Category Archives: Politics

HS2: New starts

Once upon a time, before the railways were privatised, if offered a job interview in London I could ask for the interview to take place at 2pm, catch the 7am train from Edinburgh Waverley, be certain that I would reach London King’s Cross before noon, and – with a pause only to make sure I had English banknotes in my wallet – get to the job interview usually with an hour to spare. I’d allow the full afternoon for the interview and catch an evening train home. It may seem strange to youngsters these days, but I could count absolutely on getting there on time with no delays at either end: and the train fare – even at short notice – didn’t require me to remortgage my house.

Those days are gone. Nowadays we pay high fares for bad service. The majority of us want the rail services renationalised, but instead, like a shiny toy to make us happy, Labour and Conservative governments have been dangling HS2 in front of us so that we can bat at that with our paws.

On Wednesday 20th May, Angus Robertson distributed jobs among the new SNP MPs. Drew Hendry became the SNP’s Transport spokesperson, and a few days later the Independent on Sunday contacted him to tell him there’d be no high-speed rail link between London and Edinburgh.

This is not news.
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Shetland and Orkney and Alistair Carmichael

Alistair Carmichael has been the LibDem MP for the Orkney and Shetland constituency since 2001. It’s been a distinguished constituency for the Liberal Party for over sixty years.

In 1950, Jo Grimond won the Orkney and Shetland constituency for the Liberal Party (defeating Sir Basil Neven-Spence, whose family had owned land in Shetland for generations and who had been the Unionist MP for twenty years). Grimond was one of nine Liberal MPs elected in 1950, and he was to hold his seat for thirty-three years: he stepped down in 1983. Jim Wallace succeeded him, and Alistair Carmichael succeeded Wallace in 2001. Jim Wallace went on to become the LibDem MSP for Orkney until 2007, when he was succeeded by Liam McArthur: Shetland has had one MSP since 1999, Tavish Scott. Jim Wallace and Tavish Scott were each at one time leaders of the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party, and Jo Grimond was twice leader of the Liberal Party. Alistair Carmichael is deputy leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and was Secretary of State for Scotland from 7th October 2013 to 8th May 2015.

“A LibDem, a Labour, and a Tory MP walk into a bar. Oh, says the bartender, this must be Scotland.”

The last time the Orkney and Shetland elected a parliamentary representative who wasn’t a Liberal / LibDem was in 1945 (Sir Basil Hamilton Hebden Neven-Spence, as one would expect, was standing for the Unionist Party). Orkney and Shetland local councillors are invariably independents.

The LibDems have had worse elections than in 2015, though not for some time. In 1951, Jo Grimond was one of only six Liberal MPs in the Commons: but from 1956 onwards there were nine, from 1966 twelve – and apart from a 10-month dip in 1974, they were never again in single figures until 7th May, 2015: when Alistair Carmichael beat the SNP surge by 817 votes.

Alistair Carmichael said (the Shetland Times reported)

it had been “quite a remarkable election campaign”. He congratulated the SNP on quite a remarkable political achievement. “We truly live in remarkable political times in Scotland.

He said it was a tremendous privilege to retain the seat and thanked the voters of Orkney and Shetland.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said he was relieved and delighted that Mr Carmichael had retained his seat and held off “the Tsunami” of SNP support that had been shown on Mainland Scotland.

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GE2015: No, it wasn’t a scam

Christopher Everard No ScamChristopher Everard posted this on his Facebook page on Saturday 9th May: two days later it has been shared 11,674 times.

“HOW THE SCAM WORKED: Voters in Bournemouth were casting votes on the wrong ballot papers – or being told to ‘come back later’. All nine polling stations in Kinson North and Kinson South were affected by a printing error on books of ballot papers. Meanwhile, in Hastings, 200,000 ballot papers were stolen – divided up, these would have been enough to swing at least 30 marginal seats. Hundreds of postal ballot papers were sent out without the names of the Green and Labour Party candidates in the Hull East constituency. The provision of pencils in polling booths is a requirement of section 206 of the Electoral Act. There is, however nothing to prevent an elector from marking his or her ballot paper with a pen – but voters were never told this – so everyone used the pencils – and that made it easier to ‘adjust’ the vote. Then two ballot boxes were misplaced by election staff from an Eastwood Hilltop ballot station, as candidates noticed the total number of votes in Labour Leader Milan Radulovic’s battleground was over ‘2,000 crosses too low’. And then Darlington Borough Council faced calls for a re-count after UKIP’s David Hodgson’s name was left off ballot papers. Funny how all these ‘blunders’ never disadvantaged the queen’s cousin, Mr David Cameron. A full investigation is being made into a documentary for THE ENIGMA CHANNEL – check out the TV shows here – they are banned from the mainstream!”

How what scam worked?

If someone tries to convince you of something with a list of happenings which they claim prove their point, always, always, pick each happening from the list and confirm it. And find out if the list of happenings have any bearing on each other. These election errors don’t appear to be linked at all: they affect a range of candidates in two different elections in various parts of the country.

Picking apart each item offered in evidence:
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Jim Murphy, Scottish Labour leader

On the morning of 8th May, Jim Murphy quoted Ernst Toller, who died on 22nd May 1939:

“It is not seemly for you to Mourn,
It is not seemly for you to delay,
You have received a legacy soaked in the heart’s blood of your brothers.
The pregnant deed waits for you.
…Wide burst the gates of bright morning.”

Jim MurphyMurphy went on to say:

“Last night was gloomy for Labour. This morning as the sun rose we were hurting. But in a morning like this, before too long. We will bounce back. We will again be the change that working people need.”.

Does Jim Murphy have a hope?

On 8th May, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg both resigned. (So did Nigel Farage, but not Natalie Bennett.) But Jim Murphy didn’t resign: instead he declared his intention to lead Scottish Labour to the May 2016 elections, when he still wants to become a MSP and First Minister of Scotland.
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The morning after the night before

“A Labour, a LibDem, and a Tory MP walked into a bar. Oh, said the bartender, I must be in Scotland.”

I stayed up til 7am hoping to hear Thanet South declare – the only Tory victory of the campaign that I’m delighted with.

Four party leaders will likely be gone by Monday: Jim Murphy lost his seat and will have to resign, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband look likely to go, and Nigel Farage already quit. (Update: Ed Miliband resigned as I was posting this blog: Harriet Harman, as deputy leader, is caretaker until the next leader is elected.) (Second update: and Nick Clegg’s also resigned.)

Ed Miliband's big rockI wonder what Ed Miliband will do with his big lump of stone now?

It’s not funny. This is a horrific result. And it’s Labour who lost it. This is a re-run of 1992 – and in 1997 the New Labour won a majority and gave us Tony Blair and the Iraq war. Who will “reform” Labour after Ed Miliband?

Even now not quite all the results are in. But enough to be able to see the picture for the next five years. Six constituencies yet to declare.

Conservatives

The Conservatives now have 326 MPs. They have a working majority in the Commons. The polling results were wrong. The “shy Tories” are back – the voters who know how shameful their desire to vote Tory is, who know they should care about the people suffering more poverty, more food banks, the deaths via sanctions, but they want to vote for the Tories anyway because they think the Tories have done good for them personally or they’ve been frightened off Labour with hellstories of what Labour would do to them. (Analysis about “Is there a shy Tory factor in 2015?” at Number Cruncher Politics.)

So, Iain Duncan Smith will get to continue with his sanctions and bullying and lies at the Department of Work and Pensions. George Osborne will get to make his twelve billion cuts to welfare. David Cameron will announce a referendum on EU membership. There will be no taxing the rich, no ending the non-dom tax loophole, Rupert Murdoch will continue to own swathes of UK media, and people will die of hunger and neglect: because that’s what the Tories do. We have no hope of ousting them until May 2020, and perhaps not even then.
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What are you staying up for?

The exit polls look depressing:

  • Conservatives: 316
  • Labour: 239
  • SNP: 58
  • LibDem: 10
  • UKIP: 2
  • Green: 2
  • Plaid Cymru: 4

If the DUP get 10 seats, as some polls predicted, the Conservatives would be able to choose between a coalition with the LibDems or a coalition with DUP, whichever they pleased: either would get them to 326, and if so, we are screwed.
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Voting Matters: 7th May 2015

The polls open in a minute, and I’ll be on my way to vote. You’ve got til 10pm tonight to vote. You don’t need a polling card or ID: you just need to be registered and to know where your polling station is. (The doors of the polling stations close at 10pm, but anyone inside at 10pm is entitled to vote. Queue properly.)

I’m voting Scottish Green.

There are five men and two women standing in my constituency, and here’s why I chose Sarah Beattie-Smith to vote for.

There were three easy rejections: UKIP, the Tories, and the LibDems.
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Filed under Benefits, Elections, GE2015, Poverty