Wednesday, May 30, 2007
My brother likes to comment that I am the "last man standing" when it comes to people who actually think it's a good TV show. I'm sure this won't prove to be the case when red-tops sales go through the roof and the Friday phone-ins hit the millions once again. I have always wondered why people draw comparisons between number of Big Brother/X-Factor votes and General Election votes when...
(1) You can vote in Big Brother phone-ins as many times as you want
(2) You don't have to venture out in the rain to your local primary school to cast a vote but merely switch your mobile on
and most signifcantly of all
(3) 12-17 year olds, who I am sure are the bulk of reality TV votes, are not allowed to vote for members of parliament. (Voting age should really be dropped to 16 though in my eyes, not just because youngsters tend to be more nationalist in their outlook)
Anyway, I've never voted for the show but the project of squeezing 14 random people, all of different race, religion, size and sexuality, and seeing how they get on under one roof (a smoke-free zone from July 1st) is highly intriguing. We can all imagine, from the comfort of our couches, how we would cope in there, who would we bond with, who would we come to blows with, and more crucially why....? Like it or lump it, these 14 people are an example of the people we share this country with and how we mix is very important. Look to Bradford and Burnley and large pockets of communities that just do not get on whatsoever. It doesn't really matter whether it's the ethnic minorities' fault for not embracing the culture around them or the mainstream 'British' peoples' fault for being too suspicious and not embracing these new people. The problem itself needs to be identified, and I genuinely think that Big Brother has a part to play in assessing whether we hold any prejudices deep within us.
Who wrote Pete off as a total weirdo when he walked in with his tourettes on day 1? Who thought Richard was a token gay guy when infact he was the most multi-layered 'contestant' in years? And who thought Imogen was a moody Welsh girl who didn't offer anything to the group at all? Well, ok, I'll give you the third one but my own prejudices were found out with the first two at least.
I'm not actually watching the opening night tonight as I'm off to see Jindabyne (movie culture over tv torture in most people's eyes) but thanks to Catch Up TV I'm sure I'll get my Davinia fix by the time the day is out.
Any comments on why Big Brother is a programme unfit for tv are more than welcome...........
EDIT: Having seen the front pages of the tabloids, I take it all back. My 9pm's are free all summer. Great news!
(I myself had high hopes for the honour of best predictor but sadly I didn't see the demise of the Green party coming and I also got a bit carried away by the pre-election polling data in favour of the SNP)
Friday, May 25, 2007
What am I talking about? Scroll down to the 2nd last comment here:
Sadly I deleted the original blog entry but I bet that the next word I used after the one's quoted above was "but".
Touche you feisty Lib Dems, touche...
Monday, May 21, 2007
My local supermarket is Sainsbury's and the chances of me picking up fruit, veg or (let's be honest) a frozen pizza from overseas is fairly high. This is despite a number of fine local butchers, fruit and veg shops and other specialised food places (Valvona & Crolla and the superb Tattie Shaw's at the top of Leith Walk spring to mind). I'll gloss over the fact that these 2 places, like most Butcher's, close at 5pm and I haven't been set free from work before that time in ages.
But still, I think the mindset of automatically turning to the big supermarkets when we need food should be overturned. And apparently this is a mindset that Scotland, of all the UK regions, fares worst at. I have no quarrel with Tesco making stupidly high profits (except for the squeeze they put on their suppliers) but if a company is successful then fine. They put billions back into society through taxes so fair's fair. The two main reasons for going local has to be the following:
1 - Climate change. Yes, today's political hot potato. I'm sure some people are already glazing over a bit with this one, wondering why it hasn't run out of puff but it really isn't going to go away. Hurricane season is upon us and will be a timely reminder that having a dinner plate with food flown in from New Zealand, South America, Spain and China really isn't necessary when we have damn good farmers and breeders here in Scotland. The sooner we balance out the level of pay in countries across the world the quicker it will be more cost-effective to buy local food rather than the ridiculously cheap (but environmentally expensive) foreign stuff.
2 - Support your local farmer. Well, not just the farmers but all the local food merchants are also our neighbours and contribute to the same tax fund that we all enjoy. If these companies go to the wall then we have to pay for it, if they are successful then we reap the financial benefits aswell as getting to eat their fine food. A part of me sees this as small-minded as Polish farmers need support just as much as a Scottish farmer. One could argue they need even more support but as long as Polish people buy from Polish producers and Scottish people from Scottish producers, then it should all pan out in the end. I actually thought the SNP might have pushed this ideology a bit further, a "let's take care of each other" approach but maybe it wouldn't have played too well in the media.
So yes, I have (for example) started to pick up bits of lovely looking lamb and then put it straight back down again when I see it's from New Zealand and not Aberdeen. There is a rewarding sense of pride in having thought about what I am buying and eating, how it will affect the local economy and how far it's had to travel to land on my plate (unless I ruin it during cooking and it goes straight into the bin!). I urge people to try the same thing and see how they feel about it.
My only problem now is how to cut out the tempting Easyjet and Ryanair flights every few months. There's only so much an energy-saving light bulb can do after all!
My feeling is there is no national appetite for a separate Scottish Olympics team. Personally speaking, I could not be more ambivalent on the issue. I love the stories of some Chinese guy training for the hurdles since he was standing or an Australian girl who spent more of her childhood in a pool than out of it. I also love to support the local Scottish people who are successful enough in their field to compete at the highest level. They will still be Scottish whether they compete in a British squad or a national squad so really, I'm not too fussed in that regard.
The argument (that I've just thought of now) that a Scottish squad would allow more Scottish athletes to take part in the competition through there being extra teams and an extra few atheltes in each discipline is a convincing one. But then, would a Scottish relay sprint team, or rowing team, or badminton team even qualify to the Olympics proper without the undoubted benefits of competing with our English/Welsh/Northern Irish brothers and sisters. One could argue that the benefits of extra places is cancelled out by not being able to qualify for half of the disciplines.
So I can't help but think that Alex Salmond is barking up the wrong tree on this one, he's going to get (at best) a lukewarm reaction in the debating chamber and it's not going to carry in the press that Salmond is fighting for Scotland as, well, noone really cares. It's not the same as the nuclear power, Rosyth and Iraq War situations where the SNP already have public support on their side. I am sure noone really cares either way about how our Olympic athletes are represented. After all, if there was a contest for political apathy, Scotland would be gold medal contenders.
Personally, I actually think Duncan McLean's £3,300 quad bike claim actually stacks up. He has a large constituency, he has MS and he has to attend many agricultural fairs. And I wouldn't wish a disability scooter on anyone!
But generally speaking, his bill is just plain wrong. Any other organsiation could some up with a similar slippery reason that Westminster has for getting out of having to disclose information. Other organisations just don't have the convenience of being able to pass laws in their favour.
So what can be done? Well, since this is the UK people aren't exactly going to take to the streets, decrying the corrupt nature of this decision. So, instead, I propose that any readers of this blog read the list of MPs who voted for this and give them a polite request for a clear reason why they thought it was a good idea.
My own MP Mark Lazarowicz is not on the list.
Incidentally, if anyone wants to try opening my eyes as to why this is actually a good bill to pass then please go ahead with a comment.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Typically excellent stuff from Mr Galloway there, I must confess I do love the man.
Mind you, if his quote is to be believed, it does make you wonder why so many Labourites are so keen to win the "middle ground" !
Under Blair we now have devolution for a start, without which this blog and many more wouldn't be here today, let alone Scotland's chance to make a better job of running its own affairs. Interest rates are being controlled by the significantly more competent Bank of England and are relatively low at 5.5%. Even though my mortgage is bound to be taking another battering from next month, economically Blair (and Brown) did manage to steady the ship for as long as could be expected given the state of the world at the moment. Britain may be on a downward slope right now, but it's not as steep a one as most other advanced countries are freefalling down.
Mr Blair has had a real crack at education, crime, jobs, fairer tax and health. Of those, the Labour team have perhaps dropped the ball over health, losing money hand over fist but waiting times are down and you're more likely to get yourself fixed now than you were a decade ago. Not to be overlooked is the fact that the Olympics are just around the corner from London which is a fine swoop for any government.
By and large, I think he has a lot to be proud of and perhaps it'll only be once he finally leaves his office that he'll get the plaudits that he deserves. If only he hadn't had a rush of blood to the head over Iraq then it would have been a 5 star performance overall, but even then I trust that he felt it was the right course of action and respect that.
So, enjoy your retirement Mr Blair. You can be quietly satisfied that you've given your old friend Gordon a heck of a lot to live up to.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Well, despite my last post I can't really be bothered setting up a new blog just now. Who knows, a seat might be up for grabs in a by-election and then the number crunching can begin in earnest once again.
In the meantime, it's all a bit anti-climatic after the election, I'm just writing this to keep from cobwebs forming here basically. So much drama a week ago and now it seems Scotland is patiently waiting to see what happens with the Greens. SNP and Lib Dems. Personally, I think people are being a bit too patient. Time is marching on and I can't see for certain that Alex Salmond will be First Minister just yet. I have been impressed with how Alex has played his hand thus far. I'd personally love him to drop the referendum and see what move the Lib Dem's make but I can appreciate the reasons why he can't really do that given that it's policy number 1 for the nationalists. And at the same time, it's fair that the Lib Dem's can't give in to backing a referendum in any way given their unequivocal position before the election.
As for backing a First Minister, to be honest, I don't know the rules of the game here. If all parties except Labour and SNP abstain, and the SNP win the FM vote 47 to 46, then I presume Alex Salmond will be First Minister. If a majority of 65 votes is needed then I can't imagine the Lib Dems voting for Alex Salmond, though they (or the Tories) would be held responsible for an almighty mess if they forced us into another election. And, as delighted as I'd be to reassess who would win where in a new election, I really don't think the SNP would win out this time.
But hopefully soon enough the Lib Dems will back down and form a coalition, or the SNP will put the referendum on the backburner for the full 4 years rather than 3, or the minority SNP government will get down to business. Anything to see Margo McDonald in the hot seat really which will be, em, interesting....! Quite a change from the solid George Reid. And although I think Margo will bring some life and colour to proceedings, I am a bit worried that some days could descend into farce with the good lady in charge. I went to a student politics debate back in the day, and I have to say, she doesn't half bang on relentlessly sometimes. I can't really remember her making much sense either to be perfectly honest.
Anyway, someone needs to do it so why not the only independent in the house.
Incidentally, I have been told a very strong rumour that Nicola Sturgeon is going to be the next Health Minister for Scotland. You heard it here first!
(PS No real reason for that title other than that I've had the song stuck in my head all day)
Monday, May 7, 2007
But blogging has been far too enjoyable to stop altogether, so I am throwing up a competition to name my new blog (mainly cos I've racked my brain and can't think of anything). Regular readers will probably know what I'm all about and what I stand for but just to confirm, I'm fairly independent in my outlook to Scottish Politics but have a definite leaning towards the SNP's policies, if not their main one of independence for Scotland. I aim for the blog to throw up some thoughts on whatever the general Scottish chat of the day is.
Not sure what prize I can offer but so far, a chap called Daniel (whose blog I can't access for some reason) has inadvertently suggested www.reliablyoptimistic.blogspot.com. Can anyone do any better?
So the way I see it the SNP have two fairly clear options which will lead to 4 potential outcomes:
Option (1) Persist with trying to include the independence referendum in any coalition agreement
Option (2) Drop the referendum for this 4-year term and test whether the Lib Dem's want to play a part in government under their own terms
I make it the 4 outcomes from the above are:
If option (1) Either the Lib Dems will crack and decide they do want to play a part in the Holyrood cabinet after all, and they'll receive more than their fair share of power given their lowly number of seats. This is highly unlikely, the Lib Dems have been too decisive and too adamant about the referendum question to suddenly change their mind.
Or, still sticking with option (1), the Lib Dems will continue to refuse to deal with the SNP and we'll be stuck with what currently looks likely, a minority SNP administration that the rival parties will happily try to tear strips off. The SNP will play the "we're trying our best to put good policies through but those nasty parties keep voting against us". All a bit childish from each party and at the end of the day, nothing gets done and Scotland loses out. I think I'd rather another election than this state of affairs.
If option (2), I suspect the Lib Dems will still find another reason aside from the referendum to refuse to team up with the SNP. The rumours regarding Gordon Brown and Ming Campbell teaming up to undermine the SNP make a lot of sense and I can also imagine Nicol Stephen not needing much persuasion from Ming as he probably wouldn't mind a 4 year period of recuperation and finding what it is exactly the Lib Dems stand for.
But hopefully, if option (2) is followed, the Lib Dems will be satisfied and come to the table with Alex as FM and Nicol his deputy. Together the 2 parties have a cracking set of policies on them and to let something as stupid as a referendum stand in their way (one that would not result in a "yes" even if it did happen), well, it's just a bit silly really.
I know most SNP supporters urgently seek Scottish independence but I really think they need some patience. If Alex Salmond pushes too hard with this referendum, and May 30th passes without a First Minister in place, I am quite sure the electorate will just put Labour back in. Either directly or through voting in a bunch of Greens/Socialists/independents to squeeze out the SNP's superb regional results from last week. In my mind, pushing the independence thing isn't too far away from happily bashing one's head against a brick wall. The wall being more of an impenetrable source than the head is an unstoppable object.
The SNP need to go with their non-bashing heads and not their hearts on this one. So Alex, please back down on the referendum for now, look to 2011+ for the independece debate and concentrate on the raft of fine policies and impressive personalities that can make all the difference in a devolved Scotland.
Call the Lib Dem bluff.
Friday, May 4, 2007
It does feel good. A truly historic 18 hours involving a rollercoaster of emotions, the slight taste of alcohol after some celebratory drinks (albeit with non-SNP supporting friends) and the prospect of a very exciting 4 years ahead.
I did get labelled smug by a few friends tonight, but an inane grin displaying nothing other than genuine delight was mistaken for something it wasn't. This is the last kind of election that anyone should be smug about. The SNP did win the popular vote and did win the most seats and have a perfectly valid right to be the leading partners in a coalition, but any one of umpteen small factors could have quite easily given a slender lead for Labour instead.
Basically, the SNP have to keep away from the extremes of claiming a tubthumping victory, a ringing endorsement for independence, and being so insecure about their slender lead that they are rabbits in the debating chamber's headlights. They have a mandate, but within reason.
But it's still the honeymoon period, still time to look back on the past 24 hours and relive it all!
So, here goes...
Highlight of the night - Personally, it was the sudden flashing up onscreen of "Stirling - SNP Gain". I thought it so unlikely a win that I didn't even think about it before it happened (not that that actually makes any sense). It also signalled the beginning of the comeback for the SNP as the regional votes started to come in later that morning.
Low point of the night - There were many actually, I guess I'm not as optimistic as I often think I am.
Having read Jamie Hepburn's blog so often for the past few months, it was such a shame that he didn't take Cumbernauld & Kilsyth. It somehow made it all the more bittersweet that Jamie was on the podium with his wife (and fellow blogger) to hear the unfortunate news. The 'Andrew Wilson' factor and the fact that the area is a fairly solid Labour seat in the Central region were overlooked somewhat in the run-up.
Coupled to this, I think it was around 3am at this point and I had decided that it just wasn't going to happen for the SNP. It was a real funk to be honest. I could tell I wasn't looking my cheeriest as my brother was secretly hiding all the knives and locking the windows shut. Ok, so it's a ground floor flat but he's very considerate my brother and didn't want me to skin my knees in any rash, childish, unsuccessful acts of suicide.
FPTP losses for Aileen Campbell, Christine Grahame, Fiona Hyslop and many others followed and given that I didn't foresee the SSP/Solidarity and Green collapse in the regional vote, my heart sank. The thought of another 4 years of Jack McConnell's not-so-dulcet tones filling the debating chamber as First Minister was, well, let's not go there again...
Newcomer of the night - Everyone seems very impressed with Joe Fitzpatrick, including all my non-SNP mates this evening. Speaking without notes, freely expressing his own thoughts, comfortably gracious and grateful. It was a fine display and he's already set himself up well for the next 4 years.
Sartorial moment of the night - Brian Taylor's simply awesome tie and braces combo. A spread in GQ is surely in the offing.
Rant of the night - Jackson Carlaw gave a good rant. I didn't understand what he was getting at until I realised it was the procedures in the counting hall that he was talking about. He showed a good common touch with the "Deal or No Deal" line and since he actually had a point, I think Pauline McNeill has to take the dubious honour of biggest rant. The second seat of the night, so a fairly large tv audience and she decides to let rip with a fairly loose tirade of nonsense.
Disaster of the night - The Socialists have to take this but it's no great surprise really. Breaking up such a delicately placed party into two amid tales of sleaze and backstabbing. What a shambles. Thank you Tommy and Colin, tonight wouldn't have been possible without you.
Party of the night - It has to be the SNP's knees up which could only be described as a shindig from what I saw of it on TV. What better advert to join the nationalists and get involved in the party at such an exciting time.
PS With regard to the voting issues, is it just me or was it not just a bunch of voters who were faulty rather than the system?
A positively stonking reult for the SNP 'winning' the election by a single seat, how the Highlands and Islands managed to squeeze in 2 SNP MSPs on the list I'll never know.
So it looks like an SNP, Lib Dem and Green government. My perfect result so I'm a happy man tonight.
What a weekend we have in store.
Have a good night boys and girls, whether you're popping the champagne corks or drowning in your sorrows.
This brings it back to level pegging and I am beginning to think there will be 1 in it or a draw overall.
My current prediction, updated for all known results:
Lib Dems 18
Jean Turner 0
Argyll and Bute could make or break the SNP's night.
But the only regions to be called in their entirety are the Labour heartlands of Glasgow and Central, and also South where the SNP were shut out.
And despite this, the Nationalists are somehow only 3 seats behind!?! Surely they are favourites with North East and the Highlands and Edinburgh still to come...
Wow I wish I didn't have to work today.....
Still a cracking result, 5 to SNP and 1 apiece for Lib Dem and Tory.
The gains in the list are making up for the FPTP disappointment. This is a truly fascinating election, just wish I wasn't at work and I could crunch some numbers!
Lib Dems 18
Jean Turner 1
3 regions counted so far and all but 5 of the 21 seats have gone to the SNP.
Whoever devised the plan of "Alex Salmond for First Minister" on the second vote deserves a massive payrise
I'm getting butterflies....
And believe it or not, I saw for a moment on the BBC that the SNP had taken all 7 seats in the South. I've checked the numbers, given the SNP won zero FPTP seats. It's entirely possible and if it's true signals a positively awful night for the Lib Dems!
Despite my pessimism last night, I now think the SNP are going to take it. By the proverbial nose....
Lib Dems 17
Jean Turner 1
Coupled with Linda Fabiani, Jamie Hepburn and Sandra White I am now becoming more and more sure that SNP have just come a little bit too short. Or rather, the Scottish public wimped out of voting for the nationalists despite claims they would mere weeks ago.
It makes you wonder how low Labour will have to go before they can be ousted in Scotland. Jack is a shambles, and came as close to admitting it as any leader ever would, the Scottish Labour party in general has lacked drive, ambition and direction, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are extremely unpopular at the moment and the SNP ran a blisteringly good campaign.
Where it went wrong? Well, it's difficult to fault the SNP really, I just wish Scottish people were braver and more open to change and mixing things up a bit. The only suggestion I could make for next time for the SNP is to completely park independence, don't give voters a chance to use it as a silly excuse to stop the nationalist party from having their chance to run a devolved Scotland from Holyrood. Suggest that you wouldn't even have a referendum in the first term.
And on that negative, rather depressing note, as I ironically see the sun rising in the east, I shall retire to bed.
Coupled with Linda Fabiani, Jamie Hepburn and Sandra White I am now becoming more and more sure that SNP have just come a little bit too short. Or rather, the Scottish public wimped out of voting for the nationalists despite claims to the latter mere weeks ago.
It makes you wonder how low Labour will have to go before they can be ousted in Scotland. Jack is a shambles, and came as cls=ose to admitting it as any leader ever would. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are extremely unpopular at the moment and the SNP ran a blisteringly good campaign.
Where it went wrong? Well, it's difficult to fault the SNP really, I just wish Scottish people were braver and more open to change and mixing things up a bit. The only suggestion I could make for next time for the SNP is to completely park independence, don't give voters a chance to use it as a silly excuse to stop the nationalist party from having their chance to run a devolved Scotland from Holyrood.
And on that negative, rather depressing note, as I ironically see the sun rising in the east, I shall retire to bed.
It actually hurts me that Labour's tactic of turning the election into a referendum on independence seems to have worked. I'm going to struggle not to think less of my fellow Scots when I wake up in the morning.
(Based on every Labour voter I have spoken to voting for them because they feared independence rather than anything positive about Labour.)
We really need a few surprise results like Stirling again as it's fair to expect Labour to pull ahead otherwise. My biggest hopes are 'surprise' wins for Christine Grahame and Jim Mather.
But, I do really think that the SNP will do really well in the regional vote. So much so that they could still pull away from Labour if they can just stay level with them.
Shame we have to wait until tomorrow for the dust to settle.
Off to crunch some numbers.
Lib Dems 18
Jean Turner 1
Worryingly, Labour have managed to cut the SNP gain from 5 to 2 in a fairly short space of time. Angus Ronertson is talking about "a memorable performance" rather than victory but maybe he's not too pessimistic deep down.
Apparently the Green vote is down, the SSP vote has crumbled and the SNP have had a particularly good night in the list vote so I think the SNP are still slight favourites.
Damn. Trish Godman held onto West Renfrewshire from Bill Wilson and Annabel Goldie. Maybe a tactical vote there might not have been so bad after all! This could decrease the SNP's lead to just one....
He walked it and it just goes to show that an MSP's personality and his relationship with his/her constituents should never be overlooked.
Once again, it seems there is no overall impact as the SNP should nick another regional MSP.
I still have the SNP ahead by 5. The result in Stirling and Glasgow Govan are certainly helping out with that prediction.
This truly is one heck of a night. More coffee for me!
PS Particular apology to Scottish Toryboy who insisted many times that Mr Fergusson would win.
PPS It seems Lib Dems have a precious gain in Dunfermline, Gordon Brown's back garden of course.
The SNP may have been going into this thinking they had a chance in every seat, but if they win just the right amount and in the right places, and pull off a few shocks like Stirling (if it comes true), then this election is still very much all to play for.
I'll be honest, of all the seats, Stirling is one I would absolutely love SNP to take.
But, as was seen in the Airdrie and Shotts seat, there is a large Save Monklands sentiment and therefore Julie McAnulty is in with a great shout of winning a regional seat.
This would drop the SNP's regional haul back down to 3 and make Jamie's loss a genuine one for SNP.
Announcing Gordon now, come on Alex!!
It seems the Conservatives will get an extra regional MSP at the expense of Labour.
So it seemed depressing that Labour held out in Dumfries, but as will happen so often in this election, there is no gain/no loss....
Right, now to see what the Jamie Hepburn shock result will lead to.
And also, Jamie Hepburn losing out in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth is a genuine hammer-blow. My heart went out to him as he stood on the podium with his wife hearing that he has missed out. Very, very painful indeed and tonight has an all too familiar feel to it. It seems polling data doesn't always tell the right story.
I'm going to crunch some numbers to see where the latest shocks have placed my prediction. At least it seems Central Fife is going to the SNP....
The failure to take Glasgow Kelvin is unfortunate but certainly not a hammer blow. The rumour that Hugh Henry is safe on the other hand, is potentially devastating.
I'm feeling very, very nervous right now. After all, my entire student loan is resting on the outcome of this result!
Note that the SNP probably won't make up a regional MSP in the regional count so it really is a shame that Sandra White couldn't quite take it. A very ebullient speech from Pauline McNeill and maybe I'm just a bit bitter at the moment but I can't say I was very impressed.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Not too bad a dent from Marion Fellows from Jack's lead from last time (6,800). An 8% swing in total. Let's see if it continues.
Personally, and you can call me naively optimistic, but I'm disappointed he made it back into his "pigsty" of a constituency.
PS For those who are not in the know, if you "granny someone" then you win something nil. So technically, a 129-0 scoreline is still on for Labour as things currently stand)
Definitely getting very excited now, I think the little bar with 2003's figures is doing it for me. And someone here has gone on to that www.sexymsp.com, some of the comments are offensive and plainly wrong. but many are so funny we have been weeping hot tears. It's like eating a McDonalds burger, you know you shouldn't be doing it but you just can't help it.
It seems Motherwell will be the first seat to be called. My excitement just died a little bit....
To be honest though, it was the Sturgeon wot won it
Aberdeen Central Karen Shirron
Aberdeen North Brian Adam
Aberdeen South Nicol Stephen
Angus Andrew Welsh
Banff & Buchan Stewart Stevenson
Dundee East Shona Robison
Dundee West Joe Fitzpatrick
Gordon Alex Salmond
West Ab & Kinc Mike Rumbles
I really fear for Alex, not because he may have to rely on the list system to get in. Of course Labour would try to make hay out of this but at the end of the day, if the SNP win then Alex has as much right to be First Minister if he was voted in FPTP.
But were he to lose out in Gordon to the Lib Dems (and, let's face it, all the Labour and Tory voters who will probably tactically vote), well his jacket is on a very shoogly nail indeed.
A strong showing from the Greens and a larger than expect Tory vote would be all that would be required to deny Alex his day of destiny.
So of all the regions, it is imperative that those in the North East give the second vote to SNP rather than the Greens. Alex is a first rate politician, arguably Scotland's finest at the moment, and he doesn't deserve to miss out through party politics.
Failing that, Nicola Sturgeon may be First Minister a lot sooner than she would have dared consider.
But now, through these bleary eyes with the bugs presumably flat on their backs from all the excitement of last night, it is the fabled day of the 3rd of May. I remember back in 2003 after a rather lacklustre election night that I had the awful thought of enduring another 4 years before the Holyrood ballot boxes would be counted again. And that wait is now finally over. Not much Politics chat from my work colleagues here, this being a rather large investment management type company, I think there's a lot of Tory voters here so it's maybe understandable that election chat is thin on the ground. But thankfully the lack of SNP voters here seemingly isn't reflected across the land.
The only problem really is that I could quite easily forget to vote, it would be typical behaviour really to await something with patience but much trepidation and then completely forget all about it come the day. Still, my Greek flatmate is in a worse spot. I sat for the umpteenth time last night explaining the electoral system to her, patiently pointing out the reasons why there are no Greens in the constiuency vote. A squeal of "But I want to vote Greens in all 3 boxes!", coupled with a petulant stamp of the foot, would try anyone's nerves.
After a long period of this and similar chiildish nonsense (she's in her late 30s by the way), my flatmate then held up her postal ballot information and asked "so when do I have to send this out?". Couldn't bloody believe it. I don't know for sure but I daresay she's missed the deadline. And since she isn't voting SNP then I'm not going to go out of my way to find out if she can squeze her vote in in time!
But things are looking good for this evening despite all these blue-blooded city types and non-SNP voting Greek tragedies. The dinner plans for tonight are finalised (http://www.rampantscotland.com/recipes/blrecipe_beefmash.htm for anyone who is interested), the sun is shining for a high turnout, a few bloggers have stated they'll be giving us updates/internet punditry and I've got some scope to come in late tomorrow at work.
Just can't wait for the games to begin really, Scotland will surely triumph whatever the result....
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Might make me sleep easier tonight knowing the ICM poll is a bit of an outlier. (Not that the recent coffee and snowball helped though, not to mention my Greek flatmate noisily battling with a lamp.)
And I'm not even being sarcastic. But quite frankly, the amount of blood, sweat and tears I've invested in calling this election spot on, if I don't win this then I'm hanging up my boots and going to take a long walk off a short cliff. Hang on, that can't be right. Jump off a short plank? That doesn't sound too life-threatening either....
Fingers crossed I'll have a life size Alex Salmond to watch over me as I sleep. (Gosh, how scary would that be!)
I will be voting SNP tomorrow down in Leith, assuming they don't mind that I don't have my polling card with me. In past elections I have voted Labour, Lib Dem, SSP and SNP so tomorrow's vote wasn't such an automatic call.
A large part of my thinking is just the woeful state of the Labour administration in the past few years. There has been little energy from the cabinet, little in the way of radical thinking and little attempt to shake off the direction from Westminster. They have missed a trick in each of the above as Labour could so easily be coasting into these elections with a clear 10-15% majority.
But that's not to take too much away from the SNP, I have noticed from a lot of different people, across all spectrums of Scottish life, that to vote for the SNP means you have to have something wrong with you, that you should be embarrassed about it or that you hate England in some way shape or form. And I'm talking about people who are usually intelligent and reasonable so I personally think that shows how well the nationalists have done in this election having to fight that mindset to sit at the top of the polls with one day to go.
As for policies, which should never be overlooked in an election but has to a large extent this year, I am attracted to the SNP policies the most. Changing council tax is very welcome for me, mostly because I can be an absolute shambles when it comes to paying monthly bills and if it comes off my PAYE then I won't notice it going. It's also fairer that 2 people who live in a household and generate twice as much waste and use twice as much water etc should pay more than someone who lives in a single dwelling. (OK, this was always the case with the 25% discount but it still applies when there's 5 people in a house compared to 2, for example)
I like the idea of my student loan being written off though it is a bit selfish as I actually think students should contribute something for the luxury of a university education. I don't mind my vote being bought for £5,000. And hey, if Labour are correct about the cost of an SNP win then at the very worst I'll break even.
The Lib Dems have some attractive policies, 1 hour of physical activity for school kids, 100% renewable energy, high-speed Glasgow Edinburgh train link etc etc.
Labour on the other hand have barely brought anything to the table so don't get my vote.
But personalities h as a lot to do with it, Labour is running low on them and they haven't brought anyone fresh to the constituencies this year. Alex and Nicola and co have a lot to offer and I'm just too fascinated to see how they get on when they are actually in charge of things. If they are in charge of things I should say.
So that's why I'm voting SNP. The Greens tempted me for a while but I'm resolute in my wishes for a new set of ministers and a freshness to Holyrood from next week.
Just when everyone thought the result was done and dusted, an ICM poll puts a spanner in the works by putting the SNP only a shade ahead of Labour, creating some last day jitters.
This is terrifying stuff really. With such a slender lead the SNP may no longer even be favourites given the skewed voting system towards Labour (for example, more constituency seats in Glasgow and Central than any other region. These areas being Labour heartlands of course). So if today's poll tells SNP voters anything, it should tell them two overriding things.
(1) Get the vote out. Drive your granny to the polling booth if you think she's leaning towards that lovable scamp Alex Salmond. Make sure you put the effort in yourself. Thankfully, SNP voters are more likely to be enthusiastic about voting compared to your average disillusioned Labour supporter. And anyway, a high turnout from all voters is a ringing endorsement for Holyrood. Can we beat the French figure of 85%? Probably not but let's at least do better than 50%!
(2) Tactical voting. This site was set up so that there would be an acknowledgement of how SNP supporters can vote so as to help ensure the SNP beat Labour to being the biggest party in Holyrood. Independence won't be achieved on Thursday, the next important step for the nationalists is to win control of Holyrood and given how agonisingly tight it is, tactical voting will come into play. Really assess what your SNP candidate's chances are wherever you are voting. Edinburgh South and Eastwood are 2 seats for example where a vote for the Lib Dems or the Tories may very well be worth it.
One other thing to consider, I make it that the SNP will win a regional MSP in every constituency so thinking that a vote for the Greens or SSP is worthwhile to stop Labour may not necessarily be the case.
It really is time for a change in Scotland, time for the SNP, let's hope Alex and Nicola are wearing enormous grins come Friday morning!