Vote SNP, get Dettol

Ed Balls was in Edinburgh yesterday and together with Mr Hi Jumpy AKA Jim Smugurphy visited an engineering factory in Glasgow. The visit was mainly notable for its absence of anything of note, and as such was a perfect metaphor for the Labour party in Scotland. I’ve never been entirely clear why politicians visit factories, it’s just one of the traditional things that they do. It’s the only traditional thing that they have left when out on the campaign trail, now that they can’t kiss babies in case they get mistaken for a 1970s BBC radio presenter.

Perhaps Jim and Ed, who’d changed his surname to Baws in an effort to blend in with the Glaswegian ambience, were visiting the factory in order to see what real jobs looked like since neither of them have ever had a proper job outside politics. Ed Baws wants to be the next chancellor of the exchequer, which means that if he’s successful then the red briefcase traditionally waved before the press cameras at budget time will be a Bawsbag.

However it is just as likely that Baws and his Murphbag were hoping to discover a new manufacturing process for creating Labour voters out of discarded Barbie dolls. Real live human beings have wised up to Labour, but the party does seem to have cornered the market in plastic airheads – at least if the braying backbenchers of SLAB and their cheerleaders in BBC Scotland are anything to go by.

In a desperate attempt to make out that the visit was more than just a photo opportunity for two not especially attractive men, the Guardian splashed with the story that Ed Balls had used the visit as an occasion to almost but not quite rule out the possibility of Labour going into a formal coalition with the SNP after the next Westminster election. This still failed to elevate the story from a non story, since the SNP have already said that they would not enter into a formal coalition with Labour, but rather would support them on a “confidence and supply” basis as a minority government. Strangely the Guardian’s ace Scottish correspondent forgot to mention this. Perhaps he doesn’t know, since the Guardian’s definition of unbiased when it comes to reporting Scottish politics appears to be “publish a Labour press release”.

In the interests of clarification, this blog does not pretend to be unbiased. It wears its bias on its sleeve. Especially where Magrit Curran is concerned.

Of course the reason it’s not mentioned is because Labour’s strategy is to conflate a coalition with other forms of support, or indeed with the SNP holding a metaphorical gun to their heads. They need to do this so they don’t scare off voters in England. Meanwhile they’ve already got enough problems with alienated Scottish voters as it is. What’s on offer is confidence and supply – which is more like holding a gun to Labour’s head than it is getting into bed with them.

Confidence and supply is a peculiar turn of phrase, but then Westminster is a peculiar place. Confidence and supply does not mean that the SNP would supply confidence to Labour, although it might be interesting to watch Alicsammin try and boost Ed Miliband’s self-esteem. Perhaps he might show Ed how to eat a bacon sandwich. What it means is that the SNP would not vote against Labour in a vote of confidence, that’s the confidence bit, and would not oppose a Labour budget, that’s the supply bit. This would allow a minority Labour government to continue in office, even though the Tories – who would also be short of an outright majority – might have more seats than Labour did.

Many sarf of the Border are outraged by this prospect. It means that England might not get the government it voted for, splutter assorted columnists – mainly on the right. Usually the spluttering is accompanied by a demand that Ed, the other one not the Balls one, rules out any coalition, alliance, pact, understanding, or breathing the same air as the SNP. Tories don’t want Scottish voters to vote for the SNP, they’d much rather we vote Labour instead. Labour plays the same game as the Tories. So we get the Tories warning us that if we vote SNP we get Labour, whereas Labour trots out the old scare story that if we vote SNP we get the Tories.

Why Scottish voters should care about any of this is harder to understand, we’ve regularly had governments we didn’t vote for. We get governments we didn’t vote for all the time. And even when we do get the government we voted for we get one which has tailored its policies to attract Tory leaning voters in the rest of the UK. Ed and Jim know all about that. But that’s what happens in this wonderful Union and aren’t we all Better Together for it? If England does get a government it didn’t vote for the response from Scotland can only be: welcome to our world, suck it up.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty fed up of being told to vote Labour because people in England won’t. It should be known to every politically literate person in Scotland by now, and thanks to the referendum campaign that’s a large majority of the electorate, that it makes no difference how Scotland votes. We get the government that England votes for. This is not an anglophobic point, simply an acknowledgement of the reality that England is far far bigger in terms of population than Scotland is. And in turn this means that if Labour can’t get elected it means then it’s the left in England that has a problem. Voters in Scotland can’t fix that problem for them. We deserve better than to be the perpetual airbag that gets burst in England’s frequent Tory car crashes where the only choice we’re offered is to vote for the Red Tories in order to stop the Blue Tories. Don’t dream, don’t aspire. And for god’s sake don’t hope. Leave all that silliness behind, all that matters is that Labour gets to wave its Bawsbag in the Commons.

But the SNP is poisonous, it kills the germs of a Tory government stone dead. It kills the infection that keeps dragging Labour to the right. And this is all the more reason why Scottish voters are all the more inclined to vote for a party which will go through the lavatory of Westminster like a laxative and a gallon of bleach. Vote SNP get Labour? Vote SNP get Tory? The real political equation facing Scotland’s voters in May is simple: Vote SNP, get Dettol.

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Big lies and wee lies

I got a Labour election leaflet through the door yesterday, it’s been popping through doors all over Scotland this week. It would appear that Jim Murphy’s Accounting Unit wants us to vote for them in May’s Westminster General Election in order to protect Scotland’s NHS. On the interwebbies there’s been a considerable amount of hoo and a great deal of ha about the identity of the nurse pictured on the leaflet, and whether she is in fact a nurse or is really a jobbing actress – or indeed whether she’s really an ordinary carer and Labour party activist who isn’t related to a former Lord Provost of Glasgow. Oh my God I’m a monstering cybernat.

Of course it could be that like Malkie Rifkind, who told us we’d be surprised at just how much free time he had from his full time job as an MP, the person in the leaflet was really working on the side as a highly paid advisor and is entitled to a standard of living commensurate with her status as an international statesperson. The truth is that it really doesn’t matter, just like it really doesn’t matter whether the other supposed member of the public pictured in the leaflet really is a mother with three weans or whether she’d never seen the kids before they were all hired by central casting and herded together for a photo shoot. Political parties are under no obligation to tell the truth in their election materials. They can use actors. They can tell you any auld guff that they like, and as long as it’s not racist or abusive or an exhortation to break the law, there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Advertising standards do not apply to political material. Labour knows this, as they complained about the Tories’ infamous “Labour isn’t working” poster campaign in the 1979 General Election which showed a long dole queue – only it turned out that the people in the queue were actually Conservative party workers who’d taken off the pinstripes in order to pose as unemployed working class types.

Maybe the nurse isn’t really a nurse. Maybe she really is a jobbing actress who’s looking for that big break that will catapult her into stardom, in which case she’s received an inordinate amount of attention just with a wee photo shoot for a Labour leaflet. Just like the Patronising Better Together Lady. That would be a small lie. However it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that amongst Labour’s Scottish membership there is actually a nurse who shares the sentiments expressed in the leaflet and who would express them in a leaflet if it didn’t mean that she might lose her job – because unlike Malkie Rifkind full time NHS staff aren’t allowed to take on jobbing advisory roles willy-nilly. Much less are they allowed to pose in NHS uniforms and like Labour’s Jack Straw take on advisory jobs supporting and aiding dictators from Kazakhstan for a very fat fee.

Mind you, it’s getting less and less likely that Labour has any nurse members, as Labour’s real membership has been plummeting and is now widely believed to be less than that of the Greens. And given the behaviour of Jack Straw and his erstwhile boss Tony Blair it is entirely possible that Labour now has stronger and more friendly connections with dictators in former Soviet Central Asian republics than they do with ordinary working class people in Scotland. Statistically speaking it’s probable that Labour in Scotland has no members or supporters except Jim Murphy and his spinning staff and the news managers at Reporting Scotland. It is of course entirely coincidental that all this week Reporting Scotland has been banging on about the issues in Labour’s election leaflet.

More likely it is quite possible that the Labour party Accounting Unit in Scotland has a membership consisting entirely of Labour party elected representatives and their relatives. Jim Murphy regularly claims the party has a membership in Scotland of “about” 20,000. That would be “about” in the same sense that the distance between Glasgow and Edinburgh is “about” the same as the distance between the Earth and Pluto. It is when you compare both distances with the distance between Earth and a galaxy that’s 13 billion light years away. It’s all relative you see. So it’s not that Jim is a liar, he’s just a devotee of Albert Einstein. Honest. It will be on a Labour party leaflet soon. The other interesting thing about a galaxy that’s 13 billion light years away is that what we see now is actually what happened in that galaxy 13 billion years ago and we have no way of knowing what is happening there at this present moment, nor indeed whether it still even exists. So very much like the Labour party in Scotland then.

Anyway, there’s a far bigger lie lurking in the leaflet. Not so much lurking in it as hiding in full sight. And it’s a big lie that risks being overlooked in the shock horror of cybernats monstering a working mum who may or may not really be a nurse. This is monstering in the sense of “pointing out that the Labour party is lying”, of course. The big lie is the headline on the leaflet: “A plan to protect our NHS – 1000 more nurses, reduce cancer waiting times, £100m Frontline Fund targeting A&E”. There is no plan, and there can be no plan. It’s a big lie.

It makes no difference whether we elect one Labour MP in Scotland in May, or whether we elect 59. Health is a devolved matter, and how the NHS in Scotland is run is a matter for Holyrood, not Westminster. Labour MPs have no influence on how many nurses are employed by NHS Scotland, never mind the power to magic up 1000 more of them than whatever number has been promised by the SNP. Labour MPs can do nothing to reduce NHS waiting times, and neither can they provide a fund of a tenner – never mind £100 million – to target A&E waiting times.

But Labour is desperate for us to believe that its Scottish MPs can actually do something useful. In fact their sole purpose is to act as lobby fodder for the party. That doesn’t take up very much of their highly paid time, and so leaves plenty time left over for earning extra income from their second, third and fourth jobs. For all Ed Miliband’s sanctimonious hand wringing about ensuring that MPs only have one job, the job of representing their constituencies, the MP who made most in outside earnings over the past year was Ed’s old boss. Gordie Broon topped the list of MPs with extra earnings, accruing £1,300,000 in the past year in extra-curricular activities. But you won’t see that on a Labour party leaflet.

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Westminster’s Francie and Josie

Scotland had a wee visit on Friday from Davie the Pee Em, that’s his new official title because he’s dahn wiv da yoot. Being dahn wiv da yoot is also the same reason that Osborne got that new haircut, well, either that or it was drug induced. Mind you, it’s not easy to say why leading Tories might want to get dahn wiv da yoot, what with the average age of a member of the Scottish Conservatives being 82. Although admittedly that’s still a lot younger than Menzies Campbell.

Anyway, dimly aware that in Scotland politics is the new rock and roll, Davie tried to wow the audience out of their mid-afternoon nap with a taster from his new stand up routine. The funny bit, which wasn’t funny for anyone at the sparsely attended conference, was when he proved yet again that Magrit Curran’s relationship to the truth is similar to the role that black pudding deep fried in lard plays in vegan cookery.

Just a few days ago Magrit had claimed in an interview that Davie would be secretly happy for the SNP to take seats from Labour, whereas Davie in his speech to the Tory conference – or more accurately the outing from the residential care facility – made it perfectly plain that the only thing he despised more than representatives of a party which claimed to be Scottish, working class, and left wing were representatives of a party who really are Scottish, working class, and left wing. Davie was even more pure dead affrontit – to use political terminology Magrit can understand – that the wannabe pretendy Scottish left wingers and the actual Scottish left wingers might arrive at an understanding which would ensure that Davie was evicted from Number 10, even if his party did secure more seats than Magrit’s.

Davie then attempted a joke. Or at least we must assume it was a joke. The Pee Em joshed that Labour and the SNP were planning a wedding, and were going to honeymoon in North Korea. No, I didn’t get it either. You’d think that with the entire resources of the British state at his disposal that Davie might have been able to find a speech writer who understood the concept of a punchline. But apparently not. Not that it mattered with the geriatric audience, who laughed on cue, but then they probably think that Jim Davidson is a cutting edge satirist.

The truth of course is that Davie’s real audience wasn’t the handful of geriatrics in Perth, it was the voters south of the Border who have been fed a diet of scare stories about the evil English hating SNP. The Tories have already given up on Scotland.

The Tories in Scotland do have one useful purpose however – to prove that it is actually possible to be more delusional than the leadership of Labour’s Scottish Accounting Unit. This was demonstrated yet again by former Tory list MSP Brian Monteith, the last cheerleader for Thatcher in Scotland, writing in the Scotsman on Monday. Brian, bless his little privatised socks, suffers from the quaint belief that the Conservatives in Scotland are standing on the edge of a breakthrough. And this would be true, in the same way that a cliff edge is a breakthrough in the landscape or the Gates of Hell is a breakthrough to Hades.

Brian believes that the voters in Scotland are on the verge of the collective realisation that Maggie Thatcher had it right all along, and we’re just about to slap our foreheads as we work out that destroying Scotland’s heavy industries and replacing them with mass unemployment and devastated communities while squandering the oil resources on tax cuts for the better off dahn sarf was what we’d always really wanted.

Meanwhile another blast from the Thatcher-past has got himself into a spot of bother. Former Tory Scottish Governor General Malkie Rifkind has received a malkie at the hands of Channel 4 reporters who caught him in a sting operation as they posed as representatives of a Chinese company. Malkie was caught on camera offering to use his influence for the company – for a fat fee of course. Malkie was pure dead affrontit that anyone should question or challenge the appropriateness of him seeking payment for lobbying work. It’s perfectly within the rules, he bleated. Rules that him and his pals set up in the first place. Malkie was previously the chairman of the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee. Convenient that. A man who wouldn’t recognise a conflict of interest if it was to jump up and bite him on the bum chaired the committee investigating possible conflicts of interest.

A man of his standing can hardly be expected to slum it on the measly £65,700 a year plus £116,000 in expenses that he gets for representing the citizens of SafeSeat in Toryshire in the House of Commons. A seat to which he decamped after making the realisation that money grubbing Tory careerists were unelectable in Scotland, where only money grubbing Labour careerists had any chance at all. Malcolm earns pin money to boost his modest income with an assortment of directorships and “consultancies” which bring him in over £240,000 a year. Clearly his job in the Commons doesn’t keep him very busy.

Malkie told reporters on Monday that he deserved this extra income because of his skill set and his vast expertise in foreign affairs. This would be the expertise that led him while he was Defence Secretary in John Major’s government to tell American senators Bob Dole and John McCain that “You Americans know nothing about the horrors of war” after they had urged the UK to support military action against the Serbian dictator and genocidal maniac Slobodan Milosovic. That would be the Bob Dole who was seriously injured by a German shell when he was fighting in the US army in WWII, and the John McCain who spent five years being tortured as a prisoner of war of the Vietcong.

But it’s not all evil Tories. Former Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is evil too. Jack has always been evil so this is of course news of the “It often rains in Coatbridge” or “slamming your wullie in a door is as useful as voting Labour” variety. Actually that last one is not true, as if you are unfortunate – or stupid – enough to slam your wullie in a door, your screams of pain will be heard several miles away. Vote Labour and no one hears your pain – just ask anyone who lives in Magrit Curran’s constituency. Jack Straw is a one man conspiracy theory – just about any conspiracy you care to mention, and Jack’s most likely involved in it somewhere. Nowadays he’s taking his cue from Tony Blair, his former boss and spiritual mentor, and dedicating his charm and menace to making himself a lot more money.

Malkie and Jack are leading members of the House of Commons. Together this pair of chancers embody all that is wrong with that institution, and if Davie Cameron needed to understand why the voters of Scotland will be rejecting both his party and the Labour party in May this year, he need look no further than Westminster’s very own Francie and Josie.

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Making Magrit sad

She’s at it again, but with just two pay cheques between now and an ignominious end to her undistinguished career as an expenses claimant, you’ve got to expect the lovely Magrit Curran to keep opening her gob in a desperate attempt to fend off the doom which is heading towards her career in politics like a mob of Transylvanian peasants bearing torches and pitchforks. Mags’ latest is to inform us that we need to vote for her because if we don’t it will make Davie Cameron secretly happy. It’s wrong to do anything that makes a Tory secretly happy, especially Davie Cameron because he’s smug enough as it is. So you should never attempt to bring secret joy to a Tory, except when it’s also in Magrit’s interests.

She was herself quite happy to make Davie happy all last year during the referendum campaign. When there was the prospect that Scotland might swan off to a Tory free future, Magrit waved a metaphorical and indeed literal Union Jack and cheered at the notion of Scotland continuing to suffer Tory governments that we didn’t vote for. Davie Cameron was thrilled about that. He was in fact seen to smile, and indeed gloat. There may even have been a guffaw.

Thanks to the sterling efforts of Magrit and her buddies, Davie managed to avoid a shame-faced early end to his premiership and going down in history as the man who campaigned on the slogan Broken Britain, and who then actually broke it. Thanks to Magrit, Davie can still strut the world stage telling anyone who listened how the Queen purred. You can be pretty certain that Davie’s job was not saved thanks to the efforts of any Conservatives, it was because of Labour. It was because of you, Magrit. Davie Cameron was oh so very happy about everything you did for him.

However none of that counted.

It doesn’t count if Davie is going to be happy if it involves Magrit keeping her John Lewis list and travel expenses claims. Making Davie happy is only a bad thing if it involves giving Magrit her jotters. Still, she can use the jotters to tot up the amount she’s claimed from public funds while she waits for an appointment at the job centre. It will give her something productive to do, which is more than she ever achieved in her career in parliament. But you can’t blame Labour for putting her on the front bench – when she’s up at the front they can keep an eye on her, because when Magrit’s got your back she’ll only stab it. Just ask Johann.

Magrit and her pals are determined to tell us that if we vote SNP in May, we’ll get the Tories. It’s the only selling point that Labour has got, but the logic is as dubious as Jim Murphy’s commitment to socialism and as plausible as Ian Davidson winning an award for tact and diplomacy. Labour cannot escape the uncomfortable truth that Scotland returned a massive majority of Labour MPs in 2010 – and in 1979, 1983, 1987, and 1992 – and we got the Tories anyway. If people in other parts of the UK are determined to vote Tory, we’re going to get a Tory government.

The truth is that swapping seats between one set of MPs who claim to be against the Tories but not against their austerity politics, that would be Labour, and another set of MPs who really are anti-Tory, does not increase the chances of the Tories being able to command a majority of seats in the House of Commons. The number of seats which change hands between Labour and the SNP in Scotland has precisely zero effect on the number of seats which fall to the Conservatives in other parts of the UK, except of course in Magrit’s imagination.

The MP who represented Glasgow East before Magrit was the SNP’s John Mason, who took the seat in a by-election after the previous Labour incumbent – the unlamented David Marshall – resigned to spend more time with the proceeds of his expenses claims. Magrit Curran’s election reduced the total number of SNP MPs by one, and yet we still got Davie Cameron as Prime Minister. She took her seat from a sitting SNP MP in 2010 and we still got the Tories in government, so you’d think that she ought to know that. Of course she knows it – but she’ll still tell voters something else entirely. Magrit’s very presence as a Labour MP gives the lie to the Labour line that voting SNP makes a Tory government more likely. That’s Magrit and Labour’s modus operandi, and that’s why no one believes a word they say any more.

Labour tells us if we vote SNP we’ll get the Tories. Meanwhile the Tories say if we vote SNP we’ll get Labour. The Lib Dems say oh god please please please we’re really sorry about everything it wasn’t our fault. But’s it’s really quite simple. Vote SNP and get a block of MPs who will oppose the Tories while at the same time actually defending Scotland’s interests. Now there would be a novelty.

I don’t give a toss if it makes Davie Cameron laugh hysterically, although it’s more likely that his hysterical laughter will be a symptom of an impending breakdown. I’m still going to vote SNP in May, and I’m not even an SNP supporter. I’d prefer to vote Green or SSP. But in May I will not only be voting SNP, I will be actively campaigning for them. Natalie McGarry will be a great choice for Glasgow East – it’s just the delicious icing on the cake that it will also make Magrit Curran sad.

Meanwhile, I committed the tragic error of watching a bit of BBC’s Question Time, a programme which bears the same relationship to an understanding of Scottish politics as nailing your scrotum to a plank with rusty nails does to foreplay. Never again, is all I will say, and I only watched a few minutes of it. Question Time all by itself demonstrates why Scotland needs a strong voice in Westminster, because we sure as hell don’t have one just now. And there was us thinking that we were all better together and a happy family of nations in this sceptred isle.

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The coyote looks down

There’s a country perched at the northern end of the island of Britain which is unnaturally blessed. You might even say it was blesséd with an accent and everything, because the diacritic makes it far more holy and so more appropriate that stories about it are illustrated with a photie of Jim Murphy with a halo. Be-haloed pics of the Holy Jim are always in the Guardian every time there’s a story about the Scottish Goverment being accused of something or other, which is pretty much every time that the paper carries a story about Scotland. However Scots don’t feel that they live in a blesséd country. We certainly don’t feel we live in a Lucky Country, a nickname purloined by Australians who make up for their lack of midgies by having hundreds of seriously poisonous wee beasties.

This made it all the more surprising that the Australian Labor party felt that it had to import Tony Blair’s poisonous wee beastie John McTernan as its spin doctor. You’d have thought they had enough arse biting venomous spiders of their own, but apparently not. The experiment in importing noxious arachnids was not a success, and John’s now back in Scotland spinning his poisonous webs for Jim Murphy. John’s job is to coccoon Jim in a glossy silk of spin, a task in which he is ably assisted by Blair McDougall former chief tuba player for Better Together. Their task is to persuade Scottish voters that everything is rubbish, but will be marginally less rubbish if we vote Labour in May. So far, they’re not having much success, even though Scottish people don’t tend to think that their country is blesséd.

The average Scottish person feels that we live in the Wile E. Coyote of countries – all our plans are doomed to failure. We sally forward right over the cliff face of inflated expectations, we keep going even though there’s no visible means of support – until we look down. Look down and then we plummet to the distant earth and our hopes disappear in a puff of dust.

However, on the midgie bitten cliff face of it, Scotland is even luckier than a winner of the national lottery. By any objective standard, Scotland has won the lottery of nations. It’s a country which has even more energy resources than the Duracell bunny. We’ve got an embarrassment of the burny stuff that screws with the environment, yer coal, the oil, the gas and peat. We’ve got so much of it that the only argument Scotland needs against fracking is that it’s just a tad greedy, like wanting to dig up the kitchen floor to get to a pack of stale digestives dropped down there by the builder when you’ve already got several packets of chocolate hobnobs in the cupboard.

We’ve also got windfarms on every hill, spinning in a productive and elegant manner, unlike John McTernan. We’ve got tidal resources, which once harnessed could provide the energy equivalent of the amount of gas it would take to inflate a balloon to the size of Jim Murphy’s ego. The rich and civilised state of Denmark doesn’t have all the energy resources that we do, although they do have the world’s largest per capita population of pigs, a factoid which comes as a considerable surprise to citizens of the country with the world’s largest per capita population of Labour MPs. Bacon allows a country to have a much higher standard of living and healthier citizens than Jim Murphy and a sea of oil. Which only goes to prove that Labour MPs are worse for your health than cholesterol.

But it’s not just energy. Scotland has a diverse economy, an educated workforce, some of the best universities in the world. We have whisky. We have water in such abundance that we take it for granted. Scotland is green and fertile and isn’t overpopulated. We’ve got a democratic tradition hundreds of years long, and although we complain of cooncil corruption, our corruption is minor league compared to that found in a former Soviet republic, or even in a Mediterreanan monarchy. We’re in a quiet and stable corner of the world, and have no border disputes or third parties who claim part of our country as their own.

The truly amazing thing is that over the course of the past 300 years the denizens of the Westminster Parliament and those in thrall to the Westminster system have taken this Scottish raw material, this set of conditions that is close to ideal for producing a rich, stable, and happy country, and given us what they keep telling us is a basket case incapable of looking after itself. If Scotland is so poor, so inadequate – whose fault is that then?

It’s not Scotland’s. It’s the Westminster political parties who are inadequate. It’s not us it’s them. We have political parties like Labour, which is incapable of opposition never mind government. Say what you like about Johann Lamont, but at least at times you could pity her. Jim Murphy provokes nothing but contempt. Labour lost an inadequate and incompetent branch office manager, and replaced her with one who is even worse.

Over the past few weeks since the party chose a supposed big hitter as its new Scottish accounting unit leader, it’s suffered one embarrassing pratfall after another. Following from Magrit Curran’s fracking of the truth, the Yes for Labour campaign that lasted all of 45 minutes, and the naked backfiring populism of being in favour of booze at fitba matches, comes the claim that NHS Scotland cancels four times as many operations as its English equivalent. Only to discover that the claim was based upon unequivalent figures. But it was all the SNP’s fault for making Labour misunderstand the data. Anyway, Jim quickly removed the embarrassing tweets, so none of it really happened. Jim’s good at rewriting the past, it’s possibly his only real skill.

Labour is the Wile E. Coyote of politics and in September last year they ran off the electoral cliff. Now Murph E. Coyote is manufacturing one contentless policy wheeze after another, trying to disguise the fact that there is no solid ground. He’s supported by nothing but the dust of John McTernan’s media blitz as he frantically spins his way across the chasm.

But on May 8, the coyote is going to have to look down, and we’ll all watch it plummet. And laugh. That’s all folks!


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A stair heid rammy with ma mammy

I’ve not been too well this past week, loaded with a bad cold while at the same time I’ve started a new part time job because I’m still not working for your other national newspaper. Meanwhile I am still battling the nasty side effects of the nasty medicine that I’m on for my nasty skin condition. So I’ve been too knackered to blog much. Give up smoking, they say. It’s good for your health, they say. But since giving up smoking it’s been one bloody thing after another. Anyway, onwards and upwards, or in the case of the Labour party in Scotland, backwards and into the gutter.

A few days ago a friend asked what it was that I have against Magrit Curran. “She’s just a Labour hack like all the others,” he remarked, “so why do you keep picking on her and not on some of the other equally obnoxious useless Labour MPs? After all, it’s not like there’s a shortage of them.”

And this is very true. My friend has a point, we in Scotland are spoiled for choice when it comes to obnoxious and useless Labour MPs, Ian Davidson and Anas Sarwar spring to mind. There’s the be-haloed Jim who has given the Scottish media the task of anthropomurphising the Labour party – trying to make out that Jim Murphy is actually a real human being. But I do have a particular animus against Magrit, and will continue to do so until she is removed from office. I would prefer that she was hounded from office, preferably with actual hounds, but I’ll settle for voting her out via the ballot box.

The reason for my animus is not because Magrit is a woman, although Magrit is fond of claiming that criticisms of her are motivated by sexism or misogyny. It is because Magrit supposedly represents me in Parliament, she’s my local MP. I deserve better. Much better. And so do you. In fact I would have fewer problems with a chimpanzee as my MP because at least a chimpanzee knows how to screech and hoot in a meaningful manner. A chimpanzee picks fleas with purpose, whereas Magrit’s politics are fleabitten and purposeless. However chimpanzees do throw poo and Magrit also throws poo, so it’s not all bad.

In Magrit Curran, Glasgow East has an MP – a Labour MP remember, a member of the self-described “people’s party” – who goes to £250 per head dinners at top hotels in London as a guest of US arms dealers, while her some of her constitutents have to walk miles to a food bank in order to feed their kids. Magrit was a guest of US arms company Raytheon at the ADS annual defence dinner held at the Hilton Hotel in London last week, along with fellow Labour MPs Brian Donohoe and Gemma Doyle.

While Magrit was saying “Haw see us some mair o that free swally and duck a l’orange” some of the people she supposedly represents were looking at bare food cupboards and wondering how they were going to get through the week. Defence contractors don’t care much about food banks, they care about schmoozing up to vain and not very bright MPs so that the vain and not very bright MPs will vote to allow the defence contractor to rake in millions. Few MPs are more vain than Magrit, and it’s not like she’s got anything much to be vain about. And she’s as bright as a burned out bulb. Although, to be fair, that still makes her a whole lot brighter than the Labour MP for Coatbridge.

This week we got Magrit stuffing her gob in a cafe in Rutherglen where, between scones, she was extremely keen to tell anyone who would listen – that would mainly be the BBC – that Scotland needed to vote Labour in May because if we vote SNP then Labour might not be the largest party. She then added that the largest party gets to form the government of the UK. This is obviously the line thought up in Labour’s line factory – or spin shop – or whatever they call it. It’s also a lie. It is only the case that the largest party gets to form the government of the UK if the largest party also has an absolute majority of seats. Otherwise it’s the party which can command a majority by dint of persuading other parties not to vote against it in a vote of confidence. You’d think that Westminster MPs would know this.

Magrit has previous for having a tangential relationship to the truth. As a result of her continual difficulties with actuality, her schmoozing with defence contractors, and generally being to political discourse as a monkey is to poo flinging, Magrit has been subject to some name calling on her Facebook page. Most of what she’s been subjected to isn’t big or witty or clever – but then neither is Magrit. Magrit has responded by attempting to introduce a new rule:

“Let’s try a new rule here: if you wouldn’t use the language with your mother in the room, don’t post it on a public Facebook page.”

This rule is not going to work though, because my mammy is also a voter in Glasgow East – and you should hear the language she uses to describe Magrit Curran. And my mammy is a respectable, intelligent and articulate woman who used to work as a teacher.  Magrit would lose, and lose badly, in a stairheid rammy with my mammy. But that’s what Magrit brings out in people – the invective.

The thing is, when you use politics as a vehicle for your personal ambitions and are bereft of anything that could reasonably be described as a principle, you’re going to attract ire and bile in equal measure. When you habitually preach the most ludicrous half truths and outright bilge you have no right to complain about others misusing language. Magrit’s approach to politics is like doing a massive jobbie on the living room carpet and then complaining about the smell.

Magrit’s can only claim to occupy the moral high ground by contrasting herself to people whose abuse of language is even worse than her own. That means the only folk she can feel superior to are trolls who yell swerry words at her. It’s a bit like boasting you have one more brain cell than an amoeba. The Scottish media, in thrall as it is to the anthropomurphic tendencies of the Labour party, will give her a platform upon which she can play the victim.

But the real victims are those of her constituents who have to walk miles to a food bank. The real victims are the men in those parts of Glasgow East who have a life expectancy lower than that in the Gaza Strip. The real victims are the hollow faced harrassed mothers who have to make a choice between feeding their weans or keeping the house warm while Magrit hobnobs with defence contractors and stuffs her gob with vol au vents and free swally.

Stay focussed, keep your eye on the prize, and let’s work to get rid of her in May. Revenge is a dish best served with a ballot paper and a pencil, not a swerry word on a Facebook page.

Update: In the interests of fairness, and because I’m not Magrit Curran, I should point out that the Campaign Against the Arms Trade have now updated their original list to include a statement from Magrit that she did not attend the dinner event.

Pole-axed by the polls

The Tory peer Lord Ashcroft has released his long awaited polls of individual constituencies and shows that the new clearances are about to commence. Labour will be turfed out of the croft and left with the ashes. It’s almost as difficult for Labour to persuade Scottish voters to vote for it as it is for the BBC to find a clip from a 1970s episode of Top of the Pops that doesn’t feature a sex abuser.

The results are – unbelievably – even worse for Labour than previously thought. And some of us had a very low opinion of them to begin with. On these figures, Labour would even lose Coatbridge. That’s right, Coatbridge. For Labour to lose Coatbridge would be a humiliation like the US gold reserves at Fort Knox being robbed and cleared out by a 12 year old armed with a bent kirby grip. But there is more, there is schadenfreude with knobs on. Knobs like Anas Sarwar would lose the family seat that he inherited from his daddy, and Ian Davidson would be bayonetted out of his seat in Glasgow South West. News of which would set off rejoicing throughout the land as 1.6 million Yes voters cried out in unison “Ha Ha get it up ye.” Because Ian has taught us all the meaning of the words vindictive, graceless, and crass.

Wee Dougie Alexander who is masterminding Labour’s election campaign is going to have to mastermind a campaign to keep his own seat. This looks like being an even more difficult task than persuading voters in Scotland that Ed Miliband is not in fact made out of plasticene. Dougie’s particular brand of skanktimonious pontification is proving as tasty to the voters of Paisley as a six month old unrefrigerated meat pie.

On a personal note, the best news of all is that Magrit Curran would also be turfed off her stairheid in Glasgow East. Writing in Labour List as the party dissected the dire news, Labour blogger Mark Ferguson wrote that Magrit was one of the “quiet heroes” of the referendum campaign – but that was only true because her screeches had reached such a high pitch that they could only be heard by bats.  On Wednesday the lovely Magrit tweeted from her stairheid, while she remains in possession of it, that the polls were difficult for Labour. Which is like saying that ebola makes you feel a bit peaky or that Attila the Hun occasionally displayed challenging behaviours.

The rapidly greying Mr Hi Jumpy was all over the telly screens on Wednesday telling anyone who would listen that the only people who would be pleased by these polls would be Davie Cameron and Osborne his pet iguana, desperately hoping that Scottish voters wouldn’t remember that they could be pleased about the polls for an entirely different set of reasons. All Jim has in his defence is a tired auld excuse about keeping out the Tories – because that worked so well in 2010 when Scotland voted Labour en masse and dismally failed to keep the Tories out of power. The truth is, as the truth always was, that the Tories will get into power if people vote Tory – and there’s precious little that Scotland’s voters can do to prevent people in other parts of the UK from voting Conservative if they see it as being in their interests to do so. But that’s how it works in this better together union, the calls for solidarity only flow one way.

Jim, who’s looking decreasingly smugurph with every passing day and every newly grey hair, is unable to offer Scots any positive reasons for voting Labour. For Jim it’s enough to put on a Scotland fitba shirt and promise that Labour’s the patriotic party. Like anyone is convinced by career politician Jim’s patronising attempts to ingratiate himself with working class voters by making like he’s a man of ra peepul as he mouths meaningless sound bites which are as devoid of content as he is devoid of principles. If Jim Murphy is a socialist, the Pope is the moderator of the Kirk’s general assembly.

Labour in Scotland long ago shafted their principles more deeply than a fracking drill. All that’s left is some noxious gas which bubbles to the surface every time Magrit, Anas or Jim open their gobs. The party has been hollowed out and cracked and fractured below the surface, in most of the supposedly rock solid Labour seats the constituency parties are moribund, consisting of a handful of local councillors and their relatives. Labour never had to contest these seats, they just took them for granted and weighed the Labour vote.

Now however the SNP has ten times or more the number of activists on the ground in Labour’s safest seats. And these activists have, for the most part, not started to campaign. When the door chapping and the canvassing starts for real, Labour is going to find itself outnumbered, outclassed, and out of office. And this time they won’t be able to bus in little helpers from south of the border, as they’ll be too busy fighting their own campaigns. So despite Jim Murphy’s fondly expressed hope that the polls will narrow as the election approaches, it’s just as likely that Labour will plummet even further.

But it’s not all bad news for Labour. Cheer up. It’s really bad news for the Lib Dems too. The Lib Dem vote has expired, the air gone out it and it’s shot across the room like a punctured Wullie Rennie balloon. It’s about the only time you’ll ever see the Lib Dems move purposefully, so make the most of it.

Danny Alexander, Osborne’s little suppository, is set to lose his seat in Inverness by a huge margin. Having spent the past five years implementing cuts with an unseemly amount of enthusiasm, the voters in his constituency are set to axe Danny with the same glee. Danny is not only going to get beaten, he’s going to get ground into dust by the very large rock he’ll have to hide under for the rest of his life. And no one, with the possible exception of Danny’s maw, will shed a tear for the passing of his political career.

Roll on May 7 – we cannae wait. Tick tock Jim, Wee Dougie, Magrit, Anas, Ian and the rest. Yer tea’s oot.


Vow Academy, the sequel

There’s really no need for anyone to be confused about Labour’s stance on devolution, it’s really quite simple. During the early part of the referendum campaign Labour wasn’t going to offer Scotland any more devolution because it was a simple Yes or No question and Scotland could like what it had or lump it.

During the latter part of the referendum campaign Labour vowed that Scotland was going to get a devo maxy home rule that was just a baw hair short of full frontal federalism. You may have thought this was connected with a narrowing in the opinion polls and panic in the Unionist camp as they thought that Scotland was going for the ‘lump it’ option, but if that was the case your mind was clearly being warped by non-approved sources of information, like facts and things.

Following the referendum and the squeaky bum No vote, Labour tried to remove as many powers as possible from the Vow without collapsing it entirely, or more accurately by trying to ensure that its collapse could be blamed on someone else. The Labour Accounting Unit if Scotland spent their time during the Smith Commission consultation process playing devolution jenga. This wasn’t actually that difficult, as the Vow consisted of highly non-specific promises to begin with. Even so, Labour made sure that Scotland wouldn’t have control of the minimum wage or most benefits. You’ll have had yer devomax then, said Labour smugurphly, and added that these were the very bestest extra powers it was possible to have. And something about pooling and sharing, which was mentioned every couple of minutes as it’s clearly important for Jim Murphy’s expenses claims. That’s a vow fulfilled and we’ll be having no more of that separatist nonsense as it upsets Magrit Curran and Wee Wullie Bain.

Now however the very bestest possible devo maxiest turns out not to be the very bestest or the most maxiest after all, because on Monday Jim Murphy – and some superannuated geezer called Gordie – vowed that if Scotland votes Labour in May we’ll be in for super devo double plus good. It was not explained why this new offer of a super devo gob stopper that we can sook on for years without it ever losing its flavour was presented by a back bench MP who has already announced that he will be stepping down from the Parliament he’s scarcely attended for the past few years. Neither was it explained why we are supposed to be reassured about the worth of this new vow when the self-same ex-politician who promised to supervise the last vow now doesn’t think that the last vow delivers anything like enough. Gordie swore blind the last time that the Smith Commission was going to deliver “near federalism”. So this time presumably Labour is going to deliver “almost right on top of federalism but not quite there yet, we just need to stop off at Celtic Park for some photo ops so Jim can pretend he’s normal”.

But Labour’s attitude to Gordon Brown’s political worth is similar to the attitude of the producers of the Police Academy movies to comedy. They’ll keep dragging the old joke out even though we all stopped laughing years ago. In the next instalment, Vow Academy III, Gordon and Jim will suffer a series of supposedly hilarious misadventures as they try to ensure that the bumbling Captain Miliband is elected to the city council and will save their careers. Which also formed the plot line for Vow Academy I and II.

This new plotline, sorry offer, is entirely unconnected with any opinion polls you may have seen recently which show that more people believe that Elvis is alive and well and working in a chippie in Montrose than believe that Jim Murphy is an effective leader of Labour’s North British Accounting Unit, or AU for short. In a supplementary question about the trustworthiness of party and accounting unit leaders, a large majority of those polled said that if they shook hands with Jim, the first thing they’d do afterwards would be to count their fingers. Or at least the offer is unconnected with the polls in the same way that Magrit Curran opposed fracking. The electorate have taken all this on board, and May’s vote is looking like it’s going to be a weapon of Mag’s destruction.

By a happy coincidence, AU is also the generally accepted abbreviation for Astronomical Unit, the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. This is also a rough measure of the distance Labour has to make up in the opinion polls if it is to have any chance at all of overtaking the SNP and clinging on to its majority of Scotland’s Westminster seats.

The promise of new improved all singing all dancing powers is Labour’s master strategy to win back disaffected Labour voters by reminding them how much Labour has screwed them over in the past. It’s a stroke of genius, or just a stroke. Certainly it’s a product of brain death as Labour’s neurones fail to fire. It’s a clear and simple message which tells voters to vote Labour because Labour failed to meet their expectations the last time – but this time they really really mean it, pinky promise sure they do.

The new pretendy offer of new pretendy powers which Labour swore blind were not needed just a couple of months ago smacks of desperation, like a junky promising to give up the smack if we’ll only give him a tenner for a wee bag of powers that’s been cut with all sorts of rubbish.

Labour’s upping of its devo offers is a lesson to the people of Scotland that if we keep voting ABLY (Anyone But Labour’s Yobs) Labour will keep promising more and more in an effort to entice us back into the fold. And that’s the thing about folds, it’s where sheep are held before being slaughtered. So the offers are best ignored. It makes far more sense to vote SNP in May safe in the knowledge that the SNP will hold Labour’s feet to the fire in order to get them to implement what Labour promised to implement anyway – and then some. Because we all know by now that if we vote Labour, Labour will only backtrack and deliver a tiny fraction of what they promised and will go back to treating the voters like sheep.