Dissenting Radical

The Common Good: A 'Christian-Left' perspective on radical theology, progressive politics, authentic culture and sustainable living.

Month: May, 2014

Independence, not separation.

Independence is not separation. Scotland would continue to be part of Britain, even after leaving the United Kindgom.

Norway did not ‘leave Scandinavia’ on becoming an independent state in 1905. It is an active member of the Nordic Council and co-operates closely with its neighbours across a range of areas of common concern.

Jamaica did not ‘leave the Caribbean’ after independence from the Federation of the West Indies in 1962. There is still a West Indian cricket team, a University of the West Indies, and a Caribbean Court of Justice.

Likewise, Scots in an independent state would continue to have close cultural, social, economic, family and linguistic ties with the rest of the British Isles, and would share in various British-wide institutions:

  • Scotland would co-operate with the other jurisdictions of the British Isles through the British-Irish Council (the secretariat of which is already based in Edinburgh).
  • There would, at least for a transitional period, be some shared services, paid for jointly by the governments north and south of the border under mutually agreed contractual arrangements.

  • It is expected that the existing reciprocal arrangements with regard to freedom of travel and dual citizenship between the UK and Ireland would also be extended to an independent Scotland.

  • Scotland would use its own pound sterling – just like the Falkland Islands pound, the Gibraltar pound, the Isle of Man pound, the Jersey pound.

Voting YES to independence is not voting for separation, but for a mature, free, partnership of equals.



Going Green II (or not, on this occasion)

Screen shot 2014-05-16 at 21.06.43


I was playing around on Vote Match.eu and this is what came up.

It is not really a surprise, given the fact that the Green party are the only constructive left-wing alternative.

The really interesting thing, though, is what this result shows about the limited utility of vote matching websites. These websites typically compare one’s policy preferences across a range of issues with the manifesto positions of the various parties. Most of them now allow issues to be weighted according to their salience. Some even allow positions other than just agreeing or disagreeing with given statements, but this one does not (although you can click ‘neither’, or skip a question).

Yet all vote matching websites that I have seen focus solely on policy positions. That’s fine, as far as it goes, but policy positions are not the only criteria by which we cast our votes. We also consider things like the record of a party in office, its credibility, and the quality of its candidates, as well as the ‘signally effect’ that our votes may have, and tactical voting.

According to my results, as you see above, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP get roughly the same score. In fact, Labour seems to come out slightly head. But none of this reflects the fact that the Liberal Democrats have proven themselves to be spineless unprincipled opportunists, or that the Labour party, in most of Scotland, is a byword for corruption, jack-in-office entitlement, intellectual deficiency, and ineptitude.

Nor does it change the fact that Labour and the Liberal Democrats are opposed to Scottish independence, which is really the defining issue that divides the Scottish electoral landscape. I know this is a European Parliament election, and that the EU’s impact on trade, environmental and social policies will continue with or without independence, but I still wouldn’t vote for a ‘nay-saying’ party. In part, this is because I want to make sure that Scotland has a vote in the EU that will stand up for its interests in the independence transition process if we vote YES. It is also because of the ‘signalling effect’: I do not wish my vote  to lend support or credibility to a party that opposes independence.

So it really comes down to a choice of two: SNP or Green. On policy issues, especially at the European level, Green would be my first choice. I’m also, on the whole, impressed with the quality of Green candidates (greasy-pole climbers and power-hungry media-savy politicians tend not to be attracted to small parties of principle).  On the other hand, I’d be happy enough with the SNP getting another MEP seat. The SNP’s mix of centre-left populism and pragmatic policy-making has provided Scotland with its first reasonably good government in three centuries – for which they deserve credit. They would stand up for Scotland and Scotland’s interests in Europe.

Besides, these two parties are part of the same group in the European Parliament – whichever way I vote, between these two parties, my vote is still going to the same group. A vote for the SNP indirectly helps Greens  across Europe, and a vote for the Greens helps civic-nationalist autonomous parties across Europe, too.

So the choice between SNP and Green ultimately comes down to tactical voting. This is where things get tricky. I have to think not only about my own preferences, but about the likely preferences and intentions of others.

European elections take place by party-list proportional representation, and there are six seats up for grabs in Scotland. Based on current polling, there are just two likely outcomes: (a) SNP 3, Labour 2, Conservative 1; or (b) SNP 2, Labour 2, Conservative 1, and one other – either Green or UKIP.

If I (and lots of other people in my position) vote Green rather than SNP, then the SNP might take two seats, and the Greens could win the sixth seat – which would make me happy. However, if UKIP voters exceed Green voters, this could result in UKIP taking the sixth seat. That’s a risk I don’t want to take. By voting SNP, I’m helping to ensure that the SNP win three seats, thus tactically keeping UKIP out.



Quote of the day:

One of the things I like about Reddit is that sometimes a random stranger says something wonderfully profound:


“I don’t think the Jesus presented in the Gospels wanted to be worshiped as a god. In fact, he consistently denied he was The One. The gospels are one long story of misogyny, suffering, brutality and hatred and we have Jesus standing in the middle of it all trying to get people to understand they were living in a fucked up world – but it didn’t have to be that way. Over and over again people indicated to him that they recognized the world was fucked up, but no one was willing to take a stand to change things unless The One Messiah came along and told them to. Supernatural authority was absolutely vital in those days.

In the end, Jesus could see the writing on the wall, so he just went “Fuck it. OK dudes, I give up, you got me. I AM the Messiah. I am ORDERING you to stop all this hatred and cruelty and start treating each other with love and respect. IN THE NAME OF GOD!!” and finally everyone listened to him. Listened so well that the powers-that-be had him nailed to a tree to make him shut the fuck up.

Was Jesus the literal Jizz-of-God? Unlikely. Was Jesus a guy who was willing to do what it took to make the world a better place, including making the ultimate sacrifice of his life? Yes, he was. He was that dude who was willing to go all the way for his beliefs. As long as the world has suffering and injustice we would do well to follow his teachings until a better teacher comes along. I say all this as a boring 40 something Church Lady who’s best guesstimate is that about 70% of the congregation (including the minister) feel exactly the same way. The other 30% are either atheists with nothing better to do on a Sunday morning and religious nutjobs.”

Well said, FtangFtangOleBiscuit.