I was privileged to be at St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh this week and to see the arrival, and departure, of Prime Minister David Cameron and his entourage, all five cars of them. Access to the public was denied to the street outside, with somewhere between twenty and thirty police on duty. The most memorable moment of that event was when Michael Moore MP was going into St Andrew’s House and one of the assembled press called out “How does it feel to be the last Secretary of State for Scotland?”; Mr Moore just carried on, but as I observed at the time, he was the one who said that the office of Secretary of State for Scotland should be abolished, and this would appear to be the only manifesto promise the Liberals would keep.
The First Minister held a press conference after his meeting with Mr Cameron, or as the email had put is “…is likely to hold a press conference…”; perhaps if the meeting had not gone to plan this might not have happened, but with more than an hour to wait, I decided to go and have a coffee and a bacon roll. This meant I left the press “corral” and was unable to return to it until the Prime Minister had left; this stricture applied to all.
I did attend the press conference, somehow managing to get in via the back door, and we had the usual suspects putting all the usual questions, about sterling, the EU, NATO, the consultation document, Catalonia; I managed to get in at the end stating that the Scots Independent was the only newspaper supporting Scottish independence, and congratulating the First Minister on his achievement, not a view supported by most of the attendees.
So the stage is now set for 100 weeks of campaigning for the future of Scotland; I have been a member of the SNP for forty six years and had despaired of ever getting anywhere near that stage.
I did hear today, from Andrew Kerr, our correspondent in deepest, darkest Surrey that Peter Kellner, of YouGov polling, said in an interview with the Daily Record that a “Yes” vote in the Referendum was Mission Impossible. Andrew reminded me, as did Alex Salmond at the press conference, that in January and February last year, YouGov showed the SNP 10 or 15 points behind Labour, and then the SNP won the most massive landslide vote ever seen in the United Kingdom. The First Minister put it that if you win the arguments, you win the votes, and the same would happen in the Referendum.
Will our aces be “Trumped”?
According to the press, Donald Trump is intending to sue the Scottish Government, and Alex Salmond in particular, because wind turbines in the North Sea will be visible from his swanky new golf course. He now claims that Jack McConnell, First Minister at the time of the first plans for the course, had promised there would be no wind turbines. Mr McConnell, or Lord McConnell as we perhaps should call him now, says that this is nonsense and that no such assurances would be given. Now Lord McConnell has not been First Minister for five and a half years, so it would seem questionable that planning would be at that stage then – even for wind turbines!
I suppose we should look on it as to who is best placed to look after Scotland’s interests, Aberdeenshire Council Planning Committee and First Minister Alex Salmond, or Donald Trump, who has a peripheral interest in one small bit of Scotland to help him to enrich himself further? While I do not believe his actions would be taken seriously, they will cost the Government (ie you and me) money in rebutting the claim. Public money is in short supply these days.
Just an afterthought, golfers concentrating on their game would not be inclined to spend time scanning the horizon for wind turbines.
Very gratifying to see Tricia Marwick MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament becoming a Member of the Privy Council. She will now be known as The Right Honourable Tricia Marwick, MSP.
Uill…tha na toraidhean againn, tha na daoine air bruidhinn agus cha robh e na bha sinn an dùil! Rinn buidhnean neo-eisimeileachd fàidheadaireachd gun gabhadh na Nàiseantaich a h-uile baile-mòr san dùthaich, Glaschu cuideachd, agus gum bitheadh Alba còmhdaichte ann an buidhe. Agus bha e gu math soirbh sin a smaointinn. Tha na Laboraich ann am bùrach, tha am pàrtaidh dealaichte ann an Glaschu, tha an ceannard gun fheum agus chan eil lèirsinn no glòir-mhiann creideasach sam bith aca. A dh’aindeoin sin chum iad Glaschu agus rinn iad gu math ann an Dùn Eideann agus Obar Dheathain. Ciamar?
Bhòtaidh luchd na h-Alba gu h-eadar-dhealaicte anns gach taghadh as bith càit am bi e – Alba, An Rìoghachd Aonaichte no an t-ùghdarras ionadail. A chionn gun bheil eagal air an t-sluagh ro ghearraidhean Tòraidheach shaoil iad gun atharraicheadh toradh math do na Laboraich an cruadal. Bhòt daoine dhaibh ged a tha an clàr ann an cumhachd truagh, gu h-àraidh ann an Glaschu. Mar choimeas tha clàr an SNP moltach agus ‘s e seo na tha air a bhith cudtromach san t-soirbheas leantaineach aige. Bhuannaich e a’ chiad mòr-chuid ann an Dùn Deàgh is Aonghas agus ‘s ann aige a tha an àireamh as motha de chomhairlichean san dùthaich. Bha na meadhanan àicheanach mar a b’ àbhaist ach tha rud beag fìrinne anns na tha iad ag ràdh. An dèidh soirbheas nan Nàiseantach ann an 2011 tha neo-eisimeileachd air làmh an uachdair a thoirt air gnothaichean poileataigeach, agus as bith ar beachd air chan eil teagamh ann nach bi a h-uile duine a bhòt SNP ga h-iarraidh. Tha obair mhòr ann fhathast.
Fhad ‘s a tha luchd-bhòtaidh air tòiseachadh ceangal nas dlùithe a dhèanamh eadar bhòt don SNP agus cothrom neo-eisimeileachd, a rèir coltais tha sinn a’ faicinn ìsleachadh ann an taic ged a rinn am pàrtaidh gu math. ‘S e rabhadh a tha seo. Chan eil sinn airson pàrtaidh eile a’ gabhail thairis bho na Laboraich mar phàrtaidh ceannasach na h-Alba – tha àrdan cunnartach. ‘S fheudar don SNP ionnsachadh bho a mhearachdan oir ann an iomadh dòigh thug e call air fhèin. Leig toradh sam bith nach robh tomadach do luchd an Aonaidh ag ràdh gun robh rudan a’ tionndadh. A-nis feumaidh an t-amas a bhith air an referendum gus am faic an sluagh luchd an Aonaidh mar a tha iad – nan làmhan marbha a’ cur bacadh air Alba.
Blessing in Disguise
Well…..we have the results, the people have spoken and it wasn’t what we expected! Independent think tanks were predicting that the Nationalists would take every major city in the country including Glasgow, and Scotland would be awash with yellow. And it was easy to think this. Scottish Labour are in a mess, their party is divided in Glasgow, their leader is appalling and they have no credible vision or ambition. Nevertheless they held Glasgow and performed well in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. How?
The Scottish electorate vote differently for each election whether it is Holyrood, Westminster or local council. As the public fear Tory cuts they felt a good result for Labour might alter the austerity measures. They voted for Labour though its record in power, especially in Glasgow, is poor. In contrast the SNP’s record is commendable and this has been a major factor in the party’s continued success. It won its first majority in Dundee and Angus and has the largest amount of councillors in the country. The media was pretty negative as usual but there is some truth to what it’s saying. After the Nationalist success in 2011 independence has dominated the political landscape and whether we like it or not people who voted SNP didn’t all support it. There is still some convincing to be done.
As the electorate has began to associate a vote for the SNP more closely with possible independence we seem to have seen a reduction in support, though the party did well. This serves as a wake up call. We do not want to supplant Labour as the overall dominant party of Scotland – arrogance is a dangerous. The SNP needs to learn from its mistakes because in many ways it set itself up for failure. Any result that wasn’t a landslide would allow the unionists to claim that things were turning. The focus must now be on the referendum so that the public will see the unionists for what they are – dead hands keeping Scotland back.
Ae vote ower mony?
On the day o the Local Elections, ten English ceeties votit ti decide whuther they wantit a direckly eleckit Mayor, lik Lunnon. Nine oot o ten o them turnit doun the offer. It daesnae seem that ony o the pairties in Scotland hae sic a seestem in min. Gin ony did, wad it be a guid idaia?
Aabodie kens that oor local cooncils dinnae seem ti coont fir as muckle as they did lang syne, an that the feck o the voters cannae be bothert ti gang ti the pows ti chuise them. An sae the cry gangs up: “Somethin maun be duin!” At this, politeecians whiles rax oot fir the first fair-farrand notion that cums ti haun, no thinkan that aiblins it michtna turn oot weel.
I this case, we soud ask why local government is in a sheuch the nou. Firstly, ilka cooncil cannae cairry on its sairvices juist as it wants: there are (richtly) national staunarts ti keep up. Sae, maist o the time, the council cannae decide fir itsel whit it wul spend its siller on. Saicontly, aboot aichty pence in ilka pund o that siller cums to it, in ae wey or anither, frae the central (Scottish) government. An nae eleckit Mayor (or better, Provost) coud chynge thir facks. Deed, the Government itsel coudnae dae it wioot a sair trauchle, as we fund whan the plan fir a Local Income Tax wes gien up.
Bit there is a stranger raison why direckly eleckit Provosts micht be nae blissin. In England, cooncils are aye eleckit bi the auld “First past the post” seestem. Scotland, contrair ti that, nou haes the Single Transferable Vote, that maks shair a pairty cannae get the feck o the cooncillors wioot the feck o the votes. It wes the auld seestem that keepit Lawbour in pouer, in sae mony cooncils, wi less than hauf o the voters ahint them. Nouadays we hae a ferr seestem, sae that the cooncillors in pouer hae ti hae the backin o maist o the voters. That wes a rael reform o local government, an Scotland is the better fir it. Bit a direckly eleckit Provost wad be brocht in unner a “First past the post” vote, wi aa the ills that gang wi it. We micht be cowpit back ti whaur we war afore, i the days o the “Ae-pairty states”. “Nae thenks!”, A wad say.