19 May 2013

"Naebody's nails can reach the length o' Lunnon..."

The spirit of Sir Walter Scott's Mrs Howden took to the streets of Edinburgh this week, a knot of students taking the opportunity of the Aberdeen Donside by-election to barrack Nigel Farage, with cries of "bawbag" and sundry other irreverent observations on the ideology and policies of UKIP's often-lionised leader. From reports of the event, no peebles were involved, but on episode 25 of the For A' That podcast, Michael, guest Kate Higgins and I lobbed a few projectiles in Nickel Foorage's direction. 

Up second, Michael articulated a nagging doubt: "Should we stop worrying about winning the independence debate, and just get on with winning the referendum?" We mulled over what is missing from the current coverage of the independence campaign. 

That segued seamlessly into a broadly positive discussion of STV's more creative approach to broadcasting about the national debate, in a week where Nicola Sturgeon and Michael Moore went napper-to-napper on an experimental Scotland Tonight special on the economics of independence.  Is this an Americanising development, format-wise? Can these shows really help us deal will the knotty issues of the independence campaign? Is a polarised, point-scoring form of debate really going to assist us, as a nation, to come to an informed conclusion in autumn 2014? More broadly, are STV outperforming the BBC in terms of the originality and creativity of their approach to #indyref broadcasting? 

Tomorrow, I'm speaking to members of the Oxfordshire Green Party on the question, why should progressives support Scottish independence? I took the opportunity to pick Michael and Kate's minds on the arguments they would use, to persuade left-wingers in England and Wales of the virtues of Scottish independence, and the positive impact which constitutional change might have furth of Scotland.  The work of ordinary politics hasn't been superseded by the referendum campaign, however little space in the papers may be given over to the latest reforms introduced by the Scottish Government. Taking the example of the important Victims and Witnesses Bill, Kate argues that important changes are being left out of our national debates, constitutionally overshadowed.

You can lend your ears to their answers here, download the episode via Spreaker, or access it via the comfort of iTunes.  To keep updated with the latest editions of the For A' That podcasts, and Michael's Scottish Independence Podcasts, you can also access our RSS feed here.


  1. Apropos of nothing else, I've been looking for that Walter Scott quote but could not for the life of me remember from where it came and what character uttered it.

    For this alone; thanks.

  2. LPW, watch for a possible question on why the Greens seem to have slipped in Scotand - from 7 MSPS they are down to 2 and their Scottish vote at the Westminster election was less than 1%

    The Greens in Engand seem to have done better than the Scottish Greens at the Westminster election and of course have an MP - a very distant prospect in Scotland. .

    On the other hand they got 7% at the previoius year's Euro election so no idea myself what is happening. Maybe that Better Nation guy has it right and Ukip can sneak a Euro seat in Scotland!

    1. Edwin,

      It's an interesting one, and a question which comes up regularly, whenever I put my head together with Scottish Greens: where do we go from here, and how? Should the party focus its meagre resources on targeting particular seats, building up a cooncillor base, and from that, onwards and upwards to the Brighton strategy that saw Caroline Lucas returned to Westminster?

  3. My favourite councillor is Martha Wardroup - she is brilliant. I don't really any know any other elected Greens but one gets the impression they are in general likely to be of better quality than the usual counclllor ruck of placeman and women, busybodies, rotarians, lairy businessmen and the unemployable.

    I don't understand lots of things about Scottish politics, but it seems especially puzzling that the Greens have long lost the flaky image yet Scots have largely ceased to vote for them (except it seems for Europe).

    Maybe the Eckosaur has swallowed their vote, but that is also puzzling - or the Sheridan affair has damaged the smaller parties in some way, but that seems even more puzzling.

  4. I have a theory about that, I think when people are a bit more relaxed about things, they feel they can vote with something approaching more of a conscience; the greens or the SSP. However, when the shit hits the fan, they revert back to voting, not necessarily for the party they want in, but to keep the party they dislike out.

    The smaller parties have a hell of a time reaching a critical mass where this type of voting ceases to affect them. UKIP seem to be having a run at it just now aided by the press...

    Not exactly ideal but there it is.