Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

The Labour and Unionist party

09/05/2011, 11:15:36 AM

by Michael Dugher

On Friday afternoon I was sat in traffic on the M1, driving down from Barnsley to the elections count in Leicester. The news broke at about three o’clock that Labour had picked up five seats in Ipswich – including three from the Tories – to take control of the council. It was in Ipswich that Labour’s Chris Mole had been defeated in the general election last year, giving the Conservatives the seat for the first time in nearly 20 years. Despite some very good results for Labour across the country, particularly in the big northern cities and towns, as well as in battleground contests in the midlands and in the south of England, the news on the car radio was bad. We had been heavily defeated in the Scottish parliament elections. Labour had even lost Kirkcaldy, in Gordon Brown’s own backyard, a result that meant Alex Salmond was on course to a majority at Holyrood. The “story” on Friday afternoon was already moving on to include interviews with talking heads about what the SNP win meant, what the constitutional ramifications were, and when the referendum on Scottish independence might be held.

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A Labour-SNP coalition after May? Stranger things have happened (just).

29/03/2011, 01:00:25 PM

by Sunder Katwala

Could Labour and the Liberal Democrats govern together, despite their current animosities? It would be unwise to rule anything out about what is a very unpredictable electoral environment in 2015. But we might have a Lab-Lib government in five weeks rather than four years, once the Scottish elections take place on May 5.

Who governs Scotland may be the biggest unknown about May’s elections.

Labour, having performed extraordinarily well in Scotland in the British general election last May, remains favourite to top the poll, though SNP first minister, Alex Salmond, remains the dominant public figure in Scottish politics, and the latest polls are neck and neck.

If Labour can emerge ahead of the SNP in the PR election, it will have to decide whether to seek to govern alone or with coalition partners.

The favoured option of many Scottish MSPs and MPs is for a minority government, on the model of that run by Alex Salmond since 2007. A fixed term parliament makes this possible. And there are many MPs and MSPs who wish that Labour had governed alone when it was last in office. Introducing PR for local government has been particularly unpopular with several in the Labour tribe. (more…)

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Saturday News Review

12/06/2010, 07:30:04 AM
 
The Leadership Contenders

“It’s a delicious prospect. The man who once met a black man being pounded to oblivion at the despatch box by a black woman. The old Etonian son of a stockbroker being ejected from Downing Street by the daughter of a welder. The husband of the daughter of a baronet being given his marching orders by a single mum from Hackney. As spectator sports go, it would certainly beat the World Cup.”  – The Independent

“Until now Mr Miliband has been private about his family life, facing criticism from his opponents that he lacks warmth. But in an emotional interview, he described the personal experiences that have shaped his politics. He and Louise tried IVF. “Emotionally, it was incredibly exhausting. You don’t want to talk about it to people because you are going through this very intense personal thing and you don’t really want everyone saying, ‘Oh, how is it going?’ Or, ‘I am so sorry’. Or, ‘What is the latest news?’ he said.” – The Times

“Whether you like it or not – and why wouldn’t you? – Britain is a dizzyingly diverse place. You can find every colour of skin, style of dress, class, creed and cuisine on every high street. Which is why it’s depressing that a Martian visiting the House Of Commons would assume our ruling class was cloned in a test tube. Hundreds of bland, white public school boys rolling off a conveyor belt in the Home Counties.” – The Mirror

“The bookmakers’ favourite to win the Labour leadership, today urged Frank Field not to betray Britain’s poor after he called for the government to drop Labour’s main target for cutting child poverty. Miliband made his remarks at the first official Labour hustings in east London. Field, appointed by David Cameron to conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into the causes of poverty, said the Labour target was mathematically unobtainable, had not been achieved anywhere in the free world and revealed he would look to develop better targets. He is due to report at the end of the year.” – The Guardian

Europe

“Loosening the rigid labour market is seen as vital to ensure Spain’s long-term economic recovery and to ease market fears of a Greek-style debt crisis by proving Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriquez Zapatero’s unpopular government can act. But talks between the Socialists, business leaders and unions failed to come up with a consensus draft on Thursday after two years of on-off talks and the government has decided to present a draft labour reform unilaterally.” – Reuters

 
 
 
 
 
 

Darling: 'Safe pair of hands'

The Ex-Chancellor

“The obligatory description of the ex-chancellor is that he is a “safe pair of hands” (generally accompanied by reminders that a trucking magazine once awarded him the title of “most boring politician” two years in a row). It’s meant somewhat pejoratively, but “safe pair of hands” turns out to mean sleek, tanned, straight-talking – and yes, safe, in that one can easily imagine panicking bankers and prime ministers turning to him for answers and calm. Funny, too, though his jokes about previous Guardian interviews have a certain take-it-on-the-chin ruefulness: two years ago Darling said, bluntly, that Britain had to brace itself for the worst economic climate in 60 years.” – The Guardian

Being in Opposition

“Some Labour figures appear relieved to be in opposition. Quite a few to whom I have spoken since last month’s election seem to think their party did rather well. It didn’t: it won 29 per cent of the vote. So far, Labour’s leadership election seems to be taking place in a parallel universe. The candidates talk about reconnecting with the voters, but the crisis in the public finances (which Labour would have had to tackle if it had retained power) rarely gets a look-in. They are more interested in connecting with Labour members. Now that the general election is over, it is safe to talk about immigration, Iraq, bankers and high earners. But there’s no need to mention the c-word. The cuts can be left to the other parties and Labour can retreat to its comfort zone.” – The Independent

Scotland

“David Miliband yesterday declared Labour should learn from the party’s stunning general election result in Scotland.  The Labour leadership contender, who has pledged to rebuild the party, also welcomed further powers for the Scottish parliament.  He took his campaign north of the border, where he met MSPs and party activists.Miliband also watched Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray take on Alex Salmond at First Minister’s Questions.” – The Independent

The Trial

“‘In my judgment, the conduct alleged against these defendants is not covered by Parliamentary privilege and is triable in the Crown Court. ‘Unless this decision is reversed on appeal, it clears the way for what most people accused of criminal behaviour would wish for: a fair trial before an impartial jury.” Judge – The Daily Mail

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John McTernan on Scottish reaction to Danny Alexander’s razor gang

03/06/2010, 04:51:47 PM

A cruel truth of politics is that it is not enough to succeed; truly to get ahead one’s friends must fail. The extraordinarily swift fall of David Laws has ended whatever honeymoon the coalition might have had, but has accelerated the rise of Danny Alexander. His talent combined with his closeness to Nick Clegg have marked Alexander for long-term success. He now has one of the highest offices of state, at the most testing of times and faces the most difficult challenge within his own party – the Scottish Question.

The frame for next year’s Scottish Parliamentary elections is being constructed at the moment. For the SNP it will be a return to the general election claim that “more Nats means less cuts”. An unlikely proposition last month, it will seem even less persuasive next year. The eurozone’s struggles, coming so soon after  Ireland’s retrenchment and austerity, give the lie to the notion that there is an easy bolt hole anywhere outside the UK. (more…)

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