Sunday, 17 August 2014

ARE THE SLAB BIG HITTERS ASHAMED OF THEIR MESSAGE?

I found an interesting article over at the Hootsman. (I know, I know… in itself that is worthy of a post…)

It is a piece, written my Dr Andrew McFadyen who used to work for the Labour Party as a media advisor, and was part of Iain Gray’s team in the last general election. An inside man then and with his doctorate in Labour and Scottish Parliament, possibly a knowledgeable one.

I don’t agree with all that he says, but I base my opinions on observation from afar, and he bases his on actual experience of working with these people and researching at a high level. I accept, therefore, that he knows a deal more about Labour and Labour politicians than I do.  

Anyway, the piece made me think, and that’s never a bad thing, right? So somewhat rambling (and far too long, sorry), this is what it made me think.

He says he has respect for Johann Lamont. Now, I’m sure that Johann is a very nice woman, face to face, but as a party leader and potential first minister, it is hard to see where that respect comes from. But, thinking on, Lamont is a woman who takes orders from a London boss with his own agenda. Even McFadyen admits that the role of overall Scottish leader which Lamont achieved, and Gray never desired but never managed, is truer on paper than in actuality.

He also talks about Labour’s big hitters, and the fact that in the event of a yes vote, they would have to come home and practise politics in Scotland rather than at Westminster. And he names Dougie Alexander, Jim Murphy and Margaret Curran, none of whom I consider to be big hitters.

In fairness though, maybe their lack of ability to get across a message lies in the fact that they really, at heart, don't believe anything they are saying. They are flogging centre right to right wing policies, like benefit caps and austerity for the poor, because they know that it is in the interest of their careers, not of their constituents, and contrary to their political beliefs. Labour is wearing someone else’s clothes and they don’t really suit, or fit. Always an uncomfortable and confidence sapping experience.

But I think the main point he makes is that Labour’s task after the defeat of 2011, the worst showing apparently since the 1920s, was to build a vision “and imaginative agenda” for Scotland,  which he says has given way to “project fear”.

Alistair denied last week that the Better Together, No thanks, NoBorders, UKOK team had ever referred to itself as Project Fear… but we can be pretty certain that it has. And it certainly is.

Initially people like Cameron and Darling tried to impress Scots by talking up the union. 

That’s not a difficult job when you are addressing the massed oligarchs of the City of London but I don't think that Cameron understood that that message isn't universally successful.

Power, prestige, position, military might, closeness to the USA, CLOUT (even imaginary),  went down rather less well in the ordinary streets of Scottish towns, where the number of embassies, consulates, the position of the UK in the G8, UN, Nato and a few hundred other organisations, mean absolutely nothing to the residents. But a lack of childcare, decent facilities, housing, the reduction in tax credits and the high cost of essentials like gas and electricity  means everything.

It must have been apparent pretty quickly that, although there was a certain type of Scot that this would impress, it wasn't a winner with the many who had to be won over.

So they must have searched around for something else that was positive about the union, something that didn't involve faraway places and strange sounding names!

But it was difficult to find anything that would stick. Better Together has to mean something. Why is a person living on minimum wage in a Scottish backstreet, with only JUST enough money to make it to the end of the month (and sometimes not), better together with the UK? Why are people queuing at food banks better with the UK? Why would students be better in the Uk at £9,000 a shout? Why are pensioners on £110 a week, the lowest pension by comparison to wages in the developed world, bar Mexico, better in the Uk? Why is the UK the most unequal society in the EU?

In reality so many of our ordinary people are not Better Together. So what you have to do is imply that it would be even worse if we weren't in the UK. 

And although it has attracted criticism it has worked, at least to an extent. You wouldn't get in the EU (tens of thousands of jobs would disappear; maybe yours). Scotland won’t be able to pay your pensions (you’d starve to death, despite having paid for a pension). There would be a barbed wire border (no problem if you live in Lerwick or Stornaway, but more of an issue if you are in Dumfries and want to see your girlfriend). You won't get Doctor Who or anything else for mm the BBC (a real issue for some). You won't have a currency/will be made to use the Euro, despite being denied EU membership (a real puzzler). You won’t be able to defend yourselves (against what, who, and in any case why not?) The oil is going to run out in 2 years time (in which case the UK should worry, and start asking of it can become the 51st state).

Ridiculous though these claims, and many more like them, are, if all you ever read is the main stream media, then that is what you know. Yes, there’s information out there on blogs like Wings and Scot Goes Pop and Bella and a shed load of others… but many people don’t know where to go for that information, and many don't even know that there IS that information.

So Project Fear, with the compliance of the BBC and the bulk of newspapers, has been much more successful than the real ‘positive’ message for the UK… which is Clout, War, State Dinners, Clout, Embassies, Consulates, War, Big ships, and Nuclear weapons, more CLOUT and the fourth largest spend on military in the world, photo opportunities with President Obama, the City, Loadsamoney, Bombs and even more bloody CLOUT.

How comfortable with that reality is LABOUR?


Well Labour in London has bought into it. They know that it is the message that the rich in the South East want to hear in their masses, and they are the people who can deliver Ed to Downing Street.

But maybe the shaky performances of so-called “big hitters” of Slab, can be attributed to the fact that they know they are talking garbage to the very people who vote for them. Maybe there is some shame there.

I know that some of you have been members of the Labour Party in the past, or worked with some of the people at its head. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

34 comments:

  1. That's a very good article, my own opinion is that, Scottish Labour, are on the verge of tearing themselves apart, they've stood against everything that they were originally founded on.

    There must be a few if not many Labour supporters, who feel they've had their heart ripped out, I do have sympathy for those who joined Labour to help the poor and less fortunate in society. Only for them to be told to go out there and stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tories, whilst enforcing Tory policies, aimed at hurting the poor and disabled.

    Independence will give Labour a chance to be reborn,if you like, they'll have no master to answer to down south, and although it may take a few years Labour in Scotland, will blossom again

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    1. Thank you. I think that it will, Anon.

      They have lost their soul and apparently their support. People vote for them in the UK elections to keep out the Tories. Although when it does work, there's little to pick and choose between them.

      I believe that you are right. Scottish labour will be able to listen to its constituency. They will be able to formulate programmes which are good for scotland, like ditching nuclear weapons for a start.

      Let's hope it happens.

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  2. Tris

    I don't think Johann Lament is a nice person at all, I suspect that she is a bitter, horrible individual because someone with her views, the open and hostile approach to the SNP, to voters who don't agree with her, the poor etc cannot be a nice person in any shape or form. I know that we sometimes say separate the politics from the person but that woman is full of hate.

    I don't think the media campaign has done that well for BT as the message has been the same my whole life, in fact for 300 years Scotland has been told that narrative and believed it. We have been deliberately kept down by the state from no Scottish history being taught when I was a kid to the too wee too poor and too stupid narrative which is still going on today.

    I just think though that people are sick of it, Tom Devine, like or loath him, makes a good point. This so called union is coming to an end, if not next month then next year but t is coming to an end. But saying that, as I blogged, I sense a real panic and fear among no voters just now, I really suspect that they know the polls are crap and that the tide has turned. I really think YES is going to just win this.

    Bruce

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    1. I read your post Bruce and tweeted it, although as you know i can't comment there for techy reasons.

      I have no idea about Lamont. I've met and had a little do with some of these people and they were all reasonable nice, helpful and engaged in what they were doing... McLeish, McConnell, Curran, all seemed to be fair enough people.

      But I only ever saw their public faces. I'm imagining that Andrew McFadyen has seen a lot more than me.

      Lamont comes over as inept and incompetent, but she must have some talent.

      Murphy comes over as thick; Alexander as smug and Curran as shrill and dense.

      But I guess that there is more to them than that.

      I agree the union is finished. If around half the people in Scotland reckon its over, it will not last even if there is a no vote. There will be a lack of confidence in it, and when things get worse, adn the unionists go back on any "promises " they have made (as they will because England will never wear it), then the whole thing will go backside up.


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  3. Ask labour why there is no more money

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    1. We know, they spent it on wars that the US president made them fight so that they could look important and Tony BVl;air could make himself a multi millionaire aged playboy.

      I wonder if the Sun will back Labour ever again while Rupert still draws breath

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  4. I think Labour have been, quite content and complicit in, keeping the poor and disadvantaged; poor and disadvantaged. They have had 100years or so, to make a fair and just society, they have failed.The "Five Giant Evils" in society; Squalor, Ignorance, Want, Idleness, Disease. Which the Beverage Report identified in 1942, that led to the creation, of the welfare state including the NHS are still with us.
    Labour in it's present form, as far as I can see, is full of careerist politicians, who would rather the working classes suffered, indefinitely, so they can portray themselves as knights in shining armour; coming to the rescue. Only to do naught, but line their own pockets, while climbing the greasy pole of Westminster politics on their way to glorification in the house of old gits, all expenses paid; retirement home for lying bastards.
    JimnArlene

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    1. Thats not unfair either JimnA.

      There have always been amongst them, decent people who really were trying to do what they could.

      There still are.

      But, as you say, more and more of them have set out a path. Researcher, Councillor, MSP, MP, minister, Lord! And sod anyone who gets in their way.

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  5. A good article Tris. The most significant bit in the Scotsman article you reference was this quote because it makes an artificial distinction between Labour politicians in Holyrood and Westminster and implies that in an independent Scotland Labour could effectively start with a clean slate.

    A Yes vote would end the divisions in the Labour Party between two separate groups at Westminster and Holy­rood and bring its biggest hitters home. A-list politicians like Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander and Margaret Curran would have to stand for the Scottish Parliament if they wanted to stay in politics. Independence would not necessarily mean that Scottish Labour moved to the left, or reconnected with communities that feel they have been ign­ored, but it would enable it to offer a much more credible alternative government.

    There are no divisions in the Labour party about policy. Both the Holyrood and Westminster members in Scotland hate the idea of an independent Scotland and the only division is just how short or very short the leash that the Labour leadership keep on their Scottish Regional Manager should be.

    After independence a new Scottish Labour party including the "big-hitters" will have to convince the Scottish people that after years of hating the very existence of an independent Scotland and actively campaigning against it they're just the people to run it.

    I can't see a new Scottish Labour stuffed full of the current crop of British Labour politicians ever being seen as a "credible alternative government" for Scotland.

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    1. Thanks Doug. I thought it rambled and got nowhere, but...

      I've wondered a lot about what would happen to Labour, but it's always just speculation. I really don;t know any of the people. What I do know is that every time I ask someone who I know is a Labour supporter, they trot out "the party of the working man" garbage, which ceased to mean anything in the early 90s when the war criminal got his hands on power. When you pursue the matter you find that they actually don;t approve of most things that Labour support.

      So there is an "old Labour" base in Scotland.

      I think that there are probably people who are potential Labour candidates in that.

      I doubt anyone educated in politics would believe a changed "socialist Curran, Murphy or Alexander, and no one in the world, not even an earthworm, would believe that 7 homes Flipper was ever vaguely socialist in his outlook.

      But bit by bit I reckon that they will find a place.

      I agree I can;t see any of them as cabinet material. They don;t believe in Scotland. They would be serving in what to them would be a foreign government. But there are people like Canavan and McLeish who believe in their country and who might be prepared to serve for a while to train up other less experienced people.

      Most of the Labour politicians who have so far said YES are retired and have no greasy pole left to climb.

      Possibly there are more to come.

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  6. tris

    The real truth is most people do not trust the snp or Labour or in fact any of the above.

    ALEX Salmond has admitted that both sides in the independence referendum campaign have been guilty of stretching the truth to try to win the arguments.


    The snp is not that different from new Labour they make vague promises a soundbite here a soundbite there.free this free that. It can only get better after Independence.

    And at the very same time agree to accept bank of england/Westminster control
    over the Scottish economy ,,,,very new Labour dont you think???
    Obviously the nats will all sing out in unison its not true all distortion as they would
    say or do anything to win at the referendum.

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    1. Going by the last two Holyrood results, more people trust the SNP, than trust Labour.
      A currency union, in the short term is beneficial to Scotland and rUK. If there were none the rUK would, as has been voiced elsewhere, be in a poor position. Scotland, post yes would be in a far better position, with no debts and vast resources.
      JimnArlene

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    2. Umm jim so Tory policies' in the short term is beneficial to Scotland 'ther you go then

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    3. Well I agree that no one trusts politicians, niko.

      Too many of them are self serving, lying, thieving cheats for us to be happy with them in general terms. There are of course many who are not, but when it is the fashion to decry every unemployed person and a lazy skiver, and every sick person as cheat, and every immigrant as a criminal... politicians shouldn't be too surprised that, seeing as over 50% of the House of Commons diddled taxpayers out of vast sums, most of us think of them as lying thieving bastards.

      I didn't hear Salmond saying that he had exaggerated. In fact every time I hear him speak, he seems to say ... it won't all be perfect; we will make mistakes... but if he says that he exaggerated, then I'm sure he knows what he's talking about.

      But you're right politicians all use sound bites. Usually they are the most irritating things you ever came across. And all parties do them. Someone must have told them these things stick in the mind. Oh well. In the craw as far as I'm concerned.

      The BofE doesn't mean control; over the Scottish economy. We live in a world of interdependence. In the days before the Euro, the BofE changed its interest rates as soon as the Bundesbank changed theirs. Economic policies are interwoven and interdependent. Foreign policy in made in Washington DC. Brussels makes laws on green, safety and human rights issues.

      But that doesn't mean that Washington or Brussles tells us we can reduce VAT or put up income tax or pay more in pensions or less in sickness benefits.

      I've said it so many time now, but the Channel islands have far better conditions despite using the BofE. Their governments are far more generous.

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    4. It's not really Tory policies... or Labour policies... that are a stake. All countries have to keep within sensible borrowing limits; but an independent Scotland would be able to use the money it saved from not being part of the Uk, together with massive increases in oil revenue, to make life a little less intolerable for some of the least unfortunate in the country, without overrunning borrowing limits.

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    5. No Nico, not Tory policies. If we walk away using the pound, as no one can stop that, without offering to help the rUK. It would be damaging to the rUK. Which no sensible, rational person would want. Remember this is about Scotland governing herself. Not SNP, Labour or Tory.
      If we remain part of the UK, Tory policies are what we'll get. From the actual Tories and the red Tories of New Labour.
      JimnArlene

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  7. Like all the snp are wonderful caring kind inclusive and more wonderful people
    godlike in there caringness. Mind BILL WALKERmsp wife beater and now ex con

    ROSEANNA CUNNINGHAM msp......homophope


    GORDON WILSON former snp leader .....homophope

    JOHN MASON msp.......homophope


    Michael Russell msp and co-author of Grasping The Thistle
    said of Glasgow (before the commonwealth games )

    : "Pull over and stop the car (if you dare) and walk into the closes smelling of urine and rubbish, cluttered with dirt and debris It is not uncommon to have to step over a comatose body, with or without a needle by its side..


    Mike Russell (later SNP Cabinet Secretary for Education) and Dennis MacLeod wrote a book promising exactly that, with a drastic reduction in the role and size of the state and of public spending and taxes (MacLeod and Russell,
    2006). This was widely seen as an effort to out Thatcher Margaret Thatcher and
    seems to have riled the SNP leadership sufficiently for them to have had the text
    toned down between proof and publication.

    yep ! the snp so different to every other party

    None so blind as those that will not see.!!!!

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    1. Well Niko. Once again no one says that there aren't idiots in the SNP.

      I don;t know about Roseanna. I do know about Wilson and Mason and their opinions on gay marriage. These are driven by religious belief. The Bible says....

      Ok, we discussed this before at the time. There were also Labour and Tory politicians who were against this for the same reasons.

      I don't think religion should play a part in politics and I do think that if a person is going to vote on orders from their Bishop, or Minister, or Imam, they should make it clear before they are elected that their first loyalty is to their god, and then to the country.

      Can't really disagree with what Mike Russell said. I've been in these closes... not in Glasgow but in Dundee. I've worked in the Hilltown, and Whitfield and Ardler. That's the kind of lifestyle that abject poverty and utter hopelessness breeds.

      Again I can't be responsible for mike Russell's tax plans. it's probably sufficient to say that the SNP never adopted them...although out Thatching Tahtcher in 2006 seems to be to be some 30 years out of date. Wasn't Tony Blair the son of Thatcher and didn't Gordon turn into her biggest fan and parade her outside Downing Street on a regular bases.

      I'd be pleased to know more about Rosanna, if you can give me a reference. I'm surprised shes homophobic.

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  8. I trust none of the major Westminster parties and will never vote for any of them again. I am not alone.

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    1. No you are not.

      Neither will I, nor anyone else I know that I can think of offhand..

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    2. Add me to that list.

      The 'Better Together' campaign hate us. They hate anyone who might join us. Frankly, they hate having their own assumptions stuck right back up them.

      It is my opinion that 'hate' is the main driving force for 'Better Together' politics. They 'hate' you, for daring to put Scotland first. That is their 'winning' strategy, to 'hate' you.

      But, there are only a few who truly 'hate' the idea of independence, is there not?

      This campaign is getting 'interesting'. In the Chinese sense.

      "May you live in interesting times"

      It is truly, if you recall the more politically correct Westerns, the White hats -v- the Black hats.

      As we have the white hats, we will win.

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    3. We are living in the most interesting of times Douglas...

      There isn'ta more exciting time in the history of our country.

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  9. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/why-an-independent-scotland-could-become-the-richest-country-on-earth-9096120.html

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  10. Interesting article by Andy McFadyen in which he claims that the "big hitters"(?) would return to an independent Scotland to follow their careers in politics and presumably to form some kind of Scottish Labour party with ambitions to form the Scottish Government. I notice that you and several of my chums on here go along the lines of "could effectively start with a new slate" "give Labour a chance to be reborn" and "will be able to listen to their constituency". The problem with that is how, after standing shoulder to shoulder with the Tories against the interests of a significant number of Scots, are a Labour party going to gain credibility in an independent Scotland.

    Danny Alexander, in the debate in Inverness claimed that in an independent Scotland he would still oppose a currency union which must be a blow to Willie Rennie chances in an independent Scottish election.

    All the "big hitters" already mentioned have consistently and sometimes stridently opposed a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK. My question to them, therefore, and to those who think Labour can be reborn in Scotland is simply "What currency will they use in an independent Scotland?"

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    1. Of course I see your point, John. It's difficult to say over and over that you will allow this and not allow that, etc etc... and then suddenly change your mind.

      I respectfully suspect, however, that you may have forgotten two things:

      (i) that we are talking a politicians here,
      (ii) that it's Labour politicians in particular that we are talking about.

      If the answer is "yes", there will be practicalities to sort out. Some of the brighter ones will accept that "the people have spoken", and despite it not being in the best interests of Scotland in their opinion, "the voice of the people must be obeyed". Additionally they will end up agreeing with a currency union because it IS in the best interests of Scotland, and presumably there will be some quid pro quo that can be seen to have been wrenched from Scotland in order to get this. The Tories did it over devolution. It would be a disaster, but hey, there were jobs to be had in the Scottish parliament so, let's get stuck in.

      Labour is a way of life in some parts of Scotland. A huge number of people who vote Labour really don't know why they vote Labour. (Of course there are Tories like that too: "It's simply what one does").

      I've had clients on pretty much the very bottom rung of life's ladder tell me that Labour is the party of the working man (ie them, except they aren't working), and they STILL believe this, in face of all the things that Labour has done to people in their position over the last 20 years.

      They may or may not even be particularly aware of the volte face. Labour will be counting that they will not be, just as they haven't been as the labour Party turned steeply to the right and became a sort of watered down Conservative Party.

      Danny Alexander is pretty much a poodle of the Tories. I think he's been flattered to be received in such high company as Gideon Osborne and it's turned his head. But, in any case, he's a Liberal Democrat. They will say anything, indeed sign pledges in their blood, and then 5 minutes later reverse and go the other way. Under Clegg, at least, nothing that they say can ever been considered ever vaguely based on principle or even deep thought...come to that even shallow thought!

      Danny himself is unlikely to have a great deal to do with anything other than the start of the negotiations, because his chances of being returned to power seem slim, unless he accepts a seat in the house of the living and sleeping dead. And that is a possibility.

      So I still think that, rather than see their careers disappear they will brazen it out. The alternative is to make their main home in England and become aristocrats.

      I notice that Ruthie has said that she would back having a pound in an independent Scotland. She obviously intends to keep her job.

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  11. When you said there was new article in the Hootsmon, I was startled, in fact rocked.

    I wondered if he had been reanimated with jump leads but realised it was the fake inky fingered press one.

    He publishes from just the rear end on Edinburgh Airport, because he gets a trong freed signal there, somebody else is paying for.

    This is better than I can get, at the moment, as I have SFA of any internet connection, telephone and TV.

    Don't ever have a pannage in France during August, there are no electricians, plumbers, joiners and precious few doctors either.

    8 days now and counting.

    At least I can get a wifi signal at the café des sports but I am overdosing on caffeine to pay for it.

    Greetings to all, we are going to get a YES vote and the reaction of the Press, BBC and all their scare stories just tells us that they know it too and are shitting bricks.



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    1. Bless the Hootsman. It may be on it's last legs, but it still strives to get the "news" to the people. I've noticed a slight change recently i the output. less stridently Labour unionist, more balanced. It's almost like it was aware of the fact that it's backing the wrong horse in an increasingly tight race, and in a month's time may find itself with virtually no readers at all...

      Yes... I know what you mean about breakdowns... or indeed more or less anything, in France, in August. The whole place comes to a standstill. But remember in theory...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ5F9S62l3E

      Faut essayer de la bière au café des sports…

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  12. Really enjoyed this article Tris.

    The comments too made for a great read too. I have little to add other than saying i would never vote any Uk party now. I think Labour are finished. If a YES vote wins, they are out on their ears. The have lost Scotland .

    New parties will form after indi. It doesn't have to be like Westminster.

    The public are way up to date with politics and will be looking for a fresh vibrant approach. Many new people will stand and have backing from support online and the like.

    The SNP have done really well in govt since they came to power and many admit to giving them their vote as they are a proven party. Mr Salmond can step down and Nichola Sturgeon for the first iScottish prime minister . She has many admirers and is seen on the streets , very approachable and easy to talk too.

    I never voted SNP before but will give them my vote if we win Independence. They got us here and deep down could not trust any of the others , especially in a Team Scotland , negotiating with Westminster .

    Lamont, Curren, Baillie and Murphy will never be trusted again.

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    1. Thanks Richie.

      It's interesting that you think that a new set of parties will develop in Scotland.

      Strangely it hadn't occurred to me that if we move with time, and in a northerly direction, we might want to think about parties more like the Norwegian and Icelandic ones.

      It's true that the snp has run a competent government since it was elected 7 years ago. I'm also hugely in agreement that Nicola is a superb politician.

      I think thought that we need a credible alternative to the SNP, which is pretty Social Democratic in its outlook. It might want to change its name in some way. I would imagine the Tories will go for the model they could have had if Dave hadn't pushed Ruth at them. Labour will have to decide where they want to be.

      I know many people will never trust them again, and they will have to look for new talent.

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  13. http://www.scotreferendum.com/2014/08/public-discussion-in-arbroath/

    Cabinet are hosting a discussion in Arbroath tonight.

    Watch it live from 7 pm.

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  14. Ruthy baby's kickboxing party?

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    1. Heavens i hope not.

      Not sure I'm old enough for that sort of thing!

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  15. On the more general issue of No voters if there were a No win.
    During the Commonwealth Games there was a race where the favourite for the Gold was an Australian runner.
    He false started twice and was disqualified. All that training and expectation gone. The guy was absolutely distraught. The camera followed him, he was holding his head, wandering up and down, sitting down, slapping his head, all in the realisation in what he had done, and lost.
    I think there will be many, many No voters who will feel that way in the years after a No vote.
    In canvassing I speak to some who are careless and casual in the approach to the vote. It is kind of, "yeah well, you know, I can't decide or I'm voting no because they are keeping the monarchy, or even, I was a labour voter until Tony Blair, and it doesn't matter what do we get labour or Tory and they are as bad as each other, they destroyed etc, and I'm moving to England if the vote is Yes.
    That's right, all of that last bit was in one conversation.

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    1. Oh some of the logic is in the air.

      I've talked to people who have given one argument; I've demolished the argument.

      So they come up with another one. And when I demolish that one there's another one.

      One ex colleague decided she wasn't voting yes, because "that Alex Salmond has something up his sleeve"... as if David Cameron doesn't!

      I gave up completely on her and haven't bothered bothered to call her. I just can't trust myself not to be scathing. Such stupidity is beyond belief.

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