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Showing posts with label Ed Miliband. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ed Miliband. Show all posts

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom–Ed or David?

Important message on the continuity of the State during a political hiatus made here. (The role of the State as opposed to the Government is not well understood by the electorate).

But the real insight into the mindset of the bewildered British Establishment comes from The Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield, distinguished historian, not a typical member of the British Establishment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Hennessy but assimilated effortlessly by it.

"Specifically, the northerly wind coming from Scotland .. we haven't really caught up with the way that that northerly wind is the weather maker ... It could produce a lot of resentment on the part of the English, who would feel that we are 80% of the country, we have 80% of the economic activity and we have this endless drizzle of complaint from north of the Cheviots."

Although Lord Hennessy puts these words in the mouths of the English electorate, he chose them. One gets the feeling he stopped just short of saying "north of Hadrian's Wall" and that his choice of words, "drizzle of complaint" etc. reflects his view and those of his class.

In response to Marr saying that either Ed Miliband or David Cameron could be the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, he responds

"I find that very difficult to contemplate - but you could be right."

He's astonished that "this most stable of political societies - where you have the occasional domestic row, really -  where liberal capitalism jostled with social democracy as the basis of the electoral contest - would be so complicated that we'd even be contemplating the last Prime Minister of the UK. What have we done to ourselves?"

Lord Hennessy demonstrated by his utter insular bewilderment the dictum, often quoted by Sir Tom Devine, another distinguished historian, that a historian's province is the past, not the present or the future, and that his insular southern bubble view of this disunited kingdom is badly out of date, and has been for a very long time indeed.

Friday, 1 May 2015

SNP 2016 manifesto and a second referendum – that is the question

It’s not on SNP’s agenda, it’s not on Nicola’s agenda, but it’s sure as hell is on the general election debate agenda, because the three main UK party leaders put it there. By using the question of a second Scottish independence referendum as an expedient political football, they have managed to score three own goals -

1. They’ve triggered a UK-wide debate on the independence question, a question that was at best dormant as Scots focused on trying to make UK democracy work for them after the Nationalists after lost the 2014 referendum.

2. They’ve effectively questioned the democratic right of Scots to vote for the party of their choice in a UK election.

3. They’ve catalysed English nationalism, and highlighted the political differences between Scotland and England at the very time they should have been emphasising what unites them.

The 2014 Referendum

The SNP, while reiterating its over-arching objective of independence for Scotland, did not commit to a referendum in its 2007 manifesto. During the four year life of that minority government, despite repeated “bring it on” challenges from Wendy Alexander, Alex Salmond did not set a date for a referendum or call for one, concentrating instead on the high-wire act of running the country as a minority government.

But as the 2011 Holyrood election approached, the strategy changed, and the manifesto included this explicit commitment, if elected, to a referendum bill during the lifetime of the 2011-2016 Parliament, later specified as in the second half of the term.

Ref2011Manifesto

Now, what determined this decision in go for it? Was it a great, popular demand from Scots for a second referendum? Was it a landslide victory in 2007 conferring legitimacy? Was it the outcome of a consultation exercise with the Scottish electorate?

None of these things.  There was no YES campaign, no dynamic grassroots organisation of activists as yet. The 2007 win was narrow, and had shown the possibility of a nationalist government, a giant step in itself, but not a mandate for independence. The national conversation and consultation was in the future, and the great debate on the second question had yet to come. The will of the Scottish people, now much in the mouths of politicians, was anything but clear.

So the decision to go to the electorate with an explicit manifesto commitment to calling an independence referendum if elected was not driven by “the will of the Scottish people” but by a brave political calculation allied to a wish to make it clear to Scots that, if they voted SNP again. they were voting for a government  that was committed to offering them a legal referendum and a democratic choice over Scotland’s future somewhere around late 2013 to mid-2014. (In the event it was September 2014.)

The landslide victory of 2011 on this manifesto could not be interpreted as a mandate for independence, but it undoubtedly was a mandate to offer the people a democratic choice.

On the face of it, therefore, a similar political calculation could be made in drawing up the 2016 manifesto, with considerably more justification – a huge membership, a powerful grassroots organisation and possibly an unprecedented number of MPs elected to Westminster, an outcome that for years unionists repeatedly accepted would be a definitive expression of the will of the Scottish people because they thought it would never happen.

But Nicola Sturgeon, the most powerful and charismatic popular leader the SNP has ever had, now a national and international political figure, backed by a huge party membership, clearly has no such intent – and explicitly rejects the argument that a large bloc of SNP MPs returned to Westminster on May 8th would constitute an argument for independence or a mandate for a second referendum.

Why is this formidable and popular Nationalist politician adopting such a stance?

The answer lies squarely in the fact that there was a referendum in 2014 and we lost it. The Scottish electorate democratically rejected independence, and crying “We wuz robbed!” doesn’t alter that fact.

Nicola believed in 2014, Alex Salmond believed in 2014, (I believed in 2014!) most independence supporters believed in 2014 and most anti-independence supporters believed in 2014 that this was it – our one big chance for, if not a generation, for a helluva long time.

She recognises that, while nationalists feel a great sense of betrayal over the outcome of the referendum, given the sordid way in which the UK Government, the unionist media and Better Together conducted themselves during the campaign, Scots who voted for the Union – a majority – would feel a great sense of betrayal if they were asked to vote again on the question.

In that context, and the context that the independence movement has achieved more since losing the referendum than they did before it, I think Nicola and the SNP strategists have judged that the gradualism of the movement towards greater self-determination for Scotland is a safer bet than another throw of the dice.

Is she right? Are they right?

My answer is probably yes – and I trust her judgement absolutely over my own limited perspective as a voter.

But – and it’s a big but – I’m not sure that position can hold in the face of events changing at exponential speed: politicians do not control events – they respond dynamically to them.

Let’s get this election over, evaluate the outcome and the UK parties responses to it. Let’s give it a chance to work. Big things are at stake, big immediate issues, Trident renewal, austerity, the desperate need for investment to kick start the economy.

It’s a long, long way from May 2015 to May 2016. We have time on our side, and Nicola on our side. Let her play the ball – she has done it superbly so far, and her best days have still to come.

Vote SNP and put your faith in our party leader and Scotland’s First Minister to do the right thing –because doing the right thing is always the right thing to do!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Nicola – fearlessly abseiling down the rock faces of the Union …

I have seen and heard many political performances in my life, from the 1945 general election through to April 2015, including some great ones, but I have never witnessed a flawless one – until yesterday at the Edinburgh International Climbing Centre.

The contrast between Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party and the confused, panic-stricken, contradictory, fact-free, humanity-free utterances of Tory, LibDem, UKIP and Scottish Labour politicians could not have been more starkly evident. Her calm, informed, gently humorous and profoundly human outline of the SNP manifesto and her responses to a wide range of media question could not be really be described as a performance – it was a direct expression of core values, coming straight from an intelligent Scottish heart.

This was not a contrived media persona, but the true face of a warm, vanity-free Scottish woman who patently has no fondness for the limelight or political celebrity, but who endures both as a necessary part of realising the hopes and dreams of Scots, of all ethnic origins and backgrounds who have placed their trust in her and the party she leads. Indeed, it is a trust that now extends beyond Scotland …

Gaun yersel, Nicola!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Wedding of the Year - the impending nuptials of Ed Miliband and the SNP

The National gets better by the day: in today’s edition, it excelled itself.

From its eye-catching, ‘Russian Roulette’ front cover through its news items to its articles, analysis and readers’ letters, it provided a wealth of information on key topics for committed supporters of Scotland’s independence – and hopefully many others as yet uncommitted – that helps to make them the driving force in the best informed electorate in the world, despite the efforts of the rest of the mainstream media to misinform and mislead them.

And of course, there’s the regular Monday delight – the Greg Moodie cartoon, in my view one his very best to date. (My cartoon consumption goes back to the 1940s and includes the American funnies, sent to me by relatives in the U.S., and I was viewing the great newspaper political cartoonists from early childhood.) This one had a real story to tell, with the word balloons driving the riveting, graphic wedding narrative – the impending nuptials of Ed and the SNP.

The second part of Alasdair Gray’s series, titled Towards Democracy contained - among his musings on explosions in munitions depots  and the nuclear risk, the following gem -

Everyone wants to live as far from such things as possible, so the London Government has placed the most dangerous in Scotland.”

He also observes that “British and North American armed forces have been bombing and blighting foreigners in wars where a minority of British and U.S.A soldiers died, and this caused no explosions in their homelands before a suicidal guerrilla group destroyed the New York World Trade Centre.”

But perhaps Alasdair’s most interesting proposition was that Alex Salmond adopted the high-risk strategy of moving the SNP towards NATO membership – which almost split the party in 2012 – to stop Obama, the U.S.A. and its supporters from “directing a global blast against Scottish independence before the referendum.”

Alasdair Gray advances the idea that this was in fact counter-productive -

As a result, President Obama spoke as gently against it as the Pope. I believe the strong blast Salmond feared may have given the Yes campaign a clear majority, because a lot of Scots were getting tired of being told they could not rule themselves ..”

Well, we’ll never know – but I, for one, think Alasdair Gray may be right. But in this, as in so many other vital, pivotal judgments, e.g. the currency question, I don’t envy Alex Salmond the agonising choices he had to make. Characteristically, he made them bravely, decisively and without equivocation, not as a gambler, but as the statesman he was - and is.

Alasdair is in no doubt, and has a view on what must be done -

NATO will keep its bases in Scotland no matter how much an independent Scotland protests, but that is no reason the SNP conference should not return to its former policy of total nuclear disarmament.”  and “Alex Salmond’s amendment is less than three years old, and can be scrapped.”

However, for me, the most insightful and immediately relevant article in this fine National issue was George Kerevan’sTime to face up to reality about the role SNP MPs will play post-election”. Kerevan is one of the true political thinkers in the SNP camp, and unlike many Scottish journalists, is capable of getting right down to the structural heart of complex political issues that others shy away from.

Anyone who wants to understand the complexities of the Westminster situation Nicola Sturgeon and the new bloc of SNP MPs will face if they are returned in the numbers the polls suggest must read this article - and then read it again.

In the maze of options, from coalition (currently ruled out) to confidence and supply deals (not “supply and demand” deals as one journalist suggested elsewhere!) the voting behaviours of an SNP/Plaid/Green bloc will demand fine judgements, as Kerevan’s keen eye detects.

Yesterday, Iain Macwhirter, in an excellent Sunday Herald article In this era of Coalition, the political map has turned yellow addressed similar questions.  But he used the language of negotiation  (a language most journalists should take care to avoid, since they rarely have any understanding of the dynamics of negotiation) to describe the dilemmas facing the SNP Westminster bloc.

In examining the choices the new SNP bloc will face, the choices that Nicola will have to mastermind – having ruled out the possibility that Alex Salmond “could become the back-seat driver from hell”, he adopts what I believe to be a false premise, namely that Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out “playing politics with the Tories

Leaving aside the fact that the SNP minority government of 2007-2011 only survived because Alex Salmond deftly played politics with the Tories to get his budgets through, what Nicola has ruled out – as I understand it – is entering into coalition or any confidence and supply-type arrangement with the Tories. To do either would clearly be political suicide for the SNP in Scotland.

But this cannot be extrapolated into saying that the SNP would never vote with the Tories on any issue. (If Nicola said this, I missed it!) One only has to illustrate by extremes, e.g. what if the Tories agreed to vote against the upgrading of Trident against a Miliband Government determined to do it?

Although such a scenario  stretches the bounds of probability, it does illustrate that distaste for the Tories cannot overwhelm common political sense, where there are key voting issues on which consensus exists. Such a distaste for the SNP from 2007 to date led the Scottish Labour group in Holyrood into utter folly, directly contributing to the decline of their party.

So when Iain Macwhirter says of voting with Tories that “Remarkably, the SNP has chosen not to do so and make clear that the only party it will play politics with is Labour” I believe him to be factually wrong.  He goes on to say that -

Sturgeon has thus handed an extraordinary advantage to Ed Miliband. He knows that the SNP will go into post-election negotiations with with precisely zero negotiating clout

I must disagree totally with this verdict of a journalist, Iain Macwhirter, for whom I have the highest admiration and respect. Politicians, lawyers (Nicola is both!) and journalists rarely have even a rudimentary understanding of negotiation, but Nicola Sturgeon is a unique politician, as is her mentor and close colleague and friend, Alex Salmond – and both, although rooted in fundamental political principles, are supreme pragmatists.

They will deal – when and how they need to deal – when the situation demands it, in the over-arching interests of Scotland and the Scottish people.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

May the 8th 2015 – when the hard bargaining starts?

All the forecasts indicate a hung Parliament as a probability rather than a possibility. I offer my understanding of the mechanic and dynamics of this to those who perhaps have never examined the matter in any detail.

If you are already well-informed on such matters, pass on – what follows is not for you, you clued-up thing, you …

CURRENT STATE OF PARTIES
Conservatives           303
Labour                       257
Liberal Democrat       56
Democratic Unionist   8
Scottish National          6
Sinn Fein                       5
Independent                 3
Plaid Cymru                  3
Social Dem & Lab.        3
UKIP                               2
Alliance                           1
Green                              1
Respect                           1
Speaker                           1

Total no. of seats  650

HARD ARITHMETIC OF FORMING A GOVERNMENT

After a general election, the leader of one of the parties has to demonstrate that he or she can command a majority of the votes in the House of Commons on major issues - e.g. the Budget, major legislation, decisions to commit the Armed Forces – in other words, impose the democratic will of the Government on dissenting voices in the House and govern the United Kingdom. This is a obviously a practical necessity and of course constitutional requirement, as the leader has to convince the Queen as Head of State.

If one political party has this capacity, its leader de facto becomes Prime Minister, subject to the Queen’s ratification, but if no single party has the requisite number of seats – even though one may have more seats than any other single party – then either

a deal has to be struck with another party or parties, or

the party with the majority of seats has to risk governing as a minority government, or

a hung Parliament effectively  exists and another general election has to be called.

This situation existed in the hectic days following the last general election in 2010, and a fascinating spectacle it was.

There have been many projections of just how the seats will play out after May 7th, and there will be many more, as poll after poll offers its forecasts, but for the purpose of illustration of the arithmetic, I’ll use a slightly dated, but useful projection of the BBC’s – the first Newsnight Index - for no better reason than that I already have a graphic for it – and it may well be as accurate as any other that comes up!

Newsnight Index projection GE2015

With 650 seats in the House, a simple majority requires the aspirant governing party or parties to be able to command 326 seats (half of 650 + 1)– but since Sinn Fein doesn’t take up its five seats, that becomes 323 (half of 645 +1).  Sinn Fein could of course put a green cat among the Brit pigeons at any time by deciding to turn up!

If we look at the Newsnight Index projection (it’s not the current one), Labour, on this projection, would be the party with most seats, but not enough to hit the magic 323. Ed Miliband could then choose to “do an Alex Salmond 2007” and elect to govern as a minority government – a high-wire act, with huge risks, which Alex was well-equipped to perform – requiring him to do ad hoc deals on every major vote with other parties or interest groups within and/or across parties. If he hadn’t the balls for this – or the Queen didn’t like it – he would then have three other options -

call for another general election, or

try to strike a confidence & supply deal with another party or parties – a kind of minority government with a pre-arranged support understanding, or

form a coalition government with one party or with more than one party - a Rainbow coalition

(Aficionados of the various Borgen series on BBC Four will understand all of this effortlessly, plus have an insight into the role of sex in government!)

Who will Ed’s likely partners in government be – if he chooses to have partners – and how would it play out on the above, or similar projections of a May  7th outcome?

To get to the magic 323, he needs 37 votes. For comfort – and to reassure Lizzie – he ideally needs more. The SNP can give him 33, Plaid two and Greens one. He definitely(?) won’t find his extra one from the Tories or UKIP, and thus is left to trawl among the LibDems, the Northern Ireland parties and the Others!

Perhaps George Galloway will see his way clear to support Ed, but probably at a price that would be unacceptable!

However it plays out, it seems inevitable, if present polling trends are accurate, that the SNP will be the key player.

But consider this possibility – the LibDem 26 plus 11 othersbut drawn from where?

I haven’t had so much fun since the 1945 General Election, where I campaigned for Labour and Attlee as a ten year-old. Now, that was fun …

N.B. The Speaker does not vote, except in deadheat votes, when the convention is that the speaker casts the tie-breaking vote in favor of the governing party.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Ed Miliband is not a deal-making kind of guy–but he’ll do one post-GE2015!

Better mute the "pooling and sharing" bit with Scotland as you get closer to May 7th, Ed - the English electorate won't like it!

Get elected as a minority government, then do your deal with the SNP, Plaid and Greens - dump Trident, give the Scots what they were promised - devomax - then work with your new partners to undo the untold damage done by Blair, Brown and the Coalition to the people of these islands.

Newsnight Index projection GE2015

P.S. We'll be back sometime in the very near future for our independence after the next referendum that Scotland holds - without asking anyone's permission.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Johann Lamont’s resignation–reflections

Johann Lamont has resigned as leader. Inevitable, and maybe overdue, given the flak she has taken from her own party. I wish her well, despite the inevitable bitterness she roused during the long referendum campaign by her ill-judged and often factually inaccurate  performances at FMQs. She never understood her role, and worse, never understood the sea change that had occurred in Scottish politics.

Undoubtedly she was badly advised, and the victim of that unique brand of back-stabbing Labour politics with its roots in the smoke filled backrooms of Glasgow and Monklands.

I was well-disposed towards her before and immediately after her election as leader, and more than willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. I was wrong, and my assessment of her (and of Henry McLeish!) proved to be way off beam.

Here are some of my views from back then…

Saturday, 17 December 2011

An open letter to Johann Lamont

Dear Johann Lamont,

Congratulations on winning the leadership of your party in Scotland. I hope that your win gives you a clear mandate among all Scottish Labour supporters, and that it is perceived as a valid mandate to lead the main opposition to my party, the SNP, who received a very clear mandate to govern Scotland last May. It is vital that your mandate is seen in this way not only by Labour supporters but by the Scottish Government, by the SNP, by the other opposition parties and by the Scottish electorate.

The only way to ensure this is to publish as soon as possible the full, detailed breakdown of the votes cast in the leadership election, in the interests of transparency in Scottish politics. (I am confident that you will wish to do so, indeed, by the time this blog comes up, you may already have done so.)

I listened to your acceptance speech closely, because as a committed SNP supporter, voter and party member, I believe that the existence of an effective opposition in any Parliament is vital to democracy. I was a Labour supporter for most of my life, and I will never return to Labour because of the depth of the betrayal of all my hopes and expectations over decades by the Labour Party as constituted up until this election.

But I do believe that you, and at least some in the Scottish Labour Party want to make a new beginning and to place the interests of Scotland first. You outlined in your acceptance speech a vision statement for Scotland. Few Scots of any party would disagree with the bulk of its content, and for that reason, it could have been made by any party leader, at any time, in almost any country.

I don’t want to appear to suggest that it was an empty ‘motherhood and apple pie’ statement – I do believe that you are committed to these ideals and broad objectives, and so am I. And I am delighted that you and Scottish Labour appear to have rediscovered your Scottishness.

But given this consensus on what we all want for Scotland, it is evident that what gives our respective parties their identity is the means by which these objectives are to be achieved. If my memory serves me accurately, you and other members of the Labour Party have accused the SNP of stealing your vision. That was unfair and inaccurate – we have closely similar visions because we are both social democratic parties, committed to a strong, effective public sector and a vibrant, entrepreneurial private sector.

In a certain kind of Scotland, the SNP and the Labour Party could recognise a shared vision while differing vigorously on key aspects of achieving that vision. We both recognise that the Tory vision as presently exhibited in all its uncaring, incompetent awfulness, is inimical to the interests of Scotland, and indeed the peoples of the UK. The LibDem vision has been badly – perhaps fatally – compromised by their poisoned and supine alliance with the Tories in Coalition.

But there is a great yawning gulf between your vision as outlined today and the Scottish National Party’s vision, and that gulf is created by your commitment to keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom. At this moment, this profoundly mistaken policy – the only real one you have at the moment – is main barrier to your achievement of Labour’s new Scottish vision.

The reasons for this are plain to see, and the Scottish electorate understood them plainly last May, and voted accordingly. I accept that not all of that vote was a vote for Scotland's independence, but it was decisively a vote for Scotland holding all the economic levers necessary to transform Scotland, indeed the the pressing need at the moment is to have them to enable Scotland to survive the cold, cold global wind that is blowing.

But there are other great barriers between us while you and Scottish Labour are committed to the UK – they are nuclear weapons, i.e. weapons of mass destruction, foreign policy and the unelected, undemocratic House of Lords, now perceived by many Scots as the lucrative bolthole for failed politicians, including Scottish Labour politicians.

While Scottish Labour is committed to the UK, it will be seen by many Scots as the party that supports illegal or dubious wars that kill the flower of our young servicemen and women, the party that is committed to ruinously expensive WMDs that endanger Scotland by their presence - and pose an ever-present threat to world  peace - and the party that is committed to the undemocratic House of Lords, whatever hollow statements about reform, never acted upon, may say.

A great watershed in Scotland’s history is approaching – the referendum on Scotland’s independence – a pivotal moment in our history that will shape Scotland and the other three countries of the UK for a generation and perhaps for ever.

As we approach that fateful day, it is vital that all parties with a core shared vision for the people of Scotland approach the great debate that will be continuously conducted from now on with objectivity, with facts, with some degree of mutual respect, with the common objective of allowing the Scottish electorate all the information they need to make their great choice.

That need not – and will not – inhibit vigour in debate, but if we can draw on the great intellectual political and social traditions that have always characterised Scots and Scotland, we can offer Scottish voters a real, rational choice.

I wish you and your party well in this new and critical era. I cannot of course wish you electoral success in local elections next year, nor in the referendum when it comes.

from one Weegie tae another – awra’ best,

Peter Curran

Scottish Labour Leadership Results
December 17, 2011 2:59 pm

Leadership result:

Deputy Leadership result:

MORIDURA BLOG November 23rd- 2011

Johann Lamont at the moment looks like the favourite to win the Scottish Labour leadership contest. It’s either her or Ken MacintoshTom Harris is naewhere.

If I had to choose from what is available, I would choose Johann Lamont, because I think I see a kind of integrity there, the kind that has always existed in the Scottish Labour Party, but which usually gets buried alive in that self-serving sea of mediocrity and careerism. (I’m talking about the Labour politicians and the union leaders, not the long-suffering Labour voters and lay party and union members utterly betrayed by them for over half a century.)

Let me say that she is not First Minister material, but that would not deter the Scottish Labour Party if Scotland were ever unfortunate enough to have them in power again in Holyrood. After all, London – i.e. UK – Labour elected Ed Miliband, who is not Prime Ministerial material.

The long-running gravy train that is the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t want a people’s choice – they want to foist a candidate on the people who will stoke the boiler, oil the wheels and grease the rails for the high road to Westminster for its politicians, and to safe party sinecures for its union officials.

But if they do elect Johann, they may find that she is not as committed to that auld conspiracy against the electorate as they hope – she shows distinct signs of being a realist, and being her own wumman. However, her priority is to get elected, so she must be circumspect for the moment, as she reads the wildly conflicting signals from senior Labour figures such as Alexander, Murphy and Harris, who show signs of beginning to hedge their career bets as the prospect of an independent Scotland becomes ever more real. The strange noises being made around the Scotland Bill and devo max illustrate this clearly. (I do not include Henry McLeish in this. I respect him, and I think Scotland matters more to him than career, more perhaps than anything else. )

But on Monday night, she was pretty evasive and obscure, sent signals on devo max, but was caught flatfooted by Glenn Campbell on two questions –devo max, and the $64,000 question – could Labour deliver their objectives more easily in an independent Scotland?

She revealed more by what she didn’t say than by what she said, but my judgement is that she is keeping her options very much open on this possibility, having taken her cue from Alexander, Murphy, Auld Uncle Tam Harris and all … She is “not going to let Alex Salmond define devo max”. He agrees with you, Johann – he has been trying to get Labour and their Tory and LibDem pals to define what they mean by it for some time now, and ideally participate in a cross-party discussion about it.

As for the smooth lizard on the rock, Macintosh – who Kens?

Monday, 6 October 2014

2014AR and GE2015 – a countdown to UK chaos - unless 30+ YES MPs are returned to Westminster

Two unelected LibDem peers, overheads on the body politic, Baroness Kramer and Paddy Ashdown duck and weave, bluster and attempt to patronise in the face of Andrew Neil's simple question - "How will you pay for your pledges?" Their repertoire of question avoidance tactics can only be described as virtuosic,

These are the same kind of people as the Westminster legions who demanded to know - from 2011 - how the SNP was going to cost, in minute detail, the setting up of a new state after 18 months of negotiation with a hostile rUK Government, Europe and NATO in May 2016!

Yet less than seven months from a UK general election in 2015, they can say nothing - NOTHING - about how THEY will cost their extravagant fantasy policies.

Add to this an amnesiac Miliband, who 'forgot' to mention the deficit, and a distraught and confused Cameron. God help the Great Britain the Scottish NO voters unwisely preserved, in all its tottering incompetence and venality.

And there's the little matter of a war that will undoubtedly escalate in costs - death and destruction - and a referendum that will take us out of the EU.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Marr and Mandelson on Miliband: trades unions, Iraq and the Chilcot Inquiry

MANDELSON

"Ed Miliband faces a big test of his leadership in relation to the trade unions - he's got to win the fight that he started - and, quite rightly, to reform the relationship."

"He's got to navigate his way through what could be a very difficult minefield - that is, The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War"

Chilcot Report expected "somewhere in mid-year"

Just in time to bury Blair, Brown, Mandelson and the reputation of Scottish Labour before Scotland's Referendum on September 18th - unless Chilcot is a whitewash, which is unlikely but possible, given the high stakes for UK involved.

Ed Miliband is not up to any of these challenges.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Clout, corruption, Capone – and the Neo-Scottish Unionists …

When I was a child in Glasgow, a clout was something I was regularly threatened with, and often received. Never from my parent or relatives, but often from teachers, the polis and sundry friends, enemies and the occasional gang member. A cloutie was a cloth, especially the one used to warp the wonderful cloutie dumplings that were a feature of Christmas, stuffed with silver threepennies and sixpences wrapped in greaseproof paper. We pronounced the slap around the heid as clowt, and the dumpling version as clootie, effortlessly and unknowingly distinguishing between the ancient origins of the word – the Old English clut and  and Old Norman or Frisian klut. The word was also used in archery in archaic form as a piece of cloth stretched over a frame, and in joinery to describe a large, flat-headed nail.

But for fifty years now it has increasingly come to mean influence, power of effective action, especially political  - Concise Oxford Dictionary.

This usage is now dominant, but was never used, to my knowledge, before the late 1950s. So where did it originate? Well, as far as I can determine, it was a Chicago word, describing the power of gangsters over politicians and police, and of the power of the politicos themselves, some of whom were also gangsters. It was probably confined to Chicago throughout the Capone era, which ended with Capone’s imprisonment on tax charges in the early 1930s. Capone, after his release, lived well into the post-war period and died a rich man, at home, in his bed, just as I was going to St. Mungo’s Academy in Glasgow.


But the first recorded example in print seems to have been an article in the Chicago Tribune in early 1960, as part of a four-page spread on corruption and crime in Chicago, in an article by Wayne Thomas – MOB WIELDS CLOUT THROUGH POLITICIANS, prompted by the murder of Roger ‘The Terrible’ Touhy by gunmen in broad daylight in front of witnesses in a Chicago Street.

Since then, the word increasingly entered the vocabulary of the British chattering classes, ever anxious to be up-to-date with American political jargon, without the faintest idea of where the word or phrase had come from, e.g. step up to the plate, what’s your take on this issue, the Commander-in-Chief, etc.

The UK’s web of corruption is of course much more subtle, of course, as befits an ancient empire that has been exploiting the people for centuries, and the commissioners of violence usually carry a title, or have a few letters after their names that almost always include BE – or they wear the ermine. They are distanced at several levels from those who carry out the killings, and unlike the brash gangsters of old, rarely kill each other, but target the innocent, the vulnerable, usually in another country, ideally of another race and religion. When they kill someone at home, it is usually someone outspoken who has got too close to the truth, and they are too fastidious to have them gunned down in broad daylight – the intelligence services have long experience of doing these things quietly, with minimum fuss. The UK has exploitation of booze as a nice little earner on the side – witness The Beerage – but the main honeypot is the military/industrial complex and political, Eisenhower’s nightmare forecast come true.

And now for something completely different …

THE NEO-SCOTTISH UNIONISTS

An interesting day in our two national dailies, The Herald and The Scotsman.

The Letters page of both newspapers are often a better sample of the true mood of Scotland than the news, comment and editorial comment, especially in The Herald Letters page. But the Scotsman increasingly, and I hope not reluctantly, gives a platform to a wider range of views than Blackett Place, New Cutt Rigg or sundry nimby’s and landowners fulminating against wind farms from the remote airts and pairts, and today we have Ruth Marr, a regular and mordant contributor to The Herald, but more rarely appearing in The Scotsman.

I hope Ruth and The Scotsman will forgive me for picking quotes, but -

On the Labour and Tory name changes -

I’d always thought changing your name was something you did when you were fleeing from justice …”

On the newly-discovered Scottishness of the Tories and Labour -

Are we witnessing expressions of sincere patriotism or political expediency?”

Gaun yersel’ Ruth …

Joyce McMillan always has something relevant to say, Ultimate Westminster bubble boy e.g. this paragraph -

The decline of the Labour Party as a grass-roots movement, the old Blairite obsession with severing trade union links, the growing separation of the leadership from the nuts-and-bolts organisation on the ground, and (sic) makes true radicalism possible; all of this has produced a generation of young would-be leaders with only a vague focus-group image of the society they would lead, and often no knowledge at all of its rich pattern of popular and local culture, and of how those cultures interact with the task of political organisation

The above paragraph is worth more than the Collected ‘What Labour Must Do’ Essays of John McTernan to Labour, but they cannot confront the Blair Portrait in the Attic – it’s too horrible to contemplate.

Ewan Crawford offers a challenging piece SNP show the way when it gets down to business that includes this telling sentence in his closing paragraph -

“Since the SNP’s election victory, a curious phenomenon has taken place: the government and Alex Salmond have been assailed on a range of issues, but the SNP’s poll ratings have hit record highs.”

Ewan also refers to the blatant misrepresentation of John Swinney’s budget, and the notorious CPPR £850m figure, seized upon by The Scotsman among others with an agenda, although Ewan is too polite to say so. This hasn’t stopped The Scotsman and other continuing to trot the figure out, including today. A good lie is worth too much to let it die quietly. The CPPR didn’t lie of course – they were misunderstood and misquoted, poor dears.  Aye, right then …

The Great British Public think Ed Miliband is ‘weird’, rather as they thought John Redwood, a rising Tory star was weird, especially after his rendition of the Welsh national anthem. I can’t think what gives people these ideas. John Redwood at least had the popular kudos of looking liking a Vulcan whose starship was about to be vapourised by Captain Kirk. Ed Miliband? The closest I can come is a young Raymond Burr, in his nascent phase as a sinister villain, before he lost his power of movement and became Ironside.

But let me close on an optimistic note – American movies at the close of the Capone era, the beginning of the talkies, and in the early stages of the Great Depression that followed the Wall Street Crash. Will movies – and our society, ever recover this vitality, this visual flair, this great music? In this era, when pop musicians are stressed if the vocal range leaves the diatonic scale and spans an octave, if more than four primitive harmonic changes are quite impossible, and where a key change or a modulation in unthinkable, indeed literally inconceivable, it seems unlikely.

No, we must be content with the soft porn and relentless sniggering sexual innuendo of Strictly Come Dancing and, God help us all, The X-Factor. But surely if the people must have bread and circuses, we could give them quality instead of this pap to divert them from the economic horrors that await if we stay in the UK.


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Ed Miliband, Blair and the Blairites – and Channel Four’s ‘Dispatches’

I had hoped to bring you a YouTube video today, with Ed Miliband’s conference speech bit on “I am not Tony Blair – but he’s a great man”, intercut with clips from the must-see Channel Four Dispatches documentary, The Wonderful World of Tony Blair.

Well, it’s now up on YouTube, but you can only watch it if you live outside of the UK, i.e. anywhere else in the world. (Those of you who are techno savvy enough won’t find this a problem, but most will.) You’ll have to make do with this -



The reason is not a great conspiracy by Blairites and Unionists against freedom of expression, but the commercial and copyright interests of Channel Four and the programme makers. The full documentary is on YouTube The Wonderful World of Tony Blair and for anyone who doubts that the UK, some of its politicians, some of the Labour Party, and some politicians of every other party profit massively, obscenely and by very dubious methods from their elected position and from the military/industrial complex and non-elected brutal dictatorships, this 50-minute programme is a must watch, must see.

Issues examined forensically by Peter Oborne include Tony Blair’s wealth, his hidden and obscure financial dealings, his financial backers, his mandate  - or lack of one, as part of The Quad - the Middle Eastern dictators, oil interests and brutal undemocratic regimes that are his clients and provide a large part of his income, his selective dealings with Israel and Palestine, and how he interprets his role as Peace Envoy - all this and more.

Blairites will watch it through eyes that cannot, and will not see the true nature of their great leader and hero.

Who are the Blairites?

As Wikipedia and other sources cautiously warn, not all those identified by the media as Blairites would admit to being so, and some may have been mistakenly classified as such. Some clearly were, and now have the moral sense, with the benefit of hindsight, to realise what they allowed themselves to become identified with. Others are expedient closet Blairites who realise the mood has changed in the People’s Party, at least while Ed Miliband is leader, but stand ready in the slips to declare themselves again should he be deposed by, say, David Miliband.

We may say with reasonable certainty that Tom Harris MP and Jim Murphy MP and UK Shadow Secretary of State for Defence are Blairites. (Should they reject this appellation, I will be happy to withdraw my assertion.) I have some reason to believe that John McTernan, political commentator is a Blairite, and so also is Alistair Campbell, but this may only be unfounded rumour, similar to the scurrilous suggestion that Cheri Blair is a Blairite.



David Miliband is undoubtedly a Blairite, as is Jacqui Smith, former Home Secretary, forced to resign over expenses and a claim for pornographic videos rented by her husband. Jacqui Smith is one of those picked to front the Purple Labour concept, a not so thinly concealed attempt to revive the reputation of Blair and Blairism in the Party. I believe she may be a candidate to be BBC Vice-Chairmannow there’s a thought

John Rentoul is a Blairite - the political editor of the paper that claims to be The Independent, a newspaper that does its best to ignore Scotland and Scottish affairs, and whose reputation for high standards of journalistic accuracy and probity has been somewhat dented of late by their star columnist, Johann Hari, who is certainly not a Blairite.

I think we may safely say that if Tom Harris is elected Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, we might have a Blairite Scottish party, and in twenty years time, when Jim Murphy has drunk his fill of UK defence posts, and deigns to consider coming back home as Leader – but hold on – Scotland will be independent long before then …



Sunday, 25 September 2011

The People’s Flag is deepest - Red? Blue? Purple? Tartan?

 John McTernan, king of the What Labour Must Do? franchise, has accepted a post as director of communications to the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard. Julia, a Labour Prime Minister has just turned fifty years of age. It would be ungallant to speculate on what the half century does to a woman’s judgement, so we must assume that she was either impressed by his former role as Tony Blair’s spin doctor, or she wants an antipodean version of McTernan’s franchise, What Australian Labour Must do?

But it’s nice to think of John sunning his bronzed body on an Australian beach, munching a Vegemite sandwich – a kind of Scottish Adonis. I wish you well, John. But then a dissonant note sounds – what if he plans to do the job from Scotland? After all, one can write a What Labour Must Do article anywhere in the world …

And perhaps Julia should take a long hard look at what has happened to the party that John devoted his communication and strategic skills to for so many years.

 

WHAT THE UK OWES SCOTLAND

The Nationalist Government of Scotland – nationalist means a government committed to the nation of Scotland - have been taking a long, hard look at the UK’s asset base, sending cold shivers down unionist spines. After all, given our significant contribution to the UK for over 300 years in technology, science, innovation, tax and oil revenue -  and blood - and the less than significant return, it is only fair that Scots tot up what is owed to them. In addition to the assets that are based in Scotland, we own a fair chunk of assets based in England. Since the unionists insist on using the analogy of a marriage (a shotgun marriage) a divorce and a separation to describe the Union and Scotland’s imminent independence, we may safely say that that divvying up the assets will be as protracted a negotiation after independence as many other aspects. But the break-up comes first …

 

THE BUDGET

The outraged squeals of vested interest groups over John Swinney’s budget, with the Scotsman conducting the cries in a kind a hellish choir, was followed rapidly by what we hoped might be objective third party analysis. Surely Glasgow University’s Centre for Public Policy and Regions would provided such a cool, objective look at the figures? The analysis by the CPPR’s John McLaren, described by Robin Dinwoodie in the Herald as “Ex-Labour special adviser and CPPR economist John McLaren” claimed that the budget would take an extra £849m in business taxes over the next three years. John Swinney, in a detailed rebuttal in a letter in yesterday’s Herald, says that this is misleading and is the result of double counting.

John Swinney’s trump card is of course that undeniable fact that Scotland is the only part of the UK where unemployment is falling and employment has increased. Union members like that, but union officials – and the Labour Party - don’t, masking their annoyance by attacks on the interpretation of the figures. I wonder why that should be? It could be something to do with the fact that the greater the degree of independence, the better Scotland works, and it could have something to do with four and a half years of competent SNP government, with a real economist at the helm.

But the Scottish Secretary has lurched on to the scene, demanding explanations. Michael Moore is “ … alarmed at the reaction that the Scottish Government’s Spending Review has provoked from the business community.” By the business community, he means the Big Business community - the one’s who extravagantly reward their directors with obscene amounts of money for pushing cheap booze and cancer sticks at the poorer sections of the community - and the ever-critical Iain MacMillan of the CBI.

The small to medium business community welcomed the budget, and the valuable check it places on Big Business to roll over small businesses, destroy competition and inflict near lethal blows on our once vibrant public houses. The Scottish Secretary, especially after the warm glow of the LibDem party conference, labours under the delusion that he, his party and his Coalition partners – the Tories - matter to Scotland, when in fact they are regarded as an irrelevancy, and inimical to Scotland’s best interest.

 

THE PEOPLE’S PARTY AND ITS TROUBLES

As what was once upon a time the People’s Party staggers into its conference, they are accompanied by Scottish headlines that must give them cause for alarm.

Can Britain learn to like Ed Miliband? (Scotland on Sunday) with the sub-header Seven out of ten people think the Labour Party are not fit for Government.

Labour told to forget about Thatcher – Alexander criticises party’s Holyrood election campaign strategy (Herald)

McAveety is held off Labour list amid probe (Herald)

Harris fear party could ‘stop being relevant’ (Herald)

This last one heads a report by Tom Peterkin and Eddie Barnes that also quote Harris as saying “Labour’s complacency could kill the Union.”  Tom Harris’s analysis is accurate of course, and he sees clearly what his party – and most metropolitan commentators have only glimpsed fleetingly, and in a glass darkly.

 

“We are on the brink of the biggest constitutional upheaval this country has ever seen.” (By country, he means the UK.)

“The idea that it’s business as usual in the Labour Party is going to kill us, and it’s going to kill the Union”

“I’m talking about standing up for Scotland. It’s Scotland first, the Union second, the Labour Party third.”

Nobody in Scotland – or the UK – is fooled by that last statement, Tom. You can’t hedge your bets- it’s too late to lay off the risk.

The scale of priorities has always been the careers of Labour politicians and trades union officials first and Scotland and its people a poor second. The Union is simply the necessary context for the Labour Party to pursue that naked self-interest. and your career, and those of every Labour MP, Labour Lord and Labour apparatchik depend on the continuance of this Union.

It has been ever thus in empires that exploit the people, and oligarchies masquerading as democracies. In their death throes, the politicians that depend on them will defend them to the death against the force of the ordinary people, as we have seen in the Arab Spring.  They have no choice but to go down with the thing they have supported.

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Purple Gang – Labour looks for its lost soul

The Purple Gang operated out of Detroit, Michigan during Prohibition, running bootleg alcohol. gangsters and outlaws 

We’ve had Old Red Labour and New Labour, and Blue Labour, an attempt to recover something from the wreckage of the Party left by the Blair, Brown, Mandelson Gang. Now we have Purple Labour - an attempt to salvage the reputation and influence of New Labour, whilst accommodating itself to Ed Miliband’s view of the Party, which in an attempt to reflect his customary crystalline clarity, could be described as

“I hate New Labour, but the bastards are still around and rich, and my brother is one of them, and I‘d love to dump them, but I can’t, and I can’t go back to the old cloth cap Labour, so I’ll have to pretend to go back to Old Labour, but I’ll call it Blue Labour, because we’re closer to the Tories really, and we can’t apologies for our murderous, incompetent foreign and economic policies, but we must move forward, so maybe we should call it Purple Labour, just to give the idea that we’re somewhere between New Labour and Tories, but with a tiny, nostalgic bit of red in there for the proles, and I’ll get a former Home Secretary who was dumped for expenses scandals and porno videos – no, that was her husband – to front end it …”

I have done my best to paraphrase what goes on in Miliband Minor’s wee heid, which is not an easy task believe me.

In times like these, one must have recourse to Machiavelli, but this is always dangerous, because Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli has had a bad press over the centuries, and picking quotes invites others to cherry pick as well. Machiavelli was trying to stay afloat in early 16th century Italy, having lost his place as Secretary of the Republic of Florence when the Medici took power.

He was a true Renaissance man, literate, musical – a composer and playwright as well as a diplomat, and probably wanted to be left alone, but the Medici were not to be messed with, and Niccolò was not their pal. Having been tortured by the Medici by strappado – being pulled up on a rope affixed to his hands tied behind his back, and with Cesare Borgia around, not to mention his nice sister Lucrezia, whose Dad became Pope, Machiavelli had to be careful. Diplomat though he was, he could have used a spin doctor to get him a better press. A medieval John McTernan could have helped, by writing articles for the Florentian equivalent of the Scotsman along the lines of What the Medici Must Do!

But enough of this historical musing, let’s get to what the man said, and pick a quote or two -

“ … it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.”

Take heed, Edward – you number your brother among this group, and the Milibands have been about as familial as the Borgia’s of late. As for the New Labour Gang, well, they’re not going to lie down and die while the new Blue Gang muscles in on their territory, and the Purple Gang merger is not bonded by anything resembling values, principles or common humanity, just a lust for power at any price. And as has been observed, when red, blue and purples get mashed together on the palette of desperation, it tends to turn into merde – and the Merde Gang has even more unfortunate overtones than the others, however apposite the title might be.

THE BOOZE AND FAGS BIG FOUR

While we’re on the subject of Prohibition and the abuse of alcohol, we must remind ourselves that booze and fags are a major problem for Scotland. I support the responsible alcohol industry (I made my living from it for many years), and properly regulated public house and a properly regulated alcohol industry are important parts of our social fabric. Exports of Scotch whisky are of major importance to Scotland’s economy. But the abuse of alcohol is not an abuse significantly linked to the expensive blends and single malts  beloved by the connoisseurs – it is principally caused by the amoral marketing of cheap booze by the big supermarket chains, often by loss-leading on price.

Minimum pricing will soon have its positive impact on that, now that a principled government with a majority can legislate in the way that they were blocked from doing in the last Parliament by an unprincipled opposition, including the tartan branch of the Purple Gang. But while the damage persists, and its consequence have to be paid for, it is fair and just that the obscenely rich and profitable big chains who peddle the cheap booze and the lethal fags should contribute to limiting the damage they have done to our society. The cost to them will be about 0.3% of their huge turnovers, and the amount it will yield is only £5m more than the £33m combined salaries of the CEOs of the Big Four.

In fact if they want to avoid the tax, since they are already fabulously rich men, they can donate their salaries to the health and crime programmes required by the damage they have done. The remaining £5m can be found in the face of such a magnanimous and long overdue gesture.



Today, on The Politics Show on BBC, Kenneth Gibson patiently explained the rationale for the Scottish Government’s Tesco Tax on large retailers of booze and fags to a group of metropolitan numpties, including a PR front man for the industry by the name of Opie, and a former Blair speechwriter.

They wilfully misunderstood and misrepresented the purpose of the tax in their comments - or were just plain stupid - but were genuinely baffled by a government that puts its people and human values before the greed and cynicism of the peddlers of cheap drink and cigarettes who obscenely enrich their top executives, aided as always by the complicit and values-free London political parties.


That's why the Scottish people elected this government, you a******** - that's why they want out of the big money client state - the UK.

Friday, 12 August 2011

The London riots - the Commons debate and the media

When events go wrong in a country, the government feels under pressure. If it is a natural disaster, like Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans in 2005, the government cannot be held responsible for the hurricane, but they are responsible for dealing with it, and not only their actions in handling the crisis can be called into question, but also their foresight - or lack of it - in preparing for it, not only in the period when it was known to be imminent, but in previous long-term preparations for ‘known unknowns’, the knowledge that there will be hurricanes and floods, although the exact timing cannot be predicted far  in advance.

When things go wrong that seem to be clearly linked to either the action or the inaction of government, for example the failure of an economic or social policy or programme - or the lack of one - or a diplomatic or defence initiative, or the lack of one, governments are subject to even greater direct criticism. To take an example that is half a century old - currently being dramatised in The Hour on BBC - Prime Minister Anthony Eden was criticised by the United States and the USSR for supporting Israel by bombing Egypt in the Suez crisis (The Tripartite Aggression) in 1956, and he resigned in January 1957. He would also have come under heavy criticism from allies France and Israel and from some sections of his own party had he not acted.

(The posture of the US and President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles was highly ambivalent, as revealed by subsequent unguarded remarks by Dulles.)

The measure of a government, a politician, or an industrialist - or indeed any man or woman - may be gauged by their willingness to take unpopular decisions, either to act or refrain from action. But refraining from action as a conscious choice is not inaction - the failure to act out of cowardice, political expediency or lack of imagination or vision most certainly is inaction.

GOVERNMENT DEFENSIVE ARGUMENTS

They can be summarised as -

No one could have foreseen this - it was totally unexpected.

This is caused by global factors beyond our control.

This was caused by the actions of the last government (when it wasn’t us) or, in the event that we were the last government, by the irresponsibility of our political opponents.

This is not representative - it was one rogue individual, company or group.

This is a failure of personal morality, family, schools, academics, i.e. anybody or anything but us, the government. Government policies and actions never lead to bad outcomes, except when our opponents are in government.

This was an act of nature - or God - and we now must deal with it.

THE WESTMINSTER RESPONSE

The Westminster response, from the headless chicken initial response of Cameron, Clegg and the Coalition  to the response of Parliament in the debate yesterday, with the political solidarity characteristic of a threat of war rather than an outbreak of civil unrest, contained elements of almost all of the above defences with the exception of global factors, and they would have thrown that into the  excuse pot if they could have got away with it.

The consensus analysis seems to be, in a classic exercise in doublethink, that the riots just happened, could not have been predicted, had no contributory causes that in any way could be attributed to government policies or actions, past or present, but nevertheless were the entirely predictable result of a long-term decline in family values, loss of parental control, marriage, personal morality, a failure of discipline at all levels, the Human Rights Act, social media - the list goes on.

I watched the first hour and a half of the debate, gave up in disgust, recorded the rest and sampled it. Here are a few of my increasingly exasperated tweets as the debate droned on.

TWITTER 11th August 2011 @moridura

Peter Curran

moridura Peter Curran

It's the gangs - but why did young people join gangs? Always the same reasons: failure of government to provide jobs, hope, and purpose

It's all about crime and criminals - blame the culture, the parents, social media - everything and everybody except Government

Cameron/riots: Will the de-masking deal with religious masking?

Cameron catalogues what he will do - concentrating on compensation for damages

Police may remove face coverings - I agree with that - no one should be allowed to go masked in public - no one

Cameron/riots. What does a government do when public order fails as a result of their policies - attack human rights. And there will be more

Cameron: "The riots are not in any way representative of our country" Not representative but symptomatic...

 

Ed Miliband - usual preamble - true face of Britain, etc. Wait for the beef ... Where's the beef?

Get past the clichés, Ed - say something for god's sake ...

Ed M. Go out and listen to the people. Explain how their voices will be heard. Independent commission of enquiry - reaching out ...

Ed M: Deeper reasons - "To seek to explain is not to seek to excuse" Good one, Ed ...

Ed M: Will there be a cap on help fund?

The PM and the police cuts - will he think again? Swifter justice system - capacity of courts? Tough sentence deserved and expected.

Ed M: The Army? Funding of operational costs? Increased police presence? How long?

Ed M: Questions of hope and aspiration. Not about any one government. You're right there, Ed - it's about the 13years of Labour too

 

Cameron: Cosy regards to Ed - all sweetness and light - for the moment ...

DC: Tear up the manual of public order

DC: Not about resources - about deep moral issues. (Growls from House)

House starts to growl and mutter at police cuts. DC begins to face the flak

DC: Vague rabbiting on. Gets to operational costs - vague, evasive answers. Police budgets - cash reductions over 4 years - 6%!

 

Pompous old Scots git Malcolm Rifkind -

DC: Stonewall on police numbers - but it won't wash, David ...

Jack Straw: PMs repetition of Treasury lines about numbers not good enough

David Lammy: Lost homes -where were the police? PM must speak to Tottenham victims. Public enquiry - skirmishes led chaos

David Davis: Ethnic tension over young Asian deaths. Measures?

Wee Hazel Blears. Criminality, etc. Like the criminality of MPs over expenses? Where were the polis then, Hazel?

They're all sliding away from reality into denial of accountability of any government, any UK policy. I've had enough - lunch!

Oh, God! Nadine Dorris - water cannon, tear gas - the whole right-wing repression, dangerous crap. Go ahead, UK - attack the people!

Now more than 1.5 hrs into 'debate' - a cosy consensus between the parties - it was Blackberries, crooks, parents, morality, etc.

(At this point, the tedious sequence of predictable, formulaic contributions led me to produce a few stereotypes -)

Fragrant Tory babe Penny: "No moral compass, positive role models." e.g. Sir RS Likr, XBE, YBE, ZBE

Sir RS Liker,XBE, RBE, ZBE (etc), failed Scots Tory: "May I - etc. etc." Oh, God ...

Tory Babe: May I welcome - congratulate the PM - praise police - blame parents and Blackberries - demand the police are set free ...

Sir RightWing Nutter, KBE: Give the police flame throwers, grenades, napalm etc. These teenagers must be dealt with. Rule Brittannia!

 

Making political capital out of the riots. It is political, stupid - it's the bloody UK in operation

DC: Admiration for Strathclyde police. They'll be even better when Scotland is free of the UK - and you, Dave -

No real debate - Commons is the UK in denial and complacent conspiracy of silence. Why? Because the three main parties are culpable.

RW F.Luent Tory: Thugs, hooligans, etc. Compensate businesses.

Speaker reprimands Cameron!

SNP leader Angus Roberston is told PM not aware of any conversations with Scottish gov on riots, but Cameron praises police co-operation.

(At this point, I gave up in disgust, and went for lunch.)

THE MEDIA

A special edition of Question Time was scheduled. I looked forward to it eagerly - I should have known better. Essentially it mirrored the vacuity of Westminster, but with some flashes of real insight from Fraser Nelson, whose politics I don’t share, and whose persona is that of one of the kind of Establishment Scots that I can’t stand. But he does talk some very hard sense at times, and I delighted in his demolition of the increasingly ridiculous John Prescott, who lathered up with synthetic indignation in his plain-spoken, man-of-the people Lord Something or Other style, seemingly unaware that he was part of the group who are supposed to be governing the country.

Newsnight Scotland again was a deep disappointment - what can I say that I haven’t already said? They also missed the point completely on the Jimmy Reid Foundation and the Scottish Left, who apparently feel left oot!

Monday, 13 June 2011

A word from Our Leader …

A MAN I MET …

“I met someone who had been on incapacity benefit for a decade. He hadn't been able to work since he was injured doing his job. It was a real injury, and he was obviously a good man who cared for his children. But I was convinced that there were other jobs he could do.

“And that it's just not right for the country to be supporting him not to work, when other families on his street are working all hours just to get by.

“It's not about responsibility to the state, or the government, but responsibility to your neighbours, your friends and many others who you may never meet but who are affected by your actions.”

TO THE RICH …

“To those entrepreneurs and business people who generate wealth, create jobs and deserve their top salaries, I'm not just relaxed about you getting rich, I applaud you.”

TO THE NATION …

“We will be a party that rewards contribution, not worklessness.”

A COMMENT ON A POLITICAL PARTY

We need to understand why Labour in government talked about fixing it but didn't.”

ANOTHER MAN I MET …

“He remembered most the deep fellowship that helped win the war and build the peace. When I think about my children, I want them to grow up in a Britain like that. I want them to understand what makes this country special.”

ON WHAT HIS PARTY DID WRONG

“The Labour Party - a party founded by hard working people for hard working people - was seen, however unfairly, as the party of those ripping off our society. We were intensely relaxed about what happened at the top of society.”

“So we sent out the wrong message to those at the top of society. And we all know what happened: the banks acting as if there was no tomorrow and causing the worst financial crisis in a century.”

“There is a terrible shortage of social housing in this country.”

“We did too little to ensure responsibility at the bottom.”

A QUOTE FROM A PREVIOUS LEADER HE SEEMS TO ADMIRE

“Tony Blair once said he wanted a country "where your child in distress is my child, your parent ill and in pain is my parent, your friend unemployed or homeless is my friend; your neighbour my neighbour. That is the true patriotism of a nation.’

MY COMMENT TO THE NEW STATESMAN, WHO PUBLISHED THE SPEECH

As an exercise in utter vacuousness, this takes some beating. A succession of glib anecdotes, leading to conclusions that could have come from the mouth of a backwoods shire Tory - a series of motherhood statements that could have been uttered by almost any politician in any country in the last fifty years - a total and utter failure to recognise what really ripped the heart out of the Labour Party and destroyed its core values. And last but not least, a pious quote from an obscenely rich man who led the country into two ruinous and criminal wars on lies to Parliament, and who now has an estimated annual income in excess of £15m - Tony Blair.

If this speech was meant to establish Ed Miliband’s reputation, it has, definitively - as the Leader of a party that is to all intents and purposes dead, morally, ethically and intellectually, and as someone who accurately reflects its hollow heart.

The fact that it can demonstrate electoral support in the polls simply shows the awfulness of the present ConLib coalition, and the fact that the voters of  England have few choices.

Thank God the people of Scotland did have a real choice, and made it decisively on May 5th this year.

Monday, 2 May 2011

A year on, remember the man who let the ConLib Coalition have power - John Reid

With the Scottish Parliamentary election imminent, let’s remember the senior Scottish Labour figure - John Reid - who wrecked Gordon Brown’s attempt to negotiate a Rainbow coalition with the LibDems and the nationalist parties, effectively acting as midwife to the birth of of a monstrous thing - the Tory/LibDem Coalition - the thing that Ed Miliband’s Labour claims to be fighting against.


 Here’s what I said just under a year ago -

May 10th 2010 - Moridura’s comment

I listened with increasing incredulity to John Reid, former Labour Home Secretary and Cabinet Minister, as he calmly rubbished the prospect of a LibLab pact and a rainbow coalition just after Gordon Brown, the Labour Prime Minister had already fallen on two of his swords his premiership and his leadership of the Labour Party to permit negotiations to go ahead with Nick Clegg and his team to try and stop a Cameron-led Tory Government.

David Dimbleby's loaded question was - Did John Reid think there was a danger of a coalition of the losers ?

Since Reid is too old a hand at responding to BBC inquisitors - however exalted - to be gulled into an ill-considered expression of views, we must assume that every word was uttered with a purpose.

Reid opened with a token remark that Gordon Brown was wise and dignified in saying that he would step down, but this was immediately followed with a " but I'm afraid that I think it is a very bad mistake to contemplate and to propose and I suppose, to entice a LibLab coalition."

Don’t hide your feelings John - say what you mean …

"I think it is bad for the country. I think it will prove pretty disastrous for both parties in it in fact, I think its bad for Gordon as well."

He went on to say that such a coalition would be inherently unstable, since Labour and the LibDems have no overall majority and ‘would be dependent on the votes of assorted Scot nationalists’ (sic) and the parties in Northern Ireland.

Reid went on in similar vein, coldly ignoring the fact that his fellow Scots - especially his fellow Labour voters - had just delivered a massive Niet to the Tories and to a Cameron government, having been specifically and repeatedly enjoined to do so in the Labour campaign by virtually every member of the Labour Cabinet.

Scotland has just delivered a resounding No to a Tory government, and after Gordon Brown’s dual sacrifice of his political career and premiership, with a finely judged negotiating strategy and the support of fellow Scots, that outcome could just be achieved.

But John Reid has his eye fixed on the national interest. By this he means, of course, the UK, not the nation of his birth, and in this definition of the national interest at least, he is squarely in the camp of his fellow Unionist and Scot, Sir Menzies Campbell.

But why not? After all, both of them have had glittering careers courtesy of the high road to England and the British Establishment.

Both Votes SNP

on May 5th

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour Party Conference deconstructed by a separatist - me!

I have just read the transcript of Ed Miliband’s speech to the Scottish Labour Party Conference. It reveals an interesting, but entirely predictable set of priorities of the London-based - and led - Labour Party.

Reluctantly summoning up my old work study and quality control techniques, I endured the utter tedium of counting the key word references in this speech, which revealed that, as far as Miliband Minor and his shadow Cabinet are concerned, the Scottish Parliamentary election on May 5th is simply a vehicle for getting London Labour re-elected at the next general election.

(For the masochists among you, I have appended at the end of this blog the word sequence as it emerged in time terms through the speech . I will understand if your eyes glaze over …)

Today’s Herald headline summarises the recent opinion poll results as follows -

Labour narrowly ahead of SNP in election poll

Even the giant amoebic brains of Iain Gray’s campaign managers can grasp the significance of this, with the SNP rapidly narrowing the gap, just 4 points behind Labour in the constituency vote and 3 points behind on the list vote. Allied to the fact that Alex Salmond is the most popular politician in Scotland by far, and Iain Gray is almost invisible, Scottish Labour know who they have to beat on May 5th. The Scottish Tories remain an endangered species in Scotland, at 12% constituency and 13% for the list votes, and represent no threat, except in terms of alliances in a minority government or even a hung Parliament.

But Ed Miliband clearly sees them as the enemy, because he mentions them no less than 25 times in his speech. The SNP, in contrast, are mentioned just four times and the LibDems get six mentions.

Little Ed isn’t fighting the Scottish election, he is fighting the next general election for London Labour, and the Scots are just cannon fodder for that battle.

It takes Ed quite some time to get to mentioning Scotland in his opening, because he is worried that David Cameron is strutting his Britain-as-a-global-player stuff on an international stage of sorts over Libya, and has given a pretty good imitation of a statesman. It just ain’t fair - Maggie had her war, Blair had his wars, and now Ed is being denied his war, and the PR and electoral edge that violence abroad gives to UK Prime Ministers.

So after a token “It’s a pleasure to be here at the Scottish conference”, he opens with Libya, and the topic centres go as follows -

Libya, internationalist party, overseas aid,the Balkans, international community, Colonel Gadaffi, armed forces, possible combat, Libya, Libya, Middle East, Middle East, Palestine, Israel, Palestinian people, then at last - Scottish election.

The agenda is clear. The UK - and the British Prime Minister - only haves real identities through foreign policy and their capacity to intervene anywhere across the globe in the affairs of other nations: Scotland is there to slavishly feed that identity by a disproportionate blood sacrifice of its young men and women, as it has done since the Union of 1707, and the faster they contribute to defeating the Tories and letting Ed occupy the role of Commander-in-Chief, the better.

Of course, given the annoying propensity of the Scots to want to run their own affairs, including their foreign policy, and to decide how and when they put their armed forces in harm’s way, Ed Miliband has to wrench himself back to his ostensible purpose for being in Scotland - to support his puppet Scottish party, and the man they unfortunately chose to lead them, Iain Gray.

(I have no doubt whatsoever that an independent Scotland would have played its full, voluntary part in supporting the UN against Gadaffi, as a sovereign country within Europe.)

The term independence dare not be used in the Scottish context, so Miliband uses separatism, in the fond unionist belief that it is pejorative. (I am more than happy to be called a separatist!)

Miliband  is also forced summon up a concept that is all but invisible to the Scottish electorate - Iain Gray’s leadership.

Iain Gray’s leadership is a kind of dark matter in the Scottish Labour Party - it ought to be there, it is difficult to explain his selection as leader if it is not there, but no one can find it. Perhaps if Iain Gray was passed at high speed though the Large Hadron Collider by Professor Brian Cox, a particle of that hitherto invisible leadership might fleetingly become visible - even a charisma particle - Gray’s Bosun -might flicker for a moment before it too vanished into the primeval soup of Holyrood Labour.

But the first mention of the Gray leadership particle is speedily followed by the following terms in quick succession - Tory Threat, Scotland, Poll Tax, Scotland, Thatcher, The Tories, Scotland, The Tories, The Tories, The Tories …

And so it goes on - and on - for some time, alternating Scotland and Iain Gray’s leadership as if they bore any connection to reality.

Then, way down the list and well into the speech, the SNP makes its fleeting appearance - four times only, in contrast to the Tories 25 mentions, with two reference to Alex Salmond. The tired old Arc of Prosperity argument is trotted out yet again, with gratuitous insults for Ireland and a great silence on Norway.

Labour heroes of the distant and more recent past - Keir Hardie, Donald Dewar and John Smith - are given a reverential mention, all of whom are spinning rapidly in their graves at the contemptible thing their beloved Party has become under the current crop of expedient nuclear warmongers.

Read the full speech if you can. But here is the list in sequence - judge for yourselves -

ED MILIBAND

It is a pleasure to be here at the Scottish Conference.

Libya

internationalist party

overseas aid

the Balkans

international community

Colonel Gaddafi

armed forces

possible combat

Libya

Libya

Middle East

Middle East

Palestinians

Israel

Palestinian people

Scottish election

Scotland

Westminster

Tories

Holyrood

Scottish people

Tories

Tories

Scottish Labour party

Iain Gray’s leadership

Tory Threat

Scotland

Poll Tax

Scotland

Thatcher

The Tories

Scotland

The Tories

The Tories

The Tories

Labour

Tories

Scotland

Iain as First Minister

Labour

Scotland

Iain as First Minister

Iain's leadership

Scotland

Labour

Iain's leadership

Scotland

Scotland

Britain’s

Scotland

Tories

SNP

SNP

Scotland

Tory threat

Scotland

Tories

United Kingdom

Conservative-led government

London

the Tories

Scotland alone

separatism

Europe

Scotland

Iceland

Ireland

Alex Salmond’s

Arc of Prosperity

Scotland

Britain

Tories

Westminster

Holyrood

Scotland

Tories

Tories

Tory Government

England’s

England

Tory manifesto

Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg

Britain

Liberal democrats

Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat

UK

Tories

Scottish

Welsh Assembly

Westminster

Labour

Labour

the Tories

Labour

United Kingdom

Scotland

David Cameron

Liberal Democrats

SNP

Tories

Alex Salmond

separatism

Tories

Labour

Labour

Edinburgh

Scotland

UK

General Election

Oldham East

Barnsley Central

Paisley

SNP

Westminster

Liberal Democrats

Conservative

Scottish Labour

Keir Hardie

John Smith

Donald Dewar

Iain Gray

Scottish Labour

Wester Hailes

Scotland

Tories

Scotland

Iain Gray