Category Archives: Politics

Leaders debates: BBC bias

Four white men in suitsThe BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 will be holding three four debates before the general election in May 2015.

One of them, reasonably enough, will be a head-to-head between David Cameron and Ed Miliband.

Another two, also reasonably enough, will include besides the Conservative Prime Minister and the leader of the Labour Party (still predicted to be Labour Prime Minister by a narrow majority), the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the LibDems, Nick Clegg – even though the LibDems appear likely to see their 57 seats drop to 18 after 7th May 2015.

The fourth debate will privilege a minor party above the SNP and the Greens: Nigel Farage, who is not an MP, whose party is still predicted to have no MPs after 7th May 2015, will get to take part in a four-way debate with Cameron, Miliband, and Clegg.
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Guest Blog: Constitution First

Whit Noo This guest blog is by Stewart Robinson: “a time served Civil Servant, which should not be held against him! He is married with one daughter and lives in East Lothian, where his hobbies include overthinking everything and grinding his teeth.”

Stewart Robinson writes: During the indyref campaign I made lots of new friends, all sharing the same passion for independence, but I have to share my thoughts with my new friends in the knowledge that some of you will not wish to remain my friend after you read this post. I respect all opinions, even those I cannot agree with, but I will understand if you cannot live with mine.

To begin with, I think we must accept that we lost the vote fair and square. Yes, there was BBC bias. Yes, there were scare tactics from the Better Together side, but we also got our point across often enough. Sadly though, our case just wasn’t strong enough to convince the wavering voters to support the idea.
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Neither Reckless nor Carswell

Will UKIP have two MPs in the House of Commons before 2015?

No, I don’t think they will. I don’t think they’re even likely to have one.

Despite Daily Mail fantasies of all white working-class people being racist, UKIP clearly present a threat to the Tory party and thus possible electoral benefit to Labour by splitting the right-wing vote, as I think we will see proved when the Rochester and Strood byelection date comes round.
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General Election 2015

As I write, the SNP membership has increased by 63% to be the UK’s third party by size. (The LibDems, whose membership has fallen by a third since May 2010, have 43,451 members: the SNP now have 62,870.)

The Scottish Green membership quintupled in a week, from 1,200 to nearly six thousand.

The most likely result of the May 2015 general election is still a Labour majority or Labour as the largest single party.
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Goodbye Alex Salmond

Alex SalmondThere are two things I will always remember about Alex Salmond, who has just announced that he’s stepping down as leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland.

One of them is that on 20th May 2008, as MP for Banff and Buchan, he paid one of his rare visits to the Commons to vote for forcing women who need abortions after 20 weeks to have to leave the UK by making abortion illegal for them to access in the UK.

Most abortions after 20 weeks are either for medical reasons (read personal stories from women in Ireland who were in that situation) or because a young woman delayed getting help out of confusion, ignorance, fear – or sometimes malice on the part of prolife medical personnel: or because it took them so much time to save up the fare from Ireland and the cost of an abortion here.

When asked to explain his position on abortion as an MP by a Banff and Buchan constituent, Alex Salmond wrote back to her on First Minister notepaper to say that abortion was a reserved issue.
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It isn’t Christmas in September

Christmas in SeptemberScotland decided: it’s a No, by a decisive 10% majority and a record-breaking 86% turnout. Scotland decided.

Yesterday morning, sitting waiting for a meeting to begin that had been unexpectedly delayed, we talked about the referendum: I had already voted, my colleague was planning to vote when she went home. She was planning to vote Yes, I had already voted No. She said, thoughtfully, “you make a very good case for No” (but I doubt if I changed her vote).

“It’s really a campaign of idealists against pragmatists,” she said, and I agreed: any proposal for independence, to win majority support in Scotland, will have to appeal to the pragmatic voter.
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What shall we do today?

Keep Calm and Vote1. Vote.

97% of those eligible to vote have registered, including many first-time voters. In principle, there could be 4.28 million votes cast today. Anything above 3,424,000 votes cast is record-breaking: that’s over 80%, highest turnout in Scotland in five decades.

Vote Yes: vote No: if you can’t make up your mind go to your polling station and write “Undecided” or “Team Scotland” or “A plague on both your houses” on your ballot. But go to the booth, stare at your ballot, see if you can’t make up your mind for one or the other: and if you can, then make your vote, and no repining.

If you want your vote counted, best to use the pencil provided in the voting booth to make a clear X in the box next to your choice. (Yes, you can use a pen if you want, but the Electoral Commission provides pencils because they make a thick black line that is very difficult to erase and won’t run or blur if the ballot paper gets wet.)

Make no other mark anywhere on the ballot paper. If you do, your vote may not be counted.

Do not take a photo of your ballot paper and publish it on Facebook or Twitter. You will make the Electoral Commission quite unhappy with you.

2. Polling stations are open 7am-10pm. You have to go to the polling place where they have you registered – if you don’t know which one it is, contact the Elections Office and ask. If you get to the polling station before 10pm and you are eligible to vote, you must be issued with a ballot paper and allowed to vote. (If this means there’s a queue, wait in the queue and follow the instructions you’re given by polling station staff: they’ll need to close the doors of the polling station at 10pm, and this may mean rearranging the queue.)

3. Once the voting’s done, the count begins. There are 32 local authority areas in Scotland and once the counting is done for each of them, the result will be returned – earliest results expected about 2am, last results – Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Borders by 5am, Aberdeen by 6am.

4. If there’s a clear win for Yes or for No – if there are simply not enough uncounted votes left to affect the final result – that can be announced immediately it’s known. That’s not likely to happen before 5am, and it might not happen til 7am. So, if you’re of a calm disposition, you might as well have an early night, set your alarm for 6am, and find out the result with your morning cuppa.

5. If you fancy staying up to watch, eight pubs have late licences to watch the results coming in.

6. Pubs open til 3am:

At any of those pubs you’ll probably be able to watch the returns from North Lanarkshire, Perth and Kinross, East Lothian, Moray, Inverclyde, Eilean Siar, Orkney, and Clackmannanshire – 16% of the total vote. If they all return in timely fashion, you might also be able to watch returns from South Lanarkshire, Aberdeenshire, Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, Angus, East Renfrewshire, Stirling, or West Dunbartonshire – another 29% of the vote.

Only if you go to The Radical Road, on the A1 heading out to Duddingston (229 Willowbrae Road) will you be able to stay til 5am – another 24% of the vote (West Lothian, South Aryshire, East Dunbartonshire, Argyll and Bute, Midlothian. Shetland, Fife, Highland, and North Ayrshire should all have returned by then) and wait on the three due in at five in the morning: Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the Borders, 22.4% of the vote.

After that, the last due is Aberdeen at 6am – 4.4% of the vote. And then we’ll know.

7. Probably.

Indyref results timing

8. Both Yes Scotland and Better Together have agreed not to call for a country-wide recount. Once the last result is in from the last local authority area, it’s done.

9. The Forest Cafe at Tollcross is holding a breakfast party from 6am: all welcome.

We have no idea what’s going to happen.

All we can do is invite you to find out with us, surrounded by dragon murals, 9-foot mice and people who really care about community, creativity and freedom.

10. The Scottish Poetry Library is holding a Referendum Poetry Read-Round and Breakfast from 11am. (£3/£2: book via Eventbrite.)

11. After that, you should probably go home and get some sleep.

12. “What are you thinking about?” – “Tomorrow.”

13. Edwin Morgan:

When you convene you will be reconvening, with a sense of not
wholly the power, not yet wholly the power, but a good
sense of what was once in the honour of your grasp.
All right. Forget, or don’t forget, the past. Trumpets and
robes are fine, but in the present and the future you will need something more.
What is it? We, the people, cannot tell you yet, but you will know about it when we do tell you.
We give you our consent to govern, don’t pocket it and ride away.
We give you our deepest dearest wish to govern well, don’t say we have no mandate to be so bold.
We give you this great building, don’t let your work and hope be other than great when you enter and begin.
So now begin. Open the doors and begin.

So now begin. Yes or No – Open the doors and begin.

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