‘Dead Cat’ holds Glenrothes

November 7, 2008

So the Gordon Brown ‘Dead Cat’ bounce has held Glenrothes for Labour.

Its probably bought a few months of air fresheners for the ailing Gordon Brown Government. And probably keep Gordon Brown in his job till the forced General Election in 2010.

But I suspect the public will notice the cat is still dead is due course.

No amount of air fresheners can cover up the decay.

So if that’s Labour what about the SNP?

By-elections give momentum, and although the SNP increased their vote and ate substantially into Labour’s 10 600 majority, many pundits expected them to take the seat.

So the SNP’s blistering momentum from the Glasgow East victory has been slowed.

Still going forward but at a more steady pace.

Alex Salmond has said that his party needs to take a look at how it can combat Labour’s negative campaigning.

I agree, but surely there is only one way to go?

That’s to become even more positive.

Once you become mired in negative politics then not only do you demean your party – and play into the hands of your opponents – but you switch off the voters. Labour does negative campaigning well; they need to – their backs are against the electoral wall, and they lack any vision of where New Labour is going. Although the SNP ran a positive campaign, perhaps they should have killed the negative Labour stories faster.

I think the last thing Scotland needs in its politics is the negative campaigning usually seen in the U.S. The Unionist parties and press are halfway there already, I’d hate to see it get worse!

As Barack Obama shows a positive campaign with the right message can achieve fantastic results.

The SNP dusted off their 1997 election slogan ‘Yes we can’ after Barack Obama’s historic victory in the United States.

In hindsight, they should have used it much earlier when they saw the polls favouring the Obama campaign.

It might have got them some decent press for once.

Then on Obama winning they might have had their own bounce.

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Settling the Act of Settlement

September 27, 2008

According to new reports Gordon Brown may be preparing to ditch the Act of Settlement, the centuries old English law that bans Catholics from being King or Queen. It was later included as Article 2 in the Treaty of the Union when Scotland lost its independence.

A move that has championed by Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond.

Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister, said: “I welcome these moves. The Act of Settlement is an 18th-century anachronism that has no place in a modern 21st-century constitution. The SNP first raised the issue over a decade ago, the Scottish parliament united in 1999 to call for this long overdue reform, and I hope the prime minister follows through in early course.”

This is one of latest policy u-turns Gordon Brown has done, frequently stealing SNP policies in the process.

Cynics interpret that this is Gordon Brown’s attempt to try and shore up the Catholic vote for Labour, as its suggested that Catholics are leaving the Labour Party in droves. A blatant piece of electioneering to try and secure a fourth term when the policy will be put before Parliament.

Critics of the move suggest that ending the Act of Settlement may start a movement towards the disestablishment of the Church of England. The UK monarch is Head of the Church of England, and gives an Oath of Ascession to “maintain and preserve the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government” in Scotland.

As a result the Church of Scotland is not a state church, as in England. It is entirely free and neither the Westminster or Scottish Parliaments are involved in the Kirk’s appointments.

The question is – how could a Catholic monarch be either the Head of the Church of England or give the Oath of Ascession to Scottish Presbyterianism?

Both would doubtless need to change.

It would see the separation of the Church of England from the state, as the Church of Scotland is.

And although, it is possible that a Catholic monarch could promise to uphold Presbyterianism, and leave the Oath of Ascession unaltered, its far more likely that a new Oath of Ascession would be more inclusive and tolerant to all religions.

Or even scrapped altogether.

For me, I would like religion and the state to be separate.

The Act of Settlement must go. It is an outdated discrimanating law. Not just to catholics but jews, hindus, muslims etc.

And agnostic and athetists. I’d much rather have an athetist monarch personally, I think that would be even-handed to all religions!

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Comings and Goings

September 13, 2008

Congratulations to Iain Gray and Johann Lamont who were elected Labour MSP leader and Labour MSP deputy leader respectively.

Both won their nominations with around a 60 – 40 split.

Iain Gray will be the third Labour MSP leader to take on Alex Salmond since the SNP leader became First Minister in May 2007.

Also today Gordon Brown is meeting Margaret Thatcher for lunch at Chequers. No doubt the beleaguered Prime Minister will be asking her advice on how best to stay in power leading a disaffected party and public.

Margaret Thatcher was unceremoniously kicked out of Downing St by her own party in 1990 when poll ratings began to slide.

I did think that that meeting at Chequers would overshadow the Scottish leadership contest of the Labour MSPs.

But the fact that several Labour MPs have now been writing to Downing St demanding a leadership contest at Westminster again putting Gordon Brown’s tenure as Prime Minister in doubt has stolen the spotlight.

Under Labour rules there needs to be 1/5th of the Labour MPs to call for a leadership election before it can automatically happen. Currently that means there needs to be 70 Labour MPs calling for a contest.

Downing St says that only a handful of Labour MPs have formally asked for a leadership contest.

Guido Fawkes has compiled a list of 39 Labour MPs – as it currently stands – that would be expected to demand a leadership contest.

Not the 70 yet but it may be the start of a bandwagon.

It will really depend on how Gordon Brown plays the situation, and also how he performs at the upcoming Labour conference.

Iain Gray and Johann Lamont must be very disappointed at the way the Westminster agenda has stolen what should have been a good news day for Labour.

With a Prime Minister again lunching with Margaret Thatcher and open speculation among Westminster Labour MPs about his future they must surely be thinking that a stand-alone Scottish Labour Party must be the way to go.

They can’t do anything about headlines from other parties.

The SNP have announced Sir Angus Grossart will run the Scottish Futures Trust.

The co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Robin Harper MSP, has decided to stand down. He is now backing the election of one single leader of the Scottish Green Party.

That leaves the Conservatives as the only party not to have changed their Scottish parliamentary leader under the SNP Government. Should Annabel Goldie be worried?

The Liberal Democrats are also today beginning their UK conference in Bournemouth. Plaid Cymru are also finishing their conference in Aberystwyth today.

Labour have just elected two new Scottish MSPs to lead the party but its Labour’s own desperate Westminster headlines that have swamped the media.

Not a great start for Iain Gray and Johann Lamont and its not even their fault!

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New Zealand to follow Scottish devolution model?

August 20, 2008

The Maori tribe of Tuhoe is currently in talks with the New Zealand Government seeking self-rule reportedly based on the Scottish model of devolved Government.

The Tuhoe tribe or iwi are based in the central eastern North Island of New Zealand and are known as the Children of the Mist. Unlike many Maori iwis they have a certain geographical isolation living in a remote region, to the north of Napier and the fantastic wine area of Hawkes Bay, and have a very strong sense of identity.

The Tuhoe flag

The Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe is the Tuhoe political party leading the negotiations on self-rule with the New Zealand Government, and both parties are reluctant to say to the press how the negotiations are proceeding; but they have just signed a forestry deal together.

I particularly liked the traditional Tuhoe greeting – a hongi; pretty much a precursor to a headbutt – that their controversial activist leader Tame Iti gave the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, Michael Cullen of the New Zealand Labour Party.

Tame Iti and Michael Cullen in a hongi

I can just see Alex Salmond and Gordon Brown do this!

Maybe not. I guess Gordon Brown wouldn’t be too keen:

Wasn’t the Glasgow East result a Glasgow Kiss to Gordon Brown already!

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 non-runners

July 3, 2008

Seems like, incredibly, the SNP are now the political commentators favourite to win the Glasgow East By-election!

The PHI 100 panel, a group which predicted the Labour loses in Crewe and Nantwich and the London Mayoral elections, are now tipping the SNP to win the east Glasgow seat.

If you think that they’re just a rogue group, let’s go to some other groups everyone knows hardly ever loses – the bookies!

These are Ladbrokes odds for the Glasgow East seat:-

To win:

SNP — 8/13
Labour — 6/5
Conservatives — 100/1
Liberal Democrats — 100/1

And Paddy Powers odds:-

SNP — 4/7
Labour — 5/4
Conservatives — 40/1
Lib Dem — 80/1

So the SNP are favourites in the 4th safest Labour seat in the UK!!!!!!

Only William Hill still have Labour as favourite:-

Labour — 8/11
SNP — evens
Conservatives — 50/1
Lib Dem — 50/1

Though their spokesman on Newsnight Scotland added “Betting will change over the next couple of weeks”.

I’ll wait for the candidates before placing a bet though. Might then be time for a board price bet with William Hill before they slash the odds to match the other bookies.

The Conservatives have announced their candidate though… Davena Rankin. She previously contested two other Glasgow seats (Glasgow Kelvin, Westminster seat, 2001; Glasgow Cathcart, Holyrood seat, 2007) … and lost around two per cent of the previous Conservative vote each time. It seems the bookies have got the Conservative odds right.

That’s really poor odds for the Liberal Democrats. Is that why Nicol Stephen has just resigned?

Maybe its the thought of losing a deposit in Glasgow East!

Nicol blamed stress for his decision. I hope for his sake that its not caused by any nepotistic expenses investigations like the departing Glasgow East Labour MP, David Marshall.

More probably its just another case of an opposition leader just not up to facing Alex Salmond. Like Labour, the Liberal Democrat choices of leader from the MSPs are a limited talent pool, even more so in fact because they’re so few in number. Probably will be a straight choice between Tavish Scott and his ego.

Will they hold off their leadership election till after the by-election like Labour?

If so, we could be in a remarkable position where 2 of the main parties are fighting a by-election without a Scottish MSP leader!

Wonder what the bookies price is on Annabel Goldie resigning any time soon?

And that’s three opposition leaders resigned in a row for Alex Salmond:- Jack McConnell, Wendy Alexander and Nicol Stephen.

Does he get to keep them?