Scottish Labour meltdown prompts fears for the Union

Update The Guardian says Gordon Brown will call a snap by-election in Glasgow East next month. His premiership could be at stake says the Herald. See rewrite and more below the fold.

The fall-out from Wendy Alexander’s resignation as Labour leader in the Scottish Parliament and a good SNP showing in the Westminster by-election for Glasgow East could trigger a collapse throughout GB from which Labour might never recover and even imperil the Union, warns anti Brown and fanatical Blairite John Rentoul in the Independent. But even Rentoul will be taken aback if the latest report this morning is confirmed.

Today the Guardian is sensationally reporting that Gordon Brown intends to make the huge gamble and take the battle to the SNP by calling the by-election for July 24 to catch Alex Salmond on the hop.

The Scottish dimension of Labour’s dramatic collapse in the polls is an amazing story of political poker. The Prime Minister may be laying his job on the line. As he raises the stakes to that level, is the threat to the Union as big as some fear? Or is Brown about to repeat Wendy Alexander’s cardinal mistake and confuse Labour’s fate with that of the Union?

Certainly Alex Salmond has the Big Mo behind him and the scenario is by no means inconceivable.

First, Scottish Labour is in dreadful disarray, as Scotland on Sunday reports.

The party is split at least three ways, between MSPs and Westminster MPs, and within the Holyrood Parliament itself, over whether to continue with Alexander’s policy of defying the SNP to “bring on ” a referendum on independence. For many, her downfall is a heaven-sent opportunity to get themselves off an uncomfortable hook. For others, Labour’s best chance lies in seizing the initiative and going for a referendum that unionists can win.

Next, the polls are running the SNP’s way, gaining on Labour for Westminster and passing them for the differently defined Holyrood constituencies and regions.

Yet all is not lost …The best option for Scottish Labour is to argue for enhanced powers for the Holyrood Parliament, says noted commentator Iain McWhirter.

Furthermore, Rentoul referred to the obstacles in the path to independence, including almost certainly not one, but two referendums, the first on independence on principle, the second, on the final proposals which have to be agreed with Westminster, which among other things would bring the Westminster subsidy to an end.

The case is made by Robert Hazell of the University of London’s Constitution Unit

(Declaration of interest: I’m an honorary fellow of the Unit)

Even so, does the trend of events and opinion bring Scottish independence that bit nearer? Undoubtedly the force is with the SNP. Yet today, Salmond’s minority government for all their self confidence are blocked by a solid unionist majority in the Parliament. Unless the pro-union parties turn to jelly, Salmond cannot even win a parliamentary vote to call a referendum, much less win a referendum itself in 2010, the year the First Minister says he wants to call it – even with the momentum gained if the SNP become the largest Scottish party in the next Westminster general election expected in spring of that year. You can see what Salmond is up to. He is using the independence argument to create momentum and chip away at Labour. In his heart he may not even want an early referendum; the prospect of one spooks and divides Labour and is too useful a weapon to give up easily.

As Alexander’s fall partly shows, Salmond’s referendum tactics have proved a brilliant success. She had no answer to Salmond’s tour de force in office. She seized on the one major topic over which she thought she, as the head of the largest unionist party in a Parliament with an overall unionist majority, held the initiative -on the choice between Union or independence by referendum. By law, only the Scottish government can move the Bill for a referendum. She believed she would call Salmond’s bluff by forcing him to bring in a referendum Bill his minority SNP government would be sure to lose. Instead, she fell into Salmond’s trap. She split the party by making the referendum Labour’s immediate cause, while Salmon refused to budge from his 2010 date. She did this when there was no need to do so and when most of her party – including Gordon Brown – vehemently opposed it. It is that basic tactical blunder, as much as the error of failing to declare a small invalid donation, that was the cause of her downfall. Salmon had called Alexander’s bluff, rather than vice versa.

In two years’ time, the balance of a devolved UK may change if a Conservative government is elected, with the SNP the largest party in Scotland.
A Conservative England and a nationalist Scotland would be left staring at each other for a while. Who knows what would happen: but one scenario is that an referendum on Scottish independence would be much more viable after 5 May 2011. That is the set date for the next Holyrood election, which the SNP on trend could win outright. But as the polls consistently show, there is no guarantee they would win a referendum on outright independence.

The Herald spells out this morning of what’s immediately at stake.

All parties including the SNP are waking up to the realisation that although Scots may vote in three years’ time for an SNP majority government, they consistently oppose outright independence, while favouring more powers for the Holyrood Parliament.

In the end, Salmond and co. may be only too happy to settle for something like a federal solution – an outcome which would make waves all over the UK including NI, though well short of the epochal conclusion of an end to the Union. In the short term – next month – Gordon Brown seems ready to stake his future on an absorbing game of the highest stakes.

  • There are no indications that there would be a “Yes” vote for independence in Scotland.

    A “Devolution Plus” scenario seems to be where this is headed.

  • RepublicanStones

    In the event of scottish independence anyone know what the scenario might be reference the north sea oil situation?

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    *Tries really hard to give a f*ck*.
    Nah, nothing!

  • “In the event of scottish independence anyone know what the scenario might be reference the north sea oil situation? ”
    One to be negotiated in the divorce.
    I rather reckon though that Scotland and England-though sleeping in separate beds and having nothing to say to each other wont go all the way to the divorce courts.

    The sensible thing will be to stay togther for the sake of the Welsh and poor Sammy ;0)

  • Loyal Ulster Unionist

    Any news on the Dup by-election candidate in Enniskillen?

  • heck

    you say it like it’s a bad thing

  • joeCanuck

    the north sea oil situation?

    Rapidly running out. Soon will be nothing to negotiate.

  • Dewi

    Mr Hazell’s stuff ain’t right. There is no constitutional requirement for one referendum let alone two.

    This time I think we’ll do it – It’s Scotland’s oil at $200 a barrel.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>the north sea oil situation?

    Rapidly running out. Soon will be nothing to negotiate.< >I rather reckon though that Scotland and England-though sleeping in separate beds and having nothing to say to each other wont go all the way to the divorce courts.<

  • The hoary old chestnut that the North sea oil is running out is not true. while there will be no other big finds there is a lot of recoverable oil remaining. North sea oil production dropped because oil prices dropped to now ridculously low levels. production would not even recover costs. There are at least 25 billion barrels of recoverable in the north sea.

    25,000,000,000 multipled by $140 is a big sum folks. While the cost of recoevring that oil would be higher due to its deep water location you are still looking at a huge amount of money for Scotland.

    check out:
    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/natural_resources/article4063575.ece

  • ulsterfan

    There is as much oil left as has been taken out of the North Sea.
    We are not just talking about known wells which are difficult to reach but new discoveries are coming to light.

  • joeCanuck

    Shows what I know guys. I guess I’m sadly out of date.
    Thanks for letting me know.

  • Get rid of the legislation that allowed devoloution in the first place, and get the U.K. back on to a unitary footing. All this independence business is nonsense. The Scots cannot impose a federal soloution on the entire UK, and why all this emphasis in this thread on north sea oil?

    If Scotland were to go independent, and I entirely agree it would take more than one referendum for that to happen- what about their share of the national debt? Britain’s defences based in the clyde, and membership of the EU, which would not be automatic.

    The people of Scotland may vote SNP, but that doesn’t necessarialy mean they will countenance independence when faced with the stark reality.

  • I have often been struck by the thought that the union survives in no small measure on the votes of Glasgow Celtic supporters.

    So I suppose it’s kind of appropriate that it’s fate could be decided in a constituency that includes Parkhead.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    No worries Joe, it’s just the “big lies” have been unchallenged for so long that everyone used to believe them. Here is a handy guide to Scottish Unionism;

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=zO5leiwEiTM, and

    http://tinyurl.com/6grjcc

    There is a bit concerning oil and the divide and rule thing between Catholics and Prods.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>what about their share of the national debt? Britain’s defences based in the clyde, and membership of the EU, which would not be automatic.< >The people of Scotland may vote SNP, but that doesn’t necessarialy mean they will countenance independence when faced with the stark reality.<

  • Irish Jer

    That Scotland would not have automatic right to be a member to the union and England would is a laughable concept. Its wearying to even have to respond to it.

  • “Certainly Alex Salmond has the Big Mo behind him”

    Brian, what part, if any, do you imagine Salmond has played in the Rathlin ferry debacle? Are you surprised that the BBC has, so far, not passed comment? Ditto UTV.

    Is there anything in Schedules A, B and C that is beyond the wit of BBC or other journalists or was Paisley right when he referred to lazy journalists?

  • kensei

    Brian

    As Alexander’s fall partly shows, Salmond’s referendum tactics have proved a brilliant success. She got fed up with Salmond’s constant goading of her for funking a referendum and her nerve broke under pressure. She called “ bring it on” and fell into Salmond’s trap. She put a referendum on the agenda when there was no need and when most of her party – including Gordon Brown – vehemently opposed it. It is that basic tactical blunder, as much as the error of failing to declare a small invalid donation, that was the cause of her downfall.

    The referendum is on the agenda as long as the SNP are the government in Scotland. The idea of having the referendum is universally popular regardless of stance, and running away from it gives the SNP a huge stick to beat the Unionist parties with at the next election. The blunder wasn’t that Alexander took a “Bring it on” approach, the blunder was that Brown hung her out to dry. She became untenable from that point.

    I also doubt it’ll take two referendums. A second could perhaps be forced but it seems inconceivable that having voted themselve sout, they could reverse the decision and things go on anything like they are now.

    Also from the tone of the piece, I take it you are a Unionist?

  • LURIG

    It would appear that ‘RE LOYAL PEEPLE’ in ‘OUR WEE COUNTRY’, the Falkland Islanders, Gibraltarians & BNP are the ONLY ones who want to stay ‘BRITISH’. This notion of the Union that Unionists have spouted as their mantra for decades is now exposed as a false God. The REAL British public across the water have NEVER classified Northern IRISH Protestants as BRITISH. Along with the Taigs in Ulster they are seen as BIG PADDIES. NO ONE else gives a fig about ‘BRITISHNESS’, the Scots want out, the Welsh would go given half a chance and the English have had enough of the ‘Home Nations’. It’s ALL going to end in tears. The English DON’T want a crowd of dour, grumpy Scots ruling them and the fact that the DUP came to their aid in the recent House Of Commons vote FURTHER pissed them off. A further example of this was when GLASGOW RANGERS got to the UEFA CUP FINAL in Manchester. 1000’s of RANGERS FANS went to the game from SCOTLAND & NORN IRON. They carried Union & Ulster flags and sang about KING BILLY & THE UNION. The people of Manchester were appalled and didn’t recognise or get THIS perception of BRITISHNESS that these hordes portrayed. So there we have it, the future Union will ONLY consist of white England, the Drum beating parts of the ‘wee six’ and a few stolen colonial islands. HA! HA! HA! HA! How ridiculous does the DUP BRITISH campaign sound? Wake up Peter & Jeffrey, your version of BRITISHNESS disappeared when the Famine Queen Victoria was lowered in to her grave in 1901. UNIONISM does protest TOO much. The rest of the world sees you as a badly behaved, disobedient, spoiled, cheeky IRISH tribe. Accept it, live with it and move on.

  • LURID

    “The rest of the world sees you as a badly behaved, disobedient, spoiled, cheeky IRISH tribe.”

    Scots tribe on holiday.

  • LURIG

    I am going to start a new campaign ‘I WANT TO BE NORWEGIAN’. This is ONLY because I have stated it AND want it to be true AND the Norwegian people MUST accept it whether they like it or not. This sounds very like the DUP BRITISHNESS campaign, say something NONSENSICAL and presume others will accept it just because I want it to be so. The REAL BRITISH people across the water LONG AGO determined that Unionists are NOT British and ‘North Down Nigel’ & ‘East Antrim Wendy’ can shout & protest ALL day about that but they WON’T change it. They are PADDIES as anyone who served in the British Forces can testify. Look at Blair Mayne, one of the bravest most fearless soldiers of WWII. A Protestant from Newtownards, what was his nickname? Indeed so, Blair ‘PADDY’ Mayne. I rest my case.

  • LURID

    “Spoke to a lady (native Irish) by phone recently. She was in Dublin. She asked if my accent was Scottish. Bangor I said. Welsh she asked?”

    Ok – the Welsh bit was a lie. The rest was true.

  • Brian Walker

    Kensei, As regards the “tone” of the piece, do you mean “aha! he’s a unionist” (or whatever), so he can’t be trusted?”.Do you think my analysis serves only pre-determined views I’m concealing from you? That’s a pity. You may miss out on much of the whole absorbing debate if you think like that.

    I believe a further extension of devolution is inevitable and may in time evolve into federation, whereby parts of the UK opt in, rather than opt out. I am hardly alone in thinking that strong devolution or federation accords with the line of Salmond’s thinking. His view of relationships with the rest of the UK is certainly very benign and cooperative. Maybe he is merely lulling waverers into supporting independence with warm words? Or maybe his words represent the beginnings of a default position which retains the Union in a form that accords with the views of the Scottish people more closely than the SNP’s current position?
    These matters should be tested in both Parliaments and in wider public debate before we get to a referendum on the principle. We need to know more about how the principle translates into practice.

    Does that make me a unionist? I think it makes me a democrat. But you decide.

  • LURID

    I’ve had the impression that Salmond’s vision is of a Western Scandinavia with Scotland playing the part of Norway?. Our Nordic Council could be an enhanced British-Irish Council

    Perhaps we’re Iceland.

  • foreign correspondent

    I honestly don´t really care if Scotland leaves the UK or not. I´d just like to see Ireland reunited some day in the not too distant future.
    And one man´s fears are another man´s hopes.

  • kensei

    Brian

    Kensei, As regards the “tone” of the piece, do you mean “aha! he’s a unionist” (or whatever), so he can’t be trusted?”.Do you think my analysis serves only pre-determined views I’m concealing from you? That’s a pity. You may miss out on much of the whole absorbing debate if you think like that.

    No. The tone you take is that implicitly that the break up of the Union is an inherently bad thing. To concur with heck — why? Aside from that, I just like to know where people are coming from, and I am just wondering if Mick has got another Unionist blogger when the top level of the site has been skewed that way for quite a while now.

    I am hardly alone in thinking that strong devolution or federation accords with the line of Salmond’s thinking.

    I don’t think he’s particularly interested in federation. I think Brian Taylor on his Bbc blog (for the life of me, can’t find the post at the moment) nailed it a while back when stated what Salmond really wanted de jure independence, but probably would settle for de facto independence.

    His view of relationships with the rest of the UK is certainly very benign and cooperative. Maybe he is merely lulling waverers into supporting independence with warm words?

    Why shouldn’t they be? In any future independent Scotland scenario there would be tight links with the other parts of the UK and Ireland. They are inescapable. But any federation seems largely redundant since the EU takes care of most the significant relationships. He’s already stated a desire to go into the Euro, eventually.

    Or maybe his words represent the beginnings of a default position which retains the Union in a form that accords with the views of the Scottish people more closely than the SNP’s current position?

    There is absolutely no indication of that anywhere. It is pure speculation. Moreover, you are focusing too tightly on Salmond. He’s the leader of a party, not a one man show. That party will encompass a range of views, a big chunk of which won’t be happy with the retention of the Union.

    These matters should be tested in both Parliaments and in wider public debate before we get to a referendum on the principle. We need to know more about how the principle translates into practice.

    Which are questions that would undoubtedly come in a referendum campaign. In any case, there have also been two processes to date to do just that – “The Big Conversation” kicked off by the SNP Government, and the Commission setup by Unionist parties. It is not like the SNP has announced it wants a referendum (a manifesto commitment, remember, Mr Democrat) and done bugger all about it until it’s suddenly time to have one.

    Second, you would expect the sceptical questions to be asked by the opposition. But they’ve been avoiding any debate on the issue at all. The movement and the discussion on the issue has been entirely forced by the SNP, which is why Labour are in disarray. They are no longer in control of events. Alexander was trying to regain some of the initiative, define some of the grounds for the debate. It wasn’t very well done (missing the fact Labour couldn’t introduce a bill to force things was a howler, as was doing it without talking to any of the other Unionist parties) but it was precisely the right strategy.

    Does that make me a unionist? I think it makes me a democrat. But you decide.

    No, I think it means you seem to have missed big swathes of the story.

  • Briso

    Kensei wrote:
    Aside from that, I just like to know where people are coming from, and I am just wondering if Mick has got another Unionist blogger when the top level of the site has been skewed that way for quite a while now.

    Of the first 50 articles on the site, one was written from a Nationalist or Republican perspective. A good question is, whose fault is that?

  • Briso, perhaps the ‘concerned bloggers’ and other members of the ‘pan-Nationalist’ family have begun the Twelfth fortnight early 🙂

  • Briso

    Posted by Nevin on Jun 30, 2008 @ 10:27 AM
    Briso, perhaps the ‘concerned bloggers’ and other members of the ‘pan-Nationalist’ family have begun the Twelfth fortnight early 🙂

    Perhaps it’s the contrary Nevin, they’ve all got jobs now!!!!

  • Let’s not get too far above ourselves here.
    The breakup of the Union is not at all imminent at all and dividing up the North Sea oil revenues is just plainly silly at the moment.
    The possible loss of the Glasgow seat is a real possibility, especially as the commonly believed rumour on the side of the water (Scotland)is that the actress Elaine C Smith has here name in the hat for consideration for the seat.
    Smith is a long time advocate of the SNP and starts with an enormous amount going for her if she is selected. She is very well known and has a very high media profile and is sure to collect the ‘wimen’s’ vote as a well established and very feminist. She is highly articulate and very sharp in debate and quite frankly Labour has no one able to take her own as years of conformity among the ranks have seen interest in it as a life-force almost extinguish among committed articulate young people.
    She will also pick up the vote of the downtrodden as many in Scotland actually believe that she is actually married to the Govan philosopher and man about town Rab C Nesbit, who is obviously a Labour voter.
    There is a real instability around all of this as the notion that a party which had delivered a political hegemony that maintained the Labour Party as a force in Parliament during the bad days of Thatcher and Major.
    A failure to recognise that the future was not going to be tha same as the past while watching the core vote grow old and die has allowed the Party to entirely lose contact with it’s roots.
    The years of Blair did not renew and reinvigorate the Labour masses who watched as the Trade Union in private companies as opposed to Government and Local Government lost out in jobs and membership.
    The notion that the South of England was getting all the goods while Scotland was getting the elbow was reinforced by the institution of the Scottish Parliament where Labour hegemony was secured with a pact with the Liberals.
    Anathema to grass roots who looked for a straight Labour Government and lost interest in an institution that they did not control once it appeared to not have much power to do a lot anyway. The unwillingness to take on London by Scottish Labour over policy differences allowed the feeling that Labour doesn’t care and are just the same as the other parties to grow from irritation into almost complete disillusionment with both party and Parliament. Conformity and control were the watchwords and the record of the Labour party in Holyrood of standing up for Scotland seems difficult to find so far as the public opinion is concerned.
    The tactic adopted by Wendy Alexander’s coven, sorry highly vocal friends, of simply talking over any question being raised about her finances or views that were subjects of legitimate interest confirmed the opinion that Labour was just the same as the other parties. The last time the ‘buzzsaw talkover’ was so comprehensively adopted was during the Thatcher and Major dark days. And it did much to confirm that the Tories didn’t care – something that came back to haunt them at the ballot box.
    Interesting things are happening here in Scotland and we should be paying more attention to the possible cataclysmic consequences than an early rush to share out North Sea oil.
    Nor’n Ir’n politicians should pay more attention to the land across the water bridge. Lessons could be learned about the consequences of coalition!

  • Brian Walker

    Come on, Kensei, lay off the casual abuse. Clearly you can do better than that. At least you’ve changed the main grounds of your criticism of my analysis from unionism to ignorance – which although unwelcome is not as unpleasant as accusing Slugger of setting out to become unionist dominated.

    Read closely however, I’m not sure we differ that much in substance. Of course, much of any account has to be speculation, but based on evidence and argument.

    Does my “federation” differ much from your “de facto ( and not de jure) independence” as the SNP’s possible default position? I think not. Neither of us knows what the default position will be, as the game has still to be played out.

    Finally, the Union still enjoys decisive majority support, with a choice of variables for its future form. To say the least, it’s only fair to acknowledge that position, as well as giving full measure to both the SNP’s successes, and the democratic validity of their aspirations – whatever they may finally be. Their 2007 manifesto can hardly be the last word. The 2010 date for a referendum had to be purely aspirational for a minority government – until that is, Wendy put the cat among the pigeons, where it remains.

  • kensei

    Brian

    Come on, Kensei, lay off the casual abuse.

    It’s not casual abuse. If that is your position, then I believe you have missed something fairly big.

    Clearly you can do better than that. At least you’ve changed the main grounds of your criticism of my analysis from unionism to ignorance – which although unwelcome is not as unpleasant as accusing Slugger of setting out to become unionist dominated.

    It was never a criticism. It was simply a question. And I think that Slugger lacking active bloggers from a Nationalist perspective at the moment can be fairly objectively proven by looking at who is posting. That doesn’t mean Unionist posting is bad/wrong/whatever. It just means you are possible missing another perspective.

    Does my “federation” differ much from your “de facto ( and not de jure) independence” as the SNP’s possible default position? I think not. Neither of us knows what the default position will be, as the game has still to be played out.

    In any scenario that has de facto independence for Scotland also probably has de facto federalism for the UK. But de jure federalist arrangements implies some changes that I can’t see yet, and I see no evidence that Alex Salmond really wants to direct his party in that direction.

    Finally, the Union still enjoys decisive majority support, with a choice of variables for its future form.

    The only way to determine “decisive” support for the Union is via referendum. Polls depend on the question asked and the current political climate and are anything other than decisive at the moment. Volatile would be the word I would use.

    To say the least, it’s only fair to acknowledge that position, as well as giving full measure to both the SNP’s successes, and the democratic validity of their aspirations – whatever they may finally be. Their 2007 manifesto can hardly be the last word. The 2010 date for a referendum had to be purely aspirational for a minority government – until that is, Wendy put the cat among the pigeons, where it remains.

    Yes, but it is simply wrong to say that the SNP was using the referendum to avoid having the debate. Quite the opposite. They tried to use a debate to get the referendum.

    It will be interesting to see what the new Labour leader does with regards the commitment. Looks like a Hobson’s choice to me.

  • Dewi

    “Finally, the Union still enjoys decisive majority support, with a choice of variables for its future form.”

    That’s a bold statement Brian. I’d never underestimate the dynamic of zeitgeist. Annie Lennox came out for independence the other day. Apart from Goldie (who, by the way, says that the result of a referendum should be respected not second guessed) the Unionist parties at Holyrood have been totally outclassed. The economic argument is now getting clarified (there is absolutely nothing wrong in claiming a country’s natural resources as it’s own). To be absolutely honest I reckon Salmond should have taken up Wendy’s offer to “Bring it on”.

  • smcgiff

    ‘And I think that Slugger lacking active bloggers from a Nationalist perspective at the moment…’

    I imagine if you asked Mick he’d be amiable to another nationalist blogger. Personally, I look out for the unionisth commentators more than the nationalist ones. I like to see where they’re coming from.

    God knows they’ve a hard enough job! ;->

  • “Perhaps it’s the contrary Nevin, they’ve all got jobs now!!!!”

    But, Briso, they probably had those jobs ages ago when they were blogging on Slugger 😉

    I’ve delivered the Rathlin ferry operator scandal(?) to Slugger on a plate but only Turgon has been prepared to touch it publicly – so far. Ditto for the media but only Sam McBride and a few local journalists have been willing to take it on. And some were asked months ago …

    I understand our delightful, conscientious and sweat-breaking MLAs in North Antrim – Ian Paisley snr, Ian Paisley jnr, Bob Coulter, Daithi McKay and Declan O’Loan – could have sorted this matter out months ago but only Jim Allister MEP has been prepared to issue a public challenge. You’d think that our politicians would be prepared to put justice ahead of vested interest …

    PS David Ford has taken part in the Slugger debate but I can find no evidence of dynamic action on the Alliance website, not even a mention of the Rathlin ferry fiasco.

  • Perhaps I should also have emphasised public safety. I note that in Schedule A all three boxes for Safety of Operations have been ticked.

    Yet at Sam McBride’s encounter on Thursday past we have the following:

    Ciaran O’Driscoll .. refused to comment on whether he had a safety management plan (SMP) but both the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) .. and .. (DRD) confirmed that the SMP has yet to be approved

    If there was no SMP at the time of the tender then should the SoF box have been ticked? All boxes MUST be ticked before scoring can begin.

    Perhaps Peter Robinson, the then DFP minister, and Conor Murphy DRD can confirm that they and their officials – and the Tender Evaluation Committee – had sight of the safety document(s) during the tendering process. Ditto performance bond, insurance, ticketing et al.

    As the MV True Light – which failed its MCA test – has now been replaced by the much slower MV Ossian of Staffa presumably the scoring will have to be reviewed before final commitments can be made …

    Then there’s the matter of the availability of relief vessels which I understand must meet a like-for-like capacity within three(?) days.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>Moreover, you are focusing too tightly on Salmond. He’s the leader of a party, not a one man show. That party will encompass a range of views, a big chunk of which won’t be happy with the retention of the Union.< >But they’ve been avoiding any debate on the issue at all. The movement and the discussion on the issue has been entirely forced by the SNP, which is why Labour are in disarray. They are no longer in control of events. Alexander was trying to regain some of the initiative, define some of the grounds for the debate. It wasn’t very well done (missing the fact Labour couldn’t introduce a bill to force things was a howler, as was doing it without talking to any of the other Unionist parties) but it was precisely the right strategy.< >The breakup of the Union is not at all imminent at all and dividing up the North Sea oil revenues is just plainly silly at the moment.< >especially as the commonly believed rumour on the side of the water (Scotland)is that the actress Elaine C Smith has here name in the hat for consideration for the seat.<

  • dewi

    I wonder about Mr McNeill Eoghan. He’s in his mid-fifties and suspect he’d much rather serve his country in Holyrood if he gets that chance next time. Annie Lennox or the politically correct one of The Proclaimers?

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    All depends if you view these elections as circus type events. We must be able to win on our own terms, not with show ponies………….so to speak. Anyhow the tanned one might just be making an appearance. Though Mr Sheridan is a soosider, and we in the east end are mainly of the opinion that they eat their ain weans o’er that side ae the water. I fear he may well take dissafected Labour votes away from the SNP.

    As for Lachie, be fair Dewi would you blame him for wanting to have a crack, he is an intelligent, able if slightly dull man, not that that is a bad thing in politics. He’ll do though.

  • Oh my Gawd, there is a person that believes that political people say what is true in whatever political column they write in the papers!!!
    the moon really is made of Green Cheese.
    The point is here that the Labour Party in Scotland was the glue that held the Peoples Party together in the Parliamentary bad times and now in the Scottish popular support worse times it has nowhere to look for support within the working class, or anywhere else it seems.
    And it is because despite what it said what it did was to make the rich richer and the poor poorer over the last 10 or so years.
    Oh and sorry to remind everyone the entire country is in the grip of unpayable debt owed to the friendly banks and venture capitalists due to the aggressive PFI policies pursued by Brown et al.while at the ‘off budget sheet’ accountants branch aka the Treasury.
    When I was growing up in North Belfast men with doubled barrelled names would be pushed out into the light looking very uncomfortable dressed up as long dead Sovereigns and sitting precariously on less than docile equine stock to summon the Unionist hegemony to the cause of universal sufferage at the polls.
    Labour hegemony was not expressed quite like that but being seen at the ‘right events’ was the same thing over here.
    The SNP feels that this hegemony is now theirs, in much the same way as the Shimmers feel their due should now be openly seen to be paid.
    The DUP don’t have to worry as they know they are led by God and will in the end save Ulster from whatever Sodomistic bunch of……………… ……………….fill in your own ending but ‘hell in a handcart’ will be involved in the words used I feel.
    We are in a new sort of order here and all of these parties will wonder where it all went wrong (words like McCartney may/will come back to haunt SF) when the electorate just won’t bother any more and the established vote goes the way of the UUP and Scottish Labour vote, that is away.
    Politics may well become interesting again.

  • for Shimmers please read Shinners
    It does well to concentrate and read the draft before submitting!!!

  • Dewi

    Roy – what was all that about mun ?
    Eoghan – critical election – candidate important and logistics vital. Really need a candidate who wants it. Does Lachlan really want it ? (Honest question because I have no idea from afar)

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Roy

    >>Oh my Gawd, there is a person that believes that political people say what is true in whatever political column they write in the papers!!!< >Does Lachlan really want it ?<

  • Richard Anderson

    This whole debate is a red herring. Salmond and the SNP know that Scottish “independence” is a pipe-dream. What they are really aspiring to is increased power for the devolved Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. The nationalists are in the minority. They only have ONE more seat than Labour, a total of 47 out of the 129-seats; i.e. 36% of the MSPs.

    I believe that the “YES” vote to Scottish Indepedence would be much lower than 36%, somewhere between 25 and 30%. This is due to the SNP gaining a lot of votes from disillusioned Labour supporters in the 2007 Scottish Parliament Elections, who have no desire to leave the Union. Their vote for the SNP was a protest vote against an unpopular Labour government, it was not a vote for Scottish Independence.

    The SNP might have gained 20 seats more than the 2003 Election, but out of the “Big Three” Unionist parties only Labour had a significant losses of 4 seats. The Conservatives and Lib Dems both lost just one seat apiece, hardly a great shift towards anti-Unioninst sentiment. Coversely, the Scottish Socialist Party lost 6 seats and the Scottish Green Party lost 5 seats, so, other than Labour, the SNP really just cleaned up on the smaller parties outside of the mainstream; the Greens who are more interested in environmental than constitutional politics and the Socialists who, like the SNP, want Scottish Independence…

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Apart from telling us a whole load of stuff we already know, your analysis of SNP policy stinks.

    And if the Unionist parties are so sure of winning a referendum……………….why don’t they just “Bring it on” to quote a phrase of a sadly departed vote winner for the SNP.

  • willowfield

    If there were a referendum tomorrow, what % do you think would vote for independence?

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Willowfield,

    30% AT BEST…

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>what %[sic] do you think would vote for independence?<

  • dewi

    Strange how things work in politics. A referedum now with oil futures at $200 a barrel and Labour imploding is quite a nice set of conditions. I sense that Alex’s national conversation is precisely what is happening. Eoghan – I still reckon he should have taken up Wendy’s kind offer….

  • willowfield

    To whom are you referring?

    You, obviously!

  • foreign correspondent

    Spain seems scared of having a referendum in the Basque Country anyway. The Basque Parliament has just approved the idea but central government is ruling out the idea, saying it is anticonstitutional. What are they afraid of?

  • Dewi

    What are they afraid of?

    Losing

  • kensei

    The Conservatives and Lib Dems both lost just one seat apiece, hardly a great shift towards anti-Unioninst sentiment. Coversely, the Scottish Socialist Party lost 6 seats and the Scottish Green Party lost 5 seats, so, other than Labour, the SNP really just cleaned up on the smaller parties outside of the mainstream;

    You know, that sounds a lot like what the DUP did first.

  • Dewi

    SNP Favorites at Ladbrokes…Although perhaps they don’t unerstand this constituency

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>To whom are you referring?

    You, obviously!<

  • Dewi

    Tony – is the candidate picked ? We can do this I think – I hear that plenty of people from Wales are on their way up.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Dewi

    Well they had better get registered to vote, cos unfortunately I don’t think we can do it. And John Mason the SNP leader on Glasgow city council is now getting mentioned. I know him and despite the geeky looks is frighteningly effective and tough, however having campaigned religiously for Lachie for years. Will he do a Brutus? Doubt it!

  • willowfield

    Given that my post followed directly from yours, it was obvious that I was addressing you.

    Why did you decline to give your opinion on the % of votes likely to be cast for Scottish independence?

  • Dewi

    “SNP members in Glasgow East will select the candidate at a meeting tomorrow (Thursday) evening. The candidates are Cllr John Mason, Dr Duncan Ross and Humza Yousaf.”

    From the SNP website

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Dewi

    I have sent you an e-mail. I have missed my chance to attend the selection meeting.

    >>Given that my post followed directly from yours, it was obvious that I was addressing you.< >Why did you decline to give your opinion on the % of votes likely to be cast for Scottish independence?<

  • Dewi

    Cllr Mason it is – SNP candidate Glasgow East.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    No worries Joe, it’s just the “big lies” have been unchallenged for so long that everyone used to believe them. Here is a handy guide to Scottish Unionism;

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=zO5leiwEiTM, and

    http://tinyurl.com/6grjcc

    There is a bit concerning oil and the divide and rule thing between Catholics and Prods.

    Posted by Prionsa Eoghan on Jun 29, 2008 @ 09:56 PM………………………………………..

    Your links are nothing but prejudiced, mindless bigotry, sterotyping “the Prods” as thick and “the Taigs” who support Scottish independence as intellectually superior. What utter bullshit!

  • Concerned Loyalist

    It would appear that ‘RE LOYAL PEEPLE’ in ‘OUR WEE COUNTRY’, the Falkland Islanders, Gibraltarians & BNP are the ONLY ones who want to stay ‘BRITISH’. This notion of the Union that Unionists have spouted as their mantra for decades is now exposed as a false God. The REAL British public across the water have NEVER classified Northern IRISH Protestants as BRITISH. Along with the Taigs in Ulster they are seen as BIG PADDIES. NO ONE else gives a fig about ‘BRITISHNESS’, the Scots want out, the Welsh would go given half a chance and the English have had enough of the ‘Home Nations’. It’s ALL going to end in tears. The English DON’T want a crowd of dour, grumpy Scots ruling them and the fact that the DUP came to their aid in the recent House Of Commons vote FURTHER pissed them off. A further example of this was when GLASGOW RANGERS got to the UEFA CUP FINAL in Manchester. 1000’s of RANGERS FANS went to the game from SCOTLAND & NORN IRON. They carried Union & Ulster flags and sang about KING BILLY & THE UNION. The people of Manchester were appalled and didn’t recognise or get THIS perception of BRITISHNESS that these hordes portrayed. So there we have it, the future Union will ONLY consist of white England, the Drum beating parts of the ‘wee six’ and a few stolen colonial islands. HA! HA! HA! HA! How ridiculous does the DUP BRITISH campaign sound? Wake up Peter & Jeffrey, your version of BRITISHNESS disappeared when the Famine Queen Victoria was lowered in to her grave in 1901. UNIONISM does protest TOO much. The rest of the world sees you as a badly behaved, disobedient, spoiled, cheeky IRISH tribe. Accept it, live with it and move on.

    Posted by LURIG on Jun 29, 2008 @ 11:33 PM
    “The rest of the world sees you as a badly behaved, disobedient, spoiled, cheeky IRISH tribe.”

    Scots tribe on holiday.

    Posted by LURID on Jun 29, 2008 @ 11:45 PM…………………………………………

    two words describe you “Lurig”;

    IGNORANT RACIST…

  • Concerned Loyalist

    “It was never a criticism. It was simply a question. And I think that Slugger lacking active bloggers from a Nationalist perspective at the moment can be fairly objectively proven by looking at who is posting. That doesn’t mean Unionist posting is bad/wrong/whatever. It just means you are possible missing another perspective.”……………………………….

    You have got to be joking me, Kensei? Right? I stopped posting on Slugger for a number of months as there was an overwhelmingly nationalist/republican bias to the moderators and contributors, and my points of view weren’t being properly debated because republicans, en masse, chose to attack me personally instead of debating my politics.

    Equality for P.U.L. contributors/moderators has been improved, to a certain extent, which I congratulate Mick Fealty for, but there is ceratinly still a distinctly nationalist feel to the site…

  • Dewi

    Count the last 100 posts CL – it is probably through happenstance but there has been a shift to blogging from a Unionist perspective.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Dewi,

    It could be by chance, or it could be that the unionists felt it was about time that the claims by nationalists about Scottish independence being a possiblity in the near future, were shown up as being grossly wide of the mark. They, like me, perhaps feel that the Union has been good to them and talk of her imminent destruction by nationalist subservients like the SNP and you, should not be allowed to continue without reproach.

    By the way, is July 24 the confimed date for the by-election? If Labour are at 6/5 with my online bookies, as the Spectator quotes, I must get £50 staked on them holding the seat…

  • Dewi

    To answer myself. Last 100 posts as of 1.18am Friday July 04:

    Pete Baker 35
    Brian Walker 26
    Mick Fealty 18
    Turgon 6
    Fair Deal 5
    Chris Donnelly 4
    Michael Shilliday 3
    Belfast Gonzo 2
    Peter Doran 1

    Many of the posts have nothing to do with politics of course and many of those that are are balanced – however it is a little skewed and in danger of losing custom from one side of the great divide. As a point of the project is (I presume) to encourage conversation then an additional Nationalist blogger seems a good idea.

  • Dewi

    July 24 confirmed – I actually agree with you that the Labour odds are generous but SNp seem to be getting organised on the ground very quickly.

    Don’t know if this link works (it’s facebook) but campaign HQ opening 1pm tomorrow.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=32111223016&ref=nf

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Shit, I thought you meant the latest posts regarding Scottish independence and/or the East End of “Glasgy” by-election. DOH! Silly me…

    You do have a point that the number of posts/threads from unionist moderators greatly outnumbers the posts/therads from nationalist mods. I believe I’m right, however, that nationalist contributors in general far outweigh P.U.L. contibutors, probably by 5 or 6 to one…

  • Dewi

    My fault – I should have said threads not posts.

  • Dewi

    BNP crowing I’m getting a little worried about this lot I must admit

  • Dewi

    It get’s worse. To quote Griffin :
    “Catholics, Protestants and dissenters must unite to halt a mass influx of immigrants.”

    And the BNP organiser is called Kieran – you could not make it up.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>Your links are nothing but prejudiced, mindless bigotry, sterotyping “the Prods” as thick and “the Taigs” who support Scottish independence as intellectually superior. What utter bullshit!

    Posted by Concerned Loyalist< >it could be that the unionists felt it was about time that the claims by nationalists about Scottish independence being a possiblity in the near future, were shown up as being grossly wide of the mark. They, like me, perhaps feel that the Union has been good to them and talk of her imminent destruction by nationalist subservients like the SNP and you, should not be allowed to continue without reproach.<

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Are you doing an all-nighter Dewi? Broke out the irn-bru in celebration, you subserviant you ;¬)

  • willowfield

    Prionsa

    >>Why did you decline to give your opinion on the % of votes likely to be cast for Scottish independence?< <I didn’t decline anything.

    Yes, you did. I asked you the question, and you declined to answer it. Why?

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>Yes, you did. I asked you the question, and you declined to answer it. Why?<

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    *************LATEST******************

    George Ryan, the only candidate up for selection at Labour’s meeting tonight didn’t show up(FRIDAY NIGHT). They’ve had to cancel their day of action tomorrow and have another selection meeting planned for Monday night.

    Labour in crisis. Not only have they decided that the poll should take place at the Glasgow fair, ensuring a low turnout, but they can’t even get anyone to stand.

  • Dewi

    Worth a read Tony – Religious factors in Glasgow East

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    I know the guy and didn’t know he was a hardline Baptist, nor do I care. Also his dislike of the union flag would be a plus amongst Glasgow voters. Also the east end is not a predominately Catholic area. We are a very large minority.