Archive for the 'scottish independence' Category

Salmond caught in the net

May 7, 2007

Salmond has had hardly the time to celebrate the greatest moment of his political career and of his party’s history, that trouble kicked off. The most likely coalition deal, SNP+LibDem+Greens, already appears to be off. The Liberals aren’t interested, and understandably so. They took a sore beating, both here in Scotland and down in England. The tendency, in Scotland, appears to be to blame the poor performance on having been in government with Labour for too long. Opposition pays much better in electoral terms, the LibDems seem to have decided – eight years too late. That’s a pretty weak argument, given that the Liberals have possibly done worse in England, where they have always and only been in opposition, than in Scotland. But even if the argument doesn’t stand, they might be right all the same: staying clear of government for the next four years might improve their electoral performance next time around. So the Liberals are out: for now, anyway. Indeed, Salmond might make an offer that they can’t refuse, such as the post of First Minister for Stephen; but that’s unlikely. I tend to think that Salmond prefers a shot at leading himself a minority government rather than letting someone else lead a majority government.

No other option appears feasible: a deal with the Tories would have the same problems, namely the independence referendum, than the one with the LibDems; plus the fact that Tories and SNP are further apart in terms of policy. Cameron would not allow it anyway even if the Scottish Tories were to suddenly grow interested in it. A Grosse Koalition with Labour is even less likely: it would guarantee stability and it would probably allow Salmond, just like Merkel in Germany, to lead the government, because of the higher number of seats. But given the sort of campaign Labour lead in the past weeks and months, that kind of arrangement won’t be forthcoming – not to speak of the fact that obviously Brown cannot show himself to be compromising with the devil, otherwise the task to be re-elected at the next general elections will become just short of impossible.

A minority government is bad news for Scotland; change and reform are already difficult enough for a Parliament elected through PR – even though only partially so. This way, we would be in for a four-year-term that would do not much more than prove right those that opposed an independent Holyrood Parliament in the first place as a waste of money and time. With the added drawback that not only things wouldn’t be decided in Scotland, but they would not be decided at all – because now they are the responsibility of Holyrood. So a deal is in the interest of Scotland. But a country’s interests can move politicians to a compromise only when they match their own.


May 5, 2007

Alex Salmond had promised that an SNP government would call an independence referendum. He’ll probably have to settle for calling for an independent enquiry (into the voting mess).

scottish elections: predictions vs results

May 5, 2007

These were my predictions for Holyrood:

SNP 44, Labour 41, LibDem 21, Tories 18, Greens 2, SSP 1, Sheridan + independent

These are the results:

SNP 47, Labour 46, Tories 17, LibDem 16, Greens 2 + independent

I had predicted a narrow SNP victory, but it was even narrower: indeed, Cunninghame North’s 48 votes did it. I had predicted a squeeze for the smaller parties, but it was worse than I thought: no socialists at all. Also, the squeeze has affected LibDems and Tories too, which I wasn’t expecting. Overall, I got the general picture, missing on the details (but getting some, like the two seats for the Greens, or the single independent).

P.S. I couldn’t vote for Tommy Sheridan because of his outrageous support for Hezbollah, but I must say it’s a shame that someone like him is out of Holyrood.

scottish elections: old people got no reason to live

May 4, 2007

Around the scottish blogosphere, everyone’s (here, here, here, here) talking of what disgrace this election has been: shambles is the buzz word. And, indeed, it has been a shambles in at least two respects: discounted votes and delayed counting. It appears that the latter depended on the former, with e-counting machines running much slower and getting stuck because they had to refer to human beings too many ambiguous ballot papers. But it is clearly the discounted votes that are the most worrying, because the way in which the elections has been organized might have had an effect on the results, thereby potentially undermining the democratic process.

People have been talking no end about how confusing the ballot papers were. Early last night, I was quite upset by that: I have never liked that kind of underestimation of the electorate. We are not stupid; and we can, surprise surprise, tell crosses from numbers. But then I realized that there was a moment of hesitation, when I put down the two ballot papers, in which I had to remind myself which wanted crosses, which wanted numbers. And, given that the only people I have met at polling stations have been pensioners, I guess my moment, when you add 50years, you subtract some eye-sight, some hearing, some breath, and some clarity of mind, might turn into 100,000 spoiled votes. The responsibility, in short, is with old folk, and the solution is easy: let us not allow old people to vote. They make a mess, and a lot of them won’t be around for the whole term anyway. And I mean, the consequence of that will just be a dramatic drop in turnout – which is great news for politicians.

Seriously, the people I have voted for made it: Sarah Boyack in Edinburgh Central overcame both the LibDem challenge and the SNP challenge; and the Greens got Harper in through my Lothian regional list. In the end, I don’t even mind the overall result: the SNP as the main party means change, but they haven’t got the numbers to do anything stupid. They haven’t got the numbers to do anything, you’ll say. True enough, but that’s PR. And, to be honest, the fact that all the four main parties got a good number of seats through the constituency vote, and that only one party got into parliament merely because of the regional list (and with only two MSPs), goes to show that we don’t need PR. Indeed, for Holyrood more than for Westminster, we can get good representation without PR; which means good representation + good governance, rather than good representation at the expense of good governance.

Labour Pie

May 3, 2007

(hat tip: Gus)

scottish elections predictions

May 2, 2007

Here’s my prediction for tomorrow’s elections (won’t send it to the bbc – the prize is horrific):

SNP 44, Labour 41, LibDems 21, Tories 18, Greens 2, SSP 1, + Sheridan and an independent.

I’ll probably be voting Labour’s Sarah Boyack in the constituency vote and the Greens for the regional list (I know, boooooring).

LibDems are out in Edinburgh Central

April 26, 2007

Well done to McGellie for catching the LibDems faking data on their electoral adverts for Edinburgh Central. I already couldn’t vote for Tory and SNP; now I can’t vote LibDem either… guess who’s left? Good old labour… so Sarah Boyack is probably gonna get my vote by default.

Which reminds me: SSP, Green, and Solidarity not having candidates for the Constituency vote is a huge favour to Labour – remember that next time they slag off Tony Blair or McConnell.

Scottish Elections: last seven polls averaged out

April 7, 2007

I have averaged out the last seven opinion polls for the upcoming Holyrood Elections. Here’s the result:

Constituency: SNP 35.42%, Labour 30.14%, Tory 14.28%, LibDem 12.57%

Regional: SNP 33.57%, Labour 28.57%, Tory 14%, LibDem 11.85%

MSPs: SNP 47, Labour 43, Tory 18, LibDem 15

The seven polls:

28.3.07, Populus

29.3.07, Scottih Opinion (data here)

30.3.07, YouGov

1.4.07, TNS System Three (data here)

2.4.07, YouGov (commissioned by SNP, data here, MPSs count mine)

3.4.07, ICM (data here)

6.4.07, mruk (data here)

The unspeakable case for nuclear deterrence

March 14, 2007

The only argument for nuclear deterrence that could be heard today in the Commons, from both New Labour and the Conservatives, was that the world’s future cannot be predicted; and that, in the absence of safe predictions over future threats, we must keep our nuclear weapons, just in case. This is, by the way, an admission that nuclear weapons, today, are not doing any deterrence. And it is, therefore, an admission that, today, nuclear weapons are not deterring North Korea, for example.

Now, not only this is a bad argument; this, actually, is no argument at all. Because it does not point to anything as the justification of nuclear deterrence. To justify nuclear deterrence, as to justify anything, we must point to something: in this case, we must point to, if not actual, at least possible threats. If there are no possible threats to point to, than there is no justification for nuclear deterrence. But possible threats are not even enough: being attacked from outer space is a possible threat, but in the absence of any reasons for thinking that this might actually happen, this possible threat does not constitute a justification for nuclear deterrence (if the government does indeed think that this is a reason to keep Trident, let us hear it).

So whoever cares to justify nuclear deterrence, must point to reasons for thinking that those threats might materialize. Unfortunately the government is not in the position to name any possible future threat that we have reason to think might materialize; because that would unsettle its international relations. The government, for example, cannot mention any reasons for thinking that, 50 years down the line, China might turn nasty. So, in short, the government is not in a position to justify nuclear deterrence. Make of it what you like: it might be that the government must have the right, in the interest of its people, not to make necessary claims that would, though, unsettle its relations with the international community. Or it might be that, in the absence of a public justification to Parliament of nuclear deterrence, the government is asking the Commons to vote on an unjustified motion – and that Parliament should never vote for an unjustified motion.

But the Conservatives, which are using the same arguments as the government, are not in that delicate position. The Conservatives can, therefore, name their reasons; they therefore ought to: let us hear them!

UPDATE: MPs voted to renew Trident, 409 to 161, majority 248. According to The Guardian, around 85 Labour MPs voted against the Government.

A, very modest, proposal

November 28, 2006

Blair cannot pretend that Scottish independentism is just about economic interests: the same way that the Nats’ commitment to an independent Scotland goes far beyond their desire to control Scottish resources, others, on the left, want to leave the Union because they want free of the Queen. In a slogan, if the Nats want to ditch the “United” bit of the UK (in fact in their plans for independence the Queen would remain Head of State), others are more worried about the “Kingdom” bit. And it is just those people that might tip the balance at the next Scottish elections if the debate is polarized by the independence issue: people that wouldn’t’ mind independence if that opened up the possibility of a Scottish Republic. So here comes the proposal: Mr. Blair, promise us a British Republic, and we’ll stick to Westminster.