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Scottish independence, latest poll suggests rising support January 21, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Thanks to JH for this:

With calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign amid the scandal ongoing, Savanta ComRes put support for Scotland leaving the Union up two points since October.

The new poll says 46% of Scots would back independence at a future indyref, with the same percentage indicating support for staying in the Union. Some 8% were undecided.

With those don’t knows excluded, the two campaigns sit on 50/50.

And:
 

In December, polling by another firm, Ipsos MORI, found support for independence was at 55%. However, more general trends have put the support for the No and Yes campaigns closer to the 50/50 split over the last year.

A majority of Savanta ComRes respondents also believed that the Downing Street gatherings have damaged the Union, with 54% agreeing with this statement. Around a third said the scandal hasn’t really hurt the Union, or that it had not hurt it at all.

Still, that parity is intriguing. Clearly any referendum will be a close fought thing.

Signs of Hope – A continuing series January 21, 2022

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Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

A dark journey January 21, 2022

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Not sure what to make of this, from the Guardian last week and:

Damian Hinds, the MP for East Hampshire who became security minister in August, told the Daily Telegraph that people spending long periods of time in their bedrooms during the restrictions could have pushed them towards radicalisation.

His remarks echo similar warnings from the police and the UN’s counter-terrorism committee executive directorate (CTED).

“Clearly, logically, when you have more people who are spending more time in their bedrooms at their computer … you are going to get a growth in that tiny proportion of people for whom that is a dark journey,” Hinds told the Telegraph.

“And as you know, on the internet, if you start to make those kind of downward spirals, you can quickly accelerate with the material that you come across and the other people that you can come into contact with.”

I guess it is possible, though in what was normal everyday life there was no shortage of time spent on computers by many many people. As interesting is this point:

But Hinds said it would be wrong to just assume this was Islamic terrorism. “There has been a growth in extreme rightwing terrorism,” he said.

“Islamist extremism terrorism, though, remains a potent threat. And we also have quite a few people who you might describe as having a sort of mixed or unclear or unstable mindset.

“Sometimes [they are] looking at flirting with different ideologies, different groups, sometimes apparently mutually exclusive, very, very different types of ideology.”

Blurred line January 21, 2022

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I like this (thanks to JH for the link), a piece from The National in Scotland which notes:

IS anyone surprised that the line between Labour and the Tories is now so blurred that a Conservative MP can resign from the Tories and, wearing his Union flag face mask, cross the floor to sit on the Labour benches as a Labour MP? Due to the widespread public anger about the entitled behaviour of Boris Johnson, Conservative MP for Bury South Christian Wakeford has left the Conservatives and has announced that he has joined the Labour Party. Wakeford (below) received a warm welcome on the Labour benches from Keir Starmer and other members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

It notes that Wakeford, who was one of those who breached the so-called Red Wall of Labour seats didn’t cover himself in glory while a Tory MP.

He was happy to support the right-wing populist Brextremist agenda of the Conservatives, even though Johnson’s character flaws were abundantly clear – at least he was happy to support it right up until it became evident that the public fury at the wanton breaking of Covid regulations by Johnson, who partied as thousands of families grieved alone, was likely to cost him his Bury South seat.  

And as the piece notes he voted to reduce Universal Credits for low income families, restrictions on right to asylum, voted against climate change measures, voted against tax evasion by the wealthy and businesses and voted against further powers to the devolved Assemblies.

The analysis is blunt. If a Tory can join the Labour party and if the only way the Labour party can win is by ‘aping and emulating’ the Conservatives, “Whether it’s the actual Conservatives or the Tory-Lite policies of a right-wing Brexit-backing Labour party, one way or another all that Westminster offers Scotland is Conservative rule in perpetuity.”

Difficult to disagree with that assessment. But more to the point the travails of Labour in England almost seem a bit beside the point. We can see in Wales the outline of a different path Labour more broadly might have taken, but then perhaps the very structure of English parliamentary politics, and it is overwhelmingly English, is such that at this point the space for progressive change is so limited that it is for each constituent nation to have to fend for itself. And clearly the Starmer party, while an improvement on the Tories, has its very very visible limits. I’ve a certain degree of sympathy. It is clear in an English polity dominated by right wing media, right wing tropes and right wing politics the ability to move forward is limited. But this makes the centrifugal forces ever stronger one has to suspect.

 

They think it’s (almost) all over… January 20, 2022

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The National Public Health Emergency Team met on Thursday and agreed to recommend the removal of the 8pm closing time for hospitality and the end of the requirement for a Covid-19 pass to gain access to pubs and restaurants.

The digital pass will still be needed for international travel, however.

The team also cleared the way for the removal of crowd limits as well as an end to restrictions on permitted household guests. A phased return to work has also been recommended in order to give workplaces time to organise their own individual public health measures, a source said.

Some of the only restrictions to remain will be around the requirement to wear a mask in retail and on public transport, as well as existing public health measures in places likes schools.

The rationale?

The Nphet members were understood to have discussed how the Covid-19 digital pass need no longer be required for access to hospitality given the high levels of either infection or vaccination in the population at present.

They could be right. Let’s hope they are.

Problems for the BLP January 20, 2022

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This from Politico provides an insight into the current woes of the BLP. Granted it is riding reasonably high in the polls. It has gained another MP defecting from the Tories. But what’s happening behind the scenes?

Britain’s Labour Party is asking its own staff to accept a real-terms pay cut as it deals with the loss of more than £3 million to falling membership and reduced trade union support.

The decline in income from two traditional sources will increase pressure on Labour leader Keir Starmer to attract big donations as he seeks to benefit from Boris Johnson’s trouble in the polls.

Labour staff were briefed on the state of the opposition party’s finances at a meeting last week with senior party figures. They were offered a 2 percent pay uplift for next year — a real-terms cut when inflation is factored in.

And what of this?
 

Staff were told that the decline in membership has been much higher than expected, while potential fines from a security breach in November and a loss of union contributions have caused “substantial” additional costs.

The large trade union Unite, which has previously been Labour’s biggest funder and was a staunch supporter of Starmer’s left-wing predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, announced last year it would cut political donations to the party and divert the money to union campaigns.

Labour membership peaked in January 2020 at more than 500,000, but figures presented to staff last week suggest it has been falling since.

And:

One staff member who lost their job accused the party of “talking a good game about workers’ rights while senior officials treat Labour staff with contempt and tank the party’s resources.”

They added that the argument that jobs had to go to make the party “fighting fit” for elections had been shown up as “a lie.”

Fear? January 20, 2022

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Ah, the Irish Times. Its health correspondent offers a piece that seeks to make some sort of overview of where we are in the pandemic (something that some will find echoes this rather more robust effort by Tomas Pueyo – I don’t agree with everything but broadly it is good). Needless to say the framing at the IT continues. It is entitled “As Covid risk recedes, we will need to unwind built-up fear”.

But, tellingly this is the only reference to fear in the actual piece:

Finally, we all will need to unwind the fear we have built up during the pandemic to match the reducing risk posed by Covid-19.

Fear is an interesting one though. Look at the Amarach studies and what one finds is not so much ‘fear’ as caution, resignation and a range of other emotions. Indeed Fear was, in terms of recorded emotional wellbeing, only higher than the next emotion (Loneliness) for a brief period in March 2020 when it was at 22%. Since then it fell to 10% in June of that year, rose slowly to 16% in October of that year. Dipped to 10% in November and December before rising to 16% in January and February of last year. From then it remained for most of the year around 10 down to 7% before rising to 10%, 12% and then back down to 10% in November, December and early January of this year. This isn’t to deny that stress was the highest rated negative emotion. But again that was variable and interesting was lower than than the highest rated positive emotion by a good 10% or more most of the past two years. So even that framing seems askance. Surely Cullen would be better looking at stress as an issue, or loneliness.

Note the following:

The world fought back with lockdowns and other restrictions that were and still are highly divisive.

Were they, are they? Not according to the Amarach polling. There were distinctly different views, but the vast majority supported those restrictions and continue to do so.

While it does look as if many restrictions can be unwound, given the way in which the pandemic is heading, at least for the moment, there’s this, which seems premature:

Many will chose to continue wearing masks, keeping their distance and limiting their social interactions, but the rationale for universal mask mandates will diminish. If rules need to be reimposed at some point so be it, but make this conditional on clearly-agreed criteria.

And the Pueyo article linked to above makes the case very clearly that some more weeks of caution is a good idea: “You might want to remain vigilant for a few weeks while this wave passes. You don’t want to join a full ICU and no available treatment anywhere around you.” Sensible advice.

And more broadly? This from the Guardian:

What does all this mean in terms of living with Covid-19? We still need to test. We still need to vaccinate and combat misinformation. We need to encourage people to wear medical-grade masks such as N95s in crowded and indoor settings. Employers need to recognise and support employees who have been identified as in a shielding group. We also need to review isolation and other policies so they remain safe, but are less disruptive to the functioning of society.

We will still need to monitor Covid-19 in public health, as we do other diseases. When people say it will be “endemic”, that doesn’t mean harmless. Endemic means that we accept a circulation of a disease because elimination or eradication is perceived as too difficult. Malaria, dengue and measles are endemic in certain parts of the world even though they are all serious diseases. Malaria was endemic in the United States until the government decided to eliminate it.

 

Trouble at Westminster… January 19, 2022

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Embarrassing morning for Boris Johnson.

The Tory MP Christian Wakeford has defected to Labour, piling more pressure on Boris Johnson as growing numbers within his own party call on the prime minister to resign.

Just minutes before prime minister’s questions, Wakeford – elected as the MP for Bury South in 2019 – crossed the floor to sit with Keir Starmer’s party, declaring in a letter to Johnson resigning the Conservative whip that he was “incapable of offering the leadership and government this country deserves”.

The move will prove a huge embarrassment for Johnson, who is fighting to avoid enough of his own backbenchers submitting letters calling for a no-confidence vote. Fifty-four are needed to trigger a ballot. Many of those who have written a letter are members of the 2019 intake, like Wakeford. He submitted a letter last week.

Not that I’d exactly call the new Labour MP necessarily the greatest adornment for the BLP. 

Collusive behaviours January 19, 2022

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There’s long been a trope on parts of the right in the UK and in certain other quarters about the RUC which has been all too generous to that organisation as a whole, and which regards the replacement by the PSNI as some sort of great wrong. Yet reading this report it is difficult not to feel that the eventual disbandment was essential for broader societal acceptance of policing.

An official investigation into police handling of loyalist paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland that resulted in 19 murders has identified “collusive behaviours” and “significant concerns” about officers’ conduct.

The long-delayed report by the Northern Ireland police ombudsman into the killings included an investigation into the circumstances around the 1993 Greysteel pub massacre, which left eight people dead and 19 injured.

All the attacks were carried out by the Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters in the north-west of the island of Ireland between 1989 and 1993.

What’s particularly notable is how late in the conflict these attacks were. But also notable is how the RUC had information on potential targets which was not conveyed to a number of them.

While she said that there was no evidence that the RUC had prior knowledge of the attacks, the names of a number of people targeted in the attacks were discovered in loyalist “intelligence caches” between November 1989 and February 1992.

The police failed to warn a number of people their lives were at risk and in some cases did no assessment of the risk. That, she said, was a “contravention of RUC Force Orders”.

Of the 11 attacks investigated, seven involved the targeting of individuals whose names had appeared in the caches.

What you want to say – 19th January 2022 January 19, 2022

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As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

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