Saturday, August 15, 2015

Power for a porpoise

Congratulations to Kezia Dugdale on becoming the sixth Scottish Labour leader since the party lost office just eight years ago.  I think I've counted that correctly - the six are Jack McConnell (who stayed on briefly after his defeat), Wendy Alexander, Iain "the Snarl" Gray, Johann Lamont, "Jackanory" Jim Murphy, and Kezia.

Her first year in harness is going to be intriguing, to say the least.  Regardless of what you think of Jeremy Corbyn's potential appeal to Scottish voters, there is a golden rule in politics that generally holds true in most circumstances -

"The electorate does not vote for a divided party."

That means for the next nine months, Kezia's self-interest is going to diverge massively from her natural allies south of the border.  She has an election to fight, they don't.  They can afford the indulgence of tearing the party apart for a year or two to undermine Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, she can't.  If she follows her self-interest, and that of the party she leads, she'll incongruously find herself urging loyalty to Corbyn and slapping down the 'modernising' plotters.

If she doesn't follow that self-interest, it'll be a sign that her true ambitions within Labour lie beyond Holyrood.  Either that, or her first loyalties aren't with Scottish Labour, in which case people will rightly ask why she actually put herself forward as leader.

*  *  *

There's a new poll today that turns conventional wisdom on its head by suggesting that Corbyn is now the most popular of the Labour leadership candidates among the general public.  He's even practically drawn level with Andy Burnham on the question of who would make the best Prime Minister.

If it's true, as the Guardian are reporting, that Corbyn's opponents have cast doubt on the findings by suggesting that opponents of Labour may have deliberately lied to skew the results, then they really are losing the plot. It's one thing to think that supporters of other parties may be trying to infiltrate the election itself, but to imagine that random  respondents to a Survation poll are plotting Labour's downfall is utterly paranoid.

Much more likely, the explanation for the unexpected result is that respondents weren't interviewed "cold".  They were shown clips of the four candidates, and they probably just found Corbyn the most impressive - simple as that.


  1. She seems nice. Plus she's female - seemingly a prerequisite these days for success in Scottish politics.

    She certainly won't get peoples' backs up to the extent that Jim Murphy did. In retrospect, it was a mistake to put such a divisive figure in charge of the party.

    Good luck Kezia!

    1. She's been defacto Holyrood leader since last year, taking on Sturgeon at FMQ's every week.

      Out with old and in with the old as they say!

    2. Not a great record in May's election. As depute leader, she should really have done the honourable thing and resigned. I mean she was Jim Murphy's running mate for the leadership; why did he have to take all the flak for the GE disaster?

    3. Because he's the leader and that's how it goes. He was also a terrible leader by the way. I'd never really heard the man speak extensively, in public, until he became Scottish labour leader. I expected a savvy, take no prisoners style political streetfighter - someone who would energise unionists to vote for him, at least. What we got was a fuckwit who never shut up about football and talked as if he was braindamaged while making grandoise claims about how he was going to crush the SNP. As Jeremy Corbyn might say, "that's embarrassing".

      Dugdale can only be an improvement on that. Plus, being female, people will give her a hearing. If it was a guy, he'd probably just get told to eff off. Plus I don't think they'll have so much of a problem with violent protest this time around. Physically bully or intimidate a woman and you are a "see you next tuesday" in most peoples' book - regardless of political concerns.

    4. The labour sleazebags tried that revolting tactic twice already.

      Salmond bullying poor delicate election expenses fraudster Wendy and the racist Lamont just by treating them the same as a male opponent.

      You are a vile misogynist. Women, particularly the kind of heifers (K Baillie) who infest the labour party are not seen as poor delicate flowers by anybody.
      Still the same old tried-and-failed strategy. MORE HAMMERS! SHOUT LOUDER! SNP BAAAAAAAAAAAD!!

    5. Aldo is right in one sense. If he truly was expecting Murphy to be a 'streetfighter' rather than a dimwit, then he was not alone in some circles as we heard long and loud that Murphy was a 'streetfighter' upon his appointment. Some folk clearly believed this hype. But, then, that's what happens when the people with media pals bum them up and then they are expected to actually perform someday.

    6. "Out with old and in with the old as they say!"

      Whatever anyone can say about Kezia, I'm not sure accusing her of being representative of the old guard is very accurate. She's 33.

    7. It was more in reference to her already having been leader for months and defacto leader in the Holyrood chamber since last year. She's been on the telly just about every week debating with Sturgeon for ages now; hardly a 'fresh face' in terms of the electorate. As noted, she was part of team Murphy; his running mate in the 2014 leadership contest and went on with him to preside (as depute in the May GE campaign) over Labour's greatest electorate defeat in Scotland ever.

      Also, she's George Foulkes' apprentice; he was first elected in 1979. I'm not sure how much more 'old guard' you can get than Foulkes. If she wants be be 'fresh and new' she'll need to distance herself from her time with Foulkes anyway.

    8. A "vile misogynist"? All I did was point out that the nat militant wing can't get all aggressive and in her face like what they did with Murphy and get away with it.

      Scottish Skier, going by the same logic, Sturgeon should also resign for her role in the referendum defeat.

    9. Aside from the fact the referendum wasn't an election and was not specifically party-political (an iScotland could have voted in e.g. a Labour or Tory government), Sturgeon stood down as deputy leader of the SNP following it, just as Salmond stood down as FM and SNP leader. Sturgeon was then elected as actual leader and FM by the SNP and the Holyrood parliament respectively.

    10. If anything it was far more important than a party political election. They come every 4 or 5 years. The SNP were chasing that referendum for about 80 years.

      So she resigned and was subsequently re elected. Sorry, that's not resigning. Resigning is calling it a day for good and going into a nunnery or something.

      She did a Farage.

    11. I don't recall Sturgeon saying she'd step down if Yes didn't win, yet that's what she did. I do recall Farage saying he'd step down if he didn't win his seat.

      I think the public's view on Sturgeon's actions were made clear in May's GE.

      So far, various council by-elections have not been great for the (acting) leadership of Dugdale since she took over in June. Disastrous in fact.

    12. Very easy to point to election results as endorsements or repudiations of individual politicians' judgment and morality Scottish Skier. In fact, they are no such thing. A bandwagon is very much in operation here. A devil with an SNP badge could beat an angel with a labour one.

      It seems Nicola Sturgeon's resignation was simply to allow her to run for the leadership and someone else to run for the deputy leadership. Fair enough. From that point of view it's a clearly functional thing. Nicola Sturgeon wasn't saying "I've failed in this once in a lifetime opportunity so I intend to leave frontline politics".

      So, I don't really see where the lesson is for Scottish labour in there. Are you saying the Scottish labour party should streamline its procedures for electing its leaders or are you saying that Kez Dugdale should have threw herself upon a sword that Sturgeon herself chose to stay well clear of?

    13. This is the last sat ratings I have for Sturgeon just ahead of the GE and well after the iref:

      Do you think Nicola Sturgeon is doing well or badly as First Minister?
      75% Well
      19% Badly
      +56% NET

      From Yougov. Not bad really; some room for improvement though. Doesn't look like folk think she's a devil certainly.

    14. As for the iref, it looked to me like Yes was winning over voters while no was losing. That means the No campaign were the losers even though they managed to hold on. Probably explains the May GE result.

    15. Wow - that's quite a bit of spin in your last post there Scottish Skier. The no campaign were the losers - even though they won and polls still show "no" leading. Brilliant, just brilliant. Keep em coming!

      As for the Sturgeon / Dugdale / resignation thing - what exactly is your point? Are you saying that Dugdale should have left frontline politics as a result of the GE, despite being a mere deputy - whereas it was perfectly ok for Sturgeon to stay on? If you could clarify your thinking on this, that would be nice. No polling data required.

    16. In addition, the May GE result emerged from a broad manifesto in which independence and independence referenda were off the table - Sturgeon told us this herself. This cleared the way for left wing no voters and protest voters to vote SNP along with actual independence supporters, without any consequences.

      There is a clear disconnect between SNP / Green support and support for independence. The former is at 62%, the latter at 44%.

      It is no longer the case that SNP supporters automatically want Scotland to be an independent country - if it ever was the case to begin with. Look at the referendum map of Scotland - some of the heaviest defeats for Yes came from nationalist strongholds. Those'll be the residual "tartan tories" I'd imagine, left over from the 70s, voting SNP out of mere habit.

      The disconnect between SNP / Green support and support for "Yes" should worry every independence supporter. Your party has been substituted for labour as Scotland's leftist party. That is all that has happened here. The mythical yes majority remains as elusive as ever.

    17. I'm bamboozled as to why you might think Nicola should resign. If every party leader and depute who doesnt win outright is expected to resign, we'd be ushering a load of folk out the door every few years. Where's the disgrace in losing a vote, but increasing your proportion of the vote significant during the campaign ? Labour however, had a disasterous time in the last elections. I can't see any way to put a positive spin on what has happened with their support over the last couple of years. I'm amazed more politicians haven't resigned from the party, as they appear to have completely lost their way as a party.

  2. If Corbyn does win the leadership vote some of the nastiest commentaries in the press will simply be historic quotes from Labour party MPs, former leaders, members and supporters.

    On the positive side, Kezia will be carping front and centre at FMQs once a week. She has not been sidelined. This situation is aided by the Scottish accounting unit being largely irrelevant to Westminster success. The real focus will be England.

  3. I hope she has travel sickness pills on hand.

  4. Did anybody hear George Galloway on LBC this morning? Seems like he is trying to line himself up to stand as a Labour candidate next year if Corbyn wins.

    1. Excellent. I diverge with George Galloway on nearly everything but his empassioned defences of the union were stirring. It's also important to have an authentic voice of the left opposing independence.

      I just hope he can leave behind his hobby horse - middle eastern politics - long enough to make an impact on Scottish politics.

    2. If one likes showmen rather than honest politicians then GW is your man.

    3. Are you sure CH? What about Salmondo?

    4. Yes I am sure Galloway is me me me first in all things whereas Salmond is Scotland first always.

    5. CH, my sides are sore. Please stop!

      Salmondo cares about one thing only - what he's getting for breakfast / lunch / dinner / supper / midnight snack!

  5. There's a new poll today that turns conventional wisdom on its head by suggesting that Corbyn is now the most popular of the Labour leadership candidates among the general public. He's even practically drawn level with Andy Burnham on the question of who would make the best Prime Minister

    The poll was done by Survation for the TSSA union. The general write up is here and includes links to the clips of Andrew Marr interviews that people were shown so they could have an idea of the candidates. So the contents of those might bias things, though presumably people also used whatever knowledge they had about the candidates. There were a lot of policy questions as well.

    There was also a general voting intention question asked, though it hasn't been much reported, as shown in the tables here:

    Con 38%

    Lab 33%

    Lib Dem 6%

    UKIP 15%

    SNP 5%

    PC 1%

    Green 3%

    And because I know you love your Scottish subsamples James:

    Con 25%

    Lab 22%

    Lib Dem 5%

    UKIP 1%

    SNP 45%

    Green 2%

    Other 2%

    Clearly the SNP are starting to fade from their high and will be wiped out by the battle between an ever-stronger Tory Party and a resurgent Labour.

    (Nah, it's just normal variation from a sample of around 80. The SNP are still probably around 50%).

    1. Tories seem to be increasingly strong in these subsamples - often overtaking labour. Could this be for real or is it just noise?

    2. Might be real. Some natural Tories almost certainly defected to Labour, seeing them as Tory-barely-even-lite and obviously in a better position to defeat the SNP than the actual Tories. That latter point no longer being true probably means some of them will gravitate back Conservative-wards.

    3. Tories as official opposition would be a stunning development and could take Scotland in a completely new political direction in the long run.

    4. Tories (13%) remain well behind Labour (20%) on average in full Scotland polls. Greens giving them a run for their money (8%). SNP on 59% for V1 and 49% for V2 constituency.

    5. I think there will be big % gains for the Greens, SSP, tories and UKIP - with lib dems remaining stable on about 7 or 8%. SNP will walk the first ballot. Regional ballot will be more hotly contested with SNP pushed back well below 50% by the combined forces of all the up and coming minor parties.

      Just a gut feeling.

    6. UKIP are polling 2%. Comparable to what they got in the GE within error.

      I think Farage's anti-Scots stuff in the GE campaign screwed them. Before that, polls suggested maybe they might get a seat in Holyrood.

    7. By 2016 we'll be a lot closer to the euro referendum.

  6. Whits wee Dougie up to? We haven't heard a thing about him since Mhairi whupped his ass. Now if he was to get on the list, and get in. He would be the obvious next leader.

    He's sleekit enough. He can be economical with the truth like the best of them. The MOT loves him. I cant see him getting a byelection free pass in the south if Jezza wins.

    Whats the odds for him being the next branch manager?

    1. What labour shouldn't do is ditch their leader every time a setback is experienced.

      People trust familiar faces - people who have been there for a long time and are part of the furniture, as it were. A revolving door policy on leaders isn't good. Labour should stick with Kezia - unless she is catastrophically bad.

    2. July the 10th 2016 is already being pencilled in by the journos as these annual events have become standard policy like the Brit fest annual numerous war ceremonies.

  7. Replies
    1. That was in relation to cynicalHighlander's last comment.

    2. He's talking about the celebration of UK offensive forces, their guns and stuff on 'armed forces day'.

      UK just used to commemorate veterans starting in 2006, but since 2009, we've been doing the North Korean / USSR / Third Reich type big armed parades celebrations stuff.

    3. Really? Do we cart nukes up the mall with jackbooting soldiers following behind, saluting the Queen as they go?

      It's right we celebrate our armed forces. War is horrible but it's necessary sometimes - and the thing standing between us and tyranny isn't our weak, politically correct, cowardly leaders - it's our army, navy and airforce, the men and women who serve therein, backed up strongly by our much maligned nuclear force.

      They are the only thing standing between us and the butchers of ISIS, the gangsters of Russia, and the communist fanatics of North Korea.

      So, yep - let's celebrate them. Let's proclaim our love of the military.

    4. Only been going a few years. Getting bigger.

      Massed parades in squares is increasingly common:

      Lovely 'family' day out to show the kids weapons that can and are used to blow kids to bits:

      March past the 'leaders' of course:

      As I said, only being going a few years but getting more 'spectacular' each year.

    5. Again, I fail to see the problem. The British idea of a good day out used to be going to see a mass hanging. At least that's no longer a thing.

      You can't mollycoddle kids. They should know how the world works - and it's not all sweetness and light. When negotiatons and diplomacy and "soft" power break down - as they often do - you need firepower and someone prepared to use it. It's just a fact of life.

    6. I don't mollycoddle my daughter, I've told her all about the reality of the Tories/UKIP/Britain.

    7. Reality or subjective opinion?

      The war against fascism, NHS, cradle to grave welfare - you tell her about that stuff?

      Or what Scotland was prior to the Act of Union - a sectarian wasteland, economically pulverized, its cities plague infested death traps?

      Maybe that can be your next lesson.

    8. A Scotland hater. Thought so.

      She'll do the great plague in London at school I imagine. I'll cover the British concentration camps in the Boer war and the Kenyan massacres etc; the stuff that's normally left out.

      In the meantime, I've shown her all the 'anti-immigration' stuff; her mother being an immigrant.

      Anyway you've managed to show your true colours, so job done. Night.

    9. True colours? What's that meant to mean? I haven't said anything that isn't factual. Scotland was in a dreadful state prior to union with England. It lifted us up out of the squalor - not immediately, but within a half century Scotland boomed economically.

      During the 20th century we confronted the remaining strongholds of real poverty and succeeded in eliminating them - and that success is the main reason why labour is largely an irrelevance today.

      And if you still reckon Britain's a 1st rate horror show - just look at the sutuation in Calais. "England or death!", they cry.

      Can't be that bad.

      As for historical wrongs, there is no country without a certain amount of blood on its hands. Scotland certainly isn't innocent - we revelled in the slave trade. We didn't have to - we chose it.

    10. Regarding immigration, I think Britain is very open to immigrants. Our net immigration is in the hundreds of thousands. Every two years, we take in a city the size of Glasgow. Britain, anti immigration? Not from the evidence, it would seem. A few people have stuck their head above the parapet to call for controlled, better managed, better targeted immigration. These are reasonable people - not nazis. Yet the left, including the SNP, denounce them as racists. In the case of the SNP, they're not even clever enough to see the irony.

  8. James, when did the troll become a fixture? Could you perhaps highlight the comment headers in a different colour so I can skip over them without wasting my time? I admire your patience and tolerance, but like Niko on Munguin, there's nothing they have to say that I want to see.

    1. A real democrat here, hehe!

    2. Its like a rugby fan on a football fan forum. With nothing better to do with their life than produce endless tedious waffle about how misguided football fans are.

      The sort of thing no one in their right mind would do unless they were being paid to do it.

      At least jimmy GWC has the maturity to keep his comedy rantings short and to the point.

  9. I know most of James regulars will be laughing at the hilariously clueless shrieking and spamming of the Daily Mail Pouter, but this very funny tweet summed it all up when I saw it on the eve of the 'great event'.

    Carpet Burnsey ‏@schotsvrouw · Aug 14

    Can't believe this is the last night I'll go to sleep before the newest Scottish Labour leader is revealed. What a time to be alive!


  10. Labour puts Westminster's wants above Scotland's needs. Same old same old.

  11. Aldo seems to cast him/herself as being of the "left" in one of his/her tortuous posts above (can't be arsed wading through his/her mountains of verbiage and cutting and pasting}.

    Take that to mean the British imperialist pseudo-left, perhaps - given the British Labour Party is supposed to inhabit that portion of the British political spectrum: A fantasy given the illegal Iraqi war and all the other imperialist adventures by the British state this "left" has consistently supported. For example, the Mau Mau massacres in Kenya.

    A kind of well-evidenced, murderous sociopathy on an industrial scale and done time and time again.

    So, luck with that position, Aldo.

    Me? I want this murderous apparatus dismantled for good and Tony Blair, Jack Straw, et al tried for war crimes before an international court to boot with the Union treaty abrogated as a key pillar in the foregoing.