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Speaking of polls… September 23, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.

Fairly dismal nugget of information in here on UK Polling Report on the latest polling data in the UK. It notes that

Survation also had a poll out today and found similar levels of support for some sort of re-arrangement of the constitution for England: 65% said that Scottish MPs should by banned from voting on English laws at Westminster, 59% would support an English Parliament.


There is a crucial caveat though – Survation also asked what the top priority should be for the government – 31% said immigration, 20% the economy, 9% jobs, 9% public services, 6% combating terrorism and down on 5% constitutional reform.

This is a bizarre listing of priorities, to my mind at least. And one that seems largely media driven. Immigration policies have changed – rightly or wrongly – radically over the past half decade. And yet it remains at the top of the list (driven in part by both Tories and the noxious prodding of UKIP). The economy is only 20%, jobs a half of that along with the public service.

I’m reminded of something SonofStan said during the week on this thread…

I’ve been working here for just over a year, and I still can’t quite adjust to how England has changed. 30 years ago, when I first regularly traveled between Ireland and the UK, England felt like all the things it used to pride itself on: liberal, tolerant, multi-ethnic, culturally vibrant etc, whereas Ireland still had one foot in the 1950s.
Nowadays, it feels almost like the reverse; paranoia about immigrants, flag waving, bullying of the unemployed and disabled, islamaphobia (especially marked where I am – the housing near-apartheid here is not quite at Belfast levels but close), and, the NHS aside, a headlong marketisation of everything – particularly, for me, in HE. All combined with, and facilitated by, a complete disconnect between people and politics. And yet people will tell me that Ireland is torn by ‘religious strife’ and imagine that our former middle class are begging on the street.
Which is another thing; although there is lower unemployment and there are ‘plenty of job out there’ England, if you don’t work in the City, is a very badly paid country and there is a lot of chronic poverty among working people – a problem which no one seems to connect with low pay, or see any political way out of.

I visit the UK on an annual basis and I’ve got to agree that there’s definitely a different tone in the past three or four years. Is it a function of the Coalition, a general unloosening of societal ties under its policies, or something that is a longer term dynamic?

Telling… September 22, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.

…the way in which some Tories have piled in against author Hilary Mantel . Her crime?

Mantel’s new short story, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – August 6th 1983, prompted outrage after it was published online by the Guardian on Friday.

Mantel, who had anticipated a backlash against the story, said on Monday it would be “unconscionable” to regard such a fictional account as off-limits, as her critics have suggested.

I also think this is telling, the response of Stephen Glover in the Mail:

Mantel’s contribution is peculiarly damaging because, while she appears so mild-mannered, her message is interpretable as a deadly one. If you don’t like your democratically elected leaders, who operate within the rule of law, you can always think about assassinating them.”

“Scotland expects these to be honoured in rapid course” September 19, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Politics of Scotland.

With just Highlands to deliver a result it’s at just under 45% for Yes, just over 55% for No. Not entirely unexpected since the accuracy of pre-referendum polls were always open to question – though their implacable similarity in the last few days was indicative of the way things were most likely to go.

A disappointment, but even at this early stage there are straws in the wind as to how this will go on from here. Even Rupert Murdoch tweeted during the week that things would never be the same again, well, probably not, though one suspects from Cameron’s rhetoric he and others would dearly love them to be otherwise, and some will make a damn good effort to ensure they most definitely are. I wonder about his ‘settled for a generation line’. It’s cute, but it’s not really in his gift. Settled for a decade? That’s perhaps more like it. But the key thing is that even he accepts it’s not ‘settled’ as such.

And Salmond clear that: “Scotland expects these commitments to be honoured in rapid course”.

And no end of voices complaining about the concessions made towards the end of the campaign (interesting to consider what the vote would have been like without them). Nigel Farage with a certain degree of chutzpah amongst them. What of those concessions?

Cameron – and as noted before, an oddly diminished Cameron at that, says:

To those in Scotland sceptical of promises ….. the three pro-union parties have made clear commitments of further power for Scottish parliament and will ensure these promises are kept in full…

There’s going to be an enormous temptation on the part of London and British parties not to be seen to ‘reward’ Salmond and offer greater powers, while simultaneously wanting to take heat out of the question by doing something, anything. That’s a fine balance to walk. I don’t know if they can.

And it’s a telling indication of how matters lie to hear Alastair Darling wants ‘leadership’ from those who made commitments… We’ll see. Labour must be breathing a sigh of relief. The next UK election is theirs to lose, but how much more difficult going into that in the context of the prospect of an rUK. And Labour figured prominently in the campaign and in the delivery system of commitments on greater devolution. That will be remembered too.

For the SNP though, it will be intriguing to see how it manages to manage politics over the next while. But they’re used to it.

Martin Kettle wrote some irritating stuff in yesterday’s Guardian, today he notes that there was a strong class aspect to the vote “Richer Scotland stuck with the union”, and this this morning is more useful:

Alex Salmond and the SNP are not going anywhere. They will still govern Scotland until 2016. There will be speculation about Salmond’s position, and the SNP will need to decide whether to run in 2016 on a second referendum pledge. More immediately, the SNP will have to decide whether to go all-out win to more Westminster seats in the 2015 general election, in order to hold the next government’s feet to the fire over the promised devo-max settlement. Independence campaigners will feel gutted this morning. But they came within a whisker of ending the United Kingdom on Thursday. One day, perhaps soon, they will surely be back.

As said above, what exactly is ‘settled’ about the status quo?

Any thoughts about the campaign?

Speaking of polls, what of party polling in the UK? September 16, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Labour Party, British Politics, Uncategorized.
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… this hasn’t been much mentioned in all the confusion over the independence referendum, but what’s this? Mixed fortunes for Labour, surely, with some polls showing them well up, others that the figures are tightening in favour of the Tories. Yet, on UK Polling report in its poll of polls and likely projections they’ve gone up to a majority of 44 MPs (from circa 32). In the Guardian/Observer/Opinium poll this last weekend they increased their majority significantly over the Tories.

Could it be, could it be, that Cameron is already diminished by this referendum? That it has shown him in a particularly poor light? If so, what if the vote is a No? Will it then work to his advantage as the man who, by the skin of his teeth, managed to steer this referendum to a successful (as he might see it) conclusion?

Or is it possible that this has allowed Miliband to look a little bit better than hitherto? And perhaps that Labour itself looks better, because it is LP members who are making the running in relation to ‘saving’ the union, not Tories. That indeed this is serving to remind people of how Tory politics has been so uniquely divisive in the UK, to the extent of potentially triggering a rupture not seen since 1921?

And another thought strikes. Doesn’t this work in an odd way for UKIP, so keen on breaking up existing membership of the EU?

Round up of Independence for Scotland opinion polls from this weekend… September 14, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Politics of Scotland.

…here at the ever excellent UK Polling Report. The conclusion at this moment being:

Seven of the polls are clearly clustered around a small lead for the NO campaign, with the one exception that rather odd looking ICM online poll with a smaller sample size than their usual online efforts. A lead of just a couple of points in a single poll is within the margin of error, but in this case all but one poll is showing NO ahead, so I think we can reasonably say that the polls are giving NO a genuine but small lead.

But UK Polling Report go on to make the point that significant caveats abound and that the result while seeming to be a close No may indeed diverge from that. Remarkable.

Andrew Rawnsley in today’s Observer offers this:

What was treated as a foregone conclusion for no just a few weeks ago is now on a knife edge. Last weekend’s poll giving the edge to yes triggered frenzy at Westminster and prompted David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg to abandon prime minister’s questions to rush north to plead with Scots not to go. It can be argued that the shock poll may ultimately turn out to have saved the union by spurring the UK parties into action and flushing out warnings about the consequences of independence from major businesses. It could also have the effect of mobilising previously reluctant or complacent no voters to the polling stations. You can also argue, as the yes camp do, that a massive turn-out, boosted by people who have been off the electoral register since the poll tax, is going to help the cause of independence. As one sensible Labour figure puts it: “A lot of wise people will tell you there is a silent majority for no and they will also tell you there’s usually a late swing to safety in referendums. But it’s very difficult to poll – so who knows?”

We will know on Friday.

Assaulting democracy both explicitly and implicitly. September 10, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics.
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I’m not the biggest fan of George Galloway in the world, for a number of reasons, but the report of his attack was genuinely shocking and this piece in the Telegraph by Peter Oborne is well worth reading.

There is something very disturbing about the response to this event by the mainstream British political establishment. Mr Galloway has received no public message of sympathy from a single MP from any party – nothing from Speaker Bercow, from the Prime Minister, or from any of the other elected political leader.
I know that Mr Galloway is a very controversial figure and that many people, for honourable reasons, disagree very strongly with his views. Yet that is irrelevant. The attack on Mr Galloway is beyond doubt an attack on British democracy itself.

And this:

It is a basic principle of our political culture that men and women must be able to speak up for the causes they believe in without threats or violent reappraisal.


Scotland and Europe… September 9, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Irish Politics, Politics of Scotland.

…and perhaps Ireland as well. It’s the gift that just keeps giving. There’s so many angles to the referendum that it’s hard to keep track of them, or know where to begin with addressing them. But here’s another.

We discussed here how Sinn Féin doesn’t offer an opinion on independence in Scotland. And that makes sense. The point was made that SF could have sat with the SNP in Europe but that wouldn’t do the latter any favours.

But look at SF in Europe. It’s affiliation is with the European United Left – Nordic Green Left whereas the SNP is with the Greens – European Free Alliance. That’s quite a good fit for the leftish, sort of kind of, SNP. And who else is in there but Basque Solidarity, Republican Left of Catalonia and so on. Whereas the European United Left – Nordic Green Left is of a decidedly more left-wing complexion (no doubt buttressed by the recent addition of one M Flanagan). But one could easily argue that SF would fit better in the former group.

Now granted, as has been noted, these aren’t political parties, although they do have some agreed policy goals. But again, one wonders was there a sense that by attaching to one crew that might raise problems for others? And is that likely to change if so as time moves on?

Polls on Scotland September 7, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Politics of Scotland, Scotland.

The gap narrows, or is overtaken. Is that the right way of putting it? Sunday Times has Yes 51%, No 49%. This must rattle many an individual in the rUK. Even when Don’t Know’s are included it’s 47% Yes, 45% No.


…another poll carried out by Panelbase for Yes Scotland found that no is leading 52% to 48% when undecided voters are excluded.

But that too indicates a tightening of the gap.

And lo, having read these signs, what’s this?

…the Observer has learned that a devolution announcement designed to halt the nationalist bandwagon is due to be made within days by the anti-independence camp.

The plan, in the event of a no vote, is that people from all parts of Scottish society – rather than just politicians – would be invited to take part in a Scottish conference or convention that would decide on further large-scale transfers of power from London to Holyrood.


The move is designed to reassure voters that by rejecting independence they will not be left with the status quo – but that more far-reaching constitutional change and devolution will definitely follow a no vote.

But wait, as noted earlier in the week, who was it, who against the entreaties of the SNP was determined not to place Devo Max on the ballot paper? Ah, yes, that’s right. The present government of the UK.

If Scotland opts for independence are we ready on this island? And are we ready if it doesn’t? September 3, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Scotland.

Reading Liam Clarke here I’ve got to admit to having to agree with his broad assessment, come what may, YES or NO, the status quo ante is about to be shot to pieces in relation to the nature of the United Kingdom. And the likelihood of a Yes vote goes up somewhat on foot of the latest YouGov poll which records the narrowest gap between the sides so far, a gap that is narrowing in favour of a Yes, albeit still one with a No majority.

As Clarke notes, part of this is because in order to save the Union the main UK parties have pledged jointly to offer something closer to Devo Max.

The joint commitment, signed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, says: “We support a strong Scottish parliament in a strong United Kingdom and we support the further strengthening of the parliament’s powers.” They pledge to act quickly to grant Holyrood more autonomy, whoever wins the next general election.

This may well inadvertently give Alex Salmond sufficient cover if the vote does turn out to be a No, in that he can point to having pushed the parties and UK government towards a position closer to that of the SNP by the very process of going for a referendum. It may not of course, but that’s as may be.

And what of the other issues and aftereffects? This from the BBC is quite useful as an overview.

Clarke suggests that Scotland might be able to gain up to 60% control of its revenue including corporation tax. Reading the positions of the other UK parties that seems a little on the high side. But 40% might be there or thereabouts and corporation tax – perhaps.

Though as Clarke suggests, if Scotland did get control of that it could play havoc for the North:

Imagine, for example, that Scotland got control of corporation tax and reduced it, like the Republic. How would we attract inward investment with two neighbouring regions that have lower rates of business tax, a better industrial infrastructure and a more stable political system whose leaders can actually take hard decisions?

Note that last, by the way. Everyone in the orthodoxy loves hard decisions, often because they don’t fall on them. But the central point is well made. There’s little doubt that Salmond’s approach of lower taxes increased spending is something that would bring massive unease to any of us who lived through the last decade and a half in this state but if Scotland does go down a certain route, well, it won’t just be a problem for NI either.

And as Clarke also notes, while the North might get similar powers it’s not really in great shape to make the best use of them, not least due to its size. Now some of us might argue that that is a strong (and entertainingly paradoxical, given the argument on the island of Britain) argument for closer North/South integration on such matters, but… will that happen?

In any event, on a political level:

The whole image of the UK would be changed and weakened in a way that would challenge unionists and encourage republicans and nationalists.

And this holds true in both a Yes or a No. The United Kingdom as we have known it is fundamentally altered. As noted by Clarke, a No with a strong Yes vote means that it remains upon the table in perpetuity.

I still think No will shade it. But I’m a lot less certain of that than I once was. And having long been supportive of independence (even this rather curtailed independence on offer) I’m increasingly tending to the view that a Yes would perhaps be good for the rUK as for Scotland, shaking it out of a decades, perhaps century or more, long torpor as regards its constitutional situation – about what it is and what it is not.

And by the way, what of this from the BBC?

A recent poll, the Future of England Survey, suggested English voters want the UK government to take a much tougher stance on Scotland if if decides to remain part of the Union. More than half, 56%, felt public spending in Scotland should be reduced. Nearly two thirds (66%) think Scottish MPs should be prevented from voting on English laws.

A tougher stance if it remains. Yeah, sure, that’ll work.

And over in the UK… August 31, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Politics, European Politics.
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Is this editorial from the Guardian on Tory defector Douglas Carswell just a little too gushing…

Unlike some Eurosceptic Tories, Mr Carswell is not a one-trick pony. He is an independent libertarian-minded MP who argues the need for radical political reform in the digital age and who has championed banking reform too. But it is his implacable Euroscepticism that made him switch to Ukip and which he highlighted in his resignation statement.

Well, libertarian-minded, yes, perhaps… he’s no end of enthusiasm for ‘direct democracy’, ‘recall of MPs’ and stuff like that.

And while it’s heartening to hear about his appetite for ‘radical political reform’ and indeed ‘action to clean up Westminster politics’… could it be that this paragon of virtue also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Carswell#Parliamentary_expenses_scandal Sure could!


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