Friday, February 23, 2007





The Scottish National Party's Campaign Director Angus Robertson MP
today [Friday] published a new campaign image from the party
illustrating the fact that the Labour Leader in Scotland, Mr McConnell
has ducked yet another opportunity to debate with Alex Salmond. The
image is attached to this message in pdf format.

During the recording of Question Time in Edinburgh yesterday evening
[Thursday], David Dimbleby stated that the official reason given by
the First Minster's office for him not agreeing to appear on the show
was that he would not debate with a Scottish Liberal Democrat

The SNP's new campaign image, in the form of a 'Missing' poster, will
be distributed across the country following the First Minister's
decision not to appear with all the other major party leaders on BBC
Question Time yesterday evening. Mr McConnell has now refused seven
opportunities to debate with Mr Salmond, and the BBC have confirmed
that this is the fifteenth opportunity to appear on Question Time that
Mr McConnell has turned down.

Mr Robertson said:

"The SNP are leading a quality debate on Scotland's future, and about
how we can build a successful future for our country. Labour's
failure to connect with this positive debate means that the Scottish
people are being denied the opportunity to learn of all the political
parties' ideas and policies from their candidates for First Minster.

"Mr McConnell is clearly not being allowed by his party bosses to
debate with Alex Salmond. It is frankly ludicrous for a party leader
to run from open debate in this way.

"Mr McConnell has refused six opportunities to debate with Mr Salmond,
and fifteen opportunities to appear on the BBC's Question Time
programme. Previous First Ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern
Ireland have all debated on this prestigious programme, so what
exactly is he so scared of?

"If Labour were confident of their arguments they would debate them in
public, and if Mr McConnell believed in what he was saying he would go
head to head with Alex Salmond like his predecessors.

"Alex Salmond is Scotland's choice for First Minister. All the
published polling evidence has shown that he is preferred over Mr
McConnell in every area. Alex Salmond is more trusted, more liked and
more respected than Mr McConnell, and he's on the side of the people
in Scotland on all the major issues like the war in Iraq, keeping
local hospital services open and putting more police officers on the

"This election gives voters a straight choice over who they want as
First Minster of Scotland. The public should have the chance to make
an informed choice. It's time for a debate between Mr McConnell and
Alex Salmond."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Wave farms-exciting news with exciting lessons

I see in the Scotsman today (as far as I can see no reference in the Herald)that their environment correspondent Ian Johnston reports with genuine excitement that ministers will today announce nine wave and tidal schemes.

No doubt once the details of the 9 schemes (including the Orkney scheme highlighted for 2008) are known there will transpire to be genuine debate to be had about the locational and other pros and cons of some or even all of them.

That in no way inhibits me from applauding the excitement expressed by Ian Johnston.

For some years now we in the SNP have been referring to a very simple statistic-Scotland posseses 10% of Europe's wave and tidal energy potential. We have repeatedly said that Scotland could and should be the world leader in this field with massive significance to Scotland's sustainable economic growth.

It is reason for excitement that it at last appears to be being grasped that the combination of Scotland's wave energy resources with her accrued expertise in engineering at sea at least could make Scotland the world leader in the field.

It is reason for excitement that representatives of the Scottish industry are quoted as saying things such as "wave technology for a long time has languished in the lab, we are now putting the technology in the water...", "the information that feeds back will feed into subsequent verions, there will be a process of continual improvement" and, above all, "if we want to follow the Danish model-which became the world leader in wind power-we need to have this sort of step"-in other words get going or you lose the opportunity.

I am not suggesting (nor, I think, is Ian Johnston) that today's announcement and the accompanying statements mean of themselves that Scotland "could be" the world leader becomes Scotland "is" the world leader. However, even as regards creating that position there are some exciting lessons to be learned.

I have always been a firm believer in the old proverb that "necessity is the mother of invention". I have never doubted that Scotland's energy industry could produce the inventiveness, enterprise and skill fully to develop Scotland's renewable energy potential if it was made politically clear that this was what Scotland demanded. Is it so surprising that Scotland's energy industry has been so slow to rise to the challenge in respect of the potential of Scotland's wave and tidal energy resource (and even yet needs an 8 million pounds encouragement to do so)when it could never be sure that the apparent political choice of the large majority of the Scottish community to have no more nuclear electricity generation in Scotland would actually be applied? Why could they never be sure of that?-because the Scottish government is not in a position to assure the industry that it would be applied. The exciting lesson is obvious. Scotland can fulfil her full potential for her own community and as a member for good of the community of nations when she takes the full responsibility for that fulfilment.

There is a second exciting lesson to be learned or rather re-learned. The politics of a nation are not to be restricted to endless debate about the use of resources in static circumstances. They are supposed to be about changing the circumstances for the better. In the course of the past week we have had a stark example of what happens when that lesson is forgotten. There has been general agreement in Scotland for years that dramatic reduction in class sizes is the essential key to Scotland's young people enjoying the school education they deserve. This week it transpired that the Scottish Executive had not only realised that no progress had been made but had given up trying to make progress. To make things happen in your nation you have to do more than shuffle about within "existing circumstances". You have to change the circumstances and you can only really change them if you are determined to change them, plan to change them and above all take responsibility for changing them.

Lachie McNeill

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Offensive Jamie Stone letting Lib Dem cat out the bag?

Like any other SNP member I find the Liberal Democrat MSP Jamie Stone's description of the SNP as having "xenophobic tendencies" thoroughly offensive.

The signs are that finding it thoroughly offensive is not confined to SNP members.

I see the front page of the Sunday Herald described Jamie Stone as "more known for his clubbable nature than for his ability" which appears to be a polite way of saying that he is not regarded as very bright .

It is interesting that such comments as there have so far been from Scottish Liberal Democrat "sources" seem to be along similar lines. They appear to be expressing irritation that "even he" could have been so stupid as to make such a statement rather than expressing horror at the offensiveness of it.

Jamie Stone made an offensive statement that was patently contradicted by all the evidence. That indeed was very stupid. But where did the thought come from?

By definition the Scottish National Party believes in the concept of nationhood. We believe that being an inter-nationalist involves first being a nationalist. We believe that Scotland can only make her fullest contibution for good to the family of nations when the community of Scotland claims with joy the responsibility for ensuring that fullest contibution is made. We believe that fully claiming that responsibility can only be achieved with independence and that the community of Scotland wishes the right to choose independence.

It must be assumed that somewhere in Jamie Stone's allegedly not very bright mind there must have lurked the not only grossly offensive but patently absurd and confused notion that holding and proclaiming such beliefs must involve a "tendency to hate foreigners".

Could it be that the apparent difficulty of Scottish Liberal Democrat "sources" or spokespeople in simply expressing disgust at the offensiveness of Jamie Stone's statement is because they are bright enough to realise that they would have some difficulty in expressing why it was so offensive without acknowledging the fundamentally heathy and inspiring vision that the SNP lays and has continually laid before the community of Scotland?

Could it be that they realise that the fact of Jamie Stone's having been so stupid as to make such an offensive statement may simply be symptomatic of their Party having run out of things to say to try to cover up the fact that their alleged "unionism" has nothing whatsoever to do with principles of nationhood or internationalism?

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are, after all, a Party whose spokespeople consistently avoid even acknowledging the concept of nationhood-to them a nation's Parliament is just "an appropriate level of government".

They are a Party that continually witters on about how they have always believed in federalism but are quite incapable of telling Scots as a matter of principle which powers the nation of Scotland ought to give up to a federal government in London.

And they are a Party who continually proclaim their democratic credentials but whose spokespeople are quite incapable of explaining why they refuse to agree that, when more than 80 % of the community of Scotland wish to be asked whether they wish to choose independence, the appropriate course would be to ask them.
Lachie McNeill

Saturday, February 03, 2007


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