Saturday, December 17, 2011

Scottish Labour persevere with their highly successful core vote strategy

Well, it would be massively over-the-top on this occasion to repeat what I said about the Tories a few weeks ago. Labour haven't made a historic error - not that choosing Johann Lamont wasn't an error, but it's hard to pretend that the alternative would have been much better. There was no-one on the ballot paper who could have matched Alex Salmond's charisma (and that includes Admin, in spite of his own high opinion of himself), and neither was there anyone who really "got it" about where Labour have been going wrong. Macintosh perhaps came closest with his idea of dropping the word 'unionist' from the party lexicon, but I doubt there would have been much in the way of substance to complement the change of language.

And the same problem holds true of Lamont. OK, no-one can accuse her of concealing the fact that she's going to continue to conspire with the Tories to obstruct the Scottish people's aspirations for a more powerful parliament, but on non-constitutional matters she actually talked the talk today. For instance -

"Our one test will be what is in the interest of the people of Scotland, not what's in the interest of ourselves."

"I will reach out to people across Scotland who maybe never thought of themselves to be Labour..."

Now, does anyone think for a moment she's the person to do that? She has "core vote strategy leader" written all over her - and that strategy certainly worked a treat back in May.

Friday, December 16, 2011

On whimsical moderation policies...

I've no wish to restart the mini-feud I had with James Mackenzie a few months ago, but given that a few posters here have recently suggested that Better Nation is moving towards a Labour Hame-style moderation policy, I was intrigued to spot this exchange in the most recent comments thread -

Holebender : You’ve just proved to me that you know nothing about the SNP or Alex Salmond.

James Mackenzie : You're wrong.

Davie Park : In response to Holebender’s assertion that;

“You’ve just proved to me that you know nothing about the SNP or Alex Salmond”.

you respond in modest fashion by citing one of your own opinion pieces to demonstrate that
“you’re wrong”.

The piece cited comprises your theories based on a personal judgement of the motivations of the SNP hierarchy.

For what it’s worth, I think that the SNP is a broad church that will, in all probability, have a limited life once independence is acheived. But to make the judgement that the preferred outcome of a referendum for the SNP and Salmond would be ‘Devo Max’, seems to me utterly fatuous. One would think, being a Greenie, that you’d understand conviction politics. Apparently not.

Incidentally, as the Greens are in favour of independence, I’d be delighted to hear your views on why independence would be good for Scotland, James.

James Mackenzie : To be honest, I’m not sure why I approved a comment containing that assertion. Ho hum. But I thought that explaining my own thinking might best be done by reference to my own thinking. Sorry if that’s hard to get your head around. And yes, good challenge at the end there. I’ll do that.

Indy : Your thinking is fundamentally flawed however by your lack of understanding of the SNP or its members. You should read James Mitchell’s survey stuff. That is actual evidence, not opinion.

James Mackenzie : My view is that the members are predominantly genuinely committed to independence rather than office, and that their other political views cover a spectrum broadly from the Tories to the Greens. Feel free to tell me what’s flawed there. I just think the top team love office more, and no survey data or interviews can prove or disprove that. It’s a hunch.

Also, a quick reminder of why other comments have been deleted.

At that point, James links to the Better Nation moderation policy, which reads as follows -

We love a good frank debate here, and we really appreciate your contribution.
However, we will always delete:

Anything we think is potentially libelous,
Anything which is purely insulting, or
Anything spectacularly off topic.

We may edit or delete where comments:

Are neither constructive nor original,

Are ad hominem or otherwise dickish,
Provide supporting evidence for the existence of Godwin’s Law,
Use phrases like “ZaNu Liebore” or “Scottish National Socialist Party”, or
Are longer than the post itself.

The decision of the editors is final. If a comment of yours is deleted and you want to post it on your own blog, do let us know and we’ll be happy to send it on.

Although my experience with the American gun enthusiasts in 2009 led me to the point where I will always defend to the death the right of individual bloggers to determine what comments are published on their own blogs, I've nevertheless become increasingly cynical about attempts to define hard-and-fast moderation policies, especially ones that include humorous or whimsical language, which is typically there to camouflage the catch-all clauses which basically cover "and any other comment we take a disliking to". Bear in mind that the primary purpose of spelling out a moderation policy is to provide a tool to bash people over the head with, ie. "it's your own fault, if only you'd followed these very simple rules your comment wouldn't have been deleted", so if that policy includes rules as meaninglessly non-specific and subjective as "neither constructive nor original" and "otherwise dickish", it pretty much defeats the whole point of the exercise.

There has quite literally never been a comment posted in the whole history of political blogs that could not have been perceived by somebody, somewhere as "unoriginal", "unconstructive" or "otherwise dickish". I'd be willing to bet that the bulk of any contentious deletions have been justified by those rules, rather than the more specific guidelines that few people could have any real complaint about.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Will be next, will be next, will be ne-ext...

Just as a quick follow-up to the previous post about the assault on the (alleged) fair-dodger, I was at Buchanan Street subway station in Glasgow earlier this evening, and a middle-class, well-spoken American woman cut in ahead of me at the ticket counter to complain that her ticket wasn't being recognised at the barriers. In an echo of the Scotrail incident, she was informed that it was a single ticket, and had already been used at Hillhead. But she stood her ground and animatedly insisted that she had paid for a return ticket. Now, naturally I'm deeply ashamed that I didn't do my civic duty at that point by rugby-tackling her to the ground and drawing at least a bit of blood, as any right-minded person would have done. (After all, if we tolerate this, then our children will be next.) What actually happened was that she was given the benefit of the doubt, and was handed another ticket without having to pay a penny.

So the Scotrail chap gets a close encounter with the platform at Linlithgow station for his trouble, while onlookers applaud, but the American woman gets a free ticket and no-one bats an eyelid. Why the difference? It's hard to escape the conclusion that what really matters to the summary justice brigade is what someone looks and sounds like, not whether they can actually prove that they paid for their ticket.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Exactly when did unprovoked acts of violence become perfectly OK?

I've just caught up with the controversy over the YouTube footage of the young man who was violently assaulted by a fellow passenger on a ScotRail train. The Yahoo headline "Fare-dodger claims he was the victim" is seemingly dripping with irony, but in all honesty, what doubt can there be in anyone's mind that he was indeed a victim? It doesn't matter how obnoxious he was being - an act of violence clearly outweighs fare-dodging and swearing. There were three villains in this piece, and the third was the conductor himself, who not only acted disgracefully by clearly giving his blessing to the assault (both before and afterwards), but was also partly responsible for the restlessness of the other passengers by falsely giving them the impression that the train would be delayed for a long spell if the young man didn't either pay up or leave.

I can only hope that the vigilante is tracked down and charged, and that the conductor is disciplined for his role in the incident.