Back from London

So I go away for a few days, and have a great time apart from a rampant allergy to my daughters’ cats, and all sorts of things happen in my absence. Gordon Brown announces that he’s standing down at the next election, Ukip kicks both the Tories and Labour up the backside in a by-election in Rochester, Niclasturjun replaces Alicsammin as the synonym for Scottish independence in the British media and holds a rally attended by thoosands, the Radical Independence Campaign hold a conference just over the road also attended by thoosands, many of whom are the same thoosands as those who went to see Nicla, a new pro-independence newspaper gets launched without a regular column by a small reddish canine who’s really quite affordable (cough cough), and Jim Murphy had a damascene conversion and discovered some real political principles. OK, so that last bit is a lie.

Let’s start with Gordie, whose departure from politics was announced to the general surprise of everyone who thought he’d already departed. But Gordie’s toddling off into a sunset of devoting himself to extremely well remunerated soporific after dinner speeches does raise an interesting question, one which is unlikely to be answered by Gordon Brown. Nor indeed asked by an extremely well remunerated BBC politics correspondent who didn’t get the job because they’re related to John Smith.

Mind you, Gordon doesn’t answer questions, and certainly not questions posed by anyone who hasn’t been vetted beforehand. But for what it’s worth the question in question is: Was it not Gordon who swore blind that he personally would ensure that the Vow with the Capital Letters would be implemented by the Westminster Parliament after the May 2015 election? This was when he was still pretending he was the current as opposed to the former Prime Minister, and the current as opposed to the soon to be former Prime Minister was quite happy for him to do so.

The answer would appear to be that Gordie can just as easily ensure the passage of the Vow by not attending Parliament as a former MP as he can by not attending Parliament as the MP for Kirkcaldy. So that’s sorted then, and the Scottish electorate must be terribly reassured. Or, which is more likely, past the point of caring about anything Gordie says or does.

Dahn sarf, Ukip won the by-election in Rochester in the latest episode in the English electorate’s miserabilist challenge to the entrenched Westminster parties. Funny isn’t it, it’s supposed to be Scots who are dour and miserable, yet our challenge to Westminster’s business as usual is relentlessly cheerful, upbeat, and outward looking. Meanwhile in England many people complain that they have no one to vote for since the only realistic challengers to the existing system are a bunch of neo-Thatcherites who want to retreat into some imagined golden age of the 1950s which never existed. So if you live in England and hate Westminster, you can vote for Ukip a party which promises to increase the powers of Westminster. That’s a deeply unattractive proposition even before you look at the grinning self-satisfied mug of Nigel Bawbag Farage.

But the truth – a truth which the UK media is unlikely to dwell on – is that after the next Westminster elections Ukip are unlikely to gain more than a handful of seats. The first past the post system of voting, which Ukip favour, pretty much guarantees the continuation of the existing duopoly unless a party can establish itself as the largest single force in a constituency. Then the first past the post system works in that party’s favour. And this is why Nicla is so buoyant, because the SNP looks like it’s made that breakthrough in Scotland. She’s also ensured gender equality in the Scottish cabinet, making Scotland one of the best performing countries in the world in terms of women’s representation in politics – although there’s certainly still a long way to go. Westminster, in case you were wondering, is way down the rankings, bobbing along somewhere in the 1950s where women made the tea for Nigel Farage. Westminster only talks about increasing female representation in politics, Scotland does something about it. Mind you, only just over a quarter of SNP MSPs are women, so Nicla’s still got her work cut out for her.

A series of opinion polls have shown that the SNP is well in the lead in Westminster voting intention, and may very well reduce Labour to a small rump despite the best efforts of the BBC to marginalise distinctively Scottish voices. The SNP continue to pile on new members, while Labour’s membership figures in Scotland remain a closely guarded secret. While the SNP is on course to have 100,000 members by the time of the Westminster General Election, Labour in all probability has fewer than a tenth of that number. These are the folk who’ll be chapping on doors, delivering leaflets and getting the vote out, and in Labour’s supposedly safe seats in the Yes voting areas of the Central Belt, they’re outnumbered over 10 to one by the SNP. And that’s before you start counting the Greens, SSP, and unaffiliated Radical Independence supporters, who have likewise piled on new members – all of whom will be just as eager to ensure that Labour gets a kicking for wrapping itself in the Union flag and standing shoulder to shoulder with the Tories.

Aware that his party is more screwed than a lightbulb in a joke factory, Jim Murphy has announced that he may, or may not, be in favour of devolving control of all income tax to Holyrood after all. This is a considered policy decision which is the exact opposite of his considered policy decision last week when devolving income tax would be the worst thing to happen to Scotland since the bubonic plague. But enough about Ian Davidson. Of course the real reason for the announcement is to get Jim in the papers, and to try to rescue Labour from being the party offering the weakest devolution proposals – weaker even than the Tories. It also, handily, gives Jim a stick with which to beat the SNP, as he can promise to increase taxes on the richest. Jim claims this will raise £250 million a year in entirely made up statistics. The real figure is a tiny fraction of that, but what’s accuracy when you’re a Labour politician? It’s only SNP politicians that the BBC holds to account, so that’s OK then.

Jim can make these announcements and get them plastered all over the telly and the papers because the telly and the papers have decided that he’s already the branch manager of the Labour party’s unstocked supermarket in Scotland. Jim’s in charge of the checkouts, and he and his party will be checking out very soon. The other contenders for branch manager have been relegated to the stock cupboard, where they’re currently fully occupied with counting the number of members the party has lost over the past few years.

It’s pretty obvious to one and all that the Labour leadership – the only Labour leadership which counts, the one in London – has already decided that Whispering Jim Smugurphy will get the gig as branch manager. It suits Ed Miliband to get rid of a troublesome Blairite, Ed would rather Jim was fully occupied in Scotland than engaging in briefing campaigns against his shoogly peg of a leadership. Jim is quite happy to take over in Scotland, because he sees it as the last chance he’s got of rescuing his ailing career, and we all know by now, Jim Murphy’s career progression constitutes the nearest thing to a set of principles that Jim Murphy has got.

And finally – apropos of nothing in particular. That’s over a month now without a ciggy, and I think I can finally call myself an ex-smoker.



40 comments on “Back from London

  1. geomannie says:

    “That’s over a month now without a ciggy, and I think I can finally call myself an ex-smoker”

    Err, give it 3 years and then I think you might call yourself an ex-smoker. For me the first 3 years were the worst, the next 3 years not so bad and pushing 9 years before the urge to smoke finally departed.

  2. Brotyboy says:


  3. diabloandco says:

    Glad you had good time , glad you’re back. Sorry the cats got to you – I’m a dog n’ bird person so cats do not number among my favourites.

    Congratulations on giving up smoking.

    You have missed the ” frontrunner” in the LP leaderships ugly mug being absolutely smirkingly , Cheshire catlike everywhere – lucky you!

  4. Good tae hiv yie back. Weel done wie the fags, but remember whit Ah telt yie, don’t think in six months time yie can take wan and stop again, yie canny.

    Dae Ah sound like yir Granny?

  5. […] Back from London […]

  6. hektorsmum says:

    Great to have you back and sorry about the cat allergy, cat hair is worse than dog for some reason for causing allergies, must be the fineness of the hair. I seem to be immune which is just as well cause Hektor never stops moulting. I am sure that the invitation to you for the new paper is nearly in the post, your fan club will be very upset if it isn’t.
    We missed the commentary on all these matters.

  7. Pam McMahon says:

    Welcome hame. Hope you didn’t miss Alan Bissett’s speech “The People;s Vow” at the RIC. It’s one of the best speeches I ever heard in my long life, and made me greet. What an outstanding guy.
    I see Jim Murphy has even got his cadaverous mug on to the front page of The National this morning. All grist to his ever-grinding mill, I guess.

    • macart763 says:

      Curdled ma Reddybrek, so it did. 😀

      Still the editorial page did a fair number on his (con)version. 🙂

    • nigel says:

      yes-I saw that picky of smug morphy also.

      I thought the National was PRO indy? I hope this habit of giving the party of tossers the oxygen of publicity grinds to a halt sometime soon! For heavens sake, lets leave the thoughts of the slobbers in the capable hands of the MSM.

      I was hoping the National could enlighten us as to some of our elected governments hopes for the future? For instance, I read somewhere that they we’re proposing to curb some of the powers of absentee landlords? Correct me if i’m wrong, but didn’t spot it in the paper……..

  8. macart763 says:

    Well that’s spooky, I just fired you off one of those email thingies.

    Glad you had some well earned down time. 🙂

    Aye, Mr Broon did indeed promise to be personal guarantor of that vow and its delivery, but who knew he’d do a runner when things didn’t go quite as planned? Unknown tribes in hitherto unexplored regions of the Amazon basin probably could have told us that Labour and particularly whispering Jim were going to pull a full 180 on policy in order to scratch a few votes. The meeja however didnae listen to the jungle drums, they were too busy waiting on their orders from Labour HQ on what to print.

    Its been an interesting few days watching them spin their wee hearts oot. 😀

  9. Clash City Rocker says:

    Brilliant! I am going to write to The National suggesting that they take you on as a Columnist. BTW, there is another “renumerated” that needs fixed in the second para…

  10. gerry parker says:

    “while Labour’s membership figures in Scotland remain a closely guarded secret.”

    I wonder if Holyrood could do something about this. Like if you want to take part in government in Scotland, you must have a head office in Scotland, and publish your membership numbers.

    • jdman says:

      Ah (in an irish accent) that would be an ecumenical matter!

    • MarkAustin says:

      It’ll be interesting to see if the announce actual votes in the Membership section of the election for branch manager (Labour) or try to hide the figures by just giving percentages.

  11. Calgacus says:

    Well done Paul, that’s you well on the way now.Just keep taking deep breaths whenever you feel the urge.My first letter to the will be to request you and Rev.Stu as columnists.Keep telling it how it is!

  12. Steve Asaneilean says:

    Just to be specific for a moment – the Murphy tax raising claim. Why has not one single newspaper radio or telly hack not challenged that? Where is a friendly economist or HMRC inspector when you need one?

    Let’s look at the reality. Bear in mind I am neither an economist nor a HMRC dude so I will have to simplify everything (which of course will over-estimate the money raised). But here goes:

    At present 236,000 people in the UK pay tax on earnings in excess of £150,000. So Scotland’s share of those people would be around 23,000 pro rata (more generous than Mr Murphy’s 16,000). About 6000 of these 236,000 pay tax on earnings over £2 million. So in Scotland let’s assume there are about 600 of those. So the remaining 22,400 of these wealthy Scottish tax payers are earning between £150,000 and £2 million. Let’s be really generous and just call that an average of £1 million (though in reality the average for the 23,000 in Scotland is probably a lot less).

    These people don’t pay a flat rate of tax on all their income but for simplicity let’s say that they do. So if they are earning on average £1 million and paying 45% as tax that is £450,000 each. If we up tax to 50% they will each pay an extra £50,000 (5% of £1 million).

    So the total is £50,000 x 23,000 = £115 million.

    Therefore even at my grossly over-optimistic estimates the total amount of new money raised would be less than half of what Mr Murphy claims.

    Where the hell does he get £250 million from? Can anyone explain?

  13. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    ” a new pro-independence newspaper gets launched without a regular column by a small reddish canine who’s really quite affordable (cough cough), and Jim Murphy had a damascene conversion and discovered some real political principles. OK, so that last bit is a lie.”

    So my. Personal Letter to the S H Editor did not work?

    Wait and see when they need to take on new staff as the paper becomes more succesful and they try to incorporate the web based “unwashed” into their identity.

  14. bjsalba says:

    Welcome back. We missed you!

    “Niclasturjun replaces Alicsammin as the synonym for Scottish independence in the British media”

    Nail on the head! Arggggghhhh.

  15. johnmcgurk66 says:

    First class article Paul , You would need to be right off your cotton picking rocker to believe
    anything EGG Murphy mutters he has more twists then a cork screw.

  16. Jan Cowan says:

    Good to see you’re back safe and sound and ready for work. The National is a worthwhile newspaper but could do with input from you. We miss the morning laughter So important. As they’re keen to hear readers’ views I’m sure they’ll listen to the demands of your many followers!
    All the best to Ginger. He could have made short work of these cats……!

  17. Nana says:

    I certainly hope slab are never again left in charge at the checkouts. They can’t add except when they are adding to their already swollen expenses.

    Glad you had a good time.

    • A Meringue says:

      And into the bargain they will charge you 5p for the carrier bag to carry off their “swollen expenses” in.
      Being Labour MPs you would think that they would have a “bag for life” to be used for such occasions.

  18. Yes, politics should have some fun to help offset the lies, spin and grasshoppering, so good to have your breath of quirky air back blowing the unionists away. Well done on surviving London and the cats. Wee Scotland is a much safer, more homely place. And what’s been happening in the last year or so has kept us all jigging energetically…and doesn’t look like changing in the near future.

  19. yesguy says:

    Good to have you back Paul.

    Another superb read. 🙂

  20. geraldine Hannan says:

    Great to have you back Paul. Hope that column comes to fruition, hope you have time, what with that reading tour and book launch all of these activities we are looking forward to. I have managed 1 year and more but back smoking for Scotland…

    • No a fearty says:

      Hi sorry this should have been a comment from No a Fearty totally forgot please do not post comment with my real name.If you ant to post comment can you adjust from no a fearty or else leave out.Also wondered if you were coming to Lochgilphead on Saturday night for reading would love to see you.i will give you transport there and back.

  21. Marie Dunbar says:

    Yes, please. Our new newspaper “The National” needs a bit of ginger dug. It would certainly make the paper even more worth buying. Glad you are back and off the fags for good.

  22. punklin says:

    You write brilliantly about the current political scene in Scotland – if The National doesn’t offer you a gig then they are missing out big time.

  23. jdman says:

    Im not “genetically programmed” to make political decisions so I don’t necessarily get anything from reading “The National” however, if someone decided to inject a wee bit o ginger dug every week into it, I suppose I could be persuaded to drag my lazy arse to the newsagents and part wi a few baw bees. 🙂

  24. macart763 says:

    Apologies for going O/T, but folks need to see this.

    A case of don’t piss on my back and tell me its raining. They are completely beneath contempt.

  25. faolie says:

    Aboot time ye were writing again!

    Can’t wait to see the onslaught in Smugurphy’s constituency in the GE if he wins the slab leadership. Twill be a sight to behold methinks.

  26. Thoughtsofascot says:

    Just curious, but have you ever thought about putting yourself forward as a candidate for Glasgow East under Sturgeons new initiative for Yes campaigners to stand under the SNP banner in 2015?

    If not, at least think about writing for the national, as others have said! The Scottish political scene needs more of your style of input.

    • weegingerdug says:

      I’d rather poke my eyes out with rusty knitting needles than stand for Parliament, but I do plan to work my wee socks off to ensure that Magrit Curran gets her jotters. In any event I think Glasgow East is a seat that the SNP think they can take, so their existing candidate won’t be keen on standing aside for a non-party person like me. Remember that the SNP took this seat in the by-election in 2008 before losing it back to Labour in 2010.

      I wouldn’t mind writing for the National though – I’ve certainly dropped heavy enough hints!

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