Sunday, 24 February 2013


Whoever the genius was who inspired the twitter hashtag - #PulptheFiction can take a great deal of satisfaction from this weekends events, as the Referendum debate hots up.

I had the privilege of listening to Dennis Canavan at the Glasgow UNISON AGM Independence Hustings.  At the same time the Better Together were preparing for a big campaign weekend around the issue of stability - the proverbial "don't frighten the horses"  visionless unionist argument. Perfectly encapsulated in the desiccated persona of Alistair Darling.

Only hours later the news that the UK has lost its AAA Credit Rating became public.

I personally support the view of many that the media obession with credit ratings and the Better Together campaign's use of their status as a weapon of choice gives them a validity and credibility that they do not deserve. After all, the judgement of the international global financial institutions they serve is so sound and reliable.... Alice in Wonderland casino economy forecasts are barely worth the ticker tape they're printed on these days. 

In any event, whilst at a Euro Hustings in Ardrossan on Saturday I was advised that the Better Together campaign were handing out a leaflet stating amongst other challengeable assertions -  "Scots save billions on the costs of mortgages due to the UK's credit rating"

Er...unfortunate timing, but perhaps the Better Together crystal ball was a little cloudy when the order went to the printers - remind me again, who's the main economic genius figurehead leading the campaign? Therein lies the Labour contradiction at the heart of their involvement in Better Together - on the one hand arguing that UK PLC delivers stability, certainty, reassurance, on the other hand campaigning as a party against Gideon Osborne and his bunch of Eton chums not being fit to be in charge of the school tuck shop funds...

The official position from the Better Together is that the leaflet being referred to is "one year old".

If this is correct then why.....

(1) Was Better Together 2012 Ltd Incorparated at Companies House on the 1st June 2012?
(2) Was the leaflet distributed in Glasgow Pollok this weekend? (along with Double Agent Ian Davidsons infamous Clyde Yards leaflet - Doom ! Gloom ! Independence will cost you your jobs and a stable future...)
(3) make the claim that the leaflet was one year old and was not being distributed?

As momentum switches so do the questions and the claims.  The politics of this of course are that if the AAA credit rating is a reason for staying in the UK, now that it no longer has this rating why stay? The online gymnastics from the Better Together spin meisters frantically try to say..nothing to see here, move along...
Incidentally is it just me or does an argument for a secure future for everyone and prosperity all round based on endorsing the status quo of global exploitation, greed, mass poverty and inequality seem a bit..odd ?

In closing the over-arching feeling is how does the UK result in stabilty when the arguments have to change every few months?.......

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Opinions as Facts?

The best piece of advice I ever received from a Senior Trade union lay activist was if you put two lawyers in a room you get at least three opinions.

That should inform any analysis of the carefully primed over-reaction in the press trailing the news that Monday  would be a dreadful day for the Yes Campaign as a definitive report was going to be published telling you Why You Can’t Vote Yes Because Clever Lawyers Will Tell You Independence Will Be Terribly Difficult  And  A Bad Idea.

It now appears that the legal advice received by the Westminster Government is not what they thought it would be – despite being announced in the Ultra Establishment venue of the Signet Library in Edinburgh, with all the subliminal resonance of   “we are your social and intellectual masters who reserve the right to hand down our judgements to the restless natives”…it hasn’t gone entirely according to plan.

14,000 treaties became 8,500 then 14,000 again, and then the leading academic presenting the opinion messed up the battle plan by stating that negotiations to be members of the UN or the EU would not be difficult, and that the Scottish Government’s stated timeline is entirely realistic.

We then ended the night with the risible sight of David Mundell  (fast approaching Ian Davidson double agent territory in his frantic attempts to hang on to his job) , explaining that the Independence Referendum was not about the Treaty of Union as that isn’t relevant.  An argument that even supporters of the Union will find mildly offensive and a woeful and deliberate misreading of history. It’s actually counter-intuitive of the No campaign to imply that Scotland isn’t an equal partner and historic entity in its own right as this flies in the face of one of the few resonant arguments in favour of maintaining the status quo, namely that Scotland is a nation bonded by “choice” to other nations to form the UK, not a subdued or conquered country.  Using the language and adopting the attitudes of colonialism is a sure fire way to get intelligent and thoughtful voters considering if they wish to be governed by people who deploy such simplistic and arrogant arguments.

The issue of whether Scotland is a continuing or successor state, or even extinguished one, is probably where there will be disagreement from other academic and legal experts.

The underlying tone however from the Tory led Westminster Government is one that should be taken to task.  The tone of too wee, too stupid and things will be difficult will not cut much ice with the regular and informed voter.

Important to remember - who makes laws and where do legislators get their mandate from? Are we governed by lawyers or democratically elected representatives whose role is to action their mandate from the people?


Wednesday, 6 February 2013


Before Christmas the Westminster Coalition sneakily inserted a new clause to the Enterprise and Regulatory Bill which will impact on workers who seek compensation for suffering injury at work.

The clause (Clause 61) was inserted at the Report Stage of the Bill, has not been subject to public consultation, and overturns what has been established law for over 100 years.

Currently regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act contain statutory duties that ensure employers maintain safe workplaces.  The Westminster Government wishes to remove what is known as strict laibility.  For example as the employee does not have control over the selection, buying or maintenance of work equipment, the employer takes the risk if the equipment injures someone or is defective.

If the proposed change remains it will remove all opportunities for an injured worker to seek compensation from an employer for breach of a statutory duty, and employers will no longer be liable in civil court for breaches of Health and Safety at Work regulations.  The only remedy available will be to prove employer negligence.

The Westminster Governments own impact assessment demonstrates that negligence is more difficult to prove.

The reality of this situation is that fewer claims will be pursued and fewer injured workers will receive compensation, and they and their families will have will pick up the consequences whilst Insurance compnaies will be the gainers.

Compensation is not a prize or bonus for employees, it is simply compensation for injury suffered.  If this proposal is allowed to stand it will be a further eradication of workers rights in the UK, a dangerous, pernicious, and ideological backward step and a signal to bad employers that they have a better chance of getting away with poor health and safety provision. 

This is quite simply a scandalous piece of legislation hidden under the disguise of deregulation.