Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour conference, March 2014:
And here’s what that means seven months later, in terms of the submissions of the five Holyrood parties to the Smith Commission on devolved powers:
Imagine if they WEREN’T the party of devolution, eh readers?
Here’s Nick Clegg in many of today’s papers:
“Alex Salmond reminds me of a Japanese soldier found in the jungle 20 years after the war had finished, still ducking at every shadow, thinking the war was still on. At some point, you have to call it a day and accept that the people have spoken.
Surely, even if we might not agree on a lot, Alex Salmond, myself and others can agree we are democrats and at the end of the day you have to abide (by the result). I have gone through referenda, which have not quite gone the way that I want. You don’t then immediately the next day say you don’t like the result, let’s have another crack at it.“
And Mr Clegg, as we know, is a man of his word. The AV referendum in 2011 was lost by a colossal margin of more than two to one – a gap of 36 points rather than the mere 10 independence was defeated by. So that’ll be the end of that.
This is a tough time to be writing analytically about Scottish politics, and for once we have a degree of empathy with our fellow journalists in the mainstream press. Very little worthy of discussion is actually happening, yet there are still pages to fill. Perhaps we should have taken a month off rather than two weeks.
That’s not to say that nothing NOTABLE is happening. The SNP more than tripling its membership in a month to the point where it may well be four times that of the three Unionist parties put together, for example, is a remarkable event, but there’s very little worthwhile to be said about it other than observing the simple fact. Nobody knows who these new members are, why they joined or what they want, and anyone speculating about it is just filling space with the sound of their own voice for the sake of it.
Similarly, discussing the Smith Commission report is mostly a pointless exercise. Its conclusions will be based on the submissions of the three Westminster parties – we can all, surely, discount the idea that any significant amount of the SNP’s contribution will be included – and those have been known since March.
And in any event, as we noted at the weekend, the Commission’s report will be an irrelevance. It’ll be followed in short order by a general election, and whichever party takes the keys to 10 Downing Street will not be bound by its conclusions. If the eventual devo package reflects the Commission’s findings it’ll be by pure electoral coincidence – if the Tories get in they’ll implement the Strathclyde Commission, and if it’s Labour it’ll be “devo nano”. (Why would either of them, having just won an election, voluntarily and needlessly compromise on their own preferred plan?)
So what to talk about?
Preserved for posterity in case of sudden vanishing, but also because we just couldn’t face writing another post about “The Vow” today.
This is a real thing that you can buy on Amazon and iTunes. If you chose to be British last month, this is what “British” means in 2014. Enjoy it.
Scotland is one of the more dramatic areas of Labour decline (it’s now the party’s second-worst “region”), but it’s far from alone. Fewer than 80% of Labour’s 2010 general election supporters now say they’ll vote Labour in 2015. The party is shedding votes everywhere and in every demographic group, as the post notes in detail.
With barely six months to the election, Labour’s average poll lead down to around 1%, UKIP continuing to grow and the expected traditional incumbency effect, it’d be a brave voter indeed who’d put a fiver on the increasingly hapless Ed Miliband taking the keys to 10 Downing Street next year.
There’s a rather curious piece in today’s Sunday Times by the UK’s only known living psephologist, the estimable Prof. John Curtice of Strathclyde University. In it he rather blows his cover of impartiality by framing his comments as an anti-SNP warning, but nevertheless raises an interesting point, while adding to the enormous pressure on the unfortunate Smith Commission.
It’s worth taking a moment to ponder the impossibility of its task.
This is how many Scottish Labour M/SPs turn out to save their own cushy jobs:
The Guardian today carries an article by Gordon Brown, which echoes the content of his speech to the House Of Commons on Thursday. We’ve read it over and over again trying to make any sort of coherent sense out of it, but we’ve drawn a blank. The mighty architect of “The Vow” appears to have not the slightest idea what he actually proposes as a constitutional settlement for the UK and Scotland.
But perhaps we’ve missed something.
Mark Steel in the Independent, 16 October 2014:
“Maybe one way they can reverse this is to try a more forthright approach, and to start with they could say: ‘If the Scottish are so daft as to believe our vow, maybe that proves they’re not fit to run their own country anyway, the idiots.'”
Craig Murray said something quite similar recently from the other side, as it were, and at the moment we’re finding it quite tough to disagree with either of them.