Monthly Archives: April 2014

SAFY Canvassing Kelvin 11 May

SAFY Canvassing Kelvin 11 May

Join Scots Asians for Yes and Yes Kelvin as we canvass across the area with Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for External Affairs and International Development and Tasmina Sheikh, the SNP European Parliamentary Candidate, local councillors and fellow activists, cross party and no- party. We look forward to bringing more conversations to your doorsteps.

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by | April 30, 2014 · 10:20 pm

Scotland has a moral and ethical compass lacking at Westminister

Scotland sees itself as a decent upstanding sovereign state whose ideals are based not on how much money it can safypollokmake from doing business with nations involved in such abuse of human rights, it will put forward its morals and ethics before pounds and dollars. It will not therefore be scared to make its voice heard. As a smaller nation not only will the government but also the people will be much more empowered. There will be a considerable more level of connectivity between the people and the government, not just on local or national but even on international level. Holyrood is a completely different mindset to that of the likes of the Etonian mafia who rule the corridors of power at Whitehall and Westminster.

Councillor Shabbar Jaffri

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SAFY & Yes Pollok -a dynamic duo in getting folk to say YES!

Another great session out canvassing across Pollok with our elected representatives Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Chris Stephens, our European Parliamentary candidate, Councillor David McDonald, Councillor Shabbar Jaffri, one of our best activists to date has to be Joe Docherty, along with Ghazala (who has worked tirelessly with the team), Imran,  Mr Riaz and many more who joined us as we canvassed across the ward.

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As Councillor Jaffri said  “Very positive campaigning with Yes Pollok and SAFI4YES. Meaningful engagement led to many undecideds to voting Yes. Feeling very upbeat”

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The canvassing sessions across Glasgow have created some great team working moments and I have met people in other wards that I ordinarily wouldn’t have. It has shown me and others the synergies that can be created as we work collaboratively together to share the message that with independence we will have a greater opportunity to shape our future, and the futures of our loved ones, families, friends, community and society at large. That we are all working for that one goal, and our focus is on a positive result 18 September.

I would also like to thank Chris Stephens and Councillor David McDonald for their help in organising a joint canvassing session. It was a pleasure working with you all today.

 

N N Riaz

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The UK has failed but we have to address Scottish shortcomings

Gerry Hassan discusses in an article shared via newsnetscotland below the criticality in being able to address the flaws in an outdated and failing system and using independence as the opportunity to not replicate the same mistakes, which we see reoccurring repeatedly regardless of manifesto promises across the UK. It’s an honest and open approach, showing that we (Scottish political hierarchy) too are complicit in reproducing similar behaviours and this is our chance to create a fairer society for all.

The Scottish independence debate is about many things. It is about the state of modern Scotland and its different gerryhassanpossible futures. But it is also about the condition of the UK, its multiple crises and how these impact north of the border.

The state of the United Kingdom is one of the main drivers of the Scottish debate. It has become an accepted fact that the UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world, ranked fourth in a study by Prof. Danny Dorling of Oxford University. London is, on some indicators, the most unequal city in the entire developed world.

The City of London and London as a world city ‘crowd out’ the rest of the UK: the latter accounting for 12% of UK population and 22% of GDP. The UK has become disfigured by uneven economic development on a scale unseen in the rest of Western Europe. Then there is the level of debt which the UK has counting personal, corporate and state debts which has fallen from 502% in September 2012 to 471% at the end of 2013 according to McKinsey: the second highest of any major economy apart from Japan. Government debt, the part that obsesses Cameron and Osborne, represents just over one-sixth of all UK debt.

Then there are the limitations and shortcomings of what passes for British democracy. The UK has never ever become a fully-fledged political democracy. Only one part of the constitution is democratic, the House of Commons, while all across British public life relics and practices of feudalism, and the over-class who used to rule us with impunity remain.

For anyone who thinks this an over-statement, Enoch Powell, no radical left-winger, but an astute right-wing constitutional observer, commented in 1982 that, ‘I slightly bridle when the word ‘democracy’ is applied to the United Kingdom. Instead of that I say, ‘we are a parliamentary nation’. If you … put us into the jar labeled ‘democracy’, I can’t complain. I can only tell you that you have understood very little about the United Kingdom’.

The UK has, as it has become more characterised by its multiple crises – economic, social, democratic and its failure to become a European country – increasingly obsessed with the past. To be more accurate this is about the power of a mythical past – one which is being reconjured by the UK’s elites to present a compelling good story about what the country is for and about.

This year’s commemorations of the First World War (100th) along with the Second World War (75th) and D-Day (70th) come in a long line of major anniversaries past: Trafalgar and Battle of Britain and to come in the following years, Waterloo for example in 2015.

The UK’s dominant stories can be seen as a fantasyland disconnected from the realities of most people. Remember David Cameron’s rhapsody last year in Moscow after being told by a Russian Government spokesperson that the UK was a ‘small island … no one pays any attention to them’ when he had what many described as his ‘Hugh Grant moment’. Property developer Kirstie Allsopp inadvertently articulated this mindset last year when William and Kate produced a royal baby, and in amidst all the celebrations and commentary, observed of the state of the UK, ‘What is wrong with Britain being a Disneyland?’

Disneyland might be a fine place for Allsopp, considering her father is the Sixth Baron Hindlip, but for the rest of us it has damaging consequences. Disneyland is not a real place, and pretending the UK is such, infantilises and diminishes the people as citizens and adults.

These are all reasons which drive many on the self-government and independence side. Yet at the same time if this debate is to produce economic and social change then people have to recognise that in many ways modern Scotland falls short in numerous areas of life we pride ourselves that we care about.

Modern Scotland is not the egalitarian, inclusive land sometimes portrayed by some pro-independence supporters and ‘civic Scotland’ voices. For example, Scotland is nearly as unequal as England in terms of income – both being disfigured by grotesque inequalities.

Scotland has the worst health inequalities in Western Europe, and in terms of educational opportunities, across our society from early years to school, college and university, there is what can only be described as an educational apartheid disadvantaging working class children.

Our society is not, as some present, without elites and establishments, but instead a country where many, including lots of radical voices, choose to ignore inconvenient truths. To take one example Scotland has one of the most extreme concentrations of ownership of private estates anywhere in the world.

All of the above are not synonymous with the picture many present of Scotland as centre-left, radical, social democratic or even socialist in its credentials. Instead, this paints a picture of a society disfigured by the power elites and forces of conservatism and privilege – whether landed gentry, corporate power, myriad institutions of the public sector or local government.

Who is responsible for this state of Scotland today? To some the answer is clear – it is all the fault of external forces from the nature of the union and UK, to the values and more Southern focus of Tory and Tory led governments. But that does not stand up to sustained scrutiny as the full story.

The inequities, injustices and blighted lives which disfigure too much of Scotland are rooted in a number of factors. There is the responsibility of Scottish people, elites and public institutions in this, along with that of British elites and institutions. British governments down the years have to take a major share of the blame, but so do the cumulative collective decisions of Scots in areas of public life which have been autonomous or devolved long before a Parliament came about: law, education and health for example.

The multiple crises and failures of the UK are rightly a major part of this independence debate. The progressive aspirations and values of many of the pioneers and idealists who shaped the Labour Party and labour movement look to have become unrealisable, given the state, condition and future direction of the UK.

This is a powerful set of negatives but more is needed if Scotland is to embark on radical change and break with the failed economic and social model of the last three decades. This requires that Scotland has an honest look at our country and our society, how we make our public policy choices, and the relationship between our words and actions.

This is an argument I have put forward in the just published ‘Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland’ addressing the fundamental and damaging shortcomings of British politics and what passes for democracy and their inter-relationship with the many failings and crises of the UK.

At the same time, as noting the above, this debate has to be radical and far-reaching, rather than simply rejecting what the UK has become and supporting an ‘abstract’ Scottish future of independence.

The shape of our collective future is being made and played out now, and that requires that we address now with honesty and candour the limits of much of Scottish public life, our myths and the power of homegrown elites. That is a demanding prospect: challenging the still powerful stranglehold of the old closed order who hold sway across large aspects of society, but their strength and legitimacy is weakening, and it is possible to say the winds of change are blowing across Scotland. Now is the time to aid, encourage and nurture such change.


Dr. Gerry Hassan is Research Fellow in cultural policy at the University of the West of Scotland and author of ‘Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland’ just published by Luath Press.

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Another Valid Reason to Vote YES! by Cllr Jaffri

cllrshabjaffri1One of the many advantages of becoming independent will mean Scotland will be in charge of its own foreign relations and policy. Currently we are left with no choice as international affairs are not devolved matters. We are represented by Westminster governments whose international priorities do not match our needs in Scotland. The illegal wars on Iraq and Afghanistan are prime examples, wars which have caused so much mayhem and bloodshed on all sides-the consequences of which are all too evident for the world to see. These invasions and occupations have cost millions of lives and trillions of pounds. On the contrary an independent Scotland will endeavour to strengthen its relations with the international community through mutual understanding, cooperation and understanding whilst always striving to develop economic opportunities for Scottish business and attracting inward investment. Our priorities will not be based on war and conflict. Instead we will be driven by development, trade and commerce giving us the very realistic opportunity to promote our passion as a friendly and caring nation, always championing international peace. As far as our current international branding is concerned we stand in fifteenth place out of fifty nations according to international comparisons published in 2012. We are near or in some cases ahead of thriving countries like Denmark or Finland. This is a great jumping board for us to seize the opportunity to do even much better for our nation and people by becoming independent. There is untold potential. We possess the necessary expertise required. After independence that expertise will be easily built on by retaining the International Development offices and staff in Glasgow and East Kilbride. Becoming part of the international community Scotland will join the main agencies such as the UN, WTO, OECD, NATO, the Commonwealth and many more which will see us integrated as a key player on the international stage with our own voice backed by our own unique priorities. After winning independence Scotland will make its presence in numerous countries by either opening new embassies or consulates or, where appropriate, sharing with other nations so that our interests are properly and effectively represented. The main objectives of the embassies shall be commercial, governmental, cultural, development and consular. Scottish Asians will be pleased to learn Delhi and Islamabad will host Scottish embassies and can take comfort in the knowledge when next they have to use the services of the Foreign Office to resolve many issues that affect us when we travel to the motherlands it will be the Foreign Office in Edinburgh and not in London they will have assisting them. Another valid reason to Vote Yes!

Councillor Shabbar Jaffri

(Pollok ward, Glasgow)

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As the pro-indy voices rise in quality across the debate

As I speak to and listen to people in our communities throughout Scotland, one message I walk away with is that the time is ripe, and its time for change.

gs4 As Jonathon Shafi of the Radical Independence Campaign has said ” Another Scotland is Possible’ and its a message we embrace wholeheartedly. Where our authors have spoken about their deep disillusionment at how Westminster continues to ignore the wishes of the Scottish people and are dismissive of our views and opinions. As many have said previously and reiterated by Irfan Rabbani “This has to change”. irfanrabbani (1)

 

Another author Wasim Mahmood discusses the ‘ailing’ attempts of Westminster to preserve the Union are not for the benefit of the Scottish people but more to preserve its own grip on power and its outdated mode of politics. When we have politicians emerging taking the family and society centred view to build communities rather than engage in building and sheltering weapons of mass destruction and illegal wars. Why would any government (500 miles away) wish to renew weapons of mass destruction at a cost of £250 billion pounds 30 miles outside a city with the largest population in Scotland?  Could we even think of such an atrocity being built 30 miles outside of London?

SAM_1743In times of austerity, where there has been an exponential increase in poverty leading to foodbanks opening across the country, how can such an obscene amount of money be used for weapons but not to eradicate the causes of poverty?  Its these excesses of taxes spent in areas over which we have no control that we have questioned long enough and been ignored. It makes perfect sense that we feel we can make better decisions for ourselves as a nation and live in a country with a government that reflects our wishes. As many of our authors have said over the months and which we all hold onto strongly and articulated well by Sohail Haque

“No matter what race, religion and creed we are, I believe that the independence vote will be the single most revolutionary moment of our lives, a vote I believe that will allow us to build a better Scotland for us and future generations to come. ”

 

NN Riaz

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Through the Looking Glass, by Wasim Mahmood.

If the prevailing thought was that Independence, however much desired, was merely a romantic notion unable to withstand the rigours of waseemmahmooddebate and pragmatism, then the last few months have offered a fresh perspective on matters. Still some weeks shy of the official campaign start date of 30th May, the mood amongst both camps is fast changing and the pronouncements from either side proving that the stakes could not be higher.

Tested by a barrage of endless negativity and sheer cynicism, the Yes movement have seen off most of what the Better Together machine has mustered in its crude campaign to date. If the Yes camp are buoyed by recent coverage and their standing in the polls, the No camp must be reeling as they step through the looking glass of what they originally assumed would be a straightforward campaign. Startled by the swelling support for Independence, one would ordinarily expect Better Together to play their strongest hand in the crossfire of debate. Yet, despite the luxury of time and resource, not to mention a favourable media, what the No camp have offered is not so much a composed and poker faced response as a snappy and shallow retort that continually fails to address the political, economic and social fault lines that challenge  this country. Without a meaningful vision and direction for Scotland, it is little wonder they find their campaign reduced to threats, intimidation and outright bullying.

When Chancellor George Osborne rolled up in Edinburgh early this year, he must have felt he had pulled the ace from the pack by formally rejecting a currency union between an Independent Scotland and the rest of the UK. As it transpired, the admission from his own Cabinet to the contrary, including Defence Secretary, Phillip Hammond, not only called Osborne’s bluff but set the tone for the tactics to follow.

Thereafter, it was no surprise to see Lord Robertson play the joker in the pack with his now infamous assertion that Independence would “aid the forces of darkness and embolden dictators around the world”.  Leaving aside his embarrassing attempt to attribute the fall of western civilisation squarely on the shoulders of Scots, it is worth recounting the contribution of successive Westminster governments towards global instability through underhand actions, rogue foreign policy, both modern and historic, as well billions in arms sales to the very same regimes they seek to vilify.

It is precisely this duplicity that is so damaging the No campaign and why record numbers of Scots of all political persuasions are starting to join the race for Independence. When individually, Labour and the Conservatives rubbish one another across almost every policy area, it follows no logic whatsoever for the two to share a platform in this referendum and defend the other.  At her party’s most recent conference, Labour leader Johann Lamont laid bare her contempt for the current Conservative government and bellowed the case for equality and social justice. What deception to then argue in the very same speech that Scotland stood better off as part of a Union that continually subjects it to rule by a Conservative government it has never once in its history voted for. Against this hypocrisy, Better Together followers are perfectly entitled to ask just what their campaign stands for if not the advice from Alice in Wonderland, that “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”.

That is why the reality of Westminster’s increasingly ailing attempts at preserving the Union are not for the benefit of you and me, as much is it aims to preserve its own grip on power and its outdated mode of politics. When the very same two-party establishment has brought Scotland to the point it has reached today, it is insanity to think that that same system can be the force of change in Scotland and deliver anything different to what it has done to date. The only way to end this cycle of despair and politics of hopelessness is to vote Yes on 18 September 2014 for it is not so much a choice but an obligation to reclaim our national politics.

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