Monday, August 24, 2020

In-depth interview on the Holyrood voting system

Exactly one month ago, I was interviewed on IndyLive Radio about the Holyrood electoral system and the perils of attempting to game the system.  I've just spotted that the programme is now available (in slightly edited form, I think) on YouTube, so you can listen to it at your leisure HERE.  The first half is Dave Thompson making the case for gaming the system, and the second half is me making the case against.  It's fair to say the issues involved are explored quite thoroughly, so if you've yet to make your own mind up, it's not a bad place to start.

*  *  *

A couple of weeks ago I announced I was changing this blog's settings to only allow comments from people signed in to a Google account.  I know some of you were delighted by the change, because it seems to have finally put a stop to contributions from GWC and his ilk.  However, from my own point of view it hasn't worked out, because the pornographic spam on older posts has continued unabated - to my surprise that seems to come from Google accounts, and no matter how many times I mark it as spam, it just carries on.  Additionally, as you've probably seen, a Jockophobic troll from south of the border has been copying and pasting the same handful of comments (including extreme racist and homophobic language) up to several hundred times a day. 

There's no simple solution to this.  Individual accounts can't be blocked or banned on the Blogger platform.  All that's open to me are crude options such as switching on pre-moderation (which kills the flow of conversation), or turning on word verification (which irritates people).  In the hope of giving myself a short break from deleting hundreds of comments a day, I'm going to try word verification for 48 hours or so, and then I'll review the situation again. 


  1. It's a shame that Google has given up on Blogger, in its early years it was up there with the best of its time. But then WordPress exploded in use and Google couldn't keep up.

    Now its in a no mans land, too popular for Google to just shut down but too far behind its competitors to make it cost effective to relaunch. The fact that it does not have a basic feature like flood control on comments so that one account cannot spam highlights the lack of effort Google are putting into the platform.

  2. Regarding trolls...

    Given that Yes is now the majority position, if you hate indy supporters ('natsis' etc), it means you hate Scots as a whole, i.e. you are 'anti-Scottish', no question about it.

    1. Same applies of course if you are someone who doesn't live in Scotland. If you are against Scottish indy you are anti-Scottish. That's what yes being in majority means. To be pro-Scottish from a third party perspective, you must respect what Scots wish for their own country, which is independence. If you don't you are, unquestionably, anti-Scottish.

      Yes being in majority changes many things. Take the Section 30 issue; Johnson said no because he was pretty confident Scots were still majority unionist, and he could produce polls to that effect. But his is not a tenable position if the Yes becomes the majority will; not unless you become 'Europe's last dictator'.

      This why I am very suspicious of those suggesting Scots give up on a Section 30 without even trying.

  3. Scottish Skier:
    > If you hate indy supporters ('natsis' etc), it means you hate Scots
    > as a whole, i.e. you are 'anti-Scottish', no question about it.
    > Same applies of course if you are someone who doesn't live in
    > Scotland. If you are against Scottish indy you are anti-Scottish.

    I suspect a logician could drive a coach and horses thtough both of these statements. There are more subtle ways to categorise lack of Indy support. Hey ho.

    1. My points stands until someone does.

      When a group is in a minority, it can be attacked as fringe and not representative. When it becomes the majority view, attacking that view is an attack on the majority, ergo an attack on the people as a whole.

      If someone states 'Indy supports are wankers', then they are saying the majority of Scots are wankers as the majority are indy supporters (up to 55%), ergo they are insulting Scots as a whole, so are 'anti-Scottish'.

      And if the views of the electorate of another country are fair/democratic and compliant with international human rights laws, then they should be respected. To oppose them (from a third party perspective) is to oppose the human rights of the people (majority) concerned, ergo, anti-them as a people.

      It is not a human right to oppose the wishes of a people. That is in breach of their human rights. So, e.g. people in England must support the wish of Scots for independence now, just as they supported the desire for unionism when things were the other way around. That was the justification for no Section 30 after all.

      The poll reversal (assuming it becomes quite permanent) has profound implications for many things, I use one of them as an example.

  4. What nonsense. So if you're anti-Brexit does that make you anti-English and anti-Welsh?

    1. This is illogical.

      I am anti-Brexit for Scotland. I support the wishes of the Scottish people on this matter.

      I also support the wishes of the English and Welsh. It's not that I support brexit, but I support their wishes. They voted for brexit and that should be respected. If, from a third party perspective I was to oppose their right to brexit, then yes, I would of course be anti-English/Welsh. Who the hell am I to oppose what they freely choose for their countries?

      But they must respect in turn the desire of the majority of Scots for independence or they are anti-Scottish.

      I also accept that 'the UK' voted for brexit, so it must go ahead unless the electorate reverse that decision. However, as noted, the Scottish choice for independence must also be accepted, allowing them to escape brexit.

    2. Sorry, Skier, I’m a Yes Remainer too but your argument is illogical. Here’s an example:

      In 2003, most Americans supported their government’s invasion of Iraq. I was up in arms about how foolish it was. What did Iraq have to do with September 11th? What’s the plan to replace the government clean up the mess you’ve made? And which nation is next on the hit list? Iran? When does this madness end?

      As we saw, the Iraq war was a dismal failure. Iraq became the hotbed of worldwide terrorism, joining Afghanistan instead of the greater Dubai the Bush and Blair governments were promising us as the troops went in.

      So, because I opposed the majority opinion of the American people, am I an anti American bigot? Should I apologise to my family over there?

      You’re arguing with your heart, not your head. People have a right to their views. Sometimes even the minority is proven correct in the end. Like Scottish independence, decades back, when it was just a fringe in Northern British politics.

    3. Erm, you are talking about the invasion of another country. By invading another country, the USA gave you permission to voice an opinion on what they were doing. They were acting on the international stage, not just domestically, and it involved human rights of others.

      Scottish independence a matter for Scots alone and breaches nobody else's human rights. People outside Scotland can be quietly for or against in their heads, but if they want to be active, they must support what Scots want or be neutral. If they don't do that and e.g. openly oppose independence even thought that's what Scots want, they are anti-Scottish, no question.

      If e.g. Scottish independence involved Scottish demands to annex the north of England down to hadrian's wall or something, then it becomes a matter for the international community and folk can voice opposition. Otherwise, it is up to scots and it's anti-Scottish to oppose it.

    4. I'm definitely waffling, but it is true that while 49% Yes to 51% is a tiny change, it changes everything. The entire political situation is reversed, with profound consequences for both trolls, Johnson, and the views of the wider world.

      When Johnson said no in January, he was doing so with polls showing Yes at best 48%, so still a minority view, just like it has been on average since 2014. He could say he was on the side of the majority of Scots. That he was pro-Scottish because Scots were against indy.

      However, he has of course, by refusing the Section 30, driven Yes into majority; the crossover coming directly after the refusal. It was the strategy of a prize idiot. Covid has maybe added a % or two, but no Section 30 is what created the current majority for Yes and the longer this is resisted, the stronger Yes gets.

      I know the reality is that he should have agreed to the Section 30 because Holyrood voted it through. That would be democratic. However, the lack of support for indy in polls is what drove him to say No. It was a desperate gamble, but he's not got a lot of cards in his hand.

      And it has backfired. Yes is now into majority and the weak excuses for saying No in January are vanishing.

      Which is why I don't trust anyone telling me we should give up on the SNP and fold on the section 30 without even trying. That is what Johnson desperately wants.

      What he doesn't want, is further calls for a Section 30, with thousands marching down the streets waving banners to that effect, just as is happening in Belarus.

      If polls show that Scots don't want indy, then he can fob off such marches, but if Yes is in majority, politically this becomes difficult not just in Scotland, but in England and beyond.

      Which is why the BBC etc are desperate for us to forget a Section 30 and go for some 'illegal' plan B put forward by a fringe group promoted from the south of England.

  5. Replies
    1. The Wordpress blogs I follow do indeed have much less trouble with spam infections. Google’s just not interested in their own platform.

      Trouble is, though, James would lose his Google juice. Scot goes pop is on the blogspot domain, tying it to Blogger. Any platform jump would require a new url and starting over from scratch.

      Personally, I’d still do it. But I’m just Joe Commenter here!

    2. Yeah. Wordpress seems quite good. If you have an ordinary non-blog website rather than a custom blog-site then add-on Disqus comments are the best. Go for change, James - in anticipation of an imminent larger change.

  6. Survation Scottish sub sample:

    SNP 54
    LD 11
    CON: 13

    Net Favourability:
    Johnson: -59
    Starmer : +9

  7. My comment seems to have disappeared.

  8. James I hope you find a solution to the problems that come to spoil, what they cant ever do. I think they just lack ability to be constructive so all that is left is to try and destroy what others can build. I gave up reading comments because of them although I did try and annoy them back, childish I know but I'm getting on now so being housebound I'm also disabled so pleasures are simple but they did become wearisome.

  9. Great news.

    Land of hope and glory, mother of the free
    Except if you are Scots vermin, then there's no Section 30!

    1. Or:

      Except if you are a starving refugee!

      Mercy Baguma: Govan mum found dead next to 'starving baby'

      ...Refugee charity Positive Action in Housing said Ms Baguma had claimed asylum and lived in "extreme poverty".

      It said she lost her job after her right to work in the UK expired...

      ...The charity said Ms Baguma had contacted them several weeks ago saying she did not have enough money to look after herself or her child.

      The UK is revolting.

      It spent most of Lockdown telling my brother's fiance she had to prepare to leave the country immediately or she'd be forcibly deported after their wedding was cancelled due to covid. And she's white American. Got help you if you are black. #windrush.

  10. Just for me, I don't mind word verification at all. It is definitely preferable to the stream of spam.

  11. James, a solution to the horrible comments problem would be to change platform to Wordpress (much as I dislike it) and use the Akismet spam-filtering plugin - here's a link: It's open source, so what's not to like...

  12. Long term a solution to the repetitive trolls is essential, and I hope you find it. I for one will seek this blog out wherever it goes to, because among the trolls there is intelligent life, even if I disagree with some of the opinions.

  13. The SNP cannot be accused of attempting to game the voting system in May if they call for SNP 1 and 2.
    Ultimately it's up to voters themselves to cast their votes in the most effective way.
    The clever thing to do if you support independence is to wait till April.
    Then it should be clearer whether the SNP is on course to win big in the constituencies.
    If so if a safe indy alternative is available go for it.
    Getting rid of some of the most offensively vocal Unionist MSPs who have no belief in Scotland yet take their salary at Scottish taxpayers expense would surely be the icing on cake.
    But now is not the time to decide.
    That will anger a few. Tough! It's my vote.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. No comments on GERS?
    No comments on why ScotGov is refusing to hand over documents to the Holyrood inquiry?


    1. Today is the day unionists desperately tell everyone that they are lazy subsidy junkies who can't stand on their own two feet, unlike us nats.

      Meanwhile, the English Tories claim they are happy giving billions to said subsidy junkie jock/NI/Welsh unionists that us nats don't want.

      It's the same every year; the silent majority of Scots - who are indy supporters - just change the channel now.

      Incidentally, if Gove and other expats in England are 'Scottish', can someone tell me why their taxes are not counted as that? Is it because the English are in fact the subsidy junkies claiming credit for 13%+ of 'Scots' and their businesses that live in England? Unionists insist the 3/4m Scots born in the rUK are Scottish, yet claim the taxes they pay are English. How does that work if we are all one united UK?

    2. I mean if Gove is to have a vote in #iref2 as he's 'Scottish', the all his taxes, from income to VAT, need to be credited to Scotland.

      If this was the case, he could prove he was actually a Scot, with official documents to that effect (tax receipts). However, as things stand, he isn't legally Scottish.

      I guess it's just one of the subsidy junkie traits of unionists, in this case expats. They want stuff (like the ability to vote in Scotland), but not to pay for it (by having their taxes credited to Scotland).

    3. Either way, if e.g. Andrew Marr are Scottish as unionists insist, then GERS is grossly underestimating the contribution Scotland/Scots make to the union by attributing their taxes - and those of their businesses - to England/the English.

      Why do that unless you are a 'subsidy junkie' country?

  16. You wouldn't put up with people throwing shite at your house hundreds of times a day in the real world - why are you putting up with it in your online home? It's a hassle moving websites like moving in real life, but it's time to move to a better location.

  17. If the GERS figures are the answer, the question must be 'How successful is Scotland within the UK union?
    And please will folk stop comparing Scotland with fully independent countries with the full range of economic powers.
    Within the UK only England's MP's and ministers are permitted borrowing powers, and the right to deny them to the other 3 nations.
    The distinction between England and the UK is a nonsense.
    What they want is what they get.
    Fair play to Kate Forbes for getting this over when dealing with questions anent GERS.

  18. PS I do know Holyrood has some borrowing powers...
    However the economy needs a major support package put in place to counter the economic disaster with Covid and Brexit.
    Hell mend our London masters if they give way before the May elections.
    These powers are needed now.
    More than ever May needs to be about independence.

  19. GERS is the method by which the lazy assed subsidy junkie British unionists in Scotland desperately try to maximize out loud the amount they think they are ripping the English off by.

    At least that's how they present it anyway.

    Otherwise, it's meaningless shite, with e.g. the taxes of 'real, proud and true scots' like Gove credited to the English, according to unionists that is.

  20. Aye, Skier ye're gaun dounhill wi that comment!
    They celebrate and craw every year like some folk look forward tae Christmas.
    Then they're aff tae the Lords tae get their rewards.
    This year though its noticeable some commentators are giving decent coverage to the SNP take on GERS.
    This GERS guff has less effect every year IMO.
    55% of Scots is just the launchpad for next May.
    Worship of Westminster'control freakery will be the downfall of the unionists come the election.

  21. On serious note, regarding GERNGB (General Expenditure and Revenue for North Great Britainhshire)...

    ...Could that rat just be in the near 40% of costs supposedly for the benefit of Scotland that the UK government dumps into GERS without there being any justification provided, or any element of choice on the part of the Scottish people, which have most definitely rejected what Westminster is trying to do?

    It is ludicrous to claim - as the mainstream media parrots out all over the place today - that Scotland has, or might have, a deficit of the sum claimed by GERS.

    Very politely, there's some decidedly dodgy accounting going on here, because the evidence clearly shows it. It's simply not true that Scotland has the deficit claimed for it, and I explain why here.

    1. It would be good if there was to be a very detailed breakdown of all the expenditure claimed in the GERS figures. How much of that being spent in Scotland or debited to Scotland if elsewhere and what are these loan charges that crop up in these annual figures. Also exports that go through English Ports, how many originate in Scotland? Also Civil Service expenditure, what proportion of the taxes paid to staff in London get credited to Scotland for staff working on Westminster matters relating to Scotland?

    2. So full of holes...

      e.g. 40% of Scotland's supposed spend is spent outside of Scotland / in the rUK supposedly for Scotland's benefit. Yet the tax resulting from that spend (wages, business rates and corporation tax, VAT) on that 40% spend, including multipliers (we pay a worker in England, who pays tax, but also shops/spends, paying the wages of others who in turn also pay tax and so on...) is not credited to Scotland (as it would be if Scotland was independent), but to England.

      Spending outside of Scotland removes billions in tax revenues from Scotland that would normally be the counterbalance to the spend.

      An Englishman earns £100 paid for by a the UK government 'on behalf' of Scotland. He pays £30 income tax. He spends the remaining £70 on petrol, paying £46 in tax, while the other £24 is used in part to pay the taxes of the petrol station company and that of their staff... The staff then go to the pub and spend some of this 'Scottish spend' money that had reached them, paying yet more tax...

      None of that tax is credited to Scotland, only the deficit / spend. England credits itself with these Scottish taxes.

      It's pretty damn obvious who the 'subsidy junkies' are.