Reflecting 2015 GE – Polling night comments

Bellow are a stream of comments on a historic night of SNP gains. Quite an event, yet so much has changed since with Brexit Vote, Cameron ( who?) Out, May in!, next General Election and hurtling towards some uncertain political status.

Sorry, I can’t help. Goodness knows what is going on ! These notes are cathartic though. Enjoy.

@Caithnesian: #bbcelections2015 If predict. correct, Labour have lost because they have lost share to Tories in England.

@Caithnesian: #bbcelections2015 If all predict. SNP seats were Labour, #milifandom still a country mile behind Tories. #LabourFail. End of. @ScotNational

@Caithnesian: @ScotNational #bbcelections2015 Labour in England have suffered from concerted right-wing press hysteria of Lab-SNP pact. Not nice is it?

@Caithnesian: @ScotNational #bbcelections2015 Early results see LibDems hemoraging votes to right (Tory/UKIP), not left (Lab/Green). V.bad news for Clegg

@Caithnesian: @ScotNational #bbcelections2015 If Clegg considers coalition again, he must recall its the ‘left’ LDs who have stayed with his party in Eng.

@Caithnesian: @ScotNational #bbcelections2015 Poor Clegg, the ‘right’ LDs seem to have drifted to right (Tory/UKIP) already in England.

@GrahamStewartTV: SNP confident and think they may have just edged Douglas Alexander out of Paisley South. Within 700 votes or so. #GE2015

@Caithnesian: @BBCPolitics @daily_politics interesting to know if avg vote in Scotland is up? @NicolaSturgeon effect, or we just being contrary?

@karenmcveigh1: Alex Salmond, wife Moira arrive at Gordon seat, to cheers

@karenmcveigh1: Turnout for Gordon, Aberdeenshire where incumbent LibDem has conceded defeat against Alex Salmond, is 73.3 percent

@Caithnesian: @scotlibdems conceded Gordon to @theSNP ? Looked like @Cajardine had conceded a week ago. Winning here? No. Seriously misplayed election.

@Caithnesian: Kilmarnock and Louden!!; 14,000 majority @theSNP ; @Caithnesian: @theSNP 26% swing !

@Caithnesian: Western Isles HOLD for @theSNP

@Caithnesian: BBC, @theSNP  and even Labour tipping YES-city Glasgow to be 100% SNP in Westminster – 7 Seats!   #tremendous #remarkable #stunning #wow

@Caithnesian: @daily_politics @timfarron @afneil   FEAR won in England; HOPE won in Scotland ; Labour Party on the wrong side of each argument

@Caithnesian: Paisley & Refrewshire South – FOR GOODNESS SAKE ; SNP. – @Caithnesian 27% swing for @mhairi1921

@Caithnesian: okay, I’m now losing track of all the Seats @theSNP are winning

@Caithnesian: @theSNP gain Falkirk

@Caithnesian: Glenrothes . . . @theSNP gain!!!  @Caithnesian: @theSNP that is over 60% of the vote ; 38% swing – practically breaking the BBC digital swingometer

@Caithnesian: East Kilbride ; Always a foregone conclusion for Labour ; SNP JUST GOT OVER 33678 votes! Gain!

@Caithnesian: Motherwell and wishaw  ; Frank Roy 15,000 ; @theSNP Fellows wins!

@Caithnesian: Angus ; SNP HOLD FOR MIKE WEIR @theSNP  ; 24130 votes

@Caithnesian: Dundee West already gained. ; @theSNP Stuart Hosie holds Dundee East ; 12 seats – it’s a record!

@Caithnesian: 12 seats declared, 12 seats won by @theSNP ; Vote share over those 12 seats is over 55%

@Caithnesian: East Dumbartonshire – first Lib Dem Scottish seat to declare . . . @theSNP GAIN. Jo Swinston out

@Caithnesian: Rutherford and Hamilton West : over 30,000 votes for Mgt Ferrier, @theSNP , beating Tom Greaterex. ; SNP gain

@Caithnesian: Roger Mullin wins Kircaldy & Cowdenbeath for the SNP – just vacated by Gordon Brown ; 52% of vote, swing from Labour of 35%. .  .Jeez

@Caithnesian: @theSNP win Midlothian

@Caithnesian: @theSNP just win at Inverclyde announcement. Ronnie Cowan – MP

@JenDempsie: Some strong women elected so far for @theSNP with @TasminaSheikh @MgtFerrierSNP @marion53f @mhairi1921 @lisacameronsnp #GE15 @Women5050

@Caithnesian: @theSNP GAIN Airdrie and Shotts ; Territory of John Smith, John Reid etc . . . . not any longer

@Caithnesian: Renfrewshire East. Jim Murphys seat. ; Lab – 19,295 @theSNP – 23,039 ; SNP gain. Murphy out.

@paulmasonnews: Reinventing Scotlab as an ultra unionist party, suppressing its left and pro-autonomy voices, turns out to have been a bad idea. #murphygone

@BBCScotlandNews: #SNP HOLD Moray http://t.co/vXs38IGPry #GE2015

@Caithnesian: @theSNP gainStirling, and Lanark & Hamilton East,

@Caithnesian: Glasgow East – @nataliemcgarry GAIN from Margaret Curran.  😀

@Scotsfox: Natalie McGarry MP Goodbye Magrit… One of the sweetest wins tonight. #SNP

@Caithnesian: Cumbernauld & Kilsyth – @theSNP GAIN

@Caithnesian: Bathgate – @theSNP GAIN ; Michael Connarty defeated

@MMcCarten: I’m scared to stand up incase SNP take my seat.

@Caithnesian: @theSNP HOLD Perth. Now over30 seats

@Caithnesian: Ian Davidson’s seat ; @theSNP gain! Oh thank you 😆 @Caithnesian: that was Glasgow South West, Ian Davidson OUT is even better than Murphy, Curran and Alexander

@Caithnesian: Congratulations @PhilBoswellSNP – new MP for coatbridge

@Caithnesian: Currently 33 SNP seats – three times our all time record!

@bazzared1903: We’re never going to see this again in our lifetime. Savour it. Give yourself a massive pat on the back. Then keep the fight going #SNP

@Caithnesian: @ScotNational remember that last Labour MP In Scotland? Willie Bain has gone – 39% swing!! ; Glasgow North East

@Caithnesian: North East Fife . . . ; Lib Fem grandee Ming Campbell retired ; @theSNP GAIN- 18,523 ; Well done Steven Gethins

@Caithnesian: Ian Davidson knifes Murphy – in the back, front and sides; @scottishlabour

@BBCScotlandNews: #SNP GAIN Glasgow South http://t.co/vXs38IGPry #GE2015

@BBCScotlandNews: #SNP GAIN Glasgow North West http://t.co/vXs38IGPry #GE2015

@NOSN_WClark: Turnout for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross is 72%

@BBCScotlandNews: #SNP GAIN East Lothian http://t.co/vXs38IGPry #GE2015

What have the Tories ever done for us?

People, gather round, because tomorrow we vote for the next government from Westminster.

To my shame, these blogs have ignored one element of society that is blessed with the many columns of the 5th estate and claims to have given us much in the last 5 years, even though we elected only one of their number in 2010. How generous they are.

So, What have the Tories done for us?

They introduced the Welfare Reform Act, with the Bedroom Tax, and Universal Credit, they have a private company incentivised to take away disabled allowances and generally slashed spending with no support and have left the most vulnerable in our society high and dry.

Ok, so apart from the Bedroom tax, Universal credit and stuffing disabled people, what have the Tories ever done for us?

They have made education more expensive – students in England and Wales leave uni more than £44k in debt, which is crazy. In Scotland, the costs to protect students from Tuition fees rise, but that has been delivered and held by the SNP. Labour and Lib Dems welshed on this when they ran Holyrood, but then the Lib Dems did a stunning backflip to get into WM government and ditched promises to stop tuition fees. Nick Clegg is sorry. 

Right . . . So apart from Welfare Reform and Tuition Fees, what have the Tories ever done for us?

They’ve trashed the NHS good and proper. In their last election campaign, Tories promised “no more top-down reorganisations” of the NHS, which was reiterated in the coalition agreement with the Libe Dems (yes, them again). What has followed is the largest, most damaging top down reorganisation of the NHS in England ever seen. And all the savings from the NHS mean less money is allocated to the NHS for Scotland, which the SNP have tried to keep on track with absolutely limited privatisation.

In the referendum campaign, Labour told us in Scotland the NHS was fine in the UK. But we know the standards of care creeping in south of the border are falling behind what we want to see in Scotland. Kailash Chand of the BMA said “Government Policy and privatisation mean the NHS as we know it could be gone in as little as five years”.

Interesting how many Tory, and even Labour MPs have directorships in private health providers!

Indeed! Well OK, but apart from a crumbling NHS, Education to all who can afford it and the ‘you’ll no be well fare act’, what have the Tories ever done for us?

Well, the Tories are to the Environmnet what Ghengis Khan was to peaceful negotiation! When Cameron said his government would be the greenest ever, he was talking about envy or something, but not the environment. The Coalition (yes, you too Nick Clegg) have enthusiastically encouraged Frackers, even to the extend of changing Tresspass law to allow fracking beneath homes south of the border without homeowners permission. Talk about an enabling act!

Jeez, so the Tories have fracked off the environment, but surely the economy is sound though?

Well, the bankers are happy. But priority número uno was to eliminate the UK deficit by 2016-17. They are miles off! They say there are some more Jobs, but how many of those are zero hours contracts? In the EU, the UK has the second largest deficit (commiserations to Croatia). Deficit. That’s not good. 2014-15 deficit at £87bn. Over twice what Osborne predicted it would be this year.

On a positive note, the Tories and Liberals cut tax on the highest earners. 

Hmmm. Right so apart from failing on economic targets, letting the environment go to Frack, privatising the NHS, penalising the poor for, well, for being poor and breaking promises on education, are there any redeeming features of the Tories?

Absolutely. Just one. They’ll be horsed out of government if anyone has been paying attention. Genuine progressive parties on the rise, we could even see a higher quality of politics seeping into Westminster, where principle and policy trumps profit and spin.

And as for the Lib Dems, who misjudged their own members and supporters and chose to help the Tories, I hope their judgement will be swift and conclusive. Don’t darken our door again!

Labour pains

The latest general election drama wizard story (The Times, 4th May 2015) is that Labour suits may undermine formation of a Labour minority government with anti-Tory support, if Miliband is as much as 12 seats behind Cameron. 

Oblivious to, or perhaps because of, potentially 40 – 50 SNP seats in WM.

So Miliband could be stabbed in the back, and sacked, by his own MPs while the country is clamouring for a government free of the Tories. This beggars belief (but perhaps not if you can recall the machinations of Labour MPs in 1979′ before and after the Referendum of that year)!

If any of this is to be spun by Scottish Labour to pressure folk to give them another chance, I think this is doomed. It is a poor tactic to win back Scotland, at this election or any other, because this belies the Labour narrative that SNP support this year is just a protest vote, some kind of weird post-indyRef reaction.  But here is the news. Labour voters in their once-heartland are not voting SNP to keep Labour (the Red Tories) in check, but rather because they can’t stomach voting Labour any longer.

Murphy is unappealing and not particularly trusted (careful wording here). Miliband has had a better campaign than expected, but Nicola Sturgeon has excelled, talking the language once-Labour voters want to hear.

And, most importantly, she is talking their language because that is what she believes, and you just can’t fake that, Jim.

Finally, the graphic below, (from New Statesman, online) with all the seat predictions is telling. Labour are behind the Tories in all but one prediction. Ranging from only 4 seats, to over 30 seats. But in each prediction, the SNP seats are consistently within 2 or 3 seats of the mean. So the difference for Labour is not Scottish seats, but how Labour performs in England. If Labour want to govern the UK, they need to do better in England.

The pain felt by the remainder of Scottish Labour is because Labour are now reaping the rewards of taking Scottish votes for granted. For too long,  Labour has lazily used the block Scottish vote as a makeweight against their deficit in England. Perhaps if Kinnock, Blair and Brown had steered closer to those ‘Traditional Labour Values’ in England, they may now be feeling some of the admiration Nicola Sturgeon is attracting both sides of the border.

  Courtesy of the New Statesman online, 4th May 2015

Clegg boxes himself into the blue corner

Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, has built himself a box this weekend and jumped right into it. 

In an interview with the Financial Times on Saturday, he clearly declared that he’ll have no truck with a government that relies upon the support of either UKIP or the SNP. But his bluster fails the Westminster arithmetic test. While the few UKIP MPs anticipated will be insignificant to a Tory-Liberal minority coalition, ruling a 50-strong SNP contingent out of any Lib-Lab pact could sink the anti-Tory consensus which the majority of the population support.

Thus demonstrating the Liberal Democrats are not particularly Liberal and most certainly undemocratic.

Clegg’s campaign has been designed to return him as Deputy PM, regardless of the suitor. Lib Dems have been fantastically arrogant in the campaign, claiming everyone else is effectively, mad, bad or dangerous to know. Only they, say the Lib Dems, are clever enough to be in government. Self praise is no praise at all. Polls show the electorate agree.

Has Nick Clegg got previous on strategic thinking?

In 2010, he led his party into coalition with the Conservatives. He got the Liberals into UK government for the first time in many years, got promises to deliver some of his policies but toasted quite a few others. He tells us (self praise again, Nick!) he stabilised the country and moderated Tory policies. What we can all see is he exceeded any realistic personal ambition by securing the Deputy PM position. All on the back of 3 good performances in TV debates and a campaign free of serious scrutiny and hitches.

Five years later, his popularity and that of his party has plumetted. The Lib Dems have been trussed up like kippers by their coalition colleagues, his ministers saddled with all the bad news in early months of the coalition. He gave up his cast iron promise on Tuition Fees in order to secure a voting system referendum which he and his party were simply unable to win. And the Prime Minister has cleverly played GE2015 TV debates, neutering his Deputy PM while limiting his own exposure.

Analysis

Clegg’s strategic plan effectively rules out his support for any Labour government.

How? Well the polls are very tight, and consistent. The parliament will be hung with no single party holding a majority. Nor is there much difference in the vote share and seats between Labour and Conservative, even considering the SNP advance in Scotland.

Regarding polls from Scotland, the SNP lead is unshaken. It is even growing two weeks out from polling day! Ashcroft polling tell us that the SNP advance is repeated across the country, regardless whether the constituency incumbent is Labour, Tory, Lib Dems or SNP. A forecast of seats following May 7th, represented by Betfair in their election prediction app, is

  • Conservative – 280
  • Labour – 264
  • SNP – 51
  • Liberal Democrat – 28
  • Others – 24 (includes 18 NI seats)
  • UKIP – 3

326 seats required for a majority.

Although Tories would have most seats, a Lib Dem coalition delivers only 308 seats. UKIPs 3 seats are neither here nor there in terms of majority and the Tories would look to Northern Ireland for a strong Unionist party performance and their backing.

The most credible deal would be between Labour and Lib Dems with SNP support, but Clegg has ruled that out, hasn’t he ? That arrangement would comfortably exceed the majority required for stable government, but Nick Clegg has whipped himself up with the anti-SNP fervour of his (Tory) bosses.

A Labour led minority government could still be delivered without the Lib Dems.

An arrangement between only Labour and SNP would command 315 seats. Add the 6 seats potentially secured by Plaid and the Greens, you get tantalisingly close with 321. That could be enough for a majority with SDLP support, particularly considering effective majority would be reduced by the seats that Sinn Fein abstain from taking.

Come up with different seat numbers, from different polls if you like, but it’s unlikely the deal results above change significantly without a change in voting intentions. 

Unless Labour can perform better than the Tories in English seats, then they will need support of the SNP and other progressive parties to lock the Tories out of Downing Street. Failure of Miliband to grasp that thistle would be catastrophic.

  

Liberals praying negative campaign delivers 

I don’t care much for Malcolm Bruce’s political operandi. I bear him no malice, and note with only moderate distaste that he will likely enjoy his retirement on the comfy red benches of the House of Lords. He’ll be cloaked in ermine and assured in all matters! But what he and his party offer voters in the North East, Highlands and the Northern Isles is little other than bluster, grievance and tactical diversions to cloak the paucity of their own ideas.

While Bruce and his protege avoid discussing the fruits of 5 years in government, other than they have cut taxes (in a country cloaked in austerity!), he has been willing enough to talk up Alex Salmond and the SNP.

(In Lording it over the referendum result in Aberdeenshire last year) Sir Malcolm Bruce, Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon, said: “I think it’s a complete rejection of Alex Salmond and the SNP’s Yes message” – Scotsman, 19/09/14

Alex Salmond is “a nightmare” says Sir Malcolm Bruce – Herald 01/04/15

Bruce is a Unionist. He would also consider himself a grandee of the Liberal Democrats. I’ve seen a few of those, including Robert Maclennan in his latter days as MP in Caithness, Sutherland and ultimately Easter Ross too. I’ve come to realise these men are also Establishmentarians. They and their ilk uphold the British State, without question, and I believe they prioritised that over the representation of their constituents. They have not led, but rather maintained ( the establishment ) during their terms of representation.

The Liberals, their origins as the Whigs, are the original partner of the Tories in our two party state. Liberal legacy goes back to the 17th century and were the natural party of government throughout much of the 18th century. They were in with the Limestone blocks. As the successors of the Roundheads, Whigs established Parliaments’ primacy over monarchy and sealed the constitutional monarchy we see now. They were reformers. No longer.

The current state of the Liberal party in Scotland, typified by Bruce, is literally petrified. There is little element of reform in the outlook presented to Scots in 2015.  They are frozen like deer in headlights, fixated on Westminster  and only fit to utter two mantras.

mantra 1 (The UK mantra from Nick) – we’re neither Tory, nor Labour, but somewhere in between.  Caithnesian – As if between Labour and Tory is a good place to be. Really should do better, this policy line is completely undefined and actually a distraction from the trash they have supported the Tories in  (welfare reform – bedroom tax for instance)

mantra 2 (the rural Scotland one) – we’ll defend and protect Scotland from the SNP and any talk of another referendum, ever. Caithnesian – taking a big assumption that Scots wish to be saved from anti-austerity and more power to Scotland. This is a most desperate non-policy, derived from absolute fear of extinction – and not without foundation! Last gasp attempt to gather all non-SNP votes in a pact that offers nothing other than their own survival, careers, privileges and another chance to squeeze into bed with one (any one) of the Westminster parties.

As a result of their own actions, the Liberals are open to the charge of not holding to any principle. Which equals the number of original policies they offer. However, the Liberals in Gordon do offer vitriol. In the absence of a vision, La Jardine passionately, with clenched fists, tells you it’s all about Alex and how she’ll stop him. Negative campaigning thinks it’s had a shot in the arm from the referendum – GE15 will tell us if Scotland is still better than that.

So back to our Mr Bruce. Quoted from this past weekend, “We are finding that people are voting tactically because if you take these polls all the way through, Scotland could effectively put itself out of reach of being part of any government because we have elected nobody of the governing party, whatever it is. That’s not good for Scotland.” – Scotsman, 19/04/15

Eh? Perhaps he means “We’re desperately praying Tories are voting tactically because the polls tell us we’d be glad to get 3rd in Gordon with Angry Jardine blowing my majority”. I couldn’t print any of Christine’s quotes as you may be reading this before 9pm.

Their only innovation is to be the establishment party, portraying themselves as the arch Union holders. I used to think the Liberals tried to represent rural Scotland fairly. They’ve lost the plot altogether with a few shots in coalition and they behave and sound like every other Austerity shovelling, welfare grabbing, tax cutting, Trident splurging Westminster party. 

Gordon deserves better.