Thursday, 23 June 2011

How many makes a majority...???

A few weeks ago I posted this ....One referendum, etc....  Including this statement;
" cannot change the constitution of any organisation (golf club, drama group, whatever) without a solid majority in favour. A 51% vote in favour of change leaves just too many supporters of the status quo feeling denied and frustrated. You have to demonstrate a solid majority if you want to take everyone with you. Freqently in these cases a two-thirds majority is needed to bring about radical change...."
Today the Herald publishes an article by arch-nationalist columnist Ian McWhirter in which he writes ....

"...Well, in Canada....the Supreme Court did indeed rule on the wording of the independence referendum in the French-speaking province of Quebec in 1998. a landmark ruling now internationally recognised as a definitive statement on the rights of secession by disgruntled minorities, it ruled there was no right at all in international or domestic law for one part of a state to leave unilaterally. And even if independence were to be agreed by the other parts of the state, there would have to be absolute clarity over what the independence question meant, and a substantial majority in favour of independence, not just a simple majority..."
Earlier this month the Scottish Football Association (SFA) changed its constitution to allow a different voting structure. The change required a 75% majority. The SFA is an important organisation in Scottish life, and many people have an interest in its effective operation, but its governance is far less important than the governance of the state itself or the country.It therefore seems unacceptable that the currently effective governance of the country could be overturned by a simple majority of Scots voting in a one-off referendum. 

If the turnout  at a referendum was at the same level as recent elections, a 51% vote in favour of independence would need the actual votes of less than a third, maybe even a quarter, of the electorate. This is no basis to create a new country. If the referendum is to go ahead there must be a threshold  - two-thirds of votes cast or 45% of the electorate, or some similar substantial proportion – that would secure the acquiescence of the minority in the upheaval implied by breaking up the UK. 

After all, if a majority threshold is a necessary requirement to change the constitution of the SFA, or your local golf club, it’s not a lot to ask in respect of radical changes to the governance of Scotland.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Has Eck Finally lost it....?

I've blogged previously on the SNP's attacks on judicial independence.

Last night I came across this. It's an article in Holyrood Magazine which has Alex Salmond saying some quite astonishing things about the eminent Scottish Judge Lord Hope and the Human Rights Lawyer, Professor Tony Kelly. The tone is nasty and querulous and shows Eck in a light you don't often see but which I suspect is a private mood he keeps hidden from his public persona.

I meant to blog on it, but it was late and other things were going on, so I left it for this morning to follow up......

Imagine my surprise to pick up the Herald this morning and read this "Leading Lawyer to sue First Minister". It appears that Professor Kelly has had enough of Nationalist posturing on the justice system and ad hominem attacks on people within the system and he has decided to take the FM to task, and to court, to enforce some respect.

We all know that Alex Salmond has a streak of arrogance a mile wide, and he shows no respect for Holyrood or people who disagree with him, at Holyrood or anywhere else. The question now must be: has Eck finally lost it? Has the real, arrogant, posturing, contemptuous Salmond finally ememrged from the behind the hail-fellow-well-met false bonhomie that he has been trying to cultivate as First Minister?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

One referendum, two referendums, three referendums, four...

One potato,
Two potatoes,
Three potatoes,

Five potatoes,
Six potatoes,
Seven potatoes,

The old children's rhyme springs to mind at the Scottish Secratary's announcement that he wants two referendums on independence. One, from Holyrood, would be "advisory", and the other, from Westminster would be decisive or "binding" as they call it. The justification for this position is that Westminster has the reserved power on referendums, and that any binding referendum would have to originate from there. While Holyrood could ask the question, no-one would be legally bound by the answer.

All very well, but it ignores the politics. If the result is decisive (say above 60% in favour of independence) of those who voted, the "binding" refrendum, while legally justifiable would be just a waste of time. The same people who voted would vote the same way again, with maybe even some who felt enraged at being asked to vote again changing their vote the second time.

IMO, the way round this is obvious and sensible: you cannot change the constitution of any organisation (golf club, drama group, whatever) without a solid majority in favour. A 51% vote in favour of change leaves just too many supporters of the status quo feeling denied and frustrated. You have to demonstrate a solid majority if you want to take everyone with you. Freqently in these cases a two-thirds majority is needed to bring about radical change.

The solution is that any referendum which is considered as binding should have a built-in threshold: two-thirds of those who vote, or 50% of the registered electorate, or some number, must vote in favour of the change. That would help to ensure that the defeated side is convinced of the suppport for, and goes along with, the proposed change.

There should also be a condition in any accompanying legislation that, if the "independence" side loses, the vote will not be repeated for a long period of time, say 25 years. Scottish and UK politics has been dogged for too long by constitutional issues. If the Nats lose their referendum they shoud show some respect to the people and call it a day. Normal politics is, or should be, about schools and houses and jobs, not about constant worrying over constitutional details.

Friday, 3 June 2011

SNP Opposes "foreign control" of Media... mebbies..

The current SNP war against the UK Supreme Court as described here  and here is just the latest battle by the Nationalist Party to oppose anything to do with the UK, particularly anything that is an undoubted success. There has been a long running war against other British institutions, including the BBC, which is routinely accused of "bias" against the Nationalists. The underlying problem seems to be that any successful UK institution is a threat to the Nationalist obsession with trying to prove that the UK is a "failed state", a proposition so ridiculous that it defies all reason and all the evidence but which, nevertheless, must be proved.

Anyway, in their one-eyed obsession with trying to convince themselves that the BBC, a UK institution in UK ownership, is somehow "biased" against them, the Nationalists miss the point. Spectacularly. The BBC has a mission to remain "neutral" in its political coverage, a stance that benefits the Nats on many occassions when their position is treated with a respect it does not deserve or earn.

During the recent Scottish Parliamentary Elections Alex Salmond was never off the BBC. He appeared on Question Time (no other Scottish party leader did) in the middle of the campaign, on the UK section of Newsnight (no other Scottish party leader did) and he profited by blanket coverage of the sectarian bombs issue which was a national story and widely covered on the BBC with copious quotes from Eck at all times of night and day. No bias there, except against the other main parties in Scotland.

But what the Nationalists also ignore is that they newspapers which supported them in the latest Scottish Parliamentary elections, most eminently the "Scottish" Sun and the Herald, are both American owned...!!!

So we have the ridiculous position of the SNP complaining that the BBC, a British nationalised institution with a mission to report politics in a balanced fashion, and which offered their leader a highly visible platform in the recent elections, is "biased" against the Nats. But the same SNP is quite willing to accept the overt and covert support of American owned media outlets... no complaints of "bias" on that score.

I have to say that its a strange world where a British political party can complain about the (non-existent) bias and the British ownership of a British media outlet, while accepting with equanimity the bias (in their favour) of foreign owned newspapers, with a total lack of embarrassment or even comment.

It seems that The Nationalists don't really oppose foreign control of UK media at all. They are quite happy with American control of Scottish media. In practice, they are only opposed to British control of British media...

Hypocrisy or what?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Supreme Idiocy

The argument that the Nationalist government has stirred up over the UK Supreme Court has been given a lot of air time, mostly concentrating on the legal aspects of the case.

But for me the most interesting thing about the spat is the cracking of the veneer of tolerance that has disguised the SNP's anti-English heart for the past four years. Having spent 70 years stirring up anti-English feeling, and having been at last elected to power on the back of it, the newly "responsible" SNP decided that it didn't look good to the honest voters of Scotland, so the message has gone out to tone it down. And for the last few years, all has been quiet on that front: "Hate the English? No' me, laddie. Never did. How could you think that!!??" has been the Nationalist chorus.

Now the mask is slipping. The SNP doesn't seem to mind if Scottish decisions are sent to Brussels for French/German etc. judges to examine. But to London!!?? for English judges!!?? that's an ethnicity too far for our newly "tolerant" civic Nationalists. And the Brussels route takes 4 - 5 years, while the London route takes a few months. Why would anyone of sound mind make such a bizarre choice?

As for the actual case against the Supreme Court: I'm no lawyer, but I would think that any jurisdiction of any integrity would deem the withholding of evidence from the Defence as a good reason to allow an appeal in most cases. Or is it SNP policy to allow the Prosecution to try any dirty rick to get a conviction? Not exactly a great precedent for an independent Scotland, is it? "Vote for us and we'll fit you up, guilty or not"., and you'll have to wait 5 years for an actual foreign judge in an actual foreign country to hear the appeal... it's nuts, frankly.

Kenny McAskill has always been the SNP administration's weak link. From the Lockerbie bomber to the sectarion legislation fiasco, he has shown a lack of judgement and a poor grasp of the job.

Now he has lost it altogether. His anti-sectarian knne jerk legislation is on course to crash and burn and his rants against the judges (two of whom are Scots, BTW!), have left him looking silly, peevish and anti-English all at once.

He must be the favourite for the first minister to be dumped by this administration....