Category Archives: Scottish Politics

Dundee and Tony Blair

Lesley Brennan, Scottish LabourDoes Lesley Brennan stand a chance as the Labour PPC in Dundee East?

Electoral Calculus says no – Stewart Hosie has both the benefit of being the incumbent MP and the candidate on the rising tide of SNP votes. Maybe in 2020: Lesley Brennan has represented Dundee’s East End ward since 2012.

Nevertheless, Dundee East has been selected as one of 106 Labour “battleground seats”, and thus Brennan’s campaign became the recipient of £1000 from Tony Blair, who is donating £106,000 to the candidates in those seats, or so the initial publicity made it seem.
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Why I won’t be voting tactically this year

I believed in tactical voting for 18 years: long enough to make a voter.

In the early morning of 10th April 1992, I stayed awake until it was clear that Labour would not win – that we were in for five more years of Tory government with a 21-seat majority. No one predicted that.

“Tactical voting is disgraceful. You should vote for your party of choice, in the sure and certain knowledge that doing so is a complete waste of time, and your voice will never be heard.”

In the realms of what-if: If Labour had won, and Neil Kinnock had become Prime Minister, would Tony Blair – then Shadow Secretary of State for Employment, soon to become Shadow Home Secretary – have succeeded in becoming Prime Minister? (Certainly not in 1992.) If Kinnock had still been Prime Minister in 2003, would he have lied to the House of Commons to get Labour to vote for a war in Iraq? That’s one of the great what-ifs of history – would any other Labour PM but Blair have committed this crime in order to have the UK follow the US into war with Iraq against the clear will of the British people? Would Black Wednesday have been such a disaster if Gordon Brown, not Norman Lamont, had been Chancellor? (Quite probably.) Would the NHS be lumbered with so many hugely expensive PFI hospitals if Kinnock had won in 1992? (Probably not.) Was the delay in the Northern Ireland peace process caused by John Major’s dependence on the DUP vote for confidence and supply?
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The essential conservatism of UK politics

On Thursday 7th May 2015, there will be a general election in the UK.

And then, short of hugely unlikely circumstances, there will not be another general election til 7th May 2020. (Or, with the approval of the House of Commons, any time up to two months later.)

There can only be a general election earlier than 7th May 2020 if either a majority vote in the Commons agrees “That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government” and a saving majority is not found within fourteen days: or if at least 434 MPs vote to call an early parliamentary general election.

Neither is a likely option. If a party can command the loyalty of 434 MPs they have a 109+ majority in the Commons and are very unlikely to want an early general election.
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Kezia Dugdale is now Deputy Leader

There were three women and two men in the Scottish Labour leadership contest: the media largely ignored Sarah Boyack, Kezia Dugdale, and Katy Clark: most of the mainstream publicity I saw treated the contest as if it were a race between two men, Jim Murphy and Neil Findlay.

Jim Murphy won, MP for East Renfrewshire, and currently his name gets about 2,750,000 hits on Google.

Kezia Dugdale, Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour Kezia Dugdale also won: she is the Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, and currently her name gets about 75,900 hits on Google.
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Scottish Labour Leadership

Unite the UnionI have a tiny fraction of a vote in the Scottish Labour leadership contest (as a Unite member) and here’s how I plan to vote.
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Who should be in the leaders debates?

Leaders Debates 2010What are the leaders’ debates for?

Because the UK is run by representatives from elected from constituencies, most of us watching a leaders’ debate will never get to vote for the party leader we think made best showing, or whose views we most agree with.

The current plan for the leaders’ debates – one on the BBC, one on Channel 4, and one on ITV - is for them to include the four men who lead four parties in the UK – the Conservatives, Labour, the LibDems, and UKIP: but exclude the women who lead the Green Party, the SNP, and Plaid Cymru.

In 2010, three leaders’ debates were for the three men who led what would obviously be the three biggest parties in the next Parliament, and in the sense that we saw David Cameron and Nick Clegg bonding as the two younger, public school men, excluding Gordon Brown, they were illuminating – even if Nick Clegg managed to parlay his brief popularity into a five-year crash for his party.
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Nicola Sturgeon and Steve Bell

Steve Bell’s shtick is picking a comparator for a politician whom he knows he’s going to have to draw a lot. Nick Clegg as cardboard figure with massive chin. Edwina Currie as giant chicken. John Prescott as a toothless bulldog. Nicola Sturgeon has just become one of those politicians, as the very-soon-to-be First Minister of Scotland.

Edwina Currie said of him a few years ago:

He’s never kind, never affectionate. So it can feel hurtful. Afterwards, you realise it’s very funny and clever, but at the time you feel miffed that your enormous contribution to the country is not being recognised. Does it make you feel better when you see your political rivals skewered? Oh yes!

Steve Bell is a remarkable talent. I’m not in the least surprised at his longevity. Long may he continue.

So, Steve Bell might have picked something offensive, it might have been funny, it might have been clarifying or illuminating or silly, but the shtick Steve Bell seems to have chosen for Nicola Sturgeon is… Hitler.
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