SBR1: The New Union, the secretive Executive and rats with wings

Welcome to the inaugural Scottish Blogging Roundup! This week Scottish bloggers took a look at the contoversial idea of a “New Union”, whether Gordon Brown is too Scottish to be Prime Minister and what should be done about the vermin in Holyrood.

But first, a little explanation for this roundup. Here is the post at my blog setting out the reasons why I’ve started it. The Edinburgh-based Devil’s Kitchen has a related concern about apparent apathy (or stupidity) among the electorate. Referring to ID cards, he notes:

This is why anyone who says, “I don’t do politics” earns my unalloyed contempt and opprobrium.

Alright, fine, you don’t do politics but your refusal to engage affects my life. And it affects yours too: that you are too pig-ignorant and apathetic to acknowledge this is simply another reason why people make me fucking despair.

While we’re at The Devil’s Kitchen, it’s worth pointing out that this isn’t the only new roundup to grace your monitors this week. That fucking cunt has only bloody gone and started an effing Swearblog roundup! And here is the first one.

Now onto leading SNP figure Mike Russell’s proposals for a “New Union”. Russell wants a gradual approach to independence adopted, with the move towards greater autonomy being made step by step. Westminster would initially have reserved powers for foreign affairs. Predictably, this has led to campaigners for independence spluttering over their coffee, or whatever it is SNP members splutter over.

Mr Eugenides finds himself in the strange position of siding with “the fundamentalist nutjobs that make up the bulk of the SNP activist base”:

If the SNP want us to go our own way, then they have to have the balls to put it to a vote. As the only serious challengers in next May’s Scottish elections, they may form the next Executive; but that will not in itself be a mandate for independence, and they know it.

I am certain that the majority of pro-independence campaigners would also prefer the SNP to take a bold approach — just take a look at the selection of letters from The Herald pointed out by Free Scotland Now.

…it is interesting that Mr Russell launched his book after his party’s list rankings had been voted upon in the South of Scotland where he achieved second place ahead of candidates who are more committed to current SNP policy and genuine independence.

But being a wishy-washy type, I, like David Farrer, think the halfway house would work okay.

Murdo Fraser’s reaction — to claim that Russell was adopting Conservative policy — made Bernie Hughes chuckle before wondering where the Scottish Parliament has imitated Westminster too much and who has been responsible for it.

The book which started all of this fuss about the New Union, Grasping the Thistle, has its own website (as pointed out by David Farrer). It’s bloody ugly mind you.

Elsewhere, the Scottish Executive is refusing to publish a secret dossier. The publication of a review of the Scottish Executive’s budget — which is apparently potentially embarassing — is being held back. As Holyrood Watcher notes, it sounds exciting but “it’s just another avoidable mess.”

Bookdrunk is rather angrier at the fact that the new publication date just so happens to be after the election.

The reason? It details funding for policies that might have an impact on the way people will vote – and having informed voters must apparently be avoided at all costs

Do read Bookdrunk’s post.

Focusing on Westminster, Scottish bloggers are wondering why voters really don’t want Gordon Brown to be the next Prime Minister. Frank Luntz’s focus group thingy on Newsnight found that voters think that Brown is too Scottish to be Prime Minister. But several bloggers have noted that the focus group’s preferred option, John Reid, is… uh, Scottish!

Barrie Wood has also noticed that while Gordon Brown’s Scottishness has become an issue, Menzies Campbell’s hasn’t. And don’t forget, Tony Blair was born in Scotland aswell. Caron wonders why a Scot shouldn’t be allowed to be PM. Shuggy reckons that Brown’s Scottishness is being used as a proxy for something else.

The problem with notions of national identity is that they become repositories for other ideas that are, or at least should be, more relevant…

For those of us who don’t believe in nationalism this was a mistake. You could argue that what is happening here is a case of nationalist chickens coming home to roost – although I’d have to say I don’t think many people up here objected to Thatcher solely because of her national identity.

True — although the fact that the Conservatives ruled the UK for 18 years when they were never popular in Scotland is often used as an argument in favour of more devolution or independence.

In other shock news this week, dirty vermin were found in the Scottish Parliament. Pigeon chicks, that is. Not to worry; they are being sent to Ayrshire for £250 per nest. Both Angry Steve Hill and David Farrer make the obvious, though required, jokes.

Liberal Democrats Stephen Glenn and Bernie Hughes both have posts on the Scottish Labour MPs who are demanding restrictions on migrant workers from Bulgaria and Romania when they join the EU.

Stephen Glenn’s post notes that this is in direct contrast to Jack McConnell’s plans to make Scotland the sole beneficiary of the new workers. Meanwhile Bernie Hughes points out that free movement of labour is meant to be one of the EU’s biggest selling points.

Well, what do you expect from Labour? They aren’t liberals; they are socialists. They want to control the economy and that includes migration.

Stephen Glenn also took a look at the ‘Skeptical Environmentalist’ Bjorn Lomborg.

Meanwhile, Garry Smith has a story from the airport. Is it one rule for white people, and another rule for everybody else?

Now on to something a bit different. I did say that this ‘Blogging’ Roundup wouldn’t be restricted to just blogs. Although I’ve already sneakily included part of a letter published in The Herald, what I actually had in mind was the Our Scotland forums. This week they are debating proposals for Votes at 16 which the Lib Dems, the SNP, the Greens and the SSP are all backing.

Bishop Hill alerts us to a tactic being used by politicians who want to avoid difficult questions. I’ve seen this happen myself too many times now. The safest thing to do is just not vote for anybody who has a “dodgy earpiece”.

Will Patterson discusses the ever-more crowded nature of the left wing in Scottish politics following the news that the Socialist Labour Party will be contesting the Scottish Parliament elections. By some definitions, the Conservatives are the only right wing party in Scotland while Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the Greens, and the three socialist parties (the SSP, Solidarity and the SLP) all fight over the left wing vote.

Should MPs set their own salaries? Contrary to what you might think, Will Howells reckons that MPs could see their salaries rise faster if somebody else (i.e. the Senior Salaries Review Body) decided for them.

I’ve already mentioned the Free Scotland Now! blog, but it was only for a post made up of snippets from The Herald. I have to confess that this is a new blog to me. Reading it you would think that independence was going to happen next week. But independence has been on the verge of happening for about forty years, so I won’t hold my breath.

Anyway, what does it say about me that I thought the most interesting post on that blog from this week was about Grand Theft Auto? You might not realise it, but GTA is actually a good Scottish success story — its developers are based in Edinburgh.

Is independence going to happen next week? Alister Black attended the rally held in Edinburgh by Independence First. As did David Farrer, who obviously looks on with a different perspective.

Rounding things off this week, Otan2 writes about the real cause of road accidents.

And that concludes the first Scottish Blogging Roundup! Hope it was okay. We’re just starting off here, and most of the blogs here were ones that I already knew. There was actually a bit of box-ticking as I endeavored to fit all of my favourite blogs in!

You will have noticed that a few blogs have also been included more than once. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. What do you think? There is going to be a bit of trial and error as we get going with this.

And what do you think about the opinions I’ve sprinkled here and there? The idea is to generate a bit of a debate and get the comments section going, although it might be more appropriate for me to try and remain neutral in future. If you have any das to how the roundup can be improved, please do leave a comment.

Also, if you think I’ve missed anything out, please leave a comment with the link! I don’t want the roundup to end with the post — I also want your suggestions in the comments. Any posts made between last Friday (the 22nd) and this morning are eligible for inclusion. Discuss away!

I don’t know if Garry is going to do next week’s roundup. Whatever’s going on with the next roundup, we’ll let you know in plenty of time. In the meantime, if you want to nominate any posts for inclusion in next week’s roundup then email me at scottishroundup [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tim Worstall has his toodle pip; I have my seeya later. So seeya later!


  1. The astonishing thing in Scotland is that nearly all blogs are right-wing, libertarian or conseravtive. Where are the left-libertarians. The above site might be of interest. the correspondent remarks on the horrible old-guard middle-class that runs the city of Inverness, and thatb refuses to move on from foolish reactinary cliches. Inverness needs a kick up the backside so maybe this will help along.