Turkey’s in “Not Voting For Christmas” Shocker!

So far I’m around 3/4 of the way through contacting every MSP on Twitter, asking them to sign my petition to reform the Scottish parliamentary electoral system. So far I’ve had exactly TWO responses from the individuals I have contacted, Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, both of the Scottish Greens. Not any other acknowledgement of any kind.

Our MSP’s in the main make great show of the fact they operate their own Twitter accounts. They’ll post pictures of themselves at surgeries, or meeting with residents, or any other activity that presents a photo opportunity. Seldom do they respond to genuine queries, especially contentious ones. It’s almost as if they are stuck on transmit and the receive setting is broken.

Our MSP’s clearly are of the mind that if they ignore the issue it will go away. One phrase I’m repeatedly told about this is that “turkeys don’t vote for Christmas”. So who exactly will push for electoral reform in Scotland if the beneficiaries won’t?

So far my petition has been covered by the following print and new media sites:

Autonomy Scotland

Indyref2.Scot

Scotland On Sunday

The National

The petition closes for responses on 28th August 2017.

For the want of a nail…

 

 

 

 

 

 

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The revelation in last weeks Advertiser that Labour outspent all the other candidates combined for the recent Westminster elections in both Airdrie and Coatbridge raises an interesting question about the funding of political parties. In Airdrie and Coatbridge both Labour candidates represent trade unions, and it’s likely that those unions gave considerable financial backing to them. The same can’t be said for the SNP, the Conservatives or the Lib-Dems. The latter are treated as a major party and they are given airtime on political debates on equal footing with the three other parties, but their combined spend in Airdrie and Coatbridge amounted to an insulting £88! That speaks volumes and tells us that they have a greater desire to appear on the ballot paper than to win, and that in future elections there is little or no point in voting for them.

If I were an SNP member I would be extremely concerned at the paltry £2980 spent by Neil Gray as he saw his majority drop from almost 10,000 to under 200 votes. The last I recall, membership of the Airdrie and Shotts SNP was over 1100, but it appears that between them they were unable to rustle up the equivalent of £3 per member! As the saying goes, for want of a nail the kingdom was lost; Neil Gray’s lack of investment in his re-election very nearly cost him his seat, and as we see, Jeremy Corbyn now has him in his sights as a target for the next election, whenever that may be. It is ironic that had it not been for Ruth Davidson and the Tories using Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent support for the IRA to recruit hard core British Nationalist voters from their Unionist Labour rivals, then Labour would actually have taken Airdrie from the SNP! It will be interesting to see how this affects a future vote.

So far there appears to be no effort at all from Neil Gray to fire up the SNP in Airdrie and Shotts, while Labour already have Jeremy Corbyn lined up to visit Airdrie later this month. The strange thing is that both the Scottish Labour leadership and many of the local Labour party have publicly slated Corbyn and are only supporting him through gritted teeth. It will be worth watching to see which local Labour councillors don’t attend Mr Corbyn’s visit: their absence will speak volumes about just how dedicated they actually are to the policies spouted by their present leader. My guess is, not much.

 

 

Holyrood Electoral Practices are as Undemocratic As the House of Lords

Mhairi Black, The National, 24/06/17

Recently Mhairi Black MP wrote in her column in The National of the scandalous decision by the Tory party to appoint rejected Westminster candidate Ian Duncan to the House of Lords so that he could take up a position in the Scottish Office. Ms Black said this of the House of Lords: “They are handpicked political cronies who don’t have to worry about being elected or even being kicked out when they perform poorly – it’s a secure job for life with no danger of redundancy or the sack.”

I agree. I also think that when political parties game the Holyrood list system so that their chosen placemen (and indeed women) can never be removed from office then that system is also in need of radical reform. As it is, it is in danger of becoming every bit as undemocratic as the UK government’s unelected second chamber.

I have begun to share my petition to reform the Holyrood electoral system with MSP’s and some MP’s. As yet (and as I expected) it has been by and large ignored by almost all who I have so far contacted, with the exceptions of Ross Greer MSP and Andy Wightman, both Green MSP’s.

If you agree with me that the Holyrood electoral system is in need of reform then please sign my petition which is currently lodged with the Scottish Parliament. It can be found HERE. You can also leave your comments which will be seen by the Petitions Committee. Additionally you can contact your own MSP and ask what they are doing to make our electoral system to make it more accountable and democratic. While you are waiting you can watch this…

The Father Dougal McGuire School of Politics

In the Westminster elections on June 8th the SNP lost 21 seats. That doesn’t sound like much if you say it quickly, and it could have been worse. Much worse. Stephen Gethins in Fife was elected with a majority of just TWO. Neil Gray in Airdrie went from a 9596 majority to a mere 195. Overall the SNP lost 476,867 votes. almost half a million people who previously voted SNP in 2015 either switched to other parties or failed to turn out. Examination of the figures shows that Labour gained almost 10,000 votes on their 2015 showing, yet the Tories gained a whopping 323,852 votes more than their last time out. Long Term Goals vs Short Term Aims

Last week RISE co-founder Cat Boyd revealed that she had voted for Labour in the 2017 Westminster elections to show her support for Jeremy Corbyn. The revelation that a well kent face of the Indy movement had gone back on her word and voted Labour (she previously stated she would “never” vote Labour again) was siezed upon by many, with some claiming it showed that Labour were winning back voters from the SNP. In all likelihood they were in a roundabout way. Many people wanted to show solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn in England and voted for “him”. In reality they were voting to endorse an anti independence manifesto and in some cases (like Ian Murray) anti-Corbyn candidates. Someone as well versed in politics as Cat Boyd, who has a weekly column in The National should have known this. Voting for a party is an endorsement of their manifesto. If you want to change that manifesto then you join the party and change it.

Putting that detail aside though, Cat, like many others looked at Labours UK manifesto and swung on behind, no doubt hoping to sweep the Tories out in the process. Even though they supported independence and as Cat herself said, she still does, they voted for a party which was offering something they felt was immediately achievable, even though it contradicted their long term goal. Why? That is simple; their long term goal wasn’t on offer. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP were intent on playing down talk of a second referendum to such an extent that not only did some of their core vote slip away to Labour, but many, many more just didn’t turn out at all. They weren’t fired up. They weren’t inspired. The message they received was clear: This election isn’t about independence. Their response? We’ll come back when it is.

Overall Labour gained only 9860 more votes than 2017. That’s a fraction more than the total votes lost by Neil Gray alone! So while the SNP were failing to motivate their supporters they were also losing votes to Labour. Labour’s problem was of course that they were losing voters in even bigger numbers to the Tories. The Tories had set themselves out as defenders of the union and employed the same tactic they had employed in the council elections: treat every election as a mini-referendum, motivate the voters and get them out. Which they did, pulling in an extra 323,852 votes on 2015, in an election where the turnout was down overall by over a quarter of a million votes.

That was never more evident than in the SNP’s vote, and if there’s a lesson they need to learn it’s that they too have to treat every election as a referendum, because every defeat will be used to hammer away at not only the SNP but at the cause of independence. Because although supporting independence doesn’t mean you automatically support the SNP, we need to recognise that every defeat for the SNP, any deficiency in their policy as a party is, by unionist logic, reason against independence. If the SNP are poor on education then an independent Scotland by default would also be poor. Repeat ad nauseum.

In the last 12 months Cat Boyd has revealed that despite her strong opinions on the subject she didn’t vote in the EU referendum and then followed this with her revealing she voted Labour has left many to ask why she is given a political column at all and if there’s anything they can learn (or indeed want to learn) from her, and there is. It’s this: If you give people something to vote for or against, and make your case, then they will turn out and vote. If you don’t motivate them, then forget about it. Because they won’t show.

Reform The Scottish Parliament Electoral System

In the 2016 Holyrood Election numerous candidates for election were resoundingly rejected by their constituents, yet due to the parties they represent placing them favourably on the regional list, they were elected anyway.
We, the Scottish people, are told that we have a democratic government/parliament. We are told that if we do not like the government or our elected representative we can vote them out. Clearly that is not the case.
It is entirely undemocratic that 45 MSP’s of all parties were elected to stand as MSP’s having been rejected by the voters in their respective constituencies. In some cases those rejected were the incumbents. The latter circumstances are of course the most insulting to the electorate, for no matter how poorly performing a sitting MSP may be, how out of touch they are with the local area, if they are valued by their respective parties they cannot be got rid of by the voters.
In my view, to prevent this from occurring constituency candidates should not be allowed to be placed on the regional list, and should gain office on merit. Furthermore, to prevent manipulation of the list, the ranking system should be removed. If a party gains for example three list places, those three posts should be drawn at random from the list submitted by each party, and not a from an order selected in advance; a pool rather than a determined list. This would in my opinion encourage all parties to make sure that they submitted only the very brightest and best to represent their parties, and by extension, the electorate.
In addition to the above, the actual system of regionally allocating members fails to truly represent the percentages of votes cast nationally, creating an imbalance to the detriment of the smaller parties, and this needs to be reviewed to reflect the national balance. For example in the May 2016 election the Scottish Green Party gained 6.6% of the vote share which equates to around 8 MSPs, and for which they only gained 6 seats. Similarly in the 2011 election they received 4.4% of the vote which should mean 5 MSP’s, and for which they actually gained 2 seats.
I feel that in the years since 1999 when the first elections to the reconvened Scottish Parliament took place there has been no examination of the system itself to ensure that it is delivering a fair and representative system which reflects the will of the Scottish people, and that such a review is long overdue.
To this end I have submitted a petition through the Scottish Parliament petitions system which is now live, and will remain so until the 28th August 2017.
If you agree that our Scottish electoral system is in need of reform then I would urge you to please sign the petition which can be found HERE.
You can also add your own comments and suggestions, all of which are welcome.
Thank You

Kevin McKenna’s Attack on the Territorial Army (and Ruth Davidson)

They always say you should write about what you know. What a pity Kevin McKenna failed to heed this basic guideline when writing his attack on Ruth Davidson for taking up the post of Honorary Colonel of 32 Sigs regiment, as clearly he knows little or nothing about the Territorial Army and fell back on the much worn stereotypes of it being a Dad’s Army type organisation, wandering aimlessly around the Campsies playing dress up. As someone who spent a total of 17 years in the TA let me try and put Kevin straight on the “part-time professionals”. When the regular soldiers were going off duty on a Friday night many TA soldiers were finishing shifts at their normal Monday to Friday jobs, they would then spend a weekend training, often on exercise with little or no sleep in all conditions, before returning to work on Monday. The training we would carry out was virtually the same as that carried out by regular soldiers, so much so that on the occasions where we were trained or deployed alongside regular soldiers you would be hard pushed to tell the difference. I attended many training courses where I and other TA soldiers not only equalled but outperformed our regular counterparts, and the TA soldiers I served with included some of the finest soldiers I know, regular or otherwise. TA soldiers have been deployed alongside their regular colleagues more and more in recent years, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. The idea that they are somehow all in the Private Pike mould couldn’t be further from the truth, and perhaps Kevin McKenna should take the time to visit a TA deployment and maybe he’d learn something.

As for the real subject of his article, I as an ex-serviceman was left slack jawed at the appointment of Ruth Davidson as Honorary Colonel to her former regiment, as it showed a complete lack of tact from the MOD for offering the role and from her in accepting it. Once upon a time for an ex-serviceman to become an Honorary Colonel was a sign of your contribution to your regiment, a reward for perhaps long and distinguished service; as far as I am aware Ruth Davidson only spent some two years as an officer cadet before leaving through injury, and was never actually commissioned. Nowadays the role of Honorary Colonel is dished out to all and sundry and is perhaps on par with those gaudily attired Regimental Goats that are wheeled out for ceremonial occasions.

These are however the least of my concerns. Davidson has spent the last few years rallying the forces of unionism to rebuild the Conservative Party. She’s wrapped herself in the union flag and banged on about “no divisive second referendum” above all else. She has successfully managed to convince hard core British Nationalists that her party will protect the union and by exploiting Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent support for the IRA has also seen the Orange Order come back to the fold en-masse, with many abandoning Labour and any pretence of concerns over policies as they do so.

I was told recently of a soldier who decided to run in the council elections, who was told that if he was successful he would have to leave the military. The military is supposed to be impartial, to represent all of us equally, but this appointment blurs the lines of impartiality, and instead subliminally invites us to draw a line between supporting the union, the military and the Orange Order/ the far right and the Conservatives.   Army regulations clearly forbid the wearing of uniform where it may infer some sort of support by the MOD. The fact that Ruth Davidson is not actually a serving soldier means the rules don’t actually apply in this case, however the spirit of the rules should be adhered to as they exist for good reason and their minutiae is not known to the average person. Most people will simply see the Tory leader being endorsed by the Army, nothing less.

Someone, somewhere has played up to Ruth Davidsons vanity, allowing her to extend her repertoire from prancing around on a tank to actually playing dress up as Colonel Gadaftie. If Davidson had any sense she’d have politely refused the offer until she had left politics, instead she has grabbed it and will milk it for all its worth, and as we see from Kevin’s article, will taint the armed forces reputation in the process.

Colonel Davidson: Rank Stupidity

IMG_20170624_142436Sometimes I’m left slack jawed at the tactlessness of our politicians. Ruth Davidson is the latest to leave me open mouthed, having been granted the role of Honorary Colonel to her former regiment. Once upon a time for an ex serviceman to become an Honorary Colonel was a sign of your contribution to your regiment, a reward for perhaps long and distinguished service. As far as I am aware Ruth Davidson spent some two years as an officer cadet before leaving through injury, and was never commissioned.

That though is the least of my concerns. Davidson has spent the last few years rallying the forces of unionism to rebuild the Conservative Party. She’s wrapped herself in the union flag and banged on about “no divisive second referendum” above all else. She has successfully managed to convince hard core British Nationalists that her party will protect the union and in the process has seen the Orange Order come back to the fold, with many abandoning Labour and any pretence of concerns over policies as they do so. IMG_20170625_124819

I was told recently of a soldier who decided to run in the council elections, who was told that if he was successful he would have to leave the military. The military is supposed to be impartial, to represent all of us equally. Army regulations clearly forbid the wearing of uniform where it may infer some sort of support by the MOD for their cause, so I have to ask, what in the name of the wee man is happening when the MOD make the current leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland an Honorary Colonel? Does the MOD now endorse the Tories? Is it encouraging serving personnel to support the Tories?

Someone, somewhere has played up to Ruth Davidsons vanity, allowing her to extend her repertoire from prancing around on a tank to actually playing dress up as Colonel Gadaftie. If Davidson had any sense, she’d have politely refused the offer until she had left politics, instead she has grabbed it and will milk it for all its worth, tainting the armed forces reputation in the process.