Information on a Conversation and a Resignation (updated)

Hello there! It’s that time of the week again. Is it just me, or does it come around far too quickly these days? (Don’t answer that.) Anyway, I start with a small confession: when I said ‘yes’ to taking part in the Roundup, I was quietly dreading August, and the probable lack of material that the month would bring. I was an idiot to have worried. This week has produced a goldmine of stories that have got people to their keyboards and generated some Grade ‘A’ Bloggery.

After all, the debate on independence, which appears to have been rumbling on as a permanent feature in Scottish politics since, well, 1707, has become the big topic this week, with the launch of the ‘National Conversation’ and the White Paper on the subject. In this, Alex Salmond has achieved his objective: we are definitely talking about it. However, bloggers’ reactions have actually been fairly predictable, and party lines appear to come into the equation.

BellgroveBelle, and Chris Stephens are excited at the prospect of the debate to come, and the reaction of Labour, the Tories and LibDems comes under scrutiny. Cllr Jennifer Dunn, Louise, Richard Thomson and Scottish Politics all criticise the Unionist parties’ approach. IndyGal, meanwhile, casts her eyes over the reporting of the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of independence for India, and notes the general goodwill towards not just the commemoration, but its subject. She wonders why Indian independence seems to be broadly welcomed in the press, but Scottish independence isn’t.

Red Star Coven looks beyond the referendum to the policies that an independent Scotland would adopt, and is excited, but sceptical about the nature of the ‘National Conversation’.

On the other side, Kezia Dugdale isn’t happy about the way the debate is being conducted, and is concerned that further powers for Holyrood might emerge as a compromise option. Bill Cameron isn’t impressed with the White Paper, but does reckon that a referendum could bury the issue for a generation. Alex Massie agrees that the Tories should call Salmond’s bluff, but is exasperated at the tactics used by them and Labour. Richard Havers and the Scottish Tory Boy both come to the conclusion that the debate is a waste of time and money, and Gavin Yates believes that there’s no chance of an independence vote being won before the next election, but is impressed by Alex Salmond’s tactics. Pete Murray isn’t: he’s scathing about the SNP’s motives.

However, Jeff at SNP Tactical Voting takes a look at the arguments for the Union, and accuses Labour, the Tories and the LibDems of only producing negative points of rebuttal, and Shuggy considers politicians’ reaction to referenda in general.

Meanwhile, in the Liberal Democrat camp, a rather paradoxical split has emerged: Liberal England supports a referendum on the matter and criticises the Scottish LibDems’ opposition to one being held. While at Quaequam Blog, the line being taken is that the English LibDems should keep their noses out of this one and let the Scottish LibDems decide their own policy on the matter.

Speaking of the LibDems, chatter about Coalition started briefly, but was pretty much crushed. Tartan Hero looks at how the LibDem approach to negotiations following the Election has backfired.

The next big thing was, predictably, the resignation of Jack McConnell as Labour Leader. Elizabeth Maginnis (a Labour Councillor in Edinburgh) isn’t too sorry to see him go, and considers the state of the party. Her diagnosis isn’t good: she laments the introduction of STV, but doesn’t blame that for her party’s woes. She suggests that Labour were, quite simply, tired.

Though the question of McConnell’s legacy brings up a broad spectrum of opinion: Andrew Burns (another Labour Councillor in Edinburgh) is positive, and marks out the introduction of STV as the most important part of the McConnell administration. Given that he supports it, I suspect that he’s going to have (and may already have had) quite a few interesting chats with Cllr Maginnis. Richard Thomson does his best to be cordial, though does bring up a few memories of meeting the man which don’t paint Scotland’s third First Minister in a favourable light. Justified Spinner is brutal, recalling McConnell’s “do less, better” approach.

However, attention has turned to his successor, most likely Wendy Alexander. Firstly, I should point out that most bloggers plumped for that awful picture of the Shadow Finance Minister’s entire mouth. If you’re eating, I’d advise you to wait a while before following these links. Anyway, former Western Isles Councillor Angus Nicolson recalls her visits to the Isles with a small measure of horror. Holyrood Watcher wonders if Labour MSPs’ support is as whole-hearted as it appears. Fitaloon reckons that Alex Salmond will be laughing, and Justified Spinner looks at Alexander’s proposed solutions for Scottish Labour’s current difficulties (i.e. second place) and is sceptical that they will actually be enough for Labour to win again. It’s not all negative coverage though: Kezia Dugdale is excited at the prospect of Alexander in charge. Mr. Eugenides is over-excited.

Beyond the corridors of the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood Watcher looks at a proposal to abolish Inheritance Tax, while David Farrer is exasperated with the Chancellor’s response to Tory taxation plans. Staying on the theme of people taking your money, Craig has this on bank charges.

On immigration, CuriousHamstercriticises the current policy of refusing political asylum to Iraqis employed by the British, and The Woolamaloo Gazette takes the British Citizenship test.

Beyond the UK, with the independence debate now raging in Scotland, Davie Hutchison looks at developments in Belgium, where tensions between Flanders and Wallonia has derailed the formation of a new government following recent federal elections. Meanwhile, Osama Saeed looks at the decision of German state Nordrhein-Westfalen to ban the hijab. Completely. However you wear it.

From Europe to local politics: Davie Hutchison brings news of the first resignation from Holyrood since the Election: Stefan Tymkewycz is standing down as SNP Regional MSP for the Lothians to concentrate on his Council work and will be replaced by Shirley-Anne Somerville. This might seem like an odd decision, but Edinburgh Councillors have their work cut out at the minute: Andrew Burns reports on school closures in the City, while Angry Steve notes that Council workers are about to strike in protest against planned cuts and redundancies. Steve is, well, less than sympathetic.

Staying briefly with local issues, a historical footnote took place in the Midsocket and Rosemount ward on Aberdeen City Council last Thursday, with the first STV Council By-Election taking place, following the death of Tory Councillor John Porter. With the SNP winning the seat, it’s no surprise that they lead the reaction to the result: Tartan Hero celebrates, while Mark McDonald welcomes his new colleague John Munro Corall to Aberdeen City Council.

And at community level, check out G41, a Glasgow website designed to get local neighbours talking to one another. The operators, Southside Media, are behind a local community newspaper and are pushing citizen journalism.

Elsewhere, the MSM gets some unwanted scrutiny. Sarah reacts with dismay to the news that the X-Factor “re-stages” scenes, while Bookdrunk takes a look at the reporting of the Climate Camp at Heathrow, paying particular attention to the copula ‘be’ (Sorry, that’s the linguist in me, I can’t bring myself to describe ‘be’ as an ordinary verb).

And this week, we learned that Richard Leyton is not backing Glasgow’s bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and that PDF is backing open class warfare.

Finally, there’s always time for navel gazing. Robert Sharp takes a look at the ‘status’ setting on Facebook, Informationally Overloaded voices his disapproval of Twitter, then considers his willingness to move against prevailing opinion. While Duncan takes a look at more traditional forms of communication. Or at least he would be, if you actually communicated anything meaningful with small talk, which is what’s in his sights.

Worried about August? Nah. There’s still enough going on to get people going, and next week, Richard Leyton will be sifting through the best posts for your delectation and delight. As always, you can nominate posts for inclusion, either by the e-mail address – – or by using the thingmy-wotsit on the right. Bye-de-bye!

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