Daily Archives: May 29, 2017


Paxman Pushes 100% Tory Agenda

There are enough viewers for the televised questioning and interviews of Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May tonight to have some effect on the election. May finished with a very positive reaction from a substantial section of the audience to the repeated assertion that “No deal is better than a bad deal” with the EU. She was playing to her xenophobic, UKIP-leaning core support. Why this kind of deranged nonsense is apparently not alienating more urbane Tories in greater numbers, I do not really know. I presume they believe they can control her.

I think that Corbyn came over as calm, likeable and humorous, whereas May came over as tense and unpleasant. Again the tension and narrowing of the eyes when asked a hostile question was truly striking. But what struck me most was another quite stunning demonstration of media bias.

Paxman interrupted Corbyn while he was answering very much more often than he did May. But the true bias came over in the selection of questions asked.

It was widely reported in the Sunday press that the Tories were to refocus their failing election campaign on Brexit. So what did Paxman concentrate on in his interview with May? Brexit. He opened the short interview on the subject of Brexit, and crucially he returned to Brexit for the closing three minutes, allowing May to repeat again and again the slogan “No deal is better than a bad deal”, which obviously was going down very well with her supporters in the audience.

Paxman appeared to be asking for clarification of what it meant in giving her the chance to repeat it again and again, but made no argument as to why it is a fantastically stupid idea in this context.

By contrast Paxman spent the entire interview with Jeremy Corbyn on no subject at all except the Tory chosen subjects to attack Corbyn – alleged support for terrorism, reluctance to fire nuclear weapons or murder in drone strikes, lack of support for patriotism/the monarchy.

The equivalent treatment for May would have been to spend the entire time focused on the Labour preferred subjects – the NHS, education, benefit cuts for the disabled. In fact, Paxman only grilled May on security, immigration and Brexit, the chosen Tory subjects, other than a token reference to social care, on which Paxman let off May extremely lightly over her lying about the U-turn on the manifesto.

While Paxman’s questions were superficially hostile, by choosing only favourite Tory subjects he gave May an easy get-out. The equivalent fake-hostile question to Corbyn to allow him onto a favourite subject would be “You say you will abolish tuition fees. But surely the economy cannot afford that?”

There were nil such questions allowing Corbyn to move on to one of his favourite subjects. May received nothing else. Paxman is an openly acknowledged Conservative. That was very plain this evening. But despite all his efforts, Corbyn will still have shaded it with all except those primarily motivated by racism.

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Scottish and Love Jeremy Corbyn? Then Vote SNP.

There has been a steady decline in the SNP vote in Scottish opinion polls during the General election campaign, and a steady recovery in the Labour vote from a very low base. At the same time, support for Independence has been stable or even growing – the latest Scottish poll asking the question puts support for Independence at 54%. And digging down into the data tables of recent polls, the concomitant is indeed true. A quarter to a third of those currently identifying as Labour voters in Scotland support Independence.

As I have frequently demonstrated, the Scottish electorate is indeed substantially to the left of the English electorate on economic issues. This is not a myth. What appears to be happening is that some Labour voters who deserted the party when the SNP were substantially to the left of Labour, are returning to Labour enthused by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign.

I was down this weekend at the Merthyr Rising Festival and it is impossible not to be swept up in the joy that so many people feel at seeing a genuine alternative economic policy offered by Jeremy Corbyn at an election for the first time in a generation. Renationalisation and an end to austerity, and an ethical foreign policy, are things to be excited about. I get it – a sledgehammer is being taken to the blockwork surrounding the Overton window. Who would not want to show support for that?

The latest opinion poll shows
SNP 39%
Conservative 29%
Labour 25%

Not including this, the last poll of polls showed
SNP 42%
Conservative 29%
Labour 22%

(All polling referenced can be found on the Scot Goes Pop website linked above).

The iniquity of the first past the post system is such, that the drift of support from SNP to Labour risks handing up to a dozen seats to the Tories, while potentially gaining only 2 or 3 seats for Labour – and only from the SNP.

If Labour continues, despite Manchester, to advance in the UK wide polls it only requires a further swing of perhaps 2% from Tory to Labour before polling day before we are potentially in hung parliament territory. It therefore could be absolutely essential that the combined Labour/SNP MP’s outnumber the Tories. It would be a huge tragedy if the Tories were to get an overall majority simply because some Scottish voters who like Corbyn switched from SNP to Labour, and thus let the Tories in.

The case of Edinburgh South is arguable, but Edinburgh South aside, there is no constituency in Scotland where for Corbyn supporters to vote SNP risks helping the Tory. I realise that tactical voting is a complex ethical question, but if you want your vote to have practical effect, rather than act as a form of personal expression, it is essential that Scottish Corbyn supporters vote SNP, and most especially in rural constituencies.

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