Common Weal – Nationalising Scotland’s Railways

I sometimes start reading something and then it jars.

‘Ellie Harrison – “Bring Back British Rail.”‘

Hmm.. that’s the ‘Glasgow Effect’ women who got that grant. Hmm..

Then this..

Without naming the High Speed Trains they are criticised on their age.

A sweeping statement made over their replacement too.

The issue with this is that it’s a direct rehash of the trashing of the High Speed Trains made in the Sunday Mail/Daily Record.

A trashing that is unfounded as the HSTs will offer a real difference in performance and passenger comfort over the current DMUs on the routes north to Aberdeen and Inverness from the Central belt.

No mention of the trains already having been life enhanced with newer greener engines compared with their original or that the sets, engines and carriages are being fully refurbished and upgraded before they enter service.

Of course, the authors won’t have knowledge of the diesel multiple units that have been tried as replacements for the HST or, the fact that they don’t measure up.

The upgrade from a HST tends to be electrification and given current ‘rolling’ programme and assuming progress continues, there may well be such toward Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen over the next two Network Rail Control Periods.

I could go on at length at the ‘competition’ that HSTs have see from other diesel multiple units and there have been batches of voyagers and super voyagers (classes 220 to 222), Coradias and Adelantes (classes 175 and 180) as well as diesel Desiros (class 185) and the various turbostar units.

None of these have displaced the HST status as a high speed diesel train.

Great Western’s replacement Intercity Express Trains have seen issues in introduction leading to an apology from Manufacturer Hitachi.

These are bi-mode units as electrification hasn’t progressed as far or fast as intended.

Bi-mode or perhaps even clean hydrogen power might be the future. The present is that these trains are being rolled out.

It is arguable that over Scottish tracks and with what manufacturers can currently produce there isn’t a better option in the market to improve the long distance city to city routes in Scotland without full electrification.

In other terms Common Weal made points that were easy to agree with on the abstraction of income from the franchise, levels of subsidy and international comparisons as to how Railways in Scotland could be run, but making easy hits on the HST isn’t necessarily fair and i do appreciate the point on the leasing cost of the units and the likely abstraction over the period of the lease of the trains as compared to public ownership.

Anyway. One day the politicking will be more informed..


Glasgow Airport Access Project

Herald Article

Interesting piece has surfaced on the Glasgow Airport Access Project.

The thought being that the airport rail link will ‘do more harm than good’ with knock on effects to timing of trains described as full from Ayrshire and empty from the air port and that there’s no capacity at Glasgow Central and that there’s knock on harm to things like electrification to East Kilbride.

Here’s some quotes

“The latest scheme to build a multi-million-pound link to Glasgow Airport has hit the buffers after experts warned it would do more economic harm than good.

Local and national government officials last year threw their weight behind a £144m tram-train connection from Central Station to Abbotsinch.

Our sister title The Herald reports that the scheme was a cut-price alternative to the Glasgow Airport Rail Link or GARL axed by the Scottish Government nearly a decade ago amid grave concerns over its value for money.

However, now consultants hired to review the business case for the new link have queried both the proposed costs – and benefits – of the new scheme.

Experts from Jacobs stress the latest design of the link – which would see vehicles run along heavy rail to Paisley and then a new light spur to the airport – would clog up rail networks south of the city.

In a report prepared for the Scottish Government quango Transport Scotland, they suggest trains full of hundreds of commuters from Ayrshire and Inverclyde be would slowed by two and a half minutes to make away for trams carrying far fewer airport passengers.

That modest sounding delay, they added, was would cost the economy £4m a year alone.

Cuttingly, Jacobs experts note that the economic disadvantages of a slower, less reliable service from key commuter areas had not been examined by the council officials who came up with the current business case.

They concluded: “Such an increase may also result in economic dis-benefits to the Ayrshire and Inverclyde region. This issue has not been considered by the Project Team.”

The railway between Glasgow and Paisley was upgraded from two tracks to three – partly to provide for extra capacity for the old GARL scheme.

But a rise in popularity for train travel means all that additional capacity has been used up.

The tram train scheme – dubbed the Glasgow Airport Access Project or GAAP – would also put huge pressure on capacity at Central Station, said Jacobs.”

I think there’s a danger here in seeing a newspaper report without the source material and through the prism of a newspaper journalist.

I’d certainly want to see the whole frame of reference and the whole report.

Worth saying that both Transport Scotland and Network Rail are late to the party as neither were initially involved in the GAAP project and that issues identified by the city deal grouping and certainly readable in their reports was the previous lack of cooperation between the regional team and national organisations.

It has been notable that GAAP wasn’t included in TS or NR documents for Network Rail’s up coming Control Period for 2019 to 2024 CP6 and that an Airport Link wasn’t expressly an intervention in the Scottish Transport Projects Review previously undertaken by TS.

Obviously, both Transport Scotland and Network Rail would have been aware of the proposal and there may already have been shadow reports and thinking without official cooperation with the City Deal.

Certainly as a red-amber-green indicator in their regular reports, the City Deal teams noted the issue of cooperation with both TS and NR.

I’ve never seen anything official from either TS or NR mentioning the project as a factor in their thinking.

As political background, The City Deal for Glasgow came about from the UK Government and until the 2017 council elections, it’s leadership was Labour from the previous rule of administrations and the UK Government obviously is Tory.

The Airport Access Project was the ‘flagship’ infrastructure project for the City Deal and its cancellation would be a major change.

The council administrations have changed in many of the ‘Glasgow City Region’ authorities and after that change, the Transport Minister pledged better cooperation on the scheme .

In terms of some of the criticism in the article, the speed and type of vehicle necessary were known from outset as tram-train, vehicles used in the Rotherham/Sheffield scheme have 67mph top speeds. The maximum line speed between Paisley Gilmour Street and Glasgow Central is 75mph anyway, rail vehicles could be specified to run at whatever speed the purchaser wants.

In terms of speed, the vehicles wouldn’t clog up the rail network south of the river.

The next criticism is that platforms at Glasgow Central would get clogged up.

Since the Paisley Corridor Resignalling Project and introduction of class 380 electric multiple units, the upper platforms 11 to 15 have been used for all Ayrshire and Inverclyde line departures with the new platforms 12 and 13 adding capacity.

Operationally, Scotrail haven’t used two 4 car class 380 trains together and currently only use the longest combination of seven car (4 plus 3 car units) in the morning and evening peaks.

A four car unit is used most of day for services to Ayr with 3 car units to Largs, Ardrossan and Inverclyde.

The class 380 units were 23 metre units and it was realised after introduction that a single four car unit provided much the same capacity as a six car 20 metre long pair of class 334 units.

I think capacity at Glasgow Central is a known issue to both TS and NR and both have previously mentioned such in official reports for future investment or intervention

Another point is the flighting of services, a 1800 Ayr limited stop (bypassing Paisley) precedes an 1804 Ayr all stops (bypassing stations between Glasgow and Paisley) and an 1806 Gourock stopping at Cardonald and Hillington on the way.

This shows that operationally, the most can be made of signalling and platform resources in creating services and that any Airport link wouldn’t necessarily interfere with Ayrshire services.

The journalist’s attempt to show small tram trains delaying Ayrshire thundering expresses is poorly made when looked at in reality and both, TS and NR, were well aware of the Airport Access scheme, it’s proposed vehicles, frequency and the interdependencies with current service provision.

Many already known factors have been flagged up there and the question to be asked is how much of this article states the patently obvious?

“Small tram train would take up as many platform slots as long commuter trains, they said. Projects jeopardised by GAAP would include plans to electrify services to and from East Kilbride.”

“Jacobs estimates that many passengers – such as those going to Queen street station – would still be faster on the existing bus service than on GAAP. And, like successive experts before them, they stress that a simple A to B journey from Central Station to Abbotsinch would not take many people off roads. Most passengers, after all, are not going from the city centre to the airport. The GAAP link, moreover, would not get anyone to the airport in time for many early flights”

“The new link was to have been funded by the City Deal, a roughly £1bn pot for investment from the UK and Scottish Governments.”

“The City Region cabinet – the panel of council leaders hoping to spend that cash – now look set to go back to the drawing board on the rail link.”

“In terms of the remaining quotes, again known factors, only street Running by the tram trains in Glasgow City Centre could serve Glasgow Queen Street. The points on the existing airport bus link and that passengers don’t always need to go to Glasgow city centre to get to airport have already been addressed over the life of the GAAP Project.”

My questions are why was the Jacobs report leaked to the newspaper and for what purpose?

Are TS looking to get the scheme ditched after their initial lack of any cooperation and how political is the thinking?

Are the SNP seriously going to ditch a second scheme to link Paisley and Glasgow Airport to Glasgow City Centre?

Is this merely troublemaking for sake of it?

A lot of the known issues and criticism of the scheme have been out there for years. The campaign groups like Railfuture have links to alternative fully heavy rail proposals such as the often quoted but never shown online Rail Qwest schemes for son of GARL. There is a commentariat that dislike the proposal as ‘it’s not big trains’ and it’s not ‘Glasgow Crossrail’

So, let’s get the GAAP scheme done and if there’s a better bigger proposal out there, then do it next.

I’ve blogged before on the potential of a tunnel from Finnieston to Govan and the potential to reroute Argyle Line Services along the South Bank of The Clyde picking up Govan, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, the Braehead Development, the Renfrew Riverside regeneration area and towards Glasgow Airport.

Yes, that could play a huge benefit in Public Transport terms, but it would be a billion pound intervention and there are schemes in pipelines and that have been scoped and costed already.

Can we have the debate?

Can we see SPT’s modern tram scheme for Glasgow?

Can we see the ClydeMetro proposals in detail?

Can we see the SPTR proposals for capacity at Glasgow Central?

Let’s have an open frank debate on the future schemes necessary.

TfL can do it on their websites, are Scots less capable of reading than Londoners?

Links below show my precious thinking on Glasgow Central capacity and the STPR reports.

Subverting Democracy, a tale of elections, the media and a Tory leader that’s went too far. (Scottish Politics)

In one of my last ‘politics’ blogs, I had a few days of stupidly high numbers and this particular paragraph below, ended up being visible snipped away from the rest of my writing (which to be fair was dull and statistical in the main). I sort of shrugged at seeing it come back to me on my twitter timeline.

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.

I was stunned by that, but my ‘orphan paragraph’ had a real kernel of truth I guess.

On the back of the Election Results, Gerry Hassan produced a piece for that was incisive and spared no punches in terms of looking into the SNP performance at GE 17. I agreed with many of the points that he made and it developed much better points and conclusions than I did.

The SNP have only been in office for ten years. The Labour Party dominated Scottish politics for fifty years. It hasn’t taken long for the sheen to go off the SNP. How it responds will tell whether this becomes a major crisis and retreat, or one which it can manage and bounce back from.

Underlying all of the above is the missing ingredient in the SNP’s politics and independence offer. There is no coherent national project about Scotland’s future. The party has invited us to just trust them and believe everything will be alright the other side of independence. It was never good enough. This is transparent now.

An independence referendum looks extremely unlikely for the next few years. That gives the SNP and Scottish politics a breathing space to develop a different course. It should be one which is based on the principle of ‘Build it and they will come’. Mark out the territory, policies and detail of a self-governing and independent Scotland and start out in its direction of travel. But that requires a different SNP and leadership which has until now shown no interest in a politics of the long-term or of developing a truly ambitious strategy. is the piece and I think it’s a difficult read for anyone supporting or advocating independence for Scotland. There’s much to chew on and much to think about.

The article, though, produced a quite brilliant response in the comments section from Alan Bisset, himself a noted columnist and author.

5. There is a grievous democratic outrage being perpetrated before our eyes which no-one in the media (nor, for that matter, an exhausted SNP) is challenging. 

The mandate for indyref 2 is now cast-iron, having been voted for by the Scottish electorate in 2016, passed by a majority in Holyrood, and now triple-locked by the fact of the SNP winning a majority of Scottish seats.

 If we are being told that is not enough to secure indyref 2 then we are being told that the Scots have no democratic means of bringing about self-determination. 

On what possible basis is Ruth Davidson being allowed to get away with a statement like ‘indyref2 is dead’ when the Unionist parties COMBINED could not reach the SNP’s total of seats and a bill has *already been passed by the Scottish parliament*. Simply because the SNP secured 35/59 seats in a UK election instead of 56/59? Is no-one else alarmed by the grave repercussions here for Scottish democracy?

Now, our ever-reliable Scottish Mainstream Media (by that I mean Anti-SNP) produced a few bits and pieces like this after the General Election results:-

The Scotsman:- ‘She told the BBC: “But there was one big issue in this campaign and it was Nicola Sturgeon trying to run through a second independence referendum in March and the country’s reaction to that,” she said. “I think we have seen the country’s reaction in the number of SNP seat’s falling. Indyref 2 is dead.” Ms Davidson added: “Now it’s time to get back to what matters to the people of Scotland – that’s sorting out our schools, growing our economy and looking at our public services.” 

Here’s how that piece looks

Now, some might say that The Scotsman isn’t as rabid as either the Scottish Daily Mail or the Scottish Daily Express are, but I’m still not much of a fan of it apart from it’s transport correspondent’s work.

Getting back to the point, Ruth Davidson had herself a decent election and with an increase in Tories from 1 to 13 has even been described as ‘winning the election‘ by the BBC Scotland politics correspondent. (It’s a staggeringly inaccurate and obtuse statement in my opinion though)

But with interviews, media attention in both UK and Scottish media, it then looks like this.

The story of a Tory revival is, of course, noteworthy and due attention. 

But.. Indyref2 is dead ?? 

Okay it was 45-55 in Indyref in 2014. 

2015 saw 56/59 seats go SNP at Westminster.

2016 saw the SNP take 59 constituencies at Holyrood

The Brexit Referendum was 62% Remain in EU

2017 General Election 35 seats out of 59.

I’ve been over the factors for that in ‘An Ice Cold Take’, the purpose of reminder is that it’s relevant to Nicola Sturgeon’s Triple Lock on holding a second referendum. 

We have the Holyrood 16 result , 62% Remain in the Brexit vote in Scotland and 35/59 seats at Westminster, as well as a conclusive vote for a second referendum in the Scottish Parliament.

Now, Ruth Davidson may not like it, the mainstream media may not like it, but that’s enough democratic input to have a Referendum on Scottish Independence once Brexit is a known quantity. (Irrespective of Theresa May’s survival)

What Davidson is trying to do is play down Holyrood. 

If [the Tory Party] sometimes seems English to some Scots that is because the Union is inevitably dominated by England by reason of its greater population. The Scots, being an historic nation with a proud past, will inevitably resent some expressions of this fact from time to time. As a nation, they have an undoubted right to national self-determination; thus far they have exercised that right by joining and remaining in the Union. Should they determine on independence no English party or politician would stand in their way, however much we might regret their departure. What the Scots (not indeed the English) cannot do, however, is to insist upon their own terms for remaining in the Union, regardless of the views of the others. Baroness Thatcher – The Downing Street Years. Via Arc of Prosperity 

Immediately above is what I call the Thatcher Doctorine, I wonder if subverting the role of Holyrood and the elected first minister is something that even she would balk at.

Elected MSP’s had a vote and the result is a mandate for a second referendum. No ifs or buts. That is our democratic system through our devolved parliament.

It’s not about winning headlines, it’s not about photo shoots at Stirling Castle with ‘your’ MPs, it’s not about visiting Downing Street for Cabinet, it’s not about being a privy counsellor, it’s not about preaching on rights to Theresa May and the DUP as they create an unholy coalition.

Davidson has even been touted as controlling those thirteen MPs, those saying that have clearly forgotten the legendary ability of the Tories Whips office at Westminster.

So there we are. Democracy subverted. By a Tory of all things.

(It makes sense when you know ‘Ruth Davidson Tank‘ is a Google top hit when you search her name)

Project Vanilla. (Scottish Politics)

I’m at a point where I’m not keen to be wound up in the next political argument, which is shaping to be about a soft Brexit.

I didn’t vote for Brexit. I sure as hell didn’t vote for Tories. I didn’t vote for Tories doing deals with one side in Northern Ireland and I didn’t vote for any bullshit like Austerity, Benefit Sanctions or Motability being taken off disabled people.

So. This. A series of simple messages.

Plain speaking. No graphics, no colours or fancy stuff with layouts or logos. I’m pissed off enough to think about throwing these on Twitter but I’ll mull it over. Just one point per image might work better in big letters.

Anyway. Simplicity would be lovely. Other stuff occupies my mind too.


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 different election viewpoint (Scottish Politics) #GE17

I stumbled a bit today looking inside my twitter timeline.

I saw this. It had be quietly ironically retweeted, so I looked on the timeline of that ‘person’.

Yes, a stream advocating tactical voting in Scotland against the SNP.

‘There’s something bigger going on in the GE in Scotland.’ 

Obviously there’s a tactical voting wheel. (As lampooned in the 2015 General Election.)

But with more detail, there’s even a seat by seat chart.

Now, this vastly differs from the Tactical Voting advocated by Gina Miller and those who speak about a ‘progressive alliance’. 

The chart works on the basis of a 13% swing.

I’ll say that again a Thirteen Percent Swing.

Non Squirrels..

I’ve thrown in these images as Squirrels as a distraction.

Swing, Baby, Swing..


Yes and to add to the fun it’s based on this year’s low turnout at the Council elections. (The small. Small print on the chart)

Now, that was an election on a proportional representation basis, not first past the post.

In a first past the post election, an incumbent only falls on small swings. One percent, two percent, three percent? 

It was reckoned Michael Portillo was 3% ahead just prior to his loss in 1997, it was a huge 17% swing over the course of five years from the previous election.

The UK General Election.

I don’t want to guess too much on any swing against the SNP. I think there’s multiple factors at play. I’d guess at following.

1. Anti-Tory sentiment.

2. The rise of Corbyn.

3. Brexit guilt.

It’s a UK election on UK factors. The recent events of terror in Manchester and London complicate matters too. 

On the first, there’s a weariness in terms of Theresa May, her campaign’s slide. Poor media performances and a general issue in terms of competence and ability.

Jeremy Corbyn has campaigned well, he’s been recognised by the public and his interview appearances generally have helped.

Brexit has been recognised as a factor and played on greatly by the Liberal Democrats. It’s a factor in people’s thoughts as there’s no real plan and a creep in economic factors like inflation and the decreased value of the pound.

But Scotland.. 

In 2015 we got 56 SNP, 1 Tory, 1 LD, 1 Labour.

Labour’s issue is that the SNP ‘took’ ‘their’ Scottish Seats. What was once a large group. 

It’s a very helpful number when you’re fighting an election on overall terms.

The loss or reduction to single digits even if there are any gains in Scotland makes winning a majority tougher and puts the emphasis on England and Wales.

There’s also been an internal bun fight with Ian Murray previously refusing to serve as Corbyn’s shadow Scottish Secretary and a divide in views between the London party and the Scottish Party.

For the Tories, there may be opportunities and there may be loss. It’s went quiet around David Mundell, possibly he faces a contest of his own to retain his seat. 

Ironically, his party may gain ground or take other seats. Talk of Thirteen or Seventeen Tory seats is likely just to be talk. 

There’s opportunities in the Borders, Edinburgh and North East though and it may or may not happen but will be where the SNP have concentrated activity.

The Liberal Democrats have an issue in a politician that, shall we say, fell out with his constituents. Again, the possibility exists that the party might gain whilst the incumbent MP loses. Again, Edinburgh, The Borders and North-East are most fertile possibilities.

The polls 

Most polling is UK wide and there’s extrapolated data for Scotland with degrees of reliability.

It’s thought the SNP may retain the majority of the 56 seats. It’s likely to be 50 plus, nothing I’ve seen says all 59. 

The dynamic of campaigning might see Murray and Mundell survive with some attrition in SNP numbers, possibly a few. Possibly not.

We’ll see.

Tactical Voting.

In the cold light of day, there’s little in common between the Scottish Tories, Lib-Dems and Labour.

It may well be that certain candidates are ‘paper’ as there’s little hope of defeating the SNP across large parts of the country. 

I don’t think the chart or tactical voting wheel are seriously looked at. I don’t think the parties have co-ordinated between themselves. 

There may be tacit truces in places where one party has a serious chance against the SNP in a constituency or in those three constituencies that are being ‘defended’.

We are some distance from a ‘Union Block’, the noise made on Twitter and Facebook is just that. 

Individuals tweeting behind aliases and groups tweeting their viewpoints. As you’ll see it’s bitter.

I’m not going to hide my distaste, but it’s comment and free speech. Not my thing to get into.

So.. the clock ticks down to Thursday. Hopefully we have good news in terms of Manchester and London investigations and we also have a trouble free Election Day.

Here’s the News. (Scottish Politics)

Okay. Here’s a tweet:-

Murdo Fraser MSP (Mid-Scotland and Fife.)

Here’s the tweet it references:-

The Scottish Mail on Sunday is sister publication to the Scottish Daily Mail.

Here’s the article:-

The article leads on a statistic quoted by Ruth Davidson MSP on functional illiteracy in Scotland and runs onto criticism of Alec Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon as First Ministers. 

It references the General Election and presumably is one of the leading political articles in the newspaper.

Here’s another tweet.

A tweet from ‘The Ferret’ highlighting their article in today’s ‘Sunday Herald’ that verifies the statement made by Ruth Davidson.

Here’s the conclusion of their article:-

So, do we have politicians tweeting articles by journalists based on claims made by politicians that aren’t exactly right or that are an ‘interpretation’ themselves. 

The study quoted was apparently reissued with a more up to date version a few days before Ms Davidson spoke at Holyrood.

Is it healthy in a modern democracy where we need one sector of the media to verify the other?