Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Grangemouth Crisis Shows Need for Independence and Nationalisation

The closure of the petrochemical plant at Grangemouth has led directly to the loss of eight hundred jobs and put at risk not only a further 570 jobs in the refinery, but two thousand contractor jobs and further jobs independent from, but dependent on, the facility such as burger vans, newsagents and cafes. 

This has come as a direct consequence of a facility of vital strategic national importance being owned by a Hampshire venture capitalist and operated by a Swiss shell company.

Not since the beginning of devolution in 1999 has there been a more salient demonstration of the need for Scottish industry and Scottish jobs to be controlled by the people of Scotland. 

Rarely before has there been such a clear need for the full powers of sovereign Government to rest with the Scottish people. 

Rarely before has then been such an example of the contempt in which Westminster holds Scotland than when a Prime Ministers Questions at which Grangemouth was not mentioned ended, an Emergency Question on Grangemouth was raised, and the Prime Minister, bored, walked out of the chamber.

The Westminster government - a gang of scoundrels - was content to nationalise the banks to protect the shareholders and the big businesses who donate to the BetterTogether parties. They're making no move at all to nationalise the Grangemouth plant, which is one of the most important facilities in Scotland, supplying fuel to petrol stations across the country as well as to the north of England. We draw our own conclusions. Bankers are important to Westminster. Workers aren't.

What should be done here is multi-faceted:

If Ineos believe their plant is worthless, then the Scottish Government in the face of Westminster's refusal to act should nationalise it for £1. As the plant is "worthless", this represents a huge profit for Ineos. 

All of Ineos' assets in the United Kingdom should be frozen pending an investigation into tax fraud.

Ineos should be banned from operating any facilities of national importance in the future. This act of economic terrorism surely renders them unfit to be in control of any strategically important facility. 

This is a black swan moment in the independence debate. 

The anti-Scotland campaign has invested a great deal of time and energy in telling us that jobs will not be secure in an independent Scotland - soundly ignoring the fact that under Thatcherism, industry in Scotland was deliberately destroyed in an act of spite and malice. 

The repulsive, woman-abusing, Orange Order-linked Ian Davidson has been touring my own ward, Govan, handing out leaflets claiming "Separation [sic] Shuts Shipyard", a terror tactic lower than a snake's balls, and deceitful by omission to boot, given that under the protection of the United Kingdom, Govan's shipbuilding industry has been utterly destroyed and reduced to a pathetic rump of its former glory. 

This is a moment for the Scottish Government to demonstrate than only with independence can we protect workers' jobs from capitalist predation. The British are not interested in Scottish jobs. They are not interested in Scottish workers. 

Let's bring our industries and jobs back under the control of the Scottish people, seizing them from uncaring capitalists who seek constantly to drive down our pay and conditions and expecting us to be grateful.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Govan By-election Humiliation for SNP Necessitates Serious Re-think

The Govan by-election, brought about by the sad death of Allison Hunter, reached its inevitable conclusion early this morning, un-noticed by everyone who is not a political anorak, and un-noticed by the vast majority of voters in Govan.

The SNP lost the seat, and with it, their entire representation in Govan, a massive working-class ward which really ought to be fertile ground for them as communities fight back against BetterTogether's Bedroom Tax.

Polling day was a nice, bright day with no hint of rain, and still only 20% of the electorate turned out to register the following poll (first preference percentages):

Labour 43,3%
SNP 30,1%
John Flanagan 9,4%
Conservative 4,5%
UKIP 2,4%
Green 2,4%
Independent 2,2%
Liberal Democrat 1,5%
Scottish Christians 1,3%
Fans Against Criminalisation 1,1%
Communist 0,7%
Solidarity 0,6%
BNP 0,4%
Democratic Alliance 0,0%

Of course, the headline news will be the destruction of the SNP: down from 2.259 first preferences last year to 1.424 this time out (on a lower turnout) for the loss of the seat. If each voter who had backed the Nationalists last year with their first preference had continued to do so, they would have won the seat comfortably.

So where did their voters go?

Well, they certainly didn't go to the Liberal Democrats. The junior party of government were the first choice of a frankly pathetic seventy-three souls, leaving them trailing in eighth place, behind the main parties, a campaigner against BetterTogether's Bedroom Tax, UKIP, the Green Party and a local lunatic.

If I was a Liberal Democrat - and because I'm liberal and democratic, I'm not - I would be extremely worried at these figures. They may have believed that the 2.011 General Election was their nadir, returning not a single mainland constituency MSP and only 5 MSPs overall. It was not. The Scottish people will continue to punish the Liberal Democrats for their treachery and lies, and well they deserve it.

They didn't go to Labour (176 fewer people came out to vote for Labour as opposed to last year). In fact, they don't seem to have gone anywhere.

That's what should worry Glasgow SNP the most: that SNP voters have been so underinspired by them that they've just sat at home. There was no football on the television last night, no major events taking place. The weather was fine (a crisp autumnal day) and there was no rain. They were not short of activists, so why couldn't they get their vote out.

Part of it lies in the almost laughably stupid decision by the Government to criminalise political expression from the Irish republican community in Govan, which makes up a huge portion of the ward. They have been told "we disagree with your political opinions. We agree they are neither sectarian nor offensive. But we dislike them, therefore we are inventing an entirely new category of law which will criminalise you and you alone".

They noted that. And they sat on their hands yesterday. I myself allocated the SNP my first preference last year and did not do so this year for this very reason: the first time I have voted in an election in Scotland and not voted SNP as my first or only preference.

Indeed, the SNP only received a (second) preference at all because of the attempt by the anti-Scotland BetterTogether campaign, which took a break from trying to ban the flying of the Scottish flag over Stirling to try to gerrymander the result of this election by sending out expensive mailshots to voters urging them to vote anyone except the SNP. The financial returns of the BetterTogether parties (BNP, Labour, Ukip, Liberal and Tory) will be scrutinised closely for this expenditure.

(I also, incidentally, had initially decided not to give the SNP a preference because of the extreme youth and inexperience of the candidate, which I did and do believe is an insult to the people of Govan. We deserved a candidate who knows what it's like to live as an adult, to struggle with bills, work, life. If you want to run a child as a candidate, you really ought only to do so as part of a ticket.)

This was the first election that Fans Against Criminalisation ran in, and despite the decision to run being taken at extremely short notice (Thomas Rannachan was only nominated as a candidate on the last day of nominations), they still took more than 1% of the vote in an extremely crowded field in which his cause was not allowed to appear on the ballot paper (he was forced to run under an Independent label) and in which a local lunatic attempted to fool voters into thinking he was the anti-Criminalisation candidate.

The SNP should worry about this. Because the campaign against cultural cleansing is not going away. They will get more professional with each election (Shettleston, a stronghold of Timmery, will have a by-election soon following the tragic death of George Ryan) and there will come a time where they will begin to cost the SNP seats. They should repeal the law now: it's not a U-turn when almost everyone in the party was against if from Day 1 anyway. It would make the Government look collegiate by recognising that every other party in Parliament and all of civil society opposes the legislation.

Other figures are hidden amongst the headline ones.

It is probably fair to say that the Democratic Alliance is not going to be a powerful force in Scottish politics in the short-term, receiving a solitary vote. I am not aware of any party ever receiving such a desultory vote in an election in Scotland.

Solidarity, with their ever-charming candidate Joyce Drummond, received a frankly hilarious 28 votes, only nine more than I Can't Believe It's Not The BNP which now appears totally devastated as a political movement in Scotland. Its members and supporters have decamped en masse (mainly to UKIP, I should venture). Whilst they didn't stand in 2012, the Unionist Party, which appeals to the same shaven-headed, tattooed, hard-right-wing anti-everything constituency received 143 votes. The BNP this time, under the name Britannica (surely the first time this gang of slabbering neds have even been remotely associated with the word Encylopaedia) got only nineteen. You can take your fascism, lads, and you can get the fuck out of our city.

The Tory vote held up, increased slightly. Their activists will probably have a small smile playing on their faces at which the butler will realise they have avoided total destruction. But frankly, for the Conservative Party to receive only 215 votes in a ward which includes some of the more affluent areas of Glasgow, is astonishingly poor, and shows their continual failure to penetrate Scotland in general and Glasgow in particular.

If I was Ruth Davidson or Willie Rennie, I'd be giving serious consideration to doing exactly what Murdo Fraser floated, and becoming completely independent from their mother parties. The names of both parties are utterly toxic in Glasgow. They need to develop their own identity (CDU/CSU) and more importantly their own politics, as distinct from that of the parties in London.

As for the Greens, they'll be disappointed. I really can't help thinking that they might do better in a ward which contains Ibrox Park if they changed their name back to the Ecology Party....