18 November 2012

For A' That, Episode 4 ... Hypothetically Speaking...

I'm told that - like grief and alcoholism, and here there may be overlaps between the three - completing your doctoral thesis is a process with many stages, from bright-eyed initial enthusiasm, to grinding, alienated despair, as the prose accumulates, and the months and years tick by.  It's like Stockholm syndrome, where it is impossible to tell whether you or the thesis is the kidnapper. I've been sunk deep up to my eyeballs in this unforgiving endeavour: I hope you'll forgive my quietness here these past two weeks. 

I'm happy to say, however, that we are keeping up the momentum up on our For A' That podcast, recorded with my co-host, Michael Greenwell of the Scottish independence podcast (most recently recorded with Patrick Harvie MSP), and interesting folk from the world of Scottish social and political commentary.  Our guest on this, the fourth episode of the show, was Gary Dunion, currently one of the editors of Bright Green Scotland blog, former candidate and chief press officer for the Green Party in England and Wales.  

Today's discussion covered a range of topics, from Vodafone and Starbucks' interrogation by a Committee of the House of Commons on their economical tax arrangements, and the potential efficacy of protest to effect political change, to yesterday's (unconfirmed) allegations that police were stripping Celtic fans of Palestinian flags as an entre into a broader discussion of policing football, the law recently passed by Holyrood, to criminalise "offensive behaviour" on the terraces and how that may relate to fundamental rights, including free expression, which is protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, incorporated into domestic law by the Human Rights Act 1998.

We closed off our chat with a brief look at the latest independence referendum issues, including the House of Lords Constitutional Affairs Committee's report, published this week, reported in the Telegraph under the inflammatory headline, Lords: Scottish independence referendum deal could be declared "unlawful". Gary also makes an interesting point about campaign funding: is the SNP government actually proposing an overly abstemious regulation of the independence referendum? Is there not a case for nationalists to raise and spend a substantial amount of cash, making the best, most detailed case for independence which can be conceived? We also considered the situation of the civil service in this process: will the state bureaucracy in Scotland and the UK strain at the seams, as a nationalist Scottish Government, and a unionist Westminster Government, use their governmental resources to pursue their constitutional preferences?

In perhaps the podcast's inflammatory admission thus far, I also reveal that, unlike the First Minister, I cannot survey a Tunnocks' teacake with equanimity, nevermind culinary enthusiasm. Lend the podcast your ears here:

For those of you who'd prefer to ferret the show away for later like a concealed, larcenously-acquired teacake in a greedy schoolboy's pocket, you can also download the show via iTunes or Spreaker.  All observations, comments or criticisms on the show, or anything we discussed, very gratefully received.  We'll be back next week with another show, with another guest, and a new range of issues to blether about. Unforeseen, but happily, I'll also be up in Glasgow next week and have squeezed Saturday's Radical Independence Conference into my schedule.  I dare say I might bump into a few of you there.


  1. My reading of the funding row is that the SNP wants to limit spending by political parties in favour of the majority of spending being done by the designated organisations - Yes Scotland and Better Together.

    Whereas the Better Together side want there to be a much higher cap on political party spending for obvious reasons. It is highly unlikely that the Greens/SSP could provide much in the way of cash which means that the Yes side would automatically be outspent by the combined financial clout of Labour/Tory/Lib Dems.

    The only way round that I could see would be for the SNP to donate to the Greens and SSP so that they could spend up to their limit. Which would be a strange turn of events!

  2. Indy,

    Indeed. As we've noted in past conversations, it is a tricky one, but the SNP really hold all the cards. With no mention of campaign financing in the s30 order draft, currently being considered, Holyrood - and consequently, the SNP - are in a position to arrange matters as best suits themselves.