Friday, September 30, 2011

Another outing for my rubbish prayer-mat

I was planning on doing another in my regular series of "how it is still arithmetically possible for Scotland to qualify" posts in honour of the Rugby World Cup game against England tomorrow, but I see the BBC have beaten me to it. There is, however, a small error -

"If Scotland and Argentina both win without a bonus point, it will come down to points difference between the three teams, though England are way out in front"

That's only true if England fail to get the bonus point in defeat - if they were to get that point, they would win the pool outright, and Argentina and Scotland would be tied on points for second place. In those circumstances, Argentina would go through automatically regardless of points difference, because they defeated Scotland in the head-to-head encounter between the two teams.

Oh, let's face it - the most likely outcome is that Scotland will lose without even sneaking a bonus point tomorrow, meaning we'll be out of the tournament regardless of the outcome of the Argentina v Georgia game. I'll naturally be getting my prayer-mat out anyway, but I must caution you that it's never worked before. That's a good point, actually - it's a truly rubbish prayer-mat.

The most important advice Ed Miliband will ever read

From 'Sophie', in a comment on the New Statesman blogs -

"Ed is doing the right thing by focusing on England as that is where the election is going to be won or lost; home as it is to 85%+ of the UK population. Once elected I'm sure he will get around to meeting the winner but remembering obscure contenders in Scotland is like remembering the opposition group leader names on English councils. Scotland does not matter."

I strongly urge Ed Miliband to pin these words on his bathroom wall, and recite them to himself every morning. This is definitely the way forward.

Hang on, what am I talking about, he's doing it anyway.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Miliband gives ringing endorsement to, you know, that guy

Some news stories are beyond satire. From the Press Association (or possibly from a script for The Thick of It) -

"There are three not very well-known candidates," said the BBC interviewer. "What do you know about them and can you name them?"

Mr Miliband replied: "I think we have got three great hitters. I think we have got three people who are determined to show that they can make a difference, that they can make a difference to the people of Scotland."

Interviewer: "Can you name the three of them?" Mr Miliband: "Look, what I say is, there is Tom Harris, there is Johann Lamont and a third candidate who is also putting himself forward."

Interviewer: "He is the front-runner, Ken Macintosh." Mr Miliband: "Ken Macintosh, yes."

Interviewer: "He is the front-runner but you can't name him." Mr Miliband: "No, look, Ken Macintosh is going to be an excellent candidate."

* * *

"Can you name the three of them?"

"Look, what I say is : No."

Of course, Miliband recently informed us that our elected First Minister isn't that big a figure in Westminster, and when people want to know what is really going on in Scotland, they instead turn to the obvious political colossus - Ann McKechin. Hmmm. Perhaps Mr Miliband ought to reflect on whether he might be going astray there, because I think we can safely assume that Alex Salmond is considerably better informed on the Scottish Labour leadership contest than the UK Labour leader presently appears to be.

It's also worth pointing out that Miliband's seeming reliance on the not exactly objective source of McKechin for obtaining his hazy information on this far-off land of ours is eerily reminiscent of the story of how Michael Heseltine came to vote in favour of imposing the poll tax on Scotland but not on England, as mischievously recounted by Donald Dewar in the House of Commons. A Lib Dem MP enquired whether Dewar had heard that the reason Heseltine voted the way he did was that he - amazingly - thought the Scottish people wanted the poll tax. Dewar replied : "It's worse than that. What he actually did was ask the Secretary of State [Malcolm Rifkind] whether the people of Scotland wanted it - and he believed the answer."

Bite-size examples of the logical consistency of unionists

I'm grateful to DougtheDug on the previous thread for pointing me in the direction of former Labour MP Maria Fyfe's contribution to Labour Hame on the teaching of Scottish history. One passage in particular leapt out at me -

"Then there is the endlessly repeated mantra that our Scottish Parliament has been “reconvened”. Why? On the spurious grounds that when the Scottish Parliament of 1707 met for the last time it stood adjourned. We have had over three hundred years to get used to the combined Parliament and play our part in reforming the franchise. Both Holyrood and Westminster would be unrecognisable to the tiny band of rich men of 1707 who stood for political parties so long forgotten only historians of the period can even name them."

I trust that Maria would therefore agree that we shouldn't be misleading children into thinking that the Labour party that ruled over us between 1997 and 2010 had anything at all to do with the authentic Labour party of old, simply on the spurious grounds that both shared the same name. Maybe that way we could finally educate people into spotting their catastrophic error in assuming that they are in some way voting for the same party that their "faether voted for, and his faether before him".

Let's move on now to the latest pearl of wisdom from John McTernan, newly appointed adviser to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard -

"The obscene personal abuse Scottish nationalists are now bringing to Twitter reveals a narrowness and nastiness deep-set in separatism."

I trust then, John, that your first piece of advice to your new employer will be to urgently reverse the historic error of Australian separation from the motherland? We can't be having any of that narrow, obscene nastiness Down Under, can we?

(As an aside, what a thoroughly depressing appointment. I actually want the Australian Labor Party to win the next election, but I'm not exactly filled with confidence now.)

Last but not least, we have Michael Forsyth's extraordinary claim that Murdo Fraser's wish to lead a centre-right party that is actually electable would be "the greatest political error since Bonnie Prince Charlie turned back at Derby to face certain defeat".

So, let's see. That makes it a greater political error than using Scotland as a guinea pig for the poll tax in 1989, and stubbornly opposing devolution between 1979 and 1997, at the cost of all 22 Scottish Tory seats, and the halving of the party's share of the vote. Yes, I see what you mean, Michael - something worse than all that must be pretty bad.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Questions to which the answer is 'your question is important to us, please hold'

A double rollover day for any Labour people that might be passing by - I've got a couple of queries for their perusal this time...

Courtesy of Duncan Hothersall's slip of a few weeks ago, we now know that the "Admin" of Labour Hame and Tom Harris MP are, in fact, one and the same person. One being, two identities - it would be like the Holy Trinity if only there were three of them (after all, just like God, Tom is "right, and everyone else is wrong"). Is it therefore just a coincidence that Tom now only chooses to post his worthy, earnest pieces under his own name, and bashfully switches to "Admin" whenever he wants to make wild claims like...oooh, I don't know, that the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has "backed" Alex Salmond? I mean, Tom wouldn't have a slight concern that saying things like that under his own name might prove a tad incompatible with trying to mount a serious leadership bid which promises a new politics, would he?

And the second question - in the light of recent events, does Ahmadinejad's throwaway, unsolicited expression of support for Scottish independence look better or worse than Tony Blair's public embrace of Colonel Gaddafi, and the Deal in the Desert? After all, the obvious difference between the two is, to use George Foulkes' immortal turn of phrase, that Blair associated himself with a lunatic dictator deliberately.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Another spurious claim of 'anti-Englishness'

Loosely following on from my previous post, a Twitter exchange between Tory Hoose's very own version of "Admin" and Lib Dem blogger Gavin Hamilton drew my attention to a post by Gavin in which he ponders the way forward for the Tories, but also gives a special mention to left-leaning Nats -

"Finally, I have noticed that some Nationalists argue they want to defeat poverty and bring about social justice in the modern Scotland - but the only way this can be done is in an Independent Scotland. How can this be so? The reason it can be so is that England keeps on imposing alien Conservative regimes on Scotland who are against such left of centre agendas. Indeed, making sure we do not have a Conservative regime enforced on us period, is a key driver for having Independence.

This strikes me as most unhealthy reasoning. There is absolutely no reason why we should not achieve these laudable aims as part of the UK. This reasoning is getting dangerously close to a basic anti-English sentiment which never lies far beneath the surface with some nationalists."

I wouldn't describe Gavin's own logic here as "unhealthy" so much as utterly baffling and in dire need of elucidation. There is "absolutely no reason" for thinking that we can't pursue a left-of-centre agenda as part of UK - except, of course, for the excellent reason Gavin has just given himself, namely that the UK electorate keep on electing right-of-centre governments (of both the Tory and Labour varieties) and that there is absolutely nothing Scots can do to change that within the context of the United Kingdom, due to our having less than a tenth of the population. For Gavin to demonstrate that he understands this reasoning so thoroughly, but then to wildly assert that anyone who adheres to it is "dangerously close" to being anti-English, simply isn't good enough. We need to know why.

Let me try a counter-example here. Suppose there was a serious proposal for the UK to withdraw from the EU, the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights, and instead become the 51st state of the USA. One of the consequences of that would be the instant reintroduction of the death penalty - because even citizens in US states that have abolished capital punishment are still subject to the federal and military death penalties. Now I could easily argue that there is "absolutely no reason" why the UK can't be just as free of the death penalty as part of the US as it currently is as part of the EU. It's simply a matter of "winning the argument" at US-wide level, I could say. And every single person would know that is a fundamentally deceitful claim, because the argument is essentially unwinnable in the US, at least for the foreseeable future. By choosing to join the US, we'd be aligning ourselves to a completely different political culture, one that would render absolutely inevitable the return of judicial murder to these shores.

I trust that, as a good Lib Dem, Gavin would think that in itself was a good enough reason to argue against taking such a step. But would that make him "anti-American"? And if not, why not?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

There's a moose loose

I was positive Jeff Breslin was referring to a spoof website when he first uttered the words Labour Hame a few months ago, and I would have been even more sure that Tory Hoose was the figment of some wicked Cybernat's imagination if I hadn't read about it yesterday in a deadly serious Evening Times article about Ruth Davidson's leadership bid. Apparently it's been going for some time now, I must have been living down a hole.

So Rennie's mob are now in serious danger of having no Scots word for 'primary residence' left if they want to join in the fun with a site of their own. But perhaps, to reflect the prevailing political situation, they should simply set up a small annex to Tory Hoose, and call it Lib Dem Bidie-in.