Thursday, March 26, 2009

Me versus Aye We Can - the (slightly edited) highlights

I sincerely apologise for doing this, but I've decided to enable comment moderation, at least for the time being. It's mainly the issue of swearing I'm concerned about - I certainly have no intention of censoring anyone for their political views. Does anyone know if there's a way to moderate individual words or phrases without deleting the whole comment? I don't think there is. Anyway for anyone unlucky enough (ahem) to miss the exchange between me and Aye We Can on the previous thread, here it is minus the one or two offending bits -

Aye We Can : I don’t think it’s Jeff that is being inconsistent here. He is just saying, having been elected on a Labour ticket, by voters who wanted a "representative" its not down to some provost to in effect turn all these voters into SNP ones because he's got the hump or seen the light.

The right, democratic, thing to do is to test his new found convictions at the polls - see if he still has a mandate, still represents the people that put him there in the first place.

Nothing to do with "systems" but representative principles, honour dare I say?. And applicable under any electoral system First past the post or any variant of PR you care to think of.

There was a councillor in on the SNP group in Glasgow a few months back who lost out in some internal vote (I think it was who was the local housing spokesman) and in a fit of pique defected to the Labour group. Then, I'm sure at Labour prompting, a condition of membership, he put out a lot of guff attacking the case for independence. But anyone with half a brain knew if he'd won the internal vote on his own career, independence would still be the best thing since slicked bread!

It’s stuff like this, McNulty, and dare I say the provost of Dundee that gets politics such a bad name.

These people, politicians in general ain’t anything other than representatives, 99 times out of 100 elected for one reason only - their party ticket. Resign and seek a new mandate on whatever ticket you care to choose. But if you don’t, don’t claim you are representing anyone except your own narrow personal interest, abusing the party system you so recently embraced.

Jeff 10 James 0 on this occasion I believe. you hung yourself by saying had it been an defector from the SNP to Labour you'd be demanding he resign!

Canavan and Margo forever - people with democratic credibility.

Freedom fighters!

Me : Aye We Can, feel free to argue against me, but please stick to arguing against what I actually said rather than what you wish I'd said! Please direct me to the bit where I said I'd be calling for a defector from the SNP to resign? I said the complete opposite of that!

And it's (to put it mildly) somewhat bizarre that you resorted to the examples of Dennis Canavan and Margo MacDonald, as they are in fact the two most 'abominable' examples of what you and Jeff so disapprove of - they both resigned their party whip without standing down to face re-election!

Seems to me in the Aye We Can rule-book, defections are 'courageous' and 'democratically credible' if you happen to like the person, and a outrage to democracy if you don't. Talk about having your cake and eating it!

Aye We Can : James you said in your blog post "and, incidentally, if an SNP councillor had just defected to Labour, yes I'd probably be enthusiastically joining in the invective against him or her, but I wouldn't be calling into question the system that allowed it to happen" - it kind or reads facing both ways to me (because its was Labour to SNP defection you ain’t "joining in the invective"? - I'd read "calling for their resignation" into this, as i think most reasonable people would) What were you saying? And I certainly don’t think SNP Tactical Voting, who you were attacking ever called "into question the system that allowed it to happen" - but you accuse me of misrepresenting?

Re Margo and Canavan. Canavan never ever stood as a Labour candidate for Holyrood but as an independent - from 1999 until his voluntary retiral in 2007. Genuine independent from start to finish.

Margo, I know it got messy in 2002-3, especially when Kenny McAskill and Fiona Hyslop started worrying about their personal career prospects and started playing dirty in an attempt to knock Margo down he SNP Lothians list. Was she expelled or did she resign? - she certainly would have been expelled had she hung on. Why? - for being too good, too popular. We all know what happened and why - even her executioners.

And we all know what happened in 2004 and 2007 - she won by a mile as an independent, making Kenny and Fiona looking pretty stupid. And effectively their personal ambitions cost the SNP a seat and with it one of their best assets. I know who should have been expelled - but they are now both Cabinet Secretaries. Just as well [Fiona] was high up that list - she couldne even win Linlithgow on a good day, when Angela Constance won Livingston and Bruce Crawford even won Stirling.

Me : Do you know what, life would be a lot simpler if, instead of 'reading things into' what I say, you just read what's actually there. That's what most 'reasonable' people do, and that's why they'd realise I was saying precisely what I appeared to be saying - that a system which allows elected politicians to switch allegiance is perfectly justifiable (and in fact desirable). That principle applies regardless of the party someone is defecting from or defecting to. When I said I'd be joining in the invective against an SNP defector, again I can only gently point out that was intended to mean exactly what it said. You'll have to direct me to the dictionary that defines 'joining in the invective' as 'demanding a resignation'.

You're completely splitting hairs over whether Margo MacDonald resigned the whip or was expelled. By declaring her intention to stand against the SNP she was by definition excluding herself from the parliamentary party - at which point she singularly failed to do what you claim all politicians should do if they have an ounce of integrity. She failed to stand down and seek immediate re-election. What a democratic outrage, eh?

And you've completely - and I suspect willfully - missed the point about Dennis Canavan. The issue is not his status at Holyrood but his status at Westminster. He left the Labour whip months before the Holyood election of 1999, but insisted on holding onto his Westminster seat as an independent all the way until the autumn of 2000. What a betrayal of his electorate who had voted for a Labour MP, eh?

As you seem to have a problem detecting my sarcasm - yes, the above was meant to be sarcastic. What Dennis and Margo did was in fact perfectly legitimate in a representative democratic system. The trouble for you is that, as soon as you accept that principle for those two ‘freedom fighters’, it’s rather difficult for you to say the same principle magically does not apply to other people you might happen to be less keen on.

Finally, on the subject of me misrepresenting Jeff – don’t be daft. After all, I went out of my way to note I had a high regard for him. He most certainly did call into question the system – he said politicians who switch sides must resign. That is contrary to the system we currently have, therefore Jeff was calling that system into question. To me that seems a fairly uncontroversial observation to make!


  1. It's too long. I lost interest after about four paras. I got the point after two paras then it just wandered into making the same repetitive point.

  2. Now I know how Neil Kinnock used to feel. Mind you, there were two of us in that conversation so I refuse to take all the blame! (Or any of it, quite honestly.)

  3. hey james, Take off that comment moderation and promise not to swear again - on your blog anyway!

    Seems unfair on others. And i hate comment prer moderation whatever its motive - and I apprecite yours was not censor me, but others do use it as a form of censorship

    But above all it spoils the flow of a good blog, which yours is.

    So ill watch my p's and q's - but dont go the way of guido and more tham a few others on my account

  4. OK, I'll take moderation off again and see how it goes. There does seem to be something about political-related blogs that attracts a lot of swearing, though!