Last of the Westland Whigs

In the late 17th century, the 'Westland Whigs' were the radical descendants of earlier Covenanters who had defied the absolutist rule of Stuart kings in south west Scotland.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Election 2007- D and G on the blogs

Selection of entries re Dumfries and Galloway and election 2007, but also - see No.6 discovered that Professor Christopher Harvie is standing as an SNP candidate.... very interesting.
small parties will be the bane of the scottish conservatives in may's elections. take alex ferguson msp over in dumfries and galloway there, he's conservative and won last time round by 99 votes only. thanx to this summer's entertaining implosion by the socialist's it's a real possibility that the ssp will not stand there in may and instead concentrate on shoring up their core support along in the clyde. the ssp took around 280 votes in d&g. that's 280 or so votes going back to labour are maybe even the gnats. either way they wont be heading to the conservatives. alex fergusson thus starts his re-election campaign in second place!
Recently, Russell Brown MP sent a letter to constituents in the Galloway part of his Dumfries and Galloway Westminster Constituency on House of Commons notepaper in a franked House of Commons envelope. The cost of this single mailshot has to have been more than the entire SNP campaign budget for the Scottish Parliament election in Galloway & Upper Nithsdale, and, furthermore, it appeared to have been met from the public purse. I thought that the content of the letter amounted to electioneering support for Labour's Scottish Parliament election campaign, so I sent it and the envelope to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Sir Philip Mawer, complaining that the mailshot broke the rule that House of Commons resources should not be used for party political or campaigning purposes.
Sir Philip investigated. As a result, Russell Brown apologised to Sir Philip on behalf of his volunteer workers, who, he claimed, had mistakenly used House of Commons envelopes for part of the mailing, having run out of the plain envelopes they should have used. Russell Brown has offered to repay the House of Commons for the pre-paid envelopes that were used. I haven't been told how many plain envelopes were sent out before they switched to pre-paid ones.
Sir Philip did not agree with me that the content of the mailing broke the House of Commons rules, so he did not uphold my complaint.
I guess this works out at a draw. Nevertheless, I'd be interested to hear from anybody in Galloway who got a copy of that mailing in a plain envelope.
South of Scotland - Regional vote
Note first of all, that of all the regions I am finding the South hardest to call but more on that later.
The results, as my prediction stands, are:
Mike Russell (SNP) - 18,792
Claudia Beamish (Labour) – 17,403
Derek Brownlee (Tory) – 17,015
Chris Balance (Greens) – 16,657
Adam Ingram (SNP) – 15,033
Lib Dem candidate (Lib Dems) – 14,213
Jalal Chaudry (Labour) – 13,923
John Lamont – (Tory) - 12,763

Now, let’s see:
John Scott, Cathy Jamieson and Aileen Campbell I have as comfortable wins. Irene Oldfather also fairly comfortable.
Murray Tosh is somewhat more controversial but I still back him to cause a surprise, and I also urge SNP voters to back him as Mike Russell winning in Dumfries would lead to the same result anyway, but it’s more likely for Murray to unseat Labour’s Elaine Murray here.
Based on newspaper report…
Labour admits meltdown in crucial election seats
LABOUR is set to lose some of its key battleground constituencies, according to senior campaign figures who fear the party is facing a meltdown of popular support ahead of May's Scottish elections.
Key marginals in Dundee, Edinburgh, Dumfries and in rural Scotland are also slipping away, they fear.
Such is the shift of support that SNP leader Alex Salmond is understood to have ordered his own polling figures in the key constituencies to be downplayed for fear it will lead to complacency. One source said Labour had all but given up in some areas where previously it felt it had a strong chance.

There are also warnings that Labour is under severe pressure from the Lib Dems and the Tories: junior minister Sarah Boyack is under threat from the Lib Dems in Edinburgh Central, and in Dumfries MSP Elaine Murray is facing a strong Conservative challenge.
In both cases, Labour campaign chiefs warn the full-frontal attack on the SNP is diverting attention away from the main threat.
One source said: "It's typical Jack: attack the Nats and just hope it works out. But they are not the main challenge in most of the Central Belt, for example. It's those Libs we have to watch out for there."
5. From Michael Russell - SNP candidate Dumfries’s blog -
Last night the students at the Glasgow University part of the Crichton campus in Dumfries - along with some others including staff - staged a demonstration before the University Principal, Sir Muir Russell, spoke in one of the "Crichton Conversations".
It was a noisy, strongly felt but good natured. Then some students trooped in, heard Muir Russell make a weak defence of the decision, questioned him and left.
They had the best of it. His actual lecture , billed to be on "The Future of Higher Education" was painfully cautious, utterly lacking in vision and totally process driven. It exemplified the real problems both of Scotland and of Scottish Higher Education - multiple failures in leadership and ambition. And of course Muir Russell is well placed demonstrate both ; now in charge of one of our leading Universities, and formally in charge of the civil service in Scotland.
A depressing evening but one which should stir anyone with half a brain and half a heart to every effort in the coming six weeks, so that Scotland can at last start to change. We can do better than this - in fact we must.
6. From
Professor Christopher Harvie is standing as an SNP candidate
Next to Lampedusa's The Leopard, a favourite novel is Bulgakov's The White Guard. In Kiev, during the Russia civil war, the Chekhovian bourgeois - heroes, naifs, rotters, charmers - flirt and fight and grow up, while out on the plains. Kuropatkin, threatened Ukrainian strongman, broods in his armoured train. The book was, weirdly enough, a favourite of Stalin's, and he let Bulgakov live.
The constellation has some parallels in the Scottish situation, flickering wanly on the edge of the London telescreen.
My experience on the stump as an election candidate is pretty positive, even in areas not supposed to be good for the SNP. I talked on March 6 to the Burntisland Speakers Club, on the Rotary level and reckoned by our local councillor to be natural Tory territory. But they were friendly and I found later that some were spreading the word about quite enthusiastically.
Labour isn't being seen around much. Posed photos of Gordon Brown, Marilyn Livingstone (Kirkcaldy's MSP) and local councillors show up in the Fife Free Press, but there's no leafletting in the High Street, and no mention of the Holyrood campaign on the party website. Scotland on Sunday on the March 25 had a tirade against Blair by Tom Brown (no relation to Gordon).
The Gordon uptake was "a crusade for the Union". Not well timed. Twelve thousand Orangemen were around Edinburgh on the Saturday, banging the Lambeg Drum to celebrate 1707, which wouldn't have helped. Not too reliable as an indicator, blogging response to even pro-Labour stories in the Scottish press seems overwhelmingly nationalist, roughly 200 to 20 in response to Tom Brown's Scotland on Sunday piece. Labour ought to give as good as it gets, but it seems torpid. Is this because of long-serving councillors (often the last of the activists) quitting in advance of PR in the local elections?
The blogging was too home-made to be prompted by the SNP, though the week up to March 19 was good for the party, with the news of support from Sir George Mathewson, former governor of the Royal Bank (nine billion in profits) and Brian Souter of Stagecoach.
What's behind this? Are we approaching a stage at which there will either be a smooth transition to independence or a dreadful crashing of gears in which there's no clear decision either way, but a maximum degree of tension? Big-business backing plus cash can boost the SNP percentages and make a coalition on SNP terms viable, matching up with Alex Salmond's activist "Hundred Days" agenda. Assume Gordon to be PM after May 4 but dead in the water, or not there at all, and Cameron in the ascendant in England, and you'll have the momentum for a successful independence referendum.
My hunch is that Mathewson-Souter have no illusions about the UK's real economic condition and think that for Scotland to get out while the oil's still around (and into Europe, which interests Gordon not a whit) is the lesser risk. If you were a clever Anglophone European, would you reject this sort of scenario?
On March 9, I had an email in response to a letter to the Herald on the sale of Weir Pumps to the Swiss firm Sülzer (it later fell through) from the Wall Street Journal of all places. Reporter (Alistair MacDonald, Geordie unionist) rang, agreeing that UK manufacturing is in a dreadful state; Brownite claims of economic dynamism trickling down from finance to industry are so much flam, at best completely anecdotal. Why should the WSJ take this hostile line to Brown? Because hot money is flowing from Sarbanes-Oxley-supervised New York to London, where supervision has been cut to a (dangerous) minimum, and it wants to put a stop to it pdq?
In the Bulgakov scenario Gordon is the doomed Kuropatkin. His ineptitude in dealing with his clientèle astonishes. His economic record overall is dubious, let alone his crassness in matters European (not a cheep on the jubilee of the EU: this will be remembered). I can only put his survival down to the press barons' desire to have him around: reliably anti-Brussels and pro-property-and-retail, which keeps their own parasitical ad-driven world of housing, travel, sport, media supplements whirring around. But Rupert Murdoch, always hyper-intelligent, doesn't back losers and I notice that Private Eye is speculating that if he's confronted with a Scottish political situation which would bite chunks off the circulation of the Scottish Sun, he'd ditch Brown.
Who reads the Bun for the politics? True, but George Pascoe-Watson, its political commentator and dauphin of the legendary Trevor Kavanagh, is a Scottish Tory, a near-extinct breed, and presumably desperate enough to contemplate some such strategy. Acutely embarrassing as it will be, I would have to back "Murdoch, Rupert: Prince of Darkness" (his index-entry in the fourth edition of my Scotland and Nationalism, 2004) should he decide thus.


Post a Comment

<< Home