Bubbles And Echo Chambers

by Wee Coonty Radical

As with most things it’s the getting started that is the hardest step and once taken the rest falls into place or so we tend to believe. There are always a few people who caution against over optimism, people who look at an issue such as independence and ask why those opposed to it do so and how do those that support independence convince our fellow Scots that independence is not only desirable but essential if as we like to think we live in a society that is progressive and democratic enough to allow for any political ideology wherever it is on the political spectrum to have its place within the wider Yes movement.

 
I believe during the independence referendum this was achieved but since there has been an entrenchment of opinions and if not a reluctance to listen to other viewpoints then to only listen to those that closely resemble our own, be that left, centre or right.  Personally I know I have been complicit in this as after the 2014 referendum result I was, shocked and angry at the result. Along with many others I had attended rallies, canvassed and travelled over the central belt of Scotland to get material for my local Yes hub.

The people I canvassed alongside did so because they believed we could have a real impact on how this nation would be run. We would have an input and a real say in a way that many of us felt we had never had. So we went to peoples doors, gave them leaflets and information from the many groups that participated in the referendum campaign and we talked to people who had different points of view and we learned to refine our arguments and tailor them to the areas we were in but wherever that was we ensured that we made sure it was an inclusive, socially just and positive message.  Given the negativity of the better together campaign, you’d think voters would opt for the more positive choice, but as we found out fear won out over hope.

Since the referendum some of us have rather impressive built bubbles and echo chambers. We decided that those who did not share our vision, our way whatever that may be to achieve independence were somehow holding the independence movement back. Any questioning of the timing of another indy ref was considered to be tantamount to being against it, this seems to have intensified since the 2016 Brexit vote and the General Election of 2017.   

From a personal point of view memes with Eat, Sleep, SNP , Repeat began bothering me. The meme seemed to imply carry out these actions but don’t critically assess why you would do it.  Mentioning this on Facebook was interesting. I was informed only the SNP would bring about independence (as the largest party committed to it and being in government so I was told on a few occasions, ONLY they could deliver it) I argued that we get independence only through engagement with the wider grassroots movement as only by recapturing the diversity that existed then could we hope to win any future referendum.  Nonsense I was told, what other party will bring it about? Will a bunch of lefty columnists achieve it? A few days later Nichola Sturgeon announced that the SNP need to engage with the wider YES movement.  I would have claimed bragging rights but here’s the thing, it doesn’t really matter as I agree the SNP is the most effective vehicle at present but to succeed listening to other points of view , more so the opposite and debating points, yes even those of people who voted Labour in the last GE, is the only way we are going to win.

 Recently I have heard that the success of Jeremy Corbyn in England is due to his adoption of SNP polices. I can’t agree with this reasoning. The policies Corbyn has promoted are social democratic\ socialist. They are not Corbyn’s Labour or the SNPs solely , they are an attempt at social inclusion and the fairer society we aimed for in 2014.  When will we get the opportunity to advocate those values, a part from in our everyday lives and the interactions we have with our friends ,family , colleagues , though going on about politics all the time does tend to become wearing to those who are not motivated by it, 2019 seems likely.

I hope I have learned to become more tolerant of opposing views and know for certain that to win another independence vote deflating the bubbles and deconstructing those impressive echo chambers is vital.

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Initial Thoughts on a crazy night.

by C.C Hamilton

  1. If someone had offered the SNP 35 seats from a previous total of 6 in 2015, I think they would have been delighted. Last night, of course was a disappointment but it is still a BIG result. 3rd largest party at Westminster on the back of wins in the council elections and Holyrood elections is still very good after 10 years in Government in Scotland and against a brutally hostile media.
  2. That said it was a real blow to lose people like Angus Robertson, Eilidh Whiteford and Alex Salmond. However, it is now up to the Tories who suggested they can protect the North East (fishing in particular) to come through. They won’t.
  3. Never underestimate the power of the Sectarian vote in Central Scotland, especially when it tactically votes and in some places they got it right this time. When that tacks enmasse to any party’s base support it will do well. Good luck to them but I suggest in places like Rutherglen, where they lost the hardest working MP in Westminster, they cut off their nose to spite their face. In my constituency we only got postal stuff from the other candidates, the Tory nowhere to be seen, didn’t even turn up for some of the hustings but only narrowly lost with 32% of the vote. The Tory vote in Scotland has next to nothing to do with policy, because they don’t really have any.
  4. Labour vote share going up slightly had nothing to do with the Scottish Labour leadership and everything to do with Corbyn. Hell I would have voted Labour myself in England, but I never want to hear anyone in Scottish Labour go unchallenged if they use the “Tartan Tories” shite again. The Scottish Labour Leader suggested the Tories were better placed to beat the SNP in some places and news reports suggested they were working with the Tories to unseat the SNP candidate. Disgusting. As those 12 seats staying SNP could have led to a progressive alliance and Labour running the country. Kezia Dugdale should be hanging her head in shame today. All she had to say was “Vote Labour, and if you can’t vote Labour, vote anyone but the Fucking Tories!”
  5. Nicola Sturgeon completely fucked up with her attack on Kezia on Monday, I appreciate Kezia has attacked her all campaign and I get the impression Nicola was hurt at being attacked by someone she once regarded as a friend, but to do so as she did on Monday brought the debate level down even further and let RapeClauseRuth of the NoSurrender Party off the hook. Apologise Nicola and move on please.
  6. I dearly wanted some kind of alliance between LibDems, Labour and SNP but that seems to be unlikely with the Tories keen to work with the DUP to secure a slim majority. This is terrible news for progressives in the UK and has particular consequences for our friends in Northern Ireland I would suggest.
  7. Will Saint Theresa resign? early indications are no but she is weakened.
  8. Will Nicola Sturgeon resign? No but again she is weakened. A poor campaign, the result aside, where she spent most of it on the defensive. There seemed to be little or no strategy but I think she is still the outstanding political mind in Scotland. There has been a complacency around the party, though, and that has to change. Forget referendums for now, the Scottish Parliament has a mandate anyway, and get back amongst the people and engage again.
  9. Again Scotland, Sillars was right. We must face the paradox, what happens when Scotland votes one way and England another (paraphrasing) 2/3rd of us voted against the Tories and here we are again. A Tory Government but not just that this time. A Tory Government propped up by the DUP. And Ruth the Mooth thinks the yes movement is divisive. What a fuckin joke.
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Owning your vote

by C.C.Hamilton

 

I think I have said before that I would never tell anyone how to vote but I think it is important that we all all own our vote. We have to be big enough to say “I voted for that party and for these reasons.” I am always, then, interested to read people voting Tory in this election based on the “No IndyRef” rhetoric. What they are of course voting for is to deny themselves a vote on Scotlands future. Voting to deny yourself your democratic right. Of course, people are buying into the Ruth Davidson line, parrotted on TV at the weekend that “NO ONE in Scotland wants another referendum” that is another lie from someone seeming to speak for Scotland while also saying that “The SNP is not Scotland.” In actual fact recent polling suggest 50% fancy another referendum in the near future and 58% think that it should be a matter for the Scottish Parliament where it has already passed with majority support. So to vote, simply on the referedum question is actually voting to deny the very democracy we claim to hold so dear. But there is a wider picture here. You don’t get to say I am voting Tory to deny another referendum and just ignore the rupugnant and divisive nature of THIS Conservative Party. Have a look at this shameful list:

  • Family cap (no child benefit for 3rd child)
  • The Rape Clause (exemption for a child born after being raped, as long as you fill in an 8 page form, relive the abuse and name the child!)
  • Cuts to winter fuel allowance for pensioners, which will be devolved but we dont know when. The Scottish Government has said it wont cut.
  • The bedroom tax, which, again, the Scottish Government mitigates.
  • Getting rid of the triple lock protecting pensions.
  • Awful benefit sanctions regime
  • Damage done to our industry by the Tories in the 80’s still felt today.
  • The sell out of our fishing industry as “expendable” in the 70’s
  • The bigotry, racism and homophobia exposed in a number of new councillors.
  • Dog Whistle Sectarian terms used by senior MSP’s on Social Media
  • Increased food bank usage.
  • Removing free school meals for infants. Scottish Government will protect.
  • And thats all before we get to the fact that both the PM and the Tory leader in Scotland told us all before the EU Referendum that BREXIT was a bad idea. Ruth even telling us we were being lied to and now telling us that we just have to suck it up and make the best of it. A PM refusing to debate her policies ahead of an election. An election she said 6 times (at least) wouldnt happen. The EU negotiators must be rubbing their hands at the prospect of facing her.

Few of us will ever agree wholeheartedly with the party we vote for. I will vote SNP this time but have voted many other ways in the past but this Tory party stands for some pretty abhorrant and vile policies and include some pretty vile characters at their core. Not to be trusted with Scotland Ever. Be careful with your vote.

 

Debates

What a contrast in the dabates this time around. The ITV one minus the PM and Corbyn was enjoyable, policy was debated in a decent manner, had ntelligent questions and chaired well. Matters raised which were devolved was pointed out to the viewers but the devolved administrations still had ample time to make a point. The Channel 4 debate this week, again benefitted from being well chaired and enjoyed intelligent contributions from the audience. I will come on to Paxman later. Compare that to the shambolic BBC Scotland attempt where Sarah Smith was dreadful,we had the awful spin room idea again (why are journalists interviewing journalists?!) and Kez and Ruth screaming away. Totally dominated by devolved issues after Ruth had a disaster trying to defend immigration. Either we just dont have the talent up here to produce decent debates where policy and ideas can be explored or it’s to do with who you know. But I find it hard to believe that Sarah Smith would be anywhere near a TV studio if it wasnt for who her father was. Grim stuff and shame on the BBC and most of the politicians involved. Also worth noting that Claire Austin’s claim that she was asked back on to this debate as she hadn’t been allowed to ask a question on question time has never been properly addressed by the BBC. Something smells around Pacific Quay and it ain’t the Clyde!

 

Angry Men

 

One good thing to come out of this campaign has been that it is now clear that the old boys network of Andrew Neil, Andrew Marr, Jeremy Paxman and David Dimbleby or yesterdays men. Some quite dreadful performances from all of them in recent weeks,capped off by Paxman the other night. I want to hear politcians allowed to speak, develop ideas and feel safe to speak off the cuff and be honest. As it is politicians resort to robotic answers in the face of bullying, hostile behaviour from these guys. I think in this campaign we have seen that people like Faisal Islam can do things differently and still be effective. In Scotland I am not so sure, our reliance on Ponsonby, Brewer Smith and Bird, leaves us well short of the quality required for grown up political debate.

 

Nicola Sturgeon

 

I think it says a lot for the FM in the face of a mostly hostile press that she fronts up for each debate and answers questions patiently while the others around her are shouting and bawling. Or avoiding the debates as the PM has.  Much like Corbyn, in that respect, she has refined her technique and become much more measured in her approach. Admiitedly her opposite numbers come across as just shouty bullies devoid of any actual policy but she has done well. As I have said before I am no SNP fanboy but I am particularly dismayed at Kezia’s performance because I genuinely think she is better than that. Ruth is a Tory and that’s what mostTories do: They shut down debate because they know that if the electorate get to their real policies they would never hold office. So they make a lot of noise and bully and bluster and the debate is over before you know it. If Ruth Davidson didn’t have the support of her former collegues in the media and the bigot vote in Scotland she would be gone long before now, because she just isn’t very good. Kezia is different and is capable of much better. My main critcism of the FM is that she becomes a bit robotic at times under pressure. I think she is an honest and decent, hardworking FM but there is only so many times we can hear slogans like “stronger for Scotland” before it starts to sound like a soundbite to avoid a question and she is tarnished with the “all politcians are the same” criticism. This is not the the land of milk and honey and this SNP Government is not perfect by any means but it is doing well and in many areas is doing better than others in the UK. It is good to hear her take responsibility for the education issues, in contrast, for example to Ruth Davidson’s avoidance of the Rape Clause debate and her lack of response to the Racist/Sectarian stuff from Councillors and activists in the last few weeks. The FM’s patience in defending devolved issues in a Westminster election campaign has shamed some in the  Media and Opposition parties who have tried to set the agenda of “SNP bad.”

 

Polls tightening

As the polls seemingly tighten. Wouldn’t it be bizarre if our rural and fishing communities voted for the Tory Party MP’s that has sold them out in the past, the Tories ended up out of power and it was Nicola Sturgeons SNP that held the balance of power!

 

A nice Tory

It was great to speak at length the other day with a local Conservative Councillor. He has been in office now for almost 20 years and has proven to be a fine local councillor regardless of party affiliations. He was dismayed by the number of, in his words,”rockets” who had been elected for his party in the recent council elections. He was also at pains to point out that council politics often is nasty when it doesn’t need to be because of party politics. He cited the Lib Dems and the Tories in his council who politicise every issue and admitted he has become frustrated that local issues are alwys framed around the national political climate and councillors being told to toe the Party line as directed by central office. It makes you wonder if local politics should be out of political party hands and back to Councillors serving their communities first and always. Just goes to show that there are decent Tories out there though folks! Be nice to them.

 

Claire Austin

 

A final word on Claire Austin who was lauded by Kezia and the media after she (rightly) had a go at Nicola Sturgeon on TV over nurses pay. Its not been a good time for her. People commenting on her social media profiles, press doorstepping her and now reportedly a fine for a row with neighbours. But her story did make me think. My wife and I earn a fair bit less than Ms Austin, between us we have been made redundant (through no fault of our own) 3 times in the last 12 years, we have 2 children but thankfully we have never had to use foodbanks. Indeed when we shop we usually buy an extra bag of food to donate to the local foodbank. We may be just lucky, we have a fine family around us who helped in our hour of need, but we are careful with our money, try to save a bit for a rainy day. So when what felt like a disaster of redundancy happened we managed to tighten our belts, dip into our savings and fortunately picked up work wherever,doing whatever we could. None of this is really relative to Ms Austin, of course, as we do not know the circumstances of her referral to a foodbank and no one should be using foodbnks in 2017 anyway. But it does make it dificult for people like us who are on low income to fully understand the point she was making. By the way, we still do OK. We manage a family holiday every year, a special trip to Disneyland Paris every few years, weekends away, we have a decent car. We manage and we make choices every day on what we can afford. It doesn’t make us any better than anyone else. It is just how it is and how we choose to live our life. I hope we never have to use foodbanks but I am very grateful for the work they do particularly for those let down by the benefit system or those struggling to “just manage” as the PM put it. I truly hope Claire Austin never has to use one again either and I wish her well. The biggest sadness in this, though,  is that it was a fine question but asked for all the wrong reasons and used by people like Kezia Dugdale and sections of the media to score political points, therefore diluting the point.

 

 

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