An ice-cold take on GE17 in Scotland (Scottish Politics)

I’ve no enthusiasm for writing on the June 2017 General Election, so this is going to be ‘A Cold Take’, I want to be dispassionate and factual as far as I can.

Let’s start with the Map. It was 2015’s favourite image for the Yes community.

Not as fun in 2017. Tory gains in Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and much of what was Grampian Region together with the clumps of Stirling and Ochils and South Perthshire are obvious. 

There’s red for Labour in Fife, Lothians and Glasgow. Orange Lib Dem gain in Caithness and Sutherland. 

It’s not one the SNP will enjoy, the constituencies lost are large territories when seen in a map graphic. 

Another comment to make is the merged blue of the borderlands.


Next up, the change in vote share from 2015 to 2017. 

Obviously to lose seats The SNP are down and again obviously, the Tories are up. 

There’s a small gain by Labour and a small loss by the Lib Dems.

But, and this is the ‘no shit sherlock’ bit, 13% SNP loss and 13% Tory gain.

 A switcheroo? Possibly, but did 13% of SNP voters go directly Tory? 

Some, might want you to think that. I wouldn’t. 


Here’s Turnout. Generally the darker, the more it was.

 Look at central Scotland diagonally upwards from the crook of Galloway to the outcrop of Fife. All lighter colours.

I’ll admit to disliking these hexagons, but across much of Scotland the turnout was down, as in grey, and in some areas really badly as in black. 

It doesn’t match the actual geography well but it tells the story better than the physical map coloured up.


This baddy shows the seats that changed hands. It’s not dissimilar to the first map, but it’s clarity is in showing the wins/losses. 

The SNP did hang onto a lot of seats. Tory gains are big in area, Labour gains are threatening Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the Lib Dem ones seem rather random.

Key points from all those maps and graphs.

  1. The SNP lost 21 Seats
  2. The Tories gained 13.
  3. Labour gained 6.
  4. Lib Dems gained 3.
  5. Scottish Turnout 66.4% 
  6. UK turnout 68.7%
  7. SNP largest party 35/59 seats
  8. SNP took 38.9% of votes

So, that’s the inconvenient truths out the way, most important is that turnout was down across the country. 

One example is Glasgow North. Paul Sweeney won the seat with 242 votes on a 50.3% turnout. 

Contrast with Ian Murray holding his Edinburgh South seat on a 74.1% turnout. 

Some others..

East Lothian 70.6% Labour Gain.
Aberdeen North 59.2% SNP hold.

Aberdeen South 68.5% Tory Gain.

Aberdeenshire West 71.2% Tory Gain.

Coatbridge etc. 63.3% Labour Gain, Majority 1,586.

Airdrie and Shotts 59.2% SNP hold, Majority 195.

The script from me here is:-

  1. Motivated versus unmotivated voters in a constituency, see Aberdeen North and South and the shire part seat.
  2. Targeted gains by parties 
  3. Narrow SNP gains AND losses
  4. Labour’s defence of Murray in Edinburgh on a higher turnout and unexpected win in Glasgow on a near 50% turnout 
  5. Lanarkshire on a knife edge, a swing one way is a hold, another is a Labour Gain.

We can talk politics to the interested. 

Truth is a long campaign when added with the local council elections probably didn’t make people want to bother. An eight week long campaign all told.

We know the Tories were biggest gainers, but hey, who called it in first place?

Defending Seats is a harder task than gaining. People are motivated by change. Not so much by keeping in the guy you have.

Tactical Voting played a part. Labour and Lib Dem voters came out and voted Tory. They were as good as told to. No need for tactical Voting wheels.

The graphics used by the Tories worked. They weren’t always strictly the situation, but the public grasped that they could make their dent in an incumbent SNP seat.

I, called it wrong before Thursday night. I didn’t think there could be more than 10 losses for the SNP.  I thought the exit poll was a stinker, I was way wrong.

The obviously noisy seats were ones that Labour, Tories and Lib Dems were after. The ones where the activity was greatest and resources were thrown into.

Labour may have benefited from Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal which is ironic given Ian Murray refusing to serve in his Shadow Cabinet and the mainly Blairite leadership in Scotland opposing him. The ‘for the many’ slogan appeared in Scotland in a photo opportunity after the Election.

For me the ‘ failure’ from the SNP and loss of seats was for these reasons.

  1. Timing of election. The GE followed hard on the Council elections and the party had its eye on both elections.
  2. Opponent targeting. The Tories clearly have software and data and used it well. They went for bang for buck. It wasn’t entirely opportunist, but they had benefit of knowing when election would be and they used it.
  3. Corbyn effect. He attracted soft ‘yes’ voters. It changed some seats and dented majorities in others.
  4. ‘No second referendum’ – it played louder than a message on Brexit or the competence and ability of the SNP MP group
  5. The echo chamber of social media. Again, SNP supporters and Yessers hear each other very clearly but not the whole noise pattern. 
  6. Turnout. Grass roots canvassing got lots of sentiment on the doorsteps, but didn’t work to make voters come out. In some seats this was disastrous and particularly reflects in the turnouts in the central belt of Scotland. 
  7. Resource. Targeting seats to defend is one thing, but big hitters like Angus Robertson, Alex Salmond and John Nicholson were targeted by the SNPs opponents and tumbled. In contrast Alistair Carmichael and David Mundell held on against good candidates.

I’m not an SNP member. I’ve no reason to sugar coat it and hopefully I’ve been truthful and useful in my analysis.

The key seems to be find a clear message, stick with it. Analyse each seat, get turnout.

It’s tough when the national media do leader interviews based on competence in devolved matters.

It’s tough when Labour come from dead to having an appealing socialist message. (Stealing a few policies)

It’s tough when the Tories out-bastard you. 

They certainly did and the good people of the north east of Scotland may need reminded about Free Prescriptions, care for elderly, university tuition etc etc as clearly they’ve taken heed of a distaste for a second referendum but might not know why it’s needed.

Personality attack aren’t nice, but there’s a cult of nicknames around the First Minister as there was with her predecessor. It’s not nice, but being nice doesn’t get you what you want.

The Tories weren’t slaughtered on Brexit. Weren’t slaughtered on the effects of losing EU membership and weren’t slaughtered over Benefits and the uncaring society created since 2010.

Labour weren’t slaughtered on being a shambles for the last seven years. They weren’t slaughtered for being unionist. They weren’t slaughtered for meekly accepting brexit.

In a Westminster election, the SNP aren’t a party of government. There’s no record to defend, no case to answer. If people aren’t happy, it’s the Tory Government. If they’re unhappy on a devolved matter, well you’ve mitigated the Tory cuts.

I’ll admit my disappointment and my surprise at the results.

If there’s another election in October, Plenty can be gained, it’s there to take back, but get your voters out and motivated. Target. 

Drive at Labour and Tories on their failings and inconsistencies. Defend Scotref robustly. What other option is there if the bananas brexit referendum is to be applied?

Be clear, consistent, go beyond the TV and papers. Don’t trust Twitter as a medium. Use data. Use maps, use numbers.

Here endith my chill.

A cynical election gamble by a prime minister bereft of ideas. (Scottish Politics)

We now have a General Election on June 8th after a declaration made outside 10 Downing Street yesterday morning by Theresa May.

The next election under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 was scheduled to be in May 2020. 

There is a get around if a two-thirds majority in Westminster agree ‘That there shall be an early parliamentary election’.

Theresa May has looked at her majority, she has looked at the state of Labour and the Liberal Democrats in England and buoyed by favourable polling numbers and has gambled on a ‘snap’ election to firm up her position and try to gain a greater majority whilst also using the election to affirm her Hard Brexit stance following last summer’s referendum on exiting the EU.

Currently there are 330 Tory MP’s and the combined opposition consists of 229 Labour, 54 SNP, 9 Liberal Democrats, 5 Independents, 3 Plaid Cymru and 1 Green. 

17 MPs represent the various parties in Northern Ireland and there is also one vacant seat as well as the neutral speaker. 

The Tory actual majority is Sixteen (16) as Sinn Fein do not sit and the speaker and two deputies do not vote.

These are quite remarkable front pages from The Sun and Daily Mail in terms of context and language. 

It represents May’s decision as some sort of leadership and to remove toxic elements that would interfere with Brexit. 

Now, Labour’s response has been muddled, their leader Corbyn hasn’t been seen to directly oppose Brexit and many supposed that his tactic was to get to a vote once the terms for leaving the EU in 2019 were fixed and to gain from what has been seen as a chaotic handling of the EU issue both in the run up and aftermath of Article 50 being served. 

Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats see opportunity from taking the votes of those opposed to Brexit at expense of both the larger parties.

In Scotland, Brexit has been clearly opposed by the SNP and before the referendum all party leaders favoured remain, with the Scottish Tories then spinning their position behind Brexit as they oppose any further Independence Referendum. 

2015 was a high water mark for the SNP in terms of taking 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland and leaving only a single Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat otherwise. 

The 2015 vote reflected a view that ‘The Vow’ had not been meaningfully implemented and that the further devolution or near Home Rule was not given.

Since 2015, there have been scandals where two SNP MPs have resigned the whip, leaving an actual number of 54. 

In the 2016 Holyrood election with slightly different constituencies, the SNP took 59 seats, Tories 7, Liberal Democrats 4 and Labour 3. The additional member system accounts for the remaining opposition of 24 Tory and 21 Labour MSPs at Holyrood that remarkably includes those list MSPs that have repeatedly lost first by the post elections and candidates that failed spectacularly at constituency level but were on the regional lists as a precaution.

So we have a bid to ‘SMASH THE REMOANERS’ and ‘CRUSH THE SABOTEURS’ as the Daily Mail and Sun would have you believe.

The 2016 Brexit referendum had a 72.21% Turnout from the electorate of 46,500,001. 

99.92% of votes were valid with 51.89% (17,410,712) voting Leave and 48.11% (16,141,241) voting Remain. 

We have since heard of Brexit guilt and despite May’s attempts to say that the country should get behind Brexit, there is still a polarised view on the subject. 

Prices have risen at supermarkets, there are issues for those EU citizens who live and work in the UK and the issue has been divisive particularly as majorities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and London voted Remain. 

So, rather than risk rerunning the referendum we have a General Election, it will ensure there’s no second referendum on a Brexit as a Tory Win will be taken as a method of guaranteeing that there’s only a Westminster parliamentary vote on whatever terms are agreed by the end of March 2019.

It’s being not painted as being a Risky move by a Prime Minister with a limited majority. 

Some Tories do doubt the wisdom of Brexit and can see potential damage to businesses in their own constituencies and the City of London. 

The narrative is arch Tory and it is delivered through the media with the types of headlines above, not through persuasion of arguments and by facts and figures, as all of that would point to a more dubious view on the matter.

Democracy hasn’t been served by a decision based on a 2% margin. 

It wasn’t served by what was a fundamentalist Leave campaign which made promises such as the £350 million a week for the NHS as on the infamous Brexit Bus.

The Leave campaign used much in terms of sentiment and little in terms of real hard fact. 

There was no plan made in event of winning the referendum and the key players of Farage, Gove and Johnson are now noticeably quiet on ‘taking back control’ , they promised much and delivered little. 

Indeed, restoring the blue passports so favoured by the brexiteers is reported to cost £500,000,000 (Daily Express 2nd April 2017). 

So in terms of me, I’ll repeat my vote for the SNP in 2017 and I’d advocate that those in Scotland should be likewise. In Wales vote Plaid Cymru and if you’re in England just please don’t vote Tory. 

I’d say something about Northern Ireland but even the MLA elections and aftermath is overshadowed by another election and it’s a whole subject in its own right, although the uncertainty and worry has been caused by Brexit and the affect on an area sharing a land border with the EU is different to the brexiteers notion of Britain starting at those white cliffs.

To end, May isn’t the decisive leader she is made out to be by the London Press, she has taken an opportunity and fashioned a direction out of it. 

To hand hold with Donald Trump is poor judgement. 

To push division by not listening to Scotland and Northern Ireland’s views on Brexit is poor listening and understanding. 

To fail to realise the effects of Brexit and to float the idea of  ‘Barista Visas’ is plain sheer stupidity and if you are a leader, you take stock of the situation and do not push ahead with a policy likely to take the country backwards.

May has gambled on an election helping her maintain power and to cement her hold on parliament and Brexit. She needs a wake up call from the English public in June.

Scotref – first thoughts.

Ach I’ll be a grump and say late 2018/early 2019 isn’t radical enough for me and neither is asking for permission for a referendum.

Bring the MP’s up the road, convene the Scottish Grand Committee in Holyrood. Set them working on non-reserved matters.

Tell Theresa that we’re having a referendum this autumn. 

Engage with the EU now for accession terms. Our laws already pretty much comply.

I’m not saying UDI. I think I’m not really a gradualist. I’m probably being impatient and wrong.

It’s easy to be sick of brexit and the antics of Westminster the last nine months or so. 

It’s clear the Tories don’t wanna listen. They don’t have to.

And they will seriously consider blocking a request for a referendum.

Anyway. On the hoof. First thoughts.

Scottish Politics ‘Privilege’ calculator.

Well we had a doozy of a Labour accounting unit in Scotland conference recently with the London Mayor generating headlines for his conflation of Scottish Nationalism into a sort of Racism.

Yes, the R word and whilst Mr Khan had experience of the worst of British Society, he’s thrown into play the ‘I can say x as I have experience of x.’

Now I don’t much like being called Racist for just wanting a better and fairer Scotland by unshackling my country from the deadly brexit flavoured paws of the London establishment.

 I’m pretty sure Mr Khan is a privy counseller as a former government minister and well, there’s a bit of the establishment too.

Sadiq Khan Wikipedia entry
So, that’s one part of our recent headlines. 

The Guardian then chose to run an article by Clare Heuchan.

Guardian Heuchan article
Now, if you read the article, it’s basically a follow on from the bits of the Khan speech that were cut out.

Clare Heuchan’s tweet handle was included by the Guardian in their promotion of the article, she was rightly pulled up for the lack of mention of Scots of Irish catholic background and for her lack of knowledge on Scottish history at all really. 

In a country where tartan and bagpipes were banned after the 1715 and 1745 risings, does she think we occupy a plinth of privilege similar to London’s political chatterers?

So to Privilege. Clare is Black and Female. Sadiq is Asian.

If you are white and male and tweet your disagreement you’re using your entitlement and privilege as a white male. 

Now I learned the privilege stuff through my learning to be an autistic person. 

There are some aspies that have gender issues and argue exclusively through a prism that if you haven’t had the same issues they have then you can’t talk Autism. 

That’s a step removed from the #actuallyautistic hashtag used to inform some of the idiot neurotypicals that can speak about autism and in particular ‘Autism Speaks’.

So your privilege points are; colour, sex,sexuality, nationality, disability and hair colour (probably).

So as a disabled bald man (2 points at a push) I can say to Sadiq and Clare that I find their viewpoint repulsive and that poisoning the debate over indyref 2 as some sort of ethic Scottish racial purity is utterly bonkers. 

Now, can we get back to some sort of sensible debate over brexit and independence please? 

Fortunately Robert J Soymme is a much better writer than me and he fired a counter piece also in the Guardian

Guardian Somynne 
So, if nonsense spouted, call it. If the person spouting nonsense screams they’re now a ‘victim’ it’s the same old tactic used by British Unionists before and after the 2014 indyref. Same old same old.

What now? (Scotland and Brexit)

So, we’ve heard Theresa May’s explanation of what exactly brexit means. It’s a total Brexit, hard Brexit, clean Brexit. 

In the summer we were asked..

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?

Remain 48% Leave 52% across the UK.

So, leaving the European Union means what? 

An end to the ‘Single Market’ across Europe and the four freedoms of movement that go with it. Goods, Services, Capital and People.

The free movement of goods involves a Customs Union and a Free Trade Area across the EU states.

Services can be provided across EU states by establishing a company in one state.

In financial services, operating in one EU member state gives a ‘Passport’ to operating in other states.

Free movement of Capital means individuals and businesses can invest across the EU if they choose to.

For goods, services and capital common standards to harmonise each countries existing laws or technical standards are required.

Freedom of movement for people across the EU means an initial period of three months unconditional residency in another country and if they are then employed, self employed or are studying then they can stay in that country. 

If the person lives there without incident for 5 years then they are eligible for citizenship of the country they now live and work in. 

The freedom of movement isn’t unrestricted and is subject to details of the Free Movement Directive. You have to prove you’re self sufficient in the country that you move to.

Then to make it fair across the EU, there are Competition and Consumer laws to make the Single Market fair and to protect consumers.

So.. after all that explanation, is that what ‘the majority’ of people in the UK voted for?

Probably the biggest issue was freedom of movement of people.

Politicians have talked of access to the single market without reference to all the four freedoms or the freedom of movement.

Politicians have talked of access to the customs union alone or the free trade area alone. 

That’s been repeatedly blocked by EU politicians and leaders of EU states. 

It has led Theresa May to make her statement that the UK will be outside the EU. 

The EU has relationships with non members such as Switzerland and the EFTA states including Norway and Iceland.

But, what relationship or agreement will the UK have with the EU? May made statements on funding and laws and a great repeal act.

Now not every EU piece of legislation needs repealing. Why remove laws on toys being safe or cars operating safely or for foods to be made safely?

It’s a lot of things that regulate quietly and day after day work for us. 

Potentially a huge treaty is required to continue trading to the Customs Union and Single Market. 

A great deal of negotiation lies after Article 50 is served.

Scotland voted to remain in the EU as did Northern Ireland.

The detailed options provided by the Scottish Government have largely been ignored by May and her Government.

Northern Ireland’s parliament has been brought down following a financial scandal, but the importance of the current Soft Border with the Irish Republic can’t be ignored. 

A removal from a Customs and Trade union has more difficulties with a land border and whilst the UK and Ireland currently have a common travel area. Other arrangements will be necessary.

For me, it’s clear from Mays statement and her Prime Minister’s Questions afterward that there’s no further prospect that Scotland’s viewpoint will be listened to, or that any amount of questions in that parliament or speeches will make a difference.

If Article 50 is served in April and two years formal notice to quit runs from there with the SNP MP’s effectively sidelined at Westminster whilst the UK transitions toward the full brexit, then that takes us very close to the next Westminster election due under the fixed 5 year terms.

If an independence referendum isn’t called within that period, then much momentum is lost.

I wonder if the feeling and sentiment from losing the EU will be capitalised upon. It seems crazy not to.

Deprevation 

See this. 

This is my nearest data point. I’m one of the 761. 

It’s the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprevation. I’m fortunate. I work, yes I have a lifelong condition, but I work.

Now, many around me are disabled, elderly or just poor.

I’m not frightened to walk the streets, I’m not scared of where I am.

What frightens me is Westminster, Brexit, Tory policies on disability, poverty and children.  

I believe my MP, MSP, and even my local council are trying to do the right things for Paisley and Renfrewshire.

Every boom, it just reaches us before fading again, there’s no long term sustained prosperity where I live and there’s not been for a long time. Despite the beautiful views to the hills and the Victorian architecture. 

I can sell you a story here. There’s a tale of woe and betrayal and generation after generation of voting for one party in every election. Stuff waxes and waines and we get no further along.
There are glimpses of hope followed by glimpses of despair.

For once, it needs fixing and sorting and hope restored, dignity regained. 

Vanilla Nationalism 

There’s a feud in the twitter nationalists. 

Big gun, here, there and a self promoted rapper/commentator on the end of it.

Yeah, different day, same shit. Do I care?

Beyond mocking the egotistical tendenancies of some individuals, pretty much no. 

I think there’s a breadth and depth to things beyond saying that this one is right or this one is wrong. I have my own opinions on crowdfunding, but I’d be careful if I ran something through that means not to put the boot into someone else by doing it.

Which takes me to my point. I’m pretty much a Vanilla Nationalist.

I’ve no sprinkles or sauces, no fancy flavours, packaging or crunchier cone. 

I suspect most of the grass roots people who believe in Scotland and want independence are similar. We have our lives and our work, Kids and responsibilities. That sort of stuff. 

We don’t really have the time or energy to self promote ourselves, we’ll get behind the ‘good guys’ and support them and have a dig at the ‘bad guys’. 

I write to get thoughts out my head. Others do for money or have the ability to be ‘a commentator’ and that’s all fine, there’s an opportunity after Brexit to press on the loss of the EU. 

There’s been hard work by our First Minister and other politicians to make connections, to push the narrative.

Now, I understand that some want to be seen as the narrative or to pop up and appear radical or say we need a republic or we need a green Scotland, or a Scotland where land ownership is fair, or a Scotland with big fuckng signs in Scots.

I happen to think that’s all pretty sauces and toppings. I want white ice cream. No taints, added flavours, crunchy cones.

So, for the time being, I’d like some necks wound in, Egos deflated and the direction clear. One thing. A push to get out the UK and be independent. 

Yes it’s a daily fucking grind. 

Yes, it’s taking the agenda in the news and saying, hang on, what is this?

 It’s the gradual conversion of opinions. 

It’s looking at our Council elections next year. 

It’s looking at the European media and getting a grip with opinion makers and formers there. 

It’s taking Brexit and saying what a mess it will make of our country.

So. Can we have our vanilla cones and leave the rest out of it?