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.

Doctor Who s10 e9 – The Empress of Mars

Standalone Fun with nods to classic Who.

Mark Gatiss. A Renaissance Man of our times, one of the League of Gentleman, comedian, writer  for TV and otherwise, co-creator of BBC’s Sherlock, actor, Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock, Tycho Nestoris in Game of Thrones and huge Doctor Who fan, writer and contributor.

‘Sleep No More’ of the nine episodes that he has written for NuWho, was experimental, different and interesting using a ‘found footage’ format to tell a story in a different way. It also carried criticism from fans as it wasn’t easily accessible and thought confusing.

‘Empress of Mars’ is a delight in comparison. A romp, an episode with Victorians on Mars, led there by a servile Ice Warrior (or so it seems).

This episode played to the strengths of Capaldi and Mackie, we were drawn into the tale straightaway with no reference to the preceding mini-arc of the Monks. We have 1881, ‘God Save The Queen’ written on the Martian surface and an amusing opening in the NASA control room. 

British imperial redcoats getting to Mars finding it barren, but being used by their servant ice warrior to find his hive.

Our Queen of this story is the Ice Warrior Queen, who is woken and disturbed by a squaddie seeking loot. The most intriguing lines of the episode are when the Queen seeks Bill’s opinion as a woman.

Neville Catchlove was our Victorian antagonist. What a name. His greed and willingness to disregard his commander almost gave us Victorian Soldiers fighting the Ice Warriors, before The Queen, The Doctor and Bill diffuse the situation. Although that’s after Catchlove locks Bill and The Doctor up and that pesky sonic screwdriver still can’t deal with wood.

We also have questions of the superior tone used by the Victorians with Bill, a black woman and their treatment of the Ice Warrior that led them there as a servant.

The Doctor engages, tries to advise and tries to save the Soldiers from themselves and the revived Ice Queen and her Warriors. 

It’s not a case of The Doctor automatically being there for the humans, but he’s stuck with them after the TARDIS disappears with Nardole. Again the Twelfth Doctor won’t intervene for human stupidity, but rather for both species, which is consistent with his earlier grouchy appearances in Series Eight.

The references to classic who abound, Ice Warriors, also placed into NuWho by Gatiss on a Russian submarine. Monsters of the 60’s and 70’s most memorably with the Third Doctor on Peladon. Alpha Centuri, an alien Ambassador from well, Alpha Centuri, voiced by a 92 year old actress, Ysanne Churchman, who had played the character in the seventies. 

There’s a Queen Victoria portrait with Pauline Collins’ likeness as from Tooth and Claw in the Tenth Doctor’s adventures too. The Tardis previously went haywire around Ice Warriors in the Third Doctor’s first visit to Peladon in 1972’s Curse of Peladon. (Being a saddo and a whovian, I’ve seen that on DVD..)

It’s a standalone episode and it delivers. 8/10 from me, a return to form after the slight disappointment of Lie of the Land. 

My questions

The Tardis disappearing with Nardole and returning with Nardole and Missy. Nothing is linear, necessarily, in time and space.

Victorians on Mars in 1881. Yeah that’s a hell of a rocket, even with Ice Warrior help.

Missy? Did she save the day? Did she save Nardole? Did he seek her help with the Tardis malfunctioning? Why did the Tardis malfunction? What did Nardole and Missy do between leaving and returning to Mars?

And what of those Monks?

These may be questions resolved in the series finale episodes, I do feel the Monks will return and I have a suspicion that there’s another classic who nod in their reveal.

As for next week, Rona Munro is another writer who has written Who before. Although, it was ‘Survival’, the Seventh Doctor’s final adventure before the show was terminated by Michael Grade and the BBC’s corporate morons of the late 1980’s. Somewhat brilliantly though, we have our Doctor returning to Scotland, well Caledonia more correctly, and a tale of the missing IX legion..

I’ll look forward to ‘The Eaters of Light.’

Oh, and on reveals, we’re getting closer to the filming dates of the 2017 Christmas Special and possibly the last episode featuring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, there’s buzz that show insiders know who the next Who is.. we’ll see. Steven Moffat loves a misdirection if nothing else.

A date and a time (Aspergers)

It’s came in. I have a date and time for my PIP hearing. I’m the usual, anxious, worried, scared, at times terrified. 

I have looked and looked away from the screed of papers. 

I’m writing this on the train, my head has been full. 

I picked the one with ten minutes to go, so I could sit with my bag of food shopping, my rucksack. It’s a better evening than morning so I’m carrying my jacket

I feel warm and sweaty. It’s too hot for me. I’m carrying stuff. 

I’m out of sorts. 

I’ve been uncomfortable walking along Argyle Street from the shop I got food in, I hated how busy it was and all the people and all the eyes. 

I’ve hated the noise of buses on the streets and music coming from the shops. 

I tried avoiding a chugger with ‘sorry bud’ said loud and clearly. 

I’m not enjoying people getting on the train and acting in their demanding way for a seat, especially those walking through the train and coming from behind me and setting off the doors between carriages. 

I’m trying to look away from people I’m willing the train to move, bleeps to go on the outside doors. So I can be a bit less stressed for ten minutes.

The doors close, I feel the air pressure change. Two men are talking 10 metres away at the doors, I’m hearing every word.

 I’m feeling every movement as the train crosses the x’s of the points. 

A family burst through the doors behind me luggage and noise and a women lurches near me with her hair and her smell. I lean away.

The papers from the DWP imply I’m not that bad and things are okay as I’m capable of driving.

A mobile rings on the carriage it’s an insistent grating tone that distracts me, then another different one. 

The train lurches at points at Shields Junction. I’m sweating now. 

I have to move again in my seat as someone is coming right at me to work those doors. It’s like his arm is reaching at me. I’m trying not to react.

I’m not happy, I want this over.

 I have too much stuff with me, Those men keep talking and talking and talking.   

The door again, the same guy coming back into this carriage. The same things as I hear/feel/notice movement.

Hillington. Over soon. The fields now outside. Yellow, must be rapeseed. 

He’s standing again. Why? 

They’re talking. Almost Paisley!!

I’m off. 1757. Phew. I’m standing, breathing.

 I want the train away, the crowd getting off here away. 

I message my daughter. Put everything together and go. 

I walk from the station, people doors, moving around, getting out.

The street, cars zooming past. I feel the rush of air, if my feet are still, the vibration too. 

I’m tense. I want to cross. It’s three lanes, an old wide street made one way. 

I get across, keep moving, there’s a women taking stuff out the Tattoists to their bins, I’m going sideways a bit to avoid her when she comes back. 

I’m past her and away thinking how I think and what I do and what I’ve started writing.

I get to the other crossing point, traffic flowing but a buzz in the air, a helicopter, black one. Lights change I can cross. I stop and take a picture (for you).

I keep going, the buzz is still as loud, rotors. It’s stationary in one place in the air. I want it to go.

 I get near the park, the pavement is narrow and a girl is coming the other way towards me, I speed up, get to wider bit, go through the park.

Helicopter, Fountain, kids playing, people talking, birdsong, trees swaying and the noise of their leafs moving in the wind. Road cars, noise, a truck over a drain over. Clank. 

I’m out the park. Nearly home. The helicopter moves slowly. Still the noise and buzz and loudness.

The outside door, moving my jacket and feeling for keys. I keep reaching in same pocket, I sway, bags. 

Finally keys. 

In and up. Door open door closed. 

Bags down, sweaty shirt off over my head. Shows off. Feet. Ooh.

Then the letter for the tribunal and it’s date and time. They think there’s nothing wrong with me…

Doctor Who s10 e8: The Lie of the Land

Fake News/Alternate News via psychic Zombie Monks.

Bill narrates this episode starting in a distopian earth six months after the Monks take over. It’s a retold history where the Monks were a benevolent guide, but anyone realising the truth is caught by the thought police. Very 1984, very alien invasion gone wrong.

For me it lacked something. I’ve watched episode four times. I cannot fault Pearl Mackie, she sold me the story and convinced me she was at her last straw in shooting her professor. She’s Ace. No I’m mean she’s Ace like the seventh doctor’s companion, younger, brave at heart, true to herself. Much more than Rose. Not knowing like Clara, not fiery Amy either. I think that’s the upside.

Capaldi and Gomez. Doctor and Missy. Inside the vault. The other ‘last’ Time Lord. 

Lost but unbroken, proud, smart and unorthodox. Missy is a great creation and the interplay of words and accents and nuance again raises goosebumps. But she stayed in the vault after suggesting breaking the Monk’s psychic hold by killing the vow maker.

The resolution was poor. Bill as companion saves day after The Doctor fails. The love for her mother breaking the hold of the Monks.

My view

6/10. It wasn’t Extermis, it wasn’t ‘Pyramid’, the potential of a great resolution to the set up was there. 

I wasn’t happy with the ‘fake out’ regeneration. If The Doctor has regeneration energy to spare for tricks, then you think, the blindness, the blindness.. it’s an annoyance when you see it.

 Missy as a consultant Time Lord. Hmmm. 

The Monks leaving. The pyramid flying off. Maybe we’ll get more of a satisfying conclusion in the series finale. We are yet to know much beyond Zombie Monks that analyse time and alternate virtual realities. 

My last thought is that, perhaps there’s a longer edit or ‘director’s cut’ of this episode that might be more satisfying with ten or fifteen minutes of extra scenes.

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.

F**k’s sake (aspergers)

‘Mild Autism’ – said to me this week.

I’m able to do stuff. Doesn’t mean I want to do it, like doing it, am good at doing it, derive satisfaction from it, find it easy or have no sensory issues in doing it.

Abilist isn’t one of the areas I get into too often but I hate assumptions that I can. 

Doctor Who s10 e7 The Pyramid at the End of the World.

An episode that more or less sets up the next one, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a tale in there.

In terms of story, our alien monks bent on world domination from ‘Extremis’ make a pyramid in the middle of an area where Earth’s different armies face each other.

The Doctor solves the issue with some peace and love, whilst also advocating attacking the Pyramid to show strength.

In a parallel tale, scientists are in a bio-chemical lab with crops and chemicals. 

It turns out that’s the next point of weakness on earth for the monks to exploit as a hungover scientist got a decimal point wrong.

Inevitably, the Doctor has to intervene but his blindness means he can’t work a mechanical numeric lock.

We end with Bill begging the monks for their help and to give her consent as the Doctor’s representative to their take over of the world. 

She also asks for The Doctor’s sight restored to let him escape from the lab.

The concept is one of consent, the monks won’t accept the UN Secretary General’s ‘consent’, they won’t accept the three generals of China, Russia and the US surrendering as they want a genuine affirmation of ‘consent’ to take over the Earth. 

‘To save you, we must be asked’

The Doctor realises the conditions of the monk’s help, he realises their domination and realises it’s the end of freedom on earth.

It’s an allegory after Brexit and the election of Trump. 

Popularist politics and people giving consent by voting for feeling and ideas over facts and reality. 

Perhaps, the simplification of political discussion and debate with a herd of voters overreliant on what they read and see in the media.

‘Power must consent to our dominion.’ ‘We must be wanted, we must be loved.’

Sounds familiar, the alien monks do have a parallel in the world and times that we live in.

There’s fear and paranoia and mistrust with a critical situation that the Doctor can resolve through talking with the army commanders. 

He can’t fix all the world’s problems on the horizon and be everywhere though. The Monks can and will as they’ve modelled for every situation in their artificial realities shown in Extremis.

Through logic and help from Nardole, The Doctor finds the laboratory and narrows the search for the World’s next possible crisis.

We realise that The Doctor isn’t infallible, his blindness doesn’t help in the end where he comes up with a scheme to destroy the laboratory.

The monks intervene after Bill’s heartfelt plea for help. She has no other option but to ask.

Lines worth recalling.

Air, Water, Food, Beer‘ – Nardole’s essentials for life.

It’s your world.’ – The Doctor emphasises his alienness at the point the Generals wanted his council and they end up trying to speak to the monks to give their consent as a ‘smart move’.

Oh my god

No, I’m the Doctor


A conspiracy thriller, a tale of threats and power. Facing fear, standing up to those more powerful than you.

The Doctor runs out of luck, his blindness and Nardole being incapacitated by the chemicals in the lab means the lock’s failsafe numbered tumblers beat him.

Bill acts from love and concern for her friend and the Monk’s take over the world. Quite a cliffhanger.

The Doctor is safe from the Laboratory explosion but is told 

Enjoy your sight Doctor, now you’ll see OUR world.’

I can’t fault Capaldi, Mackie or Lucas, they all excelled and were convincing. 

I felt it was a lot of story to get into 45 minutes. No doubt the usual critics will say it was too complex, it was ambitious storytelling , a development upon The Doctor previously being ‘President of the World’ in times of alien threat and at its core an allegory on power and threat and domination by ‘consent’. 

We also had the context of the Doctor’s blindness, insofar as he was fine for much of the episode until he hit a lock the sonics couldn’t beat.

The story continues in ‘The Lie of the Land.’