Sunday, 31 May 2015

Couldn't organise a piss-up...

Yesterday we hear that a member of the Labour Party has had their membership revoked for saying on social media that they were going to vote for the Scottish Nationalist Party (whoever they are).  The letter emanated from one Jane Shaw, who is apparently a Compliance Officer for UK Labour, since the address on the letter is in London.  Like many people I was unaware that Labour had such a thing as a Compliance Officer, which sounds pretty scary.  No wonder Labour seem to be quite in favour of the surveillance society, if this is how they treat their members.

Given the current dire straits that Labour find themselves in in Scotland, sacking a member for saying they were voting for another party seems to be quite the wrong approach.  Surely it would have been better to have a meeting with the member in question, to ask them why they weren't going to be voting for the party of which they were a member? 

Then there is the matter of the tactical voting campaigns in the recent General Election, where Labour members were encouraging members to vote for other parties in some constituencies if the other party in question was deemed to have a better chance of winning against the SNP.  Indeed in at least one constituency (Perth I'm told) there were even some Labour members helping out with canvassing for the Tory candidate.  No doubt there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why these people are not being expelled, possibly because to do so would be to reduce the small numbers of Labour members in Scotland even further.

On a completely different note, Neil Findlay has been on the attack against Angela Constance, demanding to know why she has done nothing about the crisis in teacher numbers in West Lothian, her own constituency.  Now there are issues within the education system in Scotland, and Ms Constance is the Education Secretary within the Scottish government.  Something will need to be done about this.  However, with regard to the teacher numbers in West Lothian, this comes under the control of West Lothian Council, who set the budgets fo education in the country. And what Mr Findlay fails to mention is that West Lothian Council is run by...Labour.  D'oh!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

They can what?

Today the Scotland Act was introduced to Parliament, ready to wend its way through debates in the Commons and the Lords before passing into law.  And some in Whitehall have just noticed a provision tucked away in the labyrinthine document that has caused them some alarm.

Currently the devolved parliament in Scotland and Westminster follow something called the Sewell Convention.  This means that, when seeking to introduce legislation on reserved matters that would affect Scotland, Westminster seeks the consent of the Scottish government in Holyrood.  The Scotland Act proposes that this convention should be given the force of law.  If this is passed, this could well mean that the Scottish government will have an effective veto over legislation such as the abolition of the Human Rights Act.  It would also mean that the House of Lords could no longer remove powers from Holyrood without so much as a by-your-leave.

Naturally this has caused consternation amongst some of the Tories, who don't like the idea of Scotland having any power at all over Westminster, let alone the power of veto.  I'd guess that David Cameron will be less worried about this, since it gives him an excuse for not meeting this manifesto pledge - 'sorry, chaps, damned Scotch won't let me'.  However, this could be a very powerful weapon in the arsenal of the Scottish government.

For that reason, I suspect that this particular proposal will be amended, possibly out of existence, during its passage through the two chambers at Westminster.  The SNP will, of course, fight against it, but it may well be that the Unionist parties will force it through.  And won't that do wonders for the relationship between the Scots and the English.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Excuses, excuses

Today Alistair Carmichael was interviewed on Radio Orkney, where the topic of the interview was, naturally enough, the stooshie over the leaked 'Frenchgate' memo.  In it we discovered that Mr Carmichael has moved on from saying he made an error of judgement in releasing the memo when it was brought to his attention and he is now saying that he did not lie when he said he hadn't seen the memo as he first saw the text of it when it was published in The Telegraph.  Apparently we are to believe that Mr Carmichael, on being told about the memo, did not bother to read it for himself but authorised it being leaked sight-unseen.

I'm not sure how Mr Carmichael thinks this makes thing any better for him.  After all, the word 'memo' generally refers to a short document, maybe a couple of pages at most.  Is he saying that he didn't have time to read it?  Even if he wasn't at the same location as his spad, surely it could have been faxed or e-mailed to him for perusal prior to him authorising the leak.  Whatever the explanation, one has to wonder just how thoroughly Mr Carmichael was doing his job as Scottish Secretary.

 Sometimes in a long-running TV series there will come an episode which appears to contradict the storyline as it has thus far developed.  When this happens, fans will come up with an explanation that allows both the existing story universe and the events of that episode to be true.  It's a form of revers-engineering if you will.  The term used on the internet for this is 'fanwank', and I think that's pretty much what we're dealing with here.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Sorry kthxbai

Yesterday Alistair Carmichael admitted responsibility for leaking the memo which falsely said that Nicola Sturgeon had told the French Ambassador during a meeting that she wanted David Cameron to remain as Prime Minister after the recent election, a claim strongly denied by both Ms Sturgeon and the French Ambassador and her staff.  The investigation took from March until now and cost £1.4 million.

Mr Carmichael has apologised to Ms Sturgeon and has also said he will forgo his severance pay as a cabinet minister, a total of £16,876,  He seems to think that this is sufficient to draw a line under the matter and that everyone should just move on.

I am reminded of MPs who were caught out fiddling their expenses, who seemed to think that, as long as they paid the money back, everything was fine and they couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.  In both cases the individuals in question seem to have no moral sense that they have done something wrong, and that all they are really sorry for is that they have been caught.

The other question is why did the investigation take so long and why did it cost so much?  As far as I can gather, it was quickly established that the mobile used to contact the Telegraph with the story belonged to Euan Roddin, Mr Carmichael's special adviser.  From there is hardly required the services of Miss Marple to work out who had authorised the 'leak', especially since it appears that Mr Carmichael rolled over almost immediately.

The one honourable thing that Mr Carmichael has done is that he has not thrown Mr Roddin under the bus for this.  Nevertheless, I would think that the people of Orkney and Shetland might be asking themselves if a self-confessed liar and waster of public funds is really the best person to represent them at Westminster.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Oh yes she will

So, after a few days of dithering, Kezia Dugdale has announced she will stand for the post of leader of the Labour party in Scotland.  There's an interesting comparison with UK Labour there.  Following their general election defeat, Ed Miliband stood down as leader of the Labour party and deputy leader Harriet Harman will also be stepping down once a new leader has been elected.  Ms Dugdale, however, appears to have escaped any responsibility for Labour's catastrophe in Scotland.

Ms Dugdale says
This is a moment when Scottish Labour must and will change. It’s time for a new generation with a vision for the future of Scotland.
Well that's new and fresh...oh wait, no it isn't.  Every time Labour in Scotland have suffered a defeat from 2007 onwards we've heard the same old story, and we're still waiting for them to change.  Just as well we're not holding our breath.

 She goes on:
I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge Scottish Labour faces. But we’ve been the insurgent force before, pushing back against the political establishment and winning great victories and profound social change. We will be that force again. Our values are what we will carry forward with us – all the rest is baggage.
It's been a very long time since Labour has pushed back against the Establishment or indeed enacted profound social change.  At least 50 years I'd say.  A bigger problem with the statement is Ms Dugdale herself.  If asked, I doubt I could name one policy that Ms Dugdale espouses nor any grand political idea.  I may be doing her a great disservice here, and she hides her light under a bushel, but I can't recall any barnstorming speeches or fresh, original policy ideas by her.  Indeed, her whole approach appears to be 'SNP Bad!' - criticising anything that the SNP does, but not suggesting any alternatives or solutions.

Ms Dugdale currently has one rival for the leadership, one Ken Macintosh.  Mr Macintosh is also a bit of a nonentity as far as the Scottish electorate is concerned.  Again, I couldn't tell you what Mr Macintosh stands for in the way of policies, nor has he ever expressed any sort of alternative vision for Scotland that I know of.  Interestingly, both Ms Dugdale and Mr Macintosh are supporters of Jim Murphy.  Does anyone else detect the cold touch of Mr Murphy's minions about this?

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Choppy waters

It's been a quiet couple of days.  The Labour leadership contests (both of them) proceed at a glacial pace, and in appears that in Scotland no-one really wants the gig, possibly not even Ms Dugdale, who will apparently decide over the next couple of days.  At this rate Jim Murphy will be doing a Farage and will find his resignation not accepted, which will probably be a relief to McTernan and McDougall, who will otherwise be down at the Jobcentre.  That will be a bit of a shock to the system, especially when Mr Osborne gets going with the planned cuts to the welfare budget.

Meanwhile there is a bit of a stooshie around Trident since a naval rating named William McNeilly posted an 18-page document on the internet exposing weaknesses in the UK's nuclear deterrent, specifically around security.  He has been arrested after going AWOL, since he will have broken the law by revealing information protected under the Official Secrets Act.

Essentially it appears that information that is supposed to be secret is easily available to people who should not have access to it, and that security as Faslane is rather lax.  Mr McNeilly, by revealing this, is essentially in the same position as someone who discovers a security glitch on a website.  Such people are quite frequently reported to the authorities by the companies who own the website, which has always seemed to me to be the wrong approach.  Surely the companies in question should be grateful to have such things drawn the their attention?  Similarly surely the MoD should be grateful for the information?  They won't be though.  Embarrassment requires revenge.

Finally there have been some larks down at Westminster over the matter of seating arrangements, with the SNP working in shifts to ensure prime seats in the debating chamber.  Labour in particular were aghast.  Those dreadful SNP types, riding roughshod over the hallowed traditions!  Get used to it.  The SNP will be making themselves heard, and blowing away the cobwebs.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Left, right, left, right...

And so the collapse of the Labour party continues, with the resignation of Jim Murphy, despite the fact that he narrowly won his vote of no confident (by a margin of 55% to 45% - delicious irony there).  However, his resignation will not happen until June, until which time Mr Murphy intends to lay out a strategy to revive Labour's fortunes north of the border.

The first thought that occurs is that his views on a strategy to win back key voters can easily be ignored by the next leader, whoever they are.  After all, Mr Murphy's scattergun approach to strategy during the recent election was hardly what one might call a resounding success.  The second thought that occurs is that it's interesting that he now espouses the 'one member one vote' approach to leadership elections for the future, but was happy with the electoral college approach when it saw him elected as leader.  Clearly he wants revenge on the unions, specifically Len McCluskey and Unite.

Meanwhile, down in London, the Labour party are also looking for a replacement for Ed Miliband, a task that seems as Herculean as the one north of the border according the this article in the Guardian.  There was one paragraph in the article that seemed to me to sum up the problem Labour has:

Last Monday at 6pm, Cruddas and most of the other remaining 231 Labour MPs (26 fewer than a week before) crammed into committee room 14 in the House of Commons to hear Harriet Harman, the acting leader, attempt to lift the depleted, demoralised parliamentary party off the floor. None of them, she said, should waste a second before getting stuck into the Tories again, as they prepared to elect a leader to replace Ed Miliband. They should also tear into what is now the third-largest party at Westminster, the SNP, and “own the House of Commons”.
There we have it.  Labour are still thinking in terms of 'sticking it to the Tories' and 'sticking it to the SNP'  It's all about power, and the electorate are simply a means to this end.  This was their problem during the recent election.  As pointed out in the article, they had no coherent story to sell to the electorate, and it seems that the current Labour leadership has the blinkers on and are in no mood for narratives.

Both north and south of the border there seems to be a dearth of talent to choose from in terms of leadership.  There also appears to be a huge divide between whether the party should move rightwards towards more Blairite policies or leftwards towards the Labour party of old.  The trouble is that Labour south of the border needs to appeal to the voters in the leafy shires who are traditionally in favour of lower taxes and a smaller public sector whereas north of the border the voters want to see more in the way of redistribution and social justice.  I don't think this is a circle that can be squared.  I can see Labour in Scotland breaking away from Labour in the rest of the UK over this.  I can also see Labour dividing into two parties, north of the border at least, to accommodate the two views.

If Labour in Scotland does break away it will contradict one of their stances during the referendum, which was that the Labour party should be a national party representing the workers from all parts of the UK, and that there should be no 'artificial' borders dividing the workers.  Logically that may then lead to the 'new' Labour party in Scotland to consider supporting independence.  Wouldn't that be a turn up for the books?

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Start as you mean to go on

The election was one week ago, and already the SNP and the Scottish Government are making their mark.

The 56 new SNP MPs have arrived at Westminster and are currently undergoing training in the procedures of Westminster, settling into their offices and taking up casework.  There has been some concern expressed that, having become the official third party in the House of Commons, the SNP will simply become absorbed into the machine, as so many others have before them.  Then this happened on Twitter:
The Tory MP giving us an initiation talk says clapping in the chamber is 'deplored'. #SNP members respond by applauding warmly.
Typical wry Scottish humour there.

Next there is the Tory plan to scrap the Human Rights Act, to be replaced with a new Bill of Rights, something which the Scottish government has said it will not consent to. This is significant, as Scottish law must conform to the Human Rights Act which therefore makes it a devolved matter.  Because of this, the Scottish government must be consulted on the changes under the Sewell convention

Then yesterday Nicola Sturgeon made a speech in Holyrood, in which she vowed to protect the vulnerable from Tory cuts, to protect the NHS from further privatisation and to protect the UK's position in Europe, to be done by forming alliances with other like-minded progressive parties and people.

It's said a week is a long time in politics.  Already it seems that a fresh breeze is blowing through UK politics, driving out the old and stale. Let's hope it continues.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Ghost in the party machine

Following the almost total wipeout of Labour in Scotland last Thursday, Mr Murphy continues to cling on to leadership, despite numerous calls from Labour MSPs, several unions and losing MPs for him to resign.  Indeed, an article from the Sunday Herald appears to show that Mr Murphy and his minions, Mr McTernan and Mr McDougall are not well regarded within the Scottish HQ of Labour party.

One thing that has been odd is the almost complete absence of Mr Murphy from the press and TV since the election.  No speeches, no attempts to rally the troops, not even an explanation of why he thinks he should remain as leader.  It's almost as if Messrs McTernan and McDougall have Mr Murphy locked  away in a small room while they frantically try to work out what their next move should be.  Careers are at stake.

There will be a meeting on Saturday at which it is expected there will be a vote of no confidence in Mr Murphy's leadership.  On current evidence I don't think the three Ms will meekly take this.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if Labour in Scotland splits into two parties as a result of this:  one, led by Mr Murphy, which will stay aligned to the UK Labour party as it lurches in the Blairite direction again and another, possibly led by Neil Findlay which will be an attempt to return to old fashioned left-wing Labour party.  The latter would, I think, have the support of the unions.  I'm not sure what support the former would have.

It's all speculation at this stage, but it's certainly helping to keep politics interesting.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Cut and paste

And so Labour begin a period of introspection (possibly involving silverware being deployed), trying to work out why they failed so spectacularly in Scotland and who they should have as a new leader should Mr Murphy be defenestrated (not beyond the bounds of possibility).

Towards the end of the campaign I heard several Labour activists repeating the line that the SNP had simply cut-and-pasted all of their policies from the Labour manifesto.  There were many similarities between the two manifestos, and I wouldn't rule out a certain amount of copying.  However, Labour needs to ask themselves this:  even supposing the SNP had cut-and-pasted their manifesto from Labour's manifesto in its entirety, the voters of Scotland still voted for SNP and not Labour.  Why is that?  This is, I think, the key question that they need to answer, and it may not be an answer they will like.

The fact is that Labour is now seen as being more interested in Westminster than in their constituents.  This is emphasised by another excuse being given by Labour - that the voters didn't listen to them.  Clearly it is news to the current crop of failed Labour candidates that the MP is supposed to listen to their constituents, not the other way around.  During the election campaign Labour were conspicuous by their absence on the ground.  Leaflets were sent out by Royal Mail, but that appears to be the extent of communication with the voters.  I did not see activists going around the doors or street stalls, and there was pretty much no presence at the polling stations.  Compare and contrast with the SNP, who were canvassing, leafleting and running street stalls, as well as having a presence at all polling stations all day on election day.  Is it any wonder that the voters went with the people who were physically there to talk to them?

Next year we have the Scottish general election.  Labour need to up their game considerably if they are to avoid a wipeout then as well.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The ground shifts

And so we have the Tories ruling the UK once more, albeit with a slender majority.  Mr Cameron has been to see the Queen and has given a speech post-visit which contained an interesting sentiment.  In it he said
...we will govern as a party of one nation, one United Kingdom
I'm pretty sure he said, back in September, that we were a family of nations.  Presumably since he got the narrow No vote he wanted, that has been abandoned .  No need to play up to the bloody Jocks now.

His post-election speech continued
And of course it means bringing together the different nations of our United Kingdom. I have always believed in governing with respect. That's why in the last parliament we devolved power to Scotland and Wales - and gave the people of Scotland a referendum on whether to stay inside the UK
 Yes, governing with respect.  This from the man who, in his election campaign,  used Scotland as a threat to frighten people into voting Tory by portraying any deal between Labour and the SNP as a terrifying and sinister thing, whose party approved a poster showing Alex Salmond as a thief stealing money from the back pocket of England and who constantly encouraged the idea that the Scots are subsidised by the English.  We can feel the love from here.  And I particularly liked the 'gave the people of Scotland a referendum' bit.  Politically, Mr Cameron, you had no choice.  We were going to have a referendum anyway, and the only reason you signed the Edinburgh agreement was because you thought a No vote was a shoo-in.

Mr Cameron got his No vote, but he ignored the ominous warning signs when the margin of his victory was far smaller than anticipated.  On Thursday there was an even bigger warning sign when Scotland returned 56 SNP MPs, leaving the mainstream UK political parties with no more than a nominal presence here.  A warning sign that he shows no sign of heeding, with his blithe statement about governing as the party of one nation.

On the subject of referendums he said
And yes, we will deliver that in-out referendum on our future in Europe.
He needs to appease his far right-wingers with this one, as well as try to steal UKIP's thunder.  But this could be another huge political miscalculation.  If the referendum goes ahead and England votes to leave while Scotland votes to stay, the chasm between the two countries will become all but unbridgeable, and, in my view, will make Scottish independence inevitable.

Mr Cameron and his party are feeling pretty pleased with themselves at the moment.  They pulled off a surprise general election victory and no doubt are feeling quite invincible.  But the clock is ticking on the Union and it's getting pretty close to midnight.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Surf's up!

Well that was a wild ride!  I spent election night at an event arranged by our local SNP branch where we watched the election results live, along with drinks and food, until 6am this morning.  The atmosphere was incredible once the results started rolling in. 

If you go to music gigs, you'll know that there's a difference between a good gig and and the more rare awesome gig.  The difference is subtle.  A good gig will see people clapping and cheering and generally having a good time.  An awesome gig will also see this, but there is an added dimension.  A strange alchemy takes place where the emotions of the crowd somehow meld them into one organism.  The quality of the sound of the cheers and celebrations changes.  It's hard to explain if you haven't experienced it, but that was the feeling from last night's event.  It was like surfing on the tsunami that washed over Scotland last night, turning the country SNP yellow.

On a wider scale, Westminster politics will be undergoing some aftershocks of its own.  Three leaders have resigned (Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage), so new leaders will need to be chosen and possibly new directions taken.  However Jim Murphy has said he will not be resigning as leader of Labour in Scotland, and that he intends to rebuild his party in time for next year's Scottish elections.  Ed Miliband has, however, taken responsibility for the Scottish branch's almost total wipeout.  Compare and contrast.

There will no doubt be some that blame the SNP for Labour's defeat in the larger UK.  However, the arithmetic doesn't really stack up.  Even if every Scottish constituency had returned a Labour MP it still wouldn't have been enough to prevent Cameron getting his majority.  Also, analysis shows that the Tories have basically cannibalised the LibDem vote rather than taken seats from Labour.

Mr Cameron's majority is a slender one.  Should he try to pass contentious legislation it would only take a few of his backbenchers to rebel and his motion would be defeated, and he can no longer rely on the LibDems to support him.  There are going to be some interesting times ahead.

Meantime, let's dedicate a song to Labour and the LibDems in Scotland...

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Be a nation again

Last September the Yes vote lost the referendum on Scottish independence.  We lost the vote, but somehow we're not behaving like losers, much to the British Establishment's puzzlement.  We lost the referendum, so everything should be back to the way it was, that comfortable way that things have always been done.  But it's not.  Many column inches have been spent speculating why that is.  We have been told to 'get over it', to accept that we lost.  What's changed?

I think that what's changed is the hearts and minds of most of the people of Scotland.  In our hearts and minds the shift has been made.  We are a sovereign nation again.  Political reality may beg to differ, but there has been a fundamental shift in how the people of Scotland see their country, for both Yes and No voters.  We are thinking about what sort of country we want to be.

We have already shown that we want different things.  We want to be a country where we look after the old and the sick.  We want to be a country where access to education is available to all, regardless of background.  We want our people to be all they can be.  To borrow a phrase, Scotland is another country - we do things differently here.

We do not yet have all the powers we need to make that happen.  We don't have control over our economy.  We don't have the ability to negotiate with the EU and the wider world on our own behalf.  We don't have the ability to to provide for our people who have fallen on hard times.  Westminster retains those powers for itself.

The British Establishment doesn't like what's happening in Scotland.  We have been demonised south of the border, the barbarian hordes at the gatesWe have been portrayed as violent and anti-democraticWe have been portrayed as tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists.  We are continually portrayed as 'too wee, too poor, too stupid' to run our own affairs.

Today we have a chance to make our voice heard at Westminster, by voting for a large pool of SNP MPs to represent our interests.  Let's do this.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Kezia doesn't pull it off

Yesterday Kezia Dugdale gave an embarrassing interview on Good Morning Scotland, where she failed to answer a simple question about which of the six pledges that Ed Miliband intends to have carved into a stone monolith in the rose garden at 10 Downing Street, should he become Prime Minster, was most important to her.  She used the usual politician's trick of answering a completely different question, but the interviewer pressed her on the original question and it was clear that she didn't know what the six pledges on Mr Miliband's biblical tribute act were.

This seems to be a surprising gap in her knowledge.  It is rumoured that the Labour Party in Scotland are holding discussions about splitting away from Labour HQ in London.  However, at present they are still part of the UK Labour party, and it would therefore be expected that, as deputy leader in Scotland, Ms Dugdale would be au fait with the details of the latest pronouncements from Mr Miliband, however outlandish.

It illustrates a general weakness in Ms Dugdale's approach to politics, quite often evidenced at First Minister's Questions at Holyrood.  Whatever her topic, she is quite diligent at researching and learning the facts and figures that make her case.  However, she appears to lack the ability to see the weaknesses.  She doesn't seem to look at her case from an opponent's point of view and therefore be able to anticipate counter-arguments, with the result that she is often left floundering when Nicola Sturgeon comes back with a counter-attack.  A case in point was the FMQs on 23rd April, where her argument about Neil Hay, an SNP candidate, having made some ill-advised tweets some years ago using a Twitter account that was not under his own name was swiftly answered with reference to Ian Smart, a Labour activist and blogger who posts abusive tweets about nationalists under his own name, something which Ms Dugdale, somewhat disingenuously since she follows his Twitter account, claimed to know nothing about and rather weakly said she would look into it.  It was an obvious line of attack from Ms Sturgeon, but clearly not one that Ms Dugdale anticipated.

It is often said that Ms Dugdale is one of the bright new talents of Labour in Scotland.  I'm sure she is a talented young lady, but from her performances in the Scottish Parliament, politics is not really one of them.  As a chess player, she'd be great at Ludo.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Panic on the streets of Glasgow

Today Jim Murphy, with Eddie Izzard in tow, staged a 'rally' at the bottom of Buchanan Street.  There were dramatic photos and video of lots of shouting and jostling, followed by a car speeding away from the scene.  Cue almost instant press stories of 'aggressive and violent Scottish nationalists' and 'absolute chaos on the streets of Glasgow'.

Then, on Twitter, this photograph appeared:

Dear lord, there's an absolute mob out there!

It appears that there were actually about 40 Labour activists present and about 4 shouty protesters, none of which appeared to be SNP members.  Indeed in a video on the Guardian one of the journalists said that the hecklers themselves claimed to be anarchists.

All of this gave me a weird sense of deja vu.  Doesn't it remind you of the infamous egg-throwing incident from the referendum? The incident which was trotted out as proof of intimidation by the Yes side, painting the No side as heroes battling the forces of darkness shortly before the referendum.  And here we are again, the forces of darkness conveniently appear just before the election takes place.

I had thought Labour were out of ideas policy-wise, and now it appears they are out of ideas publicity-wise as well, using the same distraction techniques as they used in the referendum.  No wonder they are in dire trouble north of the border.

(And to the friend of mine who, on seeing a photograph of Mr Murphy and Mr Izzard, said 'Mags Curran's looking tired' - shame on you!  Tea all over the keyboard.)

Friday, 1 May 2015

Fear and loathing

Yesterday at First Minister's Questions Kezia Dugdale yet again raised the topic of a second referendum on independence, as did Willie Rennie.  Specifically, Ms Dugdale was asking Nicola Sturgeon to rule out a second referendum on independence in this generation.  Her entire argument was based on the fact that Nicola Sturgeon had said prior to the last one that this was a once in a generation opportunity.  Now correct me if I'm wrong, but to me that phrase really doesn't say that there can be only one referendum in a generation.  It's simply a way of saying that it's a rare opportunity and therefore not to be missed.

However, given that Nicola Sturgeon has already said that there will not be a second referendum unless (a) something materially changes within the UK, for example England votes to leave the EU and Scotland votes to stay in AND (b) the Scottish people indicate they want another referendum by electing a party that has this policy in their manifesto, it's hard to see what Ms Dugdale is having difficulty with.

It is, of course, the latest wizard wheeze dreamt up by Labour in an attempt to confound the polls and keep their seats in Scotland.  It's a very ill-thought out tactic in my opinion.  For the 45% of people who voted Yes in the last one, the prospect of another referendum really isn't terribly frightening.  Indeed for them it would be welcomed.  Even the 55% who voted No I suspect don't find the prospect of another referendum to be anything more than annoying.  Been there, done that, bought the window stickers.

Labour, however, have everything to fear from another referendum.  Cut off from the gravy train in London and now looking like they might not even be the second biggest party in Holyrood in the next Scottish general election, independence for Labour has taken on a nightmare cast.  Indeed, since yesterday Ed Miliband appeared to throw Labour in Scotland under the bus in electoral terms, things are looking bleak indeed. 

And of course, it must all be blamed on the SNP.  In the bible there is a famous quotation regarding motes and beams.  Perhaps Labour should give it some thought.