Monday, August 31, 2015

This door needs a good scrub, not an alternative voting system

As you can see from this photo I took this morning in northern Italy, the No 2 AV campaign still haven't got over it.  (I know, I know, I've got a very creepy shadow.)

"No TAV" are actually a campaign against high speed rail.

In other news, I see that Tony Blair is comparing Jeremy Corbyn's 'baffling' success with Bernie Sanders (who is bad because he can't win), Donald Trump (who is bad because he can't win), the SNP (who are bad because they did win), and Syriza (who are also bad because they did win).  Is losing bad or is winning bad, Tony?  Get it sorted, man.

I think the idea is that the left have to abandon their principles to win, but the right mustn't abandon their principles even if it means being defeated by the left, because the left are wrong, and that's a principle.

*  *  *

Without getting into the rights and wrongs of Craig Murray's rejection as a potential SNP candidate for Holyrood, I do agree with him that it would be crazy to get into the mindset that we have to wait until Yes are at 60% in the polls before holding a second independence referendum.  That would be like trying to score the perfect goal, and never actually shooting.  It's to all intents and purposes an argument for never having another referendum.  Are we really saying that a steady 55% Yes would be an argument AGAINST going to the country again?

My own view is that the trigger for Indyref II will be an event (like Brexit, but it could be something else), rather than polling numbers.


  1. Do you have fingers or tentacles?

    Thanks for the laugh Mr Kelly and welcome to the crazy political world. So full of contradictions.

  2. "Creepy". That's up there with Nosferatu.

  3. I also found myself (for about the first time in my life) in agreement with Craig Murray in the latter part of that blog post. However, he's only articulating a fairly widely-held opinion.

    I don't think the SNP leadership is likely to be disagreeing to any significant extent. The difference is, Murray has the luxury of saying this in public, as a private citizen. Scottish government ministers and the leadership of the governing party don't. Some people mistake "not putting all your cards on the table" for an absence of cards.

  4. In my view, its not about reaching some magic opinion-poll level, rather about plugging the holes that were the weaknesses in the argument for yes in indyref1. In the face of a Smith Commission solution which will give us only partial tax-raising powers, I think the best way forward is for indyref2 to ask the as-yet unasked second question. A policy to hold a devo-max referendum would give the yes parties the high-ground in defining "more powers". At the moment Smith is a poison chalice designed to provide responsibility without power, and needs to be made the subject of a proper vote.
    We saw how this fudge came out of all the promises and vows, we now know that the tory consensus version of devo-max is pitiful in extent. The Smith commission panel was heavily loaded with unionist representation, and produced a settlement with such arcane wording that no ordinary citizen can even understand it.

  5. Craig Murray is a kind of loose cannon firing off rants about every subject under the sun and never showing an ounce of perspective. It's tough to imagine what kind of professional mainstream political party could actually accept someone like that as a candidate at this point.

    His support for a unilateral declaration of independence alone should be enough to reject him as a candidate. It's absolutely bonkers to think a party could go into an election in the aftermath of losing a referendum saying they're going to ignore the result and do what they were proposing anyway without another referendum. Just ridiculous as an electoral strategy and about as sure a way as any to reduce support for the SNP. Anyone who actually supports this (and there are some people who do) should find another party because it's about as stupid as it gets.

    1. It's also the way he expresses himself. Whether he means it or not, he comes over as believing that he's a big fish who is graciously associating himself with the SNP, and the party should be glad to have him. He announces what he personally believes and intends to work for without the slightest indication that he's prepared to work collectively and operate within the constraints of back-bencher status either in Holyrood or Westminster.

      He also affects to have no idea why he might possibly consider apologising to anyone in the party, even while his intemperate rants from last Christmas accusing office-bearers of all sorts of incompetence and malice are still there to be read on his blog.

      I thought he intended to resign when I read that lot at the time, and I'm mildly surprised he wasn't expelled. What makes him think he might be considered as a candidate after all that, I have no idea.

    2. I especially love how he seems to think he knows so much better than the finest strategic minds of the SNP. He doesn't have even sufficient humility to think "Hey, these people oversaw the transition of the SNP from an ignored minor party to the biggest party in Scotland, winning a huge landslide majority just three months ago. Maybe they know a thing or two about political strategy." Nope, Craig knows best. Just looking at the pretentious photo of himself that he puts on the top of his blog tells you everything you need to know about him.

    3. Better watch. One of his minions will tell him people are talking about him, and before you know where you are he'll be here demanding to know what he's done to deserve the vendetta we have against him.

    4. What have I done to deserve the vendetta I have against you, to which my minion alerted me ?

  6. I'm now confident that it will not happen. I've been spending the last few nights looking at North Sea oil figures. The industry is dying. Production is now on a definite and steep downward trend across the whole of the North Sea and has been for several years - and that's without even considering the historic plunge in oil value that has occurred in recent months.

    The optimum moment was September 2014. In five years or ten years time, it will be obvious to people that Scotland's oil industry is no longer a going concern. That's 15% of our economy gone.

    The people who lead the SNP aren't stupid. They are cultured, degree educated, middle class people. They will not throw Scotland under the bus - and, if they try, they'll be utterly humiliated.

    No second indyref. No independence. Plenty of sound and fury though - for the next few years. They've led their troops to the top of the hill - saying "sorry chaps, we've had a rethink" isn't exactly an option.


    1. Erm, production is increasing dimwit.

      You obviously missed this too:

      One single field producing enough gas for 60% of Scotland = bad thing to have.

      I suggest you stick to what you know; you just make yourself look foolish otherwise.

      And anyway, this isn't about oil. Most countries don't have it; it's a nice wee bonus.

      Even with low prices the Scottish economy is growing fast than the rUK. Likewise unemployment is falling while it climbs in England.

    2. You ignore the fact that Scotland's per capita output is 99% of that of the UK and that's without oil. So oil tax revenues were always a bounus, though the jobs were not. Fortunately, the Scottish support services have gone international and though the low oil price has depressed demand it is coming back.

    3. People should enjoy the low pump prices while they can. Here's why:

      Oil is way, way under priced. Most of the debt is shale drilling debt; a giant ponzi scheme based on junk bonds producing the most expensive oil their is, flooding the market. Never made any money though, just debt. Hedges -which have been putting off its death - are now starting to run out now that we are a year on from the price crash. Repo man will soon be calling big style in the US shale patch.

      Price per barrel will be eye-watering the next time there's an iref if people really feel that is important.

    4. SS: "Erm, production is increasing dimwit."

      That's not true in a long-term sense - it peaked at the end of the 1990s. Even your own link says that. If it's helpful, this is a chart of oil and gas production since 1970, which makes the decline pretty clear:

      Nobody disputes that production is declining in the long-term barring some unforeseen major discovery, the question is how long it's going to last at current levels.

    5. William: What you're doing is quoting revenue without spending. You're pointing to the fact that our revenue is roughly the UK average without oil and implying erroneously that somehow that means if we were independent without any oil revenue nothing much would change.

      That couldn't be more wrong. We generate around the UK average in revenue, but we spend significantly more than the UK average. If you were to take oil revenue away we'd have to slash public spending or raise taxes/borrow on a large scale to compensate. Take the last year of figures for instance:

      Scotland's spending as a percentage of the UK total: 9.2%

      Scotland's revenue as a percentage of the UK total (North Sea geographic share included): 8.6%

      Scotland's revenue as a percentage of the UK total (without North Sea revenue): 8.1%


      In four of the last 16 years we've been in a position in which our relative revenue with the North Sea was above our spending (i.e. where independence could have been said to have a net positive benefit in fiscal terms).

      There hasn't been a single year where our revenue without the North Sea has even been close. In fact the figures are extremely stable without the North Sea: our revenue without the North Sea is consistently around 8.1-8.2% of the UK total while our spending is consistently around 9.2-9.4% of the UK total. North Sea revenue is the only thing that even makes this a debate about whether independence would allow us to maintain current levels of spending - without it there is no economic case for the concept at all (hence why regarding it as a "bonus" is completely misleading).

    6. Which is exactly why Scotland should take control of what's left. The value of what's left will far, far exceed that of the early production of the 1980's-90's back in the days of easy, dirt cheap oil.

      Globally, we are at or past peak oil. Why on earth did people think folk went after tight oil in the states? That's some of the hardest oil there is. It wasn't technology; fracking is as old as the hills and horizontal wells have been around for decades. No, they went after it because they though that maybe, just maybe, they could make some cash as prices were $100 a barred.

      That is the important graph.

      Oil has been averaging over $80 a barrel for the past decade because it's getting rarer and rarer. The previous decade was just $25 a barrel on average!

      Look out the window; all that is built on oil. The whole world we have come to know is built on oil; all of it.

      Always takes a couple of years for the price to recover after a crash. Each time, it rises higher on average than it was before.

      Anyone who thinks it's not going to get eyewateringly expensive in the not too distant future needs their head examined.

      First we went for the easy, big onshore fields..then we went for the harder, big offshore, shallow water fields...then we went for the even harder deeper water fields...then we went very deep water HPHT fields...then, out of desperation, we went for the low grade source rocks (US fracked tight oil).

      For a brief period, some convinced themselves we had found a new cheap source because the price fell. The price fell because the oil was produced on debt but never made any money, not because it was cheap. The price drop only lasted as long as those who know nothing about oil kept trading it low based on this lack of knowledge. Then people realised how little oil was left again - you know, they for example saw Shell heading for really hard oil in the Arctic right now - and...

      Like I said. Enjoy the low prices while you can. You can't get 1/2 a trillion in debt unless what you are selling is way, way, under-priced.

      $100 a barrel was realistic; it's why it remained like that for so long, even though the global economy has been weak.


      A. Geologist & Production Chemist.

      P.S. My third price crash. Always a little crap while you wait it out, but you know what will follow; boom!

      Scotland sitting on one mother of a gold mine and timing will be perfect for iref #2.

    7. "Production is increasing, dimwit"

      TRENDS my dear fellow - trends!


    8. Aldo,

      I think you forget the industries that have come and gone in Scotland; wool, coal, shipbuilding, car building etc. Some of which made up more than 15% of our economy and vanished quicker than oil ever will.

      Scotland's onshore economy will continue to grow and that 15% will become a lot less relevant. It will be replaced by something else, perhaps something more predictable and better for the independence arguement.

      What you are doing is focusing on one element and mot looking at the bigger picture. The future is most certainly looking like renewables for Scotland. You should have a look at the stats ;-)

    9. Renewables are loss making.

      You are right though. Something could come along to replace North Sea oil. Or, it may not. The obvious one to me is fracking - but the anti capitalist luddite Scottish government has banned it. So that particular avenue is closed to us, for now.

      If Scotland's tax base is going to shrink to the extent that independence would mean deeper austerity than we have already experienced (and on current figures, it would), then the nationalists have to do one of two things. They need to give us exact and convincing plans as to how they will grow the economy or - failing that - they need to tell us exactly where the axe will fall.

    10. Oil production is now 1/3 of what it was in 1999. It seems we've hoovered out most of the easily recoverable stuff. Whatever is left is either difficult or impossible to recover using today's technology, has not yet been discovered, or will only be worth recovering once the oil value goes back up. Add into that decommissioning costs and you have a somewhat bleak outlook for North Sea oil.

      Scottish Skier seems to suggest that we will make vast profits when oil is rare and therefore very valuable. I'm sceptical of this. When oil is as rare as that then the entire world economy will be in trouble - unless we've found viable replacements for oil (in which case it will be obsolete and worth zilch).

    11. Where are you pulling your figures on renewables are loss making? We've had Hydro since the early part of the last century..... don't see any loses posted there. I dont also see any losses posted in Scottish Powers Renewables last statement? Care to elaborate?

      My point is that oil is going to be here for a lot longer than you are implying. Over the same time the onshore economy will continue to grow, reducing the amount dedicated to oil versus not dedicated. It will be a gradual growth almost natural, producing solid tax bases.

      The next big potential 'booms', the good kind! Will be from renewables.

    12. Your post is mostly wishful thinking. "Scotland's onshore economy will continue to grow". Possibly. But if you build in inflation and an ageing population then you still have a large shortfall between what you raise and what you spend.

      Renewables have to be heavily subsidised. Hydro electric is a wonderful resource we should make more use of, definitely - but it requires massive initial expenditure. That's why Salmond went for the easy option - blanket the country in wind turbines and ask the UK government to subsidise them.

    13. That's why Salmond.... Stop right there, these investment decisions are taken by private organisations. Do you know what else requires massive initial investment........OIL! I don't see you having any problems with that. Renewables is profitable and anyone has spent anytime looking at it will know that.

      Do you want to explain why my post is mostly wishful thinking? Are you seriously trying to suggest Scotland will be locked into perpetual recession? Of course Scotland's onshore economy will continue to grow! It continues to do so with the downturn in oil. As for inflation and an ageing population, who controls the keys to turn a change there?

  7. Unilateral declaration of independence ignores the fact there is an entire world outside of Scotland that we need the cooperation of in order to even have a chance of prospering. So you annoy rUK, Europe, America, NATO, the UN and our other major trading partners and emerging global powers - China and India. Great idea - what do we do after that? Subsistence farming, perhaps?

    Besides, if we're taking things out of the hands of the people and deciding by executive power / brute force then what is to stop the British parliament dissolving Holyrood and declaring the union indivisible? If one group of politicos can decide things unilaterally, another group of politicos doing the same is no different morally.


    1. Goodness, I almost agree with that.

      We've got a lot more going for ourselves than subsistence farming, but the basic reasoning is sound.

  8. Are you anywhere near Turin? Those graffiti are all over the place here.
    Anyway, welcome, and have a good holiday (pls keep blogging though).

  9. Your shadow somehow reminds me of Max Schreck as Count Orlock in Nosferatu.

  10. Your shadow somehow reminds me of Max Schreck as Count Orlock in Nosferatu.