Friday, April 29, 2011

I can't tell you what I thought of the Royal Wedding because...

...I somehow contrived to get myself stranded on the Isle of Arran last night, and missed the whole thing as a result! I can't say I'm overly sorry about that side of things, but the mishap cost me £60 in B&B accommodation and transport home. I had very 'cleverly' bought a day return Rail & Sail combined ticket - but of course that just ended up costing me money, because it was invalid by the time I was able to travel back. I don't think I've ever asked for a refund on an unused return rail ticket before in my life, and I've no idea if it's even possible to do so in these circumstances, but I'm just about sufficiently annoyed with myself to risk the inevitable "are you mad" look. Apart from anything else, I'm an on/off Doctor Who fan, and the closing lines of Terror of the Zygons keep coming back to me...

Did they have return tickets?

Yes, I believe so.

You should have taken them in and got your refund, man. I thought you were a Scotsman.

You'll be relieved to hear that, while I missed the Royal Wedding, I was still able to watch John McTernan on Newsnight Scotland last night from the comfort of my B&B room. That lifted my morale no end.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Labour become the nasty party again

Scottish Labour's very own Prince of Darkness John McTernan informs us in the Scotsman today that fear always beats hope in political campaigning, and it looks like his party have decided to put that theory to the test over the remaining few days of the election campaign. I've just received a delightful leaflet inviting me to draw the following contrast -

"Knife crime wrecking lives under SNP
Carry a knife - go to jail with Labour"

On the flip-side of the leaflet I'm introduced to the "McKennas", a 'typical, hard-working, Labour-voting family' (they look a remarkably smug bunch, it has to be said). The McKennas apparently worry themselves to sleep every night about the bloody SNP being soft on crime. "Bernadine" McKenna warms to the theme in the following monologue...

"The problem is getting worse. I'm backing Labour's policy of 'carry a knife, go to jail'. There's no excuse to carry a lethal blade but folk know they'll get away with it. I worry about what could happen to our family."

I'm worried about what might happen to your family too, "Bernadine". I'm desperately concerned about what might become of your fine daughter "Sarah" McKenna if she pops round to lend her Auntie Joanna a kitchen knife in future - under Labour it'll be straight to Cornton Vale for that young lady. No excuses, you knife-wielding scum!

But it seems "Frank" McKenna is in full agreement with his wife -

"[The SNP] are wrong not to back this tough approach. Now the Tories are back, we need Labour to focus on the things that really matter, like keeping our streets safe."

Do you know what...those words are reminding me of something. Isn't that remarkably similar to what John Park is quoted as saying every single day in the press? In fact, doesn't some of it appear word-for-word in Labour's manifesto? Crikey. Take a well-earned bow, "Frank" McKenna - you're the co-author of Labour's manifesto! You've devised some of the party's best-loved catchphrases from this campaign! When oh when is this man and his camera-friendly chin going to get the credit they deserve?

I do have a small quibble, though, "Frank". The general rule of thumb for political rhetoric is that you can tell how vacuous it is simply by reversing it and seeing if it still makes sense. Your statement reversed reads as follows -

"When the Tories weren't in power in London, we didn't need Labour to focus on the things that really mattered. It was OK if our streets weren't safe."

So that's what you have to believe if you buy into Labour's "now the Tories are back" drivel.

And what's this? "Bernadine" and the magnificently-chinned "Frank" have both had their say, but nothing from "Sarah" McKenna? Are teenagers meant to be seen and not heard under Labour?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ed Balls : Don't stop eating the sweets, or you might feel sick

From the Herald -

"Mr Balls, visiting a car dealership in the city, attacked Mr Salmond's calls for fiscal autonomy in Scotland. He said: "Does he still think that Scottish financial regulation should be separate from the UK even after what happened to RBS? It's completely barmy.""

I'm trying desperately hard to follow your logic, Ed, honest I am. The catastrophe that befell RBS happened under the UK regulatory framework - and that's somehow supposed to prove that not remaining within that framework would be "barmy"?

Perhaps it's time to give one of Mr. Kevin Baker's tedious catchphrases an appropriate outing for the first time in its long history. What do you do when an approach has clearly failed, according to Ed Balls? You do it again, only HARDER!!!!

I'm also more than a touch confused by Balls' line of attack on the currency that might be used in an independent Scotland. He claims that taking Scotland into the euro would be "crackers", but also thinks that Scotland having its own exchange rate would be "madness". Is anyone else spotting the slight contradiction here? It's as if he memorised a list of synonyms for the word 'crazy', and was determined to use every last one of them, regardless of the suggestion actually put to him. "Would you like the curtains closed, Mr Balls?" "Closed curtains? That's bonkers." "Open, then, Mr Balls?" "Open? You're a fruitcake."

Monday, April 25, 2011

I agree with Nick (first time in a year) : Salmond should be involved in 'national' TV leaders' debates

From the Independent on Sunday :

"After emerging victorious from the TV debates last year, Clegg has been imagining a leaders' broadcast on the referendum. "So, on one side of the stage, pro-AV, you'd have me, Ed Miliband, (Green) Caroline Lucas, (Ukip) Nigel Farage, (SNP) Alex Salmond and (Plaid Cymru) Ieuan Wyn Jones.""

Not to worry that it hasn't come to pass this time, Nick - we'll be on hand to remind you of your very fair-minded suggestion for a leaders' debate line-up when the next Westminster general election comes round...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

YouGov poll shows commanding lead for the SNP

Just for the moment, we seem to have moved firmly into 'pinch me' territory. A second Saturday evening in a row has brought a dramatic advance for the SNP in the latest YouGov poll...

Constituency vote :

SNP 45% (+5)
Labour 32% (-5)
Conservatives 10% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 8% (-)

Regional list vote :

SNP 39% (+4)
Labour 29% (-4)
Conservatives 12% (-)
Liberal Democrats 7% (-)
Greens 7% (+1)

Incidentally, these figures don't necessarily disprove the theory that the Ipsos-Mori poll a few days ago was overstating the SNP, because a hugely significant event occurred between the sampling for that survey and this one - the Sun's endorsement of the Nationalists. Like Ipsos-Mori, the projected seat totals from this poll would just about give the parties in favour of an independence referendum an outright majority between them. This is also the first poll for which the fieldwork was carried out after a large number of postal votes had already been cast, suggesting that a certain percentage of damage for Labour may already have been done.

There is also a new Progressive Scottish Opinion poll out -

Constituency vote :

SNP 46% (+9)
Labour 36% (-7)
Conservatives 9% (-2)
Liberal Democrats 6% (+1)

Regional list vote :

SNP 38% (+1)
Labour 37% (-7)
Conservatives 10% (-1)
Liberal Democrats 9% (+5)
Greens 5% (+3)

These figures don't tell us quite so much, partly because PSO don't have a great track record, and partly because the fieldwork dates largely overlap with last week's YouGov poll, and also with the Ipsos-Mori poll. But for what it's worth, it is a further piece of evidence that the SNP were in the lead as of last weekend.