You may think it’s a bit premature to dub Dunfermline “the last byelection” when there’s 11 months to go to the independence referendum and 73 MSPs on the wall. (Yes, there are 129 MSPs, but when a Regional MSP falls off the wall, he, she, or it is replaced by the next-senior name on the party list.)
Every time there is a Scottish byelection between now and next September, there will be the same drama. Only more so. And every time, the byelection will be dubbed “the last“, and deep significance found in the results.
The results were:
For about fifty years, until Nick Clegg agreed to a coalition with the Conservatives, probably most people would have agreed that LibDems or Liberals, the third party in UK politics, were “for” providing an alternative to Labour or the Conservatives: a party basically on the left in politics, but edging towards the centre. Sometimes letting Tories be elected on a minority of the vote, since left-wing voters split between Labour or the LibDems.
Since May 2010, Liberal Democrats have voted to support massive cuts to funding for public services, terrifying attacks on support for the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, in favour of retroactive legislation on money due for unlawful workfare sanctions, and of course the privatisation of the NHS, and now are expected to vote for selling off the Post Office.
Support for the Liberal Democrats has crashed. To win back even half their seats in 2015, the LibDems will have to treat every maybe-winnable constituency as a by-election like Eastleigh – will have to recruit massive numbers of volunteers while their party is losing memberships. The current prediction is 23 LibDem MPs in Parliament after May 2015, while Labour should have a majority of over 100.
One of these things is not like the others? After all, Thatcher’s sole political merit was that she was pro-choice. Let me explain.
Ding Dong the Wicked Old Witch is a jolly song. As Angry Women of Liverpool note in their feminist analysis of how to discuss Thatcher’s death “there are so few songs you can sing joyfully about the death of somebody thoroughly deserving”:
Tough one. The history of witch persecution is fraught with the very foundations of modern capitalist and patriarchal oppression, as anybody who’s read Silvia Federici knows. But there are so few songs you can sing joyfully about the death of somebody thoroughly deserving.
You want a proper argument in defence? Give me a minute. Continue reading
The Conservatives say:
We’re interested in what your[sic] think about benefits. That’s why we’re asking you whether or not you support two fundamental principles upon which our welfare policies are founded – many will say they don’t but many will also be in favour. Your responses will tell us what the majority think.
Go to their website, respond appropriately to their two leading questions (my answers were Yes and Yes because they so obviously want the answers No and No) and tell them what you think (300 characters maximum) in their open question:
- How do you think we could make the benefits system fairer?
Mandate a living wage: end workfare & other anti-employment practices: build enough council houses for everyone to have somewhere to live: fund welfare programmes to support the unemployed, disabled, and ill – the basic infrastructure of a civilised state.
Unnamed DWP spokesman:
“ESA for people who could be expected to get back into work was never intended to be a long term benefit.
“The time limit of one year strikes the best balance between recognising that some people need extra help to enter the workplace and that the taxpayer cannot afford to support people indefinitely who could return to employment.”
Marilyn Blakeman was initially told she was now permanently on incapacity benefit. But Iain Duncan Smith, proud of his ability to change people’s lives and get them off benefits, has indeed changed her life and will soon get her off benefits. Of course that would mean she’s living on nothing, but that would certainly be a life-changing experience, wouldn’t it?
Leigh Wright, of Jobcentre Plus wrote:
“You must attend and take part in work-focused interviews if you are asked to do so, to qualify for your benefit. You may also have to carry out work related activities that your adviser thinks will help you be able to return to work in the future.” If not: “Your payment can be reduced by £14.07 a week, rising to £28.15 a week after four weeks, until you comply. We call this a sanction.”
Yesterday, the National Health Action Party launched.
The idea behind the NHA Party is one I support: since the Labour Party is unable and unwilling to properly defend the NHS against the Tory attacks – unable because it is at present a minority party with an unpopular leader, unwilling because properly doing so would involve backtracking and acknowledging that the Labour Party itself went hellishly wrong during the Blair years – there must be political pressure on Labour to force them to act when, as I hope, they win the next election.
Founded by a group of health professionals, our party strongly opposes the Health and Social Care Act. We believe the Act is wrecking the NHS in England by allowing it to be broken up and sold off. We intend to put up around 50 candidates in carefully chosen general election constituencies, and we will urge the Labour party to repeal the Act. We’ll also field candidates in local council elections.
Party co-leader and cancer specialist Dr Clive Peedell said: “For generations we’ve trusted the NHS to be a safety net for everyone in times of need. Putting the values of business and the markets ahead of those of patients and communities will ruin the NHS. This destruction is being fast-tracked by Tory and coalition policies. We hope our new party will halt this process.”
With 70 million people passing through every year, Heathrow Airport is full up. How we solve the problems facing the UK’s most vital gateway is an issue for the whole country, Scotland included. – Ruth Davidson, Best solution to Scotland’s air dilemma is third runway at Heathrow
Conservative politicians disregard global warming and climate change in much the same way as the Judas goat ignores the slaughterhouse employees with stun guns and knives. They know where their money comes from. The Global Warming Policy Foundation, a London-based climate change denialist body, is chaired by Nigel Lawson, Thatcher’s Chancellor: they can’t be questioned directly about the sources of their funding, but some freedom of information requests about these anti-scientists interaction with government bodies can be found at WhatDoTheyKnow.
So it’s not surprising that Ruth Davidson, new leader of the Scottish Conservatives, should publicly favour a third runway at Heathrow. When Tim Yeo is demanding David Cameron prove he’s a man and not a mouse (mice don’t build runways), it’s turned into what Simon Jenkins inelegantly describes as “big willy politics” – will David Cameron prove he’s man enough to thrust the third runway into Heathrow despite a cross-party consensus against it? In circumstances like that, what’s surprising is not that Ruth Davidson wrote an article about her support for the third runway: it’s just odd she aimed for Scotland on Sunday instead of the Telegraph.
A charity is allowed to engage in politics. A charity is not allowed to do party-political campaigning.
The distinction is made clearest whenever there’s an election. If a charity wants to comment on any one party’s manifesto, they have to comment on them all. They may possibly just get away with only commenting on the five major parties – the ones with seats in Parliament – but they cannot pick and choose.
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is a registered charity. Their mission is “To support people to take voluntary action to help themselves and others, and to bring about social change.” Continue reading
If you live in Edinburgh and get a job paid at minimum wage, you would need to work for four hours to buy your return rail ticket to Glasgow.
Actually, you would have to work for five hours, because you probably wouldn’t be able to afford to buy a £3000+ annual season ticket.
Travelling by bus will take at least half an hour more either way (an additional hour’s commute time) but cost about 75% less.
A petition to renationalise the railways got 12,194 signatures before it closed on 4th August this year.
Research by the Scottish Greens [Yes, they looked it up on the Internet and everything] has found that the current cost of a 12-month season ticket between Edinburgh and Glasgow (£3380) is more than the cost of a 12-month ticket that gives you unlimited travel across the whole of Germany’s 21,000 mile network (£3252/€3990). After today’s announcement, the cost of this season ticket is expected to rise by £142 in January.
Edinburgh Fringe: A Beginner’s Diary:
I fly. I know; so bourgeois. I don’t feel good about it, but it was half as expensive as the train, and I am very poor. It isn’t me that needs to change, you guys. IT’S THE SYSTEM. It takes 50 minutes, and is ludicrously easy. I feel like I can begin to understand why rich people are always such thoughtless dicks about things.
Theresa Villiers, who seems to be getting referred to as “Rail Minister” a lot – who knew we had one? – last year called these fare rises “difficult” decisions and blamed the budget deficit.
The rises are part of the government’s agenda to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of running the rail network.
There appears to be a steady delusion among Conservatives that if you pay taxes, you don’t travel by train.
Theresa Villiers, by the way, doesn’t seem to travel by train. Continue reading
Peter Luff, Conservative MP for Mid Worcestershire, asks on Twitter:why do people “refuse to understand” that the Conservative party stands for “compassion and social reform”.
Peter Luff won his seat in the 1992 General Election. He is a founder member of the Parliamentary Hunting with Hounds Middle Way Group which is said to be a front for the hunting lobby. In January this year Peter Luff was invited to “a day’s shooting” in Gloucestershire (approximate value £1,500) by Leo Quinn, CEO of Qinetiq, paid for by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC). I’m sure that had nothing to do with the plan to kill buzzards to protect pheasant shooting.
Peter Luff is one of the MPs whose second home flips. He has a house in Worcestershire, and a flat in London.
From the Telegraph’s report on his expenses:
In the months before he switched the designation of his second home from Worcester to the capital, he paid for more than £5,000 of decorating and repairs, including the £53.71 cost of having his Aga cooker fixed.