Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Farcical Olympic Games: Culmination of Long-Running British Security Obsession

When I arrived home from the ancient City of Stirling this evening, I started a bath running and switched the television on. It defaulted to one of the BBC's eight new channels dedicated to the London Olympic Games (in contrast, the BBC provides only 25 minutes of Scottish programming on BBC One Scotland, 20 minutes of Scottish programming on BBC Two Scotland, and a scant six hours of BBC Alba. The BBC provides only two radio stations in Scotland), on which a football match between America and France was being played in front of an almost entirely empty and eerily silent National Stadium in Glasgow. 

It is the latest sign that the people of Scotland have utterly rejected the London Olympic Games in their millions. It's not surprising: the organisers of the London Olympic Games have "reallocated" millions of pounds of National Lottery funding from Scottish communities to millionaire athletes and security agencies. 

The build-up to the Games has been farcical in the extreme. The imposition of segregated road lanes for such contributors to world peace and prosperity as Chang Un of the DPRK and Prince Nawaf of Saudi Arabia, and for thieves and spivs like Switzerland's J Sepp Blatter (sadly, Brazil's Dr Joao Havelange has now resigned to avoid expulsion and prison and will not be picking pockets throughout London), has made it abundantly clear to the people of this country that these games are not for us - they are for the enjoyment of the oligarchs. 

A major financial backer of the Games is Union Carbide, which perpetrated the world's worst-ever industrial disaster, slaughtering through its criminal negligence more than 3.700  of India's poorest people, and injuring over half a million more. "So maye much be spyed also, by the company and pastyme that a body vseth. For a man is for the moost parte condicioned euen lyke vnto them that he kepeth company wythe all", as Bullinger so correctly noted

The British regime hired G4S, the security company which killed refugee Jimmy Mubenga four months earlier, to provide security for the Games. I need not go into any great detail about the utter failure of this company to secure the event adequately. 

The failure of G4S to fulfil its contract, however, led to an unexpected boon for the British regime. 

18,000 British soldiers - if the BBC report this week is accurate, 2.500 of whom can be expected to commit acts of violent thuggery over and above their systematic rape and destruction of much of the Middle East  - have now been set upon the streets of London. 

This is more than the armies of Costa Rica, Mauritius, Monaco, Iceland, Haiti, Vanuatu, Palestine, Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Seychelles, Barbados, Gambia, Bahamas, Luxembourg, Belize, Guyana, Cape Verde, Equitorial Guinea, East Timor, Suriname, Malta, Lesotho, Central Africa, Liberia, Kosovo and Jamaica combined. 

It is worrying that visitors to the United Kingdom, should they make it through the hours of queues at "UK Border Force" control points, will see a country totally swamped with soldiers armed to the teeth, in scenes reminiscent of some class of Third World banana republic.

This has been a long-term policy of successive British regimes, however - to increase as much as possible the militarisation of the country. 

First, by attempting to normalise the military - having them wandering down the streets dressed in their uniforms, having them delivering the FA of England Cup to be presented to whichever racist scumbag wins it in a particular year (congratulations, John Terry), or having them sit like startled chickens on the corners of flags at Six Nations matches. 

Secondly, by changing the image of the military from the (generally accurate) perception of a gang of neds with two O-Levels between them who come back from a couple of months shooting "ragheads" to bottle people in bars and knock the bird around a bit, to the new "Wur Heeeeeeroz" shtick, eagerly lapped up by The Sun and other outlets for the hard of thinking. This has even penetrated to television stations which now apparently host some sort of Military "Oscars". 

God, you can just imagine it, can't you? "And the award for 'Best Cold-Blooded Murder of An 18-Year-Old-Kid Who You Shot In The Back' goes to............Mark Wright and James Fisher!".

Thirdly, if you cannot get the military into the country quickly enough, just turn the country into the military. Ten years ago, the vast majority of us had never seen an armed policeman in our life. Maybe if one happened across a hostage situation, or perhaps the odd one at an airport. Now, though, the police force has been transformed into a paramilitary force, armed to the teeth, and which is visibly armed and patrolling almost all public spaces with machine guns. 

Since 1990, 1.433 people have been killed by the police in England and Wales (roughly eight times more than have been killed by "terrorists"). In that time, not a single police officer has been convicted of manslaughter.

The regime has been cunning, and they have done it well, but Friday represents the apogee of their militarisation of Britain: the moment where finally, they have managed to have patrolling the streets of the United Kingdom an armed militia, ready and willing to protect the regime from the people. 

If Russia is "Upper Volta with missiles", then Britain is North Korea with a friendly face. 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

How Should Scotland Function After Independence?

The most important thing to remember about independence is that it is not and cannot simply be a matter of ripping the British flag down and replacing it with our own. It cannot be a matter of replacing the discredited and failed, centralised and corrupt British government merely with different accents. 

Therefore, independence cannot be - and is not - a manifestation of nationalism: it is the recognition that to change our system of government for the benefit of the many, not the few, cannot be achieved through the Westminster system: an affront to democracy which has three branches of legislature, only one of which is elected. 

The Westminster system is autoresistant to attempts to reform it: the system itself is inherently unreformable, for if it was to be reformed, and was it to transition to a democratic system, then the system would cease to exist. Just as the Soviet Union found out that you can't reform the Soviet system without destroying it in the process, so it is with Westminster. 

With that in mind, and bearing in mind that if a reformed, fair Britain was on the agenda, one which treated Scotland with the respect and esteem we demand and deserve, support for an independent Scotland would dip, we cannot simply transfer the functions of Westminster to Holyrood. 

We have to genuinely make our case for how Scotland should look after independence is regained. And it must be substantially and visibly fairer than Westminster. We should also remember that within every country, one group holds too much power and another is marginalised. In the United Kingdom, the marginalised part is played by Scotland. We must remember this as we build our new republic. 

So, here's my 2 eurocents on how the administration of the country should work. 

Scotland should be operated as a symmetric, co-operative federal republic, taking as much power as possible out of the hands of the bureaucrats and central ministers, and placing power over local affairs into the hands of local people. 

But we have to balance that against the dangers of having duplicated layers of salaried politicians.

The Head of State should be the Chairman of the Council of Federation Ministers - elected directly by universal suffrage for a maximum of two consecutive or nonconsecutive seven year terms. 

The Council of Federation Ministers would be the Federal Cabinet, comprising the Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Economy, International Assistance and Defence. This Cabinet would be selected from the Federal Assembly using the d'Hondt method of proportional representation.

The Federal Assembly should be a unicameral assembly with of fifty members serving four-year terms - 26 elected by the Single Transferable Vote using a nationwide slate, and two members appointed by each of the 12 constituent parliaments. 

In terms of the constituent regions (provinces, republics, states, whatever), the 12 should be designed to maximise the diversity of Scotland, following a mix of the old Regions and the current Parliamentary Regions:

1. Strathclyde
2. Glasgow
3. Galloway
4. Lothian/Border
5. Central Scotland
6. Fife
7. Tay
8. Grampian
9. Highland
10. Western Isles
11. Orkney
12. Shetland

This ensures that genuine devolution of powers go to the more isolated regions of Scotland, which often feel themselves as distant from Holyrood as they do from London. Going "too far" in terms of devolution may be preferable. 

Each province would be in control of all powers (local taxation, sales taxes, police budgets  etc) that the Federal Cabinet does not control. 

It would be up to each province to design its own internal parliamentary structures and its own measure of internal devolution as long as these comply with the provisions of the constitution.

I'm sure there are many reasons why this would be unworkable! However, this is my vision of how a Federal Republic of Scotland could look.