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, https://chicgibson.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/1243/ 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 http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/ 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.

http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2017/06/13/build-it-and-they-will-come/ 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.”

http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/scottish-tory-leader-ruth-davidson-indyref2-is-dead-1-4470791 

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)

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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.

Fin.. 

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.

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?

But how does Vote till you Boak work?

I’ve been asked, so..

Imagine there was a ward with 12,000 electors and 10 candidates standing that will elect 4 council seats.

There’s obviously things like turnout  to consider, so say 60% go out and vote.

That’s 7,200 votes and say that all of them use their 1-10 voting options by voting until they boak.

Now, there’s a bar or a Quota to exceed to get elected. This explainer is from Moray Council’s website and I commend reading it.

STV vote explained

But to the Quota, Bar or Winning Lines:-


Got it? and in my example it’s 1,441 as the Quota.

1,441?

Yup, it’s a formula to get the Quota and that’s the number of valid votes cast divided by the number of seats plus one, then with one added.

So there’s 7,200 votes divided by 4 seats plus 1 and then add 1

7,200 divided by 5 then add 1 

1,440 add 1

1,441.

The higher the number of voters, the higher the Quota will beand there could be fun and games in wards with high turnouts and only 3 seats.

Equally, a low turnout and Quota in a four seat ward could be interesting too.

So to the darkness of what could happen…

It could look like this..

Scenario One.


And it could be a straight enough fight between the two SNP candidates and two Labour. 
The SNP get through in the first round of calculations with both candidates exceeding the Quota and Labour then get their candidates through on the second round by having enough next preference votes. 

That situation reflects both parties fielding two candidates in a ward and recommending their 1 and 2 in different areas of the ward.

Clear enough?

The actual method employed in the count would remove the candidate with least votes and reallocate their next preferences until someone meets the Quota.

I’m oversimplifying things by showing all the rounds of voting and all the votes that each candidate gets through each round, but the process would work out pretty much the same.

The counting process would go through the preferences of the lowest independent, then the next lowest, then the SSP, then the Liberal Democrat and so on and so on. 

The process is electronic and tabulates if you went SNP1, then Green or SNP2 then SSP and all the various permutations of the first and second preferences that are made.

With me this far?

Good, then let’s make it a bit more muddled as obviously SNP message, government and MPs MSPs are visible and people want change in the councils etc.

Scenario Two.


This time, there’s slightly more SNP votes and their candidates get through with a bigger lead. 

Once the two SNP candidates get elected, the votes for them in the subsequent rounds don’t matter. 

Two Councillors are elected at this point.

This is why in some areas SNP and Labour are saying on their electoral materials if you live in Areas A, B and C vote for Indy as 1 and Pendence as 2, and if you live in areas D, E and F vote for Pendence as 1 and Indy as 2. 

The idea being that if there’s 3000 votes for the SNP, they aren’t piled onto one candidates and both candidates votes are balanced out in terms of first and second preferences.

Going back to our example and The Greens sneak a second round place by just beating the Quota over the first two rounds of preferences.

Again, their votes won’t carry beyond that round. We have three elected councillors at this point.

The Quota calculations keep looking at preferences and in this case, the first and second preferences are enough to get The Greens elected by the Second round after starting at the bottom and working out which votes transfer as each lowest placed candidate is knocked out or wont meet the Quota number.

In the third round, more candidates beat the bar of 1,441, but it’s the Liberal Democrats whose vote over the three rounds was greatest. 

Now, their vote wasn’t higher than anyone else in the first two rounds but they secured enough votes over the three rounds to be elected.

That means all four seats are filled. 

Other candidates also met the Quota in this round but didn’t get as great a number of votes as the Liberal Democrat.

It’s not simple, but it’s fairer as the votes in all three rounds are taken into account.

The preferences are added up until a winner is found from the list and it may be that getting a greater number of votes in later rounds is a fairer reflection once the candidates elected by the first three rounds are totalled.

Scenario Three.


This example is similar to Scenario Two, but the Greens need the third preference votes and it’s a run off between a number of candidates at that point as to who is elected and where the transfers of votes do matter.

I’ve been unrealistic in assuming that the 7,200 votes carry across on each round as some voters will simply express a 1 or express a 1 and 2 as they’ve been instructed on the leaflets they’ve received. 

Not all voters will want to rank the list and there will be a drop off in numbers voting in each round. 

Perhaps, this is a danger for some candidates if the first and second preferences have near level numbers and where others pick up greater transfers of third preferences.

Scenario Four.


In this scenario, I’ve deliberately dropped the number of votes in each voting round. I’ve also made SNP1 and SNP 2  have an easier time too.

But, As I said, there will be a movement in numbers of electors in each voting round.

There’s an importance and logic in voting through the candidates until the end. 

With Ten rounds of voting preferences, there’s likely to be less votes to distribute through each round of preference as voters progressively drop out of the process.

Although the Green and LD candidates still get elected by the third round, the importance of vote transfers remains valid and there can be situations where electors voting just 1 or just 1 and 2 on their ballots drop out and won’t influence the third or fourth elected councillors in their wards.

That can leave a noticeable gap in numbers to those voting in round three and that can ease the way for candidates likely to be a third preference, no matter the combination of the first two votes made.

Therefore, matching your votes to the number of councillors elected in the ward is important.

Voting for 4 candidates if there is four seats or 3 candidates if there is three seats is the theory.

It also leads to question of parties only standing two candidates in a four seat ward. 

A third candidate might be a risk and spread votes, but if on a long list of ten or perhaps more standing, it might be a valid way to ensure that the voters are motivated to vote beyond your 1 and 2.

The opportunity for some of the parties is in gaining third and fourth preferences. That is the focus for the Greens, SSP and Liberal Democrats. 

No party can or will say who to vote for after the 1 and 2 votes, but Tories have been noticeable in saying to vote for union supporting candidates and there has at least been some reference made by writers on the pro-independence side for voting down through the full list.

Conclusion 

I think there’s merit in voting until you boke. 

The mid part of all these spreadsheets at rounds 3 to 5 would be difficult to guess, my assumptions are that the parties likely to get 1 and 2 preferences, the SNP and Labour will not get same amount of third or fourth preferences if they are standing two candidates in a field of ten. 

There may be some danger if younger voters take a vote for green first preference and then go with either SNP or Labour. That brings a different dynamic.

Equally, there may be tactical voting, if there is an encouraged block ‘Unionist’ vote at play, but I think some traditional Labour voters might see voting Tory as going too far and vice versa.

Also a factor in the mix will be that there is some pick up of the second and third preferences by the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

I think there will be a number of examples in wards across Scotland  of multiple parties reaching the Quota by the third and fourth preference stages of counting. 

Although, how straightforward some seats might be for the SNP is open to question and in some wards or areas there could be interesting results if tactical voting or a block ‘Unionist’ or block ‘Nationalist’ voting is at play.

The system and need for at least one vote on the ballot paper may see a drop off by some voters who just wish to treat as first past the post. 

Obviously, with the bar or Quota calculation in play, a high turnout might help in certain situations as it increases the Quota squeezing the pips through the rounds of voting preferences.

I cannot see widespread tactical voting affecting every seat, although I think there’s likely to be reasonable numbers thinking about voting through the list.

This may give interesting statistics in some wards as some voters will be taking seriously the chance to rank certain parties last. This makes a statement.

We know this is council election, but election materials from some parties are making it about having a view on a second independence referendum. 

Clearly the thinking is not just on electing councillors, but in terms of sticking it to the other guy and I think there could be cawing over ‘look how many electors rejected them’. 

Interesting times and an interesting use of the voting system to make positive AND negative statements.

Dissolve. 

14:48 16th March 2016.

I look and I wonder at things during the day, I can’t follow twitter news all day obviously, but I saw the headlines, clicked the little ‘x’ button and continued on with my day.

I get to later on and wonder what’s been happening. We’re in a strange time. We know reality in our day to day lives. 

The narrative that politicians place and particularly those in the UK Government, just doesn’t resonate with truth and respect. 

A tale about leaving the EU is one thing, but a tale about the UK getting the best deal for Scotland is another tale entirely. 

I almost typed ‘whopper’ there.

It’s a stretch to see, Mrs May might sincerely believe that she’s following    the Brexit vote and taking a line of unity and strength to give a strong negotiating position in future to achieve a post Brexit deal with the EU. I see that. It’s her position.

Now, this one. It’s a stretch too, the Edinburgh agreement followed the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, a firm and clear majority of MSPs within an electoral system designed not to give such a majority. 

Alec Salmond as First Minister had a clear and unequivocal right to have a referendum on independence.

We know the outcome and the story and the aftermath. The outcome in the Smith Commission wasn’t fair. 

The vote at 55/45 wasn’t decisive, it was open and similar to brexit guilt, there was indyref guilt, many voting from ignorance, many thinking it wouldn’t do any harm.

The morning after though, didn’t see concession toward ‘Home Rule’ as some in Scotland seemed to have thought. The margin was thought enough to be decisive. 

Tories pushed the issue of it being ‘once in a generation’, the aftermath was simply and literally EVEL. 

English Votes for English Laws, an assertion that Westminster still called the shots and that influence and voting by non English MP’s over England only issues as the Labour Party had regularly until then done wasn’t to be tolerated.

2014 became 2015, the ‘indyref guilt’ fed through in the elections for Westminster. 

An unprecedented SNP number of MP’s across the country 56/59. A wipe out for Labour.

But, England and Wales went Tory. David Cameron no longer needed a coalition, he no longer had to be moderated by Clegg and his liberals, he had a majority and he decided to tackle head on the thorny issue of Brexit.

What Cameron didn’t realise was that he was opening the bottle, releasing the genie. 

I’ve visited England a fair bit in recent years, going to theme parks, visiting London, seeing relatives in Oxfordshire, travelling through to go to France.

I’ve visited England since childhood for one reason or another, but in the past few years it’s felt different. 

Yes, it has familiar road signs and shops sell the same stuff with the same currency, but there was more people and busier towns and cities and insane traffic jams. 

The economic recovery after the bank crash happened down there, it thrived. Factories, Works, Offices, Business Parks Dualled Roads, Motorways.

London was nothing like I recalled as a teenager, it was cleaner, full of wonders and busy, teeming.

Across the way, people in shops, theme parks and restaurants served me, some English, some not, some white, some not. Accents with European, African and Asian lilts and wonder of wonders the occasional Scot.

The diversity of people amazed me and the odd time my accent caused issues. Thankfully, never that often.

But, reality bites and the economic wonder in the south of England has to be seen and it’s different and strange compared to the West of Scotland that I know from everyday life.

It’s different to the Scotland most British-Unionist Scots know too. 

You see a world class transport system in London that is modern and efficient but creaks with numbers. We have nothing like it in comparison in Scotland.

Shopping districts and centres in London that are far ahead of anything we have. 

Economic confidence and a sheer power that generates tradesmen, businesses and opportunities.

But, back to the script. Brexit worked through disaffection, as I said many service jobs in retail and hospitality had different people from different places, sometimes the brightest and best, sometimes someone just willing to take every hour they can get as a chambermaid or a bartender.

It’s visible and different place to Scotland being relatively more homogeneous and relatively less busy and relatively different.

We can throw a pile of reasons at Brexit. That Bus. The NHS promise, personality politics of Boris and ‘ol Nigel. 

It worked, Cameron’s once in a generation gamble on putting Tory splits over Europe to bed failed. 

The Eurosceptics rose and in a rare moment of Tory instability, we even saw the likes of Andrea Leadsom throe their Top Hats into the ring after a truly awesome turn of revenge made on Johnson and Gove for their backstabbing of Cameron. 

After all Tories have gotta Tory.

Now, as part of Better Together in 2014, statements were made.

Ah, but ‘Better Together’ was a cross-party group working together to keep Scotland in the Union. 

It wasn’t any single party. It wasn’t any single policy. It was at arms length to Labour, it was at arms length to the Tories. 

It was plausible deniability.

It was a creation of that moment. It’s promises won’t be upheld (after all, no-one ever bothered to deletethat twitter account.) in exactly the way that the infamous Vow won’t be upheld. 

The words of Gordon Brown’s ‘Home Rule’ tour won’t be honoured either.


An infamous front page.

Brown’s realisation that The Smith Commission didn’t deliver.

So, we are where we are. 

The Vow wasn’t delivered, some Scots thought voting No was a path to a slower, surer safer version of Home Rule.

Brexit, in contrast was delivered with gleeful Speed 

Ms Sturgeon painted as irrelevant as were the first ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland. Devolved territories weren’t about to be consulted as equals.

62% of Scots wanted to remain in the EU. Leaders of ‘Scottish Labour’ and ‘Scottish Conservatives’ campaigned for Remain.

However, after the dust cleared, after their parties settled their leadership issues, both Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson followed the line of their UK parties. 

They painted the SNP as using Brexit solely as an excuse for independence.

There’s no clear plan for Brexit, nothing in place. 

As a follower of David Allen Green and his Law and Policy tweets and his reasoned and cleverly written articles, I’ve seen nothing that convinces me that The Department for Exiting The European Union has the resource, leadership or wit to make a competent job of doing so.

Gina Miller was vilified by the English press to the extent that even her skin tone was made darker on photographs on front pages.

The UK Supreme Court was seen as an impediment to Brexit. The case brought by Ms Miller served to show the inept thinking in Whitehall.

Theresa May pressed on and ultimately The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill passed through the Commons and the Lords and this morning received Royal Assent.

I may have the wrong document, but the Bill is as below 


Yup, as short as a side of A4. No detail no context, no coverage of issues, nothing at all.

That is what Westminster and the press and media and everyone has been trumpeting in hundreds and thousands of fevered words.

It’s a triumph of whitewash. A triumph of style beyond substance.

I was born a few days before the UK entered the EEC. The European Communities Act is massive. 

So are the treaties creating the EU and so is the document that allows the Article 50 notification to be served.

Are Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP really so unreasonable to believe Brexit is based on nothing?

Are they so unreasonable to ask for permission for another referendum based on the situation materially changing from 2014?

We are in a land beyond sense and reason where the Queen has signed Royal Assent to a one page act permitting Theresa May to serve the Notification?

We have seen the UK Supreme Court  thwarted by the passage of this sliver of paper.

It’s madness to me. Ultimately I can’t see discussion and compromise over Brexit. 

The Tories won’t ‘U Turn’ on this, there’s no ‘soft landing’ to be had.

The EU won’t topple. 

The EU won’t hesitate to say bye bye to the UK. There’s not a ‘deal’ to be had. 

Free Markets come with Free Movement. The ‘common market’ isn’t a separate thing to be negotiated into.

The statements from Brussels and from EU member countries are pretty clear. There’s no mixed method based only on commerce and trade.

If we’re at an impasse. If we can’t make Westminster see sense, then it’s time to dissolve the Union.

Our opinions and views and desires aren’t served by it. It is not the country we thought it was. It is not the family of nations that some claim it to be.

We need #Scotref, we deserve to have our opinion on this Brexit before it removes our rights and abilities in Europe.

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.