Politics

Why the House of Lords should scrutinise the Scotland Bill

The SNP, according to Scotland on Sunday, is ‘furious’ about plans for the ‘unelected’ House of Lords to scrutinise the Scotland Bill. (http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/snp-furious-over-lords-power-over-scotland-bill-1-3821894)

The Lords are appointed not elected, granted. But there is more to democracy than being elected. After all, Hitler was elected.

A strong democracy relies at bottom on the protection of the rights of the individual citizen. That requires more than an elected bunch of career politicians being left in sole charge of all of the levers of power.

Read more: Why the House of Lords should scrutinise the Scotland Bill

Are Scotland's Psephologists Riding for a Fall?

 

Aside from a computer on the desk, my local betting shop has a traditional look, complete with newspaper racing pages sellotaped to the wooden walls, stubby pencils and drawn blinds. As I entered, a man with a lived-in face and an unlit roll-up cigarette protruding from the corner of his mouth was exchanging a slip of paper for some ten pound notes.

Most betting here is on the horses, but I was looking to place a bet on politics. More specifically, I wanted to place a bet against the psephologists who are predicting that the SNP could take every seat in Scotlandhttp://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/04/29/snp-could-win-all-59-scottish-seats-at-election_n_7168570.html?utm_hp_ref=uk.

 

Read more: Are Scotland's Psephologists Riding for a Fall?

After Almost Losing the Union, Does David Cameron Deserve Another Term?

 

A major part of the Conservative’s election campaign has been to question whether Ed Miliband is up to the job. But what about David Cameron?

He is already the Prime Minister who almost lost the Union, and he is not being all that careful with it now as he sows the wind of Scottish Nationalism in an attempt to frighten English voters.

Looking back, the careless flourish with which he signed off on a referendum with Alex Salmond in 2012 looks at best naive, at worst complacent. With hindsight, Cameron’s decision to fly to Scotland to sign it handed a great publicity opportunity to the Nationalists.

Read more: After Almost Losing the Union, Does David Cameron Deserve Another Term?

Scotland’s Pal-ocracy Makes England Look Like a Beacon of Democracy

 

Where civil liberties are concerned, Scotland makes England look like a beacon of democracy. Scotland does not have strong independent bodies defending individual freedom. There is less emphasis on this in its education and culture than south of the border. I recently mentioned to a young friend studying Higher History that this year is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. “Who’s she?” he replied. Since then, I have asked a number of others including students at Scottish universities and have yet to find one who has ever heard of this historic document which guarantees the rights and liberties of the citizen against autocracy. They have all heard of the Declaration of Arbroath but only the ‘Braveheart’ section about the yoke of the English oppressor.

In 1742, philosopher David Hume wrote: “It is a very comfortable reflection to the lovers of liberty that this peculiar privilege of Britain is of a kind that cannot easily be wrested from us and must last as long as our government remains in any degree free and independent.”

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_speechs2.html

But an independent-minded observer of Scotland must conclude that civil liberties are in retreat here since the advent of a Scottish Parliament. We appear to be losing some of the recourse that citizens of Britain have historically possessed.

Read more: Scotland’s Pal-ocracy Makes England Look Like a Beacon of Democracy

Lawyer Rosalind MacInnes on Freedom of Expression in Scotland

 

 

At a recent Edinburgh NUJ meeting on freedom of expression, media lawyer Rosalind McInnes, who is employed by the BBC, was on the panel. She was speaking in a private capacity about the current state of freedom of expression laws in Scotland.

Read more: Lawyer Rosalind MacInnes on Freedom of Expression in Scotland