Friday, June 21, 2013

Donside stays onside with the SNP

So as it turned out, Duncan Hothersall's profound sense of gloom about Labour's prospects of winning a by-election in a traditional area of strength was fully justified -

SNP 42.0%
Labour 33.3%
Liberal Democrats 8.3%
Conservatives 7.7%
UKIP 4.8%
Greens 1.7%
National Front 1.0%
Scottish Christian Party 0.9%
SDA 0.1%

I'm old enough (and in fact anyone over the age of about four is old enough) to know that by-elections that are supposed to be routine can easily produce a jaw-dropping "where did that come from?" result on the night. The examples in recent years alone are plentiful - Glasgow East, Dunfermline and West Fife, Glenrothes, Bradford West. So in spite of the bookies' odds, I sat down to watch the result tonight with a certain amount of trepidation. I needn't have worried, though. The idea that this was some kind of moral victory for Labour is laughable. It's almost an iron law in politics - governments shed votes in by-elections, oppositions gain them. Labour in this instance even had the advantage of being a 'double opposition' - they are in opposition both at Westminster and in Holyrood. They were also fighting in territory that they comfortably held at the 2010 UK general election. In a nutshell, this is a by-election they should have been expecting to win with a bit to spare, not aiming to "get the SNP below 50%", as the sainted Ms Dugdale absurdly claimed at the start of proceedings tonight.

The SNP deserve huge credit for avoiding the mistake that Labour themselves have made on so many occasions in defending 'safe seats', by treating the by-election and the constituency with the full respect they deserved. A party that doesn't act like it 'owns' certain votes or is 'entitled' to them is a much more attractive proposition. This is a win that was hard-earned, and all the sweeter for it.

There was also a very interesting tidbit from Stewart Maxwell at the end of the night - apparently the full results of the SNP's canvassing of referendum voting intentions in Donside show Yes on 34% and No on 29%. On the face of it, that flatly contradicts Mark McDonald's supposed "bombshell admission" that most people in the constituency would vote No if the referendum was held now, but perhaps there was a follow-up question to undecided voters asking how they were leaning at present.

Now then. What you're about to read is something that UKIP's "Scottish leader" Lord Monckton actually said tonight on the BBC results programme. This is not a typo.

"UKIP are the most pro-European of all the Scottish parties."

As naturalistic sentences in the English language go, that's right up there with "Hitler was the most pro-Jewish of all the French dictators". Apparently, though, Monckton's appearance on the BBC was a model of sanity and factual accuracy compared to his contribution to the STV coverage just a few minutes earlier, which I sadly missed. Andrea Parma told me that Monckton had followed in Nigel Farage's admirable footsteps by making reference to an epochal "Stirling by-election", which most of us are mysteriously unable to recall. Is this the UKIP equivalent of holocaust denial - "the media are lying to you, resist the drugs, there WAS a Stirling by-election"?

I checked Twitter to see if I could find out what Monckton had actually said about "that night in Stirling", but alas, I couldn't spot any direct reference. What I did find, however, more than made up for it. I'm still struggling to regain my composure.

Kieran Andrews : #scotnight has the beginnings of the Ukip Scottish empire. Lord Monckton interview is extraordinary.

Kirsty Boyle : This dude Monckton is a Barry Humphries character isn't he?

Doug Daniel : Lord Monckton just claimed Alex Salmond was thrown out of the Labour party for being too left wing. Funniest thing ever?

Andy Neil : The interviewer on #scotnight trying to stifle laughter as Lord Monckton makes things up.

Christina McKelvie : Monckton!!! OMG!!!

Magnus Jamieson : Bahahahaha, hilarious from Monckton! Legitimately hilarious! @Radical_Indy "sent from SNP". Literally laughing out loud.

Jonathan Mackie : Hahahahah @stvclaire stunned into silence as Monckton claims Salmond was chucked out of Labour party.

Lallands Peat Worrier : Alex Salmond was thrown out of the Labour party for being too left wing, suggests Monckton. #counterfactualhistory

Andrew Drynan : Is Monckton even on this planet ???

Fraser / Friseal : Bernard Ponsonby’s raised eyebrows said it all about Lord Monckton there.

Sophia Pangloss : *actual fell aff ma settee there...*

Anne Don : Monckton states nationalists are racist, but he is "more Scottish than most Scots".

Rattlecans : They've actually let that Monckton dude on the telly! Whit?

Alasdair Stephen : Lord Monckton just revealed that Alex Salmond was expelled from Labour Party for being too left wing!

Norman McQuade : Can any political anoraks remember if Monckton is firstly earth born and secondly gave the Scotland on Sunday a piece yonks ago?

David Clegg : Did that Lord Monckton interview really happen?!!!!

Cath Ferguson : Yes. Lord Viscount Monckton whatever is apparently "more Scots" than the average Scot. Whatever that's supposed to mean.

Kirsty Boyle : Alex Salmond gave birth to an alien baby before leading the Tories #monckton #UKIPversionoffacts

Joseph MacFarlane : No justice if that Monckton interview doesn't go viral.

Gavin Newlands : Anybody think that Monckton has been on a tour of distilleries on polling day? #heishallucinating

Alan Mackie : After hearing Monckton on #scotnight - have changed my mind. UKIP should be welcomed if only for the entertainment of their comedy madness.

Magnus Jamieson : You cannot make up characters like Monckton. You just cannot. The Universe gifts them to us once a blue moon to reaffirm our humanity.

Jason Rose : Ah, Monckton. Many years ago I interviewed him from his hospital bed about a jigsaw he invented. Mad as a bag of spiders.

Jonny McFarlane : @stvclaire momentarily stunned by total recall special effect claiming Salmond was booted out of #labour for being a socialist!


  1. All things considered a good result for the SNP.

    Traditional Labour seat; Labour in opposition in parliament and in London; 6 years into a series of SNP governments; much liked and respected previous MSP; massive publicity for Ukip.

    I didn't expect the SNP to lose but I'm not in the least surprised at the drop in majority.

    I read somewhere that Mr Salmond's visit (and a handshake) had influenced at least one man who wasn't sure how to vote. Mrs Lamont appeared to give the area a swerve this week.

    As for the Viscount Monkton... Pffff. As Jason Rose says: Mad as a bag of spiders and straight out of the hospitality room, glass in hand by the sounds, rather like his English boss frequently is.

    Good news, too, on the voting intentions for the referendum too. This seems to tie in with Stephen Noon's post yesterday, indicating that private organisational polling for YES Scotland is much more encouraging than the figures being produced for public consumption.

    Incidentally, I've just listened to the news on Radio 4, and despite covering some story about a bloke's dog being abducted by aliens, there appeared no mention of a by-election in Scotland

  2. I thought 'swivel eyed' was just a turn of phrase until I saw Monckton.

  3. Labour have spent a lot of effort in trying to win the seat. Their tactic of it being a mini-referendum did not work. Brian Adam is a very hard act to follow and he had a very good personal vote. Mark McDonald I am sure will become a popular MSP in his own right. I understand he does a good stand up comedy. We had that last night with Lord Monckton.

  4. Obviously EVERYONE in the TV News Studio knew that Monckton was was confusing Alex Neil with Alex Salmond.

    Instead of Ponsonby or indeed ANYONE else correcting Monckton, by saying "surely you mean Alex Neil", they were prepared to allow Monckton to embarrass himself, rather than inform the Public of the FACT. This says something about the prejudice of Scottish News Reporting.

    For those who do not know ....
    In 1976, Alex Neil, along with Jim Sillars MP and John Robertson MP left the Labour Party's Scottish branch to form the breakaway group, Scottish Labour Party (SLP). By 1979 the SLP had collapsed and Neil fell out of active politics until 1985 when he joined the Scottish National Party (SNP).

    Finally any person who may think that cynically mocking another because they suffer from Graves' disease, which causes among other symptoms, protruding eyes, is a very very sad person indeed.

    Just better hope that YOU don't get some serious disease, and then you will know how hurtful the ignorant can be.

  5. Fair enough on your final point, but I'm not remotely impressed by the rest of it. The idea that Monckton may have been mixing Salmond up with Alex Neil is pure speculation on your part - and it doesn't really make sense anyway, because even Alex Neil wasn't "expelled from the Labour party for being too left wing"! If he doesn't want to be mercilessly mocked, a man in Monckton's position has got to check his facts before making wild claims like that - is it really good enough to say "well, OK, that didn't happen to Alex Salmond, nor did it happen to anyone else in the SNP called Alex, but I'm probably close enough anyway"?

    Oh, and by the way, Ponsonby couldn't interrupt him because Ponsonby wasn't interviewing him. Nor was Ponsonby in the same room. Nor was Monckton being interviewed in the studio - he was interviewed by a reporter at the count. Sorry.