Somewhere Over the Rainbow

ruby1

By Mark Smith

When the tornado drops Dorothy’s house in Oz, her front door swings open and reveals a radically new kind of reality. There, framed in the door, for both Dorothy and the viewer of the film, is, for the first time, colour. She walks out of her house, leaving behind the drab world of her Kansas farm, and enters into a bright, brilliant, almost overwhelmingly colourful scene. But, exhilarating though this new environment may be, Dorothy knows, deep down, that going home is what she really wants. Bright lights and eye-popping colours are not for a homely girl like her.

By the time she reaches the Emerald City, the colours begin to change. Oz has appeared as a land of infinite variegation, of dazzling golden paths and dangerous fields of bright red poppies, but almost everything in the Emerald City is green. A vestige of the colourful world outside the city is seen in the Horse of a Different Colour that takes Dorothy and her friends to get ready for their meeting with the wizard, but the overall impression of the place is of a single shade. And the closer Dorothy gets to the source of power, the darker and more ominous that shade becomes. We see this as the four friends walk nervously towards the wizard’s chamber, Dorothy’s blue and white dress offering the strongest contrast to her surroundings, where they meet the spectral, symbolic embodiment of power, the Great Oz, the leader who nobody has ever seen.

Dorothy’s journey, then, takes her from a place of seeming variety, of an endless riot of colour, to a monochromatic seat of political power. We don’t know exactly what kind of authority the Great Oz exerts over the lands outside his city, but his name suggests that he does have some kind political legitimacy for the people (and Munchkins) who live there. So perhaps this world of colour we see in Oz has the signature of the wizard on it somewhere. Although he is partial to green, he allows a world of apparent diversity to exist in his outlying environs.

This co-existence of variety and homogeneity provides a nice metaphor for both how capitalism operates (think of Apple’s multi-coloured IPods, the United Colours of Benetton, the Google logo), and, on a more local level, of how the current political scene presents itself to us. Contemporary global capitalism offers us constantly changing, endless variation, while at the same time becoming more and more hegemonic. As products continue to diversify, corporations get more and more powerful and unaccountable, and the gap between a small, wealthy elite and everybody else continues to grow. Just as Dorothy finds out that a land of constant multifariousness has, at its heart, a depressing, homogenous core, in the world today, the overpowering market created by Capitalism has it its heart an unseen world of boardrooms, corporate style guides, and giant towers of steel and glass. The world outside the centres of corporate power might look endlessly bright and enticing, but that variety is simply the sea-bed that gives that power something to hook its anchors into. Capitalism permits the appearance of diversity, while at the same time staving off the kind of real diversity that would bring about another way of producing the commodities we all need.

Variety and diversity are also firmly part of contemporary political life. Politicians like to talk up their understanding of “minorities”, and it is no longer an issue if a well-known politician is gay, or if a black person attains a high level of public office. Those on the right make some political ground by playing on deep-rooted, unconsciously racist fears about rampant multiculturalism, but one of the best things about this election campaign has been how ridiculous the likes of Nigel Farage have come to look. Despite the kind of right-wing nonsense peddled by UKIP, public life today is much more accepting of alternative identities and lifestyles than ever before. There are of course more battles to be won – on women’s rights, on the humane treatment of immigrants and so on – but we don’t live in a world of racist sit-coms and jokes about Pakistanis anymore (unless you are Nick Griffin sitting in your Union Jack boxers, swilling John Smith’s and catching up on your box-set of Love Thy Neighbour), and this, most sensible people would agree, is an entirely good thing. We’re all, hopefully, on a Yellow Brick Road to a more tolerant world, despite sweaty, pin-striped men wearing purple ties occasionally appearing and trying to set our friend the ethnic-minority scarecrow on fire.

A diversity of colours has been important in the current election campaign. Like most people who like to tell themselves how progressive they are, I have tried to expose my kids to some of the political debate going on at the moment. When the first televised leaders’ debate took place (the one Cameron did go to), I casually switched on the telly and, to my surprise, the kids showed some interest. One of the things that struck me was the way they immediately identified the people behind the podiums in terms of their respective colours. Who is the red one? Who is the blue on? And so on. The following conversation let them know that the red one wasn’t as red as he might be and that the yellow woman is a bit more red than him, and that should any praise go the way of the men at the blue or purple stands then supper or birthday presents could very well be withheld.

Despite the seeming diversity on offer in the campaign, however, when one of the so-called minority or fringe colours gets closer to the corridors of power, nerves begin to fray. Like Dorothy approaching the chamber of the Great Oz, when a new shade is introduced into a world that is willing to countenance the appearance of colour “out there”, and when one of those colours actually wants to come into the room and start having a say in how things are done, people start getting edgy.

The rhetoric heaped on the SNP recently has been severe. Tory “big-hitters” like Boris Johnson and John Major have come out to warn everybody how dangerous the party is, and the media (again, an environment which appears to be diverse) has joined in gleefully. The Scottish tail wagging the English dog. Nicola Sturgeon as King Herod. The SNP holding the country to ransom, and so on. None of this stuff is very clever, but it must be having an influence somewhere or politicians would stop doing it. What it comes down to, though, is the unwillingness of powerful people to really adhere to the liberal-democratic principles they set so much store by. Diversity is good because it lets a few Greenies witter on about climate change, and it’s even a good thing because it lets supposed mavericks like Farage have their say, but diversity seems less of a good thing when UK politicians see a sizeable bunch of moderately left of centre Scots who might have some influence on the UK’s economic and social policies for the next few years.

Extreme hatred of the SNP is hard to fathom when we remind ourselves that the party is, in fact, as the historian Neil Davidson puts it, only ‘the palest of pink’, and that the policies they are proposing, and those they have implemented in Scotland – free university, free prescriptions and so on – are firmly in social-democratic territory. (1)

But reading much of what is in the press about the SNP, you could be forgiven for thinking that that they are a bunch of card-carrying Stalinists who want to establish collective farms in the Cotswolds and prison camps on the Isle of Wight. The SNP are hardly radical leftists, but the visceral bile they seem to inspire shows us to what extent the UK political ship has drifted to the right. One of the reasons the SNP are doing well in Scotland is, very simply, that they are offering some kind of alternative to extreme neoliberal austerity, that they (alongside the Greens and Plaid Cymru) are saying that the destruction of public services and the slash-and-burn policies of the Tories are not the only ways of running the economy. These parties are saying that there are other ways to do things – that we don’t have to stigmatise immigrants, that we don’t have to cruelly hammer down on benefit claimants, that we can make some investments in infrastructure, that we don’t have make the gap between rich and poor grow ever more wide. The SNP have been a big influence in making these things part of the political conversation and, whatever happens on polling day, they deserve credit for doing so.

To go back to Oz for a moment, once Dorothy kills the witch, the wizard sets off in a hot-air balloon and leaves the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin-Man in charge of the country. Dorothy, in other words – the Dorothy who crept through the terrifying green corridors of power in her light blue gingham dress – seems to have brought about a political change. The wizard who, up until this point, has been a kind of Brother Number One figure (the name used by Pol Pot), an anonymous authority who exercises power without anybody seeing him, hands power to a group which seems to promise a more benign, collegial kind of regime. But what we don’t know, of course, is what the new leaders will do. Perhaps, with the opposition figure of the witch out of the way, the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin-Man will simply become Brothers Two, Three and Four, and reinforce the despotic principles of their predecessor. Perhaps the political system will shape them, rather than allowing them to really shape or alter it in any radical way. What, if anything, will they really be able to do?

If the SNP do end up having an influence in government, and I hope they do, they will probably not be able to do many of the things they want to do. They won’t, for example, be able to get enough votes in the Commons to get rid of Trident. And they probably won’t have enough votes to entirely reverse the hugely damaging economic policies the coalition has put in place during the last five years. But the central, crucial point is that, if the vote goes the way the polls are indicating, then a left of centre, anti-austerity party will have a significant presence in Westminster. They will have introduced a new colour, an alternative way of thinking, into the parliament, and this is surely a good thing. That the Labour party is facing a wipeout north of the border is largely because, for most people, they no longer represent any kind of alternative. Blue and red seem much the same. Jim Murphy might talk about anti-austerity, but nobody really believes him. Labour are still preferable to the Tories, right enough, but both parties would be at home in the hall of the Great Oz. Neither Ed Miliband or David Cameron is likely to appear as Dorothy, coming to the seat of power from another country and perhaps heralding some kind of shift in the political landscape.

If the SNP get a big part of the Scottish vote, we won’t, unfortunately, find ourselves living an independent socialist country, but hopefully the yellow on the Westminster benches will encourage other parties to incorporate new shades into their palettes. If the SNP can do something to influence the creation of a more humane kind of politics, if they can do something to mitigate the effects of seemingly hegemonic neoliberal austerity, then their election will signal an important shift in the picture of British politics we have got used to over the last few years. And then, when the time comes, they can head back to Kansas and concentrate on running the farm.

 

1. Neil Davidson, ‘A Scottish Watershed’ [http://newleftreview.org/II/89/neil-davidson-a-scottish-watershed]



Categories: Commentary

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43 replies

  1. Dear oh dear, where to begin.

    corporations get more and more powerful and unaccountable

    Corporations are accountable – to their shareholders. If a member of the general public or the public at large want to ‘hold them to account’ – stop buying their stuff.
    the gap between a small, wealthy elite and everybody else continues to grow.

    Rubbish. Globally, inequality is reducing. The gap between nations and within nations may be widening, but globally, the gap between the wealthy and everyone else is shrinking, as various forms of state regulated capitalism continues to lift millions out of poverty.

    Capitalism permits the appearance of diversity, while at the same time staving off the kind of real diversity that would bring about another way of producing the commodities we all need

    You mean like Socialism? As I’ve said before, a system that has failed to provide the quality of life and standard of living provided by state regulated capitalism, and is often a complete disaster, trapping millions in poverty underneath totalitarian or tyrannical regimes.

    unconsciously racist fears about rampant multiculturalism,

    It it not ‘racist’ to hold fears or express unhappiness about or opposition to ‘multiculturalism’ – which is not the same as ‘race’.

    Let’s be clear what we are talking about. ‘multiculturalism’ is the view that all cultures are valid and equal. They are not. Some cultures or aspects of various cultures are appalling, and should not be encouraged.
    Labour’s multiculturalist approach has been a complete failure, and has generated great tension, division and trouble.

    I AM going to play my ‘I have brown friends you know’ card here. One of our best friends are a Pakistani muslim couple (one a doctor, another a dentist, my wife’s a doctor, that’s how we met). Good, decent, civilised, lovely people. They are completely opposed to multiculturalism, because they respect this country, it’s people and its culture. They state openly that the UK is not an Islamic country, and if people want to live somewhere that the default culture is an Islamic culture, there are many countries around the world where they would be happy.

    despite sweaty, pin-striped men wearing purple ties occasionally appearing and trying to set our friend the ethnic-minority scarecrow on fire.

    Typical leftie shrieking hyperbole.

    should any praise go the way of the men at the blue or purple stands then supper or birthday presents could very well be withheld.

    This is what you teach your children? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    when one of those colours actually wants to come into the room and start having a say in how things are done, people start getting edgy.

    No.

    What it comes down to, though, is the unwillingness of powerful people to really adhere to the liberal-democratic principles they set so much store by.

    No.

    but diversity seems less of a good thing when UK politicians see a sizeable bunch of moderately left of centre Scots who might have some influence on the UK’s economic and social policies for the next few years.

    No.
    This is what is happening.

    the SNP have a stated aim of breaking up the uk there is a legitimate concern about the role of a party in a supply and confidence agreement with that agenda also having a significant influence on the smooth running of the country.

    the SNP have clearly stated they intend to have a position of control over labour through selective support or outright supply and confidence. If you’re a centre left labour voter then you might find yourself voting for a party that moves significantly further to the left then Ed currently represents.

    the SNP controls the Scottish parliament and Scots have a separate level of representation with wide and soon to be even wider powers that dilute or protect them from the effects of some uk legislation. The SNP in Westminster therefore could have a potentially deal making influence on uk legislation and then decide whether or not it gets passed through Scotland – there is an imbalance in representation for rUK voters.
    None of the above are silver bullets and certainly none a reason why the SNP shouldn’t sit in Westminster and exercise their votes as MPs. However they are reasons why voters might feel concern at the prospect of a labour-SNP deal.

    The rhetoric heaped on the SNP recently has been severe.

    No more or less severe than the rhetoric heaped on rUK by the SNP and their acolytes.

    The SNP have been a big influence in making these things part of the political conversation and, whatever happens on polling day, they deserve credit for doing so.

    No political party should be given credit for empty posturing and promising mermaids, unicorns for every citizen and ladders to the moon.

    If the SNP do end up having an influence in government, and I hope they do

    No chance. They are going to spend the next five years ranting, impotently, from the sidelines.
    And they probably won’t have enough votes to entirely reverse the hugely damaging economic policies the coalition has put in place during the last five years.

    If that’s the case, and what the people say and want is what really matters, then why do more people trust the current government with the economy than anyone else?

    We have one of the fastest growing economies in the western world and employment continues to rise. Confidence continues to build. Of course, for the Left, this is ‘the wrong kind of growth’, ‘the wrong kind of jobs’ etc etc.

    Or perhaps someone will now jump in with the fairy story hat there won’t be a need to increase taxes across the board to fund the scandi nordic services in the magical egalitarian land of Scotland. The economy will magically out-grow that of every other mature western economy (including Germany and the nordic utopias) while at the same time taxes will be reduced, AND provide more public spending and services.
    It will be achieved simply because of the (hitherto repressed by the evil English) egalitarianism, ingenuity and downright magical qualities of Scotland and the Scottish People, ‘who won’t be done down anymore’ etc. etc. Nicola knows this bubble might burst, so now it’s all about ‘productivity’, smoothed over with soothing noises to the left in case they think they are being told to work longer and harder.
    a significant presence in Westminster.

    Yes, Mhairi ‘ned’ Black swinging from the rafters, screaming. So ‘progressive’.

    If the SNP get a big part of the Scottish vote, we won’t, unfortunately, find ourselves living an independent socialist country

    You will never, ever find yourselves living in an independent socialist country in Scotland. Only a tiny proportion / absolute number of bitter, angry malcontent nutters are interested in Socialism in Scotland – just like in England / rUK.

    You won’t even ever find yourself living in an independent social democratic country.

    Consider the nordic social democratic utopia of Denmark. just about EVERYBODY pays, and pays more tax. Tax revenue as a % of GDP is 49%. Across the UK, since 1945, it’s been stuck at around 35% (39% now, under the Tories! though there are complex reasons for that). this is across governments, prime ministers.
    So there is a structural and / or societal reason why no UK government can get it up beyond 35% ish. Which is, nobody wants to pay. Because everyone says, ‘don’t tax me, tax THEM, TAX THE RICH!!! etc. etc.
    Unfortunately, when it comes to paying more tax, every UK and Scottish social attitudes survey says the same thing – across the board, people are not prepared to pay more tax. People consistently vote for the same / reduced taxes alongside increased public spending.

    And then, when the time comes, they can head back to Kansas and concentrate on running the farm.
    Can’t come soon enough. I was bitterly disappointed not to find a commitment to IndyRef 2 in the SNP manifesto.

    Indyref 2 now.

    Or better still, Darien’s UDI. Give us all a good laugh. I’ll want popcorn.

    • *Sigh*

      Welcome back, Corporatist Hell.

    • Typical Unionist diatribe!Complete and utter crap,”Perfidious Albion”and its pathetic scare stories,Appro.your avatar, why hide your real name or are you to insecure to state your own name!

    • Mr Moonies,

      I tried, I really did try, to go through your post line by line and make sense of it, to summarise it in some way but alas, it just appears as a rant (and not a very well planned rant either…but then are rants ever well thought out I wonder, or are they just an outburst of long-held opinions without any thought given to challenging those opinions in the mind of the ranter?)

      Anyway, the evaluation:
      The rant starts with condescension (tip: you could have included a bracketed [sigh] for greater effect, as JBS so effectively shows us), moves swiftly to claptrap, erects a couple of straw men to be knocked down and then makes a wide-ranging and inaccurate assumption (you let yourself down a bit there). However, you quickly recovered with an, albeit misguided, attempt at humour/self-deprecation (good to see this, you’re improving) but then begins to fade rather rapidly (were you becoming bored? Was something good on the telly?) and includes much, much more of what can only be described as drivel (really, what were you thinking?). Perhaps your medication wore off around this point as Mr Angry-Intolerant get his head above the parapet and starts shouting rather a lot (have we not discussed this before, the need to maintain a consistent dialogue and sustain your train of thought?) before heading off into denial and fingers-in-the-ears-la-la-la mode. There was a flourish towards the end but unfortunately the navel-gazing lack of ambition and hope took hold and it ended up reading more like a tantrum than a rant (did you have to wipe the spittle off your monitor and keyboard afterwards?).

      Tip: a brown person I know tells me there are some excellent courses available on how to handle change, and I reckon the current fashion for mindfulness might prove helpful to you.

      All in all, could do better. 3/10.
      PS on the plus side it means I don’t have to go anywhere else to see how you lot think so that’s good.

      • Just scroll past him. Since it is Corporatist Hell with a new alias, he will be regurgitating the usual rants. I wouldn’t waste time with his stuff since it just chugs off the conveyor belt with boring repetition. Over and over and over again. I don’t know what he gets out of it. Perhaps he just wants attention, or perhaps it’s therapy? Perhaps in his own head he imagines that we cower in awe at his opinions and stunned with his brilliant insights will stagger back in horror at our wretched state and be led back to the light? ( Though actually I think he just wants us to be stunned.)

        A quick skim over his opening remarks told me that he was Corporatist Hell in another guise so thankfully, skipped the rest. It’s as well to leave him to shout to himself but it appears with a new nomenclature, he hoped to lure in unsuspecting new readers. Beware, therein lies – well not madness, but sheer boredom.

        • Oh JGedd if only I had read your comment first I would have spared myself the agony of trying to make sense of those Unionist ramblings. I’m reading this on my phone & every time I scrolled down the page I thought “please please let this line be the last.”

          Still, we learn from experience, and I won’t make the same mistake a second time! 🙂

  2. Well said that man.
    Hello, I represent the Lollipop King.
    Many years ago the Wicked Witch of the South started dropping houses all over the land to increase property ownership at the expense of the peoples council homes.
    Her attack on civil society and breaking of the social contract made many of the people addicted to property ownership and consumerism. Many believed in her and still do, like they are asleep in a field of beautiful poppies but who will wake up one day and realise what an evil crone she really was and that they were now debt slaves due to her weak but evil chancellors. She was particularly cruel to the Munchkins of the North and soon many of them had no work because she destroyed their industrial heartlands and squandered their mineral wealth on her acolytes from Yuppieland.
    The land itself became a commodity, no wonder those trees were angry, like many places, their beautiful forest was now a green field site.
    Glass palaces began to rise on the River Thames, and the Witch and her cronies filled it with people from Yuppieland who were the only ones with maps for the yellow brick road and who liked putting expensive white powder up their noses and wearing braces to take the weight of all the stolen wealth in their trouser pockets.

    People hoped the Wizard of Oz would oppose her but even he fell under her spell, and when the people realised what he done he fucked off in a hot air balloon to lecture around the world for extortionate rates forgetting his people while continuing to praise to works of the Wicked Witch.
    Now its up to the Munchkins of the North to point the way and share those maps among the people of Oz and of Munchkinland so that they all may one day prosper and care for the land and each other, though separately I hope, we dont want to chance that all happening again!

    Mark,you’ve created a monster.

  3. Interesting to note the parallels between the wizard of oz and monetary reform. L Frank Baum was believed to be a money reformer. Bills Still’s film is well worth a watch..

  4. Dear Corporate Hell, aka Moony.

    It’s good to see you back. I need to be reminded of Daily Mail editorials, or David Starkey.

    Your spittle flecked rant says so much (and so little) that I admit I am defeated by your cloaca maxima.. So that’s one up for you.

    Your instinctive undemocratic rightwingery is a waste of time to oppose with reason, because your views come from a dark pre-Enlightenment place. Yet you have combined this with a neocon venom which is remarkable. How do you do it? Have you been reading a lot of Donald Rumsfeld?

    Yet I praise Big Beautiful Bella for letting you post. I was never one for banning the likes of you. I prefer to see your ‘argument’ dismantled each time you get on your milk crate.

  5. Naughty naughty. You’ve just been found out talking through your arse, and are now a laughing stock for anyone reading this thread. Well done. And you managed it sooo well without help.
    “Consider the nordic social democratic utopia of Denmark. just about EVERYBODY pays, and pays more tax. Tax revenue as a % of GDP is 49%. Across the UK, since 1945, it’s been stuck at around 35% (39% now, under the Tories! though there are complex reasons for that). this is across governments, prime ministers”.
    The individual pays higher taxes in Denmark, but Denmark has only one fixed rate of tax! No stealth taxes and no hidden taxes. Include the Uk’s stealth taxes and hidden taxes, and you will find that there is not much, if any difference. The wages are also much higher in Denmark thus the tax take doesn’t hurt. The Corporations pay taxes ; businesses pay taxes, thus public services function well and are first class because they get more resources. Look at nearly every table you can find and you will see Denmark is normally at the top.
    Denmark doesn’t starve and humiliate its sick and disabled, Denmark’s elected officials do not abuse and murder children, They do not have houses bought and renovated for them at the expense of the taxpayer. Denmark has a free and independent media, which informs its citizens instead of trying to manipulate them. Denmark has (like most modern democracies in the developed world) less inequality. Denmark has a written constitution. Denmark has a bill of rights for its citizens. Denmark has an elected upper house. Denmark doesn’t have widespread election fraud.
    You call the above a socialist utopia. Bad news for you. It’s only a well functioning moderne democracy.

    • Denmark has minimum 42% personal taxation up to 60% for higher rate

      It also has 25% VAT

      Corporation tax is 24% dropping to 22% by 2016

      If the Danes are happy with this and it is clearly working for them so good luck…but i don’t see the SNP rushing to propose the same….maybe they don’t want a well functioning modern democracy either and only want to abuse and murder children like all the other parties

  6. Above I addressed Glazed Eyed Moonies (CH) not Mooney.

    The article is excellent. It is realistic and optimistic about the direction of travel the SNP is on. The last paragraph says much and I fully agree with it.

    Labour has long ago thrown in the towel and turned away from its origins in the people. Labour supporters are left in the main with expenses fiddling Blairite carpetbaggers (Murphy) and Labour shapeshifters who follow any political fashion in order to gain office. Labour has long been an English and not a British or Scots party, so there is no loss to Scots progressives in letting them go.

    • Let’s not say anything about the SNP (seats pre-Devolution, about 6) usurping (seats post-Devolution, many more) the Devolution Labour introduced. Did someone say something about ‘stabbing in the back’?

      • When you say ‘stabbed in the back’ do you mean that the Scottish people have stabbed Labour in the back?

        Do you mean that the Scottish people should be eternally grateful to Labour for the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government, and that because of this they should always vote Labour at both Westminster and Holyrood elections?

        Do you mean that the people of Scotland have a moral duty to vote for the Labour Party in all elections, and if they do not do so they are failing in that duty?

  7. Just for fun here’s a social. psychological commentary some may remember from a wasted youth:

  8. Look its not fair but the reality is this…the government is spending more than it raise in taxes. There is two solutions…you tax more and spend the same or you spend less and keep tax the same.

    No I’m not going to pretend that my sensibilities don’t lean to spending less but you know if you disagree and prefer to tax more that is a valid argument and I look forward to discussing it forcefully but respectfully with you on another thread

    My problem with the SNP and this article is they claim to be against “neoliberal austerity” and other student union buzzwords and disagree with spending less but refuse to say that they will raise taxes to pay for it

    Oh sorry…except on the rich…who whether you like it or not and whether its fair or not can afford expensive accountants to game the tax system or leave the country

  9. Bella, the ratio on your site of comment pieces on Scottish indie to international is about 99/1.

    I understand that the pro indie slant is your core readership, but there is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in North Africa at the moment and the EU are trying to send refugees from a regional war which Britain, Spain and France helped to start back to a war zone…presumably as Beethoven’s Ninth plays in the background…

    Am I the only one who thinks that Scottish indie is over commented on by now? Is there really that much to say about it by now?

    What about the millions of Syrian and Libyan refugees who are being turned away by the European Union as we speak? The ones who didn’t drown that is.

    When Europe went through two world wars, both North and South American countries took in millions of European refugees. We are sending women and children, the elderly and the sick, back to war zones our own European States created. Where is our sense of responsibility?

    I detest the EU and would gladly hand in my “EU citizenship” – another Brussels joke – and apply for African citizenship instead.

    The free press and the traditional media have one thing in common: they don’y seem to occupy themselves with anything outside of these Isles, unless to reinforce a domestic agenda.,

    I feel ashamed to be a “European” these days, and want nothing more to do with that cabal of money obsessed cruel and heartless Philistines known as “the European Union”….well, I am for a disunited Europe, one which bitterly criticizes those bourgeois European bankers who wrap themselves in the flag of European culture and have not the slightest interest in ethics or Enlightenment…

    Europe, the continent of The Rights of Man, of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality…not to mention “The International”…turning away refugees from a war zone…what an absolute disgrace…..

    • Hi Douglas – I agree with you. We’re trying to extend coverage and draw on our contacts abroad to report on the rest of the world. Watch this space.

      • What do you agree with, Bella?

        Do you oppose the EU which has despite its many serious faults been better for Scotland than Westminster? Don’t you think that Scotland should retake its place on the European continent?

        Do you recognise the roots that Scotland has in Europe, in law and learning?

        What do you agree with Bella? Tell us.

        • No – I agree with Douglas’s point that we should have more international reporting and perspective, I wasn’t responding to Douglas’s specific other points

    • The tragedy of trafficking in the med has been going on for a decade.
      The bbc choose to highlight it in the run in to the election to rile up liberals and bait a few loose comments from loud mouthed ukip councillors who might retweet jokes about it on twitter.
      The bbc has been successful on both counts.

      • Eh, I don’t have a TV to watch the BBC….Jeremy Clarkson? I don’t know who the man is…

        To frame the issue in terms of “trafficking” is exactly the racist bullshit cant the EU and the BBC parrot ad nauseum, to make it sound like there are just a few bad apples responsible for 5 million Syrian refugees trying to get to a safe haven. Did they call it that when European exiles were making for America in their millions in the 30’s and 40’s? No, they didn’t. Funny that, the Europena cultural superiority complex runs deep…we Europeans emigrate, the Africans are “trafficked”….

        Nigel Farage is a racist bigot. I am a Europhile who sees a very noble project taken over by a bunch of neo-liberal barbarians. I propose the European People’s Alliance, which would see European assemblies in every European country, with full voting rights for all Europeans instead of the neo-fascist European Union….

        • ”I am a Europhile who sees a very noble project taken over by a bunch of neo-liberal barbarians.”

          Good man yersel’ Douglas.

          Let’s take our place in Europe as we used to do.And fix the shit that’s going down.

        • I should imagine it takes anyone an enormous amount of fear of their present circumstances to give up all their investment in that society and jump onto a wee boat. Y’know, like being killed. I hope I am never put in that dilemma, which is, frankly a Hobsons choice.

          It is a disgusting surrender to the ‘Fortress Europe’, strategy to describe people in such dire straits as being “trafficked”. They are folk, affeared for their lives, who we can afford to shelter and who will, very shortly, contribute more to the society they join than they ever did to the society they left.

          There is a history of emmigration, led mainly by voracious Anglo / Saxon / Celts that completely unbalanced the world. Yet we and our continental close cousins squeel when it is for humanitarian reasons in t’other direction?

          It seems to me that one side of this discussion has a moral arguement, t’other a specious economic one.

          • Why would you highlight the emigration of Anglo / Saxons / Celts? The whole history of humankind is the history of emigration…human emerged from Africa about 30,000 years ago….the history of Europe is the history of migration….the Germanic tribes from Portugal to Edinburgh? The Arabs in Spain for 800 years? The Europeans in America?

            You know, the more time goes by, the more I am convinced the SNP are offering no real change at all. Keep the pound and the Queen. Aye, right!!! I’m no voting for that crap, sorry SNP people!!!

            You guys vote for it, there are enough of you….if the SNP were a political party worth supporting, their Euro MPS would resign their seats tomorrow…

            All the energy we have now is being wasted on party politics….a complete waste of time….

  10. I’m not buying that old chestnut. Taxes do not have to be raised to end austerity. Getting rid of trident has just saved 100 billion. Reforming the tax system and making it fit for purpose, by making sure the large corporations and companies pay taxes would raise billions. Putting an end once and for all to the Westminster gravy train. Investing in jobs and education would attract companies, help create jobs, increase the tax intake and lower the amount of people claiming benefits. Stop invading and bombing other countries. Cut out corruption at local Council level, Put a cap on rents thus making housing affordable and saving billions on housing benefits. Get rid of the quangos which are costing the country billions and most of which are self licking ice creams. Political reform would help cut down waste and corruption to manageable levels. Cut down the insane amount of embassies we have. We are no longer an empire and don’t need them. Making use of some the savings above, we could begin to reduce our debt thus saving billions on interest payments The above is just for starters, has ended austerity and taxes haven’t been raised by a penny! .

    • Erm…basically exactly what I said…spend less and u don’t have to raise taxes. Only your cuts are ‘good’ ones and those proposed by other parties are ‘bad’ ones

      The trident renewal is big chunk of change..no doubt…but its basically a one off up front 100 billion cost….NHS spending is 100billion a year and rising. Social services 190 billion – education 77billion. There’s 3/4 of govt spending right there…so sorry but if you freeze or increase those budgets your not gonna balance the books without raising taxes

      • The well named ‘Dunderheid’ exactly displays the Jekyll and Hyde, East/West nature of Scotland.
        D/heid says spend less, reduce taxes. Then says spend 100billion on Trident, it’s only a one off. Nae bother.

        Mammy Daddy!

        Can anyone help Dunderheid? Can you recommend any good medication? Or a long retreat at Samye Ling?

        Anyone, please?

        In Dunderheid land, no-one can hear you scream…

        • Cogent reasoned argument “Hey Plater”…its like Demosthenes has been re-incarnated…

          if you read what i said…i never denied 100billion is not a huge amount of money and you know there is a great debate to be had about whether we should spend that amount of money on something we fervently hope never to have to use. My point was it was like a house…the cost is huge but you pay it off over a period of time…and a few billion a year (still big numbers…no doubt) is dwarfed by the +/-360 billion spent on health, social security and education a year

          • Don’t knock ‘stutterer Demosthenes” with the pebble in his mouth . If I were the reincarnation of that Mediterranean punter I’d be h-h-h-happy.

            All I said in effect was that you said you want to cut spending on social matters – on the wealth producers. But then you say you want to spend on Trident.

            End of….

  11. I’m afraid I don’t agree with your comment. How would freezing budgets lead to tax increases?
    We would have increased tax revenue from the creation of more jobs. The cost to the taxpayer of social security benefits would be reduced by having more people in employment.
    The savings on quangos is a larger saving than trident, and a saving which could be made every year.
    The billions spent lining the pockets of rouge landlords would be billions saved every year.
    The savings made by stopping the constant invading and bombing of other countries would make savings year on year.
    Closing the tax loopholes and pursuing the corporations and large companies for taxes liable would raise billions in tax revenue, again year on year. An end to handing out huge subsidies and handouts to large companies would save billions annually. Employers being made to pay decent wages would save billions on tax credits, increase retail spending, which in turn increases production, which in turn increases tax revenue and decreases the costs of benefits payments, again a gift which just keeps giving.
    As for the NHS. Billions are wasted every year on bad management and corruption. Billions every year are going in to the pockets of private companies, hospital trusts and bumper salaries and bonuses. The spiraling costs to the NHS are deliberate. Make sure the costs rise annually and you have the perfect excuse to privatize it. The private health companies then donate to the various parties in order to lobby for more privatization. This is actually happening and has already been proved and documented for.

    • People like the govt not being involved directly in some decisions hence quangos (such as Charity Commission; Racial Equality Commission; National Trust) so good luck getting rid of those

      rogue landlords….yeah billions…yeah

      tax loopholes and business taxes….you raise business taxes…businesses leave (maybe to another small Celtic country beloved of nationalists where corp tax is 12.5%)…not fair but true..the world is small place and national loyalties are not what they used to be

      making employers raise wages… only works if you make them keep all their employees

      NHS…spiralling costs…nothing to do with an aging population who smoked, drank and ate without any thought to the consequences…all to do with big bad corporations. Every developed country in the world has seen rising healthcare costs (with UK on the low end at 4.5% since 2010 vs 7% for France, Germany, Canada).. a big BUPA global conspiracy perhaps

  12. The SNP “want to establish collective farms in the Cotswolds and prison camps on the Isle of Wight”. What a fantastic couple of ideas!

  13. Hi Bella
    I am not happy at second gratuitous “ned” reference to Mhairi Black from same source/different name………everything else is the same repetitious and narcissistic shite which is entirely your judgement as Editor to allow or not…….but as I say the “ned” references are deeply problematic for me
    Thanks

    John Page

    • I agree. We are balancing an open policy with dealing with trolls who re-appear constantly under different names and IP addresses

    • I agree. We are balancing an open policy with dealing with trolls who re-appear constantly under different names and IP addresses

  14. Thank you for your article, Mark – I like the imaginative exploration of the Wizard of Oz as a metaphor for the UK’s contemporary politics. A lot of the comments here relate to the anti-independence, anti-socialist diatribe of “Moonie”, but I am not going to pursue this. Most readers and contributors to this site will be sympathetic to the opinions expressed in Bella Caledonia (though this could be seen as part of the problem of the fractured and tribal nature of political discourse on the Internet). As many others have pointed out here and elsewhere, the very same threatened forces that urged or frightened the people of Scotland to stay in the UK are the same forces that are now railing against the likely Scottish influence in the UK Parliament proving, if proof were needed, the fundamental antidemocratic thoughts and actions of wealth and privilege. Scotland truly is leading the way, and where Scotland leads, England is sure to follow – a new Scottish Enlightenment perhaps?

    • “anti-independence”

      No actually, you’ve got it all wrong. I am pro-independence. I want Scotland to become independent as soon as possible, the sooner the better.

      “anti-socialist”

      Oh yes, most definitely.

      “Scotland truly is leading the way”

      To disaster. When you do get your independence, hopefully no later than 2021, you’ll all be at each other’s throats within a decade.

      “England is sure to follow”.

      It won’t be the same. England is different from Scotland.

      The future is all about cities. At least even Glasgow understands that, now that it’s joined the Core Cities group.

  15. Are the unionist camp working overtime trawling the trooooolies so to speak .Do not take the bait, RED HERRING SMELL

  16. Mark, an interesting read, which I forgot to say yesterday when I posted, sorry if that seemed rude.

    The best line of “The Wizard of Oz”, for me, is when Dorothy says to her dog, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more”, just as she arrives in the land of Oz. And we are not in Kansas these days in Scotland….

    But let’s run with the spirit of your piece.You will have noticed that all of the main characters in the Kansas part of “The Wizard of Oz” later appear in the Land of Oz itself in a different guise. So, the farmhand is the Lion and so and so is the Tin Man etc. The wicked witch of the east is also depicted in the Kansas part of the story, I can’t remember what as, though I think a school teacher? Certainly Dorothy runs into her before she gets to Oz.

    And this seems to me to be the point regarding the SNP and your “Wizard of Ox” analogy. I think in an indie Scotland, we would see a number of our current “heroes” swiftly become villains and even visa-versa. There must be some good people left in the Labour Party or similar in Scotland still, surely?.

    What do countless people like myself, and many in the SNP itself, have in common with the SNP? Really not very much except indie. And so it is perfectly reasonable to cast doubts on the revolutionary credentials of the SNP. I don’t mean revolution with a capital R, I don’t mean The Revolution, but I do mean a coherent programme to change society in a profound way. I don’t agree with keeping the monarchy – I find it obscene that the SNP are proposing the Queen while about 25% of Scottish children are living in poverty; no less obscene than the Tories there – and if I were Nicola Sturgeon I would be saying that I wanted a head to head with Putin to trade in Trident for some Russian nuclear subs. If you fail doing that, you maybe then get rid of them anyway, but you have to try first if you’re serious about nuclear disarmament. And what better way for Nicola to make her bow on the international stage?

    Finally, your hope that the SNP somehow will exert this big influence against neo-liberalism and austerity seems to me extremely optimistic. The SNP will have about 10% – 15% of the seats in the House, and the Labour Party can pact with the Tories on their neo-liberal agenda. I understand, sympathise, and really try to be as optimistic as all my SNP supporting friends, but I don’t share the optimism.

    In any case, the most important thing about “The Wizard of Oz” is this: the Wizard is talked of throughout the film as a great and powerful leader, referred to as omnipotent, when in fact he is a tiny man who relies on his own myth to rule Oz.

    This is true of our current system of government, of the de facto financial powers which rule the UK through their lackeys in the main parties. Say “boo” to them and they jump and would run a mile.

    The people are sovereign, When the people are galvanised and take control over their own destiny, when they stop believing in an establishment party like the SNP are these days (albeit only in Scotland), then we might see some real change. But you will never get that through the SNP, in my opinion.

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