2015 UK General Election

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John McKenna
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by John McKenna » Tue May 12, 2015 3:27 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:I am perfectly happy with the discussion of politics on this forum, provided it stays in Not Chess, and doesn't venture out unless the political issue in question has some connection to chess.
Yes, Jack, what we don't want is a Blazing-Saddles brawl spilling out into other areas.

Alistair Campbell>As has been pointed out before, “Yes” voters were predominantly younger, poorer, city-dwelling and “Scottish”. At least some of these factors will tend to weaken over time.<

Excuse me for asking, Alistair, but would you be so kind as to explain...

While I well understand the ageing process just how do you envisage the other factors weakening?

Are the SNP going to redeploy their "city-dwelling" cadres to the Scottish countryside?
Are the young tartan-revolutionary guards then likely to become more skittish about being 'Scottish'?

Aren't you grasping at straws there, somewhat, in the hope that the Unions (of the Two Kingdoms and Europe) will prevail in the next 2-5 years? That's not an overly long time for change.

Alistair Campbell>Anyway, off-off-topic. Andy, what happened in the Keti v Jacob game?<

Practising for the big event that starts next week, no doubt.

http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php ... 21#p156021
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

David Robertson
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by David Robertson » Tue May 12, 2015 5:35 pm

What I'd like to know from Scottish colleagues, sympathetic to Labour or otherwise, is whether they believe there to be any foreseeable credible prospect of some Labour revival. I skim-scanned the details of a number of hitherto solid Labour seats, mainly in Glasgow/W Scotland, to see what was left of the Labour vote. It's still sizeable (28-32%), albeit much diminished, though far behind the SNP vote (50-56%). I imagine that Labour vote is the residual legacy of the old industrial economy, with a demographic character to match. But it's still a non-trivial bloc of support.

One benign effect of the SNP landslide is that some dreadful old Labour dinosaurs have been sent packing. I particularly enjoyed the dispatch of my namesake in Glasgow NW, a dismal old rust-bucket. Such events can only be a refreshing opportunity for a new kind of Labour culture to emerge, less boss-machine, less male, less fossilised. We managed a similar purge and transformation in post-Hatton Liverpool during the 1990s. The pleasing results are with us now. Of course, we weren't dealing with a nationalist insurgency.

But assuming the Labour Party is now capable of renewing itself, will it make any difference? The answer matters, of course. If Labour is bust beyond redemption in Scotland, then its efforts must turn elsewhere. Everything is in flux just now, not only for Labour.

Alistair Campbell
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by Alistair Campbell » Tue May 12, 2015 6:29 pm

John McKenna wrote:
Alistair Campbell wrote:As has been pointed out before, “Yes” voters were predominantly younger, poorer, city-dwelling and “Scottish”. At least some of these factors will tend to weaken over time.
Excuse me for asking, Alistair, but would you be so kind as to explain...

While I well understand the ageing process just how do you envisage the other factors weakening?

Are the SNP going to redeploy their "city-dwelling" cadres to the Scottish countryside?
Are the young tartan-revolutionary guards then likely to become more skittish about being 'Scottish'?

Aren't you grasping at straws there, somewhat, in the hope that the Unions (of the Two Kingdoms and Europe) will prevail in the next 2-5 years? That's not an overly long time for change.
I'm not sure I am grasping at straws; I think a lot of the independence argument was and is to do with economics. Those who had little to lose could take a punt. Those who were better off were more risk averse. (There are similarities with the Euro-argument as I alluded to above).

The question is to what extent the population is relatively stationary as a whole, rather than changing.

My argument is that as people mature, they (or many of them) will prosper and hence have more to lose from the wrong result. Also, as they prosper they may be more likely to move out of the cities, and may tend to broaden their horizons.

Historically there has been a move from the cities, and the inner-cities in particular, and although there are signs of a reverse in this trend, I don't know if this is just based on an increase in overall population.

I don't anticipate the SNP asking their members to relocate; however I note that former SNP vice-President (although he is no longer a member) Jim Fairlie recently suggested that immigration should be halted as immigrants tend to vote "No".

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Tue May 12, 2015 7:04 pm

David Robertson wrote:What I'd like to know from Scottish colleagues, sympathetic to Labour or otherwise, is whether they believe there to be any foreseeable credible prospect of some Labour revival. I skim-scanned the details of a number of hitherto solid Labour seats, mainly in Glasgow/W Scotland, to see what was left of the Labour vote. It's still sizeable (28-32%), albeit much diminished, though far behind the SNP vote (50-56%). I imagine that Labour vote is the residual legacy of the old industrial economy, with a demographic character to match. But it's still a non-trivial bloc of support.

One benign effect of the SNP landslide is that some dreadful old Labour dinosaurs have been sent packing. I particularly enjoyed the dispatch of my namesake in Glasgow NW, a dismal old rust-bucket. Such events can only be a refreshing opportunity for a new kind of Labour culture to emerge, less boss-machine, less male, less fossilised. We managed a similar purge and transformation in post-Hatton Liverpool during the 1990s. The pleasing results are with us now. Of course, we weren't dealing with a nationalist insurgency.

But assuming the Labour Party is now capable of renewing itself, will it make any difference? The answer matters, of course. If Labour is bust beyond redemption in Scotland, then its efforts must turn elsewhere. Everything is in flux just now, not only for Labour.
I expect Scottish Labour (and Scottish Tories/LibDems, come to that) to take the "Bavarian" route within a few years.

Once the SNP can no longer paint them as puppets of the hated Westminster, it should be a more level playing field......
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

Alistair Campbell
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by Alistair Campbell » Tue May 12, 2015 8:38 pm

David Robertson wrote:What I'd like to know from Scottish colleagues, sympathetic to Labour or otherwise, is whether they believe there to be any foreseeable credible prospect of some Labour revival.
I’m not a close follower of the Labour movement, so what I am about to say is pretty much guess-work, but may prompt discussion.

Have we witnessed a paradigm shift, or was the recent election result merely at the outer margins of probability, the result of various factors combining like the different reels on a fruit machine to produce 3 gold thistles, with a reversion to the mean likely?

I don’t think anyone knows the answer to your question, but change in Scotland has been happening for years, only to accelerate of late. Of course, the electoral system has magnified the change; increased volatility may lead to a big reaction in future.

I think the SNP has done 3 things (having squeezed into power in 2007, which itself is a probably a function of several factors such as slight boredom with the status quo, the fall-out from the Iraq war and a possibly a reversion to mean after minor parties won a lot of seats in 2003).

1 – it has governed relatively competently, and relatively conservatively (although the constraints of the Holyrood set-up encourage this).
2 – it has sought to demonize the Westminster establishment and played on distrust of particular bogey-men such as the Tories, Tony Blair, the House of Lords etc.
3 – it has targeted the core Labour vote in the West of Scotland with an alleged “anti-austerity” and anti-Trident agenda.

It has used its better and more modern campaigning ability to capitalise on the so-called increased political engagement and stoked a rise in discontent. With the Lib Dems a party of government and Labour being tagged with some of the blame for the financial crisis (and being lambasted with sharing a platform with the hated Tories during the indy ref), there were fewer places for the anti-establishment vote to go.

(As an aside, IMO the increase in political “engagement” is limited, and overstated. It has moved a couple of notches along the scale from:

• No thoughts, through
• Almost total disengagement – “they’re all the same” – i.e. seeing things as black only, to
• “Our side good, everyone else bad”. i.e. seeing things as black and white.

There are few shades of grey, few nuances, no colour.)

I think Scottish Labour has had 3 difficulties.

1 – the conflict between traditional socialists and the New Labour social democrats appears more pronounced, and unlike in England, there is a viable alternative for the electorate
2 – for years Scottish Labour has been able to stick a red rosette on a donkey and get it elected; now this no longer the case the party is bewildered
3 – there appears to be a dearth of talent and leadership material. (This may be a function of the erosion, due to Electoral Reform, of their local government base).

Is there a prospect of a revival? It is possible. Empires tend to fail. The pendulum swings back. The economic case for independence is weak in my view, and has been weakened further by the drop in oil price. The SNP has largely managed to avoid any blame for failings in Education and the NHS – that may not last for ever, especially as more powers are transferred to Holyrood. The 56 may prove to be relatively impotent. If people have switched allegiance once, they may switch allegiance back again. It's certainly interesting.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by MartinCarpenter » Tue May 12, 2015 9:13 pm

The PR in the Scottish elections should help Scottish Labour (and the other parties!) an awful lot. Means they'll still have plenty of people there so still alive as a coherent political force.

John McKenna
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by John McKenna » Tue May 12, 2015 10:22 pm

I recall being in the Southbank Centre a few years ago when Tony Benn was interviewed on stage about his life at the launch of one of his books. At the end he took questions from the audience. One question is still stuck in my mind to this day - an elderly woman asked him how he thought the left could stage a comeback after so many setbacks. His answer amounted to - all you can do is keep the faith and hope that others will come to their senses. He said that despite all that had happened he still retained his, which he had spoken and written about throughout the course of his life.

(I see that the new shadow Foreign Sec. is his son, Hilary Benn, so I doubt he shares his father's sentiments when it comes to the EU.)

Some have said that it is too early to tell if Labour can resurface in Scotland but that it is the Scottish Libdems who may not survive as any kind of force to be reckoned with. (As Martin points out, just above, the Holyrood elections may give a clue.)

Thanks to Alistair and Matt, above, for making clearer how things may change regarding support for the SNP. It could be, though, that things will come to a head within the next 2-3 years due to the putative(?) EU referendum. If so, will it be as clear to the English as it was to the Scots that they could face the threat of financial and economic ruin if they vote to leave the EU?

Personally, I am not so sure that the EU will be in a position to do to England what England threatened to do to the Scots. It would be far better for them to agree to the "reformed relationship" that Cameron and Osborne want to negotiate as soon as possible, but that might open the way for others in Europe to demand a similar deal. Who knows where that may lead...
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Brian Towers
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by Brian Towers » Wed May 13, 2015 7:55 am

Alistair Campbell wrote:Have we witnessed a paradigm shift, or was the recent election result merely at the outer margins of probability, the result of various factors combining like the different reels on a fruit machine to produce 3 gold thistles, with a reversion to the mean likely?
It was the second answer although there was really only one factor - the failure of the 3 main parties to deliver on their promise of more devolution in return for a "No" vote. If the Tories move far enough towards giving the Scots what they want then that factor will go away and mean reversion will occur.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Brian Towers
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by Brian Towers » Wed May 13, 2015 8:18 am

John McKenna wrote:If so, will it be as clear to the English as it was to the Scots that they could face the threat of financial and economic ruin if they vote to leave the EU?
I don't believe the Scots faced "financial and economic ruin" if they had left the union and nor do I think the UK is in the same position vis a vis the EU. My take, as a Sassenach, is that Scotland would face a very difficult 10 or 20 years if it left the union but would then start to pull ahead of where it would have been due to the increased impetus that independence would have given to their natural invention -
James Watt - steam engine,
Alexander Graham Bell - telephone,
John Logie Baird - TV,
Alexander Fleming - penicillin,
Rab C Nesbitt - fried Mars bar ;-)

The people who would suffer the most for least reward are the pensioners and they turned out in greater numbers than the young who would have been long term beneficiaries. I also think that in the non-zero sum game of economics the rest of the UK would have also been long term beneficiaries as a more successful Scotland would help enrich their closest trading partners.
John McKenna wrote:Personally, I am not so sure that the EU will be in a position to do to England what England threatened to do to the Scots. It would be far better for them to agree to the "reformed relationship" that Cameron and Osborne want to negotiate as soon as possible, but that might open the way for others in Europe to demand a similar deal. Who knows where that may lead...
The underlying important fact is that for currency union to work the EU needs much greater political union (hint: if Scotland gets devomax then independence is inevitable - it is just a matter of when). If this (greater political union) doesn't happen in time then the euro zone will collapse. Conversely that increased political union is very much against the interests of the non-euro countries like the UK, Sweden and Denmark. If Britain gets a better, looser deal then it would make perfect sense for that to also apply to Sweden and Denmark. It would make no sense whatsoever for it to also apply to Eurozone countries.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

John McKenna
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by John McKenna » Wed May 13, 2015 9:11 am

While I largely agree with what Brian wrote, above, we should all know the threat can be greater than its execution - the majority of voters in Scotland were simply not prepared to call the English bluff.

The currency question was what swung it in my estimation - Salmond was caught flat-footed on that one.

With more luck than judgement, the UK did not join the Euro-zone so, obviously, Brussels cannot use any such threat to focus the fears of 'Brexit' penalties hitting UK pockets.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

MartinCarpenter
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by MartinCarpenter » Wed May 13, 2015 9:56 am

Europe might be open to stuff but very definitely won't remotely like the idea of renegotiating treaties :) They are of course thoroughly traumatic to create in the first place.

John McKenna
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by John McKenna » Wed May 13, 2015 10:30 am

Brian Towers>If Britain gets a better, looser deal then it would make perfect sense for that to also apply to Sweden and Denmark. It would make no sense whatsoever for it to also apply to Eurozone countries.<

Yes, but the whole principle of the EU is "all for one, one for all" - if one, two or three musketeers are allowed to be special cases then a fourth, D'Artagnan, will try to join them and so on... until all the rest of the company are also special. That's the kind of sense that makes nonsense of allowing any more special cases than already exist.

As Dumas pointed out (Chapter 31 - English and French), from a continental European perspective, "the Englishmen were all men of rank... 'But after all, said Lord de Winter... we cannot fight [men] with such names [Athos, Porthos & Aramis] - they are the names of shepherds.'"

I am sure that our contemporary versions of the Duke of Buckingham and Lord de Winter - David Cameron and George Osborne - will have equal contempt for their inferior European opponents, Holland, Merkel & Juncker, in the ensuing fight.
MartinCarpenter wrote:Europe might be open to stuff but very definitely won't remotely like the idea of renegotiating treaties :) They are of course thoroughly traumatic to create in the first place.
Yes, Martin, and the last thing they want is a round of rolling referendums across the EU triggered by major treaty changes.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Alistair Campbell
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by Alistair Campbell » Wed May 13, 2015 3:01 pm

MartinCarpenter wrote:The PR in the Scottish elections should help Scottish Labour (and the other parties!) an awful lot. Means they'll still have plenty of people there so still alive as a coherent political force.
Yes - Labour made the mistake last time of excluding its FPTP candidates from the top-up list (presumably assuming that they would win constituencies). As a result there was no side-entrance for some of their more experienced parliamentarians and they were left with arguably their “C” team.
Brian Towers wrote: It was the second answer although there was really only one factor - the failure of the 3 main parties to deliver on their promise of more devolution in return for a "No" vote. If the Tories move far enough towards giving the Scots what they want then that factor will go away and mean reversion will occur.
I’m not convinced by this. I don’t think the 3 main parties failed – the promises of the Smith Commission reporting by St Andrew’s Day and draft legislation being published by Burns’ Night, an ambitious timetable, were met.

Since then there has been comparatively little discussion of what could be done with the new promised powers, or what additional powers were needed. In fact it is noticeable how conservative the Finance minister John Swinney has been with the powers he already has – a fiscally neutral change to Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (i.e. Stamp Duty), and allowing the existing tax-varying power to lapse.

There was a bit of chat about Full Fiscal Autonomy, but that loud beeping noise you may have heard was Nicola Sturgeon engaging reverse gear as soon as she understood that FFA would mean an additional shortfall of £7-8 bn a year in Scotland. This meant FFA was renamed FFR, and is now only sought some distance in the future (presumably after the Union had prospered some more).
Brian Towers wrote:I don't believe the Scots faced "financial and economic ruin" if they had left the union and nor do I think the UK is in the same position vis a vis the EU. My take, as a Sassenach, is that Scotland would face a very difficult 10 or 20 years if it left the union but would then start to pull ahead of where it would have been due to the increased impetus that independence would have given to their natural invention -
James Watt - steam engine,
Alexander Graham Bell - telephone,
John Logie Baird - TV,
Alexander Fleming - penicillin,
Rab C Nesbitt - fried Mars bar ;-).
I think you missed a few out. :wink: I’m not sure “hardship for 20 years, then things might get better” would convince me, but economic logic doesn’t seem be a persuasive factor for many.

David Robertson
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by David Robertson » Wed May 13, 2015 7:28 pm

I'm all blogged-out on these matters. I'll come back shortly of course. But for now, just a quick thanks to Alistair for taking the time and trouble to reply thoughtfully to my post, and to others.

Angus French
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Re: 2015 UK General Election

Post by Angus French » Sun May 17, 2015 10:24 pm

David Robertson wrote:But for a radically different take on austerity economics, try Niall Ferguson in today's FT. Caution: to be read only by those who can handle a variety of opinion
I can't see Niall Ferguson's piece as it's behind the FT paywall. However, Simon Wren-Lewis has written a response. Possibly the Furguson FT piece is similar to the one published here in the Huffington Post on the same day?

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