Indy Ref – the day after

Spent chunk of the day with visiting cartoonist/journalist I know who was up to cover the referendum, and at one point we strolled down the Royal Mile, passing so many media crews (more camera crews than even during the festival). There was a crowd of Yes campaigners there, this was just after Alex Salmond had announced his resignation as First Minister, although we didn’t know that until we spoke to some of them. This chap got up to make an improvised speech, and, I am glad to say called for understanding and moving on:

Then he finished by calling on the crowd, in Scots tradition, to forget divisions and come together, hold hands and sing Auld Lang Syne, and there they were singing and dancing in front of the Scottish Parliament

This chap started up with his pipes…

And there was the crowd doing some Scottish country dancing, Strip The Willow, right in front of the doors of the Parliament – loved it (and what a contrast to a small cadre of bigoted boot boys in George Square later in the day and their disgraceful behaviour)

And here’s the media village set up by the parliament – think half the world’s media has been on the streets of Edinburgh the last few days


The political foundations of Scottish democracy were shaken to its core after the election results for May 1st were counted. The ruling Labour party lost seats while the principal opposition, the Scottish Nationalists, bizarrely also lost seats. The Scottish Socialist Party and the Green Party jumped from being one-trick ponies to having a brace of MSPs each, plus four more independent MSPs took seats from the main parties. However, the biggest winner in the Scottish parliamentary and local government elections were the Apathy Party.

With a high – and we use the word advisedly – water mark of around 59% in a few areas and dipping to just under 40% in others a huge groundswell of support of the Apathists has carried them on and into government. So what are the policies of the Apathy Party? Unfortunately this is a mystery to even your intrepid investigators here at the Woolamaloo Gazette. Throughout the month-long campaign season the Apathy Party did not make a single statement, hold a single press conference or make a single electoral broadcast. In fact even the BBC’s Brian Taylor could not track down their spokesperson, party leader or even their office. Some say they don’t really exist, but the truth is that they just can’t be bothered turning up anywhere and certainly can’t be arsed to run the country.

This naturally leaves Scottish democracy in something of a quandary – either the election results favouring the Apathists by a vast majority are ignored in order to install a government that can at least turn up for work (although not necessarily do any better job than the absent Apathists), which would mean breaking the election rules. This would mean overturning a democratic election in a way not seen since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger arranged for President Allende to be overthrown or since Jeb Bush gave George Bush Florida. It could also lead to cries of electoral irregularities and could lead to Jimmy Carter coming in and kicking some parliamentary ass. The other option, to go with the proper result, leads to a governing party that has no policies and indeed no members who will bother to turn up at Holyrood. If this spreads to the rest of Britain by the next Westminster election we could have no leadership at all at any level, leading to Anarchy in the UK. Some argue that this is not so very different from the present system. Others have speculated that this may be an improvement and that a more apathetic Britain would be a kinder, gentler place (for starters we couldn’t be bothered to go bomb other nations).

Adam Lyal (deceased)

Hurray – Adam Lyal (deceased) is running once more for the regional list section of the Scottish parliamentary elections. For those who don’t know, the Holyrood ballot has two votes on it – one is the traditional constituency representative, counted in the old fashioned first-past-the-post system. The second is a list for each region, whereby the allocation is according to the actual percentage of votes cast. Both types of MSP make up the parliament and the proportional representational aspect means the parliament has more than the usual parcel of rogues from the big parties, having also independents like Green MSP Robin Harper.

Adam Lyal was hanged 192 years ago in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh. This has been no bar on his career however and he can be seen pretty much nightly in his white-skinned face make-up and long cloak, showing folk around his favourite haunts of the Old Town on the Witchery Tour. If elected he promises to stand for more open government, devolve more powers to local level for the voluntary sector and to attend the parliament in his full tour outfit to lighten the atmosphere a bit. I don’t actually want to vote for any of the main parties – if only I could swap my main vote for another list vote, then I could vote for Adam Lyal (deceased) and Robin Harper’s Green Party.

It is one of the good things in UK democracy that we don’t take even the parliamentary elections too seriously, hence the Monster Raving Loony Party, Adam Lyal (deceased) and other joke candidates such as the Liberal Democrats and wonderfully entertaining buffoons like Jack McConnell. Lyal has his own website here.

Labour shows its anti-democratic side

So, Labour have made a humiliating climb down in the Scottish election campaign. They have been playing the independence bogey man card in their fight against the Scottish National Party, their main rivals. The SNP have promised to hold a referendum to allow the Scottish people to decide if they wish to move from a devolved parliament to full independence. Labour said that constitutional matters were a reserved power to Westminster and the Holyrood parliament could not even mount such a referendum.

Now you will notice this is London saying not only that the Edinburgh parliament does not have final say over independence, but on simply holding a referendum. Now obviously constitutional change would have to include all of the UK legislative bodies. But to threaten to block a possible referendum being held by a possible SNP government in Edinburgh? That is something else – that is effectively saying that London will not even allow the Scottish people to register their opinion. Does democracy so frighten these people?

For starters that is immoral and profoundly undemocratic. It is an action which is also very ill-considered, as this kind of thing will infuriate most Scots and drive them towards the nationalist camp and increase an anti-Westminster and possibly anti-English sentiment, neither of which are productive. Today Labour backtracked to say they would never block a referendum, but the damage is done. Labour have once more shown themselves to be a centrally-driven party who think nothing of over-riding Scottish concerns when it suits their London office. Im not making any pitch here for or against possible independence, but the right for Scottish citizens to have their say on the matter is utterly paramount. It is a matter of simple democracy and of the right of self-determination for all nations that is guaranteed under international law.


May approaches and the various Scottish political parties are out on the road, banging drums and in some cases drumming bangs. Although only the second election to the revived Scottish parliament, the situation is already becoming confused, especially as voters have two votes to cast – one for a constituency MP and one proportional representative vote.

Your choices:

Labour, under Jack Furtive McConnell. Supposedly independent of the London office, in reality orders come direct from Lord Blair of Baghdad in Downing Street. So well worth a devolved parliament then.

Conservatives: a bunch of useless whining scunners with only a tiny amount of votes in the entire country. The only party to oppose the creation of a Scottish parliament – nuff said.

Scottish National Party. Still suffering from the loss of Alex Salmond as leader and replacement by John Swinney, possibly the blandest man in Scottish politics.

Liberal Democrats. Used to like these guys, but since they entered a power sharing arrangement with Labour they have been as easily contaminated by power as the main parties.

Scottish Socialist Party – basically Tommy Sheridan at the moment. Lots of old-fashioned left-wing bollocks which would never work, but at least he means what he says and is prepared to be arrested for his beliefs, which is more than most politicians would do.

The Greens – that nice Robin Harper chap. Less pollution, more hugs, tofu and multi-coloured Doctor Who style scarves for everyone. Voted for them last time, reckon I’d still go for them. Like the fact we have a green MSP, and hope the imminent Ang Lee Hulk movie increases awareness of green folk.

Scottish People’s Alliance: who the smeg are they? Does anyone care?