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Showing posts with label Scottish LibDems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scottish LibDems. Show all posts

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Orkney and Shetland – the mandate for Scott and McArthur’s claims?

Given the extraordinary statements made by the Orkney and Shetland MSPs in recent days about the stance of their respective constituencies if Scotland becomes independent, it seems relevant to look at their mandates in the last election – May 2011.


Using 2010 figures, the population of Scotland is 5,222,100, that of Orkney 20,100 and of Shetland 22,400. The combined populations, 42,500, represent 0.81% of the Scottish population.

At the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections, Liam McArthur, LibDem MSP was returned as MSP for Orkney with 2,912 votes, representing 35.7% of votes cast. The turnout was 8,152 from an electorate of 16,535 = 49.3%  (In the 2007 election, McArthur polled 4,113 votes, representing 47.5% of votes cast.)

At the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections, Tavish Scott, LibDem MSP was returned as MSP for Shetland with 4,462 votes, representing 47.5% of votes cast.  The turnout was 9,391 from an electorate of 17,586 = 53.4% (In the 2007 election, Scott polled 6,531 votes, representing 66.7% of votes cast.)

In combination, Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur received 7,374 votes out of 17,543 votes cast, i.e. 42.03%

They received 7,374 votes out of an electorate of 34,121, i.e. 21.5%

Their 7,374 votes represents 17.4% of the total population of Orkney and Shetland, and represents 0.14% of the population of Scotland.

Between them, Scott and McArthur received 10,644 votes in the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary elections but only 7,374 votes in 2011, a loss 3,270 votes, equalling 30.7% of their support.


Anyone can play games with election statistics in a democracy, especially when the lamentably low turnouts in British elections are taken into account. The bottom line is that both were re-elected and now represent their respective constituencies in the Scottish Parliament.

But given the lamentable performance of the LibDems overall in the Scottish election of 2011 and the present record of the LibDems in Coalition Government, the major decline in support for both Scott and McArthur in their own constituencies and the above statistical analysis, it seems to me an act of folly and arrogance to make such radical claims and threats as those they have made this week on behalf of the people of Orkney and Shetland.

Purely on the basis of a narrow mandate they secured last May - without as far as we know any wide ranging consultation with the total electorate - they have effectively threatened to opt out of Scotland, a nation they have been party of since the 15th century, at a crucial moment in its history.

The SNP and the Scottish Government, bluntly, have been less than impressive in their responses to this, and yesterday's statement SNP admits Shetland and Orkney could opt out of independent Scotland and Liam McArthur - Angus MacNeill authorised or not, astonished a number of people, including me.

I hope a wider and more representative range of voices from the people of Orkney and Shetland may be heard soon.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Latest Brad Pitt blockbuster–“Last Tram to Hell”

If you were a zombie extra in Glasgow recently, and are wondering where your career will take you next, look east, and shamble off to Edinburgh, where the new Brad Pitt movie blockbuster is scheduled to start soon.

Last Tram to Hellthe story of a great city destroyed by tramcars.

The only qualification for a zombie extra is allegiance to either the Labour, LibDem or Tory clans. Anyone supporting the SNP clan will be disqualified, since they have opposed the project since its inception. Glasgow zombies who support Glasgow City Council will be regarded as automatically qualified because of their previous zombie extra experience.

Brian Adcock - "I see the Glasgow Labour vote is turning out" Labour zombies

Monday, 25 July 2011

Brian Monteith and

Brian Monteith makes one of his regular appearances in the columns of The Scotsman today, with a piece entitled Playing the name game could help the LibDems, one of a series of articles from Brian and others that have appeared since the SNP’s electoral victory in May, all of them designed to offer one form or another of artificial resuscitation to the parties so decisively rejected by the Scottish electorate.

Since Brian Monteith is a Tory, and is a Tory thinktank (I will defend that assertion shortly) - although it doesn’t fly under Tory colours - this is rather like one corpse trying to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to another- a grisly spectacle, not for the faint-hearted.

All of the articles of this type are characterised by loathing for the SNP, the democratic choice of the people of Scotland in two elections, who presumably ‘thought Scotland’ when they made their choice so decisively at the ballot box.

I quote -

While the SNP delays and dodges tough decisions …”

The LibDems are at a very low ebb in Scotland and it is no surprise that the SNP is mischievously  suggesting members and politicians leave the party to join them. Leaving aside the notion that true liberals would wish to join a party that has some of the most illiberal Tartan Taleban within its midst …”

What is Brian - and ThinkScotland’s - grand plan for the LibDems?

Leave big business to the Tories, and leave  the unions to Labour for now - the Liberals can give a voice to the articulate and moderate professional classes that is warm and reassuring to voters about what independence might mean.”

In spite of the above, he closes by advising the Liberals to return “to their radical Scottish roots”.

By abandoning big business to the venal and values-free Tories and the unions to the equally venal and values-free Scottish Labour Party? How radical is that, guys?

Become the Valium Party for those timid professional classes to scared to stand for anything, desperate for reassurance, and let the Tories and Labour continue unchallenged with their rapine and exploitation of the people?


Here is the link to ThinkScotland - About us - go the the team for more information.

It was founded by Robert Kilgour and the organisation is wholly funded by him. He is a Scottish entrepreneur, international investor and property developer working out of London.  He stood as a Tory in Hamilton South in 1997.

ThinkScotland states that it “is not aligned to any political party and welcomes diverse contributions and debate.”

It looks to me like a Tory thinktank, but judge for yourself by its team of advisors -

Phil Gallie (deceased) was one - a former Scottish Tory MP and MSP

Elena Kachkova -Parliamentary Adviser to Struan Stevenson MEP at the Scottish Conservatives Central Office (1999 - 2002). She moved to South Africa in 2002 where she continues a successful career as a Consultant on matters relating to the former Soviet Socialist Republics, and political affairs in South Africa.

Richard Cook - Director of an export company in the environmental waste management and recycling industry. A former Vice Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party.

Struan Stevenson became a Conservative MEP in 1999. He is currently the Conservative’s Front-Bench Spokesman on Fisheries and Deputy Spokesman on Agriculture.

Shailesh Vara was elected as the Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire in May 2005. He is currently Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.

Margaret Mitchell was elected as the Conservative List MSP for Central Scotland in 2003.

There are other advisors whose political affiliation is not stated. They are -

Bob Leitch - Chief Executive of Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry

John McGlynn - founded the Airlink group with interests in car parking, property development, document storage and venture capital. In 2005, he founded Scotland House to promote business links between Scotland and Estonia

Paul Holleran - National Organiser for the National Union of Journalists.

Tino Nombro - of Ambergreen - an early pioneer of search marketing delivering cutting edge search strategies for forward thinking bluechip brands, including My Travel, Marks & Spencer Money and Carphone Warehouse.

Charles Ferguson - a Solicitor Advocate based in Hamilton - specialises in criminal matters.

Jackie Anderson - retail experience at Mark & Spencers' store at the Gyle, Edinburgh, “before deciding to travel the world and write - bringing her down-to-earth, provocative and humorous take on life to ThinkScotland. “


Lastly, let me address Brian Monteith’s shabby attack on the SNP.

Yes, Brian - there are those in the online community who express extreme views in favour of Scotland’s independence. Like the sectarian ranters of Scottish football, they are matched by equally extreme views from the Tory extreme right and the Labour extreme left.

But there is a difference, and one that the Scottish Tories and LibDems would do well to consider carefully, and that is that the Scottish National Party is not afraid to reach out to the deprived and underprivileged in Scottish society - the people who have been betrayed over generation by Scottish Tories and Scottish Labour. These Scots - often young Scots - have been deprived educationally and socially, and their political views are often inchoate, and expressed in primitive and sometimes extreme language.

But they are learning and learning fast, and they know who is on their side and who is not. It once was the Labour Party - it was never the Tory Party - it is now the Scottish National Party.


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Tavish the Doublethink–a train wreck interview with Gordon Brewer

Tavish Scott is a pathetic spectacle these days, reflecting all the pressures that are destroying his boss Nick Clegg’s credibility and morale, but with the certain knowledge that he and his Scottish ‘party’ will face the wrath of the electorate just over three week, while the architect of his misfortunes and his fellow jerry builders may be able to defer the consequences of their folly for year or so.

Tavish and the Scottish LibDems quite simply are expendable in the Cleggite game plan, and Danny Alexander and Michael Moore, having tasted the heady delights of the illusion of power, are focused firmly on their Westminster fortunes, and the next general election. Poor Tavish, a nice guy in the LibDem feeble and ineffectual LibDem mould of niceness, knows this all too well, and could be forgiven for looking enviously at his predecessor Nicol Stephen, now Baron Stephen of Lower Deeside in the City of Aberdeen, sitting comfortably in the Lords. Retreat to the farm must be a seductive prospect for Tavish the Panicking.

But he puts a brave, if logically incoherent face on things, because what he ‘hears on the doorstep’ – the politician’s last defence when all around him is crumbling – is different from what the polls say, from what the media says, from what the pundits say.

I don’t doubt it – faced with this shy boyish grin and self-deprecating style, exuding vulnerability and lack of confidence, it would take a heart of stone not to try to say something reassuring lest he burst into tears. And last night’s Twitter comments towards the end and just after the interview tended to the Poor Tavish, nasty Gordon Brewer type, including from those who did not share his politics.

I have a heart of stone (in political, if not in cardiac terms) when it comes to ineffectual politicians. I don’t want nice guys crying in their beers – I want robust, decisive, analytical politicians with sound values, pragmatism and a belief in Scots and Scotland.

Go back to the farm gracefully, Tavish, and live happily ever after – the political kitchen has got too hot for you, and you just can’t stand the heat. Otherwise, you may find that the American phrase he bought the farm, meaning a sudden end, may acquire a certain resonance.

And my thanks to Gordon Brewer for this political dissection.

It is the job of political interviewers to reveal the inconsistencies, evasions, factual inaccuracies and policy contradictions in politicians, a job that democratic accountability demands they do well. Like all dissections, it is not always a pretty sight, but nonetheless vital to a healthy democracy and a free press. Last night Gordon Brewer did it clinically and professionally, without giving way to either disgust or pity.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Tavish the Evasive - no principle is sacrosanct if a coalition deal is on offer.

Although the Gaelic forename and surname belie it, it has occasionally been suggested that Tavish Scott had some Viking blood in him, presumably because of his Lerwick roots and launching his candidacy for the LibDem leadership among a group dressed as Vikings at Up Helly Aa in 2008.

I must say that, as a short-legged and once black-haired, wee Glaswegian, I would not have been in the least intimidated if Tavish had jumped off a longboat and ran up the beach at me in a horned helmet in days gone by. The instant assessment of the opposition required by a Glasgow east end childhood and young manhood would have instantly classed him as big safty - nae problem, Jimmy …

He’s a nice big guy, but niceness is something I value in people only if they don’t have difficult decisions to make that affect my life, in which case I readily sacrifice niceness for decisiveness, integrity, principle, and bluntly, cojones. And so to Tavish Scott, faux Viking and putative coalition member in the post May 5th Holyrood.

I never know whether to attack the LibDems or not, in these confusing political days we live in, since some evidence suggests that disillusioned Scottish LibDems are shifting their allegiance mainly to Labour. Presumably the closet Tories among the Scottish LibDems are not disillusioned, and are rather like CofE people creeping towards the Church of Rome in search of ultimate certainties. But who knows?

What adjectives come to mind in describing Tavish? The ones that jump to my mind are nice, diffident, ineffectual, vulnerable, uncool, lacking in street savvy. But he got elected and leads his party, you say - he must have qualities other than these? Well, maybe not, since these are the very characteristics that define a certain kind  of LibDem and presumably appeal to a certain group of LibDem voters.

I don’t like pulling the legs off flies, or watching them being pulled off, and my toes curl when I watch Tavish’s attempts at humour in Holyrood, reading his laborious jokes and bon mots intently from his notes, flanked by equally nice, nodding colleagues, smiling bravely as their Leader dies the death, but with no hook coming from the wings to drag him offstage. Alex Salmond tries not to make it look too effortless as he swats him away at FMQs.

But here he is on Newsnight Scotland with Gordon Brewer, who is only too happy to pull the wings off anything that moves, and regards Tavish as light exercise, a limbering-up before the main bouts with other, more worthy opponents.

The LibDem leader deploys his limited arsenal of pea-shooter and water pistol against the Brewer Magnum, with the inevitable result - the diffident smile, the engaging laugh, the please-don’t-hit-me-again body language and the self-deprecation are no match for the Brewer neo-Paxman assault.

But unlike many of these often sterile encounters, this one actually illuminates an essential political truth of LibDemmery in the Coalition era - nothing is sacred, expediency is everything, and every value and principle may be sacrificed, every promise broken on the altar of power in coalition. Tavish will do what he has to to get into the big boys’ gang, just as Clegg, Cable, Alexander, Martin and the rest did.

Just tell me what I must do to join the club …

Of course, a pretence of Scottishness must be maintained. The beaming Tavish, on the studio backdrop image, sports a saltire badge, and in the interview he claims his independence of Westminster - “I'm not one of them …”. Nonetheless, he lists the Coalition ‘achievements’ that “didn’t happen under Laaaybah …” And so Tavish ducks and weaves, and dances round the ring on tiptoe until Gordon Brewer is ready to hit him, and then the principles fall, one by one.

Brewer asks, in essence - what are the deal breakers? Give me one policy, one principle, one value that you won’t trade for a place in government. “Can you give me a single Liberal Democrat policy that you would commit tonight - personally - that you would not sell in a coalition deal?”

The opposition to tuition fees, or any form of student charge, dies painlessly under the questioning, and incredibly, so does the refusal to rule out a coalition with the SNP despite the heretofore implacable opposition to Scotland’s independence. Tavish’s desperate and feeble attempts the throw up a smokescreen over the Scottish Government’s ‘failure’ to present an independence bill (to witness its inevitable defeat by the united unionist opposition presumably) is blown away effortlessly by Brewer pointing out that independence is going to be central to the SNP’s campaign.

So Tavish goes off home to don his Viking helmet with the marshmallow horns, make fierce faces at himself in the mirror, and dream of coalition after May 5th with - well, anybody, really …

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Danny Alexander – “cruel and illiberal” cuts?

Jon Snow to Danny Alexander, Channel Four News, 20th October 2010

Nevertheless, the point of all this is that you have to realise £2 billion out of this programme, and that means, quite possibly, some quite severely disabled people are going to have to be got to a point where they are not able to work and will not get any income.”

Alexander babbled feebly about fairness, getting ‘our’ public finances in order, and the back-to-work scheme.

Jon Snow:

But when you keep talking about fairness – and my goodness, we’ve heard that word a lot today – your office sent me a graph of what you’ve done today, and if you look at the weight of what’s been done today, the biggest quantity of it falls upon the poor. That’s hardly Liberal Democrat excellence, is it?”

More ConLib jargon came from an increasingly uncomfortable Danny.

Jon Snow:

Let’s take another very quick one. Where you have a disability allowance – you’ve got a mobility allowance within that, and if you actually have either the misfortune or the fortune to be housed in a home, in some kind of supportive environment, you lose the mobility allowance. A rather cruel and illiberal thing to do, is it not?”

Let’s take a closer look at this tall, red-haired, rather diffident Scotsman and ask how he came to be the instrument of Tory millionaires in visiting cruel and illiberal cuts to income and vital services to the poor and disabled.

He was born in Edinburgh then spent part of his boyhood on Colonsay. 38 years of age, he was educated at Lochaber High School then gained an honours degree at St. Anne’s College, Oxford in politics, philosophy and economics – the PPE degree that I have commented on in a recent blog, the preferred choice of the career politician. (Click here for PPE blog)

St. Anne’s College has impeccable liberal (with a small L) credentials, originally set up as a place for emancipated women. Here’s what it says about its values on its website -

St Anne's values

St Anne's has always set its outward face towards the world. It has always been driven by its sense of connecting the ideals of the University to those who have not previously had the chance to encounter them – originally it was women, then women too poor to come to Oxford otherwise, and latterly a confident, tolerant, diverse and multicultural community of women and men.

One can understand why a young, perhaps idealistic, aspiring Liberal Democrat might choose such a college. One might expect that it would pursue academic excellence but not at the price of a wider awareness of society and its original ideals. Again, in its own words -

“… it is implacable in the pursuit of academic excellence, but does not see this as setting it apart from contemporary society.”

How could a product of this background and this education produce someone who, as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was the main number cruncher of savage cuts falling mainly upon the poor and the disabled, “cruel and illiberal” cuts?

The politics and the economics components of the PPE degree seem to have been assimilated – what happened to the philosophy part?


His career has been entirely in communications, and almost entirely in politics, except for a brief period (2004-2005) when he was Head of Communications for the Cairngorms National Park Authority. He has been Shadow Just-about-Everything with the LibDems, and, very briefly, Scottish Secretary in the ConLib coalition, until David Laws’ abrupt exit from the Treasury catapulted him into the role for which he will become famous or infamous – make your own prediction.

This career path is exactly what the PPE degree equips its holders for - it is the modern day version of the government or colonial administrator’s career in the bright summer of the British Empire – someone with little or no empathy with the lives of ordinary people, with no hard, tangible experience of commerce or industry, but nonetheless destined to make decisions that impact cruelly upon those they float above, wholly insulated from the pain, suffering and economic misery they are destined to inflict on millions.

But you can redeem yourself, Danny, and in the process, make a real and fundamental impact on the corrupt Westminster and UK Establishment values that have brought you to this point.

Resign, and make a public statement that you are revolted by what you have become a part of, and the way your liberal and democratic ideals have become betrayed by the company you were induced to keep. Commit yourself to work for the very people whose lives your policies will impoverish and destroy. Then you will stand alone and above the heaving, mendacious mass of Westminster careerists, lobby fodder, like swine at the trough.

Ideally, recognise that you can really only make an impact on the land that I believe you love – Scotland – by joining the fight for Scottish independence. Then you will really be a Scottish liberal and a Scottish democrat.