Showing posts from September, 2015

The SNP: Fiction & Reality (Part 2) Dr Phil Larkin

In the second part of guest poster Phil Larkin's piece on the SNP, he looks at the party's record in government and the current case for independence.

The SNP: Government and Opposition It is easy to forget that the SNP has been in government in Scotland since 2007, since they have perfected the art of being in power while simultaneously acting as if they are also the opposition (sometimes to their own decisions). It is also instructive to look at some of the decisions they have made, and measure these against the Party’s self-professed radical left image. The central basis on which the SNP is founded, namely, the theory that “home rule” is better rule, should be relatively easy to test, since it only requires an examination of their record in government. At present, the Teflon quality of the Party seems to make it immune from the reality that their record in government in Scotland has been far from exemplary in many respects.
To begin, the abolition of tuition fees by the SNP in…

The SNP: Fiction & Reality by Phil Larkin

Periodic guest poster, Dr Phil Larkin, has contributed a penetrating overview of the SNP, which I've taken the liberty of splitting into three separate posts.  This is a detailed dissection of the nationalist vision for Scotland and why it isn't tenable.  Today, why the 'commentariat' has lost its mind over Scottish nationalism and why electors in Scotland voted for the SNP.

By Dr Phil Larkin


Every few years, elements of the media and political commentariat seem to lose their power of reason over a particular issue. At present, this issue is the SNP’s victorious 2015 General Election. If some sources are to be believed, the end of the UK is nigh, and the SNP are set to continue from glory to glory until this wondrous event takes place. They are deemed by some commentators to possess a masterful political vision, and have a crystal clear strategy mapped out to achieve this. They are ready, willing, and able both to end the austerity policy and to turn Scotlan…

Cross party think tank proposes 'new Act of Union'

Two recent articles on Three Thousand Versts have expressed concern that the UK’s constitutional issues have been allowed to drift, since the ‘No’ campaign won the Scottish independence referendum.  With that in mind, it was interesting to read a piece in yesterday’s Sunday Times, proposing a new Act of Union. (Free version here):
The article launches a cross-party group called the Constitution Reform Group and carries the signatures of Sir Menzies Campbell, Peter Hain and Robert (Lord) Salisbury, who belong to the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative parties, respectively.  The group, it claims, consists of “retired cabinet ministers, practising politicians, former parliamentary officials and civil servants, lawyers, journalists and academics”.
The authors express concern about the government’s provisions to create ‘English votes for English Laws’ on the basis that they will create t…

Offering more and more autonomy will not fend off nationalists' challenge to the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has warned David Cameron not to ‘disrespect’ the Scottish people’s choice to return 56 SNP MPs at the election last May.

Naturally, Ms. Sturgeon has a selective view of which election results should and should not be respected.  She doesn’t show much regard for the overall outcome of the general election and, just a year after the independence referendum in Scotland, her party is threatening to demand a re-run, so her ‘respect’ doesn’t extend to the 55% of voters who opted to remain within the UK for at least ‘a generation’, either.

The Conservative Party won a narrow majority of seats in the House of Commons in May 2015, but it’s clear that nationalists will offer a rolling challenge to the government’s authority in their nations, throughout this parliament.

In Northern Ireland, for instance, Sinn Féin and the SDLP consistently claim that the Tories have ‘no mandate’ to impose welfare reform.  It doesn’t matter that the parties at Stormont wer…

The hunt for Euro qualification goes on for Northern Ireland

Michael O’Neill and Northern Ireland are now tantalisingly close to qualifying for Euro 2016.The team took four points out of six over a prolonged weekend of action and sit top of Group F, two points shy of booking a place at the finals tournament in France. On Friday night it looked first like the campaign could stall for the Green and White Army, then it seemed like qualification would be secured as early as Monday.Playing against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn, Northern Ireland made heavy work of their 3-1 victory, after getting off to a perfect start and taking a 1-0 lead in the twelfth minute.

The Islanders capitalised on Stuart Dallas’s defensive howler and equalised before half-time, then, in the second half, O’Neill’s side struggled to break-down a resolute Faroes’ defence.Only when their opponents were reduced to ten men, after goal-scorer Edmundsson had received a second yellow card, did Northern Ireland dominate convincingly.Goals from McAuley and Lafferty finished off a tirin…

The migration crisis is a long-term problem

A heartrending photograph of a small boy’s dead body, washed up on a beach in Turkey, has prompted a change of tone from the Prime Minister on the refugee crisis.  David Cameron announced yesterday that the UK will house ‘thousands’ more people from camps around the Syrian border, after suggesting previously that admitting “more and more refugees” offered no solution.
A picture of Aylan Kurdi, a Kurdish boy from Syria, dominated front pages on Thursday.  The three year old had been in one of two dinghies, which left Turkey bound for the Greek island, Kos, a busy hub for refugees in transit to northern Europe.  
Aylan was one of 14 people to die when the boats sank.   The image captured both a personal tragedy for the boy’s family, as well as the misery and desperation involved in a migration described as the biggest movement of people to Europe since the second world war. 
It’s understandable that this powerful photograph has caused an outpouring of public anger and emotion, and the gov…

Robinson returns as unionist parties square up for Stormont battle

“Well, that escalated quickly”, as people on social media are wont to say.  One moment, the rhetoric around Stormont’s latest crisis was predictable and tired, the next, Mike Nesbitt announced his Ulster Unionist party was set to pull out of the executive.  The UUP’s decision put their Democratic Unionist rivals under pressure to withdraw from government as well and collapse Northern Ireland’s devolved institutions, nine months before the next scheduled Assembly election. 
Initially, the DUP responded through its North Belfast MP and deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, who said it would seek to exclude Sinn Féin from the executive, if the republican party did not “deal with the issue” of PIRA members murdering Kevin McGuigan. 
The DUP, Dodds asserted, was prepared to bring down the administration at Stormont “very speedily”, if the “issue” was not “dealt with”, or Sinn Féin’s ministers excluded.  The exact meaning of that bluster, you will have noticed, was not entirely clear, but the tone of…