Westminster: July 2008 Archives

miliband.jpgThis is how I read Miliband's article as well. Some of it is very blatant indeed, not even requiring beginners' New Labour Kremlinology.

Watching his press conference is enlightening too. Check out how badly he's restraining his glee around 1:30 in that clip. 

He should perhaps remember Heseltine's Law: he who wields the knife never wears the crown. Not that there's much crown left.

Update - Morland nails it for the Times.

Where's Michael Brown?

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Mbrown.jpgThe Liberals' largest ever donor, Michael Brown, is on the run. He gave the party £2.4m, which funded half of their entire 2005 campaign, but the money was dubious to say the least. 

Not because he wasn't registered as a UK voter, because the Electrical Commission let them off that particular offence - how jealous Scottish Labour must be. No, the problem was a serious allegation against Mr Brown of fraud against HSBC.

I'm sure he's not absconded, and that all this confusion will be cleared up shortly. Perhaps he's been sent off to campaign in some of the new Liberal target seats?

As a footnote, his logic for donating was that he backed Charles Kennedy, but "not the muppets who purport to serve him". I imagine he's stopped donating now the muppets are in charge.
curranmason.jpgThere's no doubt that the SNP are now the most well-resourced, determined, and effective fighters of elections in Scotland. 

In fact, they might argue they're the most effective ever in Scotland. First the Tories, pre-1955, then Labour, 1955-2007, basically took the country for granted. 

Salmond, on the other hand, has had to run a tight ship over and over again to achieve his apparently over-the-top predictions. This "earthquake" has been delivered (quick thought: does anyone actually want an earthquake?) just as he predicted. 

In the same way, he predicted the Nats would win 20 first past the post seats in 2007 as far back as the SNP's 2005 conference, and they went on to go one better than that.

So this is indeed a magnificent result for them, a disaster for Labour, an acceptable one for the Tories, and bad news for ourselves and the Liberals.

I remain unconvinced by the new MP for Glasgow East, though. Regular readers will remember his views on women's right to choose, scientific research, and transport.

I also don't imagine I was the only one who spotted him gurning all the way through Margaret Curran's concession speech, as pictured to the left.

Congratulations to you, Mr Mason, and to your hard-working volunteers, but seriously, this isn't the way a grown-up elected representative should behave.

SNP by 354?

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cheersbreak.jpgI hear numbers which suggest the SNP has done it.

Also, some hours ago I predicted a majority four votes short of that. We shall see. Either way, cheers!

Update: the recount Labour requested just increased the Nats' majority by 11. 

Which is Glasgow's third party?

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DrEileenDuke.jpgIn their eve-of-poll programme, Newsnight Scotland tonight again had representatives from Labour, the SNP, the Tories and the Liberals. Their lengthy roundup of the campaign showed campaigners from those four parties, plus a moment where The Curran Sisters met. Dr Eileen Duke, our candidate (left), was simply airbrushed out.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that those four were indeed Glasgow's dominant parties, but you'd be wrong. Here are the numbers.

Westminster constituencies in Glasgow: 7, all Labour.
Holyrood constituencies in Glasgow: 9 Labour, 1 SNP
Holyrood regional seats in Glasgow: 4 SNP, 1 Liberal, 1 Tory, 1 Green
Glasgow City Councillors: 45 Labour, 22 SNP, 5 Liberal, 5 Green, 1 Tory

No-one can deny that Labour remain the dominant party by a massive margin in Glasgow politics. Similarly, the SNP are clearly the second-placed party in Glasgow. Third place is a tie between ourselves and the Liberals, with the Tories the clear fifth party. The Council is the tie-breaker, obviously.

Even though SSP and Solidarity, unsurprisingly, haven't a single elected representative between them at any level anywhere in Glasgow or elsewhere, all too often we appear in the same category as them. 

Viewers continue to get the misleading impression that we don't count in the city, despite these numbers. Does that sound fair to you?
martinwindmills.jpgWhen the Glasgow East campaign kicked off, I remembered what one of our activists had said after 2007 - Green placards mysteriously stay up longer in the East of the city, while those around Ibrox, not so much. 

Similarly, in Edinburgh, we once leafletted Tynecastle with leaflets all in maroon, not green.

Which makes this conversation, overheard by the Herald, music to my ears. Seriously, is there a neater or more appropriate way of spreading the message than Green Party windmills in the hands of children?

QuestionMarks.jpgThe always-interesting-to-anoraks politicalbetting.com had a striking analysis of the first Glasgow East poll a few days ago. In it Mike pointed out that more than 1% of the final result, a 1% allocated to the SNP, represents the views of a single former Liberal voter.

If you're not into the bizarre maths of polling, please don't read this, just come back later.

Anyway, ICM asked how Glasgow East constituents voted in the 2005 General Election, and, like many other pollsters, they compared that data against the actual 2005 results to see how representative their sample was. 

They expected thirty-one of their sample to report having voted Liberal, but only got six. I can imagine why, incidentally. So each of those six people miraculously become five and a sixth people. Except that one of them felt it was unlikely they'd vote, so got discounted, and, taking into account the overall weighting for likelihood to vote, only four of these 2005 Liberals remained. However, each now counted for six people. Super-Liberals, if you will.

In a final round of magic, one of these four Super-Liberals plans to vote SNP, so six votes got added to their column (see the second column from the right on page three of the ICM report). That's a 25% swing between these two parties, except for the one 2005 Nat who's gone the other way. He or she is much less important, as we'll see.

In sharp contrast, the fifty-five people who said they'd voted SNP in 2005 were weighted down to thirty-six. Of them, 94% will still vote SNP, but their opinions only count as two-thirds of a person, unlike our rogue Super-Liberal, who, you'll remember, is now six people. So if you told ICM you voted Liberal in 2005, your opinions are nine times more influential on the poll outcome than if you said you'd voted for the Nats. 

(The rows don't add up properly on that page, something I intend to ask Nick Sparrow about. Alternatively, anyone who gets how the 2005 figures or the 2008 intentions add up to the total on the left, please let me know. Paging Mark Ballard!)

Seeing as we've come this far down the rabbit-hole of psephology, there's another quirk here beyond the one Mike noted. When ICM asked about actual 2008 voting intentions, only ten people said they were voting for the Liberal candidate, but this number was too low, so got weighted up to twenty-four. 

On the other hand, twenty-three respondents planned to vote Tory, but ICM weighted them down because the sample had slightly more 2005 Tories than expected, and they eventually counted for just nineteen.

So twenty-three people in this poll said they'd vote Tory, and just ten that they'd vote Liberal. Yet the final numbers, generated by a massive amount of hand-waving and pure woo! show the Liberals on 9% and the Tories on 7%. 

Thank you for your patience if you're still here. Here's my prediction, based on the raw numbers, despite a small sample - the Tories will come out ahead of the Liberals. 

Update: the next poll has the Tories on 7% and the Liberals on 3%. This is exactly in line with the raw numbers from ICM.

Horatio was lauded.

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horatius.pngIn the legends of ancient Rome, the name Horatio (or Horatius Cocles) appears writ large. Accounts vary, but they agree on this much. Rome was under threat from an Etruscan army (the Etruscans are coming, the Etruscans are coming!), and Horatio took to the Pons Sublicius to defend the city, eventually single-handed. The Etruscans were defeated, and Rome survived.

But why the dull history lesson? Because the hard and nigh-solitary blogging of Kez about Glasgow East reminds me of Horatio's effort. Now sceptics may say that no election yet turns on battles online, but if this story comes out in the MSM, could Glasgow East be the first? (read the comments to the original, the sequel is here

It may seem an unlikely tale, but I find it hard to believe that Kez would make it up. Now outing an SNP Minister for a minor infraction, enough to get booted from a shopping centre, might seem trivial, and not particularly heroic. However, this is the sort of thing which can get a lot of interest during a heavily managed campaign. I'm not saying it's comparable, but the UK general election in 2001 is solely remembered for John Prescott's punch (7 second youtube link).

And if should Labour win Glasgow East, will the honours be hers? Or will it turn out more like this?

rushhour.jpgYesterday the BBC held a debate between four of the five parties who represent Glasgow at Holyrood and in the Council. One was omitted for no good reason - us.

The result was hardly edifying, though the Tory candidate came across best in my book. The SNP and Liberal blokes in particular made me want to throw the telly out of the window, with the SNP's John Mason the most unappealing of all.

First, his tone is pure cybernat ranting made flesh. I expected him to talk about the "butcher's apron" (see comment 22 here). It was like listening to Scotsman or Herald comments; i.e. much worse than just reading them.

Second, he explicitly came out in favour of reducing the abortion timelimit, and when discussing the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill he said "I am extremely unhappy about any experiments on babies or research, or anything like that."

Yeah, imagine if we did research. Then we'd be back in the Dark Ages. No, wait..

Davena Rankin for the Tories gave the best answers on this, combining women's rights and respect for science in one go.

Next, he was asked what the SNP would do to move people out of their cars and onto public transport. He started by saying that transport (no details) is a key SNP policy. It's summarised in the picture above.

Then he gave two examples which were bizarre to say the least. First, he mentioned the Glasgow Airport Rail Link, which helps people get on planes, as far as I understand it.

Second, he actually then cited the M74 extension as a way to get people out of their cars! Does he not know that 60% of his would-be constituents don't have access to a car? That this road will lead to extra car journeys, equivalent to 135,000 tonnes of extra CO2 a year? That the independent reporter said that, "looking at all the policy, transport, environmental, business and community disadvantages of the proposal as a whole, it is concluded that the proposal would be very likely to have very serious undesirable results"?

You probably won't believe this if you didn't see it, so here it is.

I should note in the interests of fairness that the next example he gives is concessionary bus fares. Which the SNP almost cut earlier in the year.
DrEileenDuke.jpgSo yesterday I took the first of several days off from my job (see above) to go and help out with the Green campaign in Glasgow East. We have an excellent candidate in Dr Eileen Duke (left), 25 years a GP in the city and ever so sensible.

I was particularly amused to put her onto the Daily Mail so they could ask her how she felt about the role she might play in finishing Gordon Brown's career. "New Labour has run its course", she said. How true.

Anyway, it was a day off because I obviously couldn't be paid for Parliamentary work when out campaigning; a proper busman's holiday. And that then meant that the odd MSP-related call I took then also became volunteer work. Lucky I love the job so much..

SNP win Glasgow East.

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smugometer.jpgIt's absolutely guaranteed. Either they actually win the seat, in which case you-know-who's smug-o-meter will get dialled up to 11, or not, in which case they'll still have Gordon Brown to kick around a while longer.

Frankly, if I were an SNP strategist, I'd be pulling some of the campaign effort back and hoping for the latter. Like Wendy, he has proved himself not to be up to the job, and I would be surprised if there wasn't a whole bucket-load of regret at SNP HQ about Standards having pushed her just hard enough to resign.   

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Westminster category from July 2008.

Westminster: June 2008 is the previous archive.

Westminster: August 2008 is the next archive.