No nukes or prescription charges for Scotland, free school meals and social housing instead!

[Tuesday]

If the British ruling class have any plans to back the US in bombing Iran over its nuclear energy programme, they should think again. It could cost the Union…

The SNP/Green Scottish government is keen to push for nuclear disarmament, which is actually a stated aim of the UK Labour government.

First Minister Alex Salmond is seeking support from the international community in his campaign to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons.

He has written to representatives of 189 countries signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Mr Salmond is asking them to back his bid for Scotland to have observer status at future treaty talks.

Labour MP Eric Joyce said the letter could “potentially damage our national security interests”.

[…]

Mr Joyce, the MP for Falkirk, said that the UK had very complex relationships with some countries such as Iran and Zimbabwe.

Ah yes, complex relations. In the case of Iran, the British government has in the past intervened with the US to depose a democratically-elected government; as for Zimbabwe, it is a former colony to which the UK government did not meet its commitments and has helped cripple its economy with sanctions.

But neither state threatens the interests of any of the nations in the “United Kingdom”…

What are the other objections?

David Cairns, the Scotland Office minister, says that Alex Salmond should be sorting out the free personal care instead of “cavorting across the world stage with his discredited loony-left policies” and giving comfort to our enemies. Well, they are also his loony policies, since Labour is still formally committed to pursuing “multilateral nuclear disarmament” under a defence policy which dates from the late 1980s.

Well, it looks like the matter of freebies hasn’t escpaed the Scottish Health Secretary:

Charges for prescriptions are to be abolished within four years, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has pledged.

The deputy first minister said some people were being forced to go without vital medication because they could not afford to pay.

And there’s more:

Primary pupils are starting to receive free school meals as part of a pilot project in five parts of Scotland.
The scheme for all children in the first three years of school is under way in Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire.

They will be followed in the coming days and weeks by schools in East Ayrshire, Fife and the Borders.

The Scottish Government has invested £5m in the pilot scheme, with about 8,500 additional pupils expected to take up the offer in Glasgow alone.

The city already has free fruit, milk and mains-fed water coolers in its schools.

The six-month pilot has been set up to see if providing a nutritious lunch for all children could help improve their diets.

It all sounds very “Old Labour”, doesn’t it? Okay, the SNP are objectively a party of big business, but they are committed to winning independence for Scotland, and to this end will push the limits of devolution and provide reforms for working people to win them over to independence…

With measures like this:

The SNP government will consider a ban on the sale of new council and housing association homes.

A Scottish Government source said it would consult on the option, which would only affect those tenants moving to new-build homes.

The option will be contained in the government’s housing green paper, which should be published in coming weeks.

Now, this shows two things:

1. Socialists north of the border need to work together to ensure that these progressive reforms are implemented. This means some kind of conciliation between Solidarity and the Scottish Socialist Party.

2. Devolution can stall the neo-liberal agenda and allow a return to social democratic politics and reforms to benefit working people, which is why socialists should back a parliament for England.

Here endeth the lecture.

Govt asks, nuclear power – yes or yes?

[Thursday]

What does this tell us about Brown’s citizen juries that we hadn’t already worked out?

Here’s how it works: government presents the corporations’ line, and the jurors approve it. Meanwhile, the whole process of doing whatever (nuclear power, nuclear weapons, ID cards, NHS privatisation, you name it) has already been put into place. Simple, really.

Not a great leap forward from a “consultation”, but it’s good to know they’re trying…

In nine day-long meetings across Britain two weekends ago, nearly a thousand people were shown a series of videos, presentations and handouts – and their opinion on building new nuclear power stations canvassed.

The government got the result it wanted – 44 per cent said power companies should have option of building nuclear, 36 per cent said no.

But day before, the environmental group, Greenpeace, along with other green groups, had pulled out, alleging the questions were loaded and the information biased, partial and factually inaccurate.

Greenpeace would say that, you could argue. But, independently, 20 senior academics too have come forward and will be writing to government with similar reservations.

They say the consultations were deliberately skewed by linking nuclear to fears about climate change – because the government knew past research had shown it’s the only way to get people to accept nuclear, albeit reluctantly.

And they say the participants were misled. An inconvenient truth about nuclear – that it can only make a small contribution to reducing the UK’s overall CO2 emissions – was buried.

Similar concerns have come from some members of the public who attended, on web sites and in unsolicited emails to Greenpeace:

“In the videos – alternative viewpoints had doom-ridden music in the background. The government’s view was then given against calm, relaxing music. I feel I have been mugged.”

“Not at all a consultation, merely a sleek marketing ploy.”

“I went in with an open mind… myself and others felt we were being misled and manipulated.”

The events and the materials were prepared by Opinion Leader Research – one of New Labour’s more favoured market research companies.

Greenpeace has now made a formal complaint to the Market Research Standards Board alleging it broke the code of conduct of the trade’s professional body.

Channel 4 News also spoken to someone involved in the events. They want to remain anonymous but told us “…repeating the government view, on page after page, on videos and in handouts, acted to almost bludgeon it into their heads.”

[…]

The government says no decision will be made until the consultation is over – but, from the response to their latest efforts it seems many are not convinced.

Gee, I wonder what the result will be…