Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Sajid Javid and the fate of the Islamic State Jihadists

It has been disclosed that Sajid Javid, the UK Home Secretary, has allowed the extradition of two UK-based individuals who are accused of committing a series of murders while acting in support of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Contrary to convention, Javid did not gain the usual assurances that the suspects would not be subjected to capital punishment, which is allowed under US law.

Quite a few people have been asking why all the fuss over the fate of two men who have travelled to fight with a terrorist organisation and there is video evidence of them committing most horrible murder. If the Americans end up killing them after due process, who cares? 

Well, hang on there. All the fuss is about rule of law and not sympathy with young men who, most likely, have committed obscene criminal acts.  It is certainly not about support for terrorism, which I have been accused of while debating the issue online. 

Since the 1960s, the United Kingdom has given a free vote to MPs on the matter of capital punishment. Every time the subject has been raised for debate, the death penalty has been rejected by the nation’s sovereign body. The law of the United Kingdom rejects capital punishment. In addition, UK law does not allow for torture.

Owing to this, all people who are under UK law and are subject to extradition requests are not to be extradited if there is a possibility of them subjected either to capital punishment or torture. Previously, all extraditions have been subject to this proviso. As part of the European Union, this nation has agreed to object to capital punishment in all cases and, as a nation, we support the active campaign to oppose capital punishment on a global basis.

In not seeking the usual assurances from the Americans prior to extradition, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has overturned both EU and UK law on a whim. He may personally have no objection to seeing these two men executed by the Americans after due process but it is not his choice to make. The law of the UK does not allow for him to choose. He, and quite possibly PM Theresa May has, by decree, now stated that the death penalty and the fate of those the UK transfers over to the jurisdiction of others, is a matter of indifference. That indifference is effectively support for the death penalty. 

Upon hearing the news, I tweetedThe UK government is either opposed to the death penalty or not. One cannot use death as a penalty a wee bit. This Conservative government has shown its hand: it is pro-capital punishment. That is a disgrace for any civilised nation #R4Today

The hashtag #R4Today is a reference to the BBC Today Programme on Radio Four and allow other listeners on Twitter to follow listener reaction. I was kind of struck by the similarity of my point with that of the shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott who, was speaking in the Commons later the same morning.  “They [the Government]cannot be a little bit in favour of the death penalty. Either we offer consistent opposition or we don’t.”

Another critic pointed out to me that the two people have been stripped of their UK citizenship, the implication being that the UK no longer have an interest in their fate. That is not so either. First of all, the concept of making a person stateless may possibly contravene Article 15 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The government may argue that withdrawal of citizenship was not arbitrary but creation of individual statelessness as a result of criminal activity is legally dubious, especially without trial. Secondly, even if the two individuals have legally been made stateless, the Home Secretary has exercised authority over them and the rules he acts under is still that of the UK. 

Ultimately, this argument is all about the rule of law and whether the government can ignore it or can exempt people from it. That answer is simply no, it cannot. 

A critic opined whether I “would be still bleating the mantra if you were on your knees in the desert in an orange jumpsuit.”

I have two replies to this. First of all, it is the rule of law that ultimately stops governments acting in the same way as ISIS.

Secondly, it’s been a few years but I have worked in such places. My name has been down on proposals for work in Iraq. I have worked in the Middle and Near East, North Africa. Yes, there was security and in some places lots of it. Ultimately though, our best chance of remaining a decent society to uphold the rule of law, even for people we don’t like. Even for murderers and terrorists. 

Sajid Javid has put his personal morality above both UK and international law and, as a senior government member, has by executive decree, overturned both. That is why there is a fuss. 

Friday, 29 June 2018

Popular Nationalism and the Threat of Trump.

Many people are rightly alarmed and worried by the rise of nationalism across the planet, especially with the antics of President Trump who appears to be on the road into turning the world's military superpower into a fascist regime. Honestly, I’m not depressed. In my youth I took it upon myself to study Nazism. In the 1990s I discovered and challenged The National Alliance on the prototype of the Internet, the same organisation that influenced and inspired the murderer of Jo Cox MP. The madness of Brexit and the refusal of any fact-based evidence to be taken on board is the English manifestation of this nationalism. Even the nationalism of our own dear SNP here in Scotland, who is very much on the fluffy end of the scale, appear on the same spectrum because ultimately all nationalism is defined by claims of oppression: both by those who claim to seek escape from it and by those who, in claiming to be oppressed by foreigners, seek to impose their will upon others. 

I’m ready for this fight. Since the end of the Second World War, the prevailing wisdom has been for advised democracy. Why is democracy advised? Because most people just want to get on with living. People think about politics in the most case on principle rather than the facts. 

Popular movements appeal directly to emotion and seek to undermine any fact that does not fit in with their narrative. With his constant tweeting, Trump wishes to avoid any debate at all, instead slamming together a narrative that the USA is being manipulated and overrun by foreigners, whose sole purpose for existence is, apparently, the undermining of America. Only this morning Trump claims that the European Union was created to undermine the USA. Obviously it was that and nothing to do with the propensity for European nations to wage murderous wars against each other and destroy the continent twice within forty years. No, it was obviously an anti-American plot from the beginning. 

The trouble is, starved of facts, a sizeable majority of people are buying into the nationalist message. With the experiment of the separation and interment of immigrant children that occurred during June, Trump has now confirmed that federal agencies will follow brutal and inhumane orders without question. Everything is now in place for the ending of democracy in the USA. 

The danger is now that people will vote away four hundred years of struggle by which any citizen can stand up and pursue their rights as an individual human, able to face up to the power of government. We are losing our democracy and our human rights to those who would deny the rule of law or any objectivity. Power is the only good to such people. This means that, to people who back this drive, you too will be the victim of the power you now support. There will be no recourse because facts will be denied and laws ignored.

It is time for all to put aside nationalism because it is a pathway towards hell. All who would oppose fascism must stand up for evidence-led, fact-based advised democracy. 

Monday, 12 February 2018

Oxfam and the Perils of Remote Operations

The recent news of Oxfam troubles over the behaviour of some staff in Haiti should come as no surprise to those who have worked in the poorer parts of the world.  I don’t think this is an issue about charities per se. Instead it about standards, and about how anybody who finds themselves in foreign cultures applies them.

Beyond more times than I can recall, I have seen examples of bad behaviour by Europeans  (including British) and North Americans while working in poorer societies. Use of either prostitution or having a local girlfriend while in country is commonplace.  In the early 2000s, I did one particular job in Kazakhstan for a month, which involved regular rotation work for many colleagues. The temptations there were incredible.  I stayed a month and refused further work because if I had returned I am certain that I would have been unable to hold my marriage together.  Divorce is indeed the fate that befell most of my married colleagues: out of forty guys who were on month-on-month-off rotation, by the end of two years (by which time the contract ended) thirty-eight of them were divorced. Some of them came away with new partners, others required courses of medication.

It can be argued that in this case there was no moral leadership, which is perfectly true. In fact, there is often a large degree of peer-pressure to get people “dirty”, so that they are not going to blab when they go home. “What happens in the field stays in the field” is an old saying that is still honoured.  It can be argued that charities are engaged in noble work and should be held to higher standards than a bunch of rig-pigs. In reality though, standards to which any person operates are the ones that they carry with them.  When back in the UK (or wherever home is), one is held to certain standards, the social norms. It is quite common for a man to leave his own society and, finding himself in a new society whose norms he is unaware of but is offered easy access to sex, drugs and alcohol. The newcomer has a vast amount of spending power compared to locals and a proportion of those local folk not only want that cash but are willing to deliver pretty much anything in order to get it. The newcomer is basically entering a moral vacuum where there are few external boundaries. If that person does not carry moral standards within him or herself (and no, that is not me being politically correct – one former colleague said she enjoyed working in Angola because of all the “uncomplicated sex”) then they are capable of living out their wildest fantasies. Abuse is only possible because the power is so one-sided. Kazakhstan is a society that has become a lot richer over the past two decades and, as economic power has equalised, the desperate excesses of the late 1990s are no more. 

Corporations are very aware of the perils of this lifestyle and nowadays try to control the situation by overworking employees. That may include long shifts, seven-day-a-week working and no leaving of the hotel or staff house. Some even have tried to introduce a strict policy of no alcohol while on rotation, that even includes airports and flights.  Such extreme measures, in all, make a complete misery of foreign working and takes any joy out of the proceedings. What is the use of being in a country when one is not able to visit any site of interest or culture? By the same reasoning of course, it keeps others out of the fleshpots. Many of the senior executives know the perils of course, because while they were in the field they were often the worst offenders.

It may be possible to keep oil workers away from the public but charity works, by definition, involves public contact and being part of the fabric of the host society. It will be a lot harder to enforce a moral standard as isolation is not possible. Before I continue, I don’t want to cast aspersions on everybody. For example, I came across a brilliant team of American doctors and nurses in Mauritania who had given up a month of their time to provide free operations and medical care to local people. Another good example I encountered was a UN conference in Kampala on refugees and stateless people. Much good is being done, so please do not get the idea that all foreign charity work is a waste of time. It isn’t. There are bad examples though. In West Africa, the UN workers were often derided for being in place to stop the exploitation of women while being themselves regular clients of sex workers.  Some of the most unpleasant individuals I have ever met have been diplomats attached to various embassies - although I have not encountered misbehaviour from any UK staff.

When it comes down to how to solve such problems, it is difficult. Cultural awareness must be one key. I don’t know what courses are available to charity workers before they are shipped out to remote parts of the world, but I don’t recall much training on this being offered in industry.  Leadership in field is another imperative.  If the leader is a sleaze, the team is left to their own personal standards. In fact, as I stated above, bad conduct is often encouraged from those indulging in it.

Perhaps the worst examples though are not failures in individual behaviour but extravagance in operations. Both the following examples come from former colleagues and both involve Oxfam. Both are also historical: at least twenty years old.  The first one concerns a colleague comes backing from West Africa and, unexpectedly, he is upgraded to business class. Next to him is some guy and, as the flight goes on, they fall into conversation.
“Who do you work for?”
The engineer expresses surprise that he is travelling business class.
“Oh, I don’t work directly for Oxfam. My company are being hired on a consultancy basis.”

The second example was another friend who, as engineer-in-charge, was running an operation out of Port Hardcourt in Nigeria. The house that the company was renting could sleep ten and was often used for crews coming and going to rigs and arriving in country.  One day the landlord comes to the engineer and gives notice, unless more than double the rent can be provided.
“That’s crazy!” says my friend. The landlord says calmly that he already has an alternative tenant lined up on these terms.
“Who is it?”
“That must be a huge team that they are moving in.”
“Oh no, it’s just for one person.”

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Let's Not Talk About Gun Control

The news reports have fallen away and the shock is now confined to the victims and those directly affected. Another mass murder is rapidly becoming history as the National Rifle Association and its supporters hope.  A search of Google will not show many news reports beyond the 7th of October.

It has been well-publicised that it is a technique of the gun lobby in the USA to say after every massacre “It is too soon to talk about gun control.”  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/04/nra-guns-las-vegas-crisis-playbook  I have therefore waited but frankly, I’m not going to talk about gun control at all. Nor am I going to split hairs about the Second Amendment holding firearms as part of a well-trained militia. There will be no mention that the Founding Fathers could not have imaged the effectiveness of modern assault weapons.  There will be no note that roughly the same number of Americans have died in wars than in shootings from 1968 to the present (http://www.snopes.com/gun-deaths-wars/).

If Americans want to have guns, go right ahead.

It is interesting though to visit the NRA and read their statement on the Las Vegas mass-murder. They call for no legislation that will impede either the Second Amendment or the right of a US citizen to self defence https://home.nra.org/joint-statement/.  A Norwegian friend of mine made an equally interesting point on social media. According to him, there at thirty one guns per hundred people in Norway.  Those weapons are held for various purposes: hunting, military (as part of a civil militia) and target shooting. No guns are held for self-defence and it is unheard of for these weapons to be used as such.
Under the US concept of self defence ( and example of which is here http://open.lib.umn.edu/criminallaw/chapter/5-2-self-defense/), the use of deadly force can only be applied if faced with an assault using deadly force. In other words, guns are justified to be held for self-defence purposes because there are so many guns already in society. A critic might point out the circular logic here but let’s follow the NRA recommendation and leave that for another day, or perhaps never. Ah, one might reply, it is monstrous to suggest that any manufacturer intended for any misuse, criminal or otherwise, of their weapons. This is perfected true. The misuse of any firearm is an unintended outcome of their manufacture and sale.  It is also true that those who make and sell weapons and ammunition do not give any financial compensation to the victims of such incidents. 

What is lacking from the NRA statement is any sense of responsibility beyond that of the murderer: “Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks.”  It certainly does not mention the activities of the weapons and ammunition manufacturers, whose business activities allow for such massacres to occur.

In economics, there is a term for this situation: it is called an externality. To quote a textbook, “an externality arises when a person engages in an activity that influences the well-being of a bystander (ie. a third party) who neither pays nor receives any compensation for that effect.”  So while the vast majority of American firearm holders are law-abiding, the economic activities of the manufacturers allow for shootings (on whatever scale, whether fatal or not) to occur. No compensation is offered to those affected and it is left to others in society to pick up the bill.

How big a bill are we talking? Nobody is sure.  A recent paper (http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/36/10/1729.full.pdf+html)*  that gives an indication of the costs involved at $2.8billion per year for the emergency healthcare involved.  The average cost of ED care is $5254.00, rising to $95,887.00 if the victim is admitted as an in-patient. The authors indicate that the total estimate is on the low side, as it does not take into account those who do not make it at all to emergency departments. Nor does it take any account of the police costs involved, nor loss of earnings for victims and dependents.  If these factors are accounted for, the total would be many billions of dollars more. They also note that research in the area is scant because since 1996, the US government department CDC (Centre of Disease and Preventable Illness) is prevented from investigating the cost of firearms injuries if the purpose to bolster the cause of gun control.

In many countries the determined cost would be calculated and a tax raised upon the industry, in exactly the same manner that a factory polluting a river might be levied for each tonne of waste it disposes of into the environment. With the current makeup of the federal congress, that is unlikely to happen.  If state representative houses carried out the research though, state levies could be introduced piecemeal across the USA. 

The suggestion of a levy on the arms industry does not challenge anybody’s right to bear arms. What it does do is address the inequality that currently exists, that the victims of shootings, from whatever cause, are effectively subsidising gun and ammunition producers who are not picking up the economic externalities of their business activities.  Ultimately the additional charge to each consumer who buys a gun or a box of ammo will be low, because it is so widely spread. The principle of polluter pays is well established elsewhere. For the gun industry to try and wriggle out or ignore the social costs of its activity is nothing more than special pleading. 

Meanwhile, like tens of thousands of individuals before them, the hundreds of victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting are having to either resort to charity or sort out the cost of their healthcare on their own. 

Faiz Gani, Joseph V. Sakran and Joseph K. Canner
Emergency Department Visits For Firearm-Related Injuries In The United States, 2006−14
Health Affairs 36, no.10 (2017):1729-1738

doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2017.0625

Friday, 16 June 2017

Jo Cox: One Year On.

It was at the start of the EU Edinburgh Rally - Leading not Leaving  on June 16th that Willie Rennie, the event’s chairperson, read out a statement that Jo Cox MP had been attacked in the street.  None of us knew at that time, 2:00pm, that Jo had already died of her wounds.  The pro-EU rally went on but it was not reported on.  I knew as soon as switched on a radio afterwards and they were still talking about her that Jo must be dead. 

It was a shocking attack.  As soon as reports came out that her attacker (who is not worthy of mentioning by name) was into organisations such as The National Alliance, I knew he was a neo-Nazi and that Jo’s murder was a political assassination.  I said so too, for I know The National Alliance.  I was told to shut up, that one should not speculate, that the person may have been mentally ill, but I knew.  He wasn’t ill, he was a Nazi.
How did I know? The leader of The National Alliance was one William Pierce. He used to write weekly news letters, extolling the superiority of the white race and besmirching others. His main target (since he was American) were black people, Mexicans and Latin Americans.  In the 1990s, I came across the online chat room while doing my first degree in Wales. Being blonde and blue-eyed, I took special objection to Pierce's loathsome views and argued vehemently with the racist bastard.
After Jo’s murderer was convicted and the facts were out, he was indeed proved to be acting upon ideology and not through any form of madness.  He is a terrorist who killed in order to advance the tenants of Nazism. 

This year, I went to a Jo Cox get-together for candidates in the general election.  Will such events help take the bitterness out of political campaigning?  I really hope so. I did not know Jo Cox personally but from what I hear she was a wonderful woman who stood up against injustice, although one must always be aware of the perils of hierography of the dead.  It may be enough though that the civic memory of Jo Cox lives on through such events.  It is a reminder that we have far more in common than whatever divides us and, no matter the disagreement, violence is never the answer.

Jo Cox died on June 16th, 2016.  My fiftieth birthday. I think through Jo and the coincidence of the date, the memory of what she has come to stand for will never leave me.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

On the state of Scottish Nationalism and the SNP

I wrote this as a response to the large amount of negative comments I received on my Facebook campaigns page from SNP supporters during the 2017 Spring election campaign.   https://www.facebook.com/martinveartedin/

The problem with the SNP is their agenda is both popularist and regressive. How can this be? The popularise bit is easy: free tuition fees, free proscriptions, opposition to London. Regressive insofar the government is purposely not using available powers to change the Westminster (Conservative) agenda. Sure, the SNP will block the bedroom tax (good) and not hand on the tax cut to higher earners (okay) but will not actually make profound changes. Ah, one might say, Barnett does not allow for Scotland to earn more that the given share. That is true, but it is totally possible to re-jig the tax system, with powers available, in order to put less of the burden on poorer tax payers and a higher burden on those richer. This is not being done nor is it likely to be. It is as if the SNP leadership are eager to pass on hardships while not using powers to ease the pressure on the people of Scotland. A cynic might say this is because that it would not be in their party interest to improve matter. Instead, the situation have to decline further in order to convince more people to vote Yes in the next referendum for independence. Consider the ongoing cuts, confirmed by such bodies as Audit Scotland for education but denied by supporters. The usual technique is to narrow the window of examination and thus present statistics in a narrow window that lets through the best possible light. Oil production is another such field were the larger picture is never presented.
Liberal Democrats support federalism. That is using devolved powers in order to improve things as close as possible to local communities. The SNP do not trust people. If they did, they would allow a diverse Scotland to emerge. Instead, we see a centralisation of power to a handful of minister in Holyrood. The police and emergency services are an obviously case. I shared a hustings stage with Kenny MacAskill in 2011 when he was musing why shouldn’t education be centralised? The popularist freezing of the council tax made councils more and more reliant upon funding by central government. Democracy has been slowly suffocated by the SNP and, while bemoaning the powers that Westminster have, power in Scotland has been increasingly sucked into Edinburgh.
Yet the SNP is not a party which encourages scrutiny and debate. It is a party of faith. Faith that only independence will solve our problems. If only we were independent, then we would be free to address the monumental issues that we all face. Those issues are not really discussed either. In 2014, such issues would be “the will of the Scottish people” following independence.
The SNP are serious about independence and they are in a hurry. Therefore any method is acceptable in order to get people to tick the Yes box the next time around. It is a bit of a reverse of 1745. In that campaign, Bonny Prince Charlie had to win every battle. A single defeat and the war would be lost. Now, the SNP can lose every battle until they win just one. It is their haste, combined with their conservative political strategy, that will be their downfall.
I am not a natural unionist. As a half-Irish Catholic, unionism isn’t a concept I am fond of. My concern over the course of Scottish independence is the effect of sudden independence will have on people. I questioned the economic basis of independence in 2014 and, come, 2019, things are not likely to improve. The glimmer of hope is that of Brexit.
Brexit might, just might, provide the shortcut that the SNP are hoping for. If the Conservatives win on Friday and pursue a hard Brexit (that is making the UK an offshore free-trade zone and basically making us into an mini-me version of the United States), then there is a case of bailing out in a hurry, whatever the economic cost. Both parties though play identity politics. If one is not a supporter of independence, one has to be a unionist. This is a false logic, for in ceding one’s identity, one hands over one’s critical faculties to others. Such-and-such is necessary in order to achieve the ultimate goal. All will be sorted out after victory.
So what must be done? The answer is simple if na├»ve: work for the good of people. Change society from what it is now. The SNP follow Westminster’s line in the hope that line will ultimately snap and with it the Union. Instead, we have powers, available now, to make a difference for good. If those powers were used and a track record achieved, this would result in one of two things. Either the rest of the UK would look to Scotland as a leading member of the Union and demand that they follow our example, or, they would continue to go their own way. If the latter, the case for Scottish independence would be made.
Neither course will suit the SNP though because it takes time, for it is the path of evolution rather than revolution. They want power and in a hurry, regardless of the effect upon us all. Instead of working to improve the prospects for the entire UK, they have given up on ever making a positive change and, instead, claim to just care about Scotland. If they really did care about us, then they know that improving the whole of the UK is just as important because, through simple geographical fact, there is no separating the reality of the links: cultural, scientific, economic. England will remain our largest trading partner, forever. Whatever happens in Westminster will always affect us here. So do we work together to overthrow the cycle of the two-party state or go it alone? The SNP has already answered that question: go it alone, regardless of consequences.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Campaign Blog 2017. Positions on Brexit

Campaigning for the 2017 general election has been very different from previous years. This time the Liberal Democrats are on the offensive. I certainly am here in Edinburgh North and Leith. Since 2014, the local party membership has almost tripled and with more volunteers, more donations and more resources, more is being done. Liberal Democrats are growing once more.
This election has been called on Brexit and it is that I will be talking about in this blog. That is not to say that the Liberal Democrats have nothing else to say. Our flagship policy is to raise income tax by a penny in the pound, in order to pay for the publics services that have been eroded since the economic crash of 2008. This would be linked to tightening up on the loopholes used by corporations and the very rich to avoid paying their fair share of taxation. In England we would see the NHS benefit from the income tax rise, while in Scotland we advocate extra revenue going towards education, which has declined drastically under the tenure of the SNP government at Holyrood. The Liberal Democrat manifesto may be read here:  http://www.libdems.org.uk/manifesto
On Brexit, I am really proud of the Liberal Democrat insistence that any final deal is put before the people of Britain before being signed off. The post-referendum coup inside the Conservative party and their embracing of UKIP’s hardline policies shows that the extremists have taken over. The Conservative leadership now only stand for one thing: a corporate UK where big businesses can operate free of the restraints of taxation and free of responsibility: either to people or to the environment. While business success is vital for Britain, in a decent society, it should never be business before all else. It will be though under Theresa May’s vision for a hard Brexit. She knows this will be unpopular and has been doing her very best to avoid public scrutiny. May failed to turn up to the Leaders Debate and has skipped the Women’s Hour interview. Theresa MIA - missing in action. If you don’t turn up for the job interview, you shouldn’t get the job. May has also proved to be far from competent: her handling of the dementia tax and her inconsistency on almost every important topic shows a lack of depth, a lack of self-awareness, that has even surprised her strongest critics. May called the election, put her competence on the line and she has been found wanting. I feel sorry for moderate conservatives for whom all this extremism must be deeply concerning. If they never supported UKIP previously, isn’t that exactly what they are being asked to do now?
With the reconfirmation of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, that party too has fled the middle ground of politics. Corbyn is a socialist of the Bennite tradition. Tony Benn always opposed the UK joining the European Union, seeing it as a vast conspiracy of capital against the working class. Unlike May, at least Corbyn has the credit of sticking to his principles through thick and thin. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that led to the sight of Corbyn leading his party through the voting lobby with the Conservatives to deliver Article 50, triggering the nation’s divorce proceedings with the EU. It is Corbyn’s history of opposition to the European Union that explains his post-Article 50 tweet “Real fight starts now.” What he means is that the struggle for a socialist Britain starts with us leaving the European Union. Again, central-ground Labour supporters must not be in an happy place right now.
While on the topic, one should note the Scottish Greens are a deeply socialist party. I am not saying this: they are. During hustings events here in Edinburgh, candidates in both the 2015 and 2017 espoused their pride in being socialist, with reference to the metaphor of the watermelon (green on the outside, red under the skin) being embraced. Fair play to both and it does give socialist voters a genuine choice of candidate in this election for voting between Green and Labour. Non-socialist voters will want to bear in mind that the modern Greens are not all about the environment. Scottish Greens are also pro-independence, seeing this as the most likely path to achieve their desire of a socialist Scotland. 
No one can accuse the SNP of being socialist or even particularly green. They have followed Westminster in the change of emphasis from small-scale and community energy to supporting only the large scale suppliers. They are also very happy to see the Air Duty Tax rate being slashed in half, bowing to pressure from the directors at Edinburgh Airport. When it comes to Brexit, I do believe the sincerely of the SNP leadership to wish to stay in the EU. What they failed to do in Westminster however was to support the Liberal Democrat amendment that would have allowed the people of the United Kingdom a final say. This must be the only occasion in history that the SNP does not want a second referendum. The upshot of this choice is to make Brexit another lever for independence rather that it being about the EU. Like Ireland, Scotland’s largest trading partner will be the one closest to it. Whatever one’s views on independence, it makes no sense to have trade barriers between England and Scotland. It genuinely is in Scotland’s best interest to keep England and Wales in the EU. Yet again, the SNP works to its own narrow remit. 
It is too easy for people to be sucked into the symbolic logic that if I am not A, then I must be B. Parties who go down that line must be challenged because instead of policies and issues, everything is reduced to identity politics. 
On June the 8th, I am asking for your support to the Liberal Democrats so that you can have a say on the outcome of the EU negotiations. I am asking for your support to deliver a different Great Britain than what is offered by either May or Corbyn. I am asking for your support to help me deliver a better deal for Edinburgh and Leith.