Search topics on this blog

Showing posts with label Scottish Parliament elections May 5th 2011. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scottish Parliament elections May 5th 2011. Show all posts

Monday, 9 May 2011

O schadenfreude–can I resist you?

Alex Salmond has been magnanimous and generous in victory to the three other party leaders following their resignations.

I am cut from lesser cloth, I’m afraid …


From Alex Salmond and The Three UK Stooges - plus Patrick Harvie


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Scotsman and journalistic standards

Before I get to the papers, a word about the BBC. What master programme planner decides that we all put our brains into neutral on a bank holiday, and demand, instead of regular news and current affairs programmes, a fractured schedule comprising truncated news broadcasts with the time filled with trivial re-runs and repeat entertainments programming?

Are we supposed to lose our interest in current affairs, politics and major events so that we may frolic in the garden or on the beach, occasionally watching the crap that has replaced the news on a portable?

Back to the papers and that strange species called Scottish journalists and political commentators. (I won’t list my usual exceptions, those whom I recognise as fine examples of the honourable Scottish journalistic tradition, because some have fallen off the plinths I erected for them in the last week or so, destabilised from their bases by the terrifying spectre of imminent Scottish independence, a wraith visible to everyone except the SNP, nationalists supporters, and apparently the majority of the electorate, who have more practical concerns.)

I ask three baseline things of a journalist, accurate facts, a reasonable command of English, and a little sensitivity. The Scotsman, in an otherwise excellent Election 2011 supplement today, manage to fall at the first two hurdles on page 5.

Andrew Whitaker fails the English test on this  paragraph -

You can count on a close-run election race (para 10)

Should Ms Boyack, an ever-present in the Scottish Parliament since 1999, be defeated and the swing against her is repeated across Scotland, then we may be set for a fairly comfortable SNP win.

I’m sure you can see what’s wrong here, Andrew. If not, things are worse than I thought …

Eddie Barnes fails the factual accuracy test on his 3rd paragraph here, on the arithmetical process applied to the constituency vote -

How the voting system works

The constituency votes are counted first. Once these results are in, election officers tally up the votes in each region and then divide that sum by the number of seats each party has won within that region. The party with the largest figure gets a regional seat. That seat is added to their tally and the process is repeated until a total of seven regional MSPs are elected. The effect is to give more seats to parties which have failed to win constituency seats, but have secured a significant chunk of votes.

The method adopted for proportional representation in the Scottish Parliament is the d’Hondt method, Eddie, not the Barnes method. The votes in each region are divided by 1 + number of seat won, not by the number of seat won as you say.

An example should suffice to demonstrate what would happen if the Barnes method were used rather than the d’Hondt method.

Barnes method

Party gets 100,000 votes and wins one seat - 100,000 divided by 1 + 100,000. Party’s vote unchanged.

d’Hondt method

Party gets 100,00 votes and wins one seat - 100,000 divided by 1+1 = 2. Party’s vote is now 50,000, and it is re-ranked on the list.

At a time when there is, inconveniently, a UK-wide ballot on a different method, and the Scottish system may not be at all clear to many voters in the Holyrood election on Thursday, this is not a trivial error for one of Scotland’s two main newspapers to make.

I think in the interest of democracy and accuracy, an immediate correction and apology should be published prominently tomorrow in The Scotsman.

N.B. If I have got this wrong, Eddie, I will immediately apologise and retract my error.


On page 33 of the main paper, Hugh Reilly, in a piece entitled Cross purposes over how to cast a vote, has the following sentence in a paragraph (para 6, second column) -

Having hurdled the constituency vote with as much grace as a one-legged amputee, …

I cannot believe I’ve just read that in a quality newspaper, Hugh.

Many ‘one-legged amputees’ compete with considerable grace in sports of all kinds, and the main factor that has produced ‘one-legged amputees’ in recent years has been the tide of horrific injuries sustained by servicemen and women serving their regiment and the country in two wars.

Their grace is of a kind that few can display - it is the grace of loyalty to comrades and to their profession, and it is all the greater because it has been displayed in misconceived conflicts that have been entered into by politicians who are not in harm’s way, almost never place their adult children in harm’s way, and who totally lack anything that resembles grace.

I think Hugh Reilly owes an apology to Scotsman readers and to those he treats so casually in his cheap, throwaway remark.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The politics of John McTernan, the politics of the gutter - and Labour

An article today by John McTernan in The Scotsman epitomises what the Scottish Labour Party is all about. I quote -

Playing the nasty card might get results

by John McTernan (The Scotsman 27April 2011)

“Everyone who aspire to political office has to be, at least in part, an intellectual thug.”

“How do you become First Minister of Scotland? Simple. Malcolm X was right. “By any means necessary.” If you’re not prepared to follow his advice, you should avoid politics as a career.”

I spent some time earlier today in an exchange with John McTernan on Twitter about what the thing that now calls itself the Labour party now stands for. At that point, I hadn’t read the article, but I have now. It is the politics of the gutter, the worst kind of right-wing Tory ‘Laura Norder’ populism, appealing to fear, ignoring statistics and the views of the professionals who actually have to maintain law and order. We have heard it recently from Goldie, Gray and Kerr in all its intellectual poverty and innumeracy.

It is the politics of desperation, employed by every right-wing party when they see power slipping away to real democracy and the power of argument and the spirit of a people as their national consciousness awakens after a long somnolence - a fevered nightmare. And the thing that is now the Labour Party machine is a right-wing party, by any definition.

It is interesting that John McTernan chooses to quote Malcolm X, rather than John Paul Sartre, the author of the phrase. Malcolm X was a convicted criminal at age 21, some years before before he embarked on a career of violence with the Nation of Islam, a violent extremist organisation: a man who advocated openly the use of violence and weapons to achieve his ends, and who despised the way of democracy and peace, the way of Martin Luther King. Malcolm X came to see the error of at least some of his political philosophy, broke with the nation of Islam, and was then murdered by those he had antagonised.

I think I can say with some certainty that John McTernan’s answer to his own question “How do you become First Minister of Scotland?” - “By any means necessary is not the answer that would have been given by Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish or Jack McConnell, nor would they have regarded themselves “at least in part as an intellectual thug”. It is certainly not the answer that would be given by the present First Minister, Alex Salmond, nor has it ever been a political approach that he has ever employed.

It is, quite simply, a contemptible philosophy, one that I would say the Labour Party should be ashamed of, but for the fact that they are now incapable of shame or remorse, as the tragedy of Iraq continues to show (McTernan defended Blair’s folly today on Twitter), and their inability to acknowledge their fundamental role in causing the UK’s present economic nightmare.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Labour would Balls-up Scotland - the SNP won't let them

Iain Gray calls on yet another English MP to try to bail out his failing campaign. Whom does he choose, or perhaps more accurately, who did his Westminster bosses tell him he must have?

Why none other than Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, economic whizz-kid thrown out of power because he played a major role in Ballsing-up the UK economy.

Labour and Balls continue to flog their doomed notion that rubbishing Scotland's independence and the right of Scots to vote on it is an electoral winner for them. Poor old Willie Bain (successor to the disgraced former Speaker Michael Martin who presided over the expenses rip-off, but is now a Lord) and MP for one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, Springburn - wriggles uncomfortably under Andrew Neil's question about where he stands on independence.

Poor old Ming - unionist, Royalist establishment figure - tries to make a brave fist of the LibDem meltdown.

Stewart Hosie quietly makes nonsense of Neil's ridiculous question - a false assertion rather than a question - about the SNP's commitments to the Scottish people by explaining patiently that the budget figures and the costings have already been laid out and the commitments will be kept in full.

Ed Ball's won't give Iain Gray the cojones he plainly lacks, and which were evident by their absence in the Great Flight to the Sandwich Bar in Central Station.