At the beginning of October someone tweeted me a link to Yes Edinburgh North & Leith‘s first public meeting, on 3rd October in the Halls on Henderson Street.
Unlike most Yes events, this one was billed explicitly, both in the header and in the text, as for undecided voters – so, unlike with most events organised by Yes Scotland, I felt free to go along. When I got there, about five minutes before the start, I found some Yes activists who’d come anyway were leaving, and people identifying themselves as undecided were being let in on a one-for-one basis (the hall was packed). I got a seat at the front that had been vacated by a Yes voter and was sitting next to two Yes voters who weren’t budging and who didn’t know Leith votes Labour.
The Scottish government has appointed four well-off men to advise on poverty issues:
The members of the new expert group are: Darra Singh, a former chief executive of Jobcentre Plus now working for Ernst & Young; Martyn Evans, chief executive of the Carnegie Trust and former head of Citizens Advice Scotland; Douglas Griffin, a former finance director at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde; and Mike Brewer, a professor of economics at the University of Essex and a research fellow with the respected Institute of Fiscal Studies.
The four, who are expected to make an initial report to ministers by May, will advise on a “fairer welfare system” outside the union.
It is, after all, not the Scottish Government’s fault that Iain Duncan Smith has succeeded in associating his mantra on “fairness” with the reality of making the poor, the sick, the disabled, and the unemployed so much worse off than they need to be.
Today, David Cameron and Alex Salmond meet to decide the terms of the independence referendum. Naturally, they wouldn’t be meeting to “decide” if all the actual decisions hadn’t been worked out already by Michael Moore and Nicola Sturgeon and others, with their civil servants.
The BBC’s “news” report on the meeting that will take place is a fair sample of the “it is expected” style of thing:
It is expected to allow for a vote in autumn 2014 with a single Yes/No question on Scotland leaving the UK.
The deal will also see 16- and 17-year-olds included in the ballot.
The UK government is expected to grant limited powers for the Scottish Parliament to hold a legal referendum, under a mechanism called Section 30.
The Electoral Commission will play a key role advising on the wording of the question and other issues such as campaign finance.
A possible second question on greater powers has been dropped, while the Scottish government looks to have secured its preferred date.
Tomorrow, I’m going to an anti-fascist demo. But more of that later.
This morning, in response to the news about David Cameron’s decision to award the BSkyB decision-maker role to Jeremy Hunt (and Hunt then actively misleading Parliament) Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, tweeted:
I’m in agreement with Ben Bradshaw that this is a low point, but the last Minister who repeatedly misled the House of Commons and neither resigned nor was sacked was Tony Blair: he fed the Labour MPs the “dodgy dossier” that somewhat quelled the backbencher rebellion against the Iraq war. As multiple people (myself included) promptly pointed out to him.
And Simon Johnson, Scottish Political Editor at the Telegraph, likes a liar. Let me explain.
The Health and Social Care Bill will become law. The Tory love for the US healthcare system is based on its profitability to people like them rather than to its effectiveness. The Health and Social Care Act is intended to increase the NHS costs and decrease services.
In May 2011, the SNP won a majority in the Scottish Parliament – a victory that was unprecedented for both party and Parliament.
Douglas Alexander, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, believes (Independent, 22nd January) this victory came about partly because of a renewed Scottish nationalism but primarily because:
In contrast, Scottish Labour failed to recognise the changed environment that, ironically, it had help to create. [Pretty sure Doug means "had helped" not "had help", though it certainly did have help from SNP, Scottish LibDem, Scottish Greens, and the Scottish Socialist Party] The party was left singing the old hymns and warning of the risks of Thatcherism at a time when these songs were increasingly unfamiliar to a new audience with no personal knowledge of the tunes. In truth, Scottish Labour never felt it needed to be New Labour because arguably that process of modernisation was not needed to defeat the Tories in Scotland, but this complacency, in time, left us vulnerable to attack from a different direction from more nimble opponents.
There are much simpler answers why the Scots tended to vote SNP this time. Part of it may have been due to fed-upness with Labour (which I’ll deal with later), partly it may have been the Westminster brigade arriving in Scotland in April 2011 on a rescue mission, but mostly, I think, it was just that the Liberal Democrats had put a Tory UK government in. Voting for the LibDems was seen as voting Tory, and Scots don’t vote Tory. (Well, not many, and those that do, vote for the real Tory party.)
David Dimbleby has chaired Question Time since 1994. From the age of 7 until he graduated from Oxford in the early 1960s, he spent his young life in an all-male world of privilege: he went to the Glengorse School in Sussex and to Charterhouse School in Surrey: he went to Christ Church, Oxford, where he was President of the Christ Church JCR, editor of the student magazine, Isis – and a member of the Bullingdon Club, the exclusive society for getting very drunk and riotous for the very wealthy or very aristocratic. From Dimbleby’s background – his great-grandfather Frederick William Dimbleby was one of the Late Victorian press barons – he seems to have got in by the “very wealthy” clause. Whatever he smashed in his student rampages, one may suppose his family paid for it. He acts like a member of the Bullingdon Club. It’s a good thing he’s sober.
On Thursday 12th January 2012, the first Question Time of the year was in London, and kicked off with a question about high-speed rail and then moved into Scottish independence – as with Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister, on the panel, the BBC had evidently guessed it would.
In response to a question from a woman in the audience: “Who would be worse off if the marriage breaks up, England or Scotland?” David Dimbleby gave Kelvin MacKenzie the first response – and let him run except when MacKenzie claimed something so wrong (he said Scottish Labour MPs gave Labour UK governments their majority: Dimbleby politely corrected him). Dimbleby let Kelvin MacKenzie run til he was done: including two brief conversations between Dimbleby and Mackenzie, he allowed the former editor of the The Sun two minutes and 49 seconds to speak and to finish what he was saying.