Mike Vickers' Blog

November 11, 2016

Something’s rotten in the State of Denmark

The first impression of St Petersburg is that the city is so like any city in the West.  So many shops with Western Brand names.

The dominance of the consumer society even in ‘Communist’ Russia.

Leaving St Petersburg is even worst – just like departing Edinburgh Airport – the same maze of booze and perfume shops.

Western consumerism has even taken over Lenin’s Russia; he would have turned in his grave.

So how has this anything to do with the Trump disaster; not that I expect that Trump can in anyway live up to his despicable rhetoric? And he looks to be changing already

Consumerism is ‘The opium of the people’: it has failed in the US as it has failed in the North of England: there just isn’t any money to spend due to so many things; lack of jobs, austerity ; and those who used to, but no longer have the money, they are the ones, who are now rejecting liberal democracy.

The days of deregulation have blown the lid off so many things.

So what can we do about it and do about it we must, not for us but for our children.

Well I am coming round to Scottish Independence – I did vote for it in the Referendum but only in a half-hearted way.

Now it’s a must.

Scotland has at least set out a Future in the White Book (thought of course it is OTT) and Scotland needs to implement it.

Neither Brexit, Corbyn and Hillary have anything to say about the future: and of course Hilary failed because of it.  Trump unfortunately did have something to say and it was nasty but it appealed to the ones that had but not now.

As a start, what Scotland requires is political education in the schools.

I pick up something that came over in a recent David Hume lecture on the Big Bang

‘HB (Hamish Buchan) related to the Stewart Ivory scheme for providing education on Finance to sixth forms but this can only go so far as it is not yet an examinable subject and the scheme can only provide 100 mins per school’

Every school child and I mean every school child needs to know about democracy and what is politics, what is capitalism and what Marx had to say about it.

Religion is dead and rightly; but Consumerism is not its replacement with its basis of individualism.

There has to be something better and that is Community – which after all, was what yesterdays’ event on Scotland’s Towns Conference in Kirkcaldy was all about.

I came to politics far too late but the kids of today must be taught, so that they can take a rational and where necessary a passionate view when the time comes to act ie vote.

David Hume is reputed to have stated :

Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.

But of course Hume was a reasonable man.

BTW Kirkcaldy has a great Art Gallery including the Colourists and at present paintings and drawings by Kate Downie of the three Forth Bridges

And then again Martin Kettle’s article in yesterdays Guardian is a good read

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/donald-trump-voters-liberal-order

November 10, 2016

The UK and Scotland post Brexit

Filed under: Brexit, DHI SPIF, Europe, Ireland, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 8:23 pm

A seminar given by Lord Gus O’Donnell to the David Hume institute on Tuesday 8th November and chaired by Charlie Wood.

Just in case you didn’t know Gus O’Donnell was Cabinet Secretary to the Westminster Parliament from 2005 t0 2011 covering three Prime Ministers, Blair, Brown and Cameron.

O’Donnell spoke at a rate of knots and assumed we all know Westminstereese; which I for one don’t!

That said the points I did capture were:

  1. David Hume’s much quoted ‘Reason is the slave of the Passions’
  2. Cameron made a big mistake on launching the Referendum
  3. Take Hard Brexit with a pinch of salt
  4. Migration problems are all over Europe – it is / will be a massive matter
  5. The UK will not adapt the Norwegian Solution to interfacing with the EU: it will be bespoke and will cost.
  6. Very little progress will be made during 2017; There will be Transitional Arrangements to cover the negotiation gap
  7. The funding gap left by the absence of UK revenue contribution will need to be made good by the remaining 27 members; they are not happy
  8. It will be difficulty for Teresa May to ensure Cabinet Collective Responsibility; it has already failed with Heathrow
  9. Effects of Brexit
    1. The Paris Climate Change agreement is in danger
  10. Limiting Migration into UK
    1. There is a Global shortage of skilled labour
    2. Canada is already enticing Finance Professionals from London
  11. The Single Market is essential
    1. Accommodation to maintain
  12. Productive in UK stopped in 2008
    1. Scotland is 2% to 5% lower than rUK
    2. 5% down on Assets
  13. Scotland will have 40% more control over the levers
    1. ½ Scottish revenue to be raised locally
  14. Sturgeon’s 5 tests
    1. O’D has a good opinion of Sturgeon
  15. Independent Scotland: O’D stated that in his experience from Canada and Quebec, independence is going away as older people die
  16. The terms of trade will not change for the UK after Brexit. They will be the same with the WTO – GATT rules will prevail
    1. The UK will not be able to pick and choose eg no separate agreement for Cars eg Nissan or for Finance
  17. The EU rules of the Single Market go way beyond CETA
  18. To trade in the EU after Brexit the UK will still have to follow the EU acquis
    1. The Great Repeal Bill will be no more that the UK importing the EU acquis into UK Law
    2. Regulation will not disappear; merely EU Regulation repatriated
  19. The UK government will be fully involved in the Brexit follow up to the detriment of Health, Education, and Public Services.
  20. The UK financial position distorted by Quantitative Easing: Deficit still too large, Rich people favoured. Need for special taxation
  21. Fundamental Alternatives are required. The Treasury has a host of plans but they will be ignored by the Westminster Government
  22. Article 50 is not neutral, it favours the rest of the EU
    1. It will be like 27 people playing one person in a game of chess
    2. The rEU very upset with the UK
    3. The trade-offs will be difficult to achieve
  23. It would have been better to trigger Article 50 this Autumn
  24. Vote Leave correlated with Inequality
  25. Brexit very different for Ireland and for Scotland. There must be Public Debate
    1. Agriculture is a nightmare
    2. Finances not easy
    3. Fisheries
    4. Energy easier and should be targeted
  26. Devolution while grudgingly given proved a useful experiment
    1. Westminster incredibly centralised
  27. Sturgeon is right on migration
  28. In response to Jeremy Peat, O’D agreed that Social Media could be the death o0f Rational Decision making. Democracy is in peril
  29. The Westminster Parliament has accepted Robots for manufacturing but has failed so far to considered for office working
  30. Gus O’Donnell’s family moved from Ireland in 1852 and he is going back for a visit.
    1. He cares enormously as to what happens in Ireland
    2. He praises the work done by Blair
    3. A disaster if border reintroduced following Brexit
    4. But believes a solution will be found.

September 28, 2016

Scotland and Brexit – a conference

Filed under: Brexit, DHI SPIF, Europe, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 6:56 pm

Scotland and Brexit

A conference organised by the Centre for Constitutional Change – 19 September 2016.

The Conference was divided into four sessions:

  • Panel of MSPs from the Scottish Government’s European and External Relations Committee
  • Academic Panel: What does ‘Brexit means Brexit’ actually mean
  • Academic Panel: Brexit, devolution and Scotland’s Constitutional Future
  • Meetings message to the European and External Relations Committee.

The conference was chaired by Henry McLeish

The Panel of MSPs were Joan McAlpine (committee convenor), Lewis MacDonald, Jackson Carlaw, Ross Greer and Tavish Scott.

JMcA frankly admitted that the Committee were unclear as to the role that Scotland has in the Brexit negotiations. Scotland needs to target a different relationship that would maximise the benefit to Scotland but how.  As to the arrangement of the UK to the external world, the WTO may be at least the short term option.

All agreed that the maintaining the Single Market should be a priority but, other than JC, they expressed the view that the UK still didn’t appear to have yet any Brexit strategy.

RG stressed that freedom of movement is economic rather than political. He believes that it is time to get young people involved.

TS made the point that the UK Government was shaken to the core by Brexit. He pointed out that there is a lot happening in Europe over the next couple of years that have nothing to do with the UK and Brexit: Elections in Austria, Hungary, Germany; nevertheless Brexit will have bad economic consequences for both the UK and Scotland.

In questions, members of the Committee felt that Brexit negotiations would still be going on well into 2019; all agreed that ‘it was all going to be very messy’ but the ‘Single Market’ may be some sort of a red line. The obvious question came up as to whether there would be a 2nd Indy referendum by then but the Panel gave no clear answer other than the general feeling that a 2nd Indy referendum is ‘on the back burner’.

The Academic panel: What does ‘Brexit means Brexit’ actually mean were Laura Cram, David Bell, Christina Boswell and Michael Keating.

LC felt that we are in turbulent times and everything is up for grabs so let’s make the best of it and be creative. She saw the EU, now 27 members, in Bratislava as symbolic: see the Bratislava Declaration and Road Map.

DB equates the Single Market with Free movement – this is an impasse but he noted that there are lots of different positions in Europe. He was critical of the Norwegian situation as ‘uncomfortable’, the EU is unhappy with Switzerland and Canada (along with its Quebec aspect) is too different for a UK solution. He sees the devil in the detail: specific items like steel, public procurement, customs, rules for business support and how to resolve disputes. He is not keen on TTIP as it is in his view, undemocratic.

CB concentrated on immigration a ‘7 year stop’ might be proposed but unlikely to be political acceptable. In any case if the UK leaves the Single Market it is unlikely to halt immigration at least for business reasons. So far targets for non-EU states have failed. The only way to reduce immigration is to remove the need for labour migration, which implies a weaker economy.

MK made some basic statements. One needs to separate political union from economic union; sub-state governments cannot be members of the EU; no half way house ; No ‘Reverse Greenland’ with Scotland and Northern Ireland taking decisions for England and Wales – not going to happen. England is suffering from an identity crisis. A number of matters will revert to Scotland, those not ‘Reserved’, so Scotland has the opportunity to work with EU on these matters – move in parallel with the EU. Focus on specific businesses.

  • The EU is market based – it is not political
  • The UK will no longer be for China a platform to Europe.
  • Globalisation is a root of discontent, but ‘sovereignty’ is overstated; however Europe hasn’t connected with ‘nationalism’. There is pressure to ‘go back to basics’.
  • Instead of focusing on the ‘Single Market’, look to the wider issues; what kind of union do we want – a social union featuring welfare? There are many different reasons for joining with the 27 and do any they apply to Scotland?
  • It is unclear how Article 50 negotiations will proceed; Brexit means that the UK position is weak and getting weaker as time goes on with the EU losing patience, bearing mined all their other major issues.

The Academic Panel: Brexit, devolution and Scotland’s Constitutional Future were David Heald, Alan Page, Ailsa Henderson and Nicola McEwen.

DH was unclear on the effect of Brexit on Barnett; will the UK position with more or less austerity and more or less regulation; finance will be hit if non-passporting; migration has a differential effect; there could be more focus on England. Would the UK Government replace EU subsidies on agriculture and university research and if so where will the cash come from. What effect will there be on VAT which is euro regulated. Scotland has a very small income tax base, 9% Tax payers provide 50% of Corporation Tax and is therefore vulnerable.

AP, a lawyer, considered that Brexit has huge implications; the distribution of powers will remain but will require law making which currently rests with the EU; EU law in Scotland would cease to apply; there is the prospect of divergence within the UK, leading to the possibility of Devolution being re-examined.  Removal of EU restrictions may be significant. Acts of the Scottish Parliament no longer open to challenge.

AH was concerned with attitude to risk and research had shown an imbalance in the general and specific risks. In comparison to the long campaign up to 2014, the 2016 referendum was short; there was no white paper and only limited engagement; no losers assent (cf Independence Referendum) . What are the options even now to make it better?

NMcE felt that we need to look again at the Devolution Settlement eg employment law – the SNP want EU social protection but this would lead to ideological divergence and increased tension. Scotland needs more workers. Scotland needs to be free to do deals. She recognises that by taking Independence off the table, Scotland’s negotiating position is weakened (Remember May’s comment re- guaranteeing EU members the right to remain in the UK). Northern Ireland is a special case.

To Questions: border agreements important for both Scotland and Northern Ireland but different. The UK government will just impose its will; Scotland is unlikely to have a say. The UK regards tax rush to the bottom ‘as policy’ which will have a bad effect on Scotland and Northern Ireland. The importance of agriculture is recognised but not obvious ‘the money is where the mouth is’

Meetings message to the European and External Relations Committee

NMcE asked groups of the audience to write down what they believed the European and External Relations Committee should review and take forward. A few groups presented their views and all groups’ inputs were collected.

Henry McLeish summed up. He also expressed a personal view that the Tory Party had taken the Country into the Referendum merely to tackle its internal issues without any consideration as to the consequences for the Country as a whole.

Where to now – my view

Taking Laura Cram’s thesis: everything is up for grabs, a thesis supported by Michael Keating and we should ‘think out of the box’; what does Scotland want by continuing with the 27 and how should it establish the right workable political as well as economic structures to do so. We can only hope that the Scottish Government is now working away in the background to come up with such structures (is this the role of Nicola Sturgeon’s special group headed by Prof Drew Scott?). Unfortunately this is not obvious from the points made by the members of the European and External Relations Committee at the meeting, who seemed generally defensive and focussed on ‘we don’t know what the UK will do re Brexit’.

August 21, 2016

After Brexit – What next for the UK and Scotland

Filed under: Brexit, DHI SPIF, Europe, Politics, Scotland, Scottish Independence — derryvickers @ 11:30 am

After Brexit

Chaired by Ray Perman DHI

Panel: Michael Keating, Kirsty Hughes, Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Brian Monteith

  1. MK
    1. Reason for leaving – Europe holding us back, or Against Globalisation,
    2. Desired – Market but No Migration
    3. Government to make up its mind
    4. Scotland position in UK and Europe negotiable vis Cyprus
      1. Scotland and N Ireland allow migration while England and Wales not
    5. UK focused on Trade
  2. SDS
    1. UK Constitution not made for Referendums
    2. UK doesn’t have a Constitution
    3. Article 50 requires a Parliamentary vote
      1. Royal Prerogative doesn’t apply
      2. Nothing democratic about Westminster Cabinet
    4. Scotland formally has no legal position to affect the outcome
  3. BM
    1. Accept Brexit but Scotland to seek benefits from agreeing with Westminster
    2. Remove all Reserved Items – have I got this right?
    3. Sturgeon made a tactical error with her Capitals visits
    4. No functioning Opposition in Westminster
      1. Loss of faith in British Politics
    5. Cameron EU Negotiations was a failure
    6. Remain ‘dropped the ball’
  4. KH
    1. Comprehensive EU / UK deal will take 5- 7 years
    2. Reconcile with WTO
    3. Scotland should go for 2nd Indy Referendum NOW before UK leaves EU
  5. Someone
    1. For EU Brexit just one of many problems
      1. Refugees
      2. Turkey
      3. Lack of Solidarity
      4. EU Summit Autumn

Summary

  1. No clear position coming from the Panel
  2. ‘Brexit means Brexit’ but the Panel were unable to illuminate
  3. Ray Perman – ‘Watch programme of Festival of Politics next year’
    1. Will the position be any clearer next year?

July 22, 2016

Two weeks in The Western Isles – Barra to the Butt

Filed under: Land Ownership, Lesley Riddoch, Linda Norgrove, Music, Painting, Scotland, Travel — derryvickers @ 7:30 pm

Barra

  • Wind, Sea and Vatersay seasky
    • New road across from Barra. But there in LR’s time
      • EU supported
  • Kisimil castle – right in the middle of Castlebay
    • Get there by boat
    • Lovely restored wee castle of the MacNeils Kilmil
  • Kisimil restaurant
    • Not to be missed – need to book
  • Weather had been bad on first day and in the North saw three Twin Otters land within the hour the next

 

South Uist

  • Ceolas at Dalburgh –
  • Music Summer school
  • http://www.ceolas.co.uk/summer/
  • Ceilidh
  • Two young accordionists
  • Patsy Reid- excellent Scottish Fiddle Player
    • Did not play much at the evening we attended but she may have continued later
    • Tutor in Fiddle
  • Step dancing – people just got up one by one and danced
  • Mountains all down the East Coast
  • Machair on the West
    • glorious flower drenched in the sun
    • machair

 

North Uist

  • Balranald RSPB reserve
    • Otters but we never saw it
    • Oystercatchers in profusion, ringed plovers, dunlins
  • BB with Jac
    • Excellent house
      • Got the sun room
    • Artist – colourful landscapes
    • Views from our window great
    • Not easy to find restaurant
  • Chambered Cairn cairn
    • Unfortunately entrance recently blocked
  • Trinity Temple
    • Believed to be oldest university in Britain
    • Dun Scotus University

South Harris

  • Golden Road
    • Built in 1937 – so called as so costly to build
      • Must have been recently rebuilt
    • Harris Tweed shops and museum
    • Community café – excellent
  • Coffin Road
    • Ground too hard to bury dead in East
    • More likely because people wished to bury their dead in the cemeteries of ancestors, which were on west
      • People evicted from Seilebost in west to stony, poor ground in the east
    • Excellent walk over bealach
      • resurfaced
  • Scalpay
    • New bridge opened by Tony Blair
    • Fish restaurant – quality fish at a price – locally caught
    • No lack of small boats in small harbours with small jetties
      • Run by Community
        • A general situation in the Outer Isles
  • More Harris
    • One eagle observed from Eagle Observatory
    • Sight of St Kilda from Huishinish – Far West
    • Luckentyre – lovely beach but two cemeteries
    • North Harris Community buy out
    • Harris is very mountainous
      •  All over

Lewis

    • Lewis is flat
    • Old Village at the end of the road, Orasaigh OldVillage
    • Ravenspoint museum
      • Unbelievable collection of old documents and photos off South Lewis
    • Callanish – stones fabulous
      • Callanish 1 2 3 etc
    • Black houses occupied till 1940
    • Harris tweed made largely in Lewis
      • Calloway loom – Hattersley 60 inch now out of production
        • Complex to set up
        • To be classed as Harris tweed it must be woven at home Hattersley
      • Norman Mackenzie
      • Isle of Berneray
      • Good walk
      • Iron Age House
    • Uig
      • Mangersta
      • Restaurant
      • Glen Bhaltois – geology
    • Butt of Lewis
      • Birds
        • Gannets diving, fulmars nesting, kittiwakes, shags fishing and nesting, terns, ravens
        • Fulmars unbelievable fliers when close to cliffs
      • Lighthouse TheButtLight
      • St Moluag’s Church ButtChurch
      • Crofts not being crofted
    • Pol’s Pantry
      • Excellent food
        • Chef saved a buzzard caught in barred wire Buzzard

General

    • Roads of good quality and surface
    • Communities very much on the move
    • Plant trees, protect them and they grow
    • Difficulty of cash machines – then we find them in Post Offices but they close at 5pm
    • Great that CalMac kept the Western Isles Ferry contract
    • For a better travelogue with people read Lesley Riddoch – On the Outer Hebrides

July 2, 2016

Sturgeon at the Opening of the 5th Scottish Parliament

Filed under: Europe, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 7:16 pm

A Great Speech on and for Scotland

And with a few words on Europe

April 10, 2016

DHI Seminar ‘Providing Independent Advice to Government: difficult choices and managing tensions’

Filed under: DHI SPIF, Education, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 10:04 pm

The David Hume Institute seminar was given by Naomi Eisenstadt in the Standard Life Building in Edinburgh

A few comments on the seminar.

  1. Despite her name Naomi is American rather than a German
  2. Appointed as independent adviser on Child Poverty to Scottish Government
  3. Scotland is different from California
    1. White bread  > brown bread > with jam then milk
  4. Poverty is not the same as inequality
  5. How poor is poor – numbers resonate
  6. More than ½ the adults in poverty have a job
  7. That a child is physically healthy doesn’t mean that the child is not in poverty
  8. A child of wealthy parents is not in poverty, but it does not mean that the child will grow up to be a productive and healthy adult.  Some kids from wealthier families go off the rails.
  9. 90% of the children with multiple problems, not just poverty (unemployment, poor maternal mental health, poor housing,  etc,) do not wind up in the criminal justice system.  But this is 10 times the rate for the wider population,
  10. Making sure My child is OK  – All parents
  11. Expose children to ‘the world of work’ at an early age
  12. High priority on early education is a proven fact
  13. Better joining up: parents > schools > teachers
  14. Poverty will never be eradicated but can be reduced
    1. The Nordics do better – the gradient between the poor and the wealthy is less
    2. High taxes mean better social care
  15. Lower paid are less likely to go to University (not unfortunately new)
  16. Quick Wins do well but often go unnoticed
  17. Caring is very very expensive – carers need to be well paid
  18. Naomi stressed that the ‘The problem is Me’ by which she meant that much of current policy protects pensioners from the impact of austerity, but is particularly harsh on young families.  She noted that she had worked very hard, but still felt the state protects older people like her, at the cost of younger people
    1. Which I expect applied to the majority of the evenings audience
  19. Theory is fine but practice better
  20. Scotland does better than England

Eisenstadt came over as a great practitioner rather than a theorist.

For more on Naomi Eisenstadt’s recommendations to the Scottish Government see https://www.holyrood.com/articles/inside-politics/naomi-eisenstadt-scotlands-independent-adviser-poverty-and-inequality.

Interestingly no one asked about the Scottish Government’s policy for Universal Child Guardianship.

February 25, 2016

Our place in Europe

Filed under: Europe, Music, Scotland — derryvickers @ 3:57 pm

Last night we saw, in Edinburgh, Ariodante an opera by Handel a German with a libretto by Ariosto an Italian, produced by Scottish Opera with a Scottish Conductor, a heroine, Sarah Tynan, from London and only the hero, Caitlin Hulcup, from outside Europe, Australia.

And we are asked to vote on leaving the Europe in June. Civilisation as we know it has borne in Europe; whether in Athens or at Skara Brae(that’s in Orkney) it is our heritage and one doesn’t give that up easily.

By the way the production of Ariodante was excellent.

February 18, 2016

Understanding European Challenges – RSE 16 February 2016

Filed under: Europe, Politics, Scotland, War — derryvickers @ 8:57 pm

We attended a full day conference organised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh under the above title. I believe it is the first of a series of seminars on various aspects of UK independence from the EU.

The agenda of the conference is given in the Appendix including the speakers.

I give below my impressions of the various sessions and speakers. I have made no attempt to give details of each session – this would take too long and in any case I will have not accurately captured all the details. I understand that sessions were being recorded and these recordings will become available on the RSE website.

The key note speech was given by Brigid Laffan. She concentrated on, as she said them the unprecedented challenges now facing the EU: the North South divide, the UK’s renegotiation, the refugee problem splitting the east and west, the Cleavage in the Real Economy centred on the Euro and dealing with Russia. On the positive side there is the Single Market, Community values and common laws. She acknowledged that the EU is centralist and there remains a problem of ‘redistribution’.

Anand Menon provided a more ‘pragmatic view’, he dwelt particularly on the impact of the coming referendum on British Politics; Cameron and Corbyn. He worried about the general apathy of the young to all politics; the relationship between the EU Executive and the European Parliament but stressed that in his view the Euro member countries must keep the Euro.

Paul Gillespie had considered a number of case of the UK in, the UK out, and half in and half out, (shake it all about) and stressed the impact on Eire and Northern Ireland relations if the UK left the EU including border control – I felt somewhat OTT as this situation had existed pre Ireland in the EU.   You can find Paul’s book at http://www.iiea.com/publications/brexit-legally-effective-alternatives.

Joanne Hunt was more concerned about the Westminster v Welsh Assembly relations / reserved matters as they already exist – the much favoured expression of the Elephant in Room came up.

Andrew Scott was also concerned that the EU membership is a reserved matter so that there is no legal opportunity for Scotland to apply to join the EU while remaining in the UK should the UK leave.

John Fossum considered the various options in principle to a country outside the EU working with the EU. He specially concentrated on the EEA – European Economic Area of which Norway as a member of EFTA participates in the free market of the EU without being a member of it. In Fossum’s view Norway suffered from all the downsides of the EU but failed to be part of the decision / policy making of it. Fossum noted that there is strong disagreement between the ordinary people in Norway and the politic elite as to membership of the EU

Ewen Stewart of Global Britain provided a whole set of statistics to show that the UK still holds a prominent place in the world and is being dragged down by as he sees it the failing EU so the UK should break away. Osborne would be proud. A closer look of the stats will be useful when these are made available through the RSE website. A couple would show that the UK is being boosted financially by London (the largest financial city in the World) and through speaking English; 70% of Chinese Contracts are in English – thanks to the US. Stewart quotes TINA – there is no alternative – support for free market, free trade and capitalist globalisation.

To the Discussion and Summary – all speakers except Joanne Hunt and Andrew Scott.

While the individual sessions had been delivery in a quiet tone the speakers in the discussion became more animated. Just a very few points that I caught:

  • European Regulation is OTT
  • Brussels is bureaucratic – but the Menon pointed out that the figures do not show Brussels as profligate – just the opposite
  • The EU requires ‘one size fits all’ – oddly a comment made by Willie Rennie later in the day about the Scottish Government
  • Life in the EU is now existential
  • Our vocabulary is outdated eg Nationalism, Sovereignty
  • Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on withdrawal from the EU
  • The voting on the UK referendum will be on the Constitution and on the Economics
  • Whether the UK stays in the EU is as much to do with the 27 other countries of Europe as it is to do with the One, the UK – a fact surfacing only today – Thursday 18 Feb 2016
  • Cameron’s position if the UK votes No. There are echoes here of the Repeal of the Corn Laws pushed through by Robert Peel ,a Tory PM, against the wishes of his Tory Party in 1846
  • London is English not European
  • The North South divide is not just a European problem, it exists in the UK too
  • Scotland has lost its control of fishing rights
  • There are 250,000 members of the EU in Scotland
  • A lady of Spain bemoaning that she could lose all her benefits of being in the UK if the UK goes independent even though she has been here for 43 years
  • Brigid Laffan reminding us that the forerunner of the EU was set up with the prime purpose of ensuring that the European Nations would never go to war almost themselves. This point, as far as I was concerned, had been omitted throughout the previous 6 hours.

My thoughts on the day

In general all the speakers other than Stewart were in favour of the UK remaining in the EU – although until the final discussion they hid their inclinations well.

I agree that we should remain in the EU, mainly to migrate the chances of another intra- European war.

Nevertheless the EU has serious problems that it must tackle: these include managing the refugees, sorting out the North South divide along with the Euro, supra national and national identities as stated by Laffan in her key note speech. But it does seem to me that the EU is falling between two stools: on the one stood is a loose confederation of sovereign nation states and the other is a federal Europe with an overall constitution rejected by the Lisbon Treaty. The former stool is the one that Cameron is aiming at; the other stool looks, at least till recently, preferred by Germany. There is unlikely to be peace in the EU countries until this dichotomy is resolved.

Appendix

16 February, 2016 Royal Society of Edinburgh

16 February 2016 – 9am to 3.30pm at the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Keynote speaker: Brigid Laffan MRIA, Director and Professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and Director of the Global Governance Programme, European University Institute (EUI), Florence. The European Union is facing unprecedented challenges, including the problems of the Euro, the refugee crisis, and turbulence in its neighbourhood. The conference will address these questions and the different possible futures for Europe. It will examine the issues in the relationship between the United Kingdom and Europe, and the way they are seen in the nations and regions. It will also look at the alternatives to EU membership should the UK decide in the coming referendum that it wishes to withdraw.

Organised in partnership with The Centre on Constitutional Change and the ESRC’s The UK in a Changing Europe.

09.00-09.10 – 09.00-09.10: Welcome – Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, President, RSE 09.10-09.15: Introduction – Sir Muir Russell FRSE, Chairman 09.15-10.05: Challenges to Europe, Professor Brigid Laffan MRIA, European University Institute

10.05-10.50: Issues for UK, Professor Anand Menon, King’s College London, Director of The UK in a Changing Europe

11.15-12.30: Views from:

  •  Ireland – Dr Paul Gillespie, Irish Times and University College Dublin
  •  Wales – Dr Joanne Hunt, Cardiff University, ESRC Senior Fellow
  •  Scotland – Professor Andrew Scott, University of Edinburgh

12.30-13.30: Lunch 13.30-14.30: Alternatives to EU, Professor John Erik Fossum, University of Oslo and Ewen Stewart, Director, Global Britain

14.30- 15.30 Discussion and Summary

December 5, 2015

It’s been a great week for Scottish Music

Filed under: Music, Personal, Sally Beamish, Scotland, World Class — derryvickers @ 7:31 am

NOISE (New Opera in Scotland Events) – not a very inspiring name for an opera company but last night at the Queens Hall they put on Hirda – wreckage / mess in Shetland dialect.  Certainly not a mess in an Opera – a performance that will live on in our memory .  You can read more at

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/nov/29/hirda-review-noise-opera

But the story to me was past and present brought together in Shetland, the newly married couple and the prodigal brother and moderating sister with the background of a distant love affair where the ghost of woman left in Shetland by her whaler lover can’t rest till she finds her lost mitten.  And it all comes to an end on the moor with the newly wed wife almost on the point of death next the corpse of the women in a splendour of singing by all six of the cast (I need to cast my mind back to the finale of Rosenkavalier for an equivalent).

Music by fiddler maestro Chris Scott (last seen in a glorious concerto by Sally Beamish with Catriona McKay Scottish Harp) and Gareth Williams and libretto Sian Evans.  I just hope that the opera gets south of the border to show the sophisticated Londoners what Scotland can produce.  At least the review was by the Guardian so may be some small hope.

 

On Monday it was Red Notes – Noisy Notes (Noise again) with their excellent musicians playing music composed by young musicians, each piece being no more than 5 – 10 minutes in length.  Often in The Traverse but this night in an old Anatomy Theatre for vets – the theatre is small in the round and gives wonderful visibility of the players – no more than three or four players usually with a conductor John Harris conducting with what looked like a red ball point.  The session is usually split into two halves with space for the audience to come up in 10 minutes with an off the cuff piece.  This time it was no surprise that Sally Beamish in audience won the prize for the best piece but she did squeeze a couple of extra minutes before her score was prised away from her.

Anyway below is the team except the flutist was replaced by an Australian Accordionist who in one piece was almost a show on his own

RedNote

 

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