Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Reply from the First Minister of Scotland

Our ref:        2012/0028407
25 September 2012
Dear Mr Jones
Thank you for your e-mail of 28 August to the First Minister about citizenship and Scottish independence.  I am replying on behalf of Mr Salmond.
It is the Scottish Government's intention that citizenship in an independent Scotland would be based on an inclusive model, and an independent Scotland could offer shared or dual citizenship to recognise the social, economic and historical ties between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
However, it would be premature to apply for Scottish citizenship now, as immigration and nationality is currently reserved to the UK Parliament.
I hope this helps.
Yours sincerely
Peter Hope-Jones
Constitutional Development Team

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

  By a Newsnet reporter 
The anti-independence Better Together camp has launched an attack on First Minister Alex Salmond over his attendance at a forthcoming rally and march aimed at promoting Scottish independence.

In a co-ordinated smear, the Tory led group has claimed that the rally, to be attended by political leaders of the Scottish Greens, SSP and SNP, is being used in order to “give credence” to a group who advocate violent revolution.
The claims centre around a group calling themselves the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement who had been listed as attending the rally to be held next Saturday, September 22nd.  However organisers moved swiftly to ban the group once it became aware of their planned presence.
Rally organiser, Jeff Duncan, who is a former RAF serviceman who previously ran the ‘Save our Regiments’ campaign, confirmed the group would not be allowed to attend: “Saturday’s march and rally for independence is an opportunity for a wide range of organisations from across Scottish society to make the positive case for an independent Scotland.” he said.
Mr Duncan added: “Behaviour which is offensive, inappropriate or represents extreme views will not be tolerated by the organisers of the march.”
However, anti-independence politicians immediately took the opportunity to smear First Minister Alex Salmond by accusing the SNP leader of “being prepared to stand next” to people who burn the Union Flag.
Scottish Labour MP Jim Murphy, who two days ago claimed that “huge crowds” had booed Alex Salmond at the Glasgow Olympic celebrations on Friday added: “The fact that the organisers have taken fright and kicked these hardliners out does not take away from the fact that Alex Salmond and so many top SNP members were ready to give credence to these people and their outrageous views.
“Flag burning isn’t the Scottish way of doing things and many Scots will remember the type of company the SNP are keeping,”
The Scottish Labour MP’s claims were rubbished by a spokeswoman for the SNP who pointed out that Mr Salmond had been invited prior to any SRSM involvement and that the SNP “does not support actions like those conducted by the SRSM”.
The spokeswoman pointed to a host of guests from across Scotland who would be in attendance, including a Scottish Labour party member, and added: “Saturday’s event has been organised independently, and the First Minister was invited to speak alongside Dennis Canavan, Margo McDonald, Patrick Harvie and other figures from public life such as Ruth Wishart, Aamer Anwar, Cameron McNeish and a speaker from the Labour for Independence group to celebrate the opportunities that come from Scotland being an independent nation.
“In contrast, Better Together seem mired in negativity without any sign of public support.  The First Minister fully supports the actions of the organisers in removing the SRSM group from Saturday’s event.”
Mr Murphy’s claim that, by being at the same event, Mr Salmond was prepared to give credence to an undesirable group, leaves the Scottish Labour MP open to accusations of hypocrisy.
In April 2010, the former Scottish Secretary was himself the centre of a scandal after it emerged a guest at one of his own fundraising dinners was a convicted gangster.
Lewis Rodden, known as Scooby, and who was jailed in 2005 for his part in an extortion campaign, attended on of Jim Murphy's fundraising dinners on March 19 at the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow.
According to the Herald, Rodden and others were sentenced to 17 years for a campaign of intimidation against construction firms in Ayrshire.  They were accused of seizing security jobs at the companies through threats, assaults and fire-raising.
Judge Andrew Hardie said the behaviour was like “organised crime in the United States last century”.
Challenged at the time, a spokesman for Mr Murphy said: “Jim is shocked.  The Labour Party did not invite Mr Rodden, he did not book a table and the Labour Party did not receive a single penny from him.  Mr Murphy does not know this man and to the best of his knowledge has never met nor spoken to him in his life.”

Friday, 14 September 2012

Plaid Cymru must find its ambition

Plaid needs to ditch its pressure group mentality and present itself as a party of government
Plaid Cymru's new leader Leanne Wood
Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood. 'In many ways she is Labour’s prodigal daughter, which is why it fears her the most.' Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
It is perhaps a deliberate piece of symbolism that Plaid Cymru heads this weekend for its annual conference not to the northern or southern coastal strips but to Powys, the great land-bridge that connects the whole of Wales. It's certainly a metaphor for the challenge that Leanne Wood, the new leader, faces. Can Plaid become the truly national party it proclaims itself to be in a small country still bedevilled by division?
It's here in the heart of Wales that past attempts to unite behind a single flag have flourished, then foundered. Cymru Fydd, the home rule movement that Lloyd George briefly flirted with, was born just up the road. And it was in the town of Brecon where conference delegates gather that Owain Glyndwr won his last battle in the war of independence exactly 600 years ago, only to die, a broken man, somewhere in the semi-autonomous republic of Erging to the east.
After centuries of struggle and a lot of introspection, we have somehow managed to claw our way back to that same halfway house of semi-autonomous status. So where do we go from here? Answering that question, Plaid's satnav has a bright new voice. Wood is not only the first woman to lead the party, she is the first, like 80% of Welsh people, who wasn't brought up a Welsh language speaker. She's also the only working-class leader of a major party in Britain today. In many ways she is Labour's prodigal daughter, which is why it fears her the most.
With a few council byelection victories recently chalked up, Plaid's battalions gather in Brecon in buoyant mood: just try booking a hotel there this weekend within a 145-mile radius. But bringing Brecon to a standstill is not quite the same feat as doing it in Barcelona, as 1.5 million Catalans did on Tuesday. Plaid is, for the moment at least, small-nation nationalism's underachiever.
But we live in singular times. Pro-independence Québécois – almost wiped out by the NDP in last year's federal elections – were carried to victory in the province last week on a noisy wave of pan-wielding students. In Rio in 2016 Andy Murray may be vying with Chris Hoy to win the first gold medal in a Scottish vest. Carwyn Jones, the Welsh first minister, likes to joke that if England too leaves the union he will have to argue with Peter Robinson, first minister of Northern Ireland, over who gets the seat at the security council. He has already said who'll get the nukes.
It is this chronic lack of ambition, and the confidence needed as its foundation, in our country and in our ourselves, that is the essence of the Welsh predicament. Wales should be a "laboratory of innovation" for a Labour party everywhere else in opposition. But there has been a curious lack of creativity in Cardiff Bay. Last month's announcement of a new Welsh government-backed Public Policy Institute is a welcome move – but it's odd that it won't be able to commission outside research. It will be a thinktank, as one blogger put it, that cannot think.
There are some at least prepared to flex their devolutionary muscles, as Leighton Andrews, the Welsh education minister, did this week over the English GCSE debacle. But the cruel fact is that while we may be able to upgrade those pupils' exam results, not enough is being done to upgrade their long-term prospects. Welsh youth unemployment has increased almost fourfold in a year, and the Welsh wealth gap with the rest of Britain is wider now than at any time in our history.
It is too easy to blame the Tories or England for our problems. All of us in Wales have to take our share of responsibility. Welsh nationalism's fault has been its failure to communicate directly with people in all parts of Wales. A party that wanted to conserve (language and culture) and modernise (economy and institutions) at the same time was always going to run the risk of sending mixed messages. Seen through a largely external media's lens, Plaid, with its monolingual moniker, was branded a Welsh language party in the mental maps of the English-speaking majority.
This conference is a chance to recalibrate Welsh nationalism's priorities, and train its sights squarely on the squandered potential that is today's Welsh economy. The party needs to make a wager with the Welsh people – too poor for independence now, elect us so we can ensure it's a realistic choice in the future. It needs to ditch its pressure group mentality and present itself as a political party with a programme for government. And to do that it must reach out in new ways to every person in Wales. It's a perestroika moment for a country crying out not just for new ideas and new hope but also, perhaps, a new party of Wales.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Hot on the Heels of Scotland

With Alex Salmond's pronouncement on the programme for Independence which will occupy parliamentary procedure for the next year, as well as the appointment of David Jones, an arch-unionist and anti-devolutionary, as Secretary of State for Wales, it behoves all Welsh nationalists of whatever shade of political opinion to strive even harder and push for Welsh Independence hot on the heels of Scotland. The next two years will be critical in the long struggle towards independence by the two Celtic nations. The retreat of the Britons in AD 600 following the Battle of Chester brought about the separation of the North Britons of Cumbria and Strathclyde and the West Britons of Wales and Cornwall. The two countries are linked by custom, culture, ethnicity and tradition. Yet in these modern times I suggest that nationality should be determined by allegiance alone and not by ethical considerations. One of the SNP's most vocal and effective patriots is of Asian parentage.

The vision of Cymru Fydd is undimmed. Despite those unionists who have been promoted into high positions in the British heirarchy by a Conservative-led government in Westminster and the determination of that government to maintain the status quo, the choice is open for the peoples of Wales and Scotland, an opportunity which will not be available beyond 2014, to embrace their destiny and assert their independence and thus create free and sovereign self-governing nations. 

Cymru - hot on the heels of Alban; Kernow - hot on the heels of Cymru; Breizh (Brittany) - hot on the heels of Kernow - free from domination and proud of their inheritance.