Europe (Politics)

Now is not the time…

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May palpatine

am the parliament! – Credit: scottyjoycephotography.net

Now isn’t the time for political game playing. Now isn’t the time for divisive votes. Now isn’t the time for a snap election. Oh dear, oh dear… It would appear that now isn’t the time for democracy either, would it Theresa?

The reactions to the news this morning that Theresa May would be seeking a snap election were met with mixed reactions. Some, like Nicola Sturgeon, were left aghast at this monumental U-turn. Others were opposed to the idea saying that the government should be getting on with the business of dealing with Brexit, not ten weeks of distraction and destabilising an already wobbly political situation. Some were very much in favour of the idea; most surprisingly Jeremy Corbyn who, at the current projections from Electoral Calculus, stands to lose around 50 seats – surely this would be a career ender? Myself, I was confused as to why the Prime Minister would bother to call an early election; she has a mandate, what’s the use? Well, I can tell you why now, and it’s not great, really…

There is talk of wanting to ensure a smooth negotiating position with the EU, an easy path for the Brexit bills to float through parliament and the idea that an election now means that, under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, three years after Brexit to work out the creases rather than one. Pish. It is a blatant disregard for the democratic process and little more. Forget the idea of opportunism given the current polls, that’s just a happy coincidence. May and her government are unhappy with opposition to the bill and have decided to obliterate it, and with Corbyn’s deeply underwhelming performance of late, that’s just what she’ll do.

Listen to the Prime Minister’s speech this morning, go on, listen all the way through and you’ll see what I mean. For example she says; “in recent weeks, Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement…” The clue is in the name ‘Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition’. Or “the Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union.” Again, this is one of their core party commitments; the SNP has been very much pro-EU for some time.

Listening to the Prime Minister’s speech this morning felt like listening to a dictator; “There is opposition to our policies and that shall not be tolerated. We will take the steps required to eliminate the opposition to our progress. Long live our glorious motherland… etc., etc.” With her current lead in the polls of roughly 20% – the highest in over twenty years – she is all but guaranteed success in this endeavour.

Surely, if so many of the opposition and your own party are opposed to a bill in its current form it can mean little other than the bill stinks! Surely if the idea of a hard Brexit is so widely hated, the bill should be redrafted, the parameters of our exit from the EU rethought? But that’s too close to a real democracy for Theresa May’s liking; no, it’s my way or bust – though it’s entirely possible that her way will mean bust anyway, but nevermind.

The sad thing is that she will get her way. As Labour voters either refuse to turn-out or vote another way as a protest at their leadership, UKIP voters will flock to the Conservatives again as the Tories are now the only party with a hope of achieving their own party’s goal of total separation from Europe. Across the whole country as well, political apathy will take hold too; with this being the second general election in two years and having had a referendum and council elections, voter fatigue will be a crucial factor. This will be even more pronounced in Northern Ireland where politics and trips to the polls have dominated daily life lately, especially following the collapse of talks for a power sharing agreement in Stormont.

In Scotland, we must make sure that this is not the case. By the time we go to the polls for the General Election, it will be the ninth time since 2010 that Scots have gone to vote – if ever there was a stage set for voter fatigue, this would be it. Rather than be turned off by the prospect of yet more elections, we need to grasp the opportunity to show Theresa May that, regardless of her attempts to subvert it, democracy is alive, well and cherished in Scotland. Regardless of what may happen to Labour, Scotland must unite as the source of political opposition to the austerity obsessed, hard-Brexit driving Tories in Westminster, pushing our country ever more to the political right.

It has become clear that May has no regard for democracy in the slightest in Scotland; this is shown by her total disregard for the Scottish Parliament’s request to hold another referendum on Independence prior to the UK’s actual departure from the EU. This, in spite of the Scottish Parliament agreeing on this course of action by a vote. This, in spite of the Scottish people electing a pro-independence majority to Holyrood in the Scottish General Election. There is not even any regard for the SNP’s 56 MPs as a mandate from the Scottish people for change. Indeed, when the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland ask the UK Government for an arrangement that would allow Scotland to remain within the single market post-Brexit, the ideas were thrown aside. Rather than regarding the SNP’s MPs as a legitimate request for a change in the relationship between Scotland and Westminster, they are regarded as a threat to Theresa May’s plans and must be eliminated. There is no room for compromise or discussion in Theresa May’s democracy.

In the last General Election, the pro-independence parties rallied behind the SNP and delivered a landslide for the Yes voters in Scotland, and we will need to see that again. Only that way, can Scotland’s voice in Westminster be assured. So the SNP will not be eliminated, the Scottish people’s desire to remain with the EU (or as close to it as possible given current circumstances) will see to it that the SNP hold their current domination of seats at Westminster. But without Labour holding the seats it did in England and Wales, the opposition will be badly diminished and make room for the Tories to bulldoze through.

So, how does Scotland get out of this one? With Britain speeding towards a hard-Brexit with Scotland sat helplessly in the back seat, it does look pretty hopeless. The question then is, how do we get out? The Prime Minister has ruled out another referendum before the UK has formally left the EU… though she did also rule out an early election so…? The SNP can continue pushing for a referendum, but it may not come, in Nicola Sturgeon’s words, “before it is too late.”

If now is not the time for a “divisive referendum” (how delightfully ironic), then perhaps another route has to be taken. Derek Bateman, on his personal blog, offers up an alternative. In his post this morning he asks; “shouldn’t we bypass the failed referendum route and upgrade our demand?” He asserts that the SNP should run on a manifesto pledge of an SNP majority means independence. This is not new, and I have seen it all over social media with friends and colleague suggesting the SNP could simply “declare independence” if the people of Scotland give them that mandate.

To be fair to them, the SNP have been riding a political steamroller since 2007 and are predicted to carry on doing so. The issue with just declaring independence is that, firstly they would be going against their whole pledge of “giving the people of Scotland a choice” and making that choice for them. This could be played by the “No” voters in quite a bad way. More importantly, Scotland would have to obtain permission from Westminster to make such a declaration legal, otherwise the Scottish government would be seen as illegitimate across the UK and the rest of the world.

What of simply holding a referendum anyway? Then you run into the issue of the result not being legally binding and the UK Government being well within its rights to refuse independence.

In short, the pro-independence movement have been driven into a corner with no real means of escape, and this is precisely what the May’s Government wanted. Silence the pro-Europeans, silence the pro-independence lot, and continue onto oblivion unobstructed.

That’s why we need now to shout louder than ever before for independence, for Europe and for opposition to Theresa May and her Tory juggernaut. We need to generate sympathy for our cause not only in Scotland and the UK, but also across Europe. The EU, the bastion of democracy and freedom, cannot surely stand by as a government seeks to eliminate all opposition, as the democratic will of a constituent part of a long time member is dragged out against its will. Surely Europe cannot stand by as European jobs and citizens are thrown out of a country and the citizens of that country simultaneously stripped of their EU citizenship and rights. So we must shout, kick and scream. We need to make as much noise as possible and attract as much attention as possible.

We can do this by electing our SNP MPs back to Westminster to ensure that we still have that voice of opposition.

If we are serious about remaining with Europe and gaining our independence, we need to make sure that Theresa May cannot ignore us. Given her recent demonstrations, that may be quite difficult, but we have to give it a go. Whether we go for independence by referendum or declaration, Mrs. May needs to hear us loud and clear. We have a little over six weeks to do it, so let’s get started.

 

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Independence for Science

With the impending British Exit from the European Union (I’m sure there is some kind of abbreviated name for it… it’s been in the papers, I think), much of the UK and Europe is in a bit of a flap. It’s understandable, both the UK and the EU get so much from their continued partnership – free trade and free movement of people to name only a couple. This is not to mention the funding for local projects, for example the road and infrastructure projects along Scotland’s north coast, or the massive wind farms built with EU money. Local communities, businesses and innovators stand to lose so much more than most people would think.

This is especially true of the scientific community who, through the EU, have prospered like never before. With funding, free movement and free trading, scientific collaboration across Europe has never been stronger and, as such, Europe is leading the way in many areas of research; from particle physics to renewable and sustainable energy. As a physicist, I can only really comment with certainty on the physics aspect of scientific research in Europe, but in this field alone, we have seen great leaps forward.

And before people leap in with, “how does landing a probe on a moving asteroid or finding new particles help me?”, there have been great leaps forward in fields directly related to making life more comfortable for you. For example, new generations of nuclear power stations such as the “Evolutionary Pressurised-water Reactors” (EPR) or the AP1000 advanced passive pressurised water reactors (PWR) that are being planned for construction across Britain are the product of collaborations with French companies such as EDF and ENGIE. These power plants will produce clean energy in quantities that conventional production methods, such as fossil fuel plants, could only dream of.

With such an emphasis on collaboration, it’s no wonder scientists are worried about the UK’s imminent departure from the EU; but it’s not only companies across the channel that are worried about the potential loss of British expertise, but universities in the UK are also at risk. As Physics World pointed out in their April 2017 issue (Vol. 30 No. 4), non-UK EU nationals make up 24% of research and teaching staff within physics departments at UK universities. With the UK government refusing to comment on its commitment to ensuring the rights of EU citizens living within the UK after Brexit, universities are and their staff are becoming increasingly concerned over the security of their staffs’ positions. Much of this worry has prompted universities across the country to issue statements saying that they will do everything they can to ensure that staff and students are able to continue on in their current positions – but with a government that seems to be ploughing ahead at full tilt with little actual knowledge of where it is going, these messages can be of little comfort.

To be concise, then, as far as scientific research, education, collaboration and development is concerned, leaving the EU is the equivalent of deciding to replace the coolant in our nuclear reactors with ginger beer – a fun sounding, exciting, British idea, but with very little research or knowledge behind it and with the likelihood of catastrophic results for all involved.

So, how then, I hear you ask, does Scottish independence fit into all of this? Well for a start, much like the scientific community, Scotland was quite happy in the EU as it provided a lot of benefits but is now being dragged, screaming and protesting, out of it. This is happening despite the Scottish government offering multiple compromises and suggestions that would allow Scotland to retain access to the single market while the rest of the UK began the process of substituting heavy water for ginger beer. All of these suggestions were thrown out of the window by the UK government, who declared that they were implementing a UK-wide strategy for leaving the EU regardless of whether the various bits of the UK agreed to it. Cue Nicola Sturgeon and her bout for a second independence referendum.

The first referendum, in 2014, saw Scotland remain within the UK and chief among the UK government’s arguments for retaining the Union was EU membership. Scotland, a predominantly euro-friendly nation was told on no uncertain terms by the Better Together campaign that leaving the UK would put Scotland outside of the EU where we would have to spend years renegotiating our membership. Cited as proof was the Spanish position that Spain would apparently veto Scotland’s membership ensuring that Scotland would never get in again. This particular argument has fallen apart in recent weeks with Spain saying it would not stand in the way of allowing Scotland entry to the EU again. (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/02/spain-drops-plan-to-impose-veto-if-scotland-tries-to-join-eu)

In fact, since the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government have been engaged in talks with the EU, its officials and its various member states, engaging in the first independent diplomacy by Scotland in over three hundred years. The results of this outreach have been incredibly positive, with EU member states vouching for Scotland’s entry and a letter signed by 50 MEPs to the Scottish Government outlining their support for Scotland having continued membership. Indeed Lord Kerr, the man who wrote Article 50, pointed out that the idea that Scotland would have to reapply from scratch and spend years outside the EU was nonsense, saying that an independent Scotland could “get in pretty quickly through the door marked accession” following application. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-37852628)

All of this puts Scotland in a very strong position to regain EU membership fairly swiftly following an independence vote. This, then, is good news for science in Scotland and in Europe. Since the Scottish Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, Scottish scientists and engineers have led the way in so many fields. In the early days, Scottish physicists such as Maxwell laid new ground in thermodynamics and electromagnetism. Nowadays, Scotland is paving the way in terms of new renewable energy technologies and has world leading research in pioneering fields like particle physics, gravitational waves, nanotechnology… the list goes on.

We’ve already been told that Scotland won’t be able to continue its access to the single market as part of the UK, so the only chance at continuing to prosper with the rest of Europe is via independence. And with a country so dedicated to scientific R and D as Scotland, surely research is bound to flourish.

It may not come as huge comfort to those who have based themselves in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, but for the large numbers of EU nationals working in Scotland and for the European collaborations who would otherwise stand to lose out, it is something.

This also offers us a chance to make ourselves competitive as a country; it is a chance to say to Europe that we have been the hotbed of science and discovery for centuries and now we want to ensure that continues with you guys! Recently, the European Space Agency (ESA) have voiced their concern over the loss of British input, we need to be saying come, have Scottish workers and scientists, collaborate with our institutions! This comes as the European Commission debates being able to cancel contracts with companies based outside of the EU without penalty (https://www.ft.com/content/2f0e7a6e-1eff-11e7-a454-ab04428977f9). This is bad news for UK business, but presents an opportunity for Scottish business should Scotland leave the UK and opt to join the EU as an independent nation.

There is no doubt that science contributes greatly to any economy, be that putting probes on asteroids or developing new technologies that can do directly to consumers. Collaboration with our European partners in science has helped us to make some huge leaps in progress and has also allowed for new companies to spring up, creating jobs in R and D and manufacture. All of these businesses have been helped by the UK’s access to the single market, giving businesses access to the best skilled workers from around Europe. Our leaving the EU makes it less certain that we will have access to such skills and, as a result, could fall behind our global competitors.

If we want to ensure that collaboration with European institutions, companies and facilities continue to drive our own scientific community and economy, we need to seriously consider independence as a primary option.

Time to stop playing games?

Yesterday morning, at about ten to twelve, the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, fired the starting pistol on the race to a second referendum on Scottish Independence. In truth, everyone in Scotland knew this was coming, and if there were those who did not, the announcement that the First Minister would be giving a major press conference in the run-up to the UK Government triggering article 50 would have been a major clue. Regardless of this, however, there was certainly some shock factor.

In the Yes Camp, supporters jumped into the air, finally able to start dusting off their old campaign gear, put stickers in the window and wonder – when exactly will it be? In the No Camp, the faux surprise of “wasn’t this once in a generation” is being pedalled out in typical broken record fashion. In a way, whilst expecting this to come, nobody was quite prepared for it actually happening. But now it is happening and there is a lot of work to be done indeed!

The Yes supporters have sprung into action, relishing the chance to set about it once more and already a campaign fund has raised tens of thousands of pounds to champion the cause for independence. With all the enthusiasm, though, it is easy to forget what exactly lies ahead and that is a campaign far grittier and far shorter than the previous one. By the first referendum, Scotland had been preparing for pretty much seven years and the atmosphere was one of optimism. In this case, the referendum could be upon us in as little as eighteen months and the atmosphere this time is one of a much more serious choice.

With Brexit looming, the political future of Britain has never been so uncertain – this hard Brexit will see the UK (including Scotland) wrenched away from the EU, dragged screaming out of the single market and will have EU nationals living in the UK fearing for their own futures. All this is despite the Scottish population voting overwhelmingly to remain within the Europe. So, for all those of you booing that “we voted ‘No’!” and that it was meant to be “once in a generation”, this is a totally different ball game – not least because we were told the only way to protect Scotland’s place in the EU was to vote “No”.

The road ahead for the UK is one substantially different than the one we were on in 2014; there are more potholes, bumps and obstacles to navigate and the passengers are becoming increasingly agitated that nobody up front seems to know where we are going. The UK government has taken so long to come up with its plan for Brexit, giving us little other than Brexit  means Brexit for so long, and has now decided to simply cut all ties and sail off into the North Sea. Not to mention the House of Commons and the House of Lords have spent so long rejecting each others proposals that we’re not entirely sure what Brexit will actually look like, other than sudden and poorly thought through. Oh, and Empire 2.0, yes! The Foreign Office seems to think that outside of the EU we can just scrape the Empire back together and once more Britannia will rule the waves!

God almighty.

But rest assured, Mrs. May is on the case as politics is not a game! That’s right, from the Government that brought you the Brexit Omnishambles, Empire 2.0 and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Boris Johnson, the news that politics is not a game and that we Scots should just let the grownups handle it.

If any of you were of the opinion, then that Westminster had learned its lesson from last time, then fret ye not, as they have done no such thing. Scotland is still too wee, too poor and much too stupid to make its own decisions. Most notably we shouldn’t be allowed to call referenda that the government deems divisive; and Mrs.May’s government is certainly an expert field when it comes to divisive referenda.

In essence, ever since the EU referendum, the Scottish people have been told to sit down and eat their porridge, mummy and daddy will handle things.

Scotland has tried hard to be mature about things in the face of all the fannying around too, searching for a solution that would allow Scotland to remain within the single market while the rest of the UK withdrew completely. Following the referendum, the Scottish Parliament voted to open Scotland’s first independent diplomatic mission in three hundred years, starting a dialogue with the EU regarding Scotland’s future in it. Scotland has been in talks with the EU and the rest of the UK offering solutions, ideas and compromise from day one in order to reach some kind of deal. Meanwhile the UK Government has stuck its fingers in its ears and run around the room shouting “la, la, la!” It’s no wonder the Scottish people are so fed up!

So, the inevitable happens, the Scottish First Minister sets out her plan to seek Section 30 approval, to give the Scottish Parliament the power to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence. Suddenly, Scotland is the one playing a political game. Nevermind that Westminster kept changing the rules, moving the goal post and ignoring whenever the Scots wanted to come up with a reasonable idea. Nevermind that the democratic will of the Scottish people was thrown out the window after the EU vote… Nope, Scotland is the one playing political games by deciding it wants to decide its own future. Don’t do that Scotland, that’s for the adults to decide, away and play with your bagpipes.

Even in setting out the plans for a referendum the First Minister has shown the maturity that May cannot, accepting that the political atmosphere has changed, that we need to be upfront about the challenges that would be facing us.

The First Minister is right, we need to accept that the future is not going to be all rosy, that there is a difficult choice ahead and that we owe it to the people of Scotland to be upfront. But we also need to reinforce the opportunities that are up for grabs – EU Membership, control of our own finances and natural resources, control of our own health, education, energy, trade agendas and so on.

Any Mrs. May is right as well. Politics is not a game and it’s time for Scotland to show the rest of the UK how it’s done; maturely, calmly and efficiently.

So let this referendum roll on, let’s put Scotland’s future back into Scotland’s hands!

Bugger

There wasn’t much else I could say this morning, I must confess, better eloquence simply was not forthcoming when I saw the results of yesterday’s referendum. For those who are blissfully unaware of the current goings-on in the United Kingdom, a referendum was held yesterday on Britain’s membership of the European Union and the result was in favour of the UK leaving.

By a margin of 52% to 48%, the UK voted for Brexit and, as such, has cast the whole of Britain and the European Union into complete chaos. European leaders are calling for ‘consequences’ for this result and Germany and France specifically say that the UK cannot be allowed to cherry-pick the bits it wants and doesn’t. The attitude on the continent, therefore, is very much a case of cheery-bye but don’t expect any favours from us later. Meanwhile the FTSE has taken a substantial dip and Sterling has hit its lowest level since 1985… It is, quite frankly, not looking good.

And why should it? The EU provides the UK with so much; access to the world’s largest common market, protection of workers’ rights, protection of civil liberties, the free movement of people, goods, and labour. As it stands, an EU citizen can establish a company in any EU country and begin trading in any EU country, employing people from any EU country… etc.

At the moment, there are millions of EU citizens resident in Britain who work here and make great contributions to our country through things like our NHS, scientific R&D, industry, schools, universities and so on. There are also 2.2 million British nationals living elsewhere in the EU, what is going to happen to them?

No, the EU is not perfect, but if you honestly think that the United Kingdom will fare better on its own, you are deluding yourself. What we have done now is to open the doors to allow the far right of the Tory party to do whatever they like with the country without Europe to tell them when they’ve gone too far. All those nice laws protecting workers’ rights and civil liberties, ensuring equal work for equal pay, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, etc… came from Europe.

If you also think that leaving the EU will allow the left to overturn capitalism and create a glorious socialist utopia, you’re also kidding yourself. Just remember what country you’re living in – the U.K. has led the way for capitalism from the very beginning and, if anything, Europe held us back on that one.

We are now in a position where the far right is set to take over governance of our splintered country. The whole idea of voting out to bring public services back into direct public ownership is set up to backfire wonderfully as Boris and his pals look to set about the total dismantling of the NHS.

So what for the UK now? Well, it looks pretty much set to fall apart itself. England and Wales will be pretty happy with the result, so short of Tunbridge Wells declaring independence, I don’t think there’s too much to worry about there. But Northern Ireland has been interesting to say the least, due to it’s net benefit from EU funding. Europe was instrumental in securing peace in the North and, as such, NI has some very strong feelings towards the EU, as noted by it’s strong majority Remain vote. However, it looks set to be dragged kicking and screaming away with the rest of the UK.

Northern Ireland also provides an interesting situation as it is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with the EU – through the Republic of Ireland. At the moment that border is open, but there has already been speculation as to what might happen on that border now. There have even been calls from within Northern Ireland’s legislative assembly leaders to seek reunification with the ROI. Whilst this has to be taken with a rather large pinch (tablespoon) of salt, it’s likely these calls will reverberate as people begin to come to terms with what the future may hold.

And then, of course, Scotland. In 2014 we were told that the only way to guarantee our EU membership (which the majority of Scots favour) was to vote No to independence. A year later and we are plunged into uncertainty over that too as an In-Out referendum is announced. So, in Scotland the vote reflected the Scottish favour of EU membership with a 62% majority in favour of remaining within the EU.

As Scotland voted No to independence, and in favour of the EU, whose membership we were told was guaranteed by staying with the UK, we’d rightly expect to see the UK remain in the EU, yes? Nope. Sorry Scotland, Big brother England has made the decision and you’re coming with us. Nevermind the subsidies for farming, fishing science, education, renewable energy, conservation, cultural preservation, etc… nope, we can’t have Johnny Foreigner coming here anymore so we’re dragging you out.

Understandably, the Scottish electorate is a bit pissed off (could you tell) that we have, in effect, been cheated and deceived. As such, the Scottish electorate, including many previous No voters are calling for Scottish independence, indeed, the First Minister is expected to make a statement later today on the result.

It has always been clear that Scotland and the rest of the UK have had differing political views, but this can be seen no clearer than today with Scotland showing a clean sweep for Remain, with every counting area having a clear Remain majority. Today, Scotland has shown itself to be a nation open to working with the rest of the world to create a better place for all of us to live and work, rather than a closed off island, hiding from progress.

It is no secret that I am a supporter of Scottish Independence and I will campaign tirelessly for it should we come to another referendum, but to see it come about in this way is not something I ever wanted. I did not want to see Britain, ravaged by xenophobic populism, be torn apart, with England and Wales thrust into obscurity and a Northern Ireland with divides opening up anew. I did not want to see Scotland thrust into political turmoil again as it fights to keep its people from being dragged out of a union they wanted to be a part of for the sake of staying in one they were never asked about.

At the moment, things look very uncertain and quite bleak, but life goes on and we must remain optimistic.

In, out, shake it all about: What to do about Brexit?

On the 23rd of June, the United Kingdom will vote on whether it wishes to remain a member of the European Union – the world’s largest common market – or leave and go it alone. Have no doubts, it’s a complex issue and one about which people up and down the country feel very strongly about; with massive issues on both sides.

On one side we have the luring of Britain into the TTIP agreement, the unelected European Commission, the large sums of money directed towards Brussels, the powers held by the EU over our own laws and so on. The other side argues about free trade, better cooperation in areas of security, finance, &c., visa free travel and subsidies for our farms, fishing and other vital industries.

The sad thing is, that for all the complex arguments on all sides of the political spectrum, the media has, as usual, turned it into a wholly right-wing bun fight. We have only heard of the Tories supporting the Remain campaign and the Tories supporting the Leave campaign, with the occasional weighing in from UKIP and the Kipper-General, Nigel Farage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the Conservatives, especially when they’re in government, tearing themselves to pieces and fracturing up, but on such a crucial issue, it really is of paramount importance that we see the whole picture – and there’s a startling amount on the left side of the road too.

On the side of getting out of the EU is the fact that the whole institution seems to be a massive, sprawling behemoth of neo-liberal, anti-democratic bureaucracy run for the financial gain of some of Europe’s elite.

On the other hand, the EU is a fantastic vehicle for cooperation between countries, allowing free trade, free movement of people, thoughts and ideas and so on.

With membership comes a huge number of positive factors; the most notable of which is our inclusion in the largest common market in the world. As a member state, we enjoy free trade with other member states, citizens can work and trade in any member country, can live and vote in any member country and can contribute to the economies and societies of whichever country they choose to work and live in.

For Britain, this does a huge amount of good in allowing us to attract skilled workers from across the EU – scientists, teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, electricians – the list goes on and on. All of these skilled workers can come into Britain to work and contribute to our society, to our economy.

It also also allows companies and businesses to set up here and trade in Britain with relative ease. Goods can travel back and forth without punitive tariffs imposed and companies can employ people across borders without the need to work with multiple lines of red tape and different legal systems.

But the main ideal behind the EU has always been cooperation between member countries, promoting peace in Europe and working with one another to solve problems.

So why, then, is it, that in the past couple of years, that cooperation has broken down? When faced with the big issues that have been thrown upon Europe in the recent past, the EU has floundered spectacularly.

When Russia decided that it wanted to have a nosey around in Ukraine, pinch Crimea and start a civil war, Europe stood back and did little other than grumble in a corner and watch as an entire country unravelled before them.

When Greece defaulted on its debts, Europe dragged its feet over a bailout; the whole fiasco a consequence of a poorly thought out monetary and fiscal union that let anyone into the club regardless of their financial situation.

And when refugees from Syria and the Middle East conflicts – the result of Western intervention in the region – spilled into Europe looking for a safe haven and a chance at starting anew, the EU began shutting borders and herding people into squalid camps to live in the same sub-human conditions as in their home countries.

Perhaps it’s all to do with the nature of the EU as a massive club for Europe’s capitalist elite, focussing on trade deals such as TTIP and other, equally questionable partnerships? Perhaps it’s to do with the sheer size of the EU, with its 28 member states, all with their own governments, laws, customs, politics and views of the world? Or perhaps it’s a result of the sprawling bureaucratic mess of the EU’s government?

In all likelihood, it’s a combination of all of these issues and a lot of smaller, far more complex issues. The European Union is, let’s face it, a mess of things that don’t work, people arguing, things breaking down and bit’s falling off – but is running away from that really the way forward?

In our modern, interconnected world, where countries are, more than ever, having to work together to tackle global issues such as climate change, terrorism, poverty and so on, we are always going to be working with our neighbours in some capacity. The biggest issue is going to be trade.

The EU is our largest theatre of trade and many of our jobs depend on it. As a nation, our economy is built around trade with Europe, to pull out of that free trade area would be a catastrophe which would likely cripple our country irreparably. So yes, we’d negotiate some kind of deal whereby we could trade with Europe within that free trade area, much like, say, Norway.

Norway, say those campaigning to leave, is a sterling example of being outside of the EU, but still reaping the benefits of free-trade agreements. Nope. It is not.

Norway, in order to trade with the EU, must abide by the a number EU’s treaties and laws in order to  trade freely with the rest of Europe. The catch here, however, is that, not being in the EU, Norway has no say over how those laws are made or the treaties are drafted. In essence, it has even less say over some of its own laws than we do as part of the EU.

This brings me on to some of the trade deals within Europe and that Europe has with the rest of the world namely… TTIP! The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is essentially a bi-lateral trade agreement between the EU and the US that would have the result of opening our public services up to US private companies, moving European jobs to the US, decreasing regulations in Food Safety, Environmental Safety and so on, and allowing companies to sue governments.

It’s not a good outlook and that’s probably the reason it’s been negotiated largely in secret. The left-wing argument for leaving the EU hinges massively on TTIP – get out of Europe, get out of TTIP. Again, not really.

The thing is, as with the Norway model, to trade with Europe (and indeed the US) we need to abide by the relevant treaties, over which we’d have no real say any more, and that includes the TTIP agreement. If we wanted out of TTIP, we’d have to jump out of trading with Europe and the US to a massive degree; and that would spell disaster for the UK.

The other problem is, we have a Tory government and they love TTIP: Privatise the NHS? Sure! Allow the use of previously outlawed but cheaper pesticides and growth hormones? Sure! Companies can sue countries? Why the hell not!

In short, pulling away from the EU is not a road away from TTIP or indeed any other similar agreements.

On the other hand, staying in Europe allows us a say in how this all pans out. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which held a number of the same central elements of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was thrown out by a massive majority in the European Parliament.

If we remain within Europe, we can have voices in the Parliament to shape the treaties and laws governing how Europe works.

No, the EU is not perfect. It’s a mess. But it has done a huge amount of good in brining countries closer together and fostering genuine peace and cooperation in Europe. There are bits that don’t work, but if we leave, we can’t make them work.

The only way to really ensure that the EU works and changes for the better seems, to me, to stay in, to use our voice in Europe to promote better trade deals, better democracy, help those who need it and try to promote a fairer Europe.

For me, the pros far outweigh the cons and the future staying in looks far brighter than that of leaving.

If you disagree, let me know why. If you agree, let me know what your reasons are. And, as always, thanks for reading.

 

The Weegie Worker’s election results analysis

In case you weren’t depressed enough already… an no, he’s still here.

So, the day after the morning after (I had to sleep on Friday, hence the delay) and we can start to get a look at just what happened on Thursday night going into Friday morning. Like many, I stayed up through the night watching the results come in and, I must admit, the exit poll caught me off-guard – I was with Paddy Ashdown there and would have eaten my hat had I had one to hand. The election that was supposed to be too close to call, with Labour and the Tories previously predicted to each get around 280 seats, was going to see the Tories increase their share of MPs!

The original prediction put the Conservatives on something like 312 seats, but as the night went on that number was only going to rise until that fateful moment when the Tories predicted share topped 326, the line required for an overall majority. We had expected another hung parliament but instead we got the Tories with a majority – not the night many of us had hoped for.

The majority can partly be put down to the utter collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote with nearly fifty of their seats gone leaving them at only 8 MPs in the Commons. Labour also failed to win over voters in England and Wales, the tone of this being summed up as Ed Balls, the man many expected to be the next Chancellor of the Exchequer, lost his seat to the local Tory candidate. This was indeed a blow to Labour and much of their vote in England and Wales went the same way.

However, that was nothing compared to what happened in Scotland. The Lib Dem vote in Scotland caved in like nowhere else with ministers and long standing MPs losing their seats across the traditionally Liberal voting Highlands, among the casualties were both Charles Kennedy, the former Lib Dem leader, and Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who lost their seats in stunning landslide fashion. The only Lib Dem to hold his seat in Scotland was Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary, but by a majority of just 817 votes.

But the real hiding north of the border was inflicting on Labour, who lost forty of their seats to the SNP in their tsunami style taking of Scottish seats. Some of the safest seats in the country were lost in truly brutal fashion with the likes of Jim Murphy losing his East Renfrewshire seat, Margaret Curran losing here Glasgow East seat and so on. One of the biggest stories of the night, though, centred around the Paisley and Renfrewshire South seat, where the Shadow Foreign Secretary and Labour’s campaign director, Douglas Alexander, lost his seat to Mhairi Black, a 20 year-old student of politics who was standing for the SNP.

In his concession speech, Alexander was quite truly gracious in defeat saying that Scotland had voted against a Tory agenda but “did not put that trust in Labour”, which really was the message of the night. Many Scots are fed up with continued right-wing Tory rule, characterised by harsh austerity and a demonising of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Moreover, many Scots want to make sure that the push for more devolved powers is heeded and that whoever had ended up in government would have to listen to that call. Sadly, disenfranchised and convinced of their stagnation, the Scottish people could not put that trust in the Labour party any longer.

What have ended up with now, though, is really a tale of two countries. It’s looking rather like a messy marriage at this point. There have been fights in the past and last year Scotland and England looked set for a divorce, but settled against it because it looked like too much of a fuss (and anyway, think of the kids, do Wales and NI really want to see us fighting like this?). But that marriage is still tense and is now more passive aggressive than ever – and as holder of an official award for passive aggression, that is a subject on which I am most qualified to speak.

No matter which way you look at it, Scotland voted left; they voted for the progressive, centre-left, anti-austerity agenda of the SNP. They voted for a party that they felt would make their voices on free healthcare, free education, investment in our public services and so on heard more loudly than ever before.

England, on the other hand, voted right. You can look at it how you like, but Labour fell apart in England, losing a number of seats to the Conservatives. Even if Scotland had voted Labour unanimously, we’d still have the Tories in power down south.

When you look at the results, the SNP polled a solid 50% of the votes across Scotland. Add Labour into that mix and the ‘left vote’ polled at 74.3%. Whilst Labour may only have held onto one seat in Scotland, the result was a pretty resounding left-wing vote.

Look now to England and the results tell quite a different story, the Conservatives and UKIP, making up the majority of the right-wing vote, polled at 55.1% of the total votes cast. A pretty clear right-wing vote in England.

So we now have a country that is deeply divided between right and left, austerity and investment, trident and nuclear disarmament, ‘Brexit’ and continued EU membership. The list goes on… It is no wonder now that all the major broadcasters are talking about a second Indy Ref (I know, will he ever stop talking about it?) and some are predicting the UK not actually lasting past the end of the next parliament.

I am elated by the sheer size of the block of SNP MPs that have been sent down south, I truly feel that they will make the voice of Scotland heard in Westminster and that they will do all in their power to fight against the Tories. But there is a key phrase there; “in their power”. Because, for all the power the SNP and Scotland now have, it may well not be enough, the Tories do, afterall, have a majority of seats and 56 votes may still not be enough to block certain pieces of Tory legislation.

This parliament really will highlight the deepening divisions in the UK and the raw deal that many Scots are getting. Yes, we have devolution, yes, Cameron has promised more powers to Holyrood, but, at the end of the day, all the big decisions, including the ones surrounding our public funds and welfare, etc., are still made down south. And with the Tories now in a majority in parliament it looks like they’ll be able to walk all over us while, as loud as our voice at Westminster may now be, we’re still unable to shake them off.

However, Nicola Sturgeon has noted all through this campaign that the SNP vote is not a mandate for another referendum, that would require a “seismic” shift in the political landscape such as, say, an exit of the EU. Whilst the SNP’s landslide may not be a direct mandate to hold another referendum, it will make the case for independence stronger and stronger.

With regards to another five years of Tory rule, however, there is a sliver lining – David Cameron’s majority is quite slim indeed of just four seats. To put that into perspective, Tony Blair’s government in 2005, as increasingly unpopular as it was still had a majority of 28 seats, which presented severe struggles for Blair, and later Brown, in securing votes.

With a majority of just four seats, David Cameron will have to keep every backbencher in check with his whips working around the clock on every vote. Any abstentions, rebel votes, or even MPs not turning up to vote, could hinder his legislation hugely. Any defections, resignations or lost by-elections could threaten to bring his government into minority.

Cameron may already be needing to look the UKIP’s MP (a former Tory MP) and the DUP and UUP for support – but with the extreme right of those parties and his own clashing with the more moderate centre-right of his own party, he may struggle to find agreements.

Whilst the result of the election looks bleak at a glance (i.e., Dishface back in Downing Street) there is a sizeable block of progressive MPs in the form of Paid Cymru, Labour and the huge block of Scottish Nationalist MPs who would do well to work together and hinder Mr. Cameron’s government at every turn.

It will now be interesting to look forward to the 2016 Scottish General Election as the SNP hope to maintain their success and go for a third term in Holyrood and a second as a majority. Labour, under their now seatless leader, Jim Murphy (who, despite no longer being an elected representative, refuses to resign), must look to rebuild and reshape their message to the Scottish people.

The Additional Member System used at Holyrood, as a proportional system, will guarantee the Labour party at least some seats, but how many is up to their campaigning and how they choose to review their policies. With only ten months until the official campaign for that begins, Labour will have to act fast if it wants to survive in Scotland.

I am saddened by Labour’s result as a whole across England and Wales, their more left message, moving away from New Labour, simply didn’t resonate with the voters south of the border. I am also disappointed to see Ed Miliband go; despite him not being a shiny ‘off-the-telly’ politician, he had some good ideas and had done well to bring Labour back to the left a little more.

At any rate, the next parliament will be interesting – we have an unpredictable five years ahead of us; A referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, the prospect of further devolved (but unspecified powers) to Scotland, Wales and NI, “fairness for England” (whatever that means), and the Union moving onto shakier and shakier ground.

Let’s just hope that our new block of SNP MPs are up to the challenge and the Labour is able to throw their dogma aside and work with the SNP to keep Cameron’s Tories firmly in their place.

—–

Details on Scotland’s vote, including turnout and results by constituency can be found here.

Tory Victory Prospects Drive Up “Yes” Votes

The most recent Survation poll conducted by the Daily Record shows a closing gap between “Yes” and “No” voters and even shows Yes overtaking No under the prospect of a continued Conservative government.

Yesterday evening, the Daily Record publish an article detailing the results of a poll it had conducted with Survation. The monthly poll has been used to track support for Independence and has shown a steadily narrowing gap between the two sides of the campaign. The survey, which took results from 1004 people, showed that currently 39% of people intend to vote “Yes” with only 44% of people saying they will definitely vote “No”, this is up from last month’s Survation poll placing Yes at 37% and No at 47%. When the undecided voters were removed, the Yes vote stood at 47% and No at 53%, requiring only a 3% swing to give Scotland its independence.

These numbers are, themselves, not very exciting; the gap has been narrowing for quite some time now, although a 3% swing is quite a nice margin, it’s nothing new. What is new, however, is that when voters were asked how they’d vote if they knew that David Cameron and the Conservatives would be elected in 2015 the results changed quite dramatically.

In this case, the yes vote rose to give Yes a backing of 44% compared to 38% who said they’d still vote No. Again, removing the undecided voters, we now get a majority of Scots backing independence with 54% saying Yes and 46% saying No.

Survey Graphic from Daily Record

This really is a stunning leap forward as it’s the highest figure for Yes yet published. It’s also, incidentally, the first time anyone has actually thought to ask that particular question. “What if you were certain that David Cameron would still be PM after the next election?” Despite the Yes Campaign banging on about being able to shake ourselves free of unwanted Tory governments, no official poll to date has asked that question – at least not one that’s had it published.

And is another Tory government certain? Well, it does look that way. And yes, I would say that now, wouldn’t I?

But it does look that way for a few reasons. Not least of all because a large number of people simply don’t see Ed Miliband as PM material. It’s hard to argue with that when he’s taken so long to get his act together. He also does look remarkably like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit.

Whilst the Labour Party have been trying very hard to move away from the Blairist New Labour, they’ve had some trouble convincing the electorate that they could actually pull it out of the bag. They’ve also made clear their position that they’d keep a number of Tory cuts to welfare and public services in place. Understandably, this has a number of people a little upset with Labour.

Labour are also refusing to promise an in-out referendum on Europe unless Brussels started draining more powers away from the UK, which doesn’t seem too likely at this stage. Meanwhile the Tories are promising such a referendum in the middle of their next term should they be re-elected. Given the results of the recent European Parliament elections, this is what the English electorate want.

It doesn’t help either that Labour have been seen to be in bed with the Tories over independence for quite some time. This has invariably hurt their reputation on both sides of the border. When discussions within the Labour Party arose surrounding the idea that they should have steered clear of the Tories’ Better Together campaign and started their own Labour based campaign for the union, the feeling was a resigned “it’s too late.”

Labour has tried very hard over the past five year term to revamp itself and become more attractive to the electorate, and it will doubtless continue to do so throughout the next five years. However, it seems unlikely that they will beat the Conservatives to power in 2015. Whilst they have been neck and neck at times in the polls, they are slipping just shy again.

Nobody thought that the coalition would last, but it has. And let’s not forget that it’s been quite a while since a party held the government benches for only a single term.

As awful as it feels to be predicting a Tory win in 2015, that’s the way it seems. Now I’d love to see a Labour victory and give Ed a chance to act on some of his good old fashioned lefty policies – the renationalisation of the railways for one… God Scotrail piss me off sometimes! But unless something big happens soon, I think that the Tories will be holding onto the government benches in 2015. I do, however, strongly believe Labour will be there in 2020.

The point, though, still stands. We will end up with a Tory government in 2015, and if we vote No, we’ll be stuck with them. Not only will we be stuck with them, but we’ll be stuck with whatever crap they decide to inflict upon us and all the other subsequent Tory governments to come.

My advice for the best course of action? Vote Yes in 2014. Vote Labour in 2016 in our shiny new independent parliament!

Anyway, regardless of my grim predictions for the next election; it’s a very interesting result for the Yes side indeed. And with the gap narrowing, with 97 days left to go, Scotland is well within our grasp!

 

Link to the Daily Record’s article: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/bombshell-daily-record-poll-shows-3678091

#IndyRef Myths Dispelled: Papers Please!

Papers Please! Better Together warns of fences, flags, passport offices and tight border controls into the Union of Scottish Socialist Republics.

Papers Please! Passports and Soviet Style Borders Predicted

It’s 2017, The Scottish Union has been independent for a year now, very few people are ever allowed to pass into the dark, secretive state; you are one of them. You rattle in up the road towards the Gretna border station in your Transit van, the vital supplies of Twining’s tea and Bombay Sapphire gin in the back. You reach the wall, a seventy mile stretch of concrete, topped with barbed wire and with Saltire sporting watch towers dotted along. You roll up to the checkpoint, men in dark uniforms take you into an office to question you and browse your papers, dog handlers search the van outside. It’s all okay though, they can see by your passport that you pass through here often with vital goods for the Motherland. You are sent on your way. Another is not so lucky; as you drive out the other side you see a tourist being taken away – an unregistered camera and incorrect papers. Arrested for spying. But this is all routine for you, you look straight ahead, switch to the right hand side of the road, and continue onwards to Salmondgrad.

 I’m sorry, I may have got a touch carried away there, but you can see how ridiculous this sounds – if a little embellished. But this is the kind of fear that the Better Together campaign thrives on, and one of its big stories of the debate. Granted, we might not be talking about the Union of Scottish Socialist Republics or deliveries to Salmondgrad, but the border is definitely something they’d have you believe in.

It is the belief of the Better Together campaign (at least in public) that an official border would have to be erected between England and Scotland should Scotland decide to vote for independence. This border would likely have checkpoints, fences, passport control, customs, make you switch to the other side of the road, etc. Just like those ones all across the continent. Oh wait…

Dutch-Belgian border with its imposing fences

It’s not an unknown fact that in Europe, we have something called the Schengen agreement, according to which, people, goods and labour can flow freely between signatory states. In other words, no borders. In fact, I could walk from Portugal’s west coast to the Black Sea coast of Romania and never be required to show my passport.

How has this panned out for Europe then? Badly, I assume? Nope. It’s been a rather good success, actually. People can travel all over Europe as tourists, only needing to show their passport once if their from outside the EU, spending money, taking in culture, trying desperately to speak the local language, etc. People can also live in one country and trade in another; the amount of trading that EU member states can now do with each other, from the wee chappy delivering some quality German Pilsner to a pub in France to multinational corporations opening up across Europe, is huge. This flow of people and trade ultimately means the flow of money and jobs. It also makes for much better holidays!

But then, Britain is an island, so we’re different, as we’ve so often been told by Westminster. Although that hasn’t stopped Iceland signing up to the Schengen area, despite not even being in the EU or using the Euro.

But what about the UK’s land border? Yeah, you know, with the Republic of Ireland. You’ll  note that on a journey from Belfast to Dublin, you won’t be stopped at Dromad and be required to show your passport. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is, in fact, quite open. Even if I wanted to sail into Ireland or fly into Ireland, I would not be required to show a passport (although passengers flying in may be asked for identification or proof of nationality for security reasons).

So why is this? Well, because there’s too much trade that flows between the two states to justify putting up a border. Putting up restrictions would stifle the flow of trade between both countries and invariably hurt both economies to some extent. Secondly, a large number of people work across these borders, visit family across them, or simply travel through them on a daily basis. Apart from hurting the economy, it would invariably piss a few people off.

This is all down to something called the “Common Travel Area”. It’s essentially a mini Schengen area within the British Isles, comprising Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, and Jersey.

So, if Scotland decided to become an independent state, it would automatically be excluded from the CTA, would it? Well, whilst Project Fear would have you believe that, it’s most unlikely to work. Scotland, as I discussed in last week’s post, is England’s second biggest trade partner and England is Scotland’s biggest trade partner. Setting up a border between the two would damage this trade quite substantially and hurt, not only the national economies, but local economies close to the border that rely on a great deal of cross-border activity.

You see, it’s not only the big corporations working across the border, but it’s small businesses and communities that profit from an open border too. This can be from a local decorators’ company in Carlisle getting a call out to a job in Langholm just over the border, to a farmer in Clappers popping up the road to Foulden to buy a Scottish plain loaf and Lorne sausage for his breakfast. Not only are there Scots working down south, but there are English people working up north too, and some Welsh, but they seem not to make so much of a fuss.

Again, many people have family on either side of the border, setting up a great wall would likely upset them too. After all, why should the Frenchman be able to visit his uncle in Finland without having to show his passport, but the lady from Manchester should have to go through strict border controls to visit her granny in Glasgow?

As far as some of the Better Together arguments go, this is by far the weakest. A border in the sense of checkpoints, searches, papers, and questioning between Scotland and rUK really is quite out of the question. Guys, you can leave off the frantic searches for your passports just now.

#IndyRef Myth Number Two: Busted

Elections, Fire Alarms, Exams and Pub!

Good evening chaps and chapettes! Thursday was indeed an eventful day; it saw my last exam of this, my third and penultimate, year of university during which the fire alarm went off, which was bloody annoying as I ended up having an hour less to spend in the pub! The scandal of it all! However, the exam was able to be finished and with its conclusion my third year of university drew to a close. To think that in a year’s time I will have a degree in Astrophysics is still somewhat daunting to me but exciting nonetheless. Naturally with the close of the exams came the obligatory trip to the pub, with copious amounts of alcohol, pool, table football and spamming the jukebox with hideous songs from the nineties and early naughties. I’m quite sure I made a fool of myself at more than one point, but frankly after the stress of this year’s exams, I think it was permitted.

Thursday did, of course, see something somewhat more noteworthy than my exams and binge drinking. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Jim, how could anything be more interesting than drunken shenanigans?” Well, it’s tough, but the European elections do come quite close to the mark and, as it would so happen, they were in fact happening that very same day. Now, whilst the elections may not be that exciting themselves; put a cross on a piece of paper and put the paper in a bucket, the run up to the election has been quite exciting itself.

In the weeks preceding the election I was quite undecided as to who I wanted to vote for. There was no shortage of campaign material going about, but I was quite upset with the media coverage. This is for one main reason; UKIP, the one’s I definitely knew I didn’t want to vote for, were being given no end of attention and were, in fact, given more attention that the main parties here. Now I am aware of quite a lot of UKIP’s appalling interviews and media gaffes galore, however, for a party like UKIP, any attention is good attention. People fed up with Labour, Conservative and that other one, see the shiny new party promising not to be like the others – whilst simultaneously being exactly like the others but worse – and think, “hey, I’ll vote for that lot.”

You then look to parties like the Greens, who, incidentally, I ended up voting for, who offer the protest against mainstream politics but who also have decent policies, aren’t racist, aren’t sexist, aren’t homophobic… (you see where I’m going with this) not getting anywhere near the media attention of UKIP and hence being forced into the sidelines. It’s somewhat worrying when you look at the fact that, if you take away party names and such, roughly 25% of the population would support the Greens, with Labour coming in just behind at 22%. When actually asked to give their opinions on various policies and policy areas the Greens come up trumps and UKIP is sitting way behind.

This data came from a recent YouGov poll published in the Telegraph, I believe, as part of their coverage of the EU and Local Elections. The fact is that people simply don’t agree with UKIP, but they don’t know it because UKIP doesn’t like to tell the people about its policies because then they’d get no votes. UKIP are quite simply playing on the charisma of their leader combined with the fear and uncertainty many people currently feel.

What’s more worrying is the rise of far right lunatic fringe groups such as Britain First (like the EDL but with branded jackets) and other racist headcases. However, the lunatic right is a subject for another post, perhaps this weekend.

But on a cheerier note, because I’m now free, I shall hopefully be posting more often on this blog throughout the summer and, who knows, maybe I’ll get the vlog up and going. But we’ll just have to wait and see; first thing’s first, I need a job to pay rent, so we’ll have to work it from there.

But that’s about all today. As usual, thanks for reading. Have a good weekend folks!

Two Train Wreck Interviews in One Day!

Hello once again, chaps and chapettes. Well, today has been interesting indeed, a Quantum Mechanics exam and a job interview for a job that I really should have been able to simply walk into. The day started off well enough, it was actually warm and sunny in Glasgow! This is quite unheard of, I can assure you. The exam, which was expected to be utterly brutal turned out to be quite nice. Again, quite unheard of, quantum mechanics is, by definition, not a friendly course. All seemed to be going well, however, at about lunch time, things went quite terribly tits-up…

I had a job interview for an events based marketing job, one for which I happen to be rather well qualified for (yes, I am aware of the irony of a socialist working in marketing). Over the phone, I made a reasonably good connection with the head of recruitment and on my way to the interview I was in quite good spirits, what with the nice weather and a jolly good Tesco sandwich in my bag waiting for me.

In the offices, I made friendly chat with another applicant and the head of recruitment and then I was called through for a short interview, first stage interview, nothing too formal; easy, right? Nope. I was asked questions to which I could give no reasonable answer and when I mentioned that I was still at university… that didn’t seem to sit well. Then came the worst question one can be asked (seriously, you shouldn’t even be allowed to ask this question!) “What is your best life achievement?” It’s so vague, it could mean anything and that’s never good; in the microseconds it took my brain to process that question and send the commands to open my mouth and commence speaking I managed to forget everything of note I have ever done… and I mean everything.

As I got up to leave the interview both of us knew that he wasn’t going to give me the job… not a good way to leave an interview. Still, could have been worse… I could be Nigel Farage.

Yes, upon getting home it did give me a little spark of joy to note that Mr. Farage had gone through an absolute disaster of an interview at roughly the same time as mine. He was on LBC being interviewed by James O’Brien. In the interview Mr. Farage who is campaigning as an MEP and the leader of UKIP was quizzed on a number of issues from UKIP racism and his own comments that were deemed racist, to expenses and party corruption and bigotry.

Now, I don’t like O’Brien’s particular… “sledge hammer” approach to interviews, but I really do detest UKIP and Nigel Farage, so the interview was quite entertaining for me. It really was quite a disaster, with many saying that this interview may go a long way to destroying much of UKIP’s chance at gaining ground. And anything that buggers UKIP is good by my books. In fact, it was so disastrous that Nigel Farage’s Director of Communications had to intervene and bring the interview to a close.

It’s really quite good fun to watch, so I’ll include the link for you down below.

Have a good weekend, folks!