Thursday 30 April 2015

Brighton Green activists demonstrate how silly their party is

This is just so funny. Two Green girlies who were supposed to be leafleting for Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion decided to have one of those jolly hockey sticks moments when they discovered a pile of newspapers with a UKIP advert on the front pages. So the naughty little things tore the adverts out of each front page, before carefully arranging their handiwork and then  taking photos of it all. A fellow walks in who seems to be in charge of the team, but instead of bringing the girls to heel and reminding them that they are wasting time with all this, he just stood around looking a bit helpless at it all. Says it all about the Greens I suppose.

Needless to say the paper got in touch with UKIP who quickly took advantage of the opportunity to go into full self righteous git mode - as did the Tories for that matter. Over at Green HQ it was red faces all round, but to be fair to them, the adult spokesmen did apologise profusely.

None of this amounts to very much, and it is certainly not the "absolutely disgraceful" affair that UKIP tried to portray it as.

It is just very silly, girly and twee. It tells you all you need to know about the Greens and why you should not even think about voting for them.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

UKIP's battle for Thanet South means ignoring everything else

 UKIP appears to be throwing everything into taking Thanet South where Nigel Farage is standing, to the exclusion of pretty much all the other seats where the Kippers are in the running. Given that UKIP can't even render the seat's name properly - it is Thanet South and not South Thanet - there must be some doubt as to just how effective the newcomers will be when added in to the not very bright mix that is to be found on the ground there. 

A source in one of those Southern English seats that are now being ignored passed onto me an internal e-mail sent to party members that encourages them to drop everything to help out in Thanet. The killer paragraph reads:

 If you can, please come to South Thanet this weekend, for two days of action, contacting voters, and convincing them of why they need UKIP MPs in the House of Commons. It's the final weekend of campaigning so we must make it count. Keep an eye out for other messages about how you can help some of our key seats in the run up to Polling Day. 

The e-mail ends with a plea for people to bring their cars, volunteer on polling day especially, and even helpfully includes a link to the hotels of the area in case anyone wants to stay over.

The Thanet South battle is reported to be going very well for UKIP, with Farage now pretty much odd-on to take the seat. This e-mail suggests that there is much nervousness in the high command, which is why neighbouring seats are being abandoned, but why is the people's army not able to fight more than one organised campaign? After all, other small parties manage it rather nicely.

Kippers still complain that their party would have won Heywood and Middleton last year had they not also been fighting in Clacton on the same day. However, all that proves is that the party is so incompetent that it could not fight two by-elections on one day. In the year that has gone by since then, UKIP does not seem to have made an effort to organise itself into an election machine, hence the decision to throw everything into winning Thanet South.

The machine is what wins the ground war. It is "the science of methodically identifying who your supporters are, persuading undecideds, and dragging them to the ballot box." The Liberal-Democrats are the experts at this, with most of the data being built up during council election campaigns. Last year UKIP had them as well as the European elections, so why is their ground campaign so lacking?

My source, who is a long time UKIP voter but who only joined the party this year, reported to me last night that the problem that UKIP has in his area is down to the fact that many of his new party associates are "thick in the extreme." Digging a bit deeper, it came out that they are not knuckle-dragging inbreds, but they are fairly comfortable small town men who tend to be older than the average and who don't really understand that internet thingie. They use e-mails because they are basically letters that you don't have to post, but getting them to understand how social media and texting services like Whatsapp can be used is pretty much beyond them.

It may be that all this is due to the fact that UKIP cannot win many new members in the big cities. It is not just that the bulk of the people live in them, but cities are where things happen; they are places where new ideas are tested to destruction and either improved upon or discarded. If UKIP had a basically urban membership then it is more then likely that a machine would have been created to win elections, and party regulars would then be shipped out to where the yokels live to teach them how to do things properly.

UKIP's problem is that it is a party of yokels and it will pay the price for that in unwon seats next week.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Labour in South Thanet gives a lesson in how to lose an election by siding with Tories

Meet Will Scobie and Craig Mackinley, the Labour and Tory candidates in Thanet South who now seem to be engaged in a love-in. Don't ask me which is which because as UKIP have been quick to point out, it doesn't really matter:

The excuse for all this is the unverified claim that UKIP has been joined by demonstrators from the National Front who are trying to break up Labour and Conservative meetings. No evidence has been produced to back this claim as yet.

What has emerged is this video which the toytown left are trying to spin as an attack on ordinary people in Thanet South. Actually if you watch it you can see that it is a demonstration against a small group of the followers of St. Leon the Loser, headed by a woman in hideous red hair named Bunny la Roche. 

If the name rings a bell, Bunny was the woman on a recent Question Time who screamed abuse at all and sundry:

Nope Not Hope has more information about her, and even far left sites such as Socialist Unity find her too much to stomach.

All this leaves me rather puzzled. UKIP takes its support mainly from former Tory voters. Many of them may be of the Alf Garnett school of thought, but they are still not disgruntled Labour people. In other words, UKIP hurts the Tories more than it hurts Labour, so why is Will Scobie not leaving  Sir Bufton Tufton from the Tories and UKIP's Alf Garnett to slog it out between themselves? A split right means that he could take the seat, which is all that matters in electoral politics when you think about it.

Secondly, why are both Labour and Tory seeming to ally themselves with Trotscum? At the end of the day, all those weirdos want to do is use whatever issue is important at the moment to garner more recruits for their wanky little sect.

I can sort of understand why the Tory's Craig Mackinley might be afraid since it has just emerged that he was involved with a company that advised Eastern Europeans on how they could claim benefits in the UK. Obviously he will want to distract attention from that wheeze to try and avoid his vote sliding over to UKIP, but what is Labour's excuse?

Thanks to the cack-handed way that Labour has behaved in Thanet South, all the party has done is confirm what UKIP have been saying for years, namely that there is no difference between Labour and the Tories.

Nice work, Will. This has probably lost you the election and helped get Nigel Farage elected.

Monday 27 April 2015

SNP look set to take 57 seats

The latest poll from TNS is just amazing:

SNP 54 (+2)
Lab 22 (-2)
Con 13 (NC)
Lib 6 (NC)
Green 2 (-2)
UKIP 2 (+1)

Putting that into the seat calculator gives the SNP 57 Westminster seats, with Labour and the Tories one each. You can just imagine the SNP wondering who the Labour survivor will be and then throwing all their weight into getting the poor bugger out, can't you?

The Tory campaign has actually not been all that bad, but the problem that they have is that the party hardly exists outside the three border seats, one of which they hold already. The catastrophe here is a cold dish that Labour has to sup next week.

How did it come about? Much play has been made of the way in which Labour hugged the Tories up close during the referendum campaign, and the hubris that led Labour into doing that is certainly one of the reasons. 

At the start of the year, Jim Murphy who leads Labour's Scottish branch office was telling anyone who would listen just how easy it was to outwit the SNP at all levels. The attitude in Scots' Labour seemed to be one where they were telling their constituents that it was okay to have had their fun, but now it was time to revert to the old cause. Labour really believed that the traditional vote would rally behind the old, tattered banners just because Spud Murphy gave them their orders.

The Labour campaign in England seems to be going from strength to strength, but in Scotland people quickly began to pick holes in Labour's campaign slogans. There was a resentment at the downright lies that the party told, with the chief one being the enormous porkie from Spud Murphy that "The biggest party gets to form the government." You did not need to be a constitutional scholar to point out that what matters is a majority in the Commons, not where it comes from.

These tall tales have come thick and fast, with each one being quickly shot down. Labour made a play on "exploitative zero hours contracts" which they pledged to ban, so the young graduates with computers, internet access and time on their hands who are all gagging to pay back the Labour Party over its referendum stance, began to dig at that one.

It took until this weekend when some clever souls discovered that Glasgow's Labour run council has about 2,000 of its wage slaves on those contracts. Now Spud has been forced to admit that they will not actually ban zero hours contracts, just the exploitative ones, if that makes any sense.

However, at the end of the day, Labour is losing because its national leadership has to appeal to the Southern English, aspirational scrote vote and so it has to slap down the Scottish branch whenever it gets out of line. Two weeks ago Chuka Umunna had to remind Spud that his no-cuts pledge was worthless since Labour policy is made in London and not Edinburgh. Before that, Rachel Reeves gave the SNP an open goal when she said that Labour was not the party for claimants.

A Labour wipe out in Scotland is now on the cards and it is all their own fault.

Sunday 26 April 2015

The polls are flatlining with hardly any movement for any party.

Take a look at this graph from UK Polling Report. It shows that the three main parties have been flat lining since the start of the year, with Labour and the Tories now neck and neck. Even if the Tories do get an extra point or two, it will not influence the outcome all that much as Cameron's team has to be about five points clear of Labour to offset Labour's inbuilt advantage in seat distribution.

Labour can take some comfort from the results since even with the deluge that awaits the party in Scotland, the party is still competitive with the Tories in the country as a whole. It is almost as if every time Miliband looks like losing another few points in Scotland, his party perks up south of the River Tweed, so the overall Scottish effect is nil.

The Greens are clearly the losers here since they have sagged quite clearly to five percent, which is probably why Labour is still polling relatively well. The UKIP sag seems to have ended and the purples are now riding steadily on about 13 percent. It will be interesting to see if the notion of the shy kipper vote is anything other than hot air. If it is, then we can expect UKIP to poll around 15 percent or so next week.

All the postal votes went out early last week, and since postal voters tend to complete their ballot papers and send them off within 48 hours, we can assume that for 20 percent of the population the election is now over. Even if one party does start to climb in the polls, the fear must be that it will not influence the final outcome by all that much. Needless to say, with every day that goes by, the chances of that happening become slimmer and more remote. The parties have thrown the kitchen sink at each other, and only in Scotland has it influenced the way that people intend to vote.

How this will pan out when the votes are in we just do not know. Our old friend the universal swing has no meaning when people are voting for different parties in Scotland and to a lesser extent in Wales. Not only that, but in England we have Labour, Liberal, Tory and UKIP all seriously in contention for votes, with the Greens still hoping to grab whatever scraps fall from the main table.

This election will be chewed over for decades to come!

Labour needs to scrap the Bain Principle as part of its rebuilding strategy

The Bain Principle is named after Willie Bain, the Labour MP for Glasgow North East. In a nutshell it states that Labour will oppose whatever the SNP proposes no matter what the circumstances. Bain enunciated this in a 2012 tweet, but the policy goes back a long way.

The policy began once Labour realised that the demand for devolution was not going to disappear and a limited devolution bill was promised from the 1992 general election onwards. The problem was to make it seem as a Labour gift to Scotland and that meant removing the SNP from the equation.

Take the parliament building as a case in point. The original plan involved using the wonderfully dignified Royal High School building on Calton Hill had the 1979 referendum on devolution not been fiddled by a Labour amendment that made it impossible for the bill to pass. Following that farce, Scottish nationalists held vigils outside the building which meant that for Labour it could not be used as the new parliament. Donald Dewer had it that the Royal High School was a "nationalist shibboleth," with the result that millions was spent on a new parliament building. Those millions did not matter to Labour as all they wanted was to present the new parliament as the Party's gift to the people of Scotland.

When that wheeze failed in 2007 with the election of a minority SNP government in Scotland, Labour went into overdrive to try and derail as much policy as they could. The SNP were elected on a promise to scrap the scheme for a new tramway system in Edinburgh, a scheme that had already overrun by many millions of pounds, was years behind schedule, as well as creating chaos in the city.

None of that mattered to Labour. All that mattered was that the SNP policy to cut the losses and scrap the trams had to be opposed. So Labour joined with the Tories to force the SNP government to continue with the plan. This is why Edinburgh now has just under nine miles of tramway, constructed at a cost of almost a billion pounds.

In 2012 the SNP put forward a motion to oppose the Tory plan to reduce the 50p top rate of income tax. Labour refused to vote for that, hence Bain's tweet which confirmed what many people already knew, that Labour opposed SNP policy for the sheer devilment of it.

The strategy behind all this seems to be to undermine the SNP at every opportunity and then  take the credit when Labour puts forward exactly the same policies that they had opposed when propounded by the SNP. The problem for Labour is that the electorate are not as stupid as Labour thinks they are and they have seen through this wheeze, as Labour will find out next week.

Following the deluge on the 7th May, Labour really needs to rebuild from the bottom up, and start putting forward policies that play on the council estates, as well as working constructively with parties that share some of the same values.

Monday 20 April 2015

SNP seeks to involve people with a campaign leaflet

The SNP seems to have come up with a decent wheeze that will enable them to build up a good database of supporters and the issues that matter to them. This leaflet, printed on two A5 sides of thick paper plopped through my letterbox the other day along with a stamped addressed envelope so that it could be returned to the party.

It is very rare for any party to go to the trouble of asking the punters what they think, still less for that party to make it easy for people to reply. I filled in the form, and told the SNP that I thought that the war against claimants was the major issue of our day. Then I ticked the box to say that I would vote for Brock in this election and gave them my details. 

If the SNP do as well in this coming election as the polls predict then a lot of it will be due to out of the box thinking like this. The idea behind the leaflet is simple, so simple that I have never seen it done before. It will leave more than a few people thinking that the SNP actually gives more than a tinker's cuss about them and their concerns.

I told a couple of friends who are standing for election in England about this leaflet and they both agreed that it was a fine idea, but neither seemed to want to take it up. The first said that it was too late and the second told me that he couldn't afford all that postage.

The quick reply is that people could be asked to use their own stamp, or party workers could collect the completed cards. Alternatively, if a stall is set up in the centre of the constituency, people can fill them in there and then.

Good ideas need to be copied.

Labour abandons its Scottish section, but still looks a winner.

A party needs many things to win an election, and a fair wind is certainly one of them. Often that good breeze comes about because a party looks like a winner, so things start to fall into place effortlessly. Take this chance encounter between Ed Miliband and a girly gaggle out on a hen party. It could have happened to David Cameron, but it didn't. Instead, Cameron went to talk to some workers and many of them got so bored with him that they preferred to go back to work instead of listen to the man a moment longer. Miliband met the tottie quite by chance and all of a sudden he went from geek to sex god in the public eye.

The Labour campaign went into overdrive over the weekend as it began its final sprint towards the finishing line.

The first thing that Labour did was toss its Scottish branch to the wolves. Angela Eagle, the shadow leader of the Commons made that very plain when she said: “We’ll speak to any party that has got representation in the House of Commons in order to try and build a majority for a Queen’s Speech that the country desperately needs for a change of government.” 

With that comment you can forget the plaintive wail that still emanates from Scottish Labour that the biggest party forms the government because the national party has now kicked that idea into touch. Labour will try to work with anyone who will join them in getting the Tories out.

Secondly, Miliband appealed directly to those Tory voters who are not complete scum suckers, as well as to the remaining leftist UKIP and Lib-Dem contingent, by telling them that  if they are worried about tax evasion, avaricious energy companies and fat cat bankers, then he is the man who will champion those causes. The toy town left will scream at that, but if it solidifies Labour's right flank then it is to be welcomed.

Labour seems to have done the electoral maths and accepted that the Tories on 280 seats are still going to be unable to form a government, but Labour with as few as 260 certainly could. 

The SNP now seem to be certain to take almost 50, and any that they fail to grab will probably remain in Labour hands. Add the Welsh, Ulster and English one-seat parties to get another ten or so. If we add the shell-shocked remnants of the Lib-Dems who may manage to save 25 MPs if they are very lucky, then Miliband has a majority of the 650 seats in the Commons.

Thinking about this for a moment, Miliband has to treat the SNP with kid gloves, but all the others can be brought on-board or dumped depending upon the mood. He could even leave the Lib-Dems to stew in their own juices, if Labour did take 265 seats or so.

Cameron by way of contrast does not have any of these options. At best he can count on the eight or so members of the DUP, with maybe the Lib-Dems, always assuming that they do not decide to take whatever deal Miliband offers them. UKIP can be discounted because whatever seats they have will come from the Tories, so their success or failure does not alter the Con-Lab balance of forces.

It's no wonder that Ed Miliband is looking so chirpy - barring a disaster, in a little over two weeks he is set to become Prime Minister.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Scottish police seem to be helping Jim Murphy's campaign.

You couldn't make this story up because nobody would believe it: the Scottish police have pulled in a protester and demanded that he give them advance details of all and any plans that he has to demonstrate at Jim Murphy's public events. Sean Clerkin is the demonstrator and what McPlod did not know is that Clerkin seems to have had a camera hidden on his person and he has said that the video will go live on YouTube tomorrow.

Now it may be that Sean Clerkin is an irritant to some politicians, but this is an election after all, and political hacks have to accept that not every event will be stage managed to their satisfaction. The police refused to rule out sharing any information that Clerkin gave them with Murphy, so the obvious conclusion that people will reach is that they are aiding the Labour campaign.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Scottish Cuisine: Haggis

Haggis is a traditional Scottish delicacy, made all the more delightful these days by being smothered in batter and then deep fried. The one you can see in this photo provided me with last evening's meal and went down a treat. As you can see, it is accompanied by a smallish portion of Scottish salad, or chips as they are sometimes called in England.

In case you are wondering, haggis consists of  sheep lungs, heart and liver, all chopped up and then mixed with oatmeal. Traditionally it is cooked in the animal's stomach lining, but these days artificial casings tend to be used. 

Friday 17 April 2015

Miliband won the challengers' debate

Last night's event was called the challengers' debate because neither Cameron nor Clegg were there. Cameron had made it plain that he wasn't going to attend so the BBC didn't invite him. Did you watch it? I suspect not, since it was a bit like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark, and only Survation bothered to conduct a poll to decide the winner. Their result was Miliband 37, Sturgeon 31, Farage 27, Bennett 5 and Wood 2.

The only high spot came when Farage made the quite legitimate point that mass immigration means that demand for housing is far outstripping supply, and the audience began to jeer. In other words what we had was a fairly typical, well-fed, ample-bottomed, BBC audience that is made up of people who cannot even imagine what it is like to be anything other than comfortable and middle class.

Farage took the opportunity to claim that the audience was rigged, and the moderator, David Dimbleby pointed out that it had been chosen from a polling company's panel. I suspect that exchange will be tomorrow's headlines as Farage was clearly stumped and struggled to reply

It was rigged of course, since those panels are made up of people like me, who do it out of interest and for the odd few quid that comes our way. That skews things away from your average punter and towards the political animals. Then you have to find people from the panel who live where the debate is taking place and are willing to go to it. That tends to exclude the people who actually work for a living and are tired at the end of the day, or who have to go home to cook a meal and look after the kids. However, it includes the comfortable middle class who spend their days sitting in offices and who may even have nannies to look after their whelps. So no, the BBC did not rig the audience, but that isn't to say that the audience wasn't rigged. That said, Farage got his message out to his people sitting at home, so he probably won't be too bothered about the studio audience.

Sturgeon can also be rather chuffed since she made her visceral hatred of the Tories very plain to everyone. She then went on to invite Miliband to work with her party to ensure that no matter who wins the most seats next month, the scummy Tories are kicked out of office. Obviously, Miliband could not agree to that since he has candidates of his own in Scotland, but his replies were measured and thoughtful, so Labour has plenty of wriggle room after the votes are in.

As for Miliband, he came over very much as a Prime Minster in waiting, which was clearly his intention. I wish he would stop sounding like a satnav's robotic voice, and there were times when I wanted to throw something at the screen when he trotted out the "hard working families" line once to often, but he did enough to encourage Labour voters in England to turn out next month and vote for his party.

Now that the debates are over I think I can conclude that Miliband has done more than enough overall to humanise himself and allow people to see the real Labour man that he is, rather than the caricature that the Tories wanted people to see. He is not as left wing as I would like, but there is enough of the old Labour Party in him to encourage the lost voters to return to the fold.

Sturgeon has been magnificent throughout and has shown time and again that this is not about independence, it really is about getting the Tories out and putting some stiffening into Labour's backbone. 

Farage comes in third in my list. During the course of these debates he has done enough to steady his vote at around 14 percent and halt what seemed to be a steady decline into oblivion. Whether that decline will start again is another matter, but it is true to say that UKIP's position at the moment owes everything to him.

With three weeks to go, everything is still to play for.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

When Robin Grey, ukelele man, told David Cameron: "Fuck off back to Eton"

What is it about the political right and their love of young men with closely cropped hair and cheap suits? One such specimen tried to intimidate a busker, of all people, during yesterday's walkabout by David Cameron in the border constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The ludicrous result is that the video is now all over the web, and Cameron's visit has been forgotten because all anyone can talk about is the day the busker came face to face with the goon. Here's the video clip that has the whole world whistling along:

Robin Grey is the name of the hero who ruined Cameron's day, and here is is with his nan enjoying a jamming session  as they try to improve on the lyric that came into his head yesterday as he saw Cameron heading towards him:

It's still very much a work in progress, and somebody needs to tell him to always hold the mobile 'phone horizontally to make the clip look better. That said, I'm betting that a polished version will be uploaded soon so that we can all sing it during the next three weeks should David Cameron be foolish enough to ever again venture out amongst real people.

Which he probably won't.

Monday 13 April 2015

Jim Murphy is put in his place over no cuts pledge

No wonder Jim "Spud" Murphy looks even more puzzled than usual. He spent the weekend telling us that there would be no cuts and the Labour manifesto out today gives us more than a few. Now it is true that I still think people in England should vote Labour, but that is against a backdrop of a strong vote for the SNP in Scotland to make sure that the cuts are kept to a minimum or dropped altogether.

In a BBC interview, Chuka Umunna who is the Labour business spokesman, felt constrained to put Spud in his place and remind him that Labour is led from London, and not Edinburgh:

I think we can fairly easily conclude from this exchange, which admittedly was forced out of Umunna, that Labour has pretty much given up on Scotland.

That does not mean that people in England should go off and vote for the Monster Raving Loonies, or the Greens, as a protest. Labour manifesto has enough in it to justify a vote south of the River Tweed, but smoothie-chops like young Chuka here are motivated by a desire to get their snouts in the Westminster troughs more than they are by socialist ideology, or indeed any ideology at all. 

So they may try for cuts, but will probably not go down to the wire over them, because at the end of the day, staying in office is all that matters to people like this.

So a vote for the SNP in Scotland makes more and more sense, even to people who do not support the idea of Scottish independence. If you want to ensure that Labour does not implement cuts, then make sure that there is a large SNP cohort who will allow Labour's placemen and troughers to keep their place at the trough, in return to avoiding cuts to our services.

First thoughts on Labour's election manifesto

Labour's 2015 election manifesto is now out, and here are my first thoughts:

Increase the top rate of tax to 50% and abolish non-domicile tax status and zero hour contracts. People will be talking about the pledges to reduce the deficit, but these policies are the ones that will play on the estates. We have been waiting for years for a Labour pledge to start the shafting of the wealthy and their middle class stooges and this is a good start. The end of zero hours contracts is the icing on the cake.

The mansion tax idea should also play well, and marks a clear break with New Labour. Taxing homes worth more than £2,000,000 will hit the London aspirational scrote element, but provides the government with money and the rest of us with free entertainment.

Following on from that, the pledge to wage war on tax avoiders should also play well. Far more is lost each year by the rich not paying their taxes than it is by the poor being disingenuous with their benefit claim forms. Abolishing the bedroom tax should also play very well, come to think about it.

More security of tenure for people renting their homes is also promised as is a new campaign of house building. I am sad to see that the abolition of the right to buy council houses which we in Scotland now enjoy is not to be extended to the rest of the country, but this is a start at trying to solve the housing crisis.

On the constitutional front, there is a pledge to replace the House of Lords with a Senate that would represent the four home countries and, possibly, the English regions. A bill is also promised to follow on the Tory plan of devolution to the major English city-regions.

It is possible that the abolition of the Lords will end up as another failure, but to be fair even the Tories are unhappy about the sheer numbers of peers who currently sit in that chamber, so this one may surprise us by passing. The city bill looks a dead cert, since it is already Tory government policy and Labour would just be running with that idea.

Finally, Trident can be kicked into the long grass with the promise of a strategic defence review. The Tories know damn well that Britain cannot afford this system, which is why they have not given the green light to update it. A defence review gives Labour the chance to finally drop the nonsense.

People will complain about future cuts and pledges to get the deficit down, but no dates are given with the deficit pledge, so it may become a long-term strategy aim. As for the cuts to benefits, British claimants have more chance derailing Labour cuts than they do with the Tories. Tony Blair tried to cut disability benefits, but the claimants put paid to that idea, so it is possible that claimants will be able to defend themselves against any Miliband cuts.

So, not as radical as I would like, but there is enough meat here to please most English and Welsh people who are sick and tired of being reminded about New Labour and its years.

Labour's campaign in East Kilbride has fallen apart

As Labour struggles to make any headway in Scotland, several of their senior figures appear to have given everything up as a bad job and gone on holiday. Liz Anne Handibode, who will contest the Holyrood constituency of East Kilbride next year is currently in the Dolomites having refused to campaign for Michael McCann, pictured left, who sits for the Westminster version of the seat. At least one other senior Holyrood figure has also decided that sunning himself in Majorca is preferable to campaigning  in Scotland.

What seems to be happening in East Kilbride is an internal feud between Westminster and Holyrood based factions, with more than one councillor siding with the Holyrood cohort. They all seem to hate each other more than they do the SNP, with the result that Labour's campaign in East Kilbride has pretty much ground to a halt.

None of this has anything to do with politics, but Labour in West Coast Scotland has little to do with politics, either. Traditionally the party was the political wing of the Catholic Church, and its party bosses operated in the old machine way by giving out a few goodies here and there to the voters, and rather a lot of goodies to favoured friends and local businessmen.

The problem here is that McCann by all accounts has all the warmth of a freshly embalmed corpse, and has managed to alienate the lesser bosses who now want to see him out - even if that means losing the seat to the SNP.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Scottish Cuisine: Donner Calzones

What wonders of the gastronomic art are to be found in this humble box, is that what I hear you cry?

Wonder no more, for 'tis a donner calzone. Yes, Scotland has combined the succulent delight of a traditional calzone pizza with donner kebab meat to give the world an amuse bouche to savour.

It consists of thin pizza dough, with the traditional base of tomato sauce and cheese, and a layer of onions. Then a gut busting amount of donner kebab meat is piled on top and the dough is then folded over to make the parcel, before being cooked for about five minutes in the pizza oven.

I had my first ever donner calzone tonight and trust me when I say that I can already feel my arteries hardening. All that for £8.50, with extra sauce thrown in free. What more can any man ask for?

By the way, excuse the mess in my kitchen, but after five years of this uncaring Tory government, what can you expect?

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Nicola Sturgeon emerged bloody but unbowed from the first Scottish Leaders' debate

If you missed the first Scottish leaders' debate on Tuesday, then don't worry because there was no great game changer. That came in spite of the fact that Nicola Sturgeon was clearly rattled on a couple of occasions from an audience that was not as friendly as she is used to these days. That said, she more than held her own, and the forward march of the SNP will continue apace.

The audience was chosen by STV "based both on current opinion polls and the last general election result," according to the TV station. They don't tell us how they weighted the polls with the last election, because in 2010 the SNP polled badly and today they are riding high in the polls. It looked to me as if the audience owed more to the 2010 vote than it did to today's voting intentions.

Sturgeon's low point came when she was asked about another independence referendum and quite clearly ruled it out since this election is not about Scottish independence. She was then bowled a low ball which caught her out when she was challenged to do the same in 2016. She gave the obvious answer which was to say that she preferred to fight one election at a time, but that did not go down well with many in the audience who began to groan at the thought of another plebiscite.

She still seemed to be on shaky ground when Jim Murphy, the Scottish Labour leader, pressed her to say if she wanted Ed Miliband as Prime Minister. The obvious answer was to say that the SNP does not care who the leader is, and would work with anyone, even a vegetarian, teetotal weirdo like Jim Murphy. Instead she answered that she was offering to help put Miliband in office, which gave Spud Murphy the chance to reply: "Nicola, we don't need your help." Actually, Labour does, as Sturgeon then shot back, so that round was a draw by my scoring.

Murphy stored up some potential trouble for the future by repeating the old lie that the biggest party forms the government. Those idiotic porkies will come back to haunt Labour if the party finishes second in terms of seats, but has a majority courtesy of the SNP. Obviously, New Labour's troughers will not pass up the opportunity to grab ministerial office, but they will be in for a rough ride from a Tory opposition baying for blood.

Probably the best performance of the night came from Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader. Since the SNP was coming in from the left, and Murphy was desperately trying to pretend that his outfit is also still leftist, that created quite a lot of space that Davidson could occupy on the right which went unchallenged. The disadvantage she had, something which was shared with Willie Rennie of the Lib-Dems, is that nobody really cares what either of them thinks. This election is between the SNP and Labour.

Given that, and even allowing for Sturgeon's shakiness in parts, this debate will be unlikely to influence anyone in any way. The poll lead that the SNP enjoys is based on something more than a rational weighing of the arguments heard in a debate. People who have voted Labour for generations are now sick and tired of being treated like election fodder by a party that scarcely exists as anything other than an election machine to get Labour troughers their fill of Westminster swill.

The forward march of the SNP continues unabated.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

The SNP aims for an inclusive campaign

Now that Easter is over the election campaign can get into full gear but only the SNP have a fully staffed campaign shop here in Edinburgh North and Leith. I wandered along there to grab a few window posters for myself, and to give out to anyone on my street who fancies one.

I was taken with the badges that were being handed out, especially the one that you can see on the left. The SNP logo is obvious at the top, but other than that the badge is aimed at people like me who hate the Tories, but are afraid that Labour is just too keen on keeping the votes of the aspirational scrote element in Southern England to worry about the rest of us.

The man running the shop was quite happy to admit that this election is not about independence, it is about making sure that the Tories are slung out and that the new Labour government is held to account by as many SNP Members of Parliament as possible.

That suits me down to the ground.

Sunday 5 April 2015

Nicola Sturgeon offers Labour something we can all say yes to

The nonsense about Nicola Sturgeon's supposed comments have been pretty thoroughly debunked, in that everyone involved has accepted that she is not working towards another Tory government. Now Sturgeon has put the silliness beyond doubt by throwing down a challenge to Ed Miliband. To quote her own words: “If together our parties have the parliamentary numbers required after 7 May, and regardless of which is the biggest party, will he and Labour join with us in locking David Cameron out of Downing Street?”

Obviously Ed Miliband cannot agree to this wheeze until the polls close on the 7th May, as to do so would be to cast his 59 candidates adrift in the whole of Scotland. However, the message to the people in England is quite clear: no matter who wins in Scotland, an anti-Tory will be elected next month. It is now up to working people in England to put aside whatever doubts they have about Labour and vote for Ed's team.

Just a week ago I travelled south and spent a few days in the Eccles district of Salford. It's poor, drab and should be chomping at the bit to get  Tory scum out of office. Instead apathy seems to reign with people telling me the old story that "they are all the same," and that "the parties are only in it for themselves."

Sure, Labour is not offering a golden dawn lit by the glowing rays of socialism, but it is offering the people in Eccles something better than the shit sarnie which is what the Tories want them to bite down on.

So you do your bit by voting Labour and we will do ours by casting a ballot for the SNP: that's something that we can both say Yes to!

Friday 3 April 2015

Nicola Sturgeon is smeared as a secret Tory backer

The Daily Telegraph has reported the contents of a confidential government memorandum which gives a third-hand account of a meeting between Nicola Sturgeon and the French ambassador to the UK in February of this year. The memo was drawn up by a civil servant based upon a telephone call with the French Consul-General who reported what he had been told by the ambassador.

According to this memo, Sturgeon said that she preferred Cameron to Miliband because she did not see the latter as being all that prime ministerial.

Sturgeon has denied saying any such thing and all we have is a Telegraph report of a memo that was written by a man who was not in the meeting, either. That said, we can expect the Tory press to jump on this bandwagon with glee as will the Labour Party in Scotland.

Assuming that the memo is broadly true, Does it matter that Sturgeon has a higher regard for Cameron than she does for Miliband? It strikes me as being neither here nor there. As a politician she leads a party that hates the Tories and is willing to work with Labour. She will not wreck her party by doing anything other than working with Miliband, whatever her private reservations are about him.

That said, I am fascinated to learn that the British government has leaked a confidential government document with the aim of causing a rift within the SNP and helping Labour. The first I can sort of understand, even though it is pretty dodgy. However the second only gives credence to the claim that there is not much to choose between Labour and Tory.

All the more reason to vote SNP I would have thought. As for Sturgeon, she should feel rather pleased that she is now regarded as being so dangerous that she is worthy of an official Tory government smear.

Update, 11.55pm: A BBC reporter claims that the French Consul-General denies making any such claims in his telephone call with the British civil servant.

Tory attack advert actually helps Labour and the SNP

Hard though it may be for you to believe but I am running an official Tory campaign video on this here blog of mine. I know, I can't believe it either, but if the silly sods in Tory Central Office are going to provide Labour and the SNP with valuable agitprop like this then I would be a mug not to take advantage of their utter stupidity.

I can understand the strategy behind this is to scare their core voters back into line with the sphincter-clenching thought that Labour may return to power with the support of the SNP. Then, horror of horrors, the new government might even put forward policies that appeal to ordinary people, as opposed to those that are aimed at the saloon bar fascists and their pursed-lipped, cruelly permed wives.

The problem with this wheeze is that a lot of Labour voters in England have given up on a party that has taken them for granted for far too many years as it chases after the aspirational scrote vote in Southern England. After last night's debate when Nicola Sturgeon appealed directly to English voters by telling them that the SNP would work positively with Labour, those voters could very well turn out to cast a ballot for Labour, knowing full well that the SNP will pull the party to the left. This advert actually reinforces that view and that is why it is actually better for Labour than it is for the Tories.

Miliband is to the left of most of his party, so without the SNP he will be pulled rightward. However, with a large SNP cohort in Westminster, Miliband has a perfect cover that he can use to put forward leftist policies that appeal to the council estates. Let's face it, he can blame the SNP, can't he?

Come on the English: get out of your chairs and vote Labour on the 7th May and leave the rest to Scotland and the SNP. 

It's what the Tories are dreading the most!

Who won the seven leaders' debate?

From the point of view of someone who wants to see the Tories out of office next month, here is my take on the seven leaders' debate that took place last night.

Nigel Farage won the event by my reckoning. Alone amongst today's party leaders he is used to making soapbox style public speeches, often to audiences that have been infiltrated by the SWP's mentally defective membership. He got his points across clearly, with the obvious aim of trying to energise his base and stop the rot in his party's poll ratings. I particularly liked the way that he dealt with Nicola Sturgeon's jibe that he probably blamed foreigners for everything. Instead of shouting back he just grinned and shook his head, leading the viewers to conclude that she had just lost the plot with that one.

Sturgeon came in a close second to Farage, and made a direct appeal to the rest of the UK. The message was that Labour voters in England and Wales can relax as her SNP will work with Labour to ensure that the Tories will be out of office next month. She played down the whole independence schtick, and concentrated on putting forward anti-austerity policies that will play in Labour's Scottish heartlands. Those polices will also play in Labour's English seats, so the subliminal message was that it is OK to vote for Labour south of the River Tweed because Auntie Nicola will make sure that Labour people get more of what they want from a Labour government kept in power by her gang.

Funnily enough, it was interesting to see how neither Sturgeon nor Ed Miliband attacked each other directly. That fact leads to the obvious conclusion that talks about talks, at least, have already begun between the two parties. 

I put Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru as joint second with Sturgeon, but everyone else had her way down the list. She ignored the rest of the country and played directly to her Welsh voters, which is fair enough for a party that is trailing UKIP in the Welsh opinion polls. I liked the way that she always called her party Plaid Cymru - the party of Wales, as that was an obvious attempt to get away from her Welsh language heartland and appeal to the bulk of the population in Wales who are quite happy to speak English. Leading on from that she concentrated on economic matters rather than linguistic or cultural ones, but whether that will be enough to persuade the bulk of the population to come onside is another matter. It was a great performance though.

Ed Miliband was next in my list. First of all he came over as thoughtful and articulate, but he was let down by the need as Labour sees it to appeal to the English aspirational scrote vote in the Midlands and South. However, he overcame the Tory smear that he is little more than a weird geek, and emerged as a personable bloke that people could warm to as he spoke. That said, he was seen to either swallow hard or gulp, seemingly in response to a jibe from Cameron. It may have been coincidental, but the image creates the narrative, and Miliband really needs to work on things like that to ensure they don't happen too often.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg spent the night arguing about which of them will get the dog and video collection in the divorce settlement. Clegg emerged as the more personable of the two, with Cameron coming over as a man who is going through the motions. I suspect he knows that his leadership will end along with his time in office next month.

Finally we had Natalie Bennett of the Greens who was as amateurish and appalling as ever. The Green vote is sagging and if there is any justice in the world after that performance it will now go into free-fall.

To conclude, Farage probably did more than enough to bolster his sagging vote, which should keep enough Tory voters inside the UKIP tent and help Labour enormously. Sturgeon and Miliband looked forward to a Labour government backed by the SNP, and together they did nothing to frighten anyone away from that prospect. Wood did nothing to rock that boat which means that there will be another three or so anti-Tory seats in Wales that will back Miliband. Finally, the threat to Labour from the posturing Green ninnies probably ended as just about everyone in the country realised how silly they are.
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