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A loyal servant of the former British Empire writes from Mumbai about Scotland’s referendum

18 sept scot referendum

Received today:

I have read some terrible news in our papers about your country. Some few days from now, Scotland is going to vote to break up Britain and get independence. I do not know how you feel about it.

I think it will be a total disaster if by a very narrow majority the Scots succeed in breaking up Britain.

I explained:

Britain is badly governed: run in the interests of the wealthy.

The Scots want more scope to expand the superior health, social care and education provisions they have already designed for their people, as matters deteriorate in Britain; in England these important sectors are handed over to private companies whose performance is geared primarily by the profit motive, with good service way behind.

They also want to expand clean energy sources instead of depending on imported oil and coal.

Finally they want to rid their country of American-controlled weapons of mass destruction.

I hope they will succeed.

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Scots voting no to independence would be an astonishing act of self-harm

England is dysfunctional, corrupt and vastly unequal. Who on earth would want to be tied to such a country?

Broken BritainEdited extract from Guardian article

To vote no is to choose to live under a political system that sustains one of the rich world’s highest levels of inequality and deprivation. This is a system in which all major parties are complicit, which offers no obvious exit from a model that privileges neoliberal economics over other aspirations. It treats the natural world, civic life, equality, public health and effective public services as dispensable luxuries, and the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor as non-negotiable.

Points made by the author, George Monbiot, include:

  • Its lack of a codified constitution permits numberless abuses of power.
  • It has failed to reform the House of Lords, royal prerogative, campaign finance and first-past-the-post voting (another triumph for the no brigade).
  • It is dominated by a media owned by tax exiles, who, instructing their editors from their distant chateaux, play the patriotism card at every opportunity.
  • The concerns of swing voters in marginal constituencies outweigh those of the majority;
  • the concerns of corporations with no lasting stake in the country outweigh everything.

Broken, corrupt, dysfunctional, retentive: you want to be part of this?

Independence, as more Scots are beginning to see, offers people an opportunity to rewrite the political rules. To create a written constitution, the very process of which is engaging and transformative. To build an economy of benefit to everyone. To promote cohesion, social justice, the defence of the living planet and an end to wars of choice.

The currency debate

The Scots are told they will have no control over their own currency if they leave the UK. But they have none today. The monetary policy committee is based in London and bows to the banks. The pound’s strength, which damages the manufacturing Scotland seeks to promote, reflects the interests of the City.

To deny yourself independence, to remain subject to the whims of a distant and uncaring elite, to succumb to the bleak, deferential negativity of the no campaign; to accept other people’s myths in place of your own story: that would be an astonishing act of self-repudiation and self-harm. Consider yourselves independent and work backwards from there, then ask why you would sacrifice that freedom.

Assisted Dying 7: Margo MacDonald MSP

An email correspondent, with whom the writer shared support for assisted dying and Scottish independence, died today. Read her obituary in the Scotsman – avoid the grudging and mean-spirited text in the Telegraph.

margo macdonald

The best tribute is to make sure her thoughts are kept alive. Here are a few sent by email in 2008:

In talking about the end of life, let’s start at the beginning … I don’t support euthanasia. I do support having the best-possible palliative care, whether at home, in a hospice, or any other place a terminally ill person wishes to be when life ends.

But I also support the right of terminally-ill people to end their lives should they become unbearable, and to be able to obtain assistance to do this legally. That’s why I attended the debate, initiated by the Lib Dem MSP Jeremy Purvis, on assisted suicide. I intended to show support for his persistence and to listen and learn.

A few years ago, a UK newspaper published an opinion survey showing a very high percentage of its readers to be in favour of the principles enshrined in Jeremy’s motion. Only one correspondent has expressed opposition to my stance.

The effectiveness of palliative care varies from patient to patient, and unfortunately for some, offers minimal relief. It’s amongst this group that the wish to have a choice of assisted dying is of real interest.

I’m lucky, my Parkinson’s is mild, and in the thirteen or so years since it was diagnosed, I’ve worked normally and exercised regularly. But my luck might not hold up and my condition may degenerate more severely than the present prognosis. In that circumstance, I’d like to be able to count on obtaining assistance without asking anyone to commit a crime in helping me to die.

Having a legal right is not the same as being obliged to act on that right. It’s quite possible that knowing I can legally be assisted to die, if I choose to truncate any prolonged period of severe impairment, might be enough to make the situation bearable.

The people who’ve contacted me face up to what the BMA won’t … that for some terminally ill people a dignified, peaceful end to life cannot be brought about by drugs or even the most sensitive care.