Pledge Request: Fax Your TD
John Handelaar is looking for some people to support his efforts to develop an Irish equivalent of the hugely successful UK site WriteToThem.com for contacting UK politicians. The Irish version of the site would allow people to contact their councillors, TDs and MEPs for free. If you are interested in helping out, visit www.pledgebank.com/faxyourtd BEFORE 1ST FEBRUARY.
Small Nationfreedom of speech, clash of cultures and all that (5.2.2006, 11:16 UTC)
What more potent symbol can there be for the intelligence sapping nature of religious dogma and the extent to which this rogue "meme" has taken hold than this week's burning of embassies and the fatwa-like outpourings of incitement to murder daubed on placards in London and elsewhere? The publishing of those cartoons is not racism, is not intolerance, but the response is. For those of us lacking religious belief and nothing to comfort us save the beauty of the natural world we live in, the high...
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Small NationBy-election (4.2.2006, 18:42 UTC)
Changed days: by-election campaigns have nothing like the energy and drama they had in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Nothing seems less interesting than the clamour for a Westminster seat these days. The joys of being more lobby-fodder don't seem to be attractive to those other than middling lawyers ready to shimmy up (or is it down?) the greasy pole for that ultimate ministerial car (1). A commitment to constituency and community is hard to square with spending your time 500 miles distant. The zoo tha...
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Small Nationradio documentary available online (31.1.2006, 21:09 UTC)
Again, thanks to David McCann for pointing out that you can access the radio documentary online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/document/ You''ll need to have Real Player installed.
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Small Nationradio programme today! (30.1.2006, 08:37 UTC)
At 8pm on BBC Radio 4 (available online also) today there is a programme on "How Scotland was swindled out of the resources of North Sea Oil in the 1970s" Thanks to David McCann for passing that on to me for this blog. The Herald also covers a bit more detail of the story today, pointing out that within a few years of independence Scots would be between 25-30% better off than the rest of the UK population and that Scotland as an independent economy would be much more viable than the rest of the...
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Small NationItems that caught my eye this busy past week have ... (29.1.2006, 18:07 UTC)
Items that caught my eye this busy past week have been: (1) Continuing discussion/debate regarding the development of a state Islamic school in Glasgow on the back of the existing arrangement for separate Catholic schools, even though this itself is beginning to be seen as an anachronism and a barrier to defusing sectarianism. The Executive finds itself in a tricky position every time it raises the issue of Catholic schooling. Even tame initaitives such as twinning Catholic and non-Catholic sch...
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Small NationLiberal lifestyles (27.1.2006, 20:24 UTC)
I keep feeling I'm in some sort of parallel universe and have completely decoupled from the one I was in last year. In this "Twilight Zone" we have rebel MPs crawling around on all fours, "miaowing" on live television (1), leadership candidates with skeletons virtually tumbling out of closets (oops, sorry about that one(2)) weekly, Tories rallying to support Labour education policy (3), Labour Ministers making "rape" jokes in Parliament (4), the US President sniggering during a press statement ...
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Small Nationupdates (23.1.2006, 18:34 UTC)
A few interesting items in the news the last few days linking with earlier Small Nation posts. (1) Muriel Gray in the Sunday Herald (1) points out the denial of cultural experience to children in faith schools, prompted by the call for Islamic schools in Scotland supported by the state in the same way that Catholic schools are. The problem is of course a political one because any separate state support for religious indoctrination is not really defensible in a modern democratic society but we h...
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Small NationNuclear reversal (15.1.2006, 18:14 UTC)
I committed my first act of personal betrayal by moving from Glasgow to Edinburgh many years ago. My second is in my rejection of nuclear power as a "solution" to the climate change/energy problem despite my training as a physicist. However, in that regard I'm not alone. Nuclear fission is an incredibly impressive mechanism for the release of energy and we can all appreciate the theory and the fundamental mechanism at play. However, in practice, the reality of nuclear power is that it is di...
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Small Nationlast refuge....and all that (14.1.2006, 11:53 UTC)
Well, I suppose if you saw the headline in today's Guardian (1) you could have anticipated that it would be commented on here and no doubt across the blogosphere. I refer of course to Gordon Brown's suggestion of a day to celebrate "Britishness" in much the same way that the US has the 4th of July. It is worth noting also that his concept of Britishness and citizenship also focuses on ability in the English language. Hmmm, so much for "British" as opposed to "English." Welsh, Gaidhlig, Gaelic, ...
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Small Nationtwo nations (7.1.2006, 12:17 UTC)
Focusing on the news in Ireland and Scotland this week: (1) The Irish Times (1) today fairly tears into Enda Kenny, Leader of Fine Gael, for his stance on the government's decentralisation proposals. As pointed out in earlier posts to this blog, this is an interesting use of the word "decentralisation" which basically means relocation of government offices from Dublin to various constituencies around the country. It differs strongly from the other more useful concept of the decentralisation of ...
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Small NationSmall Nation of the Month - Bolivia (4.1.2006, 12:37 UTC)
I know, it's an obvious one perhaps, but we aim to be topical in this blog. Bolivia, our first "small nation of the month" for 2006 has a population of 8.8 million and has been in the European news recently because of the election of Evo Morales, its first indigenous leader. His election was supposedly a surprise that ran against the polls, but the most likely reason for this is that the polls
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Small NationParallel worlds (4.1.2006, 11:20 UTC)
Alternative histories can be thought provoking, none more so perhaps than what might have happened to Scotland had the voters of the 1970s been party to the knowledge that government economists were convinced that the country's best interests were in independence, rather than being lied to by the government of the day. No doubt we'd still have problems, we'd still be an unequal society and
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Small NationResolute (30.12.2005, 15:40 UTC)
Happy New Year to you all! Hopes for the coming year include: the continuing progress of the Independence Convention in Scotland; firm action on global climate change; a renewed focus on quality of life instead of traditional economistic indicators of "progress"; growth in public transport and increased spending on education and healthcare in Ireland; a more engaged and intelligent public political discourse. There, that should do for starters. Best wishes! Links: Alternative economic indi...
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Small NationSecret files released after 30 years and other items of the week. (29.12.2005, 13:23 UTC)
(1) For readers furth of Scotland: In Scotland (1) the story is about how the government and civil service conspired to dissuade Scots for opting for independence in the 70s. A couple of months back we commented on released papers which showed the extent to which the Civil Service believed that Scotland would indeed be better off as an independent state and the panic that this induced in the Westminster government of the time. Indeed, they not only blocked the release of such reports but also l...
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Small Nationreturn from exile (28.12.2005, 12:47 UTC)
Kenny McAskill of the SNP has called on ex-pat Scots to consider returning home (1) to help address the country's skills shortage and to shape its future. His party makes a comparison with Ireland which has attracted back some 280,000 of its diaspora over the last four years. Of course, there are big differences. Ireland is a sovereign nation with complete economic and political control over its future. It can shape its economy. Scotland has no such control and ex-pats are not being asked to re...
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Small Nationbits and pieces this week... (18.12.2005, 20:27 UTC)
(1) The Interim Forum on an Independence Convention has updated their site with a report on the St. Andrew's day launch (1). Hopefully, we'll be hearing a lot more from them in the New Year. It is certainly time for those with no particular party affiliation but a strong sense of social justice to come forward for this cause. (2) The New Yorker has a fascinating article on a court case in which "intelligent design" is being challenged in order to overturn a state requirement (in Pennsylvania) t...
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Small Nationthis week's news from an island in the Atlantic (10.12.2005, 13:47 UTC)
The budget this week in Ireland with increases in social security payments, closing of some tax breaks for the super-rich and an extra 1.2 billion euros for higher education (2). Still no sign of grasping the key global issues of investment to break from fossil fuel dependency or moving towards local production, integrated transport alternatives, etc. Still worth focussing on the positive side of things for our readers in Scotland to show what sorts of scale of economic decisions can be made wi...
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Small NationA tale of two states... (5.12.2005, 23:13 UTC)
Interesting to flick between the news in the UK and Ireland this week where budget and pre-budget statements are the flavour of the moment, but what a contrast in circumstances. Whilst Gordon Brown ransacks Scottish oil revenues to plug his 5 billion pound "gap" (or as its known in formal academic circles "mistake") Ireland is debating on how to spend the billions of excess euros that the government has raised this year. Shopping lists on one side of the Irish Sea and IOUs on the other. Amusing...
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Small NationClimate Talks in our Small Nation of the Month (3.12.2005, 10:24 UTC)
Welcome to Quebec (1,2), our latest small nation of the month. With a population of seven and half million, Quebec is no stranger to constitutional debate and for the moment is in a temporary union with the other provinces of Canada although that status is subject to occassional referenda. There is also a distinctive history of the Scots-Quebecers who settled in the country and contributed to its development, founding banks, universities and major companies and taking part in uprisings agai...
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Small NationEvent reporting (3.12.2005, 10:06 UTC)
As will not be a surprise to those with experience of political campaigning, the launch event of the Independence Convention in Edinburgh received hardly any coverage in the media. Predictable, unfortunately. There were other news items that BBC Scotland felt compelled to cover instead, a small fire in a house in Edinburgh, some football news, anything really. However, the turnout at the event was apparently excellent according to my own independent sources! There was some small notice in the p...
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Small NationLiterature and Culture awareness raising on this day (30.11.2005, 08:12 UTC)
A large number of writers and artists across Scotland (1) have formed a campaign to bring Scottish literature, history and culture into mainstream education, to expose Scots to their heritage. Using St. Andrew's day as a launch pad they are joining the growing movement for greater autonomy. This evening at 7pm the Interim Forum for an Independence Convention (2) will unveil its plans to develop a
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Small NationBerkeley seminar on the French riots (26.11.2005, 15:13 UTC)
A recent seminar at UC Berkeley tackled the issue of the recent riots in France. If you would like to view this, it is now available as a webcast at:http://webcast.berkeley.edu:8080/ramgen/events/igs/french_riots.rm?start=&endYou will need to have Real Player to view this.
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Small Nationconvention update (20.11.2005, 17:53 UTC)
The event referred to in the previous post (Launch of the Independence Convention) will take place at 7pm in the Dynamic Earth (1)in Edinburgh and, according to the Scots Independent (2): "Actress Elaine C. Smith is seeking cross party support for the event. She believes the time is right for Scotland to be free to discuss its future in an environment conducive to reasoned debate, and this must include Independence. Preliminary discussions have brought together folk from all the airts and pairt...
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Small NationIndependence Convention (19.11.2005, 22:25 UTC)
A new organisation is scheduled to call its first public, inaugural meeting on November 30th (St. Andrews Day) in the Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. Spurred by a recent poll in Scotland on Sunday showing that only 27% of people in Scotland consider themselves British, the Independence Convention (1) aims to create a forum for those of all political persuasions and none who support independence. It aims: To advance the cause of Scottish Independence and to raise the profile of debate on indepe...
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Small NationChurch and state - what a stooshie! (13.11.2005, 13:04 UTC)
Bit of a spat in the media this week in Ireland between the Taoiseach and Liz O'Donnell of the PDs over church and state. The main "stooshie" (non-Scots, look it up (1)) though, was about a particular comment on a particular church institution and let personal umbrage enter the discussion, swerving the debate away from the main point. When it comes to education, Ireland has a deeply anachronistic, and fundamentally undemocratic, system whereby the church is the owner and operator of the majorit...
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Small Nationnewspaper review (13.11.2005, 12:40 UTC)
Both Iain Macwhirter (1) and Muriel Gray (2) are in fine form today, attacking Blair and his approach to politics, which essentially places him as the leading Conservative voice in the country: the leader they're looking for is sitting in the benches opposite. Given his increasingly Tory policies and reliance on their parliamentary votes, for how much longer should he sit opposite, rather than amongst them? Of course the danger in such an analysis is that it too conveniently lets off the hook t...
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Small Nationtourism podcasts from Scotland (12.11.2005, 14:28 UTC)
Visit Scotland has now launched a series of podcasts to provide commentaries to tourists in Edinburgh. http://www.visitscotland.com/sitewide/edinburghpodcast
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Small NationLiquid Life (12.11.2005, 13:09 UTC)
Today's Guardian has an interview (1) with Zygmunt Bauman (2), the distinguished sociologist, whose latest book "Liquid Life" (3) has just been published. A commentary on, and analysis of, contemporary life. As Stuart Jeffries (the interviewer) summarises the basic concept outlined in Bauman's earlier work ("Liquid Love"(4)): "Bauman's 2003 book Liquid Love tackles this issue of exclusion for us"liquid moderns", who have lost faith in the future, cannot commit torelationships and have few kins...
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Small NationEnergy debate in Scottish Parliament (12.11.2005, 12:20 UTC)
Energy policy was debated in the (fairly empty) Scottish Parliament on Thursday. If you want to view the event visit the Parliament Live website (links on right hand side of this page) or simply pop over now to http://vr-sp-archive.lbwa.verio.net/archive/plenary_morning_101105.wmv Discussion was very general in nature and outlined the basic argument of the SNP for an independent Scottish energy policy.
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Small NationTrain à grande vitesse? - not in Ireland (6.11.2005, 16:50 UTC)
The government of Ireland announced (1) its Transport 21 initiative to develop the national transport infrastructure that Ireland lacks in comparison with other European nations. The plans outlined are a mixed bag of major road networks, 'integrated' transport in Dublin and bits and bobs of commuter rail stations in other places. Whilst such improvements are to be welcomed in principle it is unfortunate to see the emphasis still being placed on road-building despite the growing impact of climat...
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