Tuesday, 15 December 2009

In Defence of Anonimity

As a matter of personal choice I am 100% in favour of Scotland gaining its independence.

There's nothing xenophobic in this reasoning. As an island race or as world citizens we share the same flaws and graces that gnaw and disturb the consciences of all human society. Scotland gaining its independence I see as granting five million people the opportunity to radically redefine the quality, competence, moral values and responsibilities of their democratic governance.

To this end, I often blog on related sites and occasionally on the Scottish newspapers which generally are biased beyond the tipping point of vitriol against independence. But with circulation figures below100k in total the two papers involved can no longer regard themselves as anything other than purveyors of establishment views. In a slightly different category and as a supporter of independence there is the weekly broadsheet the Scots Independent. Perhaps surprisingly it is an article in the latter that has led me to comment in the following manner.

The article in question is authored by a Mr Jamie Hepburn who I believe is a SNP member of the Scottish Parliament. It relates to recent events in the blogger sphere where some individual were 'outed' from the anonymity of their blog nom-de-plumes and, in one case at least, exposed as a peripheral employee of an SNP parliamentary minister. His critique of that case seems to be based on the exposure of inside knowledge to the free-for-all of the Internet is not the done political thing. Leastwise, while it may be done in the club, it shouldn't be aired outside it? Sounds a bit to me like Swinger Club rules - something not entirely compatible with open governance.

But, and in an even more patronising manner, he advocates that all bloggers of an independent persuasion should blog in a more circumspect manner! Why on earth should he want that when the very essence of the blogger sphere is the immediacy of the responses to whatever generates them. When a spade's called a spade, linguistically it's perfectly described with economic and pinpoint accuracy. Call it an instrument for the manual removal or redistribution of soil or loose compounds and your left with a confusion of possibilities from a spoon to an earth mover. Obfuscation is already well practiced and heavily employed in the political industry of Westminster; what possesses him to believe we want it employed in Scottish governance?

As to hiding behind anonymity. Our amateur status gives us a right to that. Mostly we seek to gain neither status, money nor celebrity but to put a shoulder to the wheel of independence. The glory we leave to you the professionals but we 're only too aware that often that professionalism sets as elitism instead of excellence and hides its failings behind the skirts of excuse.

So take us as you find us, elucidate where there's misunderstanding, remove the ache of frustration with objectives. But patronise, and you will be guilty of the same institutional hypocrisy as practiced by governments, unions and establishments throughout the life of this dysfunctional union.

Finally, while it has taken thirty years for the SNP to gain the ground it could have had with better intelligence, it has definitely earned the right to fight for Scotland's independence. As yet it has still to earn the right to govern an independent Scotland.

Democracy: Macaque Style.

The Macaque connection came to me when watching, in my usual semi somnolent state, a recent BBC 'Life' programme.

Seemingly the Japanese Macaque Monkeys are the most northerly societies of any primate species other than man. But, not only do these choose to live in the Northern latitudes they seem to add masochism to their winter misery by adopting the Japanese Alps as their natural plot, where temperatures of minus 15c have to be endured and the ravages to the young, old and unfit were simply part of natures cruel selection.

Until, that is, the camera swung on to the hot pools. There in the same vicinity you saw Macaque's languishing in luxurious warmth. Faces basked in utter contentment; smug in their meditative comfort, their aristocratic birthright. No they don't share the pool. They have developed a hierarchy, a pecking order of haves and have not's. Those that are in the pool can come and go as they please. But their miserable cousins, huddled in their icy misery face death if they attempt to dip their toe in.

Strategically the numbers outside the pool were far greater than those in it - though that wasn't down to any lack of capacity - so the result of any attack would have seen the pool with new tenants. And, whether by arrogance or ignorance, the current occupiers didn't seem to be concerned by this potential threat. Perhaps their indolence will eventually expose itself as idiocy through self imposed interbreeding restrictions of the genes in their pool. Perhaps after another couple of thousand years of evolution the Macaques will be sharing the pool. Or perhaps not. Maybe the have not's will go on casting envious eyes; knowing what could be, but denying their ability to make it happen because its never been.

Perhaps the state of Macaque society is an apposite observation on the evolution of human society under democracy, Westminster, or even Western style with its hierarchical control of its power thermal pools. Or, is the acceptance of hierarchies hard wired into our primate genealogy?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Today we call it lateral thinking. It is the ability to analyse, adjust and expand an observation beyond the matter which brought it to the observers attention and for its projection to be valued as to its purpose and possibilities.

Samuel Johnson was a lateral thinker. In his journey round Scotland he noted, 'the Scots were more frugal with their glass than were the English.' An observation more in the 'bland' than the 'eureka' category but nevertheless it was a catalyst that led to him adjusting his perspective on social progress as being truly measured by the small advances of the many.

Johnson writes,"But it must be remembered that life consists not of a series of illustrious actions, or elegant enjoyments; the greater part of our time passes in compliance with necessities, in the performance of daily duties, in the removal of small inconveniences, in the procurement of petty pleasures........ The true state of every nation is the state of common life. The manners of a people are not to be found in the schools of learning, or the palaces of greatness...... they whose aggregate constitutes the people, are found in the streets and the villages, in the shops and farms: and from them collectively considered, must the measure of general prosperity be taken. As the approach to delicacy a nation is refined, as their conveniences are multiplied, a nation, at least a commercial nation, must be denominated wealthy."

So, what is the true state of that common life today? And, if, and that's a questionable 'if', the quantity of glass has been equalised through the Union, has its quality or clarity?

We know that Gordon Browns premiership has been jinxed by failure. By choice, a political geek, he's climbed the mucous greased slopes of party politics only to fail in the two positions that held any real power. His, and the party he represents 'illustrious actions and elegant enjoyments' have had less substance or purpose than the proverbial fart in a ballroom. Unfortunately the precision of the toxicity meters have ordered the ballroom be emptied and decontaminated.

His, and his predecessors, time in office, have done nothing to raise the 'delicacies and conveniences of the common man' as Johnson put it. In fact, given that the 'common' man is considered Labour's core right to exist as a political party, it's arguable that in both their ideological role and their executive abilities they're not fit for purpose. And when you consider the resources, power, opportunities and diversities offered by helming the ship of state, that's a pretty damning indictment.

Of the Blair/ Brown era there's - the failure to radically amend the House of Free Loaders (TB) - the proliferation of stealth taxes(GB) - (The raid on pension funds, when it was already obvious few would meet their promises to the investors.(GB) An illegal war to back an idiot over a egomaniac. (TB) The removal of the 10p tax rate in a manner which increased the taxes of the lowest earners by 100%, while benefiting the better off. (GB) The Iron Chancellor who had banished Boom & Bust until the bust came back and chewed off his prudence, exposing his ignorance.(GB) You could add to that the expense scandal but on the scale of woes, that's more puke-making than terminal.

While by now we should all see Blair in his true colours - I'm a celebrity; get me into there - Brown, we thought, had a bit more going for him. Less spin and sin. More of the what you see and hear, is what you'll get idiom. But when you look back over the years from 97 and consider his record, you have to ask. Did he ever understand and command the responsibilities of the positions he held. Were the decisions his, or was he just a front man sipping from chalice's filled by his mandarins? It's a fair question, albeit without an answer favourable to Brown.

There is however one thorn Brown is desperate not to have to add to his crown of judgement. One that is cast as a minor irritant to a colossus of world politics and may yet prove to be his nemesis. That is the breakup of the dysfunctional Westminster union by Scotland declaring its independence.

To prevent that he will use every trick he and the establishment mandarins can think of irrespective of costs, legitimacy or legality, though hopefully short of war..... Here's an example.

It was soon emphasised during the meltdown crises the lame duck role's being allocated and heavily publicised to the two major banks that were unfortunate enough to have the word 'Scotland' included in their name.

While there's no doubt both of these banks were guilty as any of the others of being blinded by their own bullshit, there's no reason to believe they could be that much worse than the exposures of Barclay's, Lloyds or HSBC.

Barclay's we're told managed to refinance from sources in the far and middle east. Not only that
but Barclay's, having been refused permission to buy Lehman outright, managed to raise 1.5 bn to buy the viable part?

On the Lloyds and HBoS fiasco of cocktails over winks and nudges, we've listened to the script, but whether we find it believable time will tell.

HSBC have managed, until this Dubai wobble at least, to keep below the radar the charity offered or accepted from the public purse?

But the Scottish banks. Every billion invested in RBS and HBoS. Every problem the absorbtion of HBoS is causing Lloyds. Any outcry at bonuses are directed at RBS. We are told so desperate is the position at RBS that the new CEO is offered a £10m thank you if he can get it's share price back up around the £1?

Last week it was headlined throughout the mediocre media that RBS and HBoS got billions in secret bailouts. Turns out they were given bridging loans when the panic first set in and the loans were as much a saver to the governments position as they were to the banks, who paid dearly for them.

The pertinent question was put by the Channel 4 newsreader when he asked Lord Myners - "Were similar payments made to any other banks during this period?" Lord Myners refused to answer. Pressed several times he would neither confirm or deny; so given the usual position of government, we can take that as a yes.

So why the constraint in admitting there were funds loaned to the other banks. Is it for commercial reasons? Who were these financial angels who bailed out Barclay's? The world of finance is well practiced in fogging the maze of money sources and transfers. Could the funds enjoyed by Barclays, HSBC even Lloyds not have sourced from the same treasury pot under a false flag label?

Given that all the banks were in deep dodo and panic was the order of the day, were some allowed the luxury of options and others not?

Or was it simply the squeezing of the 'Scotland' word along with the mantra of - Now's not the time to bother with independence, we must concentrate on getting out of the recession - is the only remaining debris Labour could cling to from the wreck of the SS UK.

Today we are told by the National Audit Office the cost to date of the bank meltdown is £850bn - a figure likely to rise and it probably doesn't include the cost of welfare/benefits to the unemployed etc - how much of that £850bn went to RBS or HBoS, most, all or some of it?

Answers on a post card please. But don't put an X on any of them; Labour may use them to boost their postal ratings in order to award us with another five years of their illustrious actions and elegant enjoyments.