Originally posted on The Practical Subversive.
There really aren’t any words to convey the horror of Friday night’s events in Paris. Nothing can justify the actions of the terrorists, gunning down innocent people as they enjoy a night out.
I know some people have been calling others selectively sympathetic, when they pour out grief and solidarity over events in Paris, while ignoring similar atrocities in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and countless other places around the world.
I don’t really think that’s an argument worth having. It doesn’t help me understand the situation the world, all of us, find ourselves in. Trying to score who’s-the-most-compassionate-points really won’t take us anywhere. It’s discussed from an Australian perspective here.
Still, I’m certain that we can’t let these events be turned into an excuse for bigots and racists to give vent to their prejudices. This, for example is shameful and despicable.
Instead of reacting, I’ve been trying to understand. Asking, Why?
This is my essential piece of 21st century vocabulary. I first saw the term used in what was, very briefly, futurology. The term originated, according to the Net, in banking in the 1960’s as a description for removing a single layer of mediation between lender and borrower. It is a well established term in Economics, and I am surprised at its lack of popularity in describing the process of disseminating information (see Wikipedia) and shortening the supply chain (see Amazon).
Just a wee while ago, before the Protestant reformation, information about Christianity was exclusively controlled and interpreted by the Catholic church. The Reformation changed the politics of information. In Scotland it reached its apogee with the Calvinist idea that a personal relationship with God required people to read the Bible for themselves. So everyone had to learn how to read. It was you, the book and God, no need for the expensive bejewelled intermediaries. But it was the “everybody reading” that was the real political dynamite.
Early thoughts on the 2015 General Election
• SNP sweep Scotland, a seismic shift, winning 56 out of 59 seats, and missing out on the other 3 by a total of 4255 votes
• A historic landslide, winning 50% (1,454,436) of votes across Scotland, the largest vote for one party in Scotland’s electoral history, with an average swing of around 24% and a record 39% swing in Glasgow North East
• Mhairi Black, 20, is the youngest MP elected since 1667
• at least 14 of the new SNP MPs signed Friends Of The Earth’s anti-fracking/unconventionals pledge
As the third largest party the SNP could exert some influence at ‘Westmonster’: they will have a presence on every All Party Parliamentary Group; multiple select committee memberships; speak on every motion; perhaps even hold the Secretary of State for Scotland post. The weak Smith Commission proposals now look more woefully inadequate than ever. Full Fiscal Autonomy may be on the agenda to avoid constitutional crisis in a delicate Union. The legitimacy aspect is pertinent: the Conservative Government has only one MP in Scotland.
Last week I set off from Aberdeen for Brussels with my Kilted Comrades Alistair and Martin to protest against TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). This was to be the 8th round of negotiations on TTIP – the first with the new Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström – focusing on regulations and standards. I was one of a dozen or so Scots amongst a UK contingent of over 140; a really diverse group of activists, young and old, male and female, representing amongst others 38 Degrees, Global Justice Now, War On Want, and Friends Of The Earth.
The Scottish Government and National Records of Scotland (NRS) are proposing amendments to the National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR) (Scotland) Regulations 2006; an electronic database of everyone in Scotland registered with a GP, containing the names and addresses of around one third of the Scottish population. The proposals would allow the Register to hold extra postcode data, and for some data to be shared with around 120 other, publicly owned bodies. Amendments would also expand the creation and implementation of a Unique Citizen Reference Number (UCRN).
This is eerily similar to Labour’s scrapped 2006 Identity Cards Act, which the SNP had opposed. It’s quite probable that this latest revival is not malicious, but rather just misguided. It’s up to us to let the Scottish Government know they’re making a mistake.
The Scottish Government has asked for responses to the Land Reform Review Group’s recommendations.
Land Reform in Scotland is long overdue. We have fewer people owning more of the land than anywhere else in Europe. To describe the situation as Medieval is chronologically and politically accurate. The Land Reform Review Group’s recommendations are remarkably progressive, but not yet government policy.
The landowners have predictably spent a lot of money submitting their response, defending their privileges. We need as many people as possible to respond to counter their arguments.
Back in March, Aberdeen Council included an anti-independence message with the Council Tax letters sent to every resident in the city. We welcome last Friday’s announcement by the Public Standards Commission that seven senior councillors are being investigated for misuse of public funds in relation to the letters – and we’re proud to have been part of the process leading to the investigation.