This was first posted on Facebook on 23rd March 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
Category Archives: Elections
This was first posted on Facebook on 22nd March 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
The question for the independent investigator, QC James Hamilton, who was Director of Public Prosecutions for the Republic of Ireland (1999-2011) and in 2010, President of the International Association of Prosecutors, and who has been the independent advisor to the Scottish Government on the Ministerial Code since 2013 (first appointed by Alex Salmond, re-appointed by Nicola Sturgeon in 2015):
“When Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament she had first learned about the complaints against Alex Salmond on Monday 2nd April, when in fact she was told about them on Thursday 29th March, was she knowingly misleading Parliament?”
To knowingly mislead Parliament is a resigning offence in the Ministerial Code, though when you look at the current Cabinet Ministers and Prime Minister at Westminster, you wouldn’t think so.
This was first posted on Facebook on 20th January 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
Brexit has no benefits.
Two days ago, a fleet of lorries, employed in the pre-Brexit days to transport live shellfish from Scotland to buyers in the EU, travelled to London to protest the effects of Brexit on the fishing industry. Brexiters had told the fishing industry that leaving the EU would mean an end to Brussels “red tape” about catching fish, people employed in the fishing industry had believed them and voted for Brexit, – of course what it meant was, that live shellfish, needing to be transported fast in refrigerated lorries to their overseas markets, were being held up too long by the terms of the trade deal, to be worth buying.
Yesterday, Boris Johnson only just won a government vote on a Lords amendment to the Trade Bill – the amendment passed, by a majority of only 11 votes. Given the Tories have a majority of 80 MPs, how did this happen?
This was first posted on Facebook on 14th November 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
A few facts.
Trump has stopped dyeing his hair. (No, it is not a toupee, he has a massive combover with tons of product, but it came loose in a good Scottish breeze once when he was here to buy a golf course.) The Ivanka Trump version is that he dyes it himself from a DIY-box, and the reason the colour is so weird is that he’s never had the patience to leave it on the right amount of time.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Rosh Hashanah, on Friday 18th September, aged 87, of pancreatic cancer complications: she died at home surrounded by her family, and I don’t feel quite so bad knowing my first thought was “Now Trump can put a third justice on the Supreme Court”, when I found that practically, Ginsburg’s last thought was almost the same: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
I couldn’t listen to all of the debate – I was working yesterday, having decided to take off Wednesday and Thursday as usual – for PMQs (Keir Starmer will be absent: he is self-isolating as one of his household has shown symptoms of coronavirus) and because Wednesday is the second day of the committee of the whole House examining the bill.
But I listened to enough of the debate, including Boris Johnson’s opening statement presenting the bill (and Ed Miliband’s strong rebuttal – Starmer picked him to sub in, and I have to say, he was terrific) to see very definitely two things.
This was first posted on Facebook on 29th January 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
The next general election for the UK is likely to be in 2024. According to the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act, GE2024 would be held Thursday 2nd May (but Johnson says he intends to repeal FTP): according to the Parliamentary Act of 1911, the next general election can be held at the whim of the Prime Minister but no later than Thursday 12th December 2024.
The Leader of the Opposition until the next general election, and of course we hope Prime Minister thereafter, will be one of four people: Continue reading
This was first posted on Facebook on 31st December 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
I’m probably going to be writing a lot of posts about looking forward in politics and campaigning in the new year.
This post is more of a backwards-looking one.
The Labour Party suffered a horrible defeat on 12th December. In consequence, not only are we going to have a Tory government in Westminster for the next five years (give or take), and Boris Johnson is Prime Minister of that Tory government (a nightmare scenario of Trumpian proportions), and that Tory government has an 80-seat majority giving Boris Johnson the power to do more or less whatever he feels like doing in government – not only all of that, but the UK is going to leave the EU on 31st January and may crash out in no-deal Brexit on 31st December 2020.
Under the circumstances, it is only human to want to find someone or some group of people to blame.
This was first posted on Facebook on 20th December 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
I did not listen to the live debate in the House of Commons today. The Withdrawal Agreement bill passed second reading 358 votes to 234 – a majority substantially larger than the 80-vote government majority.
In part this is because I genuinely didn’t feel I can face it – after all, we already knew how it ends, wiith a majority of 80 Tory MPs. I am going to follow what has happened in other ways (there’s always Hansard) and write it up at some point before we return to the Withdrawal Agreement debate in January.
Yesterday I skipped listening to the indyref2020 debate in the Scottish Parliament to listen to the Queen’s Speech instead. The result in Holyrood was as predictable as today’s debate will be in Westminster: the SNP and the Greens together have a majority for the independence referendum, and they outvoted the Labour, Tory, and LibDem MSPs against it.
All that remains is for Boris Johnson to grant a Section 30 order, or – if things get sufficiently extreme – for Nicola Sturgeon to go ahead without one.
“Sufficiently extreme” is my speculation, and I’m thinking on the lines of major food and drugs shortages following no-deal or very hard Brexit: no-deal Brexit is now unlikely, and hard Brexit isn’t going to happen til 31st December 2020. The Scottsh Parliamentary elections will take place in May 2021, and if SNP and Green again have a majority, there isn’t really a democratic reason to reject a second indyref.
One coherent argument against indyref2 – or against EUref2, which won’t now happen – is that Boris Johnson will simply summon his team of dishonest-social-media-makers and run a hidden campaign urging people not to vote.
To be clear:
In my opinion, regardless of whether a referendum is legislated to be legally binding, it gains moral authority in itself and in international law if turnout is equivalent to or higher than your average general election, and the result shows a very clear majority for independence – and especially if the result shows the majority of the electorate voted for independence. We had that kind of overwhelming result when Scotland voted to re-establish our Parliament with tax-raising powers: and the 2014 referendum got a strikingly-high turnout (much higher than the turnout for the 2016 referendum).
So Boris Johnson’s simplest method of destroying the validity of a Scottish referendum would be running online campaigns under the table convincing people not to vote, and then pointing at the low turn out as a reason not to honour the referendum result.
This might work.
Or it might not.
Because it *doesn’t* work against grassroots campaigns where people know something isn’t so and can say so loud and clear.
You’ve probably never heard of Marky Booth. At least, I never had. He is, self-described, a young student – early 20s – who graduated Edinburgh University with a First in Politics and International Relations and was a research asisstant for the SNP. He was active in the Scottish independence youth movement when at university and mentions going to Young Scots for Independence karaoke nights. While living in Wales he did some research work for Wings Over Scotland and ran a site called independence dot ws which he then handed over to someone else called Michael Wright to run for him. Independence dot ws has a gofundme link asking for donations. Marky Booth was unexpectedly anti-trans and anti “the woke brigade” in the independence movement – I mean unexpectedly for a supposed-21-year-old, since the rejection of LGBT rights and equality is a very, very generational thing.
Archibald Cameron, who blogs as The Mammoth Whale, discovered that none of this was true, and he did it by asking. No one in the Edinburgh SNP branch or elsewhere remembers or is able to find any trace of a research assistant named Marky Booth. No one recognises the photos. No one in the Edinburgh independence youth movements remembers Marky Booth: no one who went to the YSI karaoke nights ever met him. The photos with a background all look American. There is no degree in Politics and International Relations offered at Edinburgh University. His photo of his fiance’s hand with a ring on it is a stock photo and when asked to provide a timestamped photo of himself he said he was ill, said he had checked into hospital, said he’d made a suicide attempt, and then deleted his account.
Some of this could have been done anywhere by anyone. But what’s telling – and particularly Scottish – is that the community Marky Booth claimed to belong to was available for questioning and didn’t know him. This would apply to any well-connected community, of course. (To my fannish friends. think if someone out of nowhere suddenly claimed to be a BNF/SMOF who’d been to all the Worldcons and done lots of work for fandom: if they did, there would be so many fans around who really *had* gone to those Worldcons and knew people who knew people and would be able to say, definitely: Nope, we never heard of you.) But the point is: Scotland is a small country. Edinburgh, as we Edinburghers are fond of complaining to each other, is a remarkably small city. People know people who know people who know people.
Last time – in 2014 – the campaign for and against independence was very much a town-hall meeting, face-to-face argument campaign. It took place online too – Stuart Campbell, of the late Wings Over Scotland account, made a career out of it. But Stuart Campbell, greatly though I dislike him, was upfront and clear about who he was and where he was living.
Marky Booth may be “really” a man in his forties called Michael Wright who lives in Aberdeen. If we ever find out, it will be because of the gofundme account: which was indubitably set up by a Michael Wright. When you ask for money under a false identity, the police may be interested enough to investigate.
I am more hopeful that, when indyref2 happens, we will be able to see off the bots and the fake news than I am that Labour and the media are prepared for Boris Johnson running yet another lying Facebook campaign when he decides to call the next general election. So long as Labour is tearing itself apart over whether it was Corbyn or Brexit that lost them all of those voters, they’re not going to have a campaign strategy to counterattack the lying social media.