Archive for the 'SNP' Category

…running out…

May 16, 2007

When Meacher pulled out on Monday, I thought that the leadership contest was on. I was wrong. It is now Wednesday evening, and it is looking increasingly likely that John McDonnell will not get the required 45 nominations. At 6pm, he is still 16 short, and there are only 16 MPs that have still to declare (among those, Charles Clarke and Frank Field): Brown has 307 against McDonnell’s 29.

UPDATE: it’s over. Brown’s got 308 and McDonnell has conceded defeat. This is a sad day for British democracy.

Some considerations on this development: I was expecting Brown not only to let McDonnell run, but possibly to encourage a challenge. Apparently he hasn’t done so. Two possibilities: Brown is indifferent on whether there will be a contest or not because, we can only guess, he has polls telling him that the public won’t mind either way. Labour’s support might be falling, but the fall won’t be accelerated – or so the polls might predict – by a ‘coronation’. If such polls existed, and were accurate, I would be surprised. It definitely wouldn’t be good news for British democracy.

Alternatively, Brown might be actively looking to avoid a contest. Maybe he thinks that McDonnell’s support among unions and party members would be high enough to put him in an uncomfortable situation. The next government might then be forced into acknowledging so much support for Old Labour in its policies, if not in its composition. If this latter scenario is anywhere near the truth, then all the more reason for wanting a contest; because if Brown’s fears are justified, then the Chancellor is effectively silencing his own electorate by stopping McDonnell. And that can’t be good for politics; it can’t be good for Britain; it can’t be good for Labour’s chances at the next elections; and therefore, in the end, it can’t be good for Brown (caveat: it might be that Brown has convinced himself that he will lose at the next general elections, and that therefore he wants to make the most of his time in government. In that case, stopping McDonnell might make sense. But I don’t believe that Labour doesn’t have chances coming 2009, nor do I believe that Brown believes that).

Another interesting thing is that Milburn is supporting Brown, while Clarke hasn’t announced yet. It might be that the former Home Secretary is waiting to see McDonnell’s numbers, and that he is only willing to nominate him if that will turn out to be necessary for a contest. Indeed, McDonnell is miles away from Clarke, but my enemy’s enemy… On the other hand, it might be that Blairites want Brown to lose at the next general elections, and so are promoting a ‘coronation’ – see Milburn’s and Byers’ support. Lots of people would like to think that the Blairites are willing to do anything to screw Brown, but I would be very surprised if that included putting their own political careers and salaries at risk – as inevitably they would do by promoting Labour’s defeat next time around.

One final remark: if we take the way in which MPs are nominating seriously, from a political point of view that is, then we might have to conclude that the kind of leftism represented by John McDonnell is really no longer at home within the Labour Party. And this would have to be added to Blair’s legacy: “I left a Party where socialists couldn’t even get enough nominations to stand for leader”. In this respect, it is indeed a shame that to represent the left is someone which such ideological foreign policy ideas such as McDonnell (see IRA+Iraq).

Oh, and Alex Salmond is the new First Minister of Scotland.

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Brown vs McDonnell

May 14, 2007

Brown got what he wanted (or, anyway, what he should have wanted): a contender who cannot win, John McDonnell. This is a much better outcome than no contender at all, which would have looked bad and it would have reduced Brown’s and Labour’s chances at the next general elections even further. It is also better than a Blairite contender with a chance, namely Miliband. Even if Brown would have defeated Miliband, which is probable, that kind of contest might have weakened New Labour; and, in the attempt to distance himself from Miliband, Brown would have probably lost a lot of the votes that will decide the next election. The only outcome which would have probably been better for Brown than McDonnell would have been an unelectable Blairite like Reid – who was wise enough to desist from his heroic journey of self-sacrifice.

McDonnell’s good for Brown: he will provide the Chancellor with a platform to discuss Iraq, and, if Brown cares to, that will be a chance to distance himself from Blair’s foreign policy. But Brown might discover that the only meaningful way to counter McDonnell’s anti-war rhetoric is to stick with Blair’s legacy of liberal interventionism: that would, indeed, be an interesting development. Otherwise Brown might end up in the kind of middle-ground trouble that Hillary’s in across the pond for not apologising over voting for the war.

Also, while the parliamentary vote is quite obvious, and the unions’ vote can be expected, it’ll be important to see how the popular vote goes: if McDonnell doesn’t do better there than in the parliamentary vote, then a lot of the anti-NewLabour rhetoric will have to go. There has been a lot of talk of New Labour losing votes on the left (the SNP in Scotland could be an example): this is a good time to verify that theory.

It might be objected that the kind of votes that New Labour has lost on the left aren’t votes of Labour Party activists and members. But that’s not how it is often put: people tend to say that, in the pursuit of Middle England, Labour has alienated some of its core vote. If none of that goes to McDonnell, then either New Labour has actually interpreted its core vote better than most commentators, or it has alienated it so much that people have left the party altogether.

UPDATE: it looks as though we should have waited before commenting on McDonnell’s challenge to Brown. The left-winger is still 18 (some say 16) nominations short of the required 45. He’s got until tomorrow noon.

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.

independen?

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.

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.

Boring Old Scotland

April 11, 2007

judie.jpg

These are Judie Morrison and Catriona Watt, the two teenage girls with which SNP MP Angus Mcneil has admitted to have had a ‘drunken romp’. Were you not desperate to find out what they looked like?

(hat tip: Craig Murray)

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)