Friday, 6 February 2009

Who wants consensual politics?

Good to see Dave Maddox down at the Steamie loves the scent of political blood in his nostrils. The post titled "FMQs - end of the cosy consensus " - I can't find a way to link to just one post on the Steamie. I've always suspected that politics watchers get bored by the consensual stuff that goes on for 90% of the time in Parliament - good to have my suspicions confirmed.


Tha Tighin Fodham said...

The referendum following the Scotland Forward campaign resulted in an overwhelming consensus. Not merely for the creation of our own parliament, but far more importantly, for a political set-up whose style and substance differed markedly from those of Westminster. In short, I believe the people of Scotland sought a modern government pursuing progressive policies. Can you honestly say that Hollyrood offers anything remotely akin to the ideals demanded of it, from that yes yes vote? While it may serve as entertainment for those in the club or on the peripheries, to indulge in yah-boo politics; the sight of finger-jabbing pulpit preaching from our MSP's remind the rest of us that there is little difference between this jamboree and the tabloid politics of Westminster. Has it not occurred to SNP boffins, that the reasons for Labour's demise at the previous election was their continued old style politics. With legislation that habitually curbed personal freedoms, together with one-way moralising that deemed everyone other than themselves capable of making informed decisions, they offered anything but a progressive approach that reflected the tolerant canny nature of Scottish society. And so what happens when the SNP wins at the polls? They have as their most visible image a justice minister who promotes a policy of 'any screw Labour can turn, we can turn tighter'. This on the back of more than 3500 pervasive laws New Labour had passed. This puritanical lurch displayed by the SNP doesn't simply point to a lack of understanding of modern culture and modern outlook but underscores also a lack of imagination on the part of policy makers. And for my money represents a betrayal of what the people of Scotland voted for during the referendum. The truth is consensual politics has never been practised at Hollyrood, because we don't yet understand the nature of such an approach. So if you are suggesting that consensual politics be replaced with more and more puritanism, more finger-jabbing, then I'm afraid you are up the wrong dreel.

I'll take the opportunity here to ask if you regard your post on Gaza as contributing to the 10% consensual politics mentioned in this post? For most fair minded individuals, whether they take a rudimentary look at, or a more detailed analyses, the Palestinian conflict can be viewed in any light other than consensual. The analogy for a Nationalist couldn't be more stark. It would be like an English parliament invading Scotland and telling us that because we are European we can can find accommodation on the continent. OK that's the sanitised simile; the reality is far more grotesque. Consider a military junta occupying our land, going on to perpetuate a 50 year genocide, all the while telling the outside world that their eyes are deceiving them, even as we watch live footage. Now that's tabloid politics (not surprising given it's the Israeli Mafia) at it's most vulgar and dangerous. So why would you attempt to sit on the fence on this issue? Perhaps you don't know some of the key facts or haven't taken the time to understand the nature of the conflict? My advice to you is take the time to do just that. Then pick a side and wear it on your sleeve. That is if you wish to be taken seriously in politics!

Calum Cashley said...

OK, let’s start with where you’re demonstrably factually incorrect. My post referred to 90% consensus, not 10%. The 1997 referendum wasn’t consensus, it was majority rule; there was a vote and it was a deliberative consultative vote, not a confirmatory vote.

That vote was not on what form politics should take but on whether there should be a Scottish Parliament with a secondary vote on whether that Parliament should have a power to vary the basic rate of income tax by up to 3%. The detailed proposals were laid out in a White Paper which made it clear that the internal workings of Parliament were to be left to Parliament. It is not for any self-appointed arbiter of the public conscious to tell us what we were thinking when we went to vote in that referendum. Your interpretation of that vote is as valuable as anyone else’s but it remains just that - your interpretation - you don’t have the right to impose that on anyone else.

I voted a double positive in that referendum full in the hope that debate in Parliament would be full-blooded and comprehensive so that the policy outcomes which affect my country are properly tested in the furnace of debate and properly scrutinised in committee before they are launched. Week after week on the doorsteps I find that there is a substantial majority of the electorate in Edinburgh North and Leith in agreement and I’m told that we have similar responses elsewhere in the country. Scotland is energised by good political debate but is ill-served by the Holy Willies who can’t wait to preach about politicians but don’t have anything of their own to offer.

Your pen picture of Kenny MacAskill is a prime example - a lack of any sensible analysis of what he has done allied to a simplistic and erroneous complaint about the direction of travel of Justice policy. For MacAskill to be trying to outdo Labour he would have had to be increasing the use of ASBOs; encouraging an increase in short, sharp shock prison sentences; introducing more mandatory prison sentences, thus undermining the courts; he’d have to be in favour of ID cards; against immigration; he’d have to be seeing prison as an answer to crime instead of a creator of recidivism; and he’d have to be the kind of guy who saw offenders as some kind of evil breed rather than, as he has made clear, all too often young people with problems that need resolved. The fact that both Labour and the Conservatives accuse him of being too liberal would suggest that you are wrong. In passing, you described laws made by the Labour Government as ‘pervasive’ - laws should be pervasive or you don’t have much of a legal system. Are you sure pervasive was the word you wanted to use? Similarly, you make an accusation of Puritanism - I suspect you mean puritanical - and there are no evident puritanical streaks in any of the mainstream Scottish parties.

In answer to your question about an earlier post, I don’t think my blog forms part of the proceedings of the Scottish Parliament so none of the posts can form part of the proceedings.

My post on Gaza outlined my opinion that there had been a failure on all sides - including those countries who have spent the last few years imposing our will around the world and those supranational organisations which could be expected to have a role in seeking peace. Your fatuous comparison of the conflict in Gaza to the relationship between Scotland and England is as insulting to Scots and English as it is to Israelis and Palestinians, and ignores the suffering of those on both sides of that conflict. It’s not a conflict that can be resolved by adopting the keffiyeh and taking to the streets to throw shoes at the US Consul in Edinburgh any more than it can be resolved by accusing those street sages of anti-semitism.

Your strange suggestion that I don’t know what I’m talking about because I don’t agree with you is a poor example of yah-boo debate which is immediately undermined by you “Israeli Mafia” comment. You might want to take some time to read contributions by people who are quite clearly more knowledgeable than you are on the subject. You might want to read Rabbi Michael Lerner saying that Israel is wrong or perhaps you might have a look at the life and work of Aziz Shehadeh who opposed Jordanian annexation of the West Bank and proposed the independent Palestinian state living in peace with Israel. Read Ha’aretz, perhaps or the Palestine Chronicle

Pick a side and wear it on your sleeve you say. I pick peace - who do you pick?