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Showing posts with label 2011 Holyrood elections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2011 Holyrood elections. Show all posts

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour Party Conference deconstructed by a separatist - me!

I have just read the transcript of Ed Miliband’s speech to the Scottish Labour Party Conference. It reveals an interesting, but entirely predictable set of priorities of the London-based - and led - Labour Party.

Reluctantly summoning up my old work study and quality control techniques, I endured the utter tedium of counting the key word references in this speech, which revealed that, as far as Miliband Minor and his shadow Cabinet are concerned, the Scottish Parliamentary election on May 5th is simply a vehicle for getting London Labour re-elected at the next general election.

(For the masochists among you, I have appended at the end of this blog the word sequence as it emerged in time terms through the speech . I will understand if your eyes glaze over …)

Today’s Herald headline summarises the recent opinion poll results as follows -

Labour narrowly ahead of SNP in election poll

Even the giant amoebic brains of Iain Gray’s campaign managers can grasp the significance of this, with the SNP rapidly narrowing the gap, just 4 points behind Labour in the constituency vote and 3 points behind on the list vote. Allied to the fact that Alex Salmond is the most popular politician in Scotland by far, and Iain Gray is almost invisible, Scottish Labour know who they have to beat on May 5th. The Scottish Tories remain an endangered species in Scotland, at 12% constituency and 13% for the list votes, and represent no threat, except in terms of alliances in a minority government or even a hung Parliament.

But Ed Miliband clearly sees them as the enemy, because he mentions them no less than 25 times in his speech. The SNP, in contrast, are mentioned just four times and the LibDems get six mentions.

Little Ed isn’t fighting the Scottish election, he is fighting the next general election for London Labour, and the Scots are just cannon fodder for that battle.

It takes Ed quite some time to get to mentioning Scotland in his opening, because he is worried that David Cameron is strutting his Britain-as-a-global-player stuff on an international stage of sorts over Libya, and has given a pretty good imitation of a statesman. It just ain’t fair - Maggie had her war, Blair had his wars, and now Ed is being denied his war, and the PR and electoral edge that violence abroad gives to UK Prime Ministers.

So after a token “It’s a pleasure to be here at the Scottish conference”, he opens with Libya, and the topic centres go as follows -

Libya, internationalist party, overseas aid,the Balkans, international community, Colonel Gadaffi, armed forces, possible combat, Libya, Libya, Middle East, Middle East, Palestine, Israel, Palestinian people, then at last - Scottish election.

The agenda is clear. The UK - and the British Prime Minister - only haves real identities through foreign policy and their capacity to intervene anywhere across the globe in the affairs of other nations: Scotland is there to slavishly feed that identity by a disproportionate blood sacrifice of its young men and women, as it has done since the Union of 1707, and the faster they contribute to defeating the Tories and letting Ed occupy the role of Commander-in-Chief, the better.

Of course, given the annoying propensity of the Scots to want to run their own affairs, including their foreign policy, and to decide how and when they put their armed forces in harm’s way, Ed Miliband has to wrench himself back to his ostensible purpose for being in Scotland - to support his puppet Scottish party, and the man they unfortunately chose to lead them, Iain Gray.

(I have no doubt whatsoever that an independent Scotland would have played its full, voluntary part in supporting the UN against Gadaffi, as a sovereign country within Europe.)

The term independence dare not be used in the Scottish context, so Miliband uses separatism, in the fond unionist belief that it is pejorative. (I am more than happy to be called a separatist!)

Miliband  is also forced summon up a concept that is all but invisible to the Scottish electorate - Iain Gray’s leadership.

Iain Gray’s leadership is a kind of dark matter in the Scottish Labour Party - it ought to be there, it is difficult to explain his selection as leader if it is not there, but no one can find it. Perhaps if Iain Gray was passed at high speed though the Large Hadron Collider by Professor Brian Cox, a particle of that hitherto invisible leadership might fleetingly become visible - even a charisma particle - Gray’s Bosun -might flicker for a moment before it too vanished into the primeval soup of Holyrood Labour.

But the first mention of the Gray leadership particle is speedily followed by the following terms in quick succession - Tory Threat, Scotland, Poll Tax, Scotland, Thatcher, The Tories, Scotland, The Tories, The Tories, The Tories …

And so it goes on - and on - for some time, alternating Scotland and Iain Gray’s leadership as if they bore any connection to reality.

Then, way down the list and well into the speech, the SNP makes its fleeting appearance - four times only, in contrast to the Tories 25 mentions, with two reference to Alex Salmond. The tired old Arc of Prosperity argument is trotted out yet again, with gratuitous insults for Ireland and a great silence on Norway.

Labour heroes of the distant and more recent past - Keir Hardie, Donald Dewar and John Smith - are given a reverential mention, all of whom are spinning rapidly in their graves at the contemptible thing their beloved Party has become under the current crop of expedient nuclear warmongers.

Read the full speech if you can. But here is the list in sequence - judge for yourselves -

ED MILIBAND

It is a pleasure to be here at the Scottish Conference.

Libya

internationalist party

overseas aid

the Balkans

international community

Colonel Gaddafi

armed forces

possible combat

Libya

Libya

Middle East

Middle East

Palestinians

Israel

Palestinian people

Scottish election

Scotland

Westminster

Tories

Holyrood

Scottish people

Tories

Tories

Scottish Labour party

Iain Gray’s leadership

Tory Threat

Scotland

Poll Tax

Scotland

Thatcher

The Tories

Scotland

The Tories

The Tories

The Tories

Labour

Tories

Scotland

Iain as First Minister

Labour

Scotland

Iain as First Minister

Iain's leadership

Scotland

Labour

Iain's leadership

Scotland

Scotland

Britain’s

Scotland

Tories

SNP

SNP

Scotland

Tory threat

Scotland

Tories

United Kingdom

Conservative-led government

London

the Tories

Scotland alone

separatism

Europe

Scotland

Iceland

Ireland

Alex Salmond’s

Arc of Prosperity

Scotland

Britain

Tories

Westminster

Holyrood

Scotland

Tories

Tories

Tory Government

England’s

England

Tory manifesto

Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg

Britain

Liberal democrats

Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat

UK

Tories

Scottish

Welsh Assembly

Westminster

Labour

Labour

the Tories

Labour

United Kingdom

Scotland

David Cameron

Liberal Democrats

SNP

Tories

Alex Salmond

separatism

Tories

Labour

Labour

Edinburgh

Scotland

UK

General Election

Oldham East

Barnsley Central

Paisley

SNP

Westminster

Liberal Democrats

Conservative

Scottish Labour

Keir Hardie

John Smith

Donald Dewar

Iain Gray

Scottish Labour

Wester Hailes

Scotland

Tories

Scotland

Iain Gray

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Good morning, Scotland - is this a new dawn? (The Times Ipsos MORI poll)

These are the kind of headlines I like to wake up to -

The Times

Salmond surges into Holyrood poll lead

Labour alarm as voters ask “Who’s Iain Gray?”

Today’s lead story in The Times gladdens the heart, but then I remind myself that a poll is just a poll, and however psephologically sophisticated the selection of the 1000 voters polled, these indicators shift and waver in the lead-up to an election. But the shift is marked, and highly welcome, and I entertain the hope that it is an indicator that my fellow Scots have seen through the web of media lies, distortion, selective reporting that represents so much of UK - and shamefully, Scottish - media coverage of Scottish affairs and our devolved politics.

Ipsos MORI poll

forecast Holyrood seat on May 5th

SNP 51 seats (up 4)  Labour 48 seats (up 2)

Tories 14 seats (down 3) LibDem 12 seats (down 4)

Green 4 seats (up 2)

I can only recommend that you buy today’s Times and luxuriate in the good news while it lasts, and fervently hope that it will last, and that the momentum will grow until May 5th.

But don’t relax - get the message out, by every means possible, that Scotland intends to be governed by its ain folk, because only its ain folk can govern it well.

see excellent piece by Alex Porter - Scotland Unspun



The Good News 16th Feb 2011

Friday, 11 February 2011

Alex Salmond on minority government, Megrahi and the calibre of Scottish Labour politicians

ON PREFERENCES IN GOVERNMENT

ALEX SALMOND: Obviously my overall preference would be to win an absolute majority, but short of that, I think that minority government has shown itself to be good for Scotland over the last four years. I’d like to have more than a plurality of one - I’d like a majority of more than one over our leading opponents, but I think minority government has been good for Scotland.

ON COALITION POSSIBILITIES

ALEX SALMOND: You asked me what my preference was, and my preference is that minority government is bestows a number of advantages. Am I ruling out a coalition? No, I’m not ruling out a coalition, but as a preference, we want to win the election, and if we don’t get a majority, then I think a minority government …

For example, if we win re-election, Gordon, (Gordon Brewer - Newsnight Scotland) then on some of the issues which the other parties combined to stop, you would have certainly a moral authority and a mandate to progress. For example, minimum pricing on alcohol … The rest of the parties combined to stop it. My judgement would be - if we win re-election - that is a policy we’ll be able to pursue in the next Parliament, with the support of the people behind us. A referendum on independence for Scotland would be another policy - with our fresh mandate, we’d have the ability to get it through the Parliament.

ON THE CALIBRE OF THE LABOUR OPPOSITION

Gordon Brewer: “Some things you’ve been saying recently, I guess boil down to saying - me and my pals are better than Iain Gray and his pals”

ALEX SALMOND: I’m not - I’d like to fight the election on the basis that we’ve got a cracking record as a government over the last four years, we’ve got a great team to put the next record into operation, and we’ve got a vision for the future of this country as an independent Scotland as an energy powerhouse of the European continent - and that’s how I want to fight the election.

We’re fighting on out record, the team and a vision - I think our team, yes, has more calibre than their team, and I think that most fair-minded people in Scotland would accept that.

Gordon Brewer: “Are you suggesting that Labour, somehow, isn’t competent to run the country?”

ALEX SALMOND:  Oh,  I think there  is a number of people in the Labour Party who don’t seem to me the sort of people I would trust to run the Country. The Health Service - who would you rather have running the health service in Scotland? Would you rather have Nicola Sturgeon or Jackie Baillie? I think most people in Scotland would say they would rather have Nicola Sturgeon.

Gordon Brewer: “I can understand that you would rather not have Jackie Baillie running the Health Service because you don’t agree with her policies - are you saying the Jackie Baillie and others on the Labour front bench are somehow not competent to do what your ministers would do?”

ALEX SALMOND:  “Well, if we take health - and I’ll try not to personalise this - I think the protection of the Health Service and the Scottish budget over the next few years is going to be extremely important. We know that the Labour Party has been, at best, equivocal as to whether the Health Service would have protection, as to whether it would be ring-fenced. I think it was on this very programme that Iain Gray failed to commit to that.

Therefore, a party which can’t protect the Health Service in my view, … shouldn’t be trusted to run the country, and the  health spokesperson of that party shouldn’t be trusted to run the Health Service.

Gordon Brewer: “From the nationalist point of view, the biggest problem  with your period in government, surely, is that the whole point of the SNP is to get independence, and you’re no nearer to getting it than when you became First Minister. That’s pretty shocking stuff, isn’t it?”

ALEX SALMOND:  Actually, the last opinion poll on Scottish independence was the highest for four years -

Gordon Brewer: “These things go up and down - there’s no substantial progress …”

ALEX SALMOND:  The substantial progress that we look for, in terms of achieving independence is twofold -

One, as a gradualist party, we seek to acquire powers and responsibilities for the Scottish Parliament to take us nearer the goal of national independence.

And secondly, as a democratic party, we wish to have a referendum to allow the people of Scotland the right to decide.

You say we are no nearer - I think, to have an SNP administration in a Scottish Parliament is dramatically nearer independence than we’ve been ever before in Scotland,  for  two reasons - one, there is a Scottish Parliament, which we didn’t have for about 300 years, and secondly, as an SNP administration, the party of independence, which we never had.

Ergo, we’re closer to independence than we ever were.

ON THE MEGRAHI AFFAIR

Gordon Brewer: “Do you have any regret about that? Are you really happy that the main thing, actually, probably that any Scottish Administration has done since devolution is let a mass murderer go free?”

ALEX SALMOND:  I don’t agree that it is the main thing that any Scottish administration has done since devolution, but I am satisfied that we took a decision based on good faith and due process. And when you get difficult decisions to take, that is what is the most most important thing to be able to say. Now, if you say to me, Gordon …

Gordon Brewer: “The most important thing is to get them right.”

ALEX SALMOND: Well, I believe we did make the right decision - that Kenny MacAskill did make the right decision according to the due process of Scots law. I believe that absolutely. But I think it’s even more important, incidentally,  for people to know that we made that decision in good faith, and I would suggest to you that everything that’s been published in this last week vindicate the position that the Scottish Government took - that we were taking a decision in due process, in good faith and for no other reason.

I think the revelation this week is that we now know, beyond peradventure, that the Labour Party in Scotland were guilty of the most outstanding hypocrisy I can remember in my period in public life.

Gordon Brewer: “From the point of view of families of victims, both here and in the United States - I mean, the politics of this are neither here nor there. what they want to say to you is, look, you let this man who was convicted of killing family members, out of jail, and he’s now alive - if not well - in Libya a year later. This is just wrong - it’s outrageous.”

ALEX SALMOND:  Gordon, I’ve got nothing but respect for the Lockerbie families, whether they’re in the UK or America, and 19 other countries which were affected by the atrocity. But you are wrong to suggest that all families have the same opinion. I’m not disputing that a lot of families, particularly in America, would have that opinion. I’m merely pointing out to you that many families, particularly in the UK, have a different opinion - who’ve supported the decision on compassionate release.

But I’ve got nothing but respect for the families, and I would always listen and pay attention to their point of view, and you’ll never hear a word of criticism from me of any of the views of any of the families, who are entitled to make their views known.

My criticism is solely designed and aimed at those politicians who attacked Kenny MacAskill and the SNP in Scotland, I believe in the full knowledge that their own colleagues in London were supporting release, not for due process, not for compassionate reasons, but for economic and political considerations.

ON A PUBLIC ENQUIRY INTO MEGRAHI

Gordon Brewer: “Given the whole silly history of this, why not do something positive with this. I know there are problems with jurisdiction, getting witnesses and all the rest, but why not say now - because the families in Britain who support what you have just said on the decision - have also been asking you to set up a public enquiry, so that we can at least try to get to the bottom of what actually happened. Why not say now that you will do that, despite all the problems it might have, it might at least have a chance of getting somewhere?”

ALEX SALMOND:  There would be manifest problems - but can I say to you I think more important than a public enquiry, in my view - which would be necessarily (?)in the full settlement(?) in Scotland be  hugely limited in what it could do - is the full publication of the statement of reasons of the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission made to the courts in Scotland. We’ve already made one attempt to have that published in full.

What I can say to you tonight  is that we’ll be introducing primary legislation to enable that report to be published in full. It was an investigation that took several years, and I believe the full statement of reasons - not answering every question about this affair  - nonetheless will shed substantial light and give information  that the families and indeed the general public are entitled to have.

Gordon Brewer: “So you will legislate in the Scottish Parliament so that those documents will be published?”

ALEX SALMOND:  Correct.

Gordon Brewer: “Will you follow on the publication of those documents … logically would be then to have an enquiry, dependent on what they come up with?”

ALEX SALMOND: I think, Gordon, they should see what the full statement of reasons of  the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission is. I still think there are difficulties with a public enquiry because it would be hugely limited in terms of the documents it could obtain, in terms of the witnesses, in terms  of the  nature and in terms of the international politics. We’ve already seen …

Gordon Brewer: “It’s something you could do, limited as it is. no one else is going to do it …”

ALEX SALMOND:  Can I just point out to you that, say as far as the interchange between the United Kingdom and the United States governments is concerned, then I think that Wikileaks, over the last few weeks, has shed more light on these exchanges, than for example and enquiry would be able  to do, since it wouldn’t be able to summon any of the witnesses, since now we know from Wikileaks what their true opinion was.


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Rachel Johnson (Boris’ sister) and the Haggis – happy tweeting time …

A cordial exchange of tweets with Rachel Johnson over the Scottish national delicacy and its alternative use as a missile.

I have to hand it to Rachel – she has a sense of humour and the family quality of not taking herself too seriously. I like her in spite of myself …

clip_image001moridura Peter Curran

@TheLadyMagazine @RachelSJohnson Will you be sponsoring a haggis-throwing contest in Scotland, Rachel?

clip_image002RachelSJohnson Rachel Johnson

@moridura yup. Will be in stocks outside the clootie dumpling on the main street waiting for the haggis-pelting to commence

clip_image001[1]moridura Peter Curran

@RachelSJohnson I've asked them to reprieve you, Rachel. You have rendered an invaluable service to the cause of Scotland's independence.