Friday, July 22, 2011

Tom Harris' definition of the lunatic fringe : nationalists, socialists, and Ed Miliband

Tom Harris' latest piece for Labour Hame is actually quite sensible in parts (well, even a broken clock is accurate twice a day), but I had to laugh at this sentence at the beginning -

"Whatever those conclusions [of Labour's internal review] are, we can be sure of at least a few facts in advance: every single SNP member without exception will dismiss them out of hand, Ed Miliband will say they’re great, and Labour’s hard left will complain that the review doesn’t mention the renationalisation of the railways."

Now, given that he's a right-of-centre career Nat-basher, it's no great surprise to learn that Harris perceives the nationalists and the "hard left" as being parts of the lunatic fringe whose views can be safely treated as meaningless background noise. But throwing in his own party leader for good measure? Oh dear. I think we can safely conclude that Tom genuinely isn't eyeing a triumphant return to the Labour frontbench as Shadow Minister for Lightbulb Acquisition.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

On Wednesday's final edition of The Daily Politics before the summer recess, Tim Montgomerie of ConHome fame provided a telling glimpse of the unreconstructed nature of the Tory grassroots when he earnestly informed us that the public want the government and the media to move away from the Murdoch scandal and back on to the things that really concern ordinary people, like "the euro, immigration and crime". Now, no-one would deny for a moment the gravity of the euro crisis, and both crime and immigration are of course perennial concerns for voters. But if you conducted a poll of the electorate's priorities, would those really come out as the top three? Hmmm, I doubt it somehow. It's that old Tory syndrome - hold up a mirror to yourself and think you see the British people staring back at you approvingly.

* * *

I had to rub my eyes in disbelief the other night when I saw a TV ad for Soda Stream that ended with the slogan "get busy with the fizzy". It'll be the return of the pterodactyls next.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

SNP lead in Ipsos-Mori subsample

In recent times, I haven't really bothered covering non-Angus Reid subsamples from GB-wide polls of Westminster voting intention. However, this one is interesting, because traditionally Ipsos-Mori (like ICM) haven't troubled themselves with Scottish subsamples at all, instead lumping Scotland into a "northern region". The sample size is so small that the figures have to be taken with a lorry-load of salt, of course, but for what it's worth they show the SNP in the lead -

SNP 45%
Labour 38%
Conservatives 6%
Liberal Democrats 6%

Those are the figures for all "certain to vote". Among all respondents, the SNP lead by 39% to 31%.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where is the George Cross for Christopher Biggins?

There were only really two satisfying parts of the parliamentary grilling of the Murdochs - the celebrated shaving cream incident, and James Murdoch's rising tide of panic as Tom Watson very politely refused to allow him to rescue his father from the only truly forensic line of questioning of the day. Other than that, the session made for a frustrating spectacle. Murdoch junior, who must be a contender for the most irritating man on the planet, repeatedly left open goals that the questioners failed to exploit. Just to give one example, he told Tory MP Philip Davies that he was as surprised and shocked as anyone to learn that payments had been made to the convicted phone hacker Clive Goodman. But when he was then asked who had authorised those payments, he (for about the three billionth time in the session) disinterestedly claimed he had absolutely no idea. Now, surely the obvious follow-up question at that point is - don't those two responses look rather odd when taken together? What Chief Executive worth his salt (or even a lousy one for that matter) discovers something has been going on that "shocks" him, but then shows not even the slightest interest in discovering who was responsible? But no, that absurdly went unasked.

I also dearly wish the chairman had had a stern word with James Murdoch about his breathtakingly arrogant habit of embracing the very few questions he didn't find objectionable with the words "that's a great question and I'm very happy to answer it". It may have escaped his notice, but he was actually summoned to answer questions, not to rate them out of ten.

To be fair, Louise Mensch (née Bagshawe of chick-lit fame) was one of the better inquisitors, but she ruined it all at the end by obsequiously commending Murdoch senior for his "extraordinary courage" in returning to give evidence after suffering a "common assault". Dear God. If regaining your composure a full ten minutes after having your face splattered in foam constitutes extraordinary courage, Christopher Biggins and the Krankies are surely long overdue for the George Cross.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Questions to which the answer is 'just before I answer that question, how about a game of hide-and-seek?'

The latest in Labour Hame's series of "impossible" questions for nationalists is this -

In what way would Scotland be better off in the euro, with interest rates set in Brussels rather than London?

Answer : We would have a direct vote in the decision-making process in a way that we don't have at the moment. And in case you're thinking of mentioning Danny Alexander at this point, don't make me laugh. A Scottish representative in the UK government would be a person chosen by Scotland, not by Nicholas William Peter Clegg.

But as ever, in posing this rather easy question, the admin of Labour Hame has drawn attention to a much more tricky question for his/her own comrades, if they can find the time in their busy schedules to answer. Given that "no issue more clearly illustrates the irrelevance of independence in the modern world than the question of national currency", I can't help but wonder this -

In what sense is the independence of Finland, a country with an almost identical population size to Scotland, an "irrelevance" now that they have joined the euro? Would they really not notice the difference if they gave up the ghost and became an autonomous province of Germany?

No rush, guys - in true Labour Hame style, I won't be declaring the question UNANSWERED for at least six minutes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tom Harris reveals that Oceania is at war with Eastasia, and has always been at war with Eastasia

If you ever find yourself reading a post by Tom Harris and sense that it's highly objectionable in some way, but can't quite put your finger on exactly what the problem is, you probably need look no further than his cavalier attitude to The Meaning Of Words. Orwell would have had a field day with some of Harris' contributions to the AV referendum debate, and his latest article for Labour Hame is in much the same vein. As a public service, I thought I'd provide you with a cut-out-and-keep Tomspeak-to-English translator...

"So why, after Labour’s second defeat at Holyrood, are we being told that we must abandon our support for the devolution settlement?"

Translation : Why are we being told that we must start supporting devolution in a meaningful way for the first time since 1999?

"let’s try to make devolution work."

Translation : Let's keep the devolved Scottish Parliament as weak as possible.

"The 1999 devolution settlement was not some kind of half-hearted compromise."

Translation : It was an imperfect compromise hungrily embraced by a country that had been totally starved of self-government for almost three centuries.

"On the contrary, the White Paper, “Scotland’s Parliament”, published by Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar weeks after he took office, impressed all sides of the debate."

Translation : It impressed some sides of the debate (roughly half).

"And yet, ever since the overwhelming “Yes” vote in the referendum, the SNP have done everything they can to belittle and undermine that devolution settlement."

Translation : After being an indispensable part of the campaign that won the overwhelming Yes vote, the SNP have built on that success by doing everything they can to strengthen the powers of the devolved Scottish Parliament.

"So, a question for the nationalists: what is it about Scotland that makes us so incapable of making devolution work?"

Translation : What is it about Scotland that makes us incapable of being ruled by others?

"What are the peculiar defects of Scottish political culture that make us incapable of taking full advantage of our devolved parliament?"

What peculiar defects of Scottish political culture make us unhappy about being ruled by others?

"Are we too small?"

Are we too small to be dependent on others?

"Too weak?"

Too weak to be dependent on others?

"Not confident enough?"

Not confident enough to be dependent on others?

"Too easily bullied?"

Too easily bullied to allow our natural resources to be exploited by others?

"Not capable of running our nation efficiently while taking a full part in the United Kingdom?"

Not capable of sitting back and allowing our nation to be run inefficiently by others?