Things the following group of people have decided are A-OK and do not in any way merit criticism and are, in fact, “honourable and compassionate” behaviour:
First-past-the-post voting systems don’t lend themselves to coalition government. But that’s what we’ve got, and there are four possible governments we could have after the General Election on 7th May 2015.
How we vote on that Thursday in just over three months time has very little to do with the government we’ll end up with. The rise in support for the Greens across the UK no more translates into increased numbers of MPs than the rise of support for UKIP means they’ll become a major party.
But the SNP are likely to be the third or fourth largest party in Westminster after May 2015. Electoral analysis shows a huge swing to the SNP across Scotland, which – if we had a more representative electoral system – could translate to over forty seats for the SNP (Labour down to seven MPs and LibDems to one), But just as the tremendous fall in LibDem support isn’t likely to be reflected in an equivalent loss of seats – Greens are more popular than LibDems but aren’t likely to do more than retain their one MP – the Labour wipeout isn’t expected to be as extreme as a naive reading of the polling figures would suggest.
Toscafund, an established asset manager based in London and Dubai, chaired by former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Sir George Mathewson, commissioned Professor Richard Rose to carry out seat by seat analysis of polling across the UK. For Scotland, their report says:
“A uniform ‘national’ movement of votes is unlikely because the SNP must jump from third to first place over different challengers in different parts of Scotland. Because the median Labour seat is held with a margin of 31.6 per cent over the SNP, any recovery by Labour would reduce the depth to which Labour plunged.”
I’m discounting the Voldemort option – Tory majority or Tory/UKIP coalition – because this is not a probable option. The Tories can’t win a majority, and UKIP can’t win enough seats to help them out.
Jim Sillars writes in an open letter:
Bear this in mind: Scotland is involved in a great debate conducted democratically. That means freedom of thought has to be matched by freedom of speech, and that right respected by all. Freedom of speech does give licence to abuse. It is a wise person who does not use it for that purpose. Don’t start to respond by saying the other side are at it too. They are not going to get media coverage. You are.
In every campaign there comes a tipping point. Those of us engaged intelligently in this campaign, yes intelligently, can only hope that your stupid contributions through personal abuse do not lend themselves to a tipping point towards a Yes defeat. Stop playing the game that suits only the No side.
In this letter Jim Sillars recalls incidents of “false friends” – undercover policemen who infiltrated the independence movement and encouraged young enthusiasts to commit crimes with a view to making Scottish independence look like a bad cause. He says bluntly:
In 1979, with only a very weak assembly on offer, MI5 and special branch were involved, as was the CIA – with the US Consul in Edinburgh coming from the CIA stable. That was for a weak assembly, do you think that they will not be more engaged now that independence is on the agenda? Has it ever crossed your mind that by conducting a campaign of abuse, which plays into the hands of the No media, you are opening the Yes side to a dirty tricks campaign?
(There is a response to this letter from within the Yes campaign here.)
If you’re a couple whose annual income is £125,000 a year after tax, even if you have five children (three more than Iain Duncan Smith will allow a low-income family, one more than he has himself), you’re richer than 95% of the UK population.
If you have the kind of money that lets you spend £125,000 on one meal, you’re one of the super-rich. In the class war, you’ve won. Ben Spalding has a victory feast for you:
Costing £125,000 for four people, or £31,250 per person, the menu for what will be the world’s most expensive Christmas dinner menu has been devised by London chef Ben Spalding, who has completed residencies at restaurants including The Fat Duck in Bray, Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road and Per Se in New York.
In 2011, analysts at Credit Suisse found that 29,000 people globally – nearly all of them men – own net assets worth more than $100m. As Chrystia Freeland, author of Plutocrats and former editor of the Financial Times, discovered in researching her book about the global super-rich, they are different and they are almost all men, and if they are married
these women are managing the households of their wealthy husbands – often a complex task – and pursuing philanthropic ventures. Not many are doing a job of their own despite being highly-educated themselves. In 2005, according to the book, just over a quarter of taxpayers in the top 0.1pc had a working spouse. Continue reading
Over the past week, there was a big row in the press about three children who had been fostered for eight weeks by a couple who were members of UKIP (and who were heterosexual, as UKIP does not hold with gay foster parents).
The story the press were telling was that the evil social workers of Rotherham had taken these children away from righteous foster parents just because of the fosterers party membership. This was a good story and got lots of people talking seriously about UKIP and grumbling about social workers.
By the way, between social workers and a newspaper, I’m more likely to trust the social workers. Social workers are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to child protection. If they take children away from their parents, the media get on their case, attacking the social workers for breaking up families and acting with unbridled power.
If they leave children with their parents and the children are seriously hurt or killed, the media get on their case, attacking the social workers for failing to protect the children.
Danny Boyle did great. So did all the volunteers who took part. Literally the best thing Seb Coe did for the London Olympics was ask Danny Boyle to plan the opening ceremony and give him a free creative hand.
I saw a tweet just after Michael Fish and the non-hurricane warning appeared saying to the effect that most Olympic opening ceremonies try to impress the world. This ceremony wasn’t meant for the rest of the world: it was meant for us.
(Kes. I saw Kes. And Frankie Says Relax. I remember when the BBC banned that.)
[Update, 30th July: Apparently it was so British-orientated that NBC cut the tribute to the 7/7 dead and had no idea who Tim Berners-Lee is.]
It was all really, peculiarly, brilliantly British. As if Danny Boyle had thought: we are all feeling staggeringly horrible about this, for very excellent reasons: let me do a show that will remind us of our mutual shared Britishness, before the athletic teams march. Of course that cheap Nazi knock-off Aidan Burley hated it.