Tag Archives: Gordon Brown

The Brown Tory Trap

In an infuriating, but not unexpected turn of events, Gordon Brown has asked the people of Scotland to sign a petition demanding that the unionist parties remain true to their referendum clinching Vow of devolving significant additional powers to the Scottish Parliament.

It looks like a face saving panic measure from the former United Kingdom Prime Minister who asked the people of Scotland to trust a Labour party that no longer has a sense of its own purpose in Scotland, and a Tory party that has always been crystal clear on its purpose in Scotland, and who now appear to be seeking a way of making additional devolution for Scotland contingent on securing a ruling against Scottish MPs voting on English only matters.

Worse than this, they seem to be seeking a way of selecting the exact combination of additional powers that would have very little impact on Scotland’s ability to make the social and economic changes many people desperately want to see, whilst adding up to a reduction in Scotland’s ability to influence certain United Kingdom affairs.

So to be fair to Gordon Brown, despite the feeling that he tried to sell us out, there is a sense in which he is quite correct: fully devolving certain powers, but not others, would leave Scotland in a difficult position; it would compromise the effectiveness of Scottish MPs in Westminster and would negatively impact their ability to make decisions on key parts of the United Kingdom budget, for instance.

The problem for Gordon Brown is that there are people who believed that he was the lead figure on a promise to devolve significant additional powers, with no strings attached, in return for a No vote. It is not too difficult to imagine that there are many people who now believe that he has betrayed that trust and sold out the country he claims to love.

On the Saturday morning after the referendum, Gordon Brown made a triumphal speech in which he claimed to be too old to return to front line politics and too young to be seen as an ‘elder statesman’.

Regrettably for Gordon Brown, but more for the people of Scotland, you can play an unintended lead role in someone else’s devious game at any age. As far as the former Prime Minister’s career is concerned, he is now stuck in some kind of political no-man’s land. Exactly the state in which he has left his beloved Scotland.

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‘All the Truth in the World Adds up to One Big Lie’

By which criteria do we satisfy ourselves that we have reached the truth?

That a particular account of events is true is something that we too often take for granted, particularly when it is given to us ‘as the truth’ by those in positions of authority, leadership and power.

In an ideal world, of course, the role of police officers, politicians, bankers and journalists should be sufficient to confer a high degree of trust in their actions, automatically and without reservation; it should be sufficient to justify the naïve assumption that their motives are always entirely innocent and without agenda.

But we live in an imperfect society. It is one in which positions of authority are now widely regarded with suspicion and distrust. Our common outrage at the ugly catalogue of corruption and deceit that has been published in the form of apologies over the past couple of years – which includes several back copies from years gone by – has been testimony to that.

Here are just a couple:

 

Hillsborough papers: Cameron apology over ‘double injustice’ –
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-19543964

Gordon Brown to apologise for UK’s role in child migrant scandal –
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/feb/24/gordon-brown-apology-child-migrants

David Cameron condemns Bloody Sunday killings and makes apology –
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/15/david-cameron-bloody-sunday-apology

Barclays apologizes for Libor scandal –
http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/27/investing/barclays-libor/index.htm

Rupert Murdoch ‘sorry’ in newspaper adverts –
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14170756

 

The list goes on and on. The worrying thing is that we are force-fed whichever version of events best suits the prevailing political agenda, usually created for those individuals who have the means and the money to sustain them, and which the rest of society is normally just expected to take as correct.

And most of the time we do, until something significant that could no longer be contained, or something very small that had been overlooked, finally makes its way to the surface and brings everything to a crashing halt.

We are led to believe that certain groups of individuals are decent, honest and upstanding, whilst others are not; we are led to think that certain historical troubles were caused and perpetuated by one particular religious or ethnic group, and courageously and rightfully managed down by another.

The despicable cover up of truth that we witnessed with the Hillsborough disaster, and the unforgiveable manner in which the people of Liverpool were treated and portrayed in the aftermath, must surely be one of the final nails in the coffin of this country’s utterly corrupt constitution.

This country has happily created its own version of the truth for centuries in order to conceal the sheer extent of the hatred, prejudice and contempt with which the elite minority regards even the rest of its own society.

Bob Dylan once wrote that ‘all the truth in the world adds up to one big lie’.

And I think it is fairly obvious how important that one big lie has been to successive Governments.

It is that without which they would not exist.

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Precariously Pinned Together

Whereas Alistair Darling previously threatened that voting for Scottish independence would be like buying a one-way ticket to a deeply uncertain place, Gordon Brown this week warned that it would signal the start of the race to the bottom.

For some people retaining the union is about having an emotional commitment to a tradition and a history. And that is absolutely to be acknowledged and respected, whether we feel the same commitment or not.

But the rhetoric of the likes of Darling and Brown, which unashamedly exploits this emotional commitment, clearly shows that what lies at the heart of the no campaign is neither decent political debate concerning the true interests of Scotland, nor sound economic argument relevant to the country’s financial standing before and after independence.

Rather it is about a deep rooted unwillingness to lose control over the critical variables – mainly the fiscal levers, as they have been occasionally described – that could potentially damage the wealth, privilege and position of certain elite groups of individuals, and undermine the competitiveness of certain other economic areas across the United Kingdom.

Ensuring that Scotland’s right to determine its own social, political and economic future is not granted is therefore their priority, rather than creating a progressive unionist strategy to improve the quality of life, educational opportunities and employment prospects across the whole of the United Kingdom as it currently stands.

The problem is that such a strategy has never been viewed as an integral component of the unionist campaign. It has simply been about blocking a movement for change, for selfish reasons, whereas it should have been about recognising that the motivations behind that movement are signs that the United Kingdom is predicated on a union that is not fit for purpose.

Grasp that simple fact and the unconvincing frontmen like Darling and Brown could have had a better chance of gaining credibility for their paymaster’s position, and perhaps significantly more support.

But those of an independent mind needn’t worry. That is never going to happen. It just doesn’t figure in the thinking of those who run the United Kingdom government that the fundamental political and economic structures precariously pinning the country together need to change.

So in the meantime we can happily let the better together campaigners continue their efforts to persuade the people of Scotland that it is in their interests to stop looking for change. That it is in their interests to stop seeking the right to make their own decisions, just so that the status quo continues to deliver its cosy benefits for a small pocket of people spread throughout the United Kingdom, including Scotland.

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