Saturday, August 3, 2013

A plea to Peter Capaldi - if you're the new Doctor, please use your natural accent

I've no idea if the rumours swirling around that Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor Who have any truth to them. Certainly last time round when the bookies got to the point of refusing new bets, it turned out they had settled on the right name (Matt Smith came out of nowhere after Paterson Joseph had been the long-term favourite). But it may be that the BBC have learned from that experience, and that Capaldi's name is being used as a decoy, or is just a spontaneous false rumour. My guess is that the production team might be (wrongly) concerned about choosing someone of Capaldi's age, if only because the audience have become accustomed to younger Doctors since the show's comeback in 2005.

But if by any chance Capaldi is the choice, my fervent hope is that he won't follow in David Tennant's footsteps by ditching his Scottish accent. If it's plausible for a Time Lord from Gallifrey to speak the Queen's English, or to use Christopher Eccleston's Lancashire accent, or even to have a semi-Scottish accent during his seventh incarnation, then there's no good reason why he shouldn't speak like Malcolm Tucker, albeit perhaps without the expletives. Tennant's decision to become the first Doctor in history to abandon his natural accent was the absolute epitome of the Scottish cringe. If this whole 'better together' thing (which it's assumed Tennant is a firm believer in) has any meaning at all, it ought to be about celebrating each other's differences, not about everyone in Britain aspiring to the 'normality' of being a good little Englishman.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Jeremy Purvis reaches the light at the end of the tunnel

One of the constant refrains from Neanderthal opponents of electoral reform in the London parties is that it is simply unconscionable to have a system that enables a "loser to win".  We heard it endlessly during the AV referendum campaign, but it's also often been raised as an objection to the AMS system used for the Scottish Parliament, which makes it possible for a candidate who has been defeated in a constituency to still be elected on the regional list.

Curiously, though, there seems to be considerable overlap between complaints about the so-called "losers winning" vagaries of PR, and enthusiastic support for the House of Lords as an anachronism that supposedly "works".  Chiefly, of course, the anachronism works by allowing "sound chaps" like Jeremy Purvis to carry on legislating for us in spite of having been roundly rejected by the errant electorate of Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale.

Altogether now...

Every loser wins
Once the dream begins
In time you'll see, fate holds the key
And every loser knows
The light the tunnel shows
Will shine on you

Jeremy was so right to keep the faith. Why would a Liberal Democrat need democracy?

* * *

Plaid Cymru seem to be storming to victory in the Ynys Môn by-election - a huge relief, given that it will deprive Labour of an outright majority in the Welsh Assembly. Although it may have looked like a safe seat for Plaid on paper, that was highly deceptive because Labour have held the equivalent Westminster seat since 2001 (a situation eerily reminiscent of the Aberdeen Donside by-election, where of course the incumbent government's parliamentary majority was also hanging in the balance).

Plaid were helped along by some stardust from their TV personality candidate Rhun ap Iorwerth, a man so famous that even I recognised him straight away. He's already being spoken of as a potential long-term successor to Leanne Wood as party leader, although I was slightly shocked to read this reaction from a Labour source -

"Plaid are getting rather ahead of themselves. Rhun is likely to win the by-election, but talk of him as a future leader is very premature...

Most people in Wales won’t even be able to pronounce his name, and it’s difficult to imagine someone called Rhun ap Iorwerth going down well in Islwyn."

Can you even begin to imagine the outrage if Labour had made that comment about a candidate with a Pakistani or Chinese name? And yet what exactly is the difference?

* * *

UPDATE : The sensational Ynys Môn result in full -

Plaid Cymru 58.2% (+16.8)
Labour 15.9% (-10.3)
UKIP 14.3% (+14.3)
Conservatives 8.5% (-20.7)
Socialist Labour 1.6% (+1.6)
Liberal Democrats 1.4% (-1.8)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dramatic YouGov poll suggests that Scots are least likely to care whether men wear red trousers or not

Still no sign of that elusive YouGov poll on referendum voting intentions - there hasn't been one since October 2012, which in some ways is just as well, because of course YouGov are notorious for using biased 'explanatory' preambles, and for producing results that are more favourable for No than virtually any other pollster.  But what they have come up with instead is something that is even more overdue.  At last we have some clarity on the regional breakdown of opinion in the great 'men wearing red trousers' debate.  Paradoxically, Scots are both less likely to like the idea of men wearing red trousers AND to dislike the idea.  See for yourself...


London 20%
South excluding London 12%
Wales and English Midlands 10%
North of England 12%
Scotland 9%


London 46%
South excluding London 48%
Wales and English Midlands 48%
North of England 41%
Scotland 40%


London 34%
South excluding London 40%
Wales and English Midlands 42%
North of England 48%
Scotland 51%

I am genuinely not making this up.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Yes campaign gains support in latest independence poll

The good news from the latest poll of referendum voting intentions conducted by Panelbase is that the Yes vote is up one point.  The bad news is that the No vote is also up by two points.  Essentially, then, this is a steady-as-she-goes poll, which shows the Yes campaign still firmly within striking distance.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 37% (+1)
No 46% (+2)

The poll was jointly commissioned by fundamentalist Brit Nat rag The Sunday Times, which notes through gritted teeth that Yes supporters show a greater inclination to turn out to vote, before reassuring itself that No is "maintaining a strong lead".  Really?  A nine-point lead with a full year-and-a-quarter to go is "strong"?  Prime Minister Kinnock might beg to differ...

*  *  *

UPDATE : Not being a payer of the Murdoch levy, I've only just caught up with the Holyrood voting intention figures, which show the SNP building on their already humongous lead -

Constituency vote:

SNP 48% (+3)
Labour 30% (-)
Conservatives 13% (-)
Liberal Democrats 4% (-1)

Regional list vote:

SNP 48% (+3)
Labour 25% (-2)
Conservatives 13% (-)
Greens 6% (-)
Liberal Democrats 4% (-2)