The Scottish Council Elections Are a Huge Test – Subsequent Attempted Backroom Deals Will Reveal the Black Soul of Scottish Labour 188

Theresa May herself set out to portray the Scottish Council Elections as a test of opinion on a second Independence referendum, and followed that up by an attack on the very principle of devolution and a stark re-assertion of the power of Westminster control. She did so in the – not unreasonable – expectation that the Tories will make gains in Scottish councils from an extremely low base. If the Tories get anything over 22% of votes cast the media will tell us that is a stunning rejection of Independence.

Local councils are important in themselves, but this year’s Council elections will have a much wider significance in giving the SNP momentum to go into the Independence referendum. The SNP will make much greater gains which will at least give the BBC some headache in preparing their “Unionist Triumph” narrative. The Tories will look to advance in Edinburgh. Sadly Ruth Davidson is my constituency MSP, but fortunately my councillor is Alasdair Rankin, Edinburgh City Council’s Finance Convener. This year is the fortieth anniversary of my meeting Alasdair who very quickly became and remains one of my, and my family’s, closest friends. So it will be an unusual pleasure for me to get out and knock on some doors for him.

Scottish elections are conducted under the excellent STV system, which I advocate for all elections. I want to make an extremely important point to all Independence supporters. Unlike the De Hondt system used for Holyrood, under STV it is impossible to damage the chances of the SNP – or your other Independence supporting party of choice – by using all your lower preference numbers for other Independence supporting candidates, and it is essential that you do. James Kelly explains it here.

The Holyrood De Hondt system is so terrible that it is perfectly possible for intelligent people of goodwill to disagree severely over whether voting just for one party or for two will help the Independence cause, and the answer is far from plain even after the vote. I respectfully differ from James Kelly and Stuart Campbell on the question. But none of these problems arise with STV. This is so important I am going to say it again, in super-shouty


So if you have three SNP candidates on your list make them preferences 1, 2, 3, but then be certain to carry on 4, 5, 6 each for other pro-Indy candidates. Or the same principle with your other preferred pro-indy party first.

I have now meandered to the point of this post. In council by-elections every week, we are seeing the unionist party voters transfer their lower preferences to each other. Tory voters are perfectly happy to transfer and support Labour, and Labour voters are perfectly happy to transfer to Tory. This is the most important fact in modern Scottish politics. It is not just the Blairite leadership, it is the dwindling rump of Labour voters who are Red Tories – or probably more accurately Orange Lodgers. Peeling off the remaining decent left wing Labour voters from their Neanderthal colleagues is probably the simpler of the SNP’s electoral challenges.

There is another factor which I do not expect to come into play in time for the Council elections. The Tory triumphalism masks a deep split. Scottish Conservatives have a Fox/Forsyth/Fallon hardline nutter tendency. But they also have a core of traditionalist supporters who are urbane, liberal and strongly pro-EU. May is still in her honeymoon period – if you remember even Gordon Brown had one of those for quite a while – but quite a few of the Tory inhabitants of the leafier parts of Edinburgh feel disquiet at her harsh Brexiteer nationalism and dismissal of devolution.

We only have to check the Tory bandwagon slightly to encourage dissent among those pulling it.

But the key test for Scottish politics will come after the votes have been cast, when the new councillors start meeting in the backrooms of council chambers up and down the country. In effect, the SNP is likely to be the largest group very widely indeed. If SNP supporters have used their lower preferences well, it is very possible that they will be able in many places to form local coalitions with the Greens and other pro-Indy groups and individuals.

But it is also very likely that we will see on a much wider and larger scale, something which has been already seen from time to time in places like Dundee and Stirling. Labour and the Tories will form coalitions together to keep the SNP out.

The truth is that Scotland already has a two party system – the SNP and the Unionists. In Holyrood, in Council Chambers and in council by-election vote transfers, the Unionists act as one party. The backroom deals of Scottish councils after the May elections will define Scottish politics. For a classic example of a failure to stop digging when you are in a massive hole, and a brazen declaration of pro-Tory sentiment, I give you Scottish Labour’s Doug Hothersall on their Labour Hame website:

Labour is not a unionist party. But in stark constitutional times, our commitment to solidarity and wealth redistribution means we are right to be firmly a pro-UK party. We should be proud of that stance and those principles. We should not indulge in back-slapping and posturing about never working alongside others who are firmly pro the UK.
If there is a second independence referendum, I will share a platform with any mainstream party which is prepared to work together to fight against nationalism. Our party should grow up and make the same pledge.

In Hothersall’s case, it is not a failure to realise that he is supporting a deeply unpleasant British nationalism. it is that he knowingly supports that British nationalism. That makes him a typical example of the rump Scottish Labour supporter. The evidence from local election transfers if that the remaining Labour voters mostly agree with him. But they are thankfully a small and shrinking group of dull bigots. Also do not forget the corruption, graft and jobs network that Scottish Labour has been. Prising them out of council chambers will be a death blow to that already shrivelled demon of Labour patronage.

I know I should tell you that local elections are important because of schools, pavements and all that important everyday stuff. That is a truism. But I am not into politics because of a deep interest in having sewerage systems and traffic lights properly managed. I want to see a free Scotland that can no longer be forced against its will to participate in illegal wars. I am hugely looking forward to campaigning in the impending Independence Referendum, but do not overlook the importance of the council elections. They are a vital step along the way.

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188 thoughts on “The Scottish Council Elections Are a Huge Test – Subsequent Attempted Backroom Deals Will Reveal the Black Soul of Scottish Labour

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  • Velofello

    Oh Fred, oh dear:

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than disclose that you read the Scottish Daily Mail and prove it”.

  • Velofello

    Jings Fred, what a memory you must have!

    The “Scottish” Daily Mail article you refer is dated 1993, and the content is that a German woman, who had settled in Scotland had daubed six wheelie bins and a road sign with anti-white settler slogans! And she had, with an accomplice posted leaflets on lamp posts!

    Would it be reasonable to surmise that this German lady – a white settler? – had found the behaviour of fellow white settlers disagreeable?
    Just asking, ye ken.

    • fred

      The Daily Mail article I refer to was dated 4th March 2017.

      It demonstrates that the SNP vet candidates more on their allegiance to the cause than their desire or ability to serve their constituents.

      This is why people should vote for a candidate from one of the other parties or an independent if they care about things like health and education in their area.

      That is the subject of this blog entry.

    • Kempe

      Still guilty of criminal damage and racism. Had her targets been J*ws or blacks would the SNP dared to have been so forgiving?

      Strange that she passed the SNP vetting process but Craig did not.

  • bevin

    Baal raises an interesting point and an issue which would be crucial in any proper discussion of the EU, which is the matter of long distance international trade in commodities which can obviously be produced more cheaply (in every sense of the word) at home.
    To import New Zealand lamb and mutton is a form of the madness which has produced the climate crisis (that so much money is spent denying).
    Of course NZ lamb is but one such commodity imported from thousands of miles away, at enormous cost, which could easily and more profitably (in every sense of that word) be produced in Scotland.
    In fact there is very little in the way of food which cannot be grown easily in the UK.
    The problem is that the real costs of imports are buried in ignorance and wishful thinking -grain from North America for example comes at the cost of accepting GMOs and insecticide soaked regimens which are laying waste to large numbers of species-including pollinators. Grow the grain at home on smaller holdings and the world will be a better place, those growing it will live better lives, everyone will eat better food and the need to impose swingeing indirect taxes in order to finance subsidies will be mitigated.
    The real logic of independence includes self sufficiency- independence from long distance trade and the idiocy of an international division of labour that brings our cities cut flowers from the tropics, produced by wage workers whose farms have been taken from them who buy their, often imported, food from village shops.
    It is a sad thing that the debate on Independence has been so dominated by the Blairites within nationalist ranks who aim to change nothing and mobilise the popular longing for change to ensure that everything remains the same, bar a few surface adjustments of the showbiz, celebrity style.
    It is more than sad that, as the EU crumbles before our eyes, for silly tactical advantage the SNP seeks to pledge undying allegiance to an institution which is unlikely to be there by the time of the Indyref.

    • Republicofscotland

      “It is more than sad that, as the EU crumbles before our eyes, for silly tactical advantage the SNP seeks to pledge undying allegiance to an institution which is unlikely to be there by the time of the Indyref.”



      I’m rather perplexed by that paragraph above, considering almost half of the British public, and all the constituencies (majority wise) of Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

      The EU definitely has its problems, corruption, unfairness, squabbling ( all countries do) over who gets what, but leaving the largest trading bloc on the planet, on the back of a “hard Brexit” seems a silly and damaging thing to do.

      Indeed it was Britain who devised the “Single Market” it was Britain that encouraged the enlargement of the European Union. Infact if Britain hadn’t persuaded Denmark to sign up to the EU, (and it did) the Maastricht Treaty may never have been ratified.

      No in my opinion we are being dragged out of the EU, by those in the Tories, who believed that Margaret Thatcher was, and still is correct, when she said that she would not agree to the Maastricht Treaty.

      It looks as though they will get their way soon enough, and George Osborne, who wept real tears at Thatcher’s funeral, can begin to dry his eyes.

  • michael norton

    Since then, the North Sea oil price has plummeted – with United Kingdom oil and gas production generating negative receipts in 2015/16 of -£24m, compared with +£2.15bn the year before.
    Basically, the arse has dropped out of the North Sea.
    Ministry of Truth
    Scottish independence: SNP’s economic case ‘should not include oil’

    39 minutes ago
    From the section Scotland politics

    • Republicofscotland


      I fear yet again you’ve grabbed the wrong end of the stick.

      For the Scottish economy is not dependent on oil, the proceeds of oil and gas goes straight into the Treasury’s coffers in Westminster, therefore, you could say that Britain’s economy relies on the proceeds.

      Scotland inturn receives very little in return from North sea revenue. So in reality on could say that the proceeds from North sea oil and gas, would actually be a bonus to a independent Scotland.

      However the flip side would see the Treasury on the losing end.

    • michael norton

      So if the S. N. P.
      can no longer base their economic argument on the bonanza of The North Sea

      what will they base their economic argument on???

      • Republicofscotland


        It’s not a case of Scotland basing its economy on oil and gas, though the revenue from both in a independent Scotland, would be most welcome.

        Scotland won’t become the land of milk and honey in gaining independence. No a lot of hard work will need to be done, to pave the way to realistic goals, whatever the public decides that they want those goals to be.

        However saying that, Scotland’s food and drink industries and renewable energy market, along with manufacturing are doing quite well, and with exports over £78 billion in 2015 it appears to be growing.

        I could ask you the same question, regarding say England for example, a economy built on financial services, consumer spending/debt, and a precarious housing bubble, that bursts every now and then with disastrous consequences.

        I hear that Hammond, will make more cuts on Wednesday during his budget speech, to pay for the coming Brexit challenges we face. Some press articles even claim Hammond is considering removing the “Triple Lock” that currently protects pensions. It all sound very ominious to me.

      • MJ

        Whisky, shortbread, oatmeal, salmon and Scottish Culture (souvenir shop tat to you and me).

        • AnonScot

          Plagiarized this for your information

          32% of the land area
          61% of the sea area
          90% of the fresh water. (There is more fresh water in loch Ness than In England and Wales combined!)
          65% of the natural gas production
          96.5% of the crude oil production
          47% of the open cast coal production
          81% of the untapped coal reserves
          62% of the timber production
          46% of the total forest area
          92% of the hydro electric production
          40% of the wind wave and solar energy production
          60% of the fish landings
          30% of the beef herd
          20% of the sheep herd
          9% of the dairy herd
          10% of the pig herd
          15% of the cereal holdings
          20% of the potato holdings
          …obviously 100% of the Whisky industry.

          We have a…
          17 billion pound construction industry
          13 billion food and drink industry
          10 billion business services industry
          9.3 billion chemical services industry
          9.3 billion tourism industry
          7 billion financial services industry
          5 billion aeroservice industry
          4.5 billion whisky export industry
          3.1 billion life sciences industry
          Scotland still has 350 million pounds worth of textile exports

          We have 25% of Europes wave and wind energy potential.

          And finally we are blessed to have 1.5 trillion pounds – £1,500,000,000,000 worth of oil and gas reserves.

          • Deepgreenpuddock

            I think there. is some ‘Welsh’ and some Northern Irish whisky so not 100%of the whisky. industry ,just 100% of the ‘Scotch’ whisky industry.

          • Ba'al Zevul

            Noted further above – there is even English whisky:

            There are currently 14 whisky distilleries spread across England in various stages of development*, but only 3 have single malt whisky available for sale. Others are laying down casks to mature, and a few are soon to enter production, such as our friends at Dartmoor Whisky Distillery and ourselves, Cooper King Distillery. Whisky production is a slow process. In England, new-make spirit (essentially un-aged whisky) must be matured for a minimum of three years in wooden casks (no bigger than 700 litres) before it can legally be called ‘whisky’.


    • Republicofscotland


      It is interesting to note, that to some a independent Scotland would somehow, sink in a sea of debt, everyone who could leave would, that Scotland would inevitability (on independence) become a international pariah state.

      I note recently that the USA’s national debt now stands at $18.96 trillion dollars. Oh how the citizens of the USA, must wish, they could return to the 8th of January 1835. For that is the only day in the history of the USA, it had no national debt. ?

      • Loony

        The US is the issuer of the de-facto world reserve currency. For so long as this persists it cannot be regarded as a “normal country” and therefore the comparison you seek to make is meaningless.

        A much more meaningful comparison, from the perspective of an “independent” Scotland within the EU would be with Spain or Italy. In January Spain recorded Euro 22.1 billion of capital flight to Germany with Italy recording a Euro 8.1 billion capital flight to Germany. The EU (and more specifically the Euro-zone is a scheme designed to end with all money in the euro-zone being domiciled in Germany.

        Some may think the whole edifice will collapse some time prior to all money being in the hands of Germany. Others may think differently – If so then you should obviously send all of your money to Germany on a voluntary basis as the alternative is to send it on an involuntary basis,

  • Jo

    If the SNP make huge gains, as predicted, in the Scottish Council elections then the main test I would say will be how SNP controlled Councils will manage the budgets allocated.

    We have been hearing, for years now, many Labour Councils insisting their budgets were cut, that the Council Tax freeze did not involve compensation of an adequate level to allow them to function as they wished. We’ll now find out if that was true. Craig mentions huge tests and I agree but the biggest test will be how SNP controlled Councils run their areas. That’s really important. I think it is quite wrong to turn it into a vote on independence or a new referendum. It would also be reckless.

    If May wants to play it that way, let her. She clearly doesn’t care about local services but we already knew that. I hope, however, that Nicola Sturgeon will say local services are more important than that.

    Local services are vital to all of us and especially to vulnerable groups. That’s what the debate leading up to the elections should be about. I hope the SNP don’t stoop to May’s level, or Davidson’s, by making the campaign about anything else.

    • michael norton

      Will Scotland become a High Tax economy?
      What currency will you use?
      What Bank will you use, after most have slipped their moorings to England?
      Which face will be on your money?
      Which face will be on your passports?

      • JOML

        Basic, run-of-the mill questions for any country. The vital thing for a newly independent Scotland is that these questions will be answered by those people given the power by the Scottish electorate, not by a neighbouring, much larger country. You should be more concerned about the future of the rUK – do you have the answers to the future uncertainties in your neck of the woods?

      • fred

        The most important question to be answered is which taxes would be raised and which services would be cut to reduce the deficit.

        Nobody would lend money to a country with a deficit 9.5% of GDP, not Germany, not the IMF, the deficit would have to be reduced and reduced by a substantive amount.

        The SNP should give a specific answer, state precisely which taxes they would raise and which services they would cut.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    O/T just sent a formal complaint about the handling of Corbyn’s tax return to the BBC.



    Complaint Summary: BBC failure to examine Corbyn tax return

    Full Complaint: On 05/03/2017 the BBC published an item entitled “Jeremy Corbyn’s tax return appears to omit leader’s salary”. The substance of the item was that the tax return allegedly did not show his additional receipts to his normal MP’s salary as Leader of the Opposition. In fact the tax return showed that income under “UK pensions and state benefits”. The BBC has now replaced that item with another, without apology or explanation, explaining the true state of affairs. I would like to know: – Who prepared the initial report; – How the reporter and therefore the BBC could be either so biased or so incompetent as not to notice the large figure under “UK pensions and state benefits”, approximately half of Corbyn’s declared salary. – Why the BBC published such an allegation without allowing Corbyn’s office time to seek an explanation from the accountants who prepared Corbyn’s tax return. – Why the piece was corrected without stating that it had been corrected on the relevant page and without apology or explanation. Thank you.


    A lot of people who immediately attacked Corbyn for this, eg right-wing Labour MPs on Twitter who have had to hastily delete their tweets (what a shame there is something called screenshot), have got rather red faces today.


    • Sharp Ears

      Sky News were on the attack especially in their paper reviews. ‘Unfit for leadership’ was heard from one contributor.

    • D_Majestic

      Excellent, John. The Independent and their tame troll army of newbies never ever seen before or afterwards were all over this yesterday. Was incensed enough to send my own entry to ‘The Biased Beeb’ competition.

  • Krief

    “that can no longer be forced against its will to participate in illegal wars”

    I’m not sure independence would guarantee you this.
    Not having armed forces would.
    Or having some form of direct democracy.

  • Velofello

    All this gloom talk, have any of you naysayers any formal education in economics and accountancy, and so an understanding of finance jiggery pokery opportunities, or does that not matter when discussing Scotland economic prospects?

    Scotland is a net exporter of goods such as oil and gas, power, food and beverages, technology. And currently a recipient of billings for UK services she would happily dispense with once independent. England is a net importer, and via her Establishment sends out these spurious billings for services.

  • Sharp Ears

    “We’re going down the tube and we’re taking you with us” May tells Scotland
    March 3, 2017
    Britain is driving off a cliff half-cut and has Scotland locked in the boot, Prime Minister Theresa May has told Scottish Conservatives today.

    During a speech to the Scottish Tory conference in Glasgow she said “We’re leaving. But your staying. With us, not them. There is no way that the Scottish people will be permitted to carry on trading freely with other European Countries whilst the rest of Britain is stuck in a clusterfuck of a recession and wallowing in a quagmire of our own isolationism.”

    The Prime Minister warned of harsh consequences for the people of Scotland if they voted en masse to leave, meaning that they would in effect be voting to stay and thus defying the will of the people.

    “If they choose to remain in Europe then they are defying the will of the people. Not Scottish people. Or people from Wales. Or people from London. Some other people.”

    A furious Nicola Sturgeon has called for an immediate referendum. “We can do the Scottish one again or we can do the EU one again. Or we can do a new one. It doesn’t even have to have anything to do with sovereignty or the single market. Or even politics. I just want a referendum. And then another one.” The Scottish First Minister explained.

    🙂 😉

  • michael norton

    Over the last twenty four hours the value of crude oil has dropped by 6.5%

    what case now for Indyref2 Nicola oh wisewoman?

  • michael norton

    Ms. Nicola Sturgeon: Autumn 2018 “common sense” for indyref2

    1 minute ago
    From the section Scotland politics
    Ministry of Truth

    • michael norton

      Would anybody know why Ms. Nicola Sturgeon can’t just get on with her day job of improving Scotland for all of its inhabitants?

      Crude oil still falling off a cliff.

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