The Scottish government announced on May 20 that it was aiming to use only renewable energy by 2020, EarthTimes.org said on May 22 — increasing its target from 80%. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, from the Scottish National Party (SNP), said: “Because the pace of development has been so rapid, with our 2011 target already exceeded, we can now commit to generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland's own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020. “Offshore wind will play a key role in achieving our ambitions.”
Voting across Britain on May 5 resulted in a rejection of changes to the electoral system, but election results in Scotland may herald the end of Britain as we know it. The referendum on introducing an “Alternative Vote” voting system (much like the preferential voting system in Australia) to replace the current “First Past The Post” system was decisively defeated. With a turnout of only 42%, 67.87% voted against the change.
If it is Your Life By James Kelman, Penguin Books 2010 280 pages, hardback £18.99 This is Scottish author James Kelman’s first collection of short stories since The Good Times in 1998. Right from the very first sentence you know you are back in the distinctive world of Kelman’s fiction: “When I presented myself at the Emergency section of the Social Security Office I knew things could go wrong but I was not expecting a leg amputated.”
The British people have a long and proud history of defeating repression, tyranny and injustice. They defeated Conservative Party prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax in 1991 by invoking an inspiring spirit of resistance against seemingly insurmountable forces. And it’s just a well because they need to call on these traditions once again to defeat the unprecedented and brutal cuts proposed by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government for our public services. Chancellor George Osborne has announced planned public spending cuts of £81 billion pounds.
Britain’s biggest anti-cuts demonstration yet took place on October 23, when 20,000 people took part in a Scottish-wide protest in Edinburgh. BBC News has also reported “several thousand” demonstrating in Belfast in a trade union-organised event. Called by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the Edinburgh demo throws the failures of the British Trade Union Congress general council — which managed nothing more than a couple of thousand in Westminster Hall on the day before cuts were announced — into sharp relief.
Did you hear the one about the election everyone lost? On May 6, Labour, the party in power, lost 100 seats and with it the chance to continue in government after 13 years. The Conservatives lost the victory all the polls had been promising them for the past 18 months. The Liberals suffered perhaps the most devastating humiliation after Cleggmania turned out to be a complete and utter mirage. The man who apparently wowed us so much in the TV leadership debates actually lost a number of seats rather than gaining any.
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi was found guilty on January 31, 2001, of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing in Scotland that killed 270 civilians.
The official left-wing of the Scottish Labour Party has failed to get a candidate onto the ballot paper in the election of the partys next leader. The August 22 Morning Star reported that Any leadership candidate needed a minimum of five other MSPs [members of the Scottish parliament] to support them, but the Scottish Campaign for Socialism was only able to muster four names in total as nominations for the post closed at noon on August 21.
On August 14, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), revealed his minority government’s plans for a referendum on Scottish independence.
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) ruled on June 28 that the 2001 conviction of Libyan citizen Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi — sentenced to 27 years’ jail for allegedly bombing Pan Am flight 103, which exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, killing 270 people — “may have suffered a miscarriage of justice”. The SCCRC referred al Megrahi’s case to Scotland’s appeal court.
In the May 3 elections to the Scottish parliament, the Scottish National Party (SNP) won 47 seats out of a total of 129 — a rise of 20 seats compared to the 2003 election. Labour lost four seats, emerging with a total of 46; the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats lost one seat apiece, winning 17 and 16 seats respectively. The results mean that for the first time in Scottish political history, the SNP won more seats that any other party, although not enough to command a working majority in parliament.
An authoritative opinion poll for the Scotsman newspaper indicates a strong increase in support for the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in the run-up to the Scottish Parliament elections on May 3. The April 6 Scottish Socialist Voice reported that “in both the constituency and regional list vote, 5 per cent of Scots voters plan to vote Scottish Socialist”, according to the ICM poll. This represents a 3% rise in the regional vote and a 4% increase in the constituency ballot — the biggest increase in support in the previous month for any political party in Scotland.