Tag Archives: David Steel

Cyril Smith and Rochdale

Cyril SmithIn 1962, when Cambridge House in Rochdale was opened to give young men a clean safe place to stay, Cyril Smith was 34, already an important man in the local community, and he seems to have regarded it as his private pleasure centre. The hostel ran from 1962 to 1965, Cyril Smith had keys and could come and go at any time, and was responsible for bringing in several boys to live there who’d been in difficult home situations, often then to work for the local authority, so that Smith would have control both over their jobs and over their home. Continue reading

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Filed under Bread, Children, Corruption, Justice, Police

Rennard and 50/50 hindsight

Chris RennardWhen the question about sexual harassment was asked of the Question Time panel in Dundee last week, all three men on the panel – including David Dimbleby – went awfully quiet. The two women, Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson, roundly condemned sexual harassment and the behaviour of party leadership that ignores complaints; especially telling coming from Davidson, as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives.

It gets written off as “not a big deal” or “he probably didn’t mean it” or “he’s not a bad guy, really.” Any discussion of the bad behavior must immediately be followed by a complete audit of his better qualities or the sad things he’s suffered in the name of “fairness.” Once the camera has moved in and seen him in closeup as a real, human, suffering person, how can you (the object, always an object, as in “objectified,” as in a disembodied set of tits or orifices, or a Trapper Keeper, or a favorite coffee mug or a pet cat) be so cruel as to want to hold him accountable for his actions? Bitches, man. “My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?” Captain Awkward, August 2012

For twenty years, Lord Rennard was the man in charge of Liberal Democrat campaigns and elections. He was appointed Director of Campaigns and Elections for the newly-forged Liberal Democrat party in 1989. In 1992, the LibDems lost two seats – by the 1997 election, they had 18. But in 1997, 2001, and 2005, targeting winnable seats, Rennard increased Liberal Democrat representation from 18 to 46, to 52, to a high of 62.
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Filed under Elections, Women

Of devolution, independence, and oil

Scotland has oil. In 2001, the UK was producing 2.54 million barrels of oil per day from the Scottish waters (and using 1.699). Demand for oil has risen, but the revenue from the oil has dropped by about half. The silly season is already out on how the Unionists might resolve this if Scotland votes yes in autumn 2014: the English Democrats want to know how did our oil get under their water? and Lord Kilclooney suggests partitioning Scotland.

As ever, there’s some sound discussion about the legalities around the independence referendum at Peat Worrier:

While Wallace’s colleague, Michael Moore, has said that the UK Government would not attempt any legal challenge to Holyrood legislation authorising a referendum. Wallace’s statement, by contrast, at least still countenances the possibility. Given Moore’s ditheriness, and the range of wrangling interests pulling the coalition this way and that, I doubt too much stock should be put in whatever view the Secretary of State happens to be entertaining today. This was followed up by a piece in the Scotsman, in which Wallace kept open the possibility of litigation, to spike an SNP referendum, if the transfer of powers (with or without conditions) cannot be agreed between the parliaments.

But it looks like things are progressing – the Scottish Government have agreed to use the Electoral Commission, which suggests in turn that the Westminster coalition aren’t planning to try an undignified blocking strategy.

Joyce McMillan had some altogether sensible advice to give to Johann Lamont in the Scotsman yesterday:

Already facing a collapse in Labour votes and membership caused by the party’s movement to the Blairite right since the 1990s, and facing a triumphant Scottish National Party which has now become the focus of all hope for many centre-left Scottish voters, the new Labour leader now has to deal with her party leader’s decision to join the Prime Minister’s gang on the constitutional issue. She has to agree that Scotland should be made to hold a “binding” yes-no referendum on independence, and to rolling out Westminster Labour “big guns” to lead a government-inspired campaign designed to frighten the Scots into voting “no”.

Now tactically, of course, it is tempting for Labour to join the Tories in wrong-footing Alex Salmond, by demanding the straight yes-no referendum which he fears he cannot win. The First Minister has clearly been taken aback by the extent of his own success in demoralising the opposition parties in Scotland, which has left him without significant support in promoting the “devo-max” option which he also wants to see on the ballot paper; and Labour is doing all it can to prolong his pain.

This is the kind of moment, though, when serious political leaders have to take a step backward from the fray, and the consider the long-term future of the movement which they seek to represent. It’s this kind of courage and statesmanship that is now required of Johann Lamont. The party she leads was founded on trade union representation, on the co-operative consumer movement, and on a passionate belief in Scottish home rule as part of what we would now call a federal UK.

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Filed under Oil, Scottish Politics