Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Yes, I'm giving constitutional advice to George Foulkes, and I'm doing it *deliberately*

His Eminence Baron Sir Lord Georgie Foulkes on Twitter yesterday - 

Now I'm certainly not claiming to be a constitutional expert, but I don't really need to be because this is a remarkably simple question.  The date of the next Holyrood election is set by law as 7th May 2026.  That date can only be changed in certain narrow circumstances that are also specified by law:

1) If the First Minister resigns, and no successor is selected by the Scottish Parliament within 28 days, an early election is triggered.

2) If two-thirds of MSPs vote for dissolution, an early election is triggered.

3) There is small discretion for the Presiding Officer (or technically the King acting on the Presiding Officer's advice) to change the date of the election by up to a month in either direction.

You'll note that unelected Westminster legislators like George have absolutely no part to play in any of these possibilities, and in any case it's far from clear why he thinks the outcome of a Westminster election should make an early Holyrood election any more or less likely.

So the only constitutional option open to him and his colleagues is to change the law, ie. rewrite the Scotland Act to give themselves the power to arbitrarily force an early Holyrood election on their own whim.  In theory there's nothing to stop them doing that - but if key parts of the Scotland Act can be torn up so easily and casually, good luck trying to persuade voters that The Vow, and specifically the part about the Scottish Parliament's permanence, has been upheld or even meant anything in the first place.


  1. Unless it is held within six months of the 2026 election, it's considered an extraordinary election and does not replace that 2026 election which would still have to be held.

    Technically, these aren't "early elections," the MSPs elected in it would still be sitting in the sixth parliament. It's more like a mass by-election.

    1. Eh? Really? I didn't know that. That doesn't seem very worthwhile purely on a practical level.

    2. It's a very strong form of the fixed-term parliament. My guess is it was a Lib Dem request to make sure a Labour First Minister couldn't shaft them by calling an early election and locking them out for years. Labour in turn agreed because it also reduces the incentive of the junior partner to collapse the government.

      Westminster's brief experiment with a fixed term also came out of a similar scenario.

    3. That seems a bit pointless given that unlike Westminster it's a PR system and the chances of a Labour majority were always slim (not non-existent, but slim).

    4. While no one expected the Greens or SSP to become arithmetically viable coalition partners straightaway, the future possibility was there. If you put yourself in the shoes of a '98 Scottish Lib Dem about to acquire ministerial status, you can see why they wouldn't want a Labour FM to be able to call a snap election while polls and projections might be indicating, say, 55 seats for Labour and >10 each for the three smallest parties.

    5. So if we'd collapsed Parliament for a defacto vote, they'd have to do another election a year later? Don't remember that being in the master plan.

      Could see them saying "confirmatory vote" already

  2. Note that it is also now within the power of the Scottish Parliament to alter the rules for when an election can be called.

    So they (SNP+Greens) could pass a bill allowing for a one off early election, just as Westminster did to get around the FTPA before the repealed it. That would be via a simple majority.

  3. Can't westminster use a 1-line bill to change the Scotland Act to specify the date?

    1. The “Scotland (GIRFUY) Act.”

  4. James that “doing it deliberately” line is a reference to a comment he made over 15 years ago. I enjoy it, but I wonder how many people still catch the reference these days.

    1. Probably most people who take an interest in politics and who enjoy the noble Baron's tired and emotional outbursts.

    2. Probably most people who still catch the 57 year old political reference "tired and emotional" ;)

    3. Westminster: pantomime in place of democracy. Risqué Victorian family favourites to enjoy every night! The palace’s bars are off limits for you, though.

  5. Well, now you're just making us all feel old!

  6. He's trolling, or p@shed (again), or both (again). Everyone should just ignore the pompous old irrelevance.

    1. Oh he *is* a troll, incarnate.

      But the way English politics is heading, his time may come yet. They’re getting nastier before our eyes, and grubbier and shameless. Sooner or later they will play as dirty as he’s been tempting them to, from their shoulder.

  7. We'd never have had devolution even offered if England hadn't wanted to join the EEC
    They're not in it now so, control their borders? our country? one nation?
    The devolution "experiment" no longer needed

    1. Not that old cheshnut again. No, that's not the reason devolution happened.

  8. I've never understood why some independence supporters think the Britnats will play fair. They broke the Edinburgh agreement in 2014 with the Vow. They stymied the Smith Commision aided by a deliberately weak John REDACTOR MAN Swinney. Rules/treaties/agreements are there to be broken by them if that suits their purpose. You cannae trust a Britnat. Expect the worse from them. Expect deceit and lies. Scotland is their possession. Scotland is their colony. The Britnats do not like people trying to take back their stolen possessions. The International rules based order is very important to them when it suits them. When it disnae suit them they ignore the whole lot of the rules/treaties they have signed up to. Treachery and deceit - the hallmarks of the Britnats.

  9. If Hoyle goes who'd be favourite to take his place?

    1. If it was before the election, logically the two Tory Deputy Speakers would be well placed, so Eleanor Laing or Nigel Evans. I don't think either one is really suitable, but in fairness they couldn't be much worse than Hoyle.

      Or someone could come in completely from left field, as Bercow did.

    2. Eleanor Liang is a Scot and is highly regarded in the House as a safe pair of hands.

    3. All these safe pair of hands - get them on the pitch at Murrayfield.

  10. Contrast and compare.

    Fergus Ewing gets suspended by the SNP for being a whistle blower about the Greens incompetent deposit return scheme ( which is now in the policy sin bin).

    Sturgeon, Murrell and Beattie get arrested and interviewed for eight hours by the polis over SNP finances. None are suspended from the SNP, not even Murrell when he lied about a membership drop of 50k and had to resign as Chief Exec, and Sturgeon even gets a bouquet of flowers from the SNP cause she might be a bit upset.

    I 'm pretty upset about Sturgeon's gang and what they have done to the SNP and divided the yes movement. Any chance of some flowers from the SNP? Nae chance I guess.

    What other political party can afford to buy a new motorhome, stick it on the Chief Exec's mother's driveway unused for two years and then end up with it rusting in a polis compound. Has the Chief Exec in question been suspended - nope because he is married to Sturgeon. Did he get flowers? - don't know - but I know what he should get.

    1. The police investigation’s certainly dragging on. Makes you wonder if they’ve found any wrongdoing whatsoever, guess we have to hope that’s the case.

    2. Anon - hope away. The other side of the coin is maybe they have so much to investigate that it is taking so long. Anyway my post was about compare and contrast the different responses to someone not in Sturgeon's gang and to Sturgeon and her gang.

  11. For those who want to see the list of 93 MPs who have no confidence in Lindsay Hoyle Speaker and bigmouth arrogant unfair liar and a total disgrace to the UK as a whole, by party and in alphabetical order:

    Hannah Bardell (SNP)
    Mhairi Black (SNP)
    Kirsty Blackman (SNP)
    Steven Bonnar (SNP)
    Deidre Brock (SNP)
    Alan Brown (SNP)
    Amy Callaghan (SNP)
    Douglas Chapman (SNP)
    Joanna Cherry (SNP)
    Ronnie Cowan (SNP)
    Angela Crawley (SNP)
    Martyn Day (SNP)
    Martin Docherty-Hughes (SNP)
    Dave Doogan (SNP)
    Allan Dorans (SNP)
    Marion Fellows (SNP)
    Stephen Flynn (SNP)
    Patricia Gibson (SNP)
    Patrick Grady (SNP)
    Peter Grant (SNP)
    Drew Hendry (SNP)
    Stewart Hosie (SNP)
    Chris Law (SNP)
    David Linden (SNP)
    Stewart McDonald (SNP)
    Stuart McDonald (SNP)
    Anne McLaughlin (SNP)
    Carol Monaghan (SNP)
    Gavin Newlands (SNP)
    John Nicolson (SNP)
    Brendan O'Hara (SNP)
    John McNally (SNP)
    Kirsten Oswald (SNP)
    Anum Qaisar (SNP)
    Tommy Sheppard (SNP)
    Alyn Smith (SNP)
    Chris Stephens (SNP)
    Alison Thewliss (SNP)
    Owen Thompson (SNP)
    Richard Thomson (SNP)
    Dr Philippa Whitford (SNP)
    Pete Wishart (SNP)

    Ben Lake (Plaid Cymru)
    Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru)
    Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru)

    Rob Roberts (Independent)

    Lee Anderson (Conservative)
    Adam Afriyie (Conservative)
    Shaun Bailey (Conservative)
    Simon Baynes (Conservative)
    Bob Blackman (Conservative)
    Graham Brady (Conservative)
    Jack Brereton (Conservative)
    Paul Bristow (Conservative)
    Miriam Cates (Conservative)
    Brendan Clarke-Smith (Conservative)
    Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Conservative)
    Steve Double (Conservative)
    James Duddridge (Conservative)
    Mark Eastwood (Conservative)
    Luke Evans (Conservative)
    Vicky Ford (Conservative)
    Jo Gideon (Conservative)
    Richard Graham (Conservative)
    Chris Green (Conservative)
    James Grundy (Conservative)
    Robert Goodwill (Conservative)
    Jonathan Gullis (Conservative)
    Sally-Ann Hart (Conservative)
    Paul Howell (Conservative)
    Eddie Hughes (Conservative)
    Jane Hunt (Conservative)
    Tom Hunt (Conservative)
    Danny Kruger (Conservative)
    Ian Levy (Conservative)
    Andrew Lewer (Conservative)
    Marco Longhi (Conservative)
    Jonathan Lord (Conservative)
    Cherilyn Mackrory (Conservative)
    Rachel Maclean (Conservative)
    Anthony Mangnall (Conservative)
    Karl McCartney (Conservative)
    Jill Mortimer (Conservative)
    Kieran Mullan (Conservative)
    Lia Nica (Conservative)
    Tom Randall (Conservative)
    Gary Sambrook (Conservative)
    Ben Spencer (Conservative)
    John Stevenson (Conservative)
    Derek Thomas (Conservative)
    Kelly Tolhurt (Conservative)
    Matt Warman (Conservative)
    William Wragg (Conservative)

    And I sincerely wish I hadn't started that as i couldn't leave it undone :-(

    No Alba MPs by the way, so far. WTF?

    1. Strange, eh? Or MacNeil.

    2. Maybe they haven't been asked.

    3. No Labour either but that ain't strange.

    4. "Maybe they haven't been asked."

      They don't need to be asked. It's very odd that they haven't signed. All I can think of is that they're worried about the consequences of antagonising him, but surely that bird has already flown.

  12. US Secretary of State for Defense being grilled in Washington says:- " we expect allies to use provided munitions responsibly."

    How many women and children have been killed in Gaza Secretary of State? 25,000 he replies.

    So if 30,000 are dead then only 5,000 are males.

    Does the IDF think women and children are Hamas terrorists or are the IDF just poor shots and need more training or are they killing women and children on purpose?

    Collateral damage - aye right.

    Zionist Biden and little Sunak facilitating this murder.

  13. Phone conversation between Yousaf and Starmer shortly after the GE.

    Yousaf: Can we have an independence referendum?

    Starmer: Are you having a laugh?

    Yousaf: What do you mean? Why would I be doing that?

    Starmer: We’ll you’ve just lost 25 seats and your share of the vote is
    down to below 35%, plus you never even managed to take any
    of the seats off the Tories, you were targeting!

    Yousaf: Eh right ok, I see where you’re coming from

    Starmer: On yer bike.

    Yousaf: Ok, well hopefully going forward things improve, and we can look
    at it again after the next GE in 5 years.

    1. It wouldn’t even be that long.

      Humza: Hiya, congrats on winning the election you cheesy git. Bet you’re loving it! Oh, aye, and SECTION 30!
      Sir Keir: No. Now is not the time.
      Humza: Thanks mate. Glad that’s off ma plate! Can we calendar in a face to face so we can talk about real stuff?
      Sir Keir: No, frankly I can’t be bothered with you. Take it to the new Secretary of State for Scotland.
      Humza: Not that eijit Murray, surely?
      Sir Keir: No, obviously not. Had you for a moment there though! The next “eed jit” should be much more up your street…

  14. Another Polis/COPFS scandal. A bit of a pattern here.

  15. Nae chance of me ever voting SNP. They want me to stop eating porridge for my breakfast. They can gtf. A bunch of SNP troughers telling everyone else what they shouldn't eat. Aye a real vote winner there Yousaf.

    1. Too negative. The SNP are phasing in a sequence of initiatives to encourage healthy eating in order to deal with public health crisis. The plans are well thought through. This deserves praise not criticism.

    2. Aye the Minister responsible probably looked at her Aldi shopping list, looked at herself and thought I'll give my till receipt to the civil servants as the basis for a list of all the foods that should be raised in price. Aye increase people's food prices in the middle of a cost of living crisis that'll go down well and bump up the inflation rate a bit as well. Oh and as an aside business profits go up. I like my porridge so you can gtf as well. . Oh and my chocolate and crisps and ice cream and ice lollies and cream........
      " The plans are well thought through." - you mean like the DRS.

    3. On the contrary, public health policies are in fact crucial in steering consumer preferences towards healthier food and beverage choices, addressing the pervasive issue of non-communicable diseases. By implementing evidence-based interventions, such as nutritional labelling, restrictions on junk food advertising, and taxes on sugary drinks, and elimination of below-cost-selling, consumers are given the information and incentives needed to make healthier choices. The SNP has been commendable in its efforts to enact such policies, demonstrating a commitment to improving national health outcomes and setting a commendable example for public health advocacy and action on a global stage.

  16. Well here's a thing. Take one cup of oats (90p per Kg). Add 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt to bring out the flavour (the SNP went apopletic at that, watch the blood pressure). Cover and soak overnight.

    Then heat stirring constantly, pour a serving in a bowl (1 gm sugar), sprinkle sugar over the top, let's say a table spoon (9 grams sugar), poke a hole in the middle and pour full fat milk till it comes out the sides if you're lucky (5 gm sugar). Total sugar 15 grams.

    Or eat 1 banana, total sugar content, errr, 15 grams.

    Ooops, the SNP should go bananas.

    1. And as far as those meal deals are concerned I'm guessing the politicians have never been in a supermarket lunchtime, with vans in the car park, and workers walking, and a steady stream of workers getting their lunch, before it's back to real work rather than sitting on benches all day pontificating about how OTHER PEOPLE are fat and unfit.

      When we're independent I'll not vote for anyone who is old enough to vote.