Sunday, 24 April 2011

Who are the SNP?

So the SNP seem to have the big mo in the Scottish election.  I'll confess right now that the SNP have always puzzled me.  Oh, I understand that if you are a believer in an Independent Scotland then the Scot Nats are for you, but what is the point of them beyond that, and who is supporting them and why?

This is my personal view of at least part of the answer to that question.

Something seems to be afoot! I can smell it in the air Charlie! I'm based in Edinburgh Pentlands - for long a bit of a Con-Lab marginal. Could it be that the SNP overtake them both on the inside lane? I have had 4 SNP leaflets delivered by hand (ie not freepost leaflets) - that has never happened before! That is more than from either Labour or Tory!  True Pentlands is interesting - the SNP were third but got a healthy enough vote.  In the 80s Keith Smith made it a 3 way marginal for the SDP Alliance.  This means to me, that if they can get organised there is scope for a third party - whether SNP or LibDem to do well in my seat and even take it!

But the SNP doing well in Edinburgh! Never really seen that before - although, on the back of the last Holyrood election, they showed signs of flickering into life. Edinburgh has seen a really strong Liberal Democrat vote before! At times it has seemed to me, in some rural and suburban parts, the Liberal Democrat vote and SNP vote seems interchangeable to some extent!  Certainly with our four party system - five if you count the Greens - Scottish voters are highly tactical.  Scots voters link up to keep Conservatives out! Scottish voters get behind whoever they think will do best for Scotland at different elections.

Hence the SNP do well at Holyrood elections and poorly at Westminster elections - kinda the other way around for the LibDems.

Certainly, as a LibDem, I feel the SNP at this election sound like a tartan SDP at times.  The emphasis on the environment, a positive outlook on Europe, a pragmatic centre left agenda - free from Labour dogma and grand-standing.  Apart from the discreet Independence bit, it could so easily be a Liberal Democrat agenda. 

However, slightly different people seem to support the SNP and they seem able to have a more broad appeal across Scotland than the Liberal Democrats.  They do well in traditional Labour areas and the west of Scotland - AND in rural and suburban areas too.

Someone once said to me the old tribal certainties are breaking down as the generations move on.  Fewer and fewer people are Labour or Conservative as a birth-right.  As we all become just a little middle class, so the SNP and the Liberal Democrats (and the Greens) do well, more often in Scotland.

If things really work out for the SNP and they achieve Independence at some point, what then for the SNP? Will Scotland settle into a politics based on Lab V SNP? This could be a little like FG v FF in Eire! I'm not at all sure if I want to see that emerge!!!

Nevertheless, I am struck that the SNP are very very professional nowadays in their integrated campaigning! They seem to have lots of bright young staffers too! They used to be rubbish at the ground war and targeting seats but this too may be changing!

The SNP have their dander up and no doubt workers are coming outta the woodwork! They have the big mo and that is coming through in the polls!

After four years of government in Scotland the fear factor of the SNP has gone and they seem broadly competent, and they have Alex!  Labour on the other hand are dull and predictable and oh so utterly uninspiring! Nor do the Labour Party have anyone to kick, like Tories, either!

This all adds up to help explain why Labour are going to do badly after doing so well in Scotland a year ago and doing well UK-wide just now! (though scratch the surface and there are still questions the electorate north and south of the border ask of Labour!)

The SNP charge also seems to be coming at the expense of Tory and Lib Dem voters who appear to be voting tactically for Salmond or tactically against Labour winning, says Jeff Breslin at Better Nation.

I saw some recent polling suggesting where SNP second preferences would go.  It seemed to split 50% left (Lab and SSP) 30% centre or centre left (LibDem and Green) and 10% right (Tory) with 10% unclassified.

According to Scottish Vote Compass, comparing the policies and philosophies of the parties, the Liberal Democrats and SNP and, on some issues, the Greens are all quite close.

So what have we?  We live in more politically volatile times where the electorate is more fluid and less tribal than in years gone by.  We see this in the tactical way the Scottish electorate votes at different elections. 

The SNP have money, some clever political operatives and they have Alex Salmond!

From my point of view, as a Liberal Democrat, the Coalition and the public sector cuts that have to be delivered, will harm us at this election.  In addition, association with the Conservatives remains toxic.  Whether we start to re-connect and people remember why they like us, or whether this a hurting that will last a generation, only time will tell.

In a four or five party system sometimes a party is drowned out at an election however it campaigns.  This is where the LibDems are finding themselves at the moment.

SNP doing well at this election.  However, I wouldn't want to see them do too well! 

I think if they sweep to power on the sentiment as it stands this Easter weekend, they would get their referendum this time.  I think only a third of the Scottish electorate, at most, have an interest in Independence - and not all the SNP's voters!!  But if there is a wave of warm feelings to the SNP this could yet become a close run thing. I don't personally believe Independence would be a good thing or the right thing for Scotland and the UK.  I, as a LibDem, take the view that a good dose of devolved and decentralised power within the UK is the naural settlement for the UK and for Scotland - and it is the one I want.

I am also cautious about how realistic the SNP's positions are.  They want council tax freezes and free prescriptions etc etc.  Cuts are on the way to what the SNP have to spend and I don't think their programme is entirely viable.

We don't want all the votes to go to the SNP, away from Labour.  At this election, I think it is important that the LibDems maintain a viable group at Holyrood!

Despite being crowded out I still think they have put together a good programme and a good campaign.

  • A costed programme based on re-generation and jobs creation aimed at creating 100,000 jobs, 
  • Supported by regional development banks to provide investment where the commercial banks can't.
  • Abolishing the Council Tax for pensioners on less than £10,000.
  • Introducing a pupil premium to ensure that kids from poorer backgrounds don't lose out at school 
  • Keeping the free higher education, which the LibDems won in 1999 in Scotland!! 
  • Investment in science and plans for getting superfast broadband out there to all of Scotland - to make Scotland the most connected country in Europe 
  • Opposing any political power grab to the centre, especially a single Scottish police force.
This programme has been well received by analysts and independent commentators looking at the underlying costings and figures.

So we need plenty of LibDems in the parliament.  We don't want Lab v SNP to be like Fine Gael v Fine Fail in Ireland, where politics has not properly grown up post civil war and the parties do not compete enough on the politics of ideas.

Dare I say it, there is a place in Scotland for something on the right, but I do wish the Scots Tories did not sometimes look like Cameron and Farquhar down the rugby club!

The good thing about the SNP I read when I saw the Sun are supporting the SNP, and the Record Labour.  The Sun were arguing that the SNP's aspirational tax-cutting and upbeat electioneering is more in tune with their readers' outlook than the Record's more stolid reporting. Sun readers are younger, and more upwardly mobile, as are SNP voters.
Amen to a younger, more aspirational, more upbeat Scotland this Easter! Let this election catch the spirit! A good thumping of smug, dull old Labour will help!
I just hope the SNP don't win too big and that the LibDems stay strong!  We need them in a modern Scotland that is running to a better future!  

Thursday, 21 April 2011

King Cnut and under-employment

I was considering the question of the current jobs market and the issue of unemployment.

Edinburgh, where I live, has many high grade jobs paying well with many benefits.  Professional services, the banks, and insurance companies all offer many high paid jobs.

There is some ridiculous stat that over half the houses worth more than £500,000 in this city are owned by someone who works for one of the banks!

But the jobs market is changing.  There is an underclass developing of workers on short term contracts or relatively low paid staff working for small businesses in outsourced jobs - in roles that might previously been done as a permanent contract with a large company.

I read a few years ago that the world of work in the 21st century was headed this way.  Large companies would consist of an uber class of top managers, technical and professional specialists and a rump of core, well regarded workers.  Other people would be self employed, outsourced (ie the same for less) or contract workers - which sometimes, but not always, will be well paid.

Well, I think this day has already arrived, well and truly!

In Edinburgh the retrenchment of the Life and Pensions industry (driven by technology, regulatory change and the un-bundling of investment management, administration and product development) and the tsunami that has swept over the banks, has speeded up this change.

Industry and economies change!  Ask the Stevedores of the Port of London what difference containerisation made and how greater and greater tonnage could be handled by fewer and fewer men.  We cannot be too much of the King Cnut when setting economic and industrial policy!

As a result of both changing industries and economic conditions, Edinburgh is now festooned with short term contract and outsourced work.  Sometimes it pays well and sometimes it pays no better than doing the role is a permanent employee - perhaps without the pensions and benefits (or money in lieu) and all the risk is on the employee's side!

I have even heard tell that if you accept a contract through an employment agency and leave because a permanent job comes up elsewhere (or a better contract) the agency may make you pay them their monthly cut of your fee from the employer!!  This means, not only is the risk on the side of the employee but they are also tied in if they get the opportunity to get a permanent job somewhere!

Of course, contracts and outsourced roles can work for people too.  It could create an opportunity to develop an important part of your CV, it could pay more money if you get a good one and it could be the gateway to a more permanent job!

Jobless recovery?
It seems to me today we have something of a jobless recovery.  The private sector is doing its best to replace roles but, as someone said to me in the pub recently, 'they've got a new job, but a crap job!'

I've heard of people being made redundant and going on to do some similar work with a small firm on as little as half of what they got paid before!

I've also heard of people leaving big companies to work stacking shelves in Tesco or to drive a Taxi.  Nothing wrong with that unless it breaks the heart of the worker, fails to provide them with the money they need to get by, and leaves their career and hopes and dreams shattered into tiny pieces all over the ground!

This is under-employment - and it is a big problem in the UK today!

These part-time, contract and smaller roles have helped us deal with unemployment.  they have helped keep the numbers down to 2.5m unemployed - fewer than many commentators expected in 2008 when the economy went into meltdown!

But the stats mask the truth that unemployment is far worse - or under-employment I should say!

I think we know that part-time work has increased during the recession but more work needs to be done on quantifying under-employment.

I read a short German study that highlighted that the psychological effects of under-employment mirror those of unemployment - low self esteem, loss of confidence, an increase in rates of depression or anxiety, lives broken and seeped in disappointment.

Of course, those who adapt do best and this need only be a passing phase for many on their journey - maybe saving them from waking up and finding they have occupied the same corner of some office for 20 years!  But adaptation does not come to all and, I think, gets harder as the worker gets older, pushing into their 50s.

My plea is this: that social commentators and economists need to do more work on under-employment to truly understand the extent of unemployment in a jobless recovery.  I think the issue goes far deeper and wider than the stats suggest.

And, I think more needs to be done to move us towards full employment.  Part of which - lest we become the Danish King Cnut trying to hold back the tidal wave - probably includes contract work and workers being adaptable.


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

On being a punch bag - part 2

In the first post of this title I reflected on the torrid time the LibDems have faced in the last few months.  I noticed with dismay the kicking we have taken from some quarters and the way in which the LibDems have become at times toxic.

I argued that going into coalition with the Conservatives was courageous and probably right for the country and going with Labour was not really possible.  And I argued the coalition agreement at that point was essentially sound!


Lets start at the deep end - It seems to me the no university tuition fees pledge plus photographs in leaflets was a mistake and will go down in the annals of UK politics as one of the great electoral mistakes and cautionary tales!

I think the public seem to understand that if you go into coalition you have to compromise but expect you to deliver something on your key policies.

By campaigning with a pledge and a photo LibDems made tuition fees a key point.

It was about the young, it was about a flagship policy and an essential part of our brand, aping what had been incredibly effective politically in Scotland.  It was about progressive politics, our belief in education, social inclusion and mobility and also loved by middle class voters and mums and dads and grannies and grandpas too for that matter!

It seemed good politics humanising the rather dry business of key points and a costed programme - this was the vital emotional ingredient that told our story!

But, as Ed Milliband later said - it was naive to go with an out and out pledge!

What went wrong? 

The LibDem leadership did scenario testing quite well in pre election preparation for potential coalitions.  They considered the possibility that it the free tuition fees pledge may not be deliverable.  From what I understand Clegg realised too late that it may not be deliverable and Danny Alexander felt there was
enough there of the policy they could deliver in spirit to go with.  This means it was a mistake they ought not to have made.

Are they liars - no, of course not!

They achieved wider social inclusion and have improved the deal for more students from disadvantaged backgrounds than Labour or the Conservatives were proposing.  And they got more resources put into early stage and pre-school education that wasn't there before.

There were too many dependencies to deal with to unravel tuition fees.  The money wasn't there.  The universities had been deprived of too much funding. The Brown commission came to recommend tuition fees.  The Vice Chancellors want it.  Labour and the Conservatives want it.

They tried, they made a difference for the good, they got rid of them in Scotland before - but they couldn't deliver on this this time.  It is a slightly perverse irony that such a pile of excrement has fallen on the LibDem's head for fighting and failing - all because of the political mistake of making a policy a pledge and those photographs!

Clegg's mistake - which may indeed have been difficult to avoid as the difficulty in delivery became apparent at the 11th hour - means that being the FibDems is now part of the brand!

I fear in coalition you get associated with one thing.  In Scotland this was Free tuition fees and then Free personal care for the elderly.

I fear that with this government the one big thing we are remembered for may be the tuition fees fail.

We need this one thing to be something else!


Well quite a lot it would seem!!

Raising the Income Tax threshhold to reduce tax for the lower paid, take 880,000 of the poorest out of income tax altogether and to fundamentally shift our tax and benefits system to make work pay is a major achievement.

Introducing the Green Investment bank and mapping out our route to renewable energy and low carbon sources of energy is important and I hope will become a more substantial achievement as this parliament unfolds.

I rather like the achievements on prioritising Dementia research and expanding talking therapies for mental health illnesses.

But there needs to be more delivered.

We must be seen to make a difference with reining in poor NHS reforms - of acting as a check and a balance.

We must be seen to move to limit cuts if things go well and tax receipts improve and progress is made with reducing the deficit.  We believe in public services and community after all.  Cuts are a necessity for us to put us on an even keel - not an article of faith like with some Tories.

But what will our one big thing be?

"Read my lips, no new taxes" was the mantra quoted by George Bush Snr on the stump.  I'm sure that was his intention but he couldn't deliver and this came back to crucify him 4 years later against Bill Clinton.  I fear Free Tuition fees and the failure to deliver on that pledge may haunt the LibDems and Nick Clegg through this election cycle.  I fear that may be our big thing we are remembered for!

We may yet make a difference!

Dr Eoin Clarke, historian, academic, and someone who is building quite a reputation as master of the data in his comments on Anthony Wells' UK Polling Report website reckons the LibDems will come back to poll ratings of 18%.

This would mean holding a lot of key seats but losing a few as well.

I feel we will eventually come back in this election cycle but damage will be done.  Eoin is pretty objective as a psephological commentator and has an uncanny nack

No he doesn't have a crystal ball but he is Irish so may be in league with the faeries!

Where did we expect to be in the polls after deciding between red and blue and going into coalition with a tough agenda involving inevitable cuts.  I thought in 2010 maybe 15% - not around 10-12% (and worse in Scotland and Northern England)

I hope we get over what we have done on tuition fees.

I hope we find 1 big thing that the LibDems are recognised for delivering in government.

Better still, I hope we find a classic list of 3 big things the LibDems are recognised as having delivered.


I have been rather amused at the schadenfreude (love that word) or joy at the LibDem's misfortune permeating the blogosphere.  You see it on Twitter and on the comments of blogs like UK Polling Report.

"The LibDems are liars and getting what they deserve".  The natural order of progressive politics is being restored with Labour on 45% and rising with the LibDems facing oblivion.  The reds can man the barricades to fight the evil old Etonians who care not for ordinary people preferring to persecute them while feathering their nests. A bit of a caricature perhaps but sometimes I wonder!  It certainly seems to be a role some of the reds love to play!

Don't forget about 1/3rd of Labour's current doesn't particularly believe in Labour policy yet! Partly because they are split between those who would tackle the deficit and those who see no need to cut anything!! See my previous posting about the paradox of Labour and some of the polling on the Labour support.

The LibDems may yet get some of these people back

Spare a thought for the LibDems courage and what they are doing. See beyond tuition fees - which was a political mistake not dishonesty or having the wrong idea!

In Scotland the Scottish election platform from the LibDems is actually rather good!

The centrepiece of the plans is a £1.5 billion windfall, coming from making Scottish Water a public benefit corporation. It retains public ownership, by selling off the debt it owes the taxpayer so that it pays the public back for the money it's borrowed. This restructuring would give an immediate cash windfall of around £2.75 billion.

  This would be invested for the long term - to create 100,000 jobs,

In addition:
  • abolishing the Council Tax for pensioners on less than £10,000, paid for by reducing the pay bill for the highest earning public sector employees
  • introducing a pupil premium to ensure that kids from poorer backgrounds don't lose out at school
  • making sure business has the help it needs - with regional development banks providing investment 
  • plans for getting superfast broadband out there to all of Scotland - to make Scotland the most connected country in Europe
  • investment in science
  • keeping the free higher education, which the LibDems won in 1999 in Scotland!!
  • opposing the political power grab to the centre, especially a single Scottish police force.
This programme has been well received by analysts and independent commentators.

There remains very much a market demand for third party - a centrist party.

From what I read about the SNP, if Independence were achieved and the SNP broke left, right and centre, about 30% would break centre to Green or LibDem.

Some of the current Labour support could go LibDem if we remind them of why they used to like us.

However, we must beware the formulation of a special interest groups rainbow coalition - or of so called blue Labour - don't let Labour be receptacle for that - if we do Ed Milliband will have outflanked us and built his own Blairite coalition.

As LibDems we need to remember core ideas and be clear what we have done through government.  This includes what we have stopped being done.  This includes putting the brakes on the likes of Bill Cash and the Euro Sceptics!

Take me to the ball game!

It is a new ball game.  There has been no coalition since the war - and that was wartime national unity. It is a new game with new rules.  We should perhaps not get into a slavish adherence to cabinet responsibility.  We owe a duty to be clear about what LibDems are arguing for in government and against.  Yes, in government we must support the decisions that are made but I believe it is ok to have the party running arguments - on say whether we should have such high VAT - it is an honest approach.

We should not worry about being a punchbag by Labour supporters or the Daily Mail, or by getting lost in the quagmire of tuition fees - what's done is done!

We must now focus on deliverables and by getting out there with what we are trying to do!  Olly Grender, Paddy Ashdown's Director of Communications, has argued as much in the New Statesman recently!

It is also important that we don't look like poodles and that Clegg doesn't look like Cam's fag!!

Remember the LibDems like us. The Conservatives think we are ok.  It is Labour who hate us and they never supported us before!

As for ex LibDems - there must be some inevitable loss but if we deliver in government we will remind some of these voters why they liked us in the first place - at the next election cycle if not this one!

I still can't see the Greens on a reading of their current platform being a mass party.  The market demand for the centre is very much there as is the scope for doing well with a leader who catches the popular imagination!

We must toughen up, not listen to those who partisanly wish our demise and deliver stuff!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

On being a punch bag - part 1

I have watched with interest, stoicism and some dismay the spectacle of the LibDems journey over the last ten months or so.  I've also watched the Cleggster go from hero to zero if the polls are to be believed.  A good friend asked me what I made of it all over coffee in Costa Coffee the other day.

I answered, "I'll tell you in a couple of years!"  This seems to me the sensible answer.  Going into government off the back of the credit crunch and going into government with arch rivals and arch villains the Conservatives was never going to be easy.  A process based on deficit reduction and gradual delivery of policies and vision - especially as a recovery (I hope) emerges is always going to take time.  We need to be bold and hang on and not just press the panic button  at the first wobble.

I am struck by the solidity of the party - I attend meetings and talk to plenty of them and people are still in surprisingly good spirits.  Hardly anyone has left.  I believe a few people who joined around last year's GE are not renewing but that is pretty much it.

I also said, "what did we expect to see?"  The Governor of the Bank of England said before the GE last year that whoever got in could expect to be out of power for the next generation because of the dirty work they would have to do.  We knew it was likely to be bloody!!!

We also knew if you go into coalition as a centre party your left wing will desert if you go blue, and your right wing will desert if you go red! Problem is the Lib Dems are a slightly left of centre party.  A believer in freedom and free enterprise but also I am a believer in public services - free at the point of delivery - a believer in community and of helping equalise the odds for people.  I am a believer in equality of opportunity.  A sort of enlightened capitalism we like to see.  For decades we have set our stall out as the non Tory alternative to socialism.  The point is non Tory!!

Yes, yes! This also means non socialist. No big state, centralist, blunt inefficient solutions for us.  Freedom from tyranny does not mean being replaced by workers controlling the means of production - ie self appointed new oligarchs!

But we are part of a progressive family that believes in helping folk, social justice and tends to believe in Keynsian economics. (Keynes is after all one of the great Liberal icons and part of our DNA and credo).

Being a LibDem  also I believe means being practical and open minded and not slavishly following any dogma.  Horses for courses! If a more supply side is needed as the solution or part of the solution then so be it!

We also have a Gladstonian tradition after all - Retrenchment, Peace and Reform.  And you still see the influence of that in our philosophy today.  Peace - our policies on Iraq and Trident - which many many people see the sense in!! Reform - our belief in decentralisation and reform of the house of Lords and civil liberties - bit policy wonky but history is usually on our side - especially in crusty conservative old Britain which likes to stick with what it knows at times.  Retrenchment - well here is the fault line.  This is the origin of us not liking clunky authoritarian inefficient statist solutions - but it is about public sector cuts.  the orange bookers are Gladstonian.  Most of the party is not really.  Though we can be persuaded of the need to retrench from time to time.  This is my position.

I am also conscious that after two - or was it three - elections of going with a penny on income tax to pay for education - we had to adapt to changing economic circumstances.

I thought Cable and Laws had a good, well thought out economic view at the last election.  Taking the tax burden off less well off folks, making work pay and being serious about addressing the deficit.

The structural deficit! My understanding on that one was it was massive, massive!!!  We spend far more than we can afford.  the bank bail outs have slaughtered us in the same way as reconstruction after a war of national survival.  I f not addressed, the bond markets will turn on us and destroy our economy.  To do nothing is not an option!!!

And the added complication is that these are changing times! Globalisation, the rise of mega economies like China, Brazil, India.  The rise of the East, the decline of the West (relatively).

The Western economies are adapting and we may face a period of low growth and something of a jobless recovery.

I am not sure if the simple Keynsian idea of spend, spend, spend works on its own this time! It is not post war reconstruction.  The world markets are not there for us, turbo charging growth as we spend!

So, I think avoiding deficit reduction is not an option and Labour would be doing it too! The only real arguments are around depth of cuts and over what time-frame!   

So, in terms of where we were in 2010 I think we had no option and I think the coalition agreement was sound.

Labour had had a colossal defeat and Brown was unpopular - and I think, great thinker and idealist that he is, somewhat dysfunctional as a leader.  Going with Labour was not possible.

Cleggster good ratings at a couple of debates but lacking roots meant it disappeared like snow off a dyke in a few days!

That was how I saw things.

So what if anything has gone wrong?

I'll leave that to the next post!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Why I'm supporting AV

While there are a number of arguments and points being made by both the Yes and No sides I think the issue is actually very simple.

The FPTP system is undemocratic and produces an inaccurate result.

It works well in a two party scenario but we have not had that since the 1960s - over 40 years now.

We have LibDems but also important strands of political thought in UKIP and the Greens - and Nationalists in Scotland and Wales.

Only around a little over 60% voted Con or Lab last time!

A key argument for FPTP is it gives a clear result and as long as that is broadly in line with the vote that is pragmatic. Governments are scrutinised and accountable at elections every 4 or 5 years and at by-elections!

However, the results have for some time been too approximate or remote from the will of the people to be democratic. They are quite distorting and suppress new and important political movements coming through.

It seems to me the case for change is in fact overwhelming! Simply because both FPTP and the election results it gives are wrong!

The key reasons for no change are in fact inertia and conservatism.

AV is not the best solution but it is an improvement and all that can be agreed upon at this stage.

It is also a low risk change which will modify rather than radically change.

And that is why I will be voting Yes to AV!


The paradox of Labour's lead!

UK Polling Report has highlighted that Labour now has a pretty consistent lead in voting intention. Which seems remarkable after such a massive defeat and terrible result at the General Election.  However, the answers to other questions are often rather bad for Labour. Why is this? What does it mean?

The article seems to highlight that about 33% of Labour's support is very soft and is rather more about discontent with the track the country is on than active support for Labour.

Anthony Wells writes, "Only 63% of Labour’s own voters think Ed Miliband would make the best Prime Minister, only 54% think he is up to the job of Labour leader. Only 69% of Labour voters trust Labour more than the coalition more than Labour to deal with the deficit, 77% trust Miliband & Balls to run the economy more than Cameron & Osborne. 45% of their own voters think Labour need to make major changes to be fit for government. In short, a substantial minority of people who say they’ll vote Labour don’t seem to be very pro-Labour when you inquire further.
My guess is that the reason is that Labour are really the only major opposition party to the coalition and hence many people will be telling pollsters they’d vote Labour as the only mainstream way of voting against the coalition. If that is the case, you wouldn’t necessarily expect all those people to have positive views of Labour – they are benefiting from a negative anti-government vote, not necessarily a pro-Labour one."

 see the full post here.

The Tories in Scotland are different

I originally posted this as a comment on The Green Benches blog.  It is a good blog.  You will find a link on my blogroll to the right hand side.

I think the Tories in Scotland are less concerned about being anti-EU and anti immigration than down south.

Many of the young Turks are interested in Euro scepticism and love characters like Dan Hanan but it just doesn't matter to them as much. UKIP barely register a ripple north of the border after all.

They aren't and cannot be Little Englanders.

Their belief in Britishness is strong. As the generations pass and the Second World War goes into the past so this dissipates somewhat but it is central to who they are.

One thing which stands out - I believe is class - I perceive the Tories in Scotland as being very much the party of many of the professional classes in Edinburgh and Glasgow, of people who were educated privately there, of well to do folks of rural Borders and Perthshire. As such they are a group who many Scots struggle to relate to and have become a small party marginalised to some extent.

The theme of localism that has been suggested that runs like a schism in Scottish politics - localism v statism. They love their communities. Wedded to Britishness they may well be but they are proud Scots too.

This sense of community and localism means they are less idealistic about small government and low taxes than their English counterparts. this also helps explain why they seem to have a narrower social mix than the Tories down south.

I sense many of the Tories in Scotland are socially quite conservative. The family, community, lack of political correctness and a residual element of the deferential society and belief in institutions is there. You highlight the connection with the forces,

Of course the 80s and Thatcher saw them seriously marginalised in Scotland becoming toxic under FPTP ensuring a tactical allegiance against them everywhere.

They seem to be uneasy bedfellows with the SNP and I think they are more right wing than you say Eoin. They are also unionists and not separatists and not all even convinced about devolution.

Nonetheless the SNP seem unlikely to deliver separatism producing a loose left of centre non socialist alternative to labour. The Tories are uneasy about their lefty-ness but they can unite against the Labour establishment.

In fact with the SNP having a loose belief in 'fairness' they occupy some of the space the LibDems occupy - especially down south - though they have good pockets of support in central Scotland too. It seems almost like a Con/LibDem coalition united against conservative, tribal,established Labour - who are rather - well - dull!

So an uneasy relationship but perhaps the SNP offer the Tories a cloak under which to do things, a chance - the only chance - to beat Labour and help in the long march back from the margins and being perceived as non Scottish.


Blogging is hard

Writing a few thoughts and posting a few links is easy enough.  Keeping them up is the hard part.

Also posting to another site can be rather irksome - finding the link and logging in and posting without loosing your work - as I have just done!!

Well, we  shall see what we can do. Not sure yet what I will blog about, whether it will be in effect a diary or a range of musings, or my own personal newspaper complete with comments section?