Friday, March 26, 2010

Question Time sensation : Liam Byrne thinks Gordon Brown should be banned from the "Prime Ministerial" Debates

Labour's Liam Byrne on Question Time tonight : "these debates are for the parties that are standing in every single seat in the United Kingdom".

Labour are standing in only 631 seats out of 650. By Mr Byrne's standard - which was absolutely crystal-clear, leaving no conceivable room for misunderstandings - Gordon Brown, remarkably, does not qualify for inclusion in the Prime Ministerial (sic) Debates.

The Liberal Democrats' Julia Goldsworthy on Question Time tonight : "these debates are for the parties standing in every part of the United Kingdom".

The Liberal Democrats are not standing anywhere in Northern Ireland. As Northern Ireland is indisputably one of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom, Ms Goldsworthy has just added Nick Clegg to the list of those automatically disqualified from the Prime Ministerial (sic) Debates.

The slightly depressing thing is that these politicians probably aren't even consciously engaging in sophistry here - they're so Anglo-centric that they genuinely believe that standing in every area of England automatically equates to standing in every area of the United Kingdom. And as superbly as Alex Salmond performed tonight (demonstrating what an asset he would be to the leaders' debates, even leaving aside all questions of fairness), the one thing that slightly disappointed me was that he didn't draw attention to these blatant own goals from Byrne and Goldsworthy. To be fair, of course, he was too busy trying to cram in all the other innumerable reasons why the SNP's total exclusion from the debates is such an affront to the principles of a free and fair election. And he wasn't even given the opportunity to point out why Goldsworthy's predictable jibe of "you're not even a candidate in this election" is such an idiotic red herring - what has Alex Salmond's status as an individual got to do with the SNP's case as a party to be included in the debates? As I've pointed out many times, I'm quite sure the SNP don't really give a monkey's whether they're represented in the debates by Salmond or by their Westminster leader Angus Robertson, who is also an excellent debater.

Salmond did, fortunately, have a chance to show up Sayeeda Warsi when she resorted to one of the other standard red herrings.

Warsi : "Much as I like Alex Salmond, he is not going to be Prime Minister after this election, and therefore shouldn't be in the Prime Ministerial (sic) Debates."
Salmond : "Is Nick Clegg going to be Prime Minister?"
Warsi : "Well...maybe Julia can answer that."

As weak responses go, that one really is in a league of its own. We're in truly Alice in Wonderland territory if a Tory can't even bring herself to dismiss the Liberal Democrat leader's prospects of becoming Prime Minister, when given an open initation to do so!

Even more bizarre was David Dimbleby's own jibe, when Salmond suggested that the SNP and Plaid could put up candidates in England, if that was supposedly all that was required to qualify them for the debates -

"You'd better be careful, people in England might vote for you, because they want Scottish independence".

Hmmm. I'm starting to wonder if Mr Dimbleby has entirely grasped the basics of the SNP's aims and objectives.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SNP take rare lead in YouGov subsample

I hesitated about posting this, because it's only a few hours until the details of a newer poll are published, which in all probability will show a completely different picture. However, on reflection I think it is well worthy of note that, for the first time in ages, a GB-wide YouGov poll (published in Tuesday's Sun) has shown an SNP lead in its Scottish subsample. Here are the full figures -

SNP 27% (+10)
Labour 24% (-10)
Conservatives 23% (-4)
Liberal Democrats 18% (+5)
Others 7% (-2)

Labour's low percentage once again gives the lie to the CyberTory delusion that the tightening GB-wide lead (just four points in this case) can be easily explained away by Labour racking up votes 'where it doesn't need them' in its Scottish heartlands.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Can I come in for a gloat?

Not that I would want to be remotely triumphalist about the afternoon's events in Dublin, but nevertheless this might be an opportune moment to recall a comment left here by a certain 'liberal' Northern Ireland blogger less than two weeks ago -

"Flower of Scotland is certainly a neat emblem for your rugby team. A long ago victory which was followed by a series of humiliating defeats."

At the time it did occur to me to respond by saying "if by any chance Scotland spoil the party a week on Saturday, I may return to this subject at some length", but as the chances of that happening seemed slim, I reckoned discretion was the better part of valour. I should have had more faith...

(PS. Medieval history isn't my strongest suit, but does anyone have the faintest idea what Chekov's 'string of humiliating defeats' in the aftermath of 1314 are supposed to be? As it secured independence for no fewer than four full centuries, Bannockburn looks like a fairly decisive sort of battle to me.)