Dissenting Radical

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

Month: September, 2014

An open letter to the Liberal Democrats

The irony in this referendum debate is that if we vote Yes we will end up, essentially, in a confederation: common currency, common travel area, dual citizenship, same head of state, some shared services at least during a transitional period, military alliance through NATO, lots of commonalities still in place. The Indy on offer is ‘Indy-Lite’. That’s always been the SNP’s desired goal – after all, the party was founded to win for Scotland ‘dominion status within the British Commonwealth’.

It is also very so close to the ‘home rule all round’ position that the Liberal Democrats have traditionally wanted. There’s an essay published by David Steel in 1970 arguing for just this sort of open confederation.

My natural political ‘home’ would have been amongst the ‘Home Rule Liberals’, but I withdrew my support for the Liberal Democrats in 2007 when the party – which I had long supported – refused to go into coalition with the SNP and to offer a proper three-option referendum. (The 2010 debacle under Clegg was another blow, but by then they had already lost me).

Sadly, many Liberal Democrats do not seem to be able to put their interests (realities, like the bedroom tax, nuclear weapons, benefit sanctions, tuition fees, NHS privatisation) or their principles (Constitutional Reform, democracy) before their positions (national labels).  By aligning themselves with the No campaign, they cannot seem to help making this about identity – British nationalism vs Scottish nationalism. That seems to be to be an abandonment of the party’s principles. Labour has always had an ambiguous and ambivalent relationship to home rule, because they have tended to confuse solidarity with centralism – but Liberal Democrats, the party of localism, the party of democracy, the party of the highlands and islands, the party of peace and anti-militarism, the party of the non-conformist social conscience – should know better.

What frustrates me most is that meaningful reform within the UK will always be stymied by the power of London and the South East; the 14 million people in London and the South East will always outweigh the 5 million in Scotland. The swing-voter in Croydon will always have more power than the voter in Cambuslang. Now we have a clear choice: the status quo – with all that means for being unequally yoked to a Britain that is lurching to the Eurosceptic right – or Indy-Lite. Liberal Democrats should be natural supporters of Indy-Lite. The only way to have a real partnership of equals is to vote Yes.


Last minute Devo-extra: An offer we cannot refuse

On the mind of a trimmer

Well, that changes everything. Like the former Prime Minister, I’ve had a sudden last-minute conversion to devo-max.

All will be well if we vote No, because Gordon Brown’s got a timetable (all written out in his own joined up handwriting and everything). Really. Honest. Just vote No.

That’s right, folks. Rule Britannia! Learn to love the House of Lords! 103 years and counting since they first tried to reform it, and still going strong.  Three cheers for the City of London and its management of the UK economy! They know a thing or two.

Hurrah for nukes! Let’s go invade a hot sandy place – there’s plenty of oil to pay for that.

Cameron really cares, and who needs the European Court of Human Rights or a written Constitution anyway? Those good people in Westminster sure do know what’s best. And they’ve never lied or let us down yet. I fully trust in their excellent plan.

It would be difficult to be independent, and why bother? It’s ok as it is, right?

I mean, it could be worse.

And Ian Davidson is so cuddly – so trustworthy compared to ‘that man on the telly’.

I fucking love cereal, too. Crunchy and soggy, pooling and sharing in the bottom of my bowl. The best of both worlds.

(Now, I’m away to buy myself some shares in a fracking company, a privatised health company, and a manufacturer of riot-control equipment. It’s going to be rich pickings off this carcass.)



You don’t have to be a fool to vote No, but it helps

If people are voting No because they like what Britain has become, what it stands for, and where it’s heading, then that is their choice. They are perfectly entitled to that view – although they shouldn’t deny its inherent Toryism (not in terms of the party, but in terms of the ‘can’t do’ attitude and fundamentally oligarchic and reactionary orientation of political life).

If, on the other hand, they think that by voting No the London-based parties are going to swing around and offer something better, and that voting no will be a catalyst for progressive democratic reform across the UK, then ‘fools’ is not the only fit word for them, but it is the most polite word I can think of.