Saturday, October 8, 2011

Do the Tories think paying more for alcohol makes it taste better?

David McLetchie, quoted in Tory Hoose -

"Instead the SNP now wants the Treasury to allocate to Scotland our share of the alcohol duty raised here – a kind of drinks supplement to the Barnett Formula. Perversely, this means that the more alcohol that is consumed in Scotland, the more money it will bring in."

Newsflash for Mr McLetchie - that's the "perverse" way duty on tobacco and alcohol has worked for decades, including under innumerable Tory governments.

"Far from tackling the booze culture, the SNP wants to benefit from it."

I don't think anyone is denying that the extra revenue would be a small side-benefit to the health and social objectives that are driving this initiative. But the idea that our booze culture will somehow be worsened is daft beyond words, unless McLetchie thinks the Scottish government are planning a poster campaign imploring people to believe that "Paying More Makes Your Booze Taste Better".

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cameron a liability in the independence referendum? Don't be fooled - he can pronounce 'feartie'.

I was grateful to Stuart Dickson yesterday for forwarding me an article from behind the paywall, detailing the dismissal of the Scottish Tories' Head of Media for "systematic party bias" in favour of Ruth Davidson during the leadership election. The only surprise to me is that he got the chop for it - isn't systematic party bias in favour of Ruth Davidson the official Cameroon position?

The rest of the article concerns the opposition parties' scathing attacks on David Cameron for failing to mention Scotland or the upcoming independence referendum during his leader's address to conference. Jeez, these guys are impossible to please. They should follow the shining example of Alan Cochrane over at Tory Hoose, who is more than content to conclude that Cameron has his finger right on the Scottish pulse and will be a "formidable asset" in the referendum campaign simply on the basis that...he used the word "feartie" and pronounced it correctly.


In fact, Cochrane's musings on the matter are strikingly reminiscent of breathless BBC royal correspondents down the years marvelling at the success of assorted princes and princesses in mastering fiendishly complicated tasks such as opening curtains or posting a letter -

"However, as well as having the hacks scratching their heads about who could have taught this old Etonian a word like “feartie” – he even pronounced it properly..."

If the possibility that Cameron might have had a Scot around to ask about such matters hasn't even occurred to Cochrane, that tells us all we need to know about the Prime Minister's inner circle. And Old Etonian Tory leaders may not be renowned for having much of an attention-span for things outside their normal range of experience, but just how long does it take to rehearse the correct pronunciation of a single word?

But, admittedly, if Ed Miliband's attempt at "Lamont" is the standard to beat, the boy done good.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous

As much as I think Murdo Fraser is on the right track in trying to dispense with the Scottish Tories' toxic brand and to gain autonomy from the London party, it's clear that a lot more thought is going to be required on what the new name should actually be. The suggestions leaked at the weekend were for the most part pretty awful. Let's go through them in turn -

Scotland First

A campaign slogan, not a party name. Also utterly vacuous.

The Caledonians

A folk-band that seems unlikely to rival the popularity of The Corries. And can you imagine the fun Alex Salmond would have?

Scottish Unionists or Progressive Conservatives

These have the huge disadvantanges of not actually being name changes - the words 'Conservative' and 'Unionist' both feature in the current name. So either one would be a monumental waste of time if the object of the exercise is to banish the toxic brand. In particular, 'Progressive Conservatives' (a name presumably borrowed from the ill-fated Canadian party) would be extremely easily shortened to 'Conservatives', and before you know it you'd be back to 'the Tories' in popular usage. And the possibility that a reborn Scottish Unionist Party would be seen as an 'Orange' party is hardly the 'slight' concern that some Tory sources seem to think it is.

The Scottish Progressives

The Tories may not like it, but as an unqualified term "progressive" is associated with the left, so this choice would attract confusion and derision in equal measure. Unless, of course, they actually become 'progressive' as a party, but I'm not holding my breath.

Scottish Reform Party

Probably the least worst of the six in the sense that it's at least a meaningful declaration of intent, but it still sets my teeth on edge because it's almost certainly the wrong sort of intent for a centre-right party in Scotland - I think we can all imagine the kind of 'reform' that is implied. Still, I suppose we should be grateful that no-one has (as yet) suggested going down the uber-Thatcherite/Bushite route of calling it the 'Scottish Freedom Party'.

So if not any of the current suggestions, then what? Whisper it gently, but a good way for the party to demonstrate that it has genuinely changed is not to be afraid to borrow ideas from continental Europe. The ubiquitous 'Christian Democrat' name for centre-right parties can be safely ruled out in an increasingly secular country like ours, but why not 'Scottish People's Party'? (A touch of irony there, given Labour's outdated self-image, but that's no bad thing.) Or they could look to the example of the party that leads the centre-right coalition in Sweden, and call themselves the 'Scottish Moderates'. Although, again, it would help enormously if their policies were as moderate as the name.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's my lucky day - again

Real stroke of luck this morning - it seems my money problems are over for good. A woman from Burkina Faso was kind enough to send an email offering me fifteen million dollars, acquired by a foreigner from a secret oil deal with Saddam Hussein. Nothing unusual so far, you might think, but what was slightly different about it was this little aside...

"Though this medium (Internet) has been greatly abused, I choose to reach you through it because it still remains the fastest medium of communication."

Tell me about it - all those bleedin' scammers spoiling it for the people who genuinely want to send fifteen million dollars to a total stranger.