Tuesday, June 28, 2016

EU Referendum, another TV appearance

Last Wednesday, I was asked again to speak to a CBC journalist, on the EU referendum, I did so, but in the end, they didn't use so much of what I said. I'm okay with this, as last week, this was not something I had much to say on. I mean I had my reasons for voting the way I did, but they were pretty uninteresting I thought.

The report can still be seen here.

So I gave this interview, then we went off down to New York for a long weekend (but that's for another post) so didn't have time to post this here. I was also asked to do an early morning thing somewhere for the morning after, but since we were in NY, I declined.  I also figured, that'd, pretty much be the ed of it, as I thought the British people too conservative to change, so figured it may be close, but in the end, nothing would change. Ok, so maybe I was wrong in that assumption. Maybe a little.

It seems that, yes indeed as I suggested, there was a difference in how Scotland and England voted, and that is having huge repercussions. It may be too close to the actual event to make a diagnosis or  dissection of what happened (although this article probably nails it pretty close), this is something we will be debating for years, but we are certainly living in interesting times!

I will leave you with one more link, to a friend of mine who voted leave, and not for the reasons that we are hearing from the UKIP side of the debate.  I think it is important to read this post on his reasoning, so that we can move forward in this mew world order.

The only thing I would like to add, is that as a scientist, if I ever tried to publish 49.1% and 51.9% as a significant result, I would be given my head to play with!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Differences between the Scottish and English in terms of the EU Referendum, An Ex-Pat's Perspective

I'm not one for using this space as a link-dump, but I think this is the best place for me to post this link, as I'm steering away from talking bout the EU referendum on other social media sites, for various reasons, some previously mentioned.

One point that keeps coming up is how Scotland (and Northern Ireland, maybe not so much Wales, but certainly Gibraltar) may vote differently than England in this upcoming referendum. I read this article on the differences between Scotland and England in terms of how they are approaching the EU referendum, and I think the article hits many points squarely on the head.

I think the first point is particularly on point:
For most Scots, being Scottish and British is, to use an old analogy, a bit like Russian dolls. One can sit comfortably inside the other, without any conflict. That means it’s easy enough to add another one – European – on top...
English people essentially see the two as synonymous, as two sides of the same coin, with Englishness facing in and Britishness facing out. Adding the ‘European’ identity to that feels like an imposition. 
I see this attitude even here. The Ex-Pat community may not be the best reflection of British society, but English and British being synonyms is a very common attitude amongst certain (but not all) of the English Ex-Pats I know. As much as I don't necessarily identify as British a lot of the time, that does rankle. Those who have a stronger regional identity, either Scots, (Norn) Irish or otherwise tend to be able to slot these identities together more smoothly. They are more capable to live with multifaceted national identities. How this affects adding Canadian identity to those who take the route of citizenship is something I haven't really looked at, but would be interesting to think about.

In a related point, the interview for ICI Radio-Canada I mentioned in my last post contained only the viewpoints of Scots in Montreal. Some of these Scots certainly consider themselves more British than maybe I do, but the journalist was having a hard time tracking down other viewpoints. She was pointed towards the facebook group for Brits in the city, but she was refused access, as she wasn't British. As a curator of other facebook groups, I certainly see the logic in this decision, but I do also see the irony in the outcome. She also had difficulty finding people to talk from a leave perspective, but I think that is not such a great shock in the Ex-Pat community, a we all may have a more global perspective than those who have not lived abroad (I generalise, of course).

Thursday, June 9, 2016

L'heure du Monde

I thought that my last post would be pretty much all I had to say on the EU-Referendum. I vote, we move on with life. However, I was slightly mistaken.

Turns out all the media attention that the IndyRef got over here, and the fact I was willing to go on record to talk about it means there are some journalists out there who have our details. To that end I was contacted my a rather desperate CBC journalist, looking for Brits who were willing to talk to her about the referendum. I did say to her that I don't think I had anything much to say of interest in the matter, but she convinced me to talk. She came over one evening and spoke to K and I, and the resulting interview can be heard here. Click on the link in red just under the story to hear our part of the show.

Still not sure I have much of interest or depth to say on the matter, but it's nice to be asked!

Friday, June 3, 2016

EU Referendum

I have a vote in the upcoming EU referendum in the UK, but this vote leaves me with a dilemma. During the IndyRef, I may have wanted to vote, but I understood there were reasons why I should not. Mostly because I had chosen to leave the country, and this meant I didn't have the right to decide what people who were resident there should do. This reasoning goes hand in hand with the fact that non-UK citizens who were resident in Scotland at the time got to vote. What is  also different is that EU citizens resident in the UK won't necessarily get to vote either:

British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens who live in the UK, along with Britons who have lived abroad for less than 15 years, are eligible to vote.

Commonwealth migrants from 54 states - including ­Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan and Nigeria - can join the electoral roll as long are they are residents in the UK.
Unlike the general election, Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar are also eligible to vote in the EU referendum.

Citizens from other European countries - apart from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus - will not get a vote on whether the UK remains part of the EU.Malta and Cyprus are both Commonwealth countries. Source.
That Canadians resident in the UK get to vote where French or German residents in the UK do not, I find to be off. There may be cynics out there who suggest this is all to the good for getting the result that those in power want, but since those in power (i.e. the Tory party), are split on the matter, I,m not sure that's quite right. I would be interested to know if there was any precedence for Commonwealth citizens having the right to vote in these kinds of thing, or if it was just a way to include Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus, who the vote does directly affect.

This time round, I do get to vote. However, the same reasoning that I accepted the last referendum should surely stand, to do otherwise would be hypocritical, no? However, I balance this with the fact that in all my adult life, I have never failed to vote when I am allowed to. I did miss one general election in the UK that I could have voted in after I moved here, as I wasn't sure of the rules, and didn't get my postal vote sorted in time, but that is the only exception, and I now have my postal vote registered.

What is furthering my dilemma, is that I am not entirely sure I want to vote for either option. Let me be straight, I think the UK should stay in the EU. This is not a change in my position from the IndyRef either, as I thought then the best option for Scotland was to remain in the EU after independence, so I am not flip-flopping. What I mean is that I don't know that I want my vote to count as a vote for either side of the internal Tory party debate that is the root of this referendum. I don't want David Cameron to stand up at the end of the vote and say "all these people who voted stay think I'm right!" That is certainly not the case. I am also not saying the EU is politically perfect, but I don't think you can improve things in the EU by stepping back and leaving all the good parts aside.

The last point that crossed my mind was that if the UK votes to leave, but the majority of people living in Scotland vote to stay, it could be taken by some as impetus for Scotland to gain her independence. This has already been mooted in some circles as enough of a reason for another IndyRef. I think this is a bit of a stretch, but obviously I wouldn't say no if it happened. However, the difference between the Scottish (or Welsh) votes and the rUK votes would have to be significant which I don't think it will be, and my vote would be counted in Edinburgh. So if I voted to leave, it would be a vote to leave registered in Scotland, so would indeed count against the reason for voting to leave! So, no, that won't work!

This video by Caitlin Moran nicely sums up what I was thinking on this subject, even points I hadn't realised I was thinking, and is much more concise.

Fuck David Cameron. I will vote, but I'd rather be playing swing-ball!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Scotsman Abroad and the Quantum Vote

I had never got round to figuring out a postal vote here. The first UK General Election to be held since our move was 4 years in, and I tried to get a postal vote, but had left it too late. I didn't bother sending the forms away, as I thought the time limit to have a postal vote in the UK was 5 years after leaving, so that would have been my last chance.

I've never been allowed to vote in Scottish elections since leaving, as they count as local elections, and even though my last residence is in Edinburgh, overseas voters don't get to vorte in local elections. This was the same rule that was extended to the Referendum. In a way I can see the logic, and I have covered that in detail previously, so there's no gripe there.

However, I recently found out that the legal limit on voting from abroad is not 5 years after leaving the UK, but 15 years. I discovered this as the time limit to register for a postal vote approached repidly, so I faxed off my form on the last day of the deadline and squeaked in under the wire. I am now a registered postal voter in UK general elections, and I get a vote in the upcoming election on May the 7th, and will do so in the next one in 5 years time, then I'll be done! Unless of course there's another election in between, which is not to be ruled out with the currently predicted outcomes of the election.

So, I am on the list. However, when on the phone to a helpful person in Edinburgh about the best way to do things, she did warn me that the ballot would not be sent out till the 29th of April, and that it had to be back by the 8th by the close of the business day. Thankfully, the ballot did arrive quite quickly, on the 1st of May. I posted it off on Sunday, with the promise that it would go Monday morning, but that it would take 4-6 days to get there. Which brings us to the quantum part of the title. I have made a decision, and posted off my vote, but I will never know if it arrives in time to be counted. If my candidate of choice loses by 1 vote, then I can blame the postal system (or myself for not organising the postal ballot quicker), if they win, then I shall happily claim my part in that victory.

Some people may be a little miffed that I can vote in the UK, and yet have chosen not to live there, and indeed become a citizen of another country. They can then take solace in the fact that my vote will be unlikely to be counted. But otherwise they can quit their whinging. The law states I am able to participate in the democratic process in two countries. In fact, one of the main reasons for becoming a citizen is to be able to vote in the running of my chosen country of residence. I do also have a vested interest in the outcome of the UK general election, as a full citizen of that country too. Lucky me. This affords me a privilage, and it is one I intend to use to the fullest potential.

With the upcoming Canadian general election this October, this means I get to vote in two general elections this year. But Canadian politics, compared to the open book that exists in the UK right now, are really dull. Who could possibly blame me for wanting to take part in what I believe will be a rather historic election? I really believe, that whatever the outcome, there will be a big shake-up in how things are run over in the UK following this election, whether it's over the Scottish question, or electoral reform, and I have a vested interest in both those subjects. But I digress, that's leading off into a whole 'nother series of blog posts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Future of Democracy Part II: Crowd Sourcing Democracy

In my last post, I ranted on about the Upper Houses of the U.K. and Canada, and how they were out of touch with Modern Democracy, unrepresentative, and upholding the status quo of the two party system.

In a previous post on the Scottish referendum,  I touched upon another fact, that the people of Scotland, as well as Scots abroad were invigorated by the referendum. Excited to be part of the process, and the ability to take part and be involved.



Of course, Iceland has a very small population, which allows for greater buy-in to the political process, but with the internet age, there is no need for anyone to feel their vote does not count, as everything is up in the air in terms of what your vote actually means and counts towards. I am a supporter/follower of various ellectoral reform movements here in Canada and in the UK, but what they are pushing for in the main, has already been turned down by the electorate of the UK, and is not too high on the agenda here in Canada (although with the NDP being in opposition, at least it makes the papers sometimes). I feel that the move to various other voting systems is not going far enough. We are in a new era, and this requires that we keep up with the times...

One way that we can look to this, is Democracy OS.


The downside? Well, we'd be giving the power more directly to the majority of the people, and as we see time and time again, People are stupid!

Also, there would be a more direct effect of media bias upon the voting public. Now, the mwdia can hold away over which part the population vote for to some extent, but under a system like this, every issue would be under the sway of the talking heads of convential media outlets, and we all know they are not an un-bias source of information.

Another point to keep in mind is that this relies on a degree of computer literacy, and access, which would, at the moment, limit the ability of some sectors of the public to vote. This is not a small issue, but it is one that will diminish with time.

But then I'm not saying it'd be a perfect system , nor one free from corruption, just a hell of a lot better than the one we have now, and it is what people are looking for, as across the globe, we see dissatisfaction with the status quo.

This year is an election year, both in the UK, and here in Canada.

I am now looking at how I can use this idea fully, by first looking to see if I can use it for any voting that we do in out local Trade Union. There's no reason why it should not be transposable to a smaller voting population afterall, and the more exposure these systems have to the public, and vice versa, the better they become.

This is not the only group to have come up with this idea, it is not new. A quick google search will provide a dozen other alternatives, but it is the future, and the sooner we get on board with this, the sooner we will have the democracy we deserve.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Ok, no, after this, I'll be done

One last post on the subject, then I promise it'll be back to pictures of the kids and other holiday snaps. Promise. I just need a good rant to clear my system.

I couldn't vote in the referendum. I'm good with that, it was part of what I loved about the campaign to build a better Scotland, not an ethnically pure Scotland. All good.

However, just because I moved to Canada, don't tell me shut up about it. Either because I say before hand what I would like to happen, or because I complain about the result because I don't like it. I care what happens there. I am invested in the outcome, and I can be disappointed if it doesn't turn out the way I had hoped. The process involved me, and motivated me, as it did many others in a way that other political processes have not, even without the additional factor of journalists asking what I thought. I don't deny I enjoyed that aspect, and it was an excellent experience for me, it did further sharpen my thoughts on the matter, and made me educate myself on what my opinion really was.

Do not belittle outsiders points of view. Sometimes you have to step away to get another perspective, or as the Bard put it:
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us
Every family in Scotland, for every generation, going back about, oh, I don't know, 300 years or so, has had someone, or even multiple family members that have left, to find a better life. Be that to North America, Australasia, or even if it's just down to England. Why did they leave again? To find a better life. My own father said to me, when I first told him of plans to come to Canada, that "there's nothing for you here". He himself had contemplated emigration to Australia when a young man. It's such a recurring trend, we have a whole genre of songs based upon it. Right now, there are over 1 million Scots, who were born in Scotland, that live elsewhere. 20% of the population has left. And that doesn't even cover those with Scottish parents, or ancestry. That is a larger percentage of the population than even New Zealand (14%), who are famous for leaving their islands.

Historically, these Scots emigrants went on to build things. Within the British Empire, yes I get that, but under that construct those that left flourished, an those that stayed, well, they just kept leaving. The emigrant Scots helped to build places like Canada, and New Zealand and the USA. Scottish thinkers, Scottish workers and Scottish philosophy perfused these places to make them what they are today. Of course, they did not do this alone, no man is an island, and no culture remains uninfluenced by those that surround it, but the roots are there.

So, all these Scots had to leave, to find something better, then when they got there, they built something better for themselves. My question is, why did they have to leave at all? If they had the will and the know how to make things the way they wanted, why did they have to leave to do it?

Yesterday, Scotland had a chance to change this trend. To put a cap on those that had to leave to find better, by building that better place underneath them, instead of having to run away to foreign climes to be able to do things their way. Not only to put a cap on emigration, but to maybe even reverse the trend. To have those Scots who left to come back, and of course, to welcome those from other countries who liked what they saw and want to stay. They had a chance to take control of their own destiny, and build a better Scotland based on social justice, and representative democracy. That didn't happen. Scots are just going to keep on leaving, and before you ask them to come back, ask the question, is there anything there for them?