Category Archives: Politics

I look at the politics of the UK mainly. I express right wing views, euroscepticism and libertarian views.

The Strange re-birth of Tory Scotland.

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20 years ago the Tories became extinct as a parliamentary party in Scotland. It seemed that the party has little hope of revival.

Scotland voted for devolution in 1997. The Conservatives campaigned against. They then accepted accepted devolution. This meant that they Conservative and Unionist Party could no longer rely on the votes of the 25% of people who opposed devolution. The Tories soon became the fourth party in Scotland. It seemed that the Conservatives would never be a force to be reckoned with in North Britain again.

The Tories were seen as too right wing and too English.

The Scottish Parliament has regional top up MSPs. Had it not been for this then the Tories would not have had anyone in Hollyrood at all.

It was extraordinary for the Conservatives to beat Labour in the last Westminster election in Scotland.

In Ruth Davidson the Scottish Conservatives and Unionists have a leader who breaks all the stereotypes. She is a journalist and an out lesbian from Glasgow – a most unconservative city.  She is very different from the upper class men who were the face of the party until the 90s.

The separation referendum made the Tories mainstream. Labour and the Lib Dems shared platforms with the Tories. After that they could scarcely anathematise the Conservative and Unionist Party.

Labour has lost much credibility in Scotland. For those who oppose the SNP then the Conservative Party is the obvious choice to vote for. Thatcher was a hate figure for many in Scotland due to mass unemployment and the community charge. Since her death she is no longer such a factor.

The Strange Death of Labour Scotland.

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It is hard to credit that only a decade ago Labour ruled the roost in Scotland. The Labour Party had won every single election in Caledonia since 1955.Local elections, Westminster elections, European elections and Hollyrood elections -Labour reigned supreme. Scotland had had Prime Ministers in the shape of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as well as other political leaders like Charles Kennedy, David STeel, Sir Menzies Campbell and some Conservative Cabinet Ministers. But it was the Labour Party which really kept Scotland anchored within the United Kingdom.

Let us not forget that James Keir Hardie who founded Labour and was the party,s first MP was a Scotsman. The first Labour Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald was also a North Briton. Notably Ramsay MacDonald flirted with Scotch nationalism in his youth. Yet in the last few years Labour has been reeling in Scotland. Labour has suffered some calamitous reverses. In 2015 Labour was unseated in some constituencies that it had held since even before it was a proper political party. These were seats in Glasgow that it had controlled for 120 years. Voting Labour was instinctive for much of the Scottish working class. This was especially so for urbanites.

Labour went into decline for various reasons. By the 2000s it was perceived as English just as the Conservatives had been in the 1990s. The liberation of Iraq was deeply unpopular in Scotland. The economic downturn form 2008 hit Scotland harder than the rest of the UK. The existence of the Scottish Parliament seemed to point towards an exclusively Scots party taking the reins. The electoral system for Hollyrood had compelled Labour to bring the Liberal Democrats into a coalition in 1999 when devolution kicked in. Labour,s mastery was broken. However, Labour was still in a fairly strong position. Labour’s role as the largest party did not appear to be in doubt. The Scottish Socialist Party took only a few votes from Labour on the left.  This challenge from the far left was credible partly due to Blair being perceived as a Tory in disguise and a warmonger. The SSP imploded in the mid 2000s.

As recently as 2010 things seemed rosy for the Labour Party. Labour’s share of the vote declined in Scotland and Wales but went up by 6 % points in Scotland. This was partly owing to Dr Brown the Prime Minister being a Scotsman. Many people seemed to vote SNP for Hollyrood but Labour for Westminster. That phenomenon has now gone.

Ten years ago the Scottish National Party first won an election and they have never looked back since. Despite losing the referendum on separation the SNP has not lost its grip on power. The SNP went into steep decline in the 1980s after losing the 1979 devolution referendum on a technicality -not getting 40% of registered voters to favour devolution. Since 2015 the SNP has suffered no such travails. The party is thriving. It swept the board at the last Westminster election and at the Hollyrood election. It looks set to do only marginally worse at this Westminster election than the previous one. The party has a young and active membership. It has plenteous generous donations coming in.

 

The SNP holds all the cards. It has a leader who is young yet experienced. Nicola Sturgeon has no skeletons in her cupboard.  The SNP was fairly successful in government though there are no budgetary problems and underperformance in education.

The SNP is the choice of a new generation. Labour is feeble and London centric. Corbyn seems to carry no weight in Scotland despite his far left views. The SNP is radical but also the establishment. It is as though Labour is the natural party of government in Scotland.

Labour does not seem to have a clear position on either Scots separation or Brexit. Labour appears to be feeble and divided. It is perceived as Tory light. The party has no big beasts. In Caledonia Labouràs best days are behind it. Young left wingers now vote for the Scottish Nationalists whereas once they would have cast their ballots for the Scottish Labour Party. An ambitious young politico would be best advised to join the SNP because they are going to win for the foreseeable future.

Many Labour voters switched to the SNP ten years ago. They meant it! They are not coming back any time soon. Time was floating voters plumped for Labour to keep the Tories out. Now they will vote SNP to stop the Conservatives.

Labour was pushed into third place as a party in Scotland last time. Could they come fourth? It is improbable. Labour has a very long way to come back as a governing party in Scotland. Most Westminster seats which the SNP captured from Labour last time are now beyond reach for this election. Do not expect a sudden Labour revival. The SNP,s fortune shall wane as the party is in office for years. This will not necessarily translate into much support returning to Labour. People can vote Lib Dem, Tory or abstain. Labour’s performance is especially abysmal when one considers that the Scottish Socialist Party is no longer a force to be reckoned with.

People are forming a habit of voting SNP. Labour has a very long way to go to regain its pre eminent position in Scots politics. It is hard to be left wing enough in Scotland but right wing enough in England. The Remainers in Scotland are likely to vote SNP or Lib Dem. Labour’s outlook on this question attracts neither Remainers or Leavers.

 

 

Which seats will change hands at Westminster?

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Tories

Gain – Berwick,, Roxborough and Selkirk

Dumfries and Galloway

This is because the SNP hold these two. The SNP only just gained them in a vintage year. Labour is set to do very badly. Both these seats were Tory 20 years ago.

Tories will gain all their target seats from Labour down to 22nd on target list – Westminster North

The Conservatives will not gain any constituencies from the Lib Dems. This is because 2015 was the nadir of the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems will recover

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UKIP

They will lose Clacton on Sea

they shall gain Hartelpool. This is Labour held and UKIP ran them close last time. Labour’s vote is falling back.

 

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LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

tHEY will gain all the seats they need to on their list up to 5% swing. That is Fife North East – formely Sir Menzies Campbell’s seat. This will involve taking three constituencies off the Scottish National Party.

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GREENS

They will take Bristol West off Labour. They are very close their and Labour’s vote is falling. It will be historic for Labour to lose Tony Benn’s old constituency. He lost it in 1983. Liberal Democrats took his second constituency Chesterfield in 2001.

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PLAID CYMRU

You might think that the Plaid will play the same role as the SNP did this time – taking seats from Labour in the Celtic fringe. That would over egg it considerably.

They shall gain Ynys Mon from Labour which the Plaid used to hold.

Ceredigion (from the Lib Dems)

and Llaneli from Labour.

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DUP

They shall gain Belfast South from the SDLP

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SINN FEIN

No gains

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UUP

No gains

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Spare a thought for Bill O’Reilly.

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Mr O’Reilly deserves less sympathy than most. I have no truck with his militaristic, hyper capitalist, Muslim baiting screeds. Bill O’Reilly is part of a dangerous tendency in American politics and broadcasting. He is ludicrously partisan, rude, aggressive and unanalytical. He has only two modes in interviewing: sycophancy or brutality. Fox News and its doyen O’Reilly create a constant sense of crisis in order to keep viewing figures high. Attacks by Muslims are reported with huge prominence. When US forces killed 150 civilians in Iraq this barely rated a mention. O’Reilly wants his views to be terrified and irate. This man has monetised making  American people scared of Muslims and mistrustful of non -Americans. Bill O’Reilly is a multimillionaire who is determined to keep the vast majority of America’s wealth in the hands of a tiny number of people. Such regressive policies makes life enormously harder for the great majority of Americans who are middle class and , dare we mention, working class.

Bill O’Reilly was accused of sexually harassing his colleagues. What this man has been accused of is not a crime. No one has ever suggested he committed rape or even sexual assault. All he allegedly did was to say things which some people found objectionable. That should not terminate anyone’s career. Moreover, one woman said that he leered at her. A facial expression will end one of the most distinguished careers in American journalism. Really? This is hard to fathom. One of his African-American colleagues said that he greeted her with ”hot chocolate.” Even if this is true this is a disdemeanour.

Let us for the sake of argument assume that the entirety of these allegations is completely veraciour. In that case O’Reilly has been rash and unpleasant. He ought to apologise and pay a few hundred dollars in compensation. Let us get this in perspective and not over react.

O’Reilly’s fans say that these allegations were propounded by far left organisations. These allegations were made by women who worked with him. Even if the far left made these accusations that does not make them false but yes they are a little less credible because of possible political bias.

I am glad that this man is off the screen. His baleful influence has poisoned public discourse in the United States. He is insanely one sided on the Palestine issue. His chauvinistic and bellicose rhetoric has done a huge amount of harm. He besmirched Black Lives Matter as a hate group. The United States is safer without him on the airwaves.

2017 UK election forecast.

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Labour have 230 seats at the moment. Their worst post war result was 209 MPs in 1983. Labour is at 24% in the polls at the moment. This is appreciably worse than their 1983 outcome. Yet it gets even worse. In 1983 the SNP was feeble  – with only three MPs. Nowadays the SNP is a major force – far stronger than Labour in Scotland. Therefore Labour could do much worse than their pisspoor showing in 1983. So take 209 seats and subtract 50 seats to take into account Labour having only one MP in Scotland. That puts Labour down at 160 seats! This is worse than the Tories did in 1997. In fact Labour will not do that catastrophically. In some regions Labour’s support is very reliable. There is a certain point below which Labour will not go. Do not expect the party to implode.

In the last election some of Labour’s already safe seats became rock solid. This was the case in northern England. Labour will not lose any seats there. Labour is vulnerable in the ENglish Midlands.

Labour faces a very long struggle to make itself a party of government again.

Labour will probably claw back 5 seats from the SNP in Scotland. The SNP’s popularity has not been seriously dented since it swept the board last time at the Westminster election.

The PLaid might win some more seats in Wales – like two more. It could profit from Labour’s weakness. This is especially so in three cornered fights.

There is a growing economy and the Prime Minister has a higher approval rating than the leader of the Opposition. These factors together make the Tories all but unbeatable.

The Lib Dems hold 9 seats at the moment. They had over 60 MPs until 2010. But remember the norm for the Liberals since the Second World War. They had fewer than 10 MPs. In 1992 they had only 20 MPs. The Liberal Democrats may recapture some seats from the Conservatives that they lost in southern England in 2010.

UKIP has already reached the summit of its success. It traditionally does worse at Westminster elections that European elections. Therefore one can anticipate that it will not win any seats at all. It is at 10% in the polls – considerably down on its 14% record last time.  UKIP’s collapse will have little effect. Tories can breathe easier in southern England. Safe Labour seats in northern England shall become even safer.

The Greens will hold Brighton and maybe capture one more seat.

Gerald Kaufman’s seat will not be captured by George Galloway. Labour shall hold it.

Do not expect and changes in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein might come closer than before in some seats.

The Conservatives look to be in for a very good night. They will go up by at least 20 seats. That may not seem like much but bear in mind the era of landslides is over. They are 10 to 20% ahead of Labour in the polls. There has not been a landslide win since 2001. But be aware that opinion polls usually under rate Conservative support. Tories are better at turnout. Depressed Labour voters might not be motivated to vote. They may indulged themselves in voting for a minor party knowing that Labour cannot possible win.

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Tories are on 330 and will go up to 350. (They take 25 off Labour but lose 6 to the Lib Dems)

Labour are on 240 and will go down to 220. (gain 6 from SNP)

Lib Dems on 9 go up to 15 (gain 6 from Tories and 2 from SNP)

Plaid Cymru on 2 go up to 3 (1 from Labour)

SNP on 56 go down to 48

No other changes.

May calls an early election.

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Theresa May has called an early election. This took my surprise – this is true of most of the commentariat. Why is it that pundits got it wrong? They took the Prime Minister at her word. Mrs May repeatedly avowed that she would not call a snap election. She was part of the cabinet that in 2010 brought in the Fixed Terms Parliament Act. This piece of legislation sought to prevent Prime Ministers from calling elections at a time to suit their own party. By a two-thirds vote the House of Commons can permit a premature election.

Why is T May calling this early election despite her persistent insistence that she would not do so? The ostensible motive is that she needs a clear mandate to deliver Brexit. She says that the Lib Dems will vote against almost any version of Brexit as will the SNP. Labour might vote against it depending on the terms. In the House of Lords most peers will vote agin Brexit no matter what form it takes. None of this matters overmuch as she has a majority in the COmmons. She can invoke the Parliament Act to overcome opposition from the House of Peers. The Lords can only delay a law by up to a year. There will not be many Tory Remain rebels in the Commons. The Labour Brexiteers would make up for Conservative Remainers.

Mrs May’s reason for calling an election is not the putative one. The ulterior one for going early is that condition are very favourable to her party. She is at 44% in the opinion polls – her party is. Even the worst poll for the Tories gives them an 11% lead over Labour. This is too much ground for Labour to make up in 6 weeks.

It is a racing certainty that the Conservatives will win this election. It looks like a landslide such as the Conservatives have not enjoyed since 1983. That too was a time of high unemployement and cutbacks in defence spending. Thatcher romped home because Labour was led by a left wing extremist with a bad dress sense.

The Tories have seen that so good an opportunity might never come again. May would be mad not to call an election. Labour’s leader galvanises the far left but beyond that he has no appeal. He repulses floating voters. Not all his policies are bad. His plan to raise tax for the super rich and increase the minimum wage to 10 pounds an hour goes down well with most people. His talk of re nationalising the railways also plays well with Middle Britain. The Lib Dems are led by a political pygmy called Tim Farron. He is the invisble leader. Farron has no stage presence. Corbyn at least has a track record and public recognition. He is also an effectual orator. Farron lacks any leadership qualities.

If May left the election much longer then the opposition parties might chuck out their leaders and get themselves credible ones. The Tories were riding so high in the polls they could only come down. The economy is growing but might tank. There is little prospect of economic growth speeding up any time soon. Mid term blues would set in. May’s personal approval rating might tumble as Brexit negotiations stall.

Brexit is supposed to be finalised in March 2019. The EU would know it had the Tories over a barrel. That is because the EU could offer unreasonable terms and challenge the British Government to leave without any deal. This would be during the countdown to an election. By calling an election now the Conservatives can negotiate Brexit without time pressure. There will be ample time after Brexit to consider an election. The Tories can agree an unpopular deal and then have up to three years for the public to forget about it before facing an election.

One fascinating question is how the Conservatives will do in Scotland. They might gain a seat.

The SNP still rules the roost in Scotland. The SNP’s popularity has slipped only a little. The SNP holds 56/59 constituences at Westminster. Most of those are seats they took off Labour last time. Labour will probably only regain a handful and the Liberal Democrats might gain a couple two. The SNP is so stratospherically strong that it cannot get any stronger. It will decline but the question is by how much? Maybe only a tiny bit.

In Northern Ireland Sinn Fein might consolidate the gains they made at the Northern Ireland Assembly elections. The need for the DUP and UPP to merge is more urgent than ever. There is a needless duplication of resources. Do not expect any dramatic changes in Ulster.

May is hypocritical in calling this election. She is doing so to advantage her own party. She blocked a second referendum in North Britain.  Why? She said because it would queer the pitch during Brexit negotiations. Yet her calling an election does not distract her from these negotiations?

The Conservatives have a bare majority. They will add at least another 20 seats to this.

The fewest seats Labour had in modern times was 209 in 1983. Labour will not go below that. The Liberal Democrats may claw back a few.

UKIP have no Members of Parliament and are unlikely to gain any. UKIP will probably go into terminal decline. AFter Brexit is completed the party will probably dissolve.

May is calling the election for partisan reasons. It is all about gain for her party.

Milo Yiannopolous.

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Milo Yiannopolous is a British commentator. His is the archetypcal meeja ho and he delights in ruffling feathers. He became known a few years ago for his you tube videos and strident criticism of Islam. He does not seem to make the distinction between Muslims and Islam.

Milo – he prefers to be known mononymically – appears to be a contrarian. He is an outspoken admirer of Donald Trump. This suggests that Milo may well see a kindred spirit in Trump. He is a fellow attention addict, narcissist and shameless liar. Never trust a man who cannot even tell the truth about his name. This gentleman’s surname is actually Hanrahan but he goes by his mother’s maiden name. Milo grew up in England but his father’s surname indicate Irish stock and he is Greek on his mother’s side.

This man dropped out of Manchester University and Cambridge. He is a non conformist and perhaps suffers from a sense of inadequacy in failing to achieve a degree. Is he driven to prove his intellect in other ways? Perhaps he wished to defend rebarbative positions in order to show how clever he is.

It seems that attention seeking perversity sustains the Milo phenomenon. He says that gays should get back into the closet. This is despite being an out homosexual himself. Some have even accused him of inventing his gayness as a means to fend of charges of reactionary attitudes. Moreover, his sexuality provides him with an excuse to excoriate Islam.

Milo certainly takes pride in his appearance. He seems to favour expensive skin products. He constantly dyes his hair. Does this reveal a deeper truth? Is he fixated with image and making a splash?

Milo sometimes makes sense. He skewers third wave feminism. He also exposes the nonsense of the notion of rape culture pervading Western countries. In fairness to Milo he is not racist and says that no one should be mistreated on the grounds of their ethnicity.

Soon enough Milo will disappear. He has made a name for himself in expressing deeply unfashionable views. I suspect he will not be able to make a career out of this much longer. One day the boy may have to grow up and get a job.