level, whenever they dispose of a difficult situation is the quietest life way for themselves that presents.

It is an agenda that threatens us in the Scottish referendum process too. It is the way any anomalies about citizenship, anyone unfairly left out of it, could be ever so gently hushed away by the BBC. It has already started in the media consensus that we should just treat the White Paper as a sketch of ideal wishes none of whose detailed contents are actually committal to anything. Suffer from this? Oh but that's bitterness you see, no no no, gotta have reconciliation, innit? or it will be the same with any deflated hopes felt after a No vote, and when the system clams up to give us no further political reform and reminds us it had always been noncommittal that it would. Oh no don't keep on about this at us, that's bitterness you see, innit, no no no, you had your vote, gotta have reconciliation, now.

That's how the trick will work. Be on guard not to accept it.