Category Archives: Elections

Derek Mackay and the Sun

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 6th February 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

Derek Mackay has been MSP for Renfrewshire North and West since 2011: he came out as gay in 2013, and also separated from his wife.

Derek Mackay was from 18 May 2016 til this morning, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work – the SNP’s Finance Minister.
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Filed under Elections, Scottish Politics

Labour Leadership election: Stage 1

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis 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

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Filed under Brexit, GE2019

Writing About Indyref2020 and Brexit

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis 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.

There is a good Twitter thread about the debate by Sara Sheridan, a Scottish writer.

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.

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Filed under Brexit, GE2019, Scottish Politics

The Queen’s Speech in December

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 19th December 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

Well, today I watched the Queen’s Speech and debate.

The Queen brought Charles along. It’s Take Your Heir To Work Day, even if he hasn’t got any. She didn’t wear her coronation robes because this was a quickie Opening of Parliament – as was the one after the 2017 general election – and she could therefore wear half-mourning for the UK’s departure from the EU and arrive – and leave – in a car.
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Tory lies, anti-Semitism, the Labour Party, Israel, and Palestine

There are two general things happening through this election.

One of them is that the Conservatives keep getting caught doing very public, very stupidly bad, disinformation actions.

During the BBC Question Time leaders special, the CCQH Twitter account – which is a blue-tick verified account and therefore is not allowed to change its display name without informing Twitter – changed its display name/header image to appear at first glance to be a fact-checking account and proceded to tweet support of Boris Johnson.
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Filed under GE2019, Racism, Religion

General Election Begins: Grenfell Tower and GMB

Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-MoggOfficially, the general election campaign for 12th December started at a minute past midnight this morning.

We have no MPs – only Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, aka PPCs. Even full lists of the candidates for each constituency won’t be public til Saturday next.

So far:

Jacob Rees Mogg yesterday made a crass and disgusting remark to the effect that the people who died in Grenfell Tower were obviously not as smart as people like himself, or they would have ignored what the emergency services told them and left the building. Tory defences of Mogg’s remark have amounted to “Well, JRM is much smarter than the kind of people who live in Grenfell Tower.”
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A general election or Brexit?

London Eye morphs into EU flag 1st January 2019Can the UK have a general election before we leave the EU on 29th March 2019?

The UK must have a general election again on Thursday 2nd June 2022.

The only way in which the UK can have a general election before then, is if either two-thirds of the MPs in the House of Commons vote for it (433 MPs, give or take a few Sinn Féin) or if the government loses two votes of confidence, a fortnight apart.

Current state of the parties in the Commons:
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Filed under Brexit, Elections, EU referendum, European politics