Monday, April 15, 2019

Equating a Westminster veto with "legality" is a dangerous game

Like most of us, I hold Michael Russell in the highest regard, but I'm rather troubled by his article over the weekend calling for "patience".  Apart from anything else, it seems to rewrite history by suggesting that the only reason the 2014 independence referendum was ever held was because David Cameron agreed to it.  What actually happened was that the Scottish government spent the initial period after the 2011 election planning for a referendum that it believed it could hold within Holyrood's existing powers, but eventually entered into negotiations with London to put the legal position beyond dispute and to ensure a direct question could be put on the ballot paper.  The Edinburgh Agreement did not constitute some sort of acknowledgement from the Scottish side that London had been right all along and that there had never been any power to hold a referendum without permission.  Given that we were never forced to concede that point at the time, it seems more than a touch odd that we'd be needlessly and voluntarily conceding it now.

Now OK, we get it, the current SNP leadership is not attracted to the idea of a consultative referendum held without a Section 30.  That much has been plain for some time.  But unless you can be absolutely sure that neither you, nor any leadership that succeeds you, will ever need to keep that option in reserve, why would you adopt unionist language by essentially saying that a referendum can only be "constitutionally" or "legally" held if it is approved by Westminster?  I suspect the leadership are so preoccupied with curbing the enthusiasm of their own side that they're forgetting that others are hearing their words and are preparing to quote them back in future, in much the same way that happened with "once in a generation opportunity".  The most important reason of all for not recklessly stating or implying that a consultative referendum would be illegal is the simple fact that it wouldn't be.  The UK is not Spain, and people do not go to jail in this country for organising democratic consultations.

Russell's argument also drives a coach and horses through the principle of self-determination.  It's rather reminiscent of the people who used to say that everyone in Britain should have a vote in the independence referendum because it was a matter for the whole UK, or the people who used to say that of course Catalonia could become independent just as soon as the whole of Spain voted in favour of it.  The ultimate counsel of despair is to say that Scotland will be independent when the SNP gains control of Westminster.

Melissa Iacone pointed out on Twitter that there's a contradiction between Russell's stated belief that Theresa May is only refusing a referendum because she thinks Yes would win, and the apparent insistence of SNP strategists that an indyref cannot be held too soon because Yes would lose.  Is Theresa May wrong to think there's a majority for independence?  If she isn't wrong, why don't we get on with holding a referendum?  And if a referendum can apparently only be brought about if there's a majority for Yes but without anyone in Westminster actually noticing, how is Russell proposing to thread that needle?  If he wants us to be patient, I'd suggest he needs to offer us a means of achieving independence that has somewhat better odds than a lottery ticket.

I really fail to understand what would be so wrong with the clarity of the message that an exercise in self-determination is going to happen, we'd much rather it happened with London's agreement, but sooner or later it's going to happen anyway.

65 comments:

  1. The thing is, an English PM trying to veto a Scottish iref is going to earn you anything up to 30% on top of your e.g. baseline 45%. Possibly more. Depends on how the battle plays out and press coverage.

    If England tries to do a Spain and end democracy, forcibly occupying Scotland (which is what a 'veto' initiates if it's followed through on), the UK is utterly finished.

    So in that sense, chasing a Section 30 has merit. At least while you are in a holding position, waiting to decide when you want to go for your referendum.

    When London went with Edinburgh Agreement last time, I thought 'Clever barstools, you've likely won now'. And they did. If London had tried to overrule Holyrood, go to court etc, they'd have very likely lost the vote.

    I was ready the other day to tell the SNP to get a move on. Then Corbyn started official coalition talks with the Tories. OMFG. I'd said a long time ago that a grand English nationalist Lab-Con coalition may be the only way to deliver brexit, but I'd almost given up on it happening.

    But now it's happening. BetterTogether nearly destroyed Labour in Scotland, and the union. However, BT was in the end a 'British' unity thing, technically. This new coalition excludes N. Ireland, Scotland, and largely Wales (I'm not sure Welsh Labour are overly impressed with English Labour going into a coalition with the Tories). It is absolutely all about England.

    And it will be a coalition if it happens; not just a single vote. They've already agreed to dump the DUP and implement the backstop in full. So, Corbyn will need to support the Tories going forward, on all the brexit bills and more, all the way to the next GE, or the government will fall and likely brexit with it.

    And he’ll need to support the Tories on refusing a Section 30 too I suppose, which would be a big bonus.

    So let’s just hold on a little bit longer. If this grand English Labour-Conservative migrant hating hard brexit (out of the single market and an end to free movement for Scots + N. Ireland beginning reunification) coalition happens, then it will break the Labour party, splitting it right along the Scottish border.

    I honestly can't believe it. Can you imagine your own reaction if Sturgeon was sitting down with May to negotiate a coalition to take Scotland out of the EU? Well, that's what a shit load of Scots pro-EU soft unionist Labour voters are watching right now, including many party members and elected representatives.

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    1. Much as I'd like to agree with you I'm not sure. May has already said no and the anticipated spike in indy support out of indignation did not follow. Scottish Unionists like being controlled and degraded by their betters. It's in their DNA.

      Time is of the essence and we need to move towards indy during this state of flux. There will never be a better chance. Post Brexit there will be blood when we attempt to leave.

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    2. May mumbled 'now is not the time' then terminated her own government before the SNP could force the issue. That led to the 2017 election and a new UK government. The SNP lost some seats and have been in a holding position since then; they have not forced the issue, leading to the kind of discussions we are having here, i.e. why are they not demanding a section 30!

      If you want public indignation, you need to actually try and go ahead with a new iref, start setting dates, pass the bill for this...and let England try to overturn it in the courts.

      We went through similar 'It will be illegal and you can do it!' shit last time, then suddenly had the EA2012. So, the public expect similar posturing. They need to really say 'OMG, England is really going to shut down democracy' and then you shall have your indignation, and irreversibly so.

      Which is why, if London has even a single brain cell, it won't actually do that, just posture and attempt body swerves such as that used in 2017 (dissolving the government).

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  2. Here’s what I said in a letter published in The Scotsman on 15 February 2012. My views have not changed:

    Yet again an article in your columns (“Scottish independence: No breakthrough in talks between Alex Salmond and Michael Moore”, Feb 14) repeats the claim that before the Scottish Government can lawfully hold an independence referendum there must be a transfer of powers (by means of a section 30 order) by the United Kingdom Government; and that this fact gives the UK Government the opportunity to attach restrictive conditions as the price of any such transfer. This is an all-too prevalent misconception.
    The Scottish Government’s present legal position on entitlement to hold a referendum is a strong one. Any conditions sought to be imposed by the UK Government can therefore be considered strictly on their merits and not as a price that must be paid, however reluctantly, in order to secure authority lawfully to hold a referendum at all.

    Notwithstanding the restrictions on the Scottish Government’s devolved competence contained in the Scotland Act 1998, no-one disputes that it can lawfully make proposals to, or hold conversations or enter into negotiations with, the United Kingdom Government about (i) altering the constitutional position of Scotland or (ii) widening the devolved powers of the Scottish Government and Parliament (including amending or removing some or all of the matters reserved to the United Kingdom which are set out in Schedule 5 of the Act).

    That being the case, it is inconceivable that any court would hold that it was beyond the legal power of the Scottish Government to promote legislation to enable it to consult the Scottish electorate (by means of a referendum) about whether the Scottish Government should or should not make such proposals to, or hold such conversations or enter into such negotiations with, the Government of the United Kingdom. That is precisely what a referendum on independence does, irrespective of the precise terms of the question asked.

    The Scottish Government’s position is, of course, reinforced by section 101(2) of the 1998 Act which provides that any provision of an Act of the Scottish Parliament is “to be read as narrowly as is required for it to be within competence, if such a reading is possible, and is to have effect accordingly”.

    That does not, of course, exclude the possibility that referendum legislation might be challenged, as being beyond the Scottish Parliament’s powers, in the courts of Scotland and all the way to the UK Supreme Court. But any such challenge would fail.

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    1. A glorious achievement. So good you wrote it twice. Hahaha. You should try and sell the original to a museum like peanuts. You'd make s fortune. Maybe Nichola Sturgeon will buy it and put it on the wall in her office .Or her secretary.

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    2. I do hope Cordelia didn't hurt itself on the way back to the sobbing cupboard.

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  3. I keep feeling like I'm missing something. Would love to know what snp top brass are saying to each other about this topic. Surely they have a cunning plan, I tell myself. Or have they somehow become detached from reality? Don't get it. Are they basically saying, we won't seek to hold indyref before a nice mandate in 2021, and if we don't get that then, OK, no indyref?

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    1. You sound like you oversized on fruit. "Oh hello. It's the cheeky candle maker of Clerkenwell on his way to work in Old Street." Ha ha ha ha. We see through all the lies. Test!!

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    2. Not even 8am and Cordelia was already hammered. Test failed.

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    3. More drunken screeching from poor embittered Cordelia. Test once again failed; must do better.

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    4. Ron the Miner far FifeApril 16, 2019 at 5:14 PM

      Welcome to Singopore. Bash!

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    5. Poor Cordelia. I think I made it cry.

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  4. At some point over the next two weeks Labour is going to come out in favour of a second ref in some shape or form. With three of their most high profile MPs (Watson, Starmer and Thornberry) supporting it and McDonnell open on the idea then they have no choice. Unless they are going to park them all until the Eu Election is over and just have Barry Gardener doing all their media.

    These talks are on because Labour couldn't say no but they are not going to come to anything.

    Even if they didn't back it now, a second ref would get forced on them at their Conference something they would not want to happen.

    With labour backing a second ref and soft leave Conservatives slowly also starting to back it, a second ref is going to have a majority in Westminster before long. A new PM is not going to change anything, Parliment will never vote for no deal and the EU will not reopen the WA, so they will never be able to deliver for Brexiters.

    By the end of the year there is either going to be a second EU ref or a GE (especially as there is no guarantee that the DUP will renew its C&S agreement with the Conservatives).

    Bar some sort of strange sequence of events Brexit is just not going to happen which, as James has said on a number of occasions, means that the chance of a second Indy ref gets kicked far down the road.

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    1. A second EU ref means no electoral mandate is ever required in Scotland for indyrefs.

      UK could e.g. stay firmly in the EU and the SNP could still proceed with a new iref anyway; the need to justify it with brexit vanishes thanks to UK precedent of 'random refs whenever it suits politically'.

      EUref2 would be basically because 'We're not so keen on the result of the last one...people didn't really understand etc...people need a say on the deal'. So the same would now apply for 2014; 'people need a say on whether they are happy with the 2014 devo deal now they've tested it for a few years'...

      :-)

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    2. I could do but it won't it will kick it down the road. Remember if UK stays in the EU and Scotland leaves the UK, it leaves the EU (presumably to rejoin at some point in the future), good luck selling that in the short term. Will get kicked down the road to a point were Brexit is not so fresh in peoples mind.

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    3. Didn't seem to be much of a problem last time; damn near half the population voted for indy even with the 'you'll be oot the EU' threat from the UK (rather than the EU). Since then, Yes has been gaining due to simple demographics, hence the 'tomorrow' baseline gap closing.

      And brexit has demonstrated how keen the EU is that countries don't end up 'oot the EU'. They've done all that they can to prevent the UK crashing out and keep saying they'd really prefer it stayed.

      Good luck trying to sell the EU refusing to accommodate an indy Scotland next time.

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    4. It not about accommodating. If Scotland votes for Independence it leaves the EU, simple fact, Scotland is not a member state of the EU the UK is, if Scotland is not part of the UK is not part of the EU.

      Of course the EU will not block Scotland rejoining at a latter date but will still be leaving (ie stopping free movement crashing economy etc etc). No way is the Scot Gov going to press for a second Indy ref with Brexit still fresh in peoples minds.

      No brexit - no indy ref till the latter half of the next parliament at the earliest; trying to convince yourself otherwise is Brexiteer levels of delusion.

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    5. Sorry, but you don't speak for the EU. You don't get to decide what would happen in such a situation.

      If Scotland voted Yes, there would need to be some sort of indy date. It would still be legally part of the UK and so still in the EU until that date.

      So, negotiations would begin and likely be settled before any independence date. Ergo, when that came, Scotland would simply move straight into the EU/EEA.

      Of course if the UK was playing silly buggers, then it could legally chuck Scotland - and 0.53 million of its own English citizens before we get to 'Brit-Scots' - out of the UK immediately in response. That would suddenly hand Scotland complete control of the oil, it's waters, faslane and the rest. Maybe not the best move for the UK, so we are back to negotiations beginning while Scotland was still in the UK legally and so in the EU, but in some sort of 'Post Article 50' period.

      If we did get thrown out of the UK the morning of a yes vote, an emergency session of the EU could have us back in by lunchtime. If the UK vetoed that, determined give us faslane etc, we could been in the EFTA by the evening.

      Let's be realistic here. You really, really need to work hard at getting yourself thrown out of trade blocks etc. You have seriously piss everyone off to the end of their tether before that will happen. Scotland voting democratically for indy is just not something dramatic enough.

      I'd have though that obvious with brexit. The only way the UK will crash out is if it actively throws itself off the cliff, ignoring all the arms extended to it.

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    6. If you're being realistic, you must concede that the odds of the current SNP leadership holding an independence referendum if Brexit is cancelled, *and* Scotland voting Yes in such circumstances, are virtually nil.

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  5. At the moment the SNP need to milk the situation for all its worth as that fixes "grievance" in the hearts of the Yes support.

    A People Vote on Brexit has problems as, despite the naysayers, Scotland already narrowed the gap in EUref1 and could very well be what swings it to remain if EUref2 ever went ahead. It's the kind of tail wagging the dog scenario that the DUP are engaged in by ignoring the people they claim to represent. Meanwhile the abuse directed at the SNP mounts and spills over into abuse against Scotland and Scots as a whole. Expect that to ramp up if it becomes clear that the only reason Brexit isn't happening is Scotland's MPs voting it down at every opportunity.

    The danger is that declaring Indyref2 results in a sudden capitulation in Westminster and a PV is suddenly on the cards. Or Westminster collapses into a GE. Much as happened the last time an s30 was requested.

    One thing that might come back to haunt May, assuming she did say it, was the statement that Scotland will have no place at the trade talks after the divorce from the EU is settled. That might be prophetic in that the way things are going Scotland may no longer be a part of the UK by that time. It certainly flies in the face of any insistence that Scotland is part of the UK so would be there being (mis)represented by Westminster.

    There's a remote chance that if things take a turn for the worse, for Westminster, not only will Ireland be their insisting on the, as yet unbroken, GFA right to speak on behalf of it's NI citizens but Scotland will also be there on the EU side.

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  6. Another thing which bothered me in the Mike Russell article was his assertion that Theresa May has a mandate. She doesn't. Her party did not win a majority in the last GE and she cannot command a majority in the House of Commons, therefore she does not have a mandate.

    Honestly, I wish Mike had never written the article.

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    1. But this is equally true of the SNP, since we didn't get a majority in 2016. If the lack of a majority prevents May from having a mandate, it also prevents us from having a mandate. As it is, the mandate is predicated on the UK leaving the EU, which to date has not happened, and the possibility of it not actually happening increases every time they ask the EU for an extension.

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    2. Pro-independence parties did get a majority between them in 2016, and used that majority to pass a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for an independence referendum. So the mandate is impeccable. Yes, it's predicated on Brexit, but the chances of Brexit not happening at all are still relatively slim.

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  7. Westminster, the English Parliament, would repeal the Treaty of the Union of Parliaments in an instant if it was of an advantage to England.

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    1. But there isn't "an advantage" William unless you're aware of a large 'cash cow' off the coast of England.. or perchance Trump reneging on the Declaration of Independence..?

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    2. There is all the oil of your northwest coast. Sshhhh!

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    3. and, amongst other things 'of northwest coast' is a huge munitions dump called Beaufort's Dyke...!

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    4. Do we know her name?

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  8. Theresa May is not refusing a second independence referendum because she thinks 'YES' would win. Theresa May is refusing a referendum because she is an autocratic English British nationalist who sees those outside that as subservient colonials. She is in power to preserve the priveleges of a narrow class.

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    1. The referendum should be to repeal the Treaty of Union. Independence would be the result.

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  9. The definition of a Scotsman? An Irishman without the balls.

    The SNP continues to play by Westminster's anti-Scottish rules. Worse, the SNP is spending all its time on attempting to save England from its xenophobic britnat self.

    Westminster continues to treat Scotland with contempt and the SNP seems to be waiting for England's permission to allow them to complain about such contempt.

    Where's the balls?!

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    1. As an Irishman (thanks gran), I tend to agree.

      :-)

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    2. The Irish had balls but gave them up to the EU. Ireland is just a name and history. Northern Ireland has balls in the name of the Union and DUP. May is a fanny.

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    3. https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-trade-pelosi/harm-to-irish-peace-accord-would-prevent-u-s-uk-trade-deal-post-brexit-pelosi-idUKKCN1RR20F

      Harm to Irish peace accord would prevent U.S.-UK trade deal post-Brexit - Pelosi

      LONDON (Reuters) - The United States would not strike a wideranging trade deal with Britain after Brexit if a hard border was restored between Ireland and Northern Ireland, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said on Monday.

      “We made it clear to all, If there is any harm to the Good Friday accord, no (trade) treaty,” Pelosi said during a London School of Economics event.

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    4. Poor skier now hanging on to the USA skirt tail. The USA did give the Vietnamese a good Friday Agreement.

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    5. Cordelia's looking forward to the chlorinated chicken after Brexit. It'll work really well with Domestos.

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    6. N. Ireland will be staying in the single market with full EU free movement.

      The English will dump the N. Irish for the Americans in a heartbeat. After all, the N. Irish Brits are lazy subsidy junkies that milk the English for billions then screw up their brexit.

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  10. Whenever I read your posts I always imagine you having a deep voice.

    Mine is getting closer to Joe Pasquale's.

    I've checked all my relatives birth certificates... about four times now. Alas...

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    1. It's about the size of a mandarin orange.

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  11. I never read Mike Russell's piece that you refer to, but it must be remembered that he is after all just one person. He might be high up in the SNP but the party has had more than its fair share of tumshies in the past. In the end, it is up to the people to decide Scotland's future. Is a referendum the only route to freedom? No. Is the SNP the only route - presently perhaps yes but to maintain that position they need to start listening to the people rather than advising us on what we should be thinking and doing. I am getting fed up with this hold, hold, hold, position and I am a reasonably patient person. To the SNP I say "Just tell us you are not going to give us a referendum" and I can relax a bit more. Its the waiting that makes the frustration.

    To me it looks like there is not going to be a second indyref - that's the signals I am getting. Now is not the time seems also to be the position of the SNP leadership. I believe that May unwittingly becalmed Nicola by calling the GE when she did and left both of them holding empty cradles.

    As for the EU membership in relation to independence well, I think that the two are separable. I voted to leave the EU for reasons never discussed here or anywhere else that I know of, but I am very much dyed-in-the-wool independence supporter - nothing will change me from that position. Independence in EU okay, independence out EU okay. Independence that's it.

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    1. This is the view that ultimately gets you freedom .Sadly you will need to compromise lots if values. But with freedom think what the Scots could do!! Look at how much the Welsh, the Irish, the Scottish, etc do when freed from English shackles!!

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  12. In the spirit of reconciliation Macron has said that any excess money collected for Notre Dame will be given to the Ulster Protestant community to rebuild and refurbish Protestant Orange Community Halls deliberately burnt down and vandalised by the peaceful Catholic community.

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    1. The Prots haven't stolen enough land and money already? Why don't they finally contribute to humanity for the first time in their history and move to Paris abd actually WORK ( not profit from others work) and rebuild the cathedral. We can auction off their spots to people who want peace. You know: people from the proper island.

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    2. It's truly 'glorious' that the orangemen pilfered a billion from the English NHS tae fund their wee marching pish-ups, then refused tae vote for England's brexit bill, potentially killing brexit stone dead. Aye, that's British unionism fir ye.

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    3. It was Arlene, an Orange wummin. You are clearly a homophobic frog or paddy.

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    4. Is Arlene Foster based on Les Dawson's character Ada Shufflebotham? I think her lips are.
      She always looks like she's just dragged Sammy Wilson away from a fight in the smoking room of a pub where he's just polished off 14 pints and 40 Regal. After a good Ulster fry.

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    5. Cordelia is a good and obedient colonial subject. You can tell by the casual racism.

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    6. Change your fruiterer in those orange halls, because you must be getting lemons by mistake, hence, all the soor-ploom faces among the orange horde.

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    7. You seem interested in fruit. I wonder why.

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    8. We can all guess the answer to that.

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  13. James made a comment on twitter about ChangeUK maybe not being the right choice for TIG party name. But this thread shows that they are doing really poorly in their preparation for any elections compared to The Brexit Party (the other new party)
    https://twitter.com/jburnmurdoch/status/1117057339734089728

    Looks like they are not even doing basic SEO on their name, which in 2019 is a fundamental error.

    Add to that they havn't even got a party colour. I make polling graphs and there are resorces that show the colour for pretty much every party you could imagine:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Index_of_United_Kingdom_political_parties_meta_attributes

    but not for Change UK.

    Can only assume that the rumors that they are going to merge/form an umbrella group with Lib Dems and or Greens can be true and that is why they are not investing much thus far. Either that or they are totally incompetent and will go down in history as an example of how not to set up a new political party.

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  14. On a slightly different tack, there was an interesting read on commonspace by Ben Wray on SL's changing position on the devolution of employment rights. The article ends with the phrase, " The logic of a consistent and progressive devolutionist surely ends up with independence." which I feel sums up the potentially difficult future facing SL. I know a lot of independence supporters are not too keen on commonspace but the article is a good read:
    https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/14110/analysis-leonard-brings-scottish-labour-full-circle-employment-law-begrudgingly

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    1. I think Annunziata Rees-Mogg has the interests of the working classes at her heart.

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    2. Cordelia's hammered again...

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  15. Also, in the brave new online world today, calling yourself the CUKs ain't smart.

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  16. Perhaps patience means that even allowing for the essential untrustworthiness of May there's a feeling that an S30 might just be in the offing.

    That would put us on the same battle ground we fought the last time but with several planks in the case for maintaining the union missing. No EU membership. Sterling tanking and more importantly it's the second time this vote will have been held. No excuses for an exit poll or guesswork about the result. If Poll manipulation had anything to do with the result last time it'll be far harder to cover it up next.

    Not to forget that unlike the UK as a whole Scotland will not unbalance the EFTA grouping and might actually be welcomed as a member for a short time at least.

    The longer Brexit is delayed the more apparent it might be to those that have a vested interest in it that Scotland's obstinacy is a large part in it. Their choice would them be between keeping the union or leaving the EU. The propaganda about Scotland being a worthless drain on England seems to have taken root in exactly the same quarters as the idea that Brexit is a kind of manifest destiny.

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    1. When my friend Leslie calls round and wants a cup of tea, he always says "Will you do me cup kindness?". We always smile.

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  17. YouGov Poll (%/seats)

    SNP: 35/3
    Lab: 16/1
    Green 13/1
    Brex: 13/1

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    1. Seems asking Westminster VI tends to push up EU vi if that's asked in the same poll? Might explain opinium and the last Yougov.

      35% SNP
      16% Lab
      13% Green
      13% Brext
      10% Con
      5% Lib
      4% UKIP
      3% CHUK

      Another comfortable majority for the 100% Remainer parties anyway. The 'people would have spoken' and said no to brexit, so it would need to be cancelled for Scotland.

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    2. 'Push up SNP EU VI'.

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    3. Wilf Tapper (Honest Wilf)April 19, 2019 at 7:41 AM

      Are you talking about Eunice Vicenze, the wallpaper designer from Campbeltown?

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  18. You Gov new poll.
    FYI
    Check out @EuropeElects’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/EuropeElects/status/1118484121209253894?s=09

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    1. I wonder if Charlene Tilton has seen that poll.

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