Saturday, 30 April 2016

A RISE vote is an unwise vote

It's nearly that time of year again. Hard to believe almost 12 months have passed since that historic day when the SNP achieved a near clean-sweep of Westminster's 59 Scottish seats. A day that saw a number of familiar faces from the Yes campaign, some having only joined the SNP since the referendum, gain their spot on the (in)famous green benches. One of those was of course particularly remarkable - a 20-year old politics undergraduate called Mhairi Black unseating Douglas Alexander one of New Labour's stalwarts who had been there since the girl who would become the youngest MP for some three hundred years was still in nursery. I think I felt my age when I remembered back then in 1997 I was revising for exams that I would be sitting at the grammar school in Penrith!

It was easy to feel some gleeful schadenfreude with the enormity of Labour's collapse in Scotland - served them right for how they behaved towards us during the referendum! Yet that feeling soon gave in to a sense that actually Labour were finally eating humble pie and realising what was wrong with themselves. They weren't the great victors of the independence referendum that John McTiernan had so pompously predicted a few months before but rather the lambs that had sacrificed themselves to protect the union by a swing margin of just 5%. They sound like a shadow of their former self but the tone of humility they seemed to adopt wasn't going to make me forgive them anytime soon. They were well and truly tarnished by standing shoulder to shoulder with the Tories in 'Better Together'.

One set of seat predictions for May 5th

Now the time comes for their painful reminder. Whilst last year we could take nothing for granted in the pro-indy camp where most of us were united behind the need to vote SNP, the result this time is pretty much in the bag. The SNP will win the Scottish Parliament elections this coming Thursday and most likely they will increase their majority. But alongside this already-won contest for first place there are another two battles in play. The Tories fancy their chances to be the main opposition party ahead of Labour (I'd hardly be looking forward to that!) and the Greens sense a real opportunity to make a bigger impact on the back of their own increased membership since the referendum with the possibility of winning a few more seats and replacing the Liberal Democrats as the fourth party in Holyrood.

Friday, 8 April 2016

A guaranteed basic income - surely its time has come

Writing in the Guardian back in February last year on the subject of work-life balance Channel 4 correspondent Paul Mason wrote about the possibility of a guaranteed basic income of £6,000 and how this could benefit many working class people. I only came across this article the other day and so thinking that it had only just been written I wondered why he wasn't mentioning Finland taking up this initiative in recent weeks but that was of course before I realised it was written way back three months before the UK General Election when there was still some hope Labour would be the party in government.

8 million gold coins dropped in a Swiss square to celebrate the successful petitioning for a referendum on BI.

The idea of a guaranteed basic income where you are unconditionally handed a government sum of, say, £6,000 a year for basically doing nothing is of course a wonderful thought just by the mere thought of it. What's not to like about that? But naturally anyone hearing this proposition for the first time would be quick to ask the serious questions about how exactly this would work, how much would it cost, what would be the economic effect of it on the country and so on. I myself went through this idea and its associated questions carefully in my mind before becoming convinced that I was onto something.