Friday, November 23, 2012

Ashcroft poll : SNP lead in Westminster voting intention

The Tories' billionaire puppet-master Lord Ashcroft recently conducted a UK-wide mega-poll of Westminster voting intention, with a sample size some eight times larger than a regular poll. That means the size of the Scottish subsample was almost as large as you'd expect for a full-scale Scottish poll. The results make fascinating reading -

SNP 39%
Labour 33%
Conservatives 16%
Liberal Democrats 6%
Others 7%

There are a couple of important caveats here. Firstly, even a massive subsample is still just a subsample - ie. the figures may not be properly weighted. Secondly, the fieldwork is a few weeks out of date. Nevertheless, given the fact that this a poll that shows a very healthy Labour lead at GB-wide level, these numbers are obviously hugely encouraging.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Special appeal : Scots Wikipedia contributors needed!

I've just found myself writing a rather impatient email reply to someone whose heart is in the right place, but who I think is lashing out in entirely the wrong direction. Basically, he's one of only two active editors on the Scots language Wikipedia at the moment, and he's annoyed with me for a) having created several hundred short articles in 2005/6 on non-Scottish politicians, and b) not maintaining those articles. I told him that in creating the articles I wasn't entering into a lifetime commitment, and that in my view it was healthy for the Scots Wikipedia not to become ghettoised in Scottish-only topics. I added that the growth of any user-generated site depends on people feeling free to write about subjects that they know about and are interested in, and that if he wanted the site to thrive it was counter-productive to berate someone for actually creating articles six years ago!

Nevertheless, I'm terribly sad to learn that the site has been so neglected of late. It occurred to me that many readers of this blog may not even be aware that a Scots language Wikipedia exists, so I thought I'd give it a mention in case anyone is interested in becoming a contributor. For obvious reasons, it's much more of a blank canvas than the English Wikipedia, so there are far fewer constraints on writers. (It's become almost unbearable to contribute to the English wiki in recent years - if you dare to even insert a comma somewhere, a zealot will pop up out of nowhere and bang you over the head with Wikipedia Rule XY75-RF.)

If you'd like to set up a Scots Wikipedia account, click HERE.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Clinton doesn't just oppose "separatism" - he opposes democratic self-determination

Our old friend Duncan Hothersall was full of beans yesterday about the supposed 'endorsement' of the No campaign by Bill Clinton. In truth, of course, it was no such thing - the comment Clinton made was vacuous and full of creative ambiguity, and as Jeff Breslin has pointed out, was entirely misconceived if it was intended to subtly steer listeners towards the 'correct' conclusion. Both unionists and nationalists agree that it's possible and desirable to be both Scottish and British, thanks all the same Bill, so there's no need for you to worry your pretty little head over that issue. Indeed, the SNP were quickly able to confirm that their philosophy is entirely in accordance with the one Clinton set out, and while they were at it they could also have pointed out that they share Clinton's fervour for motherhood and apple pie.

But if we leave aside what Clinton actually said, and turn our attention to what he almost certainly thinks, then perhaps Duncan has a point. You see, Clinton has form on this. During his presidency, he launched an utterly disgraceful intervention into the internal affairs of a neighbouring state by not only coming down firmly on the side of the federalists in Quebec, but also by disputing Quebec's right to seek independence even if the majority voted for it. In case anyone doubted that this position was part of a wider belief-system, he astonishingly went out of his way to commend Russia's "rightful" defence of its national sovereignty in Chechnya (while quibbling about some of the specific methods used to do this).

This is the problem, Duncan - Clinton doesn't just oppose 'separatism', he also opposes democratic self-determination. He's an unreconstructed 'territorial integrity' dinosaur, who thinks that the vested interest of an international elite in keeping all national borders exactly as they are should trump the democratic will of citizens.

Is that really the sort of friend you want, Duncan?

As you might have guessed, I'm not Clinton's greatest fan - all he really achieved in office was the effective disenfranchisement of millions, who were hoping for a slightly wider choice in 1996 than between two right-wing Republicans. The fact that Dick Morris ran his campaign that year says it all. In a sense, the George W Bush presidency was a monster of Clinton's own creation - after eight years of triangulation, it's little wonder that many liberal voters were sick of being told they had nowhere else to go, and either stayed home or voted for Nader.