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Take five

Brian Taylor | 11:26 UK time, Tuesday, 9 September 2008

By the end of this week, Scottish Labour will have a new leader. Or a new leader for Labour in the Scottish Parliament. (See sundry previous blogs.)

Thousands of Labour members will have cast their votes. Many of them several times over.

I expect that, if you thought about it at all, you were presuming that the new leader was to be elected by the fabled OMOV: One Member One Vote. Well, up to a point, Lord Copper.

In this ballot, votes are allocated across three sections: elected members, party members, unions and affiliates.

By a process of weighting, each section adds up to one third of the final vote.

If you are seeking a source of innocent merriment, ask your Labour MSPs how many votes they have in this contest. The top total I've discerned so far is five.

Huge influence

Here's how that breaks down. Labour MSP - one vote. Co-op MSP - one vote. Union member - one vote. Party member - one vote. Affiliated society, such as the Fabians - or the Socialist Health Association - one vote. Five in total.

Co-op? That is the Co-operative Party which works in partnership with Labour. It is supporting Cathy Jamieson and Bill Butler in this election. There are nine Labour/Co-op MSPs.

To be clear, the Co-op votes are not counted in the MSP section. If they were, that would give huge influence to the Co-op vote as the choice of elected members counts, proportionately, for more than other sections.

That is because the votes of the relatively few elected members are weighted to represent one third of the final total.

Co-op MSP votes are reallocated to the affiliated societies section. That gives them a lower weight, comparable to that of union members.

Talking of the union vote, bear in mind that those who take part in this ballot need not be members of the Labour Party. They must simply have paid the political levy.

Substantial compromise

Indeed, Alex Salmond has indicated that three Nationalist MSPs are entitled to take part in the Labour vote because they are suitably paid-up members of affiliated unions.

He said, drolly, that he would guide them to vote for one each of the three contenders. However, to do so, they would have to participate in a rather more substantial compromise.

To take part in the union section vote, they would have to tick a box declaring that they share the aims and ambitions of the Labour Party. Ballot papers lacking that tick go in the bin.

I have discussed the complexity of this election with a number of Labour figures. Mostly, they stress the voting method reflects Labour's origins: growing up from the unions and Socialist societies.

It would be wrong, they argue, to deprive the wider movement of a vote.

But is it really necessary to have a situation where an MSP receives five ballot papers? Fills five envelopes?

Bear in mind this doesn't just apply to MSPs. Multiple voting will affect those who, for example, are both party and union members: a rather common combination.

Vote early, vote often.


or register to comment.

  • 1. At 11:56am on 09 Sep 2008, richglasgowprincess wrote:

    The thing is a fix anyway......Broon wants Puppet boy Gray and will get what he wants, never mind that , he is about as charismatic as a wet flannel and twitches when under pressure ..which him being a labour leader is going to make for some uncomfortable viewing on newsnight....Now I am not mocking the afflicted , he cant help it and god love him ...its a wee shame for the wee lad. But dear Gawd he is going to get eaten alive at FMQs , Tavish is not an opposition , Autie Annabel the dowager aunt is respected but will never be taken seriously by the public and if Gray ( or broon ) get his way there will be no credible opposition to the Scottish as an SNP supporter I ought to be happy , but firstly and foremostly I am a believer in democracy and I want my government to be held to account and believe that healthy debate is vital to a healthy democracy.

    The labour party seems to have run out of ideas, even Broon has copied Alex Salmonds idea of taking the cabinet out to the people, mind you his went down like a lead balloon , unlike the originator of the idea who let himself be held up to public scruitiny . When is the last time Brown held an unfettered press conference ???

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  • 2. At 12:20pm on 09 Sep 2008, The_Oncoming_Storm wrote:

    Salmond is an excellent politician but a contributing factor in his popularity is that there is no one with the gravitas and charisma to match him. Labour are now paying the price for regarding Holyroyd as a glorified county council, by and large their MSP's have always struck me as being a bunch of servile careerists who are still sulking at losing the Westminster nomination. Labour could have done with more people like the LD's Donald Gorrie, who fought for years to get to Westminster, but who moved to the Scottish Parliament because that was what he strongly believed in.

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  • 3. At 12:21pm on 09 Sep 2008, Bramblebikes wrote:

    Totaly agree with comment 1 it is a shame that nobody can produce a credible oposition to the SNP. As a minority government the will of the people should be represented. It is unfortunate that the opposition arent working for Scotland but for blinkered bosses in London.

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  • 4. At 12:39pm on 09 Sep 2008, Alasdair_McGray wrote:

    Labour's Scotish regional leader will always place Scotland second best to that of London.

    Worst still Bungler Brown will controll this individual.

    Why put themselves through the pain? The regional Scottish labour party are like in terminal decline, can you see any of the candidate reversing that decline?

    Answers on a post card.

    A McG

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  • 5. At 12:49pm on 09 Sep 2008, Peter_Fife wrote:

    Irrespective of the outcome, the winner produced by this suspect voting system will still be little more than an also ran; no matter how many protestations ar delivered of being their own man/woman they will all kowtow to the Labour Leader at Westminster.

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  • 6. At 1:07pm on 09 Sep 2008, oldjeemy wrote:

    [Answers on a post card.]

    no answers under the stamp on the post card addressed to 10 Downing Street.

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  • 7. At 2:07pm on 09 Sep 2008, minuend wrote:

    The only people missing from the Labour leadership vote is the dead.

    Mind, given Labour's past dubious record in selecting candidates I would not be surprised if a certain Mr. Keir Hardie ends up voting for Iain Gray several times.

    Honestly this is no way to run a political party in the 21st century. Labour in Scotland has become a laughing stock.

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  • 8. At 2:17pm on 09 Sep 2008, NConway wrote:

    Untill Labour in Scotland becomes a separate party the leader of Labour in the Scots parliament will always be seen to be answerable to Westminster first. The leader of the SNP is answerable to Scotland and its Parliament and the leader of the SNP at Westminster is also answerable to Scotland first.
    Labour need to make the break or they will be relegated to also rans in Scottish politics.

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  • 9. At 2:19pm on 09 Sep 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:


    If Keir Hardy was alive today, you have to wonder if he could bring himself to vote for anyone in today's corrupt, deadbeat incarnation of the party he was instrumental in establishing.

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  • 10. At 2:26pm on 09 Sep 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:

    "To take part in the union section vote, they would have to tick a box declaring that they share the aims and ambitions of the Labour Party. Ballot papers lacking that tick go in the bin."

    As a past trade union member, I often used to wonder if a similar fate did not befall the vote of anyone participating in a union ballot - or even a non-Labour vote cast at the ballot box for that matter!

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  • 11. At 2:41pm on 09 Sep 2008, talorthane wrote:


    "To take part in the union section vote, they would have to tick a box declaring that they share the aims and ambitions of the Labour Party. Ballot papers lacking that tick go in the bin.

    "...share the aims and objectives of the LABOUR PARTY..."

    That qualification should bar almost all of the NEW LABOUR clowns that hold positions of influence within the party.

    Leaving these decisions to the votes of those traditional Labour voters and ex-Labour voters who have found these aims and ojectives fulfilled better by other parties...such as the SNP.

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  • 12. At 2:52pm on 09 Sep 2008, hadrianswall wrote:

    Iwatched the 'debate' for these three candidates on Newsnight last week. As a nat, I'm not quite sure which one would suit us best. They all looked like rabbits in the spotlight; terrified to say anything that would upset Brown and hence they all mumbled the same thing. How on earth anyone entitled to a vote could decide who to vote for on that performance is beyond me. I marginally prefer Gray jus because he is Browns man. BTW has he ever done a proper job?.


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  • 13. At 3:57pm on 09 Sep 2008, JoeMiddleton wrote:

    Does anyone care?

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  • 14. At 4:02pm on 09 Sep 2008, northhighlander wrote:


    Whoever gets this job will be the only chance of credible opposition to the ever increasing arrogance of the SNP.

    I am not a Labour supporter but I absolutley detest the way the SNP are deceiving the population by never fully telling the truth on their proposals.

    Whoever wins this contest will provide the only opposition to El Presidente and as such I hope those with a vote choose carefully as much depends on this.

    Without good opposition our public services will be further cut to pay for the independance campaign.

    In this much I agree with #1 we need good opposition for good democracy.

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  • 15. At 4:13pm on 09 Sep 2008, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    "... the aims and ambitions of the Labour Party."

    It is the very dearth of ambition among the Party's MSPs that has placed Scottish Labour in its current parlous state.

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  • 16. At 4:16pm on 09 Sep 2008, Older than the Pyramids wrote:

    Is anyone giving odds against the victor (whoever that might be) leaving office, in disgrace or otherwise, before next summer's recess?

    Now without the distraction of power, it is clear that Labour's MSPs have more that divides them than unites them.

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  • 17. At 5:04pm on 09 Sep 2008, WebPendragon wrote:

    An excellent article summerising all that is wrong with the Labour Party.Archaic,bureaucratic and undemocratic.Truely a relic from a bye-gone age, with plenty of opportunity for corruption. The old Communist Party of the Soviet Union would have been proud of such an "Election".All power to the Special Interest Groups !. Who could possibly put there trust in a Leader thrown up by such a system ?

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  • 18. At 5:16pm on 09 Sep 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:

    #14 northhighlander

    Whoever "wins" the poisoned chalice of Chief Labour Fall Guy (Scotland branch) would struggle to organise a game of hopscotch - especially if that depended on the loyalty / respect of his / her party's own MPs!!!

    You claim not to be a Labourite, but seem to invest a lot of blind faith in them to "oppose" a Scottish government which has truly raised the aspirations of the people, has demonstrated a previously unknown vision and ability to deliver whilst putting the interests of Scotland first, and is winning increasing support as a result.

    If either Gray, Jamieson or Kerr are the answer - what on earth is the question??!!

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  • 19. At 5:32pm on 09 Sep 2008, darwinsmonkey wrote:


    Salmond is an excellent politician but a contributing factor in his popularity is that there is no one with the gravitas and charisma to match him.

    Whilst I agree with the second part of your statement are you suggesting that Salmond has gravitas and charisma (perhaps you're not )? He may be an astute political operator but gravitas and charisma he has not! Salmond is a divisive figure in the mould of Thatcher or Blair. His followers slavishly follow him while his opponents despise him. He is deliberately provocative, not only towards Westminster but also towards any Scots who happen not to agree with him. In this respect he apes the Thatcher strategy where dissent equals a lack of patriotism. He frequently resorts to ridicule rather than cogent argument. Most of all he lacks humility. He has many good qualities but His problem is that he lacks the gravitas and charisma to adopt the 'father of the nation' figure he aspires to be and is not the unifying force to lead us to independence. It is a real pity there is no one to match him in the Scottish Parliament. This is bad for Scotland, bad for democracy, bad for all of us.

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  • 20. At 5:36pm on 09 Sep 2008, darwinsmonkey wrote:


    Gray has a degree in Physics and taught the subject. I don't support him but there is no need to resort to such a base level of debate.
    Have you ever done a proper job?

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  • 21. At 5:39pm on 09 Sep 2008, northhighlander wrote:

    Re#18 Dougie-Dubh

    The question is obvious when blinkers are removed and you look at the situation logically.

    We have a SNP government that is making promises without telling us how they are to be paid for.

    Health authorities and councils are already talking about cutting services to pay for these commitments as a result of partly funded central government edicts.

    The total of unexplained expenditure is quite substantial and will grow every month.

    Hospital carparking charges is the latest, removed, yes fine in principal but no mention of how this is to be paid for or how the parking is to be managed for those who require to park at a hospital but won't be able to due to all those who utilise free parking.

    Our local Hospital is served by a council pay and display carpak so we continue to pay for parking. Fair? no. Good headlines are all that is important here.

    Everything has a cost, these decisions to provide some people with resources will need to be balanced against those who the resources will be removed from.

    Whoever wins will have the task of highlighting where the resources are being removed from.

    My guess is it will be the poorest and most vulnerable.

    Yes the SNP government have created expectation amongst the people, but they are not being honest in how it is to be paid for. When the electorate see the cost in real human terms I doubt that this will be a price worth paying.

    But we need to know what lies behind the smoke and mirrors.

    As I say the question is easy if you maintain just a little shred of objectivity.

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  • 22. At 5:40pm on 09 Sep 2008, Lankyscot wrote:


    Actually this is a fairly recent system. Before the 1980's it was simply the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) that chose the leader (so no choice for the South of England then).

    In the 1980s the electoral college was set up, with the union block vote, and the 650 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) with one vote each. Cue all kinds of concern, not least the formation of the SDP for giving too much power to union barons.

    What we have now came to us in the 1990s because of the late John Smith, and gives each party and and affiliated union member a direct voice in the relevant section. The membership and all affiliated societies/unions must ballot their members. A contested election for the Labour leadership is potentially the biggest exercise in democracy outside official elections and referendums. Far bigger than any other party. Neither undemocratic nor amenable to corruption.

    Leaders of the Labour Party (at least UK ones!) tend to be long-serving because they must have the demonstrated support of parliamentarians (lacking for Iain Duncan-Smith in the Tory Party) and the wider membership (lacking for John Major). Gordon Brown may be suffering now for never having to win a vote in this way.

    As to multiple votes, an MSP who is a party member (of course) will be one of 20,000 as a member and c. 200,000 as a union member, so it's hardly excessive, but they do, as does any other member, get a say via organisations they have committed to and form part of the labour movement. They aren't "special interest" any more than any political party is - they are democratically formed and run, and resolve to support Labour.

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  • 23. At 5:44pm on 09 Sep 2008, U11769947 wrote:

    A the bauble response from "the tartan tories" whoever wins the contest has a duty to re-unite the grass roots of the labour party, the peolpes party is coming home.

    In the mean-time. Vision and ability to deliver for scotland, is that with the programme to cut the srevices of the scottish people?

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  • 24. At 5:47pm on 09 Sep 2008, northhighlander wrote:

    Re 19

    I agree with your assesment of El Presidente. He is arrogant and very devisive.

    I don't think he is any good at delivering minority government, he doesn't want to build consensus, he wants to play opposition politics in government. Hence he has currently delivered very little of substance.

    We need good opposition to expose him for what he is. Whether we will get it or not is another matter.

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  • 25. At 6:24pm on 09 Sep 2008, WebPendragon wrote:

    # 22 My suggestion was not,that the system of electing the Labour Leader was old ,rather it implied that the system owed much to Labours age old attitudes.Can anyone explain why OMOV is regarded as fine by all the other Parties but not by Labour ?

    As one who witnessed a third placed candidate magicaly come first in an important Trades Union Election in the 1990's I would regard any vote organised by the Comrades as highly suspect.

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  • 26. At 6:37pm on 09 Sep 2008, mildanarchy wrote:

    I voted SNP for the first time in 07 not because I want independence but because I was sick of the direction Labour had taken. Any trace of left wing ideology had been purged and we had government by semi skilled political managers who patronised us, told us we couldn't be trusted to do things ourselves and shied away frfom fundamental reform, deriding it as "outdated." The coronation of Wendy Alexander confirmed this view that politicians should just be technocrats who work within a system, hiving as much of it off to unaccountable agencies and contractors and divest themselves of any real responsibity. Labour needed a wake up call, to return to its roots and work to better the lot of the people it was founded to protect- the working people, the disadvantaged, the vulnerable.
    I do not really see the qualities necessary in any of the three contenders. Labour has to find a seam of ploitical talent that can take on Salmond. Instead of Labour's best and brightest going south, surely some could be persuaded to take the place of some of the failed ex-councillors who currently fill the Labour benches. At the moment, they're giving Salmond a walkover.

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  • 27. At 6:48pm on 09 Sep 2008, spartans11 wrote:

    Labour in |Scotland has no direction, they are puppets on Bunglers string. For far too long they have been working for themselves, not the communities. At least the SNP is trying to remove these ridiculous charges.

    I totally disagree about the groups not being special interest. Too many times I've been in union meetings that are shanghaied in the interests of the bigger picture which is normally political in nature.

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  • 28. At 7:42pm on 09 Sep 2008, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Labour, the Scottish branch, are just that they have to get their direction from London as anything else would be deemed as anarchy. Until they resolve that they will continue to slide.

    I can remember twice having to try and involve the TGW union many years ago and the first time they basically weren't interested as our dispute only involved a few personnel, yet our local MP Winnnie (Madame Ecosse) came and visited me in my house to see if she could help. At least she tried. I have also been in Alex Salmond's kitchen for a cuppa as I had to invade his property during work I didn't find any of them arrogant. Maybe those who wish to decry SNP politicians should question their own integrity and what they contribute to Scotland.

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  • 29. At 7:53pm on 09 Sep 2008, enneffess wrote:

    Well, whoever gets this role needs to take Alex Salmond apart.

    One thing that I've noticed over the past 12 months is that Alex Salmond is very pompous and smug.

    Even die-hard nats have to pay attention. The main thrust of his speeches have either been "the previous administration" or "it's Scotland's [insert subject here]".

    But what has he really delivered?

    Lower prescription charges. Fair enough, but I'd rather see the money go elsewhere. Yes, those on support/chronically ill should get help but I don't see why I should to be honest.

    Public transport? Nope, still owned by private companies.

    Energy? No nuclear or coal options from the SNP, only renewables. Problem is, we don't get a lot of sun and the wind does not always blow, so we're going to freeze in the dark.

    Crime? Let's get offenders working on building sites. Great idea. But what happens when they refuse to work? Or they pull sickies?

    No Government is perfect, and if Labour was in Government up here I'd be pressing the SNP to press on these subjects.

    The new Labour has to tackle issues such as these. People aren't that interested in green issues, since they can see it's just caused further taxation or reduced services.

    He or she will also need to attack the Lib Dems, a party with no hope of securing power so they will jump into whoever's bed (metaphorically speaking) to direct policy, which then normally results in a screw up for everyone else.

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  • 30. At 8:10pm on 09 Sep 2008, Bramblebikes wrote:

    Sugestion. If Labour want to appear Scottish why dont they answer Kenny's claim that the Government is witholding Pension money from Scotland for the Police and Fire Brigade.

    If this is true then what better an opportuniy to properly serve Scotland and its people by exposing this and support Scotland for a change.
    As part of the Labour party this should be easily resolved but are we still watching a bunch of gagged scairdies shufling round Scotland wishing they had some c-c-ccourage.

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  • 31. At 9:09pm on 09 Sep 2008, cynicalHighlander wrote:


    "Energy? No nuclear or coal options from the SNP, only renewables. Problem is, we don't get a lot of sun and the wind does not always blow, so we're going to freeze in the dark."

    Thats why he's First Minister and doesn't believe the rhetoric and spin published by the Nuclear industry, he has a lot more common sense.

    We have an energetic coastline waiting to be tapped of that energy. As we don't have any uranium deposits, which are dwindling fast worldwide (2-3 decades) at present consumption one just has to accept that this misguided industry has no future in supplying economic or lasting electricity.

    Try looking to the future and what will be sustainable in the long term not just what one wants today.

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  • 32. At 9:28pm on 09 Sep 2008, Wicked_Witch_of_the_West_Coast wrote:

    #31 - he'll just leave us in the position of importing energy, that has been produced by nuclear power plants, but from outside Scotland, just so he can claim he has kept his 'no nuclear' promise (and that'll be the first promise the SNP have kept!). The technology for tapping wave energy is still not advanced enough to keep our lights on for long. He should put his money where his rather large mouth is, and start investing in it properly.

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  • 33. At 9:35pm on 09 Sep 2008, Anaxim wrote:

    There are more nuclear fuels than Uranium. Thorium is relatively abundant, though more difficult to use.

    That said, I don't think nuclear power is cost-effective. The private sector won't touch it with a barge pole.

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  • 34. At 9:59pm on 09 Sep 2008, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    I agree entirely with Anaxim. (Nearly fell over at the thought)
    Thorium presently wouldn't produce cost effectively as it would use up as much energy to utilise it as it would produce.
    This may change but the only thing stopping us having vast tidal barrages is the up front cost.
    We merely need the political will to use the funds required.

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  • 35. At 10:00pm on 09 Sep 2008, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 36. At 10:05pm on 09 Sep 2008, cynicalHighlander wrote:


    Nuclear power? Could you please explain what its benefits are and where the money is going to come from to finance it?

    Why expect a party that has only been in power for just over a year to address the mess that has been allowed to get worse for decades by Political Parties that are based in London and who have dished us the crumbs from their table.

    The path of sustainability is going to be slow and sometimes painful and it will affect us all.

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  • 37. At 10:20pm on 09 Sep 2008, Tom wrote:


    Don't forget the SNP are in a tough position, Energy Policy is a reserved matter held at Westminister. You don't want the Nationalists to overstep their limits, do you?

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  • 38. At 10:36pm on 09 Sep 2008, cynicalHighlander wrote:


    "There are more nuclear fuels than Uranium. Thorium is relatively abundant, though more difficult to use."

    Thorium was researched decades ago but as it didn't produce fuels for nuclear weapons the funding was cut and it fell by the wayside, it is back on the agenda now but it will take decades to finish the research.

    Back to topic I have just heard the solution on the radio maybe the 3 contenders for this election could job share! 1 week on 2 weeks off they can then imagine they are working on the rigs.

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  • 39. At 10:43pm on 09 Sep 2008, U11769947 wrote:


    On the issue of tidal barrages, would you envisage a situation where the maintenance of these structures would be difficult (maybe even dangerous) and when conditions are severe to mild there would be a short-fall in the process.

    Only a question, no hidden agenda.......


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  • 40. At 10:45pm on 09 Sep 2008, Craig_Ellachie wrote:

    One thing is certain about the outcome of the curious electoral process described above, and that is that the candidate chosen to be "leader for Labour in the Scottish Parliament" will not have the charisma, gravitas and leadership ability of the SNP leader, because none of the candidates has them. Added to this disadvantage, of course, the nature of this hardly transparently democratic process cannot be said to confer much in the way of credible substantial authority on the one who comes out ahead.

    When you then consider the little problem of the limited remit of the "leader for Labour in the Scottish Parliament" and the subordinate character of that office holder's relationship to the real leader of Labour in Scotland, the UK PM, which, of course, reflects the subordinate character of "Labour in the Scottish Parliament" vis-a-vis Labour in the UK parliament and the correspondingly subordinate character of Scottish Labour policy-making vis-a-vis UK Labour policy-making, will he or she seem to the people of Scotland to represent and serve our interests best, or will Mr Salmond win hands down again?

    British Unionists can say what they like about the First Minister. It is their right, but it will make no difference. The people don't need anyone to make up their minds about him for them. They have already made up their own minds. Alex Salmond has shown himself to be one of the ablest politicians in Britain. You might say that about any of the candidates to be "leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament", but only to get a laugh.

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  • 41. At 10:58pm on 09 Sep 2008, U11769947 wrote:

    #33 Anaxim

    Good thoughts there. I can remember all the talk when the tories closed the mines, all the experts tolds us that in 25 years time Britain will be in a position of fuel poverty production...yes indeed some things are odds on....

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  • 42. At 11:15pm on 09 Sep 2008, enneffess wrote:

    31. At 9:09pm on 09 Sep 2008, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    "Energy? No nuclear or coal options from the SNP, only renewables. Problem is, we don't get a lot of sun and the wind does not always blow, so we're going to freeze in the dark."

    Thats why he's First Minister and doesn't believe the rhetoric and spin published by the Nuclear industry, he has a lot more common sense.

    We have an energetic coastline waiting to be tapped of that energy. As we don't have any uranium deposits, which are dwindling fast worldwide (2-3 decades) at present consumption one just has to accept that this misguided industry has no future in supplying economic or lasting electricity.

    Try looking to the future and what will be sustainable in the long term not just what one wants today.

    I am looking to the future, and the SNPs aims are admirable.

    However, let's be honest about renewables, at present they cannot provide power twenty four hours per day, so you will always need a back up.

    Tidal power is a good idea, but you only get two main tides a day. Yes, I know the tide takes twelve hours to surge and ebb, but is it within reach yet?

    One problem with all the new renewable initiative are the environmentalists arguing with one another:

    Wind turbines - kills birds.

    Tidal barriers - kills marine life.

    I agree that uranium deposits are reducing, but we need solutions now. The UK has something in the region of 300 years reserves of coal.

    We all need to reduce out energy consumption. Perhaps the FM could set an example and force councils around Scotland to switch off unwanted lights. Go past any council building at night and it resembles a Christmas tree!

    As for rhetoric by the nuclear industry, you could apply the same argument to certain environmentalist groups.

    And the FM is a bit ironic when he demands that the oil belongs to Scotland. Not a very clean industry is it? And if everyone went "green" then demand for oil might reduce, thus lowering prices. Not a very likely situation but one the FM appears to ignore.

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  • 43. At 11:23pm on 09 Sep 2008, Jake-the-S wrote:

    #29 Neil_Small

    2 points

    1. "the wind does not always blow" Where I live in Scotland the wind rarely does not blow and because of this I am considering a windmill myself. I think you will find that overall wind energy is potentially available with reasonable efficiency over much of Scotland the problem being the visual impact of the windmills.

    2. "People aren't that interested in green issues" You may not be but many are. You generalise here in you loose use of the word people.
    It will take a lot of courage by any government to push through green policies and not just becauise of the cost but because many would have to give up the likes of their gas guzzling cars for the 5 minute trip to work or the school run.

    Your character assassination of Alex Salmond sounds like the ramblings of someone who is jealous.

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  • 44. At 11:35pm on 09 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    One of the SNP's plans for renewables is small hydro schemes. This is a great idea as they do not generally take much maintenance. My father ran one on the Ardverikie estate and it generated 250kws in winter but a little less when less rain. Throw in a couple of wind turbines and your laughing. The extra capacity was sold to the national grid and this generated about 100000 a year ! Going nuclear is not as good an idea as you would think. Just look at how much it is to decomission these places and storeing spent nuclear waste. All you people bleating on about SNP policies costing a lot should look at some of the PFI schemes that Labour are using to make themselves look super efficient. Some of them are starting to fall apart and generally cost more than the public option....... gordon should have more sense ...its like transferring the balance on your credit card but using the card again and again so stop making out that Labour are financially sound.

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  • 45. At 11:37pm on 09 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    Neil ... i agree .. the greens just want us to be hippies and live in tents .

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  • 46. At 11:54pm on 09 Sep 2008, Helen wrote:

    Jake: "Your character assassination of Alex Salmond sounds like the ramblings of someone who is jealous."

    Jealous of a wee fat man, who has absolutely no charm or charisma..... hhmmmm?

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  • 47. At 01:48am on 10 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    Helenzzzzzzzzzz and so on ... you could say Alex has no charm or charisma .... so who has? Gordon Brown , Tavish Scott ... It could be said that Tony Blair was smarmy when he was in power so enough of the rubbish talk. People dont like him purely because he's running the party thats in power (just) now. Blah blah blah blah blah ... Labour and the Tories .... "the snp will ruin the country dont vote for them" like little school kids but with no ideas of there own.

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  • 48. At 01:52am on 10 Sep 2008, Jake-the-S wrote:

    #46 Helenzzz

    I think you would agree that he has a lot more charm and charisma than the current batch of leaders both North and South of the border.

    "Wee fat man" indeed.
    Never judge a book by its cover.

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  • 49. At 08:47am on 10 Sep 2008, BrianSH wrote:

    Eck has charm and charmisma, not in the cirque de celebrite' sense but certainly in the political sense.

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  • 50. At 08:49am on 10 Sep 2008, Helen wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 51. At 08:57am on 10 Sep 2008, salmondella wrote:


    You hit the nail on the head. But I would go further still - why expect a party that has only been in power for just over a year to have achieved as much as it says it has. Too good to be true? Of course it is - this, after all, is the party that has put the "con" into concordat. You can only buy time for so long and half baked plans and bare faced untruths can only slip under the radar for so long, regardless of the aptitude of the political opposition.

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  • 52. At 09:35am on 10 Sep 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:


    Any of the unionist parties would give their eye teeth and right arm for a politician like Mr Salmond (and probably sell their grannies for a lot less!).

    In his earlier career, in fact, senior figures thought he would make an excellent Labour politician (back in the days when Labour still stood for something).

    They blew it, of course, not least in that he could never be manipulated into one of their "yes men".

    One glance at the quality of collective leadership in any of the other parties shows that they have no-one fit to hold a candle to Salmond - let alone the 3 Labour contenders, whose touted abilities as a potential match for his leadership already looks like a sick comedy.

    Labour's best talents all work down south, we are told. If so, who amongst them could be dispatched north to fill the role of a real - as opposed to a puppet - Labour leader??

    That is the minimum it would probably take to make a difference to their floundering fortunes.

    When all else fails - and wow, does it ever! - the only weapon left to the unionists is childish personal abuse, just as we see here.

    The more successful the SNP continue to be, the more such desperate abuse we can expect from their reactionary opponents.

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  • 53. At 09:35am on 10 Sep 2008, Al_Ford wrote:

    My lords, ladies and gentlemen (and comrades), may I ask your noble lordships, ladyships and all those brothers and sisters not yet ennobled - be patient, Jack - fraternally and sororally to leave those curtains alone and resume your seats for the last and by all means least item on the agenda, a rare event in the annals of our great movement, the noble aims and purposes of which I'm sure I had written down somewhere. I'll get back to you on that.

    Anyway, as I was saying, now for the election, utilizing the duplicitous-plurality voting system, of the um, er . . . - I have it here somewhere - "leader for Labour in the Scottish Parliament". You're electing the person that the supreme leader down in London will be telling what to do at Holyrood.

    Now you all know the drill. You don't? Well, it's all perfectly simple, in spite of what the plebs out there have been saying about it. It would have to be, wouldn't it? Those of you who have one vote, raise your right hand. Or should that be the left one? Maybe not. Anyway, raise a hand. Those of you who have two votes raise both hands, and try to ensure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, if you can. Now we come to the slightly less straightforward bit. Those of you who have three votes - and why shouldn't you? - raise both hands and show a leg, especially you in the front row with the red frock on. Those of you who have four votes raise both hands and show both legs, even though this may mean you haven't got a leg to stand on. As for those of you in the privileged position of having five votes to cast, do all of the above and stand on your heads, if you would be so kind.

    No one can say that in the great Labour brotherhood and sisterhood we don't bend over backwards to move forwards by showing that we understand a thing or two about democracy.

    Seriously, though, chaps, and this is me speaking from the bottom of my little black independentist heart, the best of British luck to you. Vote early and vote often. And may the best little appartchik win.

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  • 54. At 09:41am on 10 Sep 2008, Al_Ford wrote:



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  • 55. At 10:20am on 10 Sep 2008, Fit Like wrote:

    #53 Al_Ford

    Are you really GreetingsEarthlings in Human form?

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  • 56. At 10:53am on 10 Sep 2008, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:


    "Labour's best talents all work down south, we are told."

    Well,that explains a lot - Labour's best talents are providing the most unpopular
    and probably the least efficient government in polling history.
    The fact is that Margaret Thatcher's most significant achievement was the birth of New Labour - a collection of politicians of very limited integrity who danced to the tune of the right wing media and gladly sacrificed all the reasons for the existence of the Labour party in order to get a shot at Government.
    The right wing media are now having them put down.
    And what we have in Scotland is a bunch of third raters who dance to the tune of those second raters in London.
    If Brother Tommy hadn't been so foolish and we had a united socialist party in Scotland the Labour Party in Scotland would have no reason to exist.

    Labour leadership election in Scotland?
    About as much use a feathers on a pig.

    For what it's worth if I was Labour I'd give it to Cathie Jamieson who looks as though she has the potential to be more than she presently shows and who can communicate as if there is meaning and real sentiment in what she says. You feel as though you could have a decent night out with her and some interesting badinage and she put her shoulder to the wheel when others were hiding during Labour's disastrous Scottish election campaign.
    I still entertain the hope however that there lurks inside Scotland's Labour party a figure who can see the door into history that beckons and can lead Labour through it.
    Just over a hundred years ago Ireland's socialists - Larkin, Connelly et al - were leading Ireland's socialists along the road of national self respect. This has usually been the path of socialist movements around the world - but not of Scotland's castrated variety - which is why the SNP is replacing them.

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  • 57. At 11:14am on 10 Sep 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:


    Aye - Labour are disappearing through the door to history alright.

    May be firmly shut behind them!

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  • 58. At 11:32am on 10 Sep 2008, Anaxim wrote:

    "Just over a hundred years ago Ireland's socialists - Larkin, Connelly et al - were leading Ireland's socialists along the road of national self respect. This has usually been the path of socialist movements around the world - but not of Scotland's castrated variety - which is why the SNP is replacing them."

    What, the path to irrelevance?

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  • 59. At 11:49am on 10 Sep 2008, StroszekBassist wrote:

    On the topic of nuclear energy, the SNP's anti-nuclear stance should be applauded. Higher physics was about ten years ago, but I still remember that the half-life of nuclear waste means it is still dangerously radioactive well over a hundred years later. As our current solution to storing it is to hide it in the ground like cat faeces, it is the very definition of a short-term energy solution. That is why it is "right" (to use the Labour party's favourite buzz word of the moment) to pursue renewable energy technology.

    In regards to the original debate, none of the three candidates are credible. As people have already mentioned, none of them gave good accounts of themselves on Newsnight last week, with Cathy Jamieson looking like the only one capable of constructing her own thoughts. However, I for one will never be able to look at her again without thinking of the shopping bag-waving idiot that she has been portrayed as on Only An Excuse. You can tell she's itching to say "nationalise everything," but does not have the bottle to follow it through when it comes to the crunch.

    None of them are capable of getting the better of Big Eck, but Jamieson at least seems to be the only one of the three whose politics are more Eric Arthur Blair than Tony Blair.

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  • 60. At 12:01pm on 10 Sep 2008, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:


    Irrelevance to what exactly?
    And what particular relevance do you accord the Scotland at the moment?
    Or UK for that matter, riding shotgun to America's lunatic foreign policy?

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  • 61. At 12:29pm on 10 Sep 2008, scot2010 wrote:

    Wendy was done in by somebody close to her leaking internal documents to the press. Given that the winner of this contest may not have substantial support within their MSP group, how quickly will the knives be out for their new leader?

    If, as seems likely, Gray wins, his links to London will not win him many friends in the Labour MSP group. With Brown on his way out, I predict even more ructions as his mentor's Labour enemies will have the knives out for Brownites

    Labour should go for Wee Cathy, who at least appears to have a sense of humour. But then again, they're not known for making good decisions

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  • 62. At 12:32pm on 10 Sep 2008, U11769947 wrote:

    Its clear the nats dont understand the devolved position of parliament, they continue to lock horns with westminster and reserved issues.

    The nats should GET ON with implementing their manifesto, if they dont have a wish to do so, then they should bow out of government.

    The consensus of parliament has been distroyed, northhighlander is spot on with his/her assessments.............

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  • 63. At 12:50pm on 10 Sep 2008, scot2010 wrote:

    #62 derekbarker

    1. If "understanding devolution" means doing as your told, then it is easy to see why Labour/Libdems lost lost year. It is because the SNP stands up for Scotland that their now the govt and riding high in the polls

    2. As a Minority govt, I think Ministers have implemented a large part of the manifesto within a tight spending budget.

    3. "The consensus of parliament has been destroyed". Then how does a minority govt operate? I think you confuse the Labour/Libdem Executive stitch-up with parliamentary consensus. If Labour had been as brave when they were in power, maybe they would be in a different position now.

    4. Why do you refer to the SNP as the "nats"? Apart from being 1 more letter to type, it is also inaccurate as their are many nationalists who are neither members or supporters of the SNP. Maybe I should start referring to Labour as Labs, after all they run and fetch when Dubya whistles

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  • 64. At 12:51pm on 10 Sep 2008, Tom wrote:


    Why don't you pick out certain topics that are reserved matters and do not concern the Scottish Gov or those who the the Scots Gov are suppose to represent?


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  • 65. At 12:54pm on 10 Sep 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:


    The only way Holyrood can operate - and therefore the only way the Scottish Government can win issue-by-issue support - is by concensus.

    This is functioning with a level of success and achievement beyond all previous expectations - the real problem for the likes of you and northhighlander being that you just don't like the direction in which our country is progressing.

    Consensus virtually governs our Parliament, and we are always reminded that the SNP form a minority government which means the unionists are still the majority!

    If the unionists wish to exert more influence, they should try contributing constructively to the governing process - or the debate, in the case of their hangers-on - instead of whining about being sidelined.

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  • 66. At 1:05pm on 10 Sep 2008, U11769947 wrote:


    Your party has a 30Bn budget to spend on devolved matters, if its getting to hot for the separatist to handle and they cant quite get to grips with devolution, then by all means give a westminster a phone and say so.......

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  • 67. At 1:08pm on 10 Sep 2008, Anaxim wrote:

    Snecked asks:

    "Irrelevance to what exactly?"

    How successful have the various socialist nationalist movements been? Not very, from a socialist perspective. International socialism has been even less successful, of course. Possibly the most successful socialist experiments have been in places like Vermont or Kerala, states in federations.

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  • 68. At 1:08pm on 10 Sep 2008, timepassescarmichael wrote:

    I suppose what will become politically fascinating over this next term will be to watch the new Labour leader try to involve the Labour party in the Holyrood process. Holyrood was designed, when it was begat, to be an inclusive, proportional institution with the whole idea being that none are locked out of the process, none are cast into the wilderness, so long as they have some sufficient representation, with the idea being for coalition or a parliament of minorities to bring about some new ideas and inclusion.

    With minority government, as is the experience in Denmark most notably, there opens up the chance for all the parties to become involved but I noticed markedly last term that Labour were determined to shut themselves out of their primary role, that being the main opposition, but also their more general role of accepting some repsonsibility to participate and try to get ideas aired and followed through. Labour seemed determined to lock themselves out of the process.

    It may have had more than a little to do with their leader at the time but it was a sorry state of affairs for all involved. Labour simply cannot repeat last term's designs which amounted to nat-bashing while turning their noses up at the rest of the game. Labour need to participate.

    I can't predict who will be their leader but I've seen the voting form that asks people to tick a wee box to declare that they support the aims and values of the Labour party. One of the great cries and lamentations that has come from Labour recently, from their MPs and supporters, is that they've been unable to fully communicate such values and aims. I'm not so sure because it stands to good reason that one must have some aims and values before they can be put into effective expression. Labour should quickly get off their self-denial coach that is slowly driving them to turn on one another. It could get quite ferocious if experience of their previous constitutional grumblings are anything to go by.

    If Labour in Holyrood can address these concerns, find from these three a leader who can have the confidence to articulate in Holyrood what Labour stand for, then find a way back for proper participation in Scottish politics, things may not go all that badly. The key to all this is their new leader. Pretending this all isn't happening while performing as a variety of gaggles of platitudinal politicians is simply not sustainable, for Labour, in Holyrood, for much longer.

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  • 69. At 1:36pm on 10 Sep 2008, scot2010 wrote:

    #66 Derekbarker
    Erm, "getting to grips with devolution", I think the rings we are running around Labour in parliament show that our ministers are doing that quite well! Remember Labour MSPs managed not to vote for their own amendment on the Finance Bill. Add to that the whole Wendy fiasco, it is a wonder they managed to stay in power for 8 years.

    Don't think they'll be ringing the geniuses in Westminster. You have to admire the adroit way Brown handled abolishing the 10p tax rate, maybe John Swinney should phone him for a chat after all.

    Noticed you didn't respond to any of my points, but at least you've gone from nats to separatists. What next from the pantheon of Labour names? "Tartan Tories"? Shows that your party is losing the argument when you resort to petty name-calling. Labour would be funny if they were not so pathetic

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  • 70. At 1:38pm on 10 Sep 2008, northhighlander wrote:

    Re 65

    I am not someone who slavishly follows any party, I lookat issues as they arise and vote accordingly. It is what I believe democracy is all about.

    If you regard the last 18 months as highly succesful then you have very low expectations.

    None of the serious pieces of legislation that the SNP had in their manifesto has been put before parliament. The LIT is the nats first real attempt.

    Someone previously noted that our First Minister frequently resorts to ridicule and personal attacks when questioned, this trait is becoming more prevalent when LIT is mentioned.

    Personally I feel he has been the most centralising leader in Holyrood, everything done so far is to centralise power, take away local accountability and decision making. Much of this has destroyed the consensus that was in public life.

    Also as I mentioned previously he has a mounting list of unexplained expenditure. Basically it looks like a bunch of kids loose in a sweetie shop.

    We will have to pay the bill. AS I have said I don't necesserily oppose independance I just haven't seen a reasoned argument that convinvces me. What I really want is politicans that get on with what they were elected to do.

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  • 71. At 1:48pm on 10 Sep 2008, Tom wrote:


    "What I really want is politicans that get on with what they were elected to do."

    In your own opinion, what is that? To serve the people? Lead the country?

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  • 72. At 1:57pm on 10 Sep 2008, U11769947 wrote:


    Read your post introduction, you have just confirmed that the arch-nats have no intentions of following consensus.

    Again I say, the nats have to implement their manifesto, the minority government must rely on consensus,giving the fact the the con-nats cant agree with themselfs, can we expect them to recant of their manifesto pledges.....well the ones that still remain???

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  • 73. At 2:26pm on 10 Sep 2008, Tom wrote:

    Has anyone saw the Scotsman article?

    "English taxpayers attack Scots subsidy."

    Who agrees/disagrees with the statement and what options does the UK have to fix this matter.

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  • 74. At 2:35pm on 10 Sep 2008, Slaintmha wrote:

    The problem with North Highlander's comment is that politics has to do with perception first, substance second.

    The perception of Labour in Scotland is they are dead in the head, corrupt and too busy with their internal warring to care about Scotland.

    The perception of Wee Eck and the SNP is they are actively seeking to ensure the best advantage for Scotland and listen to the people.

    The substance that supports the perception of Labour can be found in Wendy's Criminal Activities, Foulkesakes expenses claims, Marshall's £500,000 alleged rip off of tax payers money, the dancing to London's tune by serial Labour in Scotland leaders, their failure to ensure the Scottish Block Grant reflected what was due, Tavish's unminuted meeting that altered the route of the Aberdeen Bypass, Purcell's problems over the Paddy's Market Deal, failure of the Labour party to deal with Wendy's misdemeanour's, the fact the party has been totally ineffective in opposition shooting itself in the foot over the budget and then the Creative Scotland Bill .... the list goes on and on.

    The substance that supports people's view of the SNP and Wee Eck - prescription charges are being removed, students have £3,000 less debt on graduation, public bridges that have been paid for multiple times have had their tolls removed, the messing around with the Scottish Block Grant by Treasury Minister's exposed, CBI in Scotland pleased with the first year of SNP Government, economy more resilient to the down turn effecting SE England, the change to the first time home buyer policy when the charities and associations involved in the sector showed a more effective way of using the money to benefit more ........

    So in terms of perception and substance it is not any surprise that the SNP are 19% points ahead of Labour in Scotland, that since May 2007 the numbers of Scots voters supporting independence has gone from 23% to 42% (some argument Wee Eck is loosing) and to 50% if the Conservatives take power in Westminster.

    The latest upset of Swinney asking for Block Grant Labour should have applied for in 2005 / 06 simply re-affirms that the SNP are out there fighting Scotland's corner.

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  • 75. At 2:39pm on 10 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #19 darwinsmonkey: This post should be reproduced in giant type and hung from every public building in Scotland.
    Something quite remarkable is happening on this thread about the Labour leadership at Holyrood.
    There is almost universal recognition that the candidates are unlikely to match Salmond's political and leadership skills.
    But in the absence of organised opposition of any quality, I detect more people generally waking up to Salmond and asking their own hard questions.
    Like: "Who WILL pay the bills for all the black holes, the tragi-comical budgetary errors, the populist handouts, etc., etc. None of the bills have dropped on the doormat yet. But they are coming.
    We are waiting for answers and explanations. Never mind juggling with taxes and spinning tops. Tell us how much it will cost us, as a nation and personally, to balance the books.
    We cannot possibly go into an election or a referendum without very specific assurances to help us answer the BIG question: Is Salmond all smugness and no substance?
    With respect to everyone, I don't really expect convincing answers on a blog populated by committed SNP activists. I want to hear it from Salmond himself. But I'm not holding my breath.
    And please, this is not a Unionist argument for the status quo, or any defence of any alternative. It is simply a request for answers to a whole range of legitimate concerns that are being swept aside by some kind of coronation procession.

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  • 76. At 2:44pm on 10 Sep 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:


    Has Labour ever fulfilled its manifesto in the first 15 months of a term in government?


    And they were never without a built-in working majority!

    Has Brown achieved all he set out to do as Prime Minister???

    Don't make us laugh!

    If any part of the Scottish Goverment's manifesto should fall because of insufficient Parliamentary support, it can only be because the unionists opposed it.

    Or should "opposition" mean having it both ways?

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  • 77. At 3:07pm on 10 Sep 2008, Slaintmha wrote:

    Brigadier - do you mean all those black holes created in the wacky world of Labour's Professor Arthur Midwinter who can create them so well I question why we the need for the CERN experiment to find Higson's boson.

    Have we seen the 5000 pound tax bill an SNP Government in Holyrood would bring for example - that's one of many of Midwinter's black hole calculations?

    What about all the black holes caused by company HQ's leaving Scotland when the SNP took power, as claimed by Labour? Like the ones in the City of London as so far this year 5 of the FT top 250 companies have moved HQs out to Dublin to escape Brownovitch's tax regime with another 8 due to go by the end of 2008.

    What about the black holes in Scotland's pocket money from Westminster? Of course they are all right because they were caused by Onionist errors, lies and obfuscation, after all we had been naughty children thinking for ourselves.

    Where is the substantive evidence to support the supposition in your post?

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  • 78. At 3:09pm on 10 Sep 2008, U11769947 wrote:


    In short "YES"

    The question is, after two years have the snp delivered on their manifesto,or are they to busy disagreeing on their liberal pro euro stance or their conservative economic agenda.............all things to all people....

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  • 79. At 3:11pm on 10 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #76 Dougie-Dubh: Let's accept that the Scottish Government, as a minority, can't get through all of its manifesto. Fair enough.
    My concern is about paying for the things they have actually done. I just don't see where the money is coming from.
    Frankly, it fills me with terror when I think of the debt they might get us all into if they had overall control.

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  • 80. At 3:15pm on 10 Sep 2008, Bangingonabout wrote:


    If any part of the Scottish Governments manifesto should fall because of insufficient Parliamentry support, it can only be because the Unionist opposed it.

    Not quite true. It would fall because it was opposed by the opposition.

    You seem to be working from the position that everything the SNP has in it's manifesto is good and that it would only be opposed for party political reasons.

    But what if it is opposed because it is badly thought out and unworkable? Why is that somehow wrong? And why do you have to be a Unionist to oppose it?

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  • 81. At 3:24pm on 10 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #77 slaintemha: You don't answer questions with more questions. It was very simple: Where does the money come from? I don't know about Midwinter, but I'm sure I would distrust his calculations too.
    Why do SNP posters always demand proof, evidence, polls, grid references, GPS waypoints and permission from air traffic control when someone asks an awkward question or puts forward a contrary proposition?
    I say what I THINK. Remember thinking? An old-fashioned concept in the internet age, but it may become popular again as distrust for our masters increases. Try it. Just for old times' sake.

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  • 82. At 3:54pm on 10 Sep 2008, U13282939 wrote:

    At 2:39pm on 10 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    Like: "Who WILL pay the bills for all the black holes, the tragi-comical budgetary errors, the populist handouts, etc., etc. None of the bills have dropped on the doormat yet. But they are coming.
    We are waiting for answers and explanations. Never mind juggling with taxes and spinning tops. Tell us how much it will cost us, as a nation and personally, to balance the books.

    And please, this is not a Unionist argument for the status quo, or any defence of any alternative. It is simply a request for answers to a whole range of legitimate concerns that are being swept aside by some kind of coronation procession.


    you are a prophet of doom by stating the above, and have not given any examples to substantiate what black holes exist ect..

    in the absence of any examples, i read it as just another unionist try to preserve the status quo.

    the snp are having their hands tied by the labour goverment cutting the block grant in real terms and not adding extra when westminster is giving itself extra.

    in not giving scotland the full grant due, labour are stealing money out of the scottish peoples pockets and will pay the price for that at the polls.

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  • 83. At 3:55pm on 10 Sep 2008, Slaintmha wrote:

    Brigadier - you brought up the black holes, I just asked for evidence to support your thinking ......

    The substantive evidence is none of the claimed black holes in the SNP budget can be shown to exist, that does not mean they do not exist, so maybe you need to ask CERN to run some checks for you on the existence of the SNP black holes you are so concerned about. Maybe if they find the SNP black hole they will name a sub atomic particle after you: the Wee Eck - Brigadier boson.

    The genius of thinking is you see where the other chap is not; and merely blustering.

    With a military cognomen like yours I thought you would know that careful reconnaissance is never wasted, you need to know your enemy, underestimating your enemy is not a good idea and frontal attacks often end in pyrrhic victories.

    Now explain if the SNP are failing to deliver why, since May 2007, their vote share is upwards, support for independence is upwards (from 23% to 42%) while all the Onionist parties are going the other way?

    Maybe you would like to discuss why the Scottish economy is more resilient to the current down turn than the City of London?

    How about the Scottish CBI's general contentment with the progress the SNP Government is making in developing the Scottish economy?

    More problematical for Onionists is why if a Conservative Unionist Government is elected in Westminster do 50% of Scots want independence?

    There is so much more to think about Brigadier than black holes!

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  • 84. At 4:07pm on 10 Sep 2008, U13282939 wrote:

    dear brigadeirjohn,
    it would help if you would indulge in thinking before you post, and give examples of your statments re. black holes ect. instead of scaremongering.

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  • 85. At 4:22pm on 10 Sep 2008, U11769947 wrote:

    YOU would do well to show some respect to the Brigadier, he is obviously head and shoulder above your poor responses.

    Stop advocating the chance rule and start answering the economics fears that the public have.

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  • 86. At 4:51pm on 10 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #82 and #83: I suspect we are all going up a familiar dead end here, but:
    Black holes: LIT will provide only two-thirds of the Council Tax income. Solution? If Westminster is kind...
    Huge sums go out of the NHS budget via parking costs and prescription charges. Solution? Unexplained.
    Companies pulling out? Not yet. But we don't have Independence yet. What if?

    #82: Thanks, at least, for giving my questions another breath of the oxygen of publicity.

    #83: Nice language. A touch of the George Galloways? Meant as a compliment.
    Not sure about your actual figures (Polls? - bah!) but I am baffled as to why SNP support goes up. A combination of anti-Labour feeling and a recognition that AS is the only smart dude at Holyrood? But as I say, people may be starting to think.
    Scottish Economy resilient? Well, we're awaiting the effects of distance from the centre, and of course it began at a lower point. But are you watching the financial Press?
    Scottish CBI? A bunch of greedy, self-serving dinosaurs who know they'll be out of it with their fortunes when the collapse comes. It's silly to imagine Scotland is exempt from world economics.
    Do you really believe in 50% support? In all honesty, outside of SNP forums, I have never heard a single individual express such support. Half the electorate don't even vote, so even 50% of the poll equates to only 25% of the nation's support. And that's with the SNP on an upward swing and Labour crashing. Pendulums do swing.

    I do understand how the SNP values "sources." Perhaps activists are supplied with a prefered list of polls, surveys, etc., to quote for every situation? But you must be smart enough to twig that your opponents (not me, by the way) also have favoured statistics.
    You named Midwinter as a "Labour Professor" from a wacky world. Surely Alex has his own wee pet guru in a kennel somewhere?

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  • 87. At 4:51pm on 10 Sep 2008, Al_Ford wrote:

    #55 Fit_Like

    Who says I'm in human form? I'm in discarnate form, like the rest of you.

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  • 88. At 5:18pm on 10 Sep 2008, Slaintmha wrote:

    Ah - another Onionist thinker who utters with out reading, Mr Barker.

    I respect people who think, do their research and bring objective evidence to support their position and not supposition, innuendo and faux righteousness.

    Economically Scotland is currently doing far better than the rest of the UK according to CBI Scotland, Scottish SME's and corporates are not seeing the same down turn in orders or pressure on factory gate prices, house purchases have slowed but prices over the last quarter are stable and show none of the 25% drop being seen in the SE of England. After this year's write off by RBOS on sub prime losses the trading position of the bank is strong and it is heading back to posting billion pound profits next year. In comparison the HBOS failure to bring in additional investment has left them open to take over as the recent shares are mainly in the hands of the Merchant Banks that underwrote the HBOS share issue.

    More economics or do you want to go back to black holes - like Northern Rock - £30 billion of UK tax payer's money for example (remembering that in the current year Scotland got £27 billion of pocket money) or how about the NAO estimated extra cost of Scotland's PFI / PPP over the figure claimed by Labour; some £20 billion of a black hole left by Labour? Then there is the failure of the Treasury to properly adjust the Scottish Block grant under the Barnet formula - Police and Firemen pay increase and pension provision - anyone, London Cross Rail.....

    How about the extra-territorial tax account which Labour (and my friend Prof Midwinter) says Scotland's oil sector contribution is only £5 to £7 billion when the actual figure is in fact in excess £27 billion according to oil industry experts?

    Maybe you and the Brigadier might like to think why Scotland only gets back a third of the money we, as a nation, pay into the DVLA?

    Yes I would love to talk about the economic realities of Scotland's pocket money from Westminster but can you risk it?

    Answer you economic questions?

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  • 89. At 5:26pm on 10 Sep 2008, DisgustedDorothy wrote:

    Quite fascinating that Brians blog is concerned with the Scottish labour leaders contest and everyone is talking about Mr Salmond and the SNP, just like the Labour Party who appear to be incapable of anything else.

    So which of the Ugly Sisters is going to 'win' the prize? Mr Gray?
    Ms Jamieson? Mr Kerr?
    And whoever wins will they have the integrity and intelligence to realise that they are NOT just there to try and play coconut shy using the SNP as coconuts.
    They are there to help govern Scotland and improve the lives of the Scots, which means supporting plans that appear to do just that, no matter which party brings them forward.

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  • 90. At 5:35pm on 10 Sep 2008, Slaintmha wrote:

    Brigadier - council tax only delivers 20% of council expenditure......

    The wackybacky calculation for LIT assumes there is only one income tax earner in any house.

    There is the saving to councils of ridding themselves of expense and inefficient Council Tax Gathering departments. I understand the figure for uncollected council tax last year is around £12 million in Scotland.

    Sage PAYE software already has a LIT calculation program to go along with the ones for Sickness benefit, Maternity Benefit, Union dues etc. The best way to make LIT cost efficient is to give the Parliament at Holyrood full and autonomous fiscal powers to collect all taxation due in Scotland (that includes the extra territorial fund, DVLA etc.).

    Oh my that arch Onionist Pa Brown has been telling to Calman, via the CBI to make this happen.

    The answer, if you could only admit it, to your concerns is to stop fretting about Westminster pocket money and get with the program that Scotland should earn her own way in the world.

    Denial will not stop your worst fears from happening, the worm is turning, 'Dependent Scotland, no more!' is the growing cry from 80% of those who express an opinion on the matter. No matter how much anger you wish to stutter on these blogs about the increasing number of your fellow Scots who want out of the Union.

    If you are Napoleon's Imperial Guard's last ditch attempt to turn the battle in the French favour at 1800 on the evening of Waterloo then I am the 95th / 1st ripping at your flank from the quarry by La Sainte and in a couple of volleys time you will be on the run.

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  • 91. At 6:17pm on 10 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    slaintemha ..... well said ... you give us all some hope. cheers

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  • 92. At 6:18pm on 10 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    90 .... in fact im gonna get my SNP membership now.

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  • 93. At 6:24pm on 10 Sep 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    88. LOL!

    I dare you to back any of that up!

    Especially that age-old (and totally wrong) claim of "#27bn oil revenue" - which even the SNP doesn't use anymore.

    90. And there is now "80%" support for independence, you say?

    Feel free to back that little beauty up too.

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  • 94. At 6:29pm on 10 Sep 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    88. Oh yes, the #8bn Crossrail's 'Barnett' is a certain #800m transport scheme in the capital.

    See the similarities?

    The Barnett % of #8bn equals.....???

    Crossrail is a RAIL TRANSPORT scheme in London and the trams are a RAIL TRANSPORT scheme in Edinburgh?

    No? No lightbulb above that young head of yours?

    Again, not even the SNP are claiming this.

    Best stick to matters that your Leader raises instead of, y'know, just making stuff up.

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  • 95. At 6:33pm on 10 Sep 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    #90 slaintemha: Waterloo? Napoleon had all the big cards, and blew it. But I'm not ready to throw in my hand.
    Look, were never going to agree and teatime beckons, so as a last word for tonight let me ask you to consider this.
    Some Nats here argue that Independence offers wall-to-wall sunshine, pride with prosperity.
    Others say, okay what if we do have to suffer hardship and reccession for a while.....? (I think Thomas is one of these) But we'll be FREE!
    Some say the sums add up. Others concede there might be questions.
    It looks to me as if the FREEDOM! faction are actually more realistic. Which is worrying.
    You're no Wellington, and I'm no "little corporal," or, indeed, an allium, so hold your fire. These old muzzle-loaders can blow up in your face.
    Final, final thought: I'm here to be convinced. I have no visceral hatred, or even dislike, for the SNP. The deeply flawed Union seems a better prospect at the moment. If you can win the argument with people like me you've cracked it.
    I take it you would like to win me over, have me sign up to the "winning" side? I suspect, however, that some of your co-politicals already have me earmarked for a big Union Flag painted on my front door - just as soon as the Youth Wing can be mobilised

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  • 96. At 7:55pm on 10 Sep 2008, Tom wrote:


    Yes. I am one of those who are thinking of the worst case that an Independent Scotland could go through. However a country is made during the hard times and dreams are also made from reccessions, Scotland would be re-born. A new country, eager to show the world what we are capable of. It could also clean peoples minds of their old ways of thinking, the Government should do this, that and the other (attitudes held since the Tories destroyed employment and generations of families living off the state).

    One way of looking at the state of a future Independent Scotland is our current economic situation. We have took some hits, its not over yet but we are still doing relativly well. There should be no reason why we can not replicate this economy after Independence.

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  • 97. At 8:28pm on 10 Sep 2008, enneffess wrote:

    One thing the 3 candidates have in common is that they have been MSPs since the first Scottish Government.

    Unlike Mr Salmond.

    If he is so pro-Scottish, then why did he not stand at the first elections?

    Answer is simple: he is a skilled political operator who waited to see how Labour did, knowing that Labour in Westminster would be distinctly unpopular by then end of their second term.

    So he has placed his own personal politics against those of Scotland.

    As for manifestos, NO party has ever delivered their manifesto, and I doubt they ever will. Opposition politics are easier than being in Government.

    Whoever wins the leadership race needs to hit the ground running. Get away from getting into slanging matches with Salmond, since he is very capable of dealing with these. Hit him on serious issues. He flounders a bit on these, although he keeps calm.

    A splendid opportunity has presented itself with the current issue of new teachers unable to find permanent posts. For once they might be able to put the SNP on the defensive, something that has been lacking over the past 12 months.

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  • 98. At 8:33pm on 10 Sep 2008, cynicalHighlander wrote:


    Have faith in your own and the rest of Scotland's aspirations and ability. Remember "Nothing ventured nothing gained."

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  • 99. At 10:13pm on 10 Sep 2008, U11769947 wrote:

    Neil, I do enjoy your post, can I make a quick correction AS was a previous MSP he bailed out and returned to london and HEY presto hes back, however he is still an MP to

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  • 100. At 10:27pm on 10 Sep 2008, Dave McEwan Hill wrote:


    There is no real difference in the numbers of teachers seeking full -time jobs this year than there was last year or the year before.
    This purely cynical political point scoring and the BBC is enthusiastically lending itself to it A large percentage of those still looking for posts will find positions over the next year as older teachers retire.
    If we are training too many teachers this is hardly the fault of the new SNP government but this has been the case for a number of years now.
    On a fixed settle ment from Westminster which is the worst sice Devolution I don't imagine the SNP Government will be able to suddenly find more money to give the councils to employ more teachers than we need but this negative stuff is all we hear from defeated Labour.

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  • 101. At 10:40pm on 10 Sep 2008, Morris_Norris wrote:

    #97 Neil_Small147

    Actually, Alex Salmond did stand at the first elections to the Scottish Parliament and was, of course, elected. This information is publicly available. Check it out. Always a good idea to be sure of one's facts before pontificating. Don't you think?

    The benefit of Mr Salmond's considerable experience among the big fish at Westminster can be measured by the number of little unionist fishies he can be seen to swallow up and spit out effortlessly on a regular basis at Holyrood. Experience is so valuable, but only if it is the right kind of experience.

    Whoever wins the leadership of the Labour group at Holyrood is going to hit the ground all right. I have no doubt about it.

    As for your point about teacher appointments, a little caution there might actually serve the new Labour group leader better than the wishful thinking which permeates your post. No offence intended.

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  • 102. At 10:51pm on 10 Sep 2008, Morris_Norris wrote:

    #90 slaintemha

    That's kicked him in the butt. It won't make any difference, though. He's particularly thick-skinned in that area.

    Have just seen his #95. I told you.

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  • 103. At 11:02pm on 10 Sep 2008, rabbiehippo wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 104. At 09:54am on 11 Sep 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    88/90. Any chance you can back up any of your claims yet?

    For example; you claim that the "PFI's extra cost in Scotland is #20bn". However, this seems nonsensical considering the total cost of ALL PFI schemes in Scotland is just #4.5bn.

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  • 105. At 10:53am on 11 Sep 2008, Coopswork wrote:

    Labour/Co-op MSPs do not have an extra vote because they are Labour/Co-op MSPs. They have a vote in the Co-op Party ballot because they are members of the Co-op Party which is an affiliate of the Scottish Labour Party. All Co-op Party members have such a vote - including Labour MSPs who are members of the Co-op Party but not Lab/Co-op MSPs. It is also worth pointing out that not all Lab/Co-op MSPs will use their votes for the official co-op candidates - only 2 of the 8 (if you exclude Cathy Jamieson) have publicly declared for Cathy Jamieson.

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