SNP = the New Labour?

The Labour Party to which I refer is not the Red Tories of Anthony WMD Blair. No, I have not suddenly analysed Scotland’s largest party and decided they have become unionist timeservers and self-hating lickspittles. The reality is somewhat different and much more interesting.

When I moved to Scotland in 1992, I was swiftly informed that the SNP were the ‘Tartan Tories’. Well: who could like a party with such a pejorative nickname? As it turned out: twenty years later, 50% of the population would have no difficulty in identifying themselves as such. When I joined the Party seven years ago, it was one tenth the size it is now. From where did all these people come? Like myself, they made the small, but psychologically important journey from the ranks of the party of Keir Hardie and Dennis Skinner, to rejoin their friends who had arrived by other routes.

Fifty years of failing to protect the poor of Scotland gave most of us who were lifelong socialists, more than enough evidence that it was time for a change. It was not that we had backed the wrong horse, more that our trusty proletarian steed had metamorphosed into the kraken of free enterprise, whilst we had been feeding it principled sugar lumps.

So here we all are: supporting the party that we have taken over, in the hope that it allows us a socialist alternative in the near future. All I know is that: post-independence, there will be an exhilarating time in Scottish politics where there is a tabula rasa. The Caledonian slate will be wiped clean and we will have a once in three centuries chance to decide how many limbs our body politic should have.

Whilst the levers of true power are worked remotely from offices in the Palace of Westminster, there is no point in trying to ascertain which of the Titanic’s deckchairs are posh or proletarian. A discussion about the political soul of the SNP will only become relevant when we have driven a stake through the putrefying heart of the unionist political machine. That will be a conversation for a different and much happier day.

Both Votes SNP

It has been interesting to watch the tactics of the press, in the last few months. Even the dogs in the street know that the SNP are going to win May 5th and possibly win big. What is a Unionist media baron to do in the face of the oncoming juggernaut? The answer seems to be: confuse the voter. In Scotland we have two votes: one to elect an MSP in our local constituency and one to elect a list candidate. It is a type of proportional representation, which supposedly allows parties who would not normally get enough votes in a constituency system to be given List candidates in some proportion to the percentage of votes cast for them.

Under the first past the post system used in Westminster, we have the offensive absurdity of a party ruling over us all, when 63.2% of the population voted against them. This gets worse, if you look at the fact that 34% of the population did not bother to vote. This means that 24.3% of the adult population of the United Kingdom voted for the Tories. Democracy, my pert pink bahookey.

At least the benighted electors of Jockistan have been allowed a slightly more sensible system, although it is still not my favourite. I do not like D’Hondt system, because it provokes confusion – and confusion is the only friend of the Unionist losers.The pro-Westminster press, for which read everybody but the National, are full of commentary on who deserves the List vote of the electors. This is merely sowing weeds on our Caledonian cloth of gold.

The tactic is quite understandable: confuse enough voters to give their List vote to another candidate, in the hope that enough SNP candidates on the List fail to be elected and the SNP are hobbled by the lack of a majority. In this case I urge all the friends of Independence to concentrate support on the one-party who unequivocally want Scotland to be independent and who are able to do something about it.

It cannot he said enough times: the only question for any politically inclined Scot is the question of independence. It does not matter what your political persuasion might be: whilst Westminster pulls the strings on the Caledonian puppet, all other discussions are moot.

Bowling on the NHS?

Following on the from my blog about the Hampden Bowling Club and their pre-eminent position as custodians of the world’s most important square of grass, I am keen to open a second front in defence of one of the triumvirate of great Scottish games that have been given to the world. To many, bowls is a merely a sport. A game which can be played, in order that a moderate amount of exercise may be taken. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where an egregious error is being committed. Many things weaved into the fabric of human society, have unintended consequences. We may think we can predict the outcome of anything that any human does, but we are incorrect.

I feel that we are missing a trick, in our keenness to ensure that people remain healthy and happy for as long as they are alive. The answer lies not in pills and potions, but in bowls and club pavilions. If there was a thread running through my observations of the start of the bowls season, it was a golden skein of simple happiness. At Hampden on that shining Saturday, friends greeted one another with pure warmth and laughter ran through the clubhouse, as the first tea and buns of the season was celebrated.

Note that I have not mentioned the game itself, for it is the gregarious nature of the club itself which underpins the beautiful benefits of the lawn game. It was clear that many members had been looking forward to this day for some time. 2015 had seemed to have provided nothing but rain, in the minds of us all. It was clear that many of the fifty-five members and their guests were there to imbibe the milk of human kindness. Their bodies were now unable to cope with the gentle demands of a reasonable sport, but they were bowlers all the same. Bowls gave them a reason to get up in the morning. It gave them a plan for the week. It gave them someone to talk to, in a life that infirmity and the death of loved ones had rendered solitary.

If I was in the Scottish Government, instead of prescriptions for people who were on the edge of giving up on life, I would pay the membership fees to their local bowling club. If I was a GP, the condition would be that my patients took their medicine at least three times a week. The minute the sun was over the clubhouse roof, I would be telling them to get out of the house and parked on a bench by the green. There, they could soak up the rays and engage in banter with their new pals in the community. The financial injection would save many clubs from closure and bring warmth to the lives of those, for whom a free prescription will never cure what ails them.