Category: Scotland
Galloway: Why is the BBC so keen to portray me as a Russian agent when I’m trying to prevent the break-up of the UK?
worker | April 13, 2021 | 8:17 pm | George Galloway, Scotland, UK | Comments closed

Galloway: Why is the BBC so keen to portray me as a Russian agent when I’m trying to prevent the break-up of the UK?

George Galloway
George Galloway

was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator. Follow him on Twitter @georgegalloway

Galloway: Why is the BBC so keen to portray me as a Russian agent when I'm trying to prevent the break-up of the UK?
The BBC’s coverage of my Scottish election campaign is obsessed with my work for RT. Alex Salmond has faced the same problem. So Russia is backing the two main protagonists on either side of the debate? That’s utterly absurd.

The state-backed broadcaster BBC is currently bedecked in black, as quite befits a state-backed broadcaster on the occasion of the demise of a prominent personage of the state that backs it. I have no problem with the BBC being a state broadcaster – many countries have them – but rather with the maiden aunt horror with which it deploys this designation at others while pretending it is the very acme of independent journalism.

ALSO ON RT.COMGeorge Galloway: Both pro- and anti-independence leaders in Scotland are now RT hosts. Sturgeon may want to get out of the wayIn fact, quite a lot of people wonder why the BBC doesn’t seem to like Britain very much, despite being bought and paid for by the British people through a compulsory and whopping licence fee – the non-payment of which can end you in jail (even Stalin didn’t think of that one!) – and a substantial, additional direct grant to the BBC World Service.

The BBC certainly preferred the European Union during these last few years, and in Scotland has facilitated a nascent breakaway which could halve the territory of the country whose name it bears and whose money it spends.

If its broadcasters could choose an imagined country to adhere to, it would be Wokeland –achingly politically correct, gender, race and sex obsessed, and seemingly self-hating.

So much so that it has left an aching void which, within weeks, its former politics guru Andrew Neil will seek to fill with his new GB News channel. The threat is significant, and every other day an announcement of broadcasters from Better Days Britain joining it is received enthusiastically on social media if not in the gleaming spires of the BBC.

I mention all of this now – although I have many times before – because I’ve just been through a week in which the British state broadcaster has literally sought to delegitimize me as a candidate for the Scottish Parliament elections next month on the grounds that I am writing for you, here, on RT.

In fact, twice in one night, the BBC (supposedly covering my manifesto launch, dealing with specifically Scottish Parliament matters) began by asking me if I was a “fit and proper person” to STAND for the Scottish Parliament – elections being after all a matter for mere voters – because I work for RT, the “Kremlin-backed television station.

Some background: I have worked for RT for around a decade, during which I have been elected to and served in the British Parliament at Westminster. No one ever questioned my right to be so. In fact, I have been a Russophile for more than 50 years, nearly 30 of which I spent as a British MP.

On my shows on RT, I have welcomed guests on my sofa like Conservative cabinet ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis, former Tory grandees like Peter Lilley, psephology king Professor Sir John Curtice, lords, ladies, generals, knights of the realm, MBEs and OBEs by the dozen, if not the score. And so many privy counsellors, I really couldn’t count them.

But now my very legitimacy as a candidate for office – elected office – becomes THE story, at least when it comes to covering my campaign. On a third occasion last week, the tack slightly changed. Again, on BBC radio, the absurd canard about Vladimir Putin seeking to interfere in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 was thrown in my face. The sheer illogicality of this charge is astonishing, because at the time the only elected British politician on the books of RT was me, the anti-separatist. We are asked to believe that Putin and the Kremlin so wanted to foment independence for Scotland that they employed me to tour the country successfully defeating the independence cause in the referendum. That Putin, huh? Sometimes he’s so smart and sometimes so dumb.

The absurdity multiplies once you know that exactly the same charges are being made by the same people against Alex Salmond. So, get this – the Kremlin is backing the most prominent separatist Salmond, and the most prominent anti-separatist: me. It’s a two-horse race, and the Kremlin are on both of them, according to the BBC. Neither does the absurdity stop there. My protestations that nobody at RT, nobody in Russia – never mind the Kremlin – has ever interfered in the content of my television work are met with scarcely concealed scorn by the BBC’s media acolytes, the lesser-spotted Russophobes.

ALSO ON RT.COMBBC faces existential threat. In the 21st century, it has nobody left to lie toAnd yet, logically, that must be true. If the Kremlin would like to see the break-up of Britain – as Britain tried for eight decades to break up Russia – it is being remarkably tolerant in allowing me so many uncensored opportunities to fight to my last breath against the break-up on its platforms. Certainly, no presenter on the BBC would ever have been allowed to argue against the break-up of Russia on any British television station.

The lucky truth for me is that no voter on the streets of Kilmarnock gives any more of a thought to Vladimir Putin than Mr. Putin thinks of them. The men and women of the south of Scotland have enough problems rather closer to home than the Kremlin to worry about. In fact, when speaking on my show on RT about the 60th anniversary of the great mission of Yuri Gagarin, I’m sure most people’s reaction was to nod in respect and admiration for that great, stellar, achievement.

People in Scotland don’t hate Russia; we even have a street still called Gagarin Way. We’ll see soon enough if they hate Alex Salmond and me. But if they do, it won’t be because we’ve got snow on our boots and are hiding as KGB agents under their beds.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

The SNP and class politics
worker | March 24, 2017 | 9:42 pm | class struggle, political struggle, Scotland, UK | Comments closed

The SNP and class politics

Monday 20th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

THIS paper has a proud history of advocating the national and democratic rights of the Scottish and Welsh people.

In a multinational state, a degree of national autonomy is vital for any people wishing to express their own distinctive culture and identity. As nations, Scotland and Wales also have the right to determine their own futures, up to and including separation from England or Britain.

These are questions of principle to which we adhere without qualification.

However, when and how people should exercise their rights is a matter of judgement. As Lenin put it, advocating the right to divorce is not the same as proposing that a particular couple — let alone all couples — should actually get divorced.

For socialists and communists, the fight for social justice and the transformation of society are paramount considerations. Would Scotland’s separation from Britain assist the working class in achieving a radically fairer society? Would it take the people of Scotland — let alone England and Wales — further down the path to a socialist society? Would it help create the conditions for socialist revolution?

The Morning Star is not convinced that Scottish or Welsh separation in current conditions answers these questions in the affirmative.

Moreover, there is a strong case for arguing that separation would divide the political class struggle — and what has been a largely united labour movement over the past 120 years — in two if not in three. This might create problems for the monopoly capitalists whose interests dominate the British state, but they would remain united in their ownership and control of the economy in all three nations.

Most seriously for the working class, separatism weakens class consciousness and class politics, as shown by the SNP spring conference in Aberdeen at the weekend.

There, the platform politics were entirely those of identity and grievance. Every significant problem faced by the Scottish people is, apparently, the fault of the Westminster government and the union. Capitalism with its class division of society was not mentioned. Big business is blameless.

The SNP does not advocate socialism, nor steps towards it, nor even real independence.

What kind of “independence” craves for continued membership of the European Union?

This is the same EU whose rules have forced the Scottish government to hand over its Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) infrastructure projects to private-sector finance and control. The cost of resulting delays and extra unitary charges will have to be met by the Scottish government, the NHS and local authorities over the next 30 years.

Five major projects must be retained on the publicsector balance sheet, diverting £1 billion from other spending plans.

Despite all SNP pledges to the contrary, PFI is back with a bang in Scotland, where the public will end up paying more than £9bn for SFT projects — three times their capital value. Scotland’s official auditors are investigating.

Yet so desperate is the SNP to leave Scotland’s biggest single market by far, namely Britain, and stay in the marginal European one that it emits not a squeak of protest about these EU diktats.

Its “independence” in the EU means no Scottish sovereignty over public finances, the movement of capital, international trade, the importation of super-exploited labour, VAT or public-sector contract compliance; a Scotland bossed around by the EU Commission and European Central Bank, inside an EU wedded to Nato.

How different that is from the perspective of progressive federalism in a Britain where wealth and power is redistributed to the working class in every nation and region.

The Brexit Collection: Food for Thought for Scottish Nationalists?
worker | March 10, 2017 | 7:23 pm | Analysis, political struggle, Scotland, UK | Comments closed

The Brexit Collection: Food for Thought for Scottish Nationalists?

© Photo: PIxabay

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Neil Clark

Back in 1975, the Scottish National Party (SNP) strongly opposed Britain’s membership of the EEC in the referendum held in June that year. In 2016, the party did the exact opposite, with leader Nicola Sturgeon campaigning energetically for Britain to remain in the European Union. Was the volte-face a mistake?

Edinburgh-based writer, blogger and anti-globalization activist Kenneth Bell believes most firmly that it was. In The Brexit Collection, a newly published compilation of his feisty and provocative essays written before and after the 2016 vote, Bell labels current SNP policies towards “independence” and membership of the EU as being “incoherent” and nonsensical.The big question is: How can a party calling itself “national” demand freedom from Westminster, but not from Brussels?

The SNP surely had a more intellectually coherent stance forty-odd years ago, when its Parliamentary leader Donald Stewart, said that the EEC “represents everything our party has fought against: centralization, undemocratic procedures, power politics and a fetish for abolishing cultural differences.”

Kenneth Bell, would, I’m sure, have been a strong Stewart supporter.

In the essay, A Scottish Brexit, written in May 2016, Bell urged those who had voted “Yes” in the Indy ref of 2014, to go against the advice of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP leadership and vote “Leave” in the euro referendum of the following month. The benefits of Scotland saying a hearty “Guid-bye” to Brussels would be immense.

“An independent Scotland, if it came about, would control not just the vast offshore oilfields, but the bulk of Europe’s fishing waters… those waters could provide employment for an army of Scottish fishermen under a government that could forbid foreign fishing fleets from touching them,” Bell writes.

He points out that at present fishing protection is handled by Holyrood (under the orders of the EU) and not by Westminster. So the key to Scotland being able to regain control of its own waters — is exiting the EU.

“Think about that for a moment and think about the wealth that is swimming around under Scotland’s seas that will entirely the responsibility of Edinburgh.”

Bell says the government of a truly independent Scotland could legislate to reserve most or even all of the fishing bounty to Scottish boats, leading to a great increase in employment. “Shipyards would be inundated with orders for new fishing boats… the skippers of the new vessels would be begging school leavers to sign up as fishermen.”

To enforce the system, the Royal Scots Navy (sailing the seas for the first time since 1707) could be reformed “to check the licences of any foreign vessels” that were allowed into Scottish seas.

Bell claims that reclaiming control of its own fishing waters is what Americans would call a “no-brainer,” yet the SNP leadership remain deaf to such ideas.

In fact, Scots only have to travel to Norway to see how a country in the north of Europe, with oil and fishing waters, is better off outside the EU than in it.

The SNP’s love affair with Brussels is indeed hard to fathom, and it could, in Bell’s view, eventually prove disastrous. The party’s line during the 2014 Indy ref was that Scotland would automatically remain a member of the EU, if Scots voted to cede from the rest of the UK.

But that point is still not clear. In January, the leader of the largest group of Spanish MEPs, Esteban Gonzalez Pons, warned that an independent Scotland would have to queue up behind Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Turkey, if it then applied for EU membership..

If Scotland did have to reapply for EU membership, say after a successful “Yes” vote in the next Indy ref, or after a Westminster-led Brexit, then the “wolves in all the major capitals,” as Bell describes them, are going to demand their pound of flesh.

“Scotland’s position will be very weak indeed,” he argues.

“The country would not appear at the negotiating table as a confident, modern democracy but as a beggar, leading to be allowed entry under whatever terms it can get… As any Scotsman knows, when the opponent is on his knees, this is the time to start kicking him in the head… Scotland will be on its knees and the big power kicking will be brutal indeed,” Bell warns.

Then there’s the harsh austerity policies that Brussels is sure to insist upon. The EU demands that member states have a deficit-to-GDP ratio of no higher than 3%. Scotland’s is around 10%.

To get its deficit down to EU-approved levels, the Scottish government would have to hike taxes and/or slash public spending, destroying the achievements of the country’s welfare state, which includes free prescriptions, free personal care for the elderly and continued council house building.

Is that what progressives in Scotland really want?

Even if Scotland was allowed to automatically stay in the EU, it is likely to be at a disadvantage. Although its universities have benefited from EU research funding, Scotland, like the UK as a whole, is a net contributor to the EU budget.

The SNP — lest we forget — swept the board in the 2015 general election on an anti-austerity platform, yet ironically their support for the EU could lead to a new era of swingeing cuts.

With its oil and its fish, Scotland could become another Norway. But if the wrong choices are made, it could become the new Greece.

Bell doesn’t go into this in his book — but perhaps it could be the theme of his next collection.

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