Monday, June 6, 2011

In your eyes, I see the light, leading me hame again...

The new Labour Hame site (which I assumed was a spoof when I first heard about it) shows encouraging signs of filling the massive void in my life left by the demise of And Another Thing and Scottish Unionist. A couple of choice examples to kick off with -

After Jeff Breslin's thoughtful article in which he lists about two dozen specific and varied reasons why he can't imagine himself voting Labour at present, the commenters home in on just two of them (opposition to nuclear power and GM crops) and announce "we don't want the likes of you, Breslin, stick with the Greens!". Now, that's what I call a core vote strategy...

After Kezia Dugdale test-drives her latest contrived wheeze about a "Citizens' Convention" deciding on the referendum question in place of the citizen-elected Scottish Parliament, a commenter (presumably sympathetic to the SNP) points out that any such convention would logically have to reflect the composition of the parliament anyway. But the second commenter ("Dave") suggests that the convention should reflect each party's share of the popular vote, not seats in parliament, thus cunningly stripping the SNP of their majority. Just one problem there - if we have the same system of proportional representation for the convention that Labour carefully selected for the Scottish Parliament, presumably the composition of the two bodies will be...well, identical. Oh, and a second problem - even if we had an Israeli-style system of pure PR, there would still be a pro-independence majority courtesy of the regional list vote.

But other than that, what a truly fabulous point, Dave.


  1. I’ll have to give it a look. They might need to get better writers though. Jeff Breslin and Kezia Dugdale??

    Are we all forgetting Jeff’s brief dalliance with the SNP? Where he blotted his copy book, twice I think, in one conference season. I don’t remember the exact details, something to do with cosying up to Scotsman journalists. And then off to England and the Camden Town Green Party where he continues to blog on Scottish things, can’t see why potential green voters of London would be terribly interested in that sort of thing, rather than next years elections for the GLA and London Mayor. In my opinion definitely someone looking to be a big wheel somewhere. I never trust people that shed their political clothes at the drop of a hat!

    Kezia Dugdale, the blogger extraordinaire. Another one that is in my opinion on the make. Remember her retirement from blogging (twice I think) after the Nicola Sturgeon incident (the second time I think was something to do with propelling herself up the regional list dressed up as electioneering and looking after the Haberdasher in Chief). She really is the worst kind of nodding dog, buggins-turn, apparatchik.

  2. A bit unfair on Jeff Breslin. SNP tactical Voting was one of the first blogs I read which tapped into the stream of what I would consider newly middle class, tertiary educated, natural Labour voters disnchanted by a party which had lost it's way (IMO due to the influx of wannabe nodding dog, buggins-turn, apparatchiks )

    More often than not Jeff's views or reactions to news reflected my own, but were much more eloquently captured.

    I actually could imagine that the potential green voters of North London might be quite interested in the views of someone who had professed to support the SNP without being convinced by Scottish Independence - If Labour or the Lib Dems had properly listened to such voices, the SNP would be a side show. They didn't though and the genie is out of the bottle now.

  3. Jim you will excuse me if I don’t agree. Firstly I think the Labour party (especially in Scotland) has always been stuffed with nodding-dog, buggins-turn apparatchiks. It is its stock in trade and always has been, otherwise how could Glasgow still be one of the most deprived areas in Europe despite 80+ years of slavish Labour support. Ex speaker his lordship of Martin and the honourable son (MSP) are clearly the best examples of this. Hardly prime territory for the tertiary educated middle class!

    With regards to Jeff. I’m not saying his blog was not well written or thoughtful, in actual fact it was and is quite good. Although it always smacked to me of being slightly holier than thou and you were greatly honoured indeed if he dained to respond to a comment. Nor did I enjoy his self-imposed stance of seeming arbitrator of all things SNP (during his brief membership) despite only having been in the party 10 minutes and as far as I am aware not having not done any of the leg work and graft that usually gets you somewhere in a political party and takes years not months. I think Jeff more than supported the SNP was he not a member of the party briefly? I am sure I remember him blogging on joining, attending one conference and then leaving all in the space of a year. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    As regards potential Green voters of London. Perhaps they are interested in a run down of all that’s going on 500 miles away. But I would have thought that a committed Green party member would have found things, to blog on. During the 20 years I lived in London I don’t remember all that many people who were interested in things going on in Scotland more than things going on in London.

  4. Munguin - you don't need to convince me about the likes of Mick Martin or his family.

    I happen to think though that the Labour party has a more than honourable history of fighting for the working man. It's one which they can rightly be proud of, but it does irk me that the current mob of half-arsed wannabes think that simply by sticking that red rose on their lapel, they can claim credit for what the party achieved in the past.

    As for Jeff, well I'm sure he has his own motivations. Personally I enjoyed his blog and thought that he was a fine representative of the people who joined the SNP recently or even those who'd just come around to not treating it as a joke - correct me if I'm wrong, but there was a significant surge in membership just a few years ago, as more people turned to Salmond's vision of civic Nationalism.

    During my time overseas people often took an interest in my views of things happening in Scotland, particularly if they were as newsworthy as the recent upsurge in Nationalism.
    Sure, it was no more than an interest than what was happening in their own back yard, but the interest was there and with beer in hand I'm as happy to pontificate as the next man.

    On the green thing though. How did you go on the Scottish political compass?

    I think a lot of people who would have voted SNP probably found themselves quite in tune with the Green party - I know that I did.

  5. Hello there!

    I didn't expect to be the subject of a conversation but at least I can be sure of being allowed to join in.

    Not sure about "blotting my copy book" Munguin but I certainly dropped a couple of clangers when I happened to be a member of the SNP, no arguing with that there. And I'm pretty breezy about changing party because things change and Im
    certainly not trying to carve out a politcal career or be "a big fish" (despite your baseless assumptions otherwise) so it doesn't really matter where my £5/month subs go in the grand scheme of things. I can assure you I barely dipped my toes into the SNP or the Greens down here for that matter. A great time at a Conference or two and the very occasional deliery of leaflets.

    I write a blog because I enjoy writing and am interested in Politics. If people ask me to write something on their new blog (as Tom Harris did) I will oblige, if people like what I write then great and if people don't like what I write, well, that's ok too.

    I can assure you there's no grander plan than getting from one day to the next as happily as I can and if Labour Hame need better contributors (which I am not, that was a one-off guest post) then that's not really my concern.

    PS "self appointed arbiter of all things SNP" or whatever it was? What tosh. A person's allowed an opinion on what the party of Government is up
    to on his own little corner of the blog for goodness sake. And I respond to plenty of comments, sadly not as many as my busy day allows. Speaking of which, must dash.

    PPS Sorry if the above became a bit ranty James. No
    time to check an edit.

  6. No problem, Jeff. I certainly know what you mean about comments - and even leaving aside time constraints, I sometimes find myself thinking "I agree with every word of that, but I can't think of a single thing to add to it". So I hope people don't take it as a slight if I sometimes don't respond!

  7. Yes, exactly. And it can feel patronising to just say 'good points' or something. There really should be an etiquette book out there.

  8. Jim: maybe overseas the Scottish diaspora are interested in Scottish politics but I can assure you the average Londoner most certainly is not. Be that as it may I also doubt that the average Londoner is interested in green issues either, I suspect you are because as you yourself say you are tertiary educated and middle class, possibly not too badly off, if you lived overseas, and so have, like Jeff, the luxury of interesting yourself if what is essentially a pressure group operating on the margins with little to offer Mr or Mrs Average.

    Jeff: so in actual fact you did “blot your copy book” or “drop a couple of clangers”, however you want to put it. I’m sorry if your changing party allegiance can be seen as you trying to be a big fish and carve out a niche, that is usually the reason someone changes party and you will forgive me if I took it that way. There is after all a London branch of the SNP although you are unlikely to get anywhere in that party if you are based in England and much more likely to get somewhere in the Greens. I think I acknowledged that your blog was good even if the way you come over sometimes is unfortunate. Concerning comments I’m wondering if that book of blogging etiquette should not include something on that.

  9. Well, I didn't blot my copy book because on each occasion two different SNP MSPs were kind enough to send an email giving their support and on one of the occasions the SNP press team advised me on strategy. That doesn't sound like burning down bridges to me, but they were still clangers. And i didn't join the SNP in London simply because I believe political parties should be wedded to their local community. Maybe I'll rejoin when I return to Scotland but that's a few years off yet so who knows.

    Thanks for the compliments on the blog but I'm sure you'll understand why i chose to focus on your more negative (needlessly so) comments instead.

    Anyway, no harm no foul etc.

  10. Jeff: I think we have reached the point at which we are exchanging semantics. I say you “blotted your copy book” and you say you “dropped a clanger”, both appear to be euphemisms for some sort of error and I frankly don’t see that much between them. I really don’t see that if you had not blotted your copy book why you would need supporting e-mails from MSPs, while the use of a press corps could just as easily suggest an element of damage limitation. However, I think we have intruded on James’s hospitality more than enough and I for one do not propose to continue this exchange. Let us just agree to disagree.

  11. No, I'm sorry Munguin, it's more than semantics and I won't simply agree to disagree just to let you off the hook when I believe you are wrong and, I'm afraid, not a little bit out of order.

    To blot your copybook is 'to do something that makes other people respect or trust you less' which is a lot stronger language than simply saying you dropped a couple of clangers. Indeed, given you were using it in relation to an MP trusting and respecting me enough to write a guest post for him, it is particularly misplaced.

    You appear to be innocently misunderstanding what the phrase means but I'm not going to turn a blind eye when I (clearly) strongly disagree with you. Fair enough we don't want to this drag on so all I would say is try to be a bit more careful when you're slagging off people you've never met before on a public forum.

  12. As you so rightly point out we are all entitled to our opinion and in my opinion you blotted your copybook. I prefer the definition of it as follows:

    “To blot one’s copybook means to commit some gaffe that spoils one’s record. It’s mainly a British or Commonwealth phrase, though rather old-fashioned. A look at recent examples shows that it has survived almost exclusively in sports journalism. A typical example appeared in the Racing Post on 19 July 2004: “Westender, last year’s Champion Hurdle runner-up, blotted his copybook in dramatic style when refusing at the first fence of the beginners’ chase and catapulting jockey Timmy Murphy to the ground in the process.” Another recent British example, from the Daily Telegraph, shows how it was once more widely used: “At the end of the war, Deedes notes, Muggeridge of MI6 ‘blotted his copybook by befriending PG Wodehouse and his wife’” (Wodehouse had been accused of treachery because he broadcast on German radio during the War).” []

    So as you see it means to commit a gaffe or a mistake that spoils your record. In your case you made a mistake (or dropped a clanger: defined as to say something by accident that embarrasses or upsets someone) that spoiled your record with the SNP, hence the need for supportive e-mails from SNP MSPs the use of the SNP press corps to limit the damage done and your final withdrawal from the party.

    Please don’t be under the misapprehension that I am trying to withdraw my statement or get off the hook. Indeed I’m very happy to continue this discussion on some other public forum, but simply feel that to continue to do so here would be nothing short of bad manners.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.