Monday, 29 June 2015

Lightning rod

In yesterday's Observer there was an interview with Angus Robertson, SNP leader in the House of Commons, in which he explained how Scotland could well instigate another referendum on independence if David Cameron fails to deliver on further devolution for Scotland.  It was a piece that didn't say anything startling or that hadn't been said before.  Positively unremarkable, in fact.  What was remarkable was the amount of bile, venom and nastiness towards the SNP and the Scots in the comments.

We're getting kind of used to this by now.  We're getting used to the conflation of the SNP with Scotland and the Scots.  We're getting used to the constant denigration, contempt and, in some cases, downright hatred being expressed towards us, all for the heinous crime of suggesting we might want to run our own country.   Most of it is based on proving we are 'too wee, too poor, too stupid' to even think about running a country, so we should just get back in our box.

This started during indyref, but has increased recently, especially after the Tories' General Election campaign, which portrayed the SNP/Scots as the bogeyman, the imminent threat to the British way of life.  It is not discouraged by the government.  Take, for example, the recent bogus story on Scotland no longer paying for the Queen to the tune of £2 million quid.  This was swiftly debunked by Nicola Sturgeon and the Treasury, but Jacob Rees-Mogg was moved to suggest in the House of Commons that SNP MPs should be forced to reaffirm their loyalty to the Queen and the British state as a result of it.

Of course, the story about the evil Nationalists leaving the Queen short of £2 million conveniently drew attention away from the fact that she is in fact getting an increase of £3 million in her allowance this year.  And this is, I think, the whole point.  We in Scotland have been 'othered' and we are now a convenient lightning rod for the Government, something that they can use to deflect attention from the worst of their policies.  Got to implement something unpopular?  Plant a nice story about the nasty SNP/Scots in the mainstream media and get it done while people express their rage against them.

The problem is that this approach simply brings Scottish independence closer.  Sooner or later most Scots will become fed up with being scapegoats.  Indyref2 will happen, and when it does it is far less likely that the Unionist side will win.  The Government, however, pleased to have an easy distraction from opposition to their policies, will carry on in the same vein, employing their usual short-termist thinking. 

So, lightning rod we are for the moment.  But lightning rods imply the presence of storms, and storms can be powerful things that cannot be controlled, something that Westminster might like to bear in mind.  The energy of the storm has to go somewhere, and lightning rods concentrate and direct that energy.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Caught by the listicles

Cybernats everywhere are trembling in their boots this morning.  The Scottish Labour thought police have compiled a 51-page dossier of people who have used the words 'quisling' or 'traitor' or who have used swear words about Scottish Labour party members on Twitter. Trembling with anticipation to see if they have been included on the list.  And, given the dossier lists only 46 people out of the 115,000 SNP members, it's kind of like winning the lottery.  I can almost hear the squeals of excitement amid the much larger sighs of disappointment as people peruse the leaked dossier to see if they're on it.

The dossier itself is a bit of an anti-climax.  On reading the tweets you are left with a feeling of 'is that it?'.  And one has to ask what Scottish Labour hope to achieve by this.  Currently leaderless and without a coherent plan, this is what they choose to spend their time and resources on?

Of course, Scottish Labour internally would never use such language.  Everything in the land of Scottish Labour is all kittens and puppies, rainbows and unicorns.  No-one ever disagrees with anyone else, and there are no divisions, or in-fighting. and no-one on the Unionist side has ever done a similar thing with the SNP as their target.


And what has the reaction on Twitter?  As usual, humour.  The hashtag #ClypeGate is being used to discuss the list, and how appropriate that is.  The list very much has the feel of a schoolchild shouting 'Miss, miss, so-and-so used a bad word!'  There is also a #CybernatAMovieQuote.

The real test of this will be the reaction of the SNP leadership.  Handling this by a draconian crackdown might well see them start to lose members as well has giving the appearance of dancing to Scottish Labour's tune.

The real lesson of this whole affair is that it would appear that, in Scottish Labour's view, free speech is fine, but only if it's not directed at them.  No-one is to be allowed to have an opinion unless it is an approved opinion.  I do believe the world has seem something like this before.  Mr McCarthy would be proud.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Drip, drip, drip

Following on from my previous blog on this subject, we have an interesting little postscript to the thoroughly debunked story of Scotland withholding money from the Queen once the Scottish Government has control of the Crown Estates there.  Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has called for all SNP MPs to be made to reaffirm their loyalty to the Crown.  He made the request to Chris Grayling, the Leader of the Commons, and he said
Following the brouhaha there has been over the Crown Estate, the Scotland Bill and the Sovereign Grant Act, will you make time available for a debate to allow our friends in the Scottish National Party to reaffirm their loyalty to our and their sovereign?
This is just yet another instance of the 'othering' of Scotland that was a large part of the General Election campaign, and shows an increasing portrayal of the Scots as untrustworthy and ungrateful.  They really haven't forgiven us for coming so close to winning the referendum, have they?

The problem with the constant dripping of negative stories about the Scots is that it is not going unnoticed up here, and eventually the people of Scotland will have had enough.  Keep this up and the next referendum will be lost by the Unionists.   So why are they doing it?

Partly it's about fear, as I mentioned previously.  It's the equivalent of expressing contempt for something which has recently terrified you in an attempt to show you're not afraid.  No-one is fooled by this.  I can't help wondering, though, if it's a deliberate provocation of the more intemperate elements of the independence supporters.  Keep it up, and there are some who might well be tempted to take retaliatory action.  And if that happens, military occupation would be considered justifiable by Westminster, on the basis that they are protecting the UK from terrorism. 

Seem unlikely? A bit conspiracy theory gone mad?  Maybe, but it's not beyond the realms of possibility.  That's why we must wait until the time is right for another referendum and ignore the constant drip, drip, drip of poison.  And this time, we will win.

Sticks and stones

This week we have had an extensive piece by Margaret Curran in the Daily Mail on the abuse she has suffered on Twitter, together with a screaming exposé of how some of Nicola Sturgeon's followers are 'vile cybernats'.

Let's get one thing clear.  I don't condone personal attacks on people.  Making nasty comments on someone's appearance is an unpleasant thing to do and completely unnecessary.  It's behaviour that should have been left behind at the primary school stage, and really speaks more to the immaturity of the insulter than anything else.  Similarly calling people 'cunts' is not the way to have a reasoned debate or persuade them of the merits of your point of view.

Having said all that, however, as a politician you can't afford to be thin-skinned.  You have to accept that some people are not going to like your party's policies and are not going to have the verbal tools to debate them with you, so will resort to what they think will hurt you.


It's always Twitter that is singled out as being a venomous bear-pit, and it's worth thinking about why that is.  For the first time the internet has given ordinary people the ability to interact with politicians on a real-time basis.  However, it does this at a remove, so people feel they can say whatever comes into their heads without consequences.  After all, the person isn't standing in front of you, so you can't see the hurt you may be causing, and there's no immediate danger of physical retaliation.

Politicians have got used to being in the Westminster bubble, where the staff are deferential and their opponents by and large respectful.  It must therefore come as a bit of a shock to be exposed to the electorate in the raw, as it were.  Mind you, for any politician who has taken the time to meet their constituents, the language used, the language of the streets, while distasteful, should not be a surprise.  On the streets you don't have formal debates and handshakes afterwards.

Another aspect to this is that the people acting this way on Twitter are pretty much all men.  In my experience men debate differently from women.  They will insult each other, and to the outsider it can sound like fighting talk.  Insults will be traded, all with the aim of winning.  Afterwards, however, the participants will be best of friends.  Women, by contrast, will generally try and come to a consensus, and can find the male debating style intimidating.

In my youth my mother used to tell me 'sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me'.  She also taught me that the best way to deal with insults was to ignore them.  It was sound advice, and I'm quite sure that Ms Curran was given similar advice while growing up.  So why doesn't she follow it?  Because any opportunity for 'SNP Baaaad!' must be seized and given maximum exposure.  After all, what other political party is held to account for the actions of their supporters on the internet?  It's not as if supporters of Scottish independence (note: they're not all SNP members) are the only ones who are nasty on Twitter, but you don't hear the Labour party being held to account for the behaviour of their supporters on the same medium.  Hypocrisy much?

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Whistling past the graveyard

Not content with having attempted to smear the reputation of Nicola Sturgeon with the Frenchgate shenanigans, the Daily Telegraph decided to have another go.  This time we have a report about how Scotland will be depriving the Queen of a cool £2 billion  if and when the Scottish Government takes over management of the Crown Estates.  Showing clearly that they have learned no lessons from Frenchgate, the paper did not bother to check the facts, or it would have discovered that, as the Queen's stipend is a reserved matter and is paid from general taxation, the Scottish government don't have the power to do this even if they wanted to.  Inevitably the whole thing was debunked by the Scottish government and (perhaps surprisingly) by the Treasury in short order, and the palace official who started the whole thing was forced to apologise.

Last week we also had the debate on the Scotland Bill, the legislation that is supposed to implement the recommendations of the Smith Commission, and what a shambles that has turned into.  The very first sentence of the Smith Commission report states that the Scottish Parliament should be made permanent, but an amendment by the SNP which would have required the Scottish people to agree to its abolition via a referendum was voted down by the Tories, so loath are they to give up any control.  Anything deemed 'problematic or controversial' in the Smith Commission report has also been omitted from the Scotland Bill.  We have gone from the fevered promises of the Vow to the watered-down Smith Commission to the positively homeopathic Scotland Bill.

What do these things tell us?  They tell me that the Establishment is very afraid of the Scots.  Sure, they won the referendum, but not by nearly as much of a margin as they had anticipated.  Indeed the Vow itself was the result of a panic in the higher echelons when polls started to show the Yes side in the lead.  Since then we have heard nothing but derision of the SNP and by extension of Scotland and its people.  There is a daily diet of 'SNP accused...' and 'Scottish government forced to deny...'.

It has to be assumed that this constant derision has one aim - to try and put Scotland and the Scots back in their box.  They've reckoned without the thrawn streak in the Scottish character though.  The streak that will make us say 'Is that right?' and 'Oh can't we?'  Meantime it's all just whistling past the graveyard on the part of the Establishment.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

And they're off...

Nominations for the vacant leadership position of Labour in Scotland, with two contenders: Kezia Dugdale (current Deputy Leader and list MSP for the Lothians) and Ken Macintosh (MSP for Eastwood). There are also three contenders for the deputy leadership: Richard Baker (list MSP for the North East), Alex Rowley (MSP for Cowdenbeath) and Gordon Matheson (leader of Glasgow City Council).  And now, of course, they are setting out their cases for being elected prior to the first hustings to be held in Edinburgh on Monday.

Ken Macintosh is a Murphyite who intends to 'change the way the Labour party operates' in order to 'win back voters' trust.'  I recall this very thing being trumpeted by Margaret Curran prior to the recent General Election, and it seems to have become the go-to clarion cry from Labour in Scotland any time they experience a setback.  He also intends to move Labour party HQ from Glasgow to Edinburgh and to have seven regional offices.  Finally he wants to see an autonomous party in Scotland which will still be a member of the UK Labour party.  I have to say that this makes me think of Möbius strips and Escher drawings, but maybe that's just me.

Kezia Dugdale wants to be an anti-establishment leader, and to shake things up.  All very laudable, but it's noticeable that she carefully names the Tory party and the SNP as the 'Establishment' while studiously avoiding any mention of her own party. The interesting thing about this stance is that Ms Dugdale has stated that she doesn't think an independent Scottish Labour party is desirable, but that an autonomous one is.  There's that Möbuis strip again.  Ms Dugdale seems, from her various performances at FMQs, to be pretty conformist in her political views, so I'm not sure just how anti-establishment' she can be, since she pretty much toes the UK party line.


And so we come to the contenders for the deputy leadership.

Richard Baker claims he has more support from parliamentarians than any of the other leadership candidates - that's MPs, MSPs and MEPs.  He does not believe in a separate Scottish Labour party, but since he was a director of 'Better Together' that's not much of a surprise.  He also wants to listen to the members in order to rebuild that party in Scotland (note: not the people of Scotland, the members of the Labour party only).  Should be easy enough - just hire a small hall and you could probably get everyone in.

Gordon Matheson wants to, yes you've guessed it, listen to the people of Scotland.  He thinks that, because he is not an MSP he can bring a new perspective to the deputy's job.  Having said that, if elected he would put himself in top position on the regional list for next year's Scottish General Election, virtually guaranteeing a place in the Scottish Parliament on the basis of the list votes, which kind of undercuts his case.  You can't help feeling that he's anticipating that Labour might not retain control of Glasgow in the 2017 council elections, so he strapping on a parachute now.

Alex Rowley also wants to see an autonomous Labour party in Scotland but again not as a separate entity from the UK Labour party, and wants to listen to the people of Scotland so that change can be exacted to serve their needs.  Honestly, I'm putting myself to sleep just typing this.

It's striking how the same phrases crop up again and again.  'Listen to the people of Scotland/the members.' 'Autonomous within the UK Labour party.'  There appears to be a dearth of original thought amongst them all, which means most likely it will end up being 'business as usual' regardless of who gets the gig.

Meanwhile there is a leadership contest going on at the UK level of the Labour party.  What are their views on an 'autonomous' Scottish Labour party?  Yvette Cooper (aka Mrs Ed Balls) would oppose any move to form a separate Scottish Labour party, as she wants it to be part of a UK Labour party working in unity.  Similarly Andy Burnham, although he says there may be a case to be made for a separate Scottish party, he also wants a single UK Labour party  Liz Kendall shares Ms Cooper's view, while Jeremy Corbyn doesn't appear to have expressed a view as yet.  I think we can make an educated guess as to what that might be however.

This shows that the dearth of original thought extends all  the way through the Labour party, from top to bottom.  It's all about power retained, although lip-service is paid to 'listening to what people want'.  Central control is all.  There's a lesson that the SNP would do well to learn from if they are to avoid falling into the same trap.


Monday, 15 June 2015

Supergodwin!

On internet forums and comments there is a thing called 'Godwin's law', which states that
as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1
You can see this quite often in places like Comment is Free on the Guardian, especially in threads relating to Scottish politics.

Generally speaking it will take a few posts before an instance of Godwin's Law occurs.  Yesterday, however, Dr David Starkey broke the world record by making some observations about the SNP in an interview with the Sunday Times that were themselves an instance of Godwin's Law before we even got as far as the comments.

Dr Starkey is a specialist in constitutional history and is probably best known for his several TV series on the Tudors and his appearances on the BBC's Question Time.  He has a well-known dislike for Scotland and the Scots, having described it as a 'feeble little country' and Robert Burns as 'a deeply boring provincial poet'.  His remarks therefore, while offensive, were not entirely surprising.

Dr Starkey was interviewed by Sky News following publication of the interview, where he was asked whether he was asked whether he was sorry for the offence he caused.  He was not, and went on to compound the offence.

One of his more extreme remarks was
They are nothing compared with the Scottish Nationalist Party, which has seized control of a whole country and is pushing this kind of radical agenda.
Apparently getting 50% of the electorate to vote for you now constitutes 'seizing control' of a country.  Who knew?

When challenged on this he went on to say
Lots of people have voted for very unpleasant leaders, I shan't mention the word Hitler. Democracy doesn't always get it right.
Run that one past me again? 'Democracy doesn't always get it right?'  Isn't that rather an ironic thing to say, and from a constitutional historian too.  Apparently in Dr Starkey's world democracy is only democracy when it accords with his opinion on the 'correct' result.  Well, there's only one way to guarantee that, and that's a dictatorship.  Now if only I could come up with an example...

Friday, 12 June 2015

And he's back...

In today's Guardian Gordon Brown returns with his latest prognostications on the state of the Union.  'The Union is on life-support', he says, blaming the Conservatives for promoting themselves as pretty much the party of English nationalism during the recent election campaign.  The Tories did indeed play this card, and I think he may be right in saying that it will come back to bite them on the arse.

There is the obligatory swipe at the SNP, where their recent electoral success is described as an 'enormity', which is an interesting choice of word, given that it generally has very negative connotations.  He could have chosen the word 'enormousness' instead.  He does, however, optimistically think that this doesn't equate to increasing support for Scottish Independence.  Clearly he hasn't been keeping up with the polls then.  He also hasn't been keeping up with the news, since he claims that the SNP 'have since been relegating fiscal autonomy into some far off future' on the day after it was announced that the SNP MPs would be tabling an amendment to have FFA included in the Scotland Bill currently making its way through Parliament.

Mr Brown claims to be a patriotic Scot, which is a change from claiming to be a 'North Briton'.  It's the first time I've seen the old saying 'patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel' represented in real life.

Anyway, what's Mr Brown's great solution to this issue?  It is
We should state clearly that whatever else any government at Westminster does, it will uphold – and even the most right wing government will be unable to abandon – the principle of equity between the nations and regions, allocating resources on the basis of need, and that it will protect established social and economic rights.
Leaving aside that fact that no government can make a law that can't be repealed by their successors, he has just spent the article telling us how duplicitous the Tories are.  It seems more than a little naive, then, to think that the Tories, should they ever agree to this, would stick to their word.  The events of 19th September should be enough to tell him that.  And it's not just the Tories.  Labour and the LibDems also have a bit of a reputation for breaking their promises.

The general impression given by the article is that Mr Brown is becoming even more out of touch with the realities of politics both in Scotland and the UK, sitting in his ivory tower with his head in the clouds, his opinions becoming ever more idealistic and irrelevant.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Power games

It's been an interesting week for watching politicians playing their power games.

First up we have David Cameron, who has been negotiating for a better deal for the UK within the EU, looking for an opt-out from the planned 'ever-closer co-operation'.  He is confident he can achieve this.  It was reported on Sunday that he had said that any Conservative MP who is a member of the government front bench would be expected to back his position which is that staying in the EU is preferable, and that they would be sacked in they didn't.  However, he now says he was 'misinterpreted', and that he was in fact talking about the current negotiation process and not the referendum itself.  Nothing to do with the rage that greeted his announcement on Sunday then.  It does give an interesting insight into what the limits are on his power in the party though.

Next we have the Labour leadership campaigns, in which all four candidates have ruled out allowing the Labour party in Scotland to have an independent life.  This has more to do with the fact that Labour in the UK has relied on the Scottish seats to win elections in the past I think, than any idea of workers' solidarity.  Kezia Dugdale has also ruled out an independent Scottish Labour party, although she does seem to think that Labour in Scotland can be 'autonomous'.  Not sure how this differs from being independent, but we are in the realms of semantics here.  It would seem that for Ms Dugdale it means being able to do their own thing on devolved matters but toeing the party line on reserved matters.  More semi-autonomous really, but ultimately controlled by London, who will retain the ultimate power.

Finally there is an article in today's National by Ian Murray in which he says
Scottish Labour wants to see job-creating powers devolved not just from Westminster to Holyrood, but to our communities too. That is why we want to see the Work Programme devolved to local authorities as quickly as possible.
There's a nice hidden assumption in there, and that is that Labour think they will hold on to the majority of the councils that they currently hold after the 2017 elections, hence the desire to give more power to the councils.  Now I'm not saying that no power should be devolved to councils, there is a very good case for doing so for some services.  But I would wonder if Labour would be quite so keen if it turned out they weren't in control of many of the councils.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Orange, red, white and blue

Today sees an event taking place in Glasgow's George Square which has been nicknamed 'Orangefest' by supporters of Scottish independence.  It is intended to be a celebration of the culture of the Orange Order in Scotland, although the scale of the event has had to be reduced in view of the high winds and rain which are forecast for today.

A petition to have the event banned has had 30,000 signatures, and the originator of the petition has received various threats which have led to her having to close down her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

While I appreciate the sentiments behind the petition, I think trying to have the event called off is a mistake.  We live in a democracy, and while I disagree with the philosophy of the Orange Order, they have as much right as supporters of independence to express their views and to hold events in George Square.  We who support independence can avoid the event, just as Unionists can avoid our events.

This morning I was reading Derek Bateman's blog in which he republished a comment by one of his contributors who said that
While it is extremely unlikely that any supporter of an independent Scotland will be swayed from their belief by the gathering, marching and proselytising of the Orange Lodge, there is always a chance that a change can occur in even the most fervent unionist.
He then went on to outline his family's story, showing a shift from the Orange background of his parents' generation to the independence-supporting younger generation.  Some of the comments below the article were discussing how their view of the Union flag has changed, and I knew exactly what they meant.

When I was a child I was a member of the Brownies, then the Guides, where allegiance to the Union flag and the Queen was a given.  At that time the Union flag was our flag.  Sure, we knew about the Saltire, but it was a minor thing, of no real importance.

Evidently the indoctrination I was given the the Brownies and Guides didn't take.  Gradually over the years my Scottish identity has become stronger and the Saltire more meaningful.   Since the referendum I find I am seeing the Union flag flying in Scotland an alien thing, something which has an essential 'wrongness' about it.  It brings home to me how the Union now seems to be something which is imposed on Scotland.

I have no doubt that the Union flag will be much in evidence at the'Orangefest' event.  I suspect it will be this, rather than their religious bigotry, which will be seen as provocative.

SNP baaaaad!

This week at First Minister's Questions Kezia Dugdale decided to raise the subject of the decline of Scottish pupils' attainment in foreign languages.  Her question was based on research done by Dr James Scott of Strathclyde University  This showed a decline in the number of pupils gaining a Standard Grade pass in French or German, down from ~40,000 in 1996 to below 20,000 in 2014.  This was portrayed, as usual, as a crisis which was all the fault of the SNP government at Holyrood.

The first thing that occurs is to wonder how pupil numbers have trended over a similar period.  I managed to find this graph, which shows a gradual decline in pupil numbers since 2000.  However, this doesn't look like the whole explanation, as the decline is not quite so precipitous as that for language qualifications.  There is another explanation though, as outlined by the BBC:
But there is an important - and vital - explanation which puts the significant drop in 2014 into context, if not the long term decline - the replacement of Standard Grades with the new National qualifications.
Students studied for their Standard Grades over third and fourth year. Most students studied seven subjects, sometimes more.
The National 4s and 5s are taken in fourth year and the courses only last a year. The number of subjects being studied varies from school to school but it is not uncommon to only study six subjects to qualification level.
Inevitably, this means there has been a drop in the numbers taking a qualification in many subjects.
So a little bit of research shows us that, while certainly an issue, the decline in pupils gaining a language qualification is by no means the crisis that Ms Dugdale claims.  Indeed one of the teachers' unions has said as much.

 This is yet another instance of SNP bashing by Labour, a popular pastime that extended this week to blaming them for the sad and untimely death of Charles Kennedy.  Many people took to Twitter to excoriate the SNP for having the temerity to contest his seat in the General Election and win.  To them it was self-evident that the cause of his death must have been related to this.  Well, as we now know, his death was actually related to his alcoholism and had nothing to do with his General Election defeat.  Will these same people apologise for their Tweets?  Will they hell.

And so it goes on and on and on, the relentless negativity about the SNP from Labour, the LibDems, the Conservatives.  Everything is the SNP's fault, what are they going to do about it?  Never a positive solution in sight, just criticism.  Is this really what our politics has descended to?  No robust debates, just relentless blame.  The opposition really are going to have to up their game if we are to have politics worthy of the name.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Nice and safe

After the untimely death of Charles Kennedy, Alastair Campbell wrote a very nice piece in the Guardian about a man he considered s friend, despite their political differences.  In it there is the following sentence:
Even though we knew it was a lost cause, and that Charles would be a Liberal all his life, Philip Gould and I did have an annual dinner time bash at trying to persuade him that deep down he was Labour, and now you have a son at school in London, how about we get you a nice safe Labour seat?
'A nice, safe Labour seat'.  There, in a nutshell, is the heart of the dilemma facing the Labour party today, especially in Scotland.  A safe seat is one where the party in question can rely on the electorate in that area voting consistently for their party.  Until a few weeks ago, Labour considered just about every constituency in Scotland as a 'safe seat', hence their total shock at their losses on May 7th.  How has this come about?  What's changed?

The referendum for one thing.  As I've said before, during the referendum people got used to hearing arguments from both the independence supporters and the Unionists and making up their own minds about where they stood on the matter.  Another thing might well be changes to the education system.  It's now considered more important to teach children to question authority and to seek out information for themselves, which they do with remarkable facility using the Internet.  Perhaps this has had some side-effects not anticipated by the politicians - the law of unintended consequences.  The recent scandals over MPs expenses, leaks of memos known to be untrue and court cases regarding drunken assaults have knocked politicians off the pedestals they once occupied as people to be looked up to.  Now the are seen as no better than the rest of us, and whatever they say is no longer taken as inherently correct because they said it.

Today we hear that Yvette Cooper, one of the candidates to lead UK Labour, is coming to Scotland to try to persuade former Labour voters in Glasgow to return to the party (which will not be helped by the compliance officer expelling people from the party for the crime of expressing support for the SNP on social media), while Kezia Dugdale seems to be on the point of a Damascene conversion on the importance of Holyrood to Scottish politics and the need for it to have more powers.

These changes in voter behaviour have been seen most obviously in Scotland recently, but there are signs that changes are happening in the UK as a whole.  Labour are beginning to see a decline in support in northern England as well.  Even the Tories would do well to revisit the idea of 'safe seats'.  The old hegemony of the two-party state is beginning to crumble, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.