Open Space 1: 27.11.17



Now, I’m not complaining about off-topic posts but it’s become apparent that some of you want to comment, often at length, on things I’ve missed. So, I’m going to post an open space or forum every so often where you can raise any topic you like and maybe get more attention to it. Give them a BIG BOLD HEADLINE. off you go!


9 thoughts on “Open Space 1: 27.11.17

  1. johnrobertson834 November 27, 2017 / 3:39 pm

    Oh, yes, your target is 9 700 readers! I’ll keep you posted on readership.


  2. Ludo Thierry November 27, 2017 / 8:17 pm

    Hi John – many thanks for providing this sphericle for our use – Since naebody else has beaten me to it I’ll have a wee go.

    Your assiduous poster Alasdair has a theory he has expounded regarding the potential for closer political working in Scotland between some of the political parties. I think I am correctly characterising Alasdair’s argument when I say the gist is that the Labour north britain accounting unit (in particular) has experienced a generational shift given the mass ‘clear out’ of MPs, MSPs and Cooncillors during the successive elections of 2015 (Westminster),2016 (Holyrood) and 2017 (Cooncil).

    I suspect Alasdair has a more charitable nature than I do – but I’m wondering if he might be onto something here? I’m wondering if some items I noticed in today’s news might be indicative of a ‘post-brexit’ – but not yet Indepenence – politics starting to take shape? This is not a personal hope or an ambition or whatever – I am simply positing an argument.

    I noticed on beeb Wales site that the Welsh Labour Government (well – it’s actually Labour and includes the single elected Lib. Dem. AM together with the AM Daffyd Ellis-Thomas (elected as Plaid Cymru) who had fallen out with his PC colleagues and had been sitting as an Independent) – have published a paper re. Wales brxit options. This paper had been JOINTLY PUBLISHED with Plaid Cymru. Think about that a moment. Can we easily imagine something similar occurring in the Scottish Parlt?: (see report below):

    More overseas offices will be opened by the Welsh Government in 2018 in a bid to increase trade post-Brexit.
    Premises in Canada, France, Germany and Qatar will open, meaning the government will have a presence in 20 locations.
    The Welsh Government plans to open offices in Berlin, Doha, Dusseldorf, Montreal and Paris in 2018. Overseas teams help Welsh exporters with investment decisions.

    In a speech at Cardiff Metropolitan University on Monday night, First Minister Carwyn Jones is expected to say that “increasing our presence in these key markets… has never been more important as we face a future outside of the European Union”.
    He will add: “Leaving the EU will create challenges, as well as opportunities.
    “That is why we are expanding our presence in Europe and across the globe, so we are able to meet with, and attract, new investors and sell Welsh goods to overseas customers.
    “If we turn our backs on the [EU’s] single market and shut ourselves off from vital European trading markets, it would be hugely damaging to our economy.”
    In its Brexit document published jointly with Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Government outlined its belief that “continued full and unfettered access to the single market is fundamental to our future.”

    Plaid’s Brexit spokesman Steffan Lewis has called for a “comprehensive international policy for Wales that encompasses everything from trade to international development”.

    Well maybe we could envision such a thing. Many of the recent major appointments the SNP Scottish Govt have been making seem to be showing a high degree of preparedness to ‘reach out’ beyond the Party boundaries. Very recently we have seen former Labour cooncillor Kirsty Darwent appointed to chair Scottish Fire and Rescue (succeeding another Labour figure Pat Watters – who had also been President of COSLA). Then we saw Susan Deacon (former Labour Minister) appointed to the vacancy at the Scottish Police Authority. Today I note another former Labour ‘Minister for everything’ Wendy Alexander has been appointed to the new Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board (from beeb Jockland site below):

    Wendy Alexander joins Scottish government advisory panel

    • From the sectionScotland politics
    • The Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board meets for the first time next month.
    • Its role is to “maximise output” from public sector investment in these areas.
    • The government said its members come from a broad range of backgrounds, including education, research, trade unions and local authorities.
    • Other members include Karen Betts of the Scotch Whisky Association, Steven Heddle of local government body Cosla, and Grahame Smith of the Scottish TUC.
    Ms Alexander is a vice-principal of the University of Dundee.

    So not only Wendy Alexander appointed – but also the Independent cooncillor from Orkney and COSLA (Steven Heddle) and the guy from Scottish TUC (Grahame Smith) but also Karen Betts from the SWA – yes – that is the same SWA which disgraced itself with its legal shenanigans to try and unrail the MUP of alcohol so recently OK’d by the UK Supreme Court. (and all the previous Courts in succession).

    Strikes me that Nicola and the SNP Scottish Govt are really showing willing to work with anybody and everybody who can bring skills and talents to bear for the advancement of Scottish interests under the (hopelessly inadequate) devo settlement. I’m wondering if this is the early shape of Scottish post-brexit politics? With the YES camp reaching out and finding unlikely allies to pull together whatever better outcomes for Scotland can be achieved – even within the appalling existing devo constraints?

    Certainly nobody can accuse the SNP Scottish Govt of not trying to be fully inclusive. Will some of these non-YES people find themselves becoming increasingly drawn to the logic of Indy as they find themselves working alongside the YES supporting ‘demons’ and find that they are a hard-working Scottish Govt/YES movement who are trying – day in and day out – to improve the lot of Scotland and all her people?

    This is an intesting development perhaps? – Who knows? – We’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Macdonald. November 28, 2017 / 8:37 pm


      You are more charitable to me than I would be to myself!

      I am not a member of any political party. However I do try to make contact with representatives of the five parties represented in the Scottish Parliament, who are at Holyrood, at Westminster and in Council chambers. Generally, although not universally, I find that most are fairly committed people, who understand the nuanced nature of politics. When not being accosted aggressively or accusingly or insultingly, then they will respond constructively, especially if they believe that what they say will not be misrepresented.

      Journalists must be given a great measure of blame for the way they seek to polarise debates. They want an adversarial approach. Indeed, unless they take hostile and unequivocal stances, it is rarely likely that they will be on the main bulletins or major articles. They also traduce the job of politicians, by continually pushing or implying that they are all self-seeking chancers. Indeed, I think this is intentional and in the interests of the media proprietors who want to neuter politicians so that they will not pass legislation or regulations to curb these people.

      Having worked in education for almost 40 years, I know that the population is much better educated than in preceding generations. People are capable of understanding complex issues and of forming opinions, as can be seen from much of the social media exchanges (Social media being a bete noir of the MSM, except when they use it themselves and quote each other.) However, much is often on single issues, such as disabled rights, sexual arassment, anti-fracking, etc. I think there are signs that some people are beginning to see common themes in these disparate matters and are beginning to develop a more omnibus understanding. I think that many of the Yes supporting groups showed this, as has Momentum in England.

      The main problem in the Scottish Parliament is the tribal, cliquish mindset of the current Labour MSPs, many of whom have been in place since 1998, and, via the list system are perpetuating themselves. I do not see them being able to slough this off and work collaboratively and make deals in the way the Scottish Parliament was designed to do, since it is very hard to have a single party majority. Annabelle Goldie, for example from 2007/2012 was pretty good at this, as have been the Greens, and, despite cheeky-boy Wullie, the LibDems, particularly up to 2007, when they shared power.

      Setting aside his gaffes and unsubstantiated accusations, Mr Leonard, in his proposals for nationalising Scotland’s railways or the themes to be explored in his taxation review has indicated areas where there is a lot of common ground with SNP, Greens and LIBDems. However, he has virtually no supporters in Holyrood. So, he will have to rely on extra-Parliamentary members, such as councillors. It is from that body, given the clear out of old lags that I think that alliances can be formed.

      It is only a gut feeling based on some conversations with new Councillors that I see some shafts of light. Brexit is turning out to be such a horror story that I think that there will, of necessity, be cross party alliances in Scotland, to develop alternative approaches. I suspect even some Conservatives will be of this view, particularly in farming areas. Unfortunately, with regard to Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has, to use the technical term, made an arse of things. I did not think that I would be supporting the stance taken by some of the Blairite MPs.

      Finally, I think that having ducked Ireland since the referendum Mrs May’s Government is going to hit the buffers. I think that this could well stimulate cross party alliances amongst Irish, Scottish and Welsh politicians, as well as some in England, including many in the House of Lords (Aaaaargh!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. johnrobertson834 November 28, 2017 / 9:50 am

    Thanks Ludo
    well worth publishing here. Can we follow the Welsh example or are Labour in Scotland still too bitter?


  4. Ludo Thierry November 28, 2017 / 7:55 pm

    Hi John – since the Open Space is still showing just adding a wee piece I saw on beeb Northern Ireland site regarding comments from a London Tory MEP called Charles Tannock (confess not a name I recognise). His comments regarding the need for a further referendum for Northern Ireland to have the opportunity to remain in Single Market and Customs Union apply equally well to Scotland’s position. Effectively ‘choosing’ the Union we would wish to remain within. I also fully endorse his comments about his own Tory party! The brexit stresses and strains can’t be kept out of sight much longer. (See below):

    Tory calls for NI referendum on EU customs union
    By John Campbell BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor
    • 1 hour ago

    • From the sectionNorthern Ireland

    A Conservative MEP has suggested there should be a referendum in Northern Ireland in which voters could decide if they want to stay in the EU’s single market and customs union.

    Prime Minister Theresa May has said the whole of the UK will leave the single market and customs union after Brexit.

    Speaking at the European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee, Charles Tannock said people in Northern Ireland should be given an option.
    He is strongly opposed to Brexit.

    The London MEP said people in Northern Ireland could be asked which custom union and single market they wish to belong to after Brexit – the UK or a special economic area with the EU.

    “Given the controversy and the dangers of getting this wrong, I really do think now that [a referendum is] the only way to solve this democratically,” he said.

    Earlier this year, Mr Tannock told the Irish Times he had obtained an Irish passport and criticised what he said was his party’s “arrogance, hubris, petty nationalism and triumphalism”.

    Am still hopeful (and certain) that the irreconcilable contradictions inherent in brexit will hasten the next staging post in the long and winding Indy process.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ludo Thierry November 28, 2017 / 9:05 pm

    Hi Alasdair – thanks for the detailed and considered comments. Much appreciated – and pretty much exactly how I am seeing things also. Cheers, Ludo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Macdonald November 28, 2017 / 9:20 pm

      I have never actually done any blogging, just responded to items. I will need to do a bit of practice before trying to put something up. Part of my problem is technological nous.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. johnrobertson834 November 29, 2017 / 9:09 am

    Great discussion but only 98 reads so maybe ‘Open Space’ not a god title? Better if you sent me something with a title I could trumpet?


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