Unionists voice is broken

October 24, 2008

Is the Unionist argument finally maturing?

David Cameron's new book

David Cameron declared today that:

“Of course it is possible that Scotland can stand alone – that is true”

Could this be the beginning of the end of the Unionist scare stories about Scottish independence?

Have the Unionists begun to realise that their constantly negative ‘can’t don’t’ attitude is a turn off to Scottish voters?

If so, nationalists may for once have a real fight on their hands.

It seems that the Conservative leader has realised the correct argument for the Unionists to take:

“I don’t think we’d ever succeed in saving the Union by frightening Scots to say you couldn’t possibly make it on your own.”

In other words, ditch the negative agenda and promote a positive one.

Of course many parties in Scotland support independence:- the Greens, the SSP, Solidarity and of course the SNP. There is also an independent MSP – Margo Macdonald – that supports independence.

Such is the size of the SNP, they are the main drivers for Scottish independence. They are the dominant party of Scotland:- in Government at Holyrood, on the rise in Westminster, and have the largest number of councillors compared to any other party. They have a clear voice to the Scottish public.

The Conservatives though have currently 17 MSPs in Holyrood and 1 Scottish constituency MP in Westminster. They don’t have a great platform in Scotland.

So can they persuade the other Unionist parties – Labour and the Liberal Democrats – to follow their positive agenda?

I doubt it.

Labour are so far stuck in a negative agenda that their MPs and MSPs should be kept in a darkroom! Witness Jim Murphy’s Arc of Insolvency slur towards Iceland, for example.

And the Liberal Democrats with their federalist ambitions are hardly the best bedfellows for the Conservatives.

The three have just about managed to keep the Calman Commission afloat, all paddling in different directions! Without Kenneth Calman at the helm it would have perished on the rocks a long time ago. And even the Calman Commission is looking into more powers for the Scottish Parliament, so its more of a soft nationalist approach in any case.

So if the Conservatives alone argue for a positive case for the Union, their voice will just confuse with Labour’s negative case for independence and the Liberal Democrats case for federalism.

In short, the voters will switch off to the Unionist message.

Leaving the clear SNP positive message to take centre stage.

I have previously argued that unless the Unionists argue with a coherent message, then it would always lack ‘stickiness’. Something that the independence message doesn’t lack.

‘Stickiness’ is the vital quality before achieving the political Tipping Point; the backing for Scottish independence amongst the voters. And if you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s book you’ll realise that the Tipping Point is usually well before a majority; its just an equilibrium point – after which the product or message reaches everyone.

The course is clear for Unionists. To save the Union both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have to follow the Conservative’s lead.

And have a grown-up debate on the matter.

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Glasgow East tactical voting

July 12, 2008

The latest (You Gov) poll news is encouraging for the SNP:-

On Westminster voting intentions:

SNP 33%
Labour 29%
Conservative 20%
Liberal Democrats 14%

On who people want to see win the Glasgow East byelection:

SNP 49%
Labour 33%
Conservative 9%
Liberal Democrats 6%
Others 3%

This poll is a Scotland wide one, not just based in Glasgow East.

However it may just show that both the Liberal Democrat vote and the Conservative vote is open to a lot of tactical voting in the Glasgow East constituency. The Liberal Democrats fall from 14% to 6%; the Conservatives fall from 20% to 9%. In other words both votes fall by over 50% if there is a chance of kicking out Gordon Brown.

This was the 2005 result:-

Labour 18775 60.68%
SNP 5268 17.03%
Liberal Democrat 3665 11.85%
Conservative 2135 6.90%
SSP 1096 3.54%

If the SNP got half the Liberal Democrat vote and half the Conservative vote (2900 votes) that would amount to a 9.37% swing. That would give a bit of margin for error in the attempt to woe the Labour vote.

It is widely reported that the SNP need a massive 22% swing from Labour to win this seat.

But if the SNP get tactical votes (maybe the 9.37% swing calculated from the poll) from the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives this will be easier to achieve.

Put it this way, can the SNP convince 1 out of 3 Labour voters to vote for them? All the anecdotal evidence in newspapers seem to suggest a lot of switching votes is happening.

That’s over a 20% swing right there. The history of byelections show that such a swing is not impossible.

But that’s the hard bit. The canvassing, campaigning etc. I’ve already mentioned how few local Labour activists there are in the constituency. The SNP expect an increase of 500 activists this weekend to add to their already considerable numbers.

An SNP win here would be remarkable. Labour (with Independent Labour) has held this area since 1922, when Red Clydesider John Wheatley won Glasgow Shettleston. The SNP were formed in 1934.

If Labour lost Glasgow East could Gordon Brown survive?

It has become the most politically important byelection of our times.

Glasgow East lies, Round 1!

July 10, 2008

Everyone in Scotland knows the newspapers are anti-SNP so its no surprise when the likes of the Daily Record and The Scotsman declare Margaret Curran’s Labour campaign launch in Glasgow East to be the best thing since sliced bread and one in the eye for the SNP!

‘Round 1 to Labour’ the Scotsman headline screamed as she launched her campaign.

I have commented before that there is no newspaper in Scotland that is pro-SNP. Its remarkable that the SNP, the most popular government Scotland has ever had, has no mainstream newspaper sympathetic to its policies! It just shows that the newspapers, editors and journalists are struggling to keep up with the Scottish public’s endearment to the SNP.

They are gradually getting the message though. One only has to look at their online comment pages to see that the public aren’t buying their propaganda any more. Their falling sales are a testament to that too – money talks, and eventually they must change their stance! There simply isn’t room in the market for all these Unionist newspapers.

I have already commented on the despondency of Labour’s Glasgow East campaign launch.

Now, as the actual launches of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SSP are posted on STV’s site, we can see what really happened, and see through the newspapers anti-SNP spin.

The video is posted here.

Straight from the start, Margaret Curran says she has lived in Glasgow’s East End for all her life.

That is a blatant lie.

She has a £350 000 house in a middle class area of Cathcart, in Glasgow’s South Side. She has stayed there for many years.

Perhaps the SNP should run tours from Glasgow East to her home just to point out the difference in living standards between the MSP and the constituents she wants to represent! And then ask them if they want to give her another job, expenses and a John Lewis list!

Maybe Margaret Curran should also go on the tour.

Its obvious that she has no idea where her home really is! Perhaps she should ask to be checked out by a doctor for signs of dementia.

The other Curran hoping to be elected is Frances Curran, also seen in the STV clip. She does not want to be confused as the Labour hopeful. I have already commented on the fact that she fears she could lose votes over their similar names.

But she has hinted at the Glasgow East constituents’ attitude towards the Labour MSP. “People have already had a go at me in the street because they think I’m Margaret Curran.” she said.

That just shows how much support Labour has lost when a candidate with a similar name to the local Labour MSP is harassed by constituents by mistake.

‘Round 1 to Labour’ indeed! What a disgraceful press!

Labour are already down and out, seconds after the bell has rung.

Glasgow East – SNP landslide!!

July 8, 2008

It seems that James Purnell, the Works and Pensions Minister, has been defending Labour’s dreadful record in Glasgow East; a constituency that has infamously one of the lowest male life expectancy rates in the Western world. All of this on a Labour MP watch that’s lasted decades.

A Conservative MP, David Gauke, said that the Labour Government’s record of trying to get people back to work had failed certain areas – and said Labour has “Let down the people of Glasgow East”.

It really comes to something when the Conservatives can so easily attack the Government on their policies to tackle poverty.

It really shows just how far to the right the New Labour Party are.

James Purnell is about to publish a Green Paper, designed to get people back to work whether sick, disabled, lone parents or drug addicts – and of course the unemployed will be targeted in a new ‘work for dole’ policy.

Will such a move be popular in Glasgow East? Will it help save the Labour vote where 50% of people of working age are out of work for one reason or another? Where 63% of children are in families on benefits? How will those people react to Purnell’s Green Paper? Will they just see it as a measure to help them or a threat to their benefits?

Meanwhile, Labour has formally declared Margaret Curran as their candidate. Frances Curran has just been on Newsnight Scotland saying their similar names may lose the SSP valuable votes! So at least that may give the Labour Party some more votes. That’s the best news the Labour Party has had in their disastrous campaign!

The Green Party has also announced their candidate as Dr Eileen Duke, a retired GP and co-convenor of Glasgow and the West of Scotland. Its not a seat where the Greens are expected to do well in.

Back on Newsnight Scotland, Tommy Sheridan said that he wanted the SNP to win and admitted all the other parties were fighting for third place.

With honesty like that its incredible he has been accused of perjury!

Alex Salmond predicted a ‘political earthquake’ result in Glasgow East earlier.

As I mentioned before Labour has fewer than 200 members in the constituency; a ridiculously low number given its one of Labour’s safest seats in the UK. One Glasgow East card-carrying member of the Labour Party interviewed on Newsnight – he even showed his card on screen – said that there was no way he would vote Labour after the disappointment of the Blair and Brown Governments. If he is typical of the local members then Labour has a huge fight on its hands! The morale amongst the party must be rock bottom.

Channel 4 has revealed that out of around the 200 members only about 3 dozen are active in the Constituency Association. That’s only 36 Labour members – at most! – willing to chap doors, leaflet the public and defend their policies to the Glasgow East public. No wonder Scottish Labour has demanded that all its MPs and MSPs help out – they’ve hardly any activists in the constituency!

Virtually no activists! Virtually no money! Virtually no hope!

The SNP may only predict an earthquake.

A landslide is more likely!!!

Labour’s Glasgow East chaos

July 6, 2008

What is happening with the Labour candidate process for the Glasgow East By-election?

First of all we hear that Gordon Brown has phoned Stephen Purcell, the Glasgow City Council Labour leader, 4 times asking him to stand. Purcell has repeatedly turned the Prime Minister down.

Then, Gordon Brown phones Lesley Quinn, Labour’s former Scottish General Secretary, and asks her to stand. Again, Quinn declines the Prime Minister’s offer.

The Daily Mail reports that Gordon Brown phoned 4 party loyalists in total asking if they would stand.

These 6am calls have got to stop, Gordon! Caller ID boxes will be bought all over the Barras this weekend!

So Labour introduce their candidate shortlist on Friday:-

George Ryan
Irene Graham
Doug Maughan

with East end councillor George Ryan, the odds-on favourite to be nominated.

However, the councillor does not show up at the selection meeting for “family reasons” and pulls out of the running.

Labour then announce the selection process will now be postponed till Monday.

So that means a weekend of more phoning and pleading for Gordon Brown. Will he yet convince Purcell or Quinn? I very much doubt it.

John McTernan has been suggested by the Telegraph as a potential candidate. Probably his involvement with the cash-for-peerages row rules him out though.

And what does it mean about the calibre of the other two hopefuls on the shortlist? If Labour considered them serious challengers for the nomination then surely the selection meeting should have just continued on Friday choosing either of them.

Will they now stand again on Monday? If they’re deemed not good enough on Friday, why would they want to stand on Monday? That’s a terrible position to be in, and I think they would both be perfectly entitled to stand down from the selection process too.

And now stories are surfacing about the real reasons George Ryan quit the selection process:-

The internet is awash with rumours that some journalist or other has some dirt on Councillor Ryan.

Perhaps it is related to The Times story of housing benefit fraud claims.

Perhaps it may be the story surfacing on Guido Fawkes site about a run-in he had with a political editor after a Cathcart by-election where the police were nearly called.

Perhaps it may be the story that the councillor is none too impressed with the Union Flag – he deemed sectarian – or the National Anthem God Save the Queen – he deemed offensive. Instead, Ryan wanted the saltire and the Flower of Scotland to be used in their place. Could it be that the councillor is none too fond of the Union between Scotland and England? In which case his nomination would just play into the hands of the SNP anyway. The story is on the BBC and in The Times.

Perhaps it has to do with the GHA and funding. Residents of Glasgow East may not be too keen on the councillor if GHA take over their Local Housing Associations with compulsory purchase orders.

Perhaps it was the fact that Councillor Ryan and 10 other Labour Glasgow City Councillors – including Stephen Purcell, that also may explain his reluctance to stand – are being investigated by the Standards Commission over dodgy dealings in an attempt to obtain the land of Paddy’s Market in the East End.

Whatever the reason for his withdrawal, family reasons or not, Labour’s Glasgow East campaign is already in disarray.

Details of the real reason the sitting MP David Marshall resigned won’t help the perception that the Labour Party is mired in sleaze.

Now the BBC are saying that Margaret Curran, the Baillieston MSP, is intending to stand for Labour as a candidate! That would be unbelievably farcial given Labour’s griping about Alex Salmond holding a job in Holyrood and Westminster (though Alex is merely following convention set by Donald Dewar and Jim Wallace, and has announced that he intends not to fight his Westminster seat at next election).

Of course, due to boundary changes at the next Scottish General election, the Baillieston seat will disappear. Maybe this forced her hand.

Fair play to her for offering and trying to pull Labour out of their self-dug hole, but that would just leave Labour open to more ridicule.

What if she was to lose? She would still remain MSP for Baillieston but her leadership challenge would be crushed. She would be seen to no longer have the confidence of the people who elected her in 2007!

Perhaps she thinks that if she managed a good campaign in front of the media then her positioning as potential Scottish MSP leader would be improved. A sort of MSP leadership campaign head-start before the other rivals formally start their bids after the by-election. What does Cathy Jamieson, Iain Gray et al think of this move?

In the meantime, the Solidarity Party has named its candidate for Glasgow East. That honour goes to Tricia McLeish from Shettleston.

Tommy Sheridan had nominated her.

So Tommy Sheridan will not be standing for the Glasgow East constituency. That leaves the SSP and Solidarity splitting the socialist vote as expected, and the two main players, Labour and the SNP free to campaign without Tommy Sheridan’s profile stealing the election spotlight.

I’m sure Tricia will do a good job, but I imagine Tommy, as leader of the party, would have collected more votes.

It seems Solidarity would be happy with a SNP win in the election to try and force out Gordon Brown. Tommy Sheridan commented “We have got no problem with the SNP winning this election. Solidarity will be pleased to see the demise of Gordon Brown.”

Given the recent polls a lot of people will feel the same way.

Glasgow East swings

July 4, 2008

I see that William Hill has changed their prices to bring them in line with the other bookmakers:-

SNP — 8/11
Labour — evens
Conservatives — 25/1
Liberal Democrats — 33/1

So now the only bookie that was backing Labour to win, now thinks the SNP will win.

The Liberal Democrats have named their candidate as Ian Robertson. He previously stood in the Westminster election of 2005 in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat, increasing their share of the vote by 6.7% – mainly from Labour voters – and squeezing past the SNP to go into second place. Given the state of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland now I think he’ll be lucky to keep their vote share but nonetheless he has a decent pedigree.

The SNP have also named their candidate as the Baillieston councillor John Mason. He has served on Glasgow City Council since 1998 and is the Glasgow SNP’s longest serving councillor. He also happens to be the most popular councillor in Glasgow – having the highest personal vote of any councillor in Glasgow, and the 4th highest vote in Scotland!

When he was first elected in 1998 he achieved a swing of 17.45% from Labour to the SNP. Can he manage to pull off a 22% swing?

Since Baillieston is a large part of the Glasgow East constituency this should be a shrewd move, capitalising on his local support. John lives in the East End and has done for the last 18 years.

The Scottish Socialist Party have named their candidate as Frances Curran; the joint leader of the party alongside Colin Fox. This clearly shows an intent by the SSP to try and take the socialist vote from the Solidarity Party, the other socialist party headed by Tommy Sheridan.

Both Labour and Solidarity are expected to name their candidates later today. I would guess that George Ryan (Labour) and Tommy Sheridan (Solidarity) would be the favourites.

If Tommy Sheridan does run, his high personal profile will probably take votes from both Labour and the SNP, making any result ridiculously hard to call.

And that will make Gordon Brown very nervous indeed.

David Davis resignation

June 13, 2008

Its a win – win situation.

David Davis has made one of the shrewdest political gambles of his career.

In resigning from Parliament after such a contentious Labour win aided by the Democratic Unionist Party, and fighting as a candidate in the subsequent by-election, he now appears as a man of principle.

As Shadow Home Secretary you may have fought that he was in the right job to influence people’s minds on the 42 day detention, but although he may have won the moral argument in the Commons the vote still went against him.

Labour have been arguing that the public are behind them but as David Cameron said that doesn’t make it right.

Now standing on a civil liberties platform in the coming by-election he can give Labour a public vote that might just change the popular views in the UK, and destroy Labour’s public argument.

I fully expect David Davis to win his seat.

His closest rivals last time were the Liberal Democrats and as they support David Davis’ stance on civil liberties Nick Clegg has refused to put a candidate up against him.

Now it is up to Labour whether they will stand.

If they refuse, it will look as though they have been scared to test public opinion.

If they accept, odds are they will be humilated.

Its win – win for David Davis.

The public like politicans of principle. You may not always agree with them but at least they stand a corner and fight for their beliefs.

That’s why people like Tony Benn are so respected. His socialist views may be a thing of the past for New Labour but his views give us a true distance of how far this New Labour Government has travelled to the right.

You could argue that democracy needs this shading to work well.

The talk is that Labour won’t stand in the by-election and try to marginalise David Davis.

If that is the case then Kelvin Mackenzie, former editor of The Sun, has said that he will probably run, backed by Rupert Murdoch’s money and press.

Now a News International campaign against David Davis will certainly make the by-election more interesting.

I suspect though that Davis will still win against Mackenzie. It would take some sleaze or corruption angle by News International to make it a close race. Something which they will no doubt be looking into just now.

Much as I’d love Kelvin Mackenzie to win the seat and become an MP – everytime he speaks his anti-Scottish diatribe, the nationalist vote in Scotland soars. He’s a one-man Recruiting Sergeant for the SNP, SSP and Greens. In a political war he could be even described as a fifth-columist for Scottish independence! – the vote has got to go with Davis.

We have too few principled politicans in Westminster to afford to lose him.

Speaking of lack of principles let us turn to the Labour Party. They have bullied, dealt and perhaps bribed their way to win this vote.

There was media talk today of Gordon Brown offering would-be rebels: ‘What do you want in your constituency?’ and offering Labour MPs sitting on marginals safer seats come election time. One radio report said one Labour MP was offered the Governorship of Bermuda! Even bribes were suggested!

But it is the deal offered to the DUP that is the most interesting. The SNP will be watching with interest to see if Northern Ireland accrues any benefit from this deal, as this negates the Government policy of acting in the interests of the UK over a devolved administration. Labour couldn’t use that argument to argue against a Scottish oil fund for instance.

The Lord Advocate of Scotland, Elish Angelini, has said that she sees no circumstances where this law to come into effect in Scotland. The previous Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, a Labour Peer no less, has agreed with her.

Given that any such extension to 42 days detention without charge in Scotland would need to be granted by the Lord Advocate then it can be seen that the law will be operationally defunct here in Scotland in any case.

If it comes into statute at all. There is enough opposition in the Lords to suggest that this bill will never make it to law. It will also be challenged on Human Rights laws if need be.

Which makes Gordon Brown’s posturing on this all the more remarkable.

He seems to have lost his leadership of the party somewhere over the Bermuda Triangle.

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