The Point
Last updated: 11 December 2017. sky thinking for an open and diverse left

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Recent Articles

In Praise of Beethoven

Arthur C Clarke - A Very Modern Odyssey

Tackling Private Landlords

Investigating the Value Form

The Eternal Dark Heart of Empire

If You Build Them, They Will Come

Homelessness in Scotland: Progressive Legislation for a Progressive Nation

Yes activist Kevin Kane looks at the differences in housing legislation north and south of the border


Homelessness in England has increased dramatically since the UK coalition government came into power, with a 37% rise in rough sleepers in the country since 2010.1 This is in stark contrast to Scotland, where the Scottish Government has introduced the most progressive homelessness legislation in Western Europe2 and homelessness is steadily decreasing. Given that homelessness in Scotland is falling even in the face of harsh Westminster Government policies is a testament to the progressive, forward-thinking ethos of the Scottish Government.


Tony Benn - An Obituary by Graeme McIver


By Graeme McIver

Earlier this morning I watched the BBC Breakfast News as they crossed to their political correspondent at Westminster to discuss the recently announced death of Tony Benn. "So just how divisive a figure was he?" asked the presenter. Divisive is not a word I immediately think of when I consider the life of Tony Benn. I inhabit the often harsh world of left politics where invective and the bitter dismissal of alternative views and those expressing them are the normal currency. Yet this elder statesman of socialism was held in almost universal high esteem, respect and affection within the left and progressive movements. He was a unifying figure. This is an achievement and accolade that is afforded to only a select few.


Curious George and the Case for Naw


In the midst of all the doubt and uncertainty over the outcome of the September 2014 Referendum on Scottish Independence one thing is for sure…there’s never a dull moment on the campaign trail with George Galloway. The Respect MP for Bradford and his anti-Independence road-show, “Just Say Naw” rolled into Edinburgh at the beginning of February. The Point sent along Graeme McIver to listen to the arguments and dodge the brick-bats.


The Man Who Stares at Groats

Green Left activist and blogger Adrian Cruden looks forward to a positive debate on Scotland's currency future

The Scottish Government has launched a far reaching white paper, Scotland's Future, outlining its plans for a new, independent country if Scottish voters say Yes next September. In a polished performance, as well as presenting the proposed constitutional settlement and complex division of assets and liabilities between Scotland and the remainder of the United Kingdom, First Minister Alex Salmond and his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, outlined a range of key policy objectives should the SNP be successfully elected as the government of a newly independent country.

The SNP's plans are mildly left of centre, with economic growth at the heart of their plans for a settlement along a vaguely Scandinavian type model of mixed ownership and social welfare - an objective probably reflecting the broad political consensus within Scotland but something increasingly alien to the gradually harsher, neoliberal approach of the two and a half main parties south of the border.


Hope at Last? Gary Fraser reports on the Radical Independence Conference (RIC)


Only the hardest of political cynics could have walked away from Saturday’s second Radical Independence Conference (RIC) unimpressed. The size of the conference said it all. 1,000, maybe more, ‘radical’ campaigners gathered in the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow for a day of speeches and workshops. The workshops were actually so big that they felt like mini conferences. One delegate said to me, could you imagine how many supporters Better Together (labelled Bitter Together by RIC) would get if they had organised a conference? My silence said it all.


Scotland, Renewables and Oil




The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that the world, and the Scottish Government, must embrace radical policy shifts.

The report, which cites almost 10,000 scientific publications, concludes that concentrations of greenhouse gases are at levels unprecedented in 800,000 years and that human influence on the climate system is clear.

It also projects that global temperatures could rise by up to 4.8 degrees by the end of the century.

The tone of the report is clear - the need for action to reduce emissions has never been more urgent. Scotland has apparently "world-leading" emission reduction targets, but we've failed to achieve them two years running. The government's policy response has so far been feeble.


The Scandal of Low Pay in the Home Care Sector

Former care worker Graeme McIver argues that the system of home care in this country is at crisis point. Preventing the whole rotten system from crashing down is a thin red line of care workers whose kindness and humanity stand in stark contrast to the ignorance, greed and avarice of those who design and implement policy.

There are currently around 10 million people over the age of 65 living in the UK. By 2050 that number is expected to almost double to 19 million. (1) Successive governments have moved the responsibility of providing care services to our senior citizens from the public to the private sector and that process shows no signs of being reversed by any of the main parties. Under the guise of providing a better, targeted and more cost effective standard of care the reality is that our pensioners and those tasked with delivering those vital services are being failed and exploited in the name of profit.

For almost a year I worked in the home care sector delivering care to the elderly and those with specialist needs. My experience opened my eyes to the crisis that exists in the industry and to the way that worker’s rights are routinely attacked and undermined in a way that might have shamed the owners of the dark satanic mills of William Blake’s Jerusalem.


Energy Price Hike Scandal

Profiteering by the energy companies is no longer a moral issue it is quite literally an issue of life and death for the most vulnerable in society, currently facing the winter with the dread of people who've just been handed a death sentence.

This is the impact of one of the most despicable examples of the barbaric face of unfettered capitalism witnessed in many a year with the recent hike in energy prices. Men whose collective salaries as CEOs of the top energy companies are a moral outrage in themselves have revealed a callous disregard for the consequences of their actions.

While their Xmas, and that of their shareholders and families, will be a particularly joyous one this year, for millions it will be an exercise in survival. Not only that, these are individuals who can look forward to a very comfortable future, no doubt enhanced along the way with a knighthood here or an MBE or OBE there.


The Corroboration Debate

From a legal perspective, Kevin Kane examines the current debate on the removal of the requirement for corroboration in Scots criminal law.


A lot of attention in the media of late has centred on the contentious topic of corroboration in criminal trials - the trench warfare alive and well for all to see. On one side we have those who maintain that corroboration is the "cornerstone" of the judicial system in Scotland and those on the other who assert that corroboration is an "archaic" rule that ought to be abandoned. The dialogue from the main stream media has conjured up what one might consider a false dichotomy, between those with apparent vested interests within or connected to the legal profession and those of progressive wisdom who put the rights of victims first. This is a gross over-simplification. This piece will extrapolate on why that is the case and attempt to arm those on the left with a more nuanced take on corroboration – at which point, it is hoped that whatever opinions are upheld, these opinions will be built upon solid foundations - not media hyperbole.

All references and footnotes are numbered and appear at the end of the main body of the text.

Brief History of Corroboration in Scots Law

The corroborative ethos is enshrined in Scots criminal law (1) - indeed, its origins in legal philosophy can be traced all the way back to biblical scriptures:

"Who so killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses; but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die" (2)

Moreover, the earliest Institutional Writers affirmed Scots law of corroboration as sacrosanct (3). However, the bible and early institutional writings were not Scots lawyers only source of guidance; they would have been indoctrinated in matters of procedure by "Canon Law" (4) and their training influenced in a manner befitting of continental Europe at that time (5).


Rosyth Dockyard: Independence and Labour Hypocrisy


Does Rosyth Dockyard Have a Future?... asks Jock Penman


An article in the Dundee Courier dated 27th Sept 2013 annoyed me somewhat as it proclaimed, "Yes vote 'risk' to Rosyth dockyard." Not very original, up to date, nor correct it quoted Dunfermline and West Fife MP Thomas Docherty as saying, "It is clear that, without Royal Navy contracts, West Fife industry faces a very bleak future." However, doubting Thomas had written on his blog, "It is clear that thousands of jobs at Rosyth are being put at risk by the SNP's independence agenda," on Nov. 14th 2011. So what is clear is that this is merely a continuation of the scaremongering of the No Campaign.

It is a petty point-scoring exercise designed to narrow the argument down to party bickering. Just because many of us support the fight for independence does not mean we are SNP members or even supporters. And the issue of independence is the most important for 300 years.


External links:

Bella Caledonia

Bright Green

George Monbiot

Green Left


The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Laurie Penny

New Left Project

Newsnet Scotland

Richard Dawkins

Scottish Left Review

Socialist Unity

UK Uncut

Viridis Lumen

Wings Over Scotland

Word Power Books