I am pleased to say that the result was for the SNP, but only just.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I am pleased to say that the result was for the SNP, but only just.
On the face of it, Labour have the constituency in the bag:
Labour - 51% (-2%)
SNP - 33% (+15%)
Tory - 6%
Lib Dem - 3%
The comparisons in the brackets suggest that the Labour vote has held firm which is odd given there have been accounts in the press that a significant number will be switching sides. So where did that +15% come from for the SNP?
Well, the answer may lie in this line tucked away in the Sunday Times story and absent from their pie-charts which, once all the facts are clear, are actually highly misleading.
However, nationalists will be encouraged that it has already improved on its 2007 showing and that 41% have yet to decide how they will vote.
41% undecided! Almost half of the electorate are unsure which way they would vote. It's not unreasonable to think these are disillusioned Labour voters tempted by a vote for the SNP but not yet made their minds up.
Of the 700 who were polled (it was close to that number but the paper version I had has been recycled), the breakdown of polling intentions becomes:
Undecided - 41.0%
Labour - 30.0%
SNP - 19.5%
Tory - 3.5%
Lib Dem - 1.8%
Puts quite a different slant on things doesn't it? The phrase "game on" suddenly springs to mind.
And the SNP were in a very similar position just 10 days into the official Glasgow East campaign last year and we all know how that turned out.
Add to that again the deeply unpopular local factor of Glasgow school closures (6 are in this constituency) and we well and truly have a by-election contest on our hands.
Sorry seems to be the hardest word for Labour MPs after it emerged that Labour party headquarters have issued ready-made ‘sorry’ letters for their MPs to send to angry constituents who complain over the expenses scandal.
Instead of writing heartfelt apologies, Labour MPs just need to insert their constituents name and then sign. The letters are even designed to sound personal, beginning, “I thought twice about sending thisletter because I know how rightly angry people are with MPs.”
I understand it saves time and it's a damage limitation exercise but there's something depressingly cynical and inhuman about this adopted approach from Labour.
People are angry with politicians and only a General Election will assuage such feelings, certainly not robotic sounding mass-mail letters.
Iain Gray suggests that every day the Justice Secretary makes a gaffe and combatting that clear exaggeration Kenny defends himself with the following results:
- crime levels at a record low
- record numbers of police
- reduced absconsions (sic) from 70 to 16
Kenny MacAskill then goes on to make the perfectly fair comment that it is up to the police to decide when such information should be in the public domain, as is always the case in such instances.
The suggestion that Labour have been impugning the integrity of the police is pretty fair.
I think it's best to leave the final word on this to someone from outside the political bunfight. John Scott, vice President of the Society of Solicitor Advocates:
"If a justice secretary has to go, over this, then no-one is going to last more than a few months as justice secretary ever again."
Well said that man.
(Kenny's comment that "we are one eighth better than the Tories" has to go down as a verbal gaffe. I think he meant they are eight times better given the abscondee rates are down by an eighth)
A few weeks ago it was thousands of pounds of mileage claims of which only £60 was passed on to the actual driver and car-owner.
Last week it was a £2,157 for rewiring costs that was paid in cash (!) to an individual that had a bogus address and was not registered at Companies House.
This week is a direct hit. £2,326 for his friend to build 66m of shelves which seemingly do not exist.
Devine's expenses are now under further scrutiny after it emerged the taxpayer was billed £2326 for joinery services carried out by the MP's local publican. According to the invoice, the sum was for supplying and fitting 66m of heavy-duty shelving - the equivalent of more than 200ft.
The individual whose name is on the invoice, Tony Moran, holds the licence for the eponymously-named Moran's Bar in Blackburn, West Lothian. The public house is yards away from Devine's home in the small town.
A visit to the constituency office deepened the mystery, as no shelving could be seen.
One senior Labour Party source said: "What does Jim Devine need all that shelving for, his presidential library?
"If this is not a case for Labour's so-called star chamber the party body investigating questionable MP expenses then I don't know what is."
Asked numerous times whether Moran received £2326 from his allowances, Devine repeated: "Tony Moran did no work for me in my office."
Whether to deselect Jim Devine must surely now be an open-and-shut case. On the face of it, he is up to his neck in all that is wrong with a system that has suffered from a lack of transparency.
He needs to go.
All good news for Lis Bardell, PPC for the SNP in Livingston who has an excellent chance of building on Angela Constance's good work in the 2005 by-election and winning through in the next General Election.
Gordon Brown is trying his best to distance himself from the expenses furore by talking about "my presbyterian conscience" and how his Government were just on the cusp of transforming the system before that pesky Telegraph came along.
With sackcloth and ashes, Gordon goes on to say that he doesn't think any other party has so many party suspensions, candidates stepping down and even a sitting Minister has had to stand down. It sounded like a very bizarre boast to me - we have so many people involved in this so we have punished the most.
Pretty reasonable comment from the PM regarding MPs who will stay on and pick up a fat cheque at the next General Election. It is being looked at independently by Sir Christopher Kelly and he will make recommendations before that time comes to pass. Yeah, fair enough.
"I was brought up in a House of integrity and telling the truth" - it's back to that moral compass again.
50 Labour MPs asking for "lifeboats" to the House of Lords and Lavender Lists is denied by the PM and, when pushed for a promise, Gordon Brown categorically states that HE is not interested in entering the House of Lords. Bizarre.
I can promise that within our election manifesto will be changes to the House of Lords. (Wasn't there a similar pledge in the last manifesto?)
Gordon must have said "hold on" about 50 times now, he is clearly floundering. It also sounds like everything Andy Marr is suggesting is something Gordon has been "interested in" or just about to do. Chancellor for 10 years and Prime Minister for 2, what was he waiting for?
AM: (On AV+) "You killed off Ray Jenkins, may he rest in pieces." I don't even want to know what Andy meant with that one.
Onto the poll figures now....
Gordon's explanation - "We have an economic crisis". The case for defence rests on trading with Europe and not shunning them. A good argument, one Labour should have pushed harder in the past few weeks.
Upon being pressed on having a General Election:
"I think what people want is to clean up the system first". An unconvincing argument.
AM - "Would you stand aside for the good of the party?"
GB - "No. I'm dealing with the issues at hand, I'm dealing with the economy every day."
GB - "Things go up and down"
AM - "Mainly down at the moment"
And some D-Day chat and it's all over. Another battling but ultimately fruitless performance from Gordon Brown on Andy Marr and the march toiwards "slaughter" (as Andy Marr put it) continues unabated.
This poll of polls reads as follows:
SNP: 37% (+17%)
Labour: 25% (-1%)
Tory: 17% (-1%)
LibDem: 12% (-1%)
UKIP: 3% (-4%)
Green: 3% (-4%)
This gives 3 MEPs to the SNP, 2 MEPs to Labour and 1 MEP to the Tories.
The four polls (below) have a sample size of 771
YouGov/Sunday Times - 7th-8th May 2009
Populus/Times - 8th-10th May 2009
YouGov/The Sun - 13th-14th May 2009
YouGov/Telegraph - 14th 16th May 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
He came in 587th place for 2007/08 based on his contribution in parliament as he attended 47 per cent of votes, spoke in only 11 debates and submitted just 16 written questions in the year while claiming £169,187 in total expenses, including travel, home, office and staffing costs.'
The ICM result is nothing short of a nightmare for Gordon Brown and is strong evidence that a harrowing result for Labour may well be a pre-cursor to the Prime Minister being deposed as party leader before June is out.
Tory - 40%
Lib Dems - 25%
Labour - 22%
Tory - 29%
Lib Dem - 20%
Labour - 17%
Green - 11%
UKIP - 10%
BNP - 5%
25% is pretty decent for the Lib Dems at Westminster and 20% is ok at the Euros, all in all not great for Nick Clegg really, but still enough to put the party second.
UKIP haven't quite made the breakthrough that some had expected, perhaps the BNP are taking some of the vote that it might have hoped for or the Greens are hoovering up the protest vote. 11% of the Euros should return a few MEPs in various regions for the Greens, probably not quite in Scotland though.
Also, even more despairing news for Gordon Brown:
Although Labour are ahead of UKIP nationally, it is still possible that the anti-EU party could ultimately win more seats. UKIP are nowhere in Scotland and the SNP are nowhere in England so both parties may well combine with their lower vote share to keep the Labour result down in each region.
The UKIP share of the vote may be higher than Labour's in England, the SNP's is patently higher in Scotland and perhaps Plaid's is in Wales. All in all, that would add up to Labour having a relatively high share of the vote across the UK but still losing out to SNP and Plaid in Scotland and Wales and, crucially for Gordon Brown's future, losing out to UKIP in England leaving the party languishing in 4th in terms of number of seats.
Without being too controversial, is it best to add the SNP national score, the Plaid national score and the UKIP national score together to get a better idea of where Labour will sit against the other parties?
Tory - 30%
UKIP - 19%
Labour - 16%
Lib Dems - 12%
Greens - 10%
BNP - 5%
Could the UKIP really beat Labour and the Lib Dems? It's still 11/8 at Ladbrokes. I want to know what the odds of the Greens beating them is.
The SNP, interestingly, were predicted to win only one MEP which doesn't fill me with too much confidence but that can be put down to a UK focus rather than a Scotland focus in the poll. The SNP will, of course, be winning at least 2 seats.
Hopefully there'll be another poll over the course of tomorrow to backup these figures (except the SNP's single MEP, of course).
There's an odd circular argument that Labour are pushing - Because Cathy Jamieson was really bad at her job, Kenny MacAskill should resign. It's an odd one, isn't it? It still hasn't stopped some people getting embarrassingly carried away with themselves.
But are Kenny's crimes really in the same league as Cathy's?
Justice Secretary Jamieson:
Personally awarded the privatised prison and escort service to Reliance with disastrous consequences.
49 prisoners abscond from Castle Huntly in 2006
On average, 70 escaped prisoners per year under Labour/Lib Dems
Gave money to her nephew who was on-the-run from Police for murder
Missing appeal deadlines for slopping out legal challenges, costing the taxpayer millions.
Shirley McKie scandal
Justice Secretary MacAskill:
Implementation of new rules for open prisons hits teething problems
1 prisoner absconds from Castle Huntly in 2009
On average, 16 escaped prisoners per year under SNP
Didn't attend a knife summit
And let's not forget that Cathy Jamieson didn't even resign! What principle do Labour have as their defence before going ahead with attacks on a better Justice Secretary than they had?
There has been a suggestion that it doesn't matter whose crimes were worse, Ministerial responsibility means that if something goes wrong then the buck stops with you. Although I agree that leaders always have to lead and take responsibility for an entire department where does this argument end?
If a doctor stubs their toe at work, should Nicola Sturgeon resign? If a teacher loses their temper and throws a Maths textbook at the gobby kid in class, should Fiona Hyslop resign?
Of course not. The clamour for Kenny MacAskill's resignation is not coming from the Scottish public, it's a highly manufactured, artificial ruse from an Opposition that has nothing better to talk about and no other way to attack a thoroughly effective and hugely popular administration.
To be fair, they've timed it well with the election next week and they've even been quite effective in using a friendly media to get their message across but it still all boils down to a bunch of nonsense.
And if we're going to start using years-old quotes, here's one from Cathy Jamieson circa 2005:
"I think the responsibility on a minister is to ensure that problems are solved... Some people in the face of problems might turn away, might walk away from them. I have no intention of doing that and I never did"
A reasonable sentiment and one that Kenny could reasonably take on, even if his problems are significantly fewer than Cathy's ever were.
The Labour Lord has the highest expenses per visit, claiming the equivalent of £305/day - a total of £54,000 for 94 days work. In contrast Lord Kirkhope claimed £53,000 for 143 days work.
Given there are 261 working days each year, Lord Foulkes' £54,00o for 94 days is effectively a £150k annual salary on a pro-rata basis. No wonder George was getting his defence in early by standing shoulder to shoulder (or snout to snout?) with Michael Martin earlier this month.
Incidentally, the most expensive overall claim is another Scottish Lord, Lord Maxton of Cathcart, who claimed £63,504 for 141 days work and Scottish peers cost a whopping £2m a year.
And no, I haven't a clue who Lord Maxton is either.
Friday, May 29, 2009
A British team made up of English only players will ensure Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland keep their independence while also ensuring that the host country is represented in the football discipline. Everyone wins. Well, except Darren Fletcher who is arguably the only Scot who had a chance of getting a game. I suspect he will be more cut up about missing the 2009 Champions League Final though.
So, with that happy conclusion, I was surprised (but only a little) to see Christine Grahame going after Gordon Smith of the SFA so aggressively.
Yes the SNP maybe made some gains when a full British Team was pushed for at the Olympics but a decent compromise has been struck and well, as Shona Robison says so diplomatically, Ms Grahame is entitled to her own view.
He claimed £3,604.99 for a TV and radio. A curious figure really, I wonder if the radio was an impulse buy at the checkout counter and cost £4.99.
As the much maligned fees office wrote to Nigel:
"An amount of £3,604.99 is not considered to be an appropriate use of public funds when other more reasonably priced options are available.”
It is perhaps becoming clear that the £60k or so for Nigel's salary is not an appropriate use of public funds either.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
On George Lyon's Highlands literature:
"Not another faceless MSP from the Central Belt"
On George Lyon's Central Belt literature:
"I've lived in Edinburgh for many years and understand the local issues"
The Green's Elaine Morrison followed up by mentioning the Lib Dem's Edinburgh North & Leith election leaflet (which I have two of sitting in the recycling bucket) where in reference to the European elections the party claims it is only the Lib Dems that can beat Labour in this constituency.
Wrong on two scores as the SNP are favourites to beat Labour here and, more pertinently, there is only one constituency at play in the Euro elections, Scotland as a whole. Scotland which has 6 MEPs with 5.2 million constituents whereas Finland has 14 MEPs with 5.3 million.
The Lib Dems have to resort to tricking constituents into tactical voting to cling on to 1 MEP. Poor form indeed.
For similar reasons, I treated with strong suspicion the news that the SNP have the "worst" attendance rates of all the Scottish MEPs. They may have the lowest, but is that necessarily the worst?
Think of all the diddy debates that must occur in the European Parliament, think how uninterested Scottish MEPs must be in a vast number of discussions that take place in the chamber. Is an 82% attendance rate really so bad if an MEP decides his time may be better spent elsewhere during the daily snoozefests?
Crucially, MEPs are paid an allowance based on attendance. Perhaps John Purvis (99% attendance rate) is quite happy to sit staring into space to collect his £257 a day of expenses?
We shouldn't be surprised that the SNP MEPs who are passing up the £10,000 pay rise are the same MEPs who aren't maximising their income with a European Union daily allowance that is making some members millionaires in one term.
The lack of money in the kitty was, I suspect, the main reason the SNP backed away from the idea that they had initially warmed to but in the USA such insulation policies are being implemented as a pretty core piece of the 'stimulus package', the saving in heating bills will go into the struggling retail sector and effectively eventually pay for itself via tax revenue. There's no reason why a similar approach couldn't work here, though full fiscal autonomy would be required for that argument to be valid in full.
So the Greens are on a winner with this one as far as I can see. They need (and no doubt have) more strings to their bow than home insulation but it's pretty clear we are missing a trick by lagging on lagging.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
And tonight, directly following an interview with Sir John Butterfill himself, John Strafford of the Conservative Campaign for Democracy has said that the MP is "toast". This follows David Cameron's "alarm" at the situation.
On Newsnight, Sir John said that it takes "20 minutes" to travel the 80 miles by train from his six-bedroom second home to London Waterloo. Do we have trains that travel at 240 miles an hour yet? Not that I'm aware of. The suggestion this is the MP's main residence is clearly ridiculous and his claim that he need not pay Capital Gains Tax because he used a lot of his own money to renovate the property won't stack up with HMR&C however much Sir John may wish it.
During the rest of the Newsnight interview, Sir John bumbled on and claimed to have been misrepresented in the press without really going into any detail as to why.
His situation is remarkably similar to that of Hazel Blears so if David Cameron or his constituents does deselect him, then Gordon Brown will be in an even more difficult position than he already finds himself in.
The main charges seem to be:
- Her sister worked for her, 140 miles away from the constituency.
- Her brother lived rent-free in a taxpayer funded flat.
For me, there is no problem on either score.
If Julie wishes to employ someone miles from her constiuency then fair play to her. There may well be a downside to not having an assistant local but that's a risk that Julie will have considered and accepted before going ahead.
Now, I don't like the idea that politicians can hire family members on their payroll. Even if most do a great job it just looks wrong and once the dust settles over this expenses fiasco I am sure such arrangements will be banned. But I don't see why Julie should pay the price for a shoddy set of rules, particularly if there are no suggestions that her sister wasn't up to the job. If this is a deselction offence, then some 25% of MPs won't be defending their constiuencies at the next ballot.
As for Julie's brother living rent free in her house. Who cares? As long as Julie was using it as she was supposed to by the letter and spirit of the rules then I don't really mind if someone else gets put up in it. Her son getting a decent babysitter most of the time is just a bonus really, it doesn't even need to be proffered as some sort of excuse.
I reckon Julie is suffering by association with her husband and genuine offender Andrew McKay but unless there is more to this story than meets the eye and she gets local party members' blessing, Julie Kirkbride should be allowed to stand in Bromsgrove at the next General Election.
I still think the poll figures will correct themselves and some Labour MPs shouldn't be as worried as they may well be these days but, well, we're in unchartered territory and maybe I've just gotten too used to Labour having a strong grip of First Past the Post constituencies.
It does seem to be the case that previously believed relatively safe Labour seats have had MPs embroiled in the expenses scandal meaning that "Falkirk, Livingston, East Lothian, Linlithgow and East Falkirk, and Alistair Darling's Edinburgh South West will all be dragged into the dogfight."
A dogfight fought on no money with a spiralling party morale is not a good space to be in.
And as Calum Cashley puts it:
"I'm sure there is going to be more tactical voting next time in Scotland than we have ever seen before,"
"In Labour areas the reaction is one of resignation. Some are coming over to us and others suggest they won't vote at all."
Tactical Voting? That's what I'm talking about!
It's now clear that the SNP are so clearly in the hunt for almost any seat in Scotland that any tactical voting that should be suggested would be Lib Dems and Tories grudgingly voting in favour of the SNP to get an incumbent out, rather than the other way around.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
A row has broken out between Labour and the SNP over claims people have been receiving automated phone calls asking how they will vote in next week's European elections.
Joe Fitzpatrick, the SNP MSP for Dundee West, claims constituents have complained about the unsolicited calls which breach the Electronic Communications Regulations.
He claimed the calls asked how people intended to vote and if they had ever voted Labour before.
Mr Fitzpatrick said: "This is outrageous behaviour. Labour has been in enough trouble with the law in recent years to know that it should be followed.
Oh dear. Consciously breaking the law to win votes? That can't be a good sign for a party's fortunes...
Iain Dale may well say it's "bollocks" but whether the Tories are right or wrong, the majority of people looking in won't be too impressed by a national party sacking a student for expressing an opinion. Perception is everything, after all.
A private dressing down, at the very most, surely would have sufficed for this young Tory. Indeed, even a softly-softly approach could have brought the young chap fully back on board which could have brought in a few more votes before polling day. The Tories have well and truly ticked one UKIP box on the back of their actions today.
Even the principle of the affair has a question mark over it.
It is becoming a bit worrying the stranglehold that parties have over individuals. If I joined a football club I could still recognise the attractiveness of rugby and if I listened to R&B I could still rock out with some Metallica from time to time.
Why can't it be ok for a party member to freely state what may be appealing about other parties? Let's keep in mind that this student merely said that Tories and UKIP were viable options. He was hardly rousing the troops to go out and vote against the party he happens to support.
We need to throw away the blinkers and swing the doors wide open if we're going to reverse the depressing widening of the democratic deficit. On that score, the Tory party failed abysmally today.
Onwards and upwards some may say, moving of deckchairs uncharitably the others.
Even if the switch is true, they will no doubt have their own lieutenant post May 2011 if things pan out as I expect and given Lord Foulkes' looming retirement. Indeed, a shoring up of support to the West of the region may even clinch it.
Yes, that's all I have for Holyrood Gossip I'm afraid. Tragic...
We don't give MPs much credit and deride them as a careerist, unworthy lot but perhaps the best way to win this change that we seemingly all desire is not to interpret every utterance of our senior MPs as a leadership charge.
Maybe I'm naive and AlJo is indeed clearly positioning himself as an alternative to Gordon Brown but that doesn't prevent his suggestion being an eminently sensible idea which should really just be taken at face value.
With that in mind, Alternative Vote Plus sounds excellent. The sooner we can move towards a system that every vote counts while increasing turnout and providing a fairer mix of parties with a stronger rainbow of colours, the better.
Monday, May 25, 2009
The sad account of Nadine Dorries having her blog heartlessly ripped from the internet means just one thing for the rest of us bloggers...
Iain Dale has a vacancy on his links page!!!
My campaign to shoehorn my blog into that space starts here.
Now, let's be honest, anyone who has been lucky enough to have a blog post mentioned in the Daley Dozen knows that a link from the blogfather is Google Analytic manna from heaven. Links upon links can rain down on an otherwise irrelevant blog and, thanks in no small part to Dale's Top 100 Awards every summer, blogging is something of a dog-eat-dog business at times anyway.
So although I sympathise with Ms Dorries' plight, I can't very well stand on ceremony when an opportunity presents itself. Indeed, an opportunity has been there for some time for a canny blogger to ram one's blog into this links page:
Charles Crawford has his server down. So too does Mike Rouse. With Nadine, that's a hat-trick of dud links for a start and there are three blogs starting with the word "Liberal", that surely can be whittled down to two. There's also Ellee Seymour and EU Referendum who are seemingly campaigning for a PR system at Westminster and, em, an EU Referendum respectively. Both aspirations should be realised very soon if Alan Johnson and David Cameron get their ways.
So, it's game on as far as I can see for upwardly mobile bloggers out there and my hat is well and truly ring bound (even if my tongue is travelling with the same speed towards my cheek)
The first argument rests on Geography. One blog out of fifty is Scottish-based while demographics alone should suggest that there should be around nine from north of the border.
The second argument boils down to party allegiance. Ok, the SNP have just over 1% of the seats in the Parliament but they are on course for at least a mighty 3% by the next election which could be early as the Autumn. That means (with my warped logic) 1.5 links for the Scottish Nationalists. Best to be prepared, no?
The third argument (bear with me) is that the humble SNP Tactical Voting has been on Iain Dale's Statporn top linking sites for 3 of the last 4 months and hopefully counting. Indeed, last month I was one spot ahead of Nadine Dorries, God rest her blogging soul. And this is not to mention a plethora of Daley Dozen mentions over the past fortnight (and if this doesn't make it on this evening, I will have to put this post down as a serious error of judgement!)
So there we have it, my first ever campaign. I suspect it will crash and burn before it gets off the ground but if I can channel the tartan energy of the MacDonald Brothers then anything could happen...
Finnish national daily Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday quoted a Taylor Nelson Sofres poll as indicating that the projected turnout in the European Parliament election had fallen from that seen in the run-up to the 2004 election.
The paper added that some 63 per cent of the respondents had said that they were either fairly or completely sure that they would vote, down from about 73 per cent returned by a similar poll carried out five years ago.
63% and the country is apparently disappointed because it's down on 2004's 73%?
Our turnout in 2004 was 38.9% and even that was artificially high due to local elections being carried out on the same day. Scotland's turnout (with no local elections) was 30%. There are some estimates in the UK that turnout will reach as low as 20% next week.
In 2004, turnout for other European countries included 59.7% for Ireland, 73.1% for Italy, 47.8% for Denmark and 45.9% for Spain. Though there were other countries down at our level too but over the lifetime of the EU elections, Britain is bottom of the turnout pile by some distance.
Put simply, what is our problem with Europe? And is a constantly lower than 50% turnout an unofficial signal that we should pull out of the EU? Or at least have a referendum on whether we should be in it? No wonder David Cameron has come out so forcefully on the issue of Labour's promised referendum recently.
Incidentally, in Sweden the 'Pirate Party' are expected to poll over 4% which would return them 1 MEP. For who this party actually is, think the organisers of Napster dressed as a skateboarding crew and you've got an idea of what the party is made up of.
And yet, why not have a political party aimed squarely at the 18-25 year old group? Is it time the UK shrugged off its stiff upper lip image and got one going? Goodness knows there's a huge chunk of non-voters out there to tap into in this country.
I am genuinely not quite shocked, not sure if it's because half of the Cabinet (including the Chancellor!) couldn't fill in their own forms or pay for advice their own money or whether I am flabbergasted at their actions are actually allowed within the rules.
The beleagured Hazel Blears, Jacqui Smith and Geoff Hoon are caught up in this story so along with Alastair Darling we have some repeat offenders who will struggle to escape this even if the election is pushed all the way to May 2010.
Even if it is within the rules, I honestly think this is amongst the worst claims that have been made, second onlyu to the 'phantom mortgages' perhaps.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Personally, I think we passed the point of no return this week whereby we will now have a 2009 General Election. It may well be with Alan Johnson as leader but there's a momentum that has built up that cannot be reversed no matter what the Government does.
It seems over 50% of the electorate want an election now, most leading editorials were calling for one in the newspapers today and the expenses scandal will be counted in months rather than weeks.
So I was amazed to see that Ladbrokes were offering very generous odds on an Autumn 2009 election.
I have basically gone all in on the following:
£10 at 11/4 on a 2009 election
£5 at 16/1 on a September election
£5 at 7/1 on an October election
I know that Gordon Brown's Prime Ministerial career will be characterised by him "clinging on" but there's only so many months those fingernails can hold on for when almost the whole country is against you.
Basically, I reckon I'm quids in and the odds will collapse over the course of this week.
The Labour MP for East Lothian is recovering in hospital after a scan revealed bleeding near her brain.
Anne Moffat said she hoped to be "fighting fit" just three days after traces of blood were found on her pituitary gland.
Ms Moffat thanked all the staff at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and said she hoped to be back at work shortly.
It doesn't sound pleasant by any stretch of the imagination and no doubt her own hope of being "fighting fit" soon is shared by one and all.
Apart from the potty-mouth bad language, it's the former response that has me most concerned.
I can fully sympathise with people who just can't be bothered with the whole world of Politics, particularly in the current climate, but for those people who are genuinely interested and see their non-voting as a valid protest, well, I'm confused by it all to be honest.
There are people out there who seemingly believe that those inside the political bubble will sit up and take notice if turnout drops markedly.
Personally, I suspect that in practise politicians don't give two hoots about a person's reasons if they aren't going to go to the ballot box. In theory they will believe it to be a concern but it won't actually change anything.
If you were out knocking doors, would you waste 5 or 10 minutes of your rain-drenched evening trying to convince someone to go out on election day even if you knew it was a losing battle? I doubt it. Move on to someone who is actually going to count on the day.
After all, turnout has steadily declined over the past few decades and that hasn't stopped the duck houses and moat cleaning bills from piling up. Did Andrew McKay or Elliott Morley stop and think, 'You know, if I make all these dodgy claims I'm going to really hurt the turnout at the next General Election and I can't have that on my conscience'? No, of course not.
So if you're reading this and planning on not voting out of protest rather than laziness, then I would urge you to think again. Yes we're going through some dark days for democracy but there will always, always be a preferred option on your ballot slip, or a least worst option, so not turning up isn't really worth it.
Your protest may well be water off a duck's house back for your intended target after all.
Turnout over the last 50+ years:
2005 - 61.3%
2001 - 59.4%
1997 - 71.2%
1992 - 77.4%
1987 - 75.3%
1979 - 76.0%
1974 - 78.8%
1970 - 72.0%
1966 - 75.8%
1964 - 77.1%
1959 - 78.7%
1955 - 76.8%
1951 - 82.6%
1950 - 83.9%
SNP - 32%
Would not vote-25%
Total - 99%
Speaks for itself really. And 60% of Scots want a General Election immediately, not that that's going to happen. You know, due to the unthinkable "chaos" it would bring.
The sample size was a fairly sizeable 650 but with the last few polls suggesting 11%, 10% and 12% leads, a pretty clear picture is being built up.
I don't think it quite constituted "flipping" but it seems Malcolm Bruce has been claiming north of the border and south of the border with reckless abandon over the past few years.
This part of the expenses scandal is one that has been particularly interesting.
I can understand some of the rules are open to interpretation and a benefit of the doubt argument is valid but when it comes to making claims to pay for heating costs, electricity bills and cleaning charges for your family home you have to think a person is taking the mick.
I'm no electrician but the £8,757 for rewiring a flat seems eye-wateringly expensive too.
The meticulous Paul Hutcheon has earned his salary once again in finding out that a company that Jim Devine claimed £2,157 may not actually exist.
The expense was for "rewiring", (for which £2k seems a little on the high side, but that's very much beside the point. There is no company called Eastern Electricals Ltd registered at Companies House.
Even the given address doesn't exist in the whole United Kingdom.
When asked about the matter, Devine said that he instructed the work from an electrician recommended to him, he paid the bill and submitted a claim to the Westminster fees office.
Fair enough, Jim may well have been the victim of a tax-avoiding electrician doing a cut and run but the cheat sheet for the Livingston MP is certainly adding up and he may even be overtaking Michal Connarty for the title of Scottish MP most likely to be deselected.
Other issues include:
- bought Michael Connarty's second-hand furniture for £4000 in February 2006, which he charged to the taxpayer.
- claimed thousands of pounds of mileage claims and didn't pass most of the money on to his office manager, the actual driver of the car.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I finally received an SNP leaflet this morning as part of a grouped bunch of leaflets and the remainder of the unholy union was UKIP, BNP and the Tories.
I'm sure it makes little difference in the end. People will get all the election leaflets, they may read them and then they'll make their mind up but I still couldn't help but notice the subtle difference between the delivery of some over others.
Friday, May 22, 2009
- You haven't bought a newspaper in months.
- You delay a blog post for hours because you don't feel like you've properly nailed a witty or clever enough title.
- You leave a comment as 'Anonymous' congratulating yourself on a great post.
- You leave a comment as 'Anonymous' disagreeing with yourself, just to pre-empt a debate.
- The first thing you type into Google upon logging in is your own blog name to see what people out there are saying about you.
- Minutes after logging off the computer you check your emails on your phone, just on the off chance someone's left a good comment in those past few minutes.
- You grossly exaggerate how many people read your blog in public while fiercely defending the clear Google Analytics facts that you don't get past single digits on any given day.
- You sometimes introduce yourself to strangers as an 'amateur political analyst' just to see if they are impressed.
- You carry your laptop around with you every waking second and it feels like the end of the world when you realise you've left the power cable at home and the battery's dead.
- You lie awake long into the night thinking of 10 signs that people may be taking blogging too seriously (and then forget them all the next morning)
I've heard from a particularly reliable individual that the Telegrah expenses saga will culminate in a fairly senior Government Minister being exposed as having had an affair.
I'm not going to name any names as I don't fancy saving up to pay off a lawsuit but the media narrative involving duck ponds and moats is all going to turn rather tawdry pretty soon.
(thanks for the tip-off, you know who you are....)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
It's not the newspaper's fault that politicians have had their fingers caught in the cookie jar and if a consequence of their getting caught is a depression for those directly or indirectly affected then that is an unavoidable consequence of a necessary process. The Daily Telegraph has every right to follow its prerogative of maximising income through sales and online advertising.
I largely agree with the above sentiment but the warnings of the most drastic of reactions to all of this have been around for a while. Is there a moral obligation on the media at large to end the witch hunt and just leave it up to parties and branches to deselect MPs before we get our turn to reward or punish individuals in an election? Should all expenses information be released in the public domain and left at that?
We have, after all, been in a similar position before.
The sad death of Dr David Kelly came in the middle of a media firestorm that was arguably feeding off of itself and running wildly out of control. Newspapers were hungrier and hungrier for bettering the last scoop and the sensitivity of individuals was trampled over for personal gain. Is the same happening here?
I fear we are dehumanising MPs to a point that they have become our personal stress balls, our little playthings that we can kick around just to make ourselves feel better. The response may have been misguided, but I can understand George Foulkes attacking news presenters and Anthony Steen saying the public have no right to interfere in his private life. The level of intrusion in this country from our media is worrying, terrifying at times.
I think recess is coming up just at the perfect time for the health and wellbeing of a lot of our MPs. Regardless of how appropriately they have behaved over the past few years in terms of expenses I do hope they can have a break from all of this, gather some perspective and either silently step away from a life of Politics if that is felt to be the best thing or come back refreshed and invigorated for a new parliamentary session in the fall.
Yes, criminal activity should be followed by criminal proceedings and that logic doesn't stop when politicians are involved but that doesn't mean individuals have to be mercilessly, endlessly mocked in the public eye to the detriment of their emotional wellbeing.
We're on Day 15 of the Telegraph expenses scandal. It is in everyone's interest that it draws to a close soon. It may even be a matter of life and death.
I can understand people finding the party repugnant (I personally don't as I don't really know what their policies are and don't like to judge without having the facts) but the idea that you can win the argument by ignoring them or shutting them out of the argument is crazy, surely.
I heard that at the recent European election hustings in George Square the BNP weren't invited to attend so instead their supporters joined the crowd and made a bit of a racket spoiling the affair for everyone involved. You know what, fair enough!
Presumably Nick Griffin's arguments can be swatted aside rather easily by the mainstream political representatives and if they can't, then maybe they have a message worth listening to?
It all reminds me of the questions being raised over Scott Rennie and his being denied to serve the Church of Scotland as a Minister. Both sides of the argument seem to be denying the others to have their say and as a result are no further forward in finding a solution. Have the debate out in the open and if a person's argument boils down to nothing more than racism or bigotry then there will be a clear democratic winner and, more pertinently, a loser.
If the BNP are as bad as everyone makes them out to be then let them into the hustings and onto the platforms and give them all the rope they need to hang themselves with.
Poor Fiona Hyslop, not only does she have to suffer being chosen as the supposed weak link in the Scottish Cabinet but now the rug has been pulled from under her by the boundary changes.
It seems Fiona's only hopes of getting back into Holyrood in 2011 rests on winning the constituency of Linlithgow in the next election which, to be fair, is eminently possible as Mary Mulligan isn't exactly setting the heather alight for Labour and Fiona only lost out by 1,000 votes last time. I always thought the birthplace of Alex Salmond and Mary Queen of Scots should be ripe territory for the SNP anyway.
To be honest though, the boundary commissions are beyond me most of the time. I find it all terribly confusing and just wish they would just leave things be for a decade or two. It would certainly make predicting things a lot easier.
I did hear that Edinburgh Central is going to be more solid Labour territory, expanding West and East. What that means for the SNP candidate and Lothians MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville I am not so sure. Well, I have a rough idea but it would involve finding a new Edinburgh constituency and I can't imagine that going down too well
There are many blogs I wish were still going at the best of times but for boundary questions, for me it was always Adam Smith was a Socialist that had a strong handle on these things. Maybe he'll come back for a one-off or guest post once it becomes clear what constituencies are a-changing.
So far we only 78-year old John Swinburne possibly standing for the Jury party. The ex-MSP for the SCCUP party will surely be more of a distraction than realistic challenger but it does raise the question that someone could come out of left field to alter the expectations of how the contest will pan out.
Leading the rather short list of famous sons and daughters from Springburn is James McFadden who would surely win the by-election hands down if he were to stand. A photo of that goal against France on an election leaflet would seal it for me. Thankfully he's just been promoted to the Premiership down in England so I suspect he'll be a little busy.
The remainder of famous names from Springburn have largely passed away in decades gone by, significantly decreasing their likelihood of standing but one other name caught my eye as a Springburn lad....
John McAllion. What's that bona fide leftie ex-Labour chap up to these days and why wouldn't he stand in a Labour stronghold?
It seems a common sense arrangement, particularly these days. We now have a Government getting battered in the polls, three main parties with new political leaders, a Prime Minister that doesn't have a mandate for some of the things he is doing and an economy that has been turned on its head since the last time we went to the ballot box. It's bonkers that we have to drag out the inevitable for another 11 months but so be it, such is life.
On top of this though, according to The Times, Scottish MPs were rallying around desperately trying to avoid Michael Martin stepping down as an MP even though his spokesperson had already stated that that would be the case.
Even without that confirmation, the prospect of Michael Martin sitting in the backbenches as a Labour MP or an independent MP just to make sure Gordon Brown doesn't get embarrassed in a by-election well and truly fails the sniff test.
Finally it seems Michael himself had had enough of all the silly speculation and released a statement clearly stating that he would be stepping down as an MP on June 21st.
So it's on, despite all the scurrying around from certain people trying to avoid the natural consequence of the unfolding situation.
And I have been told that the SNP branch are calmly going about their business in deciding who will make the best candidate and will put him or her forward in due course. No interference and no panic.
What a refreshing change.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I can't help but think that the media spotlight somehow managing to pick Hazel out has resulted in people realising there isn't too much bang for the tax-free bucks of the Minister of something or other.
Hazel didn't overpay a few hundred pounds here and there, she didn't buy a big glossy tv or a £250 alarm clock, she trousered thousands and thousands of pounds which she surely knew about.
And if she didn't know about it, she should be deselected on grounds of incompetence and ignorance of how the UK tax system works at the most basic of levels.
Also, once Hazel goes, the spotlight should quite rightly fall on Geoff Hoon and James Purnell. It won't be enough to rely on reputations and Cabinet positions. If Gordon Brown doesn't follow through on adequate punishment because it will be damaging for Labour, he will surely pay an even heavier price at the ballot box.
In the blue corner we have Tory Bear and his blog post this morning seemingly nailing Nick Brown over his 'tweeting' that the by-election was mere months away.
In the red corner we have Kezia Dugdale who has laughed the suggestion of, suggesting in turn that it may be a "black-op" from the Tory corner.
Claim and counter claim has quickly led to threats of legal action from the bear in the big blue house as the mud begins to sling. It's all got very ugly very quickly but, well, these two have history don't they....
During the University of Edinburgh rector battles one was campaigner-in-chief for George Foulkes and one was campaigner-in-chief for the eventual victor Iain MacWhirter. Has Kez got her revenge....
Oooh, the suspense.
Hat tip - Anseo
For those who have not yet seen it yet, the Chief Whip for Labour has said on Twitter that the new Speaker will only have a few weeks to settle into his position before an election is called. Does he mean the by-election or general election? It appears to be the latter given the wording.
So the new Speaker is to be in place on 22nd of June which means an election will be called a few weeks after that in mid-July which suggests a general election will be mid-August?
So much for a Glasgow by-election in September then!
EDIT: I believe Nick Brown's Twitter profile has been deleted, or at least hidden, seems to be a very genuine and highly damning mistake.
EDIT2: Looks like my bet of a 2009 election might have been good value at 9/2. It's the miserly £2 stake that disappoints me.
- Claiming for mortgage interest while sharing a flat with fellow MP Ian Davidson.
- Selling a perfectly good bed (for £1,000) to fellow MP Jim Devine and then buying another one (for £1,100) and having it delivered to his main home.
- After buying his own new second home in London for £365,000, he started claiming £1,700 a month for his mortgage interest.
- £250 for an alarm clock from Comet when the most expensive one they have available is £199.
- A £149 footstool and £649 of furniture delivered to his main residence.
A by-election was clearly ruled out "you can change the personnel but you still have to do the clean up" and there was more sackcloth and ashes on behalf of all MPs.
It's clear that Gordon Brown and no doubt Labour at large are going to to paint the expenses scandal as a "gentleman's club" issue, a slight return to the Class War dividing line that they tried (and failed) to use to their advantage in elections gone by.
The biggest problem with that line of attack is that (1) Labour have been more culpable than the Tories in the scandal mess and (2) it's clearly not consigned to gentlemen. Margaret Moran's Dry Rot? Barbara Follett's security costs? Jacqui Smith's residential arrangements? Hazel Blears' Capital Gains Tax?
On that last point, Andrew Castle (who I wish would replace Andrew Marr) pushed Gordon pretty hard on whether he would fire Hazel Blears.
"If you fired Hazel Blears, do you think the public would like that?"
"I've already fired... two members"
The change in focus was palpable. Hazel is safe, for now.
So a welcome interview overall. Gordon Brown has been absent without leave this past week and hopefully he'll do more of these interviews to give us all just a little bit of faith that he has finger on the pulse with all that is going on.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Well, be careful of what you read in the press and be particularly careful of what you hear from the Unions.
Picture this scene:
A company's workforce is made up of 1 manager and 5 workers. The company was bought over and decided instead to have 3 managers and 3 workers, effectively resulting in 2 people being promoted.
Would it not be unfair to then say that 2 people had been sacked because there are 3 workers where once there was 5?
I can't say too much, but don't believe all that you read in the press. And Unions? Probably best to just give them a miss altogether.
The parallels with Glasgow East speak for themselves. A long abandoned Labour stronghold of a constituency with an MP stepping down after a mess of their own making. A deeply unpopular Prime Minister and an SNP party riding high. It all sets it up marvellously well for a Nationalist win to be honest. (Sorry, I know I should be dampening down expectations etc etc)
I suspect we will also have the pleasure of seeing a Labour selection fiasco. I don't see Paul Martin wanting to stand for this constituency under the current circumstances and I would be surprised if he was even allowed to by the party establishment given the clear charge of nepotism this would bring. The good people of Springburn deserve someone other than a 'Martin' beside the Labour rosette given the monopoly the family has enjoyed over Holyrood and Westminster in recent years and decades respectively.
For the SNP, the PPC is Grant Thoms of Tartan Hero fame. I see his blog has somewhat sensibly been taken down, increasing the probability that Grant will be standing or is at least considering it. I hope so, I have only ever heard compliments about the Councillor for North East and my brief chat with him at this year's Conference only served to increase my esteem of the man.
So an enthralling contest awaits, albeit one that I daresay a lot of people do not have the energy, the money or the inclination for but I, for one, plan to be all over it.
2005 Result for Glasgow North East:
Speaker Michael Martin 15,153 53.3%
Scottish National Party John McLaughlin 5,019 17.7%
Socialist Labour Doris Kelly 4,036 14.2%
Scottish Socialist Graham Campbell 1,402 4.9%
Scottish Unionist Daniel Houston 1,266 4.5%
British National Scott McLean 920 3.2%
Independent Joe Chambers 622 2.2%
Majority 10,134 35.7
Turnout 28,418 45.8 +1.9
There's no doubt about it, David Cameron has put a little bit of his neck on the line by asking people to back the Conservative petition for Gordon Brown to call an election.
But if this petition doesn't receive significant support, will Cameron's leadership credentials be tarnished?
The Conservatives have been clever in hiding the number of people who have signed the petition thus far, indeed one wonders if this is all just a ruse to get some good election campaign data but even still, if nothing comes of it Cameron will quite rightly be looking a little bit sheepish.
Don't get me wrong, there can always be mitigating circumstances. I don't think for one second that Nick has been sitting gorging himself on Angel Delight and Monster Munch every night, though one might want to check the size of his flat screen tv to get an appreciation of the veractiy of that particular claim.
There are two types of people in the world, the ones who are able to shirk picking up the tab come hell or high water and then there are the slightly naive ones who are a bit too happy to throw the credit card down and say they'll pay for it.
Maybe Nick Brown paid for the Christmas Party this year? No, wait, Christmas was cancelled in 2008 due to the credit crunch.
No, this seems excessive, not quite a hanging offence but in this expenses scandal every dog deserves his or her day and Nick Brown is getting his.
For me, with all these claims inside and outside of recess for dining out, I just wonder how many of our politicians can boil an egg. If only Delia Smith was standing as an independent MP rather than Esther Rantzen.
Monday, May 18, 2009
I missed most of it as it happened so I am well placed to say that this was as bad a day for Michael Martin as it was a good day for blogs.
A slow footed BBC eventually got news up on their website about the many goings on today including a car crash performance from The Speaker and David Cameron calling for a general election.
From blogs though, the full unfolding drama was played out in technicolour, top volume with every possible ending considered all in real time. Iain Dale, as ever, led from the front, new polls were announced cheerfully while seasoned political observers generously awarded us their immediate opinions.
Don't get me wrong, Channel 4 provided excellent news tonight. I don't always get to watch the show but what a marvellous advert for media analysis by having Jon Snow, Douglas Carswell and George Foulkes on a Westminster lawn debating the issues to the nth degree. What was it, 10 minutes? 15? Wonderful stuff.
And, as an aside, say what you like about George Foulkes but he must win 'Friend of the Year' for the way he is going about defending Michael Martin in such a relentless and effective manner.
Another feather in the cap for the mainstream media is the interviews they are able to conduct. Nick Clegg is growing in stature every day. Looking gloriously windswept with those calm, soft eyes, he stood on that same Westminster lawn reiterating his calls for Michael Martin to go, eloquently using phrase after phrase that I couldn't help but use as a shortlist for titles for this blog post you're reading. The Lib Dem malaise has come to an abrupt end thanks to good fortune and this shimmering white English knight they have at their helm, willing to slay any dragon that dares breathe it's fiery flame Parliament's way.
So a constitutional crisis it may be called but if ever there was a day when blogs and the more traditional media outlets have sat side by side so effectively it was today.
Well done one and all.
As for my offering to this giant rabbit warren of political speculation and theory? Scant I'm afraid, but I do think that as the great British public become disenchanted with the goings on at Westminster, the appetite for independence can only increase, perhaps even significantly. Could you imagine David Steel or George Reid or Alex Fergusson getting into this position? Alex Salmond running away from interviews? Iain Gray hiring a Damian McBride? or Annabel Goldie paying for her moat to be cleared out?
I just wonder if there is an indirect knock-on effect that is adding to the Nationalists' perfect referendum storm as a result of all of this.
Then again, a tax investigator entering Parliament next year probably won't be a bad thing with all that Capital Gains Tax to sort out and collect from his Labour colleagues.
Granted, we have the European elections where some ~17% of the electorate will turn out to bash Labour over this expenses debacle but I wonder if it is actually in Gordon Brown’s interest to expose his jaw in a by-election or three before May 2010.
And where better a place to start than Glasgow North East, Michael Martin’s constituency, a Labour stronghold if ever there was one. Give the people of Glasgow a chance to vent their frustration to increase the chances that they’ll come back around in a year’s time in the election that really counts. Store up the public anger for too long and it’ll just be a bigger bang in the end.
Noone knows for sure what will be said today by The Speaker, the perceived wisdom seems to be that he will cling on for another year and a by-election won't happen. Dragged to the chair in ceremony upon being voted in as Speaker but now resisting being unceremoniously dragged from it in the twilight of his career.
But Gordon Brown could receive a double boost by taking the lead in cleaning up the expenses by sacrificing his Speaker and allowing a by-election to take place.
Is Labour’s best bet to have us all punch ourselves silly until a General Election when we'll maybe, just maybe, focus more heavily on the issues? It could be Gordon's only roll of the dice.
(Perhaps not, Glenrothes was one thing but the by-election after Crewe & Nantwich was Henley, then Haltemprice & Howden and then Glasgow East. It might take too many punches before the strategy would work!)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
"Surely the case against the Speaker would have a touch more credibility if it were being promoted by someone who has previously not criticised him, rather than by someone who has built a reputation on doing so?"
Almost every newspaper editorial is calling for Michael Martin's head and Nick Clegg has indeed "sealed Speaker's fate" along with many other MPs, not to mention the Tories withdrawing tyhe whip for the vote.
To suggest the protest against Michael Martin is a one-man crusade is frankly absurd and if Labour fall behind the curve on this issue, of all issues, they won't recover for a decade at least.
Infact, if you can go on to apply local factors, even on a limited and prudent basis, then you will get a very useful estimate of the next election results.
The 'heated discussion' with 'A', fuelled by a lovely pint of independence* (amongst others) didn't really end in agreement from what I can remember but I said I would back up my claim by using the 2003 set of election results to build an estimate for 2007 and then compare them with the actual result.
So, here goes:
The 2003 split of the national vote was:
Labour - 34.6%
SNP - 23.8%
Tory - 16.6%
Lib Dem - 15.4%
Now assuming that YouGov or System 3 had been able to accurately poll the 2007 result at a national level and applying that same swing for each party across all 73 First Past the Post constituencies, you get the following estimated breakdown of seats (with the actual number in brackets):
Labour - 35 (37)
SNP - 25 (21)
Tory - 2 (4)
Lib Dem - 11 (11)
Not too bad at first glance and this is without applying local factors of course. Glasgow Govan was correctly given to the SNP, the wafer-thin victory in Cunningham North was reflected in the estimate and the Lib Dem vote isn't as thornily unpredictable as the party often appears.
So which ones were called wrong?
Well, one of the SNP's target seats didn't quite go as planned in 2007, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth. It's not unreasonable for a sharp-eyed psephologist to have foreseen that Andrew Wilson had pushed that constituency as hard as the SNP could have hoped for in 2003 so the swing was always going to go in Labour's direction in 2007, despite Jamie Hepburn's best efforts. (I fancy Jamie's chances in 2011 incidentally). So that would have been 1 more for Labour and 1 less for the SNP in any pre-election estimate.
For the Tories, the national swings were not enough to predict that it would win Roxburgh & Berwickshire and Galloway & Upper Nithsdale. Given that Scottish Tory Boy (God rest his blogging soul) was constantly goading me that I had that prediction wrong back in 2007 then it should have been easy enough to forecast that Alex Fergusson was going to win the latter constituency. For R&B, it was just a shock result on the strength of John Lamont (or the weakness of Euan Robson) so as far as I can see, unpredictable. 1 up for the Tories and 1 down for the SNP.
The last few constituencies that had not been predicted accurately related to an incumbent factor or perhaps not the strongest of challengers in the opposition ranks, both factors that could arguably be introduced into any model with the right amount of effort and knowledge. But even leaving those aside you get the following pre-election prediction:
Labour - 36 (37)
SNP - 23 (21)
Tory - 3 (4)
Lib Dem - 11 (11)
Let's be honest, for a half hour's work, that's pretty close and a clear vindication that predicting the 2011 election will be a worthwhile endeavour.
I'm not sure how the Additional Members System would behave if I did a 2003 to 2007 comparison but I aim to find out soon. It may even forgivingly correct the minor errors above given the d'Hondt hat tip to proportional representation so I'll get around to it soon.
For now, I'm off to the pub. (King's Wark and just for breakfast, I had enough beers yesterday I think!)
* Warning to all Nationalists, Independence does indeed give a hangover in the morning. Be warned!