bookmark_borderCampaigning for republic, neutrality or the euro

‘When did you last say yes’?
Originally uploaded by mia!

Yes Scotland and the SNP both try to appeal to the majority of Scottish voters. This makes sense — if you adopt a minority position (for instance with regard to the monarchy, NATO or the currency of Scotland), you’re likely to scare away more potential Yes voters than you gain.

On the other hand, it’s often the people who want to change the status quo that have the most to gain by voting Yes. As some people have been saying recently, if the SNP don’t want to change anything after independence, why vote Yes?

The likelihood of Westminster abolishing the monarchy, leaving NATO or joining the euro must be very slim indeed. On the other hand, all of these policies are favoured by a large minority of Scots, so if you’re an activist who strongly favours one of them, the chances of achieving your goal is much greater in an independent Scotland.

In other words, we can’t expect neither Yes Scotland nor the SNP to be campaigning in favour of changing these policies from day one after independence, which is of course why the SNP leadership is trying to get rid of the party’s traditional anti-NATO stance.

What we need are plenty of smaller single-purpose campaign organisations to advocate a Yes as a major stepping stone towards their goal. For instance, an organisation such as Republic Scotland would do well to realise that its goal is much more achievable by promoting independence, and it should campaign vigorously for a Yes.

The consequence of this is that many SNP activists would do well to spend less time in the SNP over the next couple of years and instead concentrate their efforts on various grassroots movements, to make sure as many as possible join the wider Yes campaign.

bookmark_borderBuchwider Bräu δ₁ is a failure

I had hoped to be able to announce my 4th successful brew — an Irish red called Buchwider Bräu ??.

Unfortunately, something went terribly wrong:

Already when I was bottling it, I noticed the brew was strangely thick, like thin syrup. I’ve no idea what caused this, but I think it must have been a mashing error. At this point, the taste was OK, so I decided to proceed.

However, now it’s just horrible. It generates far too much foam (as is clear from the video), and the taste isn’t good at all. Interestingly, some bottles taste much worse than others, so I presume it must have something to do with wild yeast in my bottling equipment.

Anyway, I must not let failure hold me back, so I’ll brew something else soon. One day I’ll make another attempt at brewing an Irish red again, but for now I’ll return to the continental brews that I seem to be better at brewing.

bookmark_borderThe parents have to help till the kids turn 25

Edinburgh High Court
Originally uploaded by kaysgeog

I’ve often wondered why tuition fees and bursaries in England are determined by parental income when the students in question are adults and therefore aren’t the parents’ responsibility any more.

However, today I happened to read this article which explains that parents are expected to help their children with their education costs until they turn 25:

What most parents (whether separated, divorced or still together) are probably not aware of however, is that if their child embarks upon higher education, then as the child’s parents, they have a legal obligation to continue to support that child financially from age 18 until the child turns 25. […] This is known as aliment.

If the parents refuse to do so, the kid can take them to court:

What this means in practice, is that a student child who perhaps feels that they are not receiving as much, if any, financial support from their parents as they require, has the option to instruct a solicitor of their own to take either or both parents to court and to seek a formal award of aliment in their favour.

If this is also the case in England, at least I now understand how they can take the parental income into consideration.

As far as I can see, children of many divorced couples can milk the system, however. University fees and bursaries are decided solely by the income of the custodial parent (normally the mother) in the case of divorced couples, but the child can take both parents to court to refusing to help financially. So in theory, if the main custodial is poor and the other parent is rich, the student can get reduced fees and a big bursary, and in addition they can sue their rich parent for extra money.

It’s not an ideal system. I’d prefer everybody to be treated as full adults from their 18th birthday, and looking at parental income for adult children should be abolished.