I, Daniel Blake 136

More space has been devoted by the mainstream media in the last week to the terrible effects of “austerity” on the vulnerable, than in total since the Westminster election. That is entirely in the context of Ken Loach’s Cannes Palme d’Or winning film I, Daniel Blake. The film itself will now get a much greater cinema distribution than it might otherwise have anticipated. I think it is worth highlighting some excellent points made at the winners’ press conference:

Ken Loach:

We talked about finding a style that was absolutely clear and plain and unadorned…there’s a quotation from Bertolt Brecht…”and I always thought the simplest of words must suffice. When I say what things are like, it will break the hearts of all”. And the thing that we tried to do is to say what things are like, because it not only breaks your heart, but it should make you angry.

It is an issue not just for people in our country, but all across Europe. There is a conscious cruelty in the way we are organising our lives now, where the most vulnerable people are told that their poverty is their own fault. If you have no work, it’s your fault you haven’t got a job. Never mind that… throughout Europe there’s mass unemployment and in Britain there’s two million known unemployed but in reality four million. And the most vulnerable people are caught, disabled people are caught. The increase in suicides… in fact in the places where these assessments take place, some people who work there have been given instructions on how to deal with potential suicides, so they know this is going on… It is deeply shocking that this is happening at the heart of our world… the heart of it is a shocking, shocking policy.

Paul Laverty (scriptwriter):

After travelling the country, in Scotland and all the way down to England, travelling round foodbanks, listening to people’s stories, talking to welfare rights organisations, disabled groups, what was remarkable was how many of the most vulnerable people were the ones who bore the brunt of it. Now in this particular instance Daniel is a very competent man who has had a life of work, who’s got friends, who’s smart, intelligent, he’s had a very, very full life. But what really amazed us was talking to experts… the people who work with mental health, the stories we heard about that would just break your heart.

The people who are disabled, they have suffered six times more from the cuts than anyone else, and there was a remarkable phrase by one of the civil servants we heard who talked about the cuts, who said “low-lying fruit”, in other words the easy targets. So this story could have been much harsher, it could have been somebody with mental health difficulties… we could have told a story from someone who is much more vulnerable, much more heartbreaking.

I think it’s very important to remember too the systematic nature of it….talking to whistleblowers, people who worked inside the Department of Work and Pensions… there are several people we met, and they spoke to us anonymously, and they said they were humiliated how they were forced to treat the public. So there is nothing accidental about it, and it is affecting a huge section of the population.

I have inveighed long and hard against the massive increase in the wealth gap between the rich and poor in the UK and in the West in general. It is great to see popular resistance today in France to the extreme erosion of workers’ rights that has facilitated this.

In an indisputable measure of the growing inequality in society, the life expectancy gap between rich and poor is growing for the first time in 150 years. Let me say that again. The life expectancy gap between rich and poor is growing for the first time in 150 years. Our desperately unequal society now becomes more unequal at an exponential rate. The UK has more than 100 billionaires, and it has foodbanks and children crying from hunger, not developing properly due to malnutrition. I sense a true swelling of popular discontent that has the potential to break through the consent manufactured by a billionaire-owned media and billionaire-owned politicians.

View comments

The Embarrassing Referendum 189

I declared this blog an EU referendum free zone a few months ago. In the last couple of days I chanced to be in Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Banchory and Edzell on quite other business, and can report the remarkable fact that I did not see a single house or flat exhibiting a Leave or Remain poster. It is not just this blog, the entire country is an EU referendum free zone.

Personally I remain an EU enthusiast, but I am horrified by the arguments being put forward by the Remain campaign, and even more by the personalities associated with it. I could never display a Remain poster in case people felt I agreed with David Cameron. I strongly suspect that explains the mass public apathy, which friends tell me is no different down south. Whatever their views on the EU, people do not want in any way to be associated with George Osborne, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Tony Blair or Peter Mandelson on one side, or with Ian Duncan Smith, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson et al on the other.

There is a fascination in watching Tories pulling each others heads off. The level of intra-Tory hatred is really ramping up now. The Leave Tories have just worked out the Remain Tories are all liars. The Remain Tories have just worked out the leave Tories are all liars. The rest of us knew all the Tories are liars for years.

View comments

Time to End Religious Apartheid in Scotland – and England 260

In all the wringing of hands about the violence at the end of the Hibs/Rangers Scottish cup final, there is a reluctance to tackle the root of the question. The debate has in recent weeks been reinvigorated over the Scottish law banning sectarian songs and displays at football matches, with speculation that the Scottish Parliament will now have a majority for lifting it. Public mass displays of hate speech do not to me come under freedom of speech. My guide as usual is the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who stated that to argue that corn merchants are parasites who thrive on the misery of the poor is freedom of speech. To yell the same thing to an armed mob outside a corn merchant’s house at night is not. That seems a precise analogy to sectarian songs in football grounds and Mill – whose father was from Montrose – is right.

But sensible as the ban is, it does nothing to tackle the cause of sectarian hatred. The greatest cause is segregated education. It is difficult to hate people when you grow up amongst them, share your earliest friendships and experiences with them, and learn together. It is easy to hate people when you are taught from your most innocent youth that they are different, and are forcibly segregated from them by the state for all the time you spend outside the family environment in young childhood. They are the other, different, rivals, the enemy. Name-calling, stone throwing, hostile chanting, sectarian singing and your football banner and scarf all ensue in obvious and logical succession.

I find the fact that the state routinely segregates Catholic and Protestant children in school, as the norm in much of Scotland, deeply shocking. The lack of intellectual honesty in facing up to the open consequences is pathetic. It behoves me as someone whose family is Scots-Italian and Hibs supporting to say that the Catholic Church bears a major share of the blame. So do Scottish politicians, who are in large majority too scared of voter reaction to take a firm stand on the issue.

The Catholic/Protestant divide is particularly acute in Scotland, but England has precisely the same problem with faith schools. If you filter out the substantial degree of Islamophobia in many reports, it is still plain that there is a problem with “Islamic” schools which teach values which have no place in modern education. (I would argue they are also a deviation from Islam, but that is a different argument for another day). I recently highlighted the interview by Mark Wallis Simons about education at a Jewish Orthodox school in England where pro-Israel propaganda was such that the pupils would fight for Israel against Britain. Thanks to Tony Blair, the leader who believes God wanted him to start war in Iraq, England has actually seen a growth in state schools which are a strong feature of the neo-cons’ “Academy system”. This has led to state schools being run by all shades of religious nutter including creationists.

Finally I would add to this sorry mix my experience in Blackburn, where with the active connivance of a Labour council there were apparently normal state schools under local authority control, within a couple of hundred yards of each other, which were 99% Muslim or 99% non-Muslim.

The answer to this problem is not to cherry-pick which faith is acceptable and which faith is not. The answer is simple. It has been accepted for centuries that the state has the right and duty to prescribe and provide education for children. There must be no segregated religious education in the UK. Children should attend school in a mixed environment and there learn a broad educational curriculum in which shade of religious belief has no place. Outside of school the religious life of the family is no business of the state. The children’s education is no business of the religion.

Private schools are a further different question. Quite simply I would abolish them, irrespective of the faith question, as they entrench the networks of growing social inequality.

View comments

The Joys of Accountancy and Tents 51

I fear I am pretty rubbish at giving my writing commercial appeal. Not only have I just completed a biography of somebody most people have never heard of, but I find myself writing about aspects of his life which are as non-commercial as imaginable. In a story of spies, disguises, sex, assassinations, battles, heroism, Knights Templar(!), exploration and more sex, I often find myself writing about minute details of the most mundane things.

I find I want to recreate for readers the world that Alexander Burnes encountered in his everyday existence, the stuff of his normal life, what he actually did all day apart from the adventure and spying. So I also write about accounts, and tents, and maps and packing lists. I fear that I must tax the patience of my poor publisher. Here are a couple of extracts from the final manuscript. I will never be able to write as well as William Dalrymple, but he won’t tell you the dimensions of a tent pole or how receipts were processed.

The book should be out in August.

Tents

If Burnes performed well it might open up permanent appointment to the Political Branch. The reports he submitted are therefore painstaking. In the first, marked ‘Camp at Keerawow, 14th December 1829’,1 he apologised for reporting in such detail. He noted he was the first European ever to visit other than on a punitive raid, and added he was motivated by a ‘great anxiety to shew myself worthy of the honour and trust which the Government have conferred upon me’.

He lived a great deal of his life in tents, and it is important to form a picture of these camps. British officers had large, individual tents. These would be taken ahead by bearers and pitched, ready for the officers’ arrival in the evening. Their escort and servants would inhabit numerous tents around them. The camp would be very diffuse, as men of differing castes could not share a tent or cook their food together. Camp-fires were therefore numerous and small. Horses and baggage animals would be pegged or corralled on the margin of the camp.

The kind of tent in which Burnes slept would have had both an inner and an outer; valets and bodyguards were sometimes allowed to sleep in the space between. At the entrance and ventilation points would be hung additional screens called tatties, kept soaked to provide cooling through evaporation. In very hot weather the British sank a pit under the tent. The floor was covered with rich carpet. The official issue tent for a subaltern, the most junior officer, was a substantial twelve feet square, but many officers used larger, private tents.2

A contemporary traveller in India, Charles Hugel, had a tent with poles twenty-five feet high – like a modern British telegraph pole. The outer roof alone of Hugel’s tent weighed 600lb, and the fabric needed six horses to carry it. William Hough wrote that when a regiment’s tents were brought down by a storm, sleeping officers were in danger of being killed by falling tent poles. There are numerous references to marches delayed by heavy rain, because the wet tents were too heavy to be lifted.

Accountancy

Mundane worries intruded. There is always an irresoluble conflict between the exigencies of spying and the needs of public accountancy. Payments for information, informal messengers, gifts, payments for supplies of provisions from locals who may be illiterate – all had somehow to be accounted for. A significant proportion of the manuscripts indexed under ‘Alexander Burnes’ in the National Archives of India consist of detailed querying of his accounts.

To give but one example, in the midst of his vital negotiations with Dost, on 4 December 1837, Burnes sat down to submit his mission accounts for the period when his mission had been living largely on boats and travelling from Karachi to Sukkur. Burnes made no attempt to provide receipts, and instead wrote:

Cabool
4th December 1837
Sir,
I have the honour to forward statements of my actual receipts and disbursements for the months of January, February and March 1837, which I declare upon honour to be correct and according to the best of my knowledge.
I have etc
Alexr. Burnes
On a Mission to Cabool
To The Accountant General
Fort William

On 10 October 1838 this was forwarded from Accountant General Charles Morley to the Secretary in Bombay, with a sniffy note:

Sir,
The Civil Authority having returned the accounts (noted in the margin) of the receipts and charges connected to Captain Burnes’ Mission to Cabool – unaudited, from the circumstance of their not having been approved [. . .] I have the honor to forward them for the orders of His Honor the President in Council, together with a copy of a letter from Captain Burnes to my address [. . .] which accompanied them.
It will be observed that the charges exhibited in the accounts are unsupported by original receipts, or any other document than the declaration furnished in the conclusion of Captain Burnes’ communication before adverted to, and that the funds have been raised by Bills upon Presentation under the Bombay Presidency.2

Bombay batted them straight back to Calcutta advising that they would need to be considered by Auckland himself:

I have been directed [. . .] to [. . .] point out that the accounts having been rendered by Captain Burnes without vouchers it will be necessary if the Governor-General considers the charges to be moderate and warranted that His Lordship should authorize their being passed to Captain Burnes in account leaving receipts to be adjusted and checked by comparison with the accounts of the Treasury on which his bills were drawn.3

It is not a small point. Empires live on their accounting – some of the oldest documents in the world are surviving accounts of Mesopotamian empires, indelibly inscribed on clay tablets. The commercial origins of the EIC made accounting even more central to its culture. The pressure on Burnes over accounts was a major worry; if the government repudiated his bills he could be ruined.

Moorcroft and Gerard both died penniless for this very reason. Burnes had already lost money redeeming Gerard’s bills. Mohan Lal’s life was devastated by government refusing to refund payments made in the last days of the Kabul garrison. Edward Stirling’s expenses were turned down entirely. Stoddart’s Herat accounts were repudiated and many of Arthur Conolly’s bills remained unhonoured at his death. The entire story of the Great Game on the British side has this strange undercurrent.

View comments

Crashed Egyptair Flight 443

I have had occasion before to praise Sam Kiley, Sky News security correspondent, who often seems to be fighting a one man battle against rampant Islamophobia and alarmism in the media. He has just given an extremely sensible analysis. He counselled against rushing to brand the crash as terrorism without evidence, discussing both mechanical failure and pilot suicide. He added that even if it was terrorism it was not necessarily Islamic terrorism. He quoted Anders Breivik and the fact that early reporting speculated that massacre was Islamic terrorism. Kiley even went so far as to state it was a possibility that, if it were terrorism, it could be carried out by a fascist group attempting falsely to implicate Islamic groups and stoke Islamophobia. Kiley also outlined the possibilities for various Islamic groups to be involved.

His summary was as balanced and sensible as it could be possible to make. Indeed Eamonn Holmes felt it necessary to ramp up the terrorist narrative by stating there have only ever been 68 mechanical failures on Airbus 320 aircraft. That is true, but it is a very much larger number than the number of terrorist incidents on A 320 aircraft.

I do not know what happened. I do know that it is remarkable that anybody as balanced as Sam Kiley – who four years ago stated on Sky News that Israel was perceived as “moving towards an apartheid state” – continues to be employed by the mainstream media. I frequently criticise corporate media journalists for doing a bad job. When one is doing a particularly good job I should in fairness note it.

View comments

The Conservatives Will Be Protected From Their Election Fraud 257

It is hard to think of bigger news than that the Electoral Commission is taking the governing party to court over alleged fraud in its election accounts, with possible disqualifications that could cost the government its majority. Yet the issue has received remarkably little coverage apart from the very dogged work of Channel 4 News. Why is that?

There are a number of reasons. The first is that the media has a major pro-Tory bias and minimises bad news for the Tories as a matter of course. The most remarkable example of this is the continual playing down of divisions within the Conservative Party over Europe, which run to extreme levels of personal hatred and abuse. But you do not see that hatred and abuse reflected, whereas divisions within the Labour Party are reported daily in extreme detail.

If you doubt what I say, consider the fact that it is quite openly acknowledged that, under pressure from No.10, the media are organising the televised debates for the EU referendum so that Conservatives are never seen to be debating each other. That is the most extraordinary piece of media connivance, and even entails the media excluding the official Leave campaign from at least one national debate. What is deeply worrying is that the UK has become a country where nobody is surprised or concerned at this kind of blatant state propaganda manipulation.

Which leads me to the second reason for lack of mainstream prominence for the Tory electoral fraud. The entire political class realise that they are now floating atop a sea of massive popular resentment. There is a wariness of further laying bare the corruption of the system, and darkening the public mood still more. The Establishment wants the EU referendum to go through as smoothly as possible, with people voting how their betters instruct them; it is no time for Establishment dirty linen to be laundered in public. So they pretend that absolutely nothing is happening:

The Guardian briefly ran a story on the front page of their website – it was there only a few hours – explaining that legal restrictions made it impossible for them to publish. This is untrue, particularly when so much has been published by Channel 4. The Guardian also connived to make it appear that the only expenses in question were the costs of a bus. It is very much more than that.

The Ramsgate angle caught my eye because I used to live there, not far from the Royal Harbour Hotel which the Conservatives rented out for £14,000 to house activists bussed in to support their local candidate. You leave the money for your drinks in the Royal Harbour on the counter, it has an honesty bar – evidently as a door policy. The Conservatives did not declare this spending, which would have put their candidate far over his constituency spending limit. Having been rumbled, they claim it was a part of national spending.

I stood as an independent anti-war candidate against Jack Straw in Blackburn in 2005. One of the very many ways the system is fixed against independent candidates, is that while I had to keep spending within very tight limits, all the major commercial billboards in the city were plastered with massive “Vote Labour” posters. This did not count against Straw’s expenses because it was part of a national poster campaign, and his name did not appear on those huge billboards.

But there is a very definite difference between that, and the cost of bringing in workers who were actively canvassing and leafleting for a named candidate in the constituency. This must be constituency spending or the term is meaningless. There is no doubt that at least 14 Tory MPs whose campaigns ran this massive overspending (and that one undeclared hotel bill alone made the total overshoot the limit by 50%) ought to be disqualified.

But they will not be. The other reason that this has not been more of a story, is that everyone in the metropolitan political and media bubble knows that nobody will be disqualified. Because we only live in the illusion of a democracy, and threats to the Establishment are gently put to sleep.

When I stood against Jack Straw, he held specifically targeted “Muslims for Labour” rallies during the election campaign at which all the voters who came were given free food and drink. That is a specific criminal offence known as “Treating”. Jack Straw was foreign secretary at the time, and not only were the police aware of the treating, they were actually both inside the hall and guarding it from protestors outside.

In an effort to have the law of the land enforced, I gathered a number of sworn affidavits from voters who had been present, and gave them to the Police with my own sworn complaint. Here is one example of the affidavits:

“I,,,,, OF ,,,,,,, BLACKBURN DO HEREBY AFFIRM AS FOLLOWS:
THAT
1, I attended an event in Audley yesterday on Sunday 25 April 2010 at Jan’s Conference Centre in Blackburn.
2. I heard that Mohammad Sarwar MP and the ex Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir Sultan Mahmood were going to be present.
3. I can confirm that the people on the stage were Mohammed Sarwar MP, Barrister Sultan Mahmood, Jack Straw MP, the ex Mayor Salas Kiyani, Lord Adam Patel and others.
4. They all gave speeches to support and ask us to vote for Jack Straw in the MP elections.
5. We were given free food consisting of roti, meat curry, sweet rice and coke.
I CONFIRM THAT THE CONTENTS OF THIS AFFADAVIT ARE TRUE AND TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF
Affirmed this 26th day of April 2010
By the within named …… at
BLACKBURN in the County of Lancashire
Before me
M Wrendall,
Solicitor and Commissioner for Oaths”

This is the provision of the 1983 Representation of the People Act

114.-(1) A person shall be guilty of a corrupt practice if he .
is guilty of treating.
(2) A person shall be guilty of treating if he corruptly, by
himself or by any other person, either before, during or after an
election, directly or indirectly gives or provides, or pays wholly
or in part the expense of giving or providing, any meat, drink,
entertainment or provision to or for any person-
(a) for the purpose of corruptly influencing that person or
any other person to vote or refrain from voting ; or
(b) on account of that person or any other person having
voted or refrained from voting, or being about to vote
or refrain from voting.
(3) Every elector or his proxy who corruptly accepts or takes
any such meat, drink, entertainment or provision shall also be
guilty of treating.

Blackburn police were obliged to investigate my complaint, and after interviewing witnesses a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service. I was told by Blackburn Police that the CPS had decided not to prosecute because it was an “old law”. While it is true that, like murder, it is an old offence, the crime had been included in the 1983 Representation of the People Act. I have no doubt whatsoever that Jack Straw was guilty of treating, ought to have been convicted, and was corruptly protected by the Crown Prosecution Service. Needless to say, the Director of Public Prosecutions at the time is now in the House of Lords. That folks is how the UK works.

The truth is that in this country, electoral law is not enforced against those in power. That is why there is not much publicity around the Tory electoral fraud in at least 14 of their constituencies. It will be made quietly to go away.

View comments

Extraordinary Stitch-Up at Nevada Democratic Convention 115

I had heard much about the way that Hillary was able to use control of the Democratic Party machine to suppress the challenge of Bernie Sanders. I had not fully understood it until I saw this truly shocking video of the Nevada Democratic Convention, a stage in the awarding of that state’s delegates to Hillary or Bernie. After the announcement of a narrow win for Hillary, which to many seemed improbable, the chairwoman of the Convention, Roberta Lange, a member of the National Democratic Committee, absolutely refused demands for a recount. She then closed the Convention after calling for a voice vote, again uncounted, on a rules change to allow her to do that.

Twice as many Sanders delegates to the Convention were disqualified by the Committee,for “administrative reasons”, as the supposed majority for Clinton, which even after those disqualifications did not appear to reflect the apparent balance of delegates present.

I think watching the video will tell you more than anything I can say. When adverts appear keep watching past them as it seems to be in several parts.

View comments

I Apologise Yet Again, and Another Request

I am just getting to the end of the copy-edit for Sikunder Burnes, which has involved reducing the text still further and been both hard work and painful, so apologies for disappearing for a few days. I am also acutely aware I have not replied individually to the 130 offers of assistance I received with the cartography for the book. I am very sorry, I have been a bit overwhelmed and in fact what is happening about maps is still not sorted with the publishers. And while I am apologising, I might as well fess up to what is now approaching 2,000 unanswered emails. I genuinely do feel both guilty and depressed about this, but I am simply not able to keep up with the volume of correspondence, though so much of it is so very positive and welcome. If your email needs a practical response, please do not feel shy to resend.

A hostile message I received from a fierce advocate of Israel, interested me because when I checked him out I noted he spent much time attacking Bernie Sanders. This led me to wonder what correlation there is between those individuals currently accused of anti-Semitism, and particularly those suspended from the Labour Party, and support of Bernie Sanders.

It occurs to me equally that many of those most ardently throwing around the accusations of anti-Semitism, particularly mainstream journalists and MPs, are those most hostile to Sanders or supportive of Clinton.

If I am right, the irony that the alleged “anti-Semites” support the excellent Jewish candidate for POTUS, and the witch-hunters oppose him, would be obvious.

If anyone has time while I am occupied, hunt around on the web for evidence that addresses this hypothesis either way. Post what you find in comments below. Remember even a single piece of evidence contributes to the picture. I shall pull it all together in a few days time.

View comments

Laura Kuenssberg Meet Barbra Streisand 731

Over 30,000 people within two days had signed an old languishing petition against the Tory bias of Laura Kuenssberg. They were motivated by outrage at the undisguised bias of her election night coverage, though that bias had already been evident daily.

For 35,000 people to be outraged enough to seek out and sign an online petition, millions must have felt that outrage. But the real furore started after 38 Degrees cancelled the petition due to “sexist abuse”. Unfortunately for them, they were forced to admit there was virtually no sexist abuse from the 35,000 people who had signed the petition. They next claimed the sexist abuse was on unrelated social media, but refused point blank to present any evidence of it. Then an extraordinary group started to coalesce in defence of Kuenssberg – Laura Bates, Yvette Cooper, Jess Phillips etc – all of them denouncing this widespread sexist abuse. Not one of these people produced a single shred of evidence of the existence of this sexist abuse.

Probably some abuse is there. I am a much, much less well known figure than Kuenssberg, but since I started writing on this topic I have been the subject of numerous extremely unpleasant tweets and facebook messages. Please note the same epithet applied to Kuenssberg would undoubtedly be claimed as misogynist abuse:

Screenshot (30)

I have cropped this to protect the identity of the sender, but I assure you it is perfectly real and not at all unusual. (This is actually sexist on my part as if it were a man I would not have cropped it. I can only ask you to forgive me, I am old). I am sure Kuenssberg, being vastly more famous, gets more abuse than I do. But the fact either of us receives abuse does not mean we are above criticism. The young woman tweeting above being unpleasant is not evidence I am right about anything. Still less does it mean criticism of me should be suppressed.

To say that abusers “hijacked” the petition criticising Kuenssberg for her terrible biased journalism, is like saying your car is hijacked by an insect landing on it.

But the extremely cheerful news is that the furore caused by 38 Degrees removing the petition has meant that tens of millions more people have heard of the petition, than if it had gone ahead. David Cameron standing up in the House of Commons saying Kuenssberg is not biased in itself will have made a million people realise that she is. Laura Kuenssberg, meet Barbra Streisand. The “Streisand Effect”, named after the actress’ attempt to suppress photos of her mansion, is the internet phenomenon whereby attempts to suppress information lead to far more people knowing it.

In this case, that is really important. Because what has struck me the last few days is the number of people who are saying “Wow, I thought she was pretty biased, but I thought it was just me.” No, it wasn’t just you. She really is the most appalling Tory shill. And now tens of millions more people are alert to it.

The Establishment, by its attempt to invent a “Misogynist campaign” and link it to Jeremy Corbyn, has just shot itself squarely in the foot.

You might enjoy this interesting word analysis of the comments of the 38 Degrees petition. The comments themselves can still be found from here. It should be understood that 35,000 people signed, but the large majority only sign and do not leave comments.

count [607052]

View comments

Proof Positive that David Cameron, the BBC, Guardian, New Statesman and Entire Establishment are Peddling Blatant Untruths in the Kuenssberg Affair 230

Here are all the comments on the scrapped Kuenssberg petition. You know, the petition David Cameron condemned in the House of Commons today because it was accompanied by a storm of sexist abuse? Well, here are the comments in their entirety and out of 35,000 people who signed, there is virtually nobody whose comment can be seen as remotely sexist. See for yourselves. Can you spot the one sexist comment I found?

The comments show the petition was overwhelmingly signed by decent, concerned people who were sometimes quite eloquent. Also that the petition supporters are gender balanced and several specifically identify as feminists, and as supporters of the BBC. But neither Cameron, the Guardian and mainstream media nor 38 Degrees itself has any qualm about writing off all these decent citizens as a misogynist rabble.

The data link was left by a commenter on this site – I strongly suspect a mole within 38 Degrees has got it out. It is absolute proof that the politicians and mainstream media journalists have been pushing a plain lie about the nature of the campaign, and that 38 Degrees have colluded.

David Babbs of 38 Degrees appears to be setting new standards for lying. Now that the comments are public, he has changed his story and told Media Lens the abuse was not on the petition, it was on connected social media. I have repeatedly asked 38 Degrees for the evidence of abuse, but they absolutely refuse to show it. We have had five people searching all day. So far we have one single tweet, which was nasty – it called Laura K by a expletive reserved for women. And it did refer to the petition. But it was sent by a young man, 90% of whose comments referred to football and 100% of whose tweets used similar expletives. I unreservedly condemn what he did, but he was hardly a supporter of Corbyn or member of Momentum, as all the media are telling us. So far that is it – one young idiot – we have found nothing else.

But even if there are more nasty examples of abuse, that is not the fault of the 35,000 good people who signed the petition. And there is a disconnect between two establishment narratives, both unproven. One is that Kuenssberg has been a victim of terrible misogynist abuse since appointment. The other is that the abuse was caused by the petition. I utterly condemn any such abuse, but it does not negate the genuine concerns of the petitioners. Regular readers know I myself receive constant abuse, somethimes death threats. It does not mean I am not frequently in the wrong!

Now the lies have been thoroughly exploded. Of course the fact Cameron has been involved in peddling the lie may now be leading to some creative design, backdating and history creation in assorted Government establishments.

View comments

38 Degrees Refuse to Release Evidence of “Sexist Abuse” of Laura Kuenssberg

This is the transcript of my conversation with the 38 Degrees Press Spokesman today about the scrapping of the Laura Kuenssberg petition, for which 38 Degrees were praised by David Cameron in the Commons today.

Hello Craig

Hello Adam. I hope you are not quite so busy today? Has it calmed down for you?

It is a bit less busy. Well we are very busy on other important things. Did you see the article by David Babbs in the Guardian today?

I did, but it doesn’t really answer my question. I haven’t received the evidence of the abuse connected to the petition which you said you would consider sending me. Are you going to send it?

I don’t really have the time for this

But you must have this evidence. You took a well-supported petition down. You must have the evidence you based your decision on.

There were abusive tweets and comments

Can you send them to me?

You can search for them yourself online

I have done so. But you must have the evidence?

Look yourself online

This is a big story. In all the national press. You must have kept the evidence on the basis of which you made the decision?

You said yourself you had seen misogynistic comments

I said I could find a single one – very unpleasant but only one – out of hundreds of comments I read

So you did see misogynistic comments

One.

Search yourself online. There were tweets.

So far I have been able to find one. That is one comment and one tweet. Have you seen more?

There were misogynistic comments and tweets

More than two? Out of thirty five thousand signatories? How many have you seen?

There was misogynistic abuse

How many have you seen. You personally Adam. You said yesterday you had seen the evidence. Have you, personally, seen more than two?

If you are going to start shouting at me

More than two? Simple question, yes or no?

I don’t expect you to be impolite and abusive towards me.

How much evidence did you see?

We had seen sufficient evidence.

Is that more than two? Is that more than two? That’s a very simple question.

We had seen sufficient evidence.

Have you seen more than two things? Have you seen more than two things? That’s a very simple question. I am recording you. Is that more than two things?

You can record if you like. We had sufficient evidence.

Is that evidence more than one tweet and one comment?

I could…I have got to go I have things to do here

Do you have more than one tweet and one comment?

Hangs up.

I do not claim the 38 Degrees do not have any evidence to show to “justify” removing this petition. But if they do, I find their attitude absolutely astonishing. It seems to me most probable they did so under establishment pressure with no serious consideration of evidence, and zero concern for the 35,000 people – about half of them female – they have now stigmatised as misogynists.

View comments

Member of BBC Election Night Team Writes Crude Anti-Sturgeon Slogan

“Professor” Rob Ford of the University of Manchester was a member of Professor John Curtice’s election night results team at the BBC. But he is also a very active anti-Corbyn and anti-SNP propagandist.

Indeed just the day before the election, which he was covering for the BBC as a “neutral and independent psephological expert”, Ford posted this nasty attack on Nicola Sturgeon. Please note that this is not a retweet – the slogan “All Hail Supreme Dear Leader, Daughter of Great Helmsman Sal-Mon” is all Ford’s own brilliant witticism.

Screenshot (29)

It is of course a free country, and if this puerile behaviour makes Ford happy it is his business. If the BBC want to interview him as a right wing Labour man that is also their business. But for the BBC to employ him as an “independent expert”, to interpret the electoral results for us, is beyond a joke. Many of us already do not trust Curtice. That the right hand man on his BBC team is this anti-SNP and anti-Corbyn bigot is an outrage.

I had never heard of Ford until he foolishly decided to attack me on twitter over my coverage of the fake Nuneaton research designed to rubbish Corbyn. Ford had lovingly tweeted the details of this fake research, and retweeted uber-Blairite John Rentoul’s vicious article based on it. Ford suggested I criticised it because I am a conspiracy theorist who believes in lizard people and the Illuminati. (He has since asked me to clarify that this was a “joke”. He must be great company).

Ford rejected angrily the argument that the Nuneaton “research” was orchestrated anti-Corbyn spin prepared by the Blairites. It was legitimate and ethical focus group research, he said, rather heatedly. His refutation of accusation of disingenuous PR spin was, I felt, perhaps slightly undermined by the fact that he chose as his own twitter profile photo a picture of himself with Peter Mandelson! I think that probably says all you need to know about him.

Except that by attacking me on twitter he inadvertently caused me to notice something else extremely important. I had published that the Nuneaton “research” that made front page news, stating that voters found Corbyn “scruffy and old-fashioned”, was based on interviews with just 16 people. Those people were all Tory voters. There were no gays, no unemployed, no retired people, no tenants, nobody under thirty, no singles and no ethnic minorities. None of the media coverage – including the New Statesman article by the report authors – made those parameters clear. What is more they distorted the views of the respondents and did not make plain that 2 of the 16 said they will vote Labour next time.

The simultaneous publication in the Blairite outlets of this fake Nuneaton research – Guardian, New Statesman, and John Rentoul in the Independent – was plainly coordinated by the Blairite lobby in anticipation of Labour losing Nuneaton. (In the event to the bitter disappointment of the Blairites, Labour held the council). And here is the new information – looking through Ford’s twitter stream, I found tweets by BBC political correspondent Norman Smith. On results day, out of scores of councils contested, Smith had tweeted about only one single council – Nuneaton. And what he tweeted was specifically “Corbyn critics flagging up swing in key Middle England seat of Nuneaton.” So the day before the co-ordinated publication of this fake “academic research” in Blairite media, “Corbyn critics” were pointing out Nuneaton and only Nuneaton to the BBC.

It stinks to high heaven. What stinks still more is the refusal to state who paid the extremely expensive Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the research. And why.

Oh, and the BBC employing Ford as a neutral expert. If they had any political credibility left, that would destroy it.

UPDATE This excellent comment was posted below. I thought it worth highlighting.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner doesn’t just do research. It helps you spin it:

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Greenberg_Quinlan_Rosner_Research

On its website, it says:

For over three decades, we have used sophisticated polling and opinion research to help leading candidates, parties, government leaders, corporations, and advocacy groups across the United States and around the world. Whether you want to win your election, govern your country, raise your profitability, or change the world, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner has the research and strategies to help you succeed.

IOW, if I were looking for independent neutral research, I’d go somewhere else. For the dirt on my opponentst, I’d go to GQR.

Who paid for this?

View comments

The Establishment Rallies Around Kuenssberg

The petition to sack Tory propagandist Laura Kuenssberg from her role as BBC Political Editor has been scrapped by 38 Degrees after it gained over 35,000 signatures. The reason given is sexist comments and tweets.

Having both signed and endorsed the petition myself, I was taken aback by this. I had personally read through every single one of the comments on the 38 Degrees site, when 26,000 people had signed the petition. I was intending to publish a selection of comments on this blog, as many of them were really quite elegant, and some moving in expressing the loss some people felt in their disillusion with the BBC.

Of the many scores, possibly hundreds (there is no counter) of comments I read through, only one was sexist. That one was very unpleasant, but totally unrepresentative. I can see no reason why they could not just delete any such stupid comments. Everywhere on the internet gets them, including this blog.

It seems to me astonishing that a tiny and unrepresentative number of people can get a petition scrapped which had been signed by many thousands of genuine people. I therefore today phoned 38 Degrees to uncover both the policy and the sequence of events.

What happened first was an article in the Guardian alleging the petition was linked to sexist abuse. Needless to say, the Guardian referred to alleged sexist abuse, by Jeremy Corbyn supporters, of Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips (in the case of Stella Creasy this was proven to be almost complete fabrication. I have not looked into the Phillips case). I have both phoned and emailed the Guardian to ask them on what evidence their story of sexist abuse of Kuenssberg was based, but they have not responded.

I asked the 38 Degrees spokesman whether they had personally seen the evidence of this sexist abuse. Their spokesman Adam said that they had seen it. I asked whether they would send me the evidence so I could check it. He said they would consider this. They have not done so. I asked him how many sexist comments there were? 2, 3, 10, 100? He said they had not looked through everything and would not give even a ballpark figure. I asked what impact their junking of the petition would have on the tens of thousands of non sexist people who had signed it, and why they felt able to slander those people as sexist. He replied this was not intended and they were still thinking about it. I asked why people opposed to a petition could not get anything taken down by adding a few nasty comments pretending to support. He said this had occurred to them as a problem too.

38 Degrees said that the petition originator had agreed to it being taken down, but I clarified they had contacted him to ask for his agreement. Whether he was shown the “evidence” or browbeaten I do not know.

So there we are. The petition has been binned and the people who supported it have all been libelled in the media as sexists. It is not apparently concern about a rampantly biased political editor, it is obvious sexism. Yet the only people who claim to have the actual evidence of this sexism – 38 Degrees and the Guardian – have not produced the evidence and refuse to produce the evidence when I ask.

Laura Kuenssberg is I think the most openly biased journalist I have ever seen on the BBC, particularly in her very obvious vindictive hatred of Jeremy Corbyn and of Scottish Independence. She does not in the least pretend impartiality. But she is by no means alone. Of course by targeting her we are only drawing attention to a particularly egregious symptom of the terrible disease of a rampantly right wing corporate and state media. Nobody believes that removing her would solve the problem. Nobody seriously believes the BBC actually would remove her even if the petition reached a million. It is purely a campaigning tool to highlight the injustice of media control, access and bias.

The fact we are denied even this tool of protest is deeply troubling. The continued process of stigmatisation of decent dissidents as “anti-Semitic” or “misogynist” is characteristic of a society in which deviating from the political line is rewarded with social stigma and exclusion. This poisonous climate should be seen as a reaction to the challenge the elite is currently facing to its neo-liberal certainties.

View comments

David Cameron Is Absolutely Right! 65

Cameron spoke the truth – Nigeria and Afghanistan are “fantastically corrupt.” They are indeed the “two most corrupt countries in the World”.

The bit he omitted was that both are so as a direct result of British military and imperial occupation of their country.

Of course when the Tories describe somewhere as “fantastically corrupt”, they mean “brilliant personal enrichment opportunity for me.” And not just the Tories. Tony Blair will be in there like a shot.

View comments

How to Fabricate Front Page News – Just Put 16 Selected Right Wing Bigots in a Room

This is the story of some squalid little men (and women), but it is a vital insight into the nexus of the political and corporate media elite. The Guardian, New Statesman and Huffington Post today all run major stories around a “focus group” study in Nuneaton which revealed that voters think Corbyn is “scruffy” and “old-fashioned”. This is deemed front page news.

The publicity was obviously supposed to coincide with Labour losing Nuneaton council, its most marginal council surrounded by Tory territory, in the council elections on Thursday. However Labour held Nuneaton. That did not stop the New Statesman article, by “research” authors James Morris and Ian Warren, from going ahead with the immortal phrase “While today’s Labour party has no hope of representing Nuneaton”. Err, it is still in control of the Council.

The publication is also timed to coincide with a revolt by Labour MPs at this afternoon’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. The idea is that the “research” would prove that election losses were Corbyn’s fault. That is toned down now after they beat the Tories outside Scotland, but I am told that Progress MPs are still briefed to flourish the Guardian and raise this “research” today. That is meant to get this “research” onto the evening news.

But when you look at the research very closely, you realise that it is absolute rubbish. James Morris and Ian Warren are total charlatans.

Firstly, the whole sample is 16 people. That is right, 16 people. They are supposed all to be ex-Labour, though there is little evidence of that in the transcripts. What is not in dispute is that they are all Tory voters.

So you have 16 Tory voters, in two groups male and female. But out of 16 people there is not one retired person. Not one young voter. Not one person unemployed. And every single one is in a nuclear heterosexual relationship with children. Every single one is a homeowner.

Furthermore their sources of information are (by order most mentioned) the Daily Mail, Sky, the BBC and the Sun. Only one out of 16 mentions the internet as a source of political information.

People who voted Tory constitute already just 24% of the general population. Exclude retired, tenants, single, childless, gay, young and internet savvy people as well, and you get down to a deliberately chosen 5% of the population from which to choose your sample. You then get these 16 carefully chosen, blinkered right wing bigots into a room. Nevertheless something still goes wrong for your research. Two of the 16 (in the female group) state a firm intention to vote Labour next time (while a larger number state they would consider it).

So what do you do if you are a charlatan like James Morris or Ian Warren? You leave that in the transcript, which no journalist will ever read, but you exclude the fact that 2 of the 16 will vote Labour next time from your findings! And you studiously lead the conversation with the group round to the idea that others who are considering voting Labour next time might be more likely to do so with a change of leader.

The idea that locking two carefully selected groups of totally unrepresentative right wingers into a room to self-reinforce their bigoted opinions, in any way constitutes real research, is utterly laughable. The only conclusion is that having carefully selected the people in all of the UK the most likely to dislike Jeremy Corbyn, they dislike Jeremy Corbyn. Next week, a group of young unemployed people from the Easter Road will give their views on David Cameron.

Needless to say the so called journalists who have published this nonsense did no investigation whatsoever of the farcical nature of the “research”. They just published the press release, as witnessed by the fact they all use exactly the same quotes from scores of pages of transcript.

An important question is who paid for this. Obviously it is a Blairite production, but where did the money come from? Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research are credited, and they are extremely expensive. I asked Ian Warren who funded it. First he replied “I did”, then when I asked him who funded Greenberg Quinlan Rosner he stated there was “something sinister” about the question. I asked again twice, but answer came there none. Astonishingly, “who paid for this” did not occur to the mainstream journalists who uncritically published Morris and Warren’s nonsense.

This is a deeply sinister story. Right wing Labour figures hope desperately their own party will lose in Nuneaton. So they commission (and presumably pay for) ludicrously skewed research to show Jeremy Corbyn caused the loss. This absolute non-news item, that a tiny selected group of completely unrepresentative right wingers do not like Jeremy Corbyn, is then plastered on front pages by their Blairite media contacts to coincide with a Parliamentary Labour Party meeting today, in order to further the slow motion coup against Corbyn.

It is actually quite sickening. All of those involved – including the Guardian and New Statesman editors – are very low people indeed.

View comments

Cheer Up! The Glass is Full for Independence.

I find some social media comment unduly pessimistic on the prospects for Independence, which have never been brighter. We have almost all Scottish Westminster MPs. We have a pro-Independence majority in Holyrood (the other Green MSPs are much better than Patrick Harvie) for another four years. The SNP is back for a historic third term, having polled more than twice the votes of anybody else. We can neutralise a Scottish Lib Dem as Presiding Officer – they will do anything for a title and a cushy job. It is not a question of whether the glass is half full. It is full. The head on the beer may be a wee bit deeper than we wanted, but the glass is full.

The percentage supporting Independence has risen fairly consistently and it is now around 50/50, as reflected in this election result. Support will continue to grow.

But the most helpful development of all is that it is now absolutely plain to everybody that the choice is between Independence and the Conservative Party. The falling in of the unionists behind the Tories is the greatest boost we could have – the media promotion of the Gordon Brown social compact lie is now finished for good. In a straight choice between Independence and Tories, Scots would only go one way. Only one in nine of eligible Scottish voters, voted Tory. If that is the unionist base, good. You will also find that the age profile of that 1 in 9 is going to be highly problematic to the unionists.

It is perfectly legitimate for Independence voters to have different tactical views in the election, but now we have to come together again. I am willing to put myself at the disposal full time of the SNP’s pro-Independence campaign this summer. They have expressed an intent that this will not be a purely Party campaign. As we all gear up for it, please remember me as a potential speaker in your area.

I have no doubt something will crop up to justify a new Indyref within the next four years. Brexit. Another illegal war by Westminster. A firm opinion poll lead for Indy. Some nutty right wing Tory policy proposal. Do not worry. It will come.

A brief note on Labour. A quietly spoken truth is that I do not know any Scottish nationalist who would not like to see Jeremy Corbyn in power in England (with all due respect to Caroline Lucas, for whom I have great respect). The Labour Party has no role to play in Scotland before Independence. It is just getting in the way, and humiliating itself. Post Independence, I suspect quite a lot of Nationalists would join a genuine Scottish Labour Party. In the meantime, the unionists should just off and join the Tories.

View comments

An Honest Man at the BBC @KKeaneBBC

I have identified the remarkably brave BBC correspondent who followed the massive Tory propaganda of the Sarah Smith BBC Scotland election night package by “let us not forget the SNP won a historic victory” as Kevin Keane. I also see that he has yesterday changed his twitter photo to one with a strapline underneath reading “SNP won a clear and emphatic mandate.”

Yorkshireman Mr Keane’s salary is approximately £170,000 pa less than that of Laura Keunssberg and significantly less than that of Sarah Smith. I am afraid his unfortunate addiction to truth telling is not going to have a positive effect on reducing that disparity. Indeed I fear for his continued employment. But we will ensure he is always welcome in Scotland.

View comments

BBC Lies and Statistics #SackKuenssberg

Here are the basic facts from Thursday’s plethora of UK elections, limited to those affecting the relative Labour and Conservative Vote

English Council Elections
Labour 1,291 councillors Conservative 828 Councillors

London Mayoral Election First Preferences
Labour 45.2% Conservative 35.0%

Labour also won the three other mayoral elections in Bristol, Liverpool and Salford

Scottish Parliament elections constituencies
Labour 22.6% Conservative 22.0%

Welsh Assembly Election Votes
Labour 34.7% Conservative 21.1%

And yet the BBC ran a claim all day that the “projected” national vote share was Labour 31%, Conservative 30%.

This simply cannot be true. Labour won the London mayoral election by over 200,000 votes. They were 130,000 ahead in Wales. Taking all the elections except the English local council seat elections, Labour were 360,000 votes and approximately 6% ahead of the Tories. To balance this plus the majorities of the 1,291 Labour English councillors elected, each of just 828 Conservative English councillors elected would have to have an average majority of approximately 1,000. Random sampling shows this is absolutely not the case.

My own calculations, based on knowing all the other results and extrapolations from samples of the English local council results, is that the national vote count was Labour 34% Conservative 29%. It might not be precisely correct, but is not far out.

But I can say for certain is that the BBC 31/30 figure is a despicable and quite deliberate lie. The BBC has become a caricature of a state propaganda machine.

UPDATE It has been pointed out that in the Scottish regional list vote the Tories beat Labour by 520,000 to 431,000, a huge disparity with the aggregate constituency vote which Labour narrowly won. But if you use the regional rather than the constituency total in the UK wide calculation, the extra 89,000 Tory lead only marginally affects the overall calculation.

View comments

BBC Spread the Hatred

UPDATE Sign this Sack Laura Keunssberg petition. It put on 16,000 signatures in the last twelve hours after gaining just 25 in its first three months!

No matter how terrible the BBC is, it constantly manages to get worse. The BBC News this evening appears like an especially rabid Tory Party broadcast. Sarah Smith was just breathtaking, while I thought Laura Kuenssberg must be the Chairman of the Conservative Party.

Sarah Smith’s report from Holyrood was so astonishingly biased that a rather bemused BBC correspondent named Keane followed it with “But after Sarah Smith’s report let’s not forget that the SNP have won an historic third election”. Sarah Smith’s contribution was a voiceover of a photo montage of Ruth Davidson. Smith told us the election was all about Independence and the “stunning” Tory result was evidence that voters were firmly rejecting the idea of any second referendum. Cut to Ruth Davidson saying the Tories were firmly rejecting any second referendum.

Let us for a moment accept Sarah Smith’s contention that the Tories attracted those voters who do not want a second referendum. The truth of the matter is that just 1 in 9 of eligible Scottish voters, voted Tory. 21% of those who voted. So the proper conclusion should be that the Tories came a distant second and most people rather fancy a second referendum. Sarah Smith’s anti-independence tirade was gobsmacking, but then it was topped by some BBC pundit comparing Ruth Davidson’s Tories to Leicester City.

A foreign visitor would have had to be watching very carefully indeed to realise that the Tories had not won, and indeed got half the votes of the SNP. So the Tories are not Leicester, they are Newcastle. Yet the Tories in Scotland got four times the coverage of the SNP on the BBC news.

And so to the rest of the UK. Laura Kuenssberg seems to have a depth of hatred for Jeremy Corbyn which is more generally reserved for Fred and Rose West. She appears to be sponsored to say “anti-Semitism” as often as possible. She opened her report by saying that the results called Corbyn’s leadership into question.

The strange thing is that the results are near identical to Ed Miliband’s 2012 result at precisely the same Council elections. The net loss of Labour councillors is 12 out of over 2000, as I write. Miliband’s result was unanimously hailed in the media at the time as a triumph. Exactly the same result for Corbyn – including winning many councils in Tory Westminster constituencies in Southern and Midlands England – is a disaster.

An opposition party should make gains in council elections. But when that opposition party makes truly spectacular gains, but is still the opposition when they cycle comes round again, you can’t expect it to make further gains exponentially. Keunssberg stated directly that Labour has to be “piling on hundreds and hundreds of net gains” to have any chance. That is simply untrue. 2012 was Miliband’s high water mark. It was all downhill from there. Corbyn is exactly matching Miliband’s best ever performance, and doing so despite being tendentiously branded a mad anti-Jewish racist by the bitter Blairites in his own party. Plus under Corbyn, unlike Brown and Miliband, the London mayor is now Labour again

Miliband went downhill from 2012 precisely because, after his 2012 successes, the BBC and corporate media threw their entire firepower at Miliband. Corbyn has already weathered an even greater media barrage than Miliband ever suffered. It is by no means plain he will follow Miliband’s downhill trajectory from here. In England next year’s local election results – in a tranche of seats last contested when Miliband was already slipping back – will tell us a great deal more.

View comments

All Independence Supporters Must Read This

To try to say this before yesterday was like standing in front of a runaway juggernaut. It had to be demonstrated by actual experience. We came extremely close to the absolute disaster of a unionist majority in Holyrood. Entirely because of this. I know many of you will not like reading this, but you have to.

Regional List Vote

North East Scotland 137,086 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 137,086 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
Central Scotland 129,082 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 129,082 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
Lothian 118,546 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 118,546 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
Mid Scotland and Fife 120,128 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 120,128 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
West Scotland 135,827 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 135,827 pro-independence list votes totally wasted
Glasgow 111,101 SNP list votes 0 SNP list MSPs elected 111,101 pro-independence list votes totally wasted

That is over 750,000 SNP pro-independence list votes completely wasted, electing nobody at all on the list.

By contrast in these regions the Tories got 376,000 – almost precisely 50% of the list votes the SNP received there – and got 19 MSPs for them!

If the SNP list vote which was completely, utterly and entirely predictably useless in these regions had been given to other pro-independence candidates, the number of Tory MSPs in parliament would have been drastically reduced.
We would not have the BBC crowing over “Tory victory” as the result of the election. Despite the fact that only one in 9 eligible Scottish voters, voted Tory, a fact the BBC will not tell you.

With tactical voting a dozen more committed pro-Indy MPs could have been put into parliament.

The Tories have done disproportionately well because of the “both votes SNP” campaign. This campaign was, undoubtedly, extremely successful in securing both votes SNP. Sadly it was – entirely predictably – totally counter-productive in maximising the number of pro-Independence MSPs.

I published yesterday during the voting: “But in the entire central belt and in NE Scotland, I am prepared to state boldly – and twelve hours will prove the case – that a list vote for the SNP in those regions is almost certainly wasted, and could rather have helped elect a different pro-Independence MSP.”

I was 100% right.

It was blindingly obvious in which regions SNP supporters should give the party their list vote, and in which they should vote tactically.

The question is, why did people I generally admire and, in fact, find quite brilliant like James Kelly and Stuart Campbell, get it so wrong and fail to see the obvious? I fear that the answer is one which raises wider concerns. The SNP has managed to achieve near complete identity with the independence movement, so that any questioning of total obedience to the SNP is taken as disloyalty to the nation. Those like me who want independence rather than the success of a political party find ourselves marginalised and despised. Even when we are demonstrably and undeniably correct. Perhaps especially when we are demonstrably and undeniably correct.

We need the second referendum soon. We are now dependent on the goodwill of the Greens to get it. I stated yesterday I do not trust Patrick Harvie’s commitment to independence. That annoyed some people and I am genuinely interested to see comments as to whether others pick up the same vibe from him. I do hope that the Green influence will lead the SNP to be more radical on Land Reform. That would be a great advantage to dig out of an unexpected situation.

Finally, it is not a bad thing that the Unionists are now firmly identified as the Tories. Many of them were Red Tories anyway, and all that has happened is that their allegiance has become plain. The stark choice between Independence and the Tories is now visible. It was always there, but at the referendum many did not see it. Having the Tories leading the unionist opposition simply brings the day of Independence closer. There is only one winner in that battle.

View comments