Scotsman: Lib Dems seek SNP deal
Tavish fears that his new coalition Government will prove as popular as poison with Scots voters so he obviously now wants to re-position himself and his party.
If the unionists set up a "no independence" group ie Calman then it cannot by definition be big enough for the SNP. It was in actual fact an attempt to undermine the SNP national conversation which was designed specifically to discuss all options for Scotland including fiscal autonomy (FA) and independence.
FA has been a logical SNP demand for years as a stepping stone to independence. Calman wanted to take powers back from Scots and provide some unusable powers in exchange (along with a few irrelevant ones).
The Liberal Democrats signed up for this deal with the devil. Scotland was never first in their priorities.
If more powers are on offer then we should take them but we should not give any back nor should we accept anything which ultimately weakens our position within the current set up.
If Tavish wants Fiscal Autonomy then the people he needs to convince are his new Tory pals. The SNP already have a lot more ambition for Scotland than he does or ever will.
Scotsman: Alastair Campbell's diaries: Cardinal attacked Blair 'in Papal bid'
Mr Campbell shows himself to be a bit of a plonker here. Not everyone is as obsessed with political power as him! Cardinal Winning would have said these things because he had principles and believed in them, something quite foreign to Labour. New Labour was ultimately a failure because it had no principles at heart and they therefore wasted their years in office.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Scotsman: Lib Dems seek SNP deal
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Now asylum children face 'even worse prison than Dungavel'
Scotsman report: http://www.scotsman.com/news/Now-asylum-children-face-39even.6306713.jp#5240497
In my opinion if someone asks for political asylum they should live in the community until their application is properly processed and be allowed to work and/or claim benefits during that period.
Sticking them into prison is barbaric and misses the whole point of political asylum. Better to not offer it at all (and accept that Britain is more xenophobic and heartless than any other nation in Europe) than treat these refugees in this disgusting and humiliating fashion.
Give Scotland the powers over asylum and immigration that the UK currently holds and I'm sure we could come up with a better and fairer system than this.
At UK Government level Labour fought the 2010 election on making "deeper and tougher" cuts than Margaret Thatcher.
Guardian: Alistair Darling admitted tonight that Labour's planned cuts in public spending will be "deeper and tougher" than Margaret Thatcher's in the 1980s, as the country's leading experts on tax and spending warned that Britain faces "two parliaments of pain" to repair the black hole in the state's finances.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies said hefty tax rises and Whitehall spending cuts of 25% were in prospect during the six-year squeeze lasting until 2017 that would follow the chancellor's "treading water" budget yesterday.
Asked by the BBC tonight how his plans compared with Thatcher's attempts to slim the size of the state, Darling replied: "They will be deeper and tougher – where we make the precise comparison I think is secondary to an acknowledgement that these reductions will be tough."
These cuts would have begun at UK level and filtered down to local level.
The SNP are proposing giving slightly more money to Scottish councils but are expecting them to effectively freeze their expenditure in consequence. This is not easy for councils and it might have been easier for the SNP to say, "we'll allow councils to raise more cash if they want."
However it is probably logical in the current climate as under the Tories pressure will certainly come down upon the total Scottish Government budget. If the SNP can prove that all the Scottish councils are making the best use of their allocation of public spending then they can make a better case for maintenance of the current Scottish block grant post-Barnett formula.
Labour want to raise local taxes, cutting the amount of money the public have in their pocket, to keep council services at roughly the same level. Yet they were saying during the elections "cuts must be made" and the SNP were being selfish in asking Britain to protect the Scottish budget.
So where would Labour's cuts have come from? Wouldn't a Labour Government have been squeezing public expenditure? I suggest they would and that if they needed to make an enormous 25% cut in spending they would have aimed some of that at the SNP Government.
The SNP are forcing the Scottish councils to be careful with their finances but are still offering a decent grant to them all in difficult times.
If Labour were serious about wanting to make "deeper and tougher" cuts than Margaret Thatcher" they cannot pretend now that they do not support encouraging better use of public money. Well they can but it is utterly hypocritical and I don't expect the public to swallow it.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
When Gordon Brown stepped down as Prime Minister he left both new and old Labour as a busted flush. Still retaining some loyalty in Scotland and Wales but disliked throughout the rest of the UK.
Next Labour? New Labour signalled a sell out to Conservatism. Sticking another adjective in front will just show that Labour still hasn't a clue what the hell it stands for.
What we do know is that it is not Labour ie the working classes that they represent so "Not Labour" would probably be the most honest re-branding of all.
My cynical prediction for next Labour leader is Andy Burnham. I think that Labour will want someone who can challenge the Tories and Liberal Democrats on their own turf. That means they need a blandly handsome individual with no particular political ethos.
Ed and David are bland but they are not handsome and to be brutally frank they come across as oddballs on TV. They inherited some political good will and credibility from their principled father. Unfortunately in actual action they have been less successful.
While it is unfair to judge a person based upon their looks, if you bear a resemblance to a gasping goldfish unfortunately that becomes a factor. The older Miliband looked out of his depth at the foreign office and the USA did not take him seriously. Who could? He looked like a serious young lad who was up past his bedtime and was playing at being a serious politician.
This worked out for Gordon Brown who wanted to remain the main figure in his Government. After his 'warfare' with Tony Blair (which probably was very useful to the Labour Government as a distraction from political issues) he was no doubt nervous of promoting anyone into such a potentially powerful position who might have been able to use it as a platform. No, it was no doubt thought better to promote an ambitious follower rather than a future leader. Of course later on Mr Miliband tried to oust Brown but his actual credibility was no match for Mr Brown's even at the fag end of his administration.
Brown was always a 'big figure'. As a unionist his first loyalty was never to Scotland and therefore I have never had much regard for him, however it has to be said that he was a much more substantial figure than Tony Blair and David Cameron. Gordon Brown's main fault was to be a Scot at a time where Scotland had began to retain some of its power through devolution. If he had called an election shortly after taking over as PM he might have managed to win over England.
As it was the caricature of a "Brown Bottler" became his trademark. The public (well actually the tabloid press) decided they were sick of his face and wanted an election. From that point he was a dead duck Prime Minister. Unfortunately Labour (as we now see very clearly) had no alternative leader in the wings. In Scotland probably most people (and where the tabloids have less direct influence) felt he should be given a chance to prove himself, in England that was not the case.
David Cameron might be best described as another Tony Blair, while Nick Clegg might be seen as a Tony Blair twice removed or even a David Cameron copy.
Cameron was the product of a long search for Tory leader in which every variation was tried. Eventually it was decided that the whole brand was toxic and the Tories needed someone who could pretend he had sort of drifted into Conservatism by mistake. If Cameron had failed then I suspect Boris Johnson would have been the next candidate.
Cameron is a true Tory with true Tory instincts (ie a dislike for the poor) but who is also a PR man who can pretend otherwise. It is true he has changed politics. He was the man who became what Blair wanted to become, the true heir to Blair. A man with a better smile and with even less political principle.
Unfortunately for him at the point he was elected, Blair himself had outlasted his usefulness and was now something of a liability. Along with Blair's fall a distrust of spin persisted.
That is why Cameron failed to win the election outright, however Nick Clegg has proven to be a perfect ally because they are birds of a very similar political plumage.
Clegg was brought in when Ming Campbell was removed. Campbell, another clever Scot, proved to be too old and decrepit to challenge the new boy David. So it was the more handsome Clegg rather than the smarter Chris Huhne who became the Liberals leader. (Huhne was lining himself up for Home Secretary, the only big job the Libs would have had. I suspect it was Nick Clegg rather than David Cameron who decided he shouldn't get it).
[Any rational analysis of the new Government by the way suggests some brilliant negotiation by the Conservatives and some disastrous errors by the Liberal Democrats. Every major post is held by the Tories and the LD's have effectively sold out their 'big idea' Proportional Representation. AV is not true PR and a referendum on that is likely to lead to a continuation of FPTP. Welcome to the political wilderness Liberals. Your old party will get stuffed very shortly and deservedly, leaving UK politics back with the big two.]
So where is Labour now? Well I think it is fair to say that at the moment they are floating dead in the water and the antics of the Milbands are being treated, not unnaturally, as the last gasps of a corpse.
Their published views so far indicate that the Milly boys are not leaders with their own political judgement. What they actually are is mouthpieces for a discredited political party whose mouths are still opening and closing on reflex.
They are the entrée dishes and the main course has yet to be served. The real fight will be between Alan Johnson and Andy Burnham. Johnson is a credible candidate but I suspect in this PR obsessed time his age will be a factor. Burnham (or someone similar) will win but his party will still be moribund and politically irrelevant.
I expect the future leader (whoever it is) to fail against David Cameron (who will not need the Lib Dems post the next election). I suspect at UK level the people will see at least a decade and probably much more without another Labour Government.
At that point a new leader may arrive who will move Labour back to the political left. However by then it will be far too late.
Despair then? Hardly. Scotland has an opportunity to escape the bland faces of British politics with relative ease and the SNP will fight the next elections in Scotland from Scotland which makes all the difference.