So it is St Andrew’s Day and some of us on the centre and centre-left of Scottish politics wanted to launch a blog to discuss politics and more.
St Andrew’s Day falls in the most turbulent times this year. Today is the day of a massive public sector strike – nominally over pensions but probably over far more. The debate has become more empassioned, views more polarised and the real issues and possible solutions more fuzzy as the day of the strike dawns.
Today is also the day after a stark Autumn Statement where the Chancellor laid out bleak prospects for growth, a continuing huge national deficit and difficult prospects for the European and Global economies. These are days of a realignment of conventional wisdom on macro-economics and what appears to be the beginnng of an era of stagnation. Abroad, the European Union is under enormous strain and the Euro currency seems unlikely to survive in its present form. In such times nationalism becomes increasingly popular and UKIP in the south and the SNP, with a very different form of nationalism, are riding higher still in Scotland. Indeed, the very existance of the United Kingdom is under scrutiny with a majority SNP administration in Holyrood.
Now, more than at any other time in my life, everything is changing and all our ideologies are challenged. Nothing remains the same. It saddens me when I see some political bloggers retreating onto partisan soapboxes and coming up with predictable and lazy arguments. Now is exactly the time for activists and political bloggers to stand back and honestly assess the situation, be open and discerning as to the causes of our pains and open and thoughtful as to the alternative solutions.
Now is a time to debate what issues the world around us faces, to explore our choices and think through what sort of societywe want and how we might get there – including the potential drawbacks of each solution. For there are no easy answers, and if you are proposing some you are probably talking nonsense.
Now is a time for ideas freely expressed and tested in open good humoured debate because everything has changed and we need to think the unthinkable rather than retreat into old cliches.
So happy St Andrew’s Day and let the arguments begin.