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Showing posts with label Alex Salmond. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alex Salmond. Show all posts

Friday, 22 May 2015

What if ……?

We won a landslide victory, gaining 56 seat out of 59 , almost 95% of the Westminster Scottish seats. The three main unionist parties are each reduced to a token single member in the Commons. This is unprecedented, and the benefits are very tangible indeed.

Westminster benefits of having 56 SNP MPs

Scottish National Party will chair the UK Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Select Committee and Scottish Affairs Select Committee. However, there were earlier indications that Tories and Labour will attempt to abolish the Scottish Affairs Committee.

The party will be entitled to £6 million over the next Parliament because it took so many seats in the election. It will receive between £1 and £1.2 million from the Treasury each year in what is known as short money.

The GE2015 landslide vote is not a mandate for a referendum” NICOLA

If more than 50% of the electorate voting for a party committed to independence get 94.9% of the seats for their country is not a virtual mandate for independence, what would be?

(I covered some possibilities in my May 1st blog before the election.)

Nicola's argument, quite deliberately, rather dances round this key point, by saying that some very significant event or events - e.g. BREXIT - the exit of UK from the EU - would be required to reactivate the question of a referendum. She rests her assertion on the related facts that 

1) the manifesto did not commit to a referendum and did not make independence a core issue, and

2) a proportion of the electorate voting SNP (unknown) must have included voters who voted NO in the 2014 referendum and still firmly wish to remain part of UK

That group had every right to vote in the belief that, although they were voting for a party whose core long-term objective is independence, the Scottish electorate firmly rejected independence on September 18th 2014 and the SNP accepted that democratic result, and both the former and the current First Ministers had expressed personal views that there would be no referendum in a generation, however one defines that. But those views were personal, albeit widely shared, and they could not bind the people of Scotland, as both Nicola and Alex Salmond have subsequently stated.

NICOLA “The People decide

Although Nicola is right to say that, democratically, the people decide on independence in a referendum, their ability to do so only comes if the independence party they support explicitly commits to independence during the lifetime of the Scottish Parliament - if elected - in their manifesto before the 2016 election. (The People, in practice, decide very little, except at the ballot box, and once in a while, during revolutions!)

In other words, if  Nicola and the Party place such a commitment in the 2016 Holyrood manifesto and win decisively, the aggregate case for an independence referendum would be well-nigh unanswerable.

She won't, because whatever these figure say about a mandate to call a referendum, there is no certainty that she would win. Alex Salmond,  a risk-taker and a gambler, took the political gamble in the 2011 manifesto - and was right to do so. The risk is huge – another NO vote would kill independence aspirations stone dead – or lead to something that no one would care to predict …

We came close to winning. But Nicola is not a political gambler: she will only take carefully judged risks with a high chance of success in the light of the previous failure. She will seek to get more powers, something close to federalism, and will postpone independence till Scotland is independent in all but defence and foreign affairs.

The $64,000 question is - will the SNP’s massive membership permit the Party to exclude such a commitment from the 2016 manifesto or will they pass branch resolutions demanding one?

Nicola's authority and popularity are at their very peak right now, but another mood may develop which, while retaining respect for her and her authority, begins to lose the fan/celebrity awe – a mood in which members are prepared to constructively flex  branch muscles, and democratically question strategy.  That, after all, is how party democracy is supposed to operate.

Will it happen? Who knows? Despite the massive membership, as any Branch Chair or Secretary knows, at any given time only a small minority of members are actively committed to attending branch meetings and influencing branch democracy. But in the SNP, on key decisions, the entire branch can vote online or by post, as for example on the selection of candidates for election.

Additionally and perhaps crucially, there are still campaigning organisations out there committed to independence who are not necessarily SNP supporters or members, e.g. Radical Independence, Common Weal, the Scottish Socialist Party, and party politically unaligned activists and voters, and also supporters and members of nominally unionist parties who nonetheless may support full independence or devomax or federalism within UK.

Depending how event unfold in the next 11 months, and dependent on how Scottish Labourand its ousted MPs – re-group and re-define themselves, all sorts of possibilities exist.

And of course, there are the trades unions, the STUC and campaigning groups within them, not to mention a number of groups who campaigned for YES banner under a variety of identities.

What we have is an unprecedented and varied mass movement - a mass engagement of the Scottish electorate, with its own hydra-headed structure, united by a core desire for political change in Scotland, but with significantly different views of what it should be and how it should be brought about.

Those who wonder how it will behave in the post-referendum, post-GE2015 phase we are in now, in the 11-month lead-up to the 2016 Parliamentary election might find illumination – or cause for alarm – in Eric Hoffer’s unique 1951 book The True Believer

Interesting times …

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Andrew Marr forecasts the end of the Union within lifetime of 2015-2020 Parliament. YES, YES,YES!

ANDREW MARR: "We are in circumstances right now, where during the lifetime of the Parliament at Westminster that we are about to elect, it's perfectly possible at least, that Scotland and England will finally go their separate ways." 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

SNP Spring Conference 2015 – there’s never been a party conference like this one!

Angus Robertson MP and Stewart Hosie MP, the two stalwarts of the lonely advance guard of six SNP MPs, who have spent years as a tiny embattled group on the Commons benches, surrounded by the hostile forces of unionism, alternately abused and patronised, facing the full wrath and hostility of all unionist parties, including abuse from their fellow Scots in Labour, LibDems and Tory ranks, exhausted by commuting to and from their constituencies and demanding party duties in Scotland.

Here they set the scene for Conference and for Nicola, and calmly nail – hopefully  once and for all(!) - the repetitive distortions and simplistic questions and soundbytes directed at us by hostile and often deeply confused unionists – on party leadership, on Westminster leadership and on Westminster strategy and the questions of a second independence referendum.

It is not a an exaggeration to say that no other political party has such clarity of policy, objectives and tight focus.

Scotland, the party and the massive new SNP membership owe them a debt of gratitude for their incalculable contribution to party strategy and the success of the SNP, especially to Angus Robertson, the modest hero of the SNP, the architect of so much of its success - our leader in Westminster. We owe so much to this man.

We won't forget - and after May, you'll never be lonely again, guys - massive reinforcements are coming!

There has never been a party conference like this. It let the world see what Scotland and Scots are really like - open and determined. There's a simple explanation for SNP's success and poll position - it understands Scots, Scotland and politics better than the opposition.

HUMZA: "We are nobody's branch office. Nobody puts Scotland in a box. No one puts Scotland in a corner." And so say all of us ...

If you're a lifelong Labour supporter (I was!) but increasingly realise that the SNP is the party that now represents your values - join us!

If you voted NO at #indyref but are having second thoughts, now's the time! Join the SNP - you'll be welcomed and immediately among friends.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Westminster 2015 – politics, polls and possibilities: the current state of play

I thought I’d have a crack at updating my February blog – May 8th 2015 – when the hard bargaining starts

Polls are remarkably consistent in pointing to a hung Parliament – now virtually a certainty rather than a possibility. Again, I offer my understanding of the arithmetic and dynamics of this, but happy to be corrected on errors or points of detail!

CURRENT STATE OF PARTIES
Conservatives           303
Labour                       257
Liberal Democrat       56
Democratic Unionist   8
Scottish National          6
Sinn Fein                       5
Independent                 3
Plaid Cymru                  3
Social Dem & Lab.        3
UKIP                               2
Alliance                           1
Green                              1
Respect                           1
Speaker                           1

Total no. of seats  650

ARITHMETIC OF FORMING A GOVERNMENT

After a general election, the leader of one of the parties has to demonstrate that he or she can command a majority of the votes in the House of Commons on major issues i.e. impose the democratic will of the Government on dissenting voices in the House and govern this increasingly Disunited Kingdom - a practical necessity and constitutional requirement - the leader has to convince the Queen as Head of State.

If one political party has this capacity, its leader de facto becomes Prime Minister, subject to the Queen’s ratification, but if no single party has the requisite number of seats – even though one may have more seats than any other single party – then either

a deal has to be struck with another party or parties, or

the party with the majority of seats has to risk governing as a minority government, or

a hung Parliament effectively  exists and another general election has to be called.

The party leader with most seats (but short of overall majority) gets first crack at forming a government

Last time, I used the first Newsnight Index – this time I’ll use the latest Skye/Thrasher poll projections of the hung Parliament possible seat outcome.

Sky Hung poll

Labour largest party on 283 seats  - way short of the magic 321-323 seats to give an overall majority - Tories 272, SNP 53, Others 23, LibDems 17, UKIP 2

Thee are 650 seats in the House, a simple majority requires the aspirant governing party or parties to be able to command 326 seats (half of 650 + 1)– but since Sinn Fein doesn’t take up its five seats, that becomes 323 (half of 645 +1).  Sinn Fein could of course put a green cat among the Brit pigeons at any time by deciding to turn up! And they might just do that, worried by DUP influence (currently 8 seats, maybe 9 after May?)

There is the question of the Speaker (actually speakers, with deputies). The Speaker only votes on a dead heat, and then by tradition for the governing party, so theoretically that throws another one vote potentially in contention!)

On the Sky/Thrasher projection, Labour would be the party with most seats, but not enough to hit the magic 323. Ed Miliband can then choose to “do an Alex Salmond 2007” and elect to govern as a minority government a high-wire act, with huge risks, which Alex was well-equipped to perform – requiring him to do ad hoc deals on every major vote with other parties or interest groups within and/or across parties. If Ed hasn’t the balls for this – or the Queen didn’t like it – he would then have three other options -

call for another general election, or

try to strike a confidence & supply deal with another party or parties – a kind of minority government with a pre-arranged support understanding, or

form a coalition government with one party or with more than one party - a Rainbow coalition

(Aficionados of the various Borgen series on BBC Four will understand all of this effortlessly, plus have an insight into the role of sex in government!)

Ed has now decisively ruled out a Labour coalition with Tories, UKIP or SNP  (it was never a preferred SNP option) and appears to have ruled out any formal deal, e.g. confidence and supply, so he must either bottle it and call another general election or govern as a minority government.

But the stark realpolitik of minority government means that he must negotiate and do deals, otherwise he risks falling  at the first fence, e.g. a budget vote.

Who will Ed’s likely partners in government be – if he chooses to have partners – and how would it play out on the above, or similar projections of a May  7th outcome?

To get to the magic 323, he needs 40 votes. For comfort – and to reassure Lizzie – he ideally needs more. The SNP can give him 53, LibDems 17, and Others 23 votes. UKIP can offer 2.

He says he won’t deal with UKIP or Tories: the  LibDems are proven carpetbaggers and will deal with anyone, delivering 17 votes – but,  of the 23 others, 6 don’t vote (Sinn Fein and Speaker) and of the remaining 17, he probably can  only deal with Plaid and Greens (and George Galloway ?). Even if he had all the Others (including Ulster Unionists?) he only musters 34.

(Breaking news is that DUP will deliver their 8 (9?) votes to anyone who offers them £1 billion. Now, who’s crying “holding the UK to ransom” now, Anna Soubry! Ah, they’re unionists!)

If Ed was mad, UKIP squeaks him another two, giving 36 but still leaving him four short of the magic figure, which in itself is a tight and risky margin.

Any way  it plays out, it seems inevitable that the SNP will be the key players, even if their actual seat fall short of the astonishing 53 seat projection.

Without going into the obvious numbers, on this projection, David Cameron has even less chance of usurping Labour as the largest party to form a government.

Of course there are other radical options, all centring round some kind of Government of  National Unity, i.e. keep the WMD, keep austerity and keep the SNP out of the power loop at any price.

My view is that such an attempt - apart from running a grave risk of triggering a schism in either the Labour Party or the Tory Party or both - would catalyse the spirit of Scottish independence dramatically and trigger an unstoppable popular demand for a  second independence referendum.

(There are even more radical scenarios than that, ones that I would not like to see provoked by such UK rashness.)

POSTSCRIPT: Alex Salmond ideas on Fixed Term Parliament Act manoeuvre

Thursday, 5 February 2015

May the 8th 2015 – when the hard bargaining starts?

All the forecasts indicate a hung Parliament as a probability rather than a possibility. I offer my understanding of the mechanic and dynamics of this to those who perhaps have never examined the matter in any detail.

If you are already well-informed on such matters, pass on – what follows is not for you, you clued-up thing, you …

CURRENT STATE OF PARTIES
Conservatives           303
Labour                       257
Liberal Democrat       56
Democratic Unionist   8
Scottish National          6
Sinn Fein                       5
Independent                 3
Plaid Cymru                  3
Social Dem & Lab.        3
UKIP                               2
Alliance                           1
Green                              1
Respect                           1
Speaker                           1

Total no. of seats  650

HARD ARITHMETIC OF FORMING A GOVERNMENT

After a general election, the leader of one of the parties has to demonstrate that he or she can command a majority of the votes in the House of Commons on major issues - e.g. the Budget, major legislation, decisions to commit the Armed Forces – in other words, impose the democratic will of the Government on dissenting voices in the House and govern the United Kingdom. This is a obviously a practical necessity and of course constitutional requirement, as the leader has to convince the Queen as Head of State.

If one political party has this capacity, its leader de facto becomes Prime Minister, subject to the Queen’s ratification, but if no single party has the requisite number of seats – even though one may have more seats than any other single party – then either

a deal has to be struck with another party or parties, or

the party with the majority of seats has to risk governing as a minority government, or

a hung Parliament effectively  exists and another general election has to be called.

This situation existed in the hectic days following the last general election in 2010, and a fascinating spectacle it was.

There have been many projections of just how the seats will play out after May 7th, and there will be many more, as poll after poll offers its forecasts, but for the purpose of illustration of the arithmetic, I’ll use a slightly dated, but useful projection of the BBC’s – the first Newsnight Index - for no better reason than that I already have a graphic for it – and it may well be as accurate as any other that comes up!

Newsnight Index projection GE2015

With 650 seats in the House, a simple majority requires the aspirant governing party or parties to be able to command 326 seats (half of 650 + 1)– but since Sinn Fein doesn’t take up its five seats, that becomes 323 (half of 645 +1).  Sinn Fein could of course put a green cat among the Brit pigeons at any time by deciding to turn up!

If we look at the Newsnight Index projection (it’s not the current one), Labour, on this projection, would be the party with most seats, but not enough to hit the magic 323. Ed Miliband could then choose to “do an Alex Salmond 2007” and elect to govern as a minority government – a high-wire act, with huge risks, which Alex was well-equipped to perform – requiring him to do ad hoc deals on every major vote with other parties or interest groups within and/or across parties. If he hadn’t the balls for this – or the Queen didn’t like it – he would then have three other options -

call for another general election, or

try to strike a confidence & supply deal with another party or parties – a kind of minority government with a pre-arranged support understanding, or

form a coalition government with one party or with more than one party - a Rainbow coalition

(Aficionados of the various Borgen series on BBC Four will understand all of this effortlessly, plus have an insight into the role of sex in government!)

Who will Ed’s likely partners in government be – if he chooses to have partners – and how would it play out on the above, or similar projections of a May  7th outcome?

To get to the magic 323, he needs 37 votes. For comfort – and to reassure Lizzie – he ideally needs more. The SNP can give him 33, Plaid two and Greens one. He definitely(?) won’t find his extra one from the Tories or UKIP, and thus is left to trawl among the LibDems, the Northern Ireland parties and the Others!

Perhaps George Galloway will see his way clear to support Ed, but probably at a price that would be unacceptable!

However it plays out, it seems inevitable, if present polling trends are accurate, that the SNP will be the key player.

But consider this possibility – the LibDem 26 plus 11 othersbut drawn from where?

I haven’t had so much fun since the 1945 General Election, where I campaigned for Labour and Attlee as a ten year-old. Now, that was fun …

N.B. The Speaker does not vote, except in deadheat votes, when the convention is that the speaker casts the tie-breaking vote in favor of the governing party.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Ed Miliband is not a deal-making kind of guy–but he’ll do one post-GE2015!

Better mute the "pooling and sharing" bit with Scotland as you get closer to May 7th, Ed - the English electorate won't like it!

Get elected as a minority government, then do your deal with the SNP, Plaid and Greens - dump Trident, give the Scots what they were promised - devomax - then work with your new partners to undo the untold damage done by Blair, Brown and the Coalition to the people of these islands.

Newsnight Index projection GE2015

P.S. We'll be back sometime in the very near future for our independence after the next referendum that Scotland holds - without asking anyone's permission.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Coalitus and coalascere

Coalitus? Sounds painful – maybe an inflammation caused by household fuel? Or is it a fancy name for the food craving of some pregnant women?

And coalascere ? Something Il commissario Montalbano might order as a side dish in his favourite Sicilian restaurant?

No – coalitus is the medieval Latin past participle of coalescere, meaning fusion or a coming together and coalesce and coalition derive from it.

A coalition is an alliance of some sort between two or more parties for combined action in concert in certain defined circumstances, one that is usually intended to be temporary.

Used in a political context, it is often for the purpose of forming a government.

(I am familiar with it in a negotiating context in voting behaviours with individuals and groups,  and the mathematical horrors of The Banzhaf Dilemma that I used to frighten senior managers with on negotiating skills courses.)

COALITION GOVERNMENT

We have lived with a coalition government in the UK for over four years in the form of the pernicious Tory/LibDem Coalition of 2010, formed in the aftermath of economic, social and foreign policy shambles left by the Blair/Brown governments of 1997 to 2010.

If we go back to 1852, the Peelites and the Whigs formed a coalition headed by Lord Aberdeen. It lasted till 1855. The noble Earl had a rash of Lords and knights in his cabinet, but he also had one William Ewart Gladstone, a fellow Peelite, of whom rather a lot was subsequently heard.

There was another short-lived LibTory coalition right in the middle of the Great War after the Gallipoli disaster: it collapsed and was promptly replaced by another under Lloyd George. It fell apart in 1922 over scandals, notoriously the blatant flogging of peerages for hard cash by Lloyd George.

The coalitions of 1931 to 1940 preferred to call themselves National Governments because by that time the term Coalition Government had a bad name(!)

The Second World War brought a Tory-led coalition under Churchill (1940-1945). It was referred to as the War Ministry, and last until May 1945, when Churchill resigned after the war ended.

It was replaced by the Churchill caretaker ministry until July 1945, when the general election resulted in a Labour landslide and the Attlee Government.

One might therefore say that the record of coalition governments has not been a stellar one, with the exception of the War Ministry Coalition of 1940-1945.

I’ve been alive during three of the six of them, witnessed the end of two of them and hope to witness the end of another on May 7th 2015.

The question is – will we see another coalition government sometime after May 8th 2015 – and should we want one?

SNP Westminster strategy

The SNP’s core strategy for GE2015 is to contest all Westminster Scottish seats and get as many SNP MPs elected as possible.

Its preferred outcome for the UK-wide ballot is Labour as the party with the largest number of seats, but without an overall majority, and the end of Cameron’s Tory/LibDem Coalition Government.

This outcome would leave UK Labour with three choices -

govern as a minority government, with no formal arrangement with any other party, but making ad hoc deals to secure a majority on specific votes with any party or group of MPs it could secure

enter into a confidence and supply arrangement with a party or parties to offer committed support on agreed issues

form a coalition government with one or more parties and form a cabinet that included ministers appointed from those parties

It would however be a mistake to think that this would all instantly be Ed Miliband’s choice to make. As Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary involved in the 2010 untidy and acrimonious negotiations that led to the Cameron/Clegg Coalition, has pointed out on Sky News, things were not as straightforward in 2010, and are unlikely to be straightforward after May 7th 2015.

But if it is Miliband’s choice, and he chooses a deal rather than minority government, and if the logic of that deal centres on a new and impressive bloc of SNP MPs, what deal might he choose – confidence and supply or coalition ?

If I were in his shoes, and I wanted to neuter the SNP influence in Westminster, I would unhesitatingly choose coalition.

Why?

Well, for a number of reasons.

1. I would invoke the spirit and the words of Lyndon Johnson when faced with having J.Edgar Hoover in or out of his government – “I’d rather have them inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.”

2. Having the SNP in government, in cabinet – and with cabinet responsibility -could be presented as de facto acceptance of the finality of the 2014 independence referendum outcome and embracing the Union.

3. If the SNP broke ranks in coalition, and breached joint cabinet responsibility for a policy decision or action, they could be presented as deeply irresponsible and unfit for government.

4. In Miliband’s position, I would rely on the seductive influences of ministerial office, the status and perks, and the illusion of acting on an international stage to blunt the edge of the SNP’s ambitions for Scotland and damage their reputation and electoral standing with their core constituency.

In a nutshell, if I were Ed Miliband I would do to the SNP what Cameron has done to the LibDems – reduce them to an object of contempt and an electoral rump of a party.

In contrast, governing UK as a minority government would be a far more risky enterprise than governing Scotland in a devolved Parliament was for Alex Salmond 2007-2011, and a confidence and supply deal would place him in the mode of supplicant every time a significant vote arose and crucially, at every budget.

SNP CHOICE?

The SNP’s current position – as I understand it – is that they hope for a Labour win with no overall majority, and a subsequent confidence and supply deal. If - as many thought – Stewart Hosie was flying a cautious kite for coalition, then it is for the SNP to justify such a course of action.

But can they – and more importantly – will they?

The SNP could argue that it cannot commit to what it would and wouldn’t do until the result of GE2015 is known. That is true up to a point, and the SNP - and Alex Salmond’s - legendary pragmatism card would be played. It takes two to tango, and this tango might include more than two, and shift towards a threesome - or a foursome reel.

However, the SNP has found no problem in specifically excluding any kind of a deal with the Tories or UKIP in stating its forward intentions for GE2015. There is nothing that I can see that stops them precluding a coalition with Labour either, but pursuing a confidence and supply deal.

My guess is that the SNP ministers, MSPs and the Parliamentary candidates have their brief by now on how to play this at the hustings and with the media, and it will be a stonewalling response – “impossible to say at this stage, situation will have to be evaluated after May 7th, wouldn’t want to tie the party’s hands, too much at stake …” etc.

The fate of Craig Murray over a vetting question will not have escaped the candidates, and I would guess they’ll be right on message on this hot potato. Not one will say they’re opposed on principle to a coalition.

Is this the right approach? Only the electorate can answer that. I’m opposed to a coalition, but even the SNP publicly stating they fully intended to pursue one wouldn’t stop me voting SNP on 7th May. But I’d be worried if they did, and I believe there are some former Labour voters who shifted painfully to the SNP, with many reservations and much personal agony, who might react differently.

As I said in a tweet on the day Stewart Hosie appeared to raise the coalition question – I want SNP arses on the green benches post-May 7th, but I don’t want them on the front benches of the Westminster Parliament we campaigned so hard to get out of.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Let’s make it a really Happy, Labour-free New Year in May 2015

A guid New Year tae ane an a’ when it comes – an’ mony may ye see!

Campaign for – and vote for – an independence-supporting party in GE2o15

**a YES party**

best wishes,

Peter

Monday, 22 December 2014

Thinking the Unthinkable - first published 22nd December 2014

During the long referendum campaign, online commentators such as myself had to think hard about the potential negative impact on YES of raising certain questions, offering certain opinions, addressing certain topics, voicing certain criticisms, and the wisdom of giving them “the oxygen of publicity”.

The campaign inevitably polarised opinion, and given the tsunami of abuse and misinformation thrown at YES by the Better Together campaign, the might of the UK unionist media and the Whitehall and the Treasury machines, I was reluctant, like many others, to risk giving ammunition to the other side.

But this instinct had to be rationally balanced against to need to correct perceived inaccuracies and damaging beliefs (I mean as perceived by me) that, if not countered, would have pernicious effects on our struggle for the independence vote. This led me into difficult waters over, for example, the BBC and NATO, where I felt I was serving the cause more effectively by speaking out than maintaining a silence. The question of BBC bias – where I took the position that, although there were many specific examples of blatant bias, the BBC was not the devil incarnate, and much of its output was not only objective, but absolutely vital to informing the electorate – was a long running war with other YES supporters, many of whom I had, and still have the highest respect for.

NATO was a much more difficult one – it was a fundamental point of principle for me (and a few others) and it produced some very bitter attacks on me by email and online. It divided the Party at Conference, and it led to my resignation from the SNP. Post referendum, I’ve bitten that bullet and rejoined, not because I’m reconciled to NATO membership, but because post-indyref politics have shifted its significance – for the moment.

On the monarchy, as a republican by conviction I was prepared to accept the FM’s position of constitutional monarchy, believing it was a realpolitik price worth paying to get a YES. Now, after the putative Queen of Scots’ unwise indyref intervention, I’m not sure it was – or is.

THE NEW INDY POLITICS

A few months before the 18th September, I offered an algorithm to a highly-respected media contact – one I now regard as a friend – setting out what I saw as the possible results of various indyref outcomes. I won’t reproduce it here – suffice it to say,  outcomes I didn’t forecast were

The Vow

First Minister’s resignation after a NO vote

the unprecedented surge in SNP membership

High YES supporter morale

inexorable SNP poll gains

the launch of a new Scottish newspaper, The National, supporting independence.

Neither did anybody else!

The new post-indyref politics are normal party politics resumed, but in a highly volatile and unpredictable UK political context, with the immediate focus on the general election 2015 (GE2015) and the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections.

I think it’s fair to say that not all YES supporters are entirely comfortable in the new political climate. Having flocked to the SNP banner, and had the adrenalin rush of Nicola’s triumphal tour, indulged understandable schadenfreude at the uncomprehending splutters of indignation from the “winners” of the referendum, relaxed in a kind of post-coital phase, they’re now looking for action of the kind they grew accustomed to in the campaign.

Most have adjusted, thrown themselves into the new politics enthusiastically, battle-hardened, tempered in the indyref fires and ready to work for independence in a dazzling variety of new ways. But some are pining for the old binary certainties – clearly identifiable villains and heroes, and simple characterisations and choices – and are a bit lost. One dedicated indyref campaigner described himself to me as feeling ‘bereft’ at the void in his life since September.

And so to thinking the unthinkable …

Throughout the campaign, there was a strand of independence thought from supporters (never from politicians or party animals to my knowledge. and little from media commentators) on a taboo subject, UDI – a Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

Most of this, at least as I experienced it, as I carried out the tedious and sometimes depressing task of pre-moderating blog and YouTube comments and my email inbox, was adolescent nonsense, whatever the age of those articulating it. But some of it was rooted in deeper thinking about possible reactions to scenarios that could, at least in theory unfold.

I have some limited vicarious experience of historical UDI, though a Rhodesian connection and from those who were part of the Slovenian velvet revolution. And there was the very real situation and stark choices facing our staunch friends of Scotland in Galicia and Catalonia over their own referendum.

All of this came back to me in the last few days when a Danish friend, political contact and invaluable information source asked what kind of situation could give rise to a UDI in Scotland, even if I fundamentally rejected such a course of action – which I do.

Here is the answer I gave -

START

The only sequence of events that would provoke UDI I could foresee would be -

UK refusal to legitimise a referendum request

such a referendum then being held without a UK legal basis

a significant  majority resulting, in the order of, say, 65%/35%.

For such a scenario to unfold at all, it would probably have been preceded by a majority of Scottish Westminster seats having previously fallen to SNP and other Scottish indy-supporting parties - a possibility in the general election of May 2015.

However, it could not be a velvet revolution like, say, Slovenia's because of the massive disentanglement of institutions required - and the fundamental question of control of the Clyde nuclear base.

It would of course potentially provoke an immediate crisis of loyalty in the armed forces in Scotland, and the possible emergence of powerful anti-democratic forces, perhaps through the military establishment.

END

These conditions are unlikely to arise, in my view, and I hope they never do - in my lifetime or anyone else’s – but they are conceivable.

The much more likely scenario for GE2015 is significant Westminster seat gains, and a confidence and supply arrangement with Labour, either to permit them to form a minority Labour government a la Salmond  2007 in Holyrood, or to support them against a Tory/LibDem/UKIP coalition.

And on that note, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Johann Lamont’s resignation–reflections

Johann Lamont has resigned as leader. Inevitable, and maybe overdue, given the flak she has taken from her own party. I wish her well, despite the inevitable bitterness she roused during the long referendum campaign by her ill-judged and often factually inaccurate  performances at FMQs. She never understood her role, and worse, never understood the sea change that had occurred in Scottish politics.

Undoubtedly she was badly advised, and the victim of that unique brand of back-stabbing Labour politics with its roots in the smoke filled backrooms of Glasgow and Monklands.

I was well-disposed towards her before and immediately after her election as leader, and more than willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. I was wrong, and my assessment of her (and of Henry McLeish!) proved to be way off beam.

Here are some of my views from back then…

Saturday, 17 December 2011

An open letter to Johann Lamont

Dear Johann Lamont,

Congratulations on winning the leadership of your party in Scotland. I hope that your win gives you a clear mandate among all Scottish Labour supporters, and that it is perceived as a valid mandate to lead the main opposition to my party, the SNP, who received a very clear mandate to govern Scotland last May. It is vital that your mandate is seen in this way not only by Labour supporters but by the Scottish Government, by the SNP, by the other opposition parties and by the Scottish electorate.

The only way to ensure this is to publish as soon as possible the full, detailed breakdown of the votes cast in the leadership election, in the interests of transparency in Scottish politics. (I am confident that you will wish to do so, indeed, by the time this blog comes up, you may already have done so.)

I listened to your acceptance speech closely, because as a committed SNP supporter, voter and party member, I believe that the existence of an effective opposition in any Parliament is vital to democracy. I was a Labour supporter for most of my life, and I will never return to Labour because of the depth of the betrayal of all my hopes and expectations over decades by the Labour Party as constituted up until this election.

But I do believe that you, and at least some in the Scottish Labour Party want to make a new beginning and to place the interests of Scotland first. You outlined in your acceptance speech a vision statement for Scotland. Few Scots of any party would disagree with the bulk of its content, and for that reason, it could have been made by any party leader, at any time, in almost any country.

I don’t want to appear to suggest that it was an empty ‘motherhood and apple pie’ statement – I do believe that you are committed to these ideals and broad objectives, and so am I. And I am delighted that you and Scottish Labour appear to have rediscovered your Scottishness.

But given this consensus on what we all want for Scotland, it is evident that what gives our respective parties their identity is the means by which these objectives are to be achieved. If my memory serves me accurately, you and other members of the Labour Party have accused the SNP of stealing your vision. That was unfair and inaccurate – we have closely similar visions because we are both social democratic parties, committed to a strong, effective public sector and a vibrant, entrepreneurial private sector.

In a certain kind of Scotland, the SNP and the Labour Party could recognise a shared vision while differing vigorously on key aspects of achieving that vision. We both recognise that the Tory vision as presently exhibited in all its uncaring, incompetent awfulness, is inimical to the interests of Scotland, and indeed the peoples of the UK. The LibDem vision has been badly – perhaps fatally – compromised by their poisoned and supine alliance with the Tories in Coalition.

But there is a great yawning gulf between your vision as outlined today and the Scottish National Party’s vision, and that gulf is created by your commitment to keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom. At this moment, this profoundly mistaken policy – the only real one you have at the moment – is main barrier to your achievement of Labour’s new Scottish vision.

The reasons for this are plain to see, and the Scottish electorate understood them plainly last May, and voted accordingly. I accept that not all of that vote was a vote for Scotland's independence, but it was decisively a vote for Scotland holding all the economic levers necessary to transform Scotland, indeed the the pressing need at the moment is to have them to enable Scotland to survive the cold, cold global wind that is blowing.

But there are other great barriers between us while you and Scottish Labour are committed to the UK – they are nuclear weapons, i.e. weapons of mass destruction, foreign policy and the unelected, undemocratic House of Lords, now perceived by many Scots as the lucrative bolthole for failed politicians, including Scottish Labour politicians.

While Scottish Labour is committed to the UK, it will be seen by many Scots as the party that supports illegal or dubious wars that kill the flower of our young servicemen and women, the party that is committed to ruinously expensive WMDs that endanger Scotland by their presence - and pose an ever-present threat to world  peace - and the party that is committed to the undemocratic House of Lords, whatever hollow statements about reform, never acted upon, may say.

A great watershed in Scotland’s history is approaching – the referendum on Scotland’s independence – a pivotal moment in our history that will shape Scotland and the other three countries of the UK for a generation and perhaps for ever.

As we approach that fateful day, it is vital that all parties with a core shared vision for the people of Scotland approach the great debate that will be continuously conducted from now on with objectivity, with facts, with some degree of mutual respect, with the common objective of allowing the Scottish electorate all the information they need to make their great choice.

That need not – and will not – inhibit vigour in debate, but if we can draw on the great intellectual political and social traditions that have always characterised Scots and Scotland, we can offer Scottish voters a real, rational choice.

I wish you and your party well in this new and critical era. I cannot of course wish you electoral success in local elections next year, nor in the referendum when it comes.

from one Weegie tae another – awra’ best,

Peter Curran

Scottish Labour Leadership Results
December 17, 2011 2:59 pm

Leadership result:

Deputy Leadership result:

MORIDURA BLOG November 23rd- 2011

Johann Lamont at the moment looks like the favourite to win the Scottish Labour leadership contest. It’s either her or Ken MacintoshTom Harris is naewhere.

If I had to choose from what is available, I would choose Johann Lamont, because I think I see a kind of integrity there, the kind that has always existed in the Scottish Labour Party, but which usually gets buried alive in that self-serving sea of mediocrity and careerism. (I’m talking about the Labour politicians and the union leaders, not the long-suffering Labour voters and lay party and union members utterly betrayed by them for over half a century.)

Let me say that she is not First Minister material, but that would not deter the Scottish Labour Party if Scotland were ever unfortunate enough to have them in power again in Holyrood. After all, London – i.e. UK – Labour elected Ed Miliband, who is not Prime Ministerial material.

The long-running gravy train that is the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t want a people’s choice – they want to foist a candidate on the people who will stoke the boiler, oil the wheels and grease the rails for the high road to Westminster for its politicians, and to safe party sinecures for its union officials.

But if they do elect Johann, they may find that she is not as committed to that auld conspiracy against the electorate as they hope – she shows distinct signs of being a realist, and being her own wumman. However, her priority is to get elected, so she must be circumspect for the moment, as she reads the wildly conflicting signals from senior Labour figures such as Alexander, Murphy and Harris, who show signs of beginning to hedge their career bets as the prospect of an independent Scotland becomes ever more real. The strange noises being made around the Scotland Bill and devo max illustrate this clearly. (I do not include Henry McLeish in this. I respect him, and I think Scotland matters more to him than career, more perhaps than anything else. )

But on Monday night, she was pretty evasive and obscure, sent signals on devo max, but was caught flatfooted by Glenn Campbell on two questions –devo max, and the $64,000 question – could Labour deliver their objectives more easily in an independent Scotland?

She revealed more by what she didn’t say than by what she said, but my judgement is that she is keeping her options very much open on this possibility, having taken her cue from Alexander, Murphy, Auld Uncle Tam Harris and all … She is “not going to let Alex Salmond define devo max”. He agrees with you, Johann – he has been trying to get Labour and their Tory and LibDem pals to define what they mean by it for some time now, and ideally participate in a cross-party discussion about it.

As for the smooth lizard on the rock, Macintosh – who Kens?

Saturday, 27 September 2014

2014 AR – After the Referendum: Where are we at?

It’s over, and we lost. Or did we?

Confession time – I expected to be devastated after a NO vote, but in the event, I wasn’t. My immediate reaction was one of relief, which baffled me and left me feeling ashamed of myself. I watched the ecstatic NO groups celebrating and the tearful YES groups staring bleakly into space, my heart went out to them, and the question returned – why don’t I feel like that?

THE RESULT

In the years leading up to this moment, my biggest fear was not that we would lose – it was that we would win with a narrow majority after a polarised campaign, and the new Scotland would start in very troubled times.

Even with my scepticism over UK’s motives and methods, the scale of their unprincipled onslaught in the final weeks staggered me. It also convinced me that if we won, it would be by the narrowest of margins and that we would be subject to intense pressures to ensure that our new Scotland failed.

Any Government that was capable of perverting the apparatus of the state to secure their ends -  e.g., Treasury, Whitehall, the Civil Service, the ‘think-tanks’ – and was willing to engineer a possibly criminal leak of information to media from a board meeting in progress - i.e. RBS - that was calculated to destabilise the markets – was capable of anything. The last minute Big Bribe was the final evidence.

Although I would have rejoiced in a narrow win, and fervently hoped that Scotland could make independence work against this wall of hostility, the gnawing, subliminal idea took root that maybe the time was now wrong.

In the event, the outcome was decisive for NO – Scotland had rejected its independence, rejected its chance to make history and had acted out of fear or complacency – or both - rather than vision, confidence and hope.

The attack by an organised mob of male thugs brandishing Union Jacks and throwing flares at a mixed sex group of YES supporters sharing their grief in George Square, Glasgow – my native city, and a city that had voted YES – underlined my fears.

But a recent tweet of mine summed up my view of validity of the result. While accepting its democratic reality, and feeling bound by it, my feeling was -

How can a referendum outcome based on news management and intimidation of voters by vested interests be the "settled will" of Scots?

Judging by the immediate reactions to that tweet, and the subsequent number of retweets in the hundreds (more than anything I’ve ever tweeted, in over 43,000 tweets), that view resonated with many of the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence.

YouGov post-ballot poll - with a sample three time the normal size (3,188 voters) - showed fascinating stats on how people voted (if you accept poll validity).

74% of those born in rUK voted NO. By definition, that includes the very large block of English-born residents in Scotland. 51% of voters born in Scotland voted YES. Those stats alone trigger interesting speculations, but I won’t offer opinions on them that I can’t substantiate.

Analysed by party support affiliation, 27% of Labour and 29% of LibDems said YES, but only 8% of Tories. Of the five demographic bands, four were majority No vote – only the 25-39 group voted YES – 55% of them.

20% of those who claimed to be SNP supporters vote NO.(Related findings came from poll after 2011 Holyrood SNP landslide – not all SNP voters were YES supporters.)

REACTIONS

Initial reactions (my subjective impressions from media, online comment and direct contacts) ranged from despair and grief through bewilderment from those who had been in denial at polls - preferring to believe instead that a YES majority was being hidden - to real, visceral anger and feelings of betrayal.

The latter emotions were raw online on Friday morning, with wild accusations of betrayal  of the young by the old (prompted by Ashcroft poll of young voters) being flung about including by one high-profile activist who should have known better, as if exacerbating the tension already present within many families would offer a constructive way forward.

I was aware that for the essentially secondary online activists, the betrayal would be felt less keenly than by the dedicated, exhausted and by now potentially demoralised front-end activists from the streets, the doorsteps, the public place and public meetings. They were the ones who had shifted the polls so close to victory – and they had not had the offset of mini-celebrity, visibility, networked contacts and in some cases much more tangible benefits that others had received – perfectly legitimately – to cushion the shock of the result.

Similar considerations may be applied to those who had been salaried for all or part of the campaign – the politicians and the YES staff.

I say these things, not in any spirit of criticism, but as a recognition of a harsh reality in all politics: that, of necessity, the security of paid political professionals and the economic and career gains of a minority rest on the unpaid work of an army of dedicated and usually unrewarded and often unrecognised body of activists. 

These were the supporters of YES who were, in addition to giving of their precious time and energies, were also engaging in repeated acts of incredible generosity, crowd-funding all sorts of worthy, valid, and in some cases, absolutely vital initiatives that made significant contributions to the greatest grassroots campaign ever see in British politics.

But the most incredible contribution of that group was then delivered in a matter of days after the ballot – the massive and entirely unexpected surge in SNP membership, (unparallelled to my knowledge in British politics) from around 25,000 to well over 62,000 at the last count, now exceeding the combined membership of the other Scottish parties and overtaking the UK-wide membership of the LibDems.

In the midst of the chaotic responses to the NO vote, and the burgeoning of a rash of online groups clustering round the magic number of 45, this was a great cry of endorsement for the SNP, accompanied by a steely resolve to not just support the party that had taken Scotland so far towards achieving its independence, but underline Alex Salmond’s recognition in his resignation speech that the great democratic and re-energised Scottish body politic was now less in need of leaders, but still in need of politicians and a party that would carry their agenda forward – the sovereign Scottish YES people.

WHERE ARE WE AT?

I’d planned to offer my perceptions of that key question in this blog, but having already expended over 1200 words on reviewing reactions, I feel that I would test the stamina of my readers for the moment.

But I’ll be back tomorrow or early next weeks, because I have a lot more. to say.

I’ll close with my blog motto - Id dico quod ego morior - non habetis audire, which is in Latin to make it sound more profound than it really is, and to give an entirely spurious gloss of learning to my ragbag reality – “I say what I must – you don’t have to listen!”

Monday, 8 September 2014

The money markets panic – polls and scaremongering, plus currency union lunacy prime causes …

Financial Times headline: " Pro-union camp ‘in chaos’ as poll puts nationalists ahead"  As George Robertson might say "cataclysmic" ...

Better Together has the Worst of Both Worlds - behind in polls, sterling scaremongering causes pound to drop, hurting their rich city friends!

The latest Better Together strategy appears to be to tell voters Westminster has ****** the £ by scaremongering and lunacy on CU - so vote No. G-sus!

Jo Coburn thinks it's all Blair Jenkins' fault, asking questions and interrupting frantically at every second word. Blair is quietly amused, dusts her off with impeccable politeness, then waits calmly for Unionist panellists to rave impotently.

 Blair Jenkins smiles seraphically, taking  occasional sips at his coffee, as Jo Coburn's guests splutter inanely and impotently over polls, markets  and independence.

King Impotent Splutterer himself, Ming Campbell, failed leader of a failed party in a failing Coalition - doubtless a "A proud Scot" -  does his share, indignation and gloom oozing from him.

Blair gives a neat little summation and says bye-bye. Jo switches with relief to the triviality of the Daily Quiz.

That was fun!

Monday, 25 August 2014

John Swinney’s 10 Key Strengths on which independent Scotland can build

Ten economic strengths on which an independent Scotland can build:

‪Scotland’s Food and drink industry has a turnover of £13 billion a year

‪Our tourism industry generates more than £6 billion a year

‪We have more than 20% of Europe’s fisheries catch

‪Exports, from manufacturing alone, are worth around £15 billion a year

‪Life Sciences employ 16,000 people and turns over £1.9 billion

‪Our Creative Industries generate more than £5 billion a year

‪We have more universities, per head in the world’s top 200 than any other country

Scotland has a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal potential

‪Scotland’s ICT sector contributes around £3.6 billion annually to the economy

‪Inward investment from overseas is at a 16-year high

Friday, 8 August 2014

Curran’s Core Concepts on Currency!

This is my perspective as a Scottish voter, neither currency expert, economist, politician nor banker, but very definitely a nationalist, a left-winger and a professional negotiator. Read it in that context, please!

THE CURRENCY QUESTION
THE RATIONALE FOR A NEW CHOICE

PRESENT STATUS
Pre-negotiation phase, forty days and forty night to go. Scottish Government’s position based on Fiscal Commission reports (and TWO) and White Paper, Scotland’s Future.

Fiscal Commission identified four main options -

MONETARY UNION with rUK – STERLING

MONETARY UNION with EU – EURO

NEW SCOTTISH CURRENCY - Fixed exchange rate

NEW SCOTTISH CURRENCY - Floating exchange rate

(N.B. The New Scottish Currency options includes either using sterling (‘the pound’) as the new currency or designating a new Scottish unit of currency (e.g. ‘the groat’)

The currency option can be presented alternatively as -

Monetary union with rUK – the pound

Monetary union with EU – the euro

New Scottish currency, floating or fixed – the groat

Continuing to use the pound, floating or fixed – the pound on sterlingisation)

The recommendation of the Commission was -

MONETARY UNION with rUK - STERLING

The Scottish Government declared this to be its choice of currency arrangement and announced its intention to negotiate the terms of monetary union with rUK after a YES vote.

The UK Government has declared this option to be totally unacceptable, in a variety of forums and statements from the PM, the Chancellor, senior advisers and Better Together leaders.

PERSPECTIVES
This UK position can be viewed by the Scottish Government from two main perspectives, and response options developed accordingly.

Perspective One
It is not an outright rejection, but a referendum campaign tactic to influence the Scottish electorate into voting No (the UK’s primary objective in the pre-negotiation phase)

If this fails as a referendum tactic and there is a YES vote, the tactic is converted to an anchoring statement aimed at enhancing UK negotiating team’s response to the Scottish Government’s opener of a currency union.

Perspective Two
The UK Government really means it: they will not - under any circumstances - accept a currency/monetary union with an independent Scotland.


PRE-NEGOTIATION PHASE:

THE CURRENCY QUESTION: THE RATIONALE FOR A NEW CHOICE

RESPONSE OPTIONS
On both Perspectives One and Two, the same three responses are available -

Hold currency union position till the referendum

or

Adopt a new  plan of Scottish currency/sterlingisation and withdraw plan to negotiate a currency union

or

Adopt a new plan of Scottish currency/sterlingisation but reiterate continued willingness to negotiate a currency union

TENTATIVE EVALUATION

Move to  Scottish currency under sterlingisation plan – withdraw plan to negotiate a currency union

POSITIVES
Immediate media brief, maximum publicity, most supporters happy, many non-SNP YES people much happier. Electorate in the main probably relieved and supportive.

Scottish currency perceived as greater independence, more Scottish control.

Control shifts to SNP Government (no longer dependent on negotiation - anticipates control after YES vote and independence)

Opposition on backfoot, panicked, reactive. Immediate plans activated to prepare for Scottish currency, civil service briefed, etc.
 
NEGATIVES
Presented as a retreat by UK, ‘fallback to Plan B’, cave-in under pressure, etc.

New attack on alleged negatives of Scottish currency option - expert negative arguments (e.g. Carney) mined for negative critical analysis

Share of national debt occupies centre stage, claims of  reneging, defaulting, etc. 

Spotlight on the new institutions and regulatory framework cited as potential weakness.

Pegging to sterling categorised as powerlessness, dependency.

TENTATIVE EVALUATION

Adopt a Scottish currency-sterlingisation plan but reiterate continued willingness to negotiate a currency union

POSITIVES
As under previous option, but with advantage of being seen still open to preferred option, flexible, displaying concern for rUK interests and relationship.

Even if UK cautiously enters currency union negotiations, powerful Scottish fallback already in place.

NEGATIVES
Potential of frustrating expectancies of YES supporters and non-SNP parties already on board for Scottish currency.

Danger of pressures building to force Scottish Government to abandon negotiation on currency union. Uncertainty for those contracted to new Scottish currency institutions.

SOME PREVIOUS BLOGS

17th February 2014

30th March 2014

16th November 2013

30th April 2013

You will also find an abundance of video clips on the currency argument, from every conceivable perspective, on my YouTube Channel – simply enter search term ‘currency’ in box

 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Labour and Iraq

Extract from my 2013 blog –

Blair, Brown and Mandelson created New Labour and it worked – Labour was elected and re-elected. The results, over 13 years, are now history.

Two wars, one illegal, the deaths of hundreds of thousands, terrorism brought to UK by the Iraq War, the gap between rich and poor widened, corruption of Parliamentary institutions, the prosecution and imprisonment of Labour MPs, the resignation of the Labour Speaker of the House of Commons in disgrace, the corruption of the Press and the Metropolitan Police, the banking and financial collapse, cash for access, etc.

Hardly a success, except in one key aspect – Blair, Mandelson, Brown, Labour defence secretaries, Labour ministers and many Labour MPs got very rich indeed, in the case of Blair and Mandelson, egregiously rich.

The revolving door between government ministers, civil servants and industry – especially the defence industry – spun ever faster and more profitably.

And the military/industrial complex rejoiced and celebrated New Labour’s achievements.

And now, in 2014?

We have the key figures in the Blair Government that led us to war – Gordon Brown, John Reid,  Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy, et al leading the war against Scotland’s independence.

Iraq has exploded into chaos and near-collapse of the Iraq‘democracy’ set up by the United States and the United Kingdom

What of the report of the Chilcot Enquiry? Delay in publication, talk of redaction of major conclusions and fact.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Alex Salmond – the most popular political leader in the UK–but not with Daily Record and Better Together–or Jim Sillars!

 

Hard to escape the conclusion that this interview is just part of a Better Together, Daily Record-fuelled "Get Salmond" last ditch initiative, doomed to failure as all the others have been. That's because they're based on three false premises, i.e.

1. All YES supporters like Alex Salmond.
(They don't - large blocks of them don't want him as a leader of an independent Scotland - but they recognise the main reason they will have a choice at all on the future of their country is Alex Salmond - and they'll vote YES).

2. Alex Salmond is unpopular.
(He's not - his popularity rating are higher than any other Scottish or UK leader, and higher than most EU leaders)

3. The YES campaign's success is totally down to Alex Salmond.
(It's not - it's down to hard core, passionate commitment across of range of political parties, organisations and individuals, all working dynamically in a wide range of initiatives and grassroots organisation for a YES vote.)

Given that something upwards of 45% of Scots say they are No voters at the moment, it would be a minor miracle of at least 32% of them didn't like Alex Salmond.

But if Better Together really believe that the undecideds and No voters contain 32% who are only held back from voting YES by a dislike of Alex Salmond, then they have real trouble in River City!

What the increasingly desperate faux concern addressed to the First Minister to change his style is based on is a transparent attempt to knobble a style that has been spectacularly successful.