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Fraser reaches out to 'No' majority with UK reform call

September 22 2014

Fraser reaches out to 'No' majority with UK reform call
Malcolm Fraser has moved to heal the rift between advocates for independence and supporters of the Union by urging all architects to set aside their differences in pursuit of a common goal, championing reform throughout Britain.

In a written statement, prepared ahead of the new groupings launch and with their name still to be confirmed, Fraser called on 'brothers and sisters' from within the UK to come together in pursuit of reform of built environment and welfare policy.

The statement in full:

There’s a case to be made for the Union, based on a history of joint commercial endeavour and the shared fight for social justice.  But it’s been hard for the British Establishment to make as both have been traduced by its shared, neoliberal ideology.

So the Establishment’s business leaders and politicians – those who have unpicked civil society, supplanted our manufacturing base with financial services and crashed our economy (and I should note the role the London Labour Scots have played in this) – and the media who serve them unleashed, instead, Project Fear, a sewer of fear-mongering and intimidation:  see, for instance, the over 65s shamefully convinced they would lose their pensions (and whose vote then swung it – those under 65 voted Yes), the fantastical nonsense in these pages about “economic limbo” and the Establishment’s certainty that we would wither, rot and crumble without their patronage.

And when that didn’t work well enough – when support for Yes doubled during the campaign, from a starting 25% to 50% – out came Devo Panic, a Brown fag-packet that will give Scotland the power to raise taxes to pay for fighting poverty but not reduce them by opting out of Trident and illegal warmongering, nor use our oil wealth to tackle them or reduce the deficit, maintaining its flow South, to bail-out the Banks’ incompetence, dodgy-ness and criminality and maintain their benefit-scrounging bonuses.

But we’re calm.  None of this changes the fact that we have a wealthy, diversified economy, based on old and new energy, food and drink and tourism and culture.  (London, with its terrifying obsession with financial services that can relocate tomorrow or implode when the next bubble bursts, needs us;  while we would be safer apart.)  And that it is the settled will of the nation to reduce the disgraceful levels of poverty and inequality in our corner of British society.

And none of this changes the fact that small, developed nations, with the benefit of simply-defined boundaries (no bureaucratic devo-muddle and Houses of Lords and Commons), that they then, in this inter-dependent world, connect across, tend to be both wealthier and better able to fight inequality.  And that while the Union has been good for all of us it has ceased to be so, maybe forty years ago, and history will see the Referendum of 2014 as part of the final unravelling of Empire.

Our “Architects for Yes” group agreed on all this, and started a conversation about how a new Scotland with full powers could re-energise its built environment, putting a socially-responsible architecture at its heart.  Like all the myriad, beautiful “Youth, Women, Scots-Asian, Scots-English etc etc etc for Yes” group, that have lit-up this movement for change, we were no SNP supplicants.  The SNP has not been immune to the British neoliberal project and their built environment policies are often particularly bad, with public projects under the “Hub” system hived-off to massive construction conglomerates given 20 year monopolies, and procurement a special brand of hell.

So it’s been sweet and healing to have been approached, post-Referendum, by architects who voted No – for the noble reasons in my opening sentence – but who now, at this fertile moment, want to join with us to press for the sort of future we have outlined, that the RIAS and RIBA, as professional bodies, are not always able to.

We’re going to launch a follow-up, as soon as we can, with a brief, concise manifesto (name as yet unclear – seems “Architects for Change” is bagged).  We hope that Yes and No will join us in Scotland;  but we recognise that as powers and policies remain in Westminster, so we will welcome engagement with, and membership from, our brothers and sisters in the rest of Britain.  All of us first.


New-New-relatively-New labour
#1 Posted by New-New-relatively-New labour on 22 Sep 2014 at 20:09 PM
Red #architories reform
Ian Nairn Jr
#2 Posted by Ian Nairn Jr on 22 Sep 2014 at 20:54 PM
Stirring, headline-grabbing stuff indeed. But, what exactly, are 'Architects for Change' hoping to Change if it's no longer an SNP/independence club? And how do we go about it?

I hope there will be more to it than architects moaning about their lot, which, let's face it, is nothing new.
Neil C
#3 Posted by Neil C on 23 Sep 2014 at 10:30 AM
We (as a profession, and as a nation) should be coming together and setting aside our differences, in an attempt to heal the wounds that a three-year referendum campaign has wrought on us all. What Malcolm Fraser is doing instead is trying to belatedly score a few points against "Project Fear, a sewer of fear-mongering and intimidation." The second paragraph of his statement is as spiteful and myopic as anything I read during the actual campaign, from either side.

Is this really what Scotland needs right now?
Neil Ireland
#4 Posted by Neil Ireland on 23 Sep 2014 at 10:41 AM
I am an admirer of Mr Fraser's architecture - and never normally contribute to forums - but as a marketer/researcher, I think debate should be based on an accurate picture. "Those under 65 voted YES" is innacurate. The only post referendum poll showed over 55's also voted NO by a considerable margin, as did 18-24's by a small margin. The margins of YES lead for 35-44 and 44-55 were also small. 16-17s (14 respondents so high margin of error higher) and 25-34's had a significant margin in favour of YES. I'm not expressing any views beyond that.
Roger C
#5 Posted by Roger C on 23 Sep 2014 at 11:27 AM
We should all stop using terms such as Yes Voters or No Voters and get on with the case in hand

If Malcolm’s intentions were indeed truly honourable then he should not be using inflammatory terminology either

It does neither him or the case any favours
Neil Ireland
#6 Posted by Neil Ireland on 23 Sep 2014 at 11:37 AM
Apologies. I should have been a little clearer in stating ages and margins. 16-17 was 10 respondents to 4 in favour of YES but as stated, these numbers create a v v big error margin. The bigger splits were....18-24 (52:48 NO)....25-34 (59:41 YES)....35-44 (53:47 YES), 45-54 (52:48 YES)....55-64 (57:43 NO) and 65+ (73:27 NO). For those who are interested, the survey showed that all social grade/gender splits voted NO other than C2 males. IMHO the social grade groupings are a bit broad brush to provide much insight. They are mainly in there to ensure Pollsters can do their weighting adjustments. The poll showed 54.6% NO so slightly underweights the actual result of 55.3% but is close enough to the actual result to give confidence it is pretty accurate.
#7 Posted by adi-guru on 23 Sep 2014 at 12:10 PM
A statement re-iterating the Yes campaign assertions and scaremongering about the scaremongering is hardly the way to reach out to No voters. We had the referendum, we know the result. What happens next is what is important. If there has ever been a moment in our lifetime where your voice might be heard it is now. The vote was not just about independence, it was also about democracy. There is almost universal agreement that Westminster and Whitehall act primarily in their own interests and the interests of the eilte. This is what we must change and the pro-independence movement needs to adjust course slightly to be a pro-democracy movement. What constitutional reform do you want? Should we also have Proportional Representation in UK elections? Should we have elements of Direct Democracy within our Representative Democracy so if enough of us feel something should be addressed we can vote on it and not just let Westminster decide on our behalf. Big issues that came about in the Referendum were things like profitable parts of the NHS being outsourced to private companies whose shareholders are donors to the political parties. Ultimately the NHS will become unprofitable and fail whilst the wealthy get richer. Why do we not have the ability have our say on the future of the NHS? Why do we not have direct democracy to force a referendum on the issue. One things we learned from the Indendence debate was that referendums are good. It has re-invigorated political debate and we had the opportunity to have our say. If we are allowed to have our voice I think we would be able to create the better and more fair society we want to live in.
Stuart Graham
#8 Posted by Stuart Graham on 23 Sep 2014 at 12:44 PM
Coming together and setting aside differences all sounds very noble but what it could easily amount to is those on a certain side of the argument trying to put the genie back in the bottle and stifle further debate.Yes was a vehicle to social change for many of us but despite that issue being 'settled' the symptoms we were seeking to cure are still there. It is entirely justifiable to be an architect and to be political and i am glad to see an engagement with broader social issues from within the profession.
Stevie Steve
#9 Posted by Stevie Steve on 23 Sep 2014 at 14:00 PM
Keep us updated Malcolm! Sounds like a good idea. As long as its kept as political neutral and purely a common sense, objectively thinking and progressive group, I'm game.
Walt Disney
#10 Posted by Walt Disney on 23 Sep 2014 at 15:02 PM
And this has exactly what to do with architecture? I honestly cannot think of a single architect from the last 200 years who has had even the tiniest influence on the social, political or economic landscape of the world. We design buildings where these things happen. Stick to thinking about light, space and keeping the water out Malky and leave the politics to the professionals.

Big Chantelle
#11 Posted by Big Chantelle on 23 Sep 2014 at 16:12 PM
@Walt Disney post #10

Architecture takes place within the construct of our society which only a fool would deny isn't influenced and/or controlled by politics.

There's your answer hun.
Ian Nairn Jr
#12 Posted by Ian Nairn Jr on 23 Sep 2014 at 18:55 PM
#10 I think Walt was making the point that an architect had never influenced the political landscape, not the other way around.

#3 & #5 are spot on. far from 'reaching out', MF has simply released a statement bashing those whose political views differ from his own. Not cool.
Scottish Architect - NO voter
#13 Posted by Scottish Architect - NO voter on 24 Sep 2014 at 07:48 AM
reaching out? The first third of this is vitriolic bile! oh, and only yes voters are 'beautiful' Stirring stuff, indeed
#14 Posted by Billiam on 24 Sep 2014 at 10:18 AM
Reaching out ?

Sounds more like the ramblings of a goggle eyed individual who is struggling to accept the facts.
Walt Disney
#15 Posted by Walt Disney on 24 Sep 2014 at 10:55 AM
Well spotted Ian. Architects are influenced by politics and economics, not the other way round. I also totally agree that this isn't an olive branch but chucking another sour grapes grenade at No voters.

And to contradict myself, I've just thought of an architect who was hugely influencial in politics and economics: Albert Speer, but lets face it, he's not what you'd call role model?
Malcolm Fraser
#16 Posted by Malcolm Fraser on 25 Sep 2014 at 08:34 AM
Yes, I should have said something like “.. and the over-65s vote was instrumental in swinging it” – apologies for that; yes, I’m still angry; yes, I think we all have a right to be angry with the political culture that, in particular, impacts on us as architects; yes, I think that we have a duty to try and change things for the better. All the best to all of you and I hope you will see virtue in the manifesto we publish, Malcolm
#17 Posted by Robert on 25 Sep 2014 at 10:57 AM
In fairness only 1 of the reperesentitive age group catogories was a yes majority

All the remaining catogories voted No in the majority

To say it’s the fault of the 65+ age group is not true
Cor blimey
#18 Posted by Cor blimey on 25 Sep 2014 at 13:45 PM
#16 Malcolm - with respect, you are completely missing the point here. The constructive points that you are trying to make are lost in the midst of a bitter tirade. You really aren't doing your cause any good you know.

#17 Robert - by all acounts, that was an incredibly poor poll that you are quoting. 14 (the number, not a percentage) of 16 and 17 year olds were included in the survey. Hardly representative.
Matthew Ansell
#19 Posted by Matthew Ansell on 25 Sep 2014 at 13:47 PM
Mmm, count me out Malcolm. The somewhat embittered rhetoric and continual reference to the 'The Establishment' is hardly a positive or constructive starting point for collective, effective and politically unbiased action.

Big Chantelle
#20 Posted by Big Chantelle on 25 Sep 2014 at 14:07 PM
Well done to Malcolm Fraser for standing up to the London Centric establishment.

And what's with all these liberal types here claiming to be disgusted by the "embittered" rhetoric. Head.Buried.In.Sand.

There can't be "collective, effective and politically unbiased action" Mr Matthew Ansell. I know you think that sounds very intelligent and liberal and enlightened but the UK is comprised of different people from different backgrounds with different views -- 85% of whom are not Scottish but get to impose their political will onto us. Scotland comprises merely 8.4% of the population. It gets lumbered with UK governments against our electorates' will on a profoundly common basis. Independence meant real change. It meant we in Scotland would create mold and shape our own nation instead of having it molded in the image of what the Government in London wants.

How's all this "collective" working together with everyone (even those who openly hate yer guts) working out for ya people? Your life a magnificent success?
Matthew Ansell
#21 Posted by Matthew Ansell on 25 Sep 2014 at 16:08 PM
Crikey Big Chantelle, you really are bitter and twisted. I aint ‘disgusted’ just rather put off and won’t support it.

Normally, when you spout out your continuous bile on this forum I ignore it, as do most. I think you have got my heckles up for suggesting I am liberal… and intelligent!

To be fair to Malcolm, he does put himself out there and certainly doesn't hide under any pseudonyms., unlike some. What is it they call such people…trolls?
Collective working panning out rather well thanks, you should try it sometime.
Mr Matthew Ansell
A. Dunflop
#22 Posted by A. Dunflop on 25 Sep 2014 at 18:43 PM
I wonder who Big Chantelle really is ?
Walt Disney
#23 Posted by Walt Disney on 3 Oct 2014 at 14:03 PM
Got to say Big Chantelle, things are going pretty well for me. My construction sector in booming, I'm recruiting architects and engineers, my company treats me very well, I have a nice house in a nice town, my kids are at a fantastic school, holidays in the far east this summer and looking forward to skiing at Christmas. What's not to like?
David Wilson
#24 Posted by David Wilson on 19 Oct 2014 at 20:58 PM

Your whole post I agree with.

However, you seem to have, unfortunately, forgotten about the 2011 AV vote.

The first democratic referendum in UK history to change the internal political systems of Westminster were thrashed.

On a pitiful 40% turnout, 70% said No to electoral reform.

Westminster will never have to make such an offer again, the people have spoken.

We said No to proportional representation, to reform of the House of Lords and to regional assemblies. The offer on the table was rubbish (being championed by the Lib-Dems didn't help) but it was a critical first step in change. The UK public didn't see it like that unfortunately.

So long live FPTP, elitism, un-elected clergy passing legislature (the only other country in the world to have this situation is Iran), Immigrant bashing, EU hating, poverty enforcing right wing parties.

This is what we voted for, it's what we're getting.

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