Campaigns: March 2009 Archives

Delusional and pathological.

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alternativeroute.jpgThe Sunday Herald had an advance on today's landmark report from the Sustainable Development Commission (press release), which describes Ministers' attempts to rebuild the same failed economic system, built on growth at all costs, as "delusional" and "pathological". 

These are delusions and pathologies the SNP share with Westminster. The Nats describe their central purpose as "sustainable economic growth". Sustainable should mean "designed to work within our long-term ecological capacity", but here it's a proper weasel word, meaning something they would like to sustain.

In particular, they suffer from the delusion that they can engage on the biggest road-building and airport expansion programme Scotland has seen since the 1960s and still meet any kind of carbon emissions targets. New roads plus new public transport does not reduce emissions, and to think so displays a pathological misunderstanding of some pretty basic science and economics.

Although they're government-funded, the SDC have clearly had enough of being polite about abject government failures of this sort, both north and south of the border. In a quote that would fit well on the cover of a Green manifesto, Professor Jackson, the report's author, says:

"Prosperity for the few founded on ecological destruction and persistent social injustice is no foundation for a civilised society."

They're so on the same page as us that I even lifted their perfect image (above).

By coincidence, Holyrood debated the economy last Thursday. The patchy and limited understanding of sustainability across the chamber makes it pretty depressing fare - the usual exceptions apply. I fear we'll wait a long time before we have a Scottish Government which even understands the problems we face, let alone capable of pursuing constructive answers to them.

On gender balance.

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There's been a lot of hoohah on the blogosphere about all-women shortlists. (Against, mostly Nats like Jeff and Mr Macnumpty, also Political Dissuasion: for, Labour voices like Kez and Yousuf).

Without wishing to sound like a Liberal, I think they're both right. All-women shortlists are indeed a crude and anti-egalitarian way to try and build gender equality. 

However, I can't stomach the complacency, the desire of some to stick their fingers in their ears when others point out that Parliament is about 35% female, down from almost 40% in 2003.

The position in our local authorities is even worse, and declining. Less than 22% of Scottish councillors elected in 2007 were female, marginally down on 2003, and even further down on 1999 (pdf).

The Green approach is different - our constitution requires that at least 50% of our candidates for winnable seats are female. There's an exemption for sitting MSPs, which is one of the reasons both my MSP employers are male, true, but at the Council level we're exactly 50/50.

Looking beyond the obviously winnable seats, we balance there too, but not as tightly. 40% of all candidates, minimum, must be female, and 40%, minimum, must be male.

Now, this certainly makes it more complex to select candidates, as Green activists will tell you, but it can't be seen as discriminating against either gender, nor is it "positive discrimination". Indeed, in one branch there would have been an under-representation of men without this mechanism.

It's not a magic bullet. It should only be a transitional mechanism, although that transition might be lengthy. It doesn't cover other sorts of equalities, from transgender to race and class. 

This principle has, however, encouraged more women to put themselves forward, and through it we've selected more good women to fight and win elections, women who continue to grow in those roles and who inspire more good candidates to come forward each time we select.

I know it's also easier for us than it is for other parties, given our focus on PR elections like the Holyrood lists and local authority contests. But couldn't other parties try something that's not one of the two failed models the blogosphere has adopted, just as the other parties have? (Malc is an honourable exception here) 

It's a classic false opposition. Parties shouldn't be excluding men, but nor should selection meetings where the loudest and deepest voice wins be the norm.
trevorsfinger.jpgEven in such a steep economic decline, there are always silver linings. The demise of the utterly unsuitable Caltongate project could be one of them. The last Labour administration (left) was curiously close to the developers, the newish SNP/Liberal administration loves them, and SNP Ministers weren't going to break the habit and stick up for local residents. Not on a planning issue.

However, with only the Greens and Margo opposing the scheme either in the City Chambers or Parliament, it's taken the market to deliver victory. With Mountgrange in administration as of today, the only risk (flagged in that article) is that the directors will buy the scheme back from Deloitte and try to revive it. I doubt it'll wash.

There'll be a street party on the High St if this is confirmed. With the centre of the city no longer under the shadow of the bulldozer, mostly thanks to the hard work of Sally, Julie and others from Save Our Old Town, perhaps we could all turn to the matter at hand: how to do something constructive with the part of the site that was the old bus station. The Council should start with proper and long overdue consideration of S.O.O.T.'s proposals.

Update: Apparently the bank calls its loan to Mountgrange "a toxic asset". Shame they didn't notice the toxicity a little earlier..

Just desserts.

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clownpies.jpgGunk, pies and flans have a long and honourable history both as entertainment and protest, and surely we can all agree that if someone has to take custard in the face, Peter Mandelson isn't a bad choice.

To those who regard this kind of protest as silly or stupid, I'd simply ask if it's as stupid as his efforts to expand airports, nuclear power and coal plants. I'd also like to know what you're doing to try and stop him. 

Finally, it's good PR: the stunt automatically becomes the picture the media will use to cover his so-called low carbon summit, which was the tawdry business-as-usual affair one might expect. They'll then have to explain why there's opposition to him - there's hardly any in the Commons, after all.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Campaigns category from March 2009.

Campaigns: February 2009 is the previous archive.

Campaigns: April 2009 is the next archive.