11 November 2013

You sunk my battleship!

Strategic defence procurement, I'm unashamed to admit, isn't really my bag. Little in a law degree prepares you for thinking about Brigadoon Class Sloops or which port and yard has the requisite know-how and balance of commercial imperatives to launch the ever-vigilant (if slightly listing) steel-plated HMS Drouthy Neibor.  

 But job-losses and the future of ship-building on the Clyde (martial or peaceful) consumed the news agenda in Scotland last week, and are the first topic up on Episode 37 of the For A' That podcast

Joining Michael and me this week are SNP and Women for Independence-bod, Natalie McGarry, and Stuart Campbell of the Wings Over Scotland blog.  Having unscrewed some of the rivets holding the frigate-controversy together, we shifted tack into the storm currently engulfing Johann Lamont and the Scottish Labour Party. Here be dragons. Between Falkirk, Grangemouth, and the party's holing itself below the policy waterline in order to win Dunfermline, we take a closer (and not entirely unsympathetic!) look at the party's fortunes, two years into the SNP's second term in office. 

Escaping from these choppy waters, we moved on to our third topic. I'm speaking at a Scottish Constitutional Futures Forum event at the University of Strathclyde this week, examining the constitutional options faced by an independent Scotland if we vote Yes next year.  What should be in our basic law? What principles should inform the debate? And for that matter, who should decide? Is Alex Salmond right, for example, that things like free higher education at the point of use should be constitutionally protected? If that, why not other things - trades union rights, women's right to have their reproductive choices protected, a minimum wage?  

Lastly, as we were recording on Remembrance Sunday, we discussed the annual poppy controversy. Has the solemn act of remembrance seen the poppy inappropriately appropriated by showbizzy glitz? Is this a generational shift, perhaps, as the generation who fought and lived through recent conflicts, leave us? Can the militaristic quality of remembrance of those killed in war forget important victims of conflict? And most controversial of all, perhaps, has this - can this - annual national ritual shade from the mournful recollection of wasted life into the politically problematic valorisation of war?

You can listen to the show right here or on its homepage, or tuck it away for later by downloading it from Spreaker or from iTunes.  Happy listening.


  1. Very interesting take on events.

    On the constitutional issue I take a simplistic view, keep the ECHR and the mechanisms that make it superior to UK or perhaps future Scottish Law. Otherwise a future Theresa McMay will arise with a will to be 'free' us of all reasonable safeguards.

    Just out of curiosity who chose 'The Band played Watzing Matilda'? It was utterly appropriate to your last topic.

    1. douglas,

      No accident, that Pogues propriety (and just think how rarely anyone has said that!) Michael is, as ever, our music man. And he likes his thematics. On the constitution, ECHR membership for an independent Scotland looks a dead certainty if we vote Yes. Not least as it is, effectively, now a precondition for membership of the rather-more-important European Union...

  2. BTW the song was written by a Scotsman - one Eric Bogle whose rendition is far superior to the Pogues. A better choice for a Scottish podcast would have been Eric Bogle singing 'No Man's Land" (Willie McBride) also sung by and wrongly attributed to another Irish band - The Fureys!! Apart from that good podcast!!

    1. Yes all good - my personal favourite is on the Laggan 'I am the Common Man' album - the great Arthur Johnston. I mind Tony Patten singing it many times at parties.