Friday, July 16, 2021

Fundraising for a comprehensive Scottish poll on GRA reform and gender issues

A couple of days ago, a poll was published in Ireland on "attitudes to gender", covering issues such as women's right to single-sex spaces, the integrity of women's sport, the right to intimate examinations being carried out by someone of the same sex, and whether people should have the right to change the sex listed on their birth certificate.  I was asked today whether I'd be willing to crowdfund and commission a similar poll for Scotland.  I checked to see if I would have broad backing, and people like Denise Findlay said they would be happy if I went ahead, so I'll give it a whirl.

On the issue of the questions: I'd consult, but probably the simplest thing would be to use the Irish poll as a broad guide.  I don't think there's any such thing as 'completely neutral wording' for poll questions on such sensitive matters, but I'd be looking to make sure that respondents have clarity on what they're being asked, rather than using trendy buzzwords like "inclusion" and "simplification of the process" which can lead to misleading results.  However, I'd also try to avoid falling into the trap of laying the specifics on with a shovel to such an extent that the questions become obviously biased in the other direction.

A full-scale poll will cost a few thousand pounds - I can't put an exact figure on it because different firms have different prices, and it also depends on the number of questions (and sometimes also the question format).  For the last two weeks I've been using the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser to crowdfund this blog's next poll on independence and related matters, and that raised approximately £1000.  I'll make sure that money is used in the way intended - the GRA questions are something totally different.  It may well be that a separate fundraiser will be needed to make promotion easier, but I've got a very busy day ahead, so in the meantime if you'd like to donate, once again use the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser and anything raised over the next few days will be put towards the GRA poll.  So to donate click HERE, or for an alternative payment method click HERE.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

We need to get out of the United Kingdom because the Scottish Parliament is not safe within it

I'd heard a while back that the UK government were thinking of scrapping English Votes for English Laws (EVEL), but my reaction to the sudden news yesterday that they've actually gone ahead and done it (and without a vote, apparently) was "that's a bit casual, isn't it?"  It's the right decision in principle, but the fact that such a complete reversal was done so quickly and easily is a timely illustration of how a Tory government can simply reshape the constitution at a whim.  We need to get out of the United Kingdom because the Scottish Parliament is not safe within it.  Promises and conventions are utterly worthless, as has been demonstrated time and again over the last few years.

The main argument against EVEL was that legislation was being wrongly certified as "English-only" when in fact it had implications for the whole UK.  It may sometimes have been primarily English, but that's not the same thing.  It's quite difficult for a UK Parliament to pass laws that don't affect the whole UK to some extent, especially when there are things like Barnett consequentials to consider.

But we can safely assume democratic fairness is not the reason the UK Government have changed course - it'll be more to do with the dreadful optics of what happened on the morning after the independence referendum.  David Cameron and Gordon Brown had spent the entire campaign promising that a whole new thrilling world of enhanced devolution would open up for Scotland the moment we voted No, but instead the message was "right that's quite enough about Scotland, time to talk about England", just as soon as Scottish voters had been duped into rendering themselves powerless. People have long memories, and even if they don't remember that episode it's easy enough to remind them as soon as the next campaign gets underway.  Yesterday's tactical retreat will only repair a small amount of that damage.

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I was asked the other day if I was going to write about the recent controversy over the franchise for any future indyref.  My view is that we should stick to the principle that applied last time - ie. we should use the same franchise that applies to local government and Holyrood elections (albeit that franchise is now wider than in 2014, because it's recently been extended to cover non-EU and non-Commonwealth citizens, and also some prisoners).  That's the right thing to do as a matter of principle, because the people who have most at stake are the people who live here.  If there was such a thing as Scottish citizenship, there might be a case for also including Scottish citizens who live elsewhere, especially if they haven't been gone long.  But there is no Scottish citizenship, and it's laughable to suggest that we should create an ad hoc pseudo-citizenship for the purposes of a single vote just because the Tories think it would be helpful to bring in English-domiciled Scots who might be more likely to vote No.

On the other extreme, though, there are also pro-independence bloggers trying to come up with justifications for stripping Scottish residents of their right to vote because they originally come from England and would be probable No voters.  Apart from the anti-democratic nature of this proposal, I'd suggest it's extremely naive from a strategic point of view.  In the unlikely event that a referendum occurs via an agreed Section 30 process, we won't be able to rig the franchise.  If we go ahead with a unilateral vote (as we should), we can choose any franchise we like, but drawing a circle around likely Yes voters and excluding everyone else will simply lead to the result being safely disregarded, both by the London government and the international community.  Any vote that isn't scrupulously democratic will be a monumental waste of time.

It's also worth making the point that it would be very difficult to devise a rule for excluding English people in Scotland that wouldn't also exclude a lot of EU citizens - and the latter would probably vote overwhelmingly Yes in the hope of Scotland rejoining the EU.

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Donations made to the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser until the end of this week will be put towards our next opinion poll.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The BBC clearly wanted an all-English panel for an "English event" last night - but note how different logic conveniently applied to its coverage of Glasgow 2014

I had a quick look at the betting markets at half-time last night, and at that point England were the equivalent of an 80% chance to win the trophy.  So just for an hour or so we were in totally uncharted territory.  Both Scotland and the UK have changed radically since 1966, and the dynamic of an English win in a major championship would have been totally different from that sole previous occurrence.  I've never subscribed to the view that the insufferable triumphalism that followed would necessarily have driven people towards independence, but the theory would certainly have been well and truly put to the test.  We could already see the signs of both the London media and political class over-reaching themselves massively by insisting that the England team's run was somehow a success for the whole United Kingdom and that the whole United Kingdom must be at one in celebrating it.  (A notable example was breakfast TV presenter Susanna Reid, who was clearly determined to believe - in defiance of all evidence - that the idea that a large number of Scots were supporting Italy was a wicked myth.  Britain is required to be one big happy family, apparently, and that's an end to the matter.)  Essentially it was an attempted erasure of Scotland's existence, and I'm not sure the population at large is quite as willing to tolerate that now as they were 55 years ago.

None of this would be an issue, of course, if Scotland had its own broadcast media.  Stuart Cosgrove suggested yesterday that Scotland was the only one of the 24 countries in Euro 2020 that didn't have its own homegrown TV coverage of the competition.  Initially I thought he must be wrong about that, because Wales was also one of those 24 countries, but perhaps he was thinking of S4C's limited Welsh language coverage.  Either way, apart from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there was no country in Europe last night that was forced to watch the game through an English prism, with presenters and commentators alike talking at viewers as if they actually are English themselves.  I was particularly struck by Jurgen Klinsmann's demotion from the main BBC panel of pundits, even though there would have been obvious value in having insight from someone who had actually lifted the trophy in 1996.  It seemed that the BBC's logic was that this was an English event - it was taking place in London with the England team involved, and therefore there had to be an all-English team in front of the cameras.

But here's the thing: by the same logic, the 2014 Commonwealth Games was a Scottish event. Glasgow was not hosting it as a British city - Scotland is an entirely separate nation in Commonwealth Games terms, with its own participating team. Not only did the BBC not allow a Scottish presentation team to front their coverage for all UK viewers, they didn't even allow that to happen for Scottish viewers. Gary Lineker was one of the presenters, and I remember him reacting derisively when people asked where the Scottish presenters were, as if that was a ludicrously narrow-minded question to ask.  It cuts both ways, Gary: where were the non-English voices last night?

Actually it was worse than that - the BBC's coverage of Glasgow 2014 was a politicised disgrace.  It was just a few weeks before the indyref and everything was very deliberately 'Britished' for viewers.  The distinction between the various Home Nation teams was presented as a bit silly and artificial, with all the events functioning as a kind of training exercise for the glorious Team GB assault on the 2016 Olympics.  There was even a preview of the Olympics, and not once was it even mentioned that the participation of Team GB was contingent upon the referendum result. A No vote and business as usual for Team GB was just assumed.

The London broadcasters are institutionally incapable of serving Scottish audiences adequately, let alone properly.  Tinkering around the edges will never make any difference - the only thing that will cut it is the full transfer of legislative powers over broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament.  If you agree, and if you haven't signed our petition yet, you can do so HERE.  Please also share it with your family, friends, and anyone else who you think might be interested in signing.

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Donations made to the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser until the end of this week will be put towards our next opinion poll.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

As we are all Italians today... are five classic Italian Eurovision entries to get the old patriotic juices flowing.  First up is the first ever Italian winner of the contest in 1964, Non Ho L'Età by Gigliola Cinquetti.


Non Ho L'Età translates as "I'm not old enough", which is rather appropriate, because when Italy won for a second time twenty-six long years later, Cinquetti was still slightly younger than the victorious singer Toto Cotugno. The 1990 winning song was an anthem for European unity, with the main lyric "Unite, unite Europe" sung in English. Enjoy it while you can, because it will doubtless soon be banned by the Brexit censors.


Cotugno and Cinquetti went on to host the 1991 contest together in Rome. 

Next is what in my opinion is the greatest ever Italian entry, even though it only finished 4th in 1997: Fiumi di Parole by Jalisse. This was the last time Italy participated in the contest for fourteen years.


After Italy returned to the contest in 2011, they were widely praised for the high standard of their entries. A particular favourite of mine is the 2012 song, L'Amore È Femmina by Nina Zilli, which finished 9th.


 And last but not least, the third Italian winning song from this year: Zitti e Buoni by Måneskin.


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Donations made to the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser until the end of next week will be put towards our next opinion poll.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.