Of things mundane and amusing

Readers will be aware that at the end of 2014 I handed the Flag in the Wind over to Margaret Hamilton, so this is my first contribution as a Compiler.
Very sorry to see Andy Murray losing the final of the Australian Open, and am still aghast at the publicity given to his fiancee swearing, as it is not uncommon nowadays to see ladies swearing in public. A few years back I was in the stand at Easter Road – a freebie, and I got it that week as Hibs were playing Dundee. There was a middle aged lady in the row in front, well dressed, fur coat anyway, and when Dundee scored she was on her feet bawling and swearing profusely, to my great surprise (We did not cheer as we were in the Hibs part of the stand, so cheering was deferred until we reached the car park, and my recollection is that it was a 4-4 draw).

The other perhaps apocryphal story came from Ronnie Brown of the Corries; he was at a dinner in Edinburgh Castle sitting next to Princess Anne, when she said she had left the copy of her speech at Holyrood Palace. Ronnie advised her “Fax it up”, to which her response was “It certainly does!”

Speaking of swearing one may wonder what was the effect of the recent spat between Mr Murphy and Mr Miliband with the news that Labour – of some variety or other – were hoping to re-introduce a former Prime Minister into the campaign to shore up a lack of competence. Strangely I speculated on that in the Scots Independent editorial for February’s issue, being delivered as this is published.

And speculation turned into fact before my very eyes, and this week we have Gordon Brown and Mr Murphy grinning as they re-write the Smith Commission proposals
And talking about a “Vow Plus”. (A no doubt Freudian slip as I inadvertently typed “conmmission”).

A Word of Caution

I worry about favourable opinion polls, although am somewhat mollified by their consistency over the last few months, as in my 48 years in the party there have been many disappointments. Just last night I came across this in The History of the Scottish National Party by Peter Lynch ; “As author Arnold Kemp remarked on the 1970 election result, “The SNP had got itself into another classic nationalist scenario, that of heightened expectations punctured by reality”” (Lynch 2013: 126).

One has to hope that this time the Referendum result will have the desired impact; while we should expect that everyone who voted Yes will support the SNP, after the vote our opponents were claiming that a substantial proportion of SNP supporters had voted No. If this was the case, we can reasonably expect them to vote SNP again, also votes for Yes will have only one logical home, whereas No voters will split three ways.

Also in support of that view we can look again at the Regional or List Vote in the Scottish Parliament Election in May 2011; the SNP won 69 of the 73 constituencies and I would never in a million years have anticipated that. The constituencies we did not win under that were Renfrewshire South (Labour), Glasgow Provan (Labour), Coatbridge & Chryston (Labour) and Shetland (Liberal). Anent the latter, we won Orkney on the list, and when we add the votes together(the Westminster seat) we won that.

So let me repeat that, an SNP vote for the Regional List in 2011 took 69 out of 73 constituencies; we only gained 16 list seats, because we had 53 constituency seats, but the Westminster Election does not allow proportion to be reflected but is first past the post.

A Constitutional Affair
Wings over Scotland went a looking for the Scottish Labour Party’s constitution which Mr Murphy has vowed to change – instanter. Being unable to find this document he asked the Electoral Commission for a copy. They replied:

“the Commission does not hold a constitution for the Scottish Labour Party per se, since they are not separately registered with us. The Labour Party is registered for GB as a whole”.


Apart from the fact that this is illegal, we wait avidly to see how Mr Murphy amends a non existent document – nae bother.
But then an alert reader asked the EC a smarter question.

The reader in question told us that they’d “sought clarification on the legality of a candidate standing for the Scottish Labour Party on a different constitution from the UK Labour party”.

This is what they got back.

“Dear XXXXX,

Thank you for your response.

A candidate cannot stand for an accounting unit during an election; only for a registered party. An accounting unit, Scottish Labour Party for example, may appear as a description of the registered party on the ballot paper. The Electoral Commission does not regulate the content of campaign material. A party may present themselves under an accounting unit if they choose.

Kind regards
Jack Goodman
Guidance Adviser
Party and Election Finance
The Electoral Commission”

That’s pretty unambiguous. No matter what Jim Murphy might claim about making policy without consulting Ed Miliband, he’s talking hogwash. Any candidate standing under an official Labour banner this May – as all Scottish Labour candidates will be doing – is legally representing UK Labour, and therefore UK Labour policies.

Now, we’ve of course known for a long time that “Scottish Labour” was a label rather than a party. But it’s perhaps worth bearing in mind that any candidate standing on the basis of a claim that the Scottish branch office makes its own policy won’t just be lying to voters, they’ll actually be breaking the law.”

There was rather a lot of reaction on Wings for Scotland, so the online community is well aware of this.