Friday 13 January 2012


I haven't yet had time to look at FMQs from yesterday, but I had to laugh at the clip of Ruth Davidson on the STV (Grampian) News. Every poll ever published (in the whole wide world in the history of mankind) agrees with me? What? It's a wonder then Ruth that you're not First Minister, or the Queen, or something. And of course, as James points out, clearly the poll of September last year, and umpteen others showing a lead for independence over dependence, were figments of our febrile imaginations.

Lamont was just as bad. "He has the majority, he has the mandate...." (well, thanks for admitting that Johann) why, she wondered, didn't he call the referendum now. 

Well, you see Johann, the clue to the answer is in the question. It works like this:-

He has the majority to decide whether or not, and when, to call the referendum. This is a majority given by us, we, the Scottish electorate. And although by Westminster standards it is a tiny majority, it is, in fact, the majority that should never have been: a majority that was never envisaged: a majority that the system was set up to avoid ever happening (because Blair  wanted 'parish councils' rather than strong government in 'the provinces'). 

And (and this is important), it's not a majority based on the voters being sick of the last lot, as so often happens, but instead a majority based on their being SATISFIED with the last lot, because as you may remember, the SNP was the last lot.

And as Johann says, the mandate is there; there's no escaping that. The referendum was in the manifesto. And, just in case someone who didn't know what the SNP was all about, and who didn't read the manifesto, was in some doubt, it was hammered home by none other than Tavish Scott in the Leaders' Debates when he pointed out that "a vote for the SNP is a vote for independence".
 And when pressed on the timing of that referendum, Johann, you may remember, Alex Salmond said, on national television, in front of the then leaders of the now opposition parties, a hand picked studio audience, and anyone who was interested enough to be watching, that if the SNP won the election, the referendum would be called in the second half of the parliament.

So, to answer Mrs Lamont question, he is calling a referendum, and he is calling it in the second half of the parliament because he has the majority, he has the mandate, and that’s when he promised the Scottish people he would do it.

And why, anyway, is Mrs Lamont in such an all-fired hurry now to have a referendum that only a few months ago her party, in an opposition coalition with the Tories and the Liberals, made clear would be defeated were proposals to “bring it on”  brought before parliament?

Unless, as part of Labour’s “Bring it on: Don’t Bring it on” referendum policy, we're in the 'Bring it on' cycle. 

Pics: Ruth Davidson, Conservative leader, and Johann Lamont, Labour leader, providing her own caption and advertising campaign.


  1. I don't think Ruth Davidson is very bright or politically sophisticated. She has been chosen to parrot the Party Line, the desires of one or two Tory Scottish Grandees, who are frightened they will lose the grouse moors, and Westminster

    Johann Lamont is a Party Apparatchik who was chosen to follow the diktat from London. I also think she is away out of depth and probably be better running some 3rd World charity.

    The LibDem guy, whatsisname, well I haven't a clue why he was chosen and nor does he.

  2. The three unionist parties are acting like the Grand Old Duke of York.Up, down, in, out.

    Much more worrying than the performance of the dependence parties is the actions of the BBC in interviews and discussions,each of the three dependence spokespersons get allotted the same time as the SNP. Ergo 3:1 in publicity time favours the anti SNP parties.

    BBC defenestration will be the order of the day come the revolution.

  3. Except of course that the SNP didn't win a majority. Or rather, they won a majority of seats but not a majority of votes.

    Incidentally, given the importance and literal interpretation that you say that majority gives the manifesto pledge, are you therefore opposed to a three question referendum given that that wasn't in the manifesto? ;)

  4. George

    By your self same logic none of the UK Pm's would have been legitimate as, I think none of them for quite few years had an overall majority of votes.

    The Holyrood system, de Hahn, was set up to ensue that no one party achieved an overall majority of seat and thet effectively the Labour and Lib Dems would rule ad infinitum.

    Except this didn't happen in 2011 and the SNP took the majority of seats. The system is much more complex that First past the post and people would and did vote for one party on one list and another party on another. I read somewhere, forgot where, that by a number of different studies the Scottish electorate is one of the most sophitocated in the World, seeking to maintain a balance in oocal, regional, national and supra national elections.

    The third option was proposed to the SNP by amongst others the Scottish

    Here is his letter he has just sent to David Cameron

  5. By Kenyon Wright, Chairman of the Scottish Constitutional Convention

    Dear Prime Minister

    The superficial nature of your proposals on the referendum simply proves that you have little understanding either of Scotland's constitutional tradition and history, or of the mood of the people of Scotland.

    There are two major reasons why most Scots will, I believe, firmly reject your ideas.

    The first is constitutional. In the 'Donald Dewar Room' in the Scottish Parliament there is an important document from 1989. It bears the signatures of the great majority of Scotland's MPs and of our local authorities, of representatives of civil society, the trades unions, the churches and much of the business community. Signed at the first meeting of the Scottish Constitutional Convention in March 1989, it is the fundamental principle on which the Scottish Parliament is founded. It is called 'A Claim of Right for Scotland' and states simply: 'We hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to determine the form of government best suited to their needs'.

    It is clear and unambiguous, and reflects a principle deep in our history, that the people, not the Crown in parliament, are sovereign. The nature, questions and timing of any referendum are matters for the Scottish people and their parliament.

    The day before the new Scottish Parliament met for the first time, I handed that document over to Donald Dewar and David Steel. I said then that one day that Claim of Right would come into its own if any Westminster government attempted to impose any constitutional development on Scotland. That day has come.

    Second, there are important democratic reasons to reject your proposals. Despite the fact that the electoral system in Scotland, which I had a hand in devising, was intended to be proportional and therefore to ensure that no party got an overall majority; to our surprise the SNP achieved that. This means quite simply that the present Scottish Government is more democratically representative of Scotland than yours is of the UK.

    As early as 2009, I proposed to the then SNP minority government that any referendum should include a third or middle option, which I defined as 'Secure Autonomy' rather than 'Devo Max', on the grounds that 'power devolved is power retained'. There are many views, but the point is that there is a growing debate in Scotland over all these issues, and the details of the referendum, whenever it comes, will certainly reflect that debate. It is not for you to
    pre-empt that process.

    The Constitutional Commission of which I am president, which is politically non-aligned, has published a draft constitution for Scotland, and is initiating a nation-wide discussion not just of the referendum, but on the very different kind of democracy, already partly embodied in the present Scottish Parliament, we aspire to be. We hope to ensure that the options in the referendum are clearly understood as involving something more than simply a shift of political power. The people will, I believe, understand the full implications for Scotland's democracy of each of the options, be they two or three.

    Yours sincerely

    Kenyon Wright

    Kenyon Wright is president of the Constitutional Commission
    This letter is reproduced courtesy of the Constitutional Commission

  6. So, the SNP have, as in their manifesto and various public declarations decided to have a consultative referendum on the Scottish public's opinion on indepenence.

    The SNP do usually keep and certainly try to keep their promises, unlike all the other unionist parties why use elections to create later unfulfilled aspirations.

    The Scottish people can break the Treaty of the Union, unilaterally and of that there isn't a scintilla of doubt from anywhere.

    What the Scottish people. the Scottish Government or the SNP is take further powers from Westminster, It is for Westminster to give up their reserved powers under the existing Treaty.

    Thus it is for the parties who cherish the Union to come forward and define whatever they wish to propose in terms of increased powers. So far, I have been deafened by the silence.

  7. @Lupus

    Technically the PMs have been legitimate, as they command a majority in the commons, but the government has not been for many, many years due to never winning a majority of the vote. The exception to this is the current government which represents just under 60% of the votes cast in 2010.

  8. George W. Potter

    Scottish Parliament general election, 2011

    SNP 44.4% + greens 4.4% + Margo ?% = 48.8+% Indys

    Lab 26.3% + Tory 12.4% + LDs 5.2% = 43.9% Unionists

    I was in favour of 16/17 year olds to vote but am having to question my view on that!

  9. Ruth Davidson & Johann Lamont represent parties that seem to change their position as often as their underwear, same goes for Willie Rennie.

    AS has stuck by what he said he'd do in their manifesto and things he said in the run up to the May election. Even although I wouldn't expect any politician of any party to keep all their election promises (being realistic, things do change) at least he's doing what he said he'd do with this.

    Also, we just know that if AS said "Aye alright then, we'll have it in 2013." The politicains currently baying for an earlier election would then switch to baying about AS lying about his plans.

    As for the majority the SNP have, in terms of the parliament and how it works, it is what it is and no amount of weak sophistry can change that; the mandate is there.

  10. By my reckoning Dean more people didn't want idAVE than did; 10.7 millions to 15.6 millions

  11. pa_BROON 74

    Changes underwear, are you sure about that and how so you dirty rascal?

  12. I certainly agree that Ruth is not politically sophisticated Wolfie. But then, who in their right mind elects a leader who is still finding her way to the canteen? It's not like there wasn't a decent choice and a far better option. How bright she is I'm not sure, but as I believe that Cameron will play her like a fiddle, I'm not sure that we will ever find out.

    Johann isn't up to the job either. She's a convener of a council at best. Her homely hand wave, as if to say "auch awa" to the first minister was cringeworthy.

    I didn't hear Willie's contribution. He's brighter than either of the others I would say, but now that they have become a rump in parliament, no one much will listen to him. And he spoils it (as they all do) by playing to a set of unsophisticated MSPs (in every case except the SNP, they send their best to Westminster), by being negative about everything.

  13. I’m wondering if it would not be a good idea for the Unionist to keep something back for nearer the referendum! Osborne is telling us that we can’t have the pound, I assume he will come up personally and collect them all up himself. While the Daily Mail trumpets that we wont be able to keep the Pandas as China made clear when they gave them to Nick Clegg that they were for the people of the UK to enjoy! Never mind that Alex has such a warm and close relationship with China and its leaders, while Nick Clegg?? and David Cameron don’t. Because they always feel the moral obligation to lecture the Chinese about human rights. Did they not tell Cameron to mind his own business in rather a rude fashion last time last time he brought the subject up?

    By the time the referendum comes around we will all have heard every argument they have for keeping our oil in their Union, and we will probably all be pretty sick of the same old carping and much so we will all vote “yes” just to have an end to it.

  14. As for the BBC, it is so patently biased that it is a disgrace. I've given up on them, except of course I have to give them £144 a year!

    I see no reason to have a public broadcasting organisation the size of the BBC. Chop!

  15. Good old Ruth, she clearly spends so much time shaving before FMQs she has never it seems managed to do her homework properly and so always looks like a bit of an idiot. I’m waiting for her to bed in......but so far no cigar!

    As for Lamont we she was the shrill high pitched banshee I was expecting in her first outing. It was necessary to go and rub my finger nails on a blackboard while playing a badly tuned violin with a hack-saw afterward in order to relieve the tinnitus!

    As for Rennie...he does that hand wringing Mr Micawber act so very well, just watch and enjoy and insert any old white noise soundtrack and you got him in a nutshell (along with his entire party as well).

  16. Well George, it did win more seats than anyone else, and got more votes than anyone else, and although it didn't make the magic 50%, as the figures on the Wiki site show, they total more votes than the three unionist parties together (and that's before you add the Greens and Margo. (There are mathematicians who say that, because some of the parties do not stand in constituencies, but only lists, that figure is wrong, but it's too complex for an arts man to understand.)

    Of course there were many parties and individuals who got votes that, even in the PR system that we use, remain unrepresented. Some of them certainly are independence minded, and certainly others are not.

    Short of trying to find and read their manifestos (which would be a Herculean task) I don't know who has the upper hand on their votes.

    I'm sure that you will agree that the voting system is fairer than Westminster where a VAST majority can be gained on a small difference in the votes.

    But I don't need to give you lessons on PR! :)

    I'm divided about whether or not there should be a third option. The opposition seems to want it, there is reason to believe the people want it, would prefer it to independence. OK, I don't, but fair dos. Alex has said that he will listen to the people and of course to parliament.

    I don't think you can say fairer than that. Maybe he's not an extremist! ;¬)

  17. Wolfie. Thanks for posting that great letter from a person who has to be politically unbiased.

    I wonder what Call me will make of that.

  18. Yes pa, they are all over the place, waiting for their masters to tell them what to say.

    I hear the latest is that the Pandas will have to go back to China, because they were a gift to the peoples of the UK.

    Not like we are going to ban the Irish the Welsh, the Cornish and the English from coming to the Edinburgh after independence.

    But heigh ho, I'm pretty sure that the Chinese intelligence services would have had an idea that the Scottish government was pre independence when they made the deal. They could have sent the pandas to Bristol!

  19. CH: Thanks for the figures and the link. Most useful.

  20. Oh sorry Munguin. I didn't realise you'd broken the Mail's story. Even for the Mail that is bad. I'd have guessed it was the work of one of Dirty Des's comics.

    Yes. I believe that the Chinese Premier and Alex Salmond get on very well.

    I didn't know they were nick Clegg's Pandas. I hope he's paying for their upkeep then. He's got more money than Scotland!!!

    Yes Cameron's relations were soured by his lecturing on human rights. I think he was advised to 离开;带走,拐逃

  21. Munguin

    "I’m waiting for her to bed in......but so far no cigar!"

    I should hope not what would the blue rinse brigade think.


    I saw some work on the numbers by some uni prof (not Curtice)for the May election, I think on Newsnet which reckoned the SNP votes cast, in a first past the post election would have resulted in the SNP gaining 92 out of the 129 seats.

    Just as well Dewar gerrymandered the Holyrood voting system, it disguises just useless the opposition, particularly Labour really were in May.

  22. Tris

    Another thing worth considering re votes cast for the SNP in May is that the SNP gained that share of the vote in what at that time, effectively a four party system. Tavish has just about managed to give Scotland a three party system. I think that Rennie may finish the job Tavish started.

    Comparing it with Westminster's three party system is not a proper comparison

  23. Re BBC bias on tonight repeated tomorrow about Pacific Quay.

  24. If that was a dig at her homosexuality Munguin, it wasn't in the least funny. Let's judge her on her politics, shall we?

    But they are a poor bunch. Just as well, it's six against one...

    I think Alex's up for that.

  25. Tris

    It is not PC and very cruel, but this is politics after all, but I loved this comment in The Hootsmon (I know sad git me) about the dream team.

    Annabel Goldie, Alistair Darling & Charles Kennedy

    Auntie Alki and Ally

    Go on amend your comment on Tory Hoose you know you want to.

  26. Wow Dubs, 92% is a pretty good vote.

    Still, I'd much rather have the system we have. I just wish teh unionist parties would stop sending their best to London.

    Why are Alistair Darling, wee Dougie and Spud not in Edinburgh...? Because the big jobs are in England travelling the world poking their noses into stuff they know nothing about.

    They're not interested in Scotland.

    Which is why we get the pile of crap that we do.

  27. Good point about the 3 or 4 party system. Yes, it's true that until recently the Liberals were a major party in Scotland.

    Whether it was Tavish or nick Clegg that reduced them to a rump, I'm not sure, but I suspect that their association with the hated London Tories had a lot to do with it.

  28. James Kelly over at Scotland goes Pop is as shrewd and sharp a blogger and blogging debater as I have seen.

    I recommend him

    HERE is hos latest blog and below is my comment on it.

    As a biologist I sometimes like to apply evolutionary principles to sociological phenomena.

    The position of the LibDems and Tories would make a good test so here goes.

    There was a series of TV advert some years ago which were designed to challenge people as to whether they had the inspiration and ability to meet youngsters inquisitiveness and questioning. Just the right sort for a teaching job then?

    Clearly targeted to the potential Biology teachers was this question.

    "What is the purpose of an Eariewig?"

    Of course the Darwinian answer is that there is no purpose to an Eariewig as there is no purpose to any creature roaming currently or have previously roamed this earth.

    The question was a trick question. To believe that any creature has a purpose would mean that it was purposely there and who would do that? Not Darwin anyway.

    Creatures evolve by various mechanisms and those which adapt better to changes in environment tend to be more successful.

    So the great lesson from Darwin is those who evolve and adapt have a better chance of surviving.

    Thus what is the bloody purpose of the LibDems? The Tories in Scotland are already at near extinction levels and luckily for us the Pandas are a breeding pair.

    The LibDems have chosen an evolutionary traject which will ultimately lead to their political sterility and subsequent extinction.

    I am not going to explore the metaphor of Labour in Scotland except to say they are a parasitic party which has now been found to be just so.

    The medicine is being applied.

  29. Scot Goes Pop is one of my favourite blogs, Wolfie.

    I love James's writing. I look down my blog list every morning hoping to see a new post from him, knowing that it will be at once informative, interesting, written in a fluent coherent style, and frequently peppered with examples of his dry, at times acerbic wit.

    Without yet having read his article,I've read your response, which I might say was also witty and wise!!