:: Thursday, November 30, 2006 ::

Happy St. Andrews Day

Peter Howson's St. Andrew

Happy St. Andrews day to you all. For those who don't know it is Scotland's national day, sponsored by a two thousand year old apostle of John the Baptist. The Saints connection with Scotland has several legends surrounding it. Pick the one you like best. I quite like the reference to Óengus II of the Picts seeing a St. Andrews' cross in the sky during a battle.

We have a new battle over Scotland's future coming up next May when the Scottish Parliamentary elections will be held. The traditional rulers of Scotland, The Labour Party, are trailing in the polls to the Scottish National Party (SNP). We could have an SNP administration running Scotland next year and a constitutional crisis. We could also see the scenario of a Tory Westminster government and an SNP Holyrood administration. An explosive combination. The national question in Scotland has calmed down since the Scottish Parliament was won, but has not gone off the boil. In the next period things could start to heat up again.

Labour are worried. Really worried. And they have begun an almighty assault on the SNP. At their recent conference in Oban the Scottish Labour Party had speaker after speaker to attack the SNP. Leading ideologue Douglas Alexander MP (who I knew in his former life as head of the Scottish branch of the National Union of Students) said:

"Alex Salmond says that next May he's got a date with destiny. It's not his first. The problem is destiny keeps on standing him up. In truth, [the SNP's] 19th century philosophy of borders and barriers just doesn't make sense in a 21st century shaped by the twin forces of globalisation and interdependence. History and modernity are against him. Alex Salmond is an old man in a hurry."

Interesting to see the ideological spin on the attack on the SNP.

From the point of view of neo-liberal globalisers the British state shouldn't make any more sense than a Scottish state.

In fact the SNP are if anything more in favour or untrammelled globalisation. It's the cornerstone of the 'celtic tiger' approach. Like Ireland, drop business taxes and provide incentives to relocate. At the same time try to engineer a workforce with skills but who will accept low wages. Gotta compete with Bangalore after all.

See also the SNP's gushing love of the EU, a 'Europe of the Regions' etc.

No, borders and barriers don't make sense. Which is why we need to talk about their hypocrisy over immigration controls, restrictions on Romanian etc immigration, detention centres for asylum seekers. New Labour are hardly against borders or barriers. Those barriers also can't work in a 'globalised' world. Poor people from Africa will still get in leaky boats to get a better life in Europe doing the jobs Europeans don't want, or can't afford, to do. Poor people in Latin America will still ride the death trains to work in the fields and meat packers propping up US agriculture.

We need a vision of a Scotland that stands out from this crap. That offers rights, protection and a decent life to all, native and immigrant alike and that supports those fighting for better societies in Africa, Latin America and all over the world.

But talk like that can get you nailed to a diagonal cross.

Image is 'study for St. Andrew' by Peter Howson currently in exhibition at Edinburgh's City Art Centre. I have postcards of, among other things, Communist Party banners painted by the young Howson.

:: Alister | 3:32 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


Need more visions do we, eh? We've already got loads of visions: socialist visions of Scotland, green visions, nationalist visions...

What we need is not more visions but the reality of a 4 month long concentrated organisational and ideological assault on the union and on the Britsh state.

Once we have a movement for independence that is confident and working together across party boundaries then we've a real chance of Independence. Then we can debate visions.

But your post spends more time attacking the SNP for what they have not yet done than attacking the unionists of NewLabour/Libdems for what they have done. Therein lies the problem my friend.

By Blogger Kevin Williamson, at 11:14 pm  

The problem is people criticising the SNP because their policies are the same or worse than New Labour in many cases? How is that a problem?

Where I agree with the SNP then I can support them. Like on independence. But if their vision (yeah they have vision like it or not) is more of the same poverty, ill-health and inequality then I'm gonna call them on it.

By Blogger Alister, at 1:28 pm  

Sure, take them to task if they act - when they are in power - against the interests of the people. But until then lets get enough Indepedence minded MSPs elected on May 3rd 2007. All we want from the SNP (and the SSP and Greens for that matter) is to deliver on a Referendum Bill. Once that is passed then we can fight for social justice with the democratic tools of self-government.

By Blogger Kevin Williamson, at 1:41 pm  

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