Glenrothes by-election campaign warning

November 1, 2008

OK – the headline is a bit of a tease. The story is somewhat tangential but stick with it.

Just surfing the net I found this incredible story of a baggage handler in Atlanta opening up the cargo hold of a plane and coming face to face with a live cheetah!

Obviously the flight was delayed (whilst they wrote the sequel to Samuel L. Jackson’s Snakes on a Plane, I imagine):

‘”They told us a large animal had gotten out of a container in the cargo hold and they were having to send someone to tranquilize it,” said one passenger, Lee Sentell of Montgomery, Ala.

‘He said luggage was delayed, but baggage handlers promised to send his bags to him in Alabama.

‘The good news for passengers: The escaped cheetah didn’t damage any of their luggage.’

So I got to thinking? What if this had been Scotland?

Would John Smeaton have wrestled the big cat into submission?

“Aye. Cheetah’s may be fast, but they’re no match for Glaswegians. We’ll just set about ye!”

It prompted a bit more internet surfing.

And here’s where the Glenrothes by-election campaign warning comes in:-

Apparently there is a big cat prowling around the constituency!

Here’s a photograph from an actual sighting in Methil, from ScottishBigCats.co.uk:

Methil Mauler

They say:

‘We revealed in last week’s edition that the organisation Big Cats in Britain was keen to set up webcams around Fife in a bid to prove the existence of big cats once and for all – but for Ms Miller there’s no question.

‘”They definitely exist,” she says, “I think there’s more than one around here to be honest.”‘

So watch out they may be a Big Cat in Glenrothes.

So that’s the reason why the Labour minders operate a ‘shoot to kill’ policy!

And the reason why Gordon Brown hardly ventures far from his campaign headquarters door!

Black fur. No doubt yellow eyes. The cat must be an SNP supporter!

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Glenrothes – mining new depths

September 25, 2008

Well, it seems that the media are now convinced that the date of the Glenrothes byelection will be November 6th. The date, it is supposed, will be so close to the US Presidental election, that it will limit the damage to Gordon Brown.

Glenrothes, originally envisaged as a mining town, would have been a safe Labour seat in the past.

Not so today.

Labour’s own canvassing put the SNP 5000 votes up, and a recent poll of Unite trade union members resulted in a majority of those votes going to the SNP. Of course, Unite members will be affected by the proposed takeover of the Bank of Scotland by Lloyds TSB. Labour activists are preparing for a voter backlash against Gordon Brown’s handling of the economy that led to the collapse of the Scottish bank.

It seems that Labour are banking on the memory of John MacDougall, their previous MP, to shore up their vote.

John was, by all accounts, a popular MP who died of an asbestos related condition. He was though suing the Labour Government for refusing to pay him compensation for his illness.

The Fife Labour Party have set up a condolence webpage for his memory.

But as Jess the dog points out, it looks like the Labour Party are willing to use Glenrothes constituents that leave a message, as targets for their electioneering.

Something that Guido Fawkes noticed happening in the Crewe and Nantwich byelection too.

Well.

At least it’ll save those stories about Labour’s dodgy election software and database that couldn’t handle those pesky Scottish flats in Glasgow East.

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A British century?

September 24, 2008

“This is no time for a novice” said Gordon Brown in his conference speech.

Those words came back to me when Ann McKechin, the new Scotland Office minister – having taken over from David Cairns, was trying to explain – on Radio Scotland’s Scotland at Ten – why Gordon Brown was talking about implementing policies in England, that are SNP policies in Scotland. It didn’t sound like she convinced interviewer Derek Bateman, nor anyone else listening I suspect.

Gordon Brown’s SNP-lite policies:-

“So our plan is next year to abolish all prescription charges for everyone with cancer.” That’s in April 2009. By that time, the SNP Prescription charge will be £4 to everyone, and those on extended care with PPCs will pay £38 per year. The scheme will further reduce costs in 2010 and be free to all in 2011. I think the SNP are ahead of the game here. Although everyone is playing catchup with Wales, where they are already free.

“Greater visibility for people doing community payback” That means offenders working in the community. Something that Kenny McAskill, SNP Justice Minister, has championed.

And the SNP have pointed out that Gordon Brown’s flexible GP surgeries are already done in Scotland under this SNP Government.

Likewise his carbon emission target.

And his financial help for the elderly. Its already free in Scotland. That was brought in by the previous executive, and maintained by the SNP Government.

Well they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Or is Gordon Brown just trying to steal the SNP’s clothes?

One thing is for sure. How Gordon Brown can come out and say that this will be a ‘British century’ with devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is extraordinary!

The SNP are in power in Scotland. Their popularity shows no signs of ending, and look favourites for the coming Glenrothes byelection.

They also plan to hold an independence referendum in 2010. Hardly a sign that Britain is united!

Plaid Cymru are jointly in control in Wales. A recent poll shows 70% favour devolution, with the majority of those wanting more powers.

Both Scotland and Wales provide powerful arguments to why Brown’s Britishness agenda is dated. Not to mention the demand for an English Parliament in England. Even Cornwall has a political party advocating self-government.

If the 21st century is to be a ‘British century’ it will surely mean that each nation will finally have its own voice.

In fact, as The Telegraph reported earlier this month, even his ‘British century’ idea is not new. Brown used it in the 2007 TUC conference as well.

No wonder I was bored with the speech.

I wasn’t the only one. Check here. And Here. And Here. And Here.

And more especially here, for a nice picture of one of the Labour delegates at conference!

All in all, even the standing ovations reminded me of Iain Duncan Smith’s last Conservative conference in charge. He managed 17 in total then was hurled out on his ear!.

I don’t think Gordon Brown is fooling anyone. At best he has bought some time.

Even the Labour Party must realise it.

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David Miliband: Bring it on!

September 22, 2008

The Sunday Mail is reporting that David Miliband will force a referendum on Scottish Independence if he becomes Prime Minister.

In an echo of Wendy Alexander’s ‘Bring it on!’ policy, the Sunday Mail reports that:

“Miliband’s camp believe she was right to call for an early vote.”

This is in stark contrast to Gordon Brown’s approach of denying that Wendy Alexander said she wanted a referendum, and instead await the Calman Commission’s proposals.

As Gordon Brown’s leadership looks increasingly shaky, it looks like David Miliband is already positioning himself for the role.

The longevity of Gordon Brown’s premiership is – according to which Labour source interviewed – dependent on

1. His conference performance.
2. The Glenrothes by-election.
3. The 2009 European elections

Given that the Labour conference is now upon us, there does seem to be a will among the delegates to try and provide a united front behind the Prime Minister.

There have also been reports that Labour’s own canvassing puts them 5 000 votes behind the SNP in the upcoming Glenrothes by-election. Some pre-emptive commentators are already remarking that Labour shouldn’t ditch Gordon Brown if they lose.

So will the European elections be the final nail in Gordon Brown’s Prime Ministerial coffin?

Will the Labour MPs want to wait that long?

And if David Miliband does become Prime Minister this term will he withstand the pressure – as a 3rd leader between General Elections – not to call a General Election? As I have noted elsewhere, it won’t be the first time that Britain has had three Prime Ministers in one term.

And if he does call a General Election; the way the polls are looking it will be a Conservative victory.

So, on one hand David Miliband wants to hold a Scottish Independence referendum.

On the other, it looks likely he would lose an ensuing General Election.

His willingness for a quick Scottish Independence referendum must then lead to one likely conclusion: that David Miliband has no intention of calling a snap General Election. On taking over from Gordon Brown, David Miliband would wait until the term finished in the summer of 2010 before having a (mandatory) General election.

His strategy must then be to become Prime Minister, hope for a Miliband bounce – that may be likely given how unpopular Gordon Brown has been in recent polling, although Miliband’s own poll ratings suggests otherwise – and pursue a quick Scottish Independence referendum; as the Sunday Mail puts it:

“It would give Labour control of the timing and wording of the vote because the referendum bill would be passed in Westminster.”

The control of the question may be critical to the outcome. (Although since the question has never been asked of the Scottish electorate it remains to be seen; we have only opinion poll evidence for this.)

Miliband must then hope that his carefully worded referendum question pays off in his favour and the Scots back the Union. He must also hope that the margin is conclusive and so derails the SNP.

He could then turn his attention to the Conservatives before the mandatory election of 2010. At which time he may have done enough for Labour to be re-elected.

There are a lot of hopes, ifs, buts and maybes in that strategy. Labour need to decide if David Miliband is really a better option than Gordon Brown. Gordon Brown’s strategy seems to be ‘keep going and eventually we’ll turn our fortunes around’. If Gordon Brown leads Labour to disaster in 2010, would this speculative David Miliband strategy be any better?

2010. Given that it is the SNP’s intention to hold an independence referendum in that year, it means that David Miliband’s ‘bring it on’ position must mean that he would have to be Prime Minister in 2009, otherwise how could he implement such a proposal?

And one last thing. How will David Miliband’s Scottish Independence Referendum sit with the Calman Commission and Liberal Democrat and Conservative partners? They have already endured Labour’s disdain at the hands of Wendy Alexander. The new Scottish Labour MSP leader, Iain Gray, says he is in support of the Calman Commission.

All of this just emphasises how divided and forlorn the Labour Party currently is.

Brown or Miliband? Calman or Referendum?

Labour needs to decide soon.

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Labour turn on Gordon Brown

September 19, 2008

The Independent conducted a poll taken from those members of LabourHome, a site that provides a home for Labour’s online supporters.

They found that 54% of them wanted Gordon Brown to step aside for someone else.

Understandably the paper bigs up its own poll. See Grassroots turn against Brown.

What I find extraordinary is that the number against Brown is only 54%. It suggests that Gordon Brown’s conference showing might well be crucial – either to get his support in the Labour Party to increase with a good performance (and try get over 50% of Labour membership to support him), or on a bad to so-so performance see the numbers against him rise to a tipping point.

Especially when you look at the ratings given by Labour supporters to the Labour cabinet published on LabourHome.

Sept ’08: Only 8 members of Labour’s cabinet have made pass marks. The highest mark being Alan Johnston’s 6.18 out of 10.

And the bottom four:

Des Browne: 4.31 / 10
Gordon Brown: 4.3 /10
Ruth Kelly: 4.12 / 10
Alastair Darling : 4.07 / 10

Even among his own supporters Gordon Brown can’t get pass marks.

The lowest score Alastair Darling shows what a mess Labour has made of the economy. Even Labour supporters – presumably those that would argue that everything’s global and its not our (Labour’s) fault! – can’t even hide the fact that the chancellor is doing particularly badly.

(The Independent’s figures for this are slightly different, I guess because they took a snapshot over just 3 days.)

Motivation to campaign for the Labour Party is now at 4.8 / 10.

Something perhaps borne out last night when the SNP won the Baillieston by-election for Glasgow City Council, a council ward in the Glasgow East seat recently won by the SNP.


Tony Blair for Glenrothes?

September 14, 2008

It seems the Labour Party are beginning to self-destruct before our very eyes.

Now even those at LabourHome, the Labour Party’s blogging site, are calling for Tony Blair to be parachuted into Glenrothes and then taking over from Gordon Brown.

Its hardly a vote of confidence for the Prime Minister or for Labour’s candidate, Lindsay Roy, in the Glenrothes by-election.

Almost like David Miliband’s words have come back to haunt him: “People will be saying ‘wouldn’t it be great to have that Blair back because we can’t stand that Gordon Brown'”

And after fifth-columnist George Foulkes announced that the election of Iain Gray is similar to Tony Blair’s leadership victory, he could have hardly predicted Labour members calling for Tony Blair to be parachuted into Glenrothes for a real Scottish ‘Tony Blair moment’!

Was he doing it delibrately?

Meanwhile as Labour rebels line up to put the knife in Gordon Brown’s back, other Labour MPs have called them idiots.

Des Browne, the Scottish Secretary, has made the point that they have no candidate yet for a leadership election.

The Mail on Sunday has made the case for Jack Straw to be the stalking horse. A case also examined at SNP Tactical Voting.

What must be Iain Gray be thinking as he looks around the wreckage of the party?

Maybe they should take this advice and forget the navel gazing. From his acceptance speech:

“Labour is best when we look outwards and align our values with the people’s aspirations. Not just listening but hearing.”

That phrase struck me.

“Not just listening but hearing.”

Surely it should be the other way around? I would have thought that ‘listening’ implies a more attentive action than ‘hearing’:-

I heard a blackbird sing.

I listened for a blackbird’s song.

That sort of thing. Am I being too pedantic? I know Iain Gray was previously a teacher, surely not an English teacher!

It implies that all the times Labour have claimed to be ‘listening’ in the past they didn’t hear anything.

Then again, I doubt Gordon Brown will listen to his rebels either.

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