Saturday, July 2, 2016
Remain a member of the European Union : 1,661,191 votes (62%)
Leave the European Union : 1,018,322 votes (38%)
By the way, are you remotely interested in remaining a member of the European Union if Scotland is no longer represented within European institutions by a UK Tory government that only 14.9% of you actually voted for?
Yes : 0 votes (0%)
Heavens, no! This referendum had nothing to do with remaining a member of the EU in general. EU membership without the London Tories to represent us? No bloody way, José : 2,679,513 votes (100%)
Friday, July 1, 2016
Labour coup attempt : have we just seen the most ludicrous misrepresentation of an opinion poll in history?
Thursday, June 30, 2016
It's only a week since the betting markets (or rather the notion that they are some sort of predictive God) faced their Waterloo, but it looks to me like it could easily happen all over again. As of this moment, Theresa May is the strong favourite on the Betfair exchange to become the new Prime Minister, with Michael Gove way back on 4/1 - the equivalent of a 20% probability of a Gove premiership. Those look like crazy odds. Gove should easily make the final two in the MPs' ballot, and I would then expect him to boss the head-to-head TV debates with May (assuming she is the other candidate). Quite honestly, though, I think Gove would win a members' ballot even if it was held tomorrow. Presumably the markets are going astray because punters are looking at Gove's very real unpopularity with the public and assuming that's bound to translate into members' votes against him - but it won't. Remember this is the party that preferred Iain Duncan Smith to Ken Clarke, and by quite some margin.
That probably means we're going to have the third post-war Scottish Prime Minister - in terms of origin, I mean, rather than constituency. I'm wondering if Gove's accent will count for anything at all north of the border? After all, we're a country that will quite happily pick up the phone and vote for fairly nasty and horrible people to win reality TV shows as long as they talk like us. Gordon Brown's accent may have been almost entirely responsible for Scottish Labour's dead cat bounce in 2010. So surely having a Scot at the helm will at least add a couple of percentage points to the Tories' ratings, and perhaps even give a shot in the arm to the anti-independence forces? Well, the polling evidence so far suggests otherwise. A YouGov poll earlier this week reported that Gove had 5% support across Britain as the best new PM - but just 1% in Scotland. Perhaps this is an example of the Michael Forsyth phenomenon - once someone is sufficiently associated with the worst extremes of Toryism, we cease to notice anything else about them.
My own favourite Gove moment (apart from the 'clean for the Queen' photo, obviously, which is everyone's favourite) was back in 2003, when he was still a journalist and pundit. He appeared on STV on the morning after the Holyrood election, which had brought mixed fortunes for the pro-independence movement - the SNP had suffered losses, but the overall number of pro-independence MSPs had slightly increased. Gove declared that, to his surprise, George Robertson had been proved right, and that devolution had killed Scottish nationalism stone dead after all.
For the Tories' sake, I hope his political antenna has improved since then.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Dramatic Survation online poll confirms the telephone findings : there is now a majority for independence
No 47% (-5)
Following the result of the UK's referendum on membership of the European Union, where the UK voted to leave, which of the following statements is closest to your opinion?
Scotland should hold a second independence referendum : 47%
Scotland should not hold a second independence referendum : 42%
And perhaps more significantly, there is overwhelming support for Nicola Sturgeon's view that it would be "democratically unacceptable" for Scotland to be dragged out of the EU against its will...
Following the result of the UK's referendum on membership of the European Union, where the UK as a whole voted to leave but Scotland voted to Remain, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it was "democratically unacceptable" that Scotland faced the prospect of leaving the EU. To what extent to you agree or disagree with the comments made by the First Minister?
TOTAL AGREE : 52%
TOTAL DISAGREE : 33%
Although the fieldwork dates make it look like this poll is more up to date than the others we've seen since Thursday, the nature of online polls means that most participants are likely to have responded to the survey invitation on Friday or Saturday (unless Survation staggered the invitations). So we'll still have to wait and see whether the new support for independence holds up once the dust settles a little - although, as I've said before, there'll be no real "getting back to normal" on Planet Brexit.
* * *
Don't all faint with amazement at once (some of you might be needed to fill vacancies in the Shadow Cabinet), but it appears that the Liberal Democrats have said something profoundly hypocritical. They have announced that they will go into the next general election with a manifesto commitment to overturn the result of the Brexit referendum - and that's not dependent on any material change of circumstances, but simply on the fact that the Leave campaign told lies. That's EXTRAORDINARY. It comes from the same party that denounced the SNP in 2014 for even daring to raise the possibility of a second independence referendum if there was an extreme change of circumstances such as Scotland being dragged out of Europe, and indeed Nick Clegg infamously described Alex Salmond as being like a Japanese soldier in the jungle who didn't know the war was over. And yet if the Lib Dems have their way, there could be a second EU referendum within just a couple of years without anything having changed AT ALL.
Any intellectually coherent Liberal Democrat case against a second independence referendum has now been obliterated. If the winning side telling lies is a good enough excuse for a repeat referendum, the second indyref should have taken place on 19th September 2014.
* * *
There has been a lot of talk in recent days about devising a model that would allow Scotland, Gibraltar and possibly Northern Ireland to remain part of both the UK and the EU. Here are a few reasons why that is very unlikely to happen -
1) Even if England and Wales received Greenland-style exemptions from the treaties, the United Kingdom itself would almost certainly have to remain a member state of the European Union - and it has just voted to Leave. Continued membership would arguably only be a technicality, but the triumphalist Brexiteers still wouldn't stand for it.
2) It would be almost impossible to resolve the dilemma of whether Northern Ireland should be in the UK's "EU zone" or "zone libre", because its government is split. The DUP are likely to take the view that leaving the EU is a UK-wide decision and that Northern Ireland - regardless of how it voted - must leave along with the rest of the UK.
3) In many ways, Scotland would become a de facto independent country anyway. To reverse the catchphrase of the American revolution, you can't have representation without taxation, and so if only Scotland and Gibraltar were contributing to the EU budget, it logically follows that the Scottish and Gibraltarian governments would control the UK's vote in the Council of Ministers, and would also be responsible for determining the UK's negotiating position on future treaties or treaty amendments. That's an enormous power that has thus far been reserved for sovereign governments, and in practice would presumably be wielded by the Scottish Government in consultation with Gibraltar (given the huge disparity between the populations, it's hard to see how Scotland and Gibraltar could be on a completely equal footing). Can anyone imagine London agreeing to that?
4) There would have to be a real border between Scotland and England. That would be the case even if Boris Johnson gets his miracle "Norway minus" deal - because even that would involve restrictions on freedom of movement, but only within the UK's "zone libre", ie. England and Wales. So movement between Scotland and England would have to be controlled just as much as movement between England and France. People will understandably be inclined to think - if all this is going to happen anyway, what is the point in Scotland not becoming formally independent?
* * *
I don't think words can adequately convey the contempt I increasingly have for the Labour plotters and their increasingly cowardly attempts to depose Jeremy Corbyn by increasingly undemocratic means while using the word "increasingly" as much as humanly possible. There is a very simple rule that allows the incumbent leader to be challenged if an alternative candidate receives 50 nominations, so if Corbyn's opponents really thought they had the support of the wider party, they would have got on and done that, instead of trying to bypass the membership altogether by handing Corbyn a revolver and telling him to do the "decent thing". This is eerily similar to the Lib Dem coup against Charles Kennedy in 2006, when the plotters still weren't satisfied even after Kennedy resigned - they refused to call off the dogs until Kennedy changed his mind about standing in the subsequent leadership election, because they knew the membership might well give him a renewed mandate. I just hope Corbyn doesn't follow Kennedy's example by eventually giving in to the bullying and blackmail.
There's a line that sticks in my mind from the 1990s TV series Sharpe -
"All you have to do to hold off the French is stand, and fire three rounds a minute. Now, you and I know that you can fire three rounds a minute, but the question is - can you stand?"
Which is another way of saying that Corbyn's chances of seeing off the coup largely depend on his own calmness and resolve. If he can avoid getting caught up in the Westminster bubble narrative that insists his position is "increasingly" untenable, there's no reason why he can't hang on - especially if the overrated Angela Eagle is the sole challenger.
Monday, June 27, 2016
Just a quick note to let you know that I have a new article at the International Business Times, entitled 'After Brexit, London can no longer scare Scotland into remaining in the union'. You can read it HERE.
Sunday, June 26, 2016
No 46% (-6)
Survation also seem to be assuming quite considerable false recall or embarrassment in relation to EU referendum vote, because the weighted figures have Remain winning in Scotland by 73% to 27% - way above the real figures of 62% to 38%.
Earth to Planet Boris, Earth to Planet Boris : There was a majority in favour of a second independence referendum even BEFORE Thursday
Two or three weeks ago, a polling firm made a very systematic and scientific effort to determine whether there was an appetite for a second referendum, and it did so by actually contacting a representative sample of the Scottish population by telephone. This is what it found -
Agree there should be a second independence referendum within two years in event of UK voting Leave with Scotland voting Remain? (Ipsos-Mori, telephone, Scotland only, 6th-12th June 2016)
That was BEFORE the Daily Record and umpteen unionist politicians and commentators came out in favour of a second referendum in the wake of Thursday's bombshell result. Does Boris seriously believe that these latest events have made the public's support for Indyref 2 drain away? Well, no, I suspect he probably doesn't.
* * *
On a similar theme, you might be interested in Alasdair Soussi's new article at the Al Jazeera website about the Scottish and Northern Irish reaction to Brexit, and which features quotes from myself, Gerry Hassan and Simon Pia. You can read it HERE.
Anita : Yeah, I have loads of them. The first thing we all thought was that we would have the euro, you know, join the eurozone. That didn't happen! But I knew that there were all these new possibilities, that we could move, that we could travel, and you wouldn't need a passport. You could just go anywhere and see the world. I'd never been abroad before, so it was something that I really wanted to do. And everyone wanted to do that.
Me : Did you notice any changes in Hungary in the first few years after it joined the European Union?
Anita : Well yes, I have. Prices started to go up, and people started to leave - at least, there was the possibility for people to leave, and many started to use that chance, or live with that chance, you know? For me, when we joined the EU, I was fourteen, and at around that time I started to think about, you know, not spending my life in Hungary - the rest of my life, my whole life in the one place. I realised I could go elsewhere, I could live elsewhere, I could visit places. I remember there was a trip planned to go abroad, I think it was Austria - this was pre-2004, and we would have to have passports to go on this trip. I think it was like a hiking thing...I can't remember, actually. But the point is we didn't have passports, so we didn't go, and later on with the EU coming in, or us joining the EU, we didn't need it anymore, so you could just go. In Hungary we have these ID cards, so you have your name on it, age, date of birth, whatever, your nationality, a hologram in your picture, so it's like a valid proof of ID. Like in Britain you have your passport, and licence for driving...in Hungary we have these ID cards, and that was enough. With that you could cross borders. So you get that ID card when you're fourteen. No matter what, you get that, and with that you have the opportunity to do stuff you couldn't before. So that was one big change.
I mean, there were other things, like people moaning about prices going up, and they did - to be fair, they did. Because obviously we joined the EU, and I don't know if there's this thing that you have to match your prices, or it's because of importing, or whatever the reason was. Prices did go up, and one silly example is the Hungarian equivalent of pound shops. In Britain you have the pound shops, you go in and you buy anything for a pound. We had the same in Hungary, they were called the Hungarian hundred forint shops. Right, so you went in, and you spent one hundred forints on any one item, and that was it. Now, the equivalent of that would be about thirty pence, so we have hundred forint shops. And after the EU...well, not immediately after, but shortly after, they went up to become the euro shops, with the one euro, which is the equivalent of over three hundred forints, right? Whereas previously you would spend one hundred forints, you'd spend three hundred. So, it's a silly example, but I think it proves the point.
There were good and bad changes. Obviously people would moan about prices going up, but I think the good overwhelmingly overtook the bad. I mean, it's not just the everyday examples of "oh, you could actually go abroad", like some people take it so for granted - you know, "we've been to Tenerife, we've been to Gran Canaria, and we're going to Switzerland" or whatever, Yeah, that's British holidays, going to Tenerife. For Hungarians, the holiday is going to Balaton, maybe, which is the local...like in the country. There's huge, huge social differences in that regard. But yeah, once you had the European Union, you could just go. And in fact that's what I did. Not for a few more years after, but I did it nonetheless, and I don't think I would have if it wasn't for the EU.
Me : What does the EU mean to the average person in Hungary? Is there a fonder attitude to the EU than there is in the UK?
Anita : I think...hmmm, I think it's quite divided, to be honest. I don't know any person in my generation who has anything against the EU. Not those that I know, at least, or not those that I speak to, right? I mean, it gives us opportunities, it gives us a chance to go and broaden our horizons. Several of my peers have gone abroad to look for jobs and to study, just like me. I came to Britain after graduating from high school, and went to university here, and worked, and without the EU I wouldn't have been able to do it. I would have stayed in Hungary and possibly would have ended up doing some menial job in a factory. Instead I feel like I'm actually achieving something...well, most of the days. I actually feel like I've made steps to live up to my potential, which I highly doubt I would have been able to do if I stayed in the one place - be it Hungary, be it whatever, you know, I think people need to see the world. I think people need to experience different cultures and different ways of living. It's my preference that I stayed, but I know people who go abroad, and then stay for a week, stay for a year, and then go back, but I think the opportunity itself, that you can do that, just means a lot. So I don't actually know anyone of my generation who sees anything bad about the EU. Not in terms of economic possibilities, not in terms of intellectual benefits, you know? As for the older generations, I think there might be some people who are not so fond of it, but in general...I don't know, that's the answer! I've not lived in Hungary for some years, so this is a tough one to answer.
Me : Apart from making it possible for you to live and work here, what practical benefits have you enjoyed from EU membership since you moved to Scotland?
Anita : It's not just living and working here as such, it's also me going abroad, visiting Iceland, visiting Norway, going back to Hungary via Slovakia without any issues in terms of passports and whatnot being required, I mean all these things. It's not just Britain as such, it's all the other countries in the EU that I had a chance to interact with. OK, it's not as many as some other people have visited, but still you feel it, and it does make a difference, and knowing that I have the chance to visit more also. Other than visiting countries, and going on holiday or whatever, there's also...for example, when I was at university I had classmates from different EU countries, and just the possibility to exchange experiences, and knowledge, and interact with them, to find out more about their culture and ways of living, and their viewpoints, you know? It just broadens your mind, it just gives you...I don't know, it just makes you more aware of things. You find out about their history, their viewpoints. And also, being part of the EU, I felt like a part of a community, and a practical benefit...of course, it's important to have a European health insurance card, but it's not just about the practical benefits. It's also about, as I said, intellectual and other benefits as well.
Me : How did you feel when you first heard there was going to be a referendum on leaving the EU, and in particular that you as an EU citizen wouldn't be able to vote?
Anita : Well, my thought was **** this ****, I cannot believe people are this stupid that they would even call the referendum. I mean, OK, I can understand it's a democratic thing to do, isn't it? Holding referendums on things that are important to people, fair enough, do it. But I mean, personally, myself, I cannot see the problems with the EU for Britain. I know there are things that Britain maybe could do better independently, maybe, I'm not sure, but I cannot fathom how the benefits of the EU would be less, you know, than the benefits of an independent UK. I just can't see that happening. So when I first heard there was going to be a referendum, I was like, "for real?" OK, well fair enough, if there's going to be a referendum, fine, just give people the chance to vote if they so want it. But I honestly did not think that it would come to this, in terms of the media coverage, in terms of the scaremongering, in terms of all this stupid rhetoric that people have put on, you know? Project Fear - what the hell, honestly? And as for not being able to vote, again : **** this ****. Honestly, I'm an EU citizen, as you have noticed, I have been here for seven years...coming up in August it's going to be seven years. I have worked my ass off, paid all my taxes and National Insurance and everything you need. I'm a good, honest citizen, you don't get any trouble, you know like problem with the police. Never even used a GP. I've only ever seen the nurse once, so you can't say I'm like a drain on your system. I don't get benefits, I don't get anything that all the scaremongering people are talking about in the media. So personally, I feel quite excluded, I feel like I'm not actually a valid member of this country. You know, like my voice doesn't count. I've been here for seven years and I don't get to vote on one of the most crucial questions of my lifetime, in terms of whether Britain should stay or go, or leave the EU. Because that will have, I assume, quite strong effects on my life, on my future, and still I don't get to have a say. People from Commonwealth countries who live here do get to have a say. Just please try to explain to me why someone from India has more of a say in this question than I do! How is it going to affect their life more, and therefore how do they get a vote, as opposed to me? How? Again : **** this ****.
Me : Do you think it's fair that citizens of Commonwealth countries like Canada, India, Swaziland and Barbados have a vote in this referendum, but citizens of other EU countries don't? If not, why not?
Anita : Well, I think I've just answered that question! No, I do not think it's fair, I think it's a ****** system, I think it's ridiculous, and I think it's set up in a way that actually encourages EU bashing in a way, and you know, all this scaremongering that "oh, you bloody EU people come here and steal our jobs", well **** you, you can go and work in Hungary if you want. You know? Nobody's telling you not to. And if you don't want to, you can stay here and get a job. All my jobs since I've lived here, all these seven years, ALL of them, were underpaid, undervalued, and jobs that an ordinary person if you asked them on the street would not quite happily take on! You know? And I did. So you're welcome.
Me : As a matter of principle, do you think the free movement of people across the continent is preferable to a points-based immigration system that gives priority to people with particular skills, regardless of where in the world they come from?
Anita : To be honest, I don't know. I know Canada has the points-based system. I don't actually know which other countries do...oh, and maybe Australia. I'm not sure, I think they do. Anyway, I can understand, you know, points-based system, OK, if you're well-educated, and well-off and whatnot, and you get a preference, I can understand in terms of the country looking after itself, and saying, you know what, we only want the best, we don't want the scum of the world. But I mean, isn't that a bit selfish? That you're just taking in the best people, so to speak, the best...whatever that means. Where's equality of opportunity? Hmmm? Where's that in the points-based system? Nowhere. It presupposes that you can make yourself well-off or well-educated in your own country. That you can be good enough for Canada if you study in the best university in your own country, and then you can go and live in Canada, because you've already trained. Well, not every country has the best education system, so you're already excluding those who don't have the opportunity to study at home. And you're not giving them the chance. I don't know. Personally, I don't think it's fair, because as I said, equality of opportunity does not exist in a points-based system. I can understand from the country's perspective that it's for their own benefit, only taking in the best, but that's a very exclusive system.
Me : What do you think the consequences will be for you and other EU citizens in the UK if there is a Leave vote? Are you reassured by Michael Gove's assertion that the rights of people who are already here will be unaffected?
Anita : No, I'm not reassured by that. At all. He cannot promise it. I'm not a legal expert, or an EU legal expert, or lawyer, or whatever, but I know that the rights given by the EU will not be unaffected, because the UK will not be part of the EU anymore if they leave, will they? So they will have to come up with new laws and new regulations, and policies and all. They cannot promise that the law will remain the same. One of the main points of the Leave campaign is that they will no longer have to abide by EU regulations, so obviously that applies especially to immigration. So nope, I'm not reassured at all. Especially since one of the biggest things they always chant is "oh, bloody EU people coming in and stealing the jobs". Well, if they vote to leave, isn't that one of the pulling-powers? The Leave campaign saying they can regulate all of the people coming in, so that they will not steal the jobs? No. The consequences will be a big ****-up, and uncertainty. Which is not very nice, is it?
Me : On a scale of 1 to 10, how relieved will you be if Britain votes to remain in the EU?
Anita : Er...100.
Me : Finally, a question about Hungarian politics. The Prime Minister, Mr Orban, is one of the most controversial heads of government in Europe. On the face of it, his stated desire to replace liberal democracy with an "illiberal state" seems to run counter to the EU's values. Why do you think his ideology has resonated so much with the Hungarian electorate?
Anita : Well, he is...oh God. Honestly, that man. Right, let's focus on the question, before I go off on a rant. It's because Hungary is quite old-headed, I think, in the way that they always want to be able to do their own thing. I mean we've had the Turks, we've had the Habsburgs, we've had the Russians, we've had our share of people coming in and telling us what to do. And the EU sometimes feels like that as well. So I think when people say "we don't want to be ruled by all these things", that's what they are thinking of, all these past hurts. I don't know, that's the only reason I can think of, to be honest. But I mean, as I said I've not been in Hungary for the past seven years. But yeah, he is quite controversial, in that he is going after what he wants, and not giving a **** how it comes across, to be honest.