Guide Dinosaurs, Me

Thatcher Is Dead

Margaret Thatcher has passed away at the age of 87, following a stroke. While the death of any person is sad, that doesn't detract from the poisonous legacy she left in British politics and over Britain as a whole.

I extend my sympathies to her family and anyone else affected by her death - but don't expect me to cry any tears, especially as the current Conservative Party follows in her footsteps by selling off the NHS and demonising the poor and disadvantaged.

George Osborne: Supervillain

The clue was in the name, really. Today, however, proved it. Just a day after Mick Philpott was jailed (along with his wife and a friend) for the horrific murder of his six children in a house-fire, the Chancellor is already using him to justify cutting benefits to the poorest in society.

He is using the murder of children to score political points on an unpopular policy and further demonise poor people. He is evil. That's the only word for him. He asks if we should "subsidise lifestyles like that".Unless he's just unaware that Physiognomy is no longer accepted science (because it is baseless bullshit), then he can only be referring to the poor in general. He is generalising from a sample of THREE PEOPLE to attack FIVE MILLION, SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE (even excluding pensioners), so he can fund a tax cut for himself and his rich friends. Never mind Philpott, I don't want to be subsiding the lifestyles of scum like Osborne. At least Philpott is being punished for his wrongdoing.

In short, George Osborne can go fuck himself.

Scottish Indepedence

As noted earlier, the referendum on Scottish independence is now set for September 18th 2014. A key election pledge of the SNP in the 2011 election, the road to the referendum has been controversial both within and without Scotland.

However, this history of Scottish home rule and independence naturally stretches back far earlier than that. Scotland and England's histories have been intertwined almost since the two countries first established themselves. From Edward I of England arbitrating the Great Cause for the Scottish Crown in 1291 (and demanding that John Balliol, the chosen King declare that Scotland was part of Edward's domain), to the Scottish Wars of Independence with Wallace and Bruce, to the Union of the Crowns in 1603 (where James VI of Scotland also ascended to the throne of England) and finally the Treaty of Union in 1707 where the United Kingdom was created, the two countries have been enemies, partners and almost everything in between.

The modern Scottish Independence movement can be traced back to the early 20th Century, and an early Home Rule bill was presented to Westminster in 1913 - before the outbreak of World War I disrupted its progress through Parliament. The Scottish National Party (SNP) was formed in 1934, and has been campaigning for independence since. However, it took until 1967 for them to win a seat at Westminster, when Winnie Ewing won the Hamilton By-election - but with the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s, the party's fortunes turned around dramatically, leading to James Callaghan's Labour Government offering a referendum on devolution to the Scottish people in 1978. Although the majority of those voting were in favour of devolution, the rules required a higher turnout of voters than occurred and with the election of the Conservative Party in 1979, the issue was firmly put on the back burner until Labour regained power in 1997.

When Tony Blair won the 1997 General Election, Scottish devolution was a priority policy for the government, and Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar was tasked with creating a Scottish Parliament. After winning a referendum in 1997, the Scotland Act 1998 was passed, and the Parliament was created, first meeting on May 12th 1999. Labour's support for the devolution project was intended to dampen support for independence, but in 2005 the SNP were the largest party in the Parliament and formed a minority government. Despite a few setbacks, including their key policy commitment of replacing the Council Tax with a local income tax being declared outside of Holyrood's competence, the Nationalist won even more support in 2011, where they won an outright majority. This was considered almost impossible under the mixed FPTP/Party List voting system used in the Scottish Elections, and was a major endorsement of the SNP's governance, and gave them the momentum to push forward with their plans for a referendum on independence.

So, at this point - with 531 days to go, what are the arguments for and against Scotland once again becoming an independent nation?

The main argument presented by the SNP is a simple call for self-determination. The Scottish people have a strong sense of national identity, distinct from the rest of the UK (and in particular England, still seen by many through the lens of historical oppression). While the right to self-determination is considered a "cardinal principle of international law", the question of how far this applies to Scotland must be asked. As noted above, there is a definite Scottish national identity, separate from British identity, but there is ALSO a British identity that many Scottish people feel part of, and while the right to self-determination is well established, it has never been clearly defined with regard to who it applies to. The question does arise as to whether the Scots have such a right at all. However, this is probably a moot point - the Referendum was created by the Scottish Parliament, but using powers "lent" to it by Westminster specifically for this purpose and so the creation of a new Scottish nation state would be with the consent of the UK and no recourse to international law would be required.

Overall, though, I think this is a weak argument for the Scottish public. Being part of the UK no longer suppresses Scottish identity (as it did in the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellions) - the Saltire is openly flown, tartan and highland dress can be worn in any circumstances one chooses and Scotland is even represented as a separate nation in many international sporting competitions. Even Gaelic, suppressed far longer than many other aspects of Scottish culure, is now celebrated and can be seen all over Scotland, and is even on signs in places where it was never spoken. We do not need to leave the UK to fully realise our Scottishness.

The other arguments for independence are more politically pragmatic, relying on modern differences in voting patterns, and the relative unpopularity of the Conservative government of 1979 to 1997 and the current Coalition government in the UK Parliament.

With regards to the question of Scottish voting patterns compared to the rest of the UK, this may be the strongest argument in favour of ending the Union. Since 1945, Scotland has consistently voted Labour candidates into a majority of seats (with the exceptions of 1951 and 1955) regardless of who won the General Election overall. Even under the Proportional Representation electoral system used in the elections to the Scottish Parliament, the Tories have never won more than 18 of the 129 seats available. This has resulted in a number of instances of Scotland being governed by the Conservative party, despite the Tories winning 15% of the seats in Scotland. This was especially controversial during the Premiership of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, where many unpopular policies were applied to Scotland despite protests from the people - sometimes even applied to Scotland before the rest of the United Kingdom. This has created a palpable sense of resentment against the Conservative Party in much of Scotland (albeit perhaps one easily overstated by looking at the 1997 General Election results, where they won zero seats in Scotland). While the national identity of the Scottish people is not being suppressed or oppressed by being part of the United Kingdom, it can be argued that their political will is not being respected.

This is an appealing argument to many, especially in the industrial heart of Scotland's central belt, where huge numbers of jobs were lost in the Thatcher years due to the policy of privatising the nationalised industries that were central to the economy of this area. Even where Conservative policies were not so directly destructive, it is easy to understand the desire to avoid having policies imposed on you by a government consisting almost entirely by people elected outside Scotland, and representing mainly English consitutencies.

The main counter-argument against this policy is essentially an emotional call not to "abandon" the rest of the UK to a permanent Conservative majority. However, this does not stand up to scrutiny. An analysis by the . Wings Over Scotland blog shows that only 3 election results in the last 68 years would have changed without Scottish MPs - and only in the 2010 election would these changes have created a Toy majority government. Even then, this is not much of a change from the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition we have now.

Support for this argument has intensified recently, in the face of deeply unpopular cuts and policies by the Coalition. As these cuts continue to bite into the lives of many Scots, this may prove to be the key factor in the referendum.

The arguments against independence are equally pragmatic. Questions have been raised about which currency an indepedent Scotland would used and whether or not the new state would have to leave the European Union and then re-apply for membership. The SNP's stated plan is for Scotland to continue to use Sterling, but there is real doubt over whether this would be allowed by the UK government. Further, there have also been arguments that Scotland would be required to join the Euro to remain in the EU - not a particularly attractive proposition, considering the current financial crisis in the Eurozone. There are also the questions of the fate of the UK's nuclear deterrent, currently based on the Clyde (the SNP's policy calls for them to be removed from Scotland immediately, which has met resistance from both Westminster and the White House), what share of the UK's national debt Scotland should take on, the status of UK government assets in Scotland (including military bases, equipment and personnel) and myriad other issues that would have to be worked out.

This may be what tips the balance in favour of staying in the UK. The negotiations required to decide on these issues would undoubtably be long and costly, but with the promise of little change in return. Indeed, the SNP has essentially promised that the only noticeable difference in an independent Scotland would be the lack of nuclear weapons. The stereotype of the miserly Scot may not have much basis in reality but I still doubt that many would be excited at spending large amounts of public cash to remain in the same position.

This is amplified when even the Scottish Conservative Party are calling for additional powers to be transferred to Hollyrood. Staying in the Union but with more extensive devolution is far more attractive to most Scots than full independence (as seen by the SNP's initial attempts to get a third option in the referendum offering just that). Most Scots believe that Scotland could be an indepedent nation - they just don't see what difference it would make on their everyday lives, and without a cause to rally around, it is hard to imagine them voting for it, knowing the additional costs involved. In my opinion, this is for the best. Certainly, Scotland has had unpopular governments impose policies on it that the people here did not approve of, but independence is no guarantee against that. What is does guarantee is a period of months or years of uncertainty regarding the nation's status and position, for no tangible benefit at the end. I shall be voting "No" in this referendum and I encourage all other Scots to join me in doing so.

TV Steals Me From Type-iness

With massive apologies to Idlewild.

So, the independence essay REALLY is still coming (I've even started it!) but there's been some great TV recently that has been keeping away from typing, so here's a brief recap of what I've been watching.

- Broadchurch: ITV's new detective show, starring David Tennant. Still ongoing, and highly engrossing. Watching a small town rip itself apart over the murder of a small boy has never been this entertaining. Wait, that came out wrong...

- Heading Out: Sue Perkins' slight surreal sit-com about a gay woman who finally tries to come out to her parents after she turns 40. Featuring basically every big name in alternative comedy in guest roles, this has been a real treat and will be missed when its last episode airs on Tuesday. Grab it on iPlayer while it's still available!

- Batman: The Brave and The Bold: Or "The Bold and The Brave" as Channel Five insist on calling it. Yes, I'm very late to this party, but this is a fantastic show. Funny, touching and a great balance between the many, many different interpretations of the Dark Knight.

- Doctor Who: The first episode of Series 7B was a solid opener, but hardly the heights of previous openers. Still, the more traditional "Big Bad" format looks promising.

So, what have you been watching?

Donald Trump Doesn't Really "Get" Democracy

So ol' Stupid-Hair is continuing his tantrum about the offshore windfarm, as noted yesterday. In addition to complaining to anyone who will listen, he is also threatening (his word, not mine) not to build a giant hotel and some hideously overpriced houses near his course if the project goes ahead. Apparently he thinks golf and tourism are worth more to the economy of Aberdeenshire than energy, which proves he's not really been paying much attention when he's been here. Also undermining his "I'll hold my breath until I turn blue and THEN you'll see!" strategy: announcing plans to build a second course already due to "unprecedented demand". Seems those ugly wind turbines don't seem to bother the golfers at least. Maybe they have realised that having electricity after we run out of oil would be a good thing.

Furthermore, he is also appealing the decision to grant planning permission, and is apparently willing to go all the way to the European courts , which could take up to six years., calling the decision to allow the turbines "purely political", which is quite the claim after the pathetic bullshit around giving HIM consent to build his golf course. Apparently, Scottish Ministers deciding on appeals about planning permission are only OK if they help Trumpo.

Actually, that does seem to be a pretty common theme in Trump's comments: "Why are you listening to THEM, I'm rich! Whether it's something as simple as a public vote for Glenfiddich whiskey's Spirit of Scotland Top Scot Award going to an anti-Trump campaigner, all the way up to Barack Obama's re-election as US President, whenever things do not goes his way, The Dumbass Donald throws a public hissy-fit and wants to know why all those dirty poors get a say anyway. He has money, he gets to make the rules - or at least, make them not apply to him - right? It's hardly a unique condition - particularly in America, where gross hyprocrisy seems to be almost a prerequisite for running for Republican office - but it is still infuriating to run into it.

What can be done about it? Not much really, if I'm being honest. Hopefully the Courts will also tell Trump to piss off with this ridiculous complaints, but it's not going to make his re-asses his opinions. However, it is important to stand up to and call out this kind of entitled thinking when it does crop up, if only to remind those in power who REALLY calls the shots in a democracy.

British News Round-Up: 26th March

So, what's going on in Britain today?

First off, David Cameron follows the lead of Labour and the Lib Dems in engaging in some pointless immigrant bashing. "They're coming here to steal our precious bodily fluids benefits! Pay no attention to our own statistics!"

Yes, despite official figures showing working-age immigrants are more likely to be in work than people born here, Dave's latest plan is to make it harder for immigrants to claim benefits and get treatment on the NHS. The NHS changes alone could save £20m! Minus the extra costs of implementing and enforcing the new policy. From a budget of £108.8 billion. Yep, that's a big deal worth annoucing in a major speech there...

Look, I get that the Tories are scared of UKIP (why Labour and the Liberals are also jumping on the bandwagon I do NOT get), but playing into their hands isn't going to help you. You tell people that immigrants are TEH DEBBIL~!, then they aren't going to be too impressed with some minor tinkering with the benefit system, especially when that nice UKIP chap says we can stop them coming over here all together. If you want to know how to really deal with Nigel Farage, I suggest taking tips from Guy Verhofstadt MEP:

Also in the news:

- Train franchising is to start again, with special emphasis on selling off the East Coast line before too many people notice that the publicly owned service is doing far better than any of the private companies

- An offshore windfarm off the Aberdeenshire coast has received planning permission, despire objections from Donald Trump, and repeated public tantrums from the stupid-haired twat. Good. FUCK YOU DONALD TRUMP. Ahem.

- The UK's Helicopter Search and Rescue service has been privatised. Apparently the RAF and Royal Navy aren't good enough. Why do you hate the troops, Cameron? (Sorry,forgot this isn't America for a second there).

And for anyone wondering, my big post on independence is still coming. I've started pulling togeter sources, and I'm planning to write it at the weekend.

Scottish Independence Referendum: The Date Has Been Set

It has been announced that on September 18th 2014, Scotland will go to the polls to vote on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

I'm planning a longer and more in depth post on this in the near future, but my snap judgement is that Scotland will not vote for independence, and that staying in the Union is the best thing for the country in the long term. This not to say that Scotland could not function as an independent state, because I am sure it could, just that the benefits are fairly minimal and the costs and disruption of negotiating our way out of the Union would be far higher.

NB: This position is open to change, mostly depending on just how economically suicidal George Osborne continues to be in Westminster.

Scottish Elections 2011: The Livebloggination

Hey there, since I apparently don't value sleep anywhere near enough, I thought I'd do a liveblog of the Scottish Elections as the results come in.

Let's get it rolling shall we?

23:25 - Anyone looking for some background could do worse than to check out the piece I'd did for the Slacktiverse a few weeks ago. Devolved Theocracy mostly focuses on the fringe Scottish Christian Party, but it does feature a general introduction to the Scottish Parliament and this election.

23:30 - I should also note that in the UK tonight there are also local elections in England, elections for the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies and a referendum on the AV voting system for the Westminster (national) parliament.

23:31 - And in the interest of full disclosure, I voted a straight SNP ticket (although I shall be voting against independence, if/when they get their referendum) and voted "Yes" to AV.

23:35 - As another point of order, it's also worth noting that the first results aren't expected until 2:00am. I'm sure I'll find plenty to snark about until then though. Thanks BBC election coverage!

23:37 - Both The Herald and The Daily Record are predicting a second SNP term of government. Apparently the Record are just going to ignore all their scaremongering from this morning.

23:44 - The Sun also predict an SNP second term. I have to say that one of the few times I questioned my vote in this election was when I heard that they were backing the Nationalists. I'm never comfortable being on the same side as Murdoch, although this appears to be more his desire to only back winners rather than an ideological shift from Salmond and co.

23:48 - Yay! BBC election coverage is back on TV! Something to talk about.

23:49 - Did Brian Taylor just say it was "jacking off time"?
23:49 - Actually, I think it was "jacket off". That makes more sense.

23:53 - A Daily Mail poll put the SNP vote above 50% in both ballots. That would be quite the achievement if it happens, but it IS the Mail.

23:57 - Can we all just ignore George Galloway unless he actually gets a seat? Looking at you, BBC.

00:00 - New reports suggest that we might actually get a few constituency results before 01:00.

00:02 - Current thinking is that the SNP might take all of the constituency seats here in Aberdeen. Good omens there if they can pull it off.

00:07 - The votes in the AV referendum won't be counted until 4pm tomorrow, so don't expect too much about that tonight, I'm afraid.

00:11 - Why are Labour and the Tories so opposed to letting the SNP have their independence referendum? Losing that (which they almost certainly would) would be one hell of a kick to the Scottish National Party, yet no one is willing to go for it. Most odd.

00:17 - What did I say about George Galloway? :(

00:29 - A lot of positive chatter with regards to the SNP so far. Not sure how far this will translate into actual seats.

00:37 - Signs so far suggest that turn-out is down compared to the 2007 election. That really does surprise me, especially with the referendum to vote on as well.

00:43 - I've switched from watching the live coverage on BBC One Scotland to listening to the coverage on BBC Radio Scotland in the hope of having less people TALKING OVER EACH OTHER.

00:48 - First declaration of the night for the Rutherglen constituency... eventually. Apparently it's taking a while to get the candidates onto the stage.

00:50 - Moving to the radio coverage was a definite plus. Who thought that live election coverage could actually be funny?

00:53 - So I should probably give you the link. Not sure if this is UK only, but hopefully not - BBC Radio Scotland

00:54 - And we're finally getting the declaration for Rutherglen: James Kelly wins it for Labour.

00:56 - Even though Labour held the seat, that was a 7.4% swing to the SNP, while the Lib Dems crashed. More or less in line with the predicted national trends.

01:06 - Interesting little debate on the radio just now between two SNP voters - one who supports independence and another who (like me) voted for them to have a strong Scottish voice opposing the destructive policies from Westminster and forging a different path for Scotland.

01:10 - Colin Fox, co-leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, has said that he does not expect to win a seat in this election. At this point, the SSP are a spent force without the charismatic (and perjurous) Tommy Sheridan.

01:12 - The Slacktiverse was kind enough to link this blog on their latest post. They are definitely worth checking out!

01:15 - East Kilbride is declaring now. Linda Fabiani takes the seat for the SNP from Andy Kerr, the former Labour health minister and current Labour finance spokesperson, and the Nationalist's first major scalp of the night.

01:18 - For the statistics fans, that result was a 6.6% swing from Labour to the SNP. If this is the pattern across the country, the SNP are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

01:21 - The Labour narrative at this point is that the SNP's gains have been from the Lib Dems and that their voting share is holding up. That may be true, but that only matters if the regional list votes give Labour a LOT of seats.

01:32 - Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse declaration now. Christina McKelvie make another gain for the SNP from Labour. She is clearly very moved by the victory, and well she should be, as the swing to the SNP was 11%, and they are the only party to increase their share of the vote in the constituency.

01:38 - The Liberal Democrats have been crushed again in Hamilton. The Coalition in Westminster is clearly hurting them, and if the AV referendum does not go their way - as polls suggest it won't - I suspect that they will have to seriously re-assess their position. To take a brief detour to UK wide politics, Nick Clegg has completely misjudged his party's base, who are significantly to the left of him and the way that appears to have embraced the Conservatives' policies in London are hurting him and his party very severely.

01:49 - The Labour talking head think Alex Salmond doesn't really want a referendum on independence, as as loss would be very damaging to the party, She's right (at least on the damage as loss would bring), but her party refuses to call the SNP's bluff. If they keep this up in the next Parliament, Labour could be in dire straits come 2016.

01:55 - Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader, has admitted that his seat is in trouble. That's quite the admission, and another fantastic sign for the SNP.

01:59 - I will say that despite her Dickensian Villain manifesto, Annabel Goldie comes across very well on the radio. Quite frankly, she deserves better than just leading the Scottish Tories, who simply have no chance of achieving power.

02:03 - Are there Conservative politicians anywhere in the world that don't feel the need to kick the poor? Struan Stevenson is currently on Radio Scotland suggesting that those in Scotland who don't pay (income) tax are inclined to vote SNP or Labour as they have been "promised the Kingdom of Heaven" and are essentially too stupid to understand that it isn't achievable. Can't imagine why people in that situation wouldn't want to vote for a condescending git like you Struan...

02:10 - Clydesdale declaration now. Aileen Campbell takes another seat from Labour to the SNP with an 8.9% swing. The SNP are playing a blinder early. For those looking for election trivia, there was no Lib Dem candidate running here as their papers were filed too late.

02:21 - Nicola Sturgeon is doing her best to dance around the issue of a referendum on independence. Struan Stevenson, however, is now pushing conspiracy theories about the SNP. Someone get him off my radio, please.

02:28 - Is Iain Gray actually incapable of expressing emotion? You'd think he'd have some kind of response to the utter humping his party has taken so far.

02:33 - STV are currently predicting 59 constituency seats for the SNP based on current trends. Labour on 10, with the Tories and Conservatives on 2 each. Beyond a landslide if that happens.

02:38 - That should be "Tories and Lib Dems on 2 each" above. Oops.

02:43 - Current reports suggest that we'll be seeing a number of declarations from Glasgow around 03:00. Will the SNP trend continue?.

02:49 - In the latest wacky theory from Radio Scotland, the Lib Dem crash is down to a failure to stand up for the coalition. Personally, I'd have thought that the only way to make things WORSE for the Lib Dems would be to talk up the coalition.

02:51 - Two results. Labour gain Eastwood from the Tories, and hold Uddingston & Bellshill. However, Uddingston did see a 9% swing to the SNP. This is certainly shaping up to be the SNP's night.

02:54 - Just to go back to Uddingston - it has gone from a safe Labour seat to a fairly tight marginal with a majority of only 714 seats. Almost unbelievable.

02:58 - Looking at the figures now, the Eastwood result is almost as dramatic, with a swing to Labour of 8.7% and the SNP also gaining votes, while the Tories and Lib Dems both seeing dramatic losses.

03:02 - Lib Dems have lost their deposit in all five seats they have contested so far. Utter, utter destruction.

03:03 - Airdrie & Shotts goes to the SNP, who get over 50% of the vote outright. 5.5% swing to the Nats from Labour, and the Liberals look to have lost another deposit. They could be in real financial trouble by the end of this election at this rate.

03:05 - Glasgow Southside declaration: Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP's deputy leader, has taken the seat with a 9.7% swing from Labour. Three of the SNP's four MSPs so far have been women, incidentally.

03:10 - Dundee City East is an SNP hold, with 64.2% of the vote for Shona Robison. We may well be looking at a Nationalist majority government.

03:18 - Shorter Struan Stevenson: "I'm not saying the poor shouldn't be allowed to vote, just that they're financially irresponsible idiots blundering into bankrupting the country with their demands for help with their basic needs".

03:21 - Greenock & Inverclyde is held by Labour, but with a massively reduced majority.

03:22 - By the way, the Lib Dems have finally kept a deposit with Greenock.

03:25 - Former Conservative leader David McLetchie has conceded defeat in his Edinburgh constituency to the BBC, although there is no official word as of yet.

03:26 - In English news, Labour have taken control of Sheffield council from the Lib Dems. This is a bad result for the LDs, and Nick Clegg in particular, who is MP for Sheffield Hallam.

03:28 - Tavish Scott, the Liberal Democrat leader, holds onto the Shetland Islands seat, despite a strong local independent challenger.

03:30 - Iain Gray - the Labour leader - holds onto East Lothian but with a majority of only 151 his run at the top of Labour is surely over. Despite all this, there is still no sign of any emotion from Mr Gray.

03:36 - A few quick results before I catch some sleep for a few hours: Orkney is held by the Liberal Democrats, Falkirk West is held by the SNP, Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn is held by Labour, the SNP hold Dundee West and finally Labour hold Coatbridge & Chryston. I should be back up around 7am. Hopefully the picture should be a lot more clear by then.


08:12 - Sorry for the delay, apparently I'm more tired than I realised. We're looking at an SNP landslide here. They have 44 seats already with a lot of seats still in play. Overall, they've gained 20 seats already, and there's still the chance of an outright majority. I've got to get to work but hopefully I can get a bit more in depth later today.


09:27 - OK, here's the catch-up. The SNP are now on 47 seats, with nearest rivals Labour sitting at 20. The BBC's current prediction is for an SNP majority government with 68 MSPs (a majority of 3). The Liberal Democrats collapse has continued unabated, as they have still only won the Orkney and Shetland seats.

09:35 - And in more personal news, the SNP have lived up to the rumours and taken all four seats here in Aberdeen, while in my parents' constituency of Dumfriesshire, Elaine Murray overturned a notional Tory majority in the redrawn seat to remain in parliament. I'm a little mixed on that one, to be honest. In general, I'd rather have Labour than the Tories, but my encounters with Murray have been consistently negative since high school - she really doesn't take criticism well.

09:41 - A few other notable results: The SNP took Edinburgh Pentlands from former Conservative leader David McLetchie (as he acknowledged earlier in the night), and Renfrewshire North & West where Tory leader Annabel Goldie came in third place (although she is expected to return to Parliament on the party list). In a very tight race, the SNP have gained Glasgow Anniesland with a majority of only 7 seats.

09:44 - Also, thankfully, George Galloway failed to win a seat from the Glasgow Regional List, so hopefully no one feels the need to mention him again. I certainly won't.

09:49 - West of Scotland Regional List results are now in - 3 seats for Labour and two each for the SNP and the Conservatives. As predicted, Annabel Goldie will return to Holyrood. Her future is far more secure than Iain Gray's I would imagine, while Tavish Scott (Lib Dem leader) may hold on, depending on how well he can shift the blame for the collapse to the national party. I suspect he might do alright, as the Liberals have not done much better in either England or Wales.

09:56 - Of note to readers from the Slacktiverse, so far the Scottish Christian Party have seen a slight drop in the number of votes received. They will probably be around for a while yet (and it should be noted that we've yet to get results from the Highlands and Islands list, where they have the best chance of getting a seat), but I think this may be the start of a long decline for these theocratic hypocrites.

10:26 - Things are looking to slow down for a while here, with no more results expected until 12:00. The heat is already rising on Iain Gray though.

10:57 - The SNP will not be getting any seats from the North-East Regional List. Why? Because they won all TEN constituency seats here. "Landslide" is starting to look like too small a term.

11:29 - Recriminations have already started within the Labour Party, both within Scotland and nationally. Former First Minister Henry McLeish criticised the Scottish campaign for not recognising how Holyrood differs from Westminster, not taking the SNP seriously (which, considering they were the governing party going into the election, is a pretty serious charge) and being too negative. At the national level, Roy Hattersley has called for the Labour Party to take a lead from the SNP and offer a "genuine alternative" to the coaltion. Can't say that stealing from the SNP's policies worked too well in Scotland, but it might have more success in UK wide elections.

11:42 - Caithness, Sutherland & Ross moves from the Lib Dems to the SNP, who nudge another step closer to that overall majority. Still waiting on the exact figures, but this appears to be a huge swing to the SNP here.

11:48 - From the "This should not be happening file": The SNP get a regional list seat in the North-East despite winning all ten constituency seats. That's an astonishing level of support for the Nationalists. Labour take 3, the Tories 2 and the Liberals 1. SNP are now just 14 seats short of overall control of Holyrood.

12:09 - Another SNP gain as they take Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch from the Lib Dems. At this point, the question is not if the SNP get a majority, but simply how big it will be.

12:12 - SNP hold the safe seat of Inverness & Nairn as Fergus Ewing is re-elected.

12:44 - The SNP take Stirling from Labour, leaving them only 8 seats short of that elusive majority.

13:06 - SNP hold Nah h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles). Seven to go.

13:12 - With the Nationalist victory edging closer, I'm spotting more and more bitterness about the Union... but from the English. The way many of these people talk you'd think England had no social problems of its own.

13:51 - A flurry of declarations while I was busy at work: South of Scotland list gives the SNP four, Labour 2 and the Libs 1. In the constituencies, the SNP gain Fife North East from the LDs, Dunermline from Labour and hold Mid-Fife & Glenrothes. Labour manage to hold onto Cowdenbeath. Just one more seat for an SNP majority according to my calculations, but I am feeling pretty tired, so don't quote me on that.

13:55 - Update on Dunfermline - the SNP gain was actually from the Liberals, who were pushed down into third by Labour.

13:57 - I should have known not to trust my own arithmatic on this little sleep. The BBC put the SNP on 62, THREE short of the majority.

14:07 - Argyll & Bute is held by the SNP's Mike Russell. This is pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point.

14:25 - SNP take Kirkcaldy from Labour. One to go now folks...

14:32 - Just had a very excited man run into my work to inform everyone here that the SNP have their majority. Still trying to get that confirmed.

14:33 - And there is it is. Clackmannanshire & Dunblane has gone for the Nats, leaving them with a one seat majority and three regional lists still to declare. Amazing results.

15:02 - With still no sign of those last three regional lists, I'll wrap up the liveblogging here. I should be back later this evening with a new post with those results, my overall thoughts on the election (including where the major parties go from here) and possibly even an early look at the results of the AV referendum. Catch you later.

British Election 2010: First Debate Liveblog

First debate is just about to start on ITV1. Subject set to be domestic affairs. Let's see how it goes.

20:33 - Alistair Stewart is hosting.

20:34 - Nick Clegg gets the first opening statement. Focusing on a Lib Dem victory is possible.

20:35 - Gordon Brown on now. Nothing of note, really.

20:36 - Cameron starts out by apologising for the Expenses Scandal. Interesting approach. Still banging on about a "jobs tax". It's called National Insurance, bawbag.

20:38 - First question is about immigration. Brown is very proud of how many people he's kept out. Cameron wants to reduce immigration. Err, won't the current state of the economy do jus that? Clegg wants to include regional controls on where immigrants can go.

20:42 - Cameron and Brown discuss setting an immigration cap. Cameron wants one, Brown doesnt' Gordon is also - hilariously - claiming that the fall in immigration is due to his immigration policies. Clegg is making the most sense.

20:44 - Brown talks into Cameron's time. Dave won't be happy about that.

20:46 - Are we getting more than one question tonight?

20:47 - Oh thank God. We're now onto crime. Stewart points out that this is a devolved issue in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

20:48 - Cameron wants the Castle Doctrine in England. Fuck. That. Noise.

20:49 - Clegg wants to spend the money currently aside for the ID Card scheme to spend on more police, and to work more with young offenders to prevent recidivism.  Look! Funded policies!

20:51 - And on the stupid train, Brown wants to give people the right to sue the police to force them to do specific things. No way THAT could be abused of course.

20:52 - Cameron actually suggests treating, rather than jailing, drug addicts. Wonders will never cease.

20:57 - Stewart is losing control of the debate. And Cameron isn't helping his image with "My mother was a magistrate".

21:00 - ITV website suggests Clegg is the most popular so far.

21:01 - Cutting the size of the Commons make politicians more credible, according to Call Me Dave.

21:02 - Clegg wants recall elections. I can't support that.

21:03 - Brown says he agrees with Clegg. Clegg's face is incredulous.

And They're Off... And Other British Election Cliches

So the British Election has finally been confirmed for May 6th. We've all known this for a while now, but it's now official. So let's see where the parties lie at the moment.


Pros: Instinctual fear of the Tories is, rather sadly, one of Labour's biggest weapons at the moment. Alistair Darling did well in the Chancellor's Debate on Channel 4, but that really was't seen by too many people.Oh, and The Guardian's April Fool's Joke:

Step Outside, Posh Boy

Cons: They've been in power for over a decade, and the economy went horribly to shit very recently. Also, raising National Insurance is hardly a vote winner. That this isn't an instant kill says a hell of a lot about the current state of the Tories.


Pros: They're the traditional choice to replace Labour, and they're promising not to implement some of Labour's tax rises. David Cameron is perhaps more likeable than Brown (although the public schoolboy upbringing is a turn off for some voters). Some commentators have suggested that Cameron's wife's pregnancy may also be a benefit to the party.

Cons: As I said, Cameron's posh upbringing is a negative for some people, compounded by similar backgrounds for a lot of his Shadow Cabinet. They're also taking a lot of flack for offering tax cuts while still claiming to be able to reduce the deficit quicker than the other parties. And George Osborne is a bloody idiot.

Liberal Democrats

Pros: They've been pretty much right about everything for the past few years. They opposed the War In Iraq, Vince Cable saw the financial crisis coming and suggested things that would have lessened its impact. Cable is also well liked in the country (explaining why he's on all the campaign literature and going everywhere with Clegg).

Cons: While Cable is well liked, Clegg is a virtual unknown who looks like a teenager. The Lib Dems also have their perpetual problem of being completely unable to say in public what they've been right about (although they're getting better at that). Finally, good old fashioned apathy - that old feeling that voting Liberal is a waste because they "always" come third. As if voting for them couldn't change that.

And since I'm here in Scotchland, I'll chuck in some thoughts on the SNP:

Scotttish National Party

Pros: They've done a pretty good job in the Scottish Parliament and remain relatively popular despite being midway through the term. They're the only real party of the left still standing, especially important in more traditionally left-leaning Scotland.

Cons: Alex Salmond is utterly delusional, and his talk of gaining TWENTY seats is not encouraging anyone to take them seriously. Furthermore, the SNP's support in Holyrood is, in my opinion, at least partially based on the limitations there that prevent the party from making Scotland indepedent - something that is within the power of Westminster. And last, while they retain a lot of popularity, they are still a governing party in the middle of their term - and one who failed to enact their key election pledge (due to Labour wrangling from London, but still)...

So that's my thoughts at the start of the campaign. Let's see how it pans out.