26 November 2011

No parliament for all seasons...

It is one of the most famous passages in Robert Bolt's A Man for all Seasons, and struck me as a particularly apt quotation to sum up Wednesday's Justice Committee session in the parliament. The section comes towards the end of the first Act of the play. Sir Thomas More is Chancellor of England, and assailed. The brash, animal spirit of King Henry VIII has just reacted exceedingly poorly to More's unwillingness to sanction his divorce from the fruitless Queen Catherine of Aragon, and has left More's house in high dudgeon, leaving the feast prepared for him untasted.  More is all a-tremble, his sprightly mind already picking out paths through the law, that he might slip to safety, a loyal subject and an authentic witness to his own convictions both.

In the aftermath of this tense exchange with his sovereign, More is faced with Roper, an all-or-nothing firebrand whose reversing allegiances to different religious orthodoxies never seem to diminish the furious zeal with which he prosecutes the opinions he currently happens to hold. Lacking the modesty which an honest examination of the history of his ideas would reveal, Roper is a bloviating, fanatical prig, who Bolt amusingly summarises thus:

"Early thirties; a stiff body and an immobile face. Little imagination, moderate brain, but an all consuming rectitude which is his cross, his solace, and his hobby."

The smarmy Richard Rich - who subsequently perjures himself at the instance of the conniving Thomas Cromwell, having More convicted and beheaded, and himself invested with the dragon-chain of the Solicitor-General of Wales - has made a sweaty, suspicious appearance at the protagonists house, and shortly before the start of this section, has scuttled from the scene...

Margaret: Father, that man's bad.

More: There is no law against that.

Roper: There is! God's law!

More: Then God can arrest him.

Roper: Sophistication upon sophistication!

More: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, is the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal.

Roper: Then you set Man's law above God's!

More: No far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact - I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain-sailing, I can't navigate.  I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh there I'm a forester. I doubt if there is a man alive who could follow me there, thank God...

Alice: While you talk, he's gone!

More: And go he should if he was the devil himself until he broke the law!

Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the law all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - Man's law, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the wind that would be then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

With the honourable exceptions of Patrick Harvie and David McLetchie, there wasn't much evidence of the spirit of Thomas More in the Justice Committee, whose SNP majority are much keener on taking Roper as their model and taking an axe to the idea that laws are for legislators to define and cannot, justly, be left to the discretion of unelected state prosecutors to determine in detail what is and is not criminal.  It is astonishing that people have to be reminded of this fact. It categorically should not be the Lord Advocate's job, and if the Lord Advocate can produce clear(ish) guidelines, then Holyrood has no excuse not to do precisely the same, inscribing them on the face of the Bill and doing their duty - limiting prosecutors powers and mediating between the state and its targets.  Again and again, the stringent and moralising rhetoric of ministers proposes to divert our attention from what the new law actually says and what it will actually criminalise - invited instead to trust prosecutors, and trust the police, to use their arbitrary powers in a way that is not arbitrary.  George Orwell once wrote that "to see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle". Agin that struggle, and against an autonomous human understanding of the legal instruments they are actually proposing, ministers have been singing sweet and lulling songs. And they reek.

Roper at least has the honesty to fantasise about hewing down the laws in his way as he strives to chase-down his diabolical foe. Holyrood is less forthright, not jettisoning but hollowing out commitment to the idea of law as a restraint on arbitrary power, instead re-imagining broadly, barely-defined legislative provisions  as a means of authorising the impositions of arbitrary power. It is lazy, authoritarian, and appallingly cavalier. To endorse the approach is to abandon the idea that a free people, if their conduct is to be regulated by law and subjected to punishments by the state, should not be subject to the arbitrary whim of prosecutors and police and should be reasonably capable of finding out what the law requires of them.  Our MSPs seem blithely indifferent to this. They put liberty on the block, preferring to knit speeches pearled with vague, moralising cant.

Disagree with me if you like, but as a Nationalist, as someone who campaigned for a Nationalist government, I'm astonishingly depressed. After May's triumph, we've had incompetence, bungling, a bitter, melancholic atmosphere apt to convince no one of the virtues of independence. For me, both Baffiebox and Alex Massie have it exactly right. For all of Eck's undoubted prowess, his much-vaunted mystique can all too readily imperil our balanced judgement of his judgement. Lurching from their inflammatory, contemptible denunciation of Cadder and Fraser to the vulnerable reactiveness and vaguery which has informed the Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill, for me, post-election, the SNP have presided over a political period which has been by turns despairing, girning, partisan, vacuous and dreary.  What a squandering of possibilities; what a waste; what folly.

98 comments :

  1. If this bill is so bad, would you care to tell me why the opposition came up with no proposals for changing it and sat on their hands? For that matter, I don't see a single practical suggestion from you. Quoting A Man for All Seasons doesn't exactly make any practical suggestions nor did your frankly specious looking scenario of persecution in another post.

    Come up with something to fix it if it isn't right instead of just complaining.

    I am afraid you come across as girning and dreary as you accuse the SNP of being. I'm sorry PW, but you need to take yourself in hand. Maybe a break is called for.

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  2. Have to agree with every word JRT says there. You'd probably regard "over-intellectualised navel-gazing with no regard for the untidy and imperfect nature of reality" as a compliment, but it's not meant as one.

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  3. Yes LPW, you really should go away for a while - can't have an SNP member legitimately criticising the party's performance now, can we?

    As an independence supporter and generally SNP-minded chap (but not a 'nationalist' or party member) I share many of your concerns - the promises to engage with others and govern consensually seems to have gone out the window. Any reasonable disagreements are slapped down without any attempt to engage. FMQs has become too depressing to watch, essentially becoming the "Nyah, nyah, nyah, MAJORITY!!!" show. On the independence vote, the party are taking things in entirely the wrong direction - rather than working together with other indy-supporting parties, groups and non-affiliated individuals the higher-ups have taken to making bold pronouncements with no consultation at all, at times not even with their own party - I'm still astounded at the lack of uproar from anti-monarchy SNP folk after Salmond's constant reassurances that we will keep the Queen after independence. What about the SNP policy which says there will be a referendum on the monarchy within a year of becoming independent?!?

    Utterly depressing stuff. After the euphoria of May it feels like the party are taking all the wrong turns which, unless they quickly change course, will see us locked into a failed union for god-knows how much longer.

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  4. J. R. Tomlin,

    So you think I ought only to blog warm testaments to Nationalist virtues? We may disagree on this topic - as is plain, I disagree with most Nationalists on this topic - however to imply that my feeling arise from an insobriety of judgement is, frankly, an insult which I wouldn't reverse and fling your way, simply because we disagree. We have to be able to talk about these things.

    To address the other points you make sequentially...

    1) It isn't quite right that the opposition generated no amendments. Patrick Harvie and David McLetchie advanced several. However, I too was disappointed that Labour and the Liberal Democrats largely or entirely abstained. Even exploratory and critical amendments would have been helpful. As it was, it was decidedly poor strategy from both.

    2) I don't accept for a moment that the validity of a critique should be contingent on whether or not one is able to elaborate a programmatic alternative. However, since you ask, my own view is that:

    a) the law as it is covers most of the circumstances most of us would want to see criminalised already.

    b) Laws also exist which permit the imposition of football banning orders, which research reveals the police have not been applying for, in part because of resource problems. These ought to be eliminated and a more comprehensive use of these orders sought.

    c) My sense is that regulating conduct in the ground by way of penalising football clubs themselves - deducting points and the like - is apt to be a far more successful self-policing mechanism than exceedingly broad criminal provisions, which if the whole stand are in full voice, are only practically and selectively enforceable well after the crowd has dispersed, and the singing ceased.

    d) I very much welcome the £3 million Roseanna Cunningham recently announced, funding projects aiming at education. That is obviously very welcome, and I'd support it.

    3) If my scenario of earlier in the week was specious, demonstrate how, make an argument about why I'm wrong and why the law as drafted won't criminalise the conduct I outline.

    RevStu,

    Charming.

    Ken,

    I am conscious that we all have our own political hobby-horses. Given mine, the party's post-election conduct could have been particularly calculated to alienate me, I'm afraid. Other Nationalists likely feel less gloomy about the tone and direction - but you outline many of the things which I'd challenge folk who radically disagree with my general feelings at the moment.

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  5. There is something I don't understand about this whole debate and it is the way that people want the proposed laws on football related behaviour to be more specific - and that's what you seem to be saying as well - and at the same time they say that current legislation is sufficient. But how specific is breach of the peace?

    And on the issue of whether it is up to legislators to decide what constitutes an offence is it not almost totally up to individual police officers to decide whether they think a breach of the peace has been committed and whether that should result in arrest? Of course in a situation like a football match they will be given clear operational guidance but nonetheless it's still down to the officers on the ground and breach of the peace can really, in layman's terms, mean any kind of behavour which they (the police) think could cause trouble. Indeed, I don't want to cause your wig to explode but it has been defined to me by a serving police officer thus: if the police tell you to stop doing something and you don't stop doing t then you can be lifted for a breach of the peace.

    So I am realy confused by this - people saying that the Government has to specify exactly what behaviour at or around a football match would constitute an offence (taken to extremes that would mean fans being issued with a list of songs they are allowed to sing and songs they aren't allowed to sing defined by a committee which distinguishes between politcal and sectarian songs)otherwise it is too arbitrary - yet at the same time they are saying that it is OK for the police and prosecutors to use breach of the peace to arrest people which, to a layperson like myself just seems totally arbitrary - and certainly much more arbitrary than what is being proposed in the legislation.

    So where does that leave us? Do we have to have specific laws to regulate every possible type of behaviour in every possible situation to avoid the impression of arbitrary powers? Surely that is impossible. It would take decades just to define all the possible offences.

    PS Ken - there is no such policy as you have suggested. I have no idea where you got that from but the SNP has never had a policy that there would be a referendum on the monarchy within a year of independence.

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  6. Groundskeeper Willie26 November 2011 10:04

    J. R. Tomlin said...
    'If this bill is so bad, would you care to tell me why the opposition came up with no proposals for changing it and sat on their hands?'


    As I said on a previous thread 'You can't polish a turd'. This bill is a turd and should be sent to the seaside in the manner that turds are sent to the seaside.


    LPW

    McLetchie and Harvie's interventions have extended the scope and application of the bill. They've made a bad bill worse.

    In practical terms the only behaviour or activity that will be criminalised by this bill which is not currently illegal is the singing of Irish rebel songs by part of the Celtic support.

    This week has seen reports that a Celtic fan had a scarf confiscated by the police as being offensive because it had a picture of the Pope on it. Trivial perhaps but an insight into the mindset of those who will be enforcing the new legislation. More worryingly there is also a story that a Celtic fan who was stopped at Glasgow airport and questioned by Special branch about the group of Celtic fans known as the Green Brigade. The police knew the guy's seat number at Celtic Park and enquired how he got security clearance for his job (he's a civil servant.

    I get the feeling that the police are feeling emboldened by the noises coming from Holyrood. It's worrying.

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  7. Incidentally I can understand why people may think the SNP seem to have decided to start their second term by doing a lot of things people may not agree with or like. That's because they have -get the difficult things out the way first; so we have this, minimum pricing, same sex marriage etc. Get the controversial stuff done and dusted and then do the popular stuff in the run-up to the referendum. May be a tad cynical but that's just the way politics works. Everyone does it.

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  8. The airport issue is a well known problem Willie - a lot of our people get stopped way out of proportion to the number of times they travel, even MSPs.

    I think it's an issue of information sharing as well as potentially racism. If someone works for the civil service they will already have been through a security clearance and clearly if someone is an MSP they will have been checked out but there seems to be an insistence that people are stopped on a "random" basis even when it is quite clearly not random.

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  9. "Any reasonable disagreements are slapped down without any attempt to engage"

    I'd love to hear a list of "reasonable disagreements" the main opposition parties have presented, before we even get to discussing whether they were slapped down or not.

    "FMQs has become too depressing to watch"

    The SNP do not control the direction or nature of FMQs, that's the responsibility of the opposition. This week's was a fine example - Groundhog Gray wittering on *yet again* about the precise date of the referendum as if there were no more pressing matters concerning the people of Scotland, Ruth Davidson humiliatingly attacking on an utterly wrong and ill-informed premise, and Rennie making a badly-backfiring attempt to score some petty, trivial point off the back of Our Brave Boys.

    How exactly is the First Minister supposed to engage constructively with any of that? He was remarkably restrained with Davidson in particular.

    "What about the SNP policy which says there will be a referendum on the monarchy within a year"

    As Indy points out, this has never been official party policy, certainly not this century. Any SNP member who tried to create party division over such a piddling matter at such a crucial time in the party and the country's history would need shooting in the face. Even Republican Rose has her priorities in order here.

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  10. LPW: "My sense is that regulating conduct in the ground by way of penalising football clubs themselves - deducting points and the like - is apt to be a far more successful self-policing mechanism"

    I actually agree with you on this, and it's good to see you actually offer a suggestion rather than just moaning as your last two articles have done. But the problem with such an idea is that it's not in the Parliament's power to compel the SPL/SFA to take such action, and the football governing bodies are far too gutless to do it, as they've amply demonstrated for the last 50 years. So we're back to square one.

    I'm disappointed you've conspicuously declined to address my view that this legislation is a welcome attempt to de-normalise sectarian behaviour long before the point where punches are thrown. You're correct that the police can't arrest an entire stand - so the only practical hope of progress is to get people out of the habit of such behaviour in the first place, by acting when it's displayed in less populous locations.

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  11. Indy:
    "a lot of our people"

    Oh dear.

    The sad thing is, I doubt you even accept what's so horrifically wrong with that. My people are the Scottish people. Anyone who thinks anything else - whether they're the public or the police - is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

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  12. Groundskeeper Willie26 November 2011 12:34

    Indy said...
    'The airport issue is a well known problem Willie - a lot of our people get stopped way out of proportion to the number of times they travel, even MSPs.'


    I see.

    So someone coming back from visiting his family in NI is questioned by Special Branch about what is, when all is said and done, a group of Celtic supporters. The police know his seat number and where he works. They make what appears to be a veiled threat about his employment presumably in attempt to intimidate him.

    That's OK, is it?

    You don't find it a sinister, disproportionate over reaction by the State?

    There was also a 17 year old Celtic supporter who was arrested in a dawn raid at his home for singing a song at Celtic Park. He was refused bail and was only released when the Lord Advocate intervened.

    BTW

    Who exactly are 'our people'? Are they some kind of elect?

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  13. Neil MacCormick’s Scottish Constitution states that “The SNP is committed to holding a referendum in the term of office of the first independent Parliament of Scotland on whether to retain the monarchy”. (Page 11, footnote 1). http://constitutionalcommission.org/production/byre/images/assets/file/Resources%20Folder/SNP_2002_text.pdf

    I don't think that's the SNP's current position but I'm unsure what is or when, how and why it changed.

    I'm not supportive of the Bill, primarily because the civil libertarian cost far outweighs any potential law and order benefit. Had the bill been a serious attempt at addressing the causes and symptoms of religious sectarianism then I may have been persuaded otherwise.

    I'm an independence-supporting nationalist, atheist, non-football fan and ex-SNP-sympathetic non-member. I echo much of Ken's criticism but differ on the problem being post-election. It's existed and been worsening for at least the last decade. I read some of what passes for reasoned debate and I wonder if the SNP herd has turned into a mirror image of the slavish and uncritical Labour herd.

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  14. From my perspective as an agnostic Aberdeen supporter the current legislation looks like a brave - maybe foolhardy - attempt to open up an impossible debate - impossible because we currently lack the necessary terminology.

    For a start, what is sectarianism? Where does it start and finish, on a spectrum that runs from two groups of football fans standing face to face chanting counter-obscenities, to two theologians sitting in a seminar room discussing fine points of doctrine?

    Surely the problem is not sectarianism as such but the entrenched and entangled intersection of several supposedly independent spheres - football, religion, politics, national and social identities.

    Football supporting is (among other things) a form of ritual aggression. It allows fans to build up intense group solidarity based on selective blindness. Look at the forms of abuse hurled at referees. It's OK for our guys to go in hard. It's a foul if their guys do the same thing. And if the ref thinks otherwise then he is blind, corrupt or worse. Some fans do this self-consciously, even ironically. Others do not. For them, their team is sacred, an object of worship, beyond rational criticism. They operate within a closed, self-justifying mindset.

    The resemblance to 'real' religion is obvious. This is why it is dangerous for football rivalries (innocuous in themselves, maybe even beneficial) to get mixed up with religious rivalries. Two forms of non-rationality reinforce each other in unpredictable ways. In the case of the Old Firm the mix gets even more toxic when you add in Irish politics as well.

    When Old Firm fans confront each other, are their motives religious, political, ethnic or merely football? How do you begin to tell?

    I don't know if the current bill is good law, or has any chance of success. But it does look like an attempt to tackle a genuine problem that has been swept under the carpet for too long.

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  15. I'm reminded of Benjamin Franklin's quote:

    "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

    The SNP is a broad church, with various hues of political belief who *have to form a united front* or we can kiss independence goodbye.
    The time for dissent is after the Saltire flies over Edinburgh castle, not before.

    Good to see you are still talking to the little people Lallands...

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  16. "Salmond lost the argument. The vote went against him, and SNP policy became that "within the term of office of the first independent parliament of Scotland a referendum will be held on the question of whether or not to retain the monarch as head of state for Scotland". A chastened leader admitted defeat with as much grace as he could muster. "The leadership will respect the view of the party,'' Salmond told an excited gaggle of political journalists."

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Ntp2Ve8E274J:news.scotsman.com/politics/Kenny-Farquharson-A-right-royal.6795088.jp+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&client=ubuntu

    Apologies for the cached link, since the redesign none of the old articles seem to be online.

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  17. The SNP's 2003 election manifesto can be found here:

    https://www2.snp.org/node/6679#attachments

    There is indeed mention of a referendum on the monarchy, but nothing about it taking place within any specified timeframe after independence. Alex Salmond had opposed the position for many years, and the commitment was abandoned after the crushing defeat in the 2003 election.

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  18. J.R. Tomlin

    Labour are not the brightest, we know that but are we bright to defend the indefencible? I think not. At the moment we are losing votes on this, labour don't have to do a thing. And just wait if as many of us fear, young boys and lasses who would never see the wrong side of the criminal justice system begin to get locked up.

    Graham

    Beat me to it, aye we are commited to a referendum in the first parly of a free Scotland. And aye it personally gives me the dry boak listening to AS gie it laldy about her majesty this and that.

    Indy

    As Jannie Wullie says things have become sinister of late, a massive over-reaction. The beginnings of McCarthyism is an exaggeration, but as far as I am aware there are no dissidents under the bed. The war is over, the causes of the conflict in the main are gone all bar one which like our own in time will be resolved using democratic franchise. Bullying by the state may end up with them no longer having to create their own work.

    You seem to be in favour of a police force who stand accused of being arbitrary in the use of their powers of late, being given even wider, somewhat undefined powers, which potentially allow them to be even more arbitrary within the law. Did I read you right? This was an issue you refused to answer me on previously.

    We know that these powers will be used to punish Rangers fans for anti-Catholic/Irish type songs, perhaps even the other vile songs about paedophilia etc. That to me seems fair and reasonable in the circumstances and prehaps 50 years late in coming.

    How is it fair and reasonable then that Celtic fans alone will be punished for singing folk/political songs which have the potential to cause disorder. Surely if we are to be fair and reasonable using the same barometer then the folk/political songs sung by Rangers fans should be targetted also.

    I wonder how the Daily Mail would play that one. And as I stated in the last thread, Rangers fans have been given a list of songs by the polis that they can't sing. Surely it is arbitrary and verging on the political of the police not to do likewise with the Celtic support.

    LPW has got this down pat. Oh and thanks for reminding me of my year 12 Mauve English, Thomas More became an instant hero to the rebel in me. I had never heard of the colour mauve never mind be able to pronounce it.

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  19. "The time for dissent is after the Saltire flies over Edinburgh castle, not before."

    Precisely. Good god, how much more must Salmond deliver to command the loyalty of the party before people stop trying to prematurely shoot it in the foot? I haven't always agreed with him, but dammit, he keeps on being right and has already taken us beyond our wildest dreams.

    I don't advocate blind faith but I think he deserves a little bit more trust than this outbreak of soor-faced greetin' barely a tenth of the way into our first ever majority government.

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  20. "Surely if we are to be fair and reasonable using the same barometer then the folk/political songs sung by Rangers fans should be targetted also."

    Um, who's said they won't be? That's not a rhetorical question - which songs do you mean, and who has said they won't be prosecuted under the new law?

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  21. LPW
    'post-election, the SNP have presided over a political period which has been by turns despairing, girning, partisan, vacuous and dreary. What a squandering of possibilities; what a waste; what folly.'

    I agree. I had a very brief hope when Eck made conciliatory noises after the Holyrood election but it's all been doonhill since then.

    We now have a curious disconnect between Scottish cybergab and the real world where people put marks on ballots. Everything has seemingly been going well for the nats since Holyrood - the triumphalism of the cybernats knows no bounds - yet the real story is the lack of interest of the Scottish electorate, in these supposedly momentous times the commentators say we are living.


    A 50% turnout for Holyrood - and the turnout at my Hillhead ward in the council election the other week was less than 14%. Weather was crap of course, but didn't stop me going out to vote Labour.


    I mind when Gorgeous George was my MP - the politics in the ward was often weird (especially given that most of it was inter-Labour feuding) but at least there was interest in politics - among real people. One of the oddest turnouts for Holyrood was in Eck's own constituency - 48% of the electorate didn't vote. Nearly half the people directly represented by Eck couldn't be bothered to drag themselves to the booth to exercise their democratic right to vote.

    PS - Bolt's version of More is not reliable - Hilary Mantel nailed the bugger in Wolf Hall.

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  22. Stu

    Dambusters, rule brittanis, GSTQ, derry's walls, the sash. They fit the bill of folk/political do they not.

    You may have missed my reference to the Daily Mail, surely I don't really need to explain the significance of that in regard to jingoistic uber-Brit keek.

    Edwin

    Is part of the reason not that we have an added layer of government since then?, I'm sure there is some diminishing law of economics there. Get rid of Westminster and that should do it.

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  23. "it's all been doonhill since then"

    Labour voter in unhappy with SNP shock. Why don't you hold your own party responsible for their dismal refusal to engage with the government? No change on minimum pricing, still no council tax alternative, no amendments to sectarianism bill even after the SNP graciously accepted your demands to delay it (and what a waste of time and good faith that turned out to be, as Labour pouted and refused to have anything to do with it anyway).

    Instead, we've endured seven months of continuous griping about the referendum and threats to gang up with the Tories and take it away, and pretty much nothing else. And you blame *the SNP* for the lack of consensus politics? Hilarious.

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  24. "Dambusters, rule brittanis, GSTQ, derry's walls, the sash. They fit the bill of folk/political do they not."

    Yes, I agree with you, they do. My view is that all of those should be treated as provocative under the bill and prosecuted accordingly. What you've strikingly failed to do is answer the second part of my question and show me where anyone in the Scottish Government has said they won't be. They seem to me to fall squarely within the interpretation of the bill LPW has described.

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  25. Groundskeeper Willie26 November 2011 14:49

    Did the Labour vote not hold pretty steady at the last Holyrood election?

    Is the SNP's massive historic earth shattering landslide not down to the Lib Dem voting switching en masse, more than anything?

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  26. No, it wasn't. A well-publicised post-election analysis showed that more Lib Dem voters went to Labour than to the SNP, but that Labour lost even more votes directly to the Nats. I'll find the link.

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  27. Stu

    I wonder whether you are at it sometimes.

    Just like the polis won't tell Celtic fans what songs they can't sing, due to the worldwide reaction of hysterical laughter, further exposing our default anti-Irish abnormal society. Neither would they ban songs inimical fully or in part to British cultural identiy.

    Hence my use of the Daily Mail for the purposes of illumination ffs!

    Jannie Wullie.

    If you look from the late nineties onward there is a steady decline in the labour vote notwithstanding Stu claims which I too have seen somehwere.

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  28. "Just like the polis won't tell Celtic fans what songs they can't sing, due to the worldwide reaction of hysterical laughter, further exposing our default anti-Irish abnormal society. Neither would they ban songs inimical fully or in part to British cultural identiy."

    So your answer to my question is "No, nobody from the Scottish Government has ever said or suggested that the Rangers songs mentioned will be in any way exempt from the new legislation, and my assertion that they will be is without any basis in fact, and purely based on a paranoid persecution complex."

    Super. Glad we cleared that up.

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  29. To clarify by "our people" I mean SNP members and supporters having problems going through airports. I am not saying that they have been having problems because they are SNP folk - just that is how I know about it and that is why I used that phrase which maybe I shouldn't have. But it has been publicised as well - led to a public meeting in Glasgow with Kenny MacAskill.

    I don't accept it is something that the Scottish Government is behind, to me as I said it is bad information sharing as well as something maybe more unpleasant. One of our members was within a whisker of being elected as a list MSP but was stopped dozens of times in the run-up to the election and asked ridiculous questions like did he know where Bin Laden was. At first he said he took it almost as a joke but then it happened over and over and over again and stoped being funny. Given that he was, as I said, in a good position to get elected he had surely already been vetted by the security services so the whole thing was pointless as well as insulting.

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  30. Stu

    I kinda knew you were the type where I would invariably feel like knawing my fingers aff rather than engage with you, but;

    >>nobody from the Scottish Government has ever said or suggested that the Rangers songs mentioned will be in any way exempt from the new legislation, and my assertion that they will be is without any basis in fact, and purely based on a paranoid persecution complex.<<

    Are you so daft that rather than admit your dimness, you are now prepared to argue that the Scottish government or the polis will intervene to arrest someone singing GSTQ? LOL!

    Thanks for the distraction.

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  31. Re the monarchy thing - the current wording was agreed when Alasdair Allan wrote Talking Independence which was adopted by the whole party back in 2001, I can't remember which year it was exactly but it was certainly prior to 2003. It is really not an issue within the SNP, as evidenced by the fact that the party has had a decade to bring the subject of the monarchy back to Conference or Council and no-one has done so because it is not central to independence. It's one of those issues like the EU that we are not going to get into even though people can have strong opinions about because a) until Scotland is independent there is hee haw that can be done about them so, one thing at a time, firstly get the powers of independence and then have that debate and b) they are very polarising issues, for everyone who is against the monarchy or EU there is someone who is in favour so why tie those issues to the issue of indepedence?

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  32. "you are now prepared to argue that the Scottish government or the polis will intervene to arrest someone singing GSTQ?"

    Yes, I absolutely am. LPW's analysis of the bill points without the slightest ambiguity to that conclusion. The fact that you find the assertion ridiculous demonstrates only your rampant paranoia, not my daftness. I'm not sure what the Birrell case proves if it's not that the police are certainly prepared to prosecute people posting provocative comments at offending/inflaming Catholics.

    Indeed, one might reasonably conclude that the entire purpose of the bill was to provide for the first time a framework in which, in certain circumstances, singing songs like GSTQ was a clear criminal offence.

    The inclusion of the word "reasonably" lets you out, obviously.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Tony

    'Is part of the reason not that we have an added layer of government since then?, I'm sure there is some diminishing law of economics there. Get rid of Westminster and that should do it.'

    Och I think just about every other country in Europe manages with different layers - we shouldn't need to shed one to make the people vote! With 63% for Westminster and 50% for Holyrood a fair percentage of the people have decided its Holyrood that isn't worth it

    RevStu
    'Labour voter in unhappy with SNP shock. Why don't you hold your own party responsible for their dismal refusal to engage with the government?'

    Oh am unhappy with Labour also but it's surely up to the Eckosaurus to maintain some of the statesman-like qualities he all too briefly displayed in the immediate aftermath to Holyrood.


    'No change on minimum pricing, still no council tax alternative, no amendments to sectarianism bill even after the SNP graciously accepted your demands to delay it (and what a waste of time and good faith that turned out to be, as Labour pouted and refused to have anything to do with it anyway).'

    Well I can't mind making any demands on the SNP myself - Ivery much like some of the things they have done and dislike some other things. I vote Labour but don't expect to agree with it on all things. I still have some sanity.

    'And you blame *the SNP* for the lack of consensus politics? Hilarious.'

    Why should you find a politely expressed disagreement 'hilarious'? As I said, Eck should have taken a lead on consensus. I have never been in Holyrood but watching it on telly a lot of the emotion on display seems fairly toxic to me. If Westminster seems like a pantomime - you suspect they all go fora drink afterwards - Holyrood seems to be something darker and nastier.

    We're a small country and we all need to get on. Conan mentions Ben Franklin above - his son was of course a Loyalist (and some suspect Big Ben of being a doubler).

    I want a Scotland where we can decide what we want to be and how we want to be governed without spitting blood and feathers at each other. It's not much to ask for surely.

    ReplyDelete
  34. "To clarify by "our people" I mean SNP members and supporters"

    I apologise for misinterpreting your earlier comment. Since it was a reply to one focusing entirely on Celtic fans, I got the wrong end of the stick.

    ReplyDelete
  35. "As I said, Eck should have taken a lead on consensus"

    He did. He delayed the sectarianism bill when he didn't have to, and a fat lot of good it did.

    "I have never been in Holyrood but watching it on telly a lot of the emotion on display seems fairly toxic to me."

    I agree. But as I said, it's not within the power of the government to set the tone of FMQs. By the nature of the proceedings, it's the main platform for the opposition parties to raise issues. If all they do is try to score pathetic party political points, they can only expect to be slapped down and treated with well-deserved contempt. When genuine matters of importance are discussed, I have seen nothing but moderation from the FM.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Incidentally, Edwin, I agree with you very much when you say we're a small country and we all need to get on which is why I see a certain absurdity in us spending millions of pounds on campaigns and projects to reduce sectarianism, racism, homophobia and the like but then tacitly accept that these things are kind of OK in the context of a football match because somehow that is different, it's aside from normal life, so we have allowed the creation of a football culture where people can behave in ways that would be completely unacceptable in ordinary life - including to the people themselves very probably.

    Trying to fix that is certainly not easy but starting from the basis that people are jsst going to have to learn to get along seems like a good enough start.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Groundskeeper Willie26 November 2011 16:17

    Indy said...


    'Given that he was, as I said, in a good position to get elected he had surely already been vetted by the security services'


    Yeah because before you can stand in an election you have to be vetted by the security services.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Groundskeeper Willie26 November 2011 16:50

    Tony said...
    'If you look from the late nineties onward there is a steady decline in the labour vote notwithstanding Stu claims which I too have seen somehwere.'


    At the last Holyrood election the SNP constituency vote increased by 12.46%.

    Labour's fell by 0.45%

    The Tories by 2.69%

    The Lib Dem's by 8.25%.

    That suggests to me that the Labour vote held up and the Lib Dems switched to the SNP.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I'd appreciate it if someone could please clarify what the SNP position is in respect of the monarchy.

    My understanding is that it was previously but is no longer committed to holding a referendum within the first term of independence. I declare my ignorance of what its position is currently and when, how and why it changed.

    Ken and Tony's understanding seems to be that the SNP is still committed to a referendum in the first term of independence. Stu's understanding appears to be that the commitment was abandoned after 2003 (but conspicuously silent on any further detail). If I'm misrepresenting here then apologies, it's unintentional.

    I could find no reference to the monarchy in the SNP 2011 manifesto.
    http://votesnp.com/campaigns/SNP_Manifesto_2011_lowRes.pdf

    David Torrance's assessment is that Salmond personally decided to dump the commitment to a referendum (owing to his own royalist sympathies) and faced no opposition from within the party, republicans having collectively turned deaf and mute.
    http://www.mugwump.org.uk/?p=36

    ReplyDelete
  40. I have told you exactly what the position is Graham and the current SNP position on the monarchy was published when John Swinney was leader, not Alex Salmond. If you want to know more about it email Alasdair Allan, he wrote the policy document in question.

    ReplyDelete
  41. "My understanding is that it was previously but is no longer committed to holding a referendum within the first term of independence."

    I already linked you to the 2003 manifesto, which proposed a referendum but with no specified timeframe. This commitment was made against the wishes of the leadership by the party conference. The 2005 manifesto and all subsequent ones ditched the pledge.

    It seems safe to say that at least as long as Alex Salmond is leader of the party, there will be no referendum on the monarchy, whether Scotland is independent or not.

    ReplyDelete
  42. "That suggests to me that the Labour vote held up and the Lib Dems switched to the SNP."

    It might seem like that, but it isn't the case. The Scottish Election Study 2011 analysed voter "dealignment", ie voters who were previously not SNP supporters who switched to the SNP in that year's election. They divided them into five categories: previously unaligned, Labour, Liberal, Tory and Other.

    Of those who cast their votes for the SNP, the percentage from each category was:

    Unaligned: 76.8%
    Labour: 12.1%
    Tory: 5.3%
    Lib Dem: 4.8%
    Other: 1%

    So as you can see, the SNP gained *fewer* votes from the Lib Dems than from any other major party. Although the most significant group overall, by far, was those who had not previously been committed to any party, the majority of the SNP's swing voters came from Labour - almost three times as many as defected from the Lib Dems.

    http://www.scottishelectionstudy.org.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  43. And if you strip out the floating voters, the SNP's swing votes came from the other parties in this proportion:

    Labour: 52.1%
    Tory: 22.9%
    Lib Dem: 21%
    Other: 4%

    A total of 1535 voters (excluding those who already supported the SNP) were sampled in the poll.

    ReplyDelete
  44. LPW is spot on, as usual. It's not just this indefensible bill, it was also the indefensible behaviour in relation to the Cadder & Fraser cases, which made me question my previous unquestioning support for the SNP. Reading various articles lambasting Salmond & Macaskill for their outrageous behaviour, I was chastened to realise how much of the criticism of the SNP I actually agreed with.

    Events since May have been dreadful, it's just one thing after the other. What has gone wrong? Cybernats will tell you nothing has gone wrong, but that isn't true.

    Perhaps the main problem is the lack of opposition. Everything that Labour says is dismissed as oppositionism. It shouldn't be. The SNP leadership are making mistakes, big ones, they should start listening to what other people are saying & not assuming they are right all the time.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Oh & thank you LPW I am going to dig out A Man For All Seasons again & re-read it. I had forgotten how good it was until you reminded me.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Indy, apologies, I honestly don't precisely recall.

    Stu, thanks. But I'm still a bit confused. You indicate that it was Salmond's doing, the deed having been done in 2005 under his leadership. Indy has Alasdair Allan as the cuplrit, under Swinney's watch. Where was Professor Plum at the time?

    ReplyDelete
  47. "You indicate that it was Salmond's doing, the deed having been done in 2005 under his leadership."

    I didn't say it happened in 2005, I said the 2005 manifesto ditched the pledge. Exactly when the decision was taken in the time between the 2002 manifesto and the 2005 one (or whose decision it was) I have no idea.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Groundskeeper Willie26 November 2011 18:16

    RevStu said...


    Do those figures relate to the constituency vote or the regional vote?

    ReplyDelete
  49. "The SNP leadership are making mistakes, big ones, they should start listening to what other people are saying"

    They are doing. Your problem is a subtly different one, namely that they're not listening to what YOU'RE saying.

    The vast, overwhelming majority of the public - 90% - want serious and substantial action taken against sectarianism, not more useless committees. The SNP have already listened to criticism and delayed the bill once for the other parties to offer improvements. None have been tabled, because the other parties are cynically trying to grab some opportunistic votes from bigots, not taking some principled stand.

    The language used with regard to the Supreme Court was surprisingly intemperate, but it looks a lot less so in the light of Lord Hope's recent outburst, and I doubt that 99.8% of the electorate gave a toss anyway. I suspect that if anything, most people DO object in principle to the UK Supreme Court sticking its nose into Scots law, regardless of the specifics of individual cases.

    What are these other terrible catastrophes that have dismayed you so? As an SNP sympathiser, I'm struggling to think of any way in which the majority government has disappointed me as yet. (With the exception of the rail document, but that's only a consultation.)

    ReplyDelete
  50. "Do those figures relate to the constituency vote or the regional vote?"

    The report doesn't specify as far as I can see. The SNP vote was more or less identical in both anyway(45% constituency 44% list.)

    ReplyDelete
  51. '"The time for dissent is after the Saltire flies over Edinburgh castle, not before."

    Precisely.'


    No. If independence means having an authoritarian, undemocratic, one party state operating a thought police, I'd rather not bother thank you.

    Not that I'm saying the SNP administration are acting in such a way (yet), but they have demonstrated some decided tendencies in that direction. If they are going to negotiate the terms of Scottish independence following a successful referendum, I would like to reassured that they favour the rule of law, proper democratic legislation rather than arbitrary authority, human rights, freedom of speech, and constitutionality. Oh, and actions speak louder than election promises in demonstrating your true viewpoint.

    So as an non member of the SNP, I do want to see questions being raised, and answered; since the questions and answers both require to be in the context of those in favour of independence, I am happy to see "dissent" from SNP members questioning their leadership rather than unthinking silent obedience.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I enjoyed the post and managed to witness your TV performance - many congratulations! You quoted a lot from Robert Bolt, but much of the argument is really that of Plato in the Symposium. I have PW down for Socrates but I am agonising over Agothon, Aristophanes and of course Alciabades. It's so sad that any Scottish argument has to be reduced to stupid football and the antics of two rather stupid clubs, who counter any Scottish achievement by their nihilism. Some criticism of you has been justified, however, though there are always the questions of "who is going to mind the high heid yins?" There is a Latin phrase for this but we're not supposed to use this in London. Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  53. "No. If independence means having an authoritarian, undemocratic, one party state operating a thought police, I'd rather not bother thank you."

    Um, the thing you quote says the exact opposite of that. It says dissent will be welcomed in an independent Scotland, but if we want such a thing to exist at all it would be wise not to tear ourselves apart with stupid infighting over meaningless trivialities in the meantime. I anticipate a free and vigorous debate on the subject of the monarchy as and when independence is achieved.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hi Indy - I wonder if the whole football thing is dying anyway. Was at the Danny Macaskill Riverside fest thingy with family and one thing that struck me was the almost total absence of club football strips - one Jags strip or so and that was it. The SPL attendance figures show a drop of 600,000 fans over a surprisingly short period of years. Think it's one example of how Scotland may be changing in unexpected ways.

    And hi Observer - I chatted to you once on Tom Harris' blog, nice to see you.

    Of topic babbling sorry LPW, sorry guys off now.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Groundskeeper Willie26 November 2011 19:18

    November 2011 18:26

    RevStu said...
    '"Do those figures relate to the constituency vote or the regional vote?"

    The report doesn't specify as far as I can see. The SNP vote was more or less identical in both anyway(45% constituency 44% list.)'


    Well the only data of the sort your referring to on the link you provided relates to the regional vote.

    If the stats relate to the regional vote then they are not evidence for your assertion.

    ReplyDelete
  56. "Well the only data of the sort your referring to on the link you provided relates to the regional vote."

    Where are you seeing that?

    "If the stats relate to the regional vote then they are not evidence for your assertion."

    Why not? A switch is a switch. I can't see any obvious reason why a Lib Dem voter would switch to Labour in the constituency vote but SNP in the list, or vice versa.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Groundskeeper Willie26 November 2011 20:08

    RevStu said...
    'Where are you seeing that?'

    Page 6

    http://www.scottishelectionstudy.org.uk/docs/Johns_slides.pdf

    'A switch is a switch.'

    Eh, naw.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I am trying really hard but Rev Stu you would test the patience of a saint.

    & I am no saint.

    ReplyDelete
  59. ''The vast, overwhelming majority of the public - 90% - want serious and substantial action taken against sectarianism''

    Yep, & 100% of beauty contestants want world peace, when they are not helping children.

    What people say usually depends on the question (something which will no doubt be on Mr Salmond's mind vis a vis the referendum).

    I rather think that if the public were asked do you want some of the most draconian legislation in Europe to be enacted here, the same amount of people who want action taken against sectarianism would oppose the method the SNP propose to use.

    ReplyDelete
  60. ''What are these other terrible catastrophes that have dismayed you so?''

    Well I think the Supreme Court rammy & this mess of pottage are enough to be getting on with, but since you ask I will tell you.

    I am very uneasy about the persistent refusal to release data under FOI. I know that these requests are fishing trips, but there is a pattern emerging. It may well be a manufactured pattern, but the SNP need to deal with it better, as it looks bad.

    Swinney has a giant hole in his budget. I don't know how the hell he thinks he can fill it. He is like one of those jugglers you used to see at the circus, with all these plates spinning on the end of poles, you sat on the edge of your seat waiting for them all to crash.

    That is how I feel now.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Rev Stu, final word - these are not ''meaningless trivialities''

    ReplyDelete
  62. Groundskeeper Willie26 November 2011 23:20

    obreption said...

    'It's so sad that any Scottish argument has to be reduced to stupid football'

    Aye, it's feckin tragic right enough.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur5fGSBsfq8

    ReplyDelete
  63. Groundskeeper Willie26 November 2011 23:35

    Indy

    'One of our members was within a whisker of being elected as a list MSP but was stopped dozens of times in the run-up to the election and asked ridiculous questions like did he know where Bin Laden was.'



    Would this person be in the habit of visiting family in Pakistan's Tribal Area?

    Because if he is then the questioning might have some purpose to it.

    I think most normal people would agree that Al-Qaeda should be more of a priority for the security services than a group of Celtic supporters.

    ReplyDelete
  64. You are kind of missing the point Willie. In point of fact this person has a construction company which did work in Palestine so I guess that's why he was of interest and if he'd been stopped once or twice or three times it would be fair enough - but dozens of times? Being asked the same silly questions by the same people? I think most normal people would be a tad alarmed at such a waste of police time apart from anything else. Also, I think you are naive if you don't think that MSPs and potential MSPs are vetted. Everyone who even works at the Scottish Parliament has to go through a security check so it's not likely they wouldn't bother with the actual members is it?

    ReplyDelete
  65. That is a good point Edwin and I think it's actually key to what the Government is doing. Alex Salmond has said that part of what this bill is about is saving football. Obviously I don't want to spark off a debate around the dominance of Rangers/Celtic in Scottish football - otherwise we would be here for eternity! - but the reality is that we can't actually afford to lose them if the Scottish game is to have a sustainable future, as unpopular as that view may be. But unless the nasty side of the Old Firm rivalry can be cleaned up that's a possibility - not because of anything the Government might do but because society as a whole has moved on but a minority of fans have not, which is the underlying problem.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Groundskeeper Willie27 November 2011 10:44

    Indy said...

    'Also, I think you are naive if you don't think that MSPs and potential MSPs are vetted.'


    They aren't vetted by the security services, whatever you might think.They might be monitored by the security services, but that's a different thing entirely.

    Has the individual you referred to ever been to Pakistan?


    'Alex Salmond has said that part of what this bill is about is saving football.'

    When HMRC liquidate the huns will Salmond be launching a rescue package 'to save Scottish football'?

    ReplyDelete
  67. Highlandlawyer

    The SNP is not a modern day Nazi party (Forgive me Godwin).
    Yet we have to maintain the schwerpunkt of independence, the unionists have enough sticks to beat us with without internal dissent.
    That said, both the sectarian and the alcohol legislation are crap...

    ReplyDelete
  68. Willie - I have been to Pakistan. Does that make me automatically suspect in your eyes?

    ReplyDelete
  69. Groundskeeper Willie27 November 2011 12:08

    Indy said...
    'Willie - I have been to Pakistan. Does that make me automatically suspect in your eyes?'


    You haven't answered the question.

    If someone travels to the Tribal area to visit family (and maybe takes the opportunity to treat his kids to the joys of firing off an AK47) then it's just possible that they'll have heard whispers about Al-Qaeda.

    I can see why the security services would consider it a worthwhile exercise to ask such an individual questions.Not to accuse the individual of being a terrorist but just to find out what they might have heard or seen.

    I can't equate that scenario with the security services quizing someone about a group of football fans.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Conan - we have the referendum in sight. The people most likely to lose the referendum are actually to be found inside the SNP, as we are guaranteed that the Tories will play their part.

    Within the confines of the blogs where only we anoraks meet, I think those of us who want independence should point out to the SNP where we think they are going wrong.

    There is a chance that some of them might notice.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Willie - Al Q are mobile, they are as likely to be found in Yemen or Somalia as in the tribal territories.

    By your logic everyone in Scotland should have been stopped to ask if they knew about Adam Busby.

    Racial profiling when stopping & searching does not aid intelligence but it does cause resentment & occasionally riots.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Groundskeeper Willie27 November 2011 15:53

    Observer said...

    Had the individual you mentioned been to the Tribal areas?

    I'm sure people who visit family in the Yemen and Somalia will also be talked to.

    Though not about what they know about a group of football fans.

    Do you see the difference?

    On the one hand Al-Qaeda.

    On the other a group of football fans.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Observer

    Playing a blinder.

    Conan

    I am on board with your motivations and best intentions.

    Can you understand though how an activist like me is madly upset that the fitba Bill has the potential to criminalise me and mine who otherwise would never see the wrang end of the criminal justice system? No matter what the reason people object to expressions of politics in a fitba arena, we should not be subject to criminalisation............full stop!

    I might be assuaged by a sensible police force who would never abuse the powers expanded under this new Bill. The reality is though they seem hell bent on arbitrary - verging on the political - policing of late aimed at the Celtic support, and lends me to believe that they will soon be filling their boots.

    Jannie Wullie

    Guilt by association/the men behind the wire?!?! You only weaken your argument.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Groundskeeper Willie27 November 2011 16:17

    'Four Dunfermline fans have been arrested over racial chanting at their team's game against Celtic in Glasgow on Wednesday night'

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-15895454

    So why the need for new legislation?

    #####
    Tony said...

    'Guilt by association/the men behind the wire?!?! You only weaken your argument.'

    That's silly and childish.

    1. Al-Qaeda exist.
    2. They do present a threat.
    3. They do operate in the Tribal areas.
    4. People who visit family in the tribal areas may, whether they know it or not, have information on Al-Qaeda activities.
    5. It's not unreasonable for the security services to ask people who have visited the Tribal areas if they saw or heard anything that might be relevant.
    6. To equate this with the security services questioning someone about a group of football fans is ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  75. 'Alex Salmond has said that part of what this bill is about is saving football.'

    "When HMRC liquidate the huns will Salmond be launching a rescue package 'to save Scottish football'?"


    God help the SNP if they even try. Rangers allegedly used a tax avoidance process and have been caught (Arsenal did the same and coughed up).

    It's bad enough they rescued the trams to pull their councillors out of a pit. Let's not give them any ideas about paying off football debts.

    ReplyDelete
  76. Jannie Wullie

    Someone alluded to it earlier, kinda.

    In your eyes the tenous linkage between someone who is Catholic or irish and who has family in or visited Ireland justifies the harrasment that was normal at say Stranraer at one time. And by extension justifies the excuse used by the British controlled Unionists death squads for their any Taig will do policy.

    I wasn't being childish before, far from it............the very thought. The words in the song 'Men behind the wire' are relevant;

    "Being Irish means we're guilty, so we're' guilty one and all"

    Swap Irish for Muslim.

    Shamen on you!

    Barbarian

    No need for that the SPL have signed a deal with sky that effectively guarantee's the survival of Rangers. The slightly improved money on offer is conditional on four auld firm games a season. Thus the SPL could potentially pay for Rangers to survive or be in breach of contract.

    Celtic will pay their share also.

    ReplyDelete
  77. "Within the confines of the blogs where only we anoraks meet, I think those of us who want independence should point out to the SNP where we think they are going wrong."

    Sure. But chickening out on the sectarianism vote will be a huge vote-loser, because unlike most of the posters on this thread the vast majority of Scots *aren't* blinded by the vested interest of being Old Firm supporters.

    I'm afraid OF fans really do need to wake up to the fact that everyone else in Scotland despises you, and could not possibly care any less about the differences that you think mark you so crucially and obviously apart from the "other side". To everyone else, you're both a cancer on Scotland.

    (Ironically, the most likely way to get the bill stopped would be if Old Firm fans announced they were massively in favour of it. Then and only then might ordinary people start to think there must be something wrong with it.)

    And there's a difference between raising some legitimate policy issues and embarking on a massive public binge of doom-and-gloom girning such as we've seen in the last few days, and which has been gleefully jumped on by the Unionist camp like Kenny Farquharson, who's clearly been reading this very comments thread closely - hi Kenny!

    The events of the last seven months do not justify anything remotely like the hysterical negativity that's suddenly sprung up. I can think of nothing more Scottish, showing the worst side of our national characteristics, than to be paralysed by such ridiculously overblown misery at the moment of our greatest triumph, and perhaps the threshold of an even greater one. Get a grip.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Groundskeeper Willie27 November 2011 21:16

    Tony said

    So you equate asking someone returning from visiting family in the Tribal areas of Pakistan about Al-Qaeda with questioning someone flying in from Belfast about a football supporters group?

    ReplyDelete
  79. Wullie

    Stoap it widye, you are reminding me of stu too much.

    Why oh why do obviosly intelligent people retreat into pedantry when they over-reach themselves. Almost as bad as those that ignore salient points and then stop responding.

    As I stated earlier Jannie, it is a massive over-reaction if said story is true. We have since gravitated onto this scenario where you are somehow excusing the forces of reaction for treating muslims thus.

    Shame on you!

    Methinks you have been reading my auld pal phil's Islamophobic establishment shite. Can't for the life think why he refuses to print my comments on his site, and we were great on-line pals at one time. perhaps he realises that i can spot the hypocrisy inherent in his predjucises. Is that you phil?

    ReplyDelete
  80. Rev Stu - I thought Kenny's article was quite good. His criticism of the bill was entirely valid.

    ''This is increasingly looking like the worst law in the 12-year history of devolution, as well as an appalling political misjudgment by the normally astute Alex Salmond. I’m still unclear, having heard two entirely different explanations from Roseanna Cunningham, the minister responsible, whether the singing of the national anthems of the UK or Ireland can ever be a criminal act. The same with demonstrations of religious belief such as making the sign of the cross. Forget Tony Blair’s over-reaction to the “war on terror”, this law is as close to the dystopian concept of thought crime and arbitrary legal power as these islands have seen since Brian Faulkner introduced internment to Northern Ireland in 1971.''

    There isn't anything there that I can disagree with.

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention I hadn't reaqd it.

    ps I don't know if your OF rant was aimed at me, but I am not a football supporter. I am more usually to be found shopping for handbags on a Saturday afternoon or a nice pair of shoes. However, despite my distaste for the male excitement which is generated by men in shorts kicking a ball about, I do not regard it as a criminal activity & any law which could potentially make singing a song or making the sign of the cross an illegal act is quite simply an act of lunacy.

    ReplyDelete
  81. "I thought Kenny's article was quite good."

    Well, you would, as you agree with it.

    "any law which could potentially make singing a song or making the sign of the cross an illegal act is quite simply an act of lunacy"

    So you'd be fine with someone walking into a synagogue on a Friday night and singing the catchy Nazi children's toe-tapper "The Jew Is Filthy Vermin"? You wouldn't consider that incitement to hatred? You'd say that was just legitimate freedom of speech, right?

    ReplyDelete
  82. And incidentally, it's weird and kinda amusing that half the objections to the bill are "This is an unprecedented and catastrophically dangerous new piece of legislation for thought crime!" and half of them are "There's no need for this bill because everything in it is already covered by existing law".

    If you guys are going to team up to oppose the bill, you should probably get your story straight...

    ReplyDelete
  83. >>So you'd be fine with someone walking into a synagogue on a Friday night and singing the catchy Nazi children's toe-tapper "The Jew Is Filthy Vermin"? You wouldn't consider that incitement to hatred? You'd say that was just legitimate freedom of speech, right?<<

    I know I am going to regret this but.......

    Do you differentiate at all between that act and someone for example singing GSTQ, the soldiers song or making the sign of the cross (not all at the same time of course unless you are one of Celtic's labourite hegemony that is)? If you do then that is exactly my position all along.

    ReplyDelete
  84. But Tony people can end up in court for blessing themselves now. Arthur Boruc? And people can certainly end up in court for singing songs.

    If there is a desire to eshrine the right of people to bless themselves or sing God Save The Queen in any and all circumstances then perhaps an amendment should have been drawn up to that effect and then there could have been a proper discussion.

    And if people think that the proposals are a form of thought crime that begs a question for me. Why aren't you campaiging to change current legislation which allows for certain offences to be aggravated if they are deemed to be racist, homophobic etc - because that is also surely a form of thought crime?

    ReplyDelete
  85. Incidentally you have all still missed the point about what I was saying re people being stopped at airports - which is a side issue and not really pertinent so apologies for distracting things but I wanted to make the point clear.

    Racial profiling is a fact and not really the issue. The issue is someone being stopped literally dozens of times and asked the same questions over and over again, in many cases by the same officers. In most reasonable people's eyes that would constitute harrassment, which is rather what I thought Willie was talking about in the first place. The fact that he used a passing remark to basically say that anyone who has ever been to Pakistan is thereby associated with terrorism tells us something about Willie but it's not really pertinent to this particular debate.

    ReplyDelete
  86. Groundskeeper Willie28 November 2011 09:47

    'The fact that he used a passing remark to basically say that anyone who has ever been to Pakistan is thereby associated with terrorism tells us something about Willie but it's not really pertinent to this particular debate.'


    'to basically say' ????


    I said no such thing and the fact that you've sought to misrepresent what I've said tells me something about you.

    As of course does your seeking to equate the security services questioning someone (however cack handedly) about Al-Qaeda with them questioning someone about a group of football supporters.

    Al Qaeda or The Green Brigade. Which requires the attentions of the security services?

    You still haven't said if the individual you've referred to has been to the Tribal areas (not Pakistan, per se, but the Tribal areas of Pakistan, the bit where Al-Qaeda are active).

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  87. "Do you differentiate at all between that act and someone for example singing GSTQ, the soldiers song or making the sign of the cross"

    Unlike the example I suggested, it depends on the circumstances. I'm happy to leave that judgement to the police in the first instance, and then to a judge and jury. I can't think of a case where singing an anti-Semitic song in a synagogue wouldn't be a hate crime.

    Songs of religion and politics have no place whatsoever at football matches, and the default stance should be to treat them as offensive acts unless there are some sort of mitigating circumstances (which offhand I can't think of).

    A supporter crossing themselves is a different matter, and would in *most* situations not be provocative in my view.(Running up to opposition fans and doing it in front of them is a different matter, of course.)

    That said, fuck knows why anyone would feel the need to do such a thing in a public place anyway. The idea that God intervenes personally in football matches, and therefore needs to be thanked there and then, is facile and cretinous.

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  88. Groundskeeper Willie28 November 2011 10:19

    RevStu said...


    Do you consider farting in lifts to be offensive?

    Do you think it should be a crime?

    What length of prison sentence do you consider would be appropriate punishment?

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  89. "Do you consider farting in lifts to be offensive?"

    Yes. But unlikely to provoke violent disorder.

    Do you think it should be a crime? What length of prison sentence do you consider would be appropriate punishment?

    I'd be fine with anything up to and including hanging.

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  90. >>But Tony people can end up in court for blessing themselves now. Arthur Boruc? And people can certainly end up in court for singing songs.<<

    Glad you are still talking to me ;¬)

    Boruc was not brought before the Court - but in theory could have been, you are correct - he was cautioned by the polis for making gestures, purportedly the v sign as well as the sign of the cross. I am pretty sure that it is the latter that caused these oh so tolerant fans most offense. It caused a worldwide uproar at the time and again highlighted what is normal in our abnormal society. In that should a ned like Boruc - for that is what he is - seek to antagonise a large part of Scotland's biggest team (support wise) then he can do no better/worse than bless himself.

    should a normal civilised society be thus? In the same vein;

    >>A supporter crossing themselves is a different matter, and would in *most* situations not be provocative in my view.(Running up to opposition fans and doing it in front of them is a different matter, of course.)<<

    Does that not say more about said fans and yirsel for understanding their offence?

    >>Songs of religion and politics have no place whatsoever at football matches, and the default stance should be to treat them as offensive acts unless there are some sort of mitigating circumstances (which offhand I can't think of).<<

    I began trying to reason with you here, but realised that others better than me had tried and failed. I gie up, lock me up...............nurse!

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  91. "Does that not say more about said fans and yirsel for understanding their offence?"

    I didn't say I understood or defended their offence. I said it would be an attempt at provoking them, which it certainly would be. Blessing yourself should be a matter between you and your God, not anything directed AT anyone.

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  92. Stu

    I agree with your last sentence completely whether he/she/it exists.

    Now would you answer my actual point.

    No matter what way we cut it, we have an abnormal society in so much as toleration levels of anti-Catholic bigots. Even legislation that has been drawn up to deal with the manifestations of such is tinged with it.

    Remember it is anti-Catholic discrimination that has brought foreigners shaking their heids at us repeatedly and imposing santions on Rangers. People with a Celtic and by extension catholic and/or Irish element have been targeted by bombs and live under police protection. Are 4-5 times more likely to be targets of sectarian aggravated crimes. And as Indy helpfully points out may be subject to arrest for winding people up by making a religious sign, no matter how ill advised.

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  93. "No matter what way we cut it, we have an abnormal society in so much as toleration levels of anti-Catholic bigots."

    I absolutely disagree with this assertion, and point to the massive public support for a bill aimed at tackling sectarianism as evidence.

    "Remember it is anti-Catholic discrimination that has brought foreigners shaking their heids at us repeatedly and imposing santions on Rangers."

    As I've pointed out more times than I care to count, everyone in Scotland outwith the Old Firm despises Rangers AND Celtic, and dearly wishes they would both just fuck off and die. If Rangers are bankrupted by HMRC there will be parties in the streets over a job half done.

    That you somehow contrive to paint that as "toleration" of the Rangers support's grotesque bigotry is bewildering. We aren't prepared to tolerate *either* of you any more, hence 90% backing for the bill. (The 10% being Rangers and Celtic fans.)

    "People with a Celtic and by extension catholic and/or Irish element have been targeted by bombs"

    Goodness me. You might want to wash your pots before criticising anyone else's kettles.

    "may be subject to arrest for winding people up"

    Indeed. And quite properly so, if that winding-up is likely to result in violent disorder. I don't care if it's by making a religious sign or throwing dogshit, if you try to provoke people into violence you deserve to be arrested.

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  94. I should have taken the nurse's advice.

    You are totally divorced from reality. Your claims/denials fly in the face of all the evidence.

    Good day!

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  95. "Your claims/denials fly in the face of all the evidence."

    "Evidence" is the one thing your posts have consistently lacked. A bill is proposed to outlaw all sectarian provocation and your only answer is "It will be applied against Celtic fans but not Rangers ones!", based on precisely nothing.

    "You are totally divorced from reality."

    Let me tell you about reality, Tony. I live in England now. I've been here for many years, and I could count on one hand the number of times I've been reminded that there are different sects of Christianity in Britain. It's simply never, ever any kind of an issue anywhere.

    When I talk to Scots, and especially Catholics, the chances of going five minutes without someone bringing it up are close to nil. Of all the things I miss about home, that one isn't in the top 50 million.

    On the island of Ireland, not too long ago, people spent several decades murdering each other. Indiscriminate bombings of innocent civilians or targeted assassinations of unarmed individuals, the killings went on an on, tit for tat for tit for tat, until against the odds some politicians came up with an agreement.

    The agreement seemed in some senses an offence against humanity. Cold-blooded murderers on both sides of the divide were released en masse from prison to live their lives as free men, while the tears had barely dried on the cheeks of their victims' families.

    I and many other onlookers were horrified. How could this possibly be right? And yet it worked, and it worked because the people of Ireland said "Okay, enough is enough. Let's draw a line under the past and live in peace rather than trying forever to level the scores."

    In other words, they all grew up and got the fuck over the grudges of ancient history. Only in Scotland do their followers refuse to come out of the jungle and acknowledge that it's the 21st Century and the Irish War is over. You should give it a try. It's nice here.

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  96. Ah so!

    On top of knowing next to nothing about what you are commenting on in Scotland................you then go on to flout how little you know of the recent conflict in Ireland. Hint, pick up a book or two and stop reading Daily mail type newspapers. Irish Republicans/Loyalists and even those who were wrongfully convicted of crimes in the main at least done some time for their crimes. How many british Ministers, secret service personell and soldiers can say the same. The British state was the main protaganist in the conflict, and was forced to the negotiating table. In an ideal world all would have to account for their crimes.

    Here was me thinking that ignorance was only a badge of honour amongst the young.

    Oh and the evidence that you may have missed has came from several sources and is littered throughout the last two threads. It really is ultra tedious trying to reason with the unreasonable.

    Consider my fingers gnawed off permanently now when it comes to you Stu.

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  97. "Consider my fingers gnawed off permanently now"

    If it stops you typing endless bollocks, then I have performed a heroic service for humanity. Sadly, I doubt it will. I suspect the only time in life you're truly happy is when you're greeting about being persecuted.

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